Friday, February 22, 2013

Los Angeles As An Insane Painting

Thinking about painting Los Angeles,
I’m thinking about using earth colors
but earth colors mixed with high-tech pigments
that increase the basic intensity
while staying true to the earth color’s hue.

Painters have to look at the thing they paint.

I don’t think Los Angeles will notice.

But that is something I’m thinking about.

I was reading a book when she came in.

She said, “Well, now, you know, this is just wrong.”

I said, “Why? Have they made it official?
Is it against the law now to read books?”

“It’s not against the law. But you won’t read
‘The Tempest’ till you’re living on a boat.
It seems to me you shouldn’t read ‘Macbeth’
until you’re staying in Los Angeles.”

I laughed. “I’m thinking if I read ‘Macbeth’
it will be as if I’m already there.
And maybe then I won’t want to go there.”

“Los Angeles is just another place.
There’s no reason to be afraid of it.”

I stared. “There’s no reason to be afraid?”

“A city is just a created thing.
It’s like a three dimensional painting.
And would you be afraid of a painting?”

She took the copy of ‘Macbeth’ from me
and flipped through it looking for a passage.


The sleeping and the dead
are but as pictures. ’Tis the eye of childhood
that fears a painted devil.

Macbeth, Act II, sc. 2

I laughed again. “But Lady Macbeth dies.
She goes insane and commits suicide.
And, really, shouldn’t you be more afraid
of Los Angeles, whatever it is,
a city or a painting, than I am?”

“I’m not afraid of Los Angeles. Why?”

“Did you ever read why Polanski changed
the first ending Towne wrote for ‘Chinatown’?”

I took another book from my bookshelf
and flipped through it looking for a passage.

In Towne’s original script, Evelyn Mulwray kills her venal father, Noah Cross. In other words, a happy ending in which innocence defiled is avenged and evil is punished. For Polanski, the world was a darker place. ... Concludes Towne, “Roman’s argument was, That’s life. Beautiful blondes die in Los Angeles.”

quoted in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
by Peter Biskind

Talking about Los Angeles and death,
but she smiled, then, leaned forward and kissed me.

I stared at her. I said, “What was that for?”

She said, “You called me a beautiful blonde.”

I gasped. And laughed. And I pointed at her
and said, “It’s that city in a nutshell—
Even before we’re in Los Angeles,
Los Angeles already is in us.”

Laughing, she took both books away from me.

She put both books away, back on the shelf.

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