Friday 10 June 2022

For Rent in LA by Paul E Bland, a Hollywood movie cocktail


I never actually did any writing the eight years I lived in Los Angeles. It amazes me to think of it as it would be the perfect place to write. But it wasn’t until now, many years later that I began to write about Los Angeles referencing the memories I had of this city.

I loved the Isolated, (industrial and residential) areas of Los Angeles. The buildings connected to old Hollywood. Shaded neighborhoods with Spanish-style houses and stucco rental units that always seemed empty. The art-deco facades on Sunset near Vine or in Mid-Wilshire. The untidy palm trees that lined nameless streets. I used to drive through these neighborhoods just to experience them. They reminded me of old movies and movie stars. LA was a big, spread-out space that echoed the twenties, the thirties and forties and fifties decades. It was American history personified. The American dream on a reel of film. People I knew, friends of mine, made fun of LA. I loved it. Above LA was the bluest sky. Just thinking about it makes me want to hop into a convertible and drive down Santa Monica Boulevard to the Santa Monica Palisades, all the way to the ocean, past mini malls selling liquor or Persian rugs, or car insurance.

I remember one late summer while living in LA, when I decided to look for a new apartment. I had been told the best way to find housing in LA was to cruise the area in which you wished to live. Look for those For Rent signs in a yard or window.

It was on a side street just south of Sunset Boulevard and a few blocks east of La Cienaga that I noticed a courtyard of bungalow apartments. Rows of units all the same on a neat, green lawn with shrubs and cacti. They were right out of the 1930s or 40s. And in view was a For Rent sign in one of the windows. I found a place to park my car and headed to the units. The neighborhood seemed deserted. There wasn’t a sound of any kind. The sunlight making summer shadows that cast off mid-afternoon. I reached the unit with the For Rent sign and peeked into the window. It was a view of a neat little room with hardwood floors and an arched entryway into a kitchen. A kitchen with vinyl flooring and painted cabinets. All it needed was a radio on the kitchen counter playing swing music. It was a cute place but small. And most probably overpriced, but I took down the phone number on the sign and headed back to the car. I stopped for a moment and looked back. All those old movies that I had seen as a child came back to me. With Veronica Lake and Lana Turner. Clark Gable without a moustache and a tall, slender Gary Cooper in a cowboy hat. This was why I loved LA.

About the author

 Mr. Bland holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education from The City College of New York, CUNY. He currently teaches middle school reading and writing. 
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