Once again, I’ll turn the spotlight over to a guest. This time, our esteemed contributor is Jessie from contrasts.net (yeah, that’s him on the right), who’s got a much sharper eye for the interesting details of everyday things than I do. Jessie’s got lots of other photos on his own site, so if your interest is piqued, feel free to indulge.
September 29th, 2001. The day I went to see “Glitter.”
Remember how in 1980 Bette Midler came out of nowhere and gave a knockout performance in The Rose as the singer whose quick rise to the top and equally fast descent into fame-induced hell charred the lives of everyone around her? Remember how Bette became the critics darling, got tons of new fans, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress to boot?
Well, none of that’s going to happen to Mariah Carey. Nope. None of it. She’ll never live this one down. (Future historians are likely to say that Mariah went straight to Beaches). The New York Post review of Glitter claims that whenever Mariah tries to emote in Glitter she simply looks like she’s lost her car keys. What they didn’t disclose is that not only is it beyond her limited capabilities to even “find her car keys,” but had she managed to find the keys in this movie, she would’ve been promptly out-acted by them.
Yes, Mariah’s problematic as the star of Glitter. (Of the seventeen times she says “what-eh-VUH,” probably only about two are Inside the Actor’s Studio-worthy). The directing is a big problem with Glitter. The nauseating “Let’s pretend this is a Bazz Luhrmann film!” editing style of Glitter is a problem. Hell, as far as I know, the catering service and the cat trainer were problems on the set of Glitter. But the real, systemic, DEEP DOWN problem with Glitter is simply:
The screenwri a couple of years back. Lemme tell ya, that screenplay was her Gentleman’s Agreement compared to this squishy dangle of Razzie bait. It puts the B in Banal.
Here’s a sample of actual dialogue from early on in the film, when Mariah’s character Billie (oh… as in Holiday! Gee thanks, Mom, for sublimating your frustrations at being a boozy lounge singer who never amounted to anything on ME!) first meets Dice, a Sleestak-y looking DJ thing (soon to be her producer-cum-boyfriend) at a downtown club during a theme night called “Least Convincing Recreation of 1983 — EVER”:
DICE: Name’s Dice — like lucky sevens.
BILLIE: I know who you are.
DICE: You do — really?
BILLIE: Yeah — I heard a lot about you.
DICE: Well. Don’t believe everything you hear.
Followed by a pause to allow the charmed audience to finish their peals of laughter and Kleenex away the tears of mirth.
Glitter contains exactly ONE good line. During her first (disastrous, natch) video shoot, lots of little pieces of silver foil are blowing behind Billie and her “comedy relief” backup singers (although the only relief I felt with those two was when they were NOT onscreen) and the director character, in a fake Russian hiss, cuts the action and yells, “The glitter CAN’T overwhelm the artist!” I kid you not. He actually says that. (And a lot of other director-y things in an accent WAY less convincing than Walter “Mr. Chekov” Keonig’s). The irony being, of course, that little silver pieces of foil caught in a wind machine actually ARE capable of overwhelming poor lightweight Mariah Carey.
Now imagine that the producers are asking the screenwriter to come up with a scene to show “you know, how Billie is an unsophisticated girl suddenly caught up in the whirl of Manhattan’s hip downtown scene.”
Great. What on-her-way-to-the-top movie would be complete without one of those scenes? So what did the screenwriter come up with? ESCARGOT! Yes, of course! There is actually a scene in Glitter where the befuddled Billie is served a plate of escargot in a fancy-schmancy restaurant — and she doesn’t know what to do with it! And we don’t even get the satisfaction of watching as Dice breaks the news to her that it’s really snails! She has no intention of eating it, whatever it is. Period!
Sigh. She could’ve at least done a Lucy Ricardo and clipped the snail-holder to her nose and tried one. Even a Pretty Woman Snails-a-Flyin’ Event would be better than simply cutting off the scene before the ached for and all-important snail reveal. O, what could have been.
I didn’t check the credits to see of there was a Script Continuity person hired for this movie. If that’s the person who’s supposed to make sure that all the scenes are strung together with SOME KIND of temporal sensibility, then either they didn’t have one, or he/she was more out of it than Billie’s mom.
