Tag Archives: Sunset Strip

Convict Kane

In 1967, when I was 16, I told my mother that I was going to Los Angeles. Great things were happening on the Sunset Strip at the time, I really want to be part of it all, and for some reason she said fine.

I’ve wondered about this last part quite a bit over the years.

So with almost no money and a bag of sandwiches, I sat in a seat on a train from Orillia to Vancouver and then caught a bus to the border where the customs guy accused me of running away.

I told him to phone collect to my mother in Orillia and she would confirm that I was simply on my way to LA and not running away, which he did, and shortly after I was on the side of the highway in northern Washington with my thumb stuck out, heading south.

All it took to get to LA was a handful of nights sleeping in ditches and a bunch of rides, including a long and sleepy one with a farmer bringing potatoes from Idaho to either Watsonville or Salinas. We hardly talked the whole time, which was good. I was tired, and I wasn’t all that interested in potatoes.

Closer to LA I got on a bus and sat beside a nice female college student who felt sorry for me, and at some point when the bus stopped at a restaurant, she called her folks in the city to see if I could stay there for a few days. They said no.

From the downtown L.A. bus station I went directly to the Strip which was the scene of not only young people everywhere milling about, but also bands like the Doors and the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield playing at Pandora’s Box and all the other cool clubs. None of these bands I saw then, but whatever.

But one night I went to Whisky A Go Go (it’s still there), and saw not only the Youngbloods but also the Paupers, a great Toronto band who would play at the dance hall in my hometown Orillia from time to time. I also thought that maybe I’d meet a nice California girl at the Whisky and possibly get laid, but again, whatever.

I was on the Strip for about a week, staying in various dumps far from the good parts of West Hollywood, and being careful not to be out and about after 10 pm because Sunset was under curfew to those under 18 after huge riots had taken place there less than a year before. They made some sort of movie about this riot, called, aptly enough, “Riots on Sunset Strip”.

But one night, I think after the Youngbloods/Paupers show, I got sloppy, and while walking down the street around midnight, a cop pulled up and asked for ID. He saw that I was only 16, and the next thing I knew, I was in handcuffs that were way too tight, and hauled off to the cop shop.

At the station I asked the cops if they would phone Orillia, just like at the border, and have my folks take care of business. One of them phoned my mother, collect of course, and told her that I was arrested for breaking curfew and would be sent to a juvenile hall the following morning.

At juvenile hall, with big and impressive penitentiary-style walls, I turned over my clothes and wallet, which was all I had, and put on my new prison clothes. Then I was taken to a dormitory, given a bed and blankets, told the rules, and settled in.

It all kind of sucked of course, because I didn’t know how long I’d be there. Myself and a bunch of guys who were there for better reasons than breaking curfew, played cards and baseball, and I even had to take classes in a school room where I learned almost nothing about American history.

Then one morning, after about seven days, I was eating breakfast in the big hall when I heard my name called, and an official told me my parents had sent a plane ticket and I was leaving right away. So I left breakfast, got my clothes and wallet back, and was escorted to not only the airport, but right to my seat on the plane. They took curfew breakers seriously back then.

I got to Toronto, grabbed a bus to Orillia, and the first thing my mother said to me was that they weren’t mad, although they probably weren’t thrilled about having to buy a plane ticket because they were pretty broke I think.

I told a friend of mine who’s an LA cop about this a few years ago and he said that nowadays there’s no way they’d put a kid in juvenile for such a minor thing as curfew breaking. There’s way too many real criminals, and I’d just be taking up space.

Which is what I kinda thought at the time.

June 16 1967 – Monterey International Pop Festival, Monterey, California
July 14 1967 – Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood with The Youngbloods

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Busted For Being Too Young

public enemy

This month marks 48 years since I was busted for breaking curfew on the Sunset Strip and had to spend a week in a Hollywood juvenile hall before getting kicked out of the country.

The Summer of Love, 1967, and I was 16. I’ve written about this before but had said I was 17, which was wrong. Although I suppose it doesn’t make much difference.

I’d taken a train from Orillia to Vancouver, sitting in a seat for 3 1/2 days, not old enough for the bar car, and from Vancouver found my way to the border where officials phoned my mom back home to make sure I wasn’t running away. From there I hitchhiked to Los Angeles.

I kind of remember the trip south. I didn’t have much money, and I slept in my sleeping bag in fields near the highway. I’m sure I also cursed my two buddies in Orillia several times for backing out at the last minute.

