For natives and longtime transplants alike, Griffith Park remains a place of wonder. It is the largest urban park in the U.S.; bigger than New York’s Central Park and arguably possessing more cool retro splendor than pretty much any slab of grass and trees anywhere. It can be a creepy or sexy meeting place by dark, but during the day it’s a locale where Angelenos enjoy sunshine, nature and family fun, and many of us have been doing so all our lives. With this kind of history, myths and legends about the park and the things that have happened there never cease to sprout up. Writer and filmmaker Tim Kirk was so fascinated by the stories about this landmark region of Los Angeles, he decided to write a book inspired by them and to share more untold tales.
The Feral Boy who lives in Griffith Park, includes stories written by Kirk, who lives only two miles from the park and others (edited by him) including David Carpenter, Patrick Cooper, Rob Zabrecky, Steve Newman, Tim Davis and Josh Lawson. The author brings together these diverse local voices to share and profile unique characters that might only be found amid the infamous foliage of Griffith: “a murderous Western Swing guitarist, a golf caddie turned tabloid writer, a pair of tweakers at their first parent support group, a suicidal father taking his last hike,” ….and you get the idea.
Enjoy the Kirk-penned passage from the book below and see him read and sign (along with Zabrecky and Davis) at Beyond Baroque, 681 N. Venice Blvd. Venice; Fri., July 12, 8 p.m. (310) 822-3006. beyondbaroque.org/
SCOOP OF THE CENTURY
Stan found working the concession stand tedious. Before that, he’d worked in the pro-shop, which was better, but he’d still describe it as tiresome. Before that, he’d been a caddie, which hadn’t been a bore, but it was a lot of work.
All in all, he’d been working at the Wilson and Harding golf course in Griffith Park for nearly fifty years.
The only fun, really, had been selling his stories. In the fifties, it had been innocent stuff for the gossip rags. Stuff like who-was-dating-who – stuff he overhead golfers chatting about on the links. He’d get a couple bucks from the reporters in the bar for a few well-remembered tid-bits. As the swinging sixties and seventies came around, drugs were a big seller. His man at the Times moved to the tell-all rags and his lust for a good drug and sex scoop was insatiable. That was when Stan bought the Pontiac Firebird. Not bad for a guy who barely finished third grade.
Then, for a long time, it was so-and-so was gay, so-and-so was a lesbian, and Stan didn’t like that stuff too much, but, by then, he was really hooked on the game.
Along came the tabloids and his contacts started to dry up. And then, the thing that nearly killed the whole deal, he almost got caught. “LEE MAJORS CHEATS ON FARRAH” made him a pretty penny. Problem was that, not only was it not true, but somehow the gossip around the club turned on him. He’d blabbed. He was a rat. He was dirt.
Besides, the course took a dive, celebrity-wise. Not much dish left to dish.
So Stan laid low for a good decade. Probably closer to two.
Now…the concession stand. Soft drinks for the tee-totalers. Bags of chips for the losers too cheap for the clubhouse restaurant. Tedious. He’d been trying to sell the Haunted Park thing for years. He brought it out of mothballs.
The jist was this. Griffith J. Griffith was the namesake of the park. They could get a good picture of the statue near Los Feliz. Griffith wanted to give the city of Los
Angeles the land for the park – a lot of fucking land – and all the money to build the Observatory and the Greek Theater. For free. But the City wouldn’t take it.
Why? Cuz he was a shitty drunk. He was a shitty drunk when he got to LA and started calling himself “Colonel.” He was a shitty drunk when he had the peacock ranch in Griffith Park and sold feathers for the latest hat craze and tickets to see a live peacock up close. And when he did all the other crazy schemes that got him rich? He was a shitty drunk then as well.
How shitty? When he was 53, he shot his wife in the eye and tossed her out a second floor window of a hotel in Santa Monica. Salacious, right? And paid his lawyers so much that he got off with two years in San Quentin. Injustice, right?
Who would want a giant park in the middle of their city named after this asshole? Not Los Angeles.
Okay, they ultimately agreed to take the land and the money but long after Griffith J. Griffith was dead. And here’s where the “haunted” part came in. Apparently, his ghost walks the grounds of the golf course in the middle of Griffith Park at night. Apparently, a long-time employee has seen this ghostly visage several times over his many years at Wilson and Harding and heard it wail, “This park is mine. This park is mine” many many times.
Tabloid gold, right?
Nada. Not a nibble.
Until, the afternoon of Tuesday, April 13th, 1999.
Stan was on his way to the parking lot when he saw OJ Simpson putting his clubs in the trunk of his car. No big deal – OJ was always playing the public parks since his rich friends booted him from the fancy courses in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Though he’d been acquitted, no one believed he was innocent, and no one wanted him in their clubhouses. Except places like Wilson and Harding where no one gave a shit.
Stan’s old Pontiac stalled at the exit and OJ banged on the window. OJ was sweating and talking fast. OJ said that a guy had just pulled a gun on him. OJ told the guy, “take my wallet, take my car, take everything.” But the guy said “I’m not
here for the car. I’m here for you.” Thinking fast, OJ bit the guy’s hand. The guy dropped the gun and took off out of the lot in a white van.
Stan moved his car and OJ took off in hot pursuit.
When he got home that night, he went straight to his bookshelf and found his thesaurus. He looked up “haunted” and found a synonym: “cursed.”
Then he knew he had a story.
Excerpt from “The Feral Boy who lives in Griffith Park” courtesy of Tim Kirk and copyright Pelekinesis Books.