Los Angeles was the antithesis of my round the world trip. It screamed glitz, frivolity and all things bold and brashy. Brighter bling, faster cars, little yappy dogs toted around in handbags. Two heroin-chick blondes sat under a palm tree holding a handmade sign 'we are two out of work actresses and our rent is due, please help us'. People in the street quite literally looked you up and down - the Hollywood sign looked down on you from hills that are home to the rich and famous. This was not a culture stop; it's fair to say LA was shamelessly and delightfully shallow.
Kathy dropped me off at Toronto Airport on a stinking, traffic congested Friday night - the beginning of a long weekend. I was dragging my feet - tired and emotional and generally reluctant to leave Canada behind to begin the journey home. In the queue, I stared longingly at the first and business class lines - some business people, a bunch of guys with sunnies and guitars - probably some band I should know the name of - but my grotty pack, t-shirt and jeans combo were a dead giveaway. I belonged in economy and couldn't double?' asked the barman in the dirty, blokey, airport bar - I really must have looked as bad as I felt!
On the plane (second row from the back) - I ended up in the window seat hemmed in by two of the guys with sunnies and guitars (apparently only the lead singer gets to sit in business class). I had my I-pod in, but not on and was secretly listening to their conversation.
'Did you see that blond girl looking at me?' (Curly)
'Yeah man, she was only like 14' (Shorty)
'F#@* that - she was with her mom, I'm one sick f#@*'(Curly)
'Just make sure you ask them for ID first man' (Shorty)
And so began my LA rock star experience.
The ageing, bottle-blond flight attendant (her ample hips jammed between rows C&D) was fluttering her eyelids at Curly as he negotiated some free beer. 'Don't I know you from somewhere?', she purred (zero points for originality). I leaned across to Shorty, nodded my head toward the flighty, and said 'I think she's having a go!'... Shorty cracked up, they got me a bottle of red and several hours of riveting conversations followed. Turns out they were on a promotional tour - had just done TV appearances on 'Jay Leno' and 'Regis and Kelly' in New York, then a few radio interviews in Toronto - had been on a week long bender. 'Tell me about it', I empathised thinking of last night's drinks at Kathy's local on the Dainforth. It didn't take them long to realize I wasn't impressed with their rock star lifestyle. 'We had a number one hit in Australia a few years back - Superman - you might have heard it?', said Shorty. 'Sorry - no', I shrugged.
We talked about travel - I told them about my Russian-Mongolian border incident and my travel adventures through Europe. Bizarrely I had them hanging on to every word of my crazy adventures - 'did you get all this down man, this is good material' - enthused Curly. We talked about relationships and families. Curly told us about how he met his (beloved??!) wife on a train in Italy, Shorty showed me innumerable pics of his two little kids - Jake and Lola on his I-pod and reminisced about his time in Oz when he produced for Alex Lloyd and Diesel. It turns out Shorty was Curt Schneider and Curly was Bruce Watson - Producer and guitarists in 'Five for Fighting'. We said our goodbyes and they wrote down their numbers in the front cover of my LP - 'just in case you take some bad coke or something in LA'. Yeah right!
I'm not sure what I expected from a hostel just off palm tree lined Hollywood Boulevard. Probably not so many Americans. The hostel puts a two week limit on American guests staying here - to discourage aspiring actors, singers, dancers etc from setting up home. Alicia the gorgeous, nearly always naked, African American in my room is forced to pack up and move out - she's here to make the big time as a dancer and her two weeks are up. I share my bunk with Belinda, a lovely girl from Adelaide and she asks what I'm doing the next day. Belinda and her mate are going on a free shuttle to Santa Monica and Venice beach the next day, but unfortunately it's booked out.
Los Angeles/California - USA