Haaa-Leee-Wooood

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Dustin Stinett
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Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 12th, 2004, 6:27 pm

If there is anything that would prevent me from ever becoming a professional entertainer, its the idea of traveling. I dont travel so good anymore. For better than ten years my regular job had me on the road between 25 and 35 weeks a year and I had no problem with it. These days? Forgetaboutit.

This past weekend I had a circumstance where I was to be up in Hollywood to see Max Mavens new show Friday night and then I had a meeting scheduled in Valencia (Magic Mountain area) the following morning. I had the brilliant idea of booking a hotel room in Hollywood so I wouldnt have to haul my butt all the way back home (about 70 miles south of Hollywood) just to turn around the next morning and haul my butt all the way back up to Valencia (about 30 miles north of Hollywood) for what I suspected was going to be an all-day meeting (it wasI didnt leave Valencia until almost 9 p.m. Saturday night). Genius! Pure genius!

With reservations in hand (for the show and the hotel), I made the trek up to Hollywood on Friday night. My plan was to see Max Maven, drop by the Magic Castle (to see what all the hoopla is about this Jason Latimer guy) then check into, where else, the Magic Castle Hotelconveniently located right next door to my beloved Magic Castle and operated, I believe, by the same folks who own the Castle property. Keep it in the family, I always like to say.

From my office, going by freeway distance only, the trip to Hollywood should take less than an hour. Some two and a half hours later I arrived at the Steve Allen Theater with plenty of time to spare before Maxs show (details of which, I hope, are to appear in printif not, rest assured I will post the piece here on the Forum). Its a good thing I left the office early. There is nothing more thrilling than driving through downtown Los Angeles freeways on a Friday evening. (Theres a holiday song there somewhere: Over the four level and through the slot to the Magic Castle we go)

After Maxs incredible show (theres a clue for those who cannot wait for my review), I cruised up Hollywood Boulevard to the Castle. Its been a while since I have ventured onto the Boulevard. It was brightly lit, loud, and packed with people. 20 years ago I would have been dazzled. All I could think of now was, This five minute drive is taking me 20 goddamn minutes! Get out of the way you freak! Hey! Its the vertical peddle on the right! GO!!!

I hate Hollywood.

After arriving at the Castle in my happy and relaxed state, I made a beeline for the Close-up room: Young Mr. Latimer here I come. Noticing that there were already about 40 people waiting to get into a room that holds 20, I decided to venture downstairs to see who was working the W.C. Fields Bar and partake in some liquid relaxation. It turned out to be a great idea: Not because of who was performing, but because of who he was performing for. Now this is not to say that Terry Lunceford was not a good reason to be at the W.C. Fields Bar at that given moment in time; Terry is a fine performer. But the two young ladies and the attire they were almost wearing made me realize that the time it took for me to drive up Hollywood Boulevard and the huge line for the Close-up Room was actually a case of the planets aligning properly so as to put me in the right place at the right time.

I love Hollywood!

After the (ahem) show, I made my way back to the Close-up room wherehalleluiah!there were only four people in line: perfect. There where two couples ahead of me. Directly in front of me was a handsome, conservative looking middle-aged couple with broad smiles, perhaps brought on by the potions contained within the cocktail glasses they each held, but hopefully because of the evening they were experiencing. The other couple, the first in line, was a young man in his twenties accompanied by a woman in her forties who apparently believed that a miniskirt and purple streaks in her hair would somehow take 20 years off her age. As I sat in judgment of her, I thought to myself, Hey, if I were a good looking guy in my twenties, Idno, come to think of it, I dont think I would.

I knew I was in for a bit of a waitabout a half hour or sobut that was okay: I was standing next to the glass partition in the waiting area for the Close-up room and had a perfect view of the main bar: I wasnt going to miss a thing should anyone of interest enter, exit or just pass through. The result of this self-imposed misdirection, however, was thatsomehowwhen I turned to look at the group ahead of me, the four of them had magically multiplied to about fifteen. Crap! Howd that happen!?! And it appeared that more were coming! I noticed that the velvet rope normally used to contain the line was now on the ground and Lady Purple-Hair was in an animated discussion with the now no longer smiling gentleman who was ahead of me. This gentleman was using phrases like its not fair to those who were already in line and I will go talk to the manager about this and other such common sense expressions. Lady Purple-Hair, her boy-toy and a few others of their group departed, however quite a few stayed. Left behind was a member of their diplomatic corps, a dapper young man who did an incredible job of smoothing the ruffled feathers of the man ahead of me (who, it turned out, is a personal injury lawyer, making the younger mans act of diplomacy that much more impressive). Never mind me or those who were behind me: Once again, the silent majority is ignored. It turned out that two of the people behind me were actually with the lawyer and his wife, so I allowed them ahead of me (what a guy) as we entered the showroom. Having been fifth in line at the start, I was now relegated to the back row (okay by me; but it is an issue of principle) and, since the host was counting aloud as we went by, I learned that I was number 16: close to being shutout. Imagine how number 21 felt given that he was in line before the majority of those ahead of him. But, I got a seat and finally got to see the reigning World Champion of Magic perform his miracles, and miracles they are. Lets see, young, good looking, talentedI think I hate him. If you ever have the opportunity to see Jason Latimer perform dont pass it by. Trust me, youll hate him too.