OK, so after the “My Mom’s a Drunk and Burned Down the House With Her Cigarette So I Have To Go Live In New York With My Cat” prologue, the movie cuts from Billie as a child to Billie as a club slut in the aforementioned scene at the downtown dance venue. The subtitle says “New York — 1983.” Since Billie and Dice are all innuendo-ing around OUTSIDE, she in satin shorts, sports cap and pigtails that make her look like the bratty girl in Carrie, and he in an oooh-so-tight sleeveless black T and plastic pants number straight from next month’s OUT magazine, one can only assume that it’s NOT the dead of winter. So let’s be generous and say it was a very warm April Fool’s Day. Fine.
Now at the end of the movie, it’s her SOLD OUT (we are reminded a lot) concert at Madison Square Garden. A close up of the ticket stub says “June 30th, 1983.” Hold ON! Are we to believe that this entire movie, her whole glittering Homeresque epic journey from skanky back-up singer to sequin-gowned famous person, took less than 3 months!?!
I call no way.
And I swear that in a scene that shows Dice reading a Billboard magazine blaring the headline “Billie Franklin Sells Out MSG in 20 Minutes,” the issue was dated APRIL 1983! SO… not only is this movie a rags-to-riches story… It’s a TIME TRAVELLING rags-to-riches story! NOW I get it!
Dice gets shot in the chest and dies. Sorry to let that spoiler pounce on you like that, but we need to discuss the “Bad Guy” subplot (which is only slightly more annoying than the “Where’s My Mommie?” subplot). I don’t get it. Early in the movie, Dice offers Billie’s original manager a hundred large (Dice’s hip lingo for $100,000.00, not mine) to buy out her contract. He never pays the guy. So throughout the movie, the bad guy shows up every now and then and threatens to hurt Dice and/or Billie. SO WHY NOT JUST PAY HIM THE $100,000 THEY OWE HIM?
I mean, c’mon… Dice is on the cover of Spin magazine as DJ of the Year, owns a packed dance club (I think he owns it — he keeps calling it “my club”) AND has a beautifully appointed loft! SHE JUST SOLD OUT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN and has had a #1 hit for 10 weeks (another continuity problem). THEY HAVE (or at least can GET) THE MONEY! It’s not like they’re putting the loot up their noses. (This movie seems to think that music people in the 80’s didn’t do drugs — boy now that’s realistic!) But no. They have no intention of living up to their verbal agreement. Instead, they let the problem fester until finally, on June 30th, 1983, (that’s right…Billie’s big night!) the bad guy kills Dice. Billie of course goes on with the show (oh yeah — they’ve broken up at this point — it was a big scene — she took the now ancient cat, but no clothes — and MOVED OUT on his ass) and dedicates her big hit to his memory. The “big hit” that got her to the Garden, by the way, is a cover of “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” which I believe in reality was a semi-moderate hit for Mr. Robert Palmer. Perhaps she should’ve done a Candle in the Wind-ish remake called “I Didn’t Mean For You To Turn Up Dead.” Was there anything GOOD about Glitter in the true sense of the word? Well, the ACTUAL songs from 1983 were mostly good, though I don’t think it was the intention of the producers to so thoroughly counter-point the heinousness of the music created for the movie. And Ann “Frantic & Edgy” Magnuson was her usual wonderful self, even if the screenplay couldn’t come up with anything more original for her to do than be a frantic, edgy publicist. I give her the “Gina Gershon in Showgirls Tongue-in-Cheek Award” for probably knowing that a piece of crap she was in, yet running in screaming joy to the bank with her paycheck.
I can’t wait to see this movie again. (On DVD. With deleted scenes!) What I’m NOT going to reveal is the final scene. The scene that wraps it all up is thrown rock stunning, absolutely awe-inspiring in its sublime awfulness. If it weren’t for the rest of the audience in the theater for the Saturday afternoon matinee I attended, (consisting of: two 11-year-old girls and me. Hey maybe they were script consultants!) I would’ve jumped up on my cushy seat and screeched “Jackpot!” over and over. As it was, I simply screamed it in my head. At least I think I was hearing my own voice. I’m not sure. Like poor Mariah, Glitter may have simply tipped me over the edge into temporary insanity.
