HOLLYWOOD UNDERGROUND: A TRUE STORY…

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

 

CHAPTER ONE

A ONE WAY TICKET TO THE CITY OF ANGELS

AUGUST 1997

This is an age old story, one that has been told numerous times in numerous ways, but never has it been told quite like this.

It is a sweltering morning in Southern California when I get off a cramped bus on Sunset Boulevard. The angry guy in gold chains, the standing for over an hour and the constant stops have me more than ready to greet my new home. No matter how one views this new world, I have hit Rock Bottom and despite being in paradise, the odds of reaching the life I’ve always envisioned are astronomical at best. Monolith movie billboards placate the roof top of The Chateau Marmot, illuminated by the blinding early morning sun as if the very definition of The Sunset Strip itself. This is Hollywood in full bloom and this infamous landmark filled cityscape is crawling with characters from all walks looking for their place in this sprawling City Of Angels. Some have already found it, those buzzing around in Bentley’s, but for the rest of us, the aspiring tortured and yet blessed souls, you can never tell who will make it and who won’t. This I think is the big draw and hook for millions of dreamers from Alaska to China whom grace these world famous streets in search of that one chance to shine towards a better tomorrow. I am in the mix somewhere, as well and deep down I know somehow that I will get there. Right now there seems no other option. Two Porsche’s quickly turn left when I walk across the street. I am finally in Hollywood that much is sure, but far from how I have always imagined on getting here.

One month ago I was kicked out of California State University, Long Beach for failing a class and now everything left to my name is stuffed inside a hunter green Jan Sport backpack. When all your worldly possessions are stuffed inside a backpack, you never really feel like your education is best served. Oh, how the whims of the great pendulum can swing and inside the backpack is everything I hold dear: 1) an old Apple laptop computer, 2) extra clothes, 3) hair clippers, 4) Sony Walkman headphones, 5) a short film I’ve made with some friends, and last but not least 6) two full length screenplays I have written recently in a furious outburst to never settle for that humdrum life never asked for. More than being on the streets to my twenty-something determined mind, this is the real nightmare, that never-ending march of 9 to 5 misery, slaving away days to merely pay the bills and exist in a cold, dark, dank place where any dream has died eons ago. That said there is no denying that in the throes of my future crashing down all around me, I’ve thought of forfeiting and giving up on this lifelong dream completely. I have been raised to know however that giving up on anything isn’t much of a thought process, not for anybody of potential, but if I have learned anything as of late, it is that the real world doesn’t really care about how you were raised. The truth is what has kept my feet firmly planted on this terra is that I still harbor this guiding light and shining beacon which burns white hot and quitting just won’t do, no sir, not if I want to see it come into fruition. And I do, more than life itself.

Down the palm tree laced, infamous Boulevard, past some bucket drum playing street performers, a book store called Book Soup is home for a bit, a seemingly relaxing place to rest and regroup. In the outdoor magazine section, I peruse various trade publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, finding not much by way of opportunity aside from extra work. I write the numbers down accordingly. At a payphone across the street at Tower Records, I call Central Casting and try to talk the seasoned secretary into letting me pick up a paycheck at the office. I say I am sleeping on friend’s couches and they quickly shut it down. They say with no address they cannot sign me up, because they only mail out checks. …

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