All day long in Los Angeles all that happens is that Valets wait, gas is trickled, cars are hummed, roads are baked, birds are dead, women are waxed. Burgers and hot dogs and frozen yogurt are each forked, spooned and fed. Billboards are televisions and all homes are bolt-locked; Bel-Air security fully shocked. Infrequent taxis idle past t-shirt vendors begging the homeless for a deal while jitterbug jackhammers in distance sound, and Motor Cargo trucks pass dealerships selling more auto pounds.
Mexican fiesta parties for children. Baby gym cross-trainers in cake park. On Beverly even the Psychic has free valet park. Root vines crawl under cement on cement, but they keep paving that nature back. Possessions are grass thrown from ejected mate: a shattered frame and pieces of ash trash, that which will stay for all the coming dusty gray. No one stoops to pick that up. They are all rushing to Disneyland and Hollywood, saying, ‘Union wants more money’ and ‘The index is very stable right now.’ Their 30 year mortgage is at 3.5%, and meanwhile there’s a line out the front for Yogurtland.
For a universe of cinematic creation, there’s a very slim surface to scratch off, like the lottery ticket you scratch away with a coin to find your chance, and it could be right there in your kid’s pet hamster. Your next movie inspiration could come from the most banal thing, and so everyone is doing it. Brother Ward once told me that in LA (so he read) one is never more than 20 feet from a screenplay. Is that one in the laneway dust of garden edge? Amongst the infinitely aged discards thrown from SUV window? Every second car boot, hummer, hummer, ambulance? This city is so flat, and so dry, and so dusty.
But thank god for oases of artistry. I am at the The Masses office – surrounded by art and mod furniture, paintings by all of us – there’s my whale and Gemma’s words on the canvas we all created for a passed Heath. “Be a Punk. No one can touch that beautiful soul of yours. LET IT SHINE.” she wrote. I walk past that, every morning and every night, and crunching on Corn Chex cereal with blueberries, I think, my, what a lovely zone for honing, what a lovely land for handling the fine textures of inspiration and overdrive, mint tea and macaroons. Tall boys shuffle hunched in, with yellow visors and giant milkshakes. There’s a painter and musician, he works on the floor playing Keith Jarrett in the morning while he checks for ink in his pen. I stare while I chew Chex, at his small painting on the wall amongst countless expressionist others, all psychedelia, all marvellous, and think, is this my book cover? It’s like jenga, or tetris, for the inspiratory soul.
Am I to live here one day? Am I to talk on phones about indices and mortgages and Don’t eat yogurt in the car kids, Daddy won’t like that. All that happens, all day, in Los Angeles, is that cars drive, and fast food is pumped, and petrol is pulled up to the bonnets, and every body is talking, rushing for a phone. I see concrete and metal and fast food and petrol. That is the grime of what’s over the surface of tinseltown Hollywood this June.