Friday, May 13, 2011

Scandals...of the Privileged Few! A Novel by Julian Ayrs! Chapter 8!





Brad counted the crisp bills fresh out of the ATM, double-checked the total, and then handed over the wad of cash to the gruff heavily tattooed street urchin.

After taking a brief whiff of the pungent green stuff, he strode toward his 1975 Corvette Stingray purring at the curb, tucked the plastic baggie into a leather pouch, and proceeded to slip it into the side-pocket of his trendy Abercrombie & Fitch windbreaker.

Thwack!

Suddenly, out-of-the-blue, Brad was struck from behind, and found himself propelled face-forward into the cracked pavement below with a nasty thud.

“DEA,” he heard a man bark out.

“You’re under arrest for possession of marijuana,” were the last words he heard before he briefly lost consciousness.

Moments later - it seemed like an eternity - Brad found himself spitting out blood as two darkly-clad males roughly pulled his aching limp body up to a standing position next to what appeared-to-be an unmarked police car.

As Brad struggled to get his wits about him, one of the surly males snatched his wallet out of his back pocket and proceeded to thumb through it for ID, as another swiftly and expertly frisked his body.

“So, are you some kind of pot-head,” one of the undercover officers grilled Brad, as he shoved the baggie of grass he’d confiscated into his now-bloody face.

“Naw,” Brad started to reply, before he was interrupted.

"Or,  you’re a dealer. Eh, kid? Which is it,” he demanded.

“I – I – I use it for medicinal purposes” Brad blurted back, still shaken by the unexpected ordeal which had just gone down on the run down side street in Hollywood.

“Bull,” the younger-of –the-two shouted at him as he stood menacingly nearby.

A second cop raised his hand and gestured for his partner to back off a second.

At this juncture, he sidled up to Brad, and casually – but firmly – placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Who’s your contact, son? We’ll go light on ‘ya. If ‘ya cough up the info, that is,” the officer taking on the “good cop” role promised.

“Look, I want to talk to a lawyer,” Brad managed to mutter, without a crack in his voice.

“Oh, he’s guilty alright,” growled the obvious rookie of the two.

“When the little babies cry for “daddy or their attorney, you just know they’re not new to the ropes,” he hissed in disgust.

“Maybe we should go for a ride down to the warehouse district, eh tough guy,” he continued angrily.

Brad started to reel in shock.

All of a sudden he felt like he was in a bad Mickey Spillane movie, or something.

At this juncture, he clammed up.

“Ok, kiddo. Have it your way,” the second cop – still unidentified at this point in the shake-down – barked back at Brad.

In a few seconds flat, Brad was whirled around roughly and a cold pair of scuffed handcuffs was snapped on his wrists so tightly - that he not only flinched - but cried out in pain as well.

“Ouch,” he found himself yelping out loud as a few of the residents of the middle-class neighborhood snickered nearby in the shadows.

He overheard one hiss.

“Damn drug-dealers are poisoning our children. Rot in hell alongside Osama bin Laden”

Were they going to lynch him next?


____________________________________________________


Melanie was relaxing in a warm silky bath, savoring each glorious note of the classical music as it wafted from one poignant moment-to-the-next throughout the upper levels of their sumptuous home on Nob Hill, when the jarring sound of the telephone broke her moment of ecstasy unexpectedly out-of-the-blue.

Was the maid going to pick up?

Obviously, not.

As she dickered about whether to pick up or not, it hit her like a ton of bricks.

Suddenly, she recalled that she gave Eloise the night off to attend her son’s solo recital at the Masonic Temple in mid-Wilshire.

Now, she was in a dilemma.

Once she dashed across to pluck up the phone from its elegant cradle in the wall, the caller would probably hang up abruptly in frustration.

Should she or shouldn’t she bother making the trek across the cold floor inset with imported Italian marble.

There was something kind of persistent-sounding about the ring, though, she mused to herself.

Melanie’s husband was in Manhattan on business, as usual.

