by RIP RENSE
May 14, 2009
care anymore. It’s a long way to Tipperary. Whoever gets
the most toys wins. The goddamn horse won the goddamn race.
I don’t care. I’ve been posing, in showing great concern for
this and that in this space. The truth is, I have no concern. I
have only caffeine. It’s all a bore. The glass is half-empty.
The glass is half-full. Everything’s great. Everything’s awful.
It’s all the same, it’s all different, it’s all brain chemistry.
La la la. . .
I mean, you tune in radio
talk shows with
Patt Morrison and
Larry Mantle on KPCC. Hey,
they’re marvelous. How do they do it? They know the issues the
way Oprah knows the pores in her nose, the way Villaraigosa
knows poontang. They can get into the minutiae of minutiae of
tangents of tangents of issues of issues---issues that never go
away, are never resolved, forever debated, forever voted on,
forever discussed, forever forever. As if it is interesting! As
if it is consequential! As if it has impact! And they don’t
mind! They get into discussions of fine hairs on the backs of
permutations of mutations, as if by speaking about them,
something might change.
Pssst. It never
does. Even when it does.
Bravo to Patt and Larry,
though. Did they inherit their pathological curiosity, I
wonder? What anti-depressants are they taking? They are so
doggedly interested and upbeat, it grates on me. As much as I
like them and respect their prowess, I wish to hell they would
once in a while go on the air drunk, and blurt out something
like, “You know, none of this crap means a rat’s ass, but let’s
just f---ing pretend it does anyway,” or better, “Our mayor is such a
lying, cunning sack of dung that we’re devoting ourselves to running him
out of city hall from here on in---and most of the city council,
too, and the board of supes.” Heh.
I remember driving the
late Jim Bellows to an interview at KPCC to talk about his book,
“The Last Editor,” and I remember his face at the mention of
Morrison. It was a uniquely Bellowsian expression with
knitted brow and sharp glance that said extreme disapproval.
He couldn’t abide The Wonks Who Take Every Little Thing
Incredibly Seriously, and neither can I. He always wanted the press to
“raise hell,” after all, not in the pigeyed Limbaugh/Hannity
way, but with investigation and skepticism and crusading. And
Where the hell do you
find those things these days? The odd website, I suppose, and
most are pretty odd.
But all this “what is your sense of” and “let us hear from
you” and "we have a dialogue going" to be found in the likes of
Mantle and Morrisson---and they are wonderfully informed,
enviably articulate, shockingly on their toes---is Bor! Ing!
Politically correct, obsequiously courteous, obsessively
informed counterweight to the two-toed brutishness of Fox-fueled American
To me, talking about how
or why some obscure bill “will affect us” is about as
important as ant breath. Who cares! The bills come and
go, year after decade, everything remains screwed up. ‘Twas
ever thus. But Mantle and Morrison---especially Morrison, who
spits out information and commentary faster than a provoked
cobra---and Arianna Huffnpuff, and Robert Scheer et al. . .what
does their aggressively informed and pithy yacking accomplish, other
than bring them a pay check?
Here, in a nutshell, is
what they all really ask: "Given all the good and bad of this issue, and
the good and bad ways that everyone is dealing with it, how good
or bad are the prospects for it being less good or bad?" And
here is the answer they usually get from this-or-that
pleasure-to-be-here guest: "Well, it will be somewhat good,
and somewhat bad, and nobody really knows." Or, in the case
of the left vs. right format, one says, "It will be bad,"
and the other says, "It won't be bad," and the word, "moot"
basks in glory.
I’ll bet I’m not alone in
my feelings. I’ll wager that on a given night, there is not a
single person in the stands in Dodger Stadium who gives a crap
about any of the issues that Mantle and Morrisson et al. yap
importantly about in a given day. Unless it happens to include
the Dodgers. Of course, these same people take professional
baseball seriously, and root for the “home team,” poor things. They don’t care that the players average
more riches than Louis XIV, that they change every year, and
that most are full of female fertility drugs. They buy into the
whole “home town” thing, and occasionally shoot one another in
the parking lot after a game over it, just for fun.
