Beverly Hills hit us like a naff old cloth. We’d had to move from our little Spanish paradise in Laurel Canyon for a week as the owners were hosting their friends wedding party. So we had consulted airbnb again, my boyfriend was keen to stay in Beverly Hills and I had imagined Beverly Hills was Miami, and everyone there was Eddie Murphy – so I don’t know why I wasn’t more averse to staying there.
We found a place with 5 stars for a little more than we were paying here, with a pool – classy, in a tacky way.
On our way down there we received a text from the owner, let’s call him Chad, imploring us to let him know if there was anything that he could do to make sure he got 5 stars, as he relied on it. Ok Chad, chill out a bit.
We cruised down the street where we were staying and arrived at a pink bungalow with flamingoes scattered about the small lawn and an American flag gagging for a breeze. I burst out laughing and started taking pictures like a spiteful little teenager. But it was like a John Waters dream house, plus I can show you what it looks like now ….
Chad was out when we arrived so we stepped inside the gated pool area where we were staying, to find a bone yard of sun loungers, hundreds of them, laying in wait for some party, some joy that was only ever going to happen in the ‘70s and will now, never happen. Also, it turned out the pool was rotting and around it were statues of Joseph and Mary, staring at a baby Jesus. There were a few li-los floating around the stagnant pool, occasionally colliding with some maniacal plastic ducks wearing shades.
We stepped inside the “pool house studio”. It turned out, we had 1/5 of the pool house photographed. The room was miniscule, fragile and decorated in turquoise by a psychopath. Floral paintings covered in some strange gel goo, turquoise branches sprouting behind the kitchen cabinet next to the bed of horrors with a pillow reading “home is wherever you are”. I did not like this notion currently. Off to the bathroom – oh Chad. You installed gigantic red brothel lights in the ceiling, that when activated radiate so much heat you can feel your skin prickle, and when you look in the mirror you look like a child of the corn. The shower was beige tiles. The kitchen was a microwave and a minute fridge situated in the closet. Lovely.
We decide we need to leave and hit the streets, we bump in to Chad on our way out. He is cowering in his silver car doing Christ knows what. In his photo he looked like a 7ft clean-shaven jock, in reality he is 5ft, sweating savagely, a humiliated shade of purple, bearded and be-capped. Instagram is a strange beast.
“Oh hey guys, you like the place?”
I’m currently standing next to his collection of ashtrays, wiggling surfer men and dying cactuses.
“Yeah, it’s great.”
Always avoid conflict if possible, I am learning.
“Let me know if there’s anything I can do to ensure 5 stars.”
Why don’t you quit with the 5star thing Chad? Why are you piling on the pressure? Is it because you know that although quoted as on “Millionaire’s row baby” I’d rather be sleeping in that shed the guy on The Fast Show comes out of and says “This week I’ve mostly been …”. I start feeling anxious. He does not deserve five stars, but if we rate him badly, he rates us badly. WHY ARE WE TRAPPED IN THIS MORAL HELL?? It’s not good for my anxiety. Neither is all that blue.
We walk out expecting millionaires’ road or row or whatever it is, to be filled with classy cafes, expensive clothes shops maybe even the illusive “corner shop” found in England. But no, Beverly Hills is just a few Mobils, a couple of banks, some more ominous grey empty banks, some dry cleaners and a coffee shop.
Rodeo Drive is Sloan Street in the way that it has an entire street full of shops that I stopped wanting to go in past the age of 14 – you heard me Chanel. Rodeo also has a nice Italian ram packed with fake boobs and posers and really good food, served by traditional Italian-Mexicans.
There were also the La Brea tar pits – molten pits of tar that were unfortunately gated, who knows what might’ve happened if they weren’t.
Our main ambition while staying at Chad’s was to spend as little time as possible there, so my improvisation course at The Groundlings starting on the second day we arrived was rather timely, and fun. That took up two days a week, for the other few days we wandered around outside.
While wondering round Beverly Hills I noticed that at around 4.40/5pm it always seems to get a little cooler, the sky clouds slightly and the wind shakes the palm trees as if summoning a storm. This is when the crows of Beverly Hills come out, when the streets are mysteriously empty and the light a little less vivid than a few minutes a go. They crow and swoop and the whole thing gets generally spooky, which is when we would head back to our psychopath pad and watch The X Files to drown out the surrounding horror.
The horror finally ended on a very happy Monday morning and we moved to a haven in Venice the same afternoon where we had a whole house, a beautiful warm bungalow, bigger than we needed with a huge kitchen that made you feel like a fucking success, and a bush full of humming birds just in case you didn’t feel fucking magnificent enough. Fuck this place was great. I sunned myself and read Sylvia Plath and was generally inert for a while. Then wrote a poem about being inert and melodramatic, I think that was all I achieved in Venice.
Then it was back to Laurel Canyon where our lovely landlady was lovely and had fresh towels and lovely vibes for us.
The next day we were off to Joshua tree. OR were we going to watch the Maywether Pacaio (I can’t be bothered to find out how to spell their names) fight? I had tried, vaguely, to get us tickets to the impossibly and ridiculously overpriced fight – I think tickets were going for like $17,000 or something, like the price of a banana going up to $1 billion dollars in Zimbabwe. Except a banana is probably more useful.