Maybe, there was an emergency and urgently trying to reach Melanie?

Oh, heck.

Melanie grabbed a fluffy pink towel with her monogram etched on its face from the gold encrusted rack nearby, wrapped it quickly around her upper torso, and then gingerly headed towards a small alcove in the far wall.

“Daisy’s flowers,” she chirped with a grin on her face, as she snatched the telephone up in one sudsy hand.

Inside joke!

“Oh, It’s some flower shop” a male voice could be heard informing a third party in the background,

“You may have jotted down the number incorrectly,” the crisp formal-sounding voice noted, before he was interrupted by the towel-clad socialite now dripping all over the normally-pristine bathroom floor.

“Sir?”

Just a sec,” the Police Officer at the Hollywood Police Station instructed Melanie, as he turned to inform Brad of the new developments.

“It may be a wrong number.”

He turned back to the task at hand, and tried to determine the name of the person on the end of the phone, which was now crackling with static.

“Is this Ms. Vanderbilt?”

“Yes. To whom am I speaking,” she asked, as it instantaneously dawned on her how formal and stuffy she must have sounded to the caller on the other end.

“This is Sergeant Montana at the Hollywood Precinct. A young man, who was booked in to the Station a short while ago, asked me to get in touch with you on his behalf, ” he stated matter-of-fact.

Melanie recoiled in horror for a moment.

There must be some mistake, she mumbled under her breath, as a swirl of unpleasant visual images floated through her waking consciousness pushing alarm buttons.\Then, she took a deep breath, and tried to compose herself.

“Sir, there must be a mistake. Who did you say he is trying to contact?”

“I didn’t Ma’am, “he politely responded as he searched for just the right words on his end.

“Miss, I’ll hand over the phone if that’s alright. The gentleman says his name is Brad. He knows you from a Matisse exhibit or something.”

That tidbit of information seemed to ring a bell with Melanie.

The socialite was still in a bit of a fog, and waited with bated breath for the mystery caller to speak into the receiver.

Bingo!

She suddenly realized who may be placing the late-night call.

The Sergeant put Brad on the line with little more adieus.

“Hello, Melanie?”

“Brad, what’s happened to you?” she asked in a calm reassuring voice.

Inside, she was emotionally-torn up, to put it mildly.

“I feel so badly having to contact you, Melanie. But, I am at a loss at what to do,” he started out, a bit hesitantly.

“Not a problem, at all, Brad. I was alone in the bathtub,” she assured him.

“Oh, so you remember me from the Matisse Exhibition about a month ago?”

“Of course. Our chat about Matisse’s subtle and overt influences on a handful of his contemporaries - was that it? - very enlightening.

“In fact, based on your research,” she continued, “I cajoled my husband into purchasing a lesser-known work,” she beamed to Brad proudly.

“If there is such a thing,” she giggled, at the thought.

“Wow! I’m envious,” Brad cooed.

“I want all the delicious details.”

“We’ll do lunch! Eugh, so Hollywood, I know,” she reacted violently to her own suggestion.

“But, how about you, Brad. As they say, what’s up?”

Unlucky at cards, unlucky at nights out on-the-prowl in Hollywood, I guess,” he kidded, to break the ice a little.

“You’re in Hollywood? When did you move from San Francisco,” she probed further.

“A friend of mine had an extra ticket to the premiere of Fast Five at the DGA - you know, the Paul Walker flick - which was part of the Opening Night Gala at the Asian Pacific Film Festival. After the movie, I got into a bit of trouble a few blocks down the street, in an undercover sting. But, it’s awkward just now. I can’t talk.”

“I understand. The Sergeant is listening, right?” she whispered in a lower register.

“Uh-huh.”

“Okay. I’ll ask questions from this end, and you say yes or no, okay?”

“Right,” Brad answered back cheerfully.

Gosh, Melanie was not only a great beauty, but quick on the uptake, too. Good thing he called her. Ted would have probably screwed up in his drug-induced state. The Police Department only allowed one phone call, so Ted was out-of-the-question, for obvious reasons.

