January 26, 1998

Views From Metropolis


Wendy M. Pfeiffer

Part 2 in a Series

Her name is Sasha Foo. She reads the news on television every weeknight.

(Why is this name so hilarious to me? And why, if it is so funny to me,
isn't anyone else laughing? Ah, I'm a duck out of water. This may not be
a symptom of LA, though. I've always seen the humor while the world
cried. My dear sister has been encouraging my father to invest in
supplemental retirement health care. I wanted to do my part, and followed
up her conversations with a stern lecture. Next I knew, Dad and I were
laughing over the obvious logic of permanent retirement at one's own hand.
Perhaps this is where I got the twisted sense of reality. Can one inherit
cynicism? Well, if its environment instead, then Dad would love this

Sasha explains that by the year 2002, Entertainment will provide more jobs
than any other California industry. (There's a gleam in her eye---SHE has
chosen well.) Los Angeles, rebounding from the cultural revolution, er,
riots, of the late 80's, has reinvented itself. In this era of emerging
electronic commerce, Entertainment is the product of choice. Hollywood is
ready and able.

I realize I'm not entertained. I'm really not. I'm bored. The boredom
seems to grow with every week of overstimulation. I see movie stars all
the time now. I eat in amazing restaurants. I live in
Aesthetically-Pleasing World. I've become obsessed with whether or not I
saw Leonardo DiCaprio at the Garage two weekends ago (I *really* think it
was him!). Yet, The Titanic is just one more overpriced movie. I think
Hollywood has missed the boat.

I've been in marketing for years now, and I'm starting to suspect the
truth. To market a thing is to destroy it. As soon as something is
packaged and explained and predicted and defined, it is no longer
entertaining. There is nothing exciting about it. It is a disappointment
when experienced.

Take Robert Redford, for example. The other day, I was driving to work,
and a big Chevy Suburban with the license plate "Sundnce" cut me off.
I pulled alongside to glare at the offending driver, and there
was Robert Redford, grinning and waving. This is not the fantasy meeting I
had imagined.

It is within the human imagination that true entertainment lives. The real
thing is never as good as that imagined. The movie is never as good as the
book.. When you're holding that nursing baby to your breast, he's not
thinking "Mommy, I love you!". He's thinking, "Milk". Our minds instill
the concepts of family and education and wealth with romance. My marriage
takes shape in my mind, and becomes larger and more lasting than the year
of evenings and weekends that comprise it.

And yet, we were walking along the beautiful beach that starts at the end
of our block. We were holding hands, watching sandpipers and surfers,
skaters and cyclists. And there it was. The Baywatch Lifeguard Station,
complete with neon-red-clad staff. We didn't know it until that moment,
but we had been walking along THE most beautiful beach in the world. The
sand began to sparkle. The crashing waves took on a lyrical quality. The
sandpiper gave us a knowing grin.

It was so exciting!

Anyway, that's the view from here.