Now, normally when you do a review of the year, and you’re splitting it in two, you’d do two spells of 6 months, right? But when I looked back on my year, it took me about 30 seconds (if that long) to work out that apart from one event in May, not much happened for the first 8 months, then a hell of a lot happened in the last 4! So to avoid a 500 word blog tonight, and a 3000 word one tomorrow, I’m doing this on an 8/4 basis this year.
In truth, the highlights of the first 2 months were getting the news I’d passed probation period at work, and getting my first passport in my new name, and gender. I know, I’d lived about 7 years as a woman before then, but all the same, that was a special moment when it was made official. Oh, and around the same time, my first moments of DWP fame, in a transgender sense, with an interview from work, about life as a Transgender woman in the Department. Which of course led to something that will be mentioned in Part 2, but for now…
No, diplomacy means I’m not mentioning a certain event that happened in the US, in January, but you all know what I think of him, and his actions, so lets leave it there.
Of course, my first flight as a woman, was in May, going back to Hollywood, or more strictly, Los Angeles. Lets just say the whole apartment thing this time around wasnt the success of the previous trip, both in the sense of initially booking an apartment, and then the landlord deciding he wanted to decline the booking, because he hadnt put in his price rise for the New Year. Fine, I thought, until he told me it was done, and suddenly the price had risen by over 20%, nearly 25% in fact! So I started again, thought I’d found somewhere decent as a replacement, but it didnt live up to all its claims. Dont get me wrong, it was nice enough, just didnt have all the facilities it claimed it had.
The funniest moment was a delightful Thai takeaway I had found 18 months earlier, and the lady still remembered me the moment I walked in, despite that. Its sad to think that by the next time I visit, she will almost certainly be gone, as it will be a few years before I get there again (unless I get a role offer), and I doubt she was that young this year, so…but she was amazing!
The other big highlights that will stick with me, would be 2 Louise Brooks silent films, viewed at the historic Egyptian Theater, a guided Hollywood walk given by a wonderful lady that I like to see as a friend, a ‘better than I would buy’ seat at a Dodgers game, thanks to another friend, with the added bonus of it being a game that Kershaw pitched at! Lastly, there was a wonderful Harlow display at the Hollywood Museum, which was a delight to see. Oh, and thanks to the Metro, getting to Santa Monica far easier than ever before!
In truth, I have no idea when I’ll be back, unless I get an offer, which I would have to say is pretty unlikely. But never say never… Certainly, due to something that will be mentioned shortly, walking up the hill to where Harlow rests at Forest Lawn would probably be beyond me now, but anyway…
In July, 2 things happened, one good, one bad. The good one was, that knowing that Clara Johnson’s middle initial was E, and finding a few images of a chorus line dancer/Goldwyn Girl, and putting two and two together, when you find a dancing match, named Elaine Johnson, who has a career that seems to tie in to Clara’s, well I jumped on the issue, and joy, actually found 3 pictures of her from a credited movie promotion shoot. Of course I cant be 100% sure its one and the same, but enough coincidences for me to say it is. In fact, as you’ll find out tomorrow, this isnt the end of that story! Yes, a few new pictures, wow! I’d still love to find her married name, so I’d have a chance of paying my respects if, and when I get back to LA.
The bad thing, my back, after giving me support for about 59 years, decided it had had enough, and snapped. Quite literally, though not in too severe a way, fingers crossed. Yes, osteoporosis had taken its toll on me! Painkillers, and other meds (been tweaked a couple of times) keep it bearable, but yes, its fair to say old age is beginning to catch up with me. It eventually led to me cutting back to 4 days a week at work, with which I can just about get by financially, but holidays will need to be cut back on now, for sure.
August marked 1 year in the new job, and in truth, apart from a dream acting offer, I cant see me leaving before I get to retire in just over 6 years time. Yes, I really am that old lol! The rest of the year, and a few landmarks, tomorrow!
Right, the video. One of the few modern groups I have much time for, are The Killers. I now love them even more now I know that each Christmas, they record a song, and give all royalties to charity! This is the 2013 song, which is apt given where I was in May, and even more so when you see something I post tomorrow!
