I’m returning to my blog after some time away. Ultimately, I must write for my own sanity, especially when I lose my mind every time I turn on the news. I plan to have a piece uploaded every week, shared here on my website and social media. Cheers!
I’ve been watching Britain’s Got Talent, and also playing Word Blitz (everyone loses to my cousin Gabriel, who finds 1800 points on a set of letters which includes no vowels). If you don’t know what this is, don’t find out. It does not find friends. It’s like intravenous speed. They blast “Amazing!” when you come up with a six-letter word. And you know all you need to know about me when I tell you it’s a fine game at 2:40 AM when you wake up and can’t go to sleep. A rational person would read a novel. But the LIGHT UP blast when I find a word makes me feel so crazy. If I get over 200 points I’m good for the day.
I’m glad that Facebook or Apple or “something” scores my online hours (says I “did better last week.” Better to them means spent more of the not endless amount of time I’ve got left on the planet tapping up images and music and games on a vibrating thing not much bigger than a card (but just as addictive). Maybe more so: because the demonic minds creating the machines know their audience, their customers well. We don’t feel like customers; we don’t “buy tickets,” or hand over cash or credit cards. We give “points,” we “sponsor” products by companies who pay for the shows.
What we really pay for are the priceless hours spent yearning for the lissom bodies, the voices, the passions we now spend missing what is long gone or never was. Fame for most creatures on the planet seems a whimsy you can pick up with luck, I’ve known, and been really close to, a lot of famous people. Fame is a short ride: the top of the Ferris Wheel is a thrill. But the view makes you forget the hours and years spent practicing, avoiding easier options than dedication, isolation, grit, and the build of Talent’s unique muscular structure. You feel it as a child, whatever the gift. But you’d rather play than practice; so you’ll miss the rehearsal, big deal, friends are going to the beach.
There is no luck to fame: it’s a far cry from prowess—from honor, from accomplishment, distinction—like most wonders, it doesn’t last forever. On the “…Got Talent” shows I love watching the young women and men trying out, shaking. “How are you?” the leader (who looks like my cousin Paul) asks. This leader is a master of expressions. You get hooked on all the “Board,” as hooked as the uneasy person on the stage who answers, “I’m nervous.”
Thousands of fans in the audience love watching this. The crowd’s anxiety, every dab and heartbeat goes to support this unlikely little (or very large) awkward talent. “Awww,” they wipe tears, rock back and forth, and think, “Why wouldn’t my great-niece try this? She’s lovely in the choir.” When you’re here—seeing the magic arrive for some people—there’s no reason that can’t be for me! To go back I did watch a ninety-five-year-old woman dancing with a cute guy who slung her body fast through his legs, grabbed her arms, flipped her over his shoulders and hopped her, smiling around into a jazzy strut; crowd young and crazy. Even me, trying to swing myself from yoga crouch to somersault (chair to sofa) was laughing. Thing is, you get fame—I’ve had a moderate touch from writing when books were as big a deal as movies were, day before yesterday.
I always knew my friends Jane Fonda, Brooke Hayward, Maria Cooper, and Sue Sally Jones would be famous. They were very cute and rode horses. This was when horses also understood their options and significant presence in any credible L.A. family. There were bridle paths then; horse races, some Maypole dancers rode horses usually at restricted girls’ schools.
Boys rode horses and could play cowboy kids in movies. Race trades had a lot of class. Not like now when we see what fame does to the life of the horse, they never saw what was coming when mounted by movie stars had lights shining in their eyes and human directors (who did not ride) were telling them how to play the next scene, how to flip the guy on his back hard into the gully. “He’s the villain, jolt him hard!” They were all villains and show-offs. Horses never thought the big races were fair. They smelled the casino brew and whiskey, felt the weight gain on their backs and didn’t understand what all the yelling was about and why the hell it mattered on a cold night when your buddy Gary was aching in the next stable, holding himself steady, knowing he’d be ground for feed—his horseshoes hooked rusty on Harry, his old trainer’s wagon! So much for bloody blue ribbons.
You don’t want to be a person who cares about fame. But I do. It was the thing to be when I was growing up. Even more than beauty, although beauty was the clear track to fame.