A few weeks ago, this writer was assisting a personal associate (i.e. “friend”) move from a condo unit she once rented to a new location. The person in question is someone I will call “Gloria”, not so much to protect her privacy, but to product myself over things I will express within this column that may not be of her liking! More on that notion later!
Before I begin in this long episode, allow me to present a big of a backstory to this actual tale of truth! In 1999, Gloria rented out a condo unit located in a section of the San Fernando Valley that was pleasant for what it was, although the location was slightly rough around the edges. The owner of this condo lived in this unit until he got married.
Since he was moving with his new spouse at her family home located not too far away, he wasn’t going to take occupancy. So Gloria, a good friend of the now married man, decided to move in paying him a monthly fee as rent. That was all good since Gloria would have a place to live while the man had somebody staying at this unit.
This began to change slightly when the man died a few years later. The widow received the unit as the surviving spouse. This means that Gloria would now be paying rent to the widow. That was all fine for what that was.
A few years later, the widow was developing a case of an early stage of Alzheimer’s. This illness became worse over the years, enough to where the widow was not longer to function on her own behalf. Her elder bother became the executor of her and her late husband’s estate. Now Gloria was playing rent to the brother. Again, Gloria was still able to stay at the unit as always, now calling to a third party.
In May of this year, the widow became ill and thus, died shortly after. Now the brother as executor of the estate, decided that he no longer want to keep the condo, and hired his son, a real estate agent, to sell the unit. This would mean that Gloria is now forced to move after living in the same unit for some twenty years.
There are a few traits this writer will state about Gloria. First of all, she is in her 60’s, nearly pushing 70. She was never married meaning there is no spouse and kids for her to speak for. She lived in the condo with a roommate who has her own issues that this writer won’t get into! (The roommate after all, isn’t so much part of this story!) She is one of those people that isn’t very tech savvy, either. She still uses a flip phone (c.2005), and doesn’t seem to be interested in catching up with the world (so to speak) when it comes to living with anything internet based–a notion that is today’s domestic society is now a way of life rather than the novelty as it once was. She is also a bit aggressive, sill caring on the traits from where she came from-a community in western Long Island, New York. In fact, she still speaks with a “Niew Yauk” accent that can be charming for what it is–unless somebody pisses her off over something where she will make sure you won’t forget about it! Perhaps this is the reason why this writer can express about her and her situation too much in detail since it would be my ass on the line. Besides, she won’t bother to read this article anyway since she won’t be able to find it sitting in cyberspace! If you asked her to do a search about something by “Googling” it, she will give you a blank stare asking just what the hell you are talking about!
Anyway, let’s get back to the story! I will state that among the many other traits Gloria possesses, keeping a neat house isn’t one of her better qualities! In fact, she is an utter slob! Her place is a rip roaring mess with items scattered about ranging from junk mail, clothing, dishes that hasn’t been put away let alone cleaned out, and other notions that could would describe her home as “The bomb hitting the Goodwill!”
Gloria is a pack rat–a term based on her own self description, where she feels that she has to keep everything, no matter what it is or how she keeps it! So if one can picture a place that has been occupied by a so-called pack rat for a twenty year time span, one can imagine that her unit is one big dump! And to make matters worse, she has to get everything contained in her former dwelling place out of there–or else!
And this is where yours truly fits into this episode.
To make a very long(er) story short, she asked me if I would be to help out in getting her placed ready for her move. I said I would do what I can, but she would have to hold more responsibility in getting her stuff together, such as deciding what she would want to take to her new place. That new location consists of a bedroom that is 2/3rds the size of her former bedroom located in a smaller apartment unit occupied by a 60+ single woman in Burbank
Oh yes, the room she is renting is located within a classic style courtyard apartment complex that was once commonplace found within the Los Angeles region built between 1910 and 1940. The actual apartment Gloria will be living in is around 900 or so square feet. The place itself is so neat, this woman living there has every little thing in its own spot, from little knickknacks to photos among photos of her family and friends set in their frames either affixed to the wall or as stand alones sitting on almost every counter space. In other words, it’s a total opposite to Gloria’s former unit.
So Gloria wanted to be start off by packing her collection of clothing into boxes that were around four feet high and around two feet in depth. My assessment was for Gloria to take out every item found in her clothes closet, inspecting the piece to decide if she wanted the thing. If she didn’t want the item, I would place in itself of a plastic garbage bag for her to donate to a local Goodwill. If the item was going to be kept, I would fold the piece of clothing and place it inside of the box. Once the bag and/or box was filled. the bag/box would be sealed and placed off to the side, ready for another box/bag to stuff.
Most, if not all of her clothing, was part of Gloria’s collection for over twenty five years. Over time, Gloria’s figure ballooned slightly(?), meaning that that cute little something or another she got in 2000 didn’t necessarily fit her anymore, let alone looked good for what it was. But Gloria was hell bent in keeping the item, and would do so by having me place it inside of the box and/or bag until it was full, continuing the cycle.
I somewhat wondered why she was keeping clothing that would be stored away with limited to no access to the item, not even knowing if she would ever ware the piece again. So taking a risk, I did ask Gloria saying something to the effect of “If you are packing these clothes away not even knowing if you are going to ware them again, what is the point of keeping it in the first place?”
Gloria gave me a reaction as if I said something that was insulting in nature. She replied in a rather hostile way, “Because those clothes are my life!”
With that sentence being uttered, this writer was pause for a moment only to continue this tale based upon a true story for the next issue! Stay tuned!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
BILLIE HOLIDAY: FRONT AND CENTER, the capsuled story of one of the greatest singers of jazz and blues active in the 20th century, performs at WACO Theatre Center in North Hollywood.
Sybil D. Jatta is featured as the title vocalist. She performs as Billie through the various stages in her life. As a child, she was molested by her mother’s “cousin”. Before long, she was in and out of the juvenile court system in her native Philadelphia on charges ranging from truancy to prostitution to possession of narcotics. As a young adult, she made an attempt to perform is a small jazz club. That is when she started her climb to her way up, eventually becoming a vocalist for bandleader Artie Shaw–the first “negro” vocalist for a white band! In spite of her working with some of the greats in jazz as well as being married three times, she did carry her issues as a drug addict that eventually lead toward her demise of cirrhosis of the liver in 1959 at the age of 44.
In her performance, Sybil D. Jetta plays Billie through those moments as a solo. Although the story of her life and times is dramatically presented, what makes this show worth its theater weight is her vocals, performing many of the jazz and blues tunes sung in the style that Billie Holiday herself once presented. Backed by a four piece jazz band consisting of Louis Van Taylor on sax, Lance Lee on drums, Michael Saucier on bass, and Casey McCoy on keyboards as well as serving as musical director, Sybil and the band is set cabaret style to mimic a jazz club personna. Her upright mic she uses is one of those “classic” style mics made famous in the jazz/blues/big band era. (A Shure 55SW in case anyone is counting!) Sybil also created the script she uses to tell the tale of Billie Holiday under the stage direction of B’anca. Along with the acting, it’s the music and vocals that make this show really happen!
For those that desire for their theater peppered with jazz/blues music, or their jazz and blues music set with an additional back story, this presentation is flawless. And as the title suggests, it’s all front and center!
BILLIE HOLIDAY: FRONT AND CENTER, performs at WACO Theater Center, 5144 Lankershim Blvd. at Magnolia, North Hollywood, until August 18th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, with a Sunday matinee on August 18th at 3:00 PM.
Tickets can be ordered online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/billie-holiday-front-and-center-tickets-63407808462
ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD (Sony/Columbia) stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton. He was once the star of a TV western called “Bounty Law” that aired on NBC in the early 1960’s. Brad Pitt is Cliff Booth, Rick’s stunt double and best pal. Rick’s been in a career slump of late. It’s early 1969, and Rick is looking for his next big break. His agent Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) recommends that he heads off to Italy to appear in a “spaghetti western”, a “B” quality oater made in the said country. But things start to look a bit brighter as he manages a few guest spots on some TV programs, including a newer one called “Lancer”-another western series. Living in his home up in the Hollywood hills, Rich discovers that his new(er) neighbor is film director Roman Polanski, living in a home once occupied by Dennis Wilson and Terry Melcher. This happenstance just might be one pool party away of a possible Rick Dalton role in a Polanski feature! Meanwhile in another part of town, budding star Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is looking for her bigger break, fresh from her appearance in the film The Wreaking Crew. While this is going on, a mysterious stranger calls upon the Polanski home, looking for its former tenants. Seems that this stranger is one Charlie Manson (Damon Herriman) a wannabe musician. While all of these things seems innocent, it appears that something is going to happen later in the year, an event that even Hollywood can’t make up!
This latest entry (its ninth) by writer and director Quentin Tarantino is a loving tribute to Hollywood and its show biz entities that were occurring in the latter days of the 1960’s, when the so-called “new Hollywood” was starting to make its mark. It focuses on how show biz stars and starlets were doing during this change from the old Hollywood of yesteryear to the new Hollywood of tomorrow on what can they do to appear in a movie (first priority), or even a TV series. Although the tale’s center point is upon the characters of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth as portrayed by current Hollywood hunks Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, the episodes leading into the antics of failed rock star turned cult leader Charles Manson brings upon the focus to the story. This aspect creates this film as a twofold epic, retelling the most notorious true-crime saga that occurred on these shores in the last millennium (one of the many “crimes of the century” to take place in the 20th century), as well as saluting the Hollywood scene of this era as beloved by Tarantino.
What makes that salute fun is the notion that there are many references, some more profound while a few hidden, that shows how Hollywood, or Los Angeles anyway, was like back in the day! (This reviewer doesn’t want to give any spoilers here, but look for signage that was placed on street scenes as well as in a few interior shots!) For those that lived in Los Angeles way back when, it will be in the same nature as a visit from an old friend. For the rest of the movie watching audience, it will be all missed with a few minor errors noted! (And never mind the fact that in 1969, Hef didn’t live in what’s now known as The Playboy Mansion yet! He didn’t get the pad until 1971 as he was still based in Chicago!!)
This movie also boasts a large and vivid cast, from Luke Perry (his final film appearance) to Bruce Dern as the owner of the western ranch where the Manson cult lived to Dakota Fanning cast as fellow cult girl Squeaky Fromme, adding much of the flavor that this film presents. And as an added bonus, a number of radio voices appear in this movie as KHJ jocks ranging from such talents as Humble Harve, Robert W. Morgan, and “The Real” Don Steele, proving to the world that Tina Delgado is still alive! (That’s an inside joke, gang!!)
In spite of all of the summer releases that consists of super hero and related action picks, animated fare, as well as the standard fodder of sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, and reimagines, ONCE UP A TIME…. is a flick for movie fans, Quentin Tarantino followers, and for those that enjoy a story wrapped around a real and horrific episode that L.A. never totally forgot about, even fifty years long after the fact! It’s the perfect storm for a movie that runs some two hours and forty one minutes in length…and is worth every single second!
This movie is rated “R” for violence and standard cussing. Now appearing at the usual set of multiplexes nationwide.
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