Hearst Suite, guest suite window. William Jennings Bryan backed NY Representative and newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst for the Democratic Party nomination in the 1904 presidential election but Hearst lost to Alton Parker who was easily defeated by Roosevelt.
The Chateau is a big H, for hell or heart’s desire, depending. If you’re looking at the Exit Route In Case of Fire Diagram, I’m in the upper left, alone, at the top, facing the Hollywood hills, the Observatory, the Sign, and the rear of the Korean Presbyterian Church. The Hearst Suite, as it’s called, where William Randolph and Marion Davies once entertained, is downstairs lower left, on the second and third floors with an internal connecting stairway. Marion’s balcony looked out on Wilshire, a quiet street back then.
The upper right quadrant historically seems to attract strong female energy; it’s also the fertile wing where most of the babies and children are. Bonnie lived over there with her boy, in the ground floor unit on the back courtyard. She put a basketball hoop outside her kitchen window which attracted many of the men in the building but management made her take it down. Then there’s the serenely blonde supermodel with her hot dark South American boyfriend and now not one but two babies on the second floor. And the lesbians who used to live until recently on the 4th floor with their son. And Dragana, the Eastern European wife of a documentary film-maker and mother of Dmitri and Natalia who have now moved to West Hollywood to be closer to friends from other former Soviet bloc nations. Also Mother Courage, the squat Italian grandma whose husband grows pots of tomatoes out by the dumpsters and once drove their Impala into the neighbor’s wall after a fight and too much Chianti. Tough, resilient women, all of them. Before Bonnie was the exotic dancer, a fierce force of nature in her own fashion who developed a taste for crystal and the boys who sell it, some of whom used to climb the parking lot gate for visits at unexpectedly early hours. Or late, depending.
A sign by the mailboxes last night invites everyone who’s around to stop by #201 for Thanksgiving food and fun. Obviously someone new to the building, I think, who doesn’t know better. Or doesn’t know worse, depending. And I’m right. I meet them coming in, hauling loads of Trader Joe bags. Or the boy is, chest and biceps straining a t-shirt much too small while the tiny pixie with a pinched Disney mouse face clutches a Target welcome mat to her chest and directs. “Is that everything?” she asks, peering and sniffing at the bags suspiciously, as though she’s used to not trusting men. She looks up at me and the wide eyes narrow to slits. I offer to hold the elevator doors (it’s working again, miraculously) and she relents but reluctantly. “Hello,” she replies, interposing her body between mine and her boyfriend’s, who’s cute but please, not that cute.
It’s all perspective, of course. I see where this is going: a Hallmark horn of plenty in the works, a big happy H for harvest meal cooked by this mini dynamo, an energetic Every Woman determined to have it all, a Hollywood career, a boyfriend who’s a series regular on a CW network show aimed at teens and queens, a horde of FaceBook friends she can wine and dine and network with, then retire to the roof for a smoke and cocktails and Instagram the ensuing hilarity later while competing for most piercing shrieks, then tears and accusations and messy hair in the courtyard later still. Throw in a few crying babies, some stumbling holiday revelers, music and mayhem, a walk of shame or two at dawn with high heels in hand and bitter recriminations shouted out in parting (such bitter sorrow), and the Heartbreak Hotel greets dawn as Hangover Square.
Ah youth, youth, people say when they’ve got nothing left to say. Enjoy your winter vegetables, your pumpkin pie, your autumn leaves. It’s time for me to go. I’ll be packing this Thanksgiving and giving thanks I’ve got new adventures waiting for me, on the other side of those hills.