A ruthlessly intelligent localization of the seven deadly sins, California style.
Frank has the waves, which is why he doesn’t need much of anything else. Nevertheless he has an ex-wife, a girlfriend, 4 jobs and a routine, about which he is frankly religious.
He has the “Gentleman’s Hour” which is when other guys who don’t need to be at work at 9 or 10 AM ride the waves, lovingly, respectfully, uncompetitively.
Frankie thinks that priests should know what Italian husbands have always known: Italian wives will always find a way to punish you, and its usually in the wallet. You piss her off, and she’ll still do a job in the bedroom, but then she’ll go out and buy a new dinette set.
If ever there was a language of L.A., a language in which each noun, common or proper, is localized, dated, and cast in a Hollywood movie, it is the language of James M. Cain. And if Cain’s L.A. had a voice, she would sound like Christine Williams. She doesn’t sing, but she could be singing; she doesn’t hawk her words, but she could be a crier of the news that books hold; she doesn’t broadcast, but she could be advertising baby food or soap; or she could be doing all of these things. In her voice vibrates the radio hysteria of the 1920s, showy, fluttery, stagy, but fundamentally sweet and pure and hopeful. Indeed, it is the voice of a big country, of big spaces, with lots of land to cross, lots of square footage. Even indoors.
And so when Cain describes L.A., he talks about Glendale. The overspill. The life just outside the borders, looking in. As if all L.A. was really outside L.A., looking in.
The bathroom that he now whistled in was a utile jewel: it was in green tile and white tile, it was as clean as an operating room, everything was in its proper place and everything worked.
And before there were California girls, there were California women. They wore aprons over dresses, slips and stockings, they walked on pumps and pinned up their hair, even at home. They decorated cakes and cooked proper dinners, from scratch. They knew how to run a household and how to save money and how to mend things that broke. They had names like Mildred. And husbands like Pierce.
The girl reading this is California cool, with a strawberry blonde voice, that emerges just slightly bored from a long lean body, a finely boned neck, a tight mouth. John Lennon’s death begins not only a book but a mood: a being-in-a-fucked-world mood, a being-towards-the-next-cigarette mood, the mood of a population without prozac, without zoloft, without effexor. The girl is depressed, California is depressed, America is depressed.
The girl dresses in used clothes and old heels and wears fake fur to a funeral. Yellow. This is because her boyfriend went to Twenty Nine Palms, registered as Oscar Wilde and shot himself. His name was Michael.
Blogged with Flock
It is not obvious that what happens to English in L.A. is natural, because what is natural in California is not natural anywhere else. But if nature is not local, what is? What localizes language? Why does Hollywood Nate understand another cop who asks him whether an Indian girl is feather or dot?