Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Swear That You Are Godless

Oh, don't look so angelic, Diablo. We know what you're up to. We've been waiting for weeks for this Thanksgiving-related post to finally make its way onto the Entertainment Weekly website, and now that it's almost Christmas we see it's quietly popped up there. Don't think you can sneak it past our watchful eye. Been Googling your own name again, I see?

Hey, what could we possibly have to say about a column in which she straight-facedly describes this:
Hollywood is a perpetual summerland, a temperate, godless yaw where the very word season has been co-opted by television executives. There are few harbingers of winter here. Yeah, there's a mall called the Grove that has a Christmas trolley and a part-time Santa. And last year, a few anemic snowflakes fell in Malibu, giving billionaire bohos in the Colony an excuse to wear their Uggs. But mostly, traditional year-end signposts are absent. (Increasingly, I hear about ''Fakesgiving'' dinners, where family members are eschewed for younger, hipper friends and industry contacts. Where better to give thanks for good plastic
Oh come on, look at the association here: We're summery, we're temperate, and we're therefore godless, people. Godless! Who wouldn't make a connection between moderate weather and an amoral atheism?

I mean, look at the list of holiday traditions that she can't possibly find here: Yeah, the mall has a Christmas trolley and a Santa, and there's a little snow, plus all the lights and carolers and gift-givers and families that she conveniently doesn't mention, but who cares? We live in an irrigated desert, people! Christmas is dead.

Now don't get me started on her description of those who've "eschewed" their loved ones. A lot of people move to Los Angeles to pursue their creative dreams -- you know, like Diablo Cody -- and -- unlike the well-off Cody -- many artists can't afford to fly home to be with their much-missed family and hometown friends every holiday. So what's wrong with making the best of things and sharing dinner with other holiday "orphans" also in town? If her next few films do as well as Jennifer's Body, Diablo may experience a few "Fakesgivings" herself.

And the plastic surgery comment is just cliched and gratuitous. Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Land of Fruits and Nuts

You know, you're just living your life, relaxing with a little Top Chef, when this seemingly innocuous commercial for Sun-Maid Raisins comes on:

Oh, good lord, Sun-Maid. First off, your sweet li'l harvest girl is now totally stacked. Secondly: Come on, raisins? You too? You'd think if we Angelenos were spared this garbage anywhere it might be in a commercial for dried fruit, but now even raisin marketing jam-packs in the Los Angeles cliches.

But what do we expect from a commercial which makes no sense whatsoever, other than whatever the 3D animators thought would be cool to work on? It's been a while since my logic courses in college, but I think Sun-Maid is trying to say this:

1. In LA everyone is healthy and...
2. Raisins are grown kind of near there, therefore...
3. If you eat raisins you will be healthy, therefore...
4. You can walk down the red carpet at a film premiere (because that's all we do here other than jog above the Hollwood sign) wearing a silly bonnet and inappropriate nighttime sunglasses

That's it, right? Sheesh. This is why I always shop at Hadley's.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hard to Explain

Remember the Next-Big-Things of New York City indie rock circa 2000? (Not to be confused with the Next-Big-Things of Williamsburg indie rock circa 2009.) Every band playing every dive on the Lower East Side was ready for their writeup in Spin (or, more likely, Spin.com, being 2000 and all), and one thing they shared in common was their essential New York-ness, a rough-and-tumble blend of CBGB and Velvet Underground leather-jacketed Television-meets-Ramones cool. Right? I mean you could never see a member of this band packing up and preferring to live in Los Angeles:

Oh wait. Okay, well, these guys are really New York through and through:

Or they were until Strokes leader Julian Casablancas came out here for a bit. As he describes in LA Times:

"...I'm here for like two months, and I've gotta say, man -- I'm starting to kind of get sold on it."...Casablancas fingers the usual suspects for his pro-L.A. attitude. ("I didn't realize weather was such a big thing," he says.)But he also singles out a feeling of newness he says he doesn't get from New

Mmm hmmm. And guess what he's been covering regularly at his shows at the Downtown Palace Theatre:

That's right -- and, surprisingly, that's that song's first appearance on this blog, too. (Yeah, we realize that when you really listen to the song it's about as pro-city as "New York City Cops," but it's become an unofficial anthem so we're gonna roll with it.)

