Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

watch overshare: the story contact me


2 january, 1995
on my first full day in LA, I went to venice beach, compton and watts, the weird Westin Bonadventure hotel, Hollywood blvd. From these, I would gather that LA is populated largely by tourists and predators, with a few families thrown in for effect.

potential for shared community, communal space, is left unfulfilled by the impossibility of walking anywhere. a car is an absolute necessity, so each person is constantly in their own microcosm - the only things shared between drivers is advertising. billboards encroach on you at the street level - film, media, entertainment are ubiquitous. eating at a deli late night yields a seat four away from that of Al Pacino.

the hills

the first night brought us to the home of friends - a few persons graduated from my high school five or six years ago. having completed their college experience, they were now poised to be producers, or script writers, or just biz people. fitting it was that their pad was to serve as that of a drug dealer in an upcoming film. it was large, white, excessive, poised near the top of the hollywood hills, and occupied by twentysomethings. My friend was to receive $30k for the three weeks she will be exiled during the shooting.

making the acquaintance of two young hollywannas.

Upon arrival at the chateau, I met too young women, suspended in their doldrums. Their terminally short attention spans were satisfied only by either their pop culture banter and word association drill or the television - to which they surrendered willingly to the pandered images. A contact lens commercial leads to a riff on a famous hair slogan and a trip down advertisement memory lane.

over her cigarette on the porch, a young eager, fresh faced, bright eyed recent philly emigre aspires to act. her place on the totem pole - to start a lowly production assistant - enlightened term for gopher. since that is not her intended hierarchy, she plans to simply take the job as a chance to learn the industry. from there to acting, she states with an unfortunate lack of conviction or vision.

poeticizing with punky.

as a young man, my curiosity was piqued by the LA pick-up scene. With so many beautiful people (read: vain) how do you handle ego management? I decided to do a little fieldwork.

talking with my friends for a little while, and noticing the growing pack of early twentysomethings accumulating at my side. I noticed one woman in particular, arrayed in a lycra-esque black cutoff top with faded jeans, dark hair and dark eyes, eyeing the empty spot next to me on the wall-length booth. "can i sit there?" reminded me, again, a familiar face, I had thought. agreeable at least. "sure, no problem." and I clear away my bulky courduroy coat. She sits down and introduces herself "hi I'm soleil." "Hello Soliel. I thought I recognized you. I watched your tv program. Nice to meet you. I'm justin." Immediately, we take off into conversation. she's involved in movies now - waiting for her number to come up. "good shit" she seizes on this, repeats it a few times, gesturing with her fist, finally turning towards her companions and soliciting agreement from one: "laura, good shit, right?" "yes, sure, good shit." "good shit." she talks really fast - flits. she's 22, a good age to go to bars at. she shows me her nails (for a movie she's in), by raking them up and down my arm. I ask her her birthday - august 8 - she's a leo. no shit. she's born at around 4 in the morning.
I speak about Fred Savage, a topic of conversation from earlier that night, and ask her about moving on from punky brewster. well, she is doing movies. that's her thing now. she also writes. she writes movies, poetry, journals, scripts, anything. I write that kind of stuff too. yes, I write poetry. I worked on my own web newsletter, and yes I could publish her poetry. I give her my card, with my snail mail address written on the back.
she thinks we should write a poem together, here, now, so I whipped out my spiral bound 5x3 notebook and uni-ball micro pen. she opened her backpack to show me her venus de milo covered journal/poetry book. she began flipping through it rather feverishly (more fevered women flipping through their poetry books). I pointed to the pages, and said "whoa soleil, look at this." and I riffed a bit about the margins and the slope of her lines on the unlined pages. Very erratic stuff - starting at one level on one page, another the next. The letters and words varied in size, shape, from page to page, and sometimes from line to line. Her lines sloped nearly 35 degrees up sometimes and 35 down, in the same poem. she expressed great interest in what I was saying, while she continued to maniacally flip through the pages. she's stopping at various points to point at some feature and ask me about it - that, what about that, and what about that, etc. then flipping them again before I could focus on anything. my paper thin analysis seemed received with minimal attention, let alone scrutiny. faking it - hyper pretension.
next extracted a book by henry rollins, a poet that moved her. not much else to say. we had earlier talked about a shared writing effort, and now it was reproposed.
somehow my brain, tongue and pen all froze up at that moment, nothing better than cliches and trite romantic trivialities. I knew they were, but the absurdity of the situation prevented me from addressing our poem seriously as a word composer.
The composition began to take shape with her observation that "there's glitter on the ceiling." "glitter on the ceiling, that's good" bemused grin. "just kidding." with a quick laugh. I go on to notice there's ashes on the floor. we both talked out some rhymes with door and continuation/extension of those ideas. finally I grabbed my pen and wrote the following:
glitter on the ceiling
ashes on the floor
she started to talk, and I handed her the pad and pen - "you write"
Punky handwriting sample

the black tar

carreses gods ashtray

within this tiny


I received back the palette and penned the following drivel:
if two fire aflame in this cliche game
she riffed
my heart will surely * unravel its tame,
(* added later)
which she reflected on several times, and liked. after reading it over, she in fact liked the whole thing, and wanted to read it out loud. she strode over to the good shit affirmation girl to whom she read it. this girl asked me if she could add something, and I waved my approval. soleil, freed of friend and pad, began dancing a bit to the beat. it was funky enough to get me started, and when she came over and joked about me dancing, I stood up and shook it a bit. she laughed - couldn't believe it, and ducked away. for a moment. She turned to me and said "I feel like I'm in a tarantino movie." "you are!" "you're fucking with me" "yes - I was sent by tarantino to fuck with you." "you were!" "you are going to be blown away. boom" she laughed - outrageous, and turned away for greener pastures. I dig a mellow hip and hand jive, slide back into my seat when the song was over. soleil eventually turned back around, strolled over to the bar, lit up a cigarette, and allowed herself to be picked up on by a long haired affected rugged casual late twentysomething. I was left padless, and conversationless.
the good shit affirmation girl finished her scrawl, ripped out the page, handed it to punky at the bar, and returned to me the notebook.
now the seat next to me freed meant that a cute girl with cropped black hair and a lime green top, funky eyebrows and bright, dark eyes was seated directly to my right. I bent over the table and applied myself to a more rounded consideration of the work soleil and I had begun, adding the following lines:
between the threads
spark alights
flicks a wick away
with know how now
lions leads to play.
so her sparkle
entrenched and
never wrenched
or clenched
leaning men lead me
wench or mensch
I stopped here and was contemplating the glitter and ash when the woman seated to my right asked to add a line herself:
HE Brought His Fucking
and handed it back to me - don't read it out loud. I read it and riffed on it with her. her ex boyfriend was the plaid-clad guy over there with the adolescent model looking blonde chick. this girl still liked him, but his new girlfriend was all over someone else, so she felt bad for him. she was from ohio. LA excited her because. she felt better than her friends back in college in ohio, because she actually got to do things, like riding to be on sidestage for lollapalooza in a convertible with billy corigan of smashing pumpkins (it had nothing to do with smashing pumpkins, it had nothing to do with lollapalooza, she just had a lot of fun that day.) and she would have done nothing if she was in ohio. she got to meet a lot of the people who inspired her when she was young, whom she neglected mentioning in spite of some brief plying. actually, since you ask, kiefer southerland is a friend of hers. if you must know, he tripped over her as they were coming out of the same bar.
she was an aspiring actress, having done some commercials, now looking for movies. she said she expected to be being sent scripts to review in 6 months, at 22. replying to hollywood questions she explained how good energy, when met with attention from on high, earns the jealousy and animosity of peers and associates in this highly competitive town. they will backstab you and try and take you down, however they can.
I asked her to sign my book, after her added line, and she added "kimberly toth" - "i would have to keep an eye out for her."
she was a virgo, it turns out. when were you born? december, december what? 16? a sag? Uh oh. I don't like them. she looked away. what's wrong? I don't get along with them. capricorns I like.
she had turned her head and soleil drifted by - twirling her fingers at me, smiling profusely, and asking how I was doing. I took the opportunity to ask her to sign my notebook, under her added lines. she looked at me like i lost some points - being an autograph hunting coolie.
more talk with kimberly, about books, and LA, and sanfran, and computers, a little. she wasn't really into them, but friends were. a few patrons of the viper club (where river phoenix died and she occasionally worked) were into that stuff. finally her boyfriend arrived (sans le coquette) to save her from a conversation become more excruciating since her observation of not at all getting along with my birth sign. Fortunately, before she left, she properly introduced me to Jim, who had earlier given me his e-mail address in exchange for one of my cards. he was to be a grad student in philosophy at UCLA, and he hacks around with computers a bit - including the net enough to have SLIP and WWW access. A bad incident early on hacking into the california DMV had weaned him away from hard core geek out, but he had the right perspective.
after computer and net and job shit, I turned to my topic of the day, LA. I gave him my cynical, gin and juiced analysis - there's some surreality, there's some unreality, and there's a lot of shit that's just fake.
yeah there's fake shit but there's surreal stuff as well. that's my favourite. like those nights I feel like I'm in a fellini movie. completely surreal. It's worth it." and I could appreciate that.
five or six pretty aspiring acting types and two geeks played a movie knowledge linking game - reveling in movie trivia and creating a conception of the immense web of filmmaking. this by naming actors/actresses, and the person following you has to come up with someone who's been in a movie with them - like jeff bridges beau bridges michelle pfiffer michael keaton kim basinger richard gere julia roberts.
when i left, soleil said seriously, i'll talk to you. boyfriend was all over kimberly, she and I exchanged a kiss on the cheek on my way out.

staying in the bedroom of an aspiring producer from a lot of midwestern money.

Now returned to the pad and I am divvied the master bedroom in which to crash. The owner - I have a feeling our sensibilities clash somewhat - Cigar Aficionado magazine and a Calvin Klein jeans poster of a woman on a motor cycle. His music selection was a broad sampling of the near fringe of recent pop sensations. I am messy, he was sloppy - the wrong things were out of place - his mildewed towels, pillows, and half full glasses of orange juice strewn across his white carpet.
On the other hand, he did have a Bix Biederbeck and some Jane's Addiction. There are homeopathic medicines next to his sink. There are candles everywhere. His room's got a fireplace, and a view over the Hollywood Hills, and a wonderful four foot surrealist black and white photograph/collage suspended over the bed. At center, a pouting cowboy rides a suspended black and white pony while a short balding man naked for shorts points downward from his groin a mallet for the timpani next to him. In the lower right corner is a bare breast woman prostrated next to a sedate looking bull. Random objects cast against a matte painting with details of a larger room behind it give the piece a decidedly postmodern look.

and wasn't postmodern the right philosophy for this trip?

trip | life

justin's links by justin hall: contact