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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Killing the Mystery

Must have been five, six years ago - it was the first time we'd gone to the opera together, Downtown LA - think it was Nozze di Figaro, no matter; we made a night of it, anyway, took a room at the aged Biltmore, hoped for a nice dinner afterwards.

Came out around 11.30, decided to walk back to the hotel, look for somewhere nice to eat: gotta be somewhere, right? This was Downtown Los Angeles, second largest city on the continent, right? Wrong - this was Downtown L.A: it has no nightlife; everywhere closes early. Los Angeles is unlike any other city I've ever visited, a vast sprawl 50 miles x 50 miles that has no center, no focus: not to the casual suburbanite visitor, anyway. You need to know where you're going, and that could be twenty miles away. I don't know this city very well at all; not casually; just enough to get to three or four places.

Walked back to the hotel, hungry. The street, the road, was soaken, though it had not rained. Somebody out to shoot a movie, says my wife, and sure enough there they were, trucks and lights and people filling a side street. Setting-up, not shooting: but setting-up a shoot takes forever. Setting-up a nighttime shoot, soaking the streets. They do that, she says to me, she who knows everything, They always soak the streets when they shoot cars driving at night.

I had never noticed.

But since that night, I have never not noticed - just like I can spot the Universal back lot wherever it appears, so too do I recognize, always, the soaken streets in a nighttime drive. Some of the magic, some of the mystery is gone: a movie calls attention to itself, there's a wrinkle in the spell of disbelief. One might expect, as one small wire in the suspension cable snaps, an increased tension in the viewer, as though: My God! This might be a movie! Will it collapse? Fainthearts flutter and fail. Others, like me, prefer the bounty of Denial, though we must fight to receive it.


Blogger DarkoV said...

Thanks for clearing up that wet street issue. I'd always presumed it was the early morning cleansing of the sins of the previous night. It struck me quite European (believing the latter) as the main city streets over there were always washed and sprayed down in the wee hours, while we sinners slept.

4:28 AM  
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