The Crack of Dawn
The Crack of Dawn
I thought when I arrived in L.A. at the age of 17, that I was sexually a reasonably experienced young man. No, I thought I was a well-experienced young man. My new neighbor, Kathy (who looked like young Leslie Uggams, of whom Kathy had never heard), showed me that I knew very little, and what little I did know was wrong. For three incredible months, Kathy would knock on my door at any time of the day or night and expect service. She didn’t want to be friends, or hang out, she wanted sex, and that was it. Of course, I was more than happy to oblige. Our affair was completely on her terms, and she made it very clear that her satisfaction was the entire point. When that occurred, and she felt satisfied, she’d just leave. Except that my pillow now always smelled like the coconut oil she used in her hair.
One day I arrived at my apartment and found her apartment door open, and her apartment was completely empty. Totally vacant: not a candy wrapper, nothing. The ridiculously squeaky Murphy bed was folded up into the wall. Not a trace of the previous tenant. And I never saw or heard from Kathy again.
At $85-a-month, the apartment didn’t remain vacant for long. Two young men, both in their early 20s, making them older than me, moved in. They were freshly out of the navy, having been stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego. Apparently, however it worked, they were still cleared to come and go from the base, and they were selling pot. And they could sell as much pot as they could get their hands on immediately. They had a captive audience.
They were Mark and Jeff. Mark was a big, strapping guy, Jeff was a thin guy.
And this ultimately led to an adventure of me and Mark driving my Mazda Rotary wagon from L.A. to Miami to buy 20 pounds of marijuana, then bringing it back. I’m pretty sure I already wrote about that in an earlier newsletter. Or in my book, Going Hollywood. I don’t feel like reminiscing.
That was a million years ago, in a place that doesn’t exist anymore. Hollywood. I was just there. What remains is the single funky corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. – where Jimmy Kimmel shoots his show – in front of the Chinese Theater, the Ray Dolby Theater, and the El Capitan Theater, that the city is trying to close down. There’s one little section left where people are acting outrageous, carrying around Boa Constrictors, or dressing up like Spider Man, and it’s too much for the city of L.A. They must erase everything that was once there in the name of progress, including idiotic, blind ambition. Goodbye Hollywood.
I’m not nostalgic. I don’t look back on the old days as the “good old days.” It was just the time period that I lived through. All that matters is what happens from here to eternity. Of course, there’s a movie scene that describes what I’m talking about better than I’m describing it.
In The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) there is a scene at the dinner table with Morgan (Joseph Cotton), who was an early admirer of his mother (played by Delores Costello, a silent star). Morgan is an automobile manufacturer, and cars have just recently caught on. Suddenly, the completely obnoxious lead character, Georgie (Tim Holt, who at that point was western star, Jack Holt’s, son), who likes Morgan’s pretty daughter (a very young Anne Baxter), blurts something like, “I think automobiles are a complete nuisance and wish they had never been invented!” My late friend, Jim Rose, absolutely loved this next speech by Ray Collins. It’ used as the front-piece – a single illustration, with one line of dialogue – in the 1st edition. Ray Collins is Georgie’s uncle. He says, “By Jove, Georgie, you’re a puzzle. That’s a new way to win a girl’s heart. Insult her father’s business. By Jove!” But Morgan takes it philosophically and says (and I’m paraphrasing), “You know, maybe Georgie is right. Maybe we would be better off if automobiles hadn’t been invented. They probably won’t improve the quality of men’s souls. But they have been invented, and they’re here to stay.”
Have a nice day.