Tag Archives: LA

Over the Rainbow

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Over the Rainbow

I was born in LA.

I didn’t move here to pursue a dream. I’m not a waitress waiting to be discovered. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t think of this place as the center of the movie industry.

To me, Los Angeles is just home.

Recently, I watched a music video for a song called “The City of Angels”, by 30 Seconds to Mars. I think I’ve heard the song in passing a few times before this, and it never really struck any kind of chord with me. I probably even vaguely noted that it was most likely another one of those homage-to-LA songs without really having to stop to listen to it. There are plenty of those, at least a third of which being written by the Chili Peppers, and the rest being divided up between Sublime, West Coast rappers, and maybe Greenday, I don’t know. The point is, I’ve heard the “I love you in spite of your imperfections, LA” song. We all have.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the city, too… In fact, I ironically even happen to love it in spite of its flaws. That’s all well and good, and if someone wants to write a song reflecting those well meaning if clichéd feelings, I’m all for it. At the very least, not listening to music I don’t like has always been a relatively easy task for me.

But then, there’s this “music video” (an 11 minute long movie patting Hollywood on its back), and what I don’t understand, is the near complete lack of representation from anyone who actually lives here (outside of the bad Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson impersonators, of course, but you’ll forgive me if I feel that those don’t exactly count). Was this video supposed to tear me up with pride? It wasn’t even talking to or about people like me. The super rich and famous experience a part of this place that is so completely removed from what the majority of us will experience that, for all intents and purposes, they are talking about a different world.

Of course, having said all that, I might be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that, yeah… the video did almost, almost, choke me up a little. Which is irritating and, I imagine, as confusing to you as it was to me.

Perhaps getting emotional is the kneejerk reaction of being proud to see someone praise something I love. Maybe, in some weird way, I feel a kind of lame kinship with anyone willing to claim my city as his own. However, I don’t appreciate the glaringly obvious acting for the camera with such gems as Ashley Olsen’s “Fame is an illusion,” and Lindsay Lohan’s pregnant pause before stating “No one’s perfect.”

Really? I mean… really?

Also… I’m pretty sure that Ashley Olsen lives in New York. Why does she even get a say?

In any case, the video isn’t really the problem. Even the commercial for California is laden with shots of celebrities doing very out of the ordinary things. The Olsen twin was wrong. Fame is real. Hollywood is an illusion. Now, before you go and roll your eyes at that particular bit of absurdity, I don’t mean Hollywood the town; I mean Hollywood the idea. There is an image of LA that is perpetuated by the media and by those who have come here to “live the dream”, and that’s kind of all people see. They see the so-called glitz and glamour, and what’s more, they see a culture of superficiality.

No one sees me getting up at 3:30 in the morning to get to work on time. No one sees my fiancé wading through traffic for 3 hours a day. No one sees the first dates, or the broken hearts, or the skinned knees, or the high school graduations, or the birthday parties at the park, or the beach picnics, or… well, any of it. And as much as I’d love Olivia Wilde’s view of LA as “the promised land” to have anything to do with me, it doesn’t. And, unless you’re one of the very few extremely lucky people, it doesn’t have anything to do with you either. That place, Olivia Wilde’s Promised Land, doesn’t really exist.

LA is just a place where people live. Hollywood, however, is somewhere over the rainbow, where much different rules apply.

I’m not saying the spray tans and fake body parts don’t run rampant here, but I am saying there’s a lot more to The City of Angels than the Hollywood sign and Sunset Boulevard.

Disneyland, for instance.

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Through the Crazy Looking Glass

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Alice realizes she doesn't quite feel safe in the company of The Hatter...

Alice realizes she doesn’t quite feel safe in the company of The Hatter…

I’m afraid of a lot of things.

I think that’s fair. A lot of things are scary. When someone recently asked me what the scariest thing I could think of was, however… an odd thought occurred to me. It wasn’t my debilitating fear of worms. It wasn’t my ironic fear of the ocean. It wasn’t even my childhood fear of teletubbies. Nope. My worst fear? The absolute most terrifying thing to me? It was a paragraph in the Stephen King novel “The Shining”; the character Danny’s description of The Lady in the Bathtub’s thoughts. He said that all he could see when he looked in to her head was blackness and anger, and all she wanted to do was hurt him. There was nothing beyond that. Just thinking about that kind of makes me go cold.

