overhaul / undertow

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Auld Lang Syne

from the LA Weekly, their year-end "List Issue." These were the ones I felt like I could have written. Well, these and the one about the ten worst hangovers.

Places I Saw People Use Their Turn Signals, 2002

1. Laurel Canyon Boulevard & Fountain Avenue (twice).
2. Exiting parking lot at Rock & Roll Ralphs (then car sped through crosswalk with mother and child in stroller crossing).
3. Turning into Gymboree parking lot, Sherman Oaks.
4. 101 to 110-south offramp, though indicating opposite direction.
5. Hollywood Boulevard eastbound, turning south on Las Palmas (me).
6. Sunset & Las Palmas, later that same year — Angelyne.
7. Mulholland, turning right (west) from Woodrow Wilson — pretty sure it was Quentin Tarantino, or possibly Queen Latifah.
8. Sunset & La Brea, eastbound black car running red light (and not turning).
9. Mangled Honda on its side, Gardner & Hollywood.
—Libby Molyneaux


Home of the Brie: A HATER RATES 2002
By Steven Mikulan

1. Comeback of the Year: Swingers. Just when you thought swingin' couples had gone the way of lava lamps and Nehru jackets, they came back like . . . lava lamps and Nehru jackets. Lurid courtroom details about Danielle van Dam's parents' yen for group sex inside their garage and dirty dancing at Poway's unforgettably named Dad's Café & Steakhouse reminded us that carnal swap meets still exist. The San Diego Union-Tribune eagerly sketched the area's swinger topography: "With names like Club Exchange, La Villa and Club CB, they host parties almost every weekend in Oceanside, San Diego, Encinitas, Escondido, Fallbrook and elsewhere. There are two clubs in Temecula, a tract-home community of 67,000 people." Suddenly, "behind the green door" meant a garage entrance to a suburban split-level.

2. Worst Thing Seen at a Movie Theater: KCRW Trailers. These insufferable commercials follow the journey of the radio station's idealized listener-explorer — some dweeb traipsing around the planet wearing a headset that sprouts milelong tentacles pumping him, no doubt, with KCRW's trademark techno-lite, snorey world music and fake rave noise.

3. Cheapest Way To Landscape Pearblossom Highway: Just let people keep maintaining their family car-crash shrines.

4. Most Hideous Sculpture: Any one of the angel statues that littered the sidewalks of L.A. this year and last. The creepy fiberglass figures were sponsored by A Community of Angels, which, for a fee, placed the abjects d'art in front of sponsoring businesses. These painterly equivalents of macramé art are now up for sale: "Full Size 6'4" Angels beginning at only $2000!!!" the community's Web site brays. "20-inch Angel Artist Originals starting at $300." What ever happened to the separation of Church and Taste?

5. Most Egregious Tchotchkes: Interchangeable cell-phone faceplates. (Second place: Interchangeable mouse covers.) If ever there was a reason to bring back 1950s dinner-table guilt, this is it. While much of the world goes to bed hungry with AIDS and within sight of an American PX, we are blessed with the right to spend $35 a pop on faceplates that express our ever-changing moods. "Get creative!" the ads order, and we click our heels obediently — but creatively.

6. Likeliest New Piece of Legislation: Caitlin's Law. Would mandate harsher sentences for the kidnapping of young adults who look like minors.

7. 2002's Most Bizarre "Outing": New York Post writer Steve Dunleavy's exposé of Sammy the Bull Gravano in the columnist's fawning eulogy of John Gotti. Here's how Dunleavy, the Teflon Don's Boswell, suavely attacked his hero's betrayer, who has been accused of committing 19 murders: "Murder No. 19 . . . was a man whose name I will not disclose because of the embarrassment it might cause his widow. It was a man who, it was alleged, had a homosexual affair with Gravano. Gravano whacked him in case the man confirmed Gravano swung both ways." Smooth, Steve — and chivalrous.

8. Most Salutary 9/11 Effect on TV Programming: No more imploding-buildings footage on the 6 o'clock news.

9. Most Paranoid Security Precautions: This year's Academy Awards show. Honestly, you would have thought that Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue had become the president's private putting green — there was that much heat on it last March 24. Still, this year's Palm Sunday Oscars enabled plain Hollywood folk — unemployed ushers, families, drunks from the Powerhouse — to catch glimpses of Russell Crowe and a celebrity impostor named Scoobie Davis, who drove his rented '57 Chevy deep into the Kodak Theater's security maw pretending to be "Owen Wilson's illegitimate brother." Needless to say, this was also the best place to spot the latest cell-phone faceplates.

10. 2002's Most Suspicious Coincidence: George W. Bush's prostate examination and the search for Dick Cheney's missing Rolex.


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