Which brings up the crux
of the biscuit, as Zappa put it. There's no home in this
town. There’s no there here. Or here there. There’s no L.A., if
there ever was---and I think there was, back in the ‘20’s,
‘30’s, ‘40’s, maybe ‘50’s. It’s been all downhill since
freeways. No one takes it very seriously as one place, except
those who are new here, or the likes of Mantle and Morrison, or
the cool monied adult teenagers
who think of L.A. as a cool playground, or
the bonehead TeeVee Newsmannequins who smile as they tell you
about “breaking news” involving a deranged fire hydrant,
“gridlock,” “wild weather,” burning houses, Phil Spector, or
another eight-year-old paralyzed in a drive-by shooting.
L.A. is all disaffection, factions and
neighborhoods organized by wealth and lack of wealth. The
staggering problems here are obvious, long have been, and they
haven’t changed in a long time---except to worsen. Developers have for decades been
green-lighted by the arch-criminals in government to
throw up hideous condo hives affordable only to other arch-criminals.
Robert Casden should be put in jail for what he’s done to this
place, but instead he is hailed in radio interviews and the L.A.
Times for having made millions by building tens of thousands of
condos and apartments! Never mind that density equals traffic
equals stress equals anger equals no quality of life equals
living death. Density? He'd love to. Freeways? Nothing free
about them, life-stealing atrocities. Skyscrapers? They keep
scraping the downtown sky while schools close and teachers and
city employees are laid off and Skid Row rots and lots of no
light-rail is built in the Valley or West Side. Ah, but there is
a beautiful, brand new high school athletic field right off the
Santa Monica Freeway on Washington Boulevard (West Adams
Preparatory High, which opened in 2007). About ten feet from the freeway.
See, Patt and Larry, that’s what L.A. is.
A city that would allow a new high school and athletic field to
be built right next to a freeway. Isn’t that the kind of thing you’d expect
to find in. . .Iraq? It’s wrong, it’s sick, it’s actually evil, but
nobody cares. All the monied L.A. City School fartfrogs puff up
and congratulate themselves for building a new school in a
crummy neighborhood where kids can run track and play soccer
with the white-noise ssshhhhh of the Santa Monica Freeway in
their ears and heavyweight particulate matter in their lungs.
Fartfrogs. I like that. Have Morrison and Mantle talked about
this? These media barons---and the Times---should have demanded that
the school never be built. Along with that silly new
billion-dollar "architectural wonder" going up at Seventh and Figueroa. .
.Oh, and let's not leave
insanely outlandish new
high schools built at a cost four or five hundred million
dollars or more, while other schools around the city fell apart.
Insanity is no defense. The media talk about these new
schools---especially the bizarro $230 million
High School for Visual and
Performing Arts (also next to a freeway)---as if they are magnificent,
necessary new civic additions. Just as they talk about the titanically vulgar Nokia Theater complex, which
looks like a shoddy mini-mall after a few injections by Manny
Ramirez’s doctor. All this stuff really needs to be
immediately razed, and the ground purified by Native American
shamans. . .
Yes, this is what L.A.
is---hypocritical, disorganized, stupid, chaotic,
unthinking, on the take. The obvious evidence, of course, is the history of
local transportation, or lack of same. The infamous story of the
Pacific Electric rail lines being discarded in favor of freeways
and auto/oil company profit was the city's wrist slit. I mean, by
the time light-rail (or Gawd help us, more earthquake-defying,
far costlier subways) is finished
here, all that will accomplish is to enable lots of poor
families, kids, and illegal immigrant nannies
to daily congest parts of town that they don’t normally congest,
and piss off the locals. Freeways will remain badly in need of
only hope of ever unconstipating L.A. is a massive, massive national
depression to drive all the pinheads who come here seeking to
become “icons” and screenwriters back to Kansas and New York,
and immigrants back to native lands. But it really doesn’t
matter, because L.A. is long dead and buried by overdevelopment,
density, congestion, traffic, overpopulation, elitism, ethnic separatism.