Trying to work around other potential events, which now look like they’re not going to happen, I took the chance yesterday to visit Glendale, and most significantly Forest Lawn, where someone I have a bit of a link to is buried. Strictly, yes, I mean Jean Harlow, at rest there for now fast coming up on 80 years, but call it a feeling, or otherwise, whenever I visit, I just have this instinct that Clara Johnson may be at rest somewhere in those large grounds as well. As I say, no evidence, impossible given I dont know her married name, but just something calls me when I’m there, and though that might be Jean, I do just wonder. But anyway…
As for all the best laid plans…The 2 previous visits, I’d found a pleasant little fast food restaurant near to where I get off the bus, and therefore I planned to go there for lunch, before going on to pay my respects. Only snag is, sometime in the last 18 months or so, it closed! Anyway, I knew I’d seen a few shops on the road leading to Forest Lawn, in the opposite direction at the junction, so hoped I’d find something there. Yes, I did. Its not glamorous or anything, but I found one of these roadside buildings with a few tables, and took my chance. To be honest, under $9 around LA, for a burger, fries, and a drink is hard to find. To find it cooked to order at that price, even more so! If anyone around that area wants to know the name of it, shout, and I’ll work it out on Google Maps, if I can.
After that, I walked down to Forest Lawn, to see a stunning layout of US Flags in the grounds, for Memorial Day on Monday. I gather something is happening there then (think it was 1.00, but check?) to respect the occasion. Fine, not for the first time, I entered the actual grounds, hoping for 2 things to happen. Firstly, some signal from ‘above’ that would lead me to Clara’s resting place. The second, that the gate in the mausoleum where Jean is at rest would be open, as it was the first time I visited, but not the second.
No, neither happened! I didnt really expect the first, somehow, and no, the gate was very firmly shut across the passageway where Harlow rests. In truth, I think the first time was sheer fluke, whether that was divine intervention, or just Jean ‘fixing it’, I have no idea? But yes, shut is the norm, according to everything I’ve read online about the place.
So fine, I said a few words, from as close as I could get, and said my farewell, as I’m pretty sure this is my last visit here for a number of years, if ever again. And whether at that point my body will be capable of climbing the hill up to the mausoleum, I doubt it somehow! Also, at the top of the hill, before dropping down to the exit, I did the same to Clara, not knowing where she was in that huge area, or strictly, if she really is there, but job done.
Then finally, as I passed back those flags, all set up for Memorial Day, I paid my respects to all those brave military folk, who had died in our, and other generation’s service.
Today, really not much to tell, so lets throw it in briefly now. Really just a stroll up the Boulevard, to do some souvenir shopping, for me, and others at home. One gift I couldnt find, so tripped off to Universal Studios to get in the shop out there, which I knew would have it. If she reads this, she’ll know whose gift that was! Tomorrow, I get to walk along Hollywood Boulevard again, this time on a guided walk, run by a friend I know from Twitter, and have met before. Should be fun, especially as she knows the whole Harlow thing with me! I think I have the place planned for my last big meal in town, unless someone wants to treat me to Musso and Frank’s lol?
After that? No idea, in truth. I’ll sort of say goodbye to an old friend on the walk in the morning, so where I go after that, will think on it at the time. I will get out at some point Saturday morning, but wont get far, thats for sure. I have a feeling I might do a little walk along Beachwood, just for old time, and admire the famous sign, one last time, without annoying the locals!
Right, video time. Not that Jean could sing (well proven), and though Clara was a decent dancer, she was no star. Besides which, this group is from LA, and the song fits in from yesterday. So all in all…
Though that will lead you completely down the wrong track for the video lol! But yes, you’re right, the other blog wont have this line, because that will be the title there.
Yesterday, as planned, I headed for Glendale, and Forest Lawn, to properly say goodbye to Jean. Well, fine, I’ve done it again today, at a couple of landmarks, but thats where she’s at rest, so… OK, fine, it didnt go as planned.
When I got to Forest Lawn, there was a very large poster announcing a display at the museum, dedicated to leading ladies, both real, and fantasy. So yes, under the circumstances, I had to go find that. No, I never did, actually finding the museum there took me a long way out of my way, and I still never found it. So I have no idea whether Jean was featured there or not! Snag is, after that, Forest Lawn is huge, and I got thoroughly lost, trying to find the mausoleum again. In the end, I got back to the entrance, and started again. Oh, did I mention, it was hot yesterday, there isnt a lot of shade in that place, and I was wilting. But second time up the hill, I just turned in the right direction, and found her. Well, sort of.
Unlike April, the person on the gate at the mausoleum was one of those I’d heard bad things about. Very ‘Mr Jobsworth’, I could go in, for the exhibition there, and that was it. Fine, I ignored him, headed once out of sight for where Jean Rests, but this time the gate was across, and it wasnt moving, even if I had been tempted to flout the rules. So I spent a few minutes ‘talking’ to her at a distance, and that was it. Nothing like the 40 minutes or more I spent with her in April!
