Monday, September 19, 2011

"Whaddaya Say, Neigh-Bahhh?"


"The important thing is that we're a team."
"I hope it works out as well as being neighbors."
Thomas Berger, Neighbors (1980)

Living in Los Angeles, one cannot always avoid the tabloid-poisoned air of rumor and innuendo. Because this is a Company Town, you inevitably run into wisps and whispers in the air about the ever-so-flawed antics of our famous betters. But gossip in this town takes on many interesting and organic forms that come from people who have actually witnessed what they are talking about from their anonymous, lower-tiered vantage points. In other words, L.A.'s greatest source of inside info doesn't come from Perez Hilton or the cancerous lab rats of TMZ but from the guy who buys the paint for the studio, or the woman whose job it is to rejigger Ryan Gosling's vest mike, or the entire tattooed metal band who works the same Craft Services shift. Not that they are any more/less trustworthy than the dirty laundriers who do this sh*t for a living, mind you, but they usually reveal these things after punishing, 18-hour days shlepping as one of the faceless pyramid-builders for the Greatest and Most Powerful Industry on Earth.

It is for this magical by-product of being an Angeleno that we got to hear some pretty tasty stuff: We heard about Christian Bale's meltdown on the set of Terminator Salvation six months before it hit the press (and actually in a more sympathetic context than the tattle rags even attempted); we heard of Kiefer Sutherland's *alleged* worsening liver condition from years of heavy alcoholism; we heard of the *alleged* "slowing down to a snail's pace" of the filming of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. But what as locals are we supposed to do with this information? Simply shrug and go, Meh. But these were nothing compared with what just came down the pike from an overheard conversation between two harried TV producers.

The story is thus: The Beast and his new bride live in a hamlet-like nook in the city of Pasadena, California. Upon hearing this, someone we know who has lived in the same area for years related that one of the celebrities who have bought houses here in order to live more quiet and unseen lives was the re-upped bachelor guitarist Eddie Van Halen. "OK, wow, cool," was our jaded reply.

The Van Halen family has long roots in Pasadena; the family home that Ed and Alex grew up in at 1881 Las Lunas Street is still there. As it turns out, right after Ed move din a few years back, our inadvertent mole and all the neighbors ended up getting a letter (signed 'Edward Van Halen') from from their newest resident proposing the creation of a Homeowners' Association. Essentially, Ed was attempting to impose Condo-style rules (including monthly dues) on residents who had already been living there for years without any such thing. The bug up Ed's ass seemed to center widely on neighborhood beautification and upkeep and specifically on an elderly woman whose growing infirmities led to her yard becoming unsightly and overgrown.

Now we were hooked. "Wow, that's pretty fucked up. What about doing the right thing and raising some funds to pay for a gardener for the old lady?" We started getting a little self-righteous with it all until our confessee held up a finger, "Wait, you haven't even heard the best part. David Lee Roth has a right next door."


"Heyyyy, Eddie! Fancy meetin' you here, boychick!"

OK, interest by now definitely piqued. And many questions, starting with: "Is that just a coincidence?" "Nope. It was totally planned." "Don't they hate each other?" "Yes. In fact, that was the reason David Lee Roth moved in. He never sets foot in the place, he just parks his cars there. He bought it just to show Eddie he could."

Again, this is all unsubstantiated. But another weird by-product of living in L.A. is that you are directly privvy to decadent and excessive behavior to such a degree that the more unbelievable the story, the more likely it is that it actually happened. And somehow, as committed to veracity and getting things right as the Beast tries to be, I want to believe that this mini-morality play did happen. Living where we've chosen to live, we need to be believe that comeuppance works in mysterious ways.

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