Saturday, June 9, 2007

My Son the Irish Cuban Cop

Leo performed the role tonight defending the glorious people's socialist democratic republic dictatorship in all its contradictions in his latest Silver Lake Children's Theatre Group performance, the spring play "Havana."

Actually, the cast and writers put on quite a complicated show, with 51 scenes, original songs by a crack band of pros. You followed the actors about the theatre complex; we proud parents following our son, who played and looked the part adroitly along with another, even more trigger happy partner, a girl surnamed off stage O'Brien. Compare garish image here of an androgynous Garda Pat from the oul' sod. (By the way, a fetching real-life TV reporter's named Soledad O'B. I read yesterday in the Forward of a girl at the only non-denominational, so naturally mixed, Jewish boarding school in the country, one Shoshanna O'B, who maddened her Orthodox mom by becoming Reform while there. As with the philanthropist of the NYC Orthodox who died a decade there, surnamed Murphy but nobody dared to ask why, a story lurks. As does why "soledad" gets redflagged by MS here and not "shoshanna." Spanish Nuesta Senora de solitude, fittingly also a prison name in desolate unbrotherly treeless southern inland Monterey Co. vs. Hebrew shoshannat ha-amakim, "lily of the valley." Who controls this media, anyway, nu?)

The surroundings added to the context. A few blocks south hard against the 101 is La Mirada Ave, home of the City's Worst Gang on the top #10, beating out our own neighborhood's Avenidas, the LM Locos. The play's held at the h.q. of the Assistance League, a ladies who lunch dignified teahouse and philanthropic organization founded way back when this area was glamorous, in the 20s, to help the poor of all creeds, complexions, or crustiness. At the break, out for fresh air, I glanced up to Sunset and saw, in an attempt I guess to cash in on the yuppification of Hollywood and the train station nearby, if not the massive Home Depot and the non-union Food 4 Less that replaced the union Ralphs for the area's immense East Hollywood barrio-Armenian-Thai enclave, another of those roughly 7600 Starbucks! Down the block past the Spanish-speaking strollers stumbled a drunk trying out his own bilingual skills on the folks out for a smoke. He literally crashed into two puffers in a row asking sort of for a match or a cigarette or both in some confusion.

Enhancing this multicultural LA moment was an earlier one. As both I entered for my "Visa" ticket and it also to be stamped, who else but the Oscar (TM)-winning editor of the contrived "Crash" preceded me. His son was on the Little League team last spring with Spuds, and the editor signed a poster for the Theatrical Child. Never talked to the prizewinner myself, but I appreciate his gesture.

I recall that he thanked pointedly his present helpmeet (who looks half his own age) in his Oscar speech. Got back at the alimony paid off to starter-wife? Point is, presumably this current partner crashed past me not once but twice while I was waiting in "customs." Talk about a poorly edited culture clash. Guess the insistent and sudden juxtaposition of disparate moderns, germane to the entertainment the editor and the play of the evening both shared, had rubbed off. Ham-fisted coincidences migrated from editor's labor to companion's leisure. Quite rudely and obliviously accomplished in person as opposed to on screen, she kept cutting across me. New Yorker squawk, gum chewing, leggy, svelte, low-cut blouse, deep tan plus olive skin, long permed tresses, donning her nametag: "Bunny."

Now that we are on public displays of self, I wore as a surprise that embarrassed my wife dearly a Quicksilver formerly called a field or train engineer olive hat ("super trendige im Fidel cap" goes one German caption on Google images). Ensemble enhanced by a black-and-rosy latinate shirt that my own olive-skinned spouse picked out for me Dios knows why years ago. I think she forgot all about la camisa tan suave. This to blend into the nightclub's tropical mood that complements my pale skin, blue eyes, and sandy greying hair so well. Que lastima.

Anti-capitalist, anti-communist dad here did admire the semi-jamonfisted way "Havana"'s agitprop emerged from the mouths of teens under our Broderick's inimitable direction (for more see this week's post by my wife at Casa Murphy at the link on the homepage of my blog). Part of that same "Crash" Hollywood community by extension-- along with my dear wife and 99.99% of the audience. But Brod's liberal heart beats even faster infused with Jewish humanism that energized the founders of the SCTG-- before they got ejected from the Los Feliz JCC!

Broderick's script, under the exegesis of his three young proteges, managed to make Castro's ambitions, megalomania, and idealism palpable. Well, as much as can be done by a scenery-chewing, lovable seventeen-year-old in fatigues, fake beard and geriatrically wobbly accent. Compare image here, surprisingly elusive on the net, of cap AND cigar in one snap of our Jesuit graduate and former prospect for Los Yanquis de la Nueva York. The police state there in Cuba vs. our own suppression of liberties post 9-11 seemed to also be implicit topics for elaboration. Since we only by its nature could see part of the play unfold, this may well have emerged behind another closed door during the evening's complext drama.

Given that probably the entire crowd save Leo and I loved "Crash," our "Havana" played to the same demographic and the same creators of such messages in our media. Better than jingoism, dogma, or T&A. Getting us to imbibe our ethical duty along with our escapist delight isn't easy to swallow. As it's been from Aristophanes or Shakespeare to whatever Hollywood's creators and laborers concoct for us each Saturday night... for the past two-and-a-half-thousand years.

Regardless of the medium, the question of why the rest of us corporate sellouts cannot let Cuba develop in its own custom after Fidel exhales his last habanero remains a neglected conundrum. We outside of Eastside or Westside, Starbucks vs. Consumer Whore latterati trudge 9-5 treadmills. Irish wanabees or Cuban emigres, we fuel our wage-slave debt-ridden, happily unequal, and cynically amoral economy. Meanwhile, 90 miles across shark-infested tropical seas, ice cream's cheap along with a two-system medical care (Michael Moore's "Sicko" in his own Oscar-pandering fashion simplifies the truth) system for foreigners vs. natives. Dollars speak louder across the world. Still, the oppression of Castro's regime (how'd they keep the effeminate performer in "Havana" out of prison granted his deviant tendency?) does uneasily jostle against tangible advances for its destitute. I heard a Chicano Marxist (almost synonymous adjectives?) professor boast that democracy need not be the goal of a nation. He defended Cuba thus.

Not that I agreed with him two decades ago or now. But, this play made me wonder.

Is this Communist double standard any less mendacious than our own free-enterprise, stockholder-appeasing paradise of Miami and points north by northwest? HMO/PPOs for a dwindling few peons vs. County General's mismanaged setup for the pobrecitos as we fatcats and anorexics irrevocably totter? Penthouse gusanos wherever they were born served by us robots. As we do to the affluent here, the rest of the planet caters to us the same. Reminds me of the film "Metropolis."

Does this status quo for the "developed" world represent the failure of any State to care for its masses? Can a socialist nation survive in our multinational hegemony? Locally, the overwhelming predicament of our city, county, and nation shows the results of a market economy that loves cheap labor and turns a blind eye to its borders. Democrats welcome new voters and Republicans woo old cronies. We who actually have to live outside the Westside face the consequences: too many impoverished and too few workers footing the tax bill. What happens to morality when we pay $180 billion for a war in Iraq as we slash basic services?

Down from la caja de jabón. Proud of you, Policiero Leo. Yo estoy orgulloso, mijo numero uno. End of lecture.

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