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Letter to Councilman LaBonge
Real People as Fictional Characters
Female Actors, Part Two
One Culture Hero Award
Adelante Gay Pride Gala
Best Work of Fiction?
Tom of Finland: Sexual Liberator or Enslaver
Lying Writers
Review of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson
Promiscuous Thoughts
A Crime of the Heart
A Letter to Michael Silverblatt
"Have you no decency, sir?"
Political Incorrectness: Female Actors and Trojans
He Hugged Moms and Dads
What is a Girly Man?
Review of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive
The Gay Mammies
A Writer Protests
Review of Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro
A Spirit Preserved in 'Amber'
The Supreme Court Case
Review of Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal
Review of Lost Years: A Memoir 1945-1951 by Christopher Isherwood
Review of Out For Good
Review of Hoyt Street: an Autobiography
Review of Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict.
Review of Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
Review of Whores for Gloria
Muscles and Mascara
Review of "Blonde"
Brother Paul, Sister Jan, Brother Hinn, God and the Folks
Advice to the Next Generation
Sins of the Fathers
Beatin' Around the Bush

Cruise Not Gay! The Judge Has Spoken

The Horror, The Horror
LA--a Cliché?
Dominick, Mark & Orenthal
Holy Drag!
Ms. Hill & Mr. Tom
Mrs. guy Ritchie 
Supreme Court 
Tom Cruise 
New Times Article 

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"In other sweaty "noirs"--whether in black and white or Technicolor--the setting of Los Angeles contributes a sense of fate conspiring, just as the city's undercurrents conspire to grind. "
From Sunset Boulevard to Mulholland Drive (CONTINUED)

     John Schlesinger's rendering of Nathanael West's "The Day of the Locust" includes not one but three apocalypses possible together only in Los Angeles. A literal movie set for a costume epic collapses, killing and wounding dozens of extras. An earthquake--augured earlier by the image of a cracked wall decorated, like a camouflaged scar, with a rose--strikes. A riot erupts simultaneous at a Hollywood premiere when a grotesque painted child, Adore, is mauled. (An aside: the hideously cute painted child Adore may be the close cousin of Baby Jane in Robert Aldrich's "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"--and that aged child star, played deliriously, all eyes, by Bette Davis, might be what Shirley Temple would have become if Richard Nixon hadn't appointed her ambassador to some country or other.)

     Within the next two days, several films, all set in Los Angeles, will be exhibited and discussed by a panel of reviewers and critics. Some of the films are experimental and may introduce points of view other than those I'm presenting. I'm limiting my remarks to so-called mainstream films because of their wide accessibility and immediate impact.

     A film that--unfortunately or fortunately--will not be shown is "L.A. Story." It attempts to define the city only ridicule, distorting all that's imposing about Los Angeles.

     The screenplay was written by Steve Martin, who often takes swipes at the city when he's in New York--nothing, though, that equals Woody Allen's fatuities or Ms. Bette Midler's recent announcement of why she fled Los Angeles. "There are," she said, according to that unassailable bastion of truth Liz Smith, "too many sick people here." Guess where she went?

     "L.A. Story" opens with a montage of clichés: a shimmering pool, beautiful women lounging about, a helicopter floating overhead with what looks like a large penis in a bun but is really a giant hotdog, mustard oozing; rainbows of sprinklers on identical lawns; a man in bizarre shorts lugging a Christmas tree to the garbage under a shower of sun; an old couple abandoning their walkers to creep into a convertible while donning sunglasses; earthquakes ignored in favor of nonsensical conversations at the Ivy; batty Venice West denizens, including an aging Lolita, neurotically obsessed with "colonics"; drivers firing at each other in congested freeway lanes. (About the city's congestion: have you noticed that in films, everyone finds a parking space right in front of his destination?)

     A clownish weathercaster, played to the manner born by Mr. Martin, informs: "I was deeply unhappy but did not know it because I was happy all the time." Sara, a London journalist, arrives to write about Los Angeles; the clownish weatherman offers to show her "cultural Los Angeles"--in 15 minutes.

     In seeming rebuttal to her ex-husband's claim that Los Angeles is for the brain-dead, the English reporter delivers this cloudy reprieve: "They turn the desert into their dreams, and no one is looking to the outside for verification that what they're doing is all right." What no one is doing, either, is asking what the hell she means. She confesses that she's met some intelligent people here, like-- The camera shifts to the clownish weathercaster skating through an art gallery that contains glass cases which allegedly contain: Verdi's baton, Mozart's quill, and Beethoven's balls.

     Throughout, rich visuals counter the sophomoric silliness. Lofty palmtrees, lush sunscapes, sweeping seascapes, streams of red and white lights on the freeways at night--these brush away the insults.

     On the freeway the clownish weatherman encounters an electric sign that flashes messages to him: I'M A SIGNPOST HUG ME. It also flashes Martin a liberating riddle, a riddle of he sphinx for the braindead: HOW DADDY IS? Now will Martin sing to it a rendition of DooWahDo? The riddle is solved, and from all this the daffy weatherman draws this profound lesson: "... deep in the heart of Los Angeles love is possible." It isn't truly clear whether he's referring to the prospect of an affair with the braindead electric sign.

     If only because of the preponderance of self-love in this proudly narcissistic capital of the world, Los Angeles might well be viewed as the City of Love, a city to which the constant influx of immigrants bring new variations of romance, of courtship.



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