Published May 17, 2015
An LA night in the Hollywood Hills, mysterious as all of them must be, more mysterious than you would think. At Griffith Observatory peering down on the quiet canyons.
On the curving drive up, a large coyote, more like a wolf, the largest coyote I’ve ever seen, lurked out onto the road and smoothly went uphill.
A gay couple, apparently on a first date, are staring at the shocking dark expanse, too. One is from the area and is tour-guiding his date; you can hike on trails all the way to the Hollywood sign in the distance, he says. There are other hiking trails, too, in the area, including one to a reservoir. No trails are visible in the dark; it just looks like one large plenipotent mystery. The date asks why the sign isn’t lit up at night. No good answer comes, but the knowing guide says the sign used to read “Hollywoodland,” but “land” was lost sometime in the Twenties. Walking toward the observatory, and looking back at the hills and sign, what looks like a small fire blazes an orange quarter in the distance at the foot of the sign. Rich kids at the sign?
The night feels rich, made richer by the feeling of wealthy people all around, especially one cocky young guy and a girl in awesome boots who scoot out at closing and quip right to his Jaguar illegally parked near the entrance for the last-minute visit.
Hollywood sits right at the base of a series of jutting hills, the work place of all those luxurious industry people with magnificent homes perched among their heights. Rich people in the hills in every city. Seclusion, views, reaching toward God-heights.
The dark, grey, black, deep blue, the wilderness a shock from the orange-pink, ads, buildings of the city you carve through to then escape suddenly up the hill to rich wilderness all around you.
Later, driving up Laurel Canyon, made famous in my brain by the movie of the same name, reveals glorious houses everywhere. Are there that many people living that well? How?
Chateau Marmont. “Who are you meeting?” “No one.” “Bar here is by reservation only.” The blond, older, cute-ish gatekeeper is a litttle murky on the details, but points me to the Bar Chateau Marmont down the hill, where the plebes go.
You walk in to loud music, which sounds almost live, but you see pretty soon that it’s guided by a whack DJ in the corner near the low-level bar. The place is lavish, the wall paper ornate, stringy fringe on the high-ceilinged, hanging lamps, and rose-saffron, dimmed lighting. The full scope of a peacock’s 12-foot-long tail feathers hang over one semi-corner table across from the bar where a gaggle of girls (one older is a mom?) perch and all but one flirt their eyes around the room. The remainder drizzles lime over an elegant-looking paella-like dish and starts grubbing somewhat hard with her hands.
Bartender girl in white shirt, low-cut, suspenders framing her inflated breasts.
Two dudes on a business date, look boringly around the room, backs to the kidney-height bar. Three cute girls walk in; the hostess takes them to one of the alcove tables, where table service is de riguer. They look slightly disappointed that they’ll be cordoned off in table-service hell, with no guys in eyeshot to obliquely thrust their bodies at through glances.
A girl with curly hair, an interesting face and thick legs walks by in a low-cut, short dress. Watching her step up the carpeted five stairs that lead to the entrance in high heels, I teeter with her legs. She comes back down to the bar, connects with two friends. I contemplate going up to say Hi. I don’t.
It’s about 11pm on a Thursday night. There is one dude here who could be famous or embedded with the famous. He’s sporting the eff-you-I-made-it outfit of powerhouse producers/directors — baseball cap, T-shirt, relaxed sport coat, a calm grin that conveys, “I’m on the beach at least 60 days a year, doing my dream and making dough. No worries.”
A blond in the corner, bleached, stares alarmingly hard around the room. Over-eye-lined eyes calling out for a dirty quicky in the Marmont alley, or more likely, a moment with a sad Hollywood producer with money, to throw some cash on her naked stomach after offering her soul up to him, and her dreams.
The music is loud.
On the drive home you pass by oil-field hills in the middle of the city, adding doses of mystery and Wild West feelings — what must have been the genesis of “There Will Be Blood.” “I’ll Drink your milkshake.”