Eventually a potato farmer in an old truck picked me up, in Oregon I think, and we drove all the way to Watsonville, CA, saying almost nothing to each other as we sailed on down the highway. He didn’t care about my story, and I didn’t care about potatoes.

I guess it was just a day or two later that I made it to L.A., and the first thing I did was take a city bus to West Hollywood and the Sunset Strip, because that was where it was all happening.

It was where the infamous riots on Sunset Strip had begun the previous fall, and where clubs that lined the colourful street regularly hired bands who would some day find themselves in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The riots arose after people who lived and worked in the area didn’t like the idea of so many long-haired kids hanging around. Police got involved, there were arrests and lots of commotion, and kids got clubbed in the head and banged around. I feel mighty confident in saying that the world “pig” flew around quite a bit.

Not long after, after things had calmed down, I showed up.

Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ describes a bit of the situation, which you can see and hear below.

The problem with the riot is that a 10 o’clock curfew for those under 18 was ordered. I knew about this curfew, but it wasn’t something that seemed to matter. I didn’t have a lot of places to go anyway, and walking the streets was what I did, regardless of what time it was.

I almost know the exact date when I got busted, after searching the internet for  “Paupers and Youngbloods at Whisky a Go Go”, which was the night it happened.

The Paupers played at the iconic club from July 14 to 19 of 1967, opening for different bands on different nights. I saw them with the Youngbloods on one of those nights, and was promptly busted while walking down the street afterward, which was probably around the midnight hour.

The cop handcuffed me and took me to the local station where I stayed the night behind bars, and the next morning they moved me to a juvenile hall with big walls, where I wore inmate clothing, had to get up way too early, took classes in U.S. history, played cards in the dormitory, and I had no idea how long I’d be there for. It truly sucked, and I was such a lousy card player.

One morning, while eating breakfast with my new buddies, somebody called my name out and took me to get my street clothes because I was going back to Canada. My parents had sent money for a ticket, and an employee from the prison drove me to the airport and saw me right to my seat on the plane.

Several hour later the plane touched down in Toronto and I made my way up to Orillia. My parents told me they weren’t mad at me and that was that…..

….until the fall of 1968 when I went to England for much of the winter, to the Atlantic City Pop Festival in the summer of ’69, hitchhiked across Canada three different times, and did all sorts of things, legal and illegal. I probably worried my parents sick. At least I like to think they were worried.

And one last thing to mention about my time on the Sunset Strip. I’d been staying wherever I could, and it was around this time that Charles Manson and his girls were beginning to set up shop in the L.A. area, including hanging around the Strip. All it would’ve taken were a couple of friendly young Manson ladies offering me a place to stay and lots of loving, and I easily could’ve ended up in some seriously wrong company.

I guess getting busted for breaking curfew might have been a good thing. Although it didn’t seem so at the time.

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Sunset Strip in Hollywood, at corner of Clark street in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, 1966. At right is Whisky a Go Go, well-known night club. (AP Photo/HF)
Sunset Strip in Hollywood, at corner of Clark street in Los Angeles on Oct. 4, 1966. At right is Whisky a Go Go, well-known night club. (AP Photo/HF)

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A Criminal Gets Busted

I’m cheering for the L.A.Kings in these playoffs. Not because of any player, or who they’re playing, or because they’re behind in the series, or any of that nonsense.

It’s because Los Angeles is where the Sunset Strip is. A great street. Where I got busted and spent a week in jail for doing something so despicable, so heinous, it makes Al Capone look like Scotty McCreery.

The Sunset Strip is part of Sunset Boulevard, a big honkin’ main drag which runs from downtown L.A., past Dodger Stadium, and all the way through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica to the ocean. The Strip is just a small part of the boulevard in West Hollywood, beginning at the Chateau Marmont hotel to the east, and ending just beyond the Roxy Theatre and Rainbow Bar and Grill, a mile or so away.

It’s a street of clubs, giant billboards, some real fancy restaurants, and a fair amount of good-looking women in short skirts.

Lots of great music. Lots of history, from the golden days of Hollywood, when Humphrey Bogart got the daylights beaten out of him by his third wife Mayo Methot on a sidewalk outside a Strip restaurant; through the crazy sixties with protests in the street; and into later years when John Belushi and River Phoenix died and where celebrities have always gone to be seen; and where the sordid Phil Spector mess began at the House of Blues.

Unfortunately, it’s also the place where I was picked up for breaking an 11 p.m. curfew set for anyone under 18, which isn’t exactly a horrendous crime, but it was enough to spend a week in jail for.

