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 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.?