I did a one-man show once about Latinos living in Southwest America called “Pain of the Macho” by Rick Najera. One of the monologues called for me to don a dress and walk out on stage carrying a bouquet of roses, and I was more than happy to oblige. But while rehearsing, I had a wonderful idea to get two of my stage crew (all men) and dress them in drag too. We were Charlie’s Angels out of a Lynch film, and it was great fun.
Based off of a conversation I overheard years ago.
Mike the Carpenter: Are you kidding me? Those people aren’t LA folks. You don’t know any true LA folks except me. Los Angeles is a hub for the interstate immigrant. All these people from across the country, across the fucking globe, come here in hopes for the quick bucks and star dreams. They come out here, trying to be LA, act LA, but they don’t know the first thing about what it’s like because the people they learn from aren’t people who are from here! They come out here and take our jobs, eat our food, live off our land, pack our freeways, drink our liquor and sleep with our women. They flick their cigarette butts out their windows and pee in our oceans. They act like dicks all in the name of “Pursuing the Dream” or some horseshit like that. They give us a bad name. And then after seven to fifteen years they realize they are nothing but a bunch of boring, country bumpkins and that they never stood a chance out here. Then they move back to Bumfuck, Iowa or wherever they come from, marry the fat girl across the street, poop out a few kids and then live out the rest of their lives waiting for their children to put them in a home. And what are we left with? Scars. They’ve turned a gorgeous land of boardwalks and orange groves into a dried husk. And they’ll tell their friends back home, “Oh yeah, I hate LA. It’s a shitty town covered in glitter and asphalt.” But they know it was because it was filled with people just like them, fucking parasites. And they’ll feel a pang of guilt, as they should! But it won’t last long, because they never took the time to love this city. Not like I do.
Phil the Student: So what is the real Los Angeles?
Mike the Carpenter: Not your Hollywood clubs or film openings, I can tell you that. Los Angeles is the palm tree silhouette at sunset. It’s sharing a cervesas with a few immigrants who don’t speak much English that you’ve hired to help you build a fence, and laughing together for no real reason. It’s culture reinvented. It’s the pull of the Pacific surf that carries away your troubles. It’s good, hard working people who come here not to live the dream but to simply live. It’s heat and sea breeze. It’s a blooming rose all year long. It’s all of that, piled under the trash left by tourists.
Phil the Student: Do you have to be born here to be true LA?
Mike the Carpenter: No, but the odds aren’t in their favor.
Phil the Student: So . . . which one am I?
Mike the Carpenter: (pauses, swings his beer, stares at Phil) How long have you been here?
Phil the Student: About five years.
Mike the Carpenter: Hmm. Give it three more, and then we’ll see.