October 9, 2011 marked my return to Los Angeles, after having moved away for nearly six months. The initial plan, after having been let go from my latest stint of employment in L.A., was to start a new life in a new town, find a job, rent a room from my brother, and to try to carve a niche for myself in the local Hotlanta music scene.
After two weeks I soon realized that southern culture was not for me. Neither was the extreme heat, nor the unbearable levels of humidity.
And after two and a half months of searching for a job–any job!–to no avail, it started to sink in that maybe, just maybe, moving to Atlanta was probably not the greatest idea in the world.
So… it was only a matter of time before I had to face the inevitable: The long drive back to L.A.
But first, I decided to visit my folks (long divorced) in Pensacola, Florida. Here again, something about the south did not sit right with me. It felt as if I had gone into some type of vortex which sent me back in time, and I was no longer connected to the modern world.
Three months later, after packing up my belongings which were stored at my brother’s place, and after filling up the gas tank of my trusty ’96 Jeep Grand Cherokee, I merged onto the I-20 and headed west. Honestly, it felt as if some type of reverse deja vu had been bestowed upon me.
But it was well worth it because three days later I was back in L.A. Only this time I didn’t have a cozy, studio apartment to go to, nor did I have a pot to piss in.
Fortunately, my friend Alyson let me stow the majority of my belongings at her place and that freed up the back end of the Jeep, which soon became my living quarters.
With the back seat positioned downward to create maximum cargo space, I put a sleeping bag into the back area, along with a couple thick blankets to add to the comfort level. Amazingly, the back part of the Jeep was just long enough for my 5′ 10” body to recline comfortably. And given to the fact that I’ve always slept in the fetal position, it provided more than enough room to get some decent shut-eye.
I missed my old neighborhood like crazy, the Beachwood canyon area just south of the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign. In fact, it was quite possibly the greatest neighborhood in the entire world. And I’m not exaggerating one iota when I say that. If you don’t believe me you can go there for yourself and talk to the local residents. They’ll all tell you the same thing: They love it there!
You see, there’s a certain creative energy in the area that is perfect for poets, writers, musicians, painters, and filmmakers alike. Per capita, there are probably more people in the entertainment business in this little area of Hollywood Hills, than anywhere else in the city of Angels. However, don’t quote me on that, because it’s merely a guess on my part.
As far as taking up residency in my Jeep in this desirable part of town, there was one minor hitch: At night there were tons of private security companies who patrol the area like it’s no one’s business. And to add insult to injury, there was a strongly enforced “Neighborhood Watch” program among those who resided there. Perhaps the locals thought it was no one’s business to nocturnally freeload on the streets of their sacred space, who knows?
Being new to this type of gypsy cool thing, the last thing I wanted was to be busted for the crime of sleeping in my car. I was committed to outsmart them, to find the perfect place where no one would even suspect a snoozing body in the back compartment of my nondescript, black Jeep.
My first thought was to find a vacant home nestled somewhere in the hills, where I might be able to get away with parking in the driveway (if I felt daring enough) or on the street out front (if I felt less daring.) I drove around the narrow, winding streets of Beachwood canyon for nearly half an hour looking for the perfect crash pad. I saw lots of posted real estate signs alright, but the majority of them still had tenants living in the homes.
I eventually stumbled upon two vacant homes with “for sale” signs, or at least they appeared to bevacant, but neither one of them felt right according to a strong intuitive hunch. One of them had a neighbor too close for comfort, and the other looked as if it were haunted.
So I kept driving…
It was now approaching the midnight hour and after three days on the road my body, along with my mental faculties, were ready to shut down.
Alas, I found the perfect place not far from the Beachwood Market. Without divulging too much information, I found a strip of land which was lined with a thick wall of super-tall bushes that shot up into the night sky about two stories, which barricaded the home on the other side from the sidewalk and street… Perfect! Whether someone lived there or not, I couldn’t tell. And at this point, I didn’t care. I figured if I was quiet enough, no one would know and everything would be hunky dory.
So I pulled over to the curb, turned off the lights, and killed the engine—all in one motion. I silently stood watch for a while, sitting perfectly still in the driver’s seat feeling like a spy on a clandestine mission.
At one point, a patrolling security officer slowly approached in a light-colored import of some type, and I immediately ducked for cover behind my dashboard. Luckily, the driver did not notice anything odd or unusual, and kept driving.
Minutes later I watched a coyote heading down from the hills in search of a midnight snack of some type. This neighborhood was notorious for felines disappearing in the middle of the night.
Finally, it seemed as if the coast was clear as I cracked the rear passenger’s side window an inch. I then crawled into the back compartment of the Jeep and situated myself under a sheet and blanket.
All things considered, I slept pretty well that night. Especially for someone who has frequent battles with insomnia. Perhaps not having to worry about paying an exorbitant amount in rent aided in my restful evening. Sure, I was tired from an exhaustive, three-day drive from Hotlanta-GA, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.