“How the fuck did I end up here?!” I asked myself.
This wasn’t a matter of direction; I had always been a talented maps man. I remember being a small child and being dragged out from my cartoons to go shopping with my mother. Having taken a wrong turn on the
Shankill Road with
her we were facing the prospect of being blind lost in a part of which was, at the
time, no friend of the Roman Catholic. I
was able to lead her back to the main road and familiar grounds because it was
the same direction as a Superman action figure I had seen and immediately
coveted. I never got the figure. Belfast
Situationally I ended up in fucking God knows where the majority of the time because of my mouth. Seemingly it’s cabled with a high speed fibre optic connection whereas my brain was still waiting it out on dial up circa 1994. No, the reason for my quizzical rhetoric was a completely different one. It was however one I was unable to confront while my stomach was trying to digest itself. Thankfully one hundred yards away was the welcoming glow of a McDonald’s Golden Arch, it’s depressing to admit that my first act on
Hollywood Blvd was to capitulate to the
capitalist agenda but I was fresh off a thirty hour budget journey and still
slightly perplexed as to how the fuck I ended up here. How it had all come to this moment.
The supposedly comforting thing about multi-national fast food establishments like these is that they’re all the same; their familiarity breeds a homing sense in the timid and unadventurous. Wrestling my fatigue and hunger cramps I dumped one lead foot in front of the other down the most familiar street in the world. I was almost hyperactive with the sensory stimulus that emanated from every Yellow Cab, hot dog vendor, beat-boxer and Marilyn
impersonator. The sound of a city was always my favourite
part of travel. The bus trip to Monroe Belfast International
Airport and away from what passes as a
buzzing metropolis in
weaned me off the natural sounds of the urban sprawl. Airport noises are the same in whatever city
you reside in. People of all
Nationalities quizzing people of all Nationalities on where their gate is,
inaudible P.A announcements and the crying of children never seems to gets
tired, regardless of time zone. The
first time you can tangibly understand that you’re not in Ireland anymore is the moment the automatic doors
in Arrivals spits you out on to the street like an un-wanting mother. The temperature, the light, the hum infects
you as you experience the heartbeat of the City. Kansas
Eventually you get used to it and you lose the ability to hear its rhythm, the beautiful sound of a place in existence.
had an odd
rhythm; you were convinced you knew it. Los Angeles had saturated
your waking life with enough representations of it that you’re openly confident
that when you experience it the life of the City will beat as one with the
heart in your chest but that’s total bullshit.
The sound of L.A is louder, deeper, more fierce and animalistic than you
know. The night air is gentle, the
automotive sound rampant and unrelenting, the glow dreamlike. It’s one of the most exhilarating first
encounters you’ll ever have, it seemed almost cheap to taint it with a burger flogging
clown but the gut wants what the gut wants and mine had a hankering for a beef
patty with the option of a toy. Hollywood
I kissed goodbye to my cherry popping encounter with the sensory fuck that was
Hollywood Blvd and
stepped into the harsh fluorescent world of cheese burgers and supersize. Unsurprisingly for a fast food eatery on the
busiest street in the world the place could do with a little tenderness being
shown to it. The floor tiles were
chipped and had an odd grey colour that imbued everyone who stepped on it and
left them with a squeaky embrace with each step. I was so hungry, so wowed by the life of the
City that I hadn’t given consideration to how I was going to pay for my Big Mac
meal. I had money but it was all the
money in the world to me.
It was the noughties, a retarded Floridian pretending to be a cowboy was in the White House and it was two US Dollars to the one British Pound. This meant if I was going to complete this transaction with the nice but clearly tired Ethiopian gentleman behind the counter I was going to have to tug at the ten thousand dollars in my back pocket. I would have to pray to God that my wallet didn’t ejaculate my entire life out on to the floor in front of a vagrant half-conscious man in the corner of the room and a group of aspiring hip hop artists free-styling the shit out of it twenty feet from me. Wriggling around, two fingers deep in my back end like some teenage boy unsure what he should be tugging at inside his girlfriend’s nether region I wrestled a fifty free. Granted a little bigger, a little flashier than I was looking for but at least I wasn’t trying to fight six people off everything I had left in the world.
