Friday, August 3, 2007


I'm in Hollywood. I'm sitting at a gorgeous old hotel bar where Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart used to drink. I'm sipping a twelve dollar Belevedere/rocks, listening to the bartender tell me about some of the hotel's secrets-- they built a secret table in the back of the place for when couples like Brad and Angelina want to come for a fabulous steak dinner and some quiet candlelight. The place looks like an unused set from Citizen Kane--all faded Spanish castle majesty shot through with WiFi and LED lamps. Outside and down the street, a line forms in the heat. It snakes around the block. It's a line waiting to get into some film premiere. Next to the theater is a wax museum full of life-sized replicas of famous dead movie stars--Elvis, Marilyn, Brando, etc.

Meanwhile, in the back of the hotel, under palm trees and fading afternoon sunlight, nearly naked women swim in the pool while Secret Machines, Interpol, Led Zeppelin, Blondie, and other bands are piped in over the sound system. It feels good. Jose Villarrubia comes over, we drink a drink out there. Something big and alive is twilling and croaking in one of the trees as we pass under it, miniature jungle sounds in a tree in Hollywood. Everything here seems to refer to movies--my hotel room looks like the set for the last two minutes of 2001, but in dark wood, without an illuminated floor. There is a strange glass sphere of a lamp on the table which looks like a prop for some sci-fi film which I can't figure out how to work. It looks like it shouldn't be invented for another ten years or so.

The sun sets. A long ride in the back of somebody's sports car and we're downtown. Good food. One of the guys has a margarita and a big slab of bread pudding for dinner. Later we go up to this guy's loft-- a huge 2000 square foot place, nearly empty except for a couch in front of a huge flatscreen TV and a Wii gamestation. It turns out the guy photographs sex toys for some company, retouches them and assembles the photos for the mail order sex toy catalogue, that's his day job.

I hear a weird story--this guy, two weeks back, he shoots a family portrait for some film producer, for the producer's mom. In the family portrait we get the producer and the wife and the two or three kids-- only problem is, the kids are all full grown and won't/can't come home. One's in Africa, the other one's in wherever. So this film guy gets photos of the kids and has the sex toy photographer superimpose the kids back into the photo, as if they were always there to begin with. Perfect simulation.

"So?" I ask, "Do you tell the old lady?"

"Are you kidding?" he says, annoyed.

So the film producer gets a fake family portrait for his mother, artifically assembled by the guy who shoots pictures of sex toys for a living. The film producer's mother gets the portrait and is pleased to have a picture of her happy family on the wall.