Debbie Kruger
Jetsetter USA LOS ANGELES 2004
As part of my overseas trip in 2004 to gather interviews and photographs for my book on Australasian songwriters, I spent a brief (by my standards) two and a half weeks in LA. It's always the same when I fly into LA — I pick up my car, hit the 405 freeway, turn on the radio to Arrow 93 or KLOS, hear some classic rock tune that confirms exactly where on the planet I am, and head to wherever I'm staying like I've never been away. This time it was KLOS, the Eagles' "Hotel Callifornia" and up to Henry's house in North Hollywood.

Usually I am in LA for these visits in the late summer, around August and September. This time it was early summer and the weather was cooler than I prefer and prone on some days to the effects of the notorious June Gloom (what they call the "marine layer" of fog that overlays the entire city for most of the day). I still got some happy beach time at my favourite Malibu stretch — Zuma Beach — and had a glorious four days at Sharon's house in Palm Springs. And ate and shopped and saw good friends and even went sightseeing. Here's some of what I got up to.

After settling in at Henry's my first port of call was a visit to my wonderful friend Paul Zollo's house. Paul lives in the same area as Henry in North Hollywood, and is a fabulous author and journalist. Among his books is Songwriters on Songwriting, which you can find out about on my Essential Reading page. The book changed my life and is the template for the book I'm currently writing on Australasian songwriters. Paul Zollo and his brilliant book
Deb with Paul's brilliant books Paul has also written a book about the history of Hollywood called Hollywood Remembered. He is a real expert on Old Hollywood, as he likes to call it. I was very happy to receive not only the Hollywood book but the latest edition of his songwriters book. Both weighed down my luggage considerably, but were worth it.
Blake is my old pal who I worked with in the Variety days in the late 1980s. In recent years he has been running the Asia Pacific bureau of Hollywood Reporter, and now he has moved to LA to work as the magazine's International Editor. Lucky boy. We had a drink at Luna Park, a groovy bar on La Brea, follwed by dinner at The Standard in West Hollywood. And then he disappeared home to Sydney for a two-week break so we didn't get to hang out any more. Next time, Blake...
Usually my visits to LA are booked up with great concerts to go to. Alas, this time I came earlier than the peak summer concert season so there was nobody to see except the Venice boys in their other guise, the Pine Mountain Logs. Check out the Venice website for details.
The gang of friends at Agoura Hills So, anyway, the Pine Mountain Logs played at the strange but enticing Canyon Theatre Club in Agoura Hills, north of LA. I met up with some of my music-lovin' friends for some food first. Left to right are Gary, Gayle, Barbara, Deb and Russ. Russ and his wife Julie run a monthly series of house concerts at their home, definitely something to experience. Check out their website here.
Here I am with another music-lovin' friend, the one and only Punkin Pie. Year in, year out, without fail on a Tuesday night, Pie is holding court at the Backstage Cafe in Beverly Hills. By day an inconspicuous cafe and bar, and by night a rockin' rollin' crazy hangout for music industry types, blonde and beautiful babes, and Pie's various friends. She didn't know I was in town so I just cruised on in late one Tuesday night and surprised her, then sat by her side drinking champagne until the early hours, being introduced to all manner of people including the manager of Kiss, who'd just returned from the band's Australian tour. Deb and Punkin Pie
Debbie in interview mode The main reason for taking this big trip was to conduct interviews for my songwriters book. A separate photo gallery tracking the book's progress is on the Songwriters Speak section of this site, but I did think this was a nice portrait to show you here. Taken by my dear friend Henry Diltz, this was me in the midst of an interview with Colin Hay in Topanga Canyon. Henry took some terrific photos of Colin, and on the same day we went up to John Farrar's incredible Malibu home and photographed him. You can see all the pics from that day here.
Henry and I returned to Malibu five days later for a photo shoot of me in the early evening sun for possible author cover/publicity photos for my book. Here we are on the Malibu pier, a beautiful photo Henry took by just sticking his arm out and aiming my camera in front of us. As he does. Debbie and Henry
Henry at Malibu Here is Henry, the most casual and unpretentious of photographers, eyeing me on the pier. I have worked with Henry over the years doing PR and have a page about some of our work together here.

I'll save most of the photos he took of me for when the book comes out, but a couple of them belong here as they show the glorious relaxed California glow that I was feeling, being back in a place I feel so happy and at home.

Debbie at Malibu Debbie at Malibu
Actually, I have to be honest and tell you it was bloody freezing on that pier. The temperature on the coast is always considerably lower than up in the San Fernando Valley, where Henry lives. And in June, when summer really hasn't hit full force, it can be decidedly chilly in the evenings. But I had just been in Palm Springs for four days and was feeling very summery. Debbie on Malibu Pier
Palm Springs skyline Ahh, Palm Springs. The blue blue desert sky. The spectacular mountains set behind the palm trees. The hot dry weather - so nice for suntanning and so good for keeping frizzy hair straight. My friend Sharon moved to Palm Springs from San Francisco in 2000 and I'm very happy to have her there.
Here I am, so perfectly where I love to be, in the pool, thoughts far from the wintery cold of Sydney in June. Would that I were back there right now... Debbie in the pool
Sharon Here's my darling friend Sharon on one of the many unique artwork seats that are placed along the main drag in downtown Palm Springs. We'd just been to see Shrek 2, had gone to a diner for dinner — where I had been confronted by the world's largest cob salad — and were now in pursuit of Coldstone ice cream.
I completely blame my friend Debi Aviv for the whole Coldstone craze I went through on this trip. She told me about it when I was with her in Irvine the weekend before. I don't know why I had never discovered Coldstone before — there are Coldstone Creamery shops all over America — but once I tasted it I was hooked. Very very dangerous stuff. Debbie with Coldstone ice cream
Sharon and Debbie in Palm Desert Sharon and I went out for dinner another night to a fantastic seafood restaurant on El Paseo, the Rodeo Drive of Palm Desert. We'd been shopping all day at the Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall in Cabazon — I mean serious shopping — and I was weary, depleted and dehydrated. And while we waited for our table I consumed a glass of wine that went straight to wherever it goes when you get intoxicated, and I was ridiculously tiddly for the rest of the night. At the point that we stopped some stranger to take this photo after dinner, I had managed to calm down from prolonged hysterical laughter and Sharon was managing to keep a straight face in spite of my riotous behaviour. You had to be there, but it was quite a night.
This is what I mean by serious shopping. Although I hasten to assure you that not all of these bags are mine. Two of them are Sharon's.

