Back to LA

Back we come overnight from Phoenix to a sodden Hollywood for an early morning check-in prior to the Kimmel show booking. Fat raindrops trail down the window pane of my room as traffic swooshes below in a river of white noise. The sky is all mist and moisture. You expect Sam Spade to be lighting up in a doorway in hat and Mac.

A luxuriously appointed automobile ferries us the short trip through the rain to the ABC studios and we enter the realm of TV time where Earth minutes are not respected. We wait for hours, soundcheck and wait for hours more. By which time we are all getting antsy, nerves suddenly jangling. Live TV (well, taped as live) is always a high-wire act and lack of practice leads to wobbly walks and occasional spectacular plummets. My own nerves are not helped by the sight of host Jimmy Kimmel intently watching our little set. In our brief meeting and watching him talk to the audience during ad breaks, Kimmel comes across as charmingly genuine and unpretentious. I’ve never seen a chat show host so relaxed and engaging. We get the all-clear the minute we end (these people don’t fuck about) and after a quick change at the hotel our good friends from the ‘80s kindly pick us up and take us to dinner at a “whiskey tavern” in Burbank. I scoff a jalapeño burger and slurp tap water as we all try to ram years of catching up into a few hours. A photo album is produced and I wince at the 1988 version of me. I’m dressed like a lesbian from the ‘90s for some reason. At least I was ahead of the game.

The next afternoon we board the bus for the quick ride to the Roxy. I take an amble along the Strip and order a breakfast burrito at a place called Dialogue (oh, I get it – like, scripts right?) taking a seat outside in the fresh spring air. To my left two thirty-something black T-Shirted white guys discuss some business involving filming, hyperlinks, a bank loan for “two seven” and a house sale. I can’t begin to fathom what the fuck they’re planning to do: make a movie or steal someone’s property. To my right two young women are lunching light, their little dog groomed within an inch of oligarch. The tidy mutt keeps barking and they keep shushing it but I like it’s bark. It’s impulsive and sincere, unlike the spoilt automatons around me. Suddenly it puts its paws on my lap as if pleading, “Help me, you don’t know what they make me do…”

The Strip is as glaringly soulless as ever, the beautiful people as empty and young, the traffic as blank and relentless. Book Soup is still there so I buy a Cary Grant biography. Walking back to the bus I see a fat man walking a small round fluffy pooch whose entire back end has been shaved for some veterinary emergency. It looks like someone’s dipped it in acid, its arse an absolute disaster. After helping with load-in I take a walk downhill from Sunset Boulevard (I watched the Wilder movie on the plane – it’s aged very well) using an alley to avoid traffic. I pass the beware of dog, do not trespass and instant armed response signs posted on every back gate. Ah, the paranoid rich. Who could be bothered being so terrified. I hit a little triangular park where some buffed-up sexagenarian in baseball cap and media spectacles nags archly into his Bluetooth earpiece. His shorts are too tight and he reeks of pillock but his dog is handsome and way more patient than I would be with this fart-container. He’s probably fit enough to run a marathon and I wish he’d run into the traffic. He looks like the kind of character who’d die a really horrible death in a Cohen brothers movie. He’s a twerp, dressed like a cunt and he won’t give up droning into his phone. It’s almost a pleasure hating him so much. He probably works for UNICEF. Over by a fountain two Mexican maids play with their toddler charges. A man goes by on an electric scooter singing at the top of his lungs. Finally pillock-man hangs up on his confrère’ and drags off his recalcitrant hound. Peace reigns in the triangle.

I walk back up the hill this time along the fronts of the same grand houses, shuttered from the street by thirty feet high hedges. I take a seat in a rock pub a few doors down from the Roxy. Oasis’s Sally Can’t Wait is blaring from a crappy speaker above my head followed by Aerosmith. I drink lukewarm filter coffee and iced water. Closing Time by Semisonic comes on and I’m back in the ‘90s. Loud/quiet/loud. Perhaps the reason the nineties rock revival never kicked off is because it was all so overrated in the first place. A misguided reinterpretation of a misunderstood 1960s. Don’t look back in fondness, look back in shame.