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A Real Hollywood Premiere

Our slow ejection from the State of California was gradual at first, predicated on a string of unlucky events.  My mom’s boss had embezzled from the company she worked for and so everyone there lost their jobs.  Due to subsequent mounting bills, my family was kicked out of the Lido (my own personal sanctuary) in December of 1981.  I’d moved around a lot as a kid, but the two and a half years I spent at the Lido had made me feel safe and secure.  If I was a fool for feeling that way, then this was my fool’s paradise.

Though I supposed that not only Victor Kilian; but also the several residents assaulted inside and outside of the fortress walls; and even the unnamed guy who kept starting fires in the Lido lobby would not have agreed with me.

Our last stab at glory on Yucca Street was snuffed out when my mom lost a lot of her money to a con man named Bill Corbin who was “planning” to “move” us to a “nice house” on Long Beach, within a foghorn blast of the Queen Mary.  Corbin left us with our stuff all packed in the living room, and waiting for a moving van that never came.  I felt like we were the Evanses, reliving an episode of “Good Times.”  All we lacked was JJ’s self portrait over the closing credits. After this event our decisions were not really ours to make anymore.

We had to get out, we needed a place to live, but my mom hadn’t considered leaving California just yet.  When you’re 14 you’re not in on the nuts and bolts details like this, so one day I just woke up and heard we’d be leaving the next day, moving out.  We left some stuff with our good family friend Kairon and piled our “have-to-haves” into our ’78 Dodge Omni and headed down the Boulevard.

We headed east on Hollywood Boulevard towards Little Armenia.  I assumed we’d eventually turn left or right for a few blocks because surely we were not going to be living on Hollywood Boulevard.  We stopped at 5333, the corner of Serrano and Hollywood and turned…..into a parking lot.

Uh-oh, we were stopped at the rapidly-becoming-infamous Hollywood Premiere Motel, right on the Boulevard.

Our Hollywood Babylon

Our Hollywood Babylon

I always wished that one day I’d get to go to a Hollywood Premiere; I just didn’t think it’d be like this.  The proverbial genie in the lamp had taken me too literally.

We parked and unpacked, schlepping our stuff to a second floor unit.  This was bad; we had just crossed Bronson a minute ago, which meant we were really close to my school.  How was I going to get home without other kids seeing where I lived?  I was already made fun of for living in Hollywood proper, the students not deeming my 2 block buffer off the Boulevard as good enough.  But of course, a lot of these kids lived up in the Hills.

After everything was delivered inside and the door was closed and locked I just sank inside.  It became official then; goodbye Lido.  Goodbye to the pool, the dark yet comfy hallways, the elevator rides up and down to the basement.  I knew I’d never step foot in there again.  Goodbye to the local 7-11.  Goodbye to not having to live on Hollywood Boulevard.

The unit was one room with a couple of double beds, a half kitchen (what they called a kitchenette) and a half bath.  It had a few windows that thankfully all faced away from the motel.  I’d always liked that the Lido looked like a film noir set, especially with the apartment name lit up on the roof.  This place just looked….noir.

I began to settle into the first place I could ever recall not wanting to settle into.  I immediately wished for relocation. I didn’t know it yet but I’d get that wish too, within 12 months we’d change residence four times in two different states, granted by that perverse genie.  But that was all to come later.  I had to deal with the now, now.

My mom redoubled her protectiveness over us, not letting us outside until she’d cased the area.  I began to picture her as a harried tiger mom.  She felt awful; she’d really had no choice but to take us here while she regrouped and looked for another job.  She promised it would just be temporary.

I stayed in that weekend and ventured out early to go to school Monday morning, my sister Mary in tow.  After school we took a left at Bronson and Hollywood, as if we were walking back to the Lido.  Checking to see we were alone, we took a right on Gower, walked under the Hollywood Freeway overpass, and then a right on Franklin.  Eastward we walked, crossing Bronson again, a right on Western to Russell Avenue, and then, well, you get the idea.  We’d turned the walk home into a real adventure of evasion.  We were that embarrassed.

On our way inside (knocking because we couldn’t duplicate motel keys), we met our next door neighbor, a hirsute hooker in a midriff.  We slipped in and slammed the door shut fast.  It was scary for us not having that arm’s length distance from Hollywood’s sleaze, now we were all up in it.

The motel had a pool.  The building itself was a typical ranch layout like a big letter L, the parking lot and pool up against the Boulevard.  The wall separating the pool from the street a few feet away wasn’t even solid.  I swam the pool a couple of times but could not get the car exhaust smell and taste out of my senses. 7444695184_856cb07e6a_h

I’d seen homeless people, and I was always thankful that we weren’t that.  I mused about that one night around 1am as the LAPD were paying a noisy visit to one of our neighbors.  I decided I didn’t have to let our situation get me down; after all, I was normally a perky guy.

