Thursday, April 03, 2008

THE PASSION OF THE CRAWFORD

I will certainly never be confused for a Biblical Scholar but even I – devout non-theist that I am –



can say with some certainty that nowhere in the Ten Commandments is it written “Thou Shalt Drive Thy Crappy Sedan Twenty Three Miles Per Hour UNDER The Speed Limit Whilst in the Left Lane”.



And yet here they are, these Seasonal Invaders – “Snowbirds” as the tourists in these parts call themselves – many of them proudly sporting the inevitable “God Is My Co Pilot” bumper sticker or variation thereof on their rear ends like some kind of Holy Car Pool Pass, clogging up the highways of our desert paradise

every year from Thanksgiving until Easter and driving those of us who actually LIVE here around the proverbial bend. I’m not exactly sure what the correlation is between the devout worship of a big Magic Fairy In The Sky and bad driving habits, but I suppose these Vehicular Numbskulls need all the help they can get behind the wheel of a car.



One would have assumed with all the fuss going on about skyrocketing oil prices and the plunging economy that these usually modestly-budgeted travelers would be inclined to spend the chillier months nestled cheaply at home in their double-wide trailers,



wrapped in Gran’s hand-crocheted afghan blanket and sipping a vintage Schlitz or two whilst enjoying the latest season of “My Mom Is A Dancing Whore” or whatever is currently passing as popular television programming for the masses.

But no.

Just this afternoon I saw one of these nincompoops meandering along, doing 35 in a 50 zone, the slogan “In Case Of The Rapture, This Car Will Be Empty” plastered across her back windscreen; not for the first time did I wish I was armed and could give the occupant a little .45 caliber nudge along on the trip to Glory.



But as a dear friend of mine recently reminded me, “tolerance” is a virtue, even though most of these erstwhile Tolerant True Believers would just as soon see me and the rest of my godless homosexual brethren hanging from a tree by our Tolerant Necks: one is reminded of Oklahoma politco Sally Kern who recently committed career suicide by saying that “anti-Christian” homosexuality was a bigger threat to America than terrorism and global warming.



Her logic may be a bit iffy, but it certainly explains why the Bush administration seems more concerned with keeping Gays out of the Military than it is with finding Osama Bin Laden.



And so, with tolerance in mind, I shall endure this onslaught of Ruth Annes and Lavernes from Up North as they spend their hard-earned disability cheques and lump sum settlement payments on ill fitting t-shirts and Early Bird Dinner Specials for yet another few weeks before it’s all over again for the year. It is, apparently, the Christian thing to do.

One does wonder though if God should be wasting his time helping his followers with automobile travel. It seems to have distracted him last weekend from the pleas of a distraught Christian mother and father in Wisconsin who had, on religious grounds and quoting a biblical passage from somewhere around Idiots 18:11, refused medical treatment for their diabetic daughter since age 3 and now with the girl aged 11 were puzzled by the poor child’s rather understandable health issues.



When she keeled over in their kitchen, her parents finally realized that The Almighty was Busy On The Other Line and called 911. The father’s cry for help, broadcast in all of its anguish on CNN, is heartbreaking as this misguided moron shouts “oh God, oh God” into the telephone, apparently under the assumption that The Holy Father has call waiting.

Tragically, the little girl died. The parents however have not been charged with child abuse or even accidental homicide; apparently Wisconsin law protects those who “earnestly believe” in prayer as a method of treatment for disease. If you’re keeping score however, that’s Biology 1: Faith 0.

Unfortunately, all of this happened during that one time of the year when we should have been celebrating the life of someone who brought so much happiness to millions before being crucified – and then miraculously resurrected with her Oscar ™ winning performance in Mildred Pierce.



I’m talking of course about Miss Joan Crawford, whose birthday this year coincidentally happened to land on the oft-shifting date of Easter Sunday. Much has been written about her life, some of it true, a lot of it the bilious drivel of a bitter adopted daughter with failed aspirations to stardom herself.



But none of this takes away from the fact that little Lucille Fay LeSueur made her way from dusty San Antonio, Texas to the top of the Hollywood heap, and stayed there for almost five decades. She may not have always been the most holy of young ladies during her reign in Tinseltown, but I’d like to have seen Jesus Christ



try to negotiate a contract with Louis B. Mayer.



I expect the Sandled One would have ended up in that cave well before Easter Weekend, and he wouldn’t have come back out.

Coincidentally, the woman most closely linked to Miss Crawford’s career celebrates her birthday THIS coming weekend. April the fifth marks the one-hundredth birthday of Miss Bette Davis, certainly one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses and the kind of star they just don’t make anymore.



This was brought into sharp focus the other day at one of our gayer local cafés



while I was visiting with a Retired Legendary Fashion Designer friend of mine



who had the occasion to have known both women during the latter part of their respective heydays.



“Joan had a certain Hollywood glitz,” he nodded, “but as an actress she couldn’t hold a candle to Bette Davis.”

My houseboy Panton just looked at us blankly as he arrived with our lattes; while he adds very good visual value to our pool at Six Palms



his knowledge of Hollywood history ends somewhere around the second arrest of Lindsay Lohan.



But suddenly his jaw dropped open and he began chattering with wide-eyed excitement, pointing across the coffee shop at some rather Frankenstein-ian Amazon waiting in line for her espresso. Before I could figure out exactly what Panton was saying – even after several years of very expensive English classes, he’s still all but unintelligible – we were treated to the somewhat surreal image of one-time Movie Star and current Reality Show Icon Brigitte Nielsen cruising past.



Flanked by a handsome young Latino of no fixed sexual orientation, she was a striking presence, if a bit exaggerated in the surgically enhanced parts. But while her various cable-ready addictions and a televised relationship with that peculiar Rap Artiste,



he of the gold teeth and Freudian enlarged timepiece, have kept her firmly in the public eye, she seemed to go generally unnoticed in our little café. After a heavy sigh from The Retired One – translated as “this is what passes for a Star these days” – we returned to our pastries and gossip.

We have been awash in celebrities this season to the point of saturation – Nicole Kidman recently sweated all over a treadmill in my local gym



and just the other day we were smiled at by Miss Diane Keaton at the nearby Target department store –



and with the high percentage of famous people living in our zip code it seems barely a day goes by when some papparazi fodder hasn’t been spotted at the Ralph’s. We barely pay attention anymore.

Yet, I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. Do we really want our Movie Stars roaming around the frozen food section, or hunting for bargains in the remaindered bins of discount stores? I wonder what Miss Crawford would think if she was resurrected Christ-like and could see the antics of these heirs to her Hollywood throne?



Maybe we’re better off with the regular Joe and Josephine Tourist Types around here after all, even with their Fish Logo bumper stickers



and “gift with purchase” luggage. That way, if I finally do snap and decide to – to quote my gardener’s disturbingly muscular younger brother -



“bust a cap” in the back side of one of these Religious Road Hogs, it will be some nobody. Sure it will be a crime, and certainly a tragic loss of human life, but at least I won’t end up with my mug shot on Entertainment Tonight.

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