Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach

Admittedly the reason I came here was Black Flag.
I wanted to see where Robo and Chavo drank malt liquor.
But where did Rollins write all that black coffee poetry?
And what's this "Strand" where Keith Morris was so wasted?

I found The Strand.
It's the beachfront boardwalk, sans boards.

Before renting a sublet, I had romantic visions of crashing a few nights here on the beach. And getting stabbed to death. So I rented a sublet.

Dig the frozen surfer.
Gateway to the pier and the Surfers Hall of Fame.
Whoa! A one-legged surfer. Hang five, brah!

On the beach kids went sand sledding.

In the water the surfers carved waves.

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Some goony fisherman gave me odd eyes.

Back on The Strand an elderly woman rode a longboard holding an umbrella.
Leggy volleyball players practiced their digs and kills.

Some skaters convened on foot.
Their acid had begun to kick in.
One kid attempted to skate.
He lost his balance immediately.
His board rocketed across the strand.
He tried again with a similar outcome.
And He Was.

Ordered a shrimp-stuffed avocado at a dive bar.
The bartender was a hot-tongued, flighty woman who would disappear for moments on end.
A dude came in to pick up the chain wallet he left there the other night, but strangely chose not to pick it up.
So the bartender went through it, and announced its contents to the snickering patrons.

Decided to check out nearby Manhattan Beach.
A tonier, upscale beach lined with salons.
No nosey dive bars or blotter-eating skate punks.
What they lack in riff raff delights they make up for in good coffee and a free aquarium.

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Black Flag's old rehearsal space - a flophouse church featured in Decline of Western Civilization - has been turned into a gastropub. I decided to dine there.

The sun set through the enormous modern loft.
Punk graffiti artfully produced on the walls.
90s mall punk streamed at a tasteful volume.
I ordered prawns, pao de queijo and a craft beer.
What else can you do?

When Robo and Chavo lived here, the rent was $16/month.
My bill came to twice that.

Due Due Heartbreaker

Due Due Heartbreaker

Local 871
I cut a heavy check for the union.
Thousands of dollars.
Nice people, mostly women.
It seems I'm doing this.

Before I can work on set I must take some classes.

A2 | Environmental Safety
I took this course in my underwear.
What do you do in an earthquake?

Whatever you do, keep rolling!

I passed this class.

K | Noise Exposure
I put on some pants.

The textbook seemed to have a beef about rock concerts.
Specifically rock music.
It also couldn't tell the boys from the girls these days, what with all that long hair.

I passed this class.

G | Scaffold Use
A retired DP taught this course.
He was a joker.
"If you see a faulty scaffold, how far away should you stand?"
20 feet? 30 feet?
"The hell away. As in Cleveland. Not that you'd ever want to visit Cleveland. Is there anybody here from Cleveland?"
...
"Good."
A woman entered, having come from the ladies room.
"Are you from Cleveland?"
Um, no.
"Okay good."

I passed this class.

I | Respiratory Protection
A retired AD taught this course.
I learned about respiratory protection.

I passed this class.

P | Hazard Communication
An amusement architect taught this course.
He designed many famous roller coasters.
Everyone he came up with is dead because they didn't care about hazard communication.

I passed this class.

871 Meeting
I attended a union meeting, in pants.
A spunky veteran scripty had a lot to say about teleprompter's rights.
She resembled current Carrie Fisher, down to the native California accent.

Union Orientation
Good people, good benefits.

Now I just sit back in my beach chair, take off my pants and wait for the money to roll in. Right?

An Afternoon Downtown

An Afternoon Downtown

I used to think LA didn't have a skyline.
Ignorance is embarrassing.
I drove toward the skyscrapers in the horizon.

Downtown

The Bradbury Building
A historic landmark designed by a self-taught architect after guidance from the deceased through a planchette board. Its design came from a 19th century sci-fi book.

Ornate ironwork, pink bricks, lacquered wood.
La Cage aux Folles elevators to a glass ceiling.
Featured extensively in Blade Runner.
Beauty, eh?

