Sunday, 26 July 2009

Welcome to Hollyweird

Every day hundreds of people pack their belongings into bedsheets, tie it to the end of a stick, throw it over their shoulders and make their way to the land of fame. Well, if they were a cartoon. Nowadays they just use a suitcase. Much easier.

The epitome of wealth, Hollywood is the place to fulfill one's dreams. Or so they say. I'm not sure who 'they' are. I just know 'they' are foolish, as are most of the poor souls who gravitate there; hopes and dreams a heavy burden on their backs.

In popular culture Hollywood is promoted as THE place to be. The young and beautiful drive expensive cars, pour themselves into designer clothes and live in hilltop houses. Life is so perfect, so peachy, why would you want to live anywhere else? Well. The above do exist. In abundance. But sadly it's a lot seedier than one can imagine.

Rejection stands lonely on street corners, it screams from sad waitresses in every bar. Barbie's walk painfully on dirty faded stars on the street; hair bleached to breaking point, starved faces pulled tight, lips injected with so much botox I'm surprised they can read their lines in auditions. Broken dreams fill every bus ride along Hollywood Boulevard, on the hour every hour.

'Hollywood' doesn't exist. In yesteryear the term was culturally and historically significant in American cinema. It was the place where it all began. It meant something. Today it's just superficial. Fabricated. Dirty. It's Hollyweird. You don't need to be an actor or singer. Talent is no longer a requirement. You just need to be desperate. Fame hungry. Pathetic. If you have these qualities; celebrity and notoriety, here you come!

It's all rather tragic. This wealthy place, once the symbol of glamour and greatness, has now disintegrated into nothing. Just a has-been shell of its previous life. This kills me. I rather like the old fashioned importance of working hard; honing one's craft because you can't bear to do anything else. In today's society, people flock to 'make it' in Hollyweird because they don't want to get a real job. Working hard is too exhausting. They want it easy. And Hollyweird gives it to them. Modern practices; an emphasis on fame, wealth and beauty as paramount have resulted in standards slipping. Hollyweird now represents everything that's wrong with our contemporary world.

It's definitely questionable. Who wants to be in a place where the stars are stuck on the ground? They shine better in the sky...

Friday, 17 July 2009

It's not the end, it's the beginning...

Mondays. Manic. Happy. Sometimes cheap. Mine was dull. It was graduation, part deux. Dressed in my finest I begrudgingly slipped on that monstrous cap and gown and made way to my seat. Two minutes later, the music started. Personally I wouldn't call the organ, music per se. It's more like the wail a piano makes as it crashes to the ground, dying. You know; like they do in cartoons.

The organ continued for ten minutes, bleating and thundering, forcing every eardrum to endure its slow painful death in a ten mile radius. I wondered if the pianist was deaf. And then wished I was.

Eyes darted to the nearest exit. If I took a quick left, back ten paces and then out the door, I'd be free. My ears could rest. I would breathe in the fresh air, smell the freedom. I imagined it smelt good.

I didn't find out. Couldn't. I was squished between two people; our chairs packed so closely together I deduced that the girl next to me was extremely fond of garlic. Or perhaps she was terrified of vampires. It wasn't pleasant, either way.

Suddenly, a procession of people appeared; dressed in multicoloured gowns depicting their levels of education. Boredom hit me. Struggling to compress a yawn, my face contorted to demented levels and Garlic Girl gave me the evils. Stop doing that, weirdo, she said. Well, her face said it all.

The speeches began and I found myself dreaming of what I would do when released. I would eat cakes and drink vodka and go for long walks on the beach, relishing in my freedom. Phasing back to reality, the Mayor was staring at me intently. I turned to the right of me; nothing but a row of empty chairs and an angry woman at the end, beckoning. If she could have punished me, she would have. Oh yes.

Led backstage, I awaited with my fellow graduands. Some spoke of their nerves, their excitement, their achievements. I prayed I wouldn't fall over my own feet and land on my arse. When I finally reached the stage, name called, my mind drifted again. Somewhere above in the clouds I hovered whilst my body dumbly nodded and shook hands with I don't know who. One step, two step. Here come the stairs. Don't fall down them. Nearly back at your seat. Ah. Potential embarrassing situation averted. Relief.

