I couldn’t resist, I had to return.
I had some dinner Tuesday night with some old friends, and then slipped off to return to Cameron Teone’s (where I am staying) for the night.
I was exhausted from jet-lag, and looking forward to a long rest. But, I could see the Sunset Strip in the L.A. distance. In a haze at the foot of The Hills, I could barely make out the old buildings I knew so well 5 years ago.
My rental car is a white PT Cruiser – easily my most hated car in the world. It’s just ugly. Ironically, it was in that white nerd-mobile that I drove up Londonderry Place again to see Project Hollywood once again, site of my days as Playboy my PUA moniker from “The Game”.
It’s odd to ever return somewhere, as it always fills me with a kind of nostalgia. Perched above Mel’s Drive-In, and Sunset Plaza, the old house looked very good.
In fact, it looked so much better than when we lived there, I had to wonder if the house and extraordinary garden on the property were still relieved that we were all gone.
I parked my car in one of the legal spots on the road, high above the house and then strolled down the hill. The rhododendron from the stoop and staircase were overflowing, and the aroma was blown up to meet me as I approached the house. The hedgerow behind the fence is now towering to such a height that you cannot even see the front door. That would have been handy back in ’04 for sure. Also, they seem to be doing some work on the facade of the house. The side which faces the Strip has been covered, and looks vaguely like a Christo wrapping.
I was struck by how calm the place looked and felt. When I lived there, there was always a beehive of activity and mayhem. One could always hear music, talking and activity behind its walls. On this night, it appeared that a rather normal family was trying to go to bed. In our day, we’d just be getting started.
I then wandered down to the Strip. I wanted to see Mel’s, of course, and then mosey down towards Beverly Hills. I had heard that Tower Records was now gone, and was curious to see what had taken its place.
Mel’s is EXACTLY the same. That’s its calling card. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the staff working away in the place – it was usually older women, sorta plump and worn. On this night, they had a floor full of men serving burgers and shakes. Also, no strangely clad young men out front nor the chorus of “hey guys, I need a female opinion on…” every 30 seconds either. Nope, it was CALM…
As I wandered down The Strip, I became aware of my clothing. I was still in my comfy jeans, sweater and jacket from the flight. I did not fit in. Each block carried its own memories, as I could remember exact locations where I had made approaches. I walked past the pasta place where Barry and I watched Nick fumble his way through a pick-up of Paris Hilton. I passed the store where I saw – and froze – in front of Scarlett Johannson. I saw the old pizza spot where I chatted up Angie Everheart. I walked past our favorite Sushi restaurant, “Sushiya”.
I went into Tower records probably once per week – back in the day. Now, it’s no longer a music store at all. In fact, I couldn’t really tell WHAT it was. Maybe a clothing store?
I stopped into Book Soup, an oasis on the Strip, and recalled many a day when I thought I needed some “normalcy” in my life and would buy a book or two – only to never read them. As I climbed back up the slope to Londonderry Place, I was astonished to see that The Pita Pit is gone – some pizza place now claims that spot. How could that happen? Poquito Mas is holding strong though.
In my ordinary clothes, and my ordinary car, I left Londonderry Place and the Strip to had back to Cameron’s. I was sure grateful that I was part of the whole, crazy, insane experience. But I am even more grateful to have what I have now, New York, my wonderful girlfriend, my dog, my apartment, my friends…my LIFE.
Project Hollywood was part of it all, for sure. If anything, it showed me what I don’t want – while being fun, at times, too (fun like a Frat House must be fun). I’m much happier, and wiser, now.
Pick-up, like Project Hollywood, was a phase. It was a fun phase, but at a certain point, I had to get real. It’s harder searching for a real path in life, it’s harder to drop the fantasy-life that I insist upon, it’s harder to seek real intimacy with another person, it’s much harder just to be real and to be an individual…but, it’s also something else – something that always screams “TRUE” to me, when I get there.
It’s a relief.
And that’s exactly what I felt as I drove away – both in August of 2004, and on this hazy, mid-March, LA night.
Check out my return to Project Hollywood video too where I recap many memories from the days of “The Game”.
R I P Mr. Dreamweaver…