All right, who's next? Paul Banks, we're looking at you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Crash Into Me

Oh, would you take a look at what we've got here? In case you can't read the small print in the above ad for the Starz series Crash, here it is enlarged:

Okay, have we got this straight? LA has no accidents, but does have a binary system of roadblocks/shortcuts/using people. Because, you know, all anyone cares about in this highly diverse city of millions is using people to get what they want, right?

They somehow left off my favorite, though: You're either a hack ad copywriter spewing lame Los Angeles generalizations or you're not.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Miami Hit

Entertainment Weekly, who haven't been our faves as of late, for some reason fill their choice front-of-book pages with tons of short-form listicle-type crap, most of which is roughly as humorous as the average Marmaduke cartoon. (The Shaw Report... gah!)

Which brings us to last week's Hit List, which is a listing of ten ostensibly newsworthy items with ten ostensibly funny pithy comments attached. Usually I hadn't heard the news items in the first place, since I'm not an EW reporter closely following Nicolas Cage's press junkets -- but this one did make me take notice:

9. Burn Notice's Jeffrey Donovan allegedly tells arresting officer in Miami Beach: ''The only mistake I made tonight was drinking Benadryl with three glasses of wine''

He needs to move to L.A., where that's not considered a mistake so much as a lifestyle choice
That's right; move him here! That way he can combine all the perfectly legal over-the-counter medications and alcoholic beverages that certainly are never misused anywhere else in America. I mean seriously -- is that really a behavior that characterizes Los Angeles more than Miami Beach? Talk about gratuitous.

Also, the original news item is a lot funnier than the witty comment.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Am Trying to Stereotype Your City

Oh good, I was hoping someone would post a YouTube clip of this moment from Tuesday's fantastic sold-out Wilco show at the Wiltern:

That's right, Jeff, you can't stereotype Los Angeles! Not even our BPM. (And it's "Angelenos," by the way.)

I'm So Cliche

Oh, MYNX, you thought you could slip your viral YouTube sensation quietly by me, didn't you?

Ack! I hear "La-la land!" And every other cliche in the book, but you could probably assume you would from the title alone.

It's too bad, because I usually like music that basically sounds like this, but let's get real here, MYNX. You guys met as models on the set of a music video, yet are complaining that people tell each other they "look amazing" or are following fashion trends? Plus my BS meter goes off when I read things like this in their LA Weekly blog interview (by friend of NWiLA and fellow LA native Lina Lecaro):

Ara: My friend went on a date with Angelyne. He's not into blonds, and wasn't up for it, but I begged him to do it. "Do it for me!" I said. Anyway, halfway through the date, he tracked me down, and handed her off to me. We danced together and it was amazing.

Mmm hmmm. Pics or it didn't happen, dude.

And, in what should be a shock to no one, guess what else they bring up in the interview?
[Lina:] Satire, social commentary or pure celebration of excess?

Holly: It's definitely equal parts. We love all the excess and glamour of the L.A. lifestyle, but we're not blind to the flip side of that. We celebrate that too.

That's right! My favorite cliche, LA's Dark Underbelly didn't make it into the video itself, but it didn't take long for MYNX to let it rear its head again. So I thank you very much for one thing besides your catchy indie-electro-dance tones, MYNX: I've been saving up appropriate underbelly-related jpg's in anticipation of such a reoccurrence, and haven't gotten to use one in a while. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Entertainment? Weakly

So apparently Melissa Gilbert's written an autobiography, which I might have to read because despite the fact that she's a 45-year-old mother and former holder of the same post as Ronald Reagan (president of Screen Actors Guild), I somehow believe she still looks just like this picture with the shaggy dog, perpetually scampering down a grassy hill to jaunty end-title music.

