Adventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 51byhollywoodjim©
The lawsuit Marty O'Brien had filed against Artists Unlimited (or AU as we called it) and his former partner Chuck Tyler looked to be a nightmare. Chuck now ran AU but before they spilt their interests, they used East Coast Image for all their photo work. East Coast was founded by my close friend Chris, who'd generously, made me a partner. We'd been considering a big money offer to join Chuck at his mega-agency, but Chris died before we made a final decision. To my surprise, he left the agency to me and rather than try and run the whole show myself, I accepted Chuck's offer and joined the Artists Unlimited family.
Chuck was livid in the meeting when I was first told about the lawsuit, I was livid as well because I'd been named in the suit. Chuck reassured me that, as an employee running their photo division, I would have the full support of AU. Chuck's second in command Jeff Murphy had given me the address of AU's legal counsel Michael Baldwin, whom I'd be meeting for what I assumed would be some kind of deposition in the case. His office was in yet another high-rise in downtown LA. I was a nervous wreck the whole way down there.
The lobby of the enormous building seemed to stretch up into infinity. I took a deep breath and looked at the directory and it seemed like every lawyer in the state was based here. And there were a lot of Baldwin's too, lovely.
"Jim?" I heard a hesitant female voice to my right
"Yes?" I turned
"Oh my god, it is you!" she said as her face lit up "It's me, Dana Liebowitz. We went to school together about a thousand years ago."
Whoa! This was a definitely a blast from my past! I hadn't seen her since the summer I graduated high school, which certainly seemed like a thousand years ago.
"Son of a gun! Wow!" I exclaimed as we hugged "What are you doing here?"
"I think should be asking you that!" she replied
I was about to reply when I suddenly remembered Jeff's directions not to discuss the case with anyone.
"Oh! I, uh, I'm supposed to meet an attorney here." I quickly said "Nothing big..."
Now I'm trapped.
"Uh, Michael Baldwin." I finally said
"Wow! That's my boss!" she said excitedly "Come on, I'll walk you up."
Her boss? I didn't see that coming.
But then, perhaps I should've.
I'd gone to junior high with Dana many years ago, and had what could be called a schoolboy crush on her. Then she went to a different high school than me and we lost touch for several years. We unexpectedly met again on the track at my high school after we'd graduated. And we had quite a nice time under the bleachers. Her plans were to go to law school and intern with her dad's firm in New York. But how did she wind up here?
Before asking that, I had to take in how pretty she still looked. Her hair was a beautiful honey blonde and she wore a crisp gray suit like a pro.
Dana breezed me past the security desk and onto the elevator.
"The last time I saw you" I began "You were heading off to law school and your Dad's firm in New York."
"...And the last time I saw you." She now began "we were having a nice bit of fun under the bleachers at your high school." She said with a giggle in her voice "You have a good memory."
"So, how'd you end up here?" I asked as the elevator climbed upwards
"The usual way, graduated from NYU law school." She said before adding a little braggadocio in her voice "...summa cum laude I might add."
"Michael was part of dad's firm, then he got an offer to move out here and he asked if I wanted to join him. So, California here I am."
Just as she said that, the elevator doors opened on a bustling law office, several secretaries were answering phones as we walked in.
"Wait here and I'll get Michael."
I guess seeing someone familiar took whatever nervousness I had off. It was still a weird feeling knowing I was about to experience the legal system close up.
"James," I now heard turning to see Dana's boss "Michael Baldwin, good to meet you. Please, this way."
Michael was all business as I could tell. He led me down a hallway to a conference room where a video camera was being set up. Dana was assembling papers and had added a pair of chic glasses to her already stylish look. But now with the glasses, she looked like the bookish girl I'd had a crush on in junior high and wished I could've known in high school.
"I'll make this as easy a process as possible," he said "from what Jeff told me you're a little nervous about this case, that's understandable."
"He's right about that."
"I've also spoken to your attorney, Roger Sullivan" Michael said as he shuffled some papers "Roger is over in Dubai now but he'll be back at the end of the week if you need to meet with him, he's fully up to speed on what we'll be doing here and I'll be calling him later today."
I breathed a sigh of relief
"I guess you have everything covered, then."
"Indeed I do. The easiest way to handle this is for you to just tell your side of things, I'll ask whatever questions I have and everything will be transcribed. Do you have any questions?"
