Route 66 :: June '97 -- October '97

Subject: Image and Everything.
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 23:22:59 -0700


23:22 Behind the Jack in the Box; Bishop, California :: 17 OCT 97

I have a sneaking suspicion this one never made it to the list. It was, originally, 3.042 when first transmitted. Since I've mistakenly submitted another 3.042, this one gets 3.043...

07:40 Malibu Beach RV Park; Malibu, California :: 09 SEP 97

Everybody in this town has a different idea what it is but everybody does cool. Everybody. Just sit anywhere along the Santa Monica Pier, or its Third Street Promenade. Rent some rollerblades and bop down Venice Beach, or head out to Rodeo Drive. Interpretations stroll, saunter and swagger by. Boys in their Starter caps with the practiced arch carefully worn into the brim. Or pants low on the hips to display the boxers pulled high. Girls in halters and fake boobs, their oh-so delightful thighs and asses sleek in skin hugging stretch pastels. There is professional chic, artsy chic, casual chic, ballsy chic, muscle chic, granola chic. But common to all is their consciousness of chic.

Some of it seems cool even to me. Some of it is unfathomable. But everyone has made a conscious decision to look their way; appearance is everything. And yet almost all of it is off the shelf, pret a porter, ready to wear. Cool is a commodity you can buy all along the Promenade in the shiny happy stores.

John and I sat on the Promenade one evening eating Thai watching the parade when an old Genesis tune came to mind: The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging. I told John about a wicked little video--just place a camcorder on a tripod anywhere on the Promenade, twilight would be a good time. Shoot a couple minutes of tape; add Genesis tune sound track: instant cynical social commentary.

But that's a little too easy, and more than a little unfair. Cool is necessary here, image is everything even if its a false wrapper on a rampant personality. You'll find sharp minds and wits beneath all the packaging, not every time but often enough. It's like all the names for this town: Tinseltown, City of Dreams, City of Angels; all the images it earned over the years. They're just wrappers on an unfathomable entity. You dig in and discover validations and contradictions, magic and disappointment. Dig away. Enjoy everything hidden under the image.

~~~ Responses Sought ~~~

Dean took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilised-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road. All of it inside endless and beginningless emptiness. Pitiful forms of ignorance.
  graphical element Jack Kerouac
On the Road

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