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Man in clown makeup on LA bus

It was two weeks before Halloween, and I was on a Metro bus headed toward Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. Ahead I saw the ninety-year-old Vista Theater, which is just down the hill from the strip mall where Jerry’s video store used to be, and this was the season when I particularly missed the store. Its owner, Jerry Neeley, claimed an inventory of 20,000 titles of every genre, but horror was his specialty, so that I would observe Halloween by renting movies that only he would insist on stocking: The Astounding She-Monster, The Hideous Sun Demon, The Thing That Couldn’t Die. In his twenties Jerry had contributed articles to Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, my preadolescent bible, and to rent a movie from him was to invite anecdotes like this one about The Astounding She-Monster: “You’ll notice that the lead actress never turns her back to the camera. That’s because she split the back of her costume open on the first day of shooting and they didn’t have time to repair it.” Jerry’s knack for trivia was a magnet for regular customers, and it was shared by his wife, Mary, an animal lover who taped snapshots of customers’ pets to the side of a filing cabinet behind the counter. She and Jerry could both be peevish, and the store was frankly homely, with its cinderblock walls and ramshackle racks, while its musty smell must have been off-putting to some; but there was no shortage of corporate alternatives that smelled vaguely of plastic and were staffed by cheerful teenagers who consulted computers when asked about offbeat titles and said, as expected, “Sorry, we don’t carry that.” Jerry’s store wasn’t computerized. Everything there was done by hand: the bookkeeping, the checkout slips, the signs that distinguished the Fellini section from the Fassbinder section, the Gable section from the Garbo section, and so on.

The bus passed the Vista and stopped at the corner of Sunset and Virgil, where it was boarded by the purple lady, a sixtyish platinum blonde, nearly six feet tall, famous locally for dressing exclusively in purple. I used to see her daily at Jerry’s store, scrutinizing video boxes with a lorgnette—spectacles on a stick—or chatting with Jerry in a dizzy, fluty voice that turned the heads of customers who had somehow overlooked her remarkable appearance. She was like the missing link between human and bird of paradise, but my curiosity about her was trumped by a reflexive wariness of her eccentricity, so that I kept my distance at Jerry’s and later, when I saw her occasionally in Hollywood, especially at Amoeba Music, the last of the great L.A. record stores. Jerry once told me her name, which I remembered as Edna, though I was sure I must be mistaken, since Edna suited her a little too well. I had forgotten everything else Jerry told me about her, save that she idolized a certain actor—was it Richard Burton? Stewart Granger? Kirk Douglas?—whose movies and memorabilia she collected, and I wondered if that had anything to do with my recent sightings of her at Amoeba, where DVDs are also sold.

She sat behind the bus driver, in a seat reserved for the handicapped, and stared straight ahead with a rapt yet vacant expression. As always, her hair was gathered in a high ponytail, like a white plume on a Victorian cavalry helmet, and of course she wore purple from neck to toe, with a purple Hello Kitty tote bag and pink-tinted, purple-framed glasses. A stop later, she relinquished her seat to a man in a wheelchair and alighted next to me. She didn’t tacitly acknowledge me as people sometimes do when they find themselves brushing against strangers. She continued to stare vacantly ahead, while I oscillated between my usual wariness and curiosity.

“Excuse me,” I said finally. “Didn’t you used to go to Jerry’s video store?”

She flinched. I had startled her. “Oh,” she said in her dizzy voice, “yes, I used to go to Jerry’s, but I couldn’t walk up that hill no more. I have a heart condition.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yes, and some kid ran into me on the street and hurt my wrist, but I can’t afford a doctor.” She seemed eager to relate her collision with the kid, but I couldn’t make out if he had been walking or running or skating or biking, and that wasn’t the point anyway. The point was her pain and penury.

“I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my job,” she trilled. “Or my apartment. My landlord tried to evict me.”

Scar-faced man on LA bus

“There’s a lot of that going on. The same thing happened to me. Where do you live?”

“Behind the Vista.”

“Right, you just said you used to walk up the hill to Jerry’s. Well, that neighborhood has really gotten hot. All these West Side types are invading the East Side now and the rents are going through the roof. It’s the same in Echo Park, where I live.”

