Wednesday, September 04, 2002


It's been a sweltering week here in Los Angeles. Call it a late summer heat wave. I sit here alone in the barren Piker offices, stripped down to my Bart Simpson boxers, unable to turn on the high-powered air conditioning unit because the revised budget won't allow for frivolous utilities like electric and phone.

The extreme temperature has me in a pensive mood, reflecting on the past week. Before the weekend started, I had a solid couple days of disillusionment. First, it was the past. Nearly a month after I started reading, I finally completed James Ellroy's "The Cold Six Thousand." The novel is the middle installment of an ambitious trilogy, the first of which I did not read and the last of which, to the best of my knowledge, has not been written yet. The story spans a roughly five year period from late 1963 to 1968 and follows the lives of three underworld figures, all of whom, directly or indirectly, play roles in the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK. The Cold Six is a hard brew to swallow, in part because you can't fathom that our country, even in one of its darkest hours, could possibly operate in such a way, and in part because you know it did. There is simply too much detail in the book to even begin to dissect the intricacies of the characters and plot, but suffice it to say that moments after I read the last word, I fell into a fairly deep funk. I don't think I actually enjoyed reading it, and I'm not sure you're supposed to, but I know I couldn't get it out of my mind. It plagued me. And then I watched the Video Music Awards.

After suffering through three plus hours of pop culture torture, my fairly deep funk devolved into flat out depression. Now, I haven't watched MTV in quite some time, and I suppose I'm old, but apparently drunk and stupid is in. I may be overly nostalgiac for the musical era including the mid-sixties to the early nineties, but I remember my rock stars being drunk and stoned, yet witty and irreverant. The audience got a taste of that when Diamond Dave and Sammy Hagar presented an award and bantered for a bit, but they didn't seem to like the flavor, as nobody so much as chuckled. I'm astounded to report that the true highlight of the show was Justin Timberlake's debut solo performance. That kid can dance and the moment actually felt like something, which was more than I can say for the rest of the show. It was a whole lot of nothing. There were many lowlights, but I'll just mention a couple. Pink accepting her award and declaring that she was so drunk was one thing, but Michelle Branch, a sort of goody-goody in this crowd, accepting her award and claiming to be more drunk than Pink was like a kick in the stomach. Branch proceeded to soberly thank everyone from her record company to her entourage to her family and seemed genuine in doing so. Why did she have to say she was fucked up? She clearly wasn't and it felt like a desperate attempt for the good girl to fit in with the cool crowd, when she could have nobly distanced herself from the idiocy surrouding her. Painful. As was the far-from-triumphant return of Guns-n-Roses. Axl Rose is fat and can't sing anymore and the band sounded like shit. They were the closing act.

Luckily, that night, I only took one pain killer and not the entire bottle, because I wound up having a fantastic weekend hanging out with a variety of phenomenal people at several Labor Day events and it helped restore all of my illusions to their proper levels.

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