Hollywood Boulevard stretched out in front of me like a rubber band, and it was empty on a Sunday morning. The only people on the street now were the destitute. They looked at me with sunken eyes, asking me for change or a cigarette. I had both, but gave neither and walked away with my nose in the air. However, it wasn’t as if I thought I was better than them or anything like that, but it pays to treat them as such; kindness will always be mistaken for weakness in this town.
After I had picked up more cigarettes, I sat down with my guitar to play a few notes and to make a few bucks. I certainly played a few songs, but the money did not drop very consistently and soon I was packing up my stuff and moving on to another area. I said goodbye to Hollywood Boulevard and went the opposite way to the sunset boulevard, hoping to find what I was looking for there.
I did no better on Sunset Boulevard, and soon I was making my way to the Pig n Whistle, a pub that supposedly Shirley Temple used to frequent; not that it made any difference to me, but I was inclined to remember this obscure fact so that I could bring it up in conversation at a later point, if only to brag that I had played a set there.
When I got there I ordered wings and a Guinness. I felt in that moment like I knew what I was doing; as if I were a true native of southern California. But I wasn’t. I was just another kid from New York stupid enough to travel to the City of Angels, where there was no hope for jobs or success or fame or money and the streets were littered with New Yorkers who were now homeless. All around me, I saw them: old faces and young faces . . . casualties of the American Dream, that tradition of fame and glory which drives those who can see no other way mad with desire and leaves them drunk and on the street with nothing.
I tried to see myself in those faces, but they were hidden by shaggy hair. Instead I drank a toast to my own failures, and let myself drift away from LA.