Hollywood Star Lanes / 24 February 2003
Watching sex, lies and videotape last night—Last time I saw this was when it came out, so I would’ve been sixteen. This is hard to do, dialogue and acting that attempts to be as natural and real as possible, but is still precise and fat-free. The hair on everyone. Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo should never be allowed to couple, because what if they had a kid? It’d be one big eyebrow. I’d sort of like to be James Spader here, capable of asking personal questions of near strangers, revealing personal things, saying things that people didn’t necessarily want to hear, all in the name of honesty. But not proselytizing, just being that way out of sheer force. Which is why the movie plugs along at a brisk pace—he doesn’t allow for any small talk. Things get personal and interesting fast when you’re intent on eliminating lies.
Watching The Big Lebowski last night—“Now this story I’m about to unfold took place back in the early nineties, just about the time of our conflict with Saddam and the I-raqis.” You know how in history books they’ll be summarizing the events that led up to, say, World War I or the Vietnam War—or even better, the explanation at the beginning of Road Warrior or some other post-apocalypse movie of how it all went down? And it seems ridiculous, in hindsight, that things were allowed to get that out of control? “The Skynet funding bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14AM Eastern Time, August 29.” That’s what it’s like, watching the news these days. Like it’s something that kids will read about in history books someday, huddled together in polyurethane incubator housings, buried deep underground.
A couple of years ago my friend Vlad took me to the bowling alley where they filmed The Big Lebowski. It was called Hollywood Star Lanes and could be found on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, but it closed down last August. It was open 24 hours a day and featured a full bar. It was really prettied up for the movie and most of the geegaws were long gone, aside from some of the asterisky stars on the wall that were left behind.
While I was there, a camera crew showed up and started to film a family bowling. We were in the background of a few shots so had to sign a waiver. “What show are you filming?” I asked. This was before the glut of reality television, otherwise I would’ve assumed there was a new one called Watch Nobodies Roll the Shit Out of Some Bowling Balls for Half an Hour Like You Have Anything Better to Do. “You heard a Richard Simmons?” the PA asked me with a sly smile. “Um, yeah,” I said, “I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of America’s most revered fitness expert, who possesses the unique ability to deliver a serious message through laughter to millions of Americans via videos, personal appearances, daytime and late-night television appearances, infomercials and books. Jesus Christ, woman, of course.”
And she said Richard had a new show called Dream Maker where he’d made dreams come true for everyday people. I said: “And someone’s dream was to come here and go bowling?” And she said: “Well, this guy just wanted a day off work to spend with his family. He wanted to go to Disneyland but we couldn’t get permission to film there, so we came over here instead.” And I said: “That’s sort of the saddest thing I’ve ever heard ever.” And she said: “How about signing this waiver.” And I said, effortlessly carrying my twelve-pound ball in one meaty hand: “So, you know, if you’re having trouble getting shots of the kids rolling strikes, feel free to film some of mine and edit them in.” Because banging a PA on a soon-to-be-canceled Richard Simmons show was my dream. Forever ungranted.