“You Can Check Out” – Excerpt from Eli Elliott’s book


…available at Elienation.com)
“The whole place could go up in smoke in ten minutes. That’s the charm of Los Angeles” -William Burroughs
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” -Eagles, “HOTEL CALIFORNIA”

AN EARLY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA morning in July and I pull into the familiar beach parking lot that I used to spend my everydays at over 5 years ago, living in my van. My old unofficial spot near the Mexican Fan Palm tree was vacant. But there was no Suzanne and 5 cats in big pickup truck with wood cabin on back. Nor was Carol present in her camper van (I would learn later that Carol had recently passed away). Earl from Oregon and his big RV were gone too. Other once familiar rigs were nowhere to be seen either. There were a few fresh faces, but the absence of the regular crew made it feel strange and lonely.

I thought about how everyone had moved on from “The Lot”, and yet here I was, returning to it.

Nevertheless, there was a familiarity which felt OK. The mighty Pacific was only a few hundred yards away, and I looked forward to what would turn out to be a daily baptismal ritual of bodysurfing, underwater immersion, and bitterness bleaching of the mind; a much needed cleansing from the previous three and a half months of mental misery living under a bridge in Northern California.

Even though the lot was depleted of the once regular vehicular vagabond comrades, there were still many friends here, and this was reason enough for returning to Los Angeles, specifically the Westside. And naturally, Venice.

I HAD CHECKED OUT OF LOS ANGELES over 5 years ago as it was clear in my mind that this place was going to collapse, and collapse quick. Going North, somewhere smaller and more sustainable was clearly the way to go as this over congested cesspool of ego-filled fame seeking, energy wasting, industry addicted polluters was headed towards complete and catastrophic self-inflicted destruction.

But now, upon returning, L.A. seemed to be more active and vibrant than ever. More energy and chaotically controlled activity permeated throughout. And despite the disgusting, puke-inducing gentrification laced with the new Snooty Chat Goggle head monster elite and their neo-Venician bobble head drones (all seemingly with little sense or care of Venice history and vibe), the entirety of LA was still carrying on. Fossil fuels hadn’t run dry and in fact there was still enough in the tank to support even more unsustainable growth as homes grew taller, artificial communities bred, and Lincoln Blvd. turned into a parking lot. Nevertheless, the city had not, yet, imploded on itself.

I had to embarrassingly admit that over the last 5 years, it turned out that the only thing that had ended up really collapsing was the relationship with the woman I had been living with up North; the chaos and confusion of an over congested city of 10 million people, is no match for the conflict and clashing of 2 individual egos.