“My landlord said he needed his apartment for himself.”

“It’s called an owner occupancy, yeah. That’s how landlords usually evict tenants in L.A. They claim they need your place for themselves, but you can beat them if you take them to court. You just have to establish that they’re trying to get you out so they can jack up the rent.”

But that was no longer a problem for the purple lady; her landlord had died and bequeathed the building to his sisters, who dropped the eviction and let Edna stay on at a reasonable rent. I had remembered her name correctly: it was Edna, she confirmed, though she appeared to welcome the exchange only when it concerned her financial and medical worries, responding to my questions as if trapped by a Jehovah’s Witness on her doorstep. No, she wasn’t a native of L.A., but she had lived here since the age of eight. Yes, she worked in Hollywood, as either a seamstress or designer—I couldn’t quite tell—for a fashion company. Now I wondered if she made her own clothes, but I couldn’t think of a way to ask without it coming off like “What’s the deal with purple?” She worked constantly, she said, even at home, and didn’t have time for a social life, even of the digital kind—she had no use for computers—but she did make time for watching movies, and Charlton Heston was one of her favorite actors. Others included Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, who often played adversaries in British horror films of the fifties and sixties, but Heston was the favorite mentioned by Jerry.

“Well,” I said, “no wonder you got along with Jerry. He could recite the complete résumés of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.”

“What happened to Jerry? One day I walked up to the store and it wasn’t there anymore.”

“He closed it.”

“Why?”

“Well, he’d been talking about it for a while. The neighborhood was changing and he didn’t like the new breed of customer he was getting, those self-important West Side types, and he wanted to retire and take it easy. That’s what he said, you know, but I later heard the store was losing money. I mean, Netflix must have taken a bite out of business, but Jerry said he was going to keep it going for another year. Then the landlord raised the rent and he decided not to wait.”

“When was this?”

“The summer of 2007. It happened really quickly. The landlord raised the rent toward the end of August and the store closed right after Labor Day. I was devastated. That store gave me a place to go, you know? I could be sitting around, feeling lonely, and I’d think, Oh, hey, I’ll just go to Jerry’s and hang around and talk to him or Mary or John Sullivan. Do you remember John? He used to work there, and he knew everything about Westerns. I thought he and Jerry were related when I first started going there. You know, they were both in their forties, and John had a mustache and Jerry had a beard, and sometimes John wore a cowboy hat and Jerry always wore that Greek fisherman’s cap. He was in the hospital the first time I ever saw him without it. He had all kinds of health problems with his diabetes, you know. Did you ever notice his fingernails? He had that fungus thing you get with diabetes, where the fingernails are yellow and kind of scaly, the poor guy.”

The king of the bus

Edna had avoided my eye before the subject turned to Jerry. Now she faced me and asked if I had stayed in touch with Jerry after the store closed. Yes, I told her. He and Mary lived just up the street from the store, and whenever I was in the neighborhood, I would drop by to watch movies or play Trivial Pursuit. They were both formidable players, naturally, and unbeatable when they broke out the Silver Screen edition of the game.

“But how did they support themselves?”

“Well, at first they sold memorabilia. Jerry had been collecting that stuff since he was a kid, posters and props and all that, and he used to sell it at the store—you used to buy from him, didn’t you?—and then they started selling it online. But they ran into some kind of problem with eBay, so Mary started a dog-walking business, and Jerry would help out with that. I mean, he couldn’t walk the dogs, because his diabetes had gotten so bad he could barely walk at all, but Mary would also sit for dogs when their owners were out of town, and she would be at one place and Jerry would be at another. It was the perfect job for Mary. You remember how she used to post photos of pets at the store. Yeah, she didn’t miss the store at all. Neither one of them did. They ran it for twenty years.”

“Is she still walking dogs?”

“I assume she is. I haven’t talked to her in a year and a half. The last time I called, they didn’t call back, and Mary used to keep in touch by e-mail and that stopped, so I thought she and Jerry were mad at me for some reason. Then Jerry died—”

“When?”

