California in July is high season, especially on the coast road area up to San Fran. So mindful of this, I’ve just sat on the phone for the past half hour, making reservations at all the hotels recommended by LP between here and SF. I’m most excited about the “Redwood Room” I’ve reserved in this hippy hotel in Haight Ashbury - a dream come true for me. But before that, I’ve booked an idyllic beachfront hotel in San Luis Obispo for Wednesday night, another in Monterey for Thursday and Cale’s favourite in Santa Cruz for Friday. I’m so excited I could sh*t myself! But, once again I’m looking beyond the moment and forgetting about the beauty in the present!
I’M IN F**KING BEVERLEY HILLS!!!!!
Time to explore...
I’m sitting in a top-end restaurant which I entered in error and am now trapped! I’m the centre of attention at a shining white table cloth, refusing to be intimidated by the waiting staff. I’m being shot the sh*t-eye for typing at the table, but easy now Carlos- I’m the fucking customer here, and besides, you mispronounced “Merlot” when you gave me the wine list, so go f*ck yourself! Uh-huh, yes, that’s right, my snidey little cuntling, quit staring at me. Everytime I look up and see your piggy little eyes squinting at me, I’m knocking a dollar off your tip.
It’s goodly fresh to be drinking red wine for a change. If these Beverley Hills diners, quaffing fine wines in their elegant suits and designer dresses, could have seen me three nights ago, caning that massive can of Bud in my stinking shorts, ramming beef jerky into my gob and watching porn on filthy sheets in the rattiest motel in the US, I don’t think they’d be so willing to shake my hand!
I’m definitely looking down the barrel of 100+ dollars for this meal. Any menu that doesn’t even mention the price of things is sure not going to be a $5 all you can eat benefit buffet! The meal is the same price as my hotel room! Maybe I’ll cancel the room and just lay this steak out like a beefy blanket and sleep on that?
The craziest thing – and the reason I sat down here before realising quite how expensive it is – was that I was in a mild state of shock having opened the restaurant door and been bowled over by a fast exiting Jack Nicholson. Now I don’t expect you to believe me, but it is Beverley Hills and a top restaurant at that, so... But I hear you cry – either it was or it wasn’t. Truth is, I was so stunned that I’m really not sure. If someone held a gun to my head and said call it, I’d have to say no. It would be a 48% / 52% call though.
Two thirty-something media execs at the table to my left are discussing movie business. It’s one of the most insincere and bullshitty conversations I’ve ever listened in on. The guy at the table behind me is on his cellphone discussing a callback for an audition, presumably to his agent. The Sommelier looks like Ben Affleck...
Beverley Hills is a living cliché. A pastiche of itself. My first impression of Beverley Hills is green and white. Clean and tropical. Spacious and breezy. I was surprised on the drive through Hollywood how Spanish / Mexican the place seemed in terms of its architecture. It felt very much a southern Mediterranean city compared to the austere greyness of northern New York.
Bill comes. $108 including a healthy tip. I have a chat with the waiter. He is a struggling writer (ooh aren’t we all darling!) who’s just returned from Paddington. He wants to live in London – “to help his writing”. Good luck, mate! I tell him I’m a writer too, and because I’m dressed well tonight and on the expensive side of the table, whilst he serves me, he takes me for a successful writer without my having to say anything. He seems mildly irritated that I’m obviously making the writing thing work. I’m not going to disillusion him and tell him that most of my best writing so far has been cheques and my Job Seekers Allowance forms.
On the walk back fireworks go off all around me as the 4th July celebrations reach a visual crescendo. I veer off down some side roads to work off the steak and check out some residential streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of Nick Nolte drink driving. All I see are shell-suited perma-tanned grannies walking little yappy dogs.
I’ve never felt safer in my life! The mere whiff of fried chicken would bring a SWAT team absailing down here faster than a monkey on skiis, and these houses aren’t even the massive gated film star houses of the Osbornes etc, just regular millionaire’s mansions. It reminds me strongly of Moor Park where a boyfriend of mine lived. Magical Summer evenings with the smell of barbeques and money sweetening the air. I guess Rich people are Rich people the world over.
I realise as I walk that I haven’t had a sh*t for two days. Unlike last week, where I’d eaten so much Chinese I thought my sh*t would come out doing Karate chops. Why I feel the need to mention this is because I find it amazing when I consider what I’ve stuffed my face with in the last 72 hours. A 24 ounce steak just now. 3 pieces of KFC in Barstow (served by the most obnoxious “whatever” type teenage girl). A further 16 ounce steak last night in Vegas, served amid neon blue palm trees after my lapdance by a stunning Polish waiter on rollerskates. All that flesh is now lost in transit somewhere between my belly and anus, yet still I have no urge to give flight to the brown goose. There must be a meat bottleneck somewhere in my lower intestine, a rush hour traffic jam of shit, horns beeping, voices raised. If I leave it much longer then my immune system may get confused between which flesh belongs to me and which to the cow, so that when I finally go, my body begins to expel my innards inside out until all that’s left of me are two eyeballs floating in a Beverley Hills toilet bowl! Think on.
Driving up the coast now. Through Vineyards and rolling green hills. Californ-i-a! Leaving LA proved a pain in the arse. For those of you reading this who know me – and let’s keep it real – who the f*ck else will be, it’ll come as no surprise where I ended up this morning. Yep. South Central. More specifically the city of Compton. I accessed it quite by accident trying to find where to drop off the hire car.
Like when I was 13 and had just started secondary school, trying to find the sports ground, I couldn’t accept that the direction I was going in was the wrong one so rather than stopping to ask directions, I kept on going until the streets resembled New Orleans’ Central City. The houses became more plasterboard and shanty, with crack heads pushing shopping trolleys across the road in front of me, without even looking what was coming.
I pulled over to check my map not really thinking where I was, wearing $300 sunglasses and driving a car with tourist Arizona plates. A mean looking brother limps across to my car clicking his fingers. I ask him where I am. He looks at me quizzically – “This Compton. What you need?”
I ask him if he knows where 2110 Avis is. He points back to where I’ve come from. I thank him, and swing the silver bullet round, narrowly missing a Catweasle bag lady. I drive off feeling supremely pleased with myself that I have a story to tell about Compton, even though it’s still only 11am so I imagine all the rude boys are still safely tucked up in bed dreaming of 50 Cent.
At Avis, Eric is taking care of business. Badly. He is a 19 year old who looks like he’s been up smoking the rocks all night. An angry Frenchman is busting his shriveling balls trying to pick up a non-existent car. Backing up the rear are a grinning Chinese couple, fast losing their grins at being kept waiting so long. Eric doesn’t care. Eric is cool. Eric is no use to me. I leave after 15 mins telling him I’m going to extend the hire on the silver bullet for a further three days and drop it in Frisco. This works out much more expensive, but f*ck it. A woman who can drop a grand in Vegas cares nothing for an additional $300. I stupidly leave all the car’s documents and my rental agreement on the counter. I doubt Eric will process this, but conversely I don’t think he’ll call the police either when he can’t find the car!
I hit the coastal highway. Route 1. This road leads meanderingly to San Fran. I leave LA with mixed feelings. Amazed at how much of it I feel I know due to the movies I’ve seen, yet disappointed at how spread out and essentially boring it seems.