The Rip Post                                                                                              


riposte2.jpg (10253 bytes)

May 14, 2009

          I don’t care anymore. It’s a long way to Tipperary. Whoever gets the most toys wins. The goddamn horse won the goddamn race. I don’t care. I’ve been posing, in showing great concern for this and that in this space. The truth is, I have no concern. I have only caffeine. It’s all a bore. The glass is half-empty. The glass is half-full. Everything’s great. Everything’s awful. It’s all the same, it’s all different, it’s all brain chemistry.
          La la la. . .
          I mean, you tune in radio talk shows with Patt Morrison and Larry Mantle on KPCC. Hey, they’re marvelous. How do they do it? They know the issues the way Oprah knows the pores in her nose, the way Villaraigosa knows poontang. They can get into the minutiae of minutiae of tangents of tangents of issues of issues---issues that never go away, are never resolved, forever debated, forever voted on, forever discussed, forever forever. As if it is interesting! As if it is consequential! As if it has impact! And they don’t mind! They get into discussions of fine hairs on the backs of permutations of mutations, as if by speaking about them, something might change.
          Pssst. It never does. Even when it does.
          Bravo to Patt and Larry, though. Did they inherit their pathological curiosity, I wonder? What anti-depressants are they taking? They are so doggedly interested and upbeat, it grates on me. As much as I like them and respect their prowess, I wish to hell they would once in a while go on the air drunk, and blurt out something like, “You know, none of this crap means a rat’s ass, but let’s just f---ing pretend it does anyway,” or better, “Our mayor is such a lying, cunning sack of dung that we’re devoting ourselves to running him out of city hall from here on in---and most of the city council, too, and the board of supes.” Heh.
          I remember driving the late Jim Bellows to an interview at KPCC to talk about his book, “The Last Editor,” and I remember his face at the mention of Morrison. It was a uniquely Bellowsian expression with knitted brow and sharp glance that said extreme disapproval. He couldn’t abide The Wonks Who Take Every Little Thing Incredibly Seriously, and neither can I. He always wanted the press to “raise hell,” after all, not in the pigeyed Limbaugh/Hannity way, but with investigation and skepticism and crusading. And wit.
          Where the hell do you find those things these days? The odd website, I suppose, and most are pretty odd. But all this “what is your sense of” and “let us hear from you” and "we have a dialogue going" to be found in the likes of Mantle and Morrisson---and they are wonderfully informed, enviably articulate, shockingly on their toes---is Bor! Ing! Politically correct, obsequiously courteous, obsessively informed counterweight to the two-toed brutishness of Fox-fueled American discourse.
          To me, talking about how or why some obscure bill “will affect us” is about as  important as ant breath. Who cares! The bills come and go, year after decade, everything remains screwed up. ‘Twas ever thus. But Mantle and Morrison---especially Morrison, who spits out information and commentary faster than a provoked cobra---and Arianna Huffnpuff, and Robert Scheer et al. . .what does their aggressively informed and pithy yacking accomplish, other than bring them a pay check? Hmmm?
          Here, in a nutshell, is what they all really ask: "Given all the good and bad of this issue, and the good and bad ways that everyone is dealing with it, how good or bad are the prospects for it being less good or bad?" And here is the answer they usually get from this-or-that pleasure-to-be-here guest: "Well, it will be somewhat good, and somewhat bad, and nobody really knows." Or, in the case of the left vs. right format, one says, "It will be bad," and the other says, "It won't be bad," and the word, "moot" basks in glory. 
          I’ll bet I’m not alone in my feelings. I’ll wager that on a given night, there is not a single person in the stands in Dodger Stadium who gives a crap about any of the issues that Mantle and Morrisson et al. yap importantly about in a given day. Unless it happens to include the Dodgers. Of course, these same people take professional baseball seriously, and root for the “home team,” poor things. They don’t care that the players average more riches than Louis XIV, that they change every year, and that most are full of female fertility drugs. They buy into the whole “home town” thing, and occasionally shoot one another in the parking lot after a game over it, just for fun.
          Which brings up the crux of the biscuit, as Zappa put it. There's no home in this town. There’s no there here. Or here there. There’s no L.A., if there ever was---and I think there was, back in the ‘20’s, ‘30’s, ‘40’s, maybe ‘50’s. It’s been all downhill since television and freeways. No one takes it very seriously as one place, except those who are new here, or the likes of Mantle and Morrison, or the cool monied adult teenagers who think of L.A. as a cool playground, or the bonehead TeeVee Newsmannequins who smile as they tell you about “breaking news” involving a deranged fire hydrant, “gridlock,” “wild weather,” burning houses, Phil Spector, or another eight-year-old paralyzed in a drive-by shooting.
