“On the one hand, there was always New York, the place that says, ‘Do I look like I’m off duty to you, pal?… I don’t see your name on the list … Why are you wearing pastels?’ On the other, there was always California, the place that is just there, doesn’t particularly care if you are, but when you arrive, lies on its back and says, ‘Hello, may I help you?'”
Author Wendy C. Ortiz gives a visceral exploration of love, loss and transformation in the hills and streets of L.A. in an excerpt of “Hollywood Notebook,” a memoir of her 20s and 30s coming-of-age in Los Angeles.
“His spirit is buoyed when he sees the lavender oil in the bathroom mirror. It’s simmering in a glass dish that glows orange over a candle; the lighting is perfect. Behind it: his mother’s curly, red hair swept up, her ivory arms rim the leaden tub against checkered tile. The dish and her hair stand out like the colorized objects in an otherwise black-and-white photo.”
“My son starts doing the cooking. He serves me a hot banana-nut muffin with cinnamon, butter and brown sugar melted inside, and I start to regain my appetite. I begin to see a glimmer. While this isn’t the life I had planned, it could work.”
“Hiram ‘Doc’ Hollywood had come to California from the Topeka World’s Fair of ’88 to build a dream factory that would bear his name. But dreams were a rough business. In his years of efforts he could never figure out the formula to get the dreams into the heads of the sleeping people (something his protege Leonardo ‘Leo’ DiCaprio would one day do), and when the dream market took a beating in the Panic of ’96, Doc Hollywood switched to movies.”
“My little terrier mutt is quintessentially L.A. This is not to say that she’s an item I throw in a $1,500 handbag when she matches my ensemble, but she was born here and by the end of her first year she had already left home and walked more L.A. streets than Charlie Sheen’s last ‘girlfriend.'”
“I exist in duplicate. I double your pleasure. I double your fun. I exist in triplicate. I’m three faces of Eve. I’m a bevy of beauties. I’m Girls, Girls, Girls! My name is legion, for I am many. Good blonde, bad blonde. Born blonde, bottle blonde. I’m a blonde bombshell.”
“Rose was born in Long Beach. Wanda in the desert. Barbara Ann was the baby. Honey-colored curls made her mother hum the Beach Boys tune for which she was named. Happily hanging diapers on the homespun line strung between apartment buildings. Moments and myths long gone.”
“You think horrible things on your commute through the insidious cesspool that is Los Angeles … Why would anyone want to live here? You are just a dirt speck here. You are no one here. You’re from here.”
L.A.-based singer/songwriter Avery Roberts shares the deeper meaning of the lyrics to “Wifi & I,” his infectious love song parody about our constant search for connection in a world Velcroed to our devices.