Saturday, December 23, 2017

Blue "Jay" Way

While AM gushes over Sgt. Pepper's and Magical Mytery Tour's 50th Anniversary, this writer is still trying to sell some books; therefore the shameless plug in this post's heading. How clever to allude to Jay and the Americans within George's iconic song title - a reference, by the way, to the home he was renting high in the Hollywood Hills above Sunset Blvd. (the Sunset Strip) in 1966.

Your purchasing Jay and the Americans is a way that we at AM can improve our site and increase what we feel is the perfect daily dose of rock 'n' roll. Please click on the links below or to the right to get your copy! Here's a [Blue] Jay [Way] and the Americans snippet:


Between Doheny and Laurel Canyon, the Sunset Strip was littered with giant billboards, much of it my father's work.  You'd find him above it all, like Michelangelo in modern times.  He was responsible for Tommy by the Who and Disraeli Gears atop the Roxy.  He did Chinatown and Aja and 461 Ocean Blvd.
 
"Can I come up?"  He looked at me from the scaffolding above.

He was working on So Far by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  Joni Mitchell did the painting for this anthology of hits, but my father brought it to life, made it big and bold and out there for the world to see.  It stood above the Chateau Marmont on the north side of the Strip.  I think he captured Neil a bit better than Joni did; something about Neil, that crazy look of his.  "Can I come up?"

"You’re not allowed to come up."

"But I need to come up."

"Then come up."  It was the kind of conversation one had with my father.  I climbed the ladder to the top of the billboard, Los Angeles spread out beneath us on one of those few clear days, the days you wait for, the sun warm, the air cool and crisp.  I liked being at the top of the city, at the top of Mulholland, or sneaking up by the Hollywood sign.  There were times growing up when we'd drive up Blue Jay Way and park in front of George Harrison's house, even though he didn't live there anymore.  Sunset Plaza, stay to your left, drive up and up and up.  There was no street sign because everyone stole it; they just painted Blue Jay Way on the curb.  And we'd sit on one of those big flat boulders that hang like a balcony over the lights and the geometry and smoke weed.  That was my L.A. growing up.

50 Years Later, the Signs are Back - I Want One!
"Mom died," I said, a little out of breath. 

He did something funny with his brush.  It wasn't what he was supposed to do.  He stood a second or more, and then he just started painting again as I watched.  He looked down at his samples, at what he was supposed to do.  There was a geometry to it.  The samples were cordoned off into little squares and he had only to paint each square and connect them together like one of those sliding block puzzles; just a trick to make it big. 

So Far.  How far we'd come to get just so far.  I sat and looked out over the city on that clear, clear day.  There was the Troubadour.  There was Paramount and MGM.  We went to Carney's for a chili dog and sat in the old train car as if we were traveling cross county.  He said, "Did she say anything?"  What he meant was, "Did she say anything about me?"

"She didn’t say anything."  He kind of winced or winked a little, and I think I caught a glimmer in his eye of the girl who'd turned him down, the girl who ultimately gave up everything.  I saw that something in his eye, that moment in time when she'd say yes and it meant something.  Suddenly obliterated was every other moment when she said yes and it didn't matter, or no and it did.  As if it didn't matter that she'd taken him to court for child support, that she took me away in the middle of the night, that she ran into the arms of another man.  Or that he'd done the same with the woman two doors down.  Didn't matter.  

It might have been nothing, just a gleam in his eye.

                                 
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