Wednesday, February 10, 2010

L.A. Stories- The Wicked Witch of Western Ave.

When I first moved to Hollywood, I came down with the sniffles, and I really needed a doctor for my lady parts. (Don't worry, I won't get too graphic- and if I do, it'll totally be worth it.) As is typically the case when you wish to see a doctor who deals with lady parts, I wanted to see one RIGHT AWAY. After several failed attempts to find a doctor who spoke English and would take new patients, Jay finally found one- near us- on Western Avenue. She could see me that day, so we headed right over.

I took a look at the intensely ratty part of town and was not pleased- and the office was situated in the "Hollywood Cross Medical Plaza," which is a great place to go it you need Mexican phone cards, bail bonds, or waxing. Or, in my case, a gynecological exam. Sigh.

I went upstairs to the office, and was horrified by the filthy lobby. There was actual dirt on the linoleum floors, and cheap plastic folding chairs lazily aligned around cheap fake wood end tables which looked like they'd been chewed on. There was trash on several chairs, including used kleenex and fast food wrappers. There was a small boy scooting a McDonald's toy truck around on the floor, and his knees were black from the filth. My instincts sent up red flags, and I told Jay I wasn't happy- I didn't feel good about the place at all.

He gently reminded me that this was my only option for seeing a doctor today, and if I wanted to be un-itchy, I should suck it up and deal with it. He also reminded me that we were in the city now, and no longer had the luxury of "nice" waiting rooms. I pointed out a crooked picture on the wall, and the "Merry Christmas" sign hanging above it. (This was in July.) I told him that attention to detail is important in medical care, and if they hadn't noticed that it wasn't December, maybe they would overlook things like pharmaceutical interactions or a precancerous mole. He told me that they probably hadn't taken the Christmas sign down because they were busy with patients, and to quit being a snob. That stung a little, so I shut my pie hole and sulked. "I'm not a snob," I thought... am I?

A few minutes later, Jay realized that he'd have to move the car from our metered spot, so he left me in the waiting room while he found a better place. While he was gone, the little anklebiter child dragged his stupid plastic car all over the chairs and floor and tables and eventually across my shoe. I wasn't happy with this. (What can I say- when you're itchy and sick, everything's more obnoxious.) I ignored him but eventually, when he collapsed against my shin, banging my leg against the table and knocking over a stand of yellowed "Diabetes and You" leaflets, I did the unthinkable: I gave his middle-eastern mother an "I'm annoyed with your child" look.

That's right. I stink-eyed the brat's mom. She picked up the hint right away, saw that he'd been climbing on everything, and grabbed him by his elbow- hard. Oops. That wasn't what I wanted- I just wanted her to pay attention to him so he'd quit annoying me. I felt bad.

Then, the poor kid started to quake as his mother marched him over to (presumably) his father, who proceeded to beat the living crap out of him. He slapped (like, really slapped) the child across his face, so, naturally the kid started to cry. Then he started yelling at him in Arabic, and the kid became so scared he stopped crying. The father then slapped the child on his chest and arms, and shoved him while yelling. Buffeted by the blows, the kids knees went out and he curled into a shuddering ball on the floor as his father hit him again and again and again.

...I was shocked- I had no idea what to do, but clearly any interaction or even LOOKING at the kid's dad would've just embarrassed and angered him further. I couldn't breathe and I was tearing up, so I grabbed my purse and ran out of the waiting room before my emotions betrayed me in front of this monster. I didn't want to earn the kid another beating.

When Jay came back from moving the car, he found me huddled in a dirty corner of the upstairs walkway, sobbing. We talked and I cried about how horrible this town was and how dirty everything is. He held me and I calmed down. I was too sick, heartsick and itchy to fight anymore- I just needed a prescription so I could go home. Please, please, just let me go home.

We cautiously re-entered the waiting room- the monster and his wife and child were gone. Eventually, we got in to see the doctor, and she walked into the room talking on her personal cell phone in a language I didn't recognize. She hung up and apologized, placing the cell phone in a loose pocket full of soft, dirty-looking dollar bills. This pocket also held her stethoscope. Knowing how dirty money can be, I was not amused, but her firm man-handshake should've sent me running. At this point I was determined to be stronger in front of my husband, who, thankfully, had accompanied me into the room with this hobgoblin of a doctor.

I told her I was sick and might need antibiotics, and that I was itchy. She asked me what I had. I told her I didn't know, and that since SHE was the doctor I was hoping she could tell me. She asks me if I want an STD test, and I tell her "No, no, there's no way I have any STDs- I think it might be a yeast infection but I want to make sure before I treat it with anything, you know?"

She asks me what kind of antibiotics I wanted, (because apparently it's Patient's Choice at Hollywood Cross) and I told her whatever she thought wouldn't interfere with my other medicine. She asked me what else I was on (which, although I have never been to medical school, I would've asked FIRST,) and then asks me why I'm on it. I tell her the name of my condition and she's never heard of it. Not very reassuring.

I also looked at her shoes- she has size 8 feet stuffed like rectangular sausages into size 6 shoes. The felt slippers were strained, with her knobby hobbit toes clearly outlined in the worn green material.
Finally, she hands me a paper towel and tells me to take my pants off.
"Right here?" I ask.
"Yes, yes!" she answers, and then picks up her ringing cell phone. She talks in her devil-language while I take off my pants, and then hangs up so she can put a glove on. She pulled the glove from the pocket with the dirty money in it.

"Scoot closer," she says. I inch forward. "Scoot, scoot," she croaks at me.

She then jammed what felt like her entire forearm inside me, and it hurt. A Lot. I cried out in pain, and she said, "It's OK, don't jump."
"You're hurting me!"
"It's OK," she says. Tears sting my eyes and I hold my breath. She continues to fish around in what I'm certain are my small intestines, and then says "There's $75 more to do a culture- you want culture?"
Tears are streaming down my face at this point. She's hurting me. Bad.
"You're really talking about money now?!?" I gasp. I was starting to understand how her shoes felt. It felt like my cervix was being branded with a hot iron.
Jay stands up and says, "You're stopping- right now. Just stop."
"Why?" she asks.
"Because you're clearly hurting her!"
I love my husband.
She pulls her meat-hook out of me, and I'm curled up in the fetal position.
"Oh," says Dr. Obvious. "I thought she cried because she is ashamed to be naked. A lot of girls they don't like the exam."
No shit.
She handed me a script for a Z-Pack, the Standard Issue antibiotic, but I couldn't even look at her. I felt like she'd somehow raped me with her fleshy fat hand. I was crying hard at this point. I seriously felt violated.

The office charged us for the culture, and we left. It was an awful day.
Then, when I took my prescription to CVS, they couldn't read her witch-doctor handwriting and had to call to confirm the request. She'd left the office and didn't get back with them for two days.
I hate that woman.

