Go on a road trip, Go-Go Girls on the Vegas strip. Take X for the head trip.
In this one night stand of a film, director Doug Liman and Writer John August’s “Ginseng and Dexatrim” fueled skim of L.A.’s surface picks the audience up and we go to Hollywood and Vegas, baby, travelling with outsiders who interact and occasionally intersect with each other in three different stories.
Part one, “Ronna.” originally intended as a short, concerns Ronna Martin, grocery store checkout clerk. Taking Simon’s (protagonist in part two) shift, she’s working the register when Zack and Adam (protagonists in common for part three) come through the line. Facing eviction, opportunity knocks in the guise of a drug deal:
Say . . . (checks nametag) Ronna. You don’t know where we could get something to go with this orange juice, do you? . . . something . . . euphoric.
Off the timeclock, Ronna and cohorts Claire and manic Mannie are in the car:
You know that Simon’s in Vegas.
I don’t need Simon. I’m going to Todd.
Who’s Todd Gaines?
Simon’s dealer. . . . But it’s like an evolutionary leap. You’re moving up the drug food chain. Without permission.
Ronna, you shouldn’t do this.
Both of you just chill the fuck out. It’s just once. When Simon gets back, we can still pay for quarters . . . . But this is my deal, so just sit back and watch.
We all watch as the best laid plans unravel for Ronna. The deal is a set up. Zack and Adam are actors whose backstory is revealed. Recently busted for possession, they must play their part to make the illegal indiscretion go away.
Meanwhile in part two, “Simon,” a British lad, revels in the bright lights and big city of Las Vegas: champagne, fast women, and a stolen fast car accessorized with a 9mm Beretta:
This is why I came here. . . . America is about a man and a gun.
Go is a long, strange trip set to rave music that blares and neon lights that blur. The film features fringe characters that rollick in indiscriminate, illicit behavior. Pop culture references, many particular to L.A., convey much of the humor. As a slice of SoCal 90’s life, Go works extremely well. The film, however, does not appear to let well enough alone. Themes introduced but not explored indicate there might have been something more. For example, the only parent in the film contends:
In the old days, you know how you got to the top (thematic issue-experience)? By being better than the guy ahead of you (thematic counterpoint-skill). How do you people get to the top? By being so fucking incompetent that the guy ahead of you can’t even do his job, he falls on his ass and congratulations, you’re on top.
All this coming from a father who owns a strip joint and employs his son, Vic Jr., as the bouncer. The statement about today’s youth is issued forth but not followed up with a satisfying rebuttal-for or against.
Lack of context does not distract from the fun; however, it does undermine any meaningful thematic assertions Go is attempting to make. Protagonists erratically move the action forward in each story, but no time is allowed for emotional investment. Concession is given to events that somewhat link the characters in all three stories:
It’s all connected. The circle of life.
Not the Disney version, but life in the fast lane that may be extinct by the millennium. The last line uttered–“So. What are we doing New Year’s?”–hints at the pathos of characters who know they are going nowhere. Good times are for the moment only, underscored by the melancholy lyrics,
“Don’t let it go away, this feeling has got to stay . . .” as the credits roll on ”bye.”
Fast forward to 2020. Watching Go with the millennial Socialites.
The fog rolls and retreats in a tentative, mincing manner. No shade, no shroud for the ghostly crowd. Outside, they are no longer allowed.
Gazing beneath Los Angeles glitz, the obvious and overt in ‘n’ out of favor flavors, one can encounter a creative arts underground. The scene shifts, trends tire, still the beat goes on. At the core are the anonymous denizens of the in-crowd who give these punk rock artists a name. Fan the fame. Kim Lipot Ochoa cues their look.
Outlasting those who overdosed, and the poseurs who “did it for the fashion,” for more than four decades Kim has maintained her personal impact by creating a unique image for others. In the salon or social swirl, the Kim constellation embodies the two or three degrees of separation that edge the brazen and beautiful of Hollywood’s underworld.
What follows are fragments of cocktail-fueled conversations about what it means to be undeniably cool and almost famous in the land of La Di Da.
“Fuck you. Fuck off for sure, like totally.”—Valley Girl
What’s the difference between punk rock life in hip Hollywood and a prefab existence in my so-called vacuous Valley?
RANDY This is the real world. It’s not fresh and clean like a television show . . . We’re ourselves . . . you’re all fucking programmed.
JULIE So, what does it take to be so free? RANDY
That’s a good question.
For one Valley girl, the answer equaled X.
Kim Lipot graduated from Kennedy High School class of 1980—smart, shy, and sixteen years old. Nixing the “Oh, I’ll just hang out plans,” Kim’s suburbanite mother arranged for her daughter’s entrance into the material world of 9 to 5.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: A friend of mine has a bit part in Valley Girl. He says that’s what you do growing up in L.A. Leave the long boulevards in the dry hot summers and go to the beach. Get cast as an extra in movies.
Kim: My friends and I went to Zeroes beach, up the coast from Zuma. I had a white Volkswagen campervan and a license a 22 year old had left at my drive-thru bank teller window. She never came back for it. On the weekend, we would buy liquor at Alpha Beta and drive around to house parties.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: So how did you get into punk rock?
Kim: My prom date lent me his X album.
“Days change to night/Change in an instant.”—Los Angeles
Kim: I found out X was playing at The Starwood. My girlfriend and I put black roux rinse in our blond surfer girl hair so we wouldn’t stand out. It turned steel metal gray. We went anyway. The scene was great. The Odyssey, The Seven Seas, Club Lingerie . . . crowded hardcore shows with twenty-five guys to every girl. New Wave Music, The Go-Go’s, B52’s .
“I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie.”—WAR
Spinning around in Kim’s hair chair. With equal concentration, she expertly mixes colors and listens to the salon buzz as we discuss P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights.
Kim: I used to go dancing at the movie’s club, “Hot Traxx.” It was an all ages club on Sherman Way—called The Reseda Country Club.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: The scene between Amber Waves and Rollergirl is cocaine classic. Making plans, yet never leaving the room.
Kim: We’ve all had that conversation.
Decline and Fall of Western Civilization
“Punk rock. That’s stupid. I just think of it as rock and roll ‘cause that’s what it is. . . . It’s for real . . .There’s no rock stars.”—Eugene, Decline and Fall of Western Civilization
Penelope Spheeris documentary explores anarchic behavior in the context of L.A. punk rock. The attraction to rebellion, the insightful music—intoxicating to the tightly wound and aimless ramblers alike. Black Flag lyrics express why the fury needs its sound. With no outlet, the consequences of unreleased tension and boredom may be fatal. “Depression—it’s gonna kill me. It’s gonna kill you too.”
Spheeris casts a grim shadow over this scene—point of fact John Doe tells her: “Reality is dark.” Twenty-five years later, Brendan Mullen and Mark Spitz proclaim in Spin, “SoCal punk has always been about anger.”