Hopefully, one day, Mariah will be able to explain it all to James Lipton and again the world will make sense. Until then, I remain, as always,
Overwhelmed by the glitter,
Posted by PJ:
does anyone here watch buffy the vampire slayer? i know i am immediately typing myself as i post this, but i don’t care. I’m not an avid watcher of the show — maybe once every few weeks — but i was commanded to sit down this week by a friend and was summarily shocked by the lesbian content. not since thirtysomething (what, 12 years ago?) had i seen such an unapologetic depiction of same-sex romance. the show opened with the two girls getting ready for bed, and then snuggling together, and closed with each telling the other how much they loved them while slow dancing. i know this may sound tame, but ellen never went that far for me. i mean this is a real, in-depth, so far nearly year-long, fully embraced lesbian relationship (involving one of the series’ main characters), on at 8 o’clock no less in a television show watched primarily by teenagers. it just sorta made me really proud, for lack of a better word. things have *definitely* changed. i remember when i saw two men in bed together for the first time on television (the aforementioned thirtysomething episode) and i taped it, and replayed it over and over again. although there was no contact between them, it was just seeing two men in bed together, talking themselves into sleep, like i watched my parents do growing up. i was 15, and it just blew my mind. anyway.
Written by Mark Scarola
"I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy,
To touch my person to someone else’s < br />
is about as much as I can stand."
— Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"
So, having been informed that the topic of this issue is the ever-elusive
"perfect love" (or, as Winnie-the-Pooh might say, "the emotional
Heffalump"), I sat down and took pen in hand. Oddly, I simply couldn’t
bring pen to paper. At first I thought it might be fear that my current
companion would take offense at something I wrote and abandon me, forcing
me to rewrite the entire essay. That certainly wasn’t the case, so I stared
at the paper for a few minutes, and then it struck me. The problem is that
"perfect love" does not exist.
You see, "perfect love" is an oxymoron. Anyone who has experienced
love can testify that it is awkward and clumsy, ill-timed and clammy, embarrassing
and demeaning, elevating and debasing, and yet there is no greater endeavor.
To expect love to be pure joy and elation is to miss exactly what makes
it so wonderful. Love allows one to experience the full range and scope
of human emotion. The highs give you nosebleeds, and the lows set you up
for the bends. Even the time in between is filled with interesting emotional
spasms. (Personally, I enjoy the moments following a phone conversation,
when I realize I’ve said something very inappropriate, and verbally thrash
myself out loud for the next few minutes.) If one experienced only the euphoria
and not the nagging doubts, then one is not truly in love but truly moronic.
If only the exaggerated moments of self-loathing are explored, then once
again, it is not love but phone sex.
True "lovers" are deaf, blind, and mute. They hear the intonations
of voice and carefully chosen words of their companion, but are unable to
register the meaning of these things, leading them to ask questions like
"What do you think he meant when he said he really likes me?"
and the inevitable follow-up: "Do you think he really likes me?"
One in love sees his lover’s face in microscopic detail, yet is completely
incapable of reading its countenance. "What in the world is she staring
at?" asks the man who cannot fathom that another might find him attractive.
The one in love presumes it is a physical deformity that is being assessed,
rather than the beauty he possesses.
Of course, the greatest disability of a person in love, and the one that
causes the most pain to those who surround him or her, is the inability
to semicoherently express feelings through the use of language. Some try
anyway, which is why we are tortured by such songs as "I Can’t Smile
Without You," "I Honestly Love You," and "Hey, Did You
Happen to See the Most Beautiful Girl in the World?" (not to mention
"Georgy Girl"). A lover who happens to possess a simulacrum of
taste chooses instead to say as little as humanly possible, for fear of
blurting out something like, "Hey, you know, Debbie, I just wanna let
you know that I got all these feelings and stuff that I got for you and
I wanted to let you know because sometimes I think you know but I really
don’t know if you do, so I figured I’d tell you."
Trying to deduce the feelings of your possible mate is perhaps the most
anxiety-provoking part of this enigma we call love. And for those of you
who need a bit of assistance, I offer an ancient piece of wisdom that I
have just recently concocted. My theorem states, "The strength of one’s
feelings towards another is directly related to the number of segues used
in normal conversation with that significant other." One who has been
smitten by another is often over-cautious when approaching a conversation,
especially if the conversation is of no interest to the listener. Rather
than directly stating what needs to be said, the conversation is characterized
by the use of particularly awkward segues. For example:
Woman: I was thinking that we might see a movie tonight.
Man: That sounds good . . . which reminds me that I just saw a preview
for that new John Waters film, Serial Mom, and I got to thinking
that I’d call my Mom because I haven’t talked to her in a while, so I did,
and then I started to feel bad because she hasn’t gone out much since Dad
got his goiter, so I invited her along with us tonight, if you don’t mind.
Here we clearly hear the nervousness and hesitance in the man’s words, because
I would have rewritten it if we couldn’t. His verbal constipation is demonstrative
of his desire to please his companion. Compare this with the speech of a
man who has little concern for his prospective mate’s feelings:
Woman: I was thinking that we might see a movie tonight.
Man: Quit yapping, I’m scratching myself.
My theorem is correct! Just as I would have hoped!
Love is buoyant and unsinkable. No, that was the Titanic. Love, in
fact, is fragile and easily corrupted. Into each relationship we carry the
weight of all our past relationships. We expect love to raise our disenchanted
and world-weary spirits and we simultaneously expect it to heal old wounds.
What it really does is create new and more painful wounds — so painful that
we simply forget about our old scabs, which eventually fall off, leaving
us with only the new ones to tend to. Much like a good parachute jump, love
must be approached with great fear and determination. (Note: the elderly,
those with heart problems, and pregnant women please be warned.) In fact,
love is like falling into a bottomless pit with Astroturf walls: one simultaneously
feels the euphoria of freefall combined with the intense pain of rug burn
when one accidentally brushes the sides.
Despite my obvious wisdom and level-headedness, I would hereby like to let
you know that you should discount all that you have read so far. I’m an
idiot. I know nothing. I’m in love.
By David Melito
When contemplating the search for the elusive perfect love, I feel the need
to borrow a phrase from the Diet Coke Diva herself — "Learning to
love yourself is the greatest love of all." It’s true, Whitney: the
greatest love of all is easy to achieve; all it takes is self-confidence.
But how do we become self-confident? Can it really be achieved alone? that’s
not as easy an answer. You see, Whitney, there are two types of people:
those who grew up with a sense of well-being and security, and people like
me. We are the Painfully Insecure People (PIP) of the world. What does this
have to do with the search for the elusive perfect love? Stick around: it
will all make sense.
The PIP’s Karmic dilemma:
Axiom A: You can’t love another till you love yourself.
Axiom B: You’re nobody till somebody loves you.
You see . . . you can’t get to B without first attaining A, yet it’s pretty
damn difficult to attain A without getting to B.
Before we continue, let me assure you that there are many advantages to
being a PIP. As a PIP it is your goal in life to get people to like you.
By the time PIPs are in their twenties, they’ve either learned how to get
people to like them or they have killed themselves (or they have a talk
show where they are addressed by an iconic first name such as Maury or Geraldo;
but I digress). We, the PIPs, are generally the funny people at parties.
PIPs were the class clowns that you found most entertaining at lunch during
high school. We take risks in order to get attention. We are the Liza Minellis,
Divines, John Candys, Steve Spielbergs, Rush Limbaughs, and Sam Kinisons
of the world. Some PIPs tell vulgar jokes, some spew right-wing politics,
some sing showtunes — we come from all different walks of life. However,
PIPS all share one primary objective. We broadcast the two following vibes
24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
I. Look at me.
II. Love every single thing I do!
PIPS will do anything to get attention, including telling everyone how painfully
insecure they are (hence this article . . . you are enjoying it aren’t you?).
