Taking Picture with Batman As Good As America Gets
My Libra and I took the train a couple miles over to Hollywood to go shopping for a couple skirts and blouses. For her. Not me. We stepped off the train and let the escalator carry us to street level, where the usual hubbub of bland, grown men, who are weighted with issues stemming back to when they were children, dress like superheroes and pose for pictures with Midwesterners and East Coast tourists.
It’s Hollywood and Highland, where Batman, Michael Jackson, and Jesus all converge under Southern California’s laser beam sunshine. In front of a glorified shopping mall. There are also young black men handing out their homemade CDs, hustling to get you to grab one, and when you do, they ask for “nothing but a small, very small donation”, or “just a little something to pay for the materials”.
The entire scene is always irritating, every time I go. Hollywood’s ugliest tourist areas are microcosms of what America(ns) strive to be. It’s what we imagine the Constitution protects. A bunch of large corporate shops displaying an impressive amount of mediocrity in their store windows. This is worth fighting for. This was the premise on which we invaded Iraq under Bush Jr.
This is why I started that nasty rumor about Hollywood’s Walk of Fame awarding Charles Manson a star for his contributions in music. I got in a little trouble, but it was worth every headache. Yahoo (the site I’d written the article for) and their good people said, ‘If you’re going to write satire, then make sure it’s blatantly satirical and funny.’ ‘Make sure you label it satire.’ And, ‘This could ruin your reputation.’
The poor spokeswoman publicly wrote about the bad rumor going around. No, she said, we’re not giving Charlie Manson a star on the Walk of Fame. I can’t even take a vacation, she said. Well, all that was news to me. I’d written the damned thing one hazy night, and the next morning I woke up late and found the article had been shared over a thousand times on Facebook, and passed along Twitter at a rate of a SoCal brush fire.
Hollywood spokespeople should never take vacations anyway. You never know what kind of rumor can get blown through this city. You’re off in Tahiti while the locales are starting Change.org petitions against the Walk of Fame. And what do those people need a vacation from, anyway? A dream land? From illusion to more illusion? Dear Jesus. This society. Taking a break from Hollywood might make sense if you travel to a farm outside of Williston, North Dakota to milk cows at five in the morning for a week.
And now you ask, Why do you go to Hollywood, if you hate that degeneration so much? I go because that’s where the train takes you when your Libra wants to go to a couple specific stores that are linked together in that specific area.
So I packed up two cold bottles of water, one strapped on each side of my backpack. I took a copy of the Nation, and my smart phone, so I could read the news. I also brought a copy of the Writer’s Chronicle. My goal was to be equipped with any kind of material support for intelligent life, just in case a band of armored gunmen burst onto the flesh-packed sidewalks and opened fire, my family and even the emergency officials would know that I didn’t belong there, with all of those schmucks and shitheads, kneeling next to their favorite stars and sending Hail Marys to heaven for their most beloved TV impresarios, like Dick fucking Clark (who in the hell cares about Dick Clark? I’m sure he was a nice man, but dear Jesus, he was 82 when he died, and we’ve got far greater national and global issues to imminently deal with, so let the old boy go).
My Libra, who is also of a similar mind as I am when it comes to corporate America, corporate mediocrity, and the constant toxic blitz of advertisement, skipped us over to a store called Forver 42, where older women can feel younger, and younger women can feel older, all by wearing the same magical outfits.
I don’t know if it’s the cut of the cloth in that place, or what, but the girls and boys were out that day, in full force. They riffled through stacks of blouses and shirts, all made with very thin fabric. I’d imagine the articles would wear out rather fast. Shirts so flimsy the alluring brown or pink coloring of nipples could easily be seen. That is a danger the kids are willing to take these days. By any industrial standard, the clothes are cheap, but in the marketplace, they go for top dollar.
Maybe it takes an extreme amount of effort to degrade good fabric to such a pitiful state. Probably a lot of Chinese and Indonesian children pounding blocks of colorful spools with smooth gray rocks. Somebody’s got to pay those kids. That’s why the in-store price seems too high at first. Those kids won’t work for free. Ask Steve Jobs, America’s favorite son. And Satan’s lead altar boy.
Perched on an uncomfortable bench with a thin white pad
I desperately wanted to leave. I had to flee. Every fiber of consciousness associated with my being was repulsed. The music was louder than any music I’ve ever before heard in a store. A mid-level amount of bass was cracked and snarled with an ear-piercing array of digitally produced sounds. Music from the future, if the future held citizens utterly devoid of any respect for musicianship and artistic history and integrity. It reminded me of what a large metal garbage can would sound like if it could shout.