Ah well, its what I’d heard of Forest Lawn, so…
Then to today. Firstly to Mel’s Diner for a good lunch, a wonderful 50’s style place, and yes, that had been my last meal plan pretty much since I got here. Then a bit of needed souvenir shopping, and one last walk down Hollywood Boulevard. The most remarkable thing at this point was that, back in April, I was up at La Brea, and one wonderful gentleman (trying to get people on Hollywood tours) would talk to the “English lady” every time I saw him. Yes, even after I did the tour, and he knew I wasnt going to do it again. Yes, he remembered me, from 6 months ago, seriously! So we chatted for a few minutes (yes, he asked me if I wanted to do the tour again) before parting. This time, I’m sure it really was for the last time.
Oh, in between, I stood and paid tribute again to Jean, at her star, though not for long, as I knew where the special moment would be. Yes, the hand, and foot prints at the Chinese Theatre. After several minutes just talking to ‘her’, I put my hands in hers, and felt something. Now that could just be because I was bent over a long way, and my chest doesnt like me doing that! But then, when I put my feet on top of hers, I felt it again! OK, that all did nothing for my emotional state, I must say. Finally, finally, I decided I needed to walk away, and I guess I will never stand there again.
An ice cream later, I headed back to Hollywood Boulevard, with the plan of getting the train down to Vine, getting the bus home, and that would be it. The emotions of leaving this place behind were already getting to me, so it seemed wise. So fine, I walked down instead! I even found a few shops selling memento Hollywood Stars, but none of Jean, anywhere. Then just before I reached Vine, I found a shop selling Hollywood stars, you could put a name on, so crazily I bought one. No, it wont be my name, or Jean’s going on it. Lets just say, that for those who have been around a while, you’ll understand when I say that Clara Johnson (my past life self) is going to get that Hollywood star she never got! Maybe because she never made it as a star, but… And no, annoyingly, I still havent discovered her married name, to discover where she rests!
Fine, then home on the bus, for the last time, heading up Beachwood, looking at that famous Hollywood sign. I might get a glance of it in the morning, but that pretty much was it. And yes, the emotions hit me hard, I did come home and cry for a few minutes, knowing it was all over, and I will never be here again after tomorrow. Fine, I suppose I might be, but I cant see it.
Yes, I’m pretty much packed. One or two items I need in the morning, one or two clothing items, as I havent yet chosen what I’m wearing for the trip home, but thats it. Apart from the stuff I need in the morning, it will all be packed before I go to bed tonight anyway, which wont be late! I guess I need to be up about 6, as I will be leaving here about 7.45, and need to be ready to go when the shuttle gets here.
So yes, the carnival really is over now. And yes, that is a clue to the video! I have actually chased up a few leads by email today, and I have applied for a few in the last couple of day too, so back to that grindstone. Mind, I got rejected for one of those in 21 minutes! Not a perfect match, but not awful either, ah well…
Lastly, the video. Yes, you’ve seen the clue. Its a live version from 1993.
Alright, fine, its getting towards the sad end of the break, the last few days. How do I know that? Well, for the first time in a few weeks, I had to really think about what I needed from the supermarket up the hill, and not get more than I really need. Most things I’ve managed to work fairly well, though the peanut butter is going to run out 1 day early, and I wont quite use up all the sugar, or the last part of the loaf bought today, but done pretty well. I’m planning a nice last lunch out in Hollywood for Tuesday, instead of cooking for myself, mind. Why lunch? Simple, I will need to pack as much as possible on Tuesday evening (being picked up at 7.45 am Wednesday), and besides which, just after 5 pm, the 1 game of the World Series I will get to see live. Game 2, I will be in mid flight, and the rest will happen in the middle of the night, UK time. Only wish I could see more, but unless someone is crazy enough to give $2,000 dollars to me in the next day or so, not going to happen. But seeing Kansas City get this far, has been pretty special, all the same.
The other reason I know its the end? I’ve started doing the trips I was leaving until now, to say goodbye to a few places, and “friends”. The first of those happened at the end of last week, the return to Pacific Palisades. Its funny, when I went there in April, it was by sheer accident, this time it was deliberate. Its a lovely little place, which as the name suggests, sits very close to the Pacific Ocean. So after lunch, and a last look around the community, I headed down the canyon towards the Pacific Ocean. I walked down the beach, to the ocean, and said my goodbyes. I mean, I will see it again, when we take off from the airport on Wednesday, and its quite possible I will see it again, in San Francisco, or Seattle, but from here, in lovely LA, by the water, that was it, almost certainly forever! As far as I can see, thats it, though 1 Facebook friend tells me I will return, in 6 months, but I cant see it myself.