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: What about the angst?
Kim: Punk rock has always had its dark side. Everyone felt like an outsider, yet we knew we were involved in something unique. I found my place. Where I fit in.
At nineteen Kim enrolled in beauty school. Classes were from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Quite conducive to the clubbing lifestyle. Glam-o-rama.
Colleen: I was fourteen and in high school. Kim would cut my hair at the beauty school. I became her hair model for salon interviews. Growing up, Kim and I lived catty corner to me and my two older sisters, Kathleen and Eileen. Kathleen was a “girlfriend” of The Bay City Rollers and John Waite—among others. She claimed “Missing You” was written about her. She and John Waite had the same color auburn hair. That was their connection. Kathleen ran away at sixteen.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Rock and roll fantasyland.
Colleen: Eileen and another friend of Kim’s, Nora Edison, all hung out and I tagged along. Nora dated Louie, a drummer for DC3, and I lived in Venice Beach. Punk rockers and poets. Skateboarders like Tony Alva. That’s where I met Eugene. His claim to fame was the Penelope Spheeris documentary. He took me out to dinner dressed in a 1960s retro suit. He asked me to be his girlfriend. When I said, “No,” he accused me of slumming it. I wasn’t slumming it—I just thought it was too much for a freshman.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Fast times at Kennedy High.
Kim: I went up to Oakland with Louie and the band. DC3 had a gig at The Covered Wagon in San Francisco.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: I saw my brother-in-law’s cousin, Nate Kato of Urge Overkill, at The Covered Wagon. Before they covered Neil Diamond for Pulp Fiction. Before Blackie’s heroin addiction. Whatever became of Louie?
Sex. Drugs. Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Make the Music Go Bang!
“The strong bond between bands and audiences was helped by the fact that the majority of these groups were not on the ego-tripping “We’re rock stars” excursion. The members were fairly accessible and friendly—they would hang out and drink with the people who came to see them, and this helped break down the barriers created by all the “mega-stars.”—Keith Morris
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: How did you go from fanland to “I’m with the band?”
Kim: A girlfriend I hadn’t seen for awhile came into the beauty school. She invited me to a Judas Priest concert at the Long Beach Arena. Greg Hetson, guitarist for the Circle Jerks, came with us. We started dating almost right away and were together for the next seven years. Keith Clark, the Circle Jerk’s drummer, and I would count the money after every show. Count it, divide it, pay it out. Now Keith’s my accountant, and Greg and I are Facebook friends. He recently reminded me about feeding the baby giraffe at the zoo.
It’s hands off nowadays for L.A. Zoo’s Giraffa camelopardalis subspecies tippelskirchii.
Repo Man featured the Circle Jerks, heightening the fantasy/reality aesthetic of the film. Humor stops the theme of alienation short of annihilation.
Punk I blame society. Society made me what I am.
Otto That’s bullshit. You’re a white suburban punk just like me.
Kim: The coolest people in the scene lived in nice suburban houses with their parents. Yeah, there were some that lived on the streets—but they really didn’t want to be there. Who would?
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: A mutual acquaintance was just telling me about her racing down Lankershim w/Corey Haim in the wee morning hours, Bret Easton Ellis scene style.
“I head for the Roxy, where X is playing. . . . they’re going to be singing “Sex and Dying in High Society” any minute now . . .”—Less Than Zero
Kim: Greg, Keith Morris, John Doe, and I drove down to San Diego for a spoken-word performance. Greg played acoustic guitar—which he never liked to do. We drank beer and were bored for five hours. When it came time to go, Keith was too drunk and Greg too tired to drive. I hate driving. John Doe stepped into the driver’s seat, looked at me, and said, “Baby, that’s what I’m here for.” I sat up front and listened to Joh Doe the entire ride home. Transfixed. From then on, whenever we would see each other at a show, he would always say, “Hello.”
And then it was Nirvana and the 90s. Punk became pop flavor. Kim and Greg parted ways. New decade. New boyfriends. Always new hairstyles.
Kurt and Courtney
“Fame is a process of isolation.”—Kurt and Courtney
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: I loved the Kurt and Courtney documentary. Ridiculous and enormously entertaining. Nick Broomfield with his British accent—never veering from his serious “journalist” façade makes it almost believable.
Kim: Anyone who’s been in L.A. for a length of time knows Courtney Love. Before Kurt, she was a stripper married to a friend of mine. A writer for the L.A. Weekly. A transvestite who . . .
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Lest we forget what happened to El Duce, keep the rest of your story L.A. confidential. Just in case Courtney is a killer.
Al’s Bar + Spaceland
“There are people possessive of the early punk scene. They try to hold on to it, but years go by all by themselves. There’s still a scene. It’s a bit modified, but any night of the week you can hear the music.”—Craig Ochoa
In 1996 Kim married musician Craig Ochoa. His band, Gasoline, often played at Al’s Bar. Instant electricity. Impromptu drive-thru wedding.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Reception venue?
Kim: Spaceland. I’ve known the owner, Mitchell, and all the bartenders for years. We had the place from two ‘til eight.
Craig: It was like watching a train full of people zoom by. Zillion miles per hour. Tippling. Celebrating. We had a western swing revival band—The Lucky Stars. Tex Williams’ style.
Spaceland transformed into Weddingland.
The week before Kim and Craig’s fifth wedding anniversary, they attend a Circle Jerks reunion concert at Spaceland as VIPs. Play catch-up with their crowd. Afterwards, Greg Hetson (now of Bad Religion) gives them a lift home.
“I’m a loser baby. So why don’t you kill me?”—Beck
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: I read an article about Gus Hudson in the music issue of Glue, and a little piece of my heart breaks. I have no clue who he is, but I find it distressing that former protégé Beck has blown this unassuming Flipside Records producer off: “It’s hard for us in the punk rock crowd to deal with bands that make it big. . . . We want the same relationship that we had before. And somehow that ends.”
The next day, I go to a party at Kim and Craig’s. Gus Hudson is there, wearing the same red shirt as his photo in the article. As if he just stepped off the page into the backyard barbeque. I have officially entered Kim’s own twilight zone.
“We would talk every day for hours/We belong to the deadbeat club.”—B52’s
It’s a hot August night at the Greek Theater. On the bill are the Go-Go’s, b52’s, and The Psychedelic Furs. The Go-Go’s Behind the Music is in VH1 rotation. Talk of who’s who and old school. Kim and Craig meet and greet acquaintances. Artists and critics. We chat about Allison Anders and Kurt Voss’ Sugar Town.
Kim: I’ll see anything with John Doe in it.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: And that’s how I learned about John Doe, Exene, and the scene.
“Every picture tells a story,”—Faces
Kim and Craig see Almost Famous. Coming out of the theater, a kid points to Craig’s bleached blond hair and shouts, “Eminem.”