From this Entertainment Weekly book review, though, I see that I'd get a reality check from the many sordid tales contained within, of things that Manly would never dare do to our Half-Pint:
Gilbert's irritation with her first husband, Bo Brinkman, is certainly understandable; after all, as the actress tells it, she once came down to the kitchen of their home in the middle of the night, only to find him having sex with a prostitute. Even in Hollywood, this is considered bad form.
Yeah, that would totally suck and -- uh, what? Entertainment Weekly, I may have to put you on notice as I'm seeing a lot of LA cliches between your pages lately.

One more time, in case you're uncertain: No. Los Angeles is really not such a den of iniquity that it takes completely outrageous sexual behavior to be considered "bad form" here. You have writers based out here, they're probably not banging hookers in the kitchen, and you know this already so please stop stereotyping us. Hope you've enjoyed this thoroughly unnecessary lil' lesson for the day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Beverly Hills Cliches Sent

This Memorial Day weekend got kind of a lazy start thanks to too much fun at Friday night's Kills/Horrors show, plus visions of hot dogs and burgers kept dancing through my head. Good thing that LA Times made my work easy -- The headline "A Novel With LA Cliches" stared me right in the face when I sleepily picked up Saturday's Calendar section.

Literary critic Mary McNamara's as annoyed with LA stereotypes as we are in her review of Jennifer Steinhauer and Jessica Hendra's Beverly Hills Adjacent:

It's pilot season and Mitch Gold, a working actor, is again driving his wife June, a UCLA poetry professor, crazy. This is a terrific setup -- pilot season is a true only-in-L.A. situation (unlike traffic, smog and plastic surgery, which have become depressingly universal)... Unfortunately Hendra (who is married to actor Kurt Fuller) and Steinhauer run this fun premise through a very familiar wringer, giving us clich├ęd potshots and an over-abundance of anecdotal
Love how she just knocks those well-worn cliches right out of the way and moves on. Who has time when so many of the old standbys are featured right in the novel? The best is her recognition of my not-seen-in-a-while personal stereotype fave, LA's Dark Underbelly:

The Hollywood novel was, of course, built on the rather pleasing revelation that the glamorous, with their lovely faces, swell cars and swimming pools, are in fact insecure, narcissistic loony toons, made so by the corruptive force of the industry. But while this was news for Nathanael West, Evelyn Waugh and even Michael Tolkin and David Freeman, it is decidedly less so now.
That's what we've been saying, Mary McNamara! It's too bad these writers have succombed to such an apparently bad case of LA stereotype-itis, because McNamara does like a lot of things about this book:

The most frustrating thing about "Beverly Hills Adjacent" is that the writing is so consistently good, at times lyrical, and there are some very funny scenes and memorable characters -- June's many automotive mishaps, Mitch's encounters with the playwright who once stalked him but is now super-hot in Hollywood, his rivalry with another actor who is invariably also up for his parts, all of which makes a reader wish very hard that Steinhauer and Hendra had done a better job of ignoring formula and written what they actually know. Not predictable "Tinseltown" anecdotes and marketable versions of people they've met, but what they've actually learned from living in Los Angeles. Because, like it or not, Hollywood is more than just a collection of egos jockeying for power and money, just like a novel is more than just a set of scenes.

Right. People who live here should know better. Steinhauer's a New York Times bureau chief (why am I not surprised?) and Hendra's a memoirist daughter of a memoirist (a somewhat depressing seeming one, to boot) -- are we really to believe they never meet literary types or people with depth out here?