Two weeks later, I was still itchy and we hadn't received the results back from the test. Calling five times produced no results, so Jay and I went back to Barter Town and I demanded either the results or a refund. Miraculously, they produced a sheet of paper that clearly stated that I did not have Gonorrhea. Or Chlamydia. Which, considering I'd gone in with a god-damn yeast infection, was not much of a surprise.

From that point on, I decided to reserve my right to be snobby. My next doctor's appointment was scheduled for Beverly Hills. Why? Because my vagina deserves it, dammit!

Monday, February 8, 2010

L.A. Stories- New Edition, with more missing limbs!

It used to be, when I'd see or hear a helicopter, I thought, "tourists sightseeing." When I first moved to Hollywood, I assumed their presence indicated some celebrity sighting.
'Lindsay is flashing her vag again, activate AirBeaver Alpha Squad.'

When I was working Halloween Horror Nights, several choppers kept making passes over our maze, and I thought they were filming the celebs at the nearby Igor Awards ceremony- instead, I learned that there was a gang-related shooting at ShittyWalk.

The locals taught me that instead of something positive, Hollywood Helicopters are usually an ill omen. Someone is bleeding, someone is dying, someone is dead, someone is running from the police. It reminds me of a line in a Meatloaf song:
"A killer's on the blood-shot streets."
A Hollywood helicopter always means something is wrong.

Last night, there were helicopters, which is not unusual. There were also cop cars and ambulances surrounding our building, which, sadly, is also not unusual. When they blocked off our street, though, I figured there might be a little somethin' extra going on, and as it turns out, there was!

Someone O.D.'d in our building, (standard practice) which accounted for the first battalion of cops and paramedics, aaaaaaand, a bus tried to make it up the steep hill our street is on, its brakes failed, and it slid out of control down half the length of our street, taking out 5 parked cars and obliterating a scooter before crashing through a cinderblock wall and gate, and finally came to a stop, pinning a motorcycle against what's left of a Ford F-150. Awesome!!!
The debris and carnage is still there this morning- it's pretty exciting if you're into debris and carnage!

My neighbor told me the story as we walked to the Farmer's Market this morning. She and her girlfriend had heard the crashes and gone out to investigate, and the cops told them the whole story.
They also told her that earlier in the week, a three-car accident on our block had caused a car to go up on the sidewalk, pinning a woman to a building. The police said that the woman lived, but they had to amputate her legs.

For those of you playing the Home Version of our game, that makes a total of FOUR SEVERED LEGS since I moved to Cherokee Street.

With a bag loaded with tangelos and kale, I walked from the Market up our street with Courtney to see the mangled bus and the destruction. It was a bright sunny day. Most of the vehicles had been towed, but the bus, motorcycle, F-150 and chunks of wall and gate remained. At some point, someone had parked their car (perfectly legally) along the curb, but it was blocking part of the crash site so no more towing could be done.

Someone had placed a note on the driver's windshield:
"Move your F*cking car you idiot, can't you see you're in the F*cking way?"

Ahhh, Hollywood.

L.A. Stories- a Downtown Psuedomugging

The subway systems here are confusing- and if you miss a switch, you're screwed. Especially around 12:30 AM. Jay had to take a taxi from one dead-end back to a downtown L.A. train station where he could catch a rail back to Long Beach, where we were staying.

As he got out of the cab, he tipped the driver and the cab vanished down the empty streets. Jay took off walking down a deserted sidewalk towards the metro. Well, almost deserted...

A large imposing-looking man approached Jay as he was putting his wallet away in his pocket.
"Hey, man, do you have any spare change or some money I can have?"
"No, sorry" said Jay. "I need my cash for the train."
"Aw, that's too bad, see," says the scary man. "I'm just trying to not have to rob nobody tonight."
"Ok, well, good luck with that!"

Jay was lucky to make it home alive that night.

L.A. Stories- "You have to arrest me, there's blood everywhere!"

Near the corner of Hollywood and Highland, there's a large billboard featuring a stylized graphic of a cop car with lights blazing, an intense-looking cop, and bright swatches of crime scene tape. At first, I thought it was advertising a TV show, but it is, in actuality, an ad for the CRIME SECTION in the Los Angeles Times. At first I was slightly disgusted with the sensationalism, but hey, it's Hollywood. Then, I got to call the LAPD myself, and now that I know how truly awesome it is, I'm totally sold! Go cops go!

Here's what happened:
Shortly after Jay and I moved into our apartment on Cherokee Street, I went for a walk and saw some police hanging out on my corner. I told them I was new in town and asked if they could give me an idea about how safe the neighborhood was. They both burst out laughing, then stopped abruptly.
"Like, safe in terms of how," one asked.
"Like, 'can I go for a walk by myself at night' safe?"
They exchanged a 'look.'
"Naahhhh. I wouldn't do that." He answered.
"Stick right on Hollywood Blvd. and you'll be OK but don't go anywhere else," said the other cop.
"Stay away from the side streets."
"Or take someone else with you."
Due to the city noise, I'm now in the habit of sleeping with earplugs in. A couple of nights later, at 4:30AM, I awoke because I heard a woman screaming. I took out my earplugs- yup- definitely a woman screaming. Not just "yelling," full-on terrorized "NO! STOP!!! NOOOOOOO!!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!! NOOOOO!!!!" I immediately reached over to grab Jay, but he wasn't in bed.
Next I reached for the phone and dialed 911. The screaming had mutated into a howling at this point. Someone was dying.
"911 what is your emergency?"
"I'm at the X Building on Cherokee St. and a woman is screaming bloody murder."
"What is she screaming, ma'am?"
"Nooo, stop, get away from me- can you please come rescue her???"
"Is she being attacked?"
"I dunno- it sounds like it."
"Can you see her?"
At this point I hear a slamming sound and glass exploding. It sprinkles onto the concrete sidewalk in our courtyard like demonic rain.
"Can you please just come? Glass is shattering everywhere and I think she's dying."
"The police are on their way- is there a gate to your building?"
"If it's locked when the police get there can you make sure it's open?"
I hear more slamming popping sounds- gunshots?
I hang up and go out to the living room where I find Jay looking out a window. I'm a totaly wreck.
"What is happening to her?"
"I dunno," he answers. "Cops are here."
From outside someone shouts "Gimmie the key, gimmie the key" and our gate flies open and at least seven huge LAPD shadows race across our darkened courtyard. Broken glass crunches under solid boots.
Several tense moments go by- more yelling and screaming, punctuated by staccato barkings from the officers. A few cops come out and stand in the courtyard.
Jay decides to go out and learn what's going on. Terrified, I stay put on the couch. I'm convinced bullets will fly at any moment. Paramedics arrived and trooped a medical parade through the courtyard.
Jay later told me that he saw one of our neighbors in handcuffs, saying, "you have to arrest me, there's blood everywhere."
From my window, I saw an older man being marched out through our courtyard by the cops. They had him in some ninja-grip, but he was doubled over and sobbing. Shortly after him followed the paramedics, who had folded a gurney into a wheel-chair position, and the person in the chair was handcuffed to its armrails- the person was wrapped from the neck down in white sheets stained with bright red blood, and from my vantage point, I swear to god, IT LOOKED LIKE HER LEGS HAD BEEN CHOPPED OFF. Dark red stains seeped down the front of the sheets. The woman in the chair lolled her head around and stared vacantly, moaning softly.
Jay finally came back and relayed what he'd seen- he said the cops were laughing and joking around after the arrests. Another night in Hollywood.