There was an 11 p.m. curfew in place for anyone under 18, because of riots there the previous fall. I was stopped by a cop at the curb, just after I’d come out of Whisky a Go Go, and when he saw I wasn’t 18, he cuffed me and took me to the local cop shop, and the next day they shuffled me off to this place with large walls where they gave me some institution clothes and said I’d get my stuff back when I was released.

So I found myself doing this. One minute I was on the Sunset Strip, movin’ and groovin’, and the next minute I was in a juvenile hall playing checkers with my new Chicano friends.

A week later they called out of the dining room and told me my parents had sent money for a plane ticket back to Toronto. So I got my own clothes back and a man drove me to the airport and actually walked me right to my seat on the plane.

When I landed in Toronto, I could’ve kissed the ground. Maybe I did.

I was 16. I had taken a train to Vancouver, and a bus to the border. Custom guards thought I was a runaway, but I told them I wasn’t and if they didn’t believe me, phone collect to Orillia and ask my parents. And they did. And when my mom informed them that no, I wasn’t running away, I just wanted to go to Los Angeles, they said okay and let me go.

From there I started hitchhiking, sleeping near the side of the highway every night, and I can remember the sound of cars zooming by as I lay in my sleeping bag with my eyes closed or looking up at the sky. I got lucky at one point when a potato farmer going through Oregon picked me up and took me all way down past San Francisco to Watsonville.

We hardly talked. Maybe he didn’t speak English very well.

Eventually I made it to L.A. I took a bus in from some point, and I was excited and anxious. Probably starving too. Probably smelled pretty bad. But it was all okay. It was the sixties.

I’d always wanted to go there, ever since I was a kid. Ever since I’d watched The Shaggy Dog and Leave it to Beaver and My Three Sons and cheered for Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and rest who played at Dodger Stadium, where palm trees rose behind the outfield bleachers.

Then when the Strip became one of the hippest areas in the country, with club bands like the Doors beginning to explode worldwide, I decided I finally had to go there and I did.

Two weeks later I was in jail.

Last fall Luci and I spent a week on the Strip, and I took some pictures of some of the clubs, including the legendary Whisky a Go Go, the Viper Room, Rainbow Bar and Grill, and the historic Troubadour, which is down the hill a block or two away.

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Sunset

Luci and I have our feet planted firmly on the ground. On the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.

There was a movie named after it – Sunset Boulevard (1950), starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden. Humphrey Bogart had the shit beat out of him on the sidewalk outside a club here, by his drunken ex-wife. At the Chateau Marmont, which we were in last night, John Bleushi overdosed and died. And when I was sixteen I came here and was thrown in jail for a week after breaking curfew, which was set after hippies and cops tangled in the streets. Buffalo Springfield recorded a song about the Sunset riots called “For What It’s Worth.”

The Strip, which runs for several miles from Hollywood into Beverly Hills, oozes music and movie star history. From Marilyn Monroe to Sinatra, to the Doors, Janis Joplin, and all the young actors and musicans who frequent it today, bar-hopping and trading husbands and wives and all the other mayhem they find themselves in, it’s simply a happening place.

We’re staying at the Sunset Plaza Best Western, next door to The House of Blues, across the street from The Comedy Store, and absolutely in the heart of all the action. I mention where we’re staying in case Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese feel they want to get ahold of me about an action flick, or maybe a romantic comedy, with some nudity, starring me and Charlize Theron.

Last night I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and when I turned around, there was a man right in front of me, which I bumped into as my heart stopped. He was attacking me, until I realized it was my reflection in a full-length mirror.

At The House of Blues last night, one of the emplyees showed us around and told us, after I’d asked, where the maniac and genius record producer Phil Spector met one of the servers, took her home, blew her brains out, and is now serving a life sentence at some maximum penitentiary in northern California. I have a bit of a morbid fascination with this sort of thing. A few years ago we went to the neighbourhood where Charles Manson’s followers parked their car, jumped the fence, and wiped out Sharon Tate and her friends at Tate’s house, which is just above the Strip.

Some people love to go a cabin on a lake and fish and swat mosquitos. My idea of a good time is being here. And to everyone who congratulated me on the five-year mark, I say a heartfelt cheers!!!!!

 

A Less-Than-Memorable Post

I’m sorry I’ve fallen behind here. We’re in Hollywood, at a motel on Hollywood Boulevard, and although it’s not a bad place, I couldn’t get the internet going, or the television. Not to mention the big group of people who decided to party outside until the wee hours and didn’t invite me.