Eh, I can't rail any more; I've got sausages to grill with interesting, educated people in lovely weather. But Mary, call us! We're definitely on your side with this one.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cliche Writer's Blues 2

Okay, Diablo Cody, I hope you're blowing a kiss goodbye because I have had just about enough out of you:

Los Angeles is often described as the nadir of vapidity, a smog-choked space cradle. By contrast, Greenblatt's always feels like an oasis of warmth and substance. Inside the deli, people are buying cheapo vodka, Reubens with Russian
dressing, and bottles of Piper-Heidsieck, which, according to a handwritten placard, tastes better than Veuve Clicquot.

Again with dissing us in your Entertainment Weekly column. You know who "often describes" Los Angeles in this manner? That would be you. You, who chooses to live here and has a very successful career and life that many people would envy. Don't like us? I'm sure Minneapolis will be happy to take you back.

I do agree with her on Greenblatt's, although the above paragraph skates a bit too close to the East Coast Real cliche for my taste. But the most telling part of the article is here:

After I get my soup, plus a corned beef sandwich and a pickle the size of a Wiffle bat, I drive back up the canyon in the hopes of getting home by nine. Daisy of Love is premiering, and as you might infer based on my past coverage of Rock of Love, I'm not going to miss a second of VH1's latest ''dating'' show. As soon as I get home, I settle in with my German shepherd and Chihuahua — the Yao Ming and Spud Webb of the animal kingdom — log on to Twitter, and turn on the boob tube.
Okay, so you base your opinion of us on Daisy of Love and Rock of Love, yet you only need go to your own neighborhood deli to find something in LA you love? Imagine what could happen should you venture out even further, to one of our world class museums or parks or 826la (you're a writer, come on!) or Machine Project or the Kogi taco truck. Why, it would be a whole new world.

Plus Snake of Eden are eliminated anyway. Time to expand your horizons.

Party Foul!

You know LA stereotyping has gotten bad when it starts making its way into Supreme Court decisions.

To wit, Antonin Scalia's widely-reported quote tossed somewhat blithely into a recent decision about cussing on TV, Federal Communications Commission et al. vs. Fox Television Stations, Inc., et al:

We doubt, to begin with, that small-town broadcasters run a heightened risk of liability for indecent utterances. In programming that they originate, their down-home local guests probably employ vulgarity less than big-city folks; and small-town stations generally cannot afford or cannot attract foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood.
Speculate much, Scalia? Okay, look: I know, you're a Supreme Court Justice and therefore your opinions aren't just considered enlightened, but so enlightened that they're actually made into law. The eyes and ears of the world are upon you, waiting to hear these things. That's a heavy responsibility. So please don't go around telling everyone people in Los Angeles are "foul-mouthed glitteratae" because they'll tend to take your words with a measure of gravity.

Unless they've actually, you know, been to both Los Angeles and a small American town, in which case they'll realize people cuss about the same.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

They Don't Know About Us

Why are we in such a good mood around NWILA today? Could it be because it's a glorious sunny Sunday here in Los Angeles? Is it because tomorrow is that day-that-should-be-a-national-holiday-to-be-called-Peeps-Monday, when the Food of the Gods can be found for around five packs for a dollar? Is it because Coachella is right around the corner?

It may be because for the second post in a row, we've found a positive media representation of LA from, shockingly, someone who actually lives here. This time it's British expatriate Tracey Ullman in today's LA Times:

And now I like L.A.: I like hiking in the mountains and tennis and there's things I appreciate. I love the KCRW radio station and music scene and art scene and food. People bitch about L.A., and it's like, oh, shut your Jacuzzi lid and go home. They're people from Chicago.
What's interesting is that this is another Choire Sicha piece for the Sunday Calendar section in which the subject lists reasons for loving Los Angeles. I'm not sure if the Times asks Choire to visit this topic regularly or he's just fascinated by it, but regardless, you know what this means -- he gets his own tag.

ps. That Jacuzzi quote is so awesome I'm making it our new tagline.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Happiness is a Warm Gunn

There is nothing at all I dislike about Tim Gunn (of Project Runway and Tim Gunn's Guide to Style), and now I'm endeared even further, after today's "Traveling with the Stars" profile in USA Today featured this quote:

