Where all the Chipmunks Can Sing and Serenade you
Monday, January 29, 2018
By: Stevie Dance
You get off the plane and start walking, legs moving like skates. You check your phone. It’s hotter here. It’s always hotter here. You pull them off – your jacket that is, and your sweater too and skin, from back where it was below freezing, flakes to the floor.
You see Lakers’ paraphernalia and people wearing Ugg boots and many, many magazines with the title ‘Stars without Makeup’. Are people still buying those? You touch your headphones in your ears and push them in tighter. Aphex Twin. Early stuff. Warren Ellis and Eno/Fripp too. Speedy, dreamboat, shape shifter sounds – Rhubarb specifically and Everything’s Fucked and Evening Star also.
You feel? … Well, not much actually… the specific Los Angeles sentiment prescribed by the city’s white noise and the inherent disconnectivity. Indeed it’s not that you feel bad and you know you don’t feel sad. It’s just, maybe, not fantastic. Tick. And it is maybe just not a lot. Ding. You wonder if maybe that’s what they call peaceful… or if maybe, that’s just what they call bored. Dang. Or maybe you just feel blank. Blank? DITTO.
You can’t hear anything specifically. No call outs... No chitchat. No reaming, certainly no roaring. IS ANY BODY OUT THERE? Some other time, they seem to gesture. Ok. You look around, you look around and then you just look out. No one makes eye contact in Los Angeles anyway. You remember that, just now.
You check your phone. Your feet are still skating and they all have dogs. They all have their dogs in their arms in Los Angeles, like babies. Their dogs don’t walk, not at all and some of their owners don't either, walk that is, ever since those hover boards got popular, holding dogs and hovering to appointments… Scusi! Honk honk. They shrunk them too. All the dogs are now teeny tiny. Big white man, who may or may not own a gun = teeny tiny dog. Mexican woman with leggings = teeny tiny dog. Gaggle of girls with cell phones with gemstones stuck to, who are also wearing leggings = teeny tiny… and you wonder where all the big dogs have gone? You miss the big dogs… and guess what?
Oh, I dunno. Forget it.
Alyssa calls you. Facetime. She is wearing a mock neck and has blush on her eye lids and a bob haircut that looks like an extension of her youth, in kind of a pornographic way. Her voice has no intonations. It is one beat. She grew up in Los Angeles but now just visits, for extended, undefined periods of time. “Here for a few” she says. She is staying at the Palisades. “No one stays west anymore,” she tells you. “Weho west. Not west west. No one stays there”, but she guesses people still hang there. “I think they do… at least people still get faded that way,” she says. “I’ll be that way later actually, I guess”.
“Later,” she says.
You rent a car, your freedom chariot, like when you were young, but now, just because you are in LA. Your happiest memories are always in the car in Los Angeles. It’s somehow where they all get cooked up, smooshed together, blown out to the dolphins and the wasteland. The car is where you get to zoom by the sandy strooms and the strip malls and the silicone and the knickety knack pop-ups on the Kinney that have sage and soap and a selection of terribly appropriated vintage-y like bikes. Everything’s in the colours of the rainbow, though that bit you don’t mind, you don’t think. The car is from where you get to see the sky loop and loom and explode like a cocoon with butterflies emerging and flapping about all over. The car is from where you go nose to nose with the license plates that read lLUV and RAP and CLICHÉ and HUGGi-Z and no matter what, for whatever the plate says, it is always only a single white man in his mid fifties driving said vehicle which always makes you laugh, just not out loud. Just to yourself. It’s also the place where you can turn on the radio and tune into what you know you have missed these past weeks or months or in some cases, decades – the new words, the new smoothie tunes. And when you hear those new numbers, you flinch because you are so disconnected to what is clearly convulsing all over the young ones and it means absolutely nothing to you, no matter how you try. You just want to wipe the muck off their faces. But instead you shazam a few and tell yourself you will try to catch it. The car is where you are when you get pulled over by a policeman who sidles up to your window, drinking a Jumba Juice. Though you think you ran a red, you leave without a fine. He just says something about being a good, good girl. “Be a good girl, girly,” and later when you recall the story, someone tells you that that’s a Drake top 50 hit. Probably something you have heard on the radio, they gesture. You wonder if that makes it better or worse. Worse, most likely – the cop that is, not the song. You like Drake. You like Fetty Wap. You like Future, sure you do…
You check your phone.
Late at night you drive up Laurel Canyon, past Pache and all those houses people associate with the 70’s and peace, but really you just think about Judee Sill and prostitution and the BBC doc you heard once where she said she used to live up there and hustle in her car and shoot heroin into her and into her hunny. This one night, as you drive up, Roy Orbison is on actually as it’s good to listen to the Goldie Oldies in LA and you see someone's car spin out of control and you see the headlights flick like lasers all over that canyon. It’s a wash out and you slow down because you can’t look away and you see that no one stops to help. No one is getting out of their car, not one person and you ask yourself if you should and that, therein lies the problem.
CALL FOR HELP NOW, for fuck’s sake.
You check your phone.
And you may ask yourself “how did I get here?”
When you have a headache in Los Angeles someone gives you a Percocet and someone else tells you to wash it down with an oxy and someone else a hit of hash and someone else gets out a tumbler and tells you an old fashioned will do the trick…
And you may ask yourself “how did I get here?”
