The United States is known for a work till you drop-hard-dead mentality. If the City of Angels is known for anything other than the moviemaking business and its almost nil sunless days, it would be all the wannabes. To put it nicely, those aiming to BE. To be some-thing or some-body.
Outside of the wannabes you have a big group who are not satisfied until they get what ‘you’ have, what he (whoever “he” is) has, what ‘they’ have, what the next generation will have. It is the town of the latest gadget, futuristic appliance, the only-seen-in-magazine car. If it exists anywhere in the world, someone, several someones, have it in Los Angeles. It is that elusive place between hungry and desperate, Cheryl Ladd and Farrah Fawcett, Creation and Evolution. Arguments can be had until the end of time about the benefits and destructiveness of both. But Hollywood sure has bet all her money on Hungry Hungry Hippos.
by Stephán Amery McKenzie
I am at a childhood friend’s Fourth of July barbeque. I am wearing red, white, and blue. I know, I need therapy (let us not go there again). And because I have not seen him since we were young, I decided to wear these cool silver bracelets he sent me a few years ago, one on each wrist. I figured it would break the ice if we realized we have nothing to say to each other.
He got out, out of our little town. He moved away when we were five years old. We made this dumb pact that we would write to each other every year. To seal the deal, we cast a magical spell we found out of some witch book from the local library— The one who stopped writing, his penis would shrink. Obliviously, we had no idea what we were doing or talking about, tidbits we must have picked up from family members. But neither of us could spare any girth, so we kept on writing out of an irrational fear steaming from possible penis-shrinkage. We confided in each other about our psychotic families. His akin to the “Ice Storm”. No one ever talked to each other in his house. If something needed to be said that could be relayed by note, text, or sent by email then that was used regardless if the person was standing right next to you. One time he wrote about a ‘father and son’ therapy session. Before they got started, the therapist said, “Your wife would like you to know they found a lump in her breast. She had surgery the other day and all is well. She’ll be sleeping by the time you get home so please don’t turn on the lights or sleep in the guest room”. And mine, more like “Malcolm in the Middle” ate the “Addams Family” without the cutesy-wootsy or good ol’ Uncle Fester. I think it was easy to confess all this to one another. It helped us from feeling alone or totally weird.
He has done a wee-bit better for himself than my current portfolio, which consists of a 401K that rolled into a ROI that I recently liquidated, spent all of, and am still not out of debt. The address to his house is a street. Yep, his house takes up an entire block. It is like being at a filming of Cribs: The Ultimate Edition. The Who’s who is here. I cannot tell you exactly who, not because I had to sign a DND (which I did, everyone did; it is a LA thing) but because I do not know one Who from another Who. Which Who is just a regular who and who is a Big Deal Who, The main Who. I guess I could look for The Who with the cleanest asshole with a bunch of musty brown-tinged noses surrounding him. I am way too caught-up in the plethora of free-flowing alcohol with labels I did not know existed or can pronounce correctly. If a brand of alcohol does not have CVS or Vons in bold above the liquor type on the label, I am lost. Did I mention the food? Imagine the richest Bar Mitzvah (I live in Los Angeles, in case you forgot), the most excessive Quinceanera (once again, Los Angeles) then times that by three of the most opulent debutante balls. Yes, it was fuculous (fucking + ridiculous)!
The whole affair made me feel as though I woke up in a Baz Luhrmann mash-up consisting of “Moulin Rouge”, “The Great Gatsby” and “Romeo and Juliet” on four tabs of Lysergic acid diethylamide. It got to be soooo much… “Ouch!” I just bumped into this cube thing (yes, literally bumped into) and I am jumping inside. I have no idea why I just did that. Wow. It is nice in here. Okay, I do know why I jumped in this clear box. I thought I was about to have the kind of panic attack Bieber’s mom has to be on the verge of having every time he steps out of the house. Some random, could be a Who for all I know, points and says, “All you need is The Lasso of Truth and you’d be the male Wonder Woman in The Invisible Jet-Plane.” Unbeknownst to me, one of The Who’s at the party is one of the one’s trying to successfully reboot the, continuously failed un-reboot-able (thus far), Wonder Woman series. Think of it as when die-hard pastist declare they want the sixties back, or the twenties or ‘their’ America, because that is when life was good. No one wants to remember all the bad, very bad stuff that was going on then too. Trying to recapture the past is not a future endeavor.
The Who and his heel-biters brought a small replica of Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet-Plane to the party to drum up some buzz and entice other Whos in attendance to ‘twirl’ in his favor. All the party guests start laughing, taking pictures and crowding around me in the Jet-Plane. Guys and gals start chanting, “Wonder, Wonder, Wonder-man!” The deejay does this album scratch-effect, then transitions into the Wonder Woman theme song. The Who, who brought The Invisible Jet-Plane, gets on the microphone, “Introducing Wonder Woman’s secret illegitimate love-child!” Oohs and aahs swirl through the attentive horde. Thunderous applause breaks out. I watch as one of his lackey’s runs up to him, “That’s brilliant! When did you…? How did you…? That was magnificent!” “It’s called thinking on your feet. Now find out who that kid is.”
Before today I did not know if I was hungry or desperate. What I was aiming for out of life or if I was aiming for anything. But something became very clear as party guests took selfies with me while I was inside The Invisible Jet-Plane. The Scooby Doo kids were really smart or the criminals they captured were really stupid. AND, watching all those people cheer me and The Who up on the podium giving me the thumbs up as he nodded his head smiling, I had the rising sensation that yesterday was gone. Today is happening. And the future is unwritten.
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