“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.” – Raymond Chandler
“The LA Times called me a renaissance detective, Sportello. A renaissance detective. Chotto, Kenichiro, Dozo! Motto panukeiku… motto panukeiku! MOTTO PANUKEIKU!” LAPD Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen
“This is the city. Los Angeles, California. I work here… I carry a badge. It was Tuesday, February 9. It was raining in Los Angeles. We were working bunko, my partner’s Bill Gannon, the boss is Captain Spaulding.” LAPD Sgt. Joe Friday
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Dr. Johnson
Nineteen weeks of professional football ending with a Super Bowl loss left behind a collective emotional morass that was not tempered by the early arrival of spring here in The Great North Woods. That left us with little choice but to travel to Los Angeles if for no other reason than to keep our cultural-anthropologist credentials in proper working order. On the short-shank end we were once again reminded of how low the bar is set when it comes to what constitutes a SoCal rain storm and how one celebrity sighting is all you need to remember we are all aging in place. On the other end of the spectrum we discovered that LA and The Great North Woods are now trying to be a good example of what Obi-won meant when he said to Qui-gon, “Look Master, symbiotes!”
Where to begin?
– Outsourcing Your Cool Factor
The bar menu at the LAX Hilton features an entire section of Portland beers. The one I chose is not strictly a Portland beer, but it’s close enough. Earlier in the day Alaska Wolf Joe had sniffed out a coffee place off Gower near Roscoe’s which claimed to be a fully authentic Portland-style coffee place. Certainly the place was decorated minimally enough, and sure, it had lots of vinyl records lying around, but the staff dressed like most of the girls I went to high school with (i.e. elephant bells, platform shoes, and a denim shirt tied at the waist) and there was enough persistent sun streaming through the windows to ruin the overall effect.
Los Angeles was the city who gave us Valentino, Bogart, James Dean, and Jim Morrison. Los Angeles was the city that took on New York City to see who could manufacture the cool.
Guess that’s Portland’s job.
– A Momentary Lapse in Good Judgement
Goddam Portland. It was bad enough when the Yelp reviews said the best vegan food in Portland was at the strip clubs, now they leapfrogged over us again with their brand new openly bisexual governor.
This is all the goddam football team’s fault. All that Super Bowl nonsense let the uncool people feel good about themselves. Years and years and years of keeping the hoi polloi in check with an endless assault of music, poetry slams, and craft beers was all for nothing. Lately life here is all about wearing NFL authorized merchandise and sucking on bright colorful hard candy. You don’t see that in LA because they know the truth and the truth (below) is something you can’t buy in Seattle.
That, the aging child star, and a man intent on eating an entire lemon meringue pie while sitting on the hood of his car were all at the Ralph’s off Ventura in Studio City.
We used to have a serious A-game when it came to weird.
Fucking 12th Man.
Gravitas Defined –
Fact checking the alleged selection of Portland beers at the Hilton proved to be harder than it looked. The lounge has a series of very large tables which everyone shares while I seemed to be the only singleton in the room. The balance of the place were couples who shared one thing in common – one spoke English and the other didn’t. (OK maybe a little.) The couple nearest me was a chipper young woman with a British accent who was very enthusiastically talking about her trip to this year’s Davos conference. Her partner was a man with an indiscernible accent who sucked on her fingers as she talked. Not that she minded, in fact you’d think that Euro Squeeze was sitting there, looking her in the eye, and tossing off the occasional, “How interesting!” for all the difference it made. Instead he kept sucking and smacking and coming up for air now and then with a “Oh … oh… jessssss” or “I hammm lissssening to you … slurp…smack (drool) smack… slurp… smack… (yummy noise).
The New Yorker made the case that Inherent Vice was really a Tom and Jerry cartoon. While I’m still thinking about that one I have no doubt that was I was sitting next to a human reenactment of Pepe LePew’s Greatest Hits.
– Chivalry’s Evolving Nature
On the plane ride home we seemed to be the only people who had not recently been subjected to that crime against humanity known as The Team Building Session. As we arrived in the boarding area it became obvious that we were the only people not wearing bright blue long-sleeve t-shirts with some sort of company logo. Once on the plane we noticed that the back of the shirts mentioned the Washington and Oregon cities where all these folks were from. Not one city in the batch cracked the 15K mark for population, but that didn’t keep the 50+ souls from giving out a big company cheer when the stewardess welcomed them over the PA system. I had the aisle seat next to two of them so I asked what it was all about. They were a couple who owned a home furnishings franchise and their district had won some kind of award so they were feted with a trip to LA for a week long team building exercise.