You get on the treadmill, one with a TV attached. Trump for President the headlines go. You get off the treadmill and drive to Runyon instead. There go those small dogs. You hike to the top and you see The Sign, tiny, on a hill swamped by all those gated mammoth mansions and you think about all those kids who live in them and have never left them; those kids whose parents are incredibly famous, the children of the Johnnies and the Demis and the Donnas; the kids, who go by names like Rosie and Peonie and Pippy, the ones, everyone is so fascinated with right now.
“You know, they are like normal but not normal and that's chill.” people inform you. “Like they are normal, considering how privileged they are… Wait, see, look at their insta. See. It's just them, them being chill and them eating macaroni and them shopping with Mom and them hanging at home …they are mostly just at home. They think fame is funny see.”
“Ok” you say. So you go on to see for yourself. You check out their so-called selfie grind and mostly you just see picture after picture of them, them all wearing little ironic, clever notes of suburban fanfare, like bejeweled baseball caps and pink pajamas, juxtaposed against their plush mansion interiors. And they all have that expression, that one heavily curated look on their faces that floods the flowing Los Angeles feeds, right now; the one where they all look bored and adolescent and so very, very absent. Snap. The ones where they all just so happen to be semi naked. Snippety Snap. The ones they caption with clever notes like… Don't care, who cares? or Meh Schmehhh Me no Care. Born on the run, they tippety tap from their couches at home.
And you may ask yourself “how did we get here?”
You drive down Santa Monica Boulevard and you look up. Gucci & Guess. Billboards. You see Gigi. You like Glen’s new photos. There is one for Grindr too or Gonorrhea (A billboard that is). You can’t tell. It says both and… stay safe. Stay safe out there! Well, define safe, you think to yourself. Here look, those apps go… take my name, age, my home address, take my social, my whereabouts to the millimeter, take my sexy photos of me, put them up all over the web. Webby me. DM me.
“Lets build sometime,” they say in response to your uploads. “I like your style. You know, you styling.” How has anyone ever come up with a way to write back to any of that?, you wonder. HAHA works someone tells you, HAHA works for most almost any situation they say.
OK you think. HAHA…
Janet texts you.
J: Cant hang. Bummed. Got food poisoning.
Response: Ok. Sorry to hear that!
Janet: Café Gratitude Not Grateful.
Response: Oh! Oof! Haha?
Mac emails a response to the original note you titled…
SUBJECT: If we are talking about LA… need Hedi Slimane chat – organize?
You feel you need Hedi – as Hedi is fashioning the everyday in LA to great success. The Courtney Love look again and again… they all still want that Malibu music video makeover, it seems; the tiaras and the tights and maybe even the track lines and most definitely the fireball sunset mirage, particularly for their snap chats.
Mac’s response: Hedi not possible right now. Work around it.
You hear from another source. He is in the middle of transitioning.
You text your source “Wait, to where… to what?"
You feel you should know all of this somehow anyways.
You go one night off to a Getty soirée – the premier fashion show for the young grandson of J. Paul Getty, August. You don’t drive this time. You uber, with other affiliated press members to Universal studios, to the Western backlot to be specific to see what fashion in Los Angeles may feel like. It is a David Lachapelle curated installation, with neon heaven and hell signs and a candlelit mural of the Mexican Madonna – Lady of Guadalupe and gospel singers who do their own Michael Jackson rendition of Man In The Mirror and such and there is the fashion too of course. August tells you he is a true LA KID. And when you press August for more on this he talks mostly about the fantasy of his world about how the air is his brother and the trees, his friends. When you ask him about his muse, the transgender bombshell sitting next to him, he says this, “if I am The Law, then she is my Hillary Clinton.” Ok, ok, you say, gotcha.
People are moving here and moving back here.
“It’s got everything,” you hear. “It goes from cutthroat to cupcakes in 40 minutes,” one person says specifically. What a town! What a place! Indeed they say, “there is no better city to make t-shirts in or throw parties in or fuck chicks or dicks or any of that good good stuff in…” and then something about the street tacos and something about being the best. You the best, they say.
You check your phone.
You hit le Brea and somehow you see a very young, very famous, very controversial musician ride past whom you once met and always liked. They zip past briefly, you in your car, and them in theirs and they wave at you and they look tired and yet still sensationalized in this scape. You wonder how you both managed to catch one another through your window shields… Was that her mum driving? Later she texts you, hey! You respond, hey! You don’t see them again or hear from them again for some time but people say that they are out here post-rehab to reconnect, regroup, regain strength and retrain their neurosis and you feel it must be working as you see their social media posts that are always along the same lines and are often titled ‘Rejuvenation!’
Later you dip up to the Eames house. You dip up and dip in because you hear you can sneak onto the grounds and lie by the eucalyptus trees and the beautiful lines of said building in all of its splendor, sans supervision. If you can be a stealth and if only for a minute. And so you do. And it is great. You watch the leaves billow and you press your face up to the glass and you don’t hear a sound… still, but this time in a very brilliant way and you feel curious as to what life would be like if you one day got to live in there, with the little rugs and the little perfect pillows. No fuss. No muss. Little LA heaven.