The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive

The Normandie Wilshire AKA Haunted/Hunted By Our Past

I was watching this movie from 2017 last night titled, Gemini, on Cinemax or something. Not a bad movie but looking into the flick it was one of those films where they spend a bunch of money to make it and it only hit a two hundred thousand dollar return at the box office. Such is life in Hollywood. But, that’s not the point in all of this.
 
In the film, there is one point where this one character, who is supposed to be some big-time actor, goes to his hotel room with his date. He doesn’t take her to the Chateau Marmont, or a major industry hotel like that, where you would expect someone of his stature to stay. Instead, he took her to Hotel Normandie. This dredged up all kinds of weird feelings for me, as I lived at that hotel for a time when I was a kid.
 
After my father died in ’68, my mother and I moved into that hotel in ’69. It was then known as The Normandie Wilshire Hotel. It was one of those residential hotels from a time gone past, inhabited by lost old people with no family, unmarried working Joes, and drifters with no hope and no life.
 
No one can say my mother had any clue about how to be a decent parent, and I guess when my father passed away, she simply returned to the mindset of living the life she had known before her marriage and my birth. And, that hotel is somewhere where, I guess, she would have lived back in her younger years. There were several of those residential hotels around the area at the time.  
 
Today, this place is considered a boutique hotel. They have this very well-designed website with great photographs and slogans. Their hype says, “Over eight decades of rich history and classic Los Angeles character have made Hotel Normandie the distinguished landmark that it is today. Designed and built in 1926 by famed architects Walker and Eisen, the original beauty of Hotel Normandie shines through accents of Spanish Colonial and Renaissance Revival. A multi-million dollar renovation has elevated this Koreatown property to brand new heights, showcasing the elegance of Hollywood’s golden age, while maintaining the modern luxury and contemporary comforts of a splendorous boutique hotel.”
 
Though they have fairly good reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and places like that, but from the outside, it still looks like the brick shithole that I lived in with cockroaches and water that was not warm if you waited too long to take your bath in the evening.
 
I remember this one time when I got into a fight with one of my friends. We were standing on a fairly steep hill. He used his strategic advantage as he was standing above me. He pushed me, I fell. Snap, I broke my elbow, for the second time in my life, which landed me in the hospital for a few days. Smart offensive move on his part! Prior to going to the hospital, I, of course, went home and seeing that my arm was massively swelling up, my mother suggested I take a warm bath. The hotel didn’t have any showers in it back then. I get in, but all I remember is how cold the water was. I remember sitting there, this eleven year old kid, in a cold bath, with my arm in excruciating pain, massively swollen, wondering what I was supposed to do. Horrible experience! That hotel was not a good place to live. Finally, my mother realized I needed to get to a doctor, so we took the bus down 6
th Street, transferred on Vermont, and went to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital where they check me in.
 
In the scene in the movie, where they are in that actor’s room, the hotel rooms still look cramped and dark. Luckily, (I guess), when I lived there, we had one of the few two-room suites. It was on the second floor, just above the entrance to the hotel. I’m sure they charge a lot of money for that room today, as their prices are not cheap.
 
In terms of the hotel’s history, driving by, I noticed the hotel finally closed some years back. Then, I noticed they were doing renovations. When the hotel finally reopened, several years later, and had become a, “Boutique Hotel,” I actually thought to go and rent the room where I used to live. For what reason, I don’t know??? Just a thought. One that I thankfully never followed through on.
 
Me, all I have are a lot of really bad memories from that place. A lot of really negative shit happened to me and my life within the walls of that hotel.
 
I think for most of us, we can put our past behind us and not have to relive what we don’t want to relive. I guess it’s a Hollywood thing, but for someone like me, an L.A. kid, I am constantly reminded, in the movie theater or on the TV screen, of the what used to be in one way or another.
 
I imagine I’ve spoken about this hotel sometime in the past, in a blog or somewhere in my writings. But now, it has apparently become a Hollywood production location. Strange… And, the hotel scenes didn’t even play that well into the storyline.  

Side Bar: For a long time now, (years, in fact), I’ve thought about doing a documentary, Scott Shaw’s Los Angeles. You know, go around and film and give some history about the places I lived, the place where we danced The Sufi Dances, where the Integral Yoga Institute was located, the location(s) of my martial art studio(s), the campuses where I went to the many Grammar Schools I attended, the Junior Highs, High School, College, and the Universities, where a car hit me and almost killed me while riding my motorcycle, where all the night clubs I frequented were located, the locations where the Zen Filmmaking offices were located, where I filmed my Zen Films, etc., etc., etc. Maybe even take a walk from the Hollywood apartment where I lived over to where Bukowski lived a couple of blocks away. And, all that kind of stuff… I guess it would take a hardcore person to be interested in any of that, however??? But, maybe, someday…

Anyway, check out the movie if you feel like. You may like it, you may not. I’m not a critic so I won’t go into my thoughts about it. I’m simply letting you know that it exists.
 
As for life, some of you are lucky, you have a normal childhood, that causes you to become normal adults, who have children, and give them a normal life. Others of us were not that lucky. Each of us, I guess, are reminded in some way of the what used to be in our life. Maybe that is a good thing, maybe that is a bad thing. But, what we lived is what we lived, nonetheless. You can’t change it.  All we can do is move on, the best way we can, and hope to not be reminded of what and where we lived, at a place we hated, in a movie on the silver screen.