"I guess not."
"Good, let's begin."
For the next hour, Michael asked how I'd met Marty O'Brien, what our dealings were like with him and with Chuck. I told him all about what happened on the "Dark Hills" film project in West Virginia, the conflicts he had with my late partner Chris, and how I'd resolved some of them. The fateful night I last saw Chris was probably the hardest part for me. It had been awhile since I'd confronted my memories of the last night I saw my friend alive. But I had to be honest with Michael when asked what Chris' state of mind was, had he been drinking, was he looking for a fight with Marty?
As we talked, I remembered a detail about our time filming "Dark Hills".
"I don't know if this is important..." I started
"In a court case, everything is important." Michael quickly replied
"Well, one night during filming Marty invited me to go with him to this place in the hills with his brother, I'm not exactly sure where."
"Was Marty's brother connected to the film in any way?"
"Yes, Marty said he was a producer and one of his other brothers was a screenwriter, I think."
"What kind of place was this?"
"Um, it was a, geez I feel weird saying this...a bordello."
Michael looked up from his legal pad and Dana snickered.
"A what?" he asked, his eyebrows looked rather comical at this moment.
"A bordello...apparently he knew the proprietor."
Michael seemed deep in thought
"Go on...continue, please."
"Uh, okay...we went to this place one evening..."
"Did you, shall we say, partake of anything there?" he asked before quickly turning to Dana "Excuse me, Dana. Sorry you have to hear this."
"No, go ahead." She replied firmly, I guess details like this were nothing new to her.
"Uh, yes, yes I did. And so did Marty and his brother."
"Was money exchanged?" he asked
"Well, that's the weird part" I started "I wondered about that too, I don't exactly carry a ton of cash on me, you know."
"When I started to pay for a drink there, the bartender said it was all taken care of. And then when I was talking to one of the ladies there, she said the same thing."
"It was all taken care of?"
"Yes, exactly." I replied "anyway, I asked Marty about it on the way home, what they meant by that. And he said something like it would be charged to the studio, something about half of Hollywood was built on places like this."
"So, he was implying that the studio would be paying for your entertainment that night?"
"That's what I thought he meant. I know there's lots of creative bookkeeping that goes on but this just seemed a little strange."
Michael smiled as he took notes
"You're right about that." He said as he continued writing then looked at his watch. "OK, I think we've covered enough for today. I have another appointment coming in I need to get ready for. I'll set up another session and get back to you."
"Is there anything I should do in the meantime?"
"Do what Chuck said before, lay low, and don't talk to the press."
We all stood and shook hands.
"And relax, Jim. It was good meeting you, I'll be in touch."
Michael gathered up his papers and left the room leaving me with Dana.
"Well, that was strange." I said to her
"You did fine" she said with a smile "Um, could we get together for dinner, maybe?"
We were both smiling at one another
"That sounds like a good idea." I said as I gave her one of my cards.
"I'll call you." She said before looking around and giving me a quick kiss "it's really great to see you again, Jim."
My first experience with the legal profession and I get a kiss out of it.
Not too bad, Hollywood.
After all that, I was glad the weekend was here. I needed something to take my mind off things. Out of the blue I got a card for the Golden State Flea Market. That should do the trick.
Little did I know that about a million others got that same card and I was in a sea of hunters, collectors and pickers in the middle of a patch of enormous land that had once been a multi-screen drive in movie theatre and was bordered by pasture land. But I had to admit seeing all these items out of attics and cellars were very intriguing. It seemed like everywhere I turned I saw something that made me wonder what it would look like in my humble abode.
Then I heard the voice of reason;
The last thing I wanted to be was a hoarder.
I concentrated on a booth with numerous boxes of magazines. Cool, I might find some old Rolling Stone issues or Life magazines. Then I came upon another title.
"Oh my..." I said to myself as I came upon the sellers' collection of Playboy issues.
Well, unfortunately I'm a guy. So I eagerly grabbed a few vintage issues. A few feet away I could hear a couple of girls giggling as they went through the stacks of different titles. I couldn't hear anything specific but it sounded like they were contemplating the same stack of issues I was going through. One had on a flannel work shirt with its sleeves cutoff, a grey t-shirt, faded jeans and what seemed like motorcycle boots. On top was a straw cowboy hat, her thick red hair was in a tight braided ponytail that dangled down past her shoulders. Her friend wore a black t-shirt with a faded image of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon logo and jeans and had blonde hair with gentle curls.
