All through the 1980’s
it was breakfast at the Rexall Fountain
on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue,
or Snow White’s coffee shop,
where eating there
felt like some sort of
Disney ride on acid
with all the boulevard mutants,
much more effective
than any ride
I’d gone on at Disneyland.
There was the Las Palmas Bookstand
and Miceli’s Restaurant
and of course Red’s Baroque Books,
with the finest and complete
Bukowski collection around.
It didn’t get any better than Red’s.
There was Hollywood Book & Poster
for all your Horror and B-Movie needs,
for the real memorabilia jones.
There was Musso & Franks,
and Jojo down at Book City
with every paperback and hardback
classic known to man.
Grecco’s with all the
heavy-metal-white-trash runaways
and a slice of MTV
with your pizza.
And across the street
Frederick’s Of Hollywood
looking like a giant Wurlitzer,
always pumping out
that slow bump ‘n’ grind,
right there in the middle of it all,
and to this day
the best shoes in all of Hollywood.
There was J.J. Newberry’s
and the magic shop.
Johnny’s Steak House
for that $3.95 steak dinner,
and it was good.
Hooray For Hollywood
for cheap rock ‘n’ roll T-shirts,
3 for-a-dollar.
And of course Playmates Of Hollywood,
which started out
as a children’s store
and grew up with its customers,
from toddler to stripper.
Then there were the bars;
The Zero One After Hours
right above Playmates
when David Lee Roth owned it.
The Frolic Room #2,
The Gaslight,
The Firefly,
the original Frolic Room,
The Cathay De Grande,
home of fine punk rock.
The Vine Bar & Grill
for Blues and Jazz,
and last but not least
Raji’s where you could see Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
the Vandals and TSOL
all in one night.
And then on the outskirts
of Hollywood Boulevard
were all the places I lived;
The Cliffwood Manor,
Disgraceland, The Havenhurst,
and The Fontenoy,
surrounded by churches, schools,
auto mechanic places
and cheap dirt-bag, dope fiend motels,
with the letters always
burned out in the signs,
the kind of places
that only look good
in the movies
and only sound interesting
in a Tom Waits song.
Like The Mark Twain,
The Saint James,
The Saint Moritz
and The Sunset 8.
Yes, Hollywood in the 80’s
was a great time.
it was before Crack and AIDS,
it was the coming and going
of Ronald Reagan
and before all the real damage
he did as President hit,
before homeless was normal.
Now I look at Hollywood Boulevard
and it’s just like a former lover
grown old and alcoholic,
an old lover that never took care of itself.
My two favorite times
to catch Hollywood Boulevard
used to be at dusk and at dawn.
At dusk when the sun was barely out
but all the neon was on,
and in the morning
before pedestrians.
Raymond Chandler put it best
when he said, “Hollywood Boulevard
at sun-up is like an aging hooker
without her make-up on.”
Now it’s like that
around the clock and worse.
And when the L.A. riots hit
and Hollywood was burning,
I thought, “Oh no, not my Hollywood Boulevard.”
But it’s not my Hollywood anymore,
now it belongs to the gangs,
the mutant homeless,
the corporate conglomerates
and the tourists.
The new Americana,
God bless them all.
No, it’s not my Hollywood anymore,
but Hollywood in the 80’s
was a great time,
it was my Paris in the 20’s,
and yes, a good time
was had by all.