Last week a twenty-six year old man walked out into the middle of Hollywood and Vine with a pistol . He had just broken up with his girlfriend . Maybe that’s why he snapped . He shot at passing cars . The video played on the evening news . Pop . Pop . One after another . He seemed limber and relaxed , low keyed .
It was the sort of behavior that the LAPD wouldn’t be relaxed about. There would be no magnanimous cops on Hollywood and Vine . Of course the gunslinger would know that . Wanted a death-by-cop . He needed a cop out and he got it soon enough .
A man passing in his car said he thought it was a movie being filmed . He wondered why someone hadn’t blocked off the street . He changed his mind abruptly when he heard a bullet rip into metal . And he hoped that he wouldn’t be shot .
I stood behind a disturbed man in the 99 Cent store last week , too . I thought that he was talking on his bluetooth . I didn’t think anything of it . I didn’t listen to the non-sensical jabbering . But he was talking to his imaginary companions . He seemed to be getting the better of the argument , too. I couldn’t hear their responses because they were hidden somewhere in the interior spaces of his brain . And then , I guess , he began losing the argument because he started shouting . He was standing near the glass exit door shouting .
I was working as a security guard in a counseling center on DeLongpre years ago in the middle of Hollywood . Just before our eight o’clock closing time a man walked in . I need counseling ! He looked like he did , too . He wore a beret and an anxious expression .
The young latina clerk asked him : Where did you come from ?
San Rafael , California . I flew down from there this morning .
What airline did you take ? she innocently asked .
No , he said , and flapped his arms like a bird . I flew .
Fill this out , she said , and shoved intake papers in triplicate over the counter to him . He filled them out . Name . Answer : God . Who referred you ? Answer : Lenny Bruce . Education . Answer : Cosmic Universe . On and on . The counselors were coming out of their offices as God filled out the forms . We all wanted to go home .
I’m not blaming all of this on Hollywood . Hollywood’s just a place and just an idea . It’s an endless engine cranking out successes and failures . And most of us sit in the audience , some of us fascinated and some not . Hollywood is a projection on a huge screen that no one can really grab hold of .
Pretty Peggy Entwhistle came to Hollywood an accomplished actress by the age of twenty-four , about the same age as our pistol man . She walked from Beachwood Drive up the hill and climbed to the top of the H of the Hollywoodland sign and jumped to her death in 1932 . She left a note saying I’m sorry .
No one found a note yet left by the man with the pistol . No I’m sorry . Give me Peggy Entwhistle any day . At least she flew off into oblivion on her own wings . Only she knows why , I guess .
Some cop’s got to go through life from now on mulling over pistol man’s selfish suicide and some ex-girlfriend has to wonder if she’s the reason he climbed out into that Hollywood intersection and made his own particular jump from H .
He should have left a note for the cop and the girlfriend and the man with the bullet hole in his car : I’m sorry . He should’ve sought help so someone could have given him an intake form in triplicate .