After not getting back to sleep and a long day at my internship, I came home, saw the broken glass in the courtyard still and saw a shattered window on the thrid floor. I wondered if he'd tried to push her legs-first out the window and that's what caused the gashes...
I went to the apartment complex's office in the basement of my building. I wanted to know what had happened. The people down there are perpetually rude, but I was freaked out. I didn't feel safe.
When I got down to the office, I was met with the typical blank stares of the Morlocks who work there. "Hey, I just wanted to know if there was any resolution to what happened this morning."
Blink blink. "What do you mean what happened this morning?" asks an irritated woman.
"You know, the screaming, possible gunshots, the police?"
"Ma'am nothing happened here at this building."
I'm amazed- is she denying this? "There was a woman screaming bloody murder- we all heard it."
They look around at each other, sheepishly.
The woman finally rolls her eyes and says, "There was a domestic disturbance, that's all. No big deal."
"Ah, so something DID happen."
She doesn't like being called out. "It's really none of your business."
"None of my business? No big deal?!? There's broken glass all over the courtyard,and I had to call 911 at 4 in the morning. I think that qualifies it as 'my business.'"
"Well, it doesn't concern you, it won't happen again, so you can go back upstairs." Wow she was a bitch.
"OK, well, it concerns me if there's some psycho in our building- I think I have a right to know whether or not I'm safe in my own building."
"It's a domestic disturbance, which means it's not random- and it happened on the third floor- you're on, what..." she pauses.
"The first floor," I answered.
"See," she said, throwing her hands up. "They're not even on your floor."
I'm more than a little sarcastic at this point. "So if they're firing gunshots at each other, it wouldn't even hit me?"
"OK, well, I feel better. Thanks so much!"

Two weeks after that, I awoke to news vans literally lining our street. A reporter was just wrapping up her spot, and as her cameraman wrapped cables, I asked her what happened. "One of your neighbors was found dead this morning. He was naked and tied to a chair, stabbed over thirty times. Care to comment?" The camera man flips his camera to his shoulder and starts recording, and suddenly a microphone is in my face.
"Uh, no. No thank you."

I'm not worried at all- it didn't happen on my floor.

L.A. Stories- the Lakers Game and Subway Shennanigans

Jay and I had attended our very first game at the Staples Center! Magic vs. Lakers! As two out of the total of seven Magic fans in attendance, we did our best to help the Magic out. Jack Nicholson was there, with his famed court-side seats, and sitting next to him was Adam Sandler, who looked really pissed off for some reason. The Lakers Girls came out and danced in sexy outfits sponsored by Carl's Jr. Weird. Oh, look! Hot girls! ...Let's get fast food!

There's an option to send text messages to the jumbotron, and we tried consistently to send messages like "Pau Gassol, your headlights are on, please leave the Staples Center and tend to your car," but no success. We should have known the man can't read. (Although Jay managed to sneak in some "I love you Jaime, Go Magic" messages, so I can cross "Jumbotron Romance" off my bucket list.)

Although we were up by 10 points in the third quarter, eventually the Lakers caught up and forced their way into the lead. They won, but, at the Staples Center, if the Lakers score over 100 points and they win the game, the WHOLE CROWD (even the Magic fans) get 2 free tacos from our good friends at Carl's Jr.- remember them from the Laker Girls' titties? Yeah! Tacoooooos!!!! It was the only thing that made the loss bearable.

Throughout the game, and at the final Lakers victory, the Staples Center's loudspeakers wold blast the chorus from Randy Newman's 80's classic "I Love L.A." The fans were in a pretty good mood after the game, and, surged triumphantly out of the Staples Center, spilling into the night with Randy Newman echoing throughout the arena: "I Loooooove L.A.!" "We Love it!"

By now, everyone should know how much I despise the Metro system. (See my previous blog "L.A. Stories-The Korea-Town Spaceman for my truly excellent reasons why.) However, tonight was a perfect Metro situation. There were trains which went right next to the Staples center, so, minimal walking, and only one train switch. It cost us $10 to take the train, whereas parking and gas would've been $30 or more.

So after the game Jay and I headed over to the train platform with around 50 Lakers fans. Bastards. We're waiting for the train, and feeling pretty sure of ourselves when some out-of-towners asked US if they were waiting for the right train. We confidently assured them that they were. Seconds later, a muffled announcement blasts through the Metro's speaker- the teacher from Charlie Brown now works for Transit Authority, and has proclaimed an indecipherable edict. Suddenly the crowd panics and rushes towards the train approaching on the side of the tracks.

"Is this going to Union?" No one is sure. As a confused mob, some people were certain enough that a train switch had been made- we followed the pack and stuffed into the train en masse. At some point, another mumbled announcement was made and enough people understood it to spread reassurance around, and the cacophony of disoriented public transportaion died to its status quo dull roar- except for the wailing...

Somewhere outside the train, and then inside the train, and then sort of floating from car to car was a very distressed person. It was the typical kind of schizophrenia-induced anguished cry of rage one hears occasionally from LA's homeless, but this was really bad. It was a wounded animal sort of howl- at once piteous, gut-wrenching and terrifying. The gnashing and raging continued, and then the raving began. I'm going to be perfectly honest here- at this point I thought, "Is that Adam Sandler?" It totally sounded like him for a fleeting instant.

As whoever was making this noise moved like a banshee from car to car, everyone became totally silent- you could see a wave of people clearing a path, but the Wailer was either small, hunched over or crawling, so I could only see where the sound was coming from but not the person making it.

Everyone on the train was silent and tense. We'd just left a frivolous sporting event and were headed back to our homes- here was someone who had nothing, and hence, nothing to lose. I always envision shattered glass and slashing to follow, and in a crowded subway car... I could tell by the widened eyes and white knuckles around me that I wasn't the only one who was frightened.

After one of those long moments which feels like forever, the crazed Phantom left us, and the doors closed. A tacit yet palpable collective sigh of relief went up in the sill silent subway car, and then,
"I LOVVVVVVE L.A.!" sings out my husband.