Grand Central Market
Where the hungry and the picky unite.
Tacos, oysters, pupus, currywurst, bento boxes, bbq, ramen, pizza, ice cream, c'mon order something already.

The Last Bookstore
Walked through the book cave.
Perused the true crime vault.
Opted for a 45 by The Snowplows.
"Schussing Parts 1 & 2" (1964)
Surf meets ski.

Skid Row
I knew it existed.
But I was not prepared for what I saw.
It is real and it is intense.
Blocks and blocks of tattered tents.
Squalor, addiction, mental illness - out in the open.
A third world just blocks from the nearest Starbucks.
Truly eye opening.
Couldn't bring myself to take any pics.

However, there seemed a sense of community.
Groups gathered on corners, others kept to themselves.
A guy tossed a fedora high into the air.
It boomeranged right back to his palm.

I walked the periphery and felt a sense that I didn't belong.
So I pressed on to The Toy District.

The Toy District
What? There's a district named after toys? Yes.
A garish maze of wholesale merchants hawking all things cheap from the Pacific Rim.
Stuffed animals, party supplies, radio controlled novelties.
They took a portion of skid row, painted it pink and blue, and turned it into a strange, straggly wonderland.

Calle Olvera
The oldest part of downtown Los Angeles.
I strolled down its rich Spanish - albeit touristy - heritage.
Wrestling masks, candles, bajas, sandals.
Scored a half dozen confetti eggs.

A dance was happening in the plaza.
I remain quite taken by this gentleman's spirit.

La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

Had a blast at the pits.
That smell of real American tar.
Please enjoy the picture show.

Mid-Day in Highland Park

Mid-Day in Highland Park

The sun was out in Highland Park.
Brooklyn with palm trees.

Jon Spencer from the Bellbottoms video was there, decked out in bright orange coveralls.
Only he was a woman sipping artisanal coffee.

I poked around a few music shops, record stores, and a vintage knick knackery inserted into the stretch of auto garages and party supply stores.

There's no denying the gentrification.
For the moment the cultures coexist.
But eventually that bumper sticker's gonna fade.

I decided to load up on sugar.
For lunch I went to Donut Friend.
Indie rock donuts with cute punny names.
S'morrissey, Fudgegazi, Nutellavision.
I ordered the X-Ray Speculoos: cookie butter inside a traditional donut, with chocolate glaze and topped with sea salt.
As I devoured it, someone's rent shot up $50.

Next I hit Galco's Soda Pop Stop.
Willy Wonka downsized into a buzzy, fluorescent market.
Aisles and aisles of every soda imaginable.
A cooler of old school candy bars awaiting consumption.
Life-size cardboard cut outs of Galco's son, John, endorsing soda.
Actual life-size John, eyeing me snapping photos.

The Galco's motto is "freedom of choice."
I chose a Moxie soda.
"Don't drink it all!" the cashier urged.
"Don't drink it all?" I puzzled.
She laughed.
"It's a sipper."
Apparently some people think it tastes like medicine.
 
I would have stayed longer.
But I needed a nap.
Or a Jolt Red Eye.

Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks has a storied film and television presence.
A selected filmography:

• Dracula (1931)
• Deathsport (1978)
• Star Trek (lots of 'em)
• Gunsmoke
• "You Got Lucky" - Tom Petty
• Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
• Friends
• MacGuyver
• Blazing Saddles (1974)
• The Muppet Movie (1979)
• Short Circuit (1986)
• The Six Million Dollar Man
• "Heaven Is A Half Pipe" - OPM
• Mr. Show
• Army of Darkness (1993)
• The Rifleman
• Hail, Caesar! (2016)
• The Twilight Zone

Inspired, I raced to this fabled location and shot a feature.

DOOMBERRIES

Trail 19

Trail 19

It was a hiking quartet.
Thea, Brianna, Sean and myself.
Griffith Park.
That mountain down the street.

Instead of taking the normal path to the observatory, we decided to follow a trail marked 19.

It started wide and easy.
Then the incline increased.
The path narrowed to single file.
I became the de facto leader.
The trail turned serpentine.
Crouching morphed into crawling.
Novice climbing began.
Grabbing onto roots and metal rods.