So I’m a mess, and I’m quite pissed off.

I did see some of the St. Louis-San Jose game at a lively and noisy joint on the Sunset Strip, and between people riding a mechanical bull, I watched a whack of fights during what looked like a fine game. It truly seems like round one of the playoffs can provide much of the best hockey of the post season. Too bad I’m missing most of it.

So again, I apologize for posting what might be the lousiest post in the history of the internet. I love to travel, but when the internet is down and the partiers are in full force, I don’t love it quite so much.

Random Notes:

Yesterday in Vegas I saw a guy dressed in a white suit carrying a toy machine gun, sort of an Al Pacino type, making money by having his picture taken, mostly with Japanese tourists. Today, outside the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Blvd, there he was again. So I told him that I had just seen him in Vegas and now he’s in L.A. and he said you gotta move around, keep things fresh.

There’s also more than a fair share of freaks in this area. It’s not for the faint of heart.

The girl at the motel front desk said she’ll discuss with the manager the problems we had, and we might get our money back. But I’m not holding my breath.

Today, touring the area, then moving up closer to San Francisco. We’ve got Alcatraz on the agenda tomorrow.

I just looked in the mirror and definitely, I need a beauty sleep.

I’d Be Downtown

I’m so late in getting to this CBC/ NHLPA players’ poll that you’ve probably already been through it and now it’s old news.

But I had to work today. And if I don’t work, I don’t get enough money to buy the team, and if I don’t buy the team, you can’t be part of management. It’s that simple.

The poll, at http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/allstar/poll/, is interesting as we find out what players think about things such as where they would prefer to play if they had a choice, which came down to Detroit at 14%, Vancouver 11%, Chicago 11%, and New York at 9%.

Players are obviously leaning toward teams with success or promise or some such thing..

Toronto’s not mentioned.

Why Montreal isn’t up there in popularity is a mystery to me. I can only shake my head and try to understand.

I believe players miss the boat when it comes to NHL city living, and not just in Montreal. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on homes way out in the suburbs. Suburbs that could be anywhere, from coast to coast.

Downtown might be a bit more expensive, but it must be way more interesting. And closer.

Vancouver living could be excellent for a young guy with a million bucks in his pocket, if he’s living the life in Yaletown or Kitsilano or such, in the heart of the city near the harbour in a million dollar pad which will turn into a multi-million dollar pad in a couple of months.

For some reason though, which only NHL wives might explain, most players live in houses on the edges of the city, and then fight traffic back and forth from the rink.

Maybe it’s because players have been looked after for such a long time they have now have no idea how to take advantage of the city they live and work in. It’s a shame. So much money and not sure how to spend it. 

Although you’d have to be a Ranger, New York would be good because you could live in Greenwich Village or Soho or any of the many trendy areas Manhattan has to offer. The yard would suck but the living wouldn’t. And like Vancouver, putting out a million two, which many of these guys can afford, means turning it into three or four million in no time flat. And again, no commuting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Just a lot of good restaurants, antique shops, and blues bars. Sort of like an athletic, married Seinfeld.

Los Angeles would be fine too, but again, most of these guys live well out of where the action is, a monster freeway-drive away. I’m convinced I’d live in West Hollwoood, up above the Sunset Strip, living the good life with palm trees and Julia Roberts as a neighbour, with the Strip and its billboards pulsating below.

But they have young kids, you say? So what. Kids are allowed on the Sunset Strip and in Greenwich Village. They grow to be street-smart and parents sleep better because the kids can look after themselves. Soak in some street culture while your dad plays in the NHL.

And I’m sure facts would show that suburban kids can be just as rotten as inner-city kids.

Montreal? I’d live in old Montreal, down by the cafes and clubs. There would be no winter storms to drive home in after a game. It’d be like living in Paris with the Montreal Canadiens just around the corner.

I’d pass the Stanley Cup around as I walked by outdoor cafes on my way to Just For Laughs.

Why is it that players drive themselves to the rink from their homes in the distant suburbs? Why don’t they just hire a driver? The last thing I’d want to do is fight traffic in a late-night snowstorn while I’m plotting how to take out Sean Avery’s teeth with a puck.

Anyway, the poll is interesting, and good old Danno has pinpointed some of the ones with a Habs connection.

