Welcome to LA

Hello. This is a blog to chronicle the upcoming six months or so of my life, which will be spent in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Before I left Australia a lot of people asked me how I would be spending my time here; I replied that I would like to get some writing done and that would I also like to, ahem, improve my personal life, but that beyond that I wasn’t going to be too prescriptive. Similarly, I am not going to be too prescriptive about this blog. It might not be updated particularly regularly; the tone could vary greatly from post to post; posts could be of the I did-this-that-then-this variety, or more reflective, or something else altogether. I really cannot say.

It’s odd that I even have the wherewithal to write this now, as I am thoroughly exhausted as a result of trying to find somewhere to live. I’ve only been here just over a week, so perhaps it’s not all that surprising that I have not found an apartment yet, but once again I am reminded of how not having a place to hang your hat can be one of the most destabilising and potentially distressing states for a human being to be in. Here I will make the gauche and obvious point that my situation is nothing compared to that of the homeless people I see every day here. Today I saw one on Fairfax, curled up and cowering in a shadow, hoodie almost completely covering his/her (I couldn’t tell) head. It looked like they were trying to make themselves as small as possible, or perhaps invisible, as if they were willing themselves right out of this wretched life. Angelenos would be used to sights like this; I’m not, yet, and if I ever am it will probably mean something important inside me has died.

Anyway, house-hunting has brought me into contact with some interesting people, provided a fews laughs, and engendered some wry ruminations about how the cliches about looking for flats are cliches because they are always, always true. Thank God I am not looking for a house share, as that would bring in a whole other set of variables.

On the weekend I looked at an apartment in Los Feliz. Initial impressions weren’t good: the exterior clearly hadn’t been painted in a very long time and the steps and lobby had not been swept recently either, going by the cigarette butts and random bits of rubbish dotted around. Then I stepped into the elevator, or the ‘grave lift’, as I have dubbed it.

There is a particular type of marble that always seems to be used for graves: it has a black-white-and-grey spotty TV-static type look and is always very shiny. All four walls of the lift were done in this particular type of marble. I decided pretty much there and then that I couldn’t live in this building. Imagine going up and down in the lift every day and being reminded of death. As if I don’t think about it enough already.

The inside of the apartment was actually ok, and the guy who was subletting it was lovely and extremely accomplished professionally. He was a pianist who had accompanied Lea Michele in the early period of her career and who had worked on musicals both here and in New York with other luminaries. (He said that Lea ‘is a lot more relaxed now than before she was famous’, which I took to mean she was once precisely as grasping and fame-hungry as her character in Glee.) This fellow was willing to let the place to me and I felt like a bit of an asshole when I turned it down. I should say that the grave lift wasn’t the only problem; I also wasn’t sure about the area.

Yesterday I went to look at an amazingly situated apartment in West Hollywood. The exterior of the building was well-maintained and attractive. Unfortunately, within was a dark little cave full of crystals and other new-age hoo-haa, the property of the (admittedly good-looking) Roman transplant – a ‘composer’ – who lived there. Marco was very pleased with my ‘energy’ and said he would be happy for me to live there; I was not so pleased about the lack of a couch and TV, or the crystals and the darkness. His zen persona cracked slightly when I told him my brother is a composer who has scored short films and documentaries; a jealous cloud passed across his eyes, but he quickly, um, composed himself.  He followed up our interview with an email to which he had attached a sultry, professionally done picture of himself. Sorry Marco, I am way too sensible in my old age to be swayed by such nonsense.

Today I looked at a place in Hollywood proper – directly under the Hollywood sign in fact. The area was very green, which was pleasing, and there was an ‘indie’ feel to the nearby shops and cafes. The building seemed to be well-maintained, and I was quite excited to find that the person subletting the place was a rock writer who had once contributed to Creem and who more recently had put together a Specials DVD and worked on a Jet Li film. The walls were full of framed rock and noir posters. Again, though, this place was dark, the bathroom sink and vanity were in an interstitial area (???), and the living room had a view of … a wall. Yep, an off-white, stucco, wall. And after all, you’re my window-wall. Needless to say I will not be applying for that place either.

So here I am, back in the hotel room, having rejected grave-lift, window-wall and new-age kookpad, refreshing Craigslist every five minutes and eating my Whole Foods salads and my pre-packaged gluten-free meals as I have done most nights since I arrived. I have actually been considering asking the Beverly Laurel if they’ll let me move in here, since I am getting very used to it and find the staff personable. Actually, I have not been considering that at all, though it is true that the place has become comfortably familiar. Here are a few photos of it (click to enlarge). The last image is of a framed picture that sits above the toilet in my bathroom. Interesting decoration choice. I feel I should know who this band is … Live?

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