Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Anniversary: Part 2

It has been driving The Blog crazy that, for all of his recollections of that time, he could not nail down the exact dates of his cross country journey. I knew that it was around Valentine's Day of 1983. But, that was the best I could do.

But then, The PC realized, "The internet knows everything!"

                                                                          And, I mean, EVERYTHING.

About three minutes of searching and I had my answer. And, it turns out, The young adventurer set out from Ohio on February 15, 1983 and arrived in Los Angeles on February 19.

I will explain how I came to this conclusion shortly. (Which will also explain the relevance of the photo of the cast of "M*A*S*H" at the top.)

Picking up where we left off...

Lost on L.A.'s 101freeway, decades before the advent of GPS systems, or even cell phones, (and before I had been introduced to a necessary staple of L.A. culture in the '80s, "The Thomas Brother's Guide,") I exited onto one of the streets whose name was familiar, even to an Ohio boy.

Melrose Ave.

I drove rather aimlessly to the west until I hit Gower.

(It should be noted, here, that by this time, I was in such an unhinged state of panic that I failed to notice, let alone be impressed by, the fact that I had just driven passed the only real movie lot actually located in Hollywood, Paramount Pictures.)

Gower! Yes! The school that I had made this move to attend was located at Sunset-Gower Studios. "Even though it's Saturday," I reasoned, "Maybe there is someone at the school that can help me!"

(Another note. I know that in the last note, I said that Paramount is the only movie lot in Hollywood. That wasn't always true. Sunset-Gower as well as much of the surrounding real estate on Sunset Blvd., I would learn later, was originally Columbia Pictures. By the time I got there, Columbia had moved to Culver City, it's back lot was now strip malls and restaurants. Hollywood is also littered with smaller television sound stages, which are not movie lots. So, I stand by my statement.)

Where was I?

Oh, right!

I turned right and headed north on Gower. And there, ahead of me, up in the hills, sparkling in the So-Cal sunshine was another beacon of hope. Lifting my spirits much the way that The Cadillac Ranch had two days earlier...

The Hollywood Sign™.


*Because, why not?*

The day that I arrived in Hollywood, the weather was just what the Chamber of Commerce ordered. Mid-February, sunny and in the mid-70s.

What makes this noteworthy is that Southern California's 1982-83 winter had been one for the books. Torrential rains had battered the southland. That was the winter that most of the Santa Monica Pier fell into the Pacific Ocean in a moment worthy of Spielberg. A day or two after my arrival, the rain returned, and, it seemed, didn't let up for nearly two months.

*End Digression*


I found Sunset-Gower. I buzzed the intercom at the school's entrance.

And miracle of miracles...

Even though it was the weekend, the school's office manager was in, preparing for the following Monday's new class of students.

She welcomed me. Made me a cup of tea. Let me use the phone to call my aunt. Mapped the directions to my aunt's house. And kept me there long enough to introduce me to two fellow weary travelers. Bruce from Northern California and Joe, all the way from New Jersey.

The three of us would wind up sharing an apartment for the next six months.

(There is probably a whole blog post for a later date, right there.)

By that afternoon, I was safely ensconced at my aunt's house.

The next week or so was a blur of starting school, apartment hunting, general acclimating and shaving off my beloved beard and mustache. (It was a school thing. Let's not dwell on it.)

From that point on...

Well, this is a recollection, not an autobiography.

I'm not giving that away for free. Wait for the book.

Okay. Just a bit more about my week or so at my aunt's house, how I pinpointed the date, and what M*A*S*H has to do with it.

My aunt, (my Dad's aunt, actually,) was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Generous to a fault. As old as God.

And a bit eccentric.

Oh, who am I kidding?

She was batshit crazy.

She had lived in this, two room plus kitchen and bathroom, guest house for something like 50 years of her life.

Something of a hoarder, (before the dysfunction had a name or television show.) who, it seemed, didn't believe in dusting.


She was a "cat lady."

At least a dozen cats lived with her in that little house.

I slept on a fold-away couch/bed in her living room.

On that first night, as exhausted as I was from the trip, I woke suddenly at about 2:00AM, to find every one of her cats surrounding my bed.

The scene looked something like...


This scene repeated itself every night while I was there.

I got over it.


On my last evening in my aunt's house, I, like pretty much everyone else in America, spent two glorious, emotional hours watching the series finale of M*A*S*H.

February 28, 1983. About two weeks after my arrival in Los Angeles.

A bit of easy math and I calculated the dates of my journey.


Thank you, IMDb.com!

Another point of note...

During that two hours, I experienced my first earthquake.

Not a rolling rumbler that I might have expected.

No. It felt (and sounded) like someone had driven a truck into the back of the house.

"Cool!" I thought. "Welcome to California."

Ironically, (or was it coincidentally? I can't keep those two straight. Damn you! Alanis Morissette!) my friends in Northeast Ohio experienced their first earthquake three days earlier.

Tomorrow night...

A 30 year overview...

A bit of curmudgeonly geezerdom.


"We Didn't Have Any of that Shit When I Was Your Age!"

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