Kim: Kate Hudson’s dad played at my sixth-grade graduation. The Hudson Brothers headlined Busch Gardens in The Valley.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Do you think Cameron Crowe’s film glams the rock ‘n’ roll film genre?
Kim: Definitely. The “Band-Aids” were too clean. Penny Lane had too many cute outfits. But what went on backstage—the bus ramming the fence, band on the run—that kind of thing did happen. Happened all the time.
Behind the Music
“The whole thing was about being yourself.”—Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten, The Filth and the Fury
Everything old is new again. Kim styles longtime client Billy Idol’s hair for his VH1 Behind the Music episode. Her eighteen-year-old assistant is in awe.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Well, you are a part of L.A. punk rock history.
Kim: Yes, that’s probably true.
(Billy Idol update: TBD)
Kim’s newest clients are not always punk, but they do rock. She creates hairstyles for band members Beautiful Creatures before they rejoin the Ozzfest tour. Rock and Roll never forgets.
“Stake her claim in Silverlake . . . chalking it all up to fate.”—Michael Penn
From atop costume stylist Houston Sam’s deck on Micheltorena—the same street that boasts silent screen star Antonion Moreno’s restored mansion The Paramour—Kim co-hosts a wedding shindig for close friends. It looks like the opening scene of Austin Powers. Eclectic collection of guests. Hair by Kim. Kim’s raucous laughter belies a cool reserve. A contradiction in terms, much like the music that changed her days to nights so many odd years ago. She holds her son, Aristotle. His mini tee forewarns: “Future Punk Rocker.” Shifting the baby from one hip to another, Kim casts a glance over the celluloid skyline. Balancing the dynamics of static and change in her ruby red go-go boots.
Postscript: After Kim, Craig, and Aristotle and their guardian angel, Felix, resided in one of Walt Disney’s former homes in Los Feliz, they purchased their current home in Eagle Rock, the day the city appeared on the cover of the Los Angeles Times as the latest in L.A. trendy real estate.
Mrs. Cooper (aka Shelly Johnson): “Scarlett” doesn’t suit you dear.
Becky (aka Lili Reinhardt): Well, I like it. It makes me feel powerful.–Riverdale
Jessica: What color lipstick are you wearing?
Helen: Well it’s three different kinds. I blend. I start with MAC Viva Glam 3.
Helen: Which is a great base, and then I add Prescriptives Poodle on top.
Jessica: Oh my God I love Prescriptives, it’s the best.
Helen: I know, isn’t it?
Jessica: The moisture and the . . . It’s great.
Helen: Then I finish with Philosophy Super Natural Nude, which is more of a . . .
Jessica: Of a glossy, kinda?
Helen: Exactly, a little bit of shine.—Kissing Jessica Stein
Lili Kathleen Hardy is cute and a beaut who walks with aplomb and spunk to spare. What’s not to love about this Miss Ooh La, Montana girl, who once marched midway into a Taco Tuesday party with a loaf of ready-made garlic bread under her arm.
“This is just for me,” as she deftly heats the oven to 350 degrees.
Lil Lil’s tagline: “Garlic, I’m interested.”
Write Between the Lines is interested in Lil Lil’s beauty routine.
Through the looking glass, she graciously takes time to teach good face. Apply the maquillage to the visage.
Lili: So, what I do first thing, if I know I’m going to put my makeup on within the next hour, is moisturize. Prep my face so it’s hydrated and sticky. I won’t moisturize after I wash my face, if I have more time.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: What’s the rationale?
Lili: Moisturizing serum. I always start with my eyebrows, always.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Side note: We both go to Chandler Husband at the Beauty Strip for waxing.
Lili: Omg, luv Chandler. Shape the brows with concealer. Eyebrow pencil and a pomade. If I don’t really care, I’ll just use a pencil. I’ll always start back to front: fill in the eyebrow up to the front fourth. Blend it out with the spoolly brush using super simple hair strokes. Blend it out again so it’s not so harsh. More natural, not so blocky.
Then, I will set them with clear brow gel I like twice instead of once, so I know they’ll stay if I go out all day. Next, I’ll shape the brow with Anastasia “soft glam” palette, Jouer Cosmetics Essential High Coverage Liquid Concealer, so I know the shape they’ll take. I always start on the top part of below my brow. After the bottom I’ll do the top, same thing: create shape that stands out in sharp relief to the skin. If I make it too thin on accident, or I don’t shape it well enough, I’ll go back in with a brush.
Lili checks her look in the mirror and kicks up her heel.
Lili: Next eyes. I like to prime with concealer, then blend it out.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Why not foundation first?
Lili: Tons of fallout and it messes up your face.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: How do you choose your color?
Lili: I just look at the palette. I set my eyelids with translucent powder so it doesn’t crease. Tap, not swipe. Hmmm. Transition shade. Matte or shimmery?
Lili: Burnt orange.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Is that the same palette I use?
Lili: It’s Anastasia’s Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette. You have Modern Renaissance. I do beat it into a pulp, using this Morphe M167. Blend with a big fluffy brush. Build up the transition color. Darker, Darker, Darker. Don’t go too fast. The transition color can be lighter or darker; neutral blends everything together. Deepen the crease brush fluffy more tapered Lexi 249.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: When did you start playing with makeup?
Lili: Twelve? I started doing it in 7th grade. I got serious when I was fifteen. I didn’t get good at it until I was sixteen, seventeen. That’s when I could actually pull off full glam looks and not feel stupid.
Lili’s hip shifts to one side, her feet Battement tendu into second position.
Lili: Once I’m done with the eyelids: eyeliner.
Lili locates the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner.
Lili: Yep, it’s a banger. My holy grail.
Wing flipping back and forth swoop with precision light brush strokes. Stops to admire the thick wing line that frames the matte shadow.
Peaches and cream complexion. Button nose, nary a blink.
Lili: Then I’ll check if the length to see if one is thicker or longer than the other. If so, I’ll make adjustments. False eyelashes: Black lash glue if I have liner, clear glue if I don’t. Glue on first until it’s tacky then I’ll put on mascara. I won’t curl them at all.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Which mascara do you use?
Lili: It literally changes every day. I pick at random. Loreal Telescopic Volumizer is a really good drugstore mascara dup forToo Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.
“I do my hair toss, check my nails Baby, how you feelin’? (Feelin’ good as hell.)” Lizzo
Prep and prime.
Lili: Eye cream if I just washed my face. Put on the moisturizer with little dabs. While this setting in the skin, I get out my beloved beauty blender. I change it every three months. Always get your bb damp so it expands. I wring it out with a towel, and let it sit while I prime my face using a lil Bye Bye Pores primer t-zone. Also, sometimes if you take too much pore filler, it balls up in your hand that’s how you know.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Where do you buy your products?