Right, separatism. Now, I
love multiculturalism, or I used to, but not cultural arrogance.
I liked the melting pot concept before it was melted by
reverse-discrimination and transplanted nationalism. As I’ve
said in this space before, why did we get a million people
downtown protesting for the “rights” (what rights?) of illegal
“immigrants” (the “illegal” part is now dropped by everyone,
including media), and only about 5,000-10,000 fringe commie-types
marching against the Iraq occupation? Why is it a wonderful thing that Gloria
Molina had the Metro Gold Line officially renamed “Linea de Oro”
for the part that bisects Boyle Heights? Why not name the part
that goes through Chinatown something in Chinese, etc., etc. Am
I expected to listen to that DJ, Piolin, just because he is top rated? I don’t
speak anything beyond high school Spanish, and I don’t like the
incredibly lame music he plays in which every other song seems
to concern broken corazones.
It’s all a joke. Leadership,
vision, unity of place: all a veneer. No one is in charge. No one takes
responsibility. The last man to have any vision for L.A. was Ray
Bradbury, but no one took him seriously because he was just a
wacky fantasy/science fiction writer. Never mind that he singlehandedly arranged for the Alweg Corp. to build a monorail
all over Southern California for free. Right, free. In exchange
for the ridership revenue. The city council, in its blunderbuss arrogance, kicked
that gift horse in the teeth. Rapid transit light rail should
have---could have---been built here 50 years ago. Correction:
there was another visionary in the person of the late County Supervisor Baxter Ward, whose
tiny sales tax to fund light-rail in the early '70's was voted
down after big money (big oil?) campaigns termed it "Baxter's
You know, a few weeks
back, I read about the
"People" issue, and editor Laurie Ochoa's blurb that went,
in part, "the waitresses and starlets ... the tech wizards and
rock stars ... the activists, gang survivors, political warriors
and policy wonks ... the scientists, teachers and fabulous nerds
... plus the nightlife shapers, art makers and fashion
provocateurs that make Los Angeles the only place to live."
The only place to
live? Excuse me? What about Norway? I’d re-think that one, Laurie. Have you read about
Norway recently? Looks pretty damn good. Paris? London?
Christchurch? Bora Bora? Bruges? Amsterdam? Florence?
Charlottesville, Va.? Call me nuts, but I loved Taiwan. Much,
much friendlier than L.A., with a real sense of place. But then,
I’m not one of the stereotypical
cool L.A. Weekly readers with dyed black hair driving a '64 Valiant who thrives on boasting about eating brain tacos
and watermelon juice in Highland Park before going to hear
Mahler at the L.A. Phil and then heading out for some esoteric
dessert in “Little Armenia.” I mean, L.A. has always been
multicultural. BFD, as we used to say in the ‘70’s. Most who
cultivate cool cache via multi-ethnic mystique are well-to-do whites who base their appreciation on taco
trucks, Korean barbecue, and izakaya. Their liberalism is not
much deeper than their taste buds.
Only place to live? I know that Ochoa needs readers and ads, but which
L.A., I wonder, does she live in? Is it an L.A. where deranged
punk gangsters don’t weave in and out of freeway traffic at 90
mph, barely missing your rear bumper, just for fun? Where people
do not drive the way emaciated jackals vie for pieces of bloody
zebra rump? Where triple murders don’t happen at the corner El Pollo
Loco, and transvestite hookers do not parade little teacup
poodles past elementary schools? Where the guy across the street
doesn’t stab his friend, and you don’t wind up locked in your
home, inhaling tear gas as SWAT moves in? Where friends are not
robbed, beaten, or executed, face-down on sidewalks, by gang
beasts? Where that spineless snake, Villaraigosa, does not flash his fake
teeth and construct such masterfully evasive non-information as
to make you ashamed to be human? Where downtown “renewal” is
hailed like it’s some grand renaissance, merely because amoral
robberbarons are grabbing up rat-infested old buildings and
reselling them as million-dollar “live/work spaces?” Where cheap
“lofts” formerly occupied by actual bohemian-artist types are
now rife with puerile, spoiled young Turks making a (Downtown
News reports) median income of $95,000 a year? (By doing what,
exactly? Anybody know?) Where someone like Emily Ho is not
celebrated in the Weekly "People" issue because
she works for the Getty,
won some pretentious "design" award for putting Giant Robot prints on the
wall of her Silverlake single apartment, and created a stupid
fan website for Laker Sasha Vujacic? I mean, g-a-s-p.
