Images from my last afternoon walk, in lovely mist and rain, the day before going back to Flint.
The soft or shrill voice within us
7 years ago
Sadly a memoir wasn't an option for me, because my youth had been tragically happy. Mom never had the foresight to hit me or set me to petty thieving or to enlist us in a survivalist cult. I wasn't even from the South, which wouldn've bought a few dozen pages. Lying wouldn't work; these days memoir police seem to emerge and make sure you truly had it bad. And the bar for bad is high -- reviewers have no patience for standrad-issue alcoholics and battered wives anymore.
When you think of the great writers, penning a novel seems terribly romantic. You think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, a Riviera breeze billowing his curtains and the sounds of the Cap d'Antibes street cut by the tapping of his typewriter, as he lacerates the rich and dreams of the past. Or Hemingway, in a hotel in Palmplona in the heat of the afternoon, as bullfighters take their siesta and drops of water bead on a bottle of kirsch. Or Joyce, squinting his Irish bead-eyes as he lends his classical training and his Gaelic imagination to summon up allusie rhythms and language dense and unfolding.
Even lesser novelists seem glamorous. Some scribbler burning twigs in a boardinghouse in the second arrondissemet as he dips his quill pen into the ink. Or a slim and shoeless thirty-something, taking a year off from his job as an alternatie marketing onsultant to sit in a park in Vancouver to Park Slope and type into his PowerBook a wry yet soulful take on the paradozes of hypermoderity.
That is all delusion. Writing a novel is pathetic and boring. Anyone sensible hates it. it's all you can do to not play Snood all afternoon.
But for me, the highlight—if that's the word—of covering this campaign came when Clack and Walling momentarily joined forces at the Landmark Food Center, the kind of grocery store where a security guard roams the fluorescently lit aisles and customers are required to check their bags at the counter. Flanked by displays of breakfast cereal, the two candidates judged a Kool-Aid-making contest sponsored by three local churches.
Although most airports seem to have been designed by committees made up of subcommittees, and are inevitably unattractive and unsightly, Los Angeles International has an exuberant ugliness all its own. The atmosphere of non-invitation is quite distinctive, as if the city's first representative, its airport, is already disgusted, perhaps even repelled, by the traveler. The recent arrival might well imagine that he has landed on the set of a low-budget futuristic film, most of whose main characters will die horribly within the first forty minutes. The pods, as they are called, are careless maintained, and an odor of perfumed urine wafts here and there through the bleary air.
...For such a famous place, known for its hospitality to louche celebrities of every stripe, the Fatal seemed rather drab, even seedy. It advertised its own cool indifference to everything by means of dim Art Deco lamps and shabby antique rugs. Indifference constituted its most prized form of discretion. To the left of the entryway sat an ice plant. A dusty standing pot with a sunlit cactus in it, close to the elevators, matched the ice plant for pur floral forlornness. They were emblems of four-star neglect. In front of me, and to the right of the front desk, was a brown Art Deco sofa that looked as if it could have used a thorough cleaning. Scandalized, I saw stains.