Lili: Sephora and Ulta.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Nigel’s gives us the NoHo neighborhood discount.
Lili: Foundation literally depends on what is the right shade of face. At home I use a tray. While traveling, I put it on my hand, then dot it all over my face. Polka dots. I like to use a brush to blend it. It’s just not attractive to see a line between foundation and the real face. Concealer under eyes, dab with beauty blender.
Big fluffy brush with translucent powder.
🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Blush changes every day.
She plumps up a half smile for the apple of the cheek, and brushes the blush swiftly away towards the hairline.
Lili: Melt everything into your face so it’s not so cakey. Fan everything with the highlight’s brush. Put some on my nose and cupid’s bow. If it’s too intense, blend it out a little.
Highlight brow bone matte on my eyes’ inner corner is my fave thing to do. Eyeliner outer corner of my lash line blend out with brush. Urban Decay setting spray 30 sprays drench my face doesn’t move for the rest of the day.
Touch ups. Brush teeth. Do lips. Outline with Kylie Cosmetic Candy K. It is my basically my lip color, but better. Fenty lip gloss, and that’s it.
Write Between the Lines takeaway? Blend always. Lili blending in? Hard(l)y.
Claudia said she couldn’t take me, but here she was moving other people around so she could take me right away. A manicure emergency.
An emergency ‘cause the funeral is in a couple of hours and I’m not gonna bury my mother with chipped nails. Gel polish ‘cause death gets the good nails.
Claudia tore in with the cuticle clippers and the files. Nobody ever said Claudia was gentle. Nails come out good, though. She says, “Don’t flinch, I got sharp implements here.” I say, “You’re gonna draw blood.”
Acetone smells like my first manicure, hanging with Mom and my aunts. Makes you feel like a grown up, walking around with those perfect nails. Base coat and top coat. Perfect, Claudia got the skills. Then the color. Red, red, red, the color of Chianti. And rub ‘em down. Mom likes the pale colors, pinks and such. But she doesn’t have an opinion, anymore.
So, the thing you do is, after Claudia is all done, is you set your fingers under UV light, a minute, maybe two. Two if you want it to really last. There’s some chemistry in there, free radicals set off by the UV wavelengths, bonding up, hard as crystal. So, I sit still; the radicals get to be free.
I tip Claudia good and she taps the back of my hand, “hang in there.”
America’s Weirdest Home Videos”—an apt line from American Beauty,
director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball’s stark art set piece of
individual torment and family calamity. Familiar familial territory immediately
reminiscent of Ordinary People and The Ice Storm (films that influenced Mendes, Premiere
10/99), American Beauty is a Dramatica
grand argument story that compels us to “look closer” at pain and
mundane, and life will reveal the spectacular.
Main character Lester
Burnham recounts in voice-over: “I’m forty-two-years old. In less than a
year, I’ll be dead. In a way, I’m dead already. . . Both my wife and daughter
think I’m this gigantic loser (overall story
problem-perception). And they’re right (main character problem-perception). I’ve lost
something very important. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn’t
always feel this . . . sedated (main character focus-inertia).
But you know what? It’s never too late to get it back” (main character growth-start).
At Lester’s ad agency, it
has been decided (overall story driver) that:
“. . . everyone write a job description, mapping out in detail how they
contribute. That way, management can assess who’s valuable and who’s
‘expendable'” (overall story concern
conceptualizing). Lester objects (main character approach-do-er) to
this “fascist” order (overall story focus), Wife Carolyn, a study in glacial ambition, asserts:
“There is no decision. Just write the damn thing! . . . you don’t want to
be unemployed” (overall story direction-chaos).
Lester sulkily attends daughter Jane’s high school dance
performance with Carolyn: “What makes you so sure she wants us to be
there? Did she ask us to come? . . . I’m missing the James Bond marathon on
Jane’s best friend and
fellow “Dancing Pantherette” Angela Hayes (allusion to Nabokov’s
Lolita Haze?) catapults Lester out of his malaise: “I feel like I’ve been
in a coma for about twenty years (main character concern-past),
and I’m just now waking up” (main character growth-start),
priming him for impact character Ricky Fitts.
Apathetically escorting Carolyn to a realtor’s function:
“Lester, listen to me. This is important . . . as you know, my business is
selling an image (overall story problem-perception) . . . do me a favor
and act happy” (overall story benchmark-being). Lester is approached by Ricky, a waiter in
I’m Ricky Fitts. I just moved into the house next to you . . . Hey, do you
party? (relationship story concern-doing).
Do you get high?
Lester’s surprised, but
instantly intrigued. . . Ricky and
Lester stand next to a dumpster behind the service entrance to the hotel,
smoking a JOINT (relationship story thematic issue-senses)
. . . Suddenly . . . a serious young MAN
in a cheap suit peers out at them. Ricky hides the joint.
Look. I’m not paying you to
. . . (eyes Lester suspiciously) . . . do whatever it is you’re doing out
here (relationship story catalyst-interpretation).
Fine. Don’t pay me. . . I quit (impact character driver-change). Now, leave me alone.
I think you just became my personal hero (relationship story concern-understanding).
Doesn’t that make you nervous, just quitting your job like that?
. . . I just do these gigs every now and then as a cover. . . But my dad (impact character domain-mind) interferes
a lot less in my life when I pretend (overall story benchmark-being) to
be an upstanding young citizen with a respectable job (overall story problem-perception).
Like all the objective
characters in American Beauty, Ricky has his own agenda (overall story domain-psychology). Taking Jane in with
an ardent video gaze, he is captivated:
What is it?
It’s that psycho next door. . .
I bet he’s filming us right now.
Voyeurism and exhibitionism loop, as through the camera lens
Ricky seeks out Jane from his bedroom window:
On VIDEO: We’re across from
Jane’s window, peering in. Jane tries to shut the drapes, but Angela won’t let
her. Irritated, Jane retreats into the room. We ZOOM toward her, even as Angela
poses in the window, waving, but we’re clearly not interested in Angela. The
ZOOM continues, searching for Jane . . . Finally, we settle on the full-length
MIRROR on the open closet door, where we see a REFLECTION of Jane . . . She’s smiling.
Lester continues to be directed by change: “It’s a great
thing to realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you
wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about . . .”
He meets Ricky’s father,
Colonel Frank Fitts, U.S. Marine Corps, a man locked in a perpetual vise grip
of impotent rage, and always suspicious (impact character thematic
counterpoint) of what goes on in his son’s life. Immoral and/or
. . . G-13 . . . genetically engineered by the U.S. Government. Extremely
potent. But a completely mellow high, no paranoia. . . Two grand.
. . . Well, now I know how you can afford all this equipment. When I was your
age, I worked at McDonald’s all summer just to buy an eight track. . . it was probably the best time of my life (main character concern-past).
