Living It Up at the Hotel California

Afternoons in the garden at the Krotona

I moved into the Krotona Apartments around 1979. Up the road a little from Hollywood Boulevard and right in the middle of the Hollywood Hills I was happily home. Captain Gas was welcome, there were two resident drug dealers, the women were beautiful and the scene was non stop. What a perfect place to come home to after a day conquering the town.

I was doing pretty well that year, finally working on the big movies I had always dreamed of, making good money and riding a pretty canyon carving bike. There were girls to play with and the courtyard of the building to play in. It was paradise this Hotel California.

Turner

Next door on one side was Michael Turner, my good friend and legendary alternative radio DJ, also coke dealer to the star. Michael had one main customer, a famous name of the eighties. Mr. Big was on a cash diet imposed by his manager who was trying to curtail Mr. Big’s drug habits. A nice try but people with powerful cravings are motivated and resourceful. Mr. Big still had his credit cards and he had a man, let's call him Charlie, who he set to work creating cash. Charlie's job every day was to go to high end stereo stores and TV places to buy desirable stuff. Then he offed the goods for cash, a small fraction of what they were worth but enough so that when night time rolled around Charlie could show up at Michael's door for some medicine. Thing was, Michael had rules about business hours. He didn’t want to be bothered after a hard days weighing and bindleing. So when Charlie would show up, usually around three in the morning, we got our own performance of a Cheech and Chong movie written by Quentin Tarantino (actually, Q lived here somewhat later, it’s a small world). “You gotta let me in man”. “Fuck you, come back tomorrow”. “No man, he’ll kill me”. “I’m closed man, how many times do I have to tell you”, “You gotta let me in”, “Fuck you man, if I open the door, I’ll kill you when I do”. All escalating in desperation and anger, Michael cocking his gun next to the door so the sounds echoed around the courtyard making me wonder how much blow he had done that night and finally, usually, the door would open and Charlie would get another night’s supplies and the courtyard would settle down.

Upstairs in the domed apartment that had been a meditation chapel when the Theosophists built the place lived Velvert. V had a broader line of supplies and a varied clientele. Across the courtyard there was H who worked at a record label days and partied days and nights. H was all about the more. One time I took her out for a cruise on my scooter. She loved the way it could carve the hills. We hit the Hollywood freeway pulling through the gears and as we hit fourth she started rubbing my dick and yelling “faster, go faster.” The faster I went the harder she played until we were splitting lanes in thick traffic sailing past cars too fast to make a change if anything in the pattern of movement shifted. She was seriously disappointed when I decided I didn’t want to die that evening.

I partied with her one night before flying up to San Francisco to work on a bad movie called Can’t Stop the Music. We went at it hard. At seven she drove me to the airport while we snorted up the last of the night but there was a lot to finish. I got on the plane ok but about halfway there I realized I had gone blind in one eye. I freaked out, imagined every terrible thing you could imagine but was afraid to tell anyone and what was I going to say anyway, “Stop the plane, I think I’m dying”, so I kept my mouth shut and when we landed I got on the crew bus and went to the venue to scout. Afterwards we went back to the hotel and I fell into bed still freaked and stoned. When I woke a few hours later I had a monstrous hangover but I could see again so what the fuck I went and did the gig.

Cousin George in the courtyard

Cousin George lived next door to me on the right. He wasn’t my cousin, he was Bobby Vercruse’ cousin. Bobby had sent him to me to help out with the Louma. Well actually he sent him to me to get him out of Chicago where the police wanted to talk to him about something very serious, but for the moment he was helping. George was large and magnetic and filled with devil may care. The women loved him and he was a great party companion but after a while you noticed that things didn’t always add up. I didn’t care about the math so much then and George didn’t fuck with me, at least until later when I discovered he had stolen my identity, had a bunch of credit cards in my name but you know, shit happens.

I have pictures from that time. My beautiful monk's cell, motorcycle parked outside, typewriter sitting on the table in case I ever made it till now, the lush California courtyard filled with promise, George and Michael and H in the prime of their partytime years. I can’t tell you it was wrong. even though it was, damaging many of my friends and leaving its mark on me. I know from experience now that the life of every day, of family and work and being is more rewarding. I also know the deep, deep pain that living the lush life leaves behind. Not your pain, it’s the pain you leave for others, the ones who loved you and mourn you when you die or trade away your possibilities for your pleasures. I still find it hard though to condemn my party time or my party friends. Like all extreme lifestyles you pay the price but then you get to take the ride. For a while I loved the ride. Then it was time to quit.

A tiny nitrous tank, a symbol. I still have this one.

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