Yesterday the E! cable network actually showed a documentary on the making of the film "Sixteen Candles". Every picture tells a story, don't it? I have to admit I kind of like those John Hughes teen movies, although "Some Kind of Wonderful", the inverted remake of "Pretty in Pink", is my favorite.
I've been slogging through Alan Cumming's and Jennifer Jason Leigh's "The Anniversary Party" bit by bit. I bought it for very little money at Blockbuster. It's a small film, lots of stars on scale pitching in. Its theme is what the fishbowl of fame does to one. It's curious, though--even though nobody we knew was famous when we lived in LA, the film seems to be about people we knew who were trying to be in "the business", too. I've never met any "movie stars". But I've met lots of people of the "remember the grizzled man in episode 53 of Gunsmoke? That was me!" variety. I've met horror directors of grade ZZZ films, and people who used to be live-ins of famous stars, but now are live-ins of unsuccessful auditions. The great thing about Los Angeles is that so many people move there to remake themselves into different people--people who didn't grow up in the midwest, who weren't teased in high school, who weren't boring suburban kids.
The bad thing about Los Angeles is also that so many people move there to remake themselves. One stereotype that is largely true is that a lot of folks move there with stars in their eyes, thinking it will work their miracle. The problem is that even for those who get a little pixie dust in their lives, nothing really changes. Get a job working on the Disney cartoons? Then instead of thanking the heavens you're no longer teaching community college, complain that you ended up being a background colorist instead of an illustrator. Finally got that job script writing? Great, but it's My Sister Sam for which you're writing. It's good to be ambitious, to want more than you have. But at some point, work has to give you that feeling that "I can do this. This is a way for me to earn an income. This is okay". At some point, one has to be able to define everything in one's life as worth living.
I don't miss the time we spent in the westside of Los Angeles, in the apartment building where everyone was in entertainment but us and the nice accountants across the hall and the doctor downstairs who hated our dog. After the Northridge quake hit, I remember taking my shivering dog out into the hallways (my wife having had the wisdom to be visiting a college friend in Santa Cruz), where all our neighbors were gathered. We all stood and talked like real neighbors, in the dark, listening to the radio tell us how bad an earthquake it had been. For a brief instant, everyone set aside the pretension, the exclusion, and the need to be "hip". We all just chatted like human beings. The time passed--sometimes it takes an earthquake to get people to be pleasant to one another, but getting them to stay that way is more than even a natural disaster can do.
I measure the first moments of true happiness during our time in Los Angeles from the day we moved into the Crescenta Valley, where the only people in "the business" we knew worked as camerapeople, and a sense of neighborhood existed. Life is too short to spend it among people desperate not to be who they really are. I have much to do today, though, and won't worry much about the perfidy of people.