My dad thinks I paid for all this with catering jobs.
Never underestimate the power of denial (overall story inhibitor-senses).
Lester and Carolyn’s marriage is another relationship on trial:
This is not a marriage.
This hasn’t been a marriage for years. But you were perfectly happy as long as
I kept my mouth shut. Well, guess what? I’ve changed (main character direction).
The vicissitudes include
Lester quitting his job (after blackmailing his boss for a sweet severance package),
hiring on at a fast food restaurant, and indulging in adolescent
fantasies (overall story dividend-the past).
Incensed, Carolyn relieves her stress by bopping Leonard Kane-The Real Estate
King-and obsessively shooting a “Glock 19” automatic revolver at the
local firing range.
Ricky confides his fierce
obsession to Jane: “I knew there was this entire life behind things, and .
. . this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no
reason to be afraid. Ever. Video’s a poor excuse. But it helps remember . . .
and I need to remember . . .” (impact character
Ricky must recall all instances of beauty to survive as the only
child of a desensitized (overall story inhibitor-senses) mother and
You need structure, you need discipline (impact character focus-order).
Ultimately, the fairytale
of an American family (overall story
Remember those posters that said, “Today is the first day of the rest of
your life.” Well, that’s true of
every day except one. The day you die.
A day of cataclysmic decisions.
misinterprets (relationship story thematic counterpoint) the
relationship between Lester and Ricky as homosexual. An avowed homophobic, he
brutally evicts his son from their home. The Colonel is only repressing his own
feelings (overall story solution-actuality). Unpredictably (main character thematic issue) he kisses Lester
on the mouth. Lester compassionately rebuffs his advances, unaware of the
impossible circumstances (overall story catalyst) in
which the Colonel now (overall story
forewarnings-present) finds himself.
Ricky asks Jane to run away with him:
If I had to leave tonight, would you come with me? If I went to New York. To
live. Tonight. Would you come with me?
Angela, alienated from Jane and Ricky, is determined to follow
through with her seductive promise to Lester. Until:
This is my first time (overall story
Reality check (main character solution-actuality). Lester decides not
to deflower this American beauty (main character resolve-change).
Morality gives way to
mortality. The Colonel silently returns and takes a gun to Lester. Carolyn,
arriving on the scene, gathers Lester’s empty suits in her arms, understanding (overall story consequence) the husband she so
contemptuously dismissed, is really gone (limit-optionlock).
Lester takes his demise philosophically:
. . . it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes
I feel like I’m seeing it all at once (main character mental
sex-female), and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon
that’s about to burst . . . and then I remember to relax, and stop trying to
hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything
but gratitude for every single moment (main character judgement-good) of
my stupid little life . . .
A life of artifice and the ordinary redeemed by an appreciation
for the extraordinary.
NOTE: Since the time of this
article’s publication, it has been determined that the storyform presented
above was inaccurate in regard to one key story point: the Main Character’s
Problem-Solving Style (now Linear).
Within walking distance, is the
North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library. Scanning its NoHo calendar, I am lured in by a
recent literary event vignette:
“King Tut, the invention of the
automobile, a TV game show, and a tiny cactus parasite all profoundly affected
the face we show the world. How did red
lipstick impact the women suffrage movement?
With seemingly unrelated trivia, DeBus reveals odd connections and
presents some of her vintage makeup collection.”
I am most intrigued to visit
the one-story Spanish Colonial Revival style stucco Mission style library that honors
our most famous aviatrix. Its humble beginnings—two
bookcases housed in a corner of the City of Lankershim’s post office.
With a stylish air and natural
flair for storytelling, San Fernando Historical Society Board Member Maya DeBus
presented, “History & Make-up: ‘How
Events Shaped How We Look: Intriguing,
Whimsical, and Little-Known Connections.’”
Ms. DeBus opened with the
acknowledgment that embellished faces are global, attributed to religion,
magic, power, and sometimes—witchcraft.
She showed the Norman Rockwell “Girl at Mirror,” to point out how we
gaze at our blank slates, dreaming of a transformed state. (Fun Fact, my second . . . maybe third . . .
cousins modeled for at least two of The
Saturday Evening Post covers. One as
twins. Great Uncle Edwin Eberman co-founded
The Famous Artists School with this
Americana Life’s gent.)
Ms. DeBus subscribes to the
notion that “Red Lips Kiss My Blues Away”— a sentiment to which I concur. “Cosmetic” comes from the Greek word, kosmētikḗ, “the art of dress and ornament. The
art is ancient, and Ms. DeBus fascinated the crowd as she regaled tales of Queens
Elizabeth and Victoria, actresses and ladies of the evening, painted ladies,
and “Blue Bloods”—society ladies faces paled with products such as Dr.
Campbell’s “Arsenic Complexion Wafers,” who drew blue lines on the sides of
their faces to indicate veins.
Ms. Debus ordered the art of
the artifice both chronologically and by facial features. Inside this California native’s bag of tricks
and historical tidbits (also known as the “ring purse”), included intel on Max
Factor, who was originally a wigmaker in Imperial Russia. After emigrating to first NY then LA, he
discovered the need for film stars to wear something other than theatrical
make-up, aka “grease paint” under the blaze of hot camera lights. The make-up spells he created so well
oftentimes “disappeared” on set, compelling Max to set up shop in Hollywood.
Further factoids include New
York City’s Suffragette’s paraded wearing red lipstick supplied by ardent
feminist Elizabeth Arden. Plus, the cochineal insect, essentially produces carmine that deters predation, and
used for red lipstick—oftentimes used for the same purpose.
Ms. DeBus has not yet published her findings; however, she is looking
forward to receiving kTVision’s 4th Grade teacher’s field trip
report: MayaSpeaks@aol.com. Perhaps I can tease her purple
prose into a polished, published piece of true art. Or, I can just steer her towards Bésame Cosmetics in
Burbank. Founded out of a fascination
with art, history, and beauty by artist, cosmetic historian, and designer
Gabriela Hernandez; her chic boutique boasts a “. . . vintage makeup brand
which honors the style, spirit, and sensibility of female beauty.” Not to mention, she wrote the book, Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup.
I wear House of Bésame’s 1941 inspired gilded, lipstick
bullet, “Victory Red.” My glam gram, Bow
Bow, once the object of Oscar Hammerstein the II’s affection, would be pleased
Postscript” “Collage is not all that she does,” was the
first snippet of conversation I overheard in room of perhaps twelve library
patrons. Completely random and in no way
in regard to Ms. DeBus; however, an epitaph I may use for a future grave marker.
Day was well past coffee and breakfast — even if
at Parthenon the first meal of the day wasn’t much more than some dusty Danish —
when Heisenberg’s green line rang.
“Oh, yes the teen vampire project. I like this draft. What are we calling it?”
He asked without any expectation of a response.
