Thursday, July 15, 2004
There's a fog upon L.A.
And my friends have lost their way
They'll be over soon they said
Now they've lost themselves instead.
There's a street way up in the Hollywood Hills called Blue Jay Way. About 40 years ago, when the Beatles were touring the U.S., George Harrison was staying at a house there. One foggy day he was waiting for some friends to come visit him and they got lost. So, while he waited, George sat down at the Hammond organ and wrote a song called, appropriately enough, "Blue Jay Way." It's not a very well-know Beatles song. It showed up on the Magical Mystery Tour album, which was one of those albums that only real hardcore Beatle fans bought. It's kind of a weird song about a sleepy guy sitting around waiting for his friends.
Nevertheless, I've always wanted to go to Blue Jay Way and see the house where George stayed when he was in L.A. I'm not sure exactly why I wanted to go there. I just liked the idea of George Harrison hanging out in this house in the hills and writing a song about it. So, a couple of weeks ago I went searching for Blue Jay Way, with very little to go on in the way of directions other than that you go up on Doheny and turn right on another street named after a bird.
As it turns out, there are about a dozen bird streets that wind around the Hollywood Hills near Doheny. There's Oriole, Thrasher, Warbler, Wren, Blue Bird and a bunch of others. And since I was on foot, it took me a long damn time to explore them all. Plus the hills get pretty steep up there and it was a hot afternoon and I was getting really tired and severely winded. By the time I got to the end of Oriole, which turned out to be a dead end, I was ready to give up. But as I was coming back I happened to look up Thrasher and I saw a sign that looked like it might say "Blue Jay" on it. I'd already been fooled by Blue Bird, so I didn't get my hopes up to high. But as I got closer, I saw that sure enough, I had finally found it. I was very pleased with myself for sticking with my quest. Even an arbitrary goal can have meaning if you let it.
Now to find the house. I had nothing to go on there, just that it would be one of the older houses and had a view of the city. I figured there would be something special about it that would tell me which one it was. I didn't think there would be many to choose from, because I'd read that Blue Jay Way was actually a cul-de-sac. Which it is. Eventually. First, though there's another half-mile of steep uphill grade, with dozens of 50's and 60's style houses that have city views. Still I persevered to the top. I actually had to stop about halfway because I literally ran out of breath. When I made it to the top there was a grand view of the hazy L.A. basin, but no spiritual epiphany, no flash of insight, no enlightenment. Just the realization that now I had to walk all the way back down. And don't kid yourself, walking down steep hills is strenuous work.
When I got back down to Sunset Blvd., I stopped at a cafe and guzzled a bottle of water. I don't know which house George stayed in, but I kind of picked one out and imagined it was the one. I thought about what it would be like to live way up there, looking down on the whole city every day like you were living in the clouds. I've always thought it would be really cool to live in the hills. When I'm on my street, I look up there and think about how someday I'll be up there too. It's fun to think about. I wonder if it's as cool as it seems.
I think about Blue Jay Way a lot too. I'm not sure why. It's kind of taken on a mythical status. I think about making another pilgrimage up there at some point. But maybe not. Maybe its just a state of mind. Maybe it's one of those moments in time where life just seems to make sense for no particular reason. Finding Blue Jay Way had no other meaning than the meaning I gave it, but that was all the meaning it needed. Blue Jay Way is perfect because it is what it is. Knowing that it is there makes me feel like things are O.K. It's just a street with a pretty name and a nice view, but sometimes that's all you need.