Too soon? Maybe so. Judging from the 60 or so dirty looks we got from the still-rattled riders, L.A. don't Love You. No wonder they make t-shirts that say as much. Later on, someone was courteous enough to reach out to us by shouting "The Magic SUCK!"

L.A. Stories- Advice From A Drunken Life-Coach

I'm at Cinespace in Hollywood- it's a great little nightclub down the street from my apartment, and my amazing friend Carlos is a bouncer. Carlos hooks us up in a beautiful way- I stroll past the line which wraps around the block, Carlos smiles at me and the rope drops. Then I'm all up in that club.
In the most superficial way possible, it's a good feeling. It's also nice because it's coooold out here!
Last night, my friend Tiffany came as well, and brought her small entourage along. She's friends with a promoter, so they strolled right in as well. This is especially nice when cover at Cinespace can run anywhere from $20-$40. It's insane.
The club was packed and at the end of the night, 5 separate fights broke out. It became like the wild west- one fight in one corner, then suddenly everybody starts swinging. Some guy got so excited about a fight breaking out he threw up on the wall, and a girl jumped away from it which started a hair pulling wrestling match with another girl. I expected a piano player to break out the rag-time music as bottles break and someone gets shot and falls through the railing. Fortunately, though, no one smuggled in any guns or pianos.
Early in the night, a couple of guys instantly attached themselves to our group, but they were pretty fun and good-looking enough for the girls to be pleased that they were around. They danced with us and we had a good time. As the night wore on, though, they drank more and more. Tiffany, on a mission, took a girlfriend and one of the guys outside for a second leaving me sort of stranded waiting with his friend on the stairs. I noticed he was wearing dogtags, and like the sexy club bunny I clearly am, asked him if he know that the smaller loop of chain was meant to go around the toes of a soldier as a toe tag if the soldier was wounded. He looked confused, and then explained that his dog tags were GUCCI. "Ohhh." I say. "Well, that explains that." (???)
I joked around with him about starting his own fashionable military unit, until this little exchange occurred:
Him: So what'd you do today?
Me: Hunh? (It's a nightclub, after all)
Him: Like, how'd you spend your day?
Me: Oh- well, today was kind of a sucky day.
Him: Why?
Me: I don't wanna go into detail- let's go dance!
Him- No no no- What did you PHYSICALLY DO today?
Me- laid around in bed...
Him: Why?
Me: I don't wanna talk about it, dude.
Him: No! It's Okay! I'm a part-time lifecoach!
At this point I decided to indulge him, because I had a suspicion it would be awesome. It was.
Me: Okayyy, I laid around because I was really sad.
Him: (exploding) That's bullshit! Do you know how beautiful it was outside today?!?
Me: Yeah.
Him: It was 84 degrees on the beach- it was sunny- there were lots and lots of people.
At this point he begins touching me with his index and middle finger, in my chest, every time he says the word "you."
Him: You (touch) need to be around people- you (touch) need to be in sunshine! There's vitamin D and shit out there, and you (touch) absorb that shit, right, because you're (touch) a human being and you (touch) need (touch) to (touch) be (touch) in (touch) the (touch) sun! (touch!)
His touches are getting sloppy and several of them find their way to my actual breast and nipple. Then he gets deep on me.
Him: Why were you laying in bed when it was so sunny outside?
Me: Because I was in a bad mood- people self-sabotage when they're in a bad mood.
Him: No no no no no! Self-sabotage? You know what the worst kind of sabotage is?
Me: What.
Him: (triumphant) SELF-Sabotage!
Me: Ahhh.
Him: The good things in life go to whoever's working for them. So if I lie in bed for one day, someone else is gonna get what I want, because I'm not working for it.
Me: So it doesn't matter what kind of person you are- you can be a complete douchebag but because you're working for something you'll get it? Like a job as a part-time lifecoach?
Him: (oblivious) Exactly! Think about it! Just think for a second and answer honestly- why are you so lazy?
He's now touching my temple and forehead, for some reason, and oblivious to my open smirk.
Me: I dunno, I guess I thought I could take one day off.
Him: No no no no no! You can't! Because if you lie in bed all day and don't get out of bed, you're lazy and you deserve the bad things.
Me: So what about people who can't get out of bed? What about quadriplegics?
Him: (pause) Quadraplegics? Well that's just bad luck!
At this point I'm openly laughing at him. He sees this as encouragement and presses his forehead against mine. It's gross but sooo worth it for what he says next:
Him: It's their bad luck, man. Quadri-pah-legics. If they don't have any arms or limbs or whatever, you know, they just gotta get out there- they just gotta work harder than the other quadri-legics. ...They can still have roles in the movies.

Thank youuuuuu, Hollywood!!!

L.A. Stories- Duck and Coverage (Reading a Known Killer's Screenplay)

This is the true story of the time I was asked to give my opinion about a screenplay written by a very scary person, who would then have access to my full name and where I worked. Awesome.