“The sophomore version. Yes yes the problem as I see it is that it
should either be a vampire film or a werewolf movie, but this mixture it’s
simply too either or and I don’t want that and I don’t think that what’s her
name wants that.”
There was a pause as if to give the novelist some
credit for coming up with the series of words that had made a book and was now
being transcribed into a screenplay by a scribbler that knew, in the opinion of
Heisenberg and for that matter Parthenon, what it truly meant to write.
That is to say, being oblivious to nearly
everything but the all important plot and the not so important sub-plot.
“I’d love to get that Soy Popula on this, but that
brat thinks she’s Hollywood royalty. Next
thing you know, we’ll be stuck making the next Norman space sci-fi adventure
vehicle set in Paris. I got enough
worries . . . Let me make some calls and see what the schedules are like for
Winter season. I’ll get back to you, in
the meanwhile, cut out the dogs, you know the wolves, and make it something
more sexy — uhm, maybe he turns into bird — a pretty bird — half vulture and half
falcon. Now, get right on that before I
sign the director.”
Heidelberg hadn’t seen it all, but he’d seen
enough. He especially held witness to
the continual lack of major worldwide box office at Parthenon. It was fair to say he was an agitated man in
need of something spectacular for his prodco.
Parthenon was one of the old time players. Old as far as anything could possibly be old
in an ever-young city like Los Angeles.
It was rather simply mostly farmland when cinema was taking its early
steps. A dream much like Las Vegas, but
a drama that would quickly evolve into one of the world’s most alluring attractions. When America went to war, Parthenon went to
war—with R rated films. Even so, none of
their movies were ever among the top-grossing of all time, they didn’t have the
type of weekend openings one might be inclined to associate with a name such as
Every so often H, as Heidelberg was nicknamed by
those near enough his acquaintenances not to be threatened with being fired or
worse, would say to himself, “Well, Gigantic was massive and they had to split
the loot with Teamworks, and after I’ve been here we had Reformers but also in
partnership with Twenty Cent Locks; it’s probably one of those movie
things.” Sometimes, when H practiced
infidelity and he did so every Thursday and every long weekend available to
himself and his revolving convoy of escorts, he’d whisper afterwards: “The thing I worry about is the Artisan
Curse.” Of course, he wouldn’t explain
what that was to his momentary mistress except to add: “They had a good thing with the Rare Witch
Project, but they went for the sequel and it killed them.” If the fun was outside the ordinary, H would
include a concluding thought to his confessional whisper: “It’s the age of the sequel, but some movies
simply cannot be made.”
Months passed, H was never pleased with the photo-play
in progress, much as loved the potential.
“It needs something. It has romance, sure. I don’t know, maybe a bimbo mobile?” From his experience, it was clear, when a
movie starts to feel like work then it might not be worth producing. It might just start to feel like a workload
to the goer that has to carry it for two hours in a dark room.
The afternoon came early. One conference call and suddenly his
secretary handed him the green line and the words went around the room, “Let
the lawyers find a new team for this screenplay. I already got one with the same title out,
it’s been knocking at my distraction for months, and we really need to
concentrate on that love story with the three-legged cat.”
When the first Vampire film did well, there was
some uneasiness surrounding Parthenon and H.
Still, it was — as many people tend to say — “one of those things.” They got lucky or they deserved something for
having the balls to put Christmas Nicci as a piglet in a stinker. A tolerable
folly. Once in a while, to his wife, in
the late evenings, he’d say, “Maybe I should have had some more patience with
the werewolf side of the thing.”
Powerful men are not usually prone to remorse or
regret. Tears are rare, although fears
might be fruitful. H was being driven to
one of the hideaways just outside L.A. in the Autumn when the sequel to the
project he had sent back into negotiations appeared.
The long lines made him think, “Hmmm kids, looks
like another winner, this business is insane.
No telling what might strike up the ticket band.” He took a Tambien, which was a popular
medication in those days even if the side effects included
self-extermination. He went to bed,
shaking from the text-message realization that it had made seventy million in a
few hours showing. The words echoed like
cold leftovers in the gut of his thoughts, “This isn’t even the big weekend.”
That first not even the big weekend the movie
grossed 153 milliion domestic. It was
bigger than many of the big movies and cost a fraction of what they had been
budgeted. It was big news. Excellent news, in fact, for the
industry. It simply wasn’t news that
Parthenon, and especially H could relish.
After only two weeks the world-wide total was
estimated at four hundred and seventy million dollars. All of it within an international recession,
possible flu-epidemic, and the talk of global warming looming over the earthly
One might have expected a place like Parthenon to
demote or even deliver Heidelberg his walking papers. “Didn’t the guy from the mailroom look a lot
like H? If you can’t get me on screen
anymore then I don’t have half an hour to make your pasta al dente.”
Of course, often something as dramatic as the
sequel’s triumph turns heads so entirely that nothing is said and things go on
as they had before the rights were let go to some other contender.
Day was well past teas and biscuits—even if at
Parthenon the first meal of the day wasn’t much more than some hasty fruit—when
Heisenberg’s private line rang.
That reminds me, I need something stronger than my current
prescription. Would Morphine be too
difficult?” He asked, entirely expecting the Rx Fedexed before the pome
disappeared from its decomposing position alongside the oversized Rolodex.
“Want to see it
again little girl? It shouldn’t frighten you.” The opening scene of a
crying Jack in the Box toy forebodes the strangeness yet to come.
Director Robert Aldrich and writer Lukas Heller’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (based on a novel by Henry Farrell), is classic horror saved from camp by its fine performances. The story of sibling rivalry gone mad necessitates the highly wrought performances from its lead actresses, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The sparse supporting cast play their individual parts with enough verve to make them memorable, yet with the restraint required to allow two of Hollywood’s Grande Dames fued.
In 1917, Baby Jane Hudson
(main character) is a wildly popular child song and
dance act on the vaudeville circuit. Tyrannical behind the scenes, her heart
belongs to daddy and her earnings support the show business family. “I
want an ice cream. . . . I want it! I make the money so I can have what I
Mother understands (overall story consequence)
Jane’s stardom will be short lived, and the real talent lies in big sister
Blanche (impact character).
the lucky one Blanche, really you are. Someday it’s going to be you that’s
getting all the attention (impact character
benchmark-future). And when that happens, I want you to try to be
kinder to Jane and your father than they are to you now. . . . I hope you’ll
try and remember that (overall story dividend-memory).
replies: “I won’t forget. You bet I won’t forget!”
Cut to 1935. Baby Jane is
a B movie actress. Blanche, “the
biggest thing in movies today.” Blanche has the clout to insist (impact character unique ability-interdiction) Jane
receive film work—much to the chagrin of the industry:
old man hired the Hudson sisters, how come he had to hire the back end of the
act too? Boy, what a no-talent broad that Baby Jane is.
she stay sober?
