Tinseltown was before I took the IBM job in southern Florida and became a willing corporate casualty of flesh-grinding cogwheels, lobbying for conservative political action committees, and midnight tech meetings around greasy Chinese take-out containers. Pop will eat itself. Tinseltown was before all that. Before I found God cowering in corrugated cardboard boxes and masquerading as postal service carriers or stray dogs or garbage on the side of highways blowing in the hot breeze and letting itself be photographed by some film student with a shitty wind-up camera a la Robert Flaherty who just happened to see some divine Fibonacci sequence in its parabolic dance.
four in the morning, finding fillet and scalloped potatoes in the dumpster, so I’d get to eat at Musso & Frank’s, only out back. Back of the house. On fifth and something something, Cenan’s Bakery would throw out bagels and baguettes and some other pastry type filo dough shit every Saturday morning so there was that. Carbs. Protein. That’s how I ate. I lived with three runaway kids from Ackworth, Iowa and Norman, Oklahoma. Two were American Indian and loved Sherman Alexie. (offhand: Jesus, did you know Rainer Maria Rilke was black?)
They ground down pills and shot them into their veins while I drank rubbing alcohol shoplifted from People’s drugstore. The Indians called it “Cheyenne Champagne.” I let them put cocaine on my lips once and my entire mouth went numb. I tried LSD. A hit and a half and I had a shitty trip looking at myself in the bathroom mirror.
Daing esse, you need a guide when you do that shit for the first tyne.
After that I stuck to rubbing alcohol. Good for the insides. I’m unsure how I can atone for all of it. There was other stuff too, freon, CO2… all the while there was an accident waiting for me back home. Back East.
One of the twins didn’t make it. He walked about stillborn and got lost in the labyrinth.
Not sure how to reconcile that.
I read things in books like: “Death is the road to awe” and never found comfort in any of it. Some did. The kids in Hollywood did.
I dropped my wallet in El Segundo.
Or somewhere around John Wayne airport.
I lived in:
North Hollywood, West Hollywood with the drag queens and dominatrices, prostitutes.
And then came El Toro and a crazy, armed Serbian immigrant landlord with a Phillipino girlfriend who thought I was banging her and who dis-assembled the lock to my rented room and watched me from a chair just outside my door, through a tiny, drilled hole. Just across, to the west, there was Laguna Beach and a small efficiency flat, and I thought one day I could go to Pepperdine in Malibu and study film or…
literature or…something if I’d only had the money.
How I got out was, I walked to the 405 on Saturday afternoon and got picked up by a car full of girls going to Tempe, Arizona to see the Gin Blossoms. And that was it. That was Hollywood. It might as well have been Krakow or Ingushetia or
Which is where I went.
Since emigrating to the United States from Romania in 1980 Alex has worked as a day laborer, a film projectionist, a music store clerk, a journalist/news writer for the U.S. Information Agency (Voice of America English Broadcasts), a TV Director for MSNBC and CNBC, and a freelance writer. Currently he is the Managing Editor of an education assessment software system at North Carolina State University. He is also a staff writer for The Lit Pub.
Alex has published fiction in Pank Magazine, Specter Literary Magazine, Connotation Press, and many others, and is the author of the novella Short Lean Cuts, available for purchase via Amazon. The ebook version is available via Barnes & Noble and Amazon.