And while on this subject, let’s please, Ms. Ochoa, read less
about monied, privileged types like Ho (can’t neglect to
mention the Asian-chic angle here) and more about some poor
goddamn kid whose only place to live is between a couple of crackhouses,
but he or she still
gets up and goes to a school every day where half the teachers are being laid off. That’s
Where, oh where, is this
L.A., this “only place to live?” Am I wrong in thinking
that I don’t live in a place full of Starbuckses full of nowhere
men (and women) making all their nowhere plans for nobody on
iBooks while plugged into iPods talking on iPhones about I, I,
I? Where walkers are considered weird and no one knows how to
move to one side of the sidewalk to let you pass on the other
anymore (and they slam into you if you don’t?) Where “homeless”
people (formerly “bums”) don’t curse you if you don’t give them
money, or worse, erupt with a sanctimonious “Have a blessed
day?” Where mentally ill (oh, sorry, challenged)
wretches wander the streets, defecating in bushes, eating
trash-can pizza crust, threatening to rape passers-by? Where spoiled frauds and
phonies forever rhapsodize about
being able to eat fried pigs ears in Monterey Park and how
freeway congestion is actually “Zen-like” and Disney Hall’s
acoustics are “visceral?” Where the Downtown News runs
staggeringly callous italic headlines like this one, from April
12: Skid Row homicides, surplus horses, and other happenings
Around Town. Yeah, baby, homicides are happenin'! Where SUVs
and mansions attach themselves to fatuous women toned by Pilates
and Oprah and chemical peels? Where news programs are inhabited by surgically
smoothed faces smiling as if they are shot full of heavy drugs,
and streets are full of third world transplants trailing packs
of poor little kids with faces so happy and hopeful it breaks
your heart? Where people daily threaten to kill one another over
traffic, and sometimes follow through? Where it can take 45
minutes to drive a mile and half? Where primitives
engage in marking territory with sinister script on walls, and
flash guns as they cross in front of you in crosswalks on busy
streets? Where, after the Watts riots, the whole damn big happy
multi-ethnic city family
should have banded together to make the poorer and neglected
parts of L.A. livable and crime-free, but did nothing except
allow tens of thousands of young people to be murdered by Crips
and Bloods in the next 40 years? Where is this “only place to live?” Where?
But again, to get back to
the point of this blabber, I don’t care. Something's wrong
with me that I can't politely and wonkishly take it all
seriously, like Mantle and Morrison. That I can't write merrily
about the "fabulous nerds" and "nightlife shapers" and "fashion
provacateurs" like Ochoa. Right now, the only things I care
about are a few people, keeping my cats happy, trying to
figure out why a pal drank himself to death, The Beatles, and
maybe Mitsuko Uchida’s eyebrows.
L.A. is on the gurney, in the
emergency ward, intubated, chest cracked, getting open-heart
massage, non-responsive. Direct cardio injections of adrenalin cannot overcome density, traffic, and brain tacos. It’s
sickening, it’s depressing, and anyone who can’t see this or
denies it is either: young, on medication, or lying. But I don’t
care about that, either. I don't care that the few people
reading this are either enjoying the hell out of it or thinking,
“Why doesn’t he just get out of here, then?” (Send money!) I don’t even
care that I’ve written this just to fill space.