As I’m sized up by 25 Cent and M&M I take my first non in-flight meal in over a day and sit at what is the furthest table from everyone. The G-Star sponsored crew offer up rhymes about bitches while the vagrant is now very awake, beyond alert and having a fully fledged argument with himself.
“If I had half the chances you had I’d been twice the man by now you ungrateful shit,” he snarled before spitting back with “you cheeky son-of-a-cunt, I ought to beat you were you lie.”
The one-sided nature of the argument washed past the staff without the slightest flicker or acknowledgement. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was causing great unease in the NWAnnabes I would have been slightly more disturbed and less amused by the whole situation. Swallowing my burger in three bites I moved on to the fries, “before this night was over I might have to hit this place again” I thought. The profanity spitting hobo let out an enormous roar. His attempts to stab himself in the hand with a plastic knife proved more successful than he could have predicted. The force placed on the white child-friendly blade caused it to snap creating a newly formed sharpened splintered shard of a utensil that, under his momentum struck bone between his index and his fuck you finger. The howling of the hobo caused the gang of youths not to hear the door open nor the footsteps of five more children of the hip hop generation enter. They didn’t hear the door close either but they heard the next part for sure.
“Oh no the fuck you ain’t muthafucka!” Howled the Alpha of group two.
The tough bravado was back on the faces of the NWAnnabes as they got to posturing and what the kids kindly refer to as ‘fronting’. Ten teens stand toe to toe deadeye fucking each other. All the while, the staff considers whether to break them up, throw them out, stop the vagrant from assaulting himself any further, or call the Police. As a child of “the Troubles” and a product of the green side of the City I was raised in a community that held a deep rooted mistrust towards authority. I had often remarked how I had never seen so many fat unemployed people with such a dislike for bacon. At that moment in time I would have gladly taken the blues and authority of
finest. But they didn’t call the Poe
Poe; instead they simply sank to the ground behind the counter like a well
rehearsed ballet. Los Angeles
“What the fuck you talkin’ about bro?!” Retorted the NWAnnabes leader “You know we settled this, you better believe we’ll settle this again.”
“Any place any time bitch! This is our muthafuckin’ table and this fuckin’ crib, yawl better bounce your fuckin’ asses elsewhere.”
Which side drew first I wasn’t entirely sure of, when there are ten guns being waved around gangsta style by people barely old enough to understand the damage they can do it’s not really that important. It wasn’t the first gun I’d seen in my life, that one was a lot bigger and spitting out rounds, it wasn’t even the first gun that was pointed at me, but it was the first that I was convinced could accidentally fire, setting off a chain of trigger fingers that would make Quentin Tarantino hard for months. For some unknown reason I ate through the entire standoff. Whether the mundane reality of a jetlagged Paddy munching carnivorously on whatever was put in front of him or the realisation that shit just got a little too real was what pricked their perception I don’t know but both sides dropped back down to Defcon One before agreeing to resolve this territorial dispute on another occasion. The NWAnnabes were visibly relieved; I fought the urge to say something I deemed hilarious enough that it needed to be aired. I figured even if they had shit their pants, five testosterone fuelled teens carrying Glocks wouldn’t take kindly to it being highlighted, especially in front of someone who was visibly doing the same. As the vagrant’s face passed through forced concentration to orgasmic pleasure, the smell of the human condition coincided with a satisfied grin. The sharp stench of shit hit the air-conditioned off-white cell of the McDonald’s consumer foyer as I took the last sip from my large Coke and forced myself back on to my barking dogs. 25 Cent made eye contact with me, for the first time since I walked into the eatery I was on the same page as the NWAnnabes.
“Keep pimpin’ Easy D.” I said, half hoping that my Irish accent was thick enough and unfamiliar enough that the comment would sink in long after I was gone.
He nodded and with the scent of an old man’s faecal matter burning at my nostrils I stepped back into the buzzing, beeping, blinking and screaming pulse of City of
The hostel was at the top of a flight of stairs over a beaten down tattoo parlour that had, somehow, managed to survive the regeneration project that was Hollywood attempting to take pride in its most famous street. That’s not to say it’s the only tattoo parlour on the Boulevard, far from it –but it’s the only one that looks like you could catch ‘the herpe’ from flicking through the artists catalogue. The hostel was run by a Russian gentleman and his son who both looked like they lived in their once-white vests. It was far from the industry standard when it came to cleanliness, but at ten dollars a night cleanliness could stay right by the side of Godliness, my purpose resided in lower places than the house of the Lord. I had been in such a rush to explore my temporary home-land that I had failed to notice that the six man dorm room I had been allocated was, at least, partially populated by the possessions of like minded explorers and deviants.