And people shopped to this noise. Old floozies with big bubs smiled in deceptively tilted mirrors at their worn out bodies too plumped and spoiled for the cheap fabric articles sold in that shop. A young Hispanic woman, overweight, with body proportions no advertisement would ever give nod to, confidently seized colorful garments with shabby, fattened unashamed fingers. A tall, thin young woman who probably did back alley modeling in Hollywood or New York City, shyly held blouses to her long upper half. Even though she was the body type the store had in mind, in her head, she was no more beautiful than the throwaway female two feet away. One foot shorter, forty pounds heavier.
This is how serious it gets…
I saw all this from my white stool perch. I’m intuitive. I wiped off my Third Eye a few years ago. Subtle vibrations had hit the back of my head like the open palm of a police officer’s hand smashing a delinquent’s hardened face into the pavement as the pig struggles to cuff the shaking hands above the tailbone.
That’s how serious meditation can be. Loud, jarring, depraved sounds devoid of human integrity and passion are literally painful. They jangle my nerves, from my heels to my throat, and then into the backs of my eyelids. Awakening the astral body is a mental, physical, and spiritual convergence meant for humans living in the trees, or in the desert, with only the cool earth or the scorching rocky soil beneath thickened bare feet. There’s too much electricity in the city. It builds between the teeth and buzzes in the ears.
But I have to make a living in another jungle. A different Mecca. I whole other convergence. Los Angeles. The home of everything, yet a city of mostly visitors. Stubborn visitors who won’t leave. Visitors who, for decades, selfishly travel many miles every day to work in one part of the pulsing metropolis, and then drive all the way home again to roost for the night. And all of this without making any serious connections to the land. There is really nothing with which to connect. Los Angeles is a city always shifting, forever in flux, floating atop a tumultuous ocean, and continuously undermined by multiple industries that make billions of dollars on selling turbulence. Fake images. Wild story lines. Contradictions. Superficial dreams. It’s the American Dream, within the American Dream, inside the American Dream, boiled down to, drained into, and so on.
Los Angeles is set up daily to be used, milked, and set up again for the next day. The city is an elaborate cardboard cutout, where the players gather to exchange wealth. The big players are always finding schemes to extract more from the rest of the participants, and that majority is busy working to sequester just enough to get by for the day.
This city is a pretext for making money. It’s a Monopoly board with way too many players, and most of the players don’t realize it’s just a game, with fake paper money, and that striking it rich doesn’t ward off moral and spiritual bankruptcy.
It’s a microcosm of the nation. A representation. Maybe most people know that already. For some reason I can’t stop watching the spectacle. I can’t turn away from the whole blasted cycle, even though I don’t see it ending well. My Libra, however, can handle it, and with a certain admirable grace. She buzzed around the store and shrewdly picked practical outfits for work. She kept within the budget she set herself. She’s understood how to take the good with the damned in society.
As for me, I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams. Like my DNA strands are unwinding and causing me a long-lasting heartburn at the cellular and genetic level. The ads, commercials, consumer-culture, the materialism, our Disney society, the degraded mental states, the dismantling of complex language and communication, and the way in which so many people are so easily swayed. It’s disastrous.
Every last atom of my being is trembling. Get off the ship! It’s just a spectacle. It’s mesmerizing. But it’s not worth sticking around for! Go herd sheep in North Dakota! my tiny inner voice pleads. When will I listen? Probably never, because I’m not very intelligent. The smartest among us got out long ago. The folks like me spent every last dime to catch the incoming breeze that would bring us nearer the horror, like a moth to that age-old flame everybody refers to.
We invaded Iraq to defend stores like Forever 42, and strips like Sunset and Hollywood. Our American society allows our Dept of Defense to spend trillions on war and invasion abroad, and anti-terror weaponry and tactics at home, all because we don’t want to lose our shopping freedoms. We’ve given up our civil liberties for the same reasons, especially because one guy packed his undies full of flammable powder and got on an airplane. That’s how it’ll be written in future American history books: “…, and that’s when Americans gave it all away to their government and their Wall Street masters.”
And everything’s going swell so far, even if our government is in a bit of a fiscal pinch, and they don’t know how to wrap up ten years of intense global invasion on multiple war fronts. Know how you can tell everything’s all right? Because Batman still finds it worth his while to stand on Hollywood Boulevard and pose with tourists while Jesus stands with his mouth open, and gapes at one of the Power Rangers bitching out an overweight man who refuses to tip after he got his picture.
My final question (not forever, but tonight), is: What’s so shocking about giving Charles Manson a Hollywood star anyway? It seems fitting. Other than General Custer, Manson is said to have led the charge in some of the most horrific murders in America. Our populace and our courts condemned him. Richard Nixon did, also. Then we made his name into a brand and sold it around the world for billions. We’re still selling his name, forty-three years later. If you want an entrepreneurial tip, here it is: dress up like Charlie in 1969 and stand on Hollywood Blvd to take pictures with tourists. You’ll be a hit.
My Libra and I rode home on the train. We hardly spoke a word.