Being well past midnight, it was time for me to wander over to the hotel and get some rest for the busy day ahead (this is where the I dont travel so good anymore comes in). The Magic Castle Hotel is an old establishment that has been cleaned up enough to appear posh, but lets face it: old is old and no amount of paint can hide that fact. The small room, though clean, had the usual musty odor of an old hotel room. It could have been worse: it could have smelled of mold and stale cigarettes smoke, or even worse than that: mold, stale cigarette smoke and that perfume-like air freshener stink that only adds to the mix as opposed to eliminating the other stinks. I only had one stink to contend with: I counted myself lucky.

As for the single most important aspect of any hotel room, the bed, my first impression was to wonder what kingdom this queen size bed came from: Lilliputia apparently. I didnt have to get in it to know that my feet would hang over the edge and Im only five-ten. Im guessing the hotel uses the same furniture suppliers who provide the furnishings for model houses. You know; that slightly scaled-down stuff that makes the rooms appear bigger than they really are. But it didnt matter: I was tired and wanted to get right to sleep, so I quickly readied myself and attempted to settle in for the night. Now, I like a firm mattress on my bed. In fact, at home, I have an extra-firm mattress. I was unaware that there was a level of firmness that was higher than extra-firm, but they have it at the Magic Castle Hotel. My guess the category is referred to as park bench since thats what this thing felt like. Not even my gross-tonnage could make a depression in the surface of that cozy cot.

One of the great secrets of comfortable travel is to bring along your own pillow: something I always do except for this time and it was a bad time to have a CRS moment (Cant Remember Shit). The pillows on the bed were the antithesis of the mattress: those ultra-soft jobs where your head sinks to the mattress while the stuffing puffs up over the sides of your head. It didnt matter that there were four pillows: I just had four layers of fluff puffing out from the sides. I figured that I was in for a long night, and I was. Outside there was a constant flow of traffic up and down the stairs that, though they were down a ways from my room, somehow seemed to have a direct connection to it. Once the traffic from the guests ended, there was but a short intermission before the traffic from the housecleaning staff began. But, hey! The alarm clock worked and so did the snooze buttonsee; theres an upside!

After my fifth nine-minute interlude of extra sleep time, I decided that I had better get up otherwise I would miss the complimentary continental breakfast that I am sure is in no way calculated into triple-digit the room rate. Off to the shower I go; in my opinion the second most important aspect of a hotel room and one of these days Im going to find a hotel that agrees with me. This one was no different than 99.9 percent of the hotel showers I have had the misfortune to use. I hate nothing more than taking a shower under a trickle of water. I can pee faster than this shower could spray. Hell, Robert Byrd can probably pee faster than this shower can spray. I know, I know, it saves waterblah-blah-blah. I can shower in ten minutes at homeit took about 25 minutes here. I seriously question the math involved in the savings, but I wont go into it now. And you know, all things being equal, fat people use more soap, so who am I to bitch?

Did the fun in the shower stop there? Oh no-no-no! Most of the nonskid strips on the tile floor of the shower stall were missing; only a few in the corners remained. So here I was trying to wash using the complimentary tiny bar of soap (which I found was broken in half when I opened it) while slipping and sliding around trying to gain a foothold on the few square inches of nonskid material available (imagine, if you would, Daniel Sterns character Marv in the movie Home Alone at the bottom of the iced-over stairwell trying to get his balance: that was me).

Since I was traveling alone and did not want to leave my wife without shampoo (we share the same Paul Mitchell fine hair care products), I decided I would use the complimentary products supplied by the hotel. This would not be the first time in my life I have done this and there has never before been a consequence of my having done so. However, the supplier used by the Magic Castle Hotel has found little plastic bottles that are un-squeezable. So, to get the thick shampoo out of the tiny opening in the bottle, I am doing the ketchup bottle rumba trying to get enough of the lavender whatever concoction out so I can muster up enough lather to actually clean my hair. Knowing that, because of the less than Niagara-like flow of water provided by the environmentally friendly showerhead, I would need help rinsing the suds from my scalp, I decided to bring along the little bottle of cream rinse/conditioner generously provided along with the shampoo and moisturizing hand cream. Ketchup bottle rumba take two. But hey! The towels were good sized and absorbent. Another hash mark for the upside!

