This part of the Los Angeles haunts me.
My experiences here have come to frame my perspective in ways that few understand. Hollywood is a deceptive place, completely disconnected from the outside perception of it. It’s been typecast in the same way it typecasts others, bound to a stubbornly resilient image that has nothing to do with its true nature. It is a place of irreverent excess and profound inequality. This was the backdrop my earliest memories took place against, where my family’s fortune began a spiral downward that would endure for over a decade.
As the youngest (by 11 years) of 5 children who relocated from Brooklyn to LA, my oldest memories of my siblings and of my neighborhood were overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps it was the kiss of the California sun on my skin or the naive optimism that naturally accompanies childhood, but it was the early eighties and anything seemed possible. Under these blue skies you could easily be convinced that all of your dreams were going to come true, only to eventually be blindsided by reality.
By the time I was 12 several members of my family were consumed in a cycle of addiction and crime that few escape. While I was attending middle school with some classmates that would eventually become celebrities (this was Hollywood after all), the drug game in the surrounding streets was devouring my family. On a personal level, these two conflicting realities were almost impossible to reconcile. This period in my life concluded with the death of my sister, a woman who fought tirelessly to put her life back together only to be taken from us once she succeeded.
Many of those who manage to break free from addiction's grasp are irreversibly damaged by their experiences. The truth is that there are no such things as happy endings. Often things just end unexpectedly and the world keeps going as if nothing happened in the first place.