As I recently flew over the sea of lights that is Los Angeles (on a plane), my thoughts wandered (as they often do). “Where did they wander?”, you might ask. Well, they wandered to a distant memory of a Los Angeles where I lived in another life. Yes my friends, I have seen this movie before. But this one will have a happy ending. Left on a train, returning on a plane. Shut up and listen.
Once upon a time in a magical wonderland made of glitter, and hairspray, and sex, drugs, and rock N roll… lived a long haired, leather pants wearing vocalist. “A ‘singer’ is a sewing machine”, his manager used to say. All he ever wanted was to be a rock star. When he was ripe enough, he made his way to Hollywood with $50 in his pocket and a one-way plane ticket. He almost immediately walked into a major development deal. Seattle/grunge happens. Yada yada… the rest is downhill. Awkward laugh out loud.
But oh the adventures, and the memories, of the only place I ever saw myself living as I grew up with a head full of dreams. And at this point in my reminiscing, the music on my carefully prepared ipod shuffle, “L.A.” playlist, shifts to Van Halen. “Hey ‘Metal Mike’! Remember the time you poked David Lee Roth in the chest at The Rainbow?” Again, sorry Dave. Now you can throw all the numbers at me you want about record sales. And bless Sammy Hagar’s heart, love his music since way back in Montrose days. But DLR was my Van Halen front man. And here I was face to face with solo Dave (post 1985) in all his glory. One of so many idols I had the opportunity to meet in my late 80’s/early 90’s Los Angeles life. But the only one I accosted. More awkward laughter.
Those Hollywood nights. And another day up in the canyon. Ventura Highway. I continue my California Dreamin’. The music plays on. The lights stretch on as far as I can see. Damn I missed you L.A. How did I stay away so long? Yes, people are strange when you’re a stranger. From LAX to Venice Beach; the people watching in L.A. is among the best in the world. Irregular visits just won’t cut it anymore. I need you, and your people. You know what else I need? A special signal to celebrities, like the hand down thing that bikers do. Some silent, low-key, nod like signal. Because we all know you don’t acknowledge out loud that you are aware they are a celebrity. Maybe a gang sign like “C” to the chest?
And I need your food. I can almost taste Canter’s Reuben, Pink’s hot dogs, Barney’s chili, fish tacos in Venice, lobsters at Neptune’s Net, and pizza at The Rainbow. I will discover so many more classics and new restaurants soon. I may have drooled a little just then. Cronut, anyone?
My mind overflows with the glorious bar possibilities. In that past life I was a light beer, or beam and coke. Oh ye who hath evolved. I now know that there are more bars than on the Sunset Strip! And I now cherish a craft cocktail. As much as I enjoy drinking with the ghosts of dead rock stars, the ghosts of dead actors also make great company. Boo-zing it up with John Belushi at Bar Marmont, Marilyn Monroe at The Roosevelt, and God knows who at The Formosa is my cup of um “tea”. Of course there are the living that still haunt some of my favorite places decades later; such as Ron Jeremy and Lemmy. I can’t wait to work my way down the list of “newer” places, new to me anyway; Copa D’Oro, Sur, Neat, The Varnish, Bar Centro, Bar 210, Cameo Bar, hell… any place with the word “bar” in it’s name?
Oh yah, and then there’s the traffic. Don’t care. Although I don’t relish the quality hours I will spend parked on the 405. I do look forward to once again being cut off by Carmen Electra on Hollywood Blvd. It’s cool. She’s a sexy part Cherokee, like my girlfriend. “Hey ‘Metal Mike’! Remember that time you were behind Vince Neil’s car as he drove to the Seventh Veil? License plate ‘Makn Noiz’?” Heck, back in the day I couldn't even afford my own car! Now, let’s just say I love every moment behind the wheel.
Let’s not forget the weather! In my mind I am dressed like Charlie Sheen’s character, Charlie Harper, in Two and a Half Men. In real life I can put my winter coats in mothballs. And I can wear a jacket almost any night! That’s great because I have almost as many jackets as my girlfriend has shoes. No, that is extremely wrong. OK, well I have more silk pocket squares than her!
That leads me to shopping. As one of the largest, hippest cities in the world, there is great shopping in Los Angeles. From Beverly Hills to Melrose is a good start for the fashionista. I’m wearing a vest from the shop formerly known as English Laundry on Melrose right now. The difference is- this decade I wear my vests with a shirt. But thank you Scott Weiland (rock vocalist, for those of you who don’t know) for your entrepreneurial spirit. Thank you for designing this vest and tie. And thank you for this cover of The Doors, “Break on Through” that is playing right now on my ipod.
This is the house hunting trip before the move. Where to live? Unlike my twenties, I will now need lots of room for “stuff”, and my girlfriend’s shoes. Rent first, buy later. I don’t have to live walking distance to the strip anymore. I don’t have to live in a gated community. I don’t want to live in the chaos of downtown. Under the bridge downtown? Hehe. (Come on, I just had to work that one in!) Try finding an affordable large house with a pool in the Hollywood hills! Not happening. Valley? Eh. Laurel Canyon? That narrow, busy road is a nightmare to merge on to. Another canyon? Topanga? Somewhere near the beach? Santa Monica? Hmmm… After putting a lot of time into it for weeks, it was apparent some professional assistance may be in order. And not nearly as bad as San Francisco, but still something to watch for, are scam artists. Do not send money to anybody. Until you have stepped into the house with a verifiable agent or owner, I repeat, do not send money to anybody! “This property has a lot of interest. If you really want it you better step up.” Well it is true that all the best properties seem to disappear in a day or two. But that is why we enlisted an agent eventually.
The lights twinkle above the glitter dome. I remember that I said I'd move back "when pigs fly". We no longer have to turn off electronic devices, such as ipods, upon final descent. Things change, such as this city, and my mind. Brian Wilson serenades me into the city that once was, and shall again be my home. I want to hug a palm tree. Anybody know a good agent?
-Michael P. “Martini Mike” D’Arco