"Coverage" is when a Reader- intern (usually an unpaid volunteer blindly groping in the dark at a falsely whispered promise of paying work) reads a script, then writes a small 2-page book report about the script. These interns can be highly qualified, or, not.
In addition to the 2-page synopsis of the script, a Reader is also expected to write 1 or2 pages of professional opinion about the commercial potential of the script.
Finally, the Reader is asked to either "pass" on a script or recommend it. A Reader can pass or recommend just the script itself, just the writer, or the entire package. For example, you can love the concept of a screenplay but hate the way it was written. Or, you can love the writing of a really stupid concept. Or, it can rock or suck out loud all the way through. Either way, you have to form a strong opinion, back it up intellectually, then stand by it as your name and opinion travel up the ladder and eventually get back to the screenwriter's literary agent, who submitted this project in the first place.
On the second day of my Culver City internship, my mentor-intern, the girl who'd trained me the previous day, approached me with a script in her hand. She lowered her voice.
"Hey, you like horror, right?"
I nodded enthusiastically, eager to prove my expertise in my favorite genre.
She weighed the heavy screenplay in her palm.
"Listen- I'm leaving in two days, so I can't take on any additional scripts- I've been hanging on to this one for a while, because I really wanted to do it, but I won't have time now because they put me on another project- I like you. Do you want it?"
"What's so special about it," I asked.
"This guy- the writer- he was an established horror writer- I know you've seen his stuff. Anyway, a few years back he had a really horrific personal tragedy, and this is his first screenplay since that. I just know it's gonna be good, and if you're the one to identify a good screenplay, then, you know."
"It's good for me."
She handed me the screenplay gently, almost reluctantly.
"I know it's gonna be so twisted and great," she said, a twinge of jealousy in her voice.
"Thank you for this," I said.
A few hours later, I was relieved of my front desk shift and allowed to go read. Reverently, I peeled back the title page, and delved into what I thought, at first, was a joke.
This can't be right, I thought.
The characters were so one-dimensional, I thought for sure I was reading the next Scary Movie VI- I kept waiting for the Wayans brothers to appear.
There was some gore, sure, but it was unimaginative and nothing I hadn't already seen in "Ghost Ship" and "The Exorcist."
Really? REALLY?
Thinking my trainer was playing some sort of hazing prank, I googled the writer. "Horrific Personal Tragedy," I thought. Sheyah, right.
...Holy Shit- here is the TRUE STORY of what the writer did:
In 2001, shortly following the massive success from a huge blockbuster remake he wrote, writer X was driving his Cadillac Escalade. At an intersection in Santa Monica, X approached a red light and caused a tiny fender-bender with the smaller car in front of it. The driver of the smaller car and his girlfriend were OK, but the driver got out of his car to see if X was OK.
The driver approached X's Cadillac, and saw X slumped over the steering wheel, with bright red eyes. When the driver asked if X was OK, X responded by pressing his foot down on the accelerator pedal. The driver yelled at X to stop, but X continued to accelerate, pushing the tiny car (with the screaming girlfriend inside it) into oncoming traffic.
A few other cars slammed into the tiny car, killing the girlfriend instantly, and forming a massive pile-up of twisted metal at the intersection. X continued to accelerate, and eventually the plastic bumpers of the wreckage gave way and his Cadillac shot from 0mph to 55mph, rocketing through a crowded glass bus-stop where pedestrians were gathered to gawk at the accident scene.
X drove through the crowd, maiming a few more people, before driving across the sidewalk and through the plate glass window of a crowded bar. His joyride came to a stop at a marble countertop with two dead people pinned against it, crushed from the chest down.
But wait, there's more!
X calmly gets out of his car, completely unscathed, and takes a survey of all the destruction he's caused. He then approaches the shattered glass window, picks up a large shard of broken glass and SLASHES HIS OWN THROAT.
Paramedics arrived shortly afterward, and were able to get writer X to the hospital in time to save his life. However, he refused to tell the doctors his real name, insisting instead that he be registered as "Akin Roam."
X had never used a pseudonym before, but people were later chilled to discover that "Akin Roam" is an anagram for the phrase, "I ran amok."
So I finished this piece of crap screenplay, and found myself between a rock and a hard place, which, granted, is better than a Cadillac and a countertop. X never went to jail. X went to rehab and got a slap on the wrist. X was still out there...
This was his first screenplay since this "accident," and I was sad to see that none of the real-life horror found its way into the script. It was awful, awful, awful. And stupid, predictable, ridiculous and boring to boot.
However, he is a known "name" writer. So if I trash it, I run the risk of looking like a fool. If I recommend it, thought, and they read what utter garbage it is, I also look like a fool.
Bottom line is, I had to be honest. So I tactfully, carefully, delicately passed on it, citing reasonably stated concerns with the material.
When I passed on it, my company notified X's agent, who then told X that it had been rejected.
To this day I expect a Cadillac Escalade to come crashing through my windows, with a demon-eyed coked-up X behind the wheel.
He may hate me. But his screenplay totally sucked.

L.A. Stories- Jaime vs. Konica

I was peacefully settled at my favorite Intern desk at my CulverCity Internship. It's a large wooden desk, with lots of drawers and a super-comfortable over-upholstered armchair which squeaks like a Kraken. Whenever a portion of a script is awful, I like to swivel the chair in a violent circle and inflict the pain on every intern within earshot. Once I have their attention, I'll read the offending passage and we'll all groan together.
It goes something like this:
In the script, a grizzled lawyer skis down a slope, whooshing though the icy night air, then walks into his ramshackle office and discovers a message from his secretary, who quit because he wouldn't pay her. He takes a swig of alcohol, stares at his dissheveled, grizzled (yet somehow also ruggedly handsome) face in a broken mirror and utters the worst phrase I've ever read as an intern: "The defense rests."
And we all fall down.
I was enjoying some reading, and had just about found my groove when I was called into the other room.
Mark, my boss, looks at me and says,
"I'm trying to print out these color graphic novel pages but they won't come out of the coper."
I look at the copier. It has some crypic "error 55-11" message on it. I relay that to Mark and he tells me, "I know. It's done this before and we have to have the guy come out. I need you to fix it."
Crap. Stupid me, I have a degree in screenwriting, not copier repair.
After trying all the usual copier-jostling and finnegling, nothing is working. I call Konica's help line and they tell me that since it's Friday at 3PM, they can't get anyone out to fix the machine until Monday morning. I explain that it's copying things for very important people. They are not impressed and stand their ground. Crap.
I relay this information to Mark, and offer to run to Kinko's if he can put his images on a zip drive. I can have them printed and on his desk in 20 minutes.
"No!" Mark turns cherry red and blows up. "I called you in here because I want you to fix it. I want YOU to dix it. I want to see how you handle this- this is a challenge. So fix it!!!"
Totally taken aback, I retreat to the Konica and stare it down... Did I just get yelled at?
This Konica is massive- it's the kind of copier which has twin turbine engines and a coach and first class sections. It collates. It hole punches. It has Hadron Collider applications. It's epic and scary. Which is why it takes trained technicians to fix it.
Not easily daunted, I start prying open drawers and eventually find SEVEN instruction manuals. They're all for different portions of the machine. I go online to a Konica site and I'm looking for a support chat room or something where I can troubleshoot it with a Konica representative, and I have the office assistant calling to set up the monday appointment.
A few minutes go by as I frantically leaf through the self-help books. Finally, I see a section on error codes.
As I'm flipping to the right page, Mark rounds the corner and says, "It's taking too long. This is ridiculous."
I'm literally on my knees on the floor leafing through these books.
"Do you want me to-"
"No!" He cuts me off. "20 minutes is too long. That's failure. This was a challenge and you failed!"
He walked away as I begin to work my eyelids like a fiend, blinking back hot stupid girl tears.
Don't cry don't cry don't cry.
He asked me to tilt at a windmill then yelled at me when I couldn't do it fast enough. And it sucked.
So I went back to the desk and sulked for a few hours.
Later, Mark found me and appologized, explaining that he was sorry he blew up at me- that he was mad about something else.
Gee-ya think?
Still- his words are so deliciously over-the-top punitive, I will cherish them always.
"This was a challenge, and you failed."
You win this round, Konica.

