Sunday, July 01, 2007

THE FIRST SONG OF THE DAY

As I do my morning laps in the pool – which I recently had converted from chlorine to salt water and may I suggest you all do the same, as it is HIGHLY enjoyable and keeps one from looking like week old produce no matter how long you stay in – it occurs to me that choosing the correct music with which to begin the day is one of the most important tasks of the morning here at 801.
At first blush I’m sure it seems like an insignificant thing – I imagine many of my faithful readers simply turn on their local AM radio and listen to some loud voiced moron and his “comic” sidekick give away a free steak dinner to the first caller who can correct name all the members of Ace of Base – but in truth, those first few notes of Vivaldi or the opening bars of almost anything from Ella Fitzgerald can make or break the next twenty four hours with a frightening efficiency.
This morning marks the sixth anniversary of the purchase of my home here in the California desert, and as such I’ve decided to celebrate by starting things off with some lovely Bizet, the Symphony in C Adagio. I’m sure you are thinking to yourself “good grief Ron, have you lost your mind? Bizet, BEFORE lunch?” And while I would agree it’s a tad persistent, it is in its own way quite celebratory and somehow it just feels “right”.

It certainly helped take the edge off cleaning the kitchen up this morning. I’ve given Panton, my houseboy, the summer off to visit his family in Ecuador. At least I assume he’s gone to Ecuador – in spite of sending him to several classes at Berlitz, I still have absolutely NO IDEA what that boy is saying half the time. But since I’m currently editing my latest motion picture – THE DELPHI EFFECT (well, that was the original title. As of this writing, the studio is calling it KISS ME DEADLY: A JACOB KEANE ASSIGNMENT and the less said about that the better…) – I don’t need the added distraction of having him wander around the house in a state of near-undress as he incessantly dusts and mops and watches those dreadful Telenovelas of his. So I collected the change from the coin bowl I keep near the door, gave him his two months’ salary in advance, and puts his bags outside. Last I saw of him, he was walking down the street in his sarong and black Fedora, trying to hail a cab. I’m sure he’ll be back.

But until then – or until I hire temporary help - I have to do my own kitchen cleanup. And let me tell you, sometimes things can get awfully untidy here at Six Palms (which, by the way, since I’ve knocked down the east garden wall and recently discovered some fresh plant life, may be renamed Ten Palms by the fall).

Just yesterday afternoon for example, I received a sudden phone call from one of my neighbors, a German Cult Film Star of some repute, who announced that he was bringing a few friends over for cocktails and a swim in the pool. While this sort of self-invitation is certainly not condoned in the finer etiquette books, we do march to a different percussionist here in the Desert, and so with the flick of a wine opener and a few slashes of brie – not to mention the help of my very able bodied Boyfriend - an ex-Betty Ford graduate who will do virtually ANYTHING for me if I make him a ruby red grapefruit martini - I was able to throw together a cocktail party in just under twelve minutes flat.

Of course after the fact, the kitchen looked like Manhattan on 9/12, but such is the price one must pay to be the Elsa Maxwell of his generation.

The guests the GCFS brought along with him turned out to be two utterly charming inebriates – one of whom manages the downtown Standard Hotel in LA, the other the founder of the famed punk band My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult – and together with the GCFS’s significant other, a noted painter in his own right, we whiled away the early evening splashing about in the pool and gossiping about just exactly WHY the Mayor of Los Angeles is leaving his wife – turns out he’d been having an affair with the news anchorwoman of the local Latino station and she hadn’t been keeping up her end of the contraceptive bargain…

Suffice it to say that once the evening was over, there was quite a mess to clean up. And Bizet, as I’ve mentioned before, really does the trick.

Looking around at my guests last night, wondering how on earth the drunker of the two could manage to spill roughly forty eight dollars worth of vodka out of a single glass, I reflected that I never actually thought I’d own a house, let alone a mid-century showplace which is on the shortlist of THE destinations for those in the know.

Of course for that matter, I didn’t expect to make it past my 30th birthday, but that was just the drama of youth having its way with my expectations. Being part of the first generation raised with television – and, some would argue, BY television – my inner voice has always leaned somewhat toward the dramatique, inasmuch as my socializing influences in childhood were primarily the creations of the chain-smoking, boozing losers who wrote television shows. So quite naturally in my earlier years, I always just assumed I would end up dead by car accident, drowning, random shooting, strangulation by jealous lover or, possibly, killer bees.

Trust me on this, we have not yet completely understood the price our culture is going to pay for rearing our children via the Bible of Hack Fiction spewed forth by the unceasing flood of lazy writing and cheap story telling which has been the hallmark of the idiot box. From sitcoms to drive-bys, from Columbo to Columbine, the path of our cultural destruction is fairly clear. The end of civilization will not be from a virus or a terrorist attack or a meteor crashing into the earth. The end of civilization will be the result of bad writing.

Bad writing can almost always be defined by its drunken lurch from one bout of histrionics to the next. In real life, people tend NOT to disagree that often and, if they do, they often reconcile their arguments in thoughtful, rational, CIVILIZED ways. Very seldom do we see two shoppers wrestling over the same cooked ham at the Gelsons, with one or the other ending things by pulling out her conveniently placed handgun and blowing the other one to smithereens.

However in TV land, this is EXACTLY what would happen. Because crappy writers have ruled the roost on the small box almost without exception – certainly Rod Serling and Paddy Chayefesky are among those exceptions –

- those who learned how to be “people” by watching TV can only seem to function when they are in the throes of “conflict” and ergo we are now blessed with the tawdry sight of the Lower Classes battling it out on afternoon talk shows over whose“baby daddy” is whose.

One weeps.

But, all of that seems very far away as I float here amongst the palm trees and wonder just exactly what I should select as the SECOND song of the day…