THE COMMUTE: My new novel, Hollywood Daze & craze

7:12:00 AM



‘Maybe I’m romanticizing it too much, "I heard Pete say. "I always imagine Hollywood in the roaring twenties as a wild child. Reckless, loose, impulsive. The industry was in it’s early stages, and the censors were set on derailing it. They objected to the free women, Mae West, all that sex and violence. They weren’t wrong, it happened, all that cocaine, heroine, the orgies and murders. But what the bastards actually wanted to ban was the exuberance, that can only spring from innocence.’


Pete is one of the characters in Hollywood Daze, my third novel. It is almost here, I am in the later stages of preparation, and will publish it this year. This stage sucks, it is impatience city over here.  Pure writing is a pleasure, more exhilarating than all those parties, the lurid shenanigans of the Roaring Twenties. But editing, and preparing a book is as constricting as a censor's pen. It requires a critical eye and a cold heart, it can be satisfying and maddening in that OCD way.  
It is the part where the writer's life fantasy meets reality, and becomes a craft. You need both to call yourself a writer, but only one is thrilling and intoxicating.
    So, Hollywood Dazee is almost ready for you to read it.
That will be part three, in the saga of writing a book, the stage when things get weird.  Feedback! However clear your intentions are when outlining a book, converting inspiration in fiction, constructing your chacters, justifying their behavior, letting dialogue flow through you, etc, etc. the moment somebody reads it, you find yourself in The Upside-down.
Readers say the darndest things.
    I should enjoy the time Hollywood Daze is still safely in my hands. And I can still control it, force my own interpretation on it.



   This is my Hollywood Daze: Mona, an 18 year old, arrives in Los Angeles, without a plan. Her brother asked her to come, and whenever Joost asks, she still salutes and asks: "How high?"

Joost is making his Hollywood debut, with a remake of My Favorite Wife.
Joost can be a bit of a crazy maker, and Mona, who is brilliant at clearing his debris, is making a mess of everything else: she is alone, with no clue, and just one way of coping (any bottle that comes her way). On her first day in LA she is lucky to meet Elki, a poppy in a field of genetically modified crops.
   Elki Daniels, born in Korea town, raised in Bel Air,  isn't to particular about the strays she takes in. Traumatized dogs or lost girls, it is all the same to her.
While her brother battles the purgatory that is Hollywood to make the movie of his dreams, Mona, hopes her new devil-may care friend will teach her how to blot out the self-hatred and stop feeling invisible.
   But what is it really about?
Well, you can decide for yourself later, but let me just point in the right direction ( I know you will ignore me, and I love you for it, but humor me...)
   My favorite wife, the movie Joost is re-making, was released out in 1940, it has Irene Dunne, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, and is about bigamy. It was a screwball comedy, that genre created to con the censors that had descended on Hollywood to halt it's immoral and detrimental effect on society.

As Pete, Hollywood Daze's brightest dude and a magnet for Mona's madcap worship, says:

'I wouldn’t say it wasn’t clever of the screenwriters to sublimate all sex. But the poor characters weren't permitted anymore to get it on, and all that tension building up, detonated and spread rage and insanity. Loose women became unhinged. Everything was ambiguous. The innocence forever lost.’

I believe in synchronicity when writing, so I wasn't surprised listening to my favorite podcasts this week, hearing discussed exactly what I am writing about.



This is what I listen to this week:



My Favorite Murder


   First of all, this episode started with the cutest story about a poodle service dog, who helps an Uber driver cope with his PTSD. Poodle cuddles are the best dog cuddles, everyone should have a poodle service dog these days.
The second murder Karen and Georgia discussed was the alleged murder of Virginia Rappe, an incident that destroyed the career of Roscoe Arbuckle, Hollywood greatest star in those early LALA Land days.
This is the first of the many Hollywood scandals that lead to the Hays Code, in 1930. Those rules, ironically, resulted in Hollywood's most successful decade, the lemonade they made was called the screwball comedy.



   So here for the synchronicity: Elki, Mona's friend, should have gone to law school, following in her father's footsteps, he is an entertainment lawyer. Instead, she runs around procuring strange Hollywood trophies for her clients. One of this very strange keepsakes  is an crucial part of Virginia Rappe, in formalyde.



It didn't stop here...



Here's the thing with Alec Baldwin

   In last weeks episode Alec, talked with Thelma Schoomaker, Martin Scorsese's longtime editor. First of all, can I mention her name: it's Dutch and it means cleaner. That is what Thelma does, she organized the debris that Scorsese accumulates. It's always inspiring to listen to creative people who  are able to remain inspired throughout the years and Martin Scorsese and Thelma must be two of the most passionate people around. Thelma talks about meeting cute with Martin, her favorite movies she worked on, her marriage with Michael Powell. Fascinating stuff.

Now my Mona, is a little Thelma in the making, she is the editor on her brother's movies.  Movie editors are magicians. As Mona puts it, if you do your job well, your work remains invisible, undetectable. But it's the editor creating the illusion or deception. Even Baldwin, a movie veteran, doesn't seem to realize how essential the work of an editor is.  He asks Thelma is she ever had a problem with the violence in Scorsese's movies, and Thelma chuckles. "When the takes come to me, the violence isn't there, I create the violence." She uses Raging Bull as an example, Robert de Niro didn't sustain any of those massive blows,  it was Thelma inflicting them. Cutting, she created the brutality, the blood splatter, the impact.




You must remember this

   You may have gathered that I have a fixation, always had. This podcast is a doozy. You must remember this created by Karina Longworth(read here how and why she put out this wonderful nostalgic podcast) delves into my same obsession, the forgotten history of Hollywood's first century.
I especially like the last few episodes called the Dead Blondes, the tales of Jean Harlow, Veronica Lake, Peggy Entwistle and Thelma Todd.
Those broads burned bright and fast, Harlow was only 26 when she died from kidney failure caused by heavy drinking. Lake, made it to fifty, but she was also ravaged by alcoholism. They were talented, strong, beautiful and incited lust and fear in men.
There is often the implication of mental illness with these fatal blondes, but it is difficult to determine if they really suffered from it, or were just headstrong and encountered so much oppression, that made the rage turn inwards, destroying thems in the process.

So drink your kale juice  and put on your pink hat and be grateful, and fight, for our right to be wild and untamed.

Ps; This has been my bible:


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