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1998-07-25 - 12:58:54

Redondo Beach

THURSDAY, JULY 23, REDONDO BEACH — Too bad I don’t have a French poodle to accompany me on this trip — Travels With Charley is fun, the 58 pages I’ve read.

Started today with breakfast at Ruby’s on the Huntington Beach pier, another look at the surfing championships going on down there. Then Jeff called Dreamworks to find out about the Private Ryan premiere — it was Tuesday. Oh well. Then I went off on my own to Hollywood Blvd. again. Tom Hanks had been to the Chinese Theater at 1:30 to put himself — hands, feet, signature — in cement, which was still drying with a security guard and barrier when I saw it at 4:30. Then, after checking out all the signatures I walked past hundreds of stars to Hollywood and Vine, where I got some pizza and saw the Capitol Records building (shaped like a stack of records). Walking back along the south side of Hollywood Blvd., I saw some repeat stars, but didn’t find Audrey’s anywhere. Nor Jimmy Stewart’s. They may have been part of the stretch pulled up because of construction — or they may’ve been further in either direction, or down on Vine. A little disappointed, I settled for Mary Tyler Moore (it’s interesting how tall I Feel looking down at my feet through a wide-angle lends). Then I bought my postcards and went to Karen’s for dinner, taking Sepulveda Blvd. to avoid 4:05 traffic and seeing LAX, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach.

I tried to take sunset photos, but the sun wouldn’t cooperate, so I had to shoot other things, including myself and the shivering old man on the bench. Karen’s cats seem very wary of me — well, they are. Maggie (I think) only minutes ago dared to step into the room, pushing the door open because I write facing the opposite wall. She didn’t advance past the foot rest. And I may need to take a picture of the other one as a stand in for Jack — they look enough alike.

California — I’ve reached the end. Here, America reaches behind me. All that’s before me I can cover in minutes; what I’ve done, what’s in the other direction would take days. To the north and south there’s more, but it’s all equal, all the same. America began back east, in Philadelphia, Boston and New York. It went west to the Appalachians, south to DC, Virginia, Georgia. Then to the Mississippi, Chicago, St. Louis. We got New Orleans and Louisiana, reaching the Pacific. Then we took California, and someone became the first westerner, the first European, to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific on American territory. I’ve followed in millions of footsteps that have traced a path across the country for thousands of years. I’ve completed one journey in a way now, and what follows is in part a new one, a new beginning, but at the same time is a continuation.

We do not know, we cannot imagine or picture what is out here until we see and do it for ourselves. Steinbeck knew it. So did Kerouac. It’s one thing to read American history or newspaper accounts of the towns and cities. And hearing stories from other travelers helps. But there’s no way to know America without going out to find it. I thought I was missing out on some of what Steinbeck found because I was not making more of an effort to talk to the people, to get a feel for “local color.” Then I remembered that, in many places, I’m staying with them. Laura's family and their friends in Maryland, Jen in Texas, Courtenay and her folks in Arizona, and Jeff and Karen here. The gas stations in Georgia and Mississippi had characters, as well as Ft. Stockton, Silver City (esp. the museum), Mesa (oh boy!) and these California beach towns. At school, I met people from all over America, and I got a slight sense for what people are like in different areas. But you don’t really know someone, you don’t really see what they’re — or their neighbors — are like, until you visit them in their environment, until you go to their homes, see their families, drive past their schools. Then you know. I’ve seen desert and city folk; residents and tourists. I don’t think I have anything to worry about. I would like to have three months and Rocinante, but I don’t have that time, or money, yet. But maybe someday, I’ll get what I need — time, dog, money, supplies — and retrace Steinbeck’s American odyssey. I might be able to find much of what he did, in the next century.

Cold coastal evening,
Wind causing old man to shake,
Forget it's July

Walk among the stars
They lie beneath your feet here
On Hollywood Streets

FRIDAY, JULY 24, REDONDO BEACH — Oh man — Steven Speilberg has done it again. I can’t let this pass — I’ve got to write before I go to bed. But my right hand is weak — almost shaking the way Tom Hanks’ was in Saving Private Ryan. Never have I seen a war movie so damn successful at turning people off to war. This was better than Apocalypse Now or the other Vietnam movies — Born on the Fourth of July. It was something no other director could’ve done. It showed the utter brutality of combat and what it’s like to be in the middle of something so crazy. What Speilberg did was bring back to life a part of history our generations could never have seen so close to authentically. World War II needed to be fought; there was no other way to stop Hitler. But to see something like this — it sure makes you wonder. What is it good for?

So that was my first opening night screening in the area movies come from — Southern California. I think that wonderful pen of mine has finished its career.

