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.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
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."
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.
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.
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
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.