There is hope for PIPS: PIPS can slowly overcome their fears and learn to
love themselves but it usually takes years and millions of adoring fans.
Barbara Walters’ specials are chock-full of reforming PIPS. The typical
PIP interview generally has three parts:
1. How bad things used to be.
2. A good cry with Babs.
3. How he/she conquered all and made it.
(Note: Part 2 can take place at any time.)
Of course, the most famous PIP speech of them all is the one Sally Field
gave at the Academy Awards, crying, "You like me — you really like me."
And the point is . . .
By now you’re asking yourself, "Where is all this going?" Well,
let’s look at The Karma Wheel. The Yin/Yang Karma Wheel clearly shows that
we slowly start to love ourselves only while others slowly give us praise
and affection. The PIP has a problem: in order to obtain a successful relationship,
the PIP must learn to love him/herself (see Axiom A); however, in order
to do this he/she needs love from others. If two PIPs are to fall in love
they must not only have lots of things in common and be attracted to each
other, but their Karma Wheels (Cupid’s biorhythms, if you will) must be
in sync. Since this is seldom the case, the PIP’s quest for companionship
typically generates a 15-step cycle of self-love/self-hate. Let’s see if
these patterns mirror your life . . .
The scenario: You’ve just asked Johnny on a date. He says no. You’re
crushed. You cry, "What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t anyone love me?"
"It must be my [check all that apply] arms stomach personality video tape collection other________________."
This has happened before. You knew Johnny wouldn’t be interested because
you projected a negative attitude. Did you really think it would work out
if you were looking so hard?
Step 1: Stop looking so hard.
It is a common belief that if you stop looking for love it will come and
find you. This of course is as easy as trying to forget your name. You can’t
do it. The PIP pretends he/she isn’t looking. But secretly in the dark,
repressed corners of the PIP’s mind he/she knows that every single person
they meet is a potential Mr./Ms. right.
a. Give up trying to pretend. You are on the prowl.
b. Accept the fact that no one will love you until you love yourself.
c. Try to love yourself.
Step 3: Use the following argument in order to fail:
No one else loves you. How
can six billion people be wrong? If you thought you were a potato and six
billion people thought you weren’t, you’d seek counseling right? Of course
Step 4: Get really down on yourself, but pretend to hate the world.
This is a good time to get drunk and talk to people who have rejected you.
Try calling them up to ask such questions as, "What’s wrong with me?"
At first people will resist, but eventually, with enough persistence, you’ll
get answers and boy do they hurt! Wallow in it.
Step 5: Now transfer your hate toward yourself to the world.
This is called "getting bitter." Art students are notoriously
good at this. It is at this stage that you should probably start smoking
again. Hang out in coffee shops. Don’t talk to anyone. When you do have
conversations, always make sarcastic comments about how alone you are. If
the person who has most recently rejected you is present, even better.
a. Once you hate the world (God too, if you can swing it), watch a little
bit of television and come to the conclusion that each and every one of
the six billion people who live on the planet are assholes.
b. Decide that you are actually O.K.
Step 7: No, you’re great! Fabulous! Top of the hill!
Accomplish something. Write a novel. Make a movie. Organize your videotape
collection. This is the time to start putting together that stand-up comedy
act you’ve always wanted to do. Show the world your stuff!
Step 8: YOU LOVE YOURSELF!
Listen to Whitney Houston songs. Smile at children. You don’t need anyone
’cause you have you. In essence, you are repeating Step 1, only with much
more vigor. You have truly fooled yourself into believing that you are not
looking. Now, and only now, are you ready to get your heart broken.
Step 9: First meet someone who you think is different from all the rest (see next
step if you think this is tricky).
Step 10: If said person is not different from all the rest, simply convince yourself
that he/she is (the longer it’s been since you last had sex, the easier
this part is).
Step 11: Obsess about the person — it’s fun.
Call all of your friends and tell them
about him/her. There are virtually thousands of ways to obsess — too many
to include in a short article. I am currently writing a Time-Life
series on the subject — look for it on "Amazing Discoveries"
next month. Just remember to be creative, have fun, and try not to harm
Step 12 — CRUCIAL STEP: When it is painfully obvious that the person is not interested, humiliate
yourself by making them say it to your face.
Don’t let them off easy, don’t pick up on their body language. Ignore their
subtle hints (such as if they say, "I am not looking for a relationship,"
then propose). MAKE THEM HURT YOU! Then they’ll be sorry . . . yessir-ree-bob.They’ll
embarrass you so terribly that they will be sure to feel ashamed for hours!
Step 13: Try and hate that person.
Of course you can’t. Just a few days ago you were in love and completely
obsessed. You’ve already picked out china patterns and the site for your
commitment ceremony. You can’t hate him/her; you need to hate the one thing
that is keeping the two of you from being together, which is of course none
other than yourself! (Move on to Step 14, don’t pass Go, etc. . . . )
Step14: Transfer the hate onto yourself.
Remember that the higher you build up your self-esteem in Step 8, the more
atrociously insane you are allowed to act. Sit in front of the mirror and
scream. Pretend you are on an episode of "The Donna Reed Show":
lie on your bed, clutch your pillow, and yell aloud, "Dear God, I may
not be the prettiest girl in the world, but don’t I deserve some happiness?"
Listen to the silence. Take it as a No.
Break something that symbolizes your accomplishments: burn your Pulitzer
Prize­p;winning book; smash your Academy Award. Now is the time when
many people decide to move on to substance abuse (people like Liza Minelli
and Elton John).
Step 15: Return to step 1.
If we could scientifically prove that PIPS are bound to The Wheel, then
we would be content to live out our rotten, miserable, stinking lives quietly
understanding that we will be forever alone. However, PIPs can get out of
their rut, seemingly overnight — and that, folks, is the pisser! You never
know when the hand of fate will gracefully lift you off The Wheel.
I have come to the conclusion that we all travel The Karma Wheel at varying
rates but all at the same time. Remember, while you are riding along and
lusting after person X and person X is breaking your heart — remember that
person Y is probably thinking you are his/her person X. As a longtime PIP
I have seen many of my fellow PIPs move on to successful relationships.
This has been both encouraging and irritating. While it means that the quest
is not futile, the overwhelming question still remains: "Goddammit,
I am going to be a damn fine guest on a Barbara Walters special.
Written by Mark Scarola
For some, culture shock can be an ugly and brutal reality
Mark Scarola has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He fled Los Angeles shortly before I arrived there. This is his story.
"What folly," archaeologists muse as they survey the ruins
of ancient Pompeii, "to have built a city along the side of a highly
active volcano!" Tracing the edges of urns and caskets with their fingers,
they note that the citizenry of Pompeii were highly skilled craftsmen, but
lacked any semblance of common sense. I wonder what archaeologists will
say, centuries from now, when they inspect the ruins of Pompeii’s spoiled
little brother, Los Angeles. Will they sort through piles of stucco and
asphalt and cry, "These are the remaining fragments of an over-burdened
metropolis?" Or will they simply acknowledge that twentieth-century
man had such little sense for an animal with such a voluminous brain.
Los Angeles is, much like Pompeii was, a city that simply should never have
existed. It is as if Angelenos are fighting a war against good judgement.
Death knocks on their door biannually in the form of mudslides and brushfires,
yet instead of abandoning death’s favorite vacation hideaway, they try to
ignore his golden tan. "It would be so . . . East Coast," they
say, "to be worried and tense about something over which we have no
control." This remark is often made from a cellular phone in the midst
of heavy traffic. Their attitude is often described as "laid back,"
but it does not take much of a psychologist to see this as a form of self-defense
using state-of-the-art passive-aggressive techniques. "Run for your
lives!" we scream at them, hoping that self-preservation will take
hold and they will scramble for safer ground. But they refuse to budge:
they struggle to appear not to be struggling — to show us how a stress-free
life is led. They are more concerned with earning a merit badge for "Most
Masturbatory Form of Disinterest" than they are with simply surviving.
They pooh-pooh the notion that they are only an earthquake away from being
permanently laid-back, noting coolly that it’s supposed to be 85 degrees
down in San Diego on Tuesday, with four-foot waves.
