Monday, March 25, 2002

Chillin' Wit' Da Playaz On Da Red Rug: The Oscars 2002

It was an honour and a privilege to hang out with the stars at the Oscars courtesy of Acciesworld. Imagine my surprise when news of this all expenses paid junket to Tinseltown arrived at casa del eugenio attached to Bobby (the great Gilberto’s carrier pigeon extraordinaire). Not for me the instantaneous thrill of communication by e-mail. I prefer the more sedate and traditional joys afforded by strapping indecipherable messages to airborne rodents. Computers are “so last year” guys and the really good news is Dixons haven’t yet worked out how to sting you for an extended warranty on a pigeon.

Anyhow the Hollywood gig sounded right up my Sunset Boulevard. The opportunity of cruisin’ down the Cali coast in my soft top caddy with my fly girl at my side, Big Punishing Mo Fo on the boomin’ system and my homey B Surreal kickin’ it all the way live from Oaktown on the Bay down to Inglewood was too good, I mean bad, to miss. Larbert would have to wait. I consoled myself with the thought that there would be other Saturday afternoons at Ochilview.

We flew into San Fran and hooked up with my favourite gang: Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci. They looked like a Robert Mapplethorpe still, these guys were dressed to kill. My buddies were talkin’ about cruisin’ down to a gay disco on the outskirts of Frisco when I realised I’d got in tow with the wrong dudes. My homies B Surreal, MC Death from Above and DJ Louis Theroux were still standing at the baggage terminal when I got back from my ride with the Village People.

We sweet talked some honey at Hertz into hookin’ us up with a Merc convertible with in-car jacuzzi, Bang & Olufsen, turntables, cocktail bar and laptop with DVD, CDR and carrier pigeon ports. I tell you man this car was a chick magnet. The honeyz were all over us like Vesuvius over Pompeii. While I was soundin’ out some hottie’s hubcaps DJ Louis Theroux was layin’ down a stone cold gangsta groove on the decks by looping some breaks from Clarissa Dickson Wright’s The Fat Lady Sings album and droppin’ in some samples from the bootleg Ol’ Dirty Bastard meets Anne Widdicombe white label that’s been bustin’ out all over Basingstoke’s more discerning dancefloors this panto season. B Surreal was rollin’ up another phat jazz cigarette when he realised the only “chronic” we had on board was MC Death from Above’s angina. Luckily we did have a bag of “Fisherman’s Friends” and some travel sickness lozenges.

We cruised on down through Steinbeck’s old stamping ground Monterey where The Grapes of Wrath and my homey B Surreal’s “farmer giles” have now become inextricably linked in the anals, I mean annals, of street poetry. Down through Clint’s Carmel cabana, a quick 18 holes at Pebble Beach (that course was so expensive we coulda had 18 hos instead and still had change for seafood chowder). We caught some rays, a wave and a communicable disease from the surfer chicks at the Big Sur and then we rolled on down to Hearst Castle which we’d hired for the weekend. Relaxing poolside at William Randolph’s old crib, the cabana was rockin’ most righteously to the intoxicating sound of a faux-naive investigative reporter flippin’ vinyl like burgers at a barbecue while B Surreal and the boys were plying high class hookers with cheap alcohol. Maybe that’s what old Orson was banging on about at the end of “Kane”. Hos ‘n’ Bud. I’m sure Citizen Hearst was canin’ it in Cali with the poolside party posse long before Tongy and co. came on the scene.

I tell you man that party was such a blast we had to bury the remnants in a lead-lined casket somewhere in the South Pacific under strictly controlled conditions. We were still surfin’ on the seismic tremors from that shindig when we cruised into South Central in the City of Angels. I don’t know where “Los Angeles” were hangin’ that day but it wasn’t in the 'hood with my homeys' and me unless you’re talking about the gang of Chicano street hoodlums who were our welcoming committee. We didn’t stick around to discover if they were the apocryphal messengers of God with dirty faces or a buncha low ridin’ Carlito Brigante wannabes from the barrio. Let’s just say we hot-tailed it down to the Hilton at Marina Del Rey without stopping to discuss the niceties of car jacking with the boyz in the hood.

