Sunday, November 23, 2008
I wasn't writing songs on the 11th story ledge of the Continental Hotel in 1971, I was writing my obituary. I gazed out over the concrete below. There was no stardom. No clever words left in me on that day. Just a sickening need to kill off the memories of what had gone wrong. The smiley faced kid with a guitar and a song for every occasion had been transformed into a full fledged addict alcoholic with a death wish.
Looking out from the ledge I began noticing people on the decks of their homes dotting the hills behind the hotel. This small part of the world now had it's gaze fixed on me hovering there above the Sunset Strip. I was the freak show of the day for those who lived in the area.
Don't get me wrong. I was was the one who decided to do what I was doing, but there was something odd about watching them watching me as I sat perched like a bird on the hotel ledge. I wondered if they wanted me to jump? I expect it was a combination of both. You know, wanting to see it, but not wanting to see it at the same time.
Hell, I didn't fully understand it myself. Part of me wanted to just quit fucking around and do it, and another part of me was saying, "Now wait a second." I was pushed back and forth between these two conflicting forces. I wanted to stop feeling what I was feeling alright, but I was also sitting 11 stories up looking down at the pavement below.
By this time, the L.A. Sheriff's Department had taken control of the hotel and Sunset Blvd., and shut off public access to me. The news media surrounded the hotel, and a helicopter circled above me, moving in lazy turns, looking for the best shot I guess.
One story below me, the L.A. Fire Rescue Team contemplated throwing a rope around my dangling legs, on the theory they could pull me down to the floor they were on. They decided it was too risky, contemplating they might lose me in such an attempt. This discussion had been captured on television news footage from inside the hotel room with the Fire Department and later shown on TV.
The incredible level of psychic pain and confusion I was in kept me doggedly clinging to the ledge for safety, while at the same time I was ham strung by my own determination to end my life. It is one thing to think you've decided to jump off a building: it is a whole other thing to actually be there looking down, and do it.
I cried as I thought about Diane and how she had thrown herself from the 6th story window of her apartment. I cried for my father, who had gassed himself to death in his own car in his garage. I was amazed at the level of their conviction to carry out those acts as they had, and that I was now facing on that day in 1971.
Right about then I was startled by a voice of someone yelling at me from my right. I turned and saw a guy hanging halfway out his hotel room window, with a camera in his hand. "Go ahead man," he yelled, "I got you covered all the way down. Go ahead," he shouted again, with a big smile waving his camera.
This guy was about 15 or 20 feet from me with half his body out the window. I stared at him dazed, realizing he wanted me to jump so he could take my picture. He was egging me on. All of a sudden a force behind him, pulled his ass out of the window and back into his room.
I could hear loud yelling coming from the window. It was the L.A. Sheriff's Department. They had kicked in his door and arrested him. I began yelling and crying hysterically at the window where he had been, and screamed, "Yeah, fuck you you asshole. Go fuck yourself." I became highly agitated, and moved my body to the very edge. "You wanna see me jump you asshole? You wanna see me die? Ok man, you fuckin' asshole I'll jump, fuck it."