I must admit, being a New Yorker, that I do sometimes feel that I’m a bit
too judgmental, and perhaps I exaggerate when discussing the City of Angels,
but I feel I have a right to. I lived in Los Angeles for a six-month period
ending just before the Northridge Earthquake. In a town where one industry
monopolizes the money and the attention, I was an outsider. Interesting
social conversations (those that did not involve Hollywood film) were rare,
as I had no desire to discuss the film industry. I soon grew tired of listening
to stories about people I didn’t know and things I’d never see (much less
care about). And, as you might already have guessed, everyone was too busy
relaxing to have taken notice of my perpetual boredom.
The "laid-back" nature of Angelenos leaves them, as we have witnessed
in recent years, in a state of chaos when havoc strikes. The hands-off approach
to improving race relations resulted in the 1992 riots, and the relaxed
police department exacerbated the already disastrous situation. It still
amazes me that there are people sleeping outdoors after this year’s earthquake.
"Hmmm," says Mayor Riordan, "perhaps we ought to build a
few shelters, seeing as we live in such an earthquake-prone region of the
United States." "Your honor," replies one of his many aides,
"then we might seem concerned about our own welfare." "Good
point," says the big white guy, "forget I ever mentioned it."
I left Los Angeles knowing that I was heading back to New York, the drug-infested,
foul-smelling, crime-ridden center of my universe. I know that I’m placing
my life on the line every time I take a stroll after midnight. At least
I can take a stroll after midnight.
Angelenos, by the way, take to walking like cats to the backstroke. Angelenos
have never heard of public transportation, either. (Note to Angelenos —
"public transportation" is when the government supplies you with
an inexpensive and moderately efficient means of moving around urban and
suburban areas. I don’t expect you to know this now, but you may be tested
on it later.) When my car decided it needed a few days in the shop after
the cross-country trek to L.A., I was rendered absolutely immobile. As my
car racked up additional wear and tear, I found that if I stayed in L.A.,
and my car passed into the next world, I’d have no need to work, for I wouldn’t
be able to get there anyway. Besides, I’d certainly be helping to decrease
the density of the smog, even if I had to starve to do it.
It seemed to me that the only days I enjoyed being outdoors in L.A. were
the days after it had rained. The air seemed somewhat cleaner, and certainly
less arid. Of course, it only rained twice while I was in L.A. (one of those
days was the day I left), so perhaps my opinion isn’t truly an informed
one. I like having precipitation, and there are only two kinds in L.A.:
1) rain and 2) brushfire residue. My experience allows me to tell you that
ashes and soot fall more commonly than rain, so if you are asthmatic, consider
yourself warned. Before I finish with my tirade against dry, sunny, 75-degree
weather, I’d like to let you know that as I write this, I’m suffering from
the flu brought on by the 24 inches of snow N.Y.C. has received during the
past week. I’d still rather be here than in Los Angeles.
Almost as annoying as the climate of L.A. was the environment. Mainly, I
would like to address the fact that L.A. has approximately twelve palm trees
per square foot. This would not be notable except for the fact that palm
trees aren’t even indigenous to California, and quite simply, they’re ugly.
In essence, the city is overcrowded with imported, ugly trees. They line
the streets, the hillsides, the patios, the beaches, and the indoor malls.
They’re all over the place, and they’re hideously unattractive. (Have I
mentioned how ugly they are?)
Above all, L.A. lacks any sense of history. Being so concerned with setting
trends, it has forgotten its own past accomplishments. I remember the day
I stepped out of the Subaru dealership where my car was being operated on.
At my feet was a plaque that read, "This site was once the home of
Hal Roach Studios." I’m willing to bet they don’t even remember who
Hal Roach was.
I think I ought to now spend a few seconds extolling the one virtue of L.A.
Just outside of La Brea on Fairfax is L.A.’s one beacon of hope — The Silent
Movie Theatre. The only silent movie theatre still in existence, it contains
all of the magic that L.A. has squandered. A live organist improvises to
the films of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, et al., while the rest of L.A.
goes to pot.