Anyway next thing we know and we’re gliding down the red carpet at the Kodak Theatre with the paparazzi taking pictures of the Galliano gowns and the Dior dresses. I told my homeys to stick to Armani threads but they insisted on the frocks. “There’s Whoopi and Kate Winslett in a stunning red dress” said Louis. “Must be a big dress” I speculated. ‘You’re right Holmes, that’s no frock it’s a marquee” confirmed my man.

And before we knew it the lights dimmed and the midget formerly known as Nicole Kidman’s defiantly heterosexual husband was straight into the Sept. 11th schtick. Then I fell asleep. Next thing I remember is Halle Berry doing her bit for the emancipation of the African-American race. Let’s be honest. As a black power activist she’s a trim bit of skirt if not exactly Malcolm X. I guess she was just surfing on that tide of black power unleashed by Sidney Poitier in his extraordinary acceptance speech for his honorary award. Now Sidney I can dig. When he was the guest they least expected in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner the KKK were burning cats in Mississippi for real. Nowadays we’ve got positive discrimination and our Afro-American buddies are having their cake, eating it and selling the crumbs to emasculated guilt-ridden white liberals hamstrung by political correctness. Proactive “ghetto” entrepreneurs are selling us bogus black culture like a dodgy timeshare in the Costa del Crime. Cheap holidays in other people’s misery flogged by bogus tour guides in bandannas and dungarees. Peddling cartoon versions of recalcitrant criminality, misogyny and stereotypical representations of “ghetto life” is the new Black and White Minstrel Show, but this time the patronising scam is perpetrated by authentic Harlem hucksters and Compton carnies like Russell Simmons, P Diddy and Suge Knight rather than whitey. Hence it’s characterised as “indigenous African-American culture” and must be protected like an endangered species rather than hounded out of house and home like some socially inept dinner guest who keeps grabbing his crotch during the hors d’ouevres. Johnny Cochrane, Snoop, Dr.Dre, Mike Tyson, O.J.Simpson, Diddy, Biggy, the So Solid Crew et al are at the vanguard of the new consciousness, mining a rich vein of criminality both real and imagined. These playaz are pimpin’ that ghetto vibe while simultaneously dealing from a deck heavily loaded with race cards.

Good to see Ashley Walters, Grange Hill child actor turned So Solid Crew ubergangsta given the benefit of the doubt by our judiciary for brandishing a gun at a traffic warden. Now I’m no fan of traffic wardens but they’re hardly going to discharge an AK47 into your twitching corpse ghetto style. “It’s a jungle, I think I’m going under, New Zealand put on 250 for the first wicket and some bitch-assed traffic warden just gave me a ticket, Gaz Gates is keepin’ UK garage outta the charts the spiky- haired muthafu*ker, I think I’m gonna have to smoke some sucka”. The soap star turned black sheep was just playing another role and wasn’t really a hard-core criminal. I’m sure his not so solid mate who broke the jaw of a teenage female fan who rejected his advances was just “getting into ghetto persona” as a PR exercise. These new kids on the gangsta block should switch on to Chuck D and Public Enemy. Don’t Believe the Hype, guys. The dangers of “doing a Westwood” are all too obvious. One minute you’re a nice vicar’s son from Essex, the next some homey’s bustin’ a cap in your ass Tupac-style in a drive-by shooting. Life inevitably imitates art as the Hollywood scriptwriters who created the blueprint for the Islamic terror outrage of Sept. 11th will happily attest. We live in the age of the reality tv and self-fulfilling media prophecy. Imagine a scenario, any scenario. Commit it to vinyl, celluloid or disc and it will eventually come to pass as assuredly, as inexorably and depressingly as death, taxes and the new series of Pop Idol.

