HOLLYWOOD UNDERGROUND…A TRUE STORY

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
Henry David Thoreau

BRIEF EXCERPT – CHAPTER ONE

A ONE WAY TICKET TO LIPSTICK CITY

AUGUST 1997

It came on a Friday at the tag end of summer, this year of Our Lord 1997, when I left this world behind. All my remaining worldly possessions were stuffed inside a green college Jan Sport backpack. This is what happens when you pawn everything left to your name for means of mere survival. Such is life. Sometimes you just have to roll with it. Inside the backpack was my world, an Apple laptop computer, extra clothes, hair clippers, Sony Walkman headphones, a copy of the short film I’d made at California State University, Long Beach called IDTV, and two full length screenplays I had written recently in a furious outburst to avoid that mundane life most of us fall victim to. There’d be no backing down this time, oh no now it was time to embark on a journey and a dream in which I hoped would change everything. There’d be no notes left in my wake and no phone calls to anyone, not even loved ones. After being kicked out of college it was on me now and no diploma or internship mattered anymore. In every way this is that special moment in time when textbooks give way to the real world and young men set out to make a name for them self no matter the cost. Put simply, it was now or never and there was nothing left to lose, because all that mattered was getting there and everything else be damned.

The sardine can studio apartment I rented while attending California State University, Long Beach was completely barren, everything was for sale to the highest bidder for mere peanuts. It was a pathetic site, when I left it all behind and walked out on an old life completely for the Metro Blue Line Train Station downtown along Pine Street. All I would need was a one way ticket to Hollywood…

If this were a movie, the camera would pan down from the Hollywood Hills, as a dusty downtown Los Angeles bus maneuvers its way through congested traffic. The squeaky brakes, the hard stops and insane busy streets, this is Hollywood in full bloom, though this is no movie. After two hours or so commuting from Long Beach, this is how I arrive in Hollywood…on a whim and a prayer. I am hung over. I am disgusted with myself. It is also ungodly hot. I am sweating like a priest in a strip club. Even still, despite my world crumbling down, I am also strangely optimistic and buoyant somehow though I am not entirely sure why. I am the wide eyed-anything is possible-can’t tell him anything young man embarking on a new life that he is totally unprepared for. The bus is crowded with all walks of life, from the Spanish speaking Mother with three kids on her hip to the would-be gang member standing shifty right behind me with a look in his eye like he is ready to stab me at any moment. I almost want to convey to him my impoverished nature somehow, that I only have $60 to my name, but over the elevated chatter the will behind this notion quickly dies off into the chaotic ether. If all else fails I will hit and run. After more stops than I can bear, I bounce off the bus and am greeted with mariachi music from a taxi and monolith movie billboards that stretch to the Heavens from the roof top of The Château Marmot. They are illuminated by the blinding morning sun, as if the very definition of The Sunset Strip itself.

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