In August 1986, PAROUSIA finished its last performance at the Chamber. We made a decision to move the band to Hollywood and bring (unleash) our show to the L.A. music scene.
The timing was right. We had a good crop of new and original songs recorded, we were tight musically and we put on a good stage show. Robert Lowden “led the wagon out west” and in the fall of 1986 he moved to Hollywood, CA all by his lonesome.
In January of 1987, Patt followed Robert out to Los Angeles. While Robert took an airplane, Patt decided to drive out to California with Claude and then after staying a bit, Claude would fly back to Buffalo to wrap-up some loose ends then head out west to live in L.A.
It was a scary and exciting moment for me ‘cause this meant it was really going to happen… after 26 years it was time to leave Buffalo, NY and pursue our dreams in Hollywood, CA.
Finally the big day came. Keith, Vikki and Bill picked me up on the West Side. I was taking the first shift at the wheel of the U-haul. We had loaded it the night before with both my drum kits and few personal belongings along with Bill’s bass guitar, amp and some P.A. Gear. We had no furniture; some clothes and a TRS-80 Color Computer and a ton of apprehension…
When I looked on the windshield of the U-haul, I saw a note… from Claude! She was back in Buffalo and wishing us a safe trip. It was reassuring to know she got back in town safely and was looking forward to joining us out there soon. It put me a little more at ease for some reason.
The time had come to leave. Me, Bill, Keith and Vikki took one last look at Buffalo NY and then began our long journey out West.
It was a bad winter on the road headed west so we took the southern route to avoid as much unpleasant weather as we could. We drove from Buffalo, NY, through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico to Arizona and then out to California.
Shortly after we hit the road, we realized that the U-haul had a speed limiter on it. We couldn’t drive faster than 55 MPH! That was a huge problem as Keith and Vikki were hired to deliver that car they were driving to a customer within three-days.
Our U-haul truck broke down on the highway while passing through Arkansas outside the town of Clarksville and it was scary… there was nothing around us but open land and orange dirt. Keith and Vikki drove to the nearest town to call U-haul’s customer service where our lives would be placed entirely in the hands of national corporate chain that rented trucks on a budget… in other words, we were screwed.
We had little water and no snake repellent. If only cell phones had been invented then… Bill and I waited hours to find out if Keith actually found help… or if they were on the way back… shit, it’s getting dark. Hey, are those coyotes I hear howling? Dang, I shouldn’t have worn that bacon scented cologne…
A tow truck finally made it out to us from the nearby town of Clarksville… yes that’s right, the same town from the Monkee’s song “Last Train to Clarksville”.
We were towed into town and to the only gas station in town with a U-Haul approved body shop. In fact, it was the only body shop. And just like in Mayberry, the shop steward had gone fishing and wouldn’t be back ‘til the next day. There wasn’t much in the town of Clarksville. There was a hotel, a diner, a supermarket and three gas stations, one with a body shop. Outside of that, it was farmland.
There was no way our truck was going to be ready that day. It would be at least until tomorrow. U-haul would reimburse us for the hotel room once we got to Los Angeles, (however not without filing a lengthy claim form and attaching the appropriate receipts). When we went to book our room at the motel and then get some food, everyone in town knew us.
It was the same thing everywhere we went that night… “Hey you’re the two feller’s who’s broke down on the highway, ain’t ya’?” It was a little creepy. It felt like we were being watched, like we were the town’s entertainment that night.
That night we got bored. Not much on TV, so we went exploring… bad idea. In just a few blocks it got pitch black. There were absolutely no street lights outside of the town center.
As we wandered away from the comfort zone of the center we could hear dogs howling and rapidly approaching through the corn field. With no roads to guide us, we apparently had wandered onto someone’s private property and the owner released the hounds on us.
We ran as fast as we could back towards the light. We heard the dogs stop at the edge of the field and they barked and growled until we disappeared back into the hotel. Well, it turns out the choices on TV didn’t seem so bad after all… we went to sleep early that night.