A foursome of brunch bros were above us.
They huffed and puffed and let us pass.
Polite dudes checking their cellphones.

The trail became indecisive.
Left, Right, Up.
Up looked dicey.
Left looked down.
I chose Right and led us to a dead end.
We were beyond the point of no return.

Enter the brunch bros.
Invigorated, they went Up ahead of us.
"I see a fence!" exclaimed the leader.
We followed.
"Can you hop the fence?"

We heard a bit of a rattle and then...

"UUAAAEEGGGHHHH!!!!"

...the sound of a bucket pouring out.
The leader had returned his brunch.

"Ughh...UUAAEEGGGHHHH!!!!"

He retched with the gusto of an exorcist.
Copious amounts of brunch sacrificed to the almighty gods.

"Ohh. Uhh-OOOOAAAUUGGHHHHH!!!!"

I counted eight total hurls.
Poor guy.
My fellow hikers stifled their giggles.

The final push to the top revealed we were on the wrong side of the chain link fence of the observatory parking lot.
Scores of people milled about, gawking at the odd savages approaching.
It felt like being on display at the zoo.

LOST VOMITING INEPT HUMANS

We hopped the fence and assimilated back into society.
But not before snapping a picture of the orbit of your anus.

3 Week Check In

3 Week Check In

Still kind of like it here.
It looks and feels as if I've lost weight.
I'm drinking less.
Sleeping more.
Walking, biking.
Rode across the Shakespeare Bridge.
With its SF hills.

There's this pesky drought.
The occasional red flag warning.
"Fire weather" they call it.
Sounds like hell on earth, but it's fine as long as you keep your showers to 5 minutes.

So many friends!
Met Timmy for happy hour in Silver Lake.
He had encouraging words for me.
Old fashions for the soul.

Caught up with my ship bunkmate Ross.
Ross remains cursed with talent.
He freestyles for MTV at the moment.

Mike and I noshed in a restaurant shaped like a barrel.
He and his wife turned their garage into an improv teaching and rehearsal space.
They've been here long enough to accrue things like a house, a yard and a child.

At the House of Pies, Dunbar and I spitballed music video concepts for The French Goodbye.

Ended up on stage briefly at Singles Motel.
I won a tube of toothpaste.
So much Chicago in the crowd, now employed in various facets of Comedy.

The lack of seasons make time blend into one long blob.
My pal Mike B said that in West Hollywood.
It's true.
Today I got a street cleaning ticket.
Parked on a Wednesday street.
Thought it was still Tuesday.

I felt cold the other night.
It was in the 40s.
I don't care what you think.

So far the kool-aid here is quite tasty.
I'm prepared for the inevitable earthquake that will most certainly kill me.
I've decided I'm okay with that.

Chinatown

Chinatown

I wandered Chinatown with my friend Jim.
The plaza down Gin Ling Way.
Galleries on Chung King Rd.
Domino games on Mei Ling Way.
The light was nice around Dynasty Center.
Jim snapped a few photos, as that is his profession.
I was hypnotized by the madness of colors in the bazaar.
Everything arranged like magical candy.
I could've eaten a blouse.

We caught up over kung pao and coffee, comparing our lists of Chicago ex-pats.
The numbers are large.
Jim had never really considered LA.
That rep it had.
But it seems to suit him just fine.
A richness lurks underneath the surface.

I goofed around on my own.
Browsed kimonos for my wife.
There was a size 8 that looked good.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

I held off on the kimono.

Considered purchasing a seal carving.
But I didn't know what they were.

Ended up at Caveman Vintage Music.
Walls decorated with Tescos and Mosrites.
Things you rarely see in the wild.
I could've eaten those, too.

Ultimately I left Chinatown with the following:
• an umbrella
• a parasol
• a garbage can Homie®
• a pink "cable take pole"*

*That's a selfie stick.
Because I've lost my mind.

Parking & Coyotes

Parking & Coyotes

I started parking up in the hills.
Walking down makes me feel like I live in some Spanish village.
Now there's a built-in workout when retrieving the van.

