Hand Me Downs

Some people get hand me down clothes, I liked getting hand me down apartments.  Specifically, from my friend Jane.

Jane would move into a groovy little pad, trick it out with her certain style and I would beg her to give it to me if ever she moved.  She did.  And, I got it.  Twice.

First place was in West Hollywood, walking distance to some fun activities, like restaurants.   Probably better proximity for a gay man.  Oh, speaking of gay men….I’m not a fag hag  (remind me to look for my memo to find out if it’s PC to say that) and never have been.  There is a distinct possibility that gay men hate me.  How do I know this?  Because of our (first Jane, then my) landlord right there on Keith Ave.  The duplex, stunning, almost New Orleans-style building, was owned by a couple.  The older man was lovely and soft-spoken and then there was his younger, good looking German boyfriend.  I’m telling you he’s German on purpose because I want you to envision our fighting. Me, little Jewish broad, landlord, hot-headed Aryan, sporting six pack abs and a heavy German accent.  Screaming matches.  Over what?  I don’t remember.  Then, because one other gay man wasn’t keen on me, I came up with this lame conclusion that is just not true.  What is true is that I’m either loved or hated.  By everyone.   Not usually an in between for me.  There’s not a neutral reaction when someone is asked if they like me.  It’s strong.  Get it?   Not sure what it is they hate, pretty sure it could be my really big balls.   I now know a few gay men that really like me, so I’m throwing the theory out.

me, holding my newborn baby Oliver with cat Axel in West Hollywood apartment


Next place that Jane and then I moved into was this beautiful three bedroom, two bathroom pad in Beverly Hills.   Low enough rent for me to be able to afford.  I wanted it badly. Right across from our old high school, Beverly.  Jane had totally fixed it up.  Sanded the hardwood floors and then bleached them white.  Crystal door handles.  Lovely hardware on everything and gorgeous chandeliers.  She was moving and remembered to give it to me as a hand-me-down.

The day I moved in, all the grooviness was gone.  Jane was gone with all her stylish furniture and with her she took a wall-to-wall rug (but left the ugly, now useless padding) in the bedroom and most fixtures.  I called Jane.  “ Where is the rug in the bedroom, Janie?”  “Fred, I just bought it, so I took it!”  Oy.  I had to scramble since my furniture was on the way.  Called my old friend Chris, who I remembered told me he was laying rugs, in that business with his family.  Quickly, he threw down a new wall- to-wall rug for the one room, and the rest of the apartment had that wonderful bleached wood floor which gave the whole place a light bright look.

Celebrity detour.  Just take it.

Angelina Jolie as a young girl

When my kids were little, still living in the apartment across from Beverly High,  there was a stunning 12-year old girl that would play with a South African family’s kid.  They hung out in our courtyard and we would stare down from the second floor at this gorgeous child.  She had these piercing greenish/blueish/greyish eyes, dark brown hair and thick sexy lips.  Angie was her name.  Rumor had it that her father was the famous actor Jon Voight.  Although,  not half as famous as Angelina Jolie is now.   The thing I remember most about the family from South Africa was their screaming.  The mother always apologized to me and told me hundreds of times the reason for the yelling was that they lived in this mansion in Johannesburg and just couldn’t get used to such a small apartment.  It never made sense, but I would nod politely.

Jane at her wedding where Rod Stewart was the usher, in white, he changed later into blue (that’s the way he rolls)

Jane got married in the 80’s at a church in Beverly Hills.  Just blocks from where I was still living in that second hand-me-down apartment with the stunning bleached wood floors.    Her usher for the event was Rod Stewart.  So, when you walked into the church, Rod, dressed in all white, extra cool, British and rockin’, walked all the guests down the aisle, linking arms and escorting each of us to our seats.   He was really fun and manic, and no wedding I have gone to since can compare.  I mean come on, it was Rod Stewart!  The reception afterwards took place at his groovy house.   Should have told him to give it to me as a hand-me-down.  I gawked a little that night.  Couldn’t help it.  Not in that obvious way, but in the don’t-worry-about-me-I-grew-up-around-famous people-so-I-can-keep-staring, kind of cool way.  They know the difference.

Jane and I grew up and we now own our own wonderful homes.  There will never be any more hand-me-downs.  I love her home and her taste.  And whenever she comes over to my place, she looks out the floor-to-ceiling, arched window of my 1920’s Spanish bungalow, eyes my front courtyard with its green and blue tiled pool –fashioned after a Mexican fountain — and says, “It’s fabulous, Fred!  I could live here and be very happy!

I would like to dedicate this story to my daughter Augie, who just today signed the lease on her very first apartment.  Maybe she’ll trick it out and hand it over to Jane’s daughter Camille one day.

When our kids were small…Augie on far right, Camille, second in from left side

Augie (second from left) and Camille (far right) modeling


Palm Restaurant

I was sort of kidding about gawking.  In fact I had met Rod once in the 70’s and he’s very accessible.  Speaking of the 70’s and celebs, The Palm Restaurant (opened in 1975) is walking distance to the apartment I lived in on Keith Ave, and if you don’t actually see a celebrity there, which you might, you can see them drawn on the walls.  The trend of drawing the caricatures and cartoons on The Palm Restaurants walls started in the 1926 at the first Palm Restaurant in New York on Second Ave.  It attracted a large clientele of cartoonists who worked nearby and they would draw the pictures in exchange for meals.

Now lets talk about lobster.  This is the only place I go when I am craving lobster.  I would often go with my dad and he would rock wearing the bib.  We would order half and half (half cottage fries, half best fried onions ever)  to go with our big-ass lobster meal.  I’m a freak for their lobster but if someone I’m with orders a steak which happens to be great, I will happily share.   I love how old school they are– that they have both Hollandaise and Bearnaise sauce. Don’t worry if you don’t live in Los Angeles because The Palm Restaurant is in just about every single town.  Find your nearest Palm Restaurant. http://www.thepalm.com/Find-Your-Palm

More Palm Restaurant

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8 Responses to “Hand Me Downs”

  1. pauli says:

    So much ground you covered – like a runway for your voice really.

    It is better to evoke strong emotions either positive or negative.

    Who wants to be….meh? I’m sure Angelina has the same problem. But I am willing to bet that more people love rather than hate you, Fredde.

    How can we ever forget that first lobster at The Palm – I was working for Peter & Lynda Guber at the time and felt so decadent eating five pounds of leftovers from their seven pound main course. Memories….

  2. Carol Ward Dudley says:

    A day would not be complete without reading one of your posts – always so interesting and fun – what a life Fredde – Much love C

  3. Mumy says:

    Perhaps having Usher as an usher would trump Rod?

    Good one, Ms. Duke. As always.


  4. Doreen Ringer Ross says:

    I’m still trying to figure out if fag hag is offensive or not. 😉
    I bet Jane’s places were amazing…..just like your writing.

  5. Mitch says:

    Makes me want to drop by the Palm right now.

  6. David Miller-Engel says:

    ate at Palm II couple of weeks ago..2 for one one Lobsters and wine…..what a deal….great writing Fredde !

  7. Augie Duke says:

    I love it.. Congrats to Camille and i for getting our own pads, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.. Crazy in the same week too…

  8. gari says:

    fredde i loved this!! i can visualize everything you talk about~you have a wonderful style of writing!!

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