“Is it something to do with a DUI or public drunkenness, “she probed further?

“No. Getting warm, though,” he joked half-heatedly, as he tried to suppress a chuckle.

“Dope?”

Well, nothing serious,” he responded cautiously, hoping the little game they were playing might rustle up the right information for her to act on.

After all, admitting the purchase of grass on a telephone – that may be tapped – was only a trap a dumb stoner would get snared by.

“Possession?” she asked in a lower register.

“Yes, I don’t know what possessed me,” he quipped, as he gave the Sergeant the once-over to determine if he had a clue about what was going down.

“Okay, I understand. Is there anyone you want me to try to reach?”

“No, if my dad finds out, he’ll cut me off. Say good-bye to Harvard!"

“Look, let me get in touch with my husband, Brad. He’ll know what to do. I’ll take care of it this end, so don’t worry. Watch your back, too, eh? I’ve head horror stories about the County Jail from Lindsay’s mother.”

“You bet. You’re a doll, Melanie,” Brad found himself elatedly blurting into the receiver of the phone before he handed it back to the cop standing patiently.

As Melanie strode towards the luxury environs of her comfy bedroom to snatch up her Armani silk housecoat, she sifted-and-sorted through the jumble of thoughts bouncing inside her pretty little head.

When the Sergeant came back on the line, Melanie had a special request.

“Sir, thank you for calling. Could you tell me what I need to do to have my friend released,” she politely inquired.

“Well Ma’am, from what I understand it is a first offense. Provided he is guilty of the charges, that is. So, the bail has been set within guidelines set by the court. If a bond is posted, and there aren’t any legal complications – no outstanding warrants or that sort-of-thing – he’ll be released right away.”

‘He’ll have to appear at an arraignment and enter a plea, of course. A lawyer will explain all the details more succinctly to you. I am not allowed to give legal advice.”


“Yes, of course, I understand. I was wondering, though, could you do me a favor?”

“Well, if I can,” he hesitated, expecting the worst.

“Shoot. How can I be of assistance?”

If I give you my fax number could you send me the name and address of your facility, what the criminal charges are, and the amount of bail that is due?”

“Well, it’s a bit irregular, Miss. But, I’ll make an exception this time. Maybe the young man just needs a break. I doubt that he’s a hardened criminal or anything like that, judging by the looks of him. Things just went awry for the kid, or he wasn’t thinking straight, tonight.”

“Thank you, sir. You’re a Godsend really,” Melanie sucked up sincerely from her end.

“Thanks Miss. That paperwork will be out to you in the next thirty minutes or so.”

“I’ll keep my eye out for it. And, you can expect a contribution to the Policeman’s Fund,” she teased.

“That’s appreciated, but not necessary, Ms. Vanderbilt.”

Melanie placed the phone down gently, and sighed for a second, before she trotted in to the bedroom to locate her husband’s Hotel information.

Although initially saddened by the upset, she felt uplifted somehow.

Although she contributed to a handful of local charities regularly, reaching out to Brad – another human in an hour of need – really felt good deep down inside for some inexplicable reason

Melanie reflected for a moment or two.

She’d be the first to admit that she basically tended to be self-centered and selfish in life.

Her thoughts drifted to Brad, for a moment.

Initially, Melanie and her husband received a formal invitation to the Matisse exhibit to attend the Opening Night Ceremonies, but due to scheduling conflicts they were forced to beg off.

Melanie proceeded to write a check for the charitable fundraiser the next day, though, and dropped it in the mail box out front for the postman to pick up, before she headed out for her class in fine line drawing.

On the way back to her upscale condo on the hill, her chauffer wisely chose a different route because of a detour that was causing mid-afternoon traffic to snarl just off of picturesque California Street.

As she glanced out the window, she was taken aback when she spied a young man stride into the gallery, who reminded her of an old acquaintance from the past.

“Fritz, please pull over to the curb,” she instructed her driver through the open glass partition, as she snatched up her pretty clutch purse and spiffy feathery bonnet designed by Sarah Burton from the leather seat next to her.

When the luxury Rolls Royce purred to a halt, Melanie arranged to meet up with the efficient snappily-dressed chauffeure in front of the St. Francis Hotel at Union Square at precisely 3 o’clock that afternoon.

Dark clouds hinted at inclement weather, but the socialite paid them no mind, as she set off for the stately grounds of the recently renovated Art Deco-Inspired Museum.

“Miss Vanderbilt. Welcome,” the assistant-curator gushed from across the lobby when his eagle-eye caught sight of her heading his way at a fast clip,

“We missed you at the opening. That was quite a soiree that you passed on!”

"It was quite a struggle to make all her appointments that day," she fessed up.

In fact, by the time the hour of the opening rolled around, Melanie was too pooped too participate and ended up taking a much-needed nap instead.”

“You must get your beauty rest, Miss. Vanderbilt,’ he chided, as he gave her an approving nod up-and-down.

The beaming staffer was all over her like a dirty shirt until she finally managed to wrestle herself free of his clingy personality.

“Whenever you want a private tour, give me a ding, eh dear?” he called after her from his perch by the exquisitely carved antique floor-to-ceiling doors, as she dashed off.

“Thank you, Gimble. Will do. I’m just taking a quick breeze-through today.”

_______________________________________________________


What a shock!

Brad could actually boast that he’d never been arrested – or ever omitted a crime against nature, or man, or beast to his knowledge - at least until that fateful night on a poorly-lit alley in Hollywood.

The night started out in a celebratory mood.

Shortly after he passed through security at Jet Blue’s ultra-chic high-security pit stop at Terminal 2 at LAX, Brad spied Ted right-off-the-bat chatting up a uniformed Chauffeur at the pedestrian walkway.

The outgoing school pal was awaiting Brad’s arrival, no doubt.

When Ted caught his eye, he sprinted over to his handsome childhood friend and hugged him tightly for a second, before he plucked up Brad’s overnight canvas bag from a mini shopping cart and pointed Brad in the direction of the upscale rental courtesy of his boss’s company.

“Get a load off, Brad. And, welcome to Los Angeles,” his pal bellowed out.

“Gosh, where have I heard that catchy phrase before,” Brad laughed out loud, as the driver swung the door open wide to reveal the plush interior replete with a stocked bar and wide-screen digital TV in the back seat.

A few seconds later, on the heels of a jet roaring overhead, the winsome twosome shouted at each other non-stop in a bold-faced effort to rise above the din and catch up on old times.

Within minutes, both men were settling back in the finely appointed interior with cold thirst-quenching brewskies in hand and relaxing into the delightful ride into town.

“Good to see ‘ya big buddy,” his pal beamed.

Brad glanced out the open window now and then - and never stopped marveling at the palm streets fluttering in the breeze, the state-of-the-art thruway moving the cars along smoothly at breakneck speeds, and a handful of architectural wonders that that dotted the side of the road en route to Beverly Hills.

“Is it always churning incessantly like this in the City Of Angels,” Brad quizzed his pal through disbelieving eyes.

“No,” Ted kidded.

“When the word got out that you were jetting in to town, all the dudes and dudettes got gussied up for the occasion.”

“This is the welcoming gang, bro,” he yelped ecstatically as he popped his head out the moon roof and shouted out at the top of his lungs - "Life is Good" - as other commuters whizzed by and honked in respon.

“Get your fat head back inside your fucking pie hole, you gas-guzzling pig,” one passenger yelled back in disgust from a pick-up truck one lane over zipping by at dizzying high speeds.

“Suck my big black cock,” Ted roared back, in spite of the obvious.

He was a skinny old-fashioned white boy from the burbs, after all.

The two of them nearly bust a gut when the late-model Ford skidded out-of-control for a second or two. The shocked red neck nearly shit his pants when he was forced to gear down and edge his way slowly off the freeway as a tunnelful of dust enveloped him in darkness at the off ramp to the diamond lane with two Squad cars wailing in pursuit.

