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Streets

Some people are born and grow up in one place, sometimes even one house.  Then there are others who move a couple of times, maybe even to different cities.  Then there’s my family.  We moved around like neurotic nomads from place to place within cities; and then from coast to coast, ricocheting back and forth in ever widening caroms.

Probably the only thing that kept us in the same country is that we never had passports or much money.

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Seriously?!

I’ve been watching a great series on Netflix recently, “The Story of Film,” a multipart look at everything having to do with movies from the 1890’s to the present.  Some of the history I knew (remembering local lore as an old Hollywood resident) but some things I didn’t (like that the great director Jean Renoir was the son of the great painter Pierre- Auguste Renoir).  Produced in 2011, the “Story of Film” unfolds on several continents and is (thank goodness) not the same old Hollywood-centric story.

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Uncle Larry

Me and Uncle Larry

My Uncle Larry came to stay with us for a while in Hollywood.  I was happy because I would finally have a straight-shooting male role model that I could look up to.  I didn’t even mind giving up my bed (with its cool Superman bedspread) to him while I took a spot on the floor nearby.

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The Cold War

Mary had been with me everywhere.  The ups, the downs, the countless moves to different cities and states.  I couldn’t shake her.  My sibling barnacle knew all my moves and how to push all my buttons.  She was my rival, always nearby, a sentient shadow.  And one day when we were coming back from Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors I just, well, snapped.  A moment later when I realized where I was, all I saw was my little sister (not even one whole year younger than me – clinging stubbornly close even in age) lying there on Gower Street with a scoop of vanilla rolling slowly to the gutter.  It lost its glint as it picked up debris and quickly started to melt.

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Five for Fright

The Amityville Horror movie image

Anybody who makes a list like this has to ask themselves one question (no, not ‘Do you feel lucky punk?’).  The question is this:

“What really scares me?”

The opportunity to analyze this question, given to me by hundreds of terror-filled sleepless nights, has yielded this insight:

(Along with realizing an apparent insomnia) I fear the things that go on in a room that I can’t see.  In other words, I don’t really care if something’s happening in my room; I never feared the boogie man or needed to look under the bed.  Really, I didn’t. But what’s going on in my sister’s room?  My parent’s room?  What was that weird sound from down the hall I just heard?

Is it coming to get me when it’s “finished with them?”

This fear is my criterion, and by its very definition, it eliminates any SciFi movie, like, for example, the otherwise outstanding “Aliens.”  Because it has to be able to happen to YOU, alone and in an unfamiliar house, just out of sight, out of reach.  This, of course, eliminates spaceships and such.

So here we go, five movies in no particular order that you may have already seen on various lists.  But to me, they all have to have the same theme:  they have to be movies that because of unseen activity stoke the fires of your worst imaginings and leave you cringing.

For the top five list and the remainder of this post please go to my sister’s site at:

http://www.horrormoviesite.com/articles/five-for-fright/

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The Hollyweird Enforcer

The Big Weenie Hollywood California from Memories of Hollywood

“Welcome to Hollyweird.”  I heard it first as an 11 year old (fresh faced and fresh-lunged) from my Mom when my sis and I arrived from Oklahoma.  My first impressions were: a lot of buildings, hills and palm trees.  I felt there was “more civilization” than what I was used to in Tulsa.  But things seemed a little dirtier too, but you had to look carefully, like the cleaning didn’t get all the way into the crevasses.  The weather was really nice all the time; I noticed that as well, while throwing our Nerf football around in our apartment’s parking lot.

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Who Killed Victor?

The actor Victor Kilian was bludgeoned to death at the Lido Apartments in Hollywood in 1979, a few weeks before I moved in.  Around that time and in that area, though I certainly wasn’t aware of it, there was apparently a lot of dying going on.  A few miles west of my place, and just a couple of years before, Sal Mineo had been stabbed to death. At the time of Victor’s death, a guy named Lionel Williams was on trial for the Mineo killing, he would shortly thereafter be convicted.

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The Villa Elaine

Sometimes the outside appearance of a building gives no clue to what the inside looks like.  The Villa Elaine on Vine Street was not only an example of this but also a serious case of false advertising.  From the outside it looked (and still does look) like a sleazy set for some old film noir movie.  It stubbornly stood on Vine Street, right in between Fountain and La Mirada Avenues, an apartment building of dubious repute for many decades. I was nothing short of astounded when I’d heard it survived the Northridge quake back in ’94.

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Bitchin’ Summer

My REALLY bitchin’ summer, though I wouldn’t have known to call it that yet, was the summer of ’79.  That summer introduced me to the ease of a California lifestyle, tailored to the needs of an 11 year old. From the very beginning I played tourist, kicked back poolside and read some really insightful stuff; and was introduced to the wonderful world of professional sports.

Sports, news, insightful information was the fountain (from which I got to drink all this goodness) in the form of a magazine stand located at Cahuenga and Hollywood.  It ran along a wall on the outside of a building and had mags and newspapers from around the world.

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The Anchor Of Nostalgia

Marilyn Monroe died almost exactly five years before I was born (and exactly fifty years before this writing). Living as she did before my era, I, of course never met her, and in fact have only ever met one person who ever knew her.   But more importantly, for the purposes of this story, she died about 20 years before my nostalgia and longing for the past gained its own sentience.

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