Last fall, I was in Los Angeles for five weeks while we taped Project Runway season six. I had visited LA many times before, but those trips were always a mere day or two. My impression of the city was lukewarm: a sprawling megalopolis where people spend inordinate amounts of time trapped in idling vehicles. What's the appeal of that? So, I arrived in LA for my record-breaking stay with huge doses of apprehension. (But) I fell in love with Los Angeles! I found it to be a cultural treasure chest, with fabulous museums, architecture, and entertainment. And the weather was so sunny and sublime that I actually began to long for a cloud to pass by. Furthermore, I embraced the city as a pedestrian (!) and greatly respected the jaywalking enforcements, which I wish were in place in my dear home of New York, because it makes navigation so much safer and civilized. Finally, everyone should experience Ralph's, a fabulous food emporium that's unlike anything that we have here in New York. I shopped there every day. It was my therapy!
I don't think poor Tim could have handled an actual 99 Cent Store -- it probably would have given him a conniption. While I don't personally share his love of Ralph's, even that of the rock n' roll variety, once again one sees that preconceptions of LA are shattered once you actually spend a little time engaging with our city. Thank you for sharing your experience, Tim. You know you're making it work.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Plastic Passion

Oh, Andy Warhol. I love you and your art to death, and you did an amazing job of prophesizing the whole Internet/Cobrasnake/Shadowscene/Last Night's Party micro-celebrity culture; you really did. But you've got this one infamous quote that just refuses to go away:

I love L.A. I love Hollywood. They're beautiful. Everybody's plastic -- but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.
Talk about your backhanded compliments. Sheesh. And it's so frustrating coming from a guy completely obsessed with self-reinvention and image, who hung out with Bianca Jagger and Liza Minelli and the rest of the ultra-fabulous at Studio 54, who had a coterie of gender-benders surrounding him at all times, who infamously dyed his hair silver and wore wigs.

All this is fine. It's fantastic! If I could go back in time and visit any era, it would be to go hang at the Factory and watch the Velvet Underground with you and Edie and Candy and Joe and Ultra. But don't act as if all this is fine and dandy and hip and superstar when in New York, but the exact same behavior is plastic when in Los Angeles. Dig?

(Here's where I would have posted a YouTube link to E-I-E-I-O's "Andy Warhol's Dead But I'm Not," but it's not on there. I thought perhaps it got caught up in the Warners boycott, but now I realize I'm probably the only person who remembers that song, even among the entire YouTube nation.)

Assholes on YouTube

Here we go. See what I'm over here griping about? I only wish I could view the full-length videos to some of these:

But despite all the videos I've embedded on this blog so far, not every Los Angeles reference on YouTube is stereotyping -- some are in fact quite the opposite. Take this, for example:

And people say Los Angeles has no art community.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cliche Writer's Blues

Oh, yeesh, I hated this song, Soul Coughing's "Screenwriter's Blues," back when it was first released in 1994, and somehow managed to erase it completely from my mind until a mention in today's LA Times (sorry no link -- it was in their Calendar section's apparently non-web-worthy "Underrated/Overrated" column).

The Times has the band, and particularly this song, listed as "Underrated," which is only really applicable if you're me and forgot how valuable its inclusion in a blog about LA cliches would be:

Exits to freeways twisted like knots on fingers.
Jewels cleaving skin between breasts.
Your Cadillac breathes four hundred horses over blue lines
You are going to Reseda to make love to a model from Ohio
whose real name you don't know.
You spin like the cadillac was overturning down a cliffon television
And the radio is on and the radioman is speaking
and the radioman says women were a curse.
So men built Paramount Studios.
And men built Columbia Studios.
And men built Los Angeles.
It is 5 am and you are listeningto Los Angeles.
And the radioman says it is a beautiful night out there!
And the radioman says Rock and Roll lives!
And the radioman says it is a beautiful night out there in Los Angeles.
You live in Los Angeles and you are going to Reseda;
we are all in some way or another going to Reseda someday to die.
And the radioman laughs becausethe radioman fucks a model too.
Gone savage for teenagers with automatic weapons and boundless love.
Gone savage for teenagers who are aesthetically pleasing, in other words, fly.
Los Angeles beckons the teenagers to come to her on buses;
Los Angeles loves love.
It is 5 am and you are listening to Los Angeles.
I am going to Los Angeles to build a screenplay
about lovers who murder each other.
I am going to Los Angeles to see my own name on a screen,
five feet long and luminous.
As the radioman says it is 5am and the sun has charred the other side of the world
and come back to us and painted the smoke over our heads an imperial violet.
It is 5 am and you are listening to Los Angeles.
You are listening...
You are listening...
You are listening...
You are listening......to Los Angeles.

I'm unconvinced that M. Doughty's prior incarnation as the NYC-based Knitting Factory doorman would provide him with the deep insights about Los Angeles that he's professing here.
We get it: The name "Reseda" sounds like a grim, soulless place in the same way that say, "Soul Coughing" sounds like a pretentious faux-beatnik band, but it's really no more a place where people go to die than, say... well, any suburb or city in America.

Let's see what else we've got: References to car culture and driving, we sexualize our cars, everyone's a model, the models are so fake you don't even know their names, gorgeous young people flock here (I love the use of "fly," which didn't sound any cooler then than it does now), everyone's here to work in movies, everyone's here to be famous. Where's mention of our dark underbelly?

Then again, according to Wikipedia, the band broke up over years of feuding over songwriting credits. Because wanting "to see your own name on a screen" is such an LA thing, right, M.?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Honest to Blog!

Oh, Diablo Cody, not you, Ms. Confounding Stereotypes, of all people.

Now, I know Juno isn't everyone's cup of tea, but her good-girl-turns-stripper memoir Candy Girl is hysterically funny and well-written, and her Entertainment Weekly columns are a hoot for the most part -- until you get to this week's edition about her attendance at the Vanity Fair Oscar bash, featuring this particular doodle that can't be undid:
Last year, the legendary Vanity Fair Oscar party was cruelly, shockingly canceled due to the writers' strike. As a 2008 winner, I'd been hoping I'd get to schlep my little gold man to the night's toughest ticket. Where else are you going to see Fran Lebowitz interface with Gwen Stefani? Hollywood generally repels literary types; this is a town where people actually hire other people to write their memoirs. The East Coast intelligentsia rarely leave the shelter of the Waverly Inn to socialize with bubbly L.A. types.

Urgh. Diablo's only lived here for a year or so, but she's got to realize that plenty of authors both well-known and obscure have always populated Los Angeles -- but if she wants to socialize with large numbers of them, the Vanity Fair Oscar party probably isn't the best place. (Or is it? Despite the fact that I am the most popular comedienne of the silent era, I didn't get invited to this shindig, so I'm going by press coverage of glammed-up movie star attendees here. Feel free to correct me if all media accounts are wrong, and the whole thing's a glorified literary salon.)

And the thing about ghost writers is just an unnecessary dig, taking a completely standard publishing practice and somehow turning it into a wry joke about Los Angeles. Because people in every other city are capable of writing a complete autobiography without assistance except the idiots who live here?

But it's okay. We're hearing early reports on Jennifer's Body, and with lines like these, we're sure Joan Didion will be wanting to grab a beer real soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Leisure Suited

Literary week continues here at Nobody Walks in LA, with yet another book about a hopeful outsider showing up in our city, seeking out the various temptations he's heard so much about via media stereotypes. It's called Death by Leisure: A Cautionary Tale, and this time it's a Brit, which should shock no one considering the wild n' wooly LA cliches that get imported over there. And the author, journalist Christopher Ayres, is apparently kind of a jerk, according to LA Times:

Growing up in dreary England, his American Dream was a lifestyle, exemplified by the film "Wall Street"; Ayres loved everything about the movie except the ending. "Disappointed? I almost put my foot through the TV screen," Ayres writes. "I was completely on Gordon Gekko's side."