On the subject of Sept.11th I thank my lucky stars that old “Mr. Potato Head” himself Tom Hanks wasn’t nominated for a gong this year. Another of his insufferably sanctimonious acceptance speeches suffused with post Sept.11th sentimentality juxtaposed with the Cirque de Soleil, Paul McCartney and Enya would surely have been too much to bear. Cirque de Soleil are the new Torvill and Dean. Mime, dance and gymnastics is a combination which should be prohibited by law and penalised by death. Now showing in the psychological torture unit at Camp X-Ray: “Tom Hanks introduces Cirque de Soleil’s tribute to Sept.11th with a soundtrack by Enya.” Al Qa’ida prisoners no doubt got the full unexpurgated version intercut with Hanks’ 1993 victory speech for Philadelphia, where he accepted the award on behalf of all AIDS victims, the entire gay community and all those who had met their maker with the unforgettably po(tato)-faced tribute “My work is magnified by the fact that the Streets of Heaven are crowded with angels.” You could magnify Hanks’ work with an electron microscope and still not spot any talent.

Did A Beautiful Mind really win best picture? Now Jennifer Connolly certainly provided the beauty but it wasn’t her mind I was interested in. Good to see macho Russell Crowe get his come uppance in the best actor stakes though. If they were handing out awards for surly bully boys he’d be at the head of the queue fighting with the doormen..

But back to the divine Miss Berry. As an actress she’s a trim bit of skirt if not exactly Joan Crawford. To be honest she’s barely Joan Collins but this was the “PC Oscars” after all. I could have sworn I heard someone on Radio 1 today claiming Miss Berry has (retrospectively) paved the way for that geezer who plays Doctor Truman in “Easties” getting a job on the show as a GP rather than as an itinerant vagabond with a propensity for crack cocaine. Maybe I just imagined it but I doubt it.

Now Denzil I can’t argue with. He was the Devil incarnate in Training Day, another movie trippin’ out on that gangsta vibe but the man’s a class act and I don’t give a monkeys whether he’s black, white or leopard print with pink stripes.

If we’re going to continue with this ceremonial charade where the increasingly self-important film community get to patronise an ethnic minority or disadvantaged group each year then let’s hope we get some positive discrimination for the woefully marginalised Italian- American community sometime soon. Another ethnic group condemned to the role of gangster/outlaw in our increasingly homogenised culture. So how come Marty Scorcese, the best director of the last 30 years, hasn’t won an Oscar yet? Let me guess what piece of shit won the Oscar for Best Picture the year of Raging Bull? What masterpiece triumphed when Good Fellas came out? Maybe the Italo-American’s don’t have a PR department like the Afro-Americans have or they haven’t figured out how to pimp the rotting corpse of their popular culture’s stereotypes yet. They’re too busy hangin’ out down “da Bing” eatin’ pasta and listening to the Chairman of the Board no doubt. Surely these guys can get off their wiseguy asses and put the legacy of Sam “OG” Giancana, Santo Trafficante, John Gotti, Al Capone, Don Corleone and co. to work? Who needs to hitch a ride in the back of a ghetto gangsta cadillac when they can cruise up the boulevard on a souped up Cosa Nostra Coupdavil?

And what about surrealist maverick David Lynch? How many gongs were handed out for Mulholland Drive, Lynch’s masterfully oblique and maddeningly obscure study of two fit birds going hard at it? You guessed right film fans. Zilcherooni. Is drinking from the furry cup not fashionable this year? Sexual orientation or skin tone it’s always hard to predict which way the Academy will go. Lynch backed the wrong horse it’s true but can console himself with the reassuring fact that filming hot girl on girl action is always a pleasure and never a chore. Lynch is Dali with hot babes instead of limp time-pieces (a displacement which makes perfect sense in the surrealist universe - introduce some steamy lesbo action and I guarantee you lose your floppy clock syndrome) The inaugural eugene ionesco award for motion pictures has to go to “Mulholland Drive” the sexiest, smartest, most surreal and downright fun film of the year. And Kylie’s ass is nowhere in sight.
Mmmmm. Dave, I think I’ve got an idea for you next flick...

eugene ionesco