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Postcards from Hollywood: what not to do

And, here, today, your columnist writes from a perch on Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood.

If I engage my neck, I can see that cultural monument, the Chateau Marmont where Belushi speed-balled and died.

If I stare dead ahead, and beyond the swimming pool surrounded by blue astroturf that is currently being engaged by a fashion magazine's photo shoot, I look over the flats of Los Angeles.

It's winter but, even with the sun swallowed by the Pacific, the desert air is warm, 20 degrees or so. Bikinis and surf trunks still fly off the shelves of department store Nordstrom there at The Grove. And in the horizon there is snow on the San Gabriel mountains! What a town!

Southern California, from Santa Babs down to San Diego, is one of my favourite stretches of coast in the world. But, it ain't without its faults. And these faults are huge.

This is a joint that is great in fantastic measure, terrible in equal doses.

There are profound lessons to be learnt from southern California, a megalopolis with the same population as Australia. We can learn and we can take heed and change.

Or we can go down the same sinkhole.

The first thing we have to learn is that the car isn't God. Southern California has some of the sweetest and most bewitching hamlets you could ever imagine; Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Cardiff by the Sea, but unless you specifically hit that off ramp, you're never going to see them. You're never going to experience the southern California that feels like, say, Byron Bay in the seventies. And so, in So Cal, any kind of travel is on a bleak, packed freeway. Keep your eyes on the road ahead, ain't nothing to see out the side glass.

Build a new freeway, tender out a toll road, pour a billion dollars into a ring-road and you'll clear the decks for a few years. But, soon, the sprawl moves out further and further in the endless chase for cheap land and so the freeways move out further. Look at Perth! Why catch a train or a bus when you can enjoy the ride, radio blasting, in your own ride. When I was a kid trawling for waves, Burns Beach was the end of the earth; now it's the beginning.

Eventually, the freeways take over. And, it isn't a way to live. Heed.

And how about the quest for cheap centralised fast food? With the very occasional exception of those mom-and-pop health food shacks, the entire population stuffs themselves with franchised Mexican-based food. From Pellos to Chipotle, So Cal is a window into a world where it's far cheaper to pour processed food into your face than to grow food that actually nourishes. For a tender Australian, southern California is no place for your gastrointestinal tract, unless your kink is listless stools and a stomach with a voice.

You see all those franchises springing up everywhere in your town here in Australia? Boycott. Eat at home. If you want to see fat, welcome to the USA.

And, insincerity! Who else can do insincerity like southern California! Well, us, soon.

"Hello! Oh my god! You look amazing!"

"That screenplay is the greatest thing ever. We are so going to make this!"

"I can't believe you actually built this!"

Hug, hug, kiss and kiss.

Cars, food, insincerity. These are not traits we should welcome.

Take guard. Take heed.

2 comments

  • hey can you bring me a 1968 ss camaro so i can cruzzze the highways of perth...only on weekends but

    Commenter
    skeptic
    Location
    perth
    Date and time
    December 06, 2012, 8:43AM
    • A man with three day growth and a waxed chest.... ohfukrissake

      Commenter
      bogangrogan
      Date and time
      December 06, 2012, 2:55PM
      Comments are now closed
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