I’ve been weirdly obsessed with the Chateau Marmont since John Belushi drew his last breath there, in Bungalow 3, in March of 1982.
I was a senior in high school, and I was a Belushi fan, like most 17 year old boys then. I was nuts for his work on SNL, and in Animal House, and even though Neighbors was a bit uneven, I still liked it. (Maybe I should watch it again…the last time I saw it was in the theater, and I’m thinking its humor wasn’t targeted at the same audience as, say, Animal House).
I even forgave Belushi for The Blues Brothers…but I’ll never forgive Aykroyd, Belushi’s little brother, or John Goodman for Blues Brothers 2000.
In 1982 I was almost an adult, driving my dad’s El Camino and listening and listening to one of the bad FM stations then. I remember driving down Tatum, near Shea, which is a big intersection in the neighborhood I grew up in. I think I had just left McDonald’s (which is still there) cause my friend Ellen L. would hook us up with free cheesburgers. That’s when the radio said John Belushi was just found dead at his bungalow in Hollywood and I was immediately bummed out – as well as curious.
What’s a bungalow? And why in the world is he dead?
Knowing where you were and what you were doing when someone who mattered to you died – long after it all went down – is an interesting thing. Remember where you were when either Kennedy was whacked? (I wasn’t born yet for number 1, and way too young for number 2). How about when Hinckley tried to take out Ronny Reagan? Maybe you remember what was happening when Cobain stuck the gun in his mouth (on my way home from teaching school), or maybe, even, um, when Tu Pac or Biggie got whacked (…when did that happen again?)
Anyway, I wanted to see Jayma after our first date, and I did. It was the next day, as a matter of fact, and it was a totally non-porno, non-sexual event. Well, kinda, anyway. I picked her up at The Porno Hotel in Porno Valley, and we just hung out. We went to a used book store (I scored a first edition of Crumb’s Fritz The Cat and a review copy of Harry Crews’s Florida Frenzy!!!), ran a few errands, got to know each other better, and (somehow) ended up at Chico Wang’s to watch him direct The Minion and Haley Scott; Chico was shooting his Minion scenes and now calling them “romantic”…today The Minion is terribly concerned as Miss Scott’s had a foot injury. The Minion picked her up at the hospital, took her home, and brought her into the room in a wheel chair.
From there, they made beautiful music as Chico rolled tape.
Afterward, I was kinda bummed, cause Jayma had to go home, and I had to go home, but I really wanted to see her again.
How about you come when I’m out in LA working, and we stay in a really nice hotel? We can just hang out. I won’t expect sex, and I’ll be a gentleman, and we can just get to know each other better…
She agreed, of course, cause here I am, telling you about The Chateau and John Belushi and myself and Jayma Reed. We were pretty much holed up at the Chateau for three days. She still wasn’t feeling well; her tonsils were ridiculously swollen and instead of looking like tonsils they more resemled a small fruit – like a tangerine, maybe. I really can’t say I was holed up, cause I would leave during the day to make dirty movies…but she didn’t leave at all, even when I told her Parker Posey was roaming around with her little white doggie – or there might be some fun celebrity sightings down by the pool.
I don’t think she ever left the room, and that was fine by me.
We learned some things about each other during those three days, and she asked I watch what I say here. At first, I wasn’t sure I could keep such a promise, but I have, so far. But I’ll tell you this: I made her come with me to Bungalow 3, and we talked about Belushi, and she told me she’s spoken to dead people in her past, and that’s fine by me, too.
We stood at the door of Bungalow 3.
I took a picture of the door they wheeled John Belushi’s dead body from almost 25 years ago.
We stood there a bit more.
Then we kissed, again.
We stood there a bit more.
“Do something,” I said.
She looked at me. “What do you want me to do?”
“I dunno. Something that would make his ghost smile.”