The impossibility of changing brake pads in LA

From one state of slavery to another. The shackles of LA are indeed more gilded than those of Bucarest, but are shackles all the same. Endless rounds of meetings which involve eating or drinking. Breakfast, brunch, lunck, coffee, drinks, dinner. Doing business in the film and periphery industries, of which there are legion, costs a lot of dough from the word go. And they do love meetings about every aspect of that business. Because nothing comes of so many of these meetings it’s hard to participate in them. It all looks good, the smiles, the deal memos, the handshakes, the promises, but they all fizzle out in the glaring, charmlessly constant sunshine of the streets of LA; the boulevards of Santa Monica, the drives, the canyons of the Hollywood hills and beyond. Only in their endlessness do these meetings have any upshot. Like a take on infinity, it all works, we all get paid, things get made, we all buy things and have money, but only because the work you have to do to sustain yourself is infinite. And this infinite landscape means that everyone is landlocked within the confines of what it means to be busy. Domestic chores, social interaction with friends and family outside work, spending time alone with ones own thoughts are all pretty much sloughed off. Capitalism of this kind has evolved beyond the needs of individuals. Hence a dear friend found it impossible to schedule changing the brake-pads on his car. ‘It’s just not going to happen’, as we ground and scraped to a halt at every stop light. We are indeed being held back, let down by our technology; The romans had slaves, but most of us have to perform these slavish everyday tasks ourselves. Everyday tasks which take on a superluminary aspect and become so much more than just changing brake-pads. The brake-pads come to represent so much more, in a word the presence of death lurking, raining on the parade of our life’s work. An interruption, an eruption, of what we can call literally ‘the real’ onto the surreal landscape of end of days capitalism. Because if your brakes fail when you are drunk and driving home after ‘drinks’, which is the de rigeur form of driving in LA, then you are well and truly fucked.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.


3 Comments to “The impossibility of changing brake pads in LA”

  1. I really like the idea of driving in LA as a commentary on something about the state of post-capitalist society. Could you just stick a camera in your car window and drive round for a night and a day, then screen it uncut? What would you see? Would it only be cliches? So yes you’d get Korean streetcleaners/traffic jams on the freeway/tour buses in hollywood/the misery of sunset/but what else do you think you’d get? You’d just lock the camera off and drive. It’s true that we are obsessively busying ourselves with busyness – there was an old fisherman who lived in the village in Northumberland where we had our cottage who was never busy. He just sat on a bench all day. He didn’t even have a fishing boat. Now no one does that….

  2. Hollywood Elegies
    Bertolt Brecht
    The village of Hollywood was planned according to the notions
    People in these parts have of heaven. In these parts
    They’ve come to the conclusion that God
    Wanting a heaven and a hell, didn’t need to
    Plan two establishments but
    Just the one: heaven. It
    Serves the underprivileged, unsuccessful
    As hell.
    By the sea stand the oil tanks. Up the ravines
    The gold prospectors’ skeletons lie bleaching. Their sons
    Built the dream factories of Hollywood.
    The four cities
    Are filled with the oily smell
    Of films.
    The city is named after the angels
    And you meet angels on every side.
    They smell of oil and wear golden pessaries
    And, with blue rings round their eyes
    Feed the writers in the their swimming pools every morning.
    Beneath the green pepper trees
    The musicians wait for pick-ups, two by two
    With the writers. Bach
    Has a regular beat. Dante wriggles
    His shrivelled bottom.
    The angels of Los Angeles
    Are exhausted with smiling. Desperately
    Behind the fruit stalls of an evening
    They buy little bottles
    Containing sex odours.
    Above the four cities the fighter aircraft
    Of the Defense Department circle at a great height
    So that the stink of greed and poverty
    Shall not reach them.

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