The other night I saw a coyote casually roaming the streets.
What do you do with that?

Silicone Soul

Silicone Soul

I met old & new friends at a soul DJ show in Echo Park.
It's a vehicle for white people to dance to music made by black people that black people haven't listened to in decades. That said, the music is of quality and it is popularly viewed as a good time.

I experienced people frequently bumping into me and cutting in line at the bar. It seems I wasn't fond of that. The mirror behind the bar exposed me as a steamed wet blanket.

Two-fisting with fellow wallflowers entranced by the vintage soul slideshow, I decided to go into the nucleus of the action.
It would force me to enjoy it.
A rare moment of dead air granted me access.
I found my old friend Dunbar and de-fisted one beer to him.
The surrounding company was in good spirits.
Nine seconds of mid-tempo funk.
I made a few motions that felt very stupid.
An unsure scarecrow.
"I think I hate this," I told Dunbar.
My elbow wondered what it was doing.
My beer was getting embarrassed.
"Yeah, I hate this," I confirmed.
And went poof.

I had forgotten that I'm still an introvert.
The amount of alcohol it would take to extrovert me would complicate transpo logistics.

And that was my Saturday night in Echo Park.

Hollyweird

Hollyweird

You ought to do it once.
Walk down that stench of Hollywood Boulevard.
Not sure I have anything new to offer.
I'll just say what I saw.

Scientology Creeps
White men with crisp haircuts politely murmuring at you.
One handed me a pamphlet.
"free personality test"
"Sure."
I grabbed it.
He held onto to it.
"let me tell you how it works"
I was walking so I kept walking.
The pamphlet stayed with me.
ARE YOU CURIOUS ABOUT YOURSELF?
Not really.

The Jimi Hendrix Guy
Points for left-handedness.
Small cluster of people filming with phones.
Low CU mtv angles.
They looked as intense as he did slopping through "Voodoo Chile" in a defunct storefront.

'Repent' Kooks
Strange people posing as Christians.
Afraid and confused.
Crosses, signs, bullhorns.
"This may be your last opportunity!"
To repent.
It would be nice if it was the very last opportunity.
Then they would pack up and leave.

The Little Richard Guy
Why is the Little Richard guy singing "Purple Rain?"

Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Cosplay ground zero.

Zorro lanced about.
Robot guy moved a little.
A Spiderman and a Wolverine divvied up fresh cash.
Harlem Globetrotter guy mugged.
Marilyn Monroe did odd shoulder blade work.

Catwoman woman stopped in her tracks.
She pawed at her pouch and muttered.
"Why does this always happen to me?"

As dudes shoved mix tapes toward my stomach, I noted a few stars on the Walk of Fame: 
Leeza Gibbons, Ann B Davis, Vanna White.
A tall millennial shouted with great diction.
"THESE ARE NAMES OF HUMAN BEINGS."

Meanwhile Rock n Roll Jesus was on his break.
Jesus with an acoustic guitar.
Sitting on the sidewalk, Jesus seemed bummed out.
A vacancy loomed in his eyes.
I blame the Repent Kooks.

General Sadness
Not sure why I find this strip so sad.
If you look around people are smiling.
And the superheroes are pocketing dough.
Maybe I just wish they were less obvious.
Batmans and Marilyns and shit.
I'd give five bucks to a Klondike Kat.

Musical Meandering

Musical Meandering

IMG_7282.JPG

Danzig's old house is down the street.
It seems I get groceries from the infamous kitty litter Albertson's.

Happened upon a few recording studios.
• Sunset Sound (Pet Sounds, Exile on Main Street, Bedknobs and Broomsticks)
• The Sound Factory (Beck, Weezer, Beverly D'Angelo)
• Preview Records (Rodd Keith, song-poem god)
Gone. Now home to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Found Blue Jay Way.
From The Beatles song.
Tucked away in the Hollywood Hills.
Driving around there feels like trespassing.
BMWs and lookie loo landscaping crews.

