We are about to go away for five days to Poland for a wedding where the couple met on the internet. Is there any other place people meet these days? The last time we all had a holiday away together was November 2006 so no pressure there. I managed a week on my own though just about a year ago. I went to LA.
Tuesday, 13 March, 2007
Arnie and Me
I came over to see English friends who have moved here but they are living in a one-bedroomed, bite-sized sort of house so I am staying in a guest room a few miles away which is close to Venice beach and belongs to someone they know. The room is on the ground floor. It is actually three rooms, a bedroom, a sitting room and a little shower room off it. I am slightly nervous about it all. I might feel better if I had any cell phone reception but to get a signal you have to leave the room and walk up to the hazy beach. It will be fine, I just need to get used to myself again. My mood improved when I plundered a closet off the lounge and found rubber masks of Tony Blair, George Bush and Arnie Schwarzenegger. I planted them around the room to keep me company. Perhaps I should take one to bed? But which one? I would not want to hate myself in the morning.
Saturday 17 March 2007
“What I’m looking for”
Have just got back from the desert and a place called Joshua Tree. Apparently North America is the only place where the Joshua Tree grows and most of them are in the Mojave desert. The branches of the fibrous tree reach up into the hot air and are tipped with clusters of spiky leaves. According to a National Park visitor guide, tradition has it they were named by mormon pioneers after the biblical figure of Joshua “seeing the limbs of the trees as outstretched in supplication.” Even better than the extraordinary trees was the diversion we made to a dusty spot in the desert where a rock god’s body burnt, the embers twisting up to the skies. Gram Parsons, a 26-year-old country rock singer/songwriter, died in room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn in 1973 after downing tequila and morphine. He had some time before struck a deal with his road manager Phil Kaufman that in the event of his death, Kaufman would take him into the desert and burn his body. Time came and Kaufman duly snatched the body from LA International Airport, drove it out to the desert, and poured gasoline into the open coffin to honour the promise he had made to his friend. They even made a movie about it which I watched when we got home. Irresistible story. The National Park ranger refused to tell us where it was but we managed to find it despite my appalling navigational skills. It reminded me of the cemeteries of the famous in Paris; all that longing for the dead - famous yet unknown - love, loss, and lyrics painted on to rocks that have stood a million or more years, and on the sand a cross of stones with pennies at its heart to remember the talent spent, wasted by youth.
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Am now thoroughly in the swing of LA living. Have not only been to the desert but a concert in a down-town fabulous art deco concert hall which used to be a cinema, as well as shopping in lush Santa Monica and to a movie full of blood, gore and abdominals which I would never have seen over in the UK. And I went to Hollywood of course. I wondered is this what we want? To push ourselves into wet concrete, leaving our mark on the future for a fat girl in flip flops to put her feet over the space where we were, and ask: “Who was she then? Small feet eh?”
I like LA. It is one of those cities where everybody watches everybody else to see whether those they are watching are thinner and more beautiful than themselves. The answer in my case would of course be “Yes”. The coffee shops in particular are full of thirty-somethings huddled over their laptops, writing screenplays or planning their next pitch. Everybody wants to be somebody. It is the sort of place where you are hardly respectable unless you carry around a hopeless dream; it strikes me that whoever you are when you arrive, from then on in you decide who you are going to be. Today, my friends took me to a party at an artist’s house. It was full of writers and people on the margins of the mainstream movie business. While I ate a bagel with cream cheese, a pretty Oriental looking girl with long blonde hair told me she had just finished making a movie about “gangs and zombies” and that she wanted her next movie to “be original, like y’know Quentin Tarantino” – a post-apocalyptic movie about werewolves and samurai.” She assured me “No-one’s ever done that before.” I said: “I’m sure you’re right.” She went on: “We’re planning to approach Jim Carrey – he’s never done samurai before.” I thought: “Good on you. I hope that he says ‘yes’.” My friends are struggling though to get Green Cards which would allow them to stay here. They feel they belong. I thought about it tonight, lying next to Arnie. His face, stuffed with paper lying on the pillow and turned towards mine. I rolled over to face him. I said: “Where do any of us belong?” He just looked at me with his cut out eyes. A man of few words is Arnie.
Anyway, back in real time next week.