Day Five Hundred Ninety Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Despite our entreaties to the Captain and Tomas to stay out of the city, they left the safety of this place for that very destination. The Captain in particular was miffed that we had done the very thing we were denying them.

In the end Elijah extracted a promise from them to return before sundown.

While they were gone we had a visit from a neighbor. He, like Mr. Kagi and his friend, is an exile from the islands. He is very bitter about his loss, and felt comfortable in our presence to vilify Stan the one who had taken everything from him.

Our neighbor departed with the setting sun. And our concern grew at the absence of our friends.

Day Five Hundred Ninety Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Both the Captain and Tomas have finally gotten their land legs. The wait has been beneficial, for it afforded them time to concentrate on plans for the future. Elijah has been very supportive, preparing them for being on their own. For our paths may soon be diverging.

I took a walk around the immediate vicinity to get my bearings. This proved helpful for when Elijah and I made our way back into the city, we didn’t fall off the causeway into the rice paddies, going out or returning.

The city which had seemed empty from the ship in the darkness has transformed into a teeming anthill of people.

Strikingly, we each came away sensing the presence of a hostile spirit.

Day Five Hundred Ninety Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A day for goodbyes.

Most of the crew will be staying with the ship, if only to return to their homes whose ports were announced in the future itinerary. Others with no attachments want to spend their money and look about before shipping out again. Elijah met with them all after the transport service official’s time with them. It was a time to encourage and wish one another God speed.

We debarked with the Captain and Tomas in the heat of the afternoon. Mr. Kagi accompanied us to the gangplank in his first duty as captain. Before parting he gave us the name of a fellow exile from the islands.

Through his compatriot we found this place in the country.

Day Five Hundred Ninety Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The sun gave promise of burning through the fog by the late hours of the morning.  And indeed were dispelled the minute that the transport service official stepped onto the deck.

Much to the relief it seemed to the local denizens, whom we at last saw milling about in the sun.

Elijah and I took it as our cue to stay out of sight.

The official asked the Captain if he would continue with the ship. As this would require taking the mark, he declined. So did Tomas.

Mr. Kagi spoke up and volunteered himself for consideration. The official was noncommittal and went off to canvass the crew.

He left word that those not staying needed to depart by tomorrow.

Day Five Hundred Ninety Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Fog has settled over the area and unlike with the mysterious darkness, we know there is a sun somewhere up there. This, however, has not led to a change in attitude on the part of the denizens towards us.

The Captain went ashore (Mr. Kagi in tow) to initiate the handover of the ship.

In their absence, a robotic warship paid a call. And Tomas directed the transfer of the two deck containers to that craft.

The silence surrounding it was simply eerie.

Upon the return of Mr. Kagi and the Captain, we learned the fate of the ship. About the time we finish unloading Mr. Kagi’s possessions tomorrow, the global transport service official will arrive here to assume command.

Day Five Hundred Ninety Two #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Though by the ship’s clock, it was past midday when we arrived at the gateway to the East, the lights of the city were still lit against the cloying darkness.

The water was motionless and all sound muffled as we maneuvered up to our berth.

Workers appeared from nowhere to secure our lines and hurried back out of sight.

It was an odd welcome. Like they were fearful to approach.

This notion was indeed confirmed by the timid port official who finally dared to come aboard. Rumors were rife that we somehow were responsible for the unending night.

The two guards debarked with P as soon as they could. In one last audience we laid hands on him and prayed.

The 1977 California Trip: Hello Anxiety, the Fox Tour

The 1977 California Trip Fox Hello Anxiety2

The day after our exciting day on the Paramount lot, we were looking forward to our next studio – 20th Century Fox.

We went through Westwood on the way to Century City and saw the Avco Center Cinemas owned by my first employer, GCC. They were playing Star Wars to blockbuster business. (The film was then in its third or fourth week, piling up record grosses all across the country). We were tempted to brave the crowds later, but held off. (We had seen it already).

The entrance to the studio back then was off Pico Blvd on a long side street that lead to the visitors’ parking area.  Lining that street was a three story standing exterior set that was immediately recognizable. We could not help but rubberneck to take in the location where a song and dance number was performed and shot for Hello Dolly.  [The facade must be gone now, as it is not visible on any of the satellite map sites I checked].

I do not recall where it was exactly that we reported to begin our tour, nor do I remember who it was that took us around. I have the distinct impression that we were on our own exploring the lot. But then again some one had to have been with us to tell us what we were looking at.

