A Very Brady Julie

Last night Mad TV aired a sketch in which Snow White wakes up so set on whistling her happy tune she has no idea she lives in a crack house. Taking to the streets, she directs her clueless euphoria to the he-she hookers and menacing dope pushers of the neighborhood, which I immediately recognize as my neighborhood. My 7-11 overrun by warring street gangs, my Subway cordoned off as a murder scene.

I was comforted by the realization that Mad TV’s soundstages are conveniently located just around the corner, at the Hollywood Center Studios—former home of the Desilu Playhouse, where they shot the first two seasons of I Love Lucy. The Burns & Allen Show also taped there, as well as The Beverly Hillbillies, The Adams Family, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. Still, I couldn’t help remark upon what a seedy-looking place I call home.

I grew up in Woodland Hills, in a house that might have belonged to the Brady Bunch. I even knew one of the Bradys, Peter, an older boy who could be stalked onto the playground, near the handball courts. I figured I’d have a Brady kind of life, some day—only not married to a dad who turned out to be gay while dating my oldest stepson behind the scenes, later forced to shill for Wesson Oil.

In eighth grade, my very pretty best friend Debbie went out with one of the WaltonsBen, I think. He wasn’t much to look at but he had a job and a car. After we grew up, Debbie went into real estate and bought her own Brady Bunch house only blocks away from her parents. I refused to settle down, since I was busy traveling the world before concluding it wasn’t all that interesting. It was Hollywood that fascinated me. When I finally made my way back to pursue screenwriting, I set up residence on the weird side of the hill.

Though mystified by this choice, Debbie might have made the scary journey into the hood more often if my attack dog, Bunny, hadn’t bit her the night before she was to compete on the quiz show Debt. After we’d spent the night in the emergency room, when Wink Martindale appeared on-stage, Debbie had to mime the act of clapping so as not to re-open her bandaged wound. I will always blame myself for her losing after failing to make the correlation between a brass brad and Brad Pitt on some obtuse final question. No matter, Debbie said, as thrilled as I to be standing on Lucy's soundstage, somewhere in the middle of her kitchen, we deduced.

Debbie died a couple of years later, after a long battle with lupus. I heard her parents held onto her house, which remains empty. I have fantasies about heading out to the Valley and buying it from them—although by now it’s probably worth about a million more bucks than I have. Something about it would feel tacky, anyway, as though I were bragging about still having a life, such as it is. Maybe just the fact of being alive should be reason enough to wake up singing—even if I do have to fight off another self-entitled trannie for the last jelly doughnut in the corner shop.


  1. good luck on getting that house, I can only imagine lots more memories and quite a good muse for you (like you need one, jesus I do adore your writing)

  2. We lived on Gower and Lexington (the spectacular Gower Apartments) for five years and boy, it was like a tranny convention everyday. So I know what you're talking about.

    I'm a bit scared about lupus. My fraternity brother has it and we're all a bit freaked out.

  3. hey I grew up on the other side of the hill (westchester)... the child actors I saw in school were tthe little girl from "A Family Affair" (OD'd in high school)and the boy from "Courtship of Eddie's Father". as a kid I had an ambition at one time to be a screenwriter or cameraman, but gaveup on both probably sometime during one of those "career days" in high school... the stockbroker dude had it much more together than anyone else. hmmm. sorry to hear about your friend. I went to the funeral of a friend with lupus last month. finding cures for diseases like that seem much more worthwhile than entertainment or money these days. maybe I need another career change?

  4. I didn't know lupus was so common. I also don't think it's always fatal. So let's all cheer up and sing. Or something. Thanks for all your nice thoughts.

  5. And now we both post about the death of a dear friend. Again odd, soul-sister. I miss mine too. But you know I am all for waking up singing.

    And I got a mean right cross where donuts are involved.

    So last minute I'm going to Sundance in hopes of generating an Evian tour. Are you by chance going too?

  6. If you run across a spare million, don't let survivor's guilt keep you from buying the house.

  7. Heid it's true. I think you are my taller thinner lighter haired twin from Colorado. I won't be there, but knock em dead at Sundance. My DSL line is down so I'm writing fast on dial-up but thanks to all for writing...

  8. Julie, when my family came to California we lived near Barnsdall Park. The trannies had us outnumbered even in Spanish. I could only dream of Jelly Donuts. Now I live in Santa Clarita and can only aspire to the weirdness you encounter every day. A single in my neighborhood is more exotic than a semi-transsexual Thai prostitute is in yours.

    Calgon take me away.

  9. You know, that sounds like an amazing story for a movie in there somewhere. When I came to town I lived up cahuenga blvd. north of yucca and the 7/11 there was one that was so weird a friend of mine from Compton REFUSED TO GO TO IT because it freaked him out too much, to give you an idea of my early neighborhood. Many years and miles on paper since then and I'm in greener pastures, but nevertheless convinced I'm always one job away from rooming near my old 7/11.
    Phil -

  10. One of our elderly neighbors had Lupus for many, many years before she died.

    It's fun to watch some tv shows and movies and recognized where they were filmed at - the Valencia/Newhall area, especially.

  11. Philip I know just the 7-11 you're refercing. I looked at an apartment up there, which I dismissed out of hand due to the blood smears on the wall. I'm picky that way.

    Doug, I'm glad to hear your neighbors consider you exotic. It's all relative dear.

    Kisses to all! JGTH

  12. Now that's a story. It may be true but it reads like fiction. I like it when your writing runs wild like this.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your movies someday.