Alright, after that. the journey back here. It should be just over an hour (70 mins or so) to Hollywood from there, but…it took 2 and a half hours! I assume there was an incident on the freeway, but we crawled, or simply sat still until we reached back to the junction with the 405 freeway. I did hear a couple of sirens, so I assume it was that. Let me just say at this point, that the bus seats on the Metro buses win no prizes for comfort, or design. So my back stiffened up beautifully, and getting home from town was fun. As was clambering into the bed that night! Better by next morning, but that evening…ouch!
Yesterday evening, I had the chance to go somewhere different, The Magic Castle. To go in there, you either have to be a member, or a guest of a member, and I was fortunate enough to be the latter. OK, as with so much travel this trip, things didnt go smoothly. The taxi was fine, and then we hit a traffic jam on Franklin Avenue. So he went down to Hollywood Boulevard to avoid it, just as bad. So down to Sunset Boulevard, then all the way up to my destination, but it meant a $12 taxi fare ended up at $18! Oh, and of course, my friend got stuck in the same jam, but texted me what to do on arrival, and all was fine.
The evening itself was wonderful, I had wonderful company (thanks Eden, and Phylis), and was wonderfully entertained by both them, and a string of magicians. One especially took my heart (though not in that sense, I think?), but they were all great. Phylis ran me home afterwards, and I got in about 1.15 am, a time I have no idea when I last saw before bed! Oh, and this morning was the latest I’ve got up in my stay, about 8.15! No surprise, I guess? Still, Wednesday (when I guess I’m going to have to be up by 6, or soon after) is going to come as a culture shock!
Right, 2 full days, and 2 special trips to do. Tomorrow is off to Glendale, and Forest Lawns by bus, to say my final farewell to Jean Harlow. Yes, I know, she’s not going to answer me or anything (unless her “ghost” turns up, who is seemingly very chatty, then all bets would be off!) but its something I really want to do, just spend some time with her, one last time. Hopefully its as easy to get close as it was in April.
Then Tuesday, one last farewell trip to the delight that is Hollywood Boulevard. A little bit of souvenir shopping, a nice lunch (which I wish could be Musso & Frank, but I really cant afford it. Silly, its only because I included it in a story, but…), and then say farewell again, at Jean’s star on the strip, and to her’s, and a couple of other people’s hands, and footprints at the Chinese Theatre. Then 1 last nice ice cream at Hollywood & Highland centre, then with, I’m sure a few tears, say goodbye to Hollywood for the last time, as I head back here, to pack, and watch baseball!
Then, Wednesday morning, the long trek home. At least I will see that wonderful Hollywood sign, one last time, as the shuttle pulls out on to Beachwood before I leave.
I have got a few possible jobs to follow up on, from before I left, and I’ve applied for a couple more in the last few days, telling the people concerned that I wont be back before the 29th! Hopefully they noticed!
I’m sure there will be one last posting from LA, assuming Tuesday doesnt prove more problematical than expected, packing wise, and the like. So, if I dont…
Right, lastly, the video. Lets go back to last night for that.
Yes, for the lucky few who know, totally duplicated blog!
Today, in 1937, was the day Jean Harlow died, at the very young age of 26. Kidney failure, which was fatal back then. So lets take this big opportunity to quash one of those total fallacies believed by so many, about this event.
The story that her mother didnt allow any nurses, nor doctors near Jean, at this time, is total rubbish. Yes, she was a Christian Scientist, but no, that didnt stop her getting people in, to look after her daughter. Just not the doctors that Louis B Mayer wanted to get in, because she didnt trust him, and who could blame her?
Fact: Unless she found a surgeon who time travelled a minimum of 10 years on, learnt how to do dialysis, or a kidney transplant for her, nothing could be done. I’m not saying her mother was a saint, she wasnt, to any degree, but she’s not the villain some see her to be, either.
There were several things Jean wasn’t. An angel, a natural actress, and a few other things beside, probably. She smoked, though of course it was seen as a cool thing to do back then. She drank, though how much of that was down to her nerves while acting, or down to her family life, who knows?
Jean also openly stated she was no great actress, and if you see her early talkies, it shows. Her acting was wooden, her speech not a lot better, but then… they let her play herself!
