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Sunday, September 25, 2011

248th and 249th email

From: Dom Borax 
To: Stacey Marchenkova

Sent: Sunday October 4th, 1999 07:37AM
Subject:  RE change of topic
Come on Stacey, it’s Marcus that likes Tintin. Not me.
I’ll write more later.


From: Dom Borax 
To: Stacey Marchenkova

Sent: Sunday October 4th, 1999 18:11PM
Subject:  RE RE change of topic
Hi Stacey, I don’t think I’m dealing with this town at all. Probably best if I tell you about last night as an example of my state of mind.
I was recommended to go to a little bar somewhere in Hollywood. It’s called the Coronet. It’s kinda cute; next to a small theatre with the same name.
Indeed it’s all quite bunched up like a mews –
You know, small bar plasticine-squished into the theatre with the smallest portcullis separating them because booze and the art never mix, right Dionysus.
There is also a hint of Anglophile about this small block of drunken arts. A Chester-like Elizabethan black and white crossed thatch design is an obvious influence as is a fake chimney and the plethora or English beers (by plethora I mean two) on tap.
Oh and you can smoke in there too.
Now this in itself is kinda odd, you can't smoke anywhere in LA and even in the Coronet there are a multitude of signs all over the bar proclaiming the circle of hell reserved for you if you light up.
But these signs are just that. Not a Bobby with a truncheon or a Cop with a gun; just a sign.
Now as you know, I can light up after a few. It’s a habit I loathe and love. So with the hint of rebellion I asked the Barman if this bar is is truly English it would allow me to smoke in it too. He looked at me and shook his head.

BARMAN: It’s illegal to smoke in public establishments, Sir.

I nodded. I was pushing my luck.
But shortly after, I became truly confused; he lit a cigarette.

BARMAN: And everyone obeys the rules here.

He said as he blew out smoke and gestured to the room.
I followed his gesture and to my confusion, I saw half the room had lit up.
And then I realised.
My God, I’d stumbled into a smoking speakeasy.
Soon I joined them and for the first time since I’d touched down in this city, I felt that I had a place; that perhaps sitting on this bar, drinking Harps and smoking was as comfortable as it got.
But of course for a true betrayal to work this is exactly what needs to happen.  I need to be made to feel accepted for the betrayal to truly have its sting.
And this is most embodied with the two people that entered in the bar shortly after.
She was blonde. Her name was Mandy. She wore a lot of make up. She limped like liquid. Her eyes were small.
He was blonde too. His name was Tony. He was buffed. His eyes were well rehearsed in sympathy. He nails were clipped. His pants were tight.
It was hard not to notice them.
They illuminated the room with the pearly white capped brightenings and their bleached hair.
They shuffled over to the bar and sat. They knew the barman and talked freely about the night and the locals. This included Matt a fellow drunken Australian who boasted about having sex in the Great Barrier Reef while insisting the bar played his mix tape of Aussie classics.
I all this time was keeping quietly to myself.
I admit to finding it hard to fit in. My experience with LA men has always resulted in supreme disappointment.
In the beginning they’re very welcoming and polite. But after a drink and in single sex company their laboring observations of the opposite sex are shrouded in violent allusions. It’s not about fun or irony it’s about taking. It’s about competition – it’s about winning.

THEM (and by them I mean MEN): That’s America dude. Gotta win. Even in the bedroom or the back of the car or on this bar. You gotta win.

For me, I can’t rationalize this, Stace. I really can’t. I can’t be in this company.
And the LA Women are kinda of the same. Like the men they have this public persona but once this too is stripped a true beast is revealed, a Fame Monster who isn't interested in you at all.
And they want to win too - they’ll do anything to get it.
And once they get together; this LA man and LA woman, the battle is on. Both want to win. And here’s the thing, they both do. Because they’re playing different games.
So when Mandy and Tony entered the bar I immediately went on the defensive. They were so familiar. They were the epitome of the Los Angeles social experience.
But soon I was proved wrong. They both sat at the bar on either side of me. She spoke first.

MANDY: I hate Hollywood, don’t you?
TONY: Yeah, the women are cute and I’d do it but it would be a never ending sense of agony.

Man was this real? Could I believe what I was hearing?
Surely not.
But it did seem that here were two locals who not only understood their neighbours (neighbors) actions but also disagreed with them0

ME: That’s really refreshing to hear. Can I buy you a beer?

They nodded and soon we were chatting.
They seemed genuinely interested in me. They asked questions about Australia.
And I talked about you.
They liked the sound of you. I talked more about you.
They got moved.
And I thought; had I finally and deeply made contact? Did I have friends?
After another drink the conversation finally turned to dreams and ambitions. Not surprisingly both wanted to work in the industry. Why else be in Hollywood, they supposed.
I agreed. I wanted to work more solidly in the industry too.

TONY: More solidly. What do you mean more solidly?

He asked.

ME: I’m just a PA at Fox. But I want to be a writer.

And that’s when it fell to shit.
Upon hearing that I was just a PA, Tony turned to the Barman.

TONY: I thought you said he was a big time Director.

The Barman scrutinized me.

BARMAN: Not him. The other Australian - the one singing along to the mix tape of Australian rock - the drunken one. He’s the director. This guy’s a nobody.

And with that Tony and Amanda moved from their seat and shuffled down the bar toward the ‘other australian’ without saying goodbye to me.
So there I was left alone. Shell-shocked at their behaviour. I caught the barman’s attention.

ME: What the fuck?

I said.

BARMAN: What the fuck, what? 
ME: Them. What’s going on? 
BARMAN: They’re just making friends. 
ME: No they’re hustling. 
BARMAN: Never. 
ME: Come on. They only talked to me because they thought I was someone important. 
BARMAN: Surely not. 
ME: I mean is this what this town comes down to? People will only talk to you if they think they can get something from you?
BARMAN: I’m talking to you aren't I?
ME: Yeah but this is a bar. You're a barman. I buy drinks from you. It suits your purpose.
BARMAN: No-no-no – not at all. To prove it – this one’s on me.

He said as he pulled another drink.

ME: Thanks. 
BARMAN: My pleasure. 
ME: I’m just a little overwhelmed. I’m not about this, you know. For me it’s about socialising, right - It’s about talking, it’s about connecting, it’s about people, it’s about community, the back yard bonfire, you and me and them – us. It’s about us. You know?

The Barman thought about what I said for a beat. It sunk in, I could tell.

BARMAN: And that’s Hollywood, dude. That’s Hollywood. Truthfully.

He said as he finally turned away from me and moved to stand under the no smoking sign and lit another cigarette.

Love Dom


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