It Seems There’s No Road Hockey Played In Beverly Hills

 

One of the many streets in Beverly Hills where there is no road hockey being played

I dunno, maybe it’s the time of year, but I saw no road hockey games on any of the streets of Beverly Hills and Bel Air as we drove around for a couple of hours listening to the GPS lady tell us to go right and left and turn at 400 yards.

She took us to the house the Beverly Hillbillies were supposed to live in but of course didn’t really, this being Hollywood and such, but we couldn’t see a thing, and after googling it later, it turns out that the present owners just aren’t excited about folks stopping outside and gawking, so a big gate and high hedges hide the place.

Anyway, Ellie Mae Clampett is 77 now so things just wouldn’t be the same.

On an extremely sombre note, we also drove to Cielo Drive to see the site where Charles Manson’s evil family murdered Sharon Tate and her friends in 1969 in one of the true crimes of the 20th century, a crime that had two nations fascinated for more than a year. The house has been torn down (who would want to live there?), and the address numbers on the small street have been moved around to confuse the curious. Even now, back at the hotel, weird black vibes stay with me. I followed closely the news of the murders and the trial of those involved when it was happening, and have always had a morbid curiosity. I know I should be ashamed of myself for treating this like a tourist spot, but it’s something I wanted to do.

Our hotel, the Best Western Sunset Plaza, is right in the heart of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, across the street from The Comedy Club, and right beside The House of Blues, which was the setting of the strange Phil Spector saga. Spector, legendary rock producer who worked on the Beatles Let It Be album and created the Wall of Sound in the early sixties with bands like the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers, was in this House of Blues a few years back, picked up a waitress, brought her back to his mansion, and proceeded to shoot and kill her, although he says the gun went off accidently. Regardless, the eccentric genius is now serving a life sentence.

Luciena and I, before our big Beverly Hills tour, decided to eat, which we do sometimes, and so, in the name of music history, pulled into the Sunset Grill and ate cheeseburgers. The Sunset Grill had a lovely song written about it, named “Sunset Grill” of all things, written and recorded by Don Henley of the Eagles. (cheeseburgers – five bucks).

I also noticed, especially as we sat on the balcony of the Sunset Grill, that like Beverly Hills, there is absolutely no road hockey being played on the Sunset Strip. And I’ve yet to see a Habs jersey.

The capper of the day was a visit to the legendary Troubadour club, a place where John Lennon was given the boot for heckling the Smothers Brothers, where Glen Frey and Don Henley were introduced to each other and formed a group that became the Eagles, and where Bob Dylan and Elton John and practically every famous act from the last five decades played. Three bands rocked on this night, with the headliners being J. Roddy Walston and the Business, who absolutely wowed the packed room with their hard driving, ear rattling, guitar/piano-based sound.

We were also probably twice the age of everybody in there, which in a peculiar kind of way was just great.

What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been. Part Two

The drive back from Vegas has been very cool, in a non-weather sort of way. We fought traffic through LA to take close-up pictures of the big old Hollywood sign up on the hills, and shortly after, cruised the Sunset Strip. The Strip brings back slightly unsettling memories for me, as it was there in 1967 when I was busted for breaking the 11 o’clock curfew for those under 18 that was instilled at the time because of previous riots, (I was only 16 and all alone) and I was thrown in the slammer for seven days and deported back to Canada.

This time, though, things are much different, as I’m all grown up and married and have some money for food and shelter, and we hopped back in our car and drove through Beverly Hills, down to Santa Monica, spent the night in Malibu and walked along the beach the next morning, gawking at all the beach homes belonging to the filthy-rich who may or may not have made their money legally. After that it was up to San Francisco where we gazed at Alcatraz from the marina, and then over the Golden Gate bridge heading north. The only time I heard from Gaston in the back seat during this whole trip was when we passed the turnoff to San Quentin penitentiary and he got all excited because he felt homesick and started to think about those Christmases and such that he’d spent there with all his old pals. Who says you can’t go home again?

There were other highlights. Salinas, from the pages of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, that Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin sang about in Me and Bobby McGee. “And somewhere near Salinas, Lord, I let her slip away.” There was the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood that I went in again to see after 40 years, the place I was at just before I got busted in 1967. There was the greaser bar in the Napa Valley that is now my favourite juke joint. Just wash your hands afterwards. Actually, it’s not my favourite juke joint. It was really a piece of shit.

And there were all the beautiful palm trees throughout the trip which I have major affection for.

Now we’re nearing home, rain, reality, and the cat. I’d like to turn around and go again.