by iKim Fahey
It’s nine PM. The vibration of the last group on stage at the Whisky A Go Go woke me up from a sound sleep. I pull off my shooting ear protectors, swing my legs off Elmer’s sofa in his upstairs office and chop some lines on the big, low, glass table in front of me covered with whisky bottles, shot glass’s, rolled up panties and pizza boxes. I have a busy night ahead. A power nap from right after work has me ready to go.
I have a crash pad on Beechwood Canyon but some rock group is crashed out there. Elmer Valentine, the owner of the Whisky and a bunch of other clubs all over town, had given me a key to his office years ago. His alarm? I put it in and changed his codes like pairs of socks.
He was an ex cop from New York, street smart, until he met four wasted groupies. Then, time to change the door code the next morning. I bop down the private back stair well. One of the off duty bartenders is nailing this half dressed gal standing up on the landing. I nod hello and squeeze past. I need some drinks. When you're 19-years-old, you have priorities.
Since my 450 Ducati wouldn’t start when I got off work at 936 Formosa, my Pac Bell garage at the time, a pal getting off work dropped me off on Sunset and I thumbed a ride down to the strip. Since it was still daylight the perverts weren’t on the streets yet. Most still had to shave, get there wigs straight, and check in with their pimps. I had plenty of time. Sort of like dusk before the Vampires come out.
I take my usual seat at the far end of the long bar and have two Sunrises appear like magic. As the second one goes down a big hand is on my shoulder. I don’t have to look into the mirror across from me. I knew it was Elmer’s big paw. He bent down from the stratosphere his head usually bobbled in to whisper instructions to me before the next band came on.
I nodded and said some, ‘Yeah, yeah’s’! The usual Friday night routine. I wouldn’t see him again until noon Saturday, most likely. Unless I needed to get bailed out. Or maybe I was hiding... for some reason. He split with his entourage and I hit drink 3 with a bit slower pace. You have to show some maturity.
I nod, say hello a few times then get blown off my stool to lie in a pile of body’s against the far wall from the stage. All of us swept off our feet by the power trio that just opened up on their first song of the night. I thought NOBODY would ever beat out, ‘BLUE CHEER’. I was wrong.
This English band, ‘STATUS QUO’, just took the title. They we’re so loud Valentine was fined by the Beverly Hill’s Board of Businessmen and we we’re in Hollywood. I couldn’t get out fast enough. It was time to do some business.
I head for my truck parked behind the TROUBADOR. A club right next to the Whisky. They even share the same driveway off Sunset. Valentine owned it to. It was for the more cerebral crowd. People that listened to Joan Baez or Donovan. Touchy feely crap. Good Hot Beef sandwich’s though.
As I open my door, empty cartridges fall out on the blacktop and roll crazily all over the place. I sweep out some more and fire up the latest F__k Dog mobile. A 1965, one and a half ton Dodge Power Wagon. Step sided long bed with a 440 V8, worn hubs and a 20,000 lb winch on the extended bumper. It met a glorious death in Wyoming, but, that was yet to come. Right now, at this time, it kicked ass. With my dual exhausts running way back under the bed it was a sleeper. A low constant rumble. Like Sonny Liston saying a quiet, ‘You want trouble’? It had a Torque Flight automatic which was nice for lucky nights with a gal who didn’t know me. Sometimes it’s better to be slapped silly when you find out later it was a dude. Always look at the Adam’s apple.
Some would worry about driving around with empty brass all over the cab. Some don’t shoot all the time at the Griffith Park Police Range and also do phone repair for LAPD, the Sheriff’s stations, Highway Patrol, and the Detectives Private Gun Club off Western. I had so many Cops private cards in my glove box some people thought I was a Narc. No way! That came a few years later.
I roll for my crash pad at the other end of the strip. Beechwood Canyon is right under the HOLLYWOOD sign. I don’t even want to see what’s going on inside. My stereo had been stolen weeks prior by junkies so it was someone else’s toons blasting. Glamour boy’s, and girls in tube tops and short skirts are on my duplex’s lawns. I see a dude walk by in a shirt of mine. Oh well. I could get a dozen more Monday in the Garment District in Downtown LA. Why cry over it?
I head for my overhead storage area off the back alley. There’s nothing in it. Not even a lock. Junkies would hit that first. Nope. Laying against the wall in front of who-knows-car is a greasy tranny from my truck, awaiting a trip to the junk yard. A ruse. Under a filthy corroded pan of old motor oil was my stash can. Out came some little glass bottles for the nights delivery’s and I was good to go. This was before my brief spiritual awakening. For about 3 days I was a supreme being. Then the Acid wore off.
Back in my ride, first stop, 7-11 on Sunset - my pal, Dave the Boogie Man’s house. He cashiered and lived there in the beer storage room. Sometimes his bed was near the floor on cases of beer, sometimes he made steps out of cases to get to the top of the stack. PJ, the guy that owned four 7-11's all over LA, had used for me once in a while to fix him up with collectors, for guys dead beating on gambling debts.