L.A. Stories- Treachery and the UTA Joblist

By now, any one following these notes should understand that the UTA Joblist is a cruel hoax perpetrated against newcomers and people who can read. However, in my early days as a Los Angelean, I fell prey to it time and time again, because it never occurred to me that people outside of themeparks would advertise for a job that was already filled.
So, once again, the joke was on me when I received a response to my cover letter and resume. I'd applied for the PAYING job of "Executive Assistant" at a "Boutique Talent Agency" in "Beverly Hills." The job required a college degree, some experience within the industry, and a working car. Perfect!
A man named X called me back, and told me that he'd like to interview me for the Executive Assistant position, but first I needed to submit some samples of my writing to his agency. Not a problem. He also emailed me a 12-page long criminal background check form, and asked me to fill it out. He explained that he was the "executive," and that boutique agency" in this case meant working out of his house. Which was not exactly in Beverly Hills, but, whatever, right? A job's a job. And a PAYING job in this town, when everyone else wants me to intern for free? Well! I will gladly submit to a criminal background check...
Hey. Wait a minute- why does he need my mom's maiden name, every school I ever went to, my SSN, my DL#, every job I've ever worked EVER... My employer's addresses? What the Eff???
I smelled a rat, and asked him why he needed such personal information- I felt that a professional criminal background check would see if I had a jail record, not analyze my DNA.
I called him and said that I was uncomfortable faxing over such personal information, and he said, "hey, d'ya want the job or don't you?" Hmm. Now I'm not so sure. A red flag went up when I googled this guy and couldn't find a THING. Jay tried to find him online and also met with no sucess- all we found was a vague business listing- even I leave a bigger web trail than this- it's weird and spooky.
I asked Jay's Aunt and Uncle and they got a friend who works for Sony to do a little digging, and she emailed me a list of X's clients, and vetting him as "legit."
I IMDB'd each and every client, and found the most successful of them to be one of the 15 writers who worked on "Kung Fu Panda." Hmm.
Well, I did indeed need a job, and I had no other options, so I (per his request) faxed him the 17 pages of criminal background check and samples. It cost me $24 I really didn't have, but I did it anyway.
A couple of days after the fax, he called me on a Saturday night and asked to set up a meeting on Monday for the interview in his basement. Ugh. Another red flag- I pictured the interview being him lowering a questionaire down to me in a basket while I threaten to hurt his dog if he doesn't hire me. Off to a great start already. He reminded me not to be late; that his time was important. Yeah. Got it. This ain't my first rodeo- remember, I'd already been burned by Celebrity X.
The next day was Sunday, and I was surprised when he called me again. I was anticipating that he wanted to change the time, but instead he asked if we could set the interview u at 10AM.
"Um, sure- didn't we already set it up for 10AM?"
"I thought you'd called me yesterday and asked for a 10AM interview..."
There's this long pause- then he says:
"My stupid assistant forgot to take it off the call sheet! Fine 10AM. Don't be late."
Awesome. This guy blames his own mistakes on his assistants. Yikes.
So, fully anticipating some sort of weirdness, I asked Jay to come with me. We both get up earrrrly and fight horrific traffic from Long Beach to Hollywood, (read: NOT BEVERLY HILLS) where I ring the man's doorbell and a woman answers carrying I SHIT YOU NOT the dog from "The Silence of the Lambs."
I am so ready for this interview.
She's confused; why am I there? Oh! X! JXxxxx!!! Would I go down and wait in the basement?
I certainly would.
A good 25 minutes later, (LATE,) X finds his way to the basement and seems utterly surprised that we have an interview set up. His basement is full of dusty art his children drew years ago. There is a cold metal desk which looks somewhat functional, and on the other side of a wall is an "Executive Assistant" desk. It is really crappy and possibly assembled by the same children who created the macaroni art.
X starts out the interview by going into great detail about what a loser he is- a surprising gambit!
He talked AT me for a good 10 minutes, making no efforts to conceal the constant lowering of his gaze to my cleavage.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I am a B-cup. There's nothing special here. Yet somehow, he could not keep his eyes away from them- it was weird- I've never encountered this before in my life- not at Mardi Gras, not at liquor promos, not at Halloween Horror Nights- this guy has to be some sort of world-class boob-obsessor if he can't match my gaze for a full 20 seconds. I was pretty uncomfortable at this point, but I was bewildered and fascinated as to why he kept talking about himself during my interview. In fact, he didn't ask me one thing. And he hadn't bothered to look at either my resume or the criminal background form. $24 well spent. Sigh.
He talked for 10 minutes, explaining why he got "let go" from William Morris and why the office he'd been renting asked him to leave. He explained that he needed me to fill in for his current assistant who was beginning to need to take days off. I would work 3 days a week, 9-7 in his basement. And any other days he needed. And a few weekends.
When I asked what kind of compensation I could expect, he explained that since I'd never worked for an office before I wasn't qualified to be paid, but if I worked well for him, in three months he would write me a nice letter of recommendation.
I was a little surprised, since the position was advertised as paid, and since I'd worked for EFFING SESAME STREET. I asked if he'd "had the opportunity" to look at my resume, and he said no. I showed him that I'd worked at numerous offices. He said, "yes, but he's used to having 150 assistants at his beck and call, trained to cater to him specifically." And maybe he was, at William Morris. But I couldn't afford to work for free. So I asked him if I could instead serve as a reader, and in my spare time do coverage on his scripts for him. This way I could get more experience as a reader and it would free up his assistant. He said yes, that would be fine. But he said it while staring at my boobs. Weird!
On my way out, I asked him if he was interested in reimbursing me for the $24 I'd spent faxing him paperwork. He seemed genuinely panicked and said, "No! NO! I can't do that! Do you know how expensive that would be?"
I told him, "Yes. Twenty-five dollars."
I requested that he relinquish the faxes to me since I wouldn't be working in his home, and I left, expecting to never hear from him again.
Two weeks later he randomly called to tell me that he wanted to keep his precious script submissions "in house," (meaning, in this case, his basement) and that he couldn't have me read unless I was there physically reading them. I said no thank you and hung up. Surely that was the last of him, right?
At my fully legitimate unpaid internship in the legitimate basement of a legitimate company later, I would hear stories of multiple interns who get suckered in by this guy- they always fax, and then he'll eventually tell them that they're not qualified to be his PAID intern, but they could assist and get a letter.
I wonder how may cumulative hours of jobhunting he's usurped from Los Angeles' unemployed.
I still get the UTA Joblist sent to me. Friends with good intentions will send it my way once a week. And every week, there it is: PAID EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT AT BOUTIQUE AGENCY IN BEVERLY HILLS. CONTACT X
Don't do it. Or if you do, be prepared to grab his dog and hold on tight while he stares at your boobs.

