Scooter Tramp Scotty- Hollywood Part 3

Article And Photos By: Scooter Tramp Scotty

Originally Published In The November 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Sunshine glistened off the Pacific Ocean on our left while the Malibu mountain range rose abruptly on the right. Sandwiched between these two landmarks, we traveled north along California’s famous Hwy-1. It was a warm southern California winter day, the old FL was fully loaded with my gear, and all 105-lbs of Little Laura rested on the back seat. The town of Ventura, where the David Mann Chopper Show was scheduled to begin, waited for us up ahead. This was an event I’d been looking forward to for some time. Because I have an aversion to hard travel we would arrive in the afternoon, stay the night in a forest beside a river I know of, then roll into the rally in the morning. The rally was pretty much as I’d remembered it. The place offered a band, vintage motorcycles, people, and had a pretty vast array of vendors. But for me the best of this gathering is always the opportunity to get reacquainted with friends. After all, although I’m from southern California, I seldom visit this place anymore. Because this is an Easyriders event many of their employees were in attendance and, since I wrote for them back in the mid-90s and early 2000s, it was good to see these guys again. I also ran into Milwaukee Mike of Cycle Source mag. Tim Bentley of Negotiable Parts (an HD junkyard) was also in attendance and of course I had to pick through the used parts at his setup. I pulled a brand new drive belt for my own bike from one pile and told Tim I wanted it. He said, “Help load the truck later and it’s yours”. Taking this for the deal of the day, I stuffed the belt into my saddlebag.

Panhead Billy Burrows showed up at Tim’s place. I’d run into him in Wyoming some months earlier and we’d spent a few days together. Billy’s a fascinating anomaly who’s been living from the back of his 1960 Panhead for 33 years. When I was new to full time motorcycle roadlife and very worried that those with such ambitions might be insane, Billy had a pretty big impact on me. We’d spent time together and I think it was his complete comfort in the nomadic lifestyle that eased my apprehension considerably. Think about it; in a world where one’s ambitions differ so dramatically from the norm it’s easy to feel very alone, and the importance and impact of meeting another person that felt the same was amazingly soothing. Billy, Tim, and I have extensive history together and it was good to hang with these guys again. The sunny southern California rallyday passed in a melee of social interaction and entertainment. Towards the end, it started to rain. When the vendors loaded and were gone Billy, Laura, and I decided that, rather than endure the rain, we’d make camp below the large awning roof above the doorway of one fairground buildings. While hanging there I invited Billy to come stay at the Hollywood house for a while. He had no set plans and, like myself, was able to follow any adventure to its final conclusion, so he agreed. By morning the sunshine was back and I watched smoke billow into the sky as Billy started that old Panhead. The thing had been smoking and backfiring in Wyoming too, and I marveled at the way he’d take that bike cross country regardless of its mechanical condition. A long time ago I learned from Billy that a bike does not necessarily need to be in tip top shape to make long journeys. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Ride it while it runs”, a friend had once said. We enjoyed a slow and easy ride along the coast with plenty of stops for picture taking. By afternoon I was back at the Hollywood house and Billy met the residents. In the few days I’d been gone the vibe here had changed considerably. I’d seen it coming though. For a while now there’d been problems among some of these folks, especially with Joe—the keeper of this little community. Although he loved the fun and off the wall parties, Joe tried to keep a semblance of sanity here and some of the residents had really gotten out of hand lately. Thankfully, it was not my problem. After my month’s stay in this place, it was obviously time to go. But where?

It had been while staying in Palm Springs just over a month earlier that I’d been contacted by a motorcyclist/actor. Justin Chatwin. Justin is a Canadian actor who’s probably best known for playing Tom Cruise’s son in ‘War of the Worlds’. He’s also had staring rolls in ‘The Invisible’, ‘Dragonball and several other popular films. Justin also does a lot of TV and is well known for his work on ‘Shameless’. So I guess this guy’s pretty successful. Anyway, he’d invited me to visit him in some nowhere high-desert town near Yucca. Justin had said he’d buy me a burrito and my response was, “Better be a damn good one if I’m gonna leave warm Palm Springs and come up there where it’s cold!”. I rode the 30 miles and that burrito turned into a swanky steak dinner. I’d learned that, although he’d spent 13 years in Hollywood kick-starting his career, Justin hated cities and very much preferred small nowhere places. He’d also told me that, although he loved his job, motorcycles were his real passion. Justin was interested in the book manuscript I’d written but seem unable to get published, and asked for a copy. I gave him one with a request that, if he actually read the thing, he’d circle rough spots and write down comments. After all, the manuscript was unedited. We’d kept in touch over the years and, now Justin invited me to visit him up in the mountains. I asked if it would be cool to bring Billy with me. Justin liked the idea and said he looked forward to meeting this old road dog.

It was another sunny southern California winter day as Billy followed my FL along the tiny twisting roads that traverse the small mountains behind Malibu. We had to stop in the parking lot of some little business to try and make heads or tails of the directions Justin had given me. It was not an easy task, and Justin had told me that maps and GPS did not help much up here. As dumb luck would have it, our host pulled up on a Buell and we simply followed him the remaining few miles home. At the end of a dirt road a little parking lot sat high up on a hill. In it was only a storage shed, one rotting panel truck, and an old pickup. Of course conversation ensued and, just as so many do, Justin was a bit taken with the old million-mile Panhead Billy rides. That thing’s a real conversation piece. In time we moseyed up to Justin’s little block house that sat atop another small but steep hill. The inside of this humble abode reminded me of many houses I’d seen or stayed in down Mexico way, except that this one had all the amenities and was in extremely good condition. Like the place I’d visited in Yucca, this little house was a loaner from a friend. Justin told me that, although his job paid well enough, he no longer desired a big house and liked to keep expenses low and life simple. This keeps him from taking roles he doesn’t want, and leaves him free to travel. Now where have I heard that before? We drank tea and talked for quite some time. I think Justin was just as enthralled with us as we were with him. After all, it was certainly an interesting mix of men with decidedly unusual lifestyles.

Conversation ran into the next hour, and eventually our new friend suggested we take a walk on this relatively unpopulated land that stood so high above the sea. Eventually, we reached the cliffs and watched the sun set into the ocean far below. After a while a strong wind began to blow, so at bedtime Billy laid his roll in the shed while I made camp inside the old panel truck that was set in the first parking area. Morning light permeated my sanctuary as I allowed the throws of sleep to slowly fade. Next came a knock at the door. After yelling, “Come in”, Justin stepped inside with a cup of tea in one hand and my manuscript in the other. I always bring coffee home at night then drink it at room temperature in the morning, so we enjoyed our beverages while bullshitting for a while. Justin had read my manuscript and come to talk about it. I got a pen, paper, and prepared to take notes. That boy had some pretty good ideas, some I wouldn’t use, but I was happy for the input just the same. In truth, I forget the exact events of that sunny day. There was a lot of relaxation and bullshitting in the morning and Justin made burgers for lunch. Eventually Billy decided to ride off and visit his friends at Easyriders magazine headquarters—which was just over the mountain. By late afternoon he was back, and that evening we piled into the old pickup (loaned to Justin by a friend) and rode into town for a restaurant dinner. Although nothing of great importance happened, for me it was a wonderful night on the town. The following morning, we all sat in the kitchen drinking coffee and I found it fun to have a real actor serve me breakfast in the little house on the hill. Our gathering would end that day. Billy and I were ready to roll and Justin had other obligations. It was late morning as Billy and I rode away while Justin followed in the pickup to grab a few photos. Eventually though, he returned to the block house and we continued along the tiny snaking road that led on.

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