“This is the human heart,” an actress with my name was saying in a film, last night. “It’s light — and it’s dark.”
Well, actually, she sounded more like my motha:
“This eez ze human hearrt: Eet eez light — and eet eez darrk.”
The actress with my name was playing a Russian prostitute, and she’s got some serious chops. She is an East Coaster, more of a European: One of those disciplined artists, with a compassionate heart.
In a film, she is arguing with a potential john about urban decay. He is a landscape architect obsessed with the world’s dark corners. She, however, lives amidst them: In a civilization collapsing on itself like a giant snake swallowing its own tail. And somehow, she has a better grasp on human patterns than a man studying them, for a living, while being buried up to his chin in his sterile theories.
(I used to love a man like that. Holy fuck! He almost took me out of the game.)
“This eez ze human hearrt: Eet eez light — and eet eez darrk,” an actress with my name was saying in a film, last night.
But all I could think was:
“Tired today. Is this where I burn out?”
It’s been hard, living around here. In the beginning, there were difficulties related to the mere survival: shelter, work, learning the geography of this place. The fucking landscape!
I would figure it all out, in less than a year — and that would be the easy part. Because it still wouldn’t let up. The survival would get easier, sure; but somehow it never amounted to anything. Every day, it felt like starting from scratch: Paying the dues. And every day, I would feel I could just burn out, at any moment. But giving-up — was never really an option. So, I just kept pushing.
For nearly an hour, I sat in traffic yesternight, to get to a hood only a mile away from my own.
“Could’ve walked this fucker faster,” I thought, while crawling behind a retiree fond of riding the breaks of his Chevy.
As soon as the one-lane street opened into a turn-lane in the middle, I zoomed around him.
“Christ,” I swore.
But then, I found myself behind an orange bus that added to the relentless heat wave with its boiling exhaust fumes. I rolled up my windows and crawled behind it for another couple of blocks, while riding my breaks.
“Fucking hot!” I thought. “Is this where I burn out, finally?”
But giving-up — wasn’t really an option. So, I kept riding.
I cranked up the AC.
The houses on this stretch of Hollyweird wear that used-up look of a transient neighborhood. They serve as temporary shelters to those who come to test their luck. But the newcomers would figure it out, in less than a year, and move to more comforting neighborhoods; taking tiny slices of whatever was left — with them. There are a few parks here, some dodgy playgrounds. And I wouldn’t dare to find myself walking here, at night, through this fucking landscape.
“This eez ze human hearrt: Eet eez light — and eet eez dark.”
Did I just say that out loud?
And it’s fucking hot.
I rolled down the windows again. Might as well.
The smell of the collective exhaustion entered my car immediately, and all I could hear was the screeching of occasional breaks, punctuated by distant sirens. No human voices here.
The traffic kept crawling.
“I could’ve walked this fucker faster!” I thought.
On Vine, an ancient Nissan jumped out of a pathetic shopping center and into the lane ahead of me, as if it were driven by someone looking for his own suicide. My breaks screeched.
Then, the urban kamikaze proceeded riding his breaks. To avoid a suicidal thought of my own, I studied the dusty white building of an Armenian church. On its stone fence, a security guard was talking to a working girl with enormous sparkly fake eyelashes. Both were about to start their shift.
“This eez ze human hearrt.”
Did I just say that?
I turned into the first side street and sped up. A lanky kid with an Afro jumped out of an alley on his skateboard. He was beautiful. I started riding my breaks behind him.
“Fuck it!” I thought. “I can walk this fucker faster!”
I parked behind a Grand Cherokee with chipping red paint, no longer glossy. A hefty, tall man walked by, on a cracked pavement, audibly talking to himself. He saw me looking, stopped muttering. Gave me the middle finger.
“ASK ME,” said his neon orange shirt.
“This eez ze human hearrt,” I said out loud, yanked the hand break and stepped out into traffic.