I've checked off yet another item on my list of things to do before I die. Turns out I didn't really know it was on there, and had I known ahead of time that I would get to do it, I probably would have used good judgment and chickened the fuck out. Be that as it may, now that I've done it I can easily say I probably won't ever again feel like a repeat performance is necessary. Since moving here in January, I've been itching to do karaoke. The second I started making friends, I was like, "Hey! Do you guys like karaoke? We should go do karaoke." In retrospect, that probably wasn't the best way to introduce myself, but whatever. Apparently, my love of karaoke is rare in my humble part of LA. Or in my nice yet sort of lame circle of grad school groupies.

At long last, though, one of my friends here told me that the bar we had her graduation party at did karaoke twice a week. And last night we headed on down to go check it out.* She didn't want to sing, but I love singing, so I signed up immediately. The Killers' When You Were Young was my song of choice. The place had a little stage for people to sing on, so I got on stage and jumped around during the song. And thus proceeded to develop a following.

Afterward, crazy people were shouting "Encore!" One guy later said he'd give up his place in line to see me again, and some girl came up to me and said I was her hero for singing The Killers. And then she tried to touch my chest, which pretty much made things really awkward and ended our interaction. Apparently, people like seeing this big gay Jewish nerd on stage, and then wanted to feed my ego. Oh well all right, if they insist.

I signed up for another song, this time opting for Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. A must for karaoke night, obviously. After waiting another hour and a half or so, it was my turn again, and I headed back to stage. And being the glory hound I am, once I had the microphone in hand I told everyone to gather round and help me, because that song is not meant to be sung alone.

I'm pretty sure I was the world's worst singer on stage, voice cracking from yelling too much and singing too loud, but nobody seemed to mind. A bunch of people pulled out their camera phones, cameras, and started shining lights. Which was cool, but also leaves me wondering if there's going to be videos and pictures of me all over MySpace.

But what made the evening crazy was not my singing. It was that the crowd at the bar was much different than the usual crowd because there were a ton of gang members present from a pretty big LA skinhead gang. We learned this after the bar closed and we were standing outside talking to a couple of the bouncers.

Thinking back on it, there were an awful lot of large bouncer-looking guys who we knew didn't work there. Apparently, one of their friends just passed away so they were collecting money for his family. They were all extremely solemn, not to mention shitfaced. But they were also smiling and laughing with everyone there, and dancing and jumping around like the rest of us.

Given that I possess a number of qualities that a gang might not fancy, I'm glad the evening was such a success. They're just people, like you and me, and of all things, it was karaoke that brought everyone together. Which I take as proof positive that karaoke is one of the greatest inventions of all time, ever.

*"Are there pictures?" you're probably asking yourself. "Why yes, there are!" I reply. But they're on my friend's camera. I'll badger her to send them my way soon, and will post them once she has. Oh, and you're wondering, just for the record, what item I've checked off my list of things to do before I die. I'll label that one 'Singing and partying with skinheads from a notorious LA gang.' CHECK.