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“What’s the difference between being in a serious band and being in a comedy band?”

“The difference is, people are laughing.… [Our crowd] has heard these songs already and doesn’t need to hear [us] trying to imitate someone else. Like Rockola — they’re great at what they do, but they bore me shitless.”

“Let’s play some songs, godammit,” Dante hollers from inside the practice room. The band reassembles. They play “Thunderball,” the theme from the James Bond motion picture. Sinatra is a movie buff. On Tuesday nights at Java Joe’s he shows 16-millimeter prints of his favorite movies: Women in Love, The Brides of Dracula, The Conqueror Worm, and To Sir with Love, and others.

“The next song,” Sinatra announces to Page, “is actually a trilogy/medley. It begins with the theme from To Sir with Love, followed by ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ and ends with ‘Theme from Love Boat.’ It’s called ‘To Sir with a Whole Lotta Love Boat.’ It’s going to be complicated.”

Dante and Miff Laracy — the keyboardist and sax player — recite the chords to Page.

Laracy grew up in San Diego. He and Sinatra’s late brother were best friends. They both learned guitar together and started playing gigs at the old Spirit club. Laracy is in another band too, Alternate Realities, an original psychedelic band, hippie music, the stuff that you would imagine would have a projector behind them displaying swirly colors and surreal shapes. (Alternate Realities is playing tonight at Dream Street in Ocean Beach.)

The next song the band breaks into is a parody of “Eli’s Coming” (written by Laura Nyro and made famous by Three Dog Night). The song has as its chorus, O.J.’s coming, hide your white girls!

The rehearsal is over. Sinatra seems pleased with Page. He offers to slice his own palm open and become blood brothers, but only if Page gets an AIDS test first. Putting his bass away, Page doesn’t hear the part about blood brothers and doesn’t understand why the band requires an AIDS test to join. Sinatra doesn’t explain. We step outside. The possum is gone.

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