I made it downstairs with ten minutes to spare for the free breakfast and was pleased to find an acceptable croissant and cold orange juice and a quiet table overlooking the pool. Now having the opportunity to look around the establishment, I noticed that there are probably a few permanent residents there (unless, of course, there are people who travel with their fish aquariums). That certainly would explain much of the late night comings and goings. I checked out, conscientiously remembering to inform them about the nonskid deficiency in their shower. I was told that they were aware of the problem. Apparently they discovered it between the times when their maintenance staff departed for the day and when I checked in around 1 a.m. that morning. Perhaps the next guest in that room will be the personal injury lawyer from the night before.

It was a picture postcard Southern California day for my trip to Valencia and I easily made it in time for my meeting. All in all, it was a worthwhile trip. The entertainment was top drawer and the meeting, as I hope you will discover in the near future, proved quite fruitful. But, would I recommend the Magic Castle Hotel to those looking for accommodations near the Magic Castle? Of course I would: why should I be alone in my suffering?

Dustin

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Bill Palmer » December 12th, 2004, 6:35 pm

Thanks for the warning, Dustin. I'm supposed to lecture there in March. I'll see if I can find a nice Motel 6.
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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 12th, 2004, 7:07 pm

hahahahahahahaha--I'm wetting myself laughing.
Dustin, if you think that The Magic Motel isn't the Ritz, then you should really try The Highland Gardens next door, where the smell of piss in the rooms overwhelms the airfreshener they try to use to conceal it.
Dustin also wrote, "Im guessing the hotel uses the same furniture suppliers who provide the furnishings for model houses. You know; that slightly scaled-down stuff that makes the rooms appear bigger than they really are." IS THIS REALLY TRUE?
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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Guest » December 12th, 2004, 7:35 pm

Life has been compared to being strapped to a chair while looking out the second story bedroom window, with the house burning down around us.

Try to enjoy the view, sir :) .

Seriously, funny post...and when you say your review for the Maven should make it into print...where, exactly, might we find it?

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 12th, 2004, 8:18 pm

Richard:

From a Century 21 web site:

Furniture: Try to minimize the amount of furniture in your home. Too much furniture can convey the feeling that the house is small. Remember, when you see a model home, often the furniture is smaller than normal so that the living space seems larger. You might consider putting a queen bed in the master bedroom instead of a king.

Stuart:

I hope, when the piece is done, Richard will find it worthy of publishing in Genii magazine. If not, or if space does not allow, I will post it here.

Dustin

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Pete Biro » December 12th, 2004, 11:13 pm

Hotels next to the Castle... uh, you get what you pay for. A couple of blocks away you have the choice of a Marriott or a Hostel.
Stay tooned.

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 13th, 2004, 12:27 am

Then I take it that the hostel also has a triple-digit nightly rate?
:D

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby David Alexander » December 17th, 2004, 11:14 am

When Ian Rowland came to LA for the second time, this time to lecture at the Castle, he stayed at the "Magic" hotel. When I picked him up for lunch a couple of days after his lecture I was appalled at the quality of the place. Bette Davis' line came to mind: "What a dump."

But, of course, it was cheap. The Holiday Inn is right around the corner and while more expensive, it has nicer rooms and they are quiet.

I was on the road for 12 years and, like you, I don't relish traveling as I once did.

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby John LeBlanc » December 17th, 2004, 12:07 pm

Wow. This could actually be made into a sequel to National Lampoon's "Vacation". (It would be nice to actually have a funny one for a change.)

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 17th, 2004, 12:35 pm

Originally posted by David Alexander:
But, of course, it was cheap.
I must be getting really old, because I dont consider $109 a night cheap. (Plus all the yata-yata-yata that gets tacked on to that base rateincluding eight bucks for parking! But, I did get a croissant and orange juice!) Come to think of it, I am getting really old! My back still hurts from that damn bed! But you know, the bottom line is, the great night of entertainment (Max Mavens show and then young Jason Latimer at the Castle) and then an amazing day (which I cannot go into detail about right nowjust trust me, it was amazing) made it all worth it. But you can bet that Ill be checking out that Holiday Inn the next time I do something like this!

Dustin

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Brian Morton » December 17th, 2004, 1:45 pm

Dustin:

$109 a night in any major metropolis in America is cheap.

brian :cool:

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 18th, 2004, 8:45 am

Its official: Im old. (Ive paid less for better within the last year: granted, it was in Las Vegas and in Reno.)

I received a very nice card today from The Magic Castle Hotel, thanking me for my patronage. They are looking forward to my return. I appreciate the card, its a nice gesture and it is hand-written, thus making it quite personal. I should say, in all sincerity, that the front desk staff was very accommodating and pleasant: another hash mark for the upside!

Dustin

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Steve Bryant » December 18th, 2004, 9:33 am

The Highland Gardens next door is, as Richard said, also a dump, but the folks who run it and staff it are very nice also, and plenty of famous people have stayed and do stay there. Both are incredibly convenient if you are visiting the Castle.

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Mark Collier » December 18th, 2004, 8:07 pm

It's true, plenty of famous people have stayed at The Highland Gardens Hotel. Janis Joplin even DIED there. Maybe its her piss you smell.

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Kent Blackmore » December 19th, 2004, 2:27 pm

I was almost going to say that the notorious "Divine" also died in the Highland Gardens. Fortunately I did my homework first and found that he/she actually died at the Regency Apartments, 7940 Hollywood Blvd.

But then the Jeff Stryker porn/cannibal themed episode of "Erotic Tales" was filmed at the Highlands. Don't watch it - you'll never stay there again! :eek:

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Guest » December 19th, 2004, 9:43 pm

When staying in Los Angeles, go for a hotel, such as the Dragon Gate Inn (Best Western), in Chinatown. This is one of the best kept secrets in the city. Clean rooms (that don't smell like an ashtray), plenty of restaurants with late hours, roaming 24-hour security (one of the few places in the city where the L.A. chamber of commerce pays for security), and low rates (under $100, which is very rare in Lalaland). It's five miles from the Castle. Plus, once nine or ten o'clock hits, this area is empty except for folks going for a late bite to eat, so you don't have the thousands of party-goers that Hollyweird attracts to make sure that you don't get a good night's rest.

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Charlie Chang » December 20th, 2004, 12:23 am

Here's a word of advice for anyone coming to Hollywood - DON'T stay at the Highland Gardens.

First of all the Magic Castle Hotel really is The Ritz by comparison (everything Dustin said is true, by the way).

Secondly, while the Highland Gardens has been the place of choice for visitors to Chez Larson over the years, part of the reason was the very fair price. After all, a dump is a dump but a cheap dump is far more acceptable than an expensive one.

The HG used to be jointly owned by Lisa and Marie, two ladies originally from Europe. I stayed there many times for extended periods and all was fine. Until Lisa sold her half of the business to Marie. After that, things simply turned to [censored].

Like the time I had a reservation (confirmed via my Visa card) during a democratic party convention in LA (where every hotel in LA was over booked). When I got there my room rate was doubled! After a huge debate I got a reduction but my original price was not honored.

Or the time I found an extra 150 bucks on my bill for local calls that for years had been free. There was nothing to state local calls had become billable in the room or the check in materials.

My favourite (and there are many more) was the time I checked out to meet Richard K. at Disneyland for a movie premier. Marie agreed (in advance and on the day) to let me leave my stuff in the room since I would only be gone two days and there were plenty of free rooms.

When I checked out two weeks later, Jamie (the excellent girl on the front desk) duly (and without prompting) calculated my bill without those days. I paid in advance as I was leaving on the 4th of July (so I paid on the 3rd).

On the dya I left I was being picked up by a friend and moved my stuff into the lobby. Thats when Marie came after me for those two days, demanding 150 bucks for two days I wasn't there and would have checked out had they not offered to let my stuff just stay in the room.

She simply would not let it go. My friend was late and I was being seriously harrassed. In the end I told her she could go outside and sing for the money.

I have never stayed there since and never will. I strongly recommend that you do not either.

If anyone from the Highland Gardens reads this - I'm the guy that used to stay ther for four months out of the year, during busy times and quiet times, whose money you can longer rely upon...

Happy Holidays.

P.

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Brian Morton » December 20th, 2004, 9:56 am

Wow -- Paul, that's good to know. I used to stay at the Highland Gardens (because of Lisa Gehm), but the last time I was there (November-December of 2002), things had gone way downhill.

I guess I'm not going back.

brian :cool:

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Steve Bryant » December 20th, 2004, 12:49 pm

Does the Highland not at least hold to its notoriety of being the place Janis died? I've been told that by the owner, plus it's online in such places as
http://www.seeing-stars.com/Died/70s.shtml
with photo.

What is the source of the conflicting information?

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Re: Haaa-Leee-Wooood

Postby Guest » December 20th, 2004, 1:40 pm

and marked with an asterisk (for "high crime district" :eek: ), no less!


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