I made the video Night Song in an attempt to capture the essence of my Hollywood past.
Full-screen viewing is best
( Jayveesonata on YouTube)
( Jayveesonata on YouTube)
Having been raised in Southern California, I was very familiar with Hollywood from an early age. It wasn't until I moved there, however, that I became acquainted with the seedy after-dark underworld - - a toxic, highly addictive subculture far removed from the touristy glitz of daylight.
The characters who populated the Hollywood night scene were largely innocuous misfits like myself. Crime was relatively low (or, at least it seemed that way in my blissfully youthful ignorance). The LAPD hadn't yet started their unrelenting campaign against sex - particularly gay sex.
Through the eyes of an eager, fairly inexperienced youth, it was a perfect setting in which to immerse oneself in the safety of anonymity and to escape the harsh burdens of reality.
In retrospect, it now seems like a different world, a different time. The image of myself young, alone, haunting the deliciously toxic midnight boulevard of broken dreams ......is like watching a stranger far removed from my present self.....long after midnight
The night is hazy with a subtle shroud of mist mingled with smog. The street is nearly empty. The frenzied crowds of annoying tourists are long gone. Those few souls who remain are hardcore night freaks like myself. Phantoms among shadows. Drifters, transients, hustlers, hookers, somnambulistic dreamers.
The air is chilly and deliciously damp - a subtle reminder that the ocean isn't far away. In the east, beyond a drifting shroud of haze, an orange October moon is rising - inspiring the lurid depths of my Gothic imagination.
I'm sporadically sipping whiskey from a flask that I keep hidden in my deep coat pocket, while chain-smoking Cools. Whiskey provides artificial warmth and courage. Cigarettes make me look tough (or so I think).
I have a switchblade tucked in my right boot and a handful of quaaludes stuffed snugly in the lining of my coat pocket, along with other assorted sedatives. My boots click on the star-studded sidewalk. I casually read names on the faux bronze stars.... .....strewn like an endless litter of fallen stars.....echos of Hollywood's past. Now their names are obscured by time-worn neglect and globs of used chewing gum.
This isn't my true self. It's the ghost of somebody else. A parody of a street hustler in search of an unattainable score.
I'm not a real hustler. That's not my scene. I'm a casual cruiser. An incidental poser. A mere prop in this enormous midnight tableau. Never paid for sex. Never let anyone pay me. I'm a staunch champion of free exchange. And I'm easy.
Most of the real hustlers are on Santa Monica Blvd. That's their tacky territory. Mostly pathetic street kids, newbies to Tinseltown, hooked on drugs and illusions of never-attainable fame. Hitchhiking for a ride to nowhere.
One or two unenthusiastic male cruisers stroll aimlessly on Hollywood Boulevard. A few female hookers lurk in the anonymous shadows of doorways, staring silently with cold hungry eyes. There's little business for anyone at this late hour.
A kid comes up to me out of nowhere. Ragged and young. Even younger than myself.
"Hey, wanna buy some blue blotter LSD? Three bucks a cap." He sounds desperate.
"Nope. Sorry." I tell him. I'm not into acid. Ironically, I knew someone who was in prison in Chino for selling blue blotter acid.
Soon I encounter another young man walking on the Boulevard. Lean. Sullen. We pass each other, both seemingly disinterested, but our eyes meet. Contact. Suddenly he stops, turns around.
"Hey, do you know what time it is?" he asks. An all-too typical ploy to induce conversation.
"Yea. Must be near 3:00. Time to go to bed." My choice of words are intentional.
"You know any place where we can go?"
"I live a few blocks away," I tell him.
It's as easy as that.
He follows me, with the simple semblance of a lost puppy. In time, we abandon the misty chill of the autumn night in favor of an anonymous interlude, a futile attempt to quench our shared loneliness.
This insatiable quest for connection is merely a raw physical union, very far removed from an emotional one. Anything remotely emotional is quickly and permanently expunged. A crude and ruthless requisite for survival on the streets.
It is an old story.