Yana Djin Essays

California Dreaming

Moscow News
August 9, 2001

        In this world of ours, weighed down by facts and events, the majority of which decry the human condition, amidst the boorish routine of the everyday into which most of us sink as if into a viscous, inescapable swamp, there is small magic town on the Western shore of the United States with an inappropriately prosaic name – Beverly Hills. The inhabitants of that community – all of them either beautiful or extremely beautiful – are bonded by an unwritten rule according to which, what passes of as “reality”, surrounding other mortals, is not worth a single belch and the thing that is more real than reality is the realm of appearances. 
         The citizens of Beverly Hills make their living which, as it befits any magic kingdom, is plentiful and luxurious in the neighboring town of Hollywood where they pretend in front of cameras that they are, in fact, like the rest of us. Each year they vote amongst themselves as to who was the best “pretender” and honor him and her with the most prestigious award bearing yet another prosaic name – Oscar. As if wishing not to appear overly withdrawn, they give us, the civilians, a chance to make our own, much too real and mediocre minds and for our benefit they stage the People’s Choice Awards. Predictably, as in most democratic voting processes, the outcome is rather pitiful but the ethereal society of Beverly Hills are not too concerned, for they consider the above-mentioned award to be worth as  much as reality itself – not even a single belch. 
          The prerequisite for becoming a member of the magic kingdom is above-average looks, average talent, and lack of scruples – a combination that ensures the production of  mediocre movies. These movies are later sent out into the “real” world and entrance and debilitate the very corporeal viewers. A perfect example of such a movie would be “Pretty Woman” – a flick that sent the thoughts of suburban housewives into the hitherto unexplored domains. They all wondered what it would be like to work as a  Hollywood prostitute and  hook the very attractive and wealthy Richard Gere. “It could happen to anyone”, the women mused as they picked up their screaming kids from schools. Julia Roberts, the actress who, perhaps, more than anyone personifies the Hollywood dream, assured them from the TV screen that yes, there is a potential in everyone’s life to reenact the Cinderella story. The real streetwalkers, however, begged to differ: it never happens, they protested. The most exotic thing you can pick up on the street prowls, they insisted, was a balding insurance clerk who fidgets from fear of getting caught by police or his mother-in-law.  
         Curiously enough, the Beverly Hills inhabitants rarely watch their own productions. They prefer to entertain themselves with more refined material. The latter is usually made outside the Hollywood confines by directors like Woody Allen who famously shun Tinseltown as something that induces nausea. The same Richard Gere, for example, admits his limitless, yet unexplainable, love not for Julia Roberts but for Dalai Lama. The only time the above  love saw its own confines was when the Enlightened Buddhist asked Gere to contribute a considerable sum from his astronomical movie-earnings. Gere jerked out of his meditative state and flatly refused his Master’s request justifying his refusal by the self-evident fact that Tibetan people are accustomed and attracted to poverty while his destiny is to bask in riches. 
         Ever since the Beatles visited the crook-guru Maharishi in the late sixties, every Hollywood actor holds it to be his/her responsibility to get either enlightened by some eastern pseudo-philosopher in between the takes of a trashy movie or get politically active. Some even take it as far as transforming from bad actors to worse presidents. It is a rather unnerving trend which makes one wish that they would just stick to what they call acting and exude the aura of sincere insincerity. They simply should not be allowed to participate in the “real” because their own lifestyles are anything but. After all, it was bad enough that our whole country was subjected to a year-long vocal stand-off between a half-wit, who is now our president, and a hopelessly adamant bore! Do we also have to listen to actor, Alec Baldwin, threatening on national TV that he’d leave the country if the former of the illustrious duo gets elected to presidency?! Incidentally, he is still to come good on the promise. The trouble is, no matter where he goes, he is going to be met by mundane reality that looks nothing like his wife, Kim Basinger. Frankly, if I were him, I would thank the very popular Buddha for the allotted destiny and crawl back into my ethereal cocoon where I can meditate on life’s finer pleasures. 
          He and the other lucky guys like him should take life-lessons from Jack Nicholson who surrounds himself with beautiful women and appears to be neither angst-ridden nor tortured. Come to think of it, they should also take acting lessons from him. Seriously, isn’t it obvious that Hollywood inventions like the now popular but enigmatically introspective Ben Affleck, are no Franz Kafkas? Couldn’t someone shut them up when they start to deliberate on the nature of things in general and instruct them that such matters are best handled by the likes of Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer? 
The only consolation, though, is that the Beverly Hills royalty is usually on the right side of the battle: with the exception of the very beautiful and just as dense Bo Derek, they are a pretty tolerant pack that advocate neither gay-bashing, nor the inalieanable right of every ejaculation to bear a name. They just don’t believe in any cause  strongly enough to part with their money in its support. If they started shelling out bucks each time our “refined” president calls for an execution of a mentally-retarded inmate, they would soon stoop to our level and will have to engage in reality on an every-day basis. A scary proposition, indeed! 
           So my advice to someone like Pamela Anderson would be to take care of her beautiful blonde locks and bask in California dreaming, while we, the luckless majority, engage in the dirty business of living and try to solve the riddle presented to us by our former president: what the meaning of the word “is” really is.

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