The Lord giveth.
The Lord taketh away.
Without a trace of irony or humor the husband said, “We were real worried about comin’ down here, what with the gangs in cars full of guns.”
His wife, who was suffering from sort of high yield head cold tried to talk. Between bringing up huge wads of phlegm she got out, “Didn’t see … no… prostitutes…either!”
Hubby jumped in and asked, “Is that what th’ gangs do, drive around with guns to protect their prostitutes?”
I smiled and said, you’re thinking of Orange County.
Speaking of that…
– Who’s the Thought Leader of the Club That’s Made for You and Me?
This was the week when we learned that Foreign Policy magazine was not only interested in discovering Francis Fukuyama’s influence on Iggy Azelea’s career, FP was also intent on running a picture of Ms. Azelea singing into another woman’s butt.
While Ms. A is a few years older than our own Alaska Wolf Joe, they are both Millenials, and they see the world as Ben Jonson wrote,”Helter skelter, very much hang sorrow, care will kill a cat, up-tails all, and a pox on the hangman.” Perhaps it’s their young age that makes their worldview seem more diffused or perhaps it’s our worldview that expect greater consistency. In either case I was subject to a lengthy Alaska Wolf Joe lecture all the way down La Cienega about the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland is not only colonialist, but a sin against human intelligence by being nothing more than “dumbed down Conrad.” Not wanting to be told, “Mr. Goofy, he dead.” AWJ decided to hang out at the youth hostel in Venice where he explained American police brutality to Germans in exchange for a Pabst.
Prior to going our separate ways he did ask us to see if the Hall of Great Americans in the animatronic Abe Lincoln display on Disney’s Main Street had taken down their Hannah Montana posters.
Animatronic Lincoln was a bit of a family joke. When Alaska Wolf Joe was young we’d go to Disneyland and each time Animatronic Abe was out of service. Then a couple of years ago we were there and – at long last – Royal Dano’s voice was once again synched up with Disney Magic. Leaving the performance you get to walk past the portraits of great Americans. The first one you came to was the big smiling face of Miley Cyrus as that Disney Channel favorite, Hannah Montana. This time we skipped Abe and went straight to the gallery where we found that the Hannah Montana poster had been replaced with a large portrait of Bob Hope entertaining the troops.
Putting some thought to the matter – it’s the obvious safe choice. Hope is dead and not likely to tarnish his image. Even if he were alive I’m not sure anyone would care that a 115 year-old man would look straight into the camera and say, “HEY how ’bout that Miley Cyrus, huh? Isn’t she somethin’! rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr The other day I saw her at the recording studio and I had to ask her, ‘Hey Miley, twerkin’ hard or hardly twerkin’?'”
While Cyrus and her fellow Mouse alum, Lindsay Lohan have been banished from The Magic Kingdom and made non-persons in a way that would have made Khruchev and Brezhnev collectively blush (pardon that term) AWJ’s much derided Jungle Boat ride is being rehabilitated. The attacking hippos are now shoo’d away and the threatening natives have been reduced to jokes about old paramours. The rhino that chased the natives up a pole is now referred to as the guys who discovered a unicorn named Gwendolyne. Our captain, the best I’ve encountered in years, asked us to wave and blow kisses at Gwendolyne so she’d let those poor men comes down from that pole.
Despite that, this man blew no kisses, which brings us to our last point.
– Maybe You and That Selfie Stick Should Get a Room
Those of you who’ve been on the Jungle Boat ride know the ins and outs of getting on and off the boat. While he stayed with his party through the line, his party gave him lots and lots of room just prior to boarding so he and the stick could have some quality time together. Perfectly understandable as it’s the good kind- a wi-fi remote stick. Not that the stick did much for his constant fidgeting and fussing. The man was just a whirlwind of preparation during the two minutes prior to launch.
My only hope is that Gwendolyne will find some one who loves her as much as that guy love his stick…. no wait …
My only hope is that Gwendolyne will find some one who loves her as much as LA loves the selfie.
Made no difference where we were – Ralph’s, Disneyland, waiting to get a table at a restaurant, coffee joints, hotel lobbies, parking garages – you name it. People were constantly taking selfies. That’s a far cry from the days when your Aunt Rose would take a few snapshots, have ’em run off at the drug store, and then stick ’em in a drawer to yellow and crack. Now everyone makes love to the camera and everyone is a photographer. Long ago and far away that sort of thing was left to the professionals – the people who took the pictures and the people who got paid to be in those very pictures.
But that’s all gone now.
And these women are all grandmothers.