Fortunes of the Night
Listen to/Watch entire show:
Fortunes of the Night<br> By Marc Porter Zasada <p> Again this evening, the Urban Man goes out looking for the romance of Los Angeles. Like most people who live here, I know its a rare illusion, glimpsed briefly from rooftop bars or down the corridors of chic hotels. And because it's so fragile, I know it's often threatened by the vulgar: by excessive indoor waterfalls, gold lam- shirts, or that one extra string of colored lights. <p> Come 11:30 at night, I take a gamble on those few nice blocks of Sunset Boulevard, west of Doheny. Here, I offer my wife a seat at a sidewalk caf- where I hope she will see just enough clever billboards and fine clothing to complete the mirage. Eventually, I figure a Lincoln Navigator will arrive to drop off the men who wear black and the women who laugh so well. <p> Around 11:45, a Navigator does pull up, but instead of the beautiful people, it delivers a different kind of L.A. gambler. He's about 39, with a thick neck, a low brow, and a blue, unshaven chin. We watch his eyes fidget, and when he sits, he lights a cigarette precisely like a hungry thug from a movie. Since he's a local thug, Central Casting has dressed him in a pale yellow sportcoat and a floral print shirt. <p> Right away, he's joined by two half-dressed girls. They're 18...or maybe 17... pretty young to roll the dice. The first, a good-looking brunette, has made herself up to look like a woman, and wears a tight-fitting number from 1952. She slips laughing into the man's arm, and we imagine him reeking of easy fortune. <p> She too lights up: Apparently, it's still sexy to smoke in L.A., but only late at night. <p> The girl's friend, dowdy despite her own studied lipstick and retro party dress, sits as far away as possible and does not speak. She crosses both her arms and her legs and glances nervously up and down the boulevard. <p> Immediately, of course, my wife and I begin to speculate. The girls are prostitutes. Singers. Recent arrivals from Ohio. The man is a sugar daddy. A pimp. A producer. Certainly, the way he has his arm around the small brunette speaks of possession. <p> I'm tempted to get up and start asking questions: Has the dowdy friend advised the brunette against this liaison? Do all three think they're in a B movie? Do they see themselves as a sad commentary on our times...or are they expressing ageless truths? <p> Eventually an older gentleman, perhaps 60, joins the group. He offers a big grin, and lo, the nervous friend moves apprehensively to his side. We imagine a battle in her soul. We root for her to keep those arms and legs crossed. <p> By now, of course, my wife and I have lost our own gamble: for all romance has fled the sidewalk caf-. The billboards suddenly appear gaudy. We smell the exhaust from passing cars. In solidarity with the girls from Ohio, my wife takes my arm off her shoulder and moves a foot away. <p> "Maybe they're just good friends," I offer.<p> "Maybe he just leaves the money on the dresser," she replies. <p> No scene lasts long in this town, and a few minutes later, a street musician shows up and begins to sing drunkenly: "Oh baby, baby, it's a wild world...." Rightly, the vulgar little group takes this as their exit cue. We watch them head off in the Lincoln Navigator to an uncertain fate. <p> The Urban Man orders a gin and tonic, and allows a glow to return along Sunset Boulevard. Eventually, my wife moves back by my side. And yes, sometime after midnight, another big car pulls up, and the beautiful people do finally arrive. <p> Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada. All rights reserved. <br>
Click the Full Details link to view the complete transcript. Tapes are not available.
Engage & Discuss
BROUGHT TO YOU BY