L.A. Stories- A Slap in the Face, L.A.-style

One day I worked on Iron Man II: "Iron Boogaloo." This is not the actual subtitle to Iron Man II, but it should be. Anyway, we filmed all night at the Sepulveda Dam. I ran around from 3PM to 6AM the following day, in 45-degree weather, dodging imaginary fireballs that will presumably become CG fireballs in the future. I ran and accidentally shoulder-checked Mickey Rourke. Oops! (He is terrifying in person.)
It was a long, cold grueling night. Security did sweeps of the thorny brambles surrounding the tent which housed all 500 of us extras, shooing out frozen paparazzi crouched like Savannah Lions with telescopic lenses. John Favereau, the director, politely addressed us a "Background Artists" through a massive PA system which made him sound like a blue whale.
Gwynneth Paltrow was there. From far away, she looks like a stick figure with a wig.
After a night and morning of fleeing in terror, we were exhausted- then they dropped the bad news on us: this was supposed to be a 5-day job. Instead, it's only one. Sorry to all those that didn't have work lined up- oops.
I drove the long drive home to our temporary camp in Long Beach. Out of sheer masochism (and desperation for a job) I called the Central Casting Line, thinking that maybe I would meet the requirements for something they were shooting that day.
I was shocked to find that I did!
"Thank you for calling Central Casting- this is an emergency message, repeat: an emergency message. This message was left at 7:20 AM. We need an attractive, blonde caucasian woman in her late 20's to early 30's who can be in the Hollywood area by 8:00. Please call the emergency line immediately if you match this description."
I looked at my watch- it was 7:30. I could be in Hollywood by 8AM if I made a U-turn. Sure I hadn't slept and I was tired and numb, but who cares? The odds that enough attractive blonde caucasians in their late 20's early 30's had called in the last 10 minutes was slim to NONE- I had the golden ticket!
I called the line, and they answered- I gave them the first four digits of my social security number and told them my last name- that's how they pull up your picture.
I asked if the job was still available.
"Yes, yes!" Central Casting said. "Can you be there by 8?"
"Yes!" I answered.
"Great! Let's just pull your photo up here, and... oh..."
..."What? What is it?"
"We can't use you for this job. Sorry. Have a great day!"
Hm. Well, I know I'm blonde. I'm caucasian for sure, and I'm definitely that age range, so that can only lead to one conclusion.
Feeling really, really unattractive and suddenly even more tired, I went to bed.
Eff you, Central Casting. My mom says I'm pretty.

L.A. Stories- Heartbreak, L.A.-style

My friend Todd has made "Them's The Breaks!" his mantra when things don't go the way he'd planned. He bases this off of a cartoon he read as a young boy. The character in the cartoon threw up his hands and absolved himself of responsibility, and instantly felt better about the hand he'd been dealt. This mentality works exceptionally well for Todd. I wish it worked for me, too, because it would make bullshit like this a little more bearable...
Here is the story of my very first heartbreak in LA:
My first month here, I spent a large portion of time and energy emailing out personalized, individually-tailored cover letters and resumes to jobs advertising on the UTA Joblist. For those of you who don't know, the United Talent Agency's Joblist is an "insider" email which has all of the available positions within each agency advertised. If an Executive Assistant moves up a ladder rung, his desk becomes open. Any open Mail Room slots are advertised. Also, actual Executive jobs and Agency Training positions are posted as well.
Here is what is looks like:

Executive Assistant Needed at Boutique Talent Agency!
Wanted: fast-learning college grad with Mac skills, capable of dealing with "personalities," must have own car and knowledge of players. Reply to asstjob9@yahoo.whatever

If you're new in town, you don't realize that the entire list is a hoax. And you have no idea which agency is placing the ad because they keep it anonymous. So you write a cover letter like this:
To Whom it May Concern,
I'm an amazing fast-learning grad from College X, and I dealt with this (name drop) and I know the game, because I learned from driving my car which I own to all the player's houses to fix their Macs! Please hire me!

Then you sit and wait, and NOTHING HAPPENS, because what no one tells you is that this list is only put out because it's required by law to advertise for open positions. The position of Executive Assistant went to the Junior Executive Assistant. His position was filled by some producer's cousin's little league pal's dad's bartender's dealer's roommate, and the guy in the mail room gets shafted. No mailroom position is open. They are lying.

So you can imagine my surprise when one day, while on the set of Iron Man II, "Iron Boogaloo," I was called by a receptionist at Odenkirk-Provissiero, who told me that "Naomi liked your resume and wants to meet you." None of that meant anything to me, but I played along like it was the only job I'd ever applied for in my life, and agreed to come in for an interview the next day.

The receptionist emailed me directions, and I used her email address' domain name to figure out where I was going. And then I crapped myself a little:
Odenkirk-Provissiero is a new talent AND literary agency which caters specifically to comedic network writers and actors. They do pretty much everyone from SNL. The "Naomi" of which she spoke is Naomi Odenkirk- Bob Odenkirk's wife. Bob Odenkirk writes and stars in "Mr. Show," and Naomi writes and produced "Mr. Show." They have their hands in all that is funny and good on TV. They are the reason I came out here.
So I called in to Iron Man II that following day so I could interview, although I still wasn't sure what I was interviewing for.
I dressed up and drove from Long Beach to Hollywood, and was admitted into a small studios lot- my first time past a studio security gate where it wasn't a theme park!
I waited and watched as a chubby sweaty girl left the office I was headed towards- she looked upset. I knew she was the girl slotted ahead of me. I began to panic.
I said, "how'd it go?" She shook her head at me.
"Good luck," she lied.
I went in and met with Naomi and her Assistant, and we totally clicked- it was a flawless interview- the kind where everything I said was perfect and charming and encouraged them to ask more questions until we're all laughing together over something I said.
I was Charmed that day, and left the office feeling Snakes on A Plane. I got a hearty handshake and a "we'll call you." And I thought they would!
Lo and behold, they DID!
The next day, I was called by the Assistant and asked if I would consider being X's personal assistant. X is a fairly popular (High B-List) comedic actress on a #1 hit show. She's been in a few successful movies, and is known for being really cool and nice.
Naomi thought I'd be a good match for her, and told me she wanted to set up an interview at X's house so I could meet X and her fiance'. The assistant told me it'd be around 50K/yr and benefits. Needless to say, I was absolutely on cloud 9.
X was filming, so I had to wait 2 weeks. During that time, I served as a personal assistant to my Set Dresser, and cleaned spider webs out of her shoes, dreaming of the day I could help X pick out Manolos for the Red Carpet. The two weeks dragged by, and I lightly googled X so I could be conversant on things that were going on in her career, but I didn't go TOO into detail because I didn't want to be too much of a fan. I sweated. God, did I sweat. This job would be the answer to any and all of my problems at once!
The day before the interview, Naomi's assistant called and asked if they could change the time to the evening. No problem. She called again and asked if they could rearrange and bump it up one hour. Again, no problem. She called the third time to place the interview time at 5PM. For sure. Was that a problem? Hell no. The morning of the interview, she called again and asked if they could make it 11AM.
I threw on my clothes, raced through makeup and was in my car on the 101 when I got another phone call from Naomi's assistant. I answered, thinking it was going to be like the others, but sadly, it wasn't.
"X has changed her mind, and she really doesn't want a personal assistant at this time... Maybe in a couple of months, maybe in November?"
It was June. Fuck.
"Oh! Yeah! Sure, sure- no problem!"
But it was a problem. It was a big, devastating problem.
So I pulled over and cried, like any responsible heartbroken girl would do.
Then I called Central Casting to see if they had any work for that day. They didn't.
"Them's the breaks!" But these breaks hurt like a motherfucker.