A friend, who also warned me to never use his name in a story again, runs THE LARGEST BAIL BOND JOINT ON THE WEST COAST, no name. I would borrow his goons, naturally, he got a cut. It was a lot of fun rolling with these guys. When they kicked a guy’s door in for jumping bail or whatever, while they jumped up and down on him like Gorilla’s in a suit case commercial, you could shop their digs like a small store. Finders keepers. As soon as he’s gone the place is getting emptied anyhow. Some albums aren’t worth taking their so scratched.
Next stop, Famous Amos Cookies. This was before he had a .45 put to his head and had his business taken over by some folks in a Colombian death squad. I can joke about them since the ones that aren’t dead are doing life without parole. More on them in my next book.
At this time Amos had others running his cookie store in the evenings so he could party. He used to hang out at this teenie bopper club called, Rodney Bingenheimers’. Rich kids, 12 to whatever that did drugs and died all the time. I went in a couple of times on repair to fix his credit card machines. Once I came out of Denny’s on Sunset, across from the Tuxedo Center and Rodney was polishing some kid’s salami at 3 in the morning. I had been called out for a drunk driver knocking down a pole on Laurel Canyon and was milking the double time. I hit an SCC box and dropped a dime on him. The cops were there in 2 minutes. F__k that pervert. He later had his place shut down for child slavery. Someone else for that one. While at Amos’s I call Dave at the 7-11 to check in on special orders before hitting the Hollywood hills.
There’s one special. My blind Navy pal who lives in Orson Welles [Orson Welles' "The War of the Worlds" radio drama - CBC October 30, 1938 - subtitled] rear guest house - he needs a case of Coors, in the bottle. I finish my delivery to the cookie folks then pick up Navy boys' brew. I go down the side walkway so I don’t piss off Orson. I set the case on his doorstep, pounded on his door then ran. He was a real pain in the ass but he was on the USS Arizona, so, he was special.
Time to hit the hills off Mulholland and BEYOND! Mostly stop and goes. A beauty shop owner, an Actor, a Director, a Dentist. All private homes. Some tiny, some with security. All eager to see me. Until I hit Rock Hudson’s. Oh brother. A great guy, but his friends? Butt buddy heaven. Scimpy bathing suits? Try no suits. By the pool or in the living room. Weenie city. Dozens of young guys way better looking then me, yet, I seem to be a Dork magnet.
This is where my secret weapon came in handy. I kept a container of fake plastic boogers from HOLLYWOOD TOY. They did special effects for all sorts of companies. A long stringy, real as hell plastic snot smeared in my mustache and artfully smeared on the back of my hand was instant fruit repelent as soon as they saw it. They would come up all smiles then veer off when they got closer. Rock was hep. He always got a big laugh out of it. He also tipped big. I really liked him.
I hit Coldwater Canyon for a couple of deliveries on the way back to Hollywood. Still one big stop, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer back lots off Santa Monica Blvd. Not only were the set builders there all night (Some lived in trailers), but it was also a full on party stop since everyone knew my family owned and trained the MGM lions since the 1930s. A fact.
I don’t leave until 1 am. I hit Ben Franks before the Whisky to miss last call. Guess who is coming out of Franks. My pal, Bobby Caldwell, drummer for Johnny Winter. Tall and lanky with black straight hair below his ass - he was a chick magnet. I used to treat him like I was a Remora to a Great White shark for cast off chicks he didn’t want. With him are three fellow long hairs with spandex pants and tiny shirts showing chest hair. Chest hair? I could never understand that bullshit. I didn’t have to shave until I was 25 for crying-out-loud. These half a dude girlie men have rugs peeking out of their blouses.
Bobby wonders if I’m carrying. Since it was a warm summer night I tell two of his buddies to hop in the back while another got between us in the single cab. The guy in the middle has an English accent. It turns out their the guys from STATUS QUO! Cool! Very superior acting rockers I might add. I was given the impression that I was being honored by being in their presence. Hmm. Time to show them the back of the HOLLYWOOD sign. They’ll dig that tour.
You needed a gate key to get to the reservoir, then, another Pac-Bell cable maintenance key to the dirt road to the rear of the sign. I have both. Still do. You can cruise all over tiny dirt roads up there. Not a light anywhere in the pitch black foothills. All the way to Griffith Park if you know the way. I know every trail. Especially this horse trail where you go off the trail in a fast drop, then an uphill climb straight up over brush to a dead end at the top. A fantastic view of the Hollywood Freeway and Universal's backlot. If given the chance to enjoy it. Not these clowns. They had tooted two grams and were kings of the world leaving the Hollywood sign.
Half way up the stygian black hillside they were screaming to get out. Sorry he-men. No chance. I didn’t go for the view. I stopped almost at the top, slid to a stop, then rolled backwards to the bottom. One guy actually sh_t his pants. Then, they WANTED TO DO IT AGAIN! I had to repeat that run about a dozen times for all sorts of people to freak their unknowing friends for months……
This was just one night out of 40 years worth….
- iKim Fahey
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