In the rear-view mirror, he caught sight of the asshole shaking his fist into the air.

"Motherfucker!"

Welcome to the mean streets of Los Angeles was more like it as this wild juncture.

“Just another typical day on the 10 in the sunshine state,” Ted chuckled, as his friend egged him on.

Gosh, I feel like such a hick. Look at that sprawling metropolis ahead of us stretching out as far as the eye can see."

“I call it the big bad orange,” his friend laughed wickedly.

Ted glanced at his watch and his mood shifted a tad.

“Once we arrive at the Beverly Hills Hotel, you can lug your knapsack into your bungalow, and unpack. Freshen up a smidgen. Then, we’re kickin it ‘round town. Sound good, dude?”

‘”Bungalow?” he queried his friend.

“I thought the Beverly Hills Hotel was this big ritzy Hotel. A Pink Palace. With every imaginable amenity available. Isn’t it owned lock-stock-and-barrel by the – Prince of Dubai – the richest man in the world?

“Gosh, you’ve done your Travel and Leisure homework,” Ted started off slowly.

“The main section of the Hotel is quite fabulous. And, that’s where the bulk of the guests reserve a suite at going rates. But, skirting one outer edge off of the Main Hotel on a side street, off the lobby, there is a small enclave of prestigious luxury suites usually booked for celebrities, movie stars, and the captains of industry.”

Brad’s eyes bulged a tad, as he reacted to the prospect of hunkering down in those exclusive digs.

"Heck, I'm so unsophisticated," he kidded sarcastically with a twang in his voice.

“Hee Haw!”

Brad was particularly impressed when his friend revealed that legendary Howard Hughes used to be a permanent resident in one of the stand-alone cottages.

“Every afternoon room service was expected to deliver a hamburger to the Hughes’s suite."

If the reclusive multi-millionaire failed to answer the door, the staff had been instructed to deposit the silver tray on the mat at the foot of the door, until the following day when it was replaced with another, according to Ted.

“If the waiter didn’t follow specific instructions, heads would roll!”

“Imagine how many bodacious babes paraded through his door at the witching hour,” Brad wondered aloud.

“Marilyn Monroe, for starters," he quipped back.

“THE Marilyn?”

“Yup. He wined and dined a whole a slew of actresses that he kept under contract at his - cough – studio,” Ted joked, as he checked his image out in the rear view mirror before entering the Hotel.

“The old coot used to park his car right there at the curb.”

And, even though it was a no parking zone, the local police drove right by and paid it no mind apparently.

“Except in one respect,” he chuckled.

“How’s that?”

“They’d write up a ticket, of course.”

"They ticketed Howard Hughes?"

Uh-huh!

“Hughes didn’t mind paying for the tickets, as long as his car was there whenever he needed it, rain or shine. And, you know what?”

Brad shook his head as he hung on every syllable.

“He’s on record for having the most tickets of all the residents of Beverly Hills."

As Ripley would say – “Believe it or not!”

Rumor had it that Elizabeth Taylor was a tenant at the Beverly Hills Hotel with her parents first emigrated from England to Hollywood, he noted matter-of-fact.

“You’d like this bit of trivia, Brad. Liz’s father (she hated to be called Liz, by the way) was an art dealer and he owned a gallery on the first floor of the Hotel. That’s one of the reasons Taylor collected fine art over the course of her distinguished career.”

“And, George Michael got busted in that Men’s room in that park over there,” he noted in a slightly hushed voice.

“Shut up,” Brad reacted excitedly.

“I’ll definitely steer clear of that glory hole. I’m not into toilet sex. In fact, the smell of urine has no raunch appeal whatsoever,” he exclaimed to Ted slightly amused.

Ted suggested that they get themselves paged in the Polo Lounge, too.

“Whatever for,” asked Brad incredulous.