          L.A. is all disaffection, factions and neighborhoods organized by wealth and lack of wealth. The staggering problems here are obvious, long have been, and they haven’t changed in a long time---except to worsen. Developers have for decades been green-lighted by the arch-criminals in government to throw up hideous condo hives affordable only to other arch-criminals. Robert Casden should be put in jail for what he’s done to this place, but instead he is hailed in radio interviews and the L.A. Times for having made millions by building tens of thousands of condos and apartments! Never mind that density equals traffic equals stress equals anger equals no quality of life equals living death. Density? He'd love to. Freeways? Nothing free about them, life-stealing atrocities. Skyscrapers? They keep scraping the downtown sky while schools close and teachers and city employees are laid off and Skid Row rots and lots of no light-rail is built in the Valley or West Side. Ah, but there is a beautiful, brand new high school athletic field right off the Santa Monica Freeway on Washington Boulevard (West Adams Preparatory High, which opened in 2007). About ten feet from the freeway. Literally.
          See, Patt and Larry, that’s what L.A. is. A city that would allow a new high school and athletic field to be built right next to a freeway. Isn’t that the kind of thing you’d expect to find in. . .Iraq? It’s wrong, it’s sick, it’s actually evil, but nobody cares. All the monied L.A. City School fartfrogs puff up and congratulate themselves for building a new school in a crummy neighborhood where kids can run track and play soccer with the white-noise ssshhhhh of the Santa Monica Freeway in their ears and heavyweight particulate matter in their lungs. Fartfrogs. I like that. Have Morrison and Mantle talked about this? These media barons---and the Times---should have demanded that the school never be built. Along with that silly new billion-dollar "architectural wonder" going up at Seventh and Figueroa. . .Oh, and let's not leave out those insanely outlandish new downtown high schools built at a cost four or five hundred million dollars or more, while other schools around the city fell apart. Insanity is no defense. The media talk about these new schools---especially the bizarro $230 million High School for Visual and Performing Arts (also next to a freeway)---as if they are magnificent, necessary new civic additions. Just as they talk about  the titanically vulgar Nokia Theater complex, which looks like a shoddy mini-mall after a few injections by Manny Ramirez’s doctor. All this stuff really needs to be immediately razed, and the ground purified by Native American shamans. . .
          Yes, this is what L.A. is---hypocritical, disorganized, stupid, chaotic, unthinking, on the take. The obvious evidence, of course, is the history of local transportation, or lack of same. The infamous story of the Pacific Electric rail lines being discarded in favor of freeways and auto/oil company profit was the city's wrist slit. I mean, by the time light-rail (or Gawd help us, more earthquake-defying, far costlier subways) is finished here, all that will accomplish is to enable lots of poor families, kids, and illegal immigrant nannies to daily congest parts of town that they don’t normally congest, and piss off the locals. Freeways will remain badly in need of peristalsis. The only hope of ever unconstipating L.A. is a massive, massive national depression to drive all the pinheads who come here seeking to become “icons” and screenwriters back to Kansas and New York, and immigrants back to native lands. But it really doesn’t matter, because L.A. is long dead and buried by overdevelopment, density, congestion, traffic, overpopulation, elitism, ethnic separatism.
          Right, separatism. Now, I love multiculturalism, or I used to, but not cultural arrogance. I liked the melting pot concept before it was melted by reverse-discrimination and transplanted nationalism. As I’ve said in this space before, why did we get a million people downtown protesting for the “rights” (what rights?) of illegal “immigrants” (the “illegal” part is now dropped by everyone, including media), and only about 5,000-10,000 fringe commie-types marching against the Iraq occupation? Why is it a wonderful thing that Gloria Molina had the Metro Gold Line officially renamed “Linea de Oro” for the part that bisects Boyle Heights? Why not name the part that goes through Chinatown something in Chinese, etc., etc. Am I expected to listen to that DJ, Piolin, just because he is top rated? I don’t speak anything beyond high school Spanish, and I don’t like the incredibly lame music he plays in which every other song seems to concern broken corazones.
          It’s all a joke. Leadership, vision, unity of place: all a veneer. No one is in charge. No one takes responsibility. The last man to have any vision for L.A. was Ray Bradbury, but no one took him seriously because he was just a wacky fantasy/science fiction writer. Never mind that he singlehandedly arranged for the Alweg Corp. to build a monorail all over Southern California for free. Right, free. In exchange for the ridership revenue. The city council, in its blunderbuss arrogance, kicked that gift horse in the teeth. Rapid transit light rail should have---could have---been built here 50 years ago. Correction: there was another visionary in the person of the late County Supervisor Baxter Ward, whose tiny sales tax to fund light-rail in the early '70's was voted down after big money (big oil?) campaigns termed it "Baxter's Folly."
          You know, a few weeks back, I read about the L.A. Weekly "People" issue, and editor Laurie Ochoa's blurb that went, in part, "the waitresses and starlets ... the tech wizards and rock stars ... the activists, gang survivors, political warriors and policy wonks ... the scientists, teachers and fabulous nerds ... plus the nightlife shapers, art makers and fashion provocateurs that make Los Angeles the only place to live."