This is sort of a two pronged fear. I guess, firstly, you could say that I have an irrational fear of irrational things.

Oompa Loompas, for instance, are evil. I don’t like that they’re short and orange, and that they sing weird little sadistic songs every time something potentially life threatening happens to a child, while everyone else just kind of stands around and says “well, I guess this is just how they do things in the candy factory.” Why would that be how things are done in a candy factory, and furthermore, why is everyone so nonchalant about a race of orange faced, green haired trolls that they didn’t know existed before? It doesn’t work in the real world. Along that same idea, Tim Burton movies are like hell to me. All his characters are thin and sallow, and no one stops to think “you know, these under eye circles sure are getting out of hand…”

If I tried to sit there and have a talk with an Oompa Loompa, I’d be terrified that they were going to completely ignore what I was saying and end up breaking out in to song about something bad that was inevitably going to happen to me. Meanwhile, all that is probably going on inside their heads is a fiendish desire to harvest children. Alice in Wonderland bothers me for the same reason. Alice drops down through that weird hole in the world, or steps through her crazy looking glass, and suddenly she’s in a land full of things that can’t give her a straight answer to save their lives. They’re all running around being insane, and nothing has any real reason or rhyme, and what the hell is up with the crazy hat guy and his bunny being able to slice cups of tea in half? Tea doesn’t slice! That’s just physics. What’s just as bad, though, is that Alice doesn’t seem to mind it so very much. Why doesn’t Alice flip out? Why don’t Charlie and his grandpa sneak out the back way of that damn chocolate factory and alert the proper authorities? It’s creepy, and it’s wrong.

Now, I say most of this with a tongue in cheek kind of amusement at myself. The root of this fear, though, is very real, very simple, and goes deeper than just being disturbed by movies and fictional characters. The second part of the two pronged fear: The idea that there is nothing behind a facade.

I feel like, living so close to Hollywood these past few months, I have come face to face with this fear quite a lot.

I meet a lot of famous people, for instance. Just today I was confronted with an actor from HBO’s True Blood. I know him only by face, and not by name, and I couldn’t have cared less about him… But he hid underneath his hat and too big sunglasses, and whispered to people around him so as not to call attention to himself. That’s weird. People shouldn’t live like that. I know everyone thinks the world revolves around them to some extent, but feeling a certainty about it seems like too big a responsibility to bother with. I feel that being famous for too long can have a profound impact on a person’s psyche. The normal part of them seems slowly to start to recede in to the shadow that is deep self involvement, and then I can’t imagine there is any kind of living with them. Talking to a famous person, who no longer knows what it’s like to be unknown, who, for all intents and purposes, has forgotten what it’s like to want things, makes me uneasy. When a public image is no longer discernible from an actual sense of self, it dehumanizes a person in my eyes. All I can see is a mask.

If The Shining’s Danny could look in to their heads… I wonder what he would see.

On a more relatable level, this is also how I feel about younger generations. There is a marked disconnect between me, and anyone who is anything more than 3 years younger than me. They use words and wear clothes that I don’t get. What the hell are jeggings? Dammit, they’re awful. I was invited to a birthday party for a girl who was turning 24 and I thought to myself, “I’m too old to hang out with you.” I could only imagine sitting quietly in a booth while they talked about setting the world on fire for fun or… I don’t know, planking or something. Not that I have anything against her for being younger than me; I just can’t relate to her. When you say something and look in to someone’s eyes, you can tell when it goes completely over their head. Not because they don’t understand it, but because they don’t understand you.

I get this often when I attempt to talk to people about my tea parties, or my weird tendency to name all my stuffed animals Thomas after my big brother. Some people can only manage blank stares as they vaguely try to register what it is I’m going on about. I can’t blame anyone for this. I don’t blame anyone for this. That doesn’t change the fact that it almost leaves me feeling like I’m not talking to anyone at all. There’s nothing beyond their present, there’s nothing more than what they emote on their faces. I’m not saying everyone is like this; I’m not even saying most people are like this… But, to me, it comes off as empty.

It’s funny. Hollywood’s an interesting place to be for someone who doesn’t like masks and facades. You know what they say, though…

Something, I’m sure.