“In the old days, to be paged while having lunch at the Polo Lounge, was a status symbol. So, it wasn’t long before struggling actors and writers were arranging for their friends to call them at the Hotel, so big-wigs lunching poolside would hear their names over the loudspeaker. Anything to get noticed, in this town, Brad!”

"It's easier now that folks have cell phones, though."

After splashing a bit of water on his face, and changing into a clean wardrobe ensemble (consisting of a black “t” shirt etched with an image of Lady Gaga on its face, tight black levis with gold flourishes, and designer Leather/Brand boots) Brad headed out front and struck a pose under the Hotel’s ubiquitous awning just as the sun – a golden orb – slipped down behind the horizon in a blaze of crimson.

At the designated hour, the stretch-limo wonder of the western world crept out from behind the grand old Hotel – at which point - Brad was greeted by Ted who was earnestly snorting up a line of cocaine.

“Steer this baby to the strip,” Ted called out to the uniformed driver, as he sniffed back a little of the white power that got lodged unexpectedly in one nostril.

Judging from Chauffeur’s reaction in the rear-view mirror, the dalliance with the potent drug – all the rage in Hollywood party circles – did not escape his keen eye.

“That’s how the gossip mill gets started,” Brad grimaced to himself.

Was Ted addicted, or just blowing off a little steam, before the EyeWear convention kicked off at the Historical Roosevelt Hotel over the weekend?

Brad was jolted out of his momentary funk when Ted passed a rolled-up hundred-dollar bill his way.

Inside, Brad panicked, for good reason.

On the surface, he played it cool.

“I’m nursing a hang-over, Ted,” he fibbed. “One tail of the dog that bit me, please.”

He was careful not to give impression that Ted’s choice of party favors was bad news, after all.

Addicts preferred company in their ride to euphoria and didn’t warm up to the idea of being around a downer with a holier-than-thou attitude.

The problem with cocaine was that it was “mind addicting”.

And, a difficult monkey to wrestle off even the strongest drug-addled individual’s back.

As he was reflecting on the issue, he was suddenly jolted back to the surface of his consciousness to find Ted tugging toyingly at his arm.

“Brad, there’s the infamous property where the Saudi Prince scandalized the world when he painted graphic genitals on the statues outside of the mansion."

"It used to be an exquisite white mansion – one of my favorites in the neighborhood - before the Sheik turned it into a gaudy nightmare."

"Tourists used to drive up to take shots of it to show people how positively ugly it was when they returned home from their vacations to the California."

“Heh, whatever happened to that Dude, anyway?”

"The Mansion burned down under suspicious circumstances, and stood vacant – and remained an eyesore – for decades."

“Then, one day he up-and-split from Beverly Hills, just like that,” Ted elaborated, as he leaned forward to taka glance at the two new Mansions recently erected on the site under the shadow of the scandal.

“One news outlet reported that when he skipped town, he stiffed everyone – the chef, the maids, even the gardener – so they filed a lawsuit for recovery of back wages."

“For years, the property was in litigation, and until a few months ago, was barren and overgrown with weeds and wild flowers.

Tight-assed uppity residents of Beverly Hills wrung their hands in dismay over that one for years on the sidelines vowing “never again," laughed Ted.

In a follow up to that juicy tidbit of local lore, Ted noted that a few years ago a foreigner tried to erect a huge monster of a house on Tower Road in a picturesque out-of-the-way enclave in Beverly Hills.

But, neighbors – like well-known actor Jack Lemmon – petitioned City Hall to reject what was originally supposed-to-be a single-family dwelling - when (in fact) - it wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination.

"I expect the city building codes have been amended and enforced to restrict outrageous blueprints for excess in the future."

"What a tangled up fiasco that was!”

At this juncture, Ted pointed out a stately-looking mansion that was allegedly the childhood digs of Shirley Temple.

Brad spotted a French Colonial that caused him to leap to the window in awe.

“Yeah, that is one of my favorite luxury estates along this strip. I have vowed to stride through the front door into the foyer one day, come hell or high water,” Ted exclaimed excitedly.

“When that happens, I’ll probably faint dead away.”

