Sunday, June 18 2000
So we drove to West Hollywood.
First, though, we did breakfast at the dog-friendly diner called Red on Beverly. For awhile after we got there, I was on Kim's cell phone talking to my Dad in Virginia because on the weekend calls are free. Despite all the changes I'm still as frugal as I ever was.
It suddenly occurred to me why there usually appear to be more Orthodox Jews than gay men in West Hollywood, something that is probably not the case. It turns out that it's usually the Sabbath when I'm there, and the Orthodox Jews are forced by Jewish law to go everywhere on foot on that day. Thinking about it, I realized that such a law, as preposterous and arbitrary though it might be, actually serves a purpose even here in the year 2000. In fact, a law forbidding driving and travel one day each week has more apparent beneficial effects than deleterious ones: it promotes community, gives visibility to a minority, and it forces people to experience the outdoors.
After we'd run our errand at Dementia, Kim and I stopped in at Anthea's place. Evan (as in Corynna and Evan) was there, helping her with her troublesome Presario laptop computer. We'd brought Sophie was with us, and in Anthea's house Sophie went on something of a safari in pursuit of the elusive cat Willendorf, who, as usual, hid out under Anthea's bed. But when Willendorf heard Sophie eating his food, he'd had too much. He came down the stairs and staged a hissing, spitting confrontation in the kitchen. Sophie withdrew to the living room, nervously watching as Willendorf paced nervously but assertively by the stairs. I think Willendorf had subconsciously made the decision that he was no longer going to play the game of hiding out whenever Sophie comes by. Indeed, it only took one confrontation for Willendorf to earn the confidence necessary to hang out with everyone else. We left soon after that, and as we did so, I joked about how Willendorf would be bragging, "Did you see what they did after I whupped Sophie's ass? They got up and they left!"
On a whim, Kim decided to go for a drive though some of the Hollywood Hills in the vicinity of North Kings Road. In this region, the ground is rising fairly steeply well before you get as far north as Sunset Blvd. Still, the Cartesian grid of the city is somehow maintained. From the flatland below, the tall buildings along Sunset Blvd seem to be halfway up the mountain, but the truth is that steepness is only just getting started at Sunset. Beyond that, the Santa Monica Mountains thrust up so abruptly that the urban grid completely breaks down and roads are forced to meander along contours. This does little to the building density, however. Houses seem to be packed nearly as tightly on 45 degree slopes as they are on the flatland. They're just bigger and have better views. I've heard a lot about the dangers of mudslides in such regions, but on a sunny day everything seems to be laced together fairly rigidly with stone walls and concrete.
It's easy to get lost on the wandering streets of the Hollywood Hills. There seem to be systems of streets that amount to multi-square mile cul du sacs (or, perhaps, space-time warping vortexes). Kim was paying so much attention to the lavish architecture of the wealthy that we had to go around one big multi-mile loop a second time. But now I truly know what it means to "escape to the Hollywood Hills." I could see Kim wanting to do that some day. Anyone doing such a thing would need that all-important LA form of help, the personal driver. In LA, drivers are needed to pick up dinner, to make drug buys, to run errands and provide taxi service to parties and business engagements.
In the evening, Kim and I watched two movies: American Beauty and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. American Beauty was a damn good movie, if only for the positive portrayal of marijuana dealing and the portrayal of homophobia as a pathetic form of self-hatred. I will say this, though, American Beauty depended entirely too much on the dubious plot device of windows without curtains. As for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, let me just say that it came off as incredibly weak when viewed on the heels of American Beauty. The cinematography, especially the expensive colorized black and white stuff, was gorgeous, occasionally resembling animated Vermeer paintings. But the plot and (particularly) the ecology of the supernatural was utterly disappointing.
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