Later, a studio head
remarks: “She [Blanche] ought to have sense (relationship story thematic issue) enough to know that
she can’t make a star out of Baby Jane again.”
Up to this point, enough
information is given to provide backstory for the sisters’ twisted
relationship. The next scene is an automobile pulling up to the Hudson residence—one
sister opens the gate, the other attempts to run her down (story driver-action). A shriek and a sob and the
credits open the film to present day.
Blanche is bound
physically to a wheelchair (impact character domain-universe);
Jane bound emotionally to her sister by guilt (relationship story
domain-physics). They live as recluses with intermittent household
help. Nosy Parker neighbor comments: “How come we never see her [Blanche]
around? We’ve been living next door (overall thematic
issue-situation) for six months now, and the only one I ever see is
that fat sister slouching around. Don’t they ever have company? . . . Julie
says that sister is kind of peculiar (main character thematic
issue-suspicion). . . she’s supposed to be (overall problem-perception) responsible for the
accident that crippled her sister Blanche.”
The local television
station is broadcasting (impact character signpost
1-present) Blanche’s classic films (impact character concern-past),
an event that pleases her, yet raises Jane’s ire (relationship story
symptom-self-aware; overall story catalyst-circumstances). A
vitriolic alcoholic (overall story symptom-chaos),
Jane’s increasing jealousy (main character
benchmark-subconscious) and strange behavior (overall story domain-psychology) is cause for Elvira,
the Hudson’s’ housekeeper, to prod Blanche to sell the house and conceptualize (overall story goal)
a way to put Jane “where they can look after her properly.”
probably have to sell the house.
our business manager tell you all this?
last week, I think.
. . . Oh
you’re a liar. You’re just a liar! You always were (impact
character solution-actuality). . . . Don’t you think I know
everything that goes on in this house (relationship story
response-aware)? . . . Blanche, you aren’t ever going to sell this
house (relationship story inhibitor-destiny).
disconnects Blanche’s bedroom telephone (relationship story thematic
issue-senses) and serves up a dead pet bird for lunch.
Determined (main character domain-mind) to make a comeback (main character critical flaw-sense of self), Jane
places an ad in the personals to hire a musical accompanist. She equivocates to
Elvira to keep her out of the way—and away from interfering with Blanche:
have the whole day off.
thanks, but does . . . Miss Blanche know about my taking the day off?
she knows (overall story inhibitor-falsehood).
receives her gentleman caller garishly made up and dressed in ghastly Baby Jane
apparel. Edwin, a musician and mama’s boy, is a bit of a con artist (overall story signpost 3-being). Financial circumstances
(overall story catalyst) have compelled him to answer
Jane’s ad. He overlooks Jane’s bizarre behavior-intent on following his own
agenda (overall story concern-psychology).
aback. He obviously has no clue who she is. He makes a quick recovery.)
you mean you’re really the Baby Jane Hudson?
Yes I am.
And I’m going to revive my act exactly as I used to do it. Of course some of
the arrangements will have to be brought up to date. Music changes (main character problem) so much, doesn’t it? . . .
There are a lot of people who remember me (main character concern-memory).
Lots of them.
While Jane is out with
Edwin, Blanche crawls downstairs to telephone the doctor. Jane catches her in
the act, overhearing Blanche inform Dr. Shelby her sister is “emotionally
disturbed.” Jane calls him back, impersonating Blanche (main character approach-be-er), to put the doctor’s
mind at ease (overall outcome-failure).
The women’s relationship
deteriorates further when Jane bashes Elvira over the head. Jane trusses
Blanche up and gags her mouth (relationship story thematic
issue-senses). Blanche’s last link to humanity is Edwin. Now a
frequent visitor, his mother’s recounting of the Hudson sisters’ scandal does
not deter him from playing along with Baby Jane. Once he (overall solution) sees Blanche, dying from dehydration
and starvation, he runs out (overall symptom-chaos),
a weak, drunk, and frightened man.
(Or was it the lifelike, genuine Baby Jane doll that scared him
Jane believes “he’s
gone to tell” (main character thematic counterpoint-evidence)
and bundles Blanche off into the car—heading for the beach (relationship story signpost 4-doing). Lying on the
sand, near death, Blanche confesses to Jane (impact character resolve-change):
made you waste your whole life thinking you’d crippled me (relationship story problem-perception). . . . You
didn’t do it Jane. I did it myself. Don’t you understand (relationship story concern)? I crippled myself. You
weren’t driving that night. . . . You were too drunk. . . . You’d been so cruel
to me . . . I wanted to run you down—crush you. But you saw the car coming. I
hit the gates. I snapped my spine.
all this time we could have been friends? (relationship story
The police then catch up
to insane Baby Jane, dancing on the sand, strawberry ice cream in hand (main character resolve-steadfast; main character judgment-good).
The ladies in the front were saved the
chairs. They deserved it, they were his ladies. Indy, Mary, Ari, Trish, and
Gonzo —- and they all looked beautiful in black. The people behind them
consisted of characters. They were all colors, attitudes, styles in the mob.
Each had a story with him. Some young like him. Some older. All different. But
tonight, they all had the same desire.
His main mice put it together as
promised. Only a friendship like theirs would have a night to knock out all the
specs of each one’s posthumous party. His was written with simple interjections:
Cardboard coffin. Decorated by his mice. Chairs for my ladies. At night. White
Xmas lights. Cliffside. City view. The appropriate Stones’ song. Pay respect
with burning matches. Wake amidst the bonfire.
Jay was emotional. Nicki was
overwhelmed. Yauch was antsy. Cas Cas was distraught. Luz laughed. All other
mice were fucked up or faded.
Luz left to set up his “My Best
Man Died, Come Rage With Me” rager at the place. As did the mob. The
ladies went to do lady things, as the finest creatures do. The three mice stood
over the dwindling flame, watching the flicker die. Bottles in hand of course.
“He has a will.”
“My brother made a will, for his
They all stared at Cas Cas in
anticipation. He left momentarily. The moment was filled with very puzzled
fucks. Once returned, he proceeded to dole out accordingly. To Nicki, a pen for
him to keep writing his senses. To Luz, a blunt for his boy. To Yauch, condoms.
Jay got a note. Cas Cas dipped out to seek out his wife for a night of
reminiscing tears. His wife was pleasant, and lucky, for Cas Cas was a knight.
His homage to his brother was nothing but to love. And love he did.
The mice headed to Yauch’s nest to get
fitted. Well, to get Yauch fitted. The boy needed pomade, cologne, and a couple
looks in the mirror to prepare for his homage to the fallen.
“I. Will. Bang. The. Twins.”
“What? The Carnegies?”
“Yes Nick. The fucking Carnegies.
My homage to our man will a triumph of debauchery over pure innocence.”