We made our way through the rest of the New York set that branched off of the street we came in on. Past that we came out on one of the studio streets that ran by a series of four stages on our left, and a rather odd looking building on our right. Some big rig trucks were parked parallel to it, sitting idle. The building looked like an exterior mock up of a train station, including a raised platform in front of it. (In fact it had been used as such, see the following article). It is probably the oldest building on the lot (and may have been moved from its original position). Tom Mix, the cowboy star who appeared in Fox westerns, kept his horses in this “barn.” He was the original owner of the ranch it sat upon. Fox purchased this property when their older studio lots in Hollywood proved too small. (You can find a series of pictures of the site over time in this article).

With the exception of one film, not much was going on in the studio that day. We took a right and walked by some more stages, up to the area of the Tennessee Avenue gate. The bungalows kept for stars working on the lot were situated there. It looked for all the world like a neighborhood street from the thirties. That’s probably because they date from that period. A larger one on the corner was then the medical clinic for the studio, but had been the bungalow for the pint-sized savior of Fox during the Depression – the singing and dancing, cute as a button dynamo, Shirley Temple. (Another article)

At this point of the tour, the lunch hour had crept up on us, for the next stop was the commissary (aka Cafe de Paris). I ran across a picture recently that was taken after a remodel in 1976, the year before our visit. It’s exactly as I remember it right down to those two big planters.  The studio heads Dennis Stanfill and Alan Ladd Jr. were nowhere in sight, so they must have been in the executive dining room.

As I mentioned above there was one film in production – Mel Books’ High Anxiety.  It just so happened that at the end of April they had been doing exterior work up in San Francisco and in the Hyatt Regency in particular, the very place we had visited just a few days prior. Now Brooks was set up in Stage 14 for interior work, which was on the other side of those NY standing sets.

I had located a history that put the lounge song number from the film on that stage (the scene in which Brooks sings the title tune to Madeline Kahn). That was not the setup we saw that day. It was very quiet as we walked down the alley to the open studio door. A quietness that whispered everyone was taking a siesta. As we looked through the door a simple setting of furniture was arranged against white walls – a glass topped coffee table in front of a sofa. Though there was probably no one within, I could not shake off the feeling that people were there in the shadows holding their collective breaths waiting for us to go away.

Come December when High Anxiety was released I finally understood what we had seen on Stage 14. It was the comic scene played out between Cloris Leachman (Nurse Diesel) and Harvey Korman (Dr. Charles Montague), in which the camera shooting up from under the coffee table attempts to follow the two as they converse, only to have its view blocked by their movement of the cups, saucers and plates across its glass top.

A little bit of film history. Alright, minuscule. But we didn’t need to see “stars.” Just being there was a thrill. (We did have a brief encounter when we returned to the lot in 1985, but that’s a blog post for another day).

So stay tuned and Watch This Space.

Day Five Hundred Ninety One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The darkness barely lifted yesterday, and has returned with a vengeance today. It appears darkest at the point of the compass that marks our heading.

The Captain remarked to me that if he did not have Elijah’s strong word of confirmation, he would have turned aside.

Elijah and I took turns in the special cabin. Time spent here in our estimation is an indispensable preparation for the ordeal ahead. I know for my part I emerged energized and confident.

We divided our remaining time between the crew and P.

P informed us that he has been treated well. (This, under the guard’s watchful eye). I did note a few facial bruises, but said nothing. His devotion to Hamashiach is unwavering.

Day Five Hundred Ninety #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

No one liked the look of the sky today as we set sail.  It was dark and menacing.

Mr. Kagi haunted the bridge, hovering over each and every decision made by either the Captain or Tomas. And almost precipitated an incident by his insistence that we ignore a directive from the warship to halt.

The Captain sensibly put him in his place.

Thus, we received aboard three more passengers- two guards and their charge, the Raj twin P. We are to deliver them with our cargo.

Thankfully P is not being held under close arrest. So Elijah and I will be allowed to meet with him as long as at least one guard is present.

We will take every opportunity.

Day Five Hundred Eighty Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Though the port authorities signed off on our proposal, we did have one more hurdle to overcome. The commander of the warship, as the senior representative of the global government at this location, needed to grant his permission.

He kept us on tenterhooks all morning as he mulled over his decision. At last it came in the affirmative, with one proviso – we must carry some supplies for their ships at our next port.

The Captain agreed, and was happy to, as that meant taking on less ballast for the voyage.

Later, upon observing two containers being lashed to the deck rather than placed in the hold, I remarked to Elijah that it appeared we would be resupplying that robotic warship.