Friday, February 26, 2016

Hotel California -- Location

I lived in the Los Angeles area for 11.5 years (1975-1986), where I also moved a dozen times within the area for various reasons, including a 5-year marriage and subsequent divorce. I particularly liked the village of Topanga, in the hills between the San Fernando Valley and the ocean, above Malibu, and lived in 3 different locations in those hills.

The first place in Topanga was a nice A-frame on a hill. The guy who rented it to me told me that the building up at the top of the hill, less than a hundred yards away, on the corner of the dirt road to the rental house, was the original Hotel California, presently occupied by other musicians.

This was no surprise to me since Topanga was home to many musicians & artists & writers & performers & various other misfits. Plus, the building looked like one of the old Spanish Missions that exist in various places in California. I would occasionally sit outside on my upper balcony, with a cup of tea in the morning, and meditate while viewing the splendid structure at the top of my hill -- such a lovely place -- such a lovely place.

Topanga and the A-frame were one of the favorite places I have called home over the years, having lived now at over 50 addresses in 12 states. But a computer contract on the other side of the Valley caused me to move on after only about 6 months.

Yes, indeed, I once lived just down the hill from the original Hotel California, immortalized in the song "Hotel California" by The Eagles.

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
"This could be Heaven or this could be Hell"
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here
(lyrics -- Hotel California)

The Eagles (Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder) are one of the world's best selling bands of all time, having sold more than 150 million records.

Formed in Los Angeles in 1971, The Eagles have had 5 Number-One singles, 6 Number-One albums and have received 6 Grammy Awards -- two of their albums (Greatest Hits & Hotel California) were ranked among the 20 best-selling albums in the USA, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Hotel California was one of their greatest songs.

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
"Please bring me my wine"
He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis
(lyrics -- Hotel California)

Since I have been writing many non-fiction books containing various scattered topics, I decided to finally write a piece about the original Hotel California -- so I recently did some research Unfortunately, my research brought me back to earth about the location of Hotel California.

Apparently, Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote most of the words. None of the band members were from California and as they drove into the Los Angeles area at night, they could see the glow of lights on the horizon.

Hotel California is "our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles… it's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about." Don Henley

There is no Hotel California -- it's an abstract vision of the hedonism of Southern California and the self-destruction of the music industry in the late 1970s.

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!
(lyrics -- Hotel California)

Glenn Frey used of the word "steely" in the lyric (referring to knives) as a playful acknowledgement to the band Steely Dan, who had included "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening" in their song "Everything You Did."

Glen Frey of the Eagles passed on to the Grand Hotel in the Sky, at age 67, on January 18, 2016.

Tthanks for the music -- Rest in Peace.

Hotel California -- you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

I very much liked southern California. Even though I checked out after 11-plus years many moons ago, I can never really leave because I still have fond memories and many friends lingering there.

Quote for the Day -- "Hey, I didn't make a big deal out of Hotel California -- the 18 million people that bought it did." Glenn Frey

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where you can leave anytime you like.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day -- Weather Report

Today, February 2nd, is Groundhog Day. This is the day when grown men and women congregate outside of rodent burrows and wait patiently for a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil to emerge.

If the groundhog sees its shadow on this day, legend has it that there will be six more weeks of winter.

If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, it either means it will be an early spring or the groundhog was too busy gawking at the people who were gawking at it to notice.

In 2016 -- No shadow -- there will be an early spring.

There are many other holidays involving rodents but few people pay much attention to them.

WOODCHUCK DAY. Woodchuck is another name for a groundhog. Lumberjacks celebrate this holiday exactly seven weeks after Groundhog Day, when enough time has passed for the woodchuck to get a bit frisky after a winter of hibernation. On this day, lumberjacks from Maine to Oregon stalk woodchucks to see how much wood a woodchuck chucks, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

SQUIRREL DAY. This is the first day of warm weather in the coming year when squirrels emerge from their nests to check on their nuts. Having spent much of the fall season squirreling away nuts by burying them in strategic places near their domicile, they must take an inventory every spring to make sure their nuts are all present and accounted for. This holiday is observed mostly by accountants, warehouse managers and store clerks by conducting a complete inventory on that day, then taking the rest of the week off to celebrate and cook the books.

GOPHER DAY. This holiday comes at the end of the college football season. Primarily observed by the alumni of the University of Minnesota, it only occurs if the Golden Gophers have a winning season and have managed to avoid NCAA probation for recruiting violations at the same time. Thus, this holiday is only celebrated once or twice a decade, making it a very special occasion for former Golden Gophers everywhere.

SEWER RAT DAY. This is strictly a local holiday for residents of New York City and Newark. Depending on the temperature and humidity, Sewer Rat Day can occur anytime in the late summer, usually in early August. This is the day when the highest concentration of rats emerges from the sewer systems to taunt the citizens of their respective cities. This is also a very special day for pest control companies and alley cats.

MUSKRAT DAY. A muskrat is basically a slippery rat that lives in or near water. Consequently, Muskrat Day is celebrated by slippery people who live clandestinely along rivers and pay no taxes. This holiday is observed on April 15, when federal taxes are due. The celebration includes drinking tax-free moonshine and taking an annual bath.

SWAMP RAT DAY. A swamp rat is basically a slippery rat that lives in a swamp. Consequently, Swamp Rat Day is observed by slippery people who live clandestinely in the middle of a swamp and pay no taxes. This holiday occurs after the first sign of frog mating season. It’s celebrated by drinking tax-free moonshine and kissing a loved one or a frog, whichever croaks the loudest.

BEAVER DAY. Dam engineers across the nation celebrate this occasion, always the first day in the early winter when the beaver has completed construction of its dam for that year and goes into hibernation. Most dam engineers have been in hibernation since 1939, when construction of the last of the great dams was completed. Rumor has it that some of the more militant dam engineers have formed a secret society that is scheming to create another mighty river system in a secluded location where no one will notice until it has been completed, somewhere like North Dakota or behind the Dick Cheney Library.

MOUSE WEEK. Timid people everywhere celebrate this holiday that coincides with Mardi Gras. Although the festivities are always very quiet, it’s the only rodent holiday that lasts more than one day. Timid people have a hard time releasing their emotions but once they do it lasts for a whole week. They dine on crumbs and avoid cats for seven days. Then they apologize for their outburst, usually to a goldfish or a potted plant, and shrink back into their comfortable lives of silent despair, patiently waiting for the day when the meek shall inherit the earth.


Quote for the Day – “It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.” Dave Barry

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes.