Seeing how much flak (and attention) I got from all y'all over my short story 'PAIN MANAGEMENT', I considered turning that idea into a series. It seems most of my friends who read that piece experienced half a shade of anxiety from it - thinking that perhaps it was a gussied-up suicide note.
In response to that overreaction, it seemed to me that perhaps I should begin a new series titled "The Weekly Suicide Note". The concept being that every Monday morning I will post a creatively conceived suicide note, and your job is to guess which of them will eventually turn out to be the "real" thing. Like it? (Yuck!-Yuck! Jocularity!-Jocularity!)
Alright, m-m-m-ove along now. Th-th-there's nothing left to see here. That's all folks.
Yeah, that's what I OUGHTA DO! But since I rarely do what I oughta do, all y'all are off the hook on that one.
Instead, what I'm going to do is post pictures from my recent trip to My Homemegalopolis (Los Angeles), and add some really brilliant commentary . . . if I can find a brilliant commentaryist
As some of you know, my brother Nappy and I spent a few vacation days out L.A.-way at the beginning of this month and, for me, the trip had a kind of "Rock 'N' Roll" theme to it, as I spent some time photographing notable Rock 'N' RolL.A. sites. I'm splitting this vacation recap blog bit up into 2 segments because yer always pissin' 'n' moanin' about how long my blog posts are. (Just grow a pre-MTV adult attention span, will ya?)
Part 1 has to do with the Rock music aspect of the trip (and other "entertainment"-like stuffs); Part 2 - coming soon - will be titled "Disappointment In Riptide City" and will be about . . . everything else. As Howlin' Wolf said, "Alright, let's get on it!"
THE BEACH BOYS TERRITORY:
Nappy and I stayed at some hotel in Hawthorne. Nearby in Hawthorne is a monument to The Beach Boys boyhood home. (And I loves me some Beach Boys!) The house was long ago demolished, but here's a picture of where it stood and the monument there to the Wilson Brothers - Brian, Carl, and Dennis:
According to Art Fein's 'The L.A. Musical History Tour' book, the Foster's Freeze at 11969 Hawthorne Blvd. is notable for the following:
Local legend has it that it was at this burger stand that young Brian Wilson saw a girl driving her daddy's T-Bird, which was subsequently taken from her, inspiring the song, "Fun, Fun, Fun".
Apocryphal? Perhaps, but it's certain that the adolescent Wilson boys spent plenty of time here, since it is just around the corner from their family home at 3701 West 119th Street.
Well, it's obvious that Art Fein was never here, because if he had been, he would know that this Foster's Freeze is hardly "around the corner" from the Wilson family's home (in fact, the site of their former home was a royal pain in the ass to find!). Nevertheless, the Wilson Boys probably did spend plenty of time at this Foster's Freeze, and the "Fun, Fun, Fun" legend might well be true:
JIM MORRISON & THE DOORS TERRITORY:
[The following photos were taken by Henry Diltz in 1969.]
At 1246 South Hope Street, in downtown Los Angeles, was the Morrison Hotel, where Mr. Diltz photographed The Doors for the cover of their album of the same name:
I took the following photos, showing what the site looks like in September of 2011. The boarded-up section is what was once the Morrison Hotel's front window, which served as the front of the album cover:
Look closely and you'll see that on the plywood board that covers the former entrance to the hotel, someone has scrawled "Morrison Hotel" and "L.A. Woman", utilizing the Dodgers' way of integrating the L and the A:
The back of the album cover showed the first, the original "Hard Rock Cafe" at 300 East Fifth Street, downtown Los Angeles (or, "On The Nickel" as the Skid Row inhabitants refer to that dilapidated street in that part of the city) :
Here's a rarely seen Henry Diltz photo showing The Doors out in front of the original "Hard Rock Cafe" on L.A.'s Skid Row:
And below is a photo I took earlier this month of the same site. What was once the "Hard Rock Cafe" is now the "Green Apple Market". Standing out in front is my brother Napoleon (or, Nappy) on the left, in the white T-shirt and powder blue UCLA baseball cap, and our dear old friend General Poohregard in the light green Hawaiian shirt stands beside him. I went inside and bought a soda pop, which Jim Morrison would have found unacceptable:
Does anyone remember the old 1970's TV show 'Baretta' starring Robert Blake? Tony Baretta lived with his cockatoo pal Fred in apartment 2C of the King Edward Hotel. Below is a picture I took of that hotel, also located on Fifth Street downtown, just a couple blocks west of what would be officially considered "Skid Row". One could have easily gotten falling-down liquored-up at the Hard Rock Cafe and then stumbled home to their room at the King Edward Hotel:
Below is a photo of me, circa 1978 or '79, when I was 18 or 19 years old. My friend The Flying Aardvark said I look like Jim Morrison in that photo. [Remember that, you'll need it later.]
About 28 years ago, I introduced my friend General Poohregard to a small, almost hidden bar/restaurant in downtown Los Angeles on Sixth Street called "Cole's" [as Randy Newman sang: "Sixth Street - We love it!" ]
Below is a photo of brother Nappy (right) and me (left, at age 52) having a beer at Cole's before heading to the Dodger game. Remember my "Jim Morrison" look from the photo above? Yeah, I found out firsthand that as we age... Shit Happens to our appearance!
DAVID & DAVID TERRITORY:
If you've been faithfully reading this blog "Stuffs" then you know that I am a fan of the one and only David & David album "Boomtown". Back in the mid-'80s when life seemed so crappy to me, I played the living hell out of that album. That was around the same time I was semi-regularly visiting at night, after work, a bar located in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. I had long forgotten the name of that hotel or on what street it could be found. But I always mentally associated it with the David & David album "Boomtown".
Well, that hotel bar has now been identified: Shortly after returning from our L.A. trip, I accidentally stumbled upon an old illustrated "Downtown Los Angeles" map I had saved from decades ago. I immediately recognized the spire-topped rounded roof in the drawing on that map.
The bar in question is located at the Embassy Hotel on Grand Avenue at 9th Street. I showed it to brother Nappy and the first words out of his mouth were: "Not a good neighborhood, idiot!" And that's coming from the toughest Mofo I know.
Below is a photo I found of the Embassy Hotel on Grand Avenue. Wanna meet me there some night for a Grand Marnier on the rocks? I'll buy. We'll just pretend it's 1986 all over again. ("And when I pour they smile, and say to me that I'm a rock for the forgotten.")
Below is a music video for the David & David song "A Rock For The Forgotten" - one of my very favorites on that criminally underrated and mostly forgotten "Boomtown" album . (I think you should play it. That's why I included it!) Listening to "Boomtown" on the way home from our trip, Nappy called their stuffs "Music Noir" because, as he said, "You can't listen to it without imagining long, dark shadows". Good call, brother Nappy!
At the Firefly we all tell lies
And the cleanup kid hangs his head
He's the quiet type, came to L.A. to write
But he never made it out of the fringes
Keeps a low profile, you kick him he'll smile
Thinks blood is his payment for losing
~ 'A Rock For The Forgotten' by David & David
[It seems there really is a Firefly bar on Ventura Blvd. in "The Valley", I don't know if it's the same place that David & David had in mind when they wrote the song below, but either way, my own personal "Firefly" was the Embassy Hotel bar on Grand Ave.]
TOM WAITS TERRITORY:
I got to spend one day of my vacation with my friend The Flying Aardvark, and she drove me around in the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the Hollywood area in order that I could snap the following series of pictures:
Now on Hollywood and Vine
By the Thrifty Mart sign
Any night I'll be willin' to bet
There's a young girl
With sweet little dreams and pretty blue wishes
Standin' there just gettin' all wet
~ 'A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun'
by Tom Waits
Here's a picture of the Hollywood & Vine intersection - undoubtedly the most disappointing tourist destination in the entire world. There's no Thrifty drug store there now, but unless my memory really fails me, I do vaguely seem to recall that there was one there in the 1970s when this Tom Waits song was written. And I want to say that it was on the Southeast corner as seen in my photo below. [Can I get an assist on this from any old-time Angeleno native out there?]
Now there's a place off the drag
Called the Gilbert Hotel
And there's a couple letters
Burned out in the sign
~ 'A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun'
by Tom Waits
Much of Hollywood is really raunchy looking, and it made me laugh when I got back to the Aard’s automobile after taking my “Gilbert Hotel” picture to find she had locked herself in the car for the couple minutes I was out of it. Ha! Smart girl though!
[Note to Doctor DiscConnected: By the way, the Gilbert Hotel is no more than a few blocks from Amoeba Records.]
TOM WAITS & WARREN ZEVON TERRITORY:
From the spoken Introduction to Tom Waits' song "Better Off Without A Wife":
Well, actually, I don't mind going to weddings or anything. As long as it's not my own, I show up. But, eh... I've always kind of been partial to calling myself up on the phone and asking myself out. You know... (whoops from the audience). Oh yeah, you call yourself up too, huh? Yeah... Well, one thing about it, you're always around! Yeah, I know. Yeah, you ask yourself out, you know. Some class joint somewhere. The Burrito King or something. You know... Well, I ain't cheap, you know.
At the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and Alvarado stands the first in what eventually became a chain of fast food burrito joints called Burrito King.
Although I had eaten at one of the other locations before, the first establishment is now the only one still operating. Nappy, Pooh and I stopped by this infamous ROCK 'N' ROLLAS hangout. Below are some photos of Nappy and Pooh debating whether or not to chance it. (I had the Chile Relleno burrito. I can’t say it’s the best I’ve ever had, but it damn sure was the hottest! I had to wait 5 minutes for it to cool down sufficiently to take my first bite.)
WARREN ZEVON TERRITORY:
I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel
I was staring in my empty coffee cup
~ 'Desperados Under The Eaves' by Warren Zevon
Well, I pawned my Smith-Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer Chicken stand
~ 'Carmelita' by Warren Zevon
If you Google "Warren Zevon/Carmelita/Pioneer Chicken stand" you will find that there is a lot of confusion on the Internet about whether or not there ever really was a Pioneer Chicken stand on Alvarado Street in the Echo Park area of L.A., as mentioned in his song. I'm here to clear this question up once and for all.
As I recently posted on someone else's website, YES, in the 1970s there WAS a Pioneer Chicken stand on Alvarado Street.
Back when I was a kid, (1969 through the mid-'70s) my Grandfather used to take us to Dodger games. He would take Venice Boulevard [not the Santa Monica Freeway, as I mistakenly wrote on that other bloke's website], turn left (North) on Hoover Street, and then turn on to Alvarado Street where it intersects with Hoover. We’d continue on Alvarado north past MacArthur Park, pass under the Hollywood Freeway (the 101), cross Sunset Blvd., and then turn right on Scott Ave. which would take us right up into the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
Well, right on Alvarado Street, on the east side near the Alvarado Street/Montana Street intersection, there used to be a Pioneer Chicken Stand. And I can still distinctly remember seeing all these scroungy looking characters hanging around the place every time we passed by. (My Grandpa had Dodger season tickets, so we passed by the Chicken Stand a lot!)
At that intersection today is a Von’s grocery store. I believe a grocery store was always there (although not necessarily the same chain). The Pioneer Chicken stand was essentially in what would today be the western edge of the Von’s grocery store parking lot.
I’m convinced that this was the Pioneer Chicken stand Zevon referred to in ‘Carmelita’ because it meets the criteria: it was directly ON Alvarado Street and just 3 or 4 blocks from Echo Park itself, and it was a haven for hippie-lookin’ dudes who probably weren’t waiting around there for the freshest batch of chicken to arrive.
Below are a couple photos of my ol’ buddy Pooh at the site of Warren Zevon's long lost Pioneer Chicken stand on Alvarado Street. In this first one, he's holding up a package of chicken. The chicken stand actually stood just a little to the left of and behind that left-most bright yellow post in the parking lot.
In the far background, you can see a red ambulance parked beside the Von’s Grocery Store. The paramedics had been called to tend to a dude who was comatose and lying underneath the newspaper rack in front of the store. Yeah, things haven’t changed much in the Echo Park area.
I was thinking that the gypsy wasn't lyin'
All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I'm gonna drink 'em up
~ 'Desperados Under The Eaves' by Warren Zevon
Anytime I listen to that song, the line about drinking all the margaritas in Los Angeles immediately makes me think of El Coyote mexican restaurant on Beverly Blvd. I’ve always thought they made L.A.’s best margarita.
Our first night back home, Nappy and I met up with a group of friends at El Coyote and had a margarita or two. It was loud and it was fun. Here’s “the evidence”:
L.A.'s best Maggy?
Hoodlums hangin' out after all the loudness . . .
Did any of you see the movie "Lords Of Dogtown"? Dogtown is the nickname given to South Santa Monica and North Venice, the area where Pooh, Nappy and I grew up. One scene in that movie was filmed at Rae’s, an authentic 1950s diner that used to be a regular Breakfast Club meeting place for The League Of Soul Crusaders. It's on Pico Blvd. at the Eastern edge of Santa Monica.
Nappy and I stopped in for breakfast one day, and I took a picture of the interior, in the same spot – as fate would have it – where the “Lords Of Dogtown” scene was filmed.
BACK TO MORRISON & THE DOORS TERRITORY
[RICKIE LEE JONES & SLAVIN' DAVID, TOO!] :
OK, we’ll bring this blog bit to a close at Venice Beach, where the idea for The Doors was born, and where Rickie Lee Jones honed her performing style before she had a record contract.
On Speedway, right down near the Venice Boardwalk you’ll find a large mural of Jim Morrison:
Just down at the end of the block from the Sidewalk Cafe on the Venice Beach Boardwalk is Big Daddy & Sons Pizza. Painted on their wall is an advertisement claiming that they have the “WROLDS BEST FUNNEL CAKES”. Those of you who read my recently posted short story “Pain Management” ought to be having one of those “Ah-Ha!” moments right about now.
Below are the Bitter Brothers bitchin’ at their Sidewalk Café Bitter Breakfast meeting. From front to back, starting on the right: Ricki B, whose dad held every Los Angeles Rams rushing record until Eric Dickerson came along; my brother Nappy; General Poohregard.
Front to back from the left: Larry (“Lelly”) Rosen, a guitarist with Slavin’ David’s Blues/Rock band ‘Loose Gravel’; cartoonist Lonnie Millsap; and some weirdo in a cowboy hat who just happened to be strolling along the Boardwalk and begged us to let him be in the picture. [I've told you Venice Beach is full of strange people these strange days!]
You can read a review of Slavin’ David And Loose Gravel’s latest album “Rock And Roll Road” by clicking HERE.
The album cover was designed by Lonnie Millsap whose latest cartoon book “I Hate My Job” can be purchased by clicking HERE.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
IN LOS ANGELES, THE BURRITO SOMETIMES BITES BACK
By John M. Broder for The New York Times
Published: May 18, 2003
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.