I have always been fascinated by this idea of the “Hotel California.” First of all, the song, “Hotel California,” has to be one of the most brilliant songs ever written and performed. It just works on so many different levels. I think it captures the whole idea of “California,” perfectly, and it throws in a hint of darkness. I never really understood what the song was about until I lived in California for a few years.
When I was writing “Palm Avenue,” I wanted to explore my concept of the Hotel California into the story. Some of us burn all the bridges when we come to Hollywood and we know we are permanent guests from the moment we arrive, while others get sucked into the vortex not so consciously. Ashley in the book, falls into the first category of people, while Brady falls into the second.
Somebody told me, and I think this was under the influence of some kick ass marijuana and alcohol, that the song, “Hotel California,” was about people who come to California to seek fame and fortune in the entertainment business, and they get caught in the trap, where they can never leave, succeed or fail. “Relax, said the nightman, we are programmed to receive – you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” You can check out means a lot of things to me. You can check out of reality, which many of us do, or you can die – that’s another means of checking out. You just can’t go home.
Brady in “Palm Avenue,” follows Ashley to California. He has no dreams of being in the movie business or anything else. He only wants to be with Ashley, but he ends up in the Hotel California trap. The nice weather, the sex, the drugs, and the rock and roll. The money. The women. The seduction. Brady can’t seem to find the passage back to the place he was before. A passage in Palm Avenue describes Brady’s delimma, “If ever he had a reason to return home and get on with his life, he had it now. Yet, for some reason he couldn’t do it. It was if some invisible and gigantic magnet was anchoring him firmly in California. He didn’t know what it was, but he had to ride it out. Maybe California had something else in store for him?”
Brady and Ashley, like many people who come to Los Angeles from small towns, suddenly find themselves in a place where they can do anything they want and nobody will know about it or care. That is too much freedom for many people to handle, especially those people who are already carrying emotional baggage. Escape from reality becomes so easy. They just couldn’t kill the beast.