“Six weeks ago. It was the weirdest thing. I was having lunch with these friends of mine, a married couple, and we were talking about the Manson murders, and Mary knew everything about that case. And I mentioned that, and I was telling my friends about the store—they just moved to L.A. a couple of years ago, so they never went—and I said, ‘Well, the murders happened in a house right up the street from the store, and the house is still there; want to see it?’ So we got in the car and we drove by the store—it’s now a Thai massage parlor—and I said, ‘Oh, hey, that’s where Jerry’s used to be. Oh, and see that building there? That’s where Jerry lives—if he’s still alive.’ Because, you know, his diabetes had gotten really bad, like I said. He had trouble walking, he was blind in one eye, and he was sixty-seven and he always said he didn’t think he’d live to see seventy. Anyway, I pointed out the Manson house and my friends dropped my off at my place, and an hour later I got a text message saying Jerry was dead. I mean, I hadn’t been up that street in months, and then to say what I did and an hour later—it was really spooky.”

Nun on LA bus

I had gotten the text message from a friend who had heard the news from Jerry’s brother. “It was a heart attack, apparently,” I told Edna. “Mary went out to walk a dog, or something, and when she came back, she found Jerry dead. I sent her a card, and she wrote me a note to thank me, but she wasn’t up to talking, which is understandable. They’d been together since 1978. But she did send me a picture of his urn. Well, technically, it’s not an urn. She put his ashes in a King Kong bank—you know, like a piggy bank? King Kong was his favorite movie.”

“Was there a service?”

“He didn’t want one, but I think one of her clients held some kind of service for him. You know, when the store closed, I wanted to write something about it for the LA Weekly, but he said no, he wanted the store to close quietly. I don’t think he realized how much it meant to people. I wasn’t the only one. People still talk about that place, the ones who haven’t been forced out of the neighborhood. It’s kind of a local legend.”

“Like you,” I almost added. Edna’s oddness had always, in my mind, symbolized the oddness of the store itself, even if I had nothing to do with her there, and talking to her now was therapeutic, though she seemed to have run out of questions, again staring straight ahead. I took her withdrawal for shock at learning of Jerry’s death, and I left her in peace until the bus approached Sunset and Ivar, the site of Amoeba Music, and Edna pressed the stop button and moved her purple tote bag from her lap to her shoulder.

“Amoeba,” I said. “I’m always going to Amoeba. Haven’t I seen you there?”

“That’s where I buy movies,” she nodded absently. “Nobody rents anymore.” Then she stood and, just before she stepped to the front of the bus, she turned in my direction and said, “Say hello to Jerry for me. I think about him a lot.”

Say hello to Jerry? Did she foresee me joining him soon? But she had probably already forgotten what I told her about him, and now she stood by the driver as she waited for him to pull up to the curb, apprising him of her idée fixe: “This kid on the street ran into me and hurt my wrist.” The driver ignored her, and so did nearby passengers, as if the world were overpopulated with platinum-blonde amazons dressed entirely in purple. Maybe she would find solace at Amoeba, which I imagined was struggling now that so many people applauded the death of physical media; and if and when Amoeba became another casualty of progress, Edna and all the other oddballs, including me, would effectively be rendered homeless.

Man disembarking from LA bus

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D. R. HANEY is the author of a novel, Banned for Life, and a nonfiction collection, Subversia, the inaugural publication of TNB Books. Known to friends as Duke, he lives in Los Angeles.

36 responses to “The Purple Lady Sends Her Regards”

  1. D.R. Haney says:

    A quick note about the images.

    I fancy myself a street photographer, though I make no great claims for it, and L.A. buses are wealthy with worthy subjects, so I decided to illustrate this piece with some of the photos I’ve taken on buses over the last few years, hoping they aren’t too distracting. I never ask people to pose, since it doesn’t produce good results, and because there was no way to take a candid photo of Edna when I encountered her that day, I didn’t try to photograph her at all. I was unable to find any images of her through Google, and only a handful of photos of Jerry’s store, which were a bit too small for my purposes. Unfortunately, I never thought to take pictures of the store.

  2. Brian Mc says:

    Was PL into the sandals n robes Heston of the 50’s or the late career sci-fi surge ?

  3. Peter Winkler says:

    “responding to my questions as if trapped by a Jehovah’s Witness on her doorstep.”

    That’s a nice observation.

    Another nice essay, Duke.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Thanks, Peter. Yeah, the Jehovah’s Witness line — I wish I could say it just came to me, but I first tried a number of similes, none of which worked, obviously. “Mormon missionary” didn’t work that well, either, I thought.

  4. Zara says:

    Well, you know I’m a big fan of both your stories and your photo’s – so what a treat to have the two together!
    Lovely piece, D. I especially like the conversation. It’s not something you do a lot of in your essays- but it’s a great way of making it immediate and almost like eavesdropping – which is kind of what you do on buses. It’s thematic with your photos too which are also like eavesdropping.
    Such a wonderful insight into the lives people live, if only a glimpse.
    Xo

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Ah, thanks, Z.

      I had been trying to find a way to write about Jerry and the store when I met Edna on the bus, and it seemed like if I could just reproduce our conversation, I had almost everything I needed. I mean, I was a steady customer at the store for over fifteen years, and I knew Jerry for longer, and it’s hard to pack all that into a short piece, you know? And then there was the question of how much description and detail the piece could stand without it bogging down. Anyway, I’m relieved that you like it, and that that photos work for you here. I think the underlying message, if there is one, is that every day is Halloween on an L.A. bus.

      XO

  5. Great story and images – the combination perfectly captures Los Angeles now in transition to whatever it is heading toward. Most people get to meet the lady with the purple hair – or somebody kind of like that – on a bus or a train sometime in their lives. But this is different as you actually had an exchange that went both ways. The communication that you managed to conduct even if it was short lived is just a wonderful portrait. Congratulations.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Is this the first time you’ve ever commented at TNB, George? Usually you comment privately. Anyway, I’m honored.

      Edna never asked my name — that’s how curious she was about me! — and I imagine she forgot our exchange immediately, but if I ever see her again, I might attempt to say hello. Eccentrics exist everywhere, of course, but there’s something peculiarly L.A. about her, which is why I asked if she was a native. I’m not sure what the New York version of Edna would be — but I think they got rid of all the eccentrics in New York, didn’t they? And now, of course, they’re trying to get rid of them here.

      Here’s to an America as bland as everybody seems to want it to be!

  6. Carrie says:

    Our fabulous weirdos are one of the best things about LA – the pink poodles, the leather daddy junk sellers, the erudite and sharp-dressed “Mariachi Loco”. My first home here was just around the corner from Jerry’s and I felt like I was in a real-life Weetzie Bat book, the candy-colored spiritual home I didn’t know I was looking for. I’m always delighted to see places and people that still survive despite all the aggressive normalizing. Thanks for this beautiful essay about the LA of my heart.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Carrie, have you ever been delivered from a blue state (metaphorically speaking) by a chance encounter? Well, that’s the effect of your comment, and I thank you for it.

      I must confess to having to google Weetzie Bat, and this came up immediately: “The story is set in an almost dream-like, heightened version of Los Angeles, aptly referred to as “Shangri-L.A.”, in an indefinite time period evoking both the 1980s punk craze and the sophisticated glamor of 1950s Hollywood.” Yes, that’s very in tune with Jerry’s (as of course I don’t have to tell you, though I’m doing it); in fact, the store was popular with old punks and kids from the East Side music scene, while the “glamor” of 1950s Hollywood was represented by customers like Conrad Brooks, who appeared in a number of Ed Wood movies, and Lawrence Tierney. I had wanted to mention in the piece the celebrities (of a kind) I used to see at the store, but I couldn’t find a place to do it. (One celebrity I never saw there was Glenn Danzing, who was rumored to live a few blocks from Jerry’s. If the rumor was true, how could he not have had a membership?)

      Thanks again for the lift. The LA of your heart is, obviously, the LA of mine.

  7. Carrie says:

    Danzig did live just around the corner. I spent a lot of time on dog walks pondering his spotless black Jaguar and the mysterious pile of bricks in his front yard. A friend peeked into his cart at Lucky and reported his provisions were nothing but fajitas and air fresheners – spooky!