Drove down Dead Man's Curve.
That is, I followed the directions in the Jan & Dean song.
Sunset & Vine, west into Beverly Hills at Whittier.
The original hairpin is further west.
Mel Blanc got hit head-on there in the early 60s.
I did not!

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Got the new French Goodbye LP into the following shops:
Amoeba Music - Hollywood
Origami Vinyl - Echo Park
Permanent Records - Highland Park
Caveman Vintage Music - Chinatown
Jacknife Records & Tapes - Atwater Village
Rockaway Records - Silverlake

Support local rock!

Getting Out

Getting Out

Lots of Chicago people in Los Feliz.
Ran into Hans on Hillhurst.
He's expecting his first child on Monday.
"Today is Thursday," I said.
Hans agreed.

My musical partner Thea provided a helpful list of necessary establishments to get one's bearings. She and her husband Sean have been showing me around.

Ran into Katie from Teachers walking her dog.
We did a burlesque show in Chicago years ago.

That was Nick at the coffee shop the other day.
He was in a Funny or Die web series for which I provided the music.

Caught the legendary Marty & Elayne at The Dresden.
Elayne's solos are the best.
A prancing flute followed by a locomotive synth.
Marty whips around that kit so swiftly.
A couple glasses of wine.
I'll be back.

Bought produce at the farmer's market.
Took a hike through Griffith Park.
Found the Silverlake Reservoir.
It's dry.

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Fish Tacos.
Doner Kebab.
Sushi.
In n Out.
$4 Pho.

Went to Echo Park to catch The Can at Rafa's.
An authentic slap fight happened on stage.
Followed by Rebecca's nude comedy piece - though I believe she kept her shoes on.
Monique did dog stand-up.
She used to cut my hair in Chicago.
Then Maggie, who I hadn't seen in many years, popped in to run on-the-street auditions for a non-union spot.
Suddenly I'm on Sunset Blvd being discovered.

Glendale. A suburb on steroids.
I had no idea this giant outdoor mall existed.
It elicited an actual whoa from my mouth.
Met Jessica there in her heaven.
We performed comedy on a cruise ship for a few months of our lives. It was the best.
Caught up among the models and comedians waiting tables.

Met old friends for drinks at Ye Rustic Inn.
One is getting married (Mark)
One is having a child (Andrew)
One is still typecast as a serial killer (George)

Dunbar drove me around.
We had Second City Tour Co callbacks together in the decade prior.
Now we're eating roast beefs in Mid-Wilshire talking about doing a music video.

Went to an improv show.
So many familiar faces.
Too many to greet!
Chatted with Bob mostly.
Our first improv group included a mop as a troupe member.
It was the 90s.

Hey that was my photographer friend Jim.
He was headed down Hollywood Boulevard to snap the cosplay folk.

Somebody stuck a Scientology flyer on the van.
Meanwhile the toaster I got at Goodwill brands Jesus into each slice.

I think I like it here.
For the time being.
This first week.
So far.

The only thing I don't get is the weather.
Every day is beautiful.
I don't fucking get it.

Work

Work

I make my living as a script supervisor.
Continuity on commercials.
I'm with IATSE Local 476 in Chicago.
In Los Angeles, scripties fall under Local 871.
It would be nice to get some work while I'm here.

Stopped into Contract Services Administration Training Trust Fund.
It's in Burbank.

I had already submitted my 100 days of experience.
Filled out an I-9 and took a color blind test.
Passed with flying - nevermind.

Took a safety class.
Took a written test.
100%.
"Good job" I was told from behind the glass.

5 more classes to go:
• Environmental Safety
• Scaffold Use
• Respiratory Protection
• Noise Exposure
• Hazard Communication

In the meantime I have a temporary ID card.

I spoke with 871.
I can join!
The initiation fee is $6727.08.
Application fee is $100.
Quarterly dues are $185.
Then I can work.

Who's running this town? Mötley Crüe?
 

Lonely Los Feliz

Lonely Los Feliz

Initial Thoughts
Parking is a thing.
It's quieter.
Obviously the weather is nice.

I'm walking here more than I thought.
Biking the neighborhood is possible, albeit different.