Man and Gentleman

What is a man? According to Webster's, it is a person of the male gender. A adult, a human being, or even a valet. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, there it is, in italics:
obscure: of manly character and courage.
OBSCURE. Well that's pretty disappointing!
What happened to all the men? Seriously, where have they gone? I did a little pontificating and here's what I think happened...
Let's take a look at our nation's history:
The first Native Americans were pretty Manly. If they weren't Darwin kicked their asses and they died and failed to breed.
Then the Explorers came. And a few Vikings. And some pirates. All pretty Manly; so far so good.
Then came the Pilgrims. Yes, they were delicate and Puritanical and weird, but they were hearty and split logs and hunted and fished and slaughtered. All fine and manly.
The Men who fought for our nation's Independence from England- also very manly. Imagine laying your life down for an ideal that doesn't even exist yet. Just fighting for the freedom to forge your own dream. Pretty damn Manly.
Fast forward through the hunters and trappers and the Spanish-American War, and some insanely manly Pioneers who packed their families in wagons and fought their way across a fucking desert, traveling 3,000 miles into what could have been the end of the earth to find a better life. Very Manly.
Settlers, Gold Rush, Manifest Destiny. All Manly. Think about cowboys and cattle rustlers. Leather chaps and sweaty, foamy horse hides. Desert heat and beard stubble and coffee and hard tack.
Then the Civil War era came around. No matter which side a man fought for, he fought for what he believed in. Even if it was as stupid as imprisoning another man to preserve a way of life. Those racist ignorant assholes will always have a soft spot in my heart- they were wrong. But they were still Men.
And the boys in Blue, fighting to preserve the Union and ultimately bring about Abolition- hooray! A new generation of Black Men begin to forge their identity as Men and not property.
Then the Great War. Men, men, men.
WWII. Pretty fucking manly. I cannot fathom the courage it would take to storm a beach or save Private Ryan. I couldn't do it. But this was what is done- it's what is expected from a man. Fight for what is right. Fight for someone who is suffering. Be brave and don't be afraid of death- you will die a hero. Glory, glory glory...
The Civil Rights movement- pretty Manly as well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was more than a Man- and he inspired others to become Men- again, fighting for a cause. Bravery. Strength.
Vietnam was also around this time. I blame this war for pretty much setting the precedent for fucking up our Men. In our nation's quest for tye dye and free love and peace and flower power and pot, the Men got lost...
Somewhere along the 60's and 70's, all the Men went to Vietnam and either died fighting for Democracy or came back as shattered shells.
If Vietnam herself didn't wipe out all the Men, the Vietnam Era began the slow downfall. Before Nixon, really, the government was thought of as somewhat infallible- like a pope. When people thought Politics and the President, they thought of George Washington, John Adams, Lincoln, Eisenhower, FDR and a beloved JFK. All very manly.
Then Nixon cracked the facade- we saw the man behind the curtain, and we saw our men fighting, doing what men do, for a cause that polarized our nation. We weren't sure if we were doing the right thing, dying for the right reason- it wasn't so clear cut any more and suddenly burning a draft card seemed like a terrific idea. Hippies were born. The Men were fading away...
With the 60's came some amazing music, and the women, starving for Men, replaced their ideals of Manliness with rock stars. Since not all men can rock, dressing and acting like a rock star became the new "manliness." People seemed to forget that rock stars are still just people singing. And singing is not manly. It's romantic- it's sexy- but it's not manly.
This confusion lead people to fill the void left by the Men with what you see in your stockfootage of the 80's. These Ken Dolls are just that- dolls dressed up like men but lacking the fortitude and substance behind the posing.
The 90's were just a confused clusterfuck. Think of The Man from the 90's. I guarantee most of you said Kurt Cobain. Well, here's a newsflash: Kurt Cobain couldn't handle the pressures of celebrity so he let his addictions overpower him, pussed out and shot himself, leaving a child fatherless. That is not what Men do. To compound the problem, technology advanced to the point where a lot of manly skills are obsolete. Cars replaced horses, so the cowboy ingenuity got transmutated into mechanical knowhow. The grandsons of the Industrial Revolution can still fix an engine. Then, computers replaced engines. The nerds outsmarted the Men (shocker) and today's generation of so'called "men" cannot tell if their car needs oil or not because it's too complicated. Most guys today would rather spend the money to take their cars to a mechanic because their fathers could teach them how to change a fan belt, but not how to disassemble an engine block. So the mechanics butt-rape them, and that's not manly either.
A new freakishly twisted view on "Manliness" is computer skills. Ladies, that's pathetic. It's a valuable skill, but it's not manly at all. It's sad that guys are generally better at computers than girls, too. We're all waiting for our Knights in Shining Armor and they're busy playing WoW. Pick up the game, women- we don't have to let the guys hoard all the technical savvy anymore. It's not manly- it's just really useful.
Now here we are in glorious technicolor 2010. Yayyy confetti and champagne! ...But where are the men?
Gone, gone gone. Blown away by shrapnel, pleather and silicon. Today's "man" feels no obligation to protect anything but himself. He will not defend anyone but himself. He maintains no sense of honor because he has no real accomplishment. His father told him all the right words to say but didn't teach him the meaning behind them...
Most of the men I know have never been in a fight. They'll back down from confrontation. They'll never change their own oil. They'll never break a horse in or build anything with their hands. I wonder how many of them could start a fire, hunt, fish, or build a shelter if the Zombie Apocalypse sets in.
They have vestigial inclinations towards manliness, but these are fleeting gestures.
Here's a subtle difference:
If someone opens a car door, they are a gentleman.
If they change a tire, they are a man.
One is the impression of taking care of someone, the other is actually doing it.
A manly action can be done without the charm or grace of a Gentleman, but the chivalrous intention always lends credit towards the initial valor which Gentlemanly Behavior aims towards.
In short: When a man is a Man, he is always, inevitably, a Gentleman. But a Gentleman is not always a Man.
Bottom line is this: ladies, we're on our own. We can't count on our romantic notions anymore, because today's man may have an idea of how to go through the motions, but has forgotten WHY.
The ideal of Man is a forgotten art. Thank God for our soldiers in the Middle East and the crews in Haiti- the Doctors and Policemen and Firefighters and Scoutmasters and Karate instructors. Anyone who can fix something and do something heroic IRL as opposed to XBox Live. Most of the men of today are merely perpetual boys- shells of their Granddads.