High on the Plains: If I could just get off of this L.A. freeway


Chad Christensen, Columnist

I’m in L.A. right now, staring out the window on the 18th floor of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. There’s no smog like they all predicted and I can actually see the Hollywood sign looming over the city.

I don’t know what I expected to see here in Los Angeles. People killing and screwing each other in the streets. Johnny Depp dressed up like Keith Richards passing food out to the homeless. A giant shrine to Paul Walker with young girls weeping at his feet.

I have yet to see anything even close to this.

Although, the desk clerk here did look like Javier Bardem. And I told him so. His facial expression was calm and cool and he neither confirmed nor denied my accusation. I may very well have been speaking to the actual Javier Bardem.

Times have been rough for poor Javier. This place can be hard on people. Once famous actors have been known to stumble down from high ranking superstars to mere gas station attendants at Chevron. Javier should be thankful he’s behind a desk. It could be worse.

But L.A. has been good for me. I’m 200 feet off the ground in a huge luxury hotel. It has hundreds of restaurants in it and even a FedEx store. And there’s an Olympic sized pool somewhere. I just haven’t been able to find it. It’s like a hive. Completely self-contained.

Even if L.A. did slide into the Pacific, I have full faith that the staff here at the Westin Bonaventure would keep it running smoothly. A nice place to stay when you’re visiting the underwater city of angels. Tour buses, transformed into submarines, still taking hopeless tourists to see the homes of the decadent and sexy. Everyone smiling and business is good.

I’m waiting for Javier to call me.

I sent my pants down four hours ago to be dry cleaned and no one has brought them back or responded to my messages. I packed light for this trip and although I feel strangely comfortable without pants, I’m not sure if I’m ready to join the ranks of pantless people on the streets of L.A.

I can see a tent city from my window. Hundreds of homeless people rolling around on the ground with signs clutched in their hands. And most of them are without pants. But it’s warm here so it must be the thing to do.

Give up the job AND the pants. Just be free, man. That’s the California way.

I’m rethinking this whole pants situation. And I’m rethinking this convention of writers I’m supposed to be attending this afternoon. Seems very pointless right now. A lot of posturing and desperate MFA grads telling lies to get published. If they only knew about the no pants theory. Then maybe, just maybe, there’d be hope in American writing.

I’m mixing a drink right now and everything is very clear. I’m not gonna wear pants anymore. I’m gonna get me an old conversion van and I’m gonna live at Venice Beach.

I’ll grow a crazy-person-beard and play rock n’ roll on the boardwalk. I’ll get me a little yappy dog and I’ll name him Iggy Pop. And we’ll play old Rolling Stone songs nobody knows. And I’ll tell people I know Guy Clark personally. That he slept with my mother back in ‘79. And I know, I just know, we’ll make it big someday. Me, Iggy and Javier.

We’re gonna be huge, baby. Huge.


chad and charlie