2 Nights at the Alta Cienega Motel
I have stayed in some old motels. Sometimes they can make you feel nostalgic and remember a time when they handed you an actual key with one of those big diamond shaped key chains with the room number on it. Not the safest practice in the world, but those were different times.
The original idea to go to LA was to see a good friends band play at the Viper Room (The Watchers put on a great show by the way.) Also, I am a huge Doors fan, which brought me and my wife to the Alta Cienega Motel, where Jim Morrison once basically lived. While he most likely stayed in many of the rooms, his favorite was room 32. This room has become a shrine to Morrison as fans from all over the world graffiti up the walls with everything from lyrics and poetry to drawings of mushrooms and dicks. This is the Alta Cienega’s cash cow, and I suspect the only thing that keeps them open. They charge extra to stay in, or even look around this room.
I called on Thursday night to reserve a room, which turned out to be completely unnecessary. The guy on the other end of the phone seemed uninterested and I could picture him pretending to write down my name and number. He did not ask for a credit card to hold the room which was my first clue that this might be a sketchy place. I was concerned about parking, so I asked him if we would have a spot when we got there, “um..yes we have parking.” This did not make me feel assured that we would have a spot when we got there.
Let me provide the positives about the Alta Cienega first. It was less than a 10-minute walk from the heart of the Sunset Strip, right around the corner from Barney’s Beanery, and there were other great food and entertainment options nearby. I also stumbled onto a few historic Doors spots just by walking around, for example, the building they recorded LA Woman in is literally right around the corner. Other than location, this old place really didn’t have much going for it. The famous Morrison room is about the only other reason to even look at this place. The other patrons of the Alta Cienega were cool as well. The guys in the room next to us were drinking beers on Saturday afternoon, so I went out to BS with them for a while and we had a lot of laughs. They were there for a show at the Roxy and were equally unimpressed with the Motel. The price I guess would be a positive since everything else is $200 and up in this area.
As it turned out, parking was not a problem that first night. I thought we may be the only ones staying at the hotel as the only other car in the in the lot was the owners mini-van. It was eerie to say the least. I paid cash at check-in. I was quoted an $84 rate, but he charged me $97 plus $8 for parking. I had read reviews that said this was common, so I was expecting it. I also had a show to get to, so I just paid it and didn’t argue. Not worth the time for thirteen bucks. We barely had time to look at the room and drop our luggage off before we headed out to the show. As we opened the door, Dre said it smelled. It did. It smelled like Lysol was being used to cover up various other unpleasant smells. The carpet was dark stripes and loosely fitted to the room. The walls were a greenish color and there were t obvious damage marks about 2 to 3 inches long, one over the bed and one on the far wall. The carpet looked like it had not been vacuumed in years. It was dirty, cigarette burnt, and torn. I spotted a finger or toe nail on the carpet. There were 2 light fixtures attached to the walls that had probably been there since before anybody had even heard of the Doors. This place was dated, but it was also filthy. I checked the bed and furniture for bed bugs, and we seemed clear. We decided we could deal with everything else, as long as we didn’t bring anything home with us and decided to stay. I had already paid, so we really didn’t have a choice.
When we got back to the room after the show, we were both feeling the cocktails and really didn’t care where we had to sleep. I did notice the mattress pulling us both to the middle of the bed, and upon looking under the bed in the morning, notice the 2 supports for the center of the bed had been broken. In the morning light, things did not get better. We decided it was best to keep the lights low and curtains shut so we would not see things like the random fluid that was dripped across the small table that was in the room or the liquid stains that were on the two small office type chairs that were by it. Unfortunately, we could not un-see the random hairs stuck to the wall in the bathroom and shower. As I hung my towel to dry in the “closet” corner, I thought I smelled piss.
As I sat in the room at one point in the late morning, I heard a commotion outside. I could hear someone walking heavily and pulling a rolling luggage bag, the he yelled “You’re pathetic!” Right outside of my window stood a business man, in a blue button-up shirt. He as pissed I could no tell who he was yelling at, but I think it was one of the owners. He stomped down the stairs and then really started yelling when he got to the bottom, “BED BUGS, THEY HAVE BED BUGS, EVERYBODY GET OUT!”
I shrugged it off, I was fairly certain our room was bug free, and we had already stayed one night, so if there were bug issues it was probably too late, which is also why we decided to stay another night. It was a 4 to 5-hour drive to get home and even though the room was nasty, we really didn’t want to get right back on the road.
