Friday, August 12, 2016

Tales From The Old New Land: Tale 3 (beginning)

Last year, an extremely eminent producer from Paramount, almost a celebrity in his own right, came to talk to the USC film and theater students. Carmen would not repeat his name, but Steve had a decent knew whom it probably was. Everybody in LA would. And even if it wasn't whom he thought, there were a thousand less successful people in Hollywood just like him. Ethnic men too young to serve in World War II, and thus self-motivated as it would never occur to their older brothers to be. Some of them served in Korea, but the ones who served are the ones with the especially large chip on their shoulders. There were never enough in Korea to develop the unspoken bond of camaraderie their older brothers instantly have with any male peer they meet for the first time, and thus without their elder brothers' sense of sacrifice or necessity, without their sense of obligation to the common good, without their sense that the world will appreciate the contributions they make for others, without their memory of the dozen or two childhood acquaintances lost to graves around the world and without their sense that the lost are owed for the community contributions they'll never get to make.

From 1946 to 1963 they descended on LA from the East in swarms; a lot of New Yorkers, but nearly as likely from Boston, from Providence, from Worcester, from New Haven, from Hartford, from Newark, from Jersey City, from Hoboken, from Camden, from Philly, from Trenton, from Atlantic City, from Wilmington, from Baltimore. Whatever social class from which they originally hailed, being from an East Coast city gave them experience dealing with every background and social class from the old society broads whose asses they had to lick to the colored doormen whose asses they got to kick. The experience that they all shared was that their parents sacrificed everything particularly for them. Whatever innate gifts in life their fathers had, they worked seven days a week to give their children everything they ever wanted themselves, while their mothers, whose innate gifts in life were never even discovered, literally had no purpose in life except to work for their children. Their parents had virtually no identities except as parents, and in no small part because of that, their children have no identity except their own.

Some children of Eastern Europeans descend on LA from the Midwest, but they're too nice to make it, and they go back home after three years or become sad underlings. The ones who make it descend upon the city of angels and slime with one goal: to become makhers in a city where there are no goyim to remind them what good taste is - even the Old Money here is Gold Money from the late 1800s. These are the men that define taste - not just for themselves and their friends, not just for Southern California, but for a Nation, for a World.

Thrillseekers, bookmakers, nature's gamblers, insider traders, every out is a potential in, the more down on your luck you are the better the comeback. Guys for whom sex is ok, but a very distant second to the thrill of adding one to their lists, of retabulating the total, recalling the impediments of getting there, recalling the small details of what made this one different from that one, basking in the heroic struggle of their generation. Their brothers liberated Eurasia, they made money, women, and America do things they shouldn't. Johns who always tell women that neither the John nor the lady's looks will be around forever, joes prepared to make a deal because they're always prepared to ruin the deal. Gents who've never lost at life because they never expect to lose, and even when they lose, they never admit it's a loss. Fellas for whom fame was almost an impediment, the mobs of adoring crowds would slow them down from getting to the action as quickly as possible.

They didn't want to be actors sucking up for approval, they wanted to be the ones sucked as they bestowed approval or took it away. If they let themselves become famous, it was only so they'd have more to bet. No thrill is ever enough, no action leads to satisfaction, only to the need for more thrills. Even as they age, the thrills have to keep going, because if they ever stopped and looked back on their lives, they would see a trail of black holes which their thriving, throbbing, always moving lives leave in their wake.

But these guys aren't thrillseekers like the thrillseekers from the heartland - they don't climb mountains or shoot big game or play baseball with sharpened spikes. They're not men's men, because when a man's man comes from a family that hasn't made it yet in America, a man's man takes care of his family. These are ladies' men with the kind of dyed and slicked back hair with a spray tan that look perfect on the young men of an ethnic extraction. Men who look like boys until they're fifty, and radiate boyish enthusiasm for every idea a woman has and are full of the kind of encouragement and well-wishes no man's man ever gave them. Guys who think they can read women, because what anybody wants is pretty easy to read when you treat them less than human for a million years. For a man in 1960 who occasionally made women feel like people, a woman would bend over backwards and let him treat you like an animal, or at least she would until she demands something more than encouragement, but there's nothing real about a farfirer or a veibernik. They specialize in the conjuration, the conjugal, and the con. And for their first half-century, they get away with everything, but these guys wake up on their fiftieth birthday to find find that a three-pack-a-day habit's turned their skin from olive to prune and the their voices from mahogany to gravel.

Sometimes they're producers, sometimes they're distributors, sometimes their executives, sometimes they're press, sometimes they work in TV, or animation, sometimes they work on blockbusters, sometimes they work on little independent hits, sometimes they work on bombs and flops, but their job is always the same. To cut creative down to size, to make the luftmenschen in creative understand that what they usually do is bad, utterly unconnected to reality, and will never be understood by the guy and his date buying two tickets in Wahoo, Nebraska, to make creative understand that they're not that good, not that smart, and all that stands between them and a flop is someone with a hundred times more seykhel than they ever had. These assholes have never created anything in their lives, and their bitterness about that is what makes them so devastatingly effective toward creative. The only thing they've created is nightmares in the beds of people with far greater imagination who've put their thoughts, their feelings, the very best of themselves into the center of the arena, but all these bottom feeders are there to tell them what they did wrong and suck the blood off them like leeches. The worst part about it is that more often than not, these parasites are right.

Nobody wants to see most of the excrement crapped out by these artiste types who think their shit doesn't stink. Most artists starve in their Harlem garrets to fart out product that nobody wants to see and would hate if they did, but these pampered children get tens of millions of dollars to make things people want to see. The job of these bloodsuckers is to make sure that these artistes don't create multi-million dollar turds whose failures can put thousands of people out of work and endanger the education, the safety, the happiness of their tens of thousands of children.

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