CITY OF THE FUTURE
- OR LA LA LAND ?
Copyright 2001 www.tombraiderchronicles.com
[ December 1st 2001 ]
Sept. 11, the Justice Department warned movie
studios that they're potential targets of terrorist
attacks, and announced that Los Angeles probably
has terrorist cells. The studios have been hunkered
down ever since.
knows, the Taliban banned movies from Afghanistan,
along with everything else remotely capable of
offering relief from their joyless tyranny. They
outlawed lipstick, which made watching any movie
by Angelina Jolie a double abomination punishable
by being put to death twice.
here the studio gates are Checkpoint Charlies.
You can't enter anymore without an employee ID
or a confirmed appointment. Parking passes carry
a time limit. You must wear a visitor pass, not
pocket it, as do those reluctant to be identified
as supplicants rather than players with offices
on the lot. I observed this when I drove to a
studio for lunch with a friend, a lawyer in its
legal department. I found him slumped in his office
chair, checking online war news.
do they hate us so?" he asked. He scanned the
parking lot below. "Look at all those vans! Any
one could be carrying a fertilizer bomb."
turning out such crummy movies and raising ticket
prices and you can count on it."
off, shaking his head miserably. "We're just trying
to bring a little mirth to the world, is all."
trying to bring a little mirth to the world?'
commie writers resent capitalism."
a greed-crazed toady sell-out."
good friends, as you can see.
a churchgoer, a fair-minded Minnesota Lutheran,
which makes his job as a studio enforcer morally
conflicting. When this happens, he prays for guidance.
"We're surrounded," he groaned, pushing a document
at me. "Look at this." It was an essay attributed
to one Steve Myers, published in 1996 in Exegesis:
A Compass For Moral Excellence, and reprinted
online at www.sm.org/exegesis/9511-Los%20Angeles.html.
came to L.A. in the late 1980s to minister to
lost souls. It didn't work out -- no one listened
to him, he says - and he left in 1994. I knew
we were in trouble when I saw the title: "Los
Angeles: A Blissful Eden or La-La Land ?" "Spiritually,"
writes Meyers, L.A. "is a delusion, an Egypt not
an Eden, a place of frustration where reality
is suspended, where rich trample on poor, where
crime does pay, where wrong is right, and where
evil triumphs over good."
who should know better (myself included) often
generalize about L.A. in an attempt to get a handle
on it. It's mainly word tricks, though. The writer's
pleased, but the reader's cheated. In the Sept.
30 New York Times Book Review, for example, a
reviewer described Dana Spiotta's novel "Lightning
Field" as "taking on the commodification of the
soul in Los Angeles and the scripted quality of
life in that city of silicone-breasted angels."
"perceive a land of sunshine, sandy beaches, palm
trees, perpetual music and fun," says Meyers,
"but Los Angeles is far from the idyllic oasis
of their dreams. The sunshine is often hidden
by thick, brown smog, the beaches and the ocean
are tragically polluted, and the fun is often
interrupted by natural disasters and rampant crime."
to Steve: L.A. hasn't had any thick, brown smog
in years. Crime rates are lower than ever. Our
last quake was in 1994.)
"12 plagues of Los Angeles" include "earthquakes,
brushfires, floods, riots, vagrants, unpunished
muggings, carjackings, thefts and murders" and
"racist, poorly-trained and incompetent" police
who "laugh in your face" when you report a crime
... officers in sunglasses, happily munching pizza,
listening to the radio and chatting about their
weekend plans when they ought to be catching criminals."
"eclectic cultural mix," says he, "makes it resistant
to the moral standards that the rest of America
struggles to meet," and a "crucible of social
trends, from seat belts to the despised backward
couldn't read any more.
an American Christian feels this way, imagine
what they're thinking in those terrorist cells
out there," he said, indicating the rooftops of
to hell with it," he said. "Let's have lunch."
to the foyer of the executive building. Outside
the sun was bright, the sky blue, palms rustling
in a fresh breeze. No thick, brown smog. No suicide
bombers. The head of the studio was getting into
an armored Suburban flanked by bodyguards. My
friend stopped at the entrance.
go first," he said. "I'll cover you."