    Glad to help lift a black mood. Lucky us, the rain is over and it’s rainbow weather again.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I’m surprised you could even make sense of my comment, Carrie. I dashed it off before rushing out to an appointment, and today I see that it’s full of errors. Now I’ve corrected them — too late!

      I was always sure the Danzig rumor must be true, it was so pervasive, and that house always felt a little like the Munsters’ residence on Mockingbird Lane. I remember the grass in the yard being knee high, practically, or it was at one point, and I don’t think I ever saw any light in the windows whenever I drove past the house in the evening. I always looked. But, as a creature of the night, I suppose Danzig wasn’t just going to sit around at home, sniffing air freshener and eating fajitas.

      Have you ever heard of Eve Babitz, the writer? If not, Vanity Fair profiled her last year, and it’s worth reading, if you should find yourself with an idle moment:

      http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2014/03/eve-babitz-los-angeles-party-scene

      Anyway, here’s the connection to the store. One day, when Jerry was in the hospital, recovering from heart surgery, I ducked behind the counter to help out Mary, who was swamped. I knew the place almost as well as Jerry and Mary and John Sullivan and so on, and I was shelving videos and retrieving them for impatient customers and writing out checkout slips, and then this woman handed me a membership card for “Mae Babitz,” and I said, “Are you any relation to Eve?” I had read one of Eve’s books, which I loved, as well as a terrific piece she had written about Jim Morrison for Esquire (she dated Morrison around the time he met Pamela Courson and remained friendly with him up until he left for Paris), and I knew from either the book or the Morrison article that Eve had grown up near Los Feliz, so I was fairly certain that Mae Babitz was a relative. Well, Mae was Eve’s mother, and Eve was using Mae’s membership card to rent a movie. I could hardly believe that I had met the legendary Eve Babitz, and later she came to the store again, when I wasn’t there, and Mary spoke to her about the Manson case. Eve knew two members of the Manson Family, Bobby Beausoleil and Catherine Share, but that wasn’t or shouldn’t have been surprising, since she knew almost everybody in LA in the sixties.

      Anecdotes about Jerry’s. I got a million of ’em.

      Rainbow weather, yeah. Maybe if I walk to the store for air fresheners and fajitas, I’ll spot a rainbow and find a pot of gold at the end of it. I promise to share if so, since you inspired the walk. Thanks again.

  8. Tammy Allen says:

    Hi Duke, I loved this story. It’s so LA. It has a really fluid meter that makes it fun to read, besides the fact the story is fun too. I love oddballs. When I lived in downtown LA on 6th and Alverado I had to take the bus to Santa Monica to see my psychiatrist. It took about 4 hours round trip. I used listen to my walkman and compose a film about what I was seeing with the music as the soundtrack. I actually loved those 4 hours on the bus. Even though I usually caught the express bus it still took forever. I went straight down Wilshire to the Santa Monica hospital. One time I got on the elevator and a very drugged-out, twig-like Makenzie Phillips was on it. I remember watching “One Day at a TIme” when was a kid.

    Thanks for the interesting bus ride and for sparking some random memories.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      It’s been ages, Tammy, since I’ve seen a comment from you here at TNB — but of course the boards ain’t what they used to be, are they?

      Thank you for mentioning the meter; I always put a lot of work into that, and I’m never sure that I’m successful. Thank you also for noting that it’s a very LA piece. That was a big part of the impetus of writing it — that it is so LA, but not the sort of LA known to most. Since you’ve taken long rides on buses here — or, as I call them, asylums on wheels — you’d be among the initiated, obviously.

      When I first read your comment, I misunderstood and thought you had seen MacKenzie Phillips on a bus, which surprised me. I thought, Didn’t she save any money from that show? Then again, celebrities, or former celebrities or whatever, can turn up in the strangest places. Once, on Times Square at around two in the morning, I watched Andy Kaufman posing as a portrait photographer. That was kind of a thing in New York at the time: these poor guys would get a camera and a wicker chair and set up the chair on the street and solicit business from passersby: “Hey, your lady is so lovely, and you ought to get a picture together,” and so on. Anyway, that’s the sort of photographer Andy Kaufman was pretending to be, and he managed to get some business. I wasn’t sure if people knew he was Andy Kaufman, but there weren’t many people around anyway. It was so surreal I wondered if I was dreaming it, but of course surrealism was exactly the point.