“A threesome is no triumph, just
“I oppose and I shall disprove
you, as always, Jay. Also, tonight your homage should be to get into a little
trouble. You know he’d love that. You read the note?”
Jay left to get air, or at least play
“So are you.”
“We all are. Anyway, what’s your
homage Snow? Going to write a novella?”
“Fuck you. I have no idea. I’m
Yauch was finally clothed and doing
the final touches to the hair. His confidence almost a disease at this point.
But, it played. It always did.
“Don’t think. I’m going to be him
for a second. Don’t think. Just do. Because you have nothing but good
intentions. You are a bitch. You wouldn’t hurt a bitch either. Let this be your
homage. Just go be Nick Snow.”
“Sometimes I wish you and me had
sex just so some cool could rub off on you.”
The two smiled. One in the bathroom,
creating sex appeal. The other on the couch, just being himself. It was going
to be a good night.
They jumped into Oldsmobile, and set
off. Jay at the helm. Nicki, shotgun. Yauch spread out in the backseat like the
real cat he was. Nicki supplied sounds from the dead man’s playlist. Fucking
bittersweet was all that was felt. They parked in their reserved spot on the
right side of Luz’s driveway. Reserved physically by Luz, who sat in a beach
chair in the spot. Dressed in nothing but a Speedo and a snapback, he greeted them
“What the fuck is up my
brethren?! Yauch you look gay. Fuck this. Let’s rage.”
Luz’s place was another world. Each
door led to a different vibe. One to sex. Another to complete and utter
heartache of memory. There were drugs. There was alcohol. There were
shenanigans, sober and not. There was improvised cooking and desperate treks
for the simplest of fast food. Loud, loud music was drowned out by
conversation. What really filled up the party were stories. Both from the past,
and those that were being written moment by moment in the wake. They took over.
So many laughs. So many fucking tears. But, it was beautiful. It was Christmas
The centerpiece, the crown jewel of
the party, was the wheelchair the guest of honor spent in his last days of
battle. Luz and others surrounded it with candles and various trinkets.
The three had split up. Yauch went
into lone wolf mode, destined to offend. Nicki was present. He drank, he sang,
he lived. With everyone. Jay saw this and felt he was a Rod Serling character.
When he and Nick had first met, Jay was the butterfly and Nicki was the
wallflower. Roles reversed and Jay was happy. He made appearances. But mostly
he pondered. Pondered the note. Pondered the past. Pondered the party. Pondered
Then she shined.
She was it. The scratch to the itch.
The runner’s high. She is what the insomniac thinks about to sleep. The final
sheep. She is beauty. She is beautiful. Her presence orders you to acknowledge
it, appreciate it, and realize that you cannot touch it. Her dress was pure.
Her eyes piercing. Her movements licentious. And now she was looking right back
She was quick and composed. Like a
“You look like you are in
She also knew just what to say to
leave you defenseless. But Luz was louder. No one, nor nothing was. Well
balanced atop the sacred wheelchair stood the giant.
“Everyone. Shut the fuck up.
Listen. I have words. I have words for my boy. My compadre. I’m so high.
Silent room with a voluntary pause for
the one and only Luz.
“I wish he was here to burn this
house down with me. He would. So. Here is my homage. I love you.”
A pull of Jack, a spit of flames, and
a literal burning house. Classic Luz.
The moments followed were a flurry.
The ones who could handle, handled the small fire. The ones who could be
useless, were useless in the best way. But no one was scared. They were all in
an understanding, an understanding that life was just fucking awesome and that
they got to share with one cool fool. Once everything settled, Jay looked for
the lady. As the search grew, his heart forcibly feigned with the unread note
burning in his back pocket. Torn between carpe diem and a letter from a friend,
he sat. His wallowing was cut short to roars and screams from what seemed like
a real jungle. He looked towards the once closed master bedroom to see the
twins emerge giggly, and naked. Then a very naked Yauch played a true mouse
opposite to the trailing respective boyfriends as he darted and dodged from
room to room. Jay looked at Nicki. Nicki back at Jay. And they booked. Each
pushed a boyfriend and ran separate ways. Eventually, the three found
themselves a block away and in the clear. Jay gave his jacket to Yauch. Yauch
used it to be an urban Tarzan. They carefully toed back to see the betrayed
were waiting by the Oldsmobile. They turned and walked. A slow contagious
laughter was produced by the very crossed Nicki. Soon, Yauch succumbed. Then
Jay lost it as well. After a block, the guys were startled.
“Get in. You idiots.”
“Bryn. You are a goddess.”
Yauch hopped in the back, where he
found a very comfortable poncho. Nicki jumped in, drunk as fuck. Jay took
front. He wish Luz could save him again. He couldn’t, but Yauch did.
“I miss him. I miss him a lot.
You know, before I was this popular provider for female orgasms, I had a girl.
And, at the time, so did he. They were Asian. They were stressful. And he and I
were the best of friends. One day, when his was at school and mine at work, we
purposely left our phones at my house and went to the gas station. We picked up
27’s, Pringles, and fucking slurpees and headed to the mini golf course. We
challenged each other round after round. Talking mad shit about each other’s
games and our own respective lives. It was one of the most precious moments in
my life. It was a moment frozen and time, and I always have it. Take me there
Bryn. I’ll sleep there tonight and pour one out for the homie.”
“I’ll come with.”
“Hell yea, Nicki. Let me pick up
some clothes and a bottle first.”
“And some In-N-Out.”
The two departed with hugs for the
getaway driver and even fiercer hugs for Jay. They were in it together. Yauch
humped the air with a tongue licking face to combo while Bryn wasn’t looking.
Jay was happy. Then mortified.
“Let’s go to his park.”
They went. They played in the kids
area. Touched the sky on the swings. Rolled down the tiny, grassy hills. They
spoke of their history with the deceased. The many memories that were the
sweetest scars now. She spoke of her very recent history with the deceased. He
listened, and didn’t think for the first time in a while. But it was what
wasn’t said that was ringing in both of their minds. Then she changed that.
“He was never mine. He belonged
to everyone. He was someone’s savior, someone’s something. Always. He was a
catalyst, a catalyst for life. He was Vi, everyday.”
She smiled with clarity.
“And I was never his. He knew
that, before I did.”
Bryn looked up to the sky with her
annoyed smirk and a head shake.
“I’m sure he’s flipping you off
with a smile.”
“Jake, take me out. Anywhere.
Let’s get in trouble.”
He tried to rationalize. She pecked
his cheek. He turned to see her on her way. Before following, and starting his
life, he reached into his pocket. He understood the narrator in the
“Tell-Tale Heart” more now than he did in class. But, the relation
was gone in seconds. The note was simple and sincere, contained cussing, and
demanded life. The note was him. So fucking him. And now he was flipping him
off with the same fucking smile.