So of course:

Filled with hopeful avarice, Ayres moved to Hollywood as a correspondent for the Times of London. Unlike better British writers before him (Ayres cites Evelyn Waugh and Martin Amis as role models), he arrived in our fair city in pursuit of fast cars, faster women and immediate fame.

And here we get the self-fulfilling prophecy of LA stereotypes: Self-absorbed greedy narcissist hears rumors that we've got vices that appeal to their sort, so they end up moving here and increasing the self-absorbed greedy narcissist percentage of the population. Meanwhile, those of us born and raised here never undertook that particular journey, and consequently are just normal people living in a major metropolitan city.

As would tend to happen when someone relocates to another country based purely on airy promises and fictional characters, Ayres' journey doesn't go well:

Addicted to conspicuous consumerism large and small, Ayres becomes dependent on gourmet take-out and spray tans, abusing the free market system with reckless spending and risky debt. ... Thousands of dollars in the hole, Ayres falls into a "Desperate Period," where spending more buys progressively less. A seemingly inevitable road trip to Las Vegas sees Ayres at the blackjack table, hitting on 19 over and over again, always busting, perhaps a rather too-apt metaphor for his economic dereliction.

And there you go. A chastened Ayres apparently is still here (he's still got the Hollywood correspondent gig, at least), so his story doesn't have the usual "escape from LA" ending. What it does have, however, is a big fat Los Angeles cliche right on the friggin' cover:

The city's aflame! So, Chris Ayres, although I don't think I'd like you much, I do thank you -- for no other reason than the opportunity to use my new Los Angeles is Burning tag another time. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Skin Deep

Well, hello there! Sorry about the prolonged absence, but I've been off on the farm with Fatty shooting my most recent film, A Noise from the Deep. I did a really new and original trick where I threw a pie in Fatty's face -- Max thinks it's really gonna catch on.

Somehow while I was gone, Indie 103.1 mysteriously vanished, which means more frequent KCRW listening, which is great when they're playing music but terrible when they're spewing Los Angeles cliches in an ongoing misguided effort to comment humorously on our city. (LA Times... we're looking at what's left of you, too.)

Now Michael Silverblatt's KCRW program Bookworm certainly sounds like a great idea, but I wouldn't know because I can't listen. I'm too afraid I'll hear the irritating "Through the jungle we will go in books! Books books books!" song from the promos for the millionth time.

And it doesn't help when Silverblatt blurbs his upcoming program, on John Haskell's new Out of My Skin, by saying the book's about "the wily strategies one needs to keep body and soul in Los Angeles." That's right, people. In Los Angeles, it's not sufficient to simply live as one does easily in other, less consistently stereotyped cities. One needs to actually devise more than one wily strategy here in order to keep your physical and mental self intact.

The book's own publisher isn't any better:

Los Angeles. A would-be movie reviewer, looking for romance, takes an assignment to write a magazine article about celebrity look-alikes. After getting to know a Steve Martin impersonator, the writer decides to undertake his own process of transformation and becomes not Steve Martin but a version of him—graceful, charming, at home in the world. Safe in the guise of “Steve,” he begins to fall in love. And that’s when “Steve” takes over. Set in the capital of illusion, this is a story of one man’s journey into paradise—and his attempt to come out the other side.

Check out that last sentence: Just one sentence, yet three full Los Angeles cliches. So efficient! Shall we count? We've got the "capital of illusion" (represented not-so-subtly in the book by the impersonation aspect), the fact that we're "paradise," and that he can't just live here like a normal person, but needs some sort of plan for eventual escape. Which one suspects he will -- as long as his strategies are sufficiently wily, of course.