Dreams of East Hollywood

Posted: November 8, 2012 in The Road to Skid Row

When things which are usually fixed in life – like location, cast and plot – change suddenly and frequently, one feels like one is either in a movie or a dream. If it’s a movie I hope it co-stars Rachel McAdams.

Five weeks after arriving in Los Angeles I was about to move twice more – first back to East Hollywood to pack up all the furniture and then onward to Westchester, home of Bob Overton. Navid kindly agreed to help Kate and I move from Beverly Hills to East Hollywood, saving us the demoralising prospect of having to move house by bus.

We loaded all of our stuff into Navid’s car, kissed Jackson goodbye and headed back east. I could get used to this, I thought, as Navid taxied us around yet again. He was becoming a regular driver for my sister and me. It was a welcome change from riding buses. Suspension, climate control, soft seats. Man, this was luxury.

24-hours – that’s all we had to get everything packed, put it into self-storage and then move ourselves to Bob Overton’s place. This was going to be tight. We packed like crazy until midnight when I had to stop. We had already moved once today, I couldn’t take anymore.

Somewhere between hitting the pillow and my eyes closing, a big gorilla conked my head and sent me to Downtown Dreamland. I was in a dive bar drinking beer with a load of blurry faces which gradually became clear. It was like an episode of Cheers: everybody was there and they all knew my name – Obese Bob H, Taxi Driver Navid, Jacked-Up Jackson, Car Tag Jack, and even Big Rims from the Social Security Administration. My dreams are usually small shows, one or two lead roles, intimate storylines and quirky dialogue – an indie movie, if you will. They don’t usually have such high production values and rarely have ensemble casts. Something was changing. My brain was turning Hollywood.

I woke up suddenly and checked the time – 3am. I walked to the window and looked outside. I could just about make it out. It was kind of blurry, but there it was – that white smudge on the mountain was the Hollywood sign. HOLLYWOOD in big bold letters; it was visible from every street corner. When I first arrived in LA it looked surreal but now it looked powerful, almost totalitarian. Was it giving people a dream or imposing it? The sign is so far away from the city it’s the perfect symbol for itself – the dream of Hollywood, distant and nearly impossible to get to, so dangerously high you can die climbing it. Hollywood is an idea, a beautiful dream, more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland combined, and between us we all make it real.

Down below, far below the Hollywood Hills, I saw two shadowy figures walking around in circles. Loitering on the corner of Sunset and N Kingsey were two black women, dressed in black leather with black mini-skirts and knee-high boots. They stood outside a sleazy motel beneath a street lamp. A man came round the corner and one of the women followed him as he walked down the street but got nowhere with him and came back. I watched the scene for a couple minutes before I had seen enough.

Waking up the next morning, I immediately looked out the window to see a steady stream of traffic moving down Sunset and families walking to church.  Maybe it was all a dream? Up above, the Hollywood sign was grinning. It resembled a set of perfect bleached-white teeth, the original Hollywood smile.


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