The rest of the ceremony fluttered past in a daze of monotony. Hands went numb from all the clapping. Garlic Girl continued to breathe her smelly self all over me. And the Mayor couldn't take his eyes off me. I doubt he had a little crush. Looks like I won't be welcomed back any time soon.

I'm still pleased that I went. I have stories to tell, memories to recall. That's the best part. Oh and the whole getting a degree thing. Oops. Forgot about that...

So in light of graduation season, I thought I would leave you with a few words of wisdom:

'There is a good reason why they call these ceremonies 'commencement exercises.' Graduation is not the end, it's the beginning.'

-Orrin Hatch

Fingers crossed he's onto something there...

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Library Spell

Morning seeks refuge amidst the
yellowed paper and faded print
leather bound tales of woe
and joy.

Tips of fingers trace the
pinched in curve where
page meets page
of open book.

Ears oblivious to worldly noise
I crawl inside the words,
deafened by them screaming
an enticing spell
of verse and rhyme.
My back arcs over the 'A's
and 'B's, I coil within
the 'me's and 'we's.'

Loneliness a forgotten affair,
there between the bonds of book
and I
find my friend's who make
magic with mystery,
an illusion, of poetry and prose.

When I leave my shelter
of words that never hurt me,
I stretch past.
Limbs ache from time spent
cramped between them,
eyes adjust to the change in light.

The only evidence of the
library spell?

A star filled sky.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Top Ten: Movies

We are back to the list. I seem to have an obsession with these. Note to self: must see some kind of list specialist concerning possible cure.

Soon I will morph into David Letterman, what with all the Top Ten I insist on creating (most of which are yet to be published; you have been warned). My lists are more refined. Take, for example, Letterman's 'Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas.' So silly. And too easy. Sneeze. Bees. Keys. Sleaze. Knees...nope, I'm out. Trickier than I thought.

Right now I'm talking about the talkies. Movies. Films. Whatever you call them, they're entertaining. Most of the time. They can be cheesy. Intriguing. Thrilling. Funny. Exciting. Moving. They can make you think, believe, dream. Or bash your head against a brick wall in vein attempt to erase the memory.

As with my Top Ten: Books list, I found this difficult. I own a lot of films. Hours of my life were stolen from me by watching some truly terrible ones. (Speed 2: Cruise Control, you owe me 2 hours 1 minute). That said, I like to think I'm qualified in knowing a good film when it hits me in the face. Popcorn at the ready:

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
2) Back to the Future (1985)
3) The Colour Purple (1984)
4) Schindler's List (1993)
5) The Godfather (1972)
6) Rear Window (1954)
7) Platoon (1986)
8) An Affair to Remember (1957)
9) Imitation of Life (1959)
10) WALL*E (2008)

So reader, what's on your Top Ten Movies list?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Auction

Silver speckled tea set,
angular handles,
curved spout,
fine letters engraved
on the underside.
And me,
sitting in the garden
aged four or five,
pouring air and dust
and dreams
into a cup, offering it
to my imaginary friend.
Sold for £150.

Mahogany bookcase,
deep shelves,
bobbled pattern,
thick lines carved
into wood coloured like
rich autumn leaves.
And Granddad
sifting through books,
mind roaming,
questioning Descartes
and Plato
and Rousseau.
Sold for £50.

Raggedy Ann doll,
white dotted
cobalt blue dress,
straight red yarn hair
that frames her
child drawn face.
And Nana
in 1923,
slumped on the floor
crying and
cuddling and
whispering that she
was her only friend.
Sold for £85.

Metal sewing thimble,
slate coloured,
thin lines imprinted
around the edge
And Ma,
holding brown thread,
to sew badges onto
my brownies sash,
frowning and
cursing and shouting
that the thread
just won't go through.
Sold for £100.

All these objects,
this junk,
this stuff,
my stuff
now sits in another garden,
another house
in other hands.
While I'm left
with nothing but
Only they can't be sold.