“Actually,” Ted giggled (the effect of the drugs were obviously setting in), “I was tempted to crash a party there one night when I noticed the gates were wide open and the chic guests were trekking into the Mansion in swarms without any security details in sight.”

“I chickened out, last minute, though. I’ll say one thing about that couple who breezed into the White House gala dinner last year uninvited. They had a couple of sets of big brass balls on 'em, alright.”

Ted continued to play Tourist guide as the limo arrived at the foot of the retail strip at the edge of the residential part of Beverly Hills.

At the end of the strip where the nightclubs began, Ted pointed out the infamous Rainbow, where a multitude of musicians – famous and infamous – gigged over the years.

“I saw Paul Williams sitting at the bar one night, tossing a cocktail or two back,” Ted boasted to his envious pal.

Ted noted that quite a few groupies hung out there, consequently.

“I’m sure Cherry Vanilla rustled up a subject or two in the bar downstairs over the years. I wouldn’t be surprised if – in addition to David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Iggy Pop – she also nabbed plaster casts of Lou Reed’s cock, too.

“I was never a star fucker, but I liked to get in on the action whenever I was in town, if possible,” Ted confided off-the-cuff.

“See that blacked-out store front? That’s where River Phoenix overdosed. For months, there was a shrine at that very spot. Thousands of fans made a pilgrimage to that hallowed spot to pay their last respects and gawk.”

Some of Ted’s trivia was odd-ball and off-the-wall.

He was like a sponge, soaking up everything, a human factoid gatherer.

For example, he could point out the restaurant that whipped up the best waffles, according to talk-show Host Merv Griffin.

Or, the location of the very first Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie outlet on Sunset in Hollywood.

“That parking lot next to Tower Records used to be the site of a two-star Hotel where Hollywood hopefuls often crashed when they first stumbled into tinsel town to seek fame and fortune.”

“Once when I was by the pool catching some rays, I met this struggling comic down from Toronto, to perform at one of his first gigs. His name? Howie Mandell.”

“I literally bumped into Sonny Bono exiting Book Soup when I was strolling inside to pluck up a book."

Across the street, on the second level of a small building, Wolfgang Puck opened his first Spago restaurant in WeHo.

And, who could ever forget – certainly not the old-timers – that Schwab’s Drugstore (where Lana Turner was allegedly discovered on a stool at the counter) was a popular hang-out for show-biz types to while away an hour or so in the morning before heading off to the studio.

As they pulled up to the Director’s Guild of America, Ted quickly started to pull himself together.

“Wow! My first red carpet strut,” Brad mused, as Ted ran his hand through his disheveled mop to straighten a few unruly strands a tad.

“There will be quite a few Asian American stars here because it is the opening night gala for the Asian Pacific Film Festival."

Sure enough, they spied Sandra Ho, right off-the-bat.

Later in the week, Taiwanese Pop Star – Leehom Wang – was expected to trigger a mob scene at one of the venues when his big-budget feature – Love in Disguise – .screened to a sold-out house.

Wang was Taiwan’s answer to Justin Bieber, according to Ted, who kept pop music chart-toppers on the tip of his tongue.

“Bruce Lee’s daughter was here last year to officiate at a tribute to her father. That was a sell-out program which ended in a wild par-tay after-hours."

"Tonight’s glittering gala will be a blow-out, too."

The Asian community knew how to toss a glitzy, adrenalin-rushing, Hollywood-style party.

The delectable mouth-watering sweets, delicious chicken wings, and imported beer kept the servers circulating the tony elite for at least three hours before the festive high-energy event started to slow down a bit.

Once again, Ted used the occasion to chat up contacts – glean breaking-news tidbits – and stay on top of upcoming trends.

“You have to keep abreast of sports scores, political events, and who was “hot” in the industry – to schmooze effectively – if you hope to zoom up the social ladder," Ted lectured his pal.

As this juncture, Ted had to take off and finish up work on a project for San Francisco.

Will you be okay if I let you loose?

(to be continued)

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