It was noon on an unbearably hot Sunday afternoon. The air
conditioning in my pad was kaput and I was looking for a place to do
some writing. Suddenly it struck me. Though I’ve been living in
California for some 40 years, I’ve never been inside one of its greatest
landmarks — the Beverly Hills Hotel.

It was perfect! I hopped into my car, headed over Benedict Canyon,
and moments later, descended into the hallowed hills of Beverly.

Some 10 minutes later I was plunked down on one of the overly stuffed
chairs in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel. It’s truly a gorgeous
place — one that immediately whisks you back to the Los Angeles of a
bygone era.

The pink and green d?cor, the old-fashioned floral patterned
wallpaper, the cozy little bungalows — all of it seems like part of an
old black-and-white movie. You halfway expect to see Clark Gable or
Lauren Bacall walk by at any moment.

Everything about the place helps maintain the time warp. The coffee
shop is called a soda fountain (I love that!). Inside, people sit around
the counter reading their papers. There is a certain camaraderie among
the counter people — a knowledge, perhaps that they are — for the
moment — safe from the slings and arrows of reality.

Everything here is special; take the bathrooms, for example. The
sparkling clean, marbled stalls almost beckon you to come in and have a
seat. The toilet paper is extra thick. There are fresh flowers on the

Even the people here seem different. Their skin is smoother, their
teeth whiter. Everyone carries shopping bags. I swear, nobody walks
around this place empty handed! Maybe it’s required … sort of like a
dress code.

Inside the famed Polo Lounge, a bearded guy talks in hushed tones to
a bored woman with a man’s hairdo: “I’ve spoken with several producers
about the project,” the man says breathlessly, “and they all verrrry
interested. …”

The woman inhales smoke up her nose.

Over by the bell station, a balding red-faced man suddenly erupts
into a tantrum. Apparently the doorman hasn’t moved with enough haste
for him. “I’ve been coming here for 10 years,” the spoiled man seethes,
“and I’ve never seen service like this! It’s inexcusable! ”

Outside, pretty-boy parking attendants open the doors for people to
enter awaiting Mercedeses and Rolls Royces. Most of the people are of a
kind. The men are slim, oily-haired and aloof. The women are expensively
dressed and either extremely thin or grossly overweight.

An oddity: small but interesting. Nobody here has dirty shoes;
everyone’s shoes — all their clothes for that matter — look as if
they’d just been purchased moments earlier.

One interesting thing I noticed during my afternoon observation was
that not the least thing seemed to go awry. Everything moved smoothly —
almost as if the whole thing were choreographed. Nobody sweated. Nobody
sighed. The German and French people buying newspapers in the gift shop
didn’t stink. The only moment during the day when the spell was broken
was when a fat woman wearing a jogging suit tripped going up the steps
to the front door. Rather than come to her aid, her two friends
pretended not to notice.

After awhile one entirely forgot the world outside. It seemed
impossible sitting here — that right this very moment, someone was
getting raped; someone was being mugged; someone had just been told he
was going to die of cancer. Here, none of that existed.

Somewhere around 6:30 p.m. I got up from my chair. I’d been sitting
here mesmerized, for nearly six hours. I felt curious — kind of

Outside, the sun was starting to go down across the lawns, which
looked somehow pink. I walked past the beauty salons and clothing shops,
past the people coming back from the tennis courts, past the pretty-boy
parking attendants, and out to the side street where I’d parked my car.

When I opened the front door, I was greeted by a seat littered with
papers, gum wrappers, and assorted other junk. In the back seat lay the
baseball bat I carry in case I get into a beef with an irate motorist.

I got inside and turned on the ignition, causing a spray of black
smoke (I haven’t changed my oil in over three years) to spew from the
exhaust pipe. Despite the air conditioner, my shirt was immediately
drenched with sweat. I flipped the radio to a country station. A Merle
Haggard song came on. Ahhhh.

The music blaring, I headed back over the canyon to the San Fernando
Valley. I felt a slight twinge in my stomach at leaving the timeless
perfection of the Beverly Hills Hotel. But what could I do?

Reality had beckoned.

GOLDMAN HOOH HAH: I’ve been getting flooded with letters asking when
the heck our new site is gonna go
live. Well, the fact is, it already is … sort of. It’s just that the
only thing really functioning at the moment is our
bookstore. Because
we’re getting a massive run on our Supersnoopers
(I suspect
the nearness of the millennium has something to do with this), we needed
to keep the store up and running. Anyhow, as far as I can predict, the
site will definitely (I swear) be up by the end of the month. As you
know, is the ultimate Web spy site — not to mention
the only spot on the Net where you can be hooked up, within minutes,
with a police officer or private investigator who you can talk to about
whatever sort of problem you may be having — large or small. There’s a
LOT more to the site than this feature — but I wanna keep you guys in a
little bit of suspense. So all I can say for the moment is … hang in

A lot of you have written and asked me what I thought about the
release of the five hours of videotapes that the Columbine killers, Eric
Harris and Dylan Klebold — made. To be honest, I was aware of these
tapes long ago, but had received a strict warning from some of the
“higher ups” in the investigation not to mention them. And, as I’d never
seen them, there wasn’t all that much to say. I’m quite sure Time
magazine paid a pretty penny to somebody in order to get their hands on
these things (oh, Time doesn’t pay you say? Come off it, man.
Everybody pays for information). Anyhow, as for the tapes
themselves, I don’t see anything particularly shocking or very revealing
about what’s on them. These two guys were just what we thought they were
— two dumb-ass, angry teenagers (what other kind is there?) enthralled
with fame and glory. There was no story here guys! No occult connection
… no government plot … no Manchurian Candidate brainwashing. Just a
coupla freakoids (with some really stupid parents) who went for
the Gold (and achieved it, in a certain sense) killing a bunch of
innocent people in the process. Big deal. I mean, I hate to admit it,
but the story bores me. There’s nothing new here. It’s happened before
and it’ll happen again. And again and again and again. …

Hey, this is what’s happenin’, man. This is your future
and guess what? You created it.

Happy New Year to you all.

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