When I walked outside my apartment in Henderson, NV, I could see Black Mountain. When I walked down the street from the Joker's house in Boulder, CO, I was greeted by the near by Flat Irons. In Hollyweird, when I stepped out into the alley of Nicky's apartment, I glimpsed at Nakotmi Plaza, the building that the first Die Hard flick was set in. It's actually part of Century City, but that's one of the first things I saw everyday in LA.
My intentions were to re-read my manuscript five times before Labor Day and that never happened. Motivating myself to read was more difficult than expected when I was busy distracting myself with television and movies.
Nicky had left for work and I woke up late after passing out from smoking too much medicinal marijuana. Her roommate, Showcase, had a marijuana card after being cleared by a doctor. He can buy, transport, grow, and smoke weed without going to jail. He has an affliction that requires him to smoke weed once an hour all day. Lucky for him, he lives in a progressive state where they allow their citizens to smoke dope for medical reasons. Showcase was cleared to purchase weed from various legal pot clubs in California. He picked up Hassan and Black Momba the previous night. One made me sleepy. The other kept me medicated for a sustained amount of time. I considered establishing California citizenship so I could get one of those cards and be able to fly with weed. Unreal. Who cares if The Man listened to my cell phone conversations and read my email? They already knew I was a pothead. I might as well go ahead and get medically cleared and become an official pothead of the state.
The highgrade medicinal marijuana caused a major slowdown as I slipped into full California stoner mode and was lulled out of reading/editing mode.
When Nicky was away at work, I'd sit around during the days and write in the steamy apartment. Showcase was an out-of-work actor who paid his bills by working for a dog walking service. He was a dog walker for the uber-rich and had famous clients such as an ex-spouse of a cast member from a popular HBO mafia drama. He also took care of a dog owned by one of the actors from Friends. He would bring a couple of dogs home with him during the afternoons as dogs of the stars roamed freely in the apartment while I tried to re-write the Great American Novel.
Just a couple of months earlier, I had been in Tennessee at the Bonnaroo music festival and watched a dude with possum-made boots snort coke off a buck knife in the middle of the crowd at the Sonic Youth show. A month earlier in Las Vegas, I'd lost $400 because Otis proved me wrong and ate two Keno crayons. But on that humid day in late August, I sat in Nicky's Beverly Hills apartment while gay, nut-biting, toy humping sexually overactive dogs of famous actors hung out on the couch next to me.
One dog was nicknamed Gay Mack because he only liked to hump other male dogs. One was a tiny red Dachshund named Billy. He was a pussy for a dog and could not leave Showcase's side. Billy would also chew and bite his testicles in order to masturbate. He did it for a few minutes while I sat on the couch and stared in amazement and jealousy. The other dog was a pug named Pug. He was the "biggest fuckin' pug" that I have ever seen. Pug liked to hump a squeeze toy that would moan when he mounted it.
There are two types of LA people... day citizens and night zombies. Earlier that Spring when I was in Hollyweird, I'd spent most of my time partying hard doing blow with C-List actors while avoiding the daylight and roaming the city late at night during one of the most rowdy benders I'd undertaken in the past few years. We were vampires, sleeping during the days and partying every night until sunrise. I would not crash until 6 AM and by the time I'd wake up, everyone on the East Cast was leaving work for the day.
By Labor Day, I was desperately trying to be a part of the healthy LA scene. Part of that was eating a disciplined diet of lots of fruit and juices in the morning. We needed to get an early start during the holiday weekend and for a couple days in a row, Nicky and I were up at 9 AM and out of the door by 10 AM, headed to the Zuma Beach in Malibu. Since I was on a strict no-donut diet, I could not eat the donuts at Yum Yum on La Cienega, which we would pass on our way to the freeway. I'd order a croissant and an apple fritter instead. Although a fritter is just like a donut, it's technically not one as I discovered a loophole in my no-donut diet.
The drive up to Zuma on the Pacific Coast Highway was not bad if we left the city around 10 AM. We'd be physically on the beach no later than 11 AM, and in a decent spot, too. Zuma was one of my favorite places to hang out in Southern California. The beaches were very clean with magnificent views. We'd stay for three or four hours while Nicky read Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live and I tackled my manuscript. I had a photocopy of my novel and a pen that I'd stolen from the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The chapters were short (roughly 30 of them) and I pretty much tore my work to shreds.
Before we started going to Zuma everyday, I found it difficult to work on the manuscript. There was something about the ocean or the beach or Zuma itself that inspired me to get my shit together.
I had some freelance work to do and finished up an article that was due at 6 AM two days earlier. Being in Hollyweird made it tough to actually do work with the ominous sun. I walked past a magazine stand on Robertson and Pico and spotted three poker publications for which I have written and got goosebumps. Since I was totally narcissistic and vain, I took a peek at my work.
Nicky and I walked to Nick's Coffee Shop around the corner from her apartment. She had gone the week before when I was in Colorado and some of the waitstaff had asked about me. I guess they didn't miss me as much as my generous tips.
One of the older waitresses called me Sweetie. When I gave her my order, she said she remembered me because she liked her hash browns the same way... with melted American or cheddar cheese. My standard Nick's order was iced tea, French Toast, bacon, and hash browns. I called my buddy Daddy, the ultimate bacon-enthusiast for a Dial-a-Bacon, but he wasn't around and his voicemail picked up. Tasty bacon is like a great blowjob. You'll drive 100 miles just to get it. And Nick's has some of the best bacon in California.
I had a Taylor Hicks story that took place at Nick's. It was a good LA story, too, and I can say that I saw that freak way before he got famous after winning American Idol. Nick's is a greasy spoon diner where you can catch a random celebrity sighting. Several months earlier we walked into Nick's and Taylor Hicks was sitting at the lunch counter eating his grits. When he walked out, a fan stopped him and wished him luck.
"He's totally gay," commented Nicky as he walked past us.
I didn't say anything. I assumed that everyone in Hollyweird was either gay, a drug addict, or the son or daughter of someone famous. Sometimes you're all three.
I needed a pair of jeans and sheepishly mentioned to Nicky about going shopping at some point before I'd leave LA and fly back to New York City. She got very excited, which most chicks do when they hear the word "shopping." She suggested three or four stores in The Grove but I knew that I'd buy something at the first (and only) store I'd walk into. I hate shopping with a passion but my two other pairs of jeans didn't fit anymore after I dropped 20+ pounds. Nicky convinced me that I should open up the wallet to get a few nice items instead of gambling my cash away at the poker tables or in the stock market buying dogshit stocks like Brasil Telecom.
She eyed Lucky Jeans and as soon I took a step inside, a young mousey blonde salesperson nearly attacked me. "Can I help you today?"
I just pointed at Nicky and the chicks discussed my situation. She pointed to a wall of jeans as I just sighed. Nicky picked up five different pairs and I headed to the dressing room. I liked the first pair I tried on and ended up getting that design. In and out in less than 15 minutes. That's how I shop. A different girl at the cash register rang me up and the exotic-looking dark haired waif started hitting on me in front of Nicky, who looked like she was ready to slash her throat.
"So whatchya doing later today?" she said.
"Um, I'm going home to get high then I'm gonna write."
Without blinking she said, "Cool. Good to see you're getting your work done."
"I should kick her ass!" Nicky joked as we walked out.
It's one thing if she'd said that before I bought the clothes, but she was flirting post-sale with a guy who had just forked over $100 for a pair of hipster jeans. Nice straight rich guys are hard to come by in Hollyweird. But she doesn't know that although I'm cash rich today, I'll be broke in a year, two max.
Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.