Today is the 11th anniversary of my first move to Los Angeles. Having been here as long as I have (two relocations to and from the east coast notwithstanding), various places in and around the city bring back memories of days gone by – and some that still remain.
To commemorate the occasion, here are some of these landmarks and their associated memories. Some of them are tripled and quadrupled up because they’re essentially the same thing:
5700, 6500, 11800 Wilshire
My first three jobs here were all on Wilshire Boulevard. The first was at a media buying firm at 5700 in the Miracle Mile District. At the time, this building also housed the industry publication Variety as well as E! Entertainment and Spelling Entertainment. I only worked here for four months before getting laid off.
But I quickly found a new job as a sales assistant at a firm that sold advertising time on local television stations across the country. Located at 6500 Wilshire on the corner of San Vicente just across the street from Beverly Hills, I once shared an elevator with Mister T. I worked for this company for one year and four months before taking a job with CBS – inarguably the best of the crop of jobs I have held.
CBS was located at 11800 just west of the 405 freeway in West LA. We shared the building with then-sister network UPN (now defunct), so I saw the likes of Tyra Banks, Kim Coles and a pre-Oscar Jaime Foxx. It was a seven minute commute from my apartment in Westwood, but half an hour going back because of traffic. You couldn’t ask for a better arrangement than that. During my latter months with CBS, I would go home and take naps during my lunch hour (and a half). So of course I had to muck it up.
Though the CBS offices have since moved to Studio City, I still get a visceral reaction when I pass by the building on the 720 Metro because leaving that job was a major turning point in my young adult life that still has reverberations for me even today. One of these days I’d like to look back and know that this was a good move – however necessary I deemed it at the time.
Five moves to and from Los Angeles have netted me five different Los Angeles addresses. The first was Kinnard Avenue in Westwood. I moved here on three separate occasions: September 2001 under a sublease, January 2003 as a named leaser and then again in August of 2006 after my disastrous stint in New York.
That sublease ended after about four months and I took up residence on Detroit Street near Sunset and LaBrea in Hollywood. After a year there, I was invited back into the Kinnard Avenue apartment, where I remained for three years. To date, that is the longest I have ever lived in one apartment since moving away from home.
After returning from New York, I spent another nine months back at the Kinnard address before moving into a West LA studio on Brockton Avenue. I wound up living there for less than a year before being transferred to Massachusetts for work in 2007.
After my final return to LA from Massachusetts in August of 2009, I landed back in Hollywood and to another studio on Cassil Place just east of Sunset and Highland for fourteen months. At the very end of 2010, I moved into my current apartment on Fuller Avenue – where I’d love to break my record of three years at the same location with the same address.
Jiffy Lube in Westwood
During my first Tour of Duty in LA from September 2001 to January 2006, I actually had a car (which I named “Grace”). During my second stay on Kinnard Avenue from 2003 to 2006, whenever Grace was due for an oil change -- or whatever else the mechanics found that may or may not have needed to be fixed but I had fixed anyway to be on the safe side – I would take her to the Jiffy Lube in Westwood.
This was usually on a Saturday morning, which was about late morning or early afternoon on the East Coast where most of my friends were.
While I was waiting for my car to be serviced, I’d stand outside and talk on the phone with my friends on the east coast – usually my best friend Jasper.
It’s amazing how comparably simple my life was in those days.
Numero Uno, Wilshire & Highland
When I worked at 6500 Wilshire, three or four of us sales assistants would go out to lunch at any of four places – Andre’s on 3rd and Fairfax (which doubled for the Italian restaurant and the Chinese restaurant situated side-by-side in a K-Mart/Whole Foods shopping center), Benito’s on Beverly and Fairfax, Koo Koo Roo on Wilshire and Curson or Numero Uno on Wilshire and Highland.
In those days, they had a great lunch special: a personal pizza, a side salad and a soft drink for $5.95. I’d have my pizza with sausage and tomatoes. Yummy.
Years later, I had my 28th birthday party there. This was between the New York and Massachusetts stints. I called it an August Gathering but I didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday until I pulled out a birthday cake with the number “28” on it. A few people got upset and insisted on candles and singing – despite my fervent protests.
When I had my 30th birthday party there, I had just returned from Massachusetts the week prior. My mother brought balloons and decorations so everyone knew it was my birthday. Resistance against the candles and the singing was beyond futile.
Starbucks, Wilshire & Highland
In the same strip as the Numero Uno, there is a Starbucks. My friend Jerome, whom I met at church in 2002, and I would meet here rather frequently to discuss the issues of the day. Though we continue to meet up to this day, this location was our most frequent meeting place.
It was here that I took a liking to a barista named Jeff, who made a cameo at my 28th and 30th birthday parties at Numero Uno – even bringing a gift.
That young barista is now a working actor.