Thirty hours of travel was wearing thick upon me and with the stench of an unfamiliar turd partying in my nasal cavities a strategic retreat was the best course of action. I needed to feel like a new man if I was going to tackle this City on night one. The showers were those you’d find in an older model of school or military barracks; communal, no privacy. The wooden swing doors of the shower acted as a shield of sorts from the toilets. They were a beautiful barrier to the visual assault of swinging man meat from the eye-level vantage point of the seated toilet dweller. The shower heads needed a little bit of muscle and lubrication to get going but once they did I found that the two settings would either kill any libido known to mankind or leave you on the burns ward, it was made tolerable by the idea that the female showers looked exactly the same.
Cleaned up, dried off and dressed not to impress but to at least look less like a tourist who’s slept in the same clothing while sitting upright twice. I made my way down the narrow carpeted corridor that lead to my room. Music and world accents emanated from the communal space at the front of the building. The hall lighting flickered and flashed revealing the sins of years past, the neglect of what must have been a once loved building. The fluids that have been wiped off the walls but never properly cleaned, the traces of damage that leads all the way up to the slightly warped ceiling, the… Bumping into a six foot blonde in bikini top and Daisy Dukes threw me for a second; I hadn’t expected to have collided with someone who in any other City would be out on a Friday night. Her face was without spot, wrinkle, flawless. Her eyes soft blue and her lips inviting; when she spoke it was with a Scottish finish to her sentences.
“Christ…sorry!” Stumbled out of my mouth.
“Sorry I wasn’t really looking where I was goin’.” She replied as she handed me back my cleansing products.
“Perfectly fine, though we should probably exchange insurance details just in case.” I said.
She laughs and a smile breaks “Jen,” she offered.
“Doug,” we shake hands. It was playful but something was stirring.
“I’ve got to get back to my…” Pointing to the communal room. Jen smiles one last time before rushing off, her hips see-sawing me to near hypnosis.
Entering my room I’m gifted with the sight of a grown man’s asshole as he stands bent over, naked, in the middle of the room rummaging through his suitcase. He is discarding everything seemingly everywhere looking for what must have been the treasure of the Sierra Madre.
“Woo! Hope to god that thing’s not loaded, I’ve had enough things pointed at me this evening.” I quipped.
Rising to a vertical stance he turns to face the sarcastic voice from over his shoulder. I hadn’t even met this person by traditional standards and I was already too familiar with his brown eye and now his man brain. Forcing eye contact I introduce myself and once he throws on some fucking clothes he tells me his name is Rob. He was originally from
but his folks took the decision to extract him from the English capital at an
early age and relocate to
where his dad built ugly buildings for three decades. Birmingham
“Concrete cocks!” Rob called them.
Once retired his parents made the decision to move again, this time to
where they run a commune for fans of loud music and orally induced class B
narcotics. It was while working here
that he met Rosie. Not only was the
alliteration pleasing but they were inseparable that entire summer on the party
island. Rosie ditched her job in Leeds by phone the night before she flew home and was
waiting on Rob a week later when he touched down at the airport. They were married before the Christmas of the
same year and now, with the summer on the horizon again and their one year
anniversary only just in the rear view he’s sitting in a hostel room smoking
cigarettes while his wife is shacked up with a social worker named Gavin.
Rob was a man of fine spirit, especially when you consider the practical joke that faith had just fucking played on him. He had arrived in
a few days prior judging by the redness of his face and bald head. As he lit another cigarette, the one that
would see him power through to the ending of his story, he threw on a short
sleeved Ben Sherman shirt. A heavy black
tattoo sat on his forearm; I passed no comment on it. I had seen enough tattoos to be able to spy a
cover job and something was telling me I would have got short odds on whose
name once adorned his right wing. Los Angeles
“That is one sorry tale of woe you got there buddy.” I said as I exhaled a wave of smoke.
“It is what it is man, you know?!” He batted philosophically. “I mean I miss her, I wanted to be with her for life, but life goes on. You got any plans for tonight?” Asked Rob.
