December 22, 2005

AMERICA

Earlier this week, Matt brought home Baudrillard's America, which the lady at Myopic suggested is better read as fiction, rather than philosophy ("It's much easier to stand if you think it's just a story about a snotty French guy on a roadtrip."). I like it. (Plenty. Lots at times. Does that make me choochy? If so, my choochiness is accidental.) His filet of Southern California is as stark as anything Didion's Play It As It Lays, especially for someone who did not grow tall amidst America's mood. He writes: "A camoflaged individual, with a long beak, feathers, and a yellow cagoule, a madman in fancy dress, wanders along the sidewalks of downtown, and nobody, but nobody looks at him. They do not look at other people here. They are much too afraid they will throw themselves upon them, with unbearable, sexual demands, requests for money or affection. Everything is charged with somnambulic violence andyou must avoid contact to escape potential discharge."

I do not know what a cagoule is, but somnambulic violence is the rattletrap DNA of that whole city. When I lived there, downtown was still rancid, as if time dipped out shortly after Day of The Locust , reappeared briefly around 1957 to install new counter tops at smoke stained diners and play dead for another 30 years while the whole place got tarred filthy. My friend Djinni, her friend Johnny had a corn yellow Cadillac convertable, ancient and boatlike, and he drove us through downtown one night, all night cris-cross like mapping a grid, really, it was like the end of time. Tumbleweeds through the street and sterile white tile tunnels with tags etched through the exhaust-cake, a coyote and no humans at all.

Los Angeles is a different place now, I think.

Posted by Jessica at December 22, 2005 01:34 AM | TrackBack