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 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.?

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