Anyway, I had tried vaguely and failed definitely at getting us tickets, but my boyfriend was still keen to watch the fight at a bar called ‘Roccos’ – this was looking all the more possible as his uncle’s girlfriend had had an audition and already moved the trip once.
I was pretty convinced I wanted to see Joshua tree, not the Mani Pacio fight. Not that I was averse to the Paquiao fight – I had been willing to fight either one of them had it got us tickets. But seems as both those little lady boys couldn’t handle sidling up to this beast machine, the option of watching it on a flat screen with lots of people I don’t know and possibly don’t like, and alcohol, just wasn’t doing it for me. Not above camping out and lookin’ at bugs n’ stuff. I love bugs n’ stuff.
Fortunately for my bugs n’ stuff we were off to Joshua Tree! Hurrah! And only a couple of hours late as my boyfriend had sent our address while we were staying in Venice, now though, a film crew were staying there and we were up in Laurel Canyon (a nice 40 minute drive) as his uncle and girlfriend found out when they had a chat with the film crew.
But against all odds we got in the car and set off towards NATURE. THE WILD. THE GREAT OUTDOORS, the “wicky wicky wild wild west” as Will Smith once put it. I find myself genuinely craving to just go to the countryside and lie on the ground, I think more and more people are (not necessarily craving the ground contact I am but..), we’re realizing these cities we’ve built ourselves are little cages where we can be watched and controlled, and with the development of the internet where we are also watched and controlled, we might as well make the most of it and use it to make living in the countryside feasible rather than it just being another system within a system. Use it, use it goddamnit! Use it for your benefit, the benefit of your life not your tenuous social connections. This aside, I just find I need enough grass between myself and another person to be able to make mistakes, and nature is much more forgiving of those I find.
We drove down the hot highways out of LA – it was a heat wave that weekend, hitting about 100 degrees in the desert (who knows what that means but it sounds more impressive than centigrade.) We drove past Palm Springs with its 80s surfer writing and vestiges of plastic cups, metallic tattoos, cheap crochet tops and man bangles bought for this seasons Coachella. But we kept driving, and driving, and driving. The landscape slowly descending into exactly what I had been hoping for – desert. The first time I’ve been in a desert. We drove past the last Oasis towns of burger shacks and entered the National Park.
Now, when my brain is alert before my mouth I try to make the most of it and avoid looking like an idiot; so I kept it to myself that I thought ‘Joshua Tree’ National Park had a focal point of one very special Joshua Tree.
As we whizzed passed hundreds of trees stuck in sort of malfunctioning robot positions I overheard these were Joshua Trees. And from this I deduced there must not just be one giant one – it was funny how my level of interest in these malfunctioning robot trees peaked slightly when I realised they were what I had been looking for and so were basically famous.
We stopped in Joshua Tree to have a beer, which I drank to feel the part, and sit on a large rock. By this time it was late afternoon and having discovered the camping site inside the park was closed, we needed to drive further off towards Cottonwood Mountains to find a place to camp.
It took about an hour and a half to drive through the park and come out the other side and by this time it was dusk – so we just decided to plonk ourselves on an area outside the park and hope we didn’t get eaten by bears or red necks.
FYI girls: bears are NOT attracted by your periods – it’s just more BS (bs look how American I am) that has been shoved in your brain to make you feel guilty for being yourself. Run wild. Be free, whatever time of the month. Bears will still eat you though. So still watch out for that.
Having set up our tent with surprising success, even with my involvement, we sat down to drink beers and light fires, a fire.
As the darkness swaddled us in to our little area, it really did start to feel wild, you could hear things rustling, the promise of a Brown Recluse just millimeters from your toes but you can’t see it so it’s almost like there’s nothing there.
I decided I fancied drinking some whiskey seems as I was in the desert. I don’t really like whisky it just felt like the right thing to do, so I drank it and didn’t listen to much of the conversation, just pretended I was some very successful male American writer back in the ‘50s. So I had a good time.
Sausages were cooked and I cant remember what else, I had a bun and some nuts. It all got blurry. Then I remember getting up in the middle of the night, the desert was floodlit by the moon, and I could see my way to go to the loo completely clearly, clear enough to see a little kangaroo rat sprint out of my way. Kangaroo Rats are the best animals on the planet – here is a picture that I did not take:
The next morning we woke early as we started cooking inside our tents from around 5am. So we lit a fire – to help the sun roast our organs – cooked some breakfast and hung out in the desert for as long as our hangovers would let us. I wandered around for a bit and found the coolest thing I’ve ever found – a desert crystal. Now known as ‘the lucky crystal’ for no other reason than I found it.
Not too much has happened since our return, work has had to take a front seat for a bit as even though its pretty cool to ‘drop out’ here, and you can wear all the clothes you used to wear when you weren’t homeless and still look trendy, I’d rather not. Not when I just got a lucky crystal.
Tonight I’m off to Warner Bros Studios to watch the filming of a new sit com the husband of a lady in my improv class is directing. Excited is not the right word as I don’t like leaving the house, but it should be interesting.
I don’t want to get my hopes up but I reckon if I act like I’m the most important person in the room and just pitch my unfinished sit com right in the middle of rehearsals, you could be talking to a very successful lady by the end of the evening – if you chose to call me.
Or I’ll just stay very quite, and get even quieter when people talk to me and wish I would complete at least one project in my life.
More soon. Stay excellent x
Oh and ps. My boyfriend made a mockery of me while I slept. Here’s a picture of it: