It is once again time to enthrall you with the misadventures of my bizarre Brother Gary,
as he enlists me to guide him to the weird and wonderful world of wackiness. You may
have read our past adventures to the lands of neuroses, psychoses and medicated
doses, such as: Area 51, White Sands, Roswell, a haunted hotel in Jerome, Carlsbad
Caverns and the Land of Misfit Toys, i.e., Disneyland. If not, you are in for a treat!
This time he has asked me to go to Los Angeles and search for dead celebrities!
Never mind that L.A. is a great place to get dead or even that the city has seen fit to bury
most of its history with parking lots, Marilyn Monroe was killed by a Kennedy there! Or
so they say. So it is with great apprehension that we set out to explore the underbelly of
the seedy side of life in Hollywood's great history of murder, death and public trials.
Armed with a booklet of all the strange events in Hollywood's past, our cameras, maps and a morbid sense of curiosity we set
out from Phoenix to La-La Land, six hours distant. Our good fortune begins with a speeding ticket as soon as we hit the
California border. The local CHiP clocked us at 81 mph in a 70 zone. He hands it to me with the smile of Erik Estrada and the
breath of Broderick Crawford. At least it finally implores Gary to wear his seat belt, for a while. Our next scary incident is getting
gas in California, $2.39/gallon! There will be no more speeding. As we pass the southern reaches of Death Valley we begin to
anticipate our foolhardiness of taking on an assignment such as this without Scooby-Doo, i.e., Layla.
We trundle through the San Bernardino Mountains and begin to encounter the world-famous L.A. traffic, 60 miles away from
L.A.! I know no one who receives this email will have to deal with this kind of maniacal mayhem in their lifetime, so let me
describe it to you. Imagine a flea, going to a circus, on the other side of the Sahara, one sand grain at a time. We have nothing
to do but inhale exhaust and read the same bumper sticker 22 hundred times, "Honk if you love Vin Diesel!" I think it is the
honking that is so maddening! We finally hit a HOV lane and jump into like a frying pan. We are on the verge of speeding again
when it comes to a dead stop! I apply the brakes like an anvil to a mushroom and we are back to reading bumper stickers,
"Honk if you love to honk!" We finally pass the 462nd accident in L.A. today. It looks like they are filming "Blues Brothers III." A
black Mercedes has clipped a Che-vy Malibu and knocked a Range Rover on its roof. There is something poetic about the
symmetry of its race-ial makeup. I don't know what it is.
As we approach LAX Airport in our kilter to get to see Pitt lose to Marquette, we see a bright flash that lights up the gloaming sky.
It appears we have entered L.A. just in time for the promised terrorist attack! All the streetlights have gone out! I punch the gas
to outrun the mushroom cloud like an anvil to a...um...mushroom? But mindful of the speed limit, we look around to see the
effects. But there are none. The junkie is still doing his crack, which is to be expected, but the burger-clothed idiot from Inn &
Out Burgers is still handing out coupons and the Hollywood starlet is still turning tricks. We have not vaporized and the smog is
still visible. We wonder what happened? We would never find out. No mention of it anywhere. They must have been filming a
new Vin Diesel movie. Damn! Now I will definitely never know!
The next morning we venture out of our Radisson Hotel in El Segundo, this is where Mattel's Main Headquarters are located,
and head to Dixie's Diner. We plan our strategy for the day while on the lookout for live celebrities. "Isn't that the lady who played
Beaver's Mom's friend in episode 64?" "No...she was in 'Gunsmoke,' she was one of Miss Kitty's hookers." "I know! She is a
nobody wearing sunglasses so we'll think she was somebody!" "Oh, I'm going to get her autograph anyway." Gary comes back
later, "Who is Cloris Beachman?" "I don't know Gare, but I can change that B to an L!" Our first score!
There is no question where we head to first, O.J. Simpson's house on Rockingham Drive in Brentwood. After negotiating the
maze of One-Way streets we come off Sunset Blvd. to Rockingham. It says it is to be at 360 Rockingham but the house looking
strangely familiar on the corner beside 356 is labeled 380. They are trying to befuddle the "Goof Sleuths!" We see the wall and
gate and remember back to when A.C. Cowlings pleaded with O.J. not to hire Johnnie Cochran. This smaller than expected
house on a narrow street is it! We take pictures like Peter Arnett for the Iraqi government. As migrant workers coolly eye us
while they prune the azaleas, I try to look as if I'm an official photographer for Peeping Tom Magazine. I have the decency of
invading privacy from the sidewalk while Gary has begun scaling the wall like he's Mark Fuhrman! The Akita is barking
incessantly and Kato Kaelin has had to put his bunny slippers on. "Gary get back here!" I break for the news van...er, I mean
CR-V and fire that mother up like it I'm Big Daddy Don Garlits! The migrant workers have begun pointing at us with their pruning
shears and a plumber has entered the scene and he has a wrench! It never occurs to me that they maybe going about their
daily business as I scream to Gary, "Run for your freaking life!" Gary snaps two more pictures of Kato's rear bungalow or was it
Kato's bungalow from the rear? Either way, doesn't he know an innocent murderer lived here! We flee the scene with reckless
abandon missing our chance to see Shirley Temple's, Bette Davis' and Clark Gable's old houses, who once lived on the same
Our next stop is to the infamous murder scene at 875 S. Bundy. Here, where Nicole Simpson lived and died, they have taken
down the address numbers in a futile attempt to erase its ghastly history. Once again, a high-walled gate blocks us. But there
is no hiding the eeriness of its pathway to doom. It is located on a busy street and the cars pass nonchalantly as we document
the sight with our cameras. Gary, once again, holds his camera over the gate taking potshots of the interior. The man is a
ghoul! I can't wait until he sends me the photos. We decline on dining at the Mezzaluna. We search for the killer as much as
O.J. did and head off to our next scene of macabre mystery.
Now it is time to find the real Hollywood glitterati of yesteryear. We are headed to the home where Marilyn Monroe had
died/murdered! At 12305 Fifth Helena she was found nude on her bed with her finger stuck in the dial of the phone. Some say
Kennedy killed her after she aborted his baby. Others say she overdosed in despair when she found out my Dad was married.
Either way, this is Mecca to Dead Celebrity Stalkers. After coming to blows on whose directional finder was worse, we end up in
an alley of a street where there is, of course, another gate. We can see the second floor of the bungalow, which begs the
question, why do Hollywood stars always die in bungalows? Don't they know these are dangerous places? John Belushi's
bungalow where he perished, was so small, we couldn't even find it! I thought these people had money. You'd think they
would at least have the decency to stay in the Beverly Hills Hotel when they planned their demise. Anyway, we get out of the
Mystery Machine and proceed to take more photos than there are of Marilyn alive. The sign says: "Security - Armed Response."
The dogs are barking like we are T-bone steak and Gary has to put his camera over the fence again. Oh, oh, the gate is
opening! I dive in the truck like it is a foxhole. A large, pudgy woman, who obviously is not even related to Marilyn is standing
there. Gary tries to bob his head in a vane attempt to view through her to the other side. She begins berating him, "Why are you
taking pictures of my laundry? Who are you to be taking pictures of my kids?" All I'm thinking about is, "Armed Response."
Gary says, "Isn't this where Marilyn died? Can we have a tour?" This guy has the onions of a Whataburger! She says, "No!
What kind of sick-o are you?" She has no idea. I beg him to get in the truck. I even try to lure him with a Scooby Snack! Finally,
he gives up and dejectedly returns to the truck. "How can she buy Marilyn's house and not expect people to come by? Good
point. I'm sure there are a lot more wacko people than us looking for dead celebrity stuff. They are probably even selling it on
Ebay! BTW: I have a rock from this house, which I'd be willing to part with for the low three figures...
Our insanity has hit fever pitch! It is time to find the Manson Family most famous murder scene. At 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly
Hills, on August 9, 1969, the Manson family butchered Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Sharon Tate and her unborn Roman Polanski
baby. This is the cornerstone of Hollywood sickness. After driving past it several times we see a construction site in front of a
long driveway. We peek up the driveway but nothing is to be seen. To me this is the haunted castle of nightmare. I know Gary is
dying to go up the driveway and knock on the door. I tell him the construction site must have been where it was and they
probably tore it down because of freaks like us. I implore him that we must leave before my shaking becomes noticeable. He is
hesitant but I entice him with Rudolf Valentino's Falcon Lair up around the corner.
We get to the Falcon Lair and once again there is a gate. At least it says what it is. The gates are impressive and we take
photos in front of the "Armed Response" sign amid dog barking. This is becoming monotonous. All of this dead celebrity
hunting is getting old. I say to him, "Let's do something fun, time to find the Playboy Mansion!"
Amid the rolling hills of Beverly Hills lies the fantasy of every heterosexual man. A 23-room English stone manor with 18-inch
thick walls at 10236 Charing Cross Road lays Playboy Mansion West. It is surrounded by an elaborate wall and, of course, is
gated. As we come to the main gate we see PLAYMATES surrounding the security speaker! You have got to be kidding me!!
Yes...yes I am. There are four young girls, 15-17 years old trying to talk their way into Mansion. Do they understand what they
are asking? We can hear the guy on the other end of the speaker say to them, "Get some plastic surgery and come back." I
think he is serious. We take some photos of the gates and decide to go in search of the world-famous Hollywood sign.
The beacon to starlets and dreamers since the Roarin' 20's, the Hollywood sign defines the city. 50-foot high letters peering
down from Mt. Lee, we simply must touch it! I wonder if I can strap the big 'D' to the Honda? We travel for miles along
Mulholland Drive, keeping it in our sight. We stop at an overlook that has a view that encompasses the whole Valley. L.A. is as
wide as the Sargasso Sea and just as shallow. It is an incredible view. We keep driving along the winding road through some
of the most prominent neighborhoods in the country. We finally get to the shadow of the sign and find...there is no way to reach
it! It is like it is in somebody's backyard. There are signs everywhere telling you not to climb to the sign because this sign says
not to. The fine of climbing to the sign is $103. Since I already have to pay for a speeding ticket on this trip, I decide that I won't
risk the fine. But I can see the glaze cover of delusional grandeur in Gary's eyes. He is ready to go! Then I remind him what
$103 dollars can buy and how it so not worth it. I describe the scene of him flopping like a gold fish while being tasered by the
LAPD. I even explain the risks of being labeled an Al-Qaida terrorist from Pittsburgh. I think the last argument abates him. We
take pictures from every conceivable angle and begin the long trek back to Los Angeles Valley.
That night we decide to party like stars and head to Sunset Strip. We decide to forgo some of the more famous places like the
Whisky-a-Go-Go, where the Doors were discovered, and the Viper Room where River Phoenix overdosed and head to a busy
Irish Bar with no $20 cover charge. We pay the ten dollars to park and cram sideways into its vacuum. This is no Irish Bar that I
have ever been to. Eminem is blaring and Gary is the only redhead. Like some long dead notion of what America is supposed
to be, this place exemplifies the "Inclusion Confusion" of what America strives for. The racial make-up of the crowd is amazing;
20% Caucasian, 20% African-American, 20% Occidental, 20% Latino and the other 20% a mix of two or more of those races. All
of them packed onto a dance floor, moving as one to Marshall Mather's "8-Mile" anthem. It is a scene I'll never forget, and one
that you will soon know. But I dare say that Gary and I was the only thing Irish in this bar. Since neither of us dance in a way that
people can safely dance near us, we find a standing spot around a bunch of empty "Reserved" tables. Women stream by as I
realize we are smarter than we look, the ladies room is directly behind us. It must have been the red-hair or that he looked like a
garden gnome, either way, all of the "sistahs" had to pinch Gary's cheek. They have a saying you know, "Once you go 'RED' you'll
never want to leave your bed!"
The next day we hit some of the more obscure spots of Hollywood folklore: Buster Keaton's X-shaped mansion, Errol Flynn's
House of Pleasure, Bugsy Siegel's home where he was shot four times in the head with a shotgun, Bela Lugosi's home, the
Witch House (unexplainable, even for me!) and the exact spot where Zsa-Zsa Gabor slapped that cop!
All of this pales in comparison to our next stop, the Westwood Memorial Cemetery, the sacred ground of the Who's Who in
Hollywood and the burial ground of Hollywood's A-List. We start by finding Marilyn Monroe's crypt, a simple plaque with a flower
holder bare witness to the remains of Hollywood's greatest bimbo. Pennies are lined up atop the plaque in a remembrance
gesture of an inexplicable nature. I put a dime up, because that is the type of guy I am. Gary begins caressing the marble in a
way that makes me uneasy. I figure I'll just quietly move along. I find Carol Ann's crypt. She's the little girl from "Poltergeist." It
says right on the plaque: "Come to the light, Carol Ann." We find: John Cassavetes, Minnie Ripperton (Born the day I was), Liz
Taylor's parents, Billy Wilder, Natalie Wood, Carroll O'Connor, Cornel Wilde and Dorothy Stratton (Playboy model killed by her
jealous husband). We even find the greatest actress of our time, Barbara Rush! Burt Lancaster is buried here and only has an
8-inch by 8-inch ground marker commemorating the great "Elmer Gantry." The pauper grave markers of our greatest movie
heroes sadden me. The whole cemetery is the size of a hockey rink hidden behind a parking garage. Jackie Gleason, Barbara
Stanwyck, Dean Martin, Joanne Woodward and Buddy Rich are buried in graves fit for a Tiny Tim. It was sad. Walter Matthau and
Jack Lemmon are buried near the same area. The "Odd Couple" reunited in dirt. Jack Lemmon's headstone is classic. All it
says is: "Jack Lemmon in." We spend most of our time searching for Frank Zappa's grave but it is not to be found. At least there
is no yellow snow here. The most elaborate stone is reserved for the silky throated Mel Torme. We find that we are not the only
ghouls out here as numerous people show up asking directions to so and so's grave. We were provided a map by an English
couple who got it off of a website. There are many others buried here but you'll have to find them yourself. I'm tired and we have
to endure another round of L.A. traffic. So I pried Gary off of Marilyn's marble and we head out. There was so much more but I
know you haven't even read this far, all in all, another memorable trip with the International Man of Mystery.Â So the next time you
hear a bump in the night or catch a glimpse of an apparition be sure to call my fearless, feckless and reckless brother. I can't
wait for the next trip to the "Twilight Zone!"