Well, not strictly, but in Red Headed Woman, Red Dust, Bombshell (especially this one), and to a lesser degree, Dinner At Eight, Jean blossomed. Yes, pre code, pretty much playing herself, she became a star. Then films were ‘tamed’ by the code, and things had to change. They tried Jean in a musical, but given she couldnt sing (dubbed in movie, but I have heard her, and it isnt good), or really dance, it didnt work.
She held her own decently in romantic comedies, but was never going to win an Oscar for her acting skills, all the same. Then, while making Saratoga, her kidneys finally cried enough, she fell critically ill, and died, so young.
What caused her kidneys to fail? Oh my, there are plenty of crazy stories re this too!
Certainly the Scarlet Fever she suffered as a teenager was a major culprit. But yes, all the smoking, drinking, and everything else wouldnt have helped her fragile organs. Botched abortion, I’ve seen no good evidence for this happening, after all, she wanted to be a mother, not an actress, and her words tended to suggest that she hadnt been pregnant, up till then. Doesnt mean she hadnt, just no good evidence in my eyes.
Even better, the bleach, and everything else she used to get her platinum blonde look wrecked them. Given the acid that might create, its a just maybe, but I suspect the problem would have shown before the end, given she wasnt colouring it by then! Me, I’ll stick with the weakened kidneys, from her illness, just seeing that alcohol intake, and bailing out!
Whatever it was, she was dead, at just 26.
Wonderfully for me, just under 2 months ago, I managed to spend over half an hour with Jean. Well, not literally, but a gate, and the length of her mausoleum at Forest Lawn was all that separated us. I talked much of the time, funnily enough, she never replied, but all the same, I felt in her presence. A magical experience.
And I have no idea if her spirit led me to it, but of course, later that afternoon was the time I discovered a lot more about my past life self, Clara Johnson. Were the events related, no idea? Especially as I’d heard it was hard to get close to Jean’s resting place, and I just walked up to it! Did she arrange it, hmm?
OK, fine, the video, and yes, unsurprisingly, its a tribute to Jean Harlow. A Bobby Goldsboro song, titled Jean accompanies the images.
Rest In Peace, Baby!
But before you under think this through, that isnt the video! 😛 The video, well, thats for today, so…lets take one step back, for now.
I’d read online, that getting much joy out of a visit to Forest Lawn, at Glendale, was a rare thing. So, when I set out yesterday morning to head there, I was sort of saying to myself, I’ll get as close to Jean as I can, and pay my respects from that point.
The moment I enter the grounds, I start to wonder how recent that bad posting was? Because the Great Mausoleum was decently signposted, and to be honest, beyond one sign respectfully saying not to take photos, I was welcomed in with a smile. Inside, there were no clues as to who was where, but I’d checked a map beforehand (on this less than cheery report), so I had a rough idea which direction to turn. Lo, and behold, the right aisle, and the gate is open, I can walk down it. And yes, there she was, more or less at the far end, resting peacefully (well I assume so) lay Jean Harlow, hidden from view, in an impressive casket, with the words ‘Our Baby’ written on it, and I was stood about 10 feet away. And yes, I stayed there for about 30 minutes or so, ‘talking’ to her, and security walked by, and were fine!
So alright, I thought this was the highlight of my day, my holiday, and everything else, and then I came back into town. The chance to look at historical censuses of Los Angeles, the sign said. I went for 1930, because I had this feeling that ‘someone’ would be there, and I was right. Yes, of course Jean Harlow was there, I’m sure, but thats not who I was looking for.
And with a computer search engine, there she was. Clara E Johnson, born in Texas in 1906, moved to LA in 1925, profession, actress! Yes, my previous life! The only other member of the family with her seemed to be a younger brother, Frank, born in 1912. What happened to her parents, no idea. Might still have been in Texas, might have been dead, it didnt say.
No, I couldnt find her in a check on the 1940 one, but according to my regression, she was married by then, so would have a different surname, of course. So I still dont know a lot more about her, but my knowledge has grown. Clearly I cant track her actual death date, for the same reason.
If the Harlow moment was wow, then this was Wow!
After that, today was a gentle breeze, took a trip down to Santa Monica by bus, saw the beach, and the ocean. A lovely day, slightly cooler (not complaining), but still pleasantly warm.
Tomorrow, the plan is to go down to Beverly Hills for a while. No, I’m not planning on seeing any of Jean’s former homes, though 2 of them are not that far off the bus route, so that plan might change. Unfortunately the one I’d really love to see, the home she shared with Paul Bern, is 3.5 miles from the nearest bus stop, and I’m not doing a 7 mile round walk, just to see it from the outside!
As I said, the video, well it mentions Santa Monica (Boulevard) in the song, so…