      Thanks again, Tammy, for noticing this piece and remarking on it. I’m embarrassed to say how much work went into it.

      • Tammy Allen says:

        That’s a cool story about Andy Kaufman. I loved him.

        Makenzie was on the elevator at the hospital. Have you heard her story? It’s really sick. She had a sexual relationship with her dad for years.

        Anyway, I haven’t read anything by you that I didn’t like.

        I’m so busy at work I don’t get the chance to read as much as I’d like. Plus I work online all day so I’m not that into reading online.

        Be proud of how hard you work on things.

  9. Carrie says:

    I don’t know if you’ll see this as it’s been so long, but I’m finally reading Slow Days, Fast Company and I’m in heaven. Just cackling and gasping, pure pleasure. What a facile, funny, sexy writer she is. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Seen!

      Isn’t she fun? That’s the book I started with, and ironically, it’s the only one (aside from her book about Fiorucci) that I don’t own. A friend loaned it to me, and now it’s so expensive, I can’t afford to buy a copy. Her first story collection, Eve’s Hollywood, can’t be found for under $400, and her first novel, Sex and Rage, now goes for $200 or something. Sex and Rage sat on my shelf for a couple of years before I finally read it earlier this year, and it was worth the wait.

      I got a distressing update from Jerry’s brother earlier this week, ironically on the same day that I saw the purple lady for the first time in a while, but I didn’t approach her. I probably shouldn’t share, publicly, details of the distressing news, which has to do with con artists and the fate of Jerry’s memorabilia collection. Anyway, good to hear from you, Carrie. I’m very happy to have made a recommendation and happier still that, for once, a recommendation was followed. We’re all sort of inundated with recommendations these days, thanks in part to social media. I call it homework. I’m constantly getting a lot of homework assignments: Youtube clips, TV shows, movies, etc.

  10. Carrie says:

    Thank goodness the library has a copy of just about all of them – it makes no sense that these are out of print. I, of course, recommended it to every smart lady I know, and now they’ve all requested it from the library so I’ve got to hurry up and get it back. Truly sad to let this book go! Sorry to hear about bad news…hope all can be resolved.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Well, if there are any that can’t be found at the public library, I can arrange a loan from my personal library. No, it doesn’t make any sense that her books are out of print, and I said as much, about Slow Days specifically, when I met her, and she agreed instantly, with none of the false humility that most see as good manners but can be irksome when the truth is plainly the truth. I know she’s bound to appeal more to female readers, but I can’t be the only male who likes her. In fact, I know I’m not: I was loaned Slow Days by a male friend, and I recommended Eve to a young Australian friend who flipped to the point of writing an appreciation for a web magazine. Here’s a line I wrote in my own brief appreciation of Eve for another website, and it may explain some of her appeal for me: “All of her books concern Los Angeles, where, except for a brief period in Europe, she has lived her entire life, so that she’s been idiotically compared to such L.A. writers as Joan Didion and Nathaniel West. But Eve’s funny, cool-girl style owes nothing to them, and I’m convinced it was copied as soon as she invented it and those copies were in turn copied, and so on, making her style a familiar style, though it’s presently in a degraded form and you have to dig to locate the sterling original, which, as with any gem, can justifiably run you a mint.” (I was referring, with the “mint” bit, to the cost of her out-of-print books.)

      Not to assign homework, but here’s a link to the piece, badly transcribed, about Jim Morrison that Eve wrote for Esquire in 1990 (it was published in the March 1991 issue) and so far is uncollected:

      http://forum.johndensmore.com/index.php?showtopic=2340

      She wrote it while the Oliver Stone movie was in production, or postproduction or whatever, and she takes a dim view of Oliver Stone, but when I met her a second time — she sitting outside at a cafe on Larchmont — she said, “Yeah, and then I saw the movie and liked it.” She also told me about her accident that day: you know, her skirt catching fire.

      There are lawyers involved in the memorabilia case, but I don’t know what can be done.