The next day we found out that it would take three-days for the right part to arrive and fix the truck. We couldn’t wait that long, so U-haul offered a replacement truck to us It was supposed to come with free contents transfer, meaning U-haul employees would take the stuff out of the disabled truck and move it into the working truck. We waited over two hours and no one showed. So I started moving the equipment myself. Bill wanted to wait. I was fed up with waiting and Keith and Vikki were getting closer to Arizona and I didn’t want to get too far behind.
Once on the road, we made it through to New Mexico in good time. The new truck didn’t have the 55 MPH speed limiter on it so we could do 65-80 MPH when traffic allowed us to. Still, it was pretty clear there was no way we were going to catch up with Keith and Vikki, they were way ahead of us.
We stayed the night in another cheap motel and that night ventured out to a club next door. This was the local’s bar but because it was next to the motel it had its share of strangers passing through and tonight the strangers happened to be me and Bill, and they don’t come much stranger than us.
Bill was the only black face in the joint and I was the only one wearing leather gloves and hair mousse. Everyone else had cowboy hats on… we made friends with the D.J. who seemed excited to have two band members in his midst entertaining him with our story of how we were moving from New York to Los Angeles.
He was so excited that he had to announce it to rest of the patrons over the microphone and introduced us as “the keyboard player and drummer from the band Parousia, moving from the East to the West.” No one in the bar seemed remotely interested in hearing that news and it immediately made us stand-out as ‘strangers’ and worse, ‘intruders’. “More damned New Yorkers moving west” was not happy news to these people.
We tried to lay-low, but the damn D.J. kept drawing attention to us… “Hey this next song goes out to my friends over by the bar, Gerry and Bill. Here’s “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf.” We didn’t stay long; we couldn’t stand the jeers and the icy cold stares. The next day, instead of heading straight for Phoenix we took a detour to Winslow Arizona on a whim to check out the meteor crater.
We gassed up the U-haul and headed back down to Phoenix to meet Vikki and Keith who had already dropped off their car to the customer and were waiting for us.
We saw this awesome storm approach and you could see the lightning crack down from the sky and strike the plains. It was incredible to watch.
We finally made it to Phoenix and hung out with Keith and Vikki for a couple of days before heading out to Los Angeles to meet Bob and Patt.
We stayed over night at a near by motel where my clothes ominously matched the bathroom décor…
When we got to the state line I had to stop the truck and take a picture of the Welcome to California sign. We made it!
Now to find the city of Los Angeles, the town called Hollywood and a street named “Yucca”.
It was about nightfall when we hit the 101 and downtown Los Angeles.
When we pulled into Hollywood, it didn’t take us long to find the Yucca Street apartments. Located just North of Hollywood Boulevard between Cahuenga and Ivar. A block away from the Capitol Records building and famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine. We were smack dab in downtown Hollywood baby!
Bob and Patt were outside waiting to greet us. We parked the truck which was no small task in Hollywood and then went inside to see our new West-Coast apartment.
To describe the living conditions as ‘tight’ would not do justice to the smallness of the room. There were four of us living in a one bedroom apartment. There was the large room, a small kitchen to the right of the photo below and then a closet and through that closet was a bathroom.
We each slept in one corner of the room with our stuff lined up down the middle. I didn’t have a permanent corner. Mine was used as the path from the door way to the kitchen. I only got to lie down at night. I slept on an inflatable mattress, like the kind you would use in a small pool.
Did I mention the room was infested with cockroaches… no, well it was. For amusement we used to shoot them down off the walls with rubber bands. Yeah, it was that crappy. But we were here in Hollywood, working to make the band a reality again.
Bob had his corner with a drafting table and art supplies creating all kinds of artistic promo material for the band. We even built a mini studio in the closet near the bathroom. We had a drum machine, a keyboard and a small mixer with headphones.
Robert, Patt, Bill and Me all made it out to Hollywood to bring Parousia’s music to the West coast crowd. But where was our guitarist Garth? Well, I’ll let him tell the story, but suffice it to say, it was one misfortune after another that delayed his move from Buffalo.
The Adventure of HOLLYWOOD:
We came to Hollywood in 1986 and had no idea what lie ahead. Hollywood is fascinating place to live always hip, trendy and forever changing. Here is a small history of what we experienced during the time Parousia lived, performed and rehearsed in and around ‘Tinsel Town’: