“Don’t go to Sawtelle. Don’t go west of the Santa Monica Freeway.”
“Why I asked?”
“Because some bad man will put an ice pick in your ear and molest you.”
“Oh!” I said in complete innocence, it later sinking in that my prudish aunt was speaking of homo rape. Of course you could not keep me away from the Sawtelle, not that I was a latent homosexual at sixteen, but because there had to be some kind of real life going on in Los Angeles desert. I mean, they had movie of the week, where we Prescos watched ‘The High and the Mighty’ seven times, because that was all that was on. Being Oaklanders, we were hunkered down in our cube, our apartment on Midvale two blocks from Santa Monica Blvd.
When alas I made some friends (who my mother Rosemary met when she came home from work) no sooner were they out the door, then she is hissing this at me;
“I don’t want you hanging around boys like that?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked my not so innocent mother.
“Affeminent young men! (girly-boys)” she spat, adding to my growing fear of homos carrying icepicks.
“You got to be kidding me! Bryan’s not a fag!” I declared, as I defended my new friend Bryan McLean, and his friend, Greg.
“Listen to me. I know what I’m talking about.”
So, here it is, the Genesis of the Hippie Movement. My mother, the degenerate, knows one when she sees one, and, her four children best turn on the Movie of Week and not venture outside lest we become one of…..THEM!
* * *
Above is a photo of the West End Hotel where I think I’m going to spend Christmas Eve and Day. Around the corner is where the New Balladeer was located. Looking north, it was on the far right of a little shopping area. There used to be a tea house that I discovered in 1962 in my search for anything that was old and reminded me of Oakland where I was born. I brought my fifteen year old girlfriend, Marilyn Godfrey, here and did a drawing of her.
Marilyn had modeled when she was thirteen. She modeled for her good friend, the Jazz artist, Les McCann. Marilyn’s sister was married to Les’s drummer, and they walked through Watts to see him play at Jazz clubs in LA’s ghetto. Did I mention that Marilyn lived in the Sawtelle, west of the freeway?
The great Jazz trombonist, J.J. Johnson, invited Marilyn up to his pad, and made her dinner. He then made a move on my the love of my life, but, she stopped him cold when she told him she was only fifteen.
Are starting to get the big picture? Marilyn took me to see the movie ‘Black Orpheus’ at the Nuart theatre. This was a preview of things to come when my second girlfriends father sent tow guys in trench coats to tell ‘Sky’ the Beatnik, to get out of town. Sky was Bryan’s good friend, and he refused to be intimidated. A week later they found him with his face blow-torched off. Sky was tortured to death months after he met sixteen year old, Melinda Frank, my late sister’s good friend.
Byran asked me not to date Melinda.
“Why?” I asked.
“She’s a Black Widow. She got Sky killed.
So, Bryan and I went West of the Santa Monica Freeway, into the Sawtelle, where we listened to this excellent musician play this ballad almost every night.
I want to spend Christmas alone. This old hippie is tired of being ripped-off because folks think I am fair game, my history and being available to anyone who wants it. A year ago aunt June and UncleVinnie left me some money. I wanted to go to Europe. Now I don’t want to anymore. I want togoback the hood where Marilyn and I dreamed of going to Paris one day. I want to recapture that dream. I want to check into my Victorian room at the West End Hotel, and begin my novel ‘The West End Beatnik Murder’. I want to eat Japanese food, then take in a movie at the Newart.
I got none of my people down here anymore. My brother was there, but, he’s disappeared without a trace. Maybe I will bring my old portable Royal and wake bored people with my pecking away. The bepop of J.J. would sound good in the old halls of the West End.
“Don’t go west into the Sawtelle young man!”
Sawtelle Boulevard is a north/south street in Los Angeles, California, of important cultural significance. Sawtelle Boulevard’s northern end is at Ohio Avenue adjacent to the Veterans Administration, and its southern end is at Overland Avenue, a few blocks past Sepulveda Boulevard. Sawtelle Boulevard is the major thoroughfare for the West Los Angeles neighborhood of Sawtelle.
The portion of Sawtelle Boulevard from Santa Monica Boulevard to Olympic Boulevard is a trendy spot for the newer Japanese American community in Los Angeles,. Often called simply “Sawtelle”, this neighborhood is occasionally called “Little Osaka” – not to be confused with downtown Los Angeles’ older Little Tokyo, or the larger Japantown, San Francisco, California (which has also been called Little Osaka). Sawtelle is relatively near UCLA, Santa Monica, and Culver City. In 1992, Japanese immigrants operated botanical nurseries here. As of 2012, businesses found on this street include Japanese fast food (curry and ramen), two Japanese supermarkets, upscale sushi bars, a holistic and medical office, hair salons, neighborhood Japanese grocery stores, a Boba tea shop, anime shops, Japanese artisan stores, temples, and a few historic nurseries. One interesting site is the consulate of Saudi Arabia, located next to a ramen restaurant and an esoteric Japanese magazine store.
Saudi Arabia Los Angeles Consulate-General building
Homes south of this portion of Sawtelle Boulevard are inhabited by a large Japanese American population. Many of the homes exhibit gardens and landscapes true to Japanese tradition.
After passing Olympic Boulevard, Sawtelle Boulevard continues as a four-lane boulevard running parallel to the San Diego Freeway and Sepulveda Boulevard. After entering Culver City, Sawtelle Boulevard swerves east, crosses Sepulveda Boulevard and ends at Overland Avenue in Culver City.
Johnson was one of the first trombonists to embrace bebop music. He has long been regarded as one of the leading trombonists of the post-swing era, exerting a pervasive influence on other jazz musicians.
In the early 1960s he went to New York’s Greenwich Village where he busked on the street and played in coffeehouses. It was there that he composed the song “Hey, Joe,” which he copyrighted in 1962. Early the same year,
The Leaves was an American garage band formed in California in 1964. They are best known for their version of the song “Hey Joe”, which was a hit in 1966. Theirs is the earliest release of this song, which became a rock standard.
The band was founded by bass player Jim Pons and guitarist Robert Lee Reiner, who were inspired by hearing The Beatles while students at Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles. Originally called The Rockwells, they were fraternity brothers who formed a group and then taught themselves how to play
In modern politics, a gadfly is someone who persistently challenges people in positions of power, the status quo or a popular position. For example, Morris Kline wrote “There is a function for the gadfly who poses questions that many specialists would like to overlook.
I just read parts of the novel ‘Forever Changes’