Debbie at the Outlet Mall

Back in LA, or Malibu to be more exact, Henry and I followed our sunset photo shoot with dinner at Guido's, a great Italian restaurant, with our friend Ned Doheny. Henry, Ned and I have been getting together for dinner every time I am in LA for the past six years or so — since I lived there. Usually we go to Lucy's El Adobe in Hollywood, but finally I put my foot down and said I did not like the food at Lucy's, in fact I am not very keen on Mexican food at all. (Those SoCals so love it). Debbie and Ned dine at Guido's
Henry, Debbie and Ned Another of our traditions is to talk about the camping trip in the desert that will probably never happen. The three of us are going to Joshua Tree, or Death Valley — I don't mind which, I would just really like to go. It's always, "Next time you're here, Debbie."

Ned is a brilliant songwriter, singer and guitarist. When he gets his website up and running I'll link to it.

A few days later, with June Gloom blanketing the LA sky, Paul Zollo took me out for a day of sightseeing in Hollywood, particularly in the narrow, winding, hidden streets of the Hollywood Hills where the oldest homes were built in the original Hollywoodland Estate, and from where you can get every possible view of the Hollywood sign. Hollywood sign
Here's one view...

Debbie under the Hollywood sign

And here's another

Debbie and the Hollywood sign again

You can also see the Hollywood sign from the Hollywood Reservoir, or the Mulholland Dam as it is also called. Paul was full of terrifying facts about what would happen to everyone living not just in Hollywood but in all of the west side of LA, should the dam ever break. Let's just say, you wouldn't want to be there if that happens.
Hollywood reservoir Mulholland Dam plaque
You're not supposed to take photos at the Mulholland Dam. I know not why. Maybe they think someone will figure out the entire workings of the dam's engineering from an automatic digital photo and plan a terrorist attack. That would be awful, to be sure. I took some photos anyway. Here's me and Paul looking very innocent on the dam wall. Paul and Debbie
Paul Zollo Paul took me for lunch at the famous Beachwood Cafe in Beachwood Canyon. We had lunch there last time I was in LA, too. Damn fine sandwiches. At the top of Beachwood Canyon is a horse ranch, which featured in David Lynch's movie Mulholland Drive.
Up in another of the hidden Hollywood canyons is the original Bat Cave, where the Batman television serious was filmed. The cave and surrounding disused quarries have been used as locations for other TV show and feature films. Debbie at the Bat Cave
Debbie at Hollywood Bowl We went to the Hollywood Bowl later on to check out the new hi-tech stage and lighting rig. The Bowl was re-opening that week for the summer season. My last visit there had been in 2000 to see Brian Wilson and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra doing the Pet Sounds Symphony concert.
Nobody seemed to mind when we walked onto the stage. I thought Paul looked very at home there. Perhaps one day he will do a reading from one of his books up on that stage.
Hollywood Bowl Here's a close-up of that new lighting rig. Pretty impressive. The Hollywood Bowl is an awesome venue by any measure.
Even more awesome is the new Disney Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. We went in for a quick look and I really wanted to book a ticket for a concert! Next time for sure. Obviously LA's answer to the Sydney Opera House, although an entirely different kind of architectural wonder. It would have been nice to see it with a blue sky above, but I wasn't disappointed. Disney Hall
Disney Hall Deb at Disney Hall
One evening my friend Hank Linderman, record producer and very nice guy, invited me to his home to have dinner with his lovely family. His home studio, which is called Parsons Green, is where Robert Lamm recorded his last solo album Subtlety & Passion (my favourite CD of 2003), and where the likes of Gerry Beckley, Timothy B Schmit and other luminaries of the LA music scene have taken off their shoes and unleashed their vocal chords. Debbie and Hank
A few days before leaving LA I took an early evening walk along the promenade at Venice Beach. The fog had cleared to a gloriously bright, warm late afternoon, and all the usual crazies, peddlars, rollerbladers, skateboarders, tourists and other colourful characters were out in force.
Venice Beach
Venice Beach It was a magical hour, and brought back a lot of memories for me of my visits to LA in the early and mid-1990s, when I stayed with Judy on Washington Blvd down near the Venice Beach pier. One of the many things I love about LA is that I can revisit old haunts and still feel the same connection, yet always with a new perspective.
So this self-portrait taken at Venice Beach is a nice way to finish this page on my 2004 visit to Los Angeles. Because I'm looking off at the horizon, thinking about the next time I'll be on that side of the Pacific. Again and again and again. Debbie at Venice Beach
Related pages from this trip:
London 2004
San Francisco 2004

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