Saturday, December 20, 2008

The City of Angels

"Think I'll pack it in, buy a pickup, take it down to L.A. Find a place to call my own and try to fix up, start a bran new day..."   Neil Young, from 'Harvest'.  This is the opening of Neil's song, 'Out on the Weekend', my mantra at the end of the summer. I made the deal on an apartment in West Hollywood today, two bedroom, kinda beat up place with lots of character. As only in L.A. I sublet from a down and out costumer, who is staying with friends as I rent her apartment for three months. This place is so full of stories, no wonder Fante, Bukowski, and all the other screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, had to be here. When you drive down Sunset Blvd., there is a feeling of every kind. The rich and the poor, mingling together, eying each other from within a million cars--movie theaters, night clubs, bookstores, record stores, nude strip clubs, cafes, and play houses, all jumbled together in a city stew. Sirens, guitar players, sax players, homeless, hookers, and dealers of every kind, walking and standing on every corner. On the horizon, the tallest palm trees I've ever seen, swaying in time with the city in December. Farmer's markets, diners, flower sellers, painters, actors, artist of every ilk, making way for Saturday night before Christmas. City of angels, city of a thousand poems and songs... 

Once again, today was filled with driving here and driving there. I went to my meeting at noon, where a man brought in a young woman who was to drunk to sit up by herself. They sat next to me, and the woman put her head on me and promptly went to sleep, snoring loudly for all to hear, she smelled of alcohol, several nights before, and chanel #5. That was a first for me at an AA meeting. Her name was Karen, Nathan said, and he picked up from a 'sober living' house on a twelve step call. I can tell you, she isn't sober living today. She was remarkably beautiful for a drunk, but that gene is no respecter of beauty. It wants to break beauty down, that's all. I got up to get her  a cup of coffee, and heard the crash of her hitting the floor. One bookend short of a shelf, as several AA members ran over to help her back in her chair. I think maybe she didn't get to much out of the meeting as she could barely slur out her name. Still, its remarkable how the people there are so aware and cognizant of someone in a place that most of them have been. 

I was excited after I wrote my blog last night, to read and find the 'Blackout Blues' screenplay in very good shape, as that story and manuscript has been with me for so long now. When it was a play, we first did it in 1994, with Kurt directing in our company's new small theatre. Opening night, a taxi driver and a drunk guy both walked in the door with perfect timing. The drunk came into watch the play, and the taxi driver yelled, 'taxi!' down the hall at a point in the play where all hell is breaking loose. It sounded like it belonged in the play. (the play is primarily about a man on a week long drunk who eventually shoots himself in the leg). Its had productions in NYC and Australia, and was always a tight three-quarter length play. When I wrote the film script, I had to expand the three characters in the play to the fifty characters for the movie, it was a job that was so tedious through the first draft. In a play, you can imply the outside circumstances while the play is happening on the inside to the characters, in a movie, you have to reveal and put flesh on them all--its a very different beast. I'm excited by its possibility, its an edgy, inexpensive, film that a first time producer would love to get his or her hands on--I think its going to get a second and third read, we'll see. 

Tonight, I've been invited to a party, my first one in L.A. From what I am told, it is a party where there will be lots of musicians. I'm taking my guitar, and hopefully get to play it tonight. The party is being thrown by my friend Kent and his wife Nancy's friend, Carla. Carla is a recording artist for Arista records, I got to play with her on Thanksgiving which was a blast. She's a really good singer/songwriter, and she knows lots of musicians. It would be great to find some to play with on a consistent basis. I brought demo cd's here with the plan of finding some work playing in a cafe, but I have barely had time to do any thing but get these plays off the ground. Now that things are in place, I may hit the cafes and coffee houses and see what's available. I know if I can get in somewhere, I can make some good money, as I have some good experience working a crowd. We'll see. 

I think its time to lay down for awhile and see if I can catch up on several days of short sleep. Still am not sure I'm leaving L.A. for Christmas, if I feel stressful in doing so, I'll just stay here and have a turkey dinner at The Astro Family Diner here in Silver Lake. Happy Holidays! 


Pamela said...

I hope you have fun tonight at the party. I'm sure you playing the guitar will be the hit of the party!
It was great talking to you today. I am looking forward to next Saturday's meeting.
Have a good week!

caroline said...

Merry Christmas, Raymond. There's an amazing cover story in the NYT magazine today on Philip Seymour Hoffman. So many parts of it made me think of you and what you're doing. If you can't get to it online, let me know your mailing address and I'll mail a copy to you. Have some fun!