A ponytail guy stood in the middle of a parking lot entrance entranced by his phone. A woman driving waited for him to move so that she could enter the parking lot. He didn't move. She didn't use her horn.

Meanwhile in Thai Town, a Hollywood Boulevard casualty demonstrated karate on an Asian kitchen worker on his cigarette break. 

Loneliness
They say it can be a lonely town.
Things do seem magnified.
The pressure to do things is intensified.
Because you move out here to do things.
So go out and do things.
Unfortunately, the couch is made of quicksand.
Often you need help to get out.

Forced myself out on a Saturday night.
Sat at a tiki bar by myself.
Drank a Karate Punch.

I thought it would be fun being a stranger.
It's fun when you're passing through.
Otherwise it's just strange.

Getting There

Getting There

Iowa
Stayed with my Uncle Shaftoe (family nickname) and his clowder of feral cats.

South Dakota
Hot popped corn at the Mitchell Corn Palace.
A bunch of girls basketball going on.
Kids in halls doing goofs.

Wanted to see The Badlands.
Booked an authentic 1880s frontier homestead.
No electricity, no plumbing.
Wood burning stove, out house.
It was -10º.

The homestead was deemed too authentic.
Trudged thru the unforgiving beauty to a chain motel.
Drank a beer across from Wall Drug.

Private show thru The Black Hills.
Stuffed a twenty down the cleavage of a ponderosa pine.

Went to check on Crazy Horse.
It had been over 25 years.
He has a face now, but doesn't look very happy.
It's not easy being trapped in a rock. 

Wyoming
Ate stuffed pepper soup.
Over the phone my wife asked me how it was.
Red I said.

Encountered blinding snow drifts driving into the sun.
For the birds.

Colorado
Legal marijuana at a shop in the parking lot of a mall.
Quick, cheap and friendly.
Though I think we should abolish the term "budtender."

Walked around Boulder all freaked out like a hippie.
Wrote down some amazing ideas which I'll share with you as long as you promise not to steal them.

buffalo mermaid
One man zoo
Diamond hams

Found the Mork & Mindy house and stared at it.
Munchies included a Colorado style mountain pie pizza served with honey.

Had to ditch the rest of the legalized gay marijuana in a dumpster.
There ought to be a deposit box at the border to share unused pot to inbound visitors.
I wonder if I'm becoming a communist.

Utah
White fog.
Can't see no nuthin.
Got lost trying to find a ghost town.

Arches National Park.
What a bunch of show-off rocks.
Ended up hiking onto the Arch itself. Oops.
A group of Spaniards yelled from the proper vista point. They wanted to know how I got there.
I wanted to know how they got there.
Nature in Comedy.

Bookended the state without another white knuckle white-out thru the mountains.
Rotten!

Nevada
Found a room in a casino for $30.
Caught an Elvis show and sat behind Elvis' mother.
Elvis' dad was on stage operating the karaoke machine.
Elvis went obscure ("Wooden Heart" "The Fair Is Moving On") but closed with a stand-up-or-you're-not-American version of "American Trilogy." A retired vet held The Flag, men removed their hats, and cellphone flashlights waved high through the cigarette smoke.

Had Vegas for breakfast.
Did the Fremont Street Experience sans experience.
Large PA speakers obscure neon icons like Cowboy Vic and the Golden Goose, who remain unlit during daylight.
But you can zip-line down a 12 story slot machine.
And if you're over 350 lbs, there's a hamburger shop that lets you eat free. A large, loud scale shames - I mean rewards - the winners.

Toured the Neon Boneyard and opted for a ghost burger at a haunted saloon in Goodsprings.

California
Took the backroads thru the Mojave Desert.
Joshua Trees, dippy roads, roadrunners.
A purple sunset before the long descent to LA.

Intro

Intro

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It's winter in Chicago again.
Cold, mean, etc.
I keep seeing people I know personally on the TV I watch.
Names, faces.
They all seem to have the same thing in common.
They moved to LA.

This winter I'm going to check it out.
I'm 40 - a little late to the party.
But I'd regret it if I didn't try.