city buildings and trees during golden hour

All Dreams Go To Die In L.A.

I know it is strange but not everyone loves
L.A. and her circus act sins:
They suffer passing through,
But once they know her, it's true
They fly east like a bird on the wing - 
Away from the boys and the girls that sing
And those who goof off just for laughs,
And even those fools who pretend to be
Artists with rules and methods 
Who bodies are canvas and lives are paint and
Who kneel in concrete for imprints of stars.

My dreams got all twisted up in the air
They tied themselves into knots and bouquets;
Shattered orange dawns in the Lemon Tree Motel
Bled into reluctant blistering middays while
The radio sings of making whoopie
But I am longing to make hay. 
You can suck down a cold one before 8am, son
But it won't do you no good,
If you are gonna survive the downs and the highs
Of this sleazy oasis town 
You will need something
More than booze or a car to stay
Grounded and root yourself to. 

This city runs on dirt, gasoline and the hurt
Of a thousand prom queens broken down sneers.
The motorcycle cops chow down gas station 
Jumbo dogs: this town needs Columbo not Clooney or Gere.
It's got murder written through it
Whichever way you slice it, it is 
A constant motif, a flight log
Full of deceit and of shame. 
And as I look out through 
The smeared windscreen's sheen
I swear I see a few dozen 
Silk sheet dreams escape
Bobbing on the cooling ocean breeze.
        They scatter tears and silver screen fears
                      And disappear like a brawler from a fray. 

Lincoln Avenue fled, and I suffered the dread
Of the 5's phony kamikaze traffic movers and racers.
Palm trees and boulevards, cranked faces gone hard
Superstars, porn stars, palm trees and pancake syrup chasers. . .
The faces moved past me unreal.
All good dreams lead to Los Angeles, some fragile, some doomed
And some strong, some lost and a few found
But driving into Anaheim
Drunk on that cheap thunderbird wine
I wasn't sure which clique or ocean to fall into. 

It is the rule of the road that 
Where you look for won't show, 
And where you don't want to be, you'll always end up,
Burning gas on the altar of fame on the water
Is a trap, and success rarely shows.
I was not looking for a part, nor even some art, 
I was not seeking to act on no stage,
I had no need for infamy but life had it in for me,
And fortune? Well that bitch always fled!
You can scream blue sky murder but nothing 
Is further from happiness than an L.A street scene
Lining up in Walgreens, drinking cheap coffee
Made from bad beans, I knew I had to get out
Or else end up half past lost, or a minute past dead. 

The sky turned from grey to 
True blue as I walked into view
I was in the starring role of my own 2 part special. 
And I wondered how to dodge the margaritas and Chivas
The white lines for the chop, the pills and potions
That exist to brighten up those south Cali days
For those terminally full of hate and afraid. 
I guess that it's real - that struggle and the steel
The excess, the fear and the drain: it's why
All good dreams turn up buzzed in L.A.

It must be the bridges that are magnets that fix it
Into place as the nexus for dreams.
Perhaps it is the water, maybe it is the sky
Or how all of it fits together at the seams.

And the air conditioners hum a stirring revue
As the horns blare out down Sunset and Mulholland,
And the ghosts of glamor line up by the Hollywood Manor
Waiting to be assigned to their roles. 
Perhaps I could handle a tray of hors d'oeuvres,
Find myself some champagne to pour or
Disguise myself as an elf on the shelf
And hang out with some tinsel town
Rich and powerful crashing bores. 

I don't need no cabana, 
No bungalow stocked
With Havana cigars or
The finest of powders.
I don't need to know 
How the booze tends to flow
I don't need no lecture in 
How to survive this 
Real to reel urban savannah. 
None of that is new 
Or has come to matter.
You don't need to tell me that
It comes in quite handy 
Not to need any one
But for everyone to want you
But it is no life, living by the 
Mercy of the surgeon's knife
And hoping to look more 
You than you ever wanted to. 

So I swung onto the freeway, and tossed me a coin, 
It said head for the north or be prepare to go bust. 
But the dream it was birthed 
In that land of the angelic lust
So it refuses to die quietly, 
Refuses to head out silently stable. 
It wants to go out with a rebel yell and a shout
It wants to leave wheeled out on a table.
It is heartattack and vine, it is all along the line
And it will drag me along if it's able,
It is broken and it's battered
It lays down on couches to be scattered
And shared amongst the dirty boys in blue,
It opens its heart, it bleeds out every new start
And it gets smaller and meaner every day

And when one of the new come to pay tribute too, 
It gobbles it up like a bulimic in the dark.
What is spewed out, rejected and spat out
Used up, broken down for parts and
Furtively flushed down the crapper 
Is something quite low
Something a little extreme
It has a radioactive glow that is
More Bride of Wildenstein than Garbo
More Zevon than Fred Astaire
And it dies with a simpering 
Slasher flick scream. 

All good dreams are born in L.A
And all good dreamers go there to find them
I wonder when last the dreams didn't play hooky
When success got a look-see
When it didn't end up
Drowning in glass, 
Or wasted as the bubble 
Flicked out from a syringe?
Smoked up, free based for laughs
Encased in canisters made of tin.
This city does nothing by halves. 
I just wandered through, looking for
Someone like you, and now I am on
The outside staring right in. 

And the traffic passes, and the hot air ices
And everyone is famous for a day,
But I think I'll sit here, and thank Carey Grant
And Hammerstein, Billie Holliday, Jeffrey Lee Pierce
And some eastern European count
For scaring me away 
So I high tailed it before I could say
                                                     I think I might like to live here.

But one day I think, I'll return there and drink
All the booze that I can fit in a lake
I'll sit with a bottle and take it full throttle
Because all good dreamers come to die in L.A.


  1. clcouch123

    Epic dying of the dream that gets only what it doesn’t want or need. I’ve only been to L.A. a couple of times. Sounds just as well. Like your work about San Francisco, this will stay with me.

    1. The Paltry Sum: Detroit Richards

      That is very kind of you to say so. Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m having a crisis of confidence and feeling pretty useless. Los Angeles is a blast isn’t it, though I fit in much better in San Francisco. May I ask what part of the country are you in now?

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