"Oh Jesus, look at this!" Cowboy hat said excitedly but not loud enough to be heard everywhere. The other giggled in response.
"Yours are bigger..." Pink Floyd girl snickered making them both laugh.
"Yeah, maybe...wow I'd love to have an outfit like that." Cowboy said as she pointed out a photo in another issue. Though I couldn't help but eavesdrop on them and smile to myself, I could detect a southern twang in her voice that sounded so nice.
"Hey, here's one with the Playmate of the Year." Cowboy giggled
"Oh, boy!" Pink said with a giggle
"Oh, man...she's pretty." Cowboy said before looking over towards me. I immediately looked down, was I discovered?
Apparently not, I took this as my cue to move on.
I paid for my issues and stuffed them into the same weathered canvas messenger bag that had served as a camera bag on various adventures in the past. I kept wandering the market and saw my next stop.
Ah, the wonderful world of vinyl albums. The dealer looked like every old hippie, long stringy grey-black hair with a matching beard. He even had granny sunglasses dangling from his neck, tie-dyed t-shirt and a fitting moniker, Wild Bill. But he had a huge assortment of albums that I eagerly started flipping through. And I found some gems, old Beatles albums on their Apple label. Sure, I had the CD's but there's an unmistakable charm to the old vinyl. On the other side of the racks I saw those 2 girls again. I couldn't tell if they'd bought any issues but I saw that Cowboy was pulling out albums.
"Wow, so cool!" she said excitedly, now her accent was definitely there as she opened the gatefold albums and looked at the large photos within.
"Look at this one." Pink said as she pulled out a weathered copy of the Rolling Stones "Through the Past Darkly" album "it's shaped like a stop sign, weird."
"It's got some cool songs on it, though." Said Cowboy "Whoa! Look at this one!"
She had a copy of Led Zeppelin's "Physical Graffiti"
"I can't tell who this is." She said
"Uh, it's a Led Zeppelin album." I piped in
The girls both looked up at me
"Which one?" asked Cowboy
"Physical Graffiti, it's the one with "Kashmir" on it." I said
"Is it any good?" asked Pink Floyd t-shirt
"It's my favorite of theirs. It's got every style they ever played
Now Cowboy looked at me closer before quickly flipping through the albums
"What about this album?" Cowboy asked as she held up another Rolling Stones album.
"Oh, great live album of theirs." I said
"What year was it done? I heard they did something wild to like, announce a tour."
"Yes, back in '75..." I started
"Wait a minute, have I met you somewhere before?" Cowboy asked
"I don't know, have we?"
"Ever been to the Eagle?"
"Oh, yeah. I was just there a couple of weeks ago for a private concert."
"Who was playing?"
Her eyes lit up
"Yes, how do you know me?"
Cowboy came around and close up I realized who it was.
"It's me, Miley, remember?" she said as she was closer to me
It was Miley Cyrus and the last time I'd seen her was indeed at the Eagle for her friend Selena's show. We'd also had a memorable tryst in the backseat of her Mercedes in the club's VIP parking lot.
"Whoa!" I said "what are you doing here?"
"What are you doing buying a bunch of Playboy issues?" she said as she looked at my bag. "I thought I saw you back there."
"Well, I saw you over there, too."
"Yeah, well...I'm entitled, right Leslie?" she said turning to her friend in the Pink Floyd shirt
"Sure! She's entitled." She said "whatever that means."
We both laughed at her response.
"So, anyway, you're looking good." I said
"So are you! Sorry I never called you like I said I would."
"Aw, that's understandable."
"Come on, I need some of your musical knowledge."
Flipping through the albums and she got more excited with each one we found. Being so cheap she quickly had a nice stack in her arms.
"Maybe we better put these in your car so you're not carrying them everywhere." I said to her
Miley slipped on a pair of dark aviator sunglasses and we walked back to her car. It was the same black Mercedes SUV I remember from last time.
"Remember this car, Jim?" she said with a sly smile as she clicked off the alarm.
"I seem to recall it, yes."