I was interested in some of the buildings around us.  One weekend morning I went out to explore.  I’d passed by an apartment building that looked like a castle (it actually put the Lido to shame) on one of our circuitous routes home from school.  It was beautiful; it had the name on top, just like my old home.  The Trianon, it was called.  It was tall and had a private courtyard.  It was also just a strong Nerf Football’s throw away from the Premiere.  If that place could exist so close to us, even on the same street, then our motel couldn’t be all that bad, could it?  I walked by there and lingered in my imaginings a couple of dozen times while we were there on the Boulevard.

The Trianon

The Trianon

I explored further.  I found a Taco Bell (Mission walk-up style) and an old style McDonald’s (with the yellow arches going up over the roof).  That foraging trip took care of many of our future dinners.

I got used to it, I started to feel ok, in fact we were all starting to feel better.  We kept a small black and white TV in the partial kitchen we had and I’d set up there and watch football.  It was playoff season.  One afternoon I watched the ticket holders slipping and sliding on the ice, heading into the Pontiac Silverdome for Super Bowl XVI.  I was at least glad I wasn’t there; in those months we spent at the Premiere I always remembered the relief I felt when something looked just a little worse.  When I could start to learn to count my blessings.

I stayed positive by taking long walks, usually with Mary.  We’d linger at the Taco Bell outdoor counter and hope the fast food wasn’t too fast, so we could stay out of the motel.  We’d linger back so slowly the wax paper around the tacos would almost fall apart from the grease.

My older sister Laura was usually at work at the Chinese Theater.  We spent a lot of time there seeing double and even triple features of the same film.  Free popcorn, free hotdogs, then back to the motel.  Crossing Wilcox I never passed the Lido; I didn’t want to be reminded.  And it already seemed so long ago anyway.

We didn’t know it for a while but Griffith Park was just a few blocks behind the motel.  When Mary and I discovered this we spent a lot of time there and this mega-playground with hiking trails going up to the hills turned a challenging time into a happy one.  We relaxed, we let our guard down a little and even started walking directly to and from school, it seemed like other kids didn’t notice or didn’t care.

In the Ninth Grade, only my friend Enrique knew where we were living, and he was respectful and quiet about it.  We had a small clique, Enrique, his brothers, a kid named Gilberto, Mary and a girl named Sheila.  Sheila was tall and a little awkward; she was the only ninth grader to wear tight fitting spandex (like Pat Benatar) every day to school.  She showed up at LeConte a few months before and told us she lived alone with her dad.   We all got the feeling she relocated a lot and, like us, was not one of the rich kids.2560262900_83da926274

One day in March, walking home from school, Sheila trailed behind us a little ways.  Suddenly she started singing “Ho-tel, Mo-tel, Holiday Inn – say what?!”  All the while, she’s looking at us and giggling.  Crap, she knew where we lived.  Which meant everyone else did too.  I felt bad and ashamed, so did Mary, but our feelings were mitigated by the fact that knew we were getting out of the Premiere.

We escaped the motel and the Boulevard and moved to a semi-respectable building on Vine Street, on the other side of Sunset.  I hadn’t seen it before, again I’d received my marching orders late, but I knew it would have to be nicer than the Premiere.  And even if it wasn’t, I’d learned a little better by those days of the spring of ’82 to just pretend, until I could again explore my surroundings and create something positive out of it.

3 replies
  1. Laura
    Laura says:

    Bill, You gotta give it another try man! That was years ago, The Premiere might be better now… oh, wait. Here’s a review of the place from January of this year:
    “Felt like I was in a movie, you know, the movies that the main characters get raped and murdered in their sleep.”

    In the immortal words of Emily Litella, “Never mind.”

    Reply
  2. joe seely
    joe seely says:

    Oh my fudging Lawd!

    this is seriously creepy. i actually stayed at that motel pack in the Actual Tigers touring days. It was incidentally the tour where I met Margaret for the first time, on the road with Sparklehorse. the band was staying at our friend’s house in Silver Lake, but I had reconnected with an old flame the night before in San Diego and was looking for a cheap ass place to stay that wasn’t the floor of our friend’s apartment. The place looked crazy sketchy, but what did we care? We just wanted a nice (or not so nice) private place to “have a conversation and catch up on old times”. Now, i’m wondering if we stayed in your unit, and whether or not the bed sheets had been laundered in the 20 yr. interim from when you resided there and I had my night of “staying up late watching cable tv”.

    as you would say, my friend, “DAG!!!”

    Reply

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