Soon there was another commotion I had watched a couple check into the Morrison room a few minutes earlier and now the owner lady was knocking on the door of room 32. A confused Asian lady answered the door and the owner kept saying “sorry”, then booted them out. I could hear the Asian lady say, “but we have already paid.” I don’t know if they ended up in another room or if they left.
There were 3 guys waiting by the check-in window. After some back and forth, the owner lady leaned over the balcony and said the room would be ready in 10 minutes. I am not sure if they double booked the room, or if these guys came in with more money, or what. Neither would surprise me, considering they tried to make me park for the previous nights parking, which I had already paid for, when I went to the window to pay for another night. Then at check out the following day when I went to pay cash for my Morrison Key chain, since that is all they take for them, they tried to say I had not turned in my key to room 28, which I had.
It was cool to stay where Jim Morrison stayed and to see and visit his old stomping grounds, but honestly, the Alta Cienega was a one-time thing for me. I have pretty low standards when it comes to Motels, and this one was below even my acceptance. I would recommend that if you want to see the Morrison room, see if you can catch it when it’s not booked, pay the fee to view it, and stay around the corner at the Ramada. The Ramada used to be the Tropicana and Jim stayed there too off and on. I have not stayed there, but it has got to be better than the Alta Cienega.
**Author's Note - It is now the Wednesday after we came home and we are both sick. It started to creep up on us on the way home. We both had sore throats and now have what we thing are sinus infections. Sinus pressure, sneezing, coughing, and basic misery. It's like our bodies are trying to get that nasty place out of our systems. It's really too bad, because if they cleaned that place up, it could be a really cool place to stay.
So There is a New Football League in Town
Well, maybe not in my town, but at least there is a startup league that is not technically part of the National Football Entertainment league. It appears that the Alliance or AAF as it is called (Alliance of American Football) has the blessing of the NFL as a developmental league. Players can sign NFL contracts while under contract to the AAF. You will recognize some familiar names on the field as well. The most recognizable so far is probably Trent Richardson. Kickoffs have been eliminated in favor of a 25 yard line start after scoring. Extra points are gone, as it is mandatory to go for 2 after every touchdown. Kickers are still around for the purposes of kicking field goals. The first week of the AAF brought some fast paced games and at least one monster sack on a quarterback (think helmet flying off kind of sack.) Amazingly, the QB got up and finished the game, hell he wasn't even phased. Tom Brady may have died taking such a hit on his delicate body, and the NFL would have expelled whoever did it from the league and possibly had the player executed. But this was just a QB sack in the AAF, as it should be. Part of a contact sport.
I live in reality though, and I remember the XFL take 1. I know ratings started strong then fell off, so as much as I am hopeful that something will come of this new league, I know it is a long shot. I just hope football fans (real football fans) will give it a shot. National Football Entertainment has had a monopoly on this great game for far too long and have pretty much ruined their version of it by overprotecting certain players and taking all of the hitting out of the game.
Good Luck Alliance. I for one am pulling for you!
For my derby people:
Top 10 reasons to go to Rollercon!
10. It’s Vegas
I mean, there is a reason so many people from all over the world vacation there.
9. The real world can suck.
So, take a break from it by visiting 24/7 derby world for a few days.
8. All of your friends are going to be there.
Some of these friends you have not met yet.
7. Hilarious themed bouts, that have the potential to turn into amazing games.
Where else can you see Unicorns skating against Narwhals?
6. Epic all-star battles, all for the love of the game.
Some of the best full-length bouts of the year can happen at Rollercon.
5. They have ramps now!
Even if that’s not your thing, it’s still pretty cool to watch the amazing things that people can do on them.
4. The pool.
Open 24 hours every night to Rollercon attendees. Each night tends to build toward the ultimate pool party, the Black and Blue Ball, which you will never want to end.
3. You can meet most of your derby crushes and idols and probably hang out with them.
You may even end up on the track with them!
2. During the week of Rollercon, you will run into fellow derby people all over Las Vegas.
In the casinos, in the bars, on Fremont Street, in the airport…they are literally everywhere, and it is great!
1. If you have never been, you literally have no idea what you are missing, but trust me, you want to go.
If you have been, and then decide not to go one year, your heart will hurt and you will be unbelievably sad watching all your friend having the time of their life (again) on social media.