New Life Christian Center, Adams & LaBrea
As soon as I moved to LA, I sought out a church to attend. I visited a few places that just didn’t feel right. Then I stumbled across New Life Christian Center, then only in existence for a few years. It was December 2001 and I was soon headed home for Christmas.
I liked the format of the service: a lengthy praise & worship, a welcome of visitors, “halftime” (the greeting of fellow congregants), the sermon, offering and dismissal. Services were at 10am, so we were out by noon to enjoy the rest of the day.
When the pastor led the congregation in “Feliz Navidad” during the offertory period at the first service I attended there, I knew I had found the right church for me.
I immediately got involved with the high school ministry working under a married couple. But they left the church shortly thereafter so I was put in charge of it. I wasn’t much older than the young people in the ministry but I did the best I could and the ministry grew.
It was exhausting – especially when people offered their advice but none of their physical support. Eventually, others did come in to help out and I was reassigned to the junior high ministry.
By the spring of 2004, the entire gay thing was really taking a hold of me. I found myself hanging out in West Hollywood on Saturday nights and then teaching Sunday School the following morning. This didn’t sit well with me so something had to give.
Outside a club during a Memorial Day weekend trip to Las Vegas, I came out to myself. I stepped down from the ministry and withdrew my membership from the church.
Runyon Canyon is a trail through the Hollywood Hills that I started hiking in January 2010 as my primary form of exercise. At the time I lived just east of Sunset and Highland. I had a goal to reach 100 hikes over the course of that year. I had a full-time job then so that required diligence on holidays and weekends to get up and go. To keep myself accountable, I had been keeping track of the hikes via Facebook postings.
Due to some December rains, my 100th hike came in just under the wire. After the 100th, I kept counting and posting because I saw no reason not to. Around this time, I moved to an apartment on Fuller Avenue – in part to be closer to Runyon.
By the 200th hike, people knew more about my Runyon hikes than anything I had been writing and posting. I was laid off from work by this time, so the hikes occurred far more frequently.
I decided to stop counting and posting with the 300th hike because by that point I saw no reason to continue doing so. If hiking wasn’t ingrained in me to after the 300th, then I deserved to gain all the weight in the world. Plus, 300 is a nice even number. And besides, what’s really the difference between saying “I’ve hiked Runyon Canyon over 300 times” and “I’ve hiked Runyon Canyon over 400 times”?
Coffee Bean, Westwood & Ohio
During my second and third stays on Kinnard Avenue, I would occasionally go to this Coffee Bean to read, write and people watch. I didn’t go there as much as I would have liked but it factored majorly into the Erick Davidson story series.
The Avco, Wilshire & Gayley
Until my mother and I saw The Help here last year, I hadn’t been to this movie theatre since that first stay on Kinnard Avenue. My roommates at the time were either in the movie business or movie business-adjacent. Either way, they loved movies.
Many Friday nights after work, we’d get together for dinner and a movie. These movies were usually at the Avco, which we would walk to from our apartment.
During each of these Friday movie nights, I would fall asleep -- no matter how action-packed they were. I would catch the first half-hour and the last half-hour and then fill in the rest. With some movies, I didn’t miss much.
The Poop Deck & Zeppy’s Pizza, Hermosa Beach
During my first stay on Kinnard Avenue, there were the occasional Friday nights when a friend of mine from the job at 5700 Wilshire and myself would head down to the Poop Deck on the Hermosa Pier.
The Poop Deck was a dive bar right on the ocean. On Friday nights from 6 to 6:30 (maybe 7), they sold $2 pitchers of beer with a limit of two per person. Pete would corral several of his friends to join in for the Beer Bust.
Pete had a lot of loyal friends. On any given night, there would be about 20 or 30 pitchers of beer at our table. It’s a shame I didn’t drink in those days.
Afterwards, an intoxed but hungry Pete and I would go to Zeppy’s Pizza, which was also on the Pier, to close out the night. In his stupor, he’d crank call our manager but pretend it was me.
There were several Monday mornings she would call me into her office, concerned that I had developed a drinking problem.
Eleven Bar & Nightclub
Two-and-a-half years ago, Jeff, a friend of mine from work, and I were entertaining his boss -- who was in town from the New York office. We took him to West Hollywood. At that time, Jeff and I were looking for a new place to go since the Abbey had momentarily gotten rid of their Happy Hour.
We stumbled upon Eleven and were greeted by a hulking but genial bartender. This was a Tuesday. That Friday, we returned and it immediately became our new spot.
Several months later, we added their musical-themed Monday nights to weekly schedule. While I initially refused to join the reverie that takes place at the front of the bar while Broadway-oriented videos play on the monitors, the ham in me eventually took over and I became an official Fan of MuMo.
It’s the greatest performing outlet I have had since high school and allows me to be as gay as I want to be.
After eleven years, there are certainly more than eleven places that spark such strong memories and hold such a special place in my heart. After two moves away and back, I’m hoping to remain here for as long as work opportunities dictate and am looking forward to making even more memories here.
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