8.25.2006

Julie's Big Hollywood Dreamhouse

Considering my "emerging screenwriter" price range, I hadn’t been able to get a single real estate agent to return my calls—not even the one with the handlebar moustache and speech impediment I found on some fly-by-night Internet site. Then I met Jerry J. one Sunday afternoon at an open house in Echo Park. He’d staged the place with signature homosexual style, lighting gingerbread-scented candles on the kitchen counter, setting back issues of the New Yorker in the master bath. He asked me to sign his Venetian leatherbound guest book and have a look around the little California bungalow, priced at a “very attractive” six fifty-nine, which stands adjacent to a state-run “rest home,” according to Jerry’s brochure. Personally I’d call it an “insane asylum.” When I stood very still, I’m pretty sure I heard screaming.

I hadn’t even been interested in Echo Park, which seemed a little too, I don’t know, colorful, until I saw QuinceaƱera. The only film ever to win both Audience Favorite and the Grand Jury Award at Sundance, it was promoted as a coming of age story about a teenager who gets pregnant without ever having sex. What it’s really about is gay couples with great taste initiating turf warfare by painting an entire L.A. neighborhood their own gangland color, Restoration Hardware Green.  I wanted in.

Unfortunately, once an already inflated L.A. real estate market is captured in an award-winning indie, it’s already too rich for my blood. The one property in the entire gang-infested hood priced below four hundred thousand wasn't a house at all, but a "cozy little writer’s cabin” built in the twenties as a hunting lodge. Perched on a solitary hilltop surrounded by meadowlands, its best feature was a wraparound deck where I could have all the “big wonderful dinner parties” Jerry imagined me to be throwing for my “important friends at the studio.” (Jerry apparently thinks I’m Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in their Hollywood years).

On the downside, the place needs a new roof, a missing bedroom wall, kitchen appliances, new flooring, heating and cooling, and an exterior retaining wall before the advent of the mudslide, fire and earthquake seasons. It’s also so tiny that my mortgage broker had to go to a “specialty house,” a mob allusion, I suspect, to secure financing.

But that’s not why I passed on it. I did that because of the homeless encampment at the foot of the driveway, beside the neighbor’s Roto-Rooter truck. Call me a snob, but I like to give at celebrity fundraisers rather than at gunpoint, and get a plumber on the phone when I need one, not lean out the back window and shout, “Yo, Julio!"

The thing about screenplays is that they’re worth either nothing at all or a huge wad of cash. There’s not a whole lot in between. My mother says I have to write my way out of my problems and my manager remains convinced I’ll be writing myself into the right house very soon. The mere idea of being able to write my way into and out of things is the closest I’ve gotten to Hollywood success. That and hanging with Jerry. The day he takes me to lunch at some star-studded greasy spoon at Sunset Junction to sign documents, I’ll know I’m in.

5 comments:

  1. Hey! I've been stalking you from time to time, and I have to say I love your blog! It really takes this SAHM to a totally different life, even if for just a little while. Thanks for letting me dream my dreams through you!

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  2. Echo Park? I think the entirety of Manhattan is now gentrified, meaning that the white-shoe crowd basically lives in every neighborhood (to some degree) regardless of the income level of their predecessor neighbors, who remain there on rent control. And its probably just a matter of time for LA, that is, if it happens before California topples into the Pacific.

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  3. Too bad ou can't write from Atlanta. 600K can buy you a house to rival Whitney and Bobby's place. Less than 100K can buy you a place like you described (with at least half an acre). If you want to see what a 100k house (that needs work) looks like, jump over to my blog... June's archives. There's pictures and everything.

    Good luck with the house hunting... you're gonna need it.

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  4. I know, I know. But they put Hollywood here.

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  5. Anonymous9:19 AM

    Hey Julie! It's great to see you back to your blog. I LOVE it!

    ReplyDelete