  11. jack hicko says:

    I have some photos of Jerry’s Video on my facebook page. I worked there in 1992.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      That’s about the time I became a regular customer, so I’m sure I must have seen you there. I’d love to see the photos, but I can’t seem to find you on Facebook, where I’m “Duke Haney.” Feel free to contact me.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Wait. I found you. Wow, there’s Jerry, and there’s the bathroom. I only made use of that bathroom a couple of times.

      How did you like working at the store? Occasionally I thought about asking Jerry if I could work there to pick up a little extra cash, but I thought it might not be good for our friendship.

  12. jack hicko says:

    There are also one photo each of Jerry and Mary in my folder “Magnified Friends”. I liked working there a lot, except for the “hard to get paid” aspect. Jerry let me take home anything to watch, so I squeezed every last value out of that experience. Guarded the store with Jerry during the riot. Edna was an unusual friend of mine. I really enjoyed reading all this. I have some original art by her!

  13. jack hicko says:

    I just posted a few more on my main timeline.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Thanks for what you say about the piece, Jack. It’s very hard to write about a place as opposed to a person or an event, or anyway it’s hard for me. There’s too much description and not enough story to sustain the reader’s interest. But I really wanted to write about Jerry’s store, particularly after learning that he had died, and the encounter with Edna finally gave me a way to go about it. But I’m probably repeating something I said in the comments above.

      I just checked your FB page again, and I am blown away by Edna’s artwork, and also by the photos of Jerry looking so slim and Mary with long hair. I have only a dim memory of her with long hair. And of course I recognize their apartment, and that table, which was still there the last I visited maybe two and a half years ago. Did you see Ray Dennis Steckler while you were in Vegas with Jerry? I know he had a video store in Vegas, and he and Jerry were friendly. Jerry knew practically everybody of the Ray Dennis Steckler sort.

      In fact, I drove past Jerry’s store during the riots, on the night when the curfew was first imposed. I was in a rental car that wasn’t stopped by the police, since it looked so much like an unmarked police car. I visited friends who lived a block from the store, and one of them was standing on his balcony with a slingshot and ball bearings for ammunition.

      I just sent you a friend invitation on FB. Did you ever meet Jerry’s brother, Tim? I sent him a link to the first batch of photos I saw on your page.

  14. jack hicko says:

    Thank you so much, it was exciting to get a fb friend who actually knew the place! And Jerry’s brother to boot! Tim was the star of “Doc Hollywood”, as I recall. He used to come in the store quite a bit. Their dad did, also. I may have even met Tim in St. Louis. Jerry had a store in St. Louis, “Movie Collectables”, three doors down from my record store “Wuxtry”. I would close at ten at hang out at his store talking about monsters with him, soundtracks with Vern, and Manson with Mary. Then at midnight I would go to the Varsity Theater to see Rocky Horror. It was very sad when they left for Los Angeles. I lost touch, but fortunately I like A) Movie Memoribilia stores, and B) Walking around Hollywood, because I just happened to wander into their store on Sunset! That closed and I lost touch again. A year or so later, my friend Rachael keeps telling me about this woman she rides the bus with each day, who seems to have a lot in common with me. You can guess where this is going…

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Wow, you go all the way back to St. Louis with Jerry. He and Mary told me all about his memorabilia store there and the screenings of “Rocky Horror” just up the street. Mary used to dress as Magenta for the screenings, I believe she said, and they met at the memorabilia store, as you know. That’s the sort of detail I tried for a long time to work into my piece about Jerry’s Video, that and Subway next door to it, where that gay guy would hold court every night (he used to live in West Hollywood, where he overheard Sal Mineo’s murder, which happened right behind his building), and the KABC staffers who would come into the store to rent movies by an actor who had just died, which is how Jerry knew the actor had died before the news had been made public, and so on and so forth. I’m fascinated by that sort of detail. Every life is full of it, and it’s invariably lost, to one degree or another. Even the lengthiest biography will of necessity be reductive, because we simply aren’t patient enough for all of the detail that comprises a life; and for that matter, we don’t remember the detail that comprises our own lives, as I learned recently while going through boxes full of cards and letters (remember those?) I’ve been sent since I was a teenager. In some cases I couldn’t identify the person who had taken the time to write me. But at least there’s a record, or there is for now. All that stuff will get thrown out when I die, if it isn’t somehow lost before.