“Well seein’ that I’ve already bore witness to your balloon knot I was thinking about heading out and trying to forget some of the sensory interactions I’ve had tonight.” Said I.
“There was a few lads here yesterday, they’d said about the crackin’ time they had at some place called Rainbow.” Rob spoke with the kind of enthusiasm you’d associate with a child offering a well learned correct answer in front of a classroom of their peers.
I had heard of the place, it sat on the Sunset Strip and was the perfect ice breaker for two comrades. Agreeing I stuck my phone on charge and grabbed my wallet from the lining of my bag. I momentarily debated about the wisdom of bring five figures to a bar with me but without being able to meet and examine the sphincter of the rest of the inhabitants of room 3 in the International Hostel I opted to trust the drunken version of myself over unidentified strangers…though it was a closely contested race.
Sunset Strip was awash with colour, noise, happy, tanned and catatonic faces. In a one mile stretch it had more potential, living and regret than you could bathe yourself in if you had a lifetime to do little else. The evening wind was warm, it felt like childhood summer holidays before we had to grow up and become aware of how incredibly shit the world had become. Bar signs and street lights did battle for supremacy as the primary provision of light source. Tipping the cab driver we present our I.D’s to the shovel handed doorman. He’s busy working some serious moves on impressionable young College girls who could no doubt buy and sell him when it came to street smarts. Entering the famous Rainbow Room was like stepping into your own biopic. I wondered if things were different and if anything of importance ever came of my life who would play me in that movie, who would be crossing the Rainbow Room’s threshold in my place? The weekend was in full swing in the City of
, bikers, bunnies
and hipsters all congregated in the dimly lit church of alcohol. The verbal buzz belonging to the place was
loud enough to cancel out any music being played over the speaker system but I
noticed just enough of Pet Sounds to
feel at home. While I was motionless,
absorbing the atmosphere, Rob had been busy and charged to the bar as he
emerged into my line of sight with several bottles of beer. I take the moment required to applaud his
amazing multi-buying skills before retrieving one. We take refuge on the patio in a makeshift
gazebo alongside the rest of Angels ’ dying breed of tobacco enthusiasts. Los
“Friday night and we’re in L.A…amazin’ right?” mused my drinking buddy “So what’s brought you to L.A man?”
“One tale of woe is my limit per day, you’re gonna have to wait till sunrise for that opus.” I said, throwing back my beer “Anyway, regardless of what brought me here I’m here it’s Friday night and some of these Angelians are makin’ me want to touch myself in ways that are not PG13.” I continued.
We drank to new friends, to
and to touching ourselves and then we drank some more. Conversation is a lost art form; conversation
between drunken strangers requires a masterful brush stroke and was so fluid
that we had to make a conscious effort to not spend the night cock blocking one
another into oblivion. Los Angeles
With thirty minutes to last orders I replenished what had become our homage to recycling as empty green, brown and clear bottles lived side by side on a round wooden garden table of the Rainbow Room’s patio. Rob, having brought his phone with him, was interrupted by an early morning call from the other side of the world and, based on the change in his voice and posture, it was Rosie. With more beer than I could consume in half an hour I lit another cigarette only to be tapped on the shoulder by an athletic brunette in a dark tank top and a tartan skirt brandishing a red Marlboro.
“Can I bum a light?” She asked.
“Certainly can, could you sit with me while my friends on the phone so I don’t look like a complete fuckin’ loner?” I replied.
She laughed before proceeding to park herself next to me and grab one of the surplus beers in one fluid movement; she was almost feline in motion, a nymph-like Julie Newmar as she oozed sexuality from the other side of the table.
“Where you from cowboy?” She asked, exhaling smoke from her cigarette like it was her last.
.” I replied. I never
trusted people’s understanding of geography, border difference or geo-political
affairs to give me the rapturous welcome that being Irish often has when
travelling across Ireland North America. So I keep it simple, never Northern Ireland, never Belfast…just
“That’s hot…like Colin Farrell right?”
Normally there’d be a correction inserted into the conversation, my own kind of editorial but she was too hot to argue with and my jeans were standing room only. To be honest a few hours of travel and a border aside she was right enough, which was good enough for me.
“Aye.” Said I.
