Monday, November 28, 2011

LA's One Story

The other night I had a really weird dream that I was watching Tom Petty videos on Youtube and in doing so learned that he had been making music since the early 1900s. Like, since 1908ish. Inspired by my dream and wanting to reassure myself that Tom Petty was not the 150-year-old inventor of Youtube, I looked up some Tom Petty videos, and while watching this one, "Into the Great Wide Open," I was reminded of how it can seem that Los Angeles only has one story: the famewhore cautionary tale.

Johnny Depp, the weird Mad Hatter all comes together.

And if reality TV and its casualties are any indication, it's not a tale we're absorbing on a personal scale. Hollywood keeps screaming, "Don't come here! Do you have any idea what will happen to your humanity? The things you'll do? I mean, sure, the drugs and money and fame are great at first. And the sex and the mansions... But seriously, don't!" I mean, does anyone get to stay happy for long in LA? Outside of the characters of Clueless?

Norma is perfectly happy, thank you.

But the cautionary tales don't stop anyone. No one believes that they're going to be the next plastic surgery laughingstock or wind up a bitter and forgotten former star or commit a crime no amount of re-imagining can erase. I'd like to think that I, a mousey, jaded, boringly square NorCal girl would be "above it all," but if I moved there, I still might end up blonde, coked-up, and DD in a few months.

This is just a misogynistic stereotype, right? Right?

Of course, the rise and fall of a person by their ambition is a classic story, and one not limited to LA by any means. Johnny Depp's young rocker in the above Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers video could have just as easily been (with few costume and set changes) Lucien from Balzac's novel Lost Illusions. Fellini's La Dolce Vita reminds us why "paparazzi" is an Italian word. And just as this story isn't limited to LA, LA isn't limited to this one story. There's plenty going on in the city and surrounding areas (I assume - again, NorCal girl here) that doesn't have to do with the crushed dreams of (mostly white) wannabe stars. However, the quest for fame and fortune is as quintessentially Hollywood as it is quintessentially human. And since this quest in Hollywood has its own brands of glamor and danger, it's especially alluring. But just because it's a story that's already been told doesn't mean writers can't retell it their own way. And damn, no one does it like Lynch.

No one.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bad Bromance

Loving the newest Hark! A Vagrant comic from Kate Beaton. It is all about that most epic and homoerotic of relationships that has captured the fancies of ancient Greeks and modern fangirls alike: the hero and his arch-nemesis. In this case, it's a pirate and dashing naval officer. Adorbz!

And there are so many great bromance/frenemies (brenemies?) out there, ranging from pretty-much-BFFs to what-subtext-I'm-going-to-kill-you: Sherlock Holmes & Professor Moriarty. Jean Valjean & Inspector Javert. Professor X & Magneto. Batman & Joker. Peter Pan & Captain Hook. Johnny Weir & Evan Lysacek. Black Spy & White Spy. In the ladies' corner, I can really only think of Elphaba and Glinda off the top of my head, though I'd love to see more. 

 Don't worry, Moriarty. Fangirls will draw you sexxxy, unlike buzzkill Sidney Paget here..

There's something very reassuring about these long-lasting fictional relationships. They need each other. Batman can only use his advanced weaponry to harass citizens about parking tickets for so long before he looks like a jackass. Heroes can be timelessly earnest (and a bit boring), while villains can bring on the subversiveness. There's that opposites attract, two-sides-of-the-same-coin allure. Plus, simply by hanging out together (if "eternal war" equals "hanging out") for so long, there's a sort of camaraderie. After this many damn years, Ash might as well be a groomsman in James and Jessie's wedding if they decide to make it legal. Even if we can't imagine all insurance company executives or Syrian riot police suddenly turning good, we can imagine a truce between a few fictional people we've come to love, and that gives us the warm fuzzies.

Speaking of friendship, the film adaptation of Shakespeare's obsessed-enemies-turned-allies play Coriolanus is coming out in January (and you can read the LOL version here). The trailer makes it look like Vladimir Putin/Fidel Castro slash fanfiction starring Voldemort as Coriolanus and the "this is Spartaaaaa!!!" guy as Aufidius. Will it be good? It seems hopeful so far (and the movie's modern twist is certainly timely, with all the unrest going on across nations), but really, I will watch just about any Shakespeare adaptation anyway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Here is a blog I am starting. Will anyone read it? I dunno. Maybe only I will (hi, me!), but I decided to make one anyways, because 1) I am a writer and you're supposed to do this because what stands out more than an aspiring writer with a blog?, and 2) I have so many feelings. About art, about books, about cities, about frogs. So, so many feelings. And I like to write about them! Well...if that doesn't have "zeitgeist" written all over it, what does?