      I see that Tim has also befriended you on FB. He was living in LA at the time you worked at the store, he confirmed to me, and he himself later worked at the store. Did you ever hear how John Sullivan died? It’s a very sad story.

      I wrote a piece about staking out the LaBianca house with Mary on the fortieth anniversary of Manson murders, incidentally.

  15. jack hicko says:

    Never heard the John Sullivan story. I worked with him almost every night until ten. Mary wasn’t sure what she thought about my friendship with Bugliosi (he was a record collector). I presume you parked in front of Harold True’s house! When I arrived in Los Angeles, I went sightseeing the first night. Of course I ended up at 10051 Cielo and quickly deduced where it was even though the number had been changed. It was the first time I saw a “warning – armed response” sign. Only then did it occur to me that it was August 9th… and it was 12:15am!

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I have a similar story. I was acting in a movie in a house on Benedict Canyon Drive in the late nineties, and you know how narrow that road gets at a certain point, so there was very little parking on the road shoulders and I parked blocks and blocks from location and walked up to it. This was during the day. I finally left the location at night — getting on toward midnight, in fact — and I was walking down Benedict Canyon toward my car, and honestly, though I’m a student of the Manson case, which fascinates me on multiple levels, I wasn’t thinking at all of the case until, at a certain point, as I walking, I thought, “Oh, hey, I’m not far the Tate residence,” or what used to be the Tate residence, and at that precise second I looked up and saw, three feet in front of me, the CIELO DRIVE sign, with the moonlight hitting it just so. I don’t know; it’s hard to convey the eeriness of that moment.

      It’s apparently a myth, by the way, that the Tate house was destroyed because of damage caused by the ’94 earthquake. I’m working on a piece about the actor Christopher Jones, who has a connection to the Manson case, and in the course of researching it, I spoke to the longtime assistant to Rudi Altobeli, who was Jones’s manager as well as (but you know this) the owner of the Cielo house, and the new owners, according to Rudi’s former assistant, were reluctant to raze the house but they did so because the plumbing was old and fucked up and it would have been more expensive to replace the plumbing than it was to raze the house and build a new one. It’s a pity, because the old house was so charming.

      Mary and I, on the fortieth anniversary of the LaBianca murders, parked across the street from the LaBianca house, so we were facing it and the Harold True house. Manson and his followers parked, I believe, directly outside the LaBianca house. In any case, you might find this interesting: a recorded interview with Harold True from early 1970.

      http://www.cielodrive.com/updates/coming-november-26-27-audio-archives-interview-of-harold-true-with-aaron-stovitz/

      Dig around on that site and you’ll find other recordings, including one with Al Springer, the biker who went to the LAPD with suspicions that the Manson people were the Tate killers. I can never take remotely seriously an alternative theory of the case — you know: Voytek burned Tex in a drug deal, etc. — after listening to that tape of the police questioning Al Springer. It’s truly one of the best things I’ve ever found on the Internet.

      I’ve forgotten some of the details of the John Sullivan story, but John moved back to upstate New York, where he grew up, to care for his elderly, widowed mother. She must really have been elderly, because John was no spring chicken, as they used to say. Anyway, John had stomach ulcers, and somehow he confused his medications, or a doctor confused his medications, but he took a medication that caused his ulcers to bleed. He bled to death, basically. Then his mother, who was reliant on John for care and already disoriented, somehow wandered into the basement of the house and died also, possibly of cold or hunger, so when the cops arrived, they found two corpses and sort of pieced together what had happened.

      Poor John. He was such a nice guy.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        Oh, and Bugliosi. I’ve come to respect Bugliosi. I know he’s an egomaniac, and he has that shameful milkman episode in his past, but I read part of his book on the JFK assassination — the first part, which was excised and made into a book on its own: “Four Days in November” — and that settled it for me. Also, I heard him interviewed about agnosticism — he wrote a book on agnosticism in a departure from his usual true-crime beat — and I agreed with everything he had to say about that. So, yeah. I’m pro-Bugliosi at this point.

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