Almost 20 years ago, I made the great coastal trek down the 5 freeway to L.A. from Seattle. Originally, my plan was to look for a job in TV news, hoping to be a news reporter at one of the small TV stations in California: Fresno, Bakersfield, Monterey, San Luis Obispo. I knocked on a lot of doors, trying to work my way into an interview so I could show them my audition tape. When that didn't prove fruitful, I made my way over to Arizona—Yuma to be exact, which at the time was the smallest TV news market in the country, and possibly the universe.
Yes, I was willing to start small, ant-sized small, then move up from market to market. It's how people usually do it in the broadcast news world, well, people who don't have something like a beauty pageant title to help propel your career. But this was 1992—yes, you knew I had a "but" ready—and it was the height of the economic recession in California. Unemployment was high, and homeowners were walking out of their mortgages, much like today.
My first job in Los Angeles was on Melrose Avenue, which I didn't choose. I called a friend from Seattle who was working at Nordstrom and he knew a friend who knew a friend who could hook me up with a job there selling shoes. Bronx Shoes, I believe, is the name of the store. And it was actually still frequented by some celebrities.
The owner also had two other stores on Melrose: Boy London and something else. I took a stroll down Melrose with my wife this past Saturday, hoping to spark some of the old memories. But no, most of the old stores and restaurants (Hama, Cafe Luna, The Gap) have either changed or are closed down. Others aren't even stores anymore. They're marijuana dispensaries like this one.
After parking my car, I saw a pretty blonde coming out of one carrying what looked like medical paperwork so that she could qualify for a prescription. She was probably an actress of some sort, nicely dressed, with dark sunglasses to hide most of her face. I can't imagine that coming out of one these places would be a good photograph for any known actress, however, so she was probably no one famous.
I walked into a couple of vintage clothing store and eventually scored a black leather belt with a large loop for a buckle, something like the one I had seen Bruce wear in one of his old photos. It cost me a whole $14 and I took it home for a good cleansing with a foaming leather cleaner I bought from Aldo. Except for a cup of coffee at The Coffee Bean, I didn't buy anything else on Melrose. It just wasn't a fond reunion. Sad, really. Larchmont District is much better for doing any kind of shopping nowadays. I bought an azure blue T-shirt at a store called Noni with the instructions: "Be the love." I'll try.