We live in the little storybook village of Los Angeles, where obligation meets desire and no one’s the better for it. It creates petty flashpoints, false virtue, and heart-stringy tensions. You see those Oscars?
Yet, what a place LA is. Gentle winds. Amber afternoons. Wide minds and narrow lawns.
You might get that quip, you might not. When I speak to high school English classes, all my literary references sound a little musty, even to me – Tom Wolfe, John Irving. Ray Bradbury.
Who knew the ‘70s and ‘80s were a renaissance of movies, stand-up comedy and literary wit. Who knew then that “Saturday Night Live” would peak in its first year and then linger – like a sinus infection — forever?
Who knew then that the Oscars would one day be almost dead?
Note to the Academy: If Chris Rock and Will Smith don’t walk out hand in hand to open next year’s show, with Rock then offering a red rose and a miniature Oscar to Jada in the front row, and she doesn’t rise and hug him ferociously, then I forfeit all that I hold dear and decent in the world. And your company line about artistic integrity and basic human decency is a total Hollywood sham.
Look, I’m not holding my breath. As history shows, people always screw up. What’s different now is the lack of forgiveness and civility. That’s the divine stuff.
Maybe we all need a little more church. Or some similar spiritual weekly retreat (for me, it’s poker).
Instead, Oscar producers are huddling right now at a little café on Beverly, wondering in hushed tones: “Can we have an assault every year? Seriously, everyone is talking about it. What about a full-on bar fight?”
At least “CODA” won. Let’s move on.
As we all know, children are the candy within the candy, the little burst of chocolate inside another chocolate that you weren’t expecting and there it is – bonus chocolate.
I can’t say enough good things about kids. I see them as our only real hope.
I mean, my own kids are a pain in the butt, sure. I raised them wrong. I should’ve raised them tougher, but I didn’t want to raise them scared, as kids were often raised in the past.
As a generation, we probably befriended our kids too much, and now we can’t seem to get them off our car insurance. There’s a co-dependence. Yet, isn’t that what family is all about? Co-dependence? Or is it co-existence? I say co-dependence, but that’s probably just me.
Hey, I’m no shrink. I’m barely a writer. All my best friends are misfits. My dog’s a gypsy grifter. I can’t even get my cell phone to ring.
That’s the magic of modern life. To me, that’s what makes this era so exciting. Nothing works! Not pop culture, not my TV, not this digital back scratcher I got for Christmas. Or is that some sort of orbital sander? A sex toy? A swizzle stick?
Pont is: Nothing works.
Join me in laughing, because that’s all we really have left. Laughter and children.
Speaking of which, I am waiting right now at the curb at LAX for the lovely and patient older daughter to emerge with her entourage – Finn and their baby girl – after their week in Hawaii.
To be honest, I don’t really get Hawaii. The ocean’s much too warm, the drinks much too cold. I really see no future in it. To me, Hawaii is just a fad. Like the internet. Stay tuned for more on that. But if you never hear of Hawaii again, now you’ll understand why.
Fortunately, Smartacus is with me at the airport. I brought him as muscle. His sister will emerge from the terminal like Carol Channing, with a toothy smile and way too much luggage.
“Hi Dad,” my daughter finally says.
“Did they feed you on the plane?”
“Yeah,” she says. “We were in First Class.”
Cool. I wonder the looks on the other First Class passengers when Carol Channing comes onboard with this baby for the six-hour flight. Did something inside them die a little? Did they immediately request a refund?
From all reports, Catty Cakes was a superb passenger. They even let her drive.
To be honest, I’ve never seen my grandbaby cry. I don’t think she has tear ducts. Similarly, she rarely spits up. In fact, I spit up more than she does.
We’re like before-and-after photos of life. I have some sun damage. My grandchild looks like a bowl of cream. She’s a new set of tires; I have no tread. She has the wide eyes of a fawn emerging from the forest, spotting her first butterfly. I have the wide eyes of someone being jumped at an ATM.
So we’re similar in a lot of important ways.
When we leave LAX, it feels like I’ve just won something. It feels like I’m driving Santa’s sleigh. Most of what I hold dear and decent is in this crowded car, smelling of cocoa butter and fancy hotels.
“Right lane, Dad! Right lane!”
Dads. We go through life like we’re running for mayor.
“No problem,” I say.
And I mean that.
Tips from the Hawaii crew: Make your restaurant reservations before you go. They had major problems scoring a table while they were there. Officially, the days of just showing up at stuff have now ended. Nothing works. Not even restaurants. Laugh, OK? We live in very exciting times. Meanwhile, proud to now appear in eight local newspapers across Los Angeles, from Miracle Mile to Burbank to San Marino. Props to the publishers, Michael and Karen Villalpando and Charlie Plowman for taking a chance on a young unemployed writer like me. Hugs.