Today was a movie-filled day. Jeff arrived about 10:15 and we went to Universal Studios. There we headed straight to the tram and passed through where EdTV and Man On The Moon were filming — Ron Howard, Matthew McConaghey, Jim Carrey. Let’s see — bits from the , backlot: The Jaws pool was Cabot Cove from Murder She Wrote, and the fisherman was Kenny, according to our tour guide; Leave It To Beaver house was Elisha Wood’s in Deep Impact; those various western and Mexican streets were in City Slickers, Three Amigos, Caroline In The City; I’m sure (it’s one of the options when seeing taping); saw street I recognized from Batman movies (also in Dr. Doolittle); saw Penny Marshall’s parking space. There are probably plenty of other things but I don’t remember them now. Maybe the photos will refresh my memory.

In the park we also saw KITT, the General Lee, the old Batmobile, the BTTF DeLorean and Biff’s car, and the Lost World Mercedes. That ride was worth the 40-minute wait too — well-animated dinosaurs and the wall of water before the drop and the big splash. We could also see Hill Valley — or what’s left of it — on the way back up afterwards (and before).

After leaving the park, we took Mulholland Dr. on our way back — saw the Playboy Mansion (well, the gates and chimney) — and Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Also Vermont and then, by the Playboy house, New Hampshire plates in the same day. After Rodeo Dr. we sought out Marilyn Monroe’s resting place — a wall compartment in a small memorial park mausoleum. Also stumbled upon Dean Martin. She’s there so quietly unnoticed, hidden and secluded, especially for a star of her stature. You’d figure she’d have many more visitors. But she had some yesterday, and they left flowers and a note — in Spanish.

Then we joined Dave and Karen for dinner before going to the movie. We would’ve visited Uncle Ray too, but the LA Veterans Cemetery closed before we got there, close to 6 p.m. He’s up on a nice hill Jeff pointed out.

Marilyn rests so
Quietly undisturbed here —
Westwood resting place

SATURDAY, JULY 25, REDONDO BEACH — Spent a nice day along the beach with Karen and Dave — rode to Good Stuff for lunch and made the Internet. Saw nice houses, nice beaches, nice waves, and nice women — certainly several I would’ve like to talk to. Once we returned to Redondo Beach, I took my dip in the Pacific and we came home for a shower, laundry, Web surfing and pizza.

I spent the night at some club — Club Caprice — to see the Bacon Brothers in concert. It started with Cindy Alexander — a very pretty, very good singer/songwriter of the pop/rock genre. She opened on the keyboard, then played guitar the rest of her set. She had on a maroon felt-like spaghetti-strap tank top with straps thinner than those of the beige bra she wore. A tight scarlet skirt fit her nicely as well. After her show she walked around the club with a red wine and I watched her over at the sound board. When she walked around the bar and passed me I stopped her. Very pleasant, she shook my hand and asked my name after I congratulated her and told her I liked the set. We chatted as I wrote down name, address, e-mail for the mailing list, and she commented on “chics” in the e-mail address — and I don’t know if she bought the explanation that it comes from the last name. She probably thinks I run an Internet porn scam or something. Might have to use my own or purposely misspell the name. Man, what a beautiful woman — brunette hair down to her shoulders, tied to a ponytail on top, towards the back of her head. Pale, smooth complexion and a little too much lipstick and eyeliner, but used understandably for the stage. Very smooth, very comfortable skin I found in the handshake. Fabulous voice — like Sarah McLachlan — maybe better. And she’s short — maybe 5’5” — she wore high platform heels.

Kevin and Michael Bacon sure know what they’re doing. Michael’s actually a musician, and could do it in his own right, but Kevin doesn’t hurt. Good voice — gets the country twang and a Frankie Valli falsetto going when he needs to. Both write good lyrics and funky rhythms. Michael plays lead guitar and cello with Kevin on rhythm and vocals. A percussionist, bass, electric guitars, and drummer. Bacons are from Philly, talked about New Jersey — the Shore — and sang Jersey Girl. All dressed simply — Kevin in black t-shirt and light pants — probably jeans and had shorter hair, though characteristically long on top — floppy. Great presence and very good at telling stories, conversing with the audience. Very lively and animated during the songs — especially Kevin.

For the two-song encore, they came out and played an original (or a cover I don’t remember) and then Kevin went and jammed on the bongos. As he finished up, the band launched into Footloose, which I hadn’t even considered them playing. But thinking about it now, they had to play it. The audience went nuts, and Kevin, of course, sang lead.

In dark barroom lights
Audience waits for the band
Making small chit-chat

Kevin jumps and spins
Under colorful stage lights
Singing and strumming

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