“I’m Sasha.” She smouldered.
Sasha and I talked about music, KISS largely; she seemed unhealthily obsessed with the size of Gene Simmons’ tongue. We had agreed that if we ever encountered Mr. & Mrs. KISS she could have Gene show her it intimately in glorious Technicolor, while I went to my knees at the alter of Shannon Tweed’s almighty cooze. Everything seemed sexual with her; she lived in
, less than a block from the Morrison
house as she pointed out. The way she
constructed her sentences was mesmerising. She paired words and twisted phrases
that shouldn’t have sounded appealing, yet when they dropped off her tongue
they were absurdly sexual. Rob arrived
back at the table stressed. All of the evening’s camaraderie and good work trying
to put Rosie in her concrete coffin in the heart of Venice was shot to shit. He grabbed a beer and a cigarette and
devoured both before looking up; he hadn’t noticed the addition of Sasha the
sexy rock head. He was so distracted by
his brooding he certainly didn’t notice the momentary change of expression on
her face as I slipped a third finger inside her. Birmingham
“Oh…hello, you’ve been busy.” Rob directs to me “I’m Rob.”
“I’m Sasha, I’d shake your hand Rob and tell you how nice it is to meet you but I’ve currently got it wrapped around your friends cock.”
If there was ever a moment that made man feel like God this was it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Robert Oppenheimer patted himself on the back, walked a little taller and generally felt like Mary of Nazareth’s Baby Daddy before the realisation that he’d just fucked up everything but it’s hardly a match for hearing a beautiful stranger talk about your wand.
The Oppenheimer moment was coming though. During the course of genital manipulation, Sasha’s proclamation and my unfamiliarity with her physical and relationship landscape, everything in the immediate area all conspired to fuck me.
“Hey what the fuck?!” Barked a hairy biker as he looks directly into my lap to see Sasha driving stick, before his eyes tracked the path of my arm as it became my hand and disappeared up and under Sasha’s skirt and deep into her lady purse.
“Oh fuck!” Sasha said before turning to look directly at me “You had better run Douggy!”
“Tank!! Get over here some fuckin’ clown’s fuckin’ around with Sash!” The biker barked again.
The wave of general revellers and Friday night roisterers parted as a torpedo-headed bull in biker leather and denim hurdled through bodies and bottles. As Sasha is dragged away by the hairy one I jump to my feet with enough presence of mind to zip up before firing a handful of empties towards the charging cuckold. Sprinting back into the bar I make a dart for the dance floor which will bring me back towards the front of the Rainbow Room, all the while someone is nipping at my heels. Risking a drop in speed I glance behind me, Rob is tearing up the treads too. We crash into the front door exploding it open into the face of one of the bikers. The glass shatters, his head erupts with a blast of crimson before falling backwards over the bins to the side of the bar. We race into the middle of the road and out in front of a Yellow Cab which by the grace of God- or whoever is in charge of miscellaneous hand jobs, stops and allows us to obtain safe passage. As the cab pulls away the side of the vehicle is blasted by the body of an overgrown man in a rage. I don’t think anyone could think less of either of us if we both admitted to carrying a brown load in our pants when faced with the prospect of having a gang of bikers ass stomp us to death. Like all lapsed Catholics religion touches us at the most convenient moment and there’s few better than when facing a curbing. The time for prayer was upon us, eyes were closed and the bull was at the door. Just when bowels were about to be loosened a bellow from the front seat heralded the arrival of the Argentinean overworked, sweaty, superhero cabbie. His superpower may have been high cholesterol but he pulled the largest hand cannon I’d ever fucking seen, killed the engine and leapt from the cab.
“Who the fuck are you…fuckin’ with my cab!” Roared the Argentine.
We sat in the backseat, transfixed by the showdown outside.
“Fuckin’ moves fast for a big man, agile fucker!” I praised.
“What the fuck was that?” Asked Rob. It was pretty non-accusatory but it wouldn’t take a Private Dick to know he was talking about my not-so private dick.
“I was as shocked as you but that lady had hands like a sculpture.” I replied.
“I’m sure her ol’ man will appreciate that.” Clipped Rob.I laughed, which set him off as the nervous energy escaped the both of us. Having fended off our would-be murderer with his canon and barrages of Argentinean curses Supercabbie returned to drive us back to