My rent is due today. The new amount of the “rent controlled” building I live in is $1150.98 per month for my one bedroom apartment in Hollywood with two parking spaces, a pool, and easy access to the freeway needs to be paid before 5pm and I have the money, but my God how I feel like I’m overpaying for the “privilege” to live in this town. When I moved to Hollywood in 2003, I lived just a few blocks away on Tamarind Ave. across the street from the Scientology Centre, and I paid $620. I lived in a one room studio which I would imagine used to be a hotel room at some point in the 1960s because it didn’t have a kitchen and there wasn’t any parking. I didn’t mind paying my rent back then because I felt like I was in the right place at the right time, and any day I was gonna get my “big break” as an actor and I could move across the street to the apartments which included a full size refrigerator and private gate access. All I really wanted back then was to not spend twenty minutes driving around the block looking for a place to park my car and a room big enough for me to not stretch my arms out and be able to touch both walls with my hands. Now here I am in that position, able to leave the apartment and drive anywhere and still have a place to park, able to walk between four rooms and never see the same wall twice, and as I stare at my full size refrigerator that I can barely keep full of food, I hate to say it, but I don’t want what I have anymore because it’s killing me to live here.
Hollywood is being gentrified. On almost every corner where there used to be an empty lot, there is now a construction site promising “affordable” housing which I guess means you’ll pay about $1350 for a studio apartment. They are pushing out the people who moved here with stars in their eyes, and replacing them with people who have money in their bank accounts, OR whose parents pay their rent. I can’t say I blame them, because if owned a patch of land in a town where a bunch of idiots flock to become famous I would raise the prices too. It’s simple economics. Corner the market, then raise the price.
I get it, but just because you have a view of the Hollywood sign from your balcony doesn’t mean that if you look down you don’t see a crazy person taking a leak in an empty milk jug that they found on the street. Having a zip code of 90028 doesn’t mean that every Friday and Saturday night you won’t be able to hear the television over the sounds of a police helicopter that is circling overhead, and it definitely doesn’t mean that just because you get on the freeway at 11:30pm you won’t be stuck in some ridiculous traffic jam because someone decided to close three lanes on the 101 on a Monday for absolutely no reason. I just don’t think it’s worth it, and I can’t understand why on earth someone would want to live here.
I have to move soon, mainly because I can’t afford to live here anymore, but also because I don’t see the point. What am I still doing living in an area of town that charges me abhorrent amounts of money to live in a place that is constantly noisey, overcrowded, and crawling with tourists who feel the need to wear shorts and flip-flops everywhere no matter what time of year it is, who stop walking in front of me every fifteen steps to snap a picture of a star on Hollywood Boulevard of some actor who died thirty years ago? Why am I paying for the opportunity to live in a part of town that soon will be full of rich privileged white kids who haven’t worked a day in their life and whose mommy and daddy will pay for their Hollywood lifestyle until they figure out something better to do.
Am I bitter? Well, maybe a little bit. I never got my big break as an actor, but I don’t even care to be one anymore, so why am I still living in Hollywood and paying two fifths of the money I made last month just for the opportunity to come home to a place in a central location for the next 31 days that doesn’t really feel like home anymore? I told myself last December that I’m going to give it one more year and then re-access the situation. Well, here we are 11 months later and I’m on craigslist looking for a two bedroom apartment in Long Beach where I hope I can convince someone to move with me to so we can shack up and split the rent and I can go back to paying $625 a month and living within my means, and not above them. Did you know that two bedroom apartments in the LBC start at around $1100? Sure, it’s about 20 miles away from L.A. and I might be stuck in some traffic for an hour when I need to get to some place, but that’s a proverbial six hundred fifty eight dollars and ninety eight cents less than the check I’m about to write to my landlord for my current one bedroom, and that doesn’t include the check I’m going to write for the power bill, the cell phone bill, and the cable bill which I just had to practically get rid of because sitting on my ass and watching T.V. isn’t going to get me a writing job.
I know things have to change, and I know that the easiest way out of a difficult situation that is choking me to death is to cut the knot closest to my neck. For me to do that, I need to be flexible, and I need to get out of my comfort zone. For me to continue living in California, I need to explore other avenues and I think one of those roads is leading me to a place where I have to admit to myself that it’s time to say goodbye to Hollywood.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a check to write for a ridiculous amount of money that most people in America could use to pay for their mortgage, car payment AND have enough left over to go to Olive Garden with their family of five and eat food for the next three days. I wonder what THAT feels like…you know…having money to live comfortably?