"What's so special about it?" Leslie asked
Miley looked at her and they both giggled
"No way!" Leslie exclaimed "Is this the guy?"
"Uh-huh." Miley replied "It was nice."
I tried not to look embarrassed, but boy, was I ever!
"Come on, let's get something to eat." Miley said
We were all soon eating burgers and talking. Sitting close to me, Miley wanted to know more about the albums she bought. She had known Leslie for years and even named her in one of her songs, which made her friend blush at the mention of it. She told me of an upcoming movie called "So Undercover" she was looking forward to. And there was talk of her starring in a remake of the Raquel Welch western "Hannie Caulder". Not to mention an upcoming concert tour.
"Sounds like you got things straightened out the way you wanted." I said
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the last time I saw you, you were feeling pretty burned out."
"Oh, that was just a tough day, I deal with it."
"Tomorrow's another day, right?"
"You got it, brother." She replied as she sipped her Coke. "What about you? Still doing photos?"
I nodded as I ate my burger
"It's a long story, but I'm with another firm now." I said.
Just then someone cellphone rang
"Is that mine or yours?" Miley asked as she reached for her bag
"Mine." Leslie said as she pulled it out and walked away to take the call.
Miley got closer to me.
"So, Mister Jimmy...we, uh, never got together after that night. I think we both deserve a little fun, you know." She said in that sweet southern tone that could melt steel.
"That sounds kinda nice to me." I said
Her eyes looked so pretty as she leaned in and we kissed.
Just then Leslie came back.
"Hey, got a small emergency back home." She said
"Anything bad?" Miley asked
"No, my Mom needs my help with something and I thought it wouldn't be 'til later today when we got back."
"OK, uh..." Miley looked at me "Jim, could you give me a ride home?"
"Uh, yeah, sure I can." I said
"OK, take my car and I'll call you later." She said as she tossed her keys to Leslie.
"Thanks, Miles I owe you one." she said as she quickly walked off
I was alone with Miley now.
"So then, what's the game plan?" I asked this red haired hottie.
She smiled widely
"We go somewhere and check out the albums." She replied
"Uh-huh, somewhere like..."
"Your place." She said as she lightly tapped my nose.
I took a small breath
"Well then...let's go." I said
As we were walking to my SLK a thought occurred to me
"You do realize the albums are in the car that Leslie just took, right?"
Miley nodded and said only "Uh-huh." With a sly smile added.
Miley and I drove back to my condo. Her eyes widened when she walked in and saw all the photos I'd hung on the walls. Since I was home more often I had time to organize what I called my "Hollywood Junk".
"This is an awesome place you have here." She said looking around before exclaiming "and who is this?" she said when she spotted Smokie the cat in his usual perch atop my desk.
"That's Smokie. My most trusted confidante."
"Aww, what a pretty kitty you are!" she said in a loving voice that made him start purring.
"You, uh, want a drink or something?"
Miley looked at me now
"A something would be nice." She said with a classic smile
"It probably would be." I said with a sly smile of my own.
I brought over 2 bottles of water and she eagerly took one
"I didn't realize how hot it was out there." She said as she took a long drink "so, how long have you lived here?"
"Ever since I moved out here, so about a year, I'd say.'
"Cool posters." She said as she walked around and looked at a poster listing all the acts at the original Woodstock Festival. She'd loosened her ponytail and looked so sexy as she casually tossed her thick red hair that hung past her shoulders. "These are such cool posters, where do you get them?"
"Oh, different places, they're mostly just good copies."
"What the hell does this say?" she asked as she twisted her head to read one advertising several shows at the Fillmore and elsewhere. I walked over and saw she was reading the small print on one. As I pointed out the list of acts, I felt her hand on my ass. I turned to my left and she was watching my finger move but looking into my eyes. She had equally pretty ones too.
"I guess you like the posters, huh?"
"I like the guy who owns them too."
"I don't have any of your posters, does that make a difference?" I asked slowly
She slowly shook her head.
"No, doesn't make any difference." She also said slowly as her hand continued to caress my ass. Now I did the same with her, even through denim it felt very nice.
"Uh, would you like to see more posters?"
"Where are they?" she replied
Miley showed me that sweet smile photographers always saw before nodding.
I took her hand and we walked upstairs.