OUTLAW LA: PARADISE LOST

Johnny Angel / LA Weekly / December 18 - 24, 1998

Even in Hollywood, the mean streets grow eerily quiet by 2 a.m., but that was hardly the case at the Cadiz Apartments on North Sycamore Avenue on the 2nd of November. When the LAPD arrived at the complex to respond to a 911 call, a disheveled, wobbly, glassy-eyed middle-aged man greeted them at the door of Apartment 20, holding a small steak knife above his head. Miraculously, the cops didn't shoot the man (department policy dictates that officers have the right to shoot someone if they feel their life is in danger), but simply asked him to drop the utensil, and he complied. After that, he was taken out into the complex's courtyard and cuffed while the apartment was searched. Drug paraphernalia was found; he was taken into custody and booked on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, display of a weapon in order to avoid arrest, and drug possession. Outlaw L.A. co-writer Eddie Little, author of the hit crime novel and soon-to-be-released feature film Another Day in Paradise, was back in the grips of Johnny Law.

Little served 19 days at L.A. County Jail before making his $80,000 bail and then checked himself into a 14-day detox. He pleaded not guilty in L.A. Municipal Court and faces a preliminary hearing on December 22. If convicted of both of these strikes, Little could be sentenced under the three-strikes law to life in prison. (He's already got one strike for burglary, from 10 years ago.) "I can't believe what I did to myself, man," he says over and over again, on the way into the hospital facility where he has opted to spend the next six months.

Ironically enough, the man who is about to make Little's name a household word has apparently also hit bottom. Larry Clark, director of Kids and now Another Day in Paradise, has entered detox himself, according to NewLine Pictures, the company that is making Little's book into a feature film. Clark has said that in the past "I was a drug addict," but whether it was a relapse that sent the director into self-imposed rehabilitation is a matter of speculation. Paradise's star James Woods commented in a telephone interview last week, "I can neither confirm nor deny that, but given his behavior on the set, that's quite possible or even likely."

According to Woods, Clark's erratic personality on the set became increasingly difficult for Woods and his co-workers to bear. "My habits and values run contrary to his; I believe you should show up ready to work every day," said Woods. The two almost came to blows at one point, in part, Woods said, over their differing opinions on art and morality. "I'm sympathetic to Larry, he's a great artist with fantastic vision, but his takes on teen sexuality strike me as creepy," said Woods. "But we did turn out an amazing film despite all of the animosity."

And madness. At a press conference touting the film in Venice, Italy, Clark belted the film's producer, Stephen Chin. "Totally disgusting," said Woods. "Steve's 5 foot 3, 114 pounds; Larry's 6 foot 2, 210. I hate bullies - I told him, 'Larry, you ever try to hit me like that, I'll pick up a goddamn brick and fracture your skull.' Damn, that kind of lunacy went on every day - but, hell, if there's blood spilled in the making of a film, you know it isn't gonna be dull! All the same, I hope he manages to get a grip on his damned demons - before they end up killing him, you know?"

The same could be said for Little, the 44-year-old author of the acclaimed crime novel itself. A part-time club bouncer and furniture mover at the time of the book's publication, Little had, in two short years, sold the story to Clark, landed screenwriting deals with a pair of major studio houses, and launched his Weekly column. The author completed a European book tour to promote Paradise in October, his second novel (tentatively titled Steel Toes) was in the can, and he was working on a screenplay for Alphaville Productions at the time of his arrest.

So, Eddie, what the fuck happened?

"My mistake was going to Amsterdam alone," he says. "I was up there reading for this huge room full of people; they had me on between a rap act and some metal band. Who they were, I couldn't tell you. Anyway, I rocked the house, man, I felt like a fuckin' rock star - even was called back for an encore, man. The comedown was something I never experienced before, that after-stage crash that musicians talk about - I felt like my bones were getting crushed. So I did what I did - I copped and got loaded, and my life went right down the fucking drain, the worst mess I have ever been in, bar fucking none."

He isn't kidding. Among his papers, Little uncovered a citation from the Dutch airport police that stated, "Mr. Little arrived at the airport without passport and ticket, is somewhat confused and appears to be under the influence of tranquilizers." Also, according to his housemate, his behavior had gotten completely bizarre. "My neighbors were telling me that Ed was wandering around the courtyard, smoking and holding pleasant conversations with them - but was stark, buck naked at the time!" The drug-fueled lunacy reached its apogee on November 2. "I thought I'd heard this baby screaming, and I called 911," says Little. "And when the cops arrived, I was so paranoid, I figured that they weren't really the cops, just hoods dressed up as cops to rob me. That's why I got this stupid little butter knife or something, and I dropped it when they showed up. Damn straight I'm lucky they didn't shoot me." The LAPD then made their way into the apartment, where they discovered Little's works and took him away.

At this point, Little says, he's basically sick and tired of being sick and tired. "All I want is to get and stay clean, do my job and not go nuts again," he says.