          The only place to live? Excuse me? What about Norway? I’d re-think that one, Laurie. Have you read about Norway recently? Looks pretty damn good. Paris? London? Christchurch? Bora Bora? Bruges? Amsterdam? Florence? Charlottesville, Va.? Call me nuts, but I loved Taiwan. Much, much friendlier than L.A., with a real sense of place. But then, I’m not one of the stereotypical cool L.A. Weekly readers with dyed black hair driving a '64 Valiant who thrives on boasting about eating brain tacos and watermelon juice in Highland Park before going to hear Mahler at the L.A. Phil and then heading out for some esoteric dessert in “Little Armenia.” I mean, L.A. has always been multicultural. BFD, as we used to say in the ‘70’s. Most who cultivate cool cache via multi-ethnic mystique are well-to-do whites who base their appreciation on taco trucks, Korean barbecue, and izakaya. Their liberalism is not much deeper than their taste buds.
          Only place to live? I know that Ochoa needs readers and ads, but which L.A., I wonder, does she live in? Is it an L.A. where deranged punk gangsters don’t weave in and out of freeway traffic at 90 mph, barely missing your rear bumper, just for fun? Where people do not drive the way emaciated jackals vie for pieces of bloody zebra rump? Where triple murders don’t happen at the corner El Pollo Loco, and transvestite hookers do not parade little teacup poodles past elementary schools? Where the guy across the street doesn’t stab his friend, and you don’t wind up locked in your home, inhaling tear gas as SWAT moves in? Where friends are not robbed, beaten, or executed, face-down on sidewalks, by gang beasts? Where that spineless snake, Villaraigosa, does not flash his fake teeth and construct such masterfully evasive non-information as to make you ashamed to be human? Where downtown “renewal” is hailed like it’s some grand renaissance, merely because amoral robberbarons are grabbing up rat-infested old buildings and reselling them as million-dollar “live/work spaces?” Where cheap “lofts” formerly occupied by actual bohemian-artist types are now rife with puerile, spoiled young Turks making a (Downtown News reports) median income of $95,000 a year? (By doing what, exactly? Anybody know?) Where someone like Emily Ho is not celebrated in the Weekly "People" issue because she works for the Getty, won some pretentious "design" award for putting Giant Robot prints on the wall of her Silverlake single apartment, and created a stupid fan website for Laker Sasha Vujacic? I mean, g-a-s-p.
          And while on this subject, let’s please, Ms. Ochoa, read less about monied, privileged types like Ho (can’t neglect to mention the Asian-chic angle here) and more about some poor goddamn kid whose only place to live is between a couple of crackhouses, but he or she still gets up and goes to a school every day where half the teachers are being laid off. That’s genuinely cool.
          Where, oh where, is this L.A., this “only place to live?” Am I wrong in thinking that I don’t live in a place full of Starbuckses full of nowhere men (and women) making all their nowhere plans for nobody on iBooks while plugged into iPods talking on iPhones about I, I, I? Where walkers are considered weird and no one knows how to move to one side of the sidewalk to let you pass on the other anymore (and they slam into you if you don’t?) Where “homeless” people (formerly “bums”) don’t curse you if you don’t give them money, or worse, erupt with a sanctimonious “Have a blessed day?”  Where mentally ill (oh, sorry, challenged) wretches wander the streets, defecating in bushes, eating trash-can pizza crust, threatening to rape passers-by? Where spoiled frauds and phonies forever rhapsodize about being able to eat fried pigs ears in Monterey Park and how freeway congestion is actually “Zen-like” and Disney Hall’s acoustics are “visceral?” Where the Downtown News runs staggeringly callous italic headlines like this one, from April 12: Skid Row homicides, surplus horses, and other happenings Around Town. Yeah, baby, homicides are happenin'! Where SUVs and mansions attach themselves to fatuous women toned by Pilates and Oprah and chemical peels? Where news programs are inhabited by surgically smoothed faces smiling as if they are shot full of heavy drugs, and streets are full of third world transplants trailing packs of poor little kids with faces so happy and hopeful it breaks your heart? Where people daily threaten to kill one another over traffic, and sometimes follow through? Where it can take 45 minutes to drive a mile and half? Where primitives engage in marking territory with sinister script on walls, and flash guns as they cross in front of you in crosswalks on busy streets? Where, after the Watts riots, the whole damn big happy multi-ethnic city family should have banded together to make the poorer and neglected parts of L.A. livable and crime-free, but did nothing except allow tens of thousands of young people to be murdered by Crips and Bloods in the next 40 years? Where is this “only place to live?” Where?
          But again, to get back to the point of this blabber, I don’t care. Something's wrong with me that I can't politely and wonkishly take it all seriously, like Mantle and Morrison. That I can't write merrily about the "fabulous nerds" and "nightlife shapers" and "fashion provacateurs" like Ochoa. Right now, the only things I care about are a few people, keeping my cats happy, trying to figure out why a pal drank himself to death, The Beatles, and maybe Mitsuko Uchida’s eyebrows.
          L.A. is on the gurney, in the emergency ward, intubated, chest cracked, getting open-heart massage, non-responsive. Direct cardio injections of adrenalin cannot overcome density, traffic, and brain tacos. It’s sickening, it’s depressing, and anyone who can’t see this or denies it is either: young, on medication, or lying. But I don’t care about that, either. I don't care that the few people reading this are either enjoying the hell out of it or thinking, “Why doesn’t he just get out of here, then?” (Send money!) I don’t even care that I’ve written this just to fill space. I don't care.

                                             BACK TO PAGE ONE



© 2002-09 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.