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From a Facebook sidebar ad..


I just hope they won’t mind if I take my scooter to the scene of the crime,
and they should know I’ll have to pee a lot.

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Astor Chocolate


The Internet is making it increasingly difficult to hide from anyone and be invisible.

Especially if you have a blog that’s been around for a while, and Google seems to like it so they give you a 4/10 ranking, which isn’t great but it’s not exactly a bucket of warm spit.

I threw up in my mouth a little just then.

Case in point – Walter sent me an email a few days ago. He found me online by doing a search for things about Hollywood, so he must have read one of my previous accounts of working as a security dispatcher at the Hollywood & Highland Center, a retail/entertainment complex on Hollywood Blvd.

Walter was one of the security guards there and I was a mid-level supervisor, meaning that any regular security guard on the team was under me, but I had about 18 bosses over me. It sure was fun.

I was a dispatcher so I’d sit in the dispatch center and watch all the craziness of Hollywood happen on a series of cameras that fed into our monitors and if something interesting went down, I’d call the security guards on the radio and tell them to go take care of it.

We had this outdoor camera that could see the corner of Hollywood and Highland. It was mounted over the Gap Store, overlooking the sidewalk, and we could pan it back and forth while zooming it in and out with a little keyboard joystick thingy, which sure was bitchin’.

Hollywood And Highland Gap Store

The Hollywood & Highland Gap Store. The security cam is just to the left
of the stoplight up at the top of the palm tree, on a white mounting bracket.

One day I noticed this odd person standing on the corner. He/she was black, but I couldn’t figure out if this was the ugliest damn woman I’d ever seen or a crazy fat black man in drag. He/she was wearing a blond wig, short skirt and jack boots that covered the lower part of a pair of horrendously hairy legs.

But what really stood out about this person was the sword he/she was brandishing at pedestrians and cars. There was a lot of yelling on his/her part as he/she swung the sword around and, as you’d expect, people walking by gave him/her a wide berth and some scurried away with frightened looks on their faces.

The first thing I did was place a 911 call. I described a “possibly mentally unbalanced person brandishing a sword on the corner of Hollywood and Highland.” I gave some other details – description, my name and position, etc. – then I put out a call on the radio to our security team..

“All officers, information only.. we have a 5150 (crazy) subject of unknown gender on the corner of Hollywood and Highland brandishing a sword in front of the Gap Store. It’s public sidewalk area and PD has been notified, all officers are advised to stay clear for safety, this is for your information only.”

We kept the camera on the person, mainly because if he/she were to hurt someone we’d have it on tape, since the cams record everything they’re seeing. A lot of people don’t like the idea of being videotaped when they’re out in public, but there you have it.

About a minute later the nut-job was still brandishing the sword and the police hadn’t arrived yet. Into the scene strolls officer Walter. I’d advised all of our team to stay away because they were not armed or trained to deal with someone like this but I guess he hadn’t heard that part, so I called him on the radio and told him to back off.

He didn’t answer.

He walked up to the nut-job and started talking to him/her. There were about five of us gathered in dispatch now, including the Watch Commander, and I just knew we were about to see Walter’s head get lopped off and go rolling down the sidewalk before coming to rest in a storm drain.

Fortunately for him, all that happened was a brief conversation. Then Walter stepped away and called me on the radio..

“Dispatch, I question that subject and he say is just a costume sword that is fake, so that is code 4 (all clear).”

Walter, being Filipino, was not a close friend of the English language. More like a casual acquaintance.

I keyed the microphone.

“Walter, get up here.. NOW.”

When Walter arrived in dispatch, the nut-job was still in the same place but he’d placed the sword in a sheath on his waistband (Walter said it was a “he” now, so at least we got that much cleared up.)

The cops were just arriving. I didn’t say anything to Walter – I just told him to watch.

Two cops approached the guy, but didn’t get closer than about 20 feet. The one in front had one hand on his holstered gun while pointing at nut-job and barking some orders, which were probably “get your hands on your head, now!” because that’s what nut-job did. Then the other cop walked up behind him and removed the sword from the sheath. Once nut-job had been separated from his sword, the one behind him took it over to the police car and put it in the trunk. The other had a conversation with nut-job and then whipped out a ticket book and wrote a citation.

I told Walter to go back on duty. After they were done with nut-job, the two cops came into the dispatch center and told me the sword was indeed quite real. They’d confiscated it but they didn’t arrest nut-job because they hadn’t seen the brandishing part, and they felt that since nobody was hurt and the sword had been taken away, there was no need to go to all that trouble.

Then they went downstairs to Starbucks and had some coffee.

Starbucks at Hollywood and Highland

Later, I told Walter about the sword being real and how he could have ended up with his head in a storm drain. We both agreed, as did the Watch Commander who was present and being all frowny-faced, that he’d need to be more careful in the future and listen to what dispatch tells him.

So he emailed me the other day. It’s been like, seven years, and out-of-the-blue I get an email from officer Walter, who is no longer a security officer but is now back in the Philippines..

Hi, mr rhodes remember walter of hollywood security? well hope you still remember me. the reason why im writing you is, i red you write up during our fun days in hollywoodland  mall kodak theater, I really feel good when i red it  first i was wondering who wrote it until i realize that it was you the dispatch boss. well im back here in philippines and hoping to be out here for canada by 2010. Just you to know that im so glad  that i saw your writing in you rhodester good luck and God Bless.

Isn’t that nice? I wrote him back..

Hi Walter,

Of course I remember you! I’ll never forget the great “disarming of the Hollywood Blvd drag queen by the hero security officer Walter” incident of 2002. I’ll bet small children in the Philippines love hearing that story told again and again in your native tongue.

My wife and I are in Palm Springs, which is in the desert, yet there are hundreds of lush golf courses everywhere. I don’t play golf but I hear it’s fun. There are Filipino people here too, most of whom are caddies, valets, bartenders and waiters. They make killer tips and buy nice homes with 30-year mortgages. I’m not making that up. They do quite well up here.

I write now. Like this – – I know! Sad, huh? I was thinking of getting a job as a security guy again but I’m not THAT desperate.. just a little.

If you’re ever around these parts, give me some warning notice and I’ll choose that time to take my European vacation. Just kidding. We’ll go golfing, I hear it’s fun.

Cheers, and best of luck to you too!

The truth is, I miss Walter and I’m glad he got in touch. We have a few drag queens here in Palm Springs, but none of which I’ve seen carrying swords. If one pops up though, I know who not to call.

Nikki from "Hello Nikki"

Of course, it was much more fun to watch pretty girls
on Hollywood Blvd, like blogger Nikki
from “Hello Nikki,” shown here in front of
the Hollywood & Highland Center

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Astor Chocolate


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