Monday, February 9, 2015

Mystery Panel -- Feb. 10/ 6:30

Don’t forget to sign up for Tuesday night through the Annenberg Website.
I am thrilled to be hosting the mystery panel at the Annenberg Beach House tomorrow night. Part of it is selfish. When I sent  my application to the Powers that Be to get this residency, I sent in a piece of a mystery, so I am poised to ask the panelists a million questions. Tell us your tricks. Reveal how you pull rabbits out of hats. Show us why you love Los Angeles as a setting. Do you revel in this place as much as I do.
At the moment, I am sitting here, watching the sunset over a rough ocean. The sky is strange tonight. It’s pale blue at the top, then fades to white, to yellow, to orange, to a layer of clouds that drop into a roiling sea. The colors are pastel, quiet; the vibrancy isn’t going to arrive tonight. The sun will go down without fanfare.
But back to tomorrow and the panel: All four of our panelists have experience in film, television and fiction. Richard Rayner has also written non-fiction about LA crime and has a thorough knowledge of all the true dastardly deeds that gave rise to the noir of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hamett, and others. Southern California, despite the complaints about traffic and superficiality, has traditionally offered great riches -- gold, oil, entertainment, weather, breathtaking landscapes. It’s a place where the Bird of Paradise and Hibiscus are ubiquitous enough to seem like wild flowers (are they?). LA has enticed strivers and dreamers to come here. What sometimes looks ordinary in LA, appears extraordinary in those places from which many of us have come (writing a book. making a movie.). When I first moved to California from Boston, I heard, “LA? Why would you go out there? There is no culture.” I don’t think anyone could say that with any conviction today. And if they did, they would be showing an ignorance that comes from not knowing who we Los Angelinos really are. Our culture does not just exist in our theaters and museums (which rival the best in the world), but in our out-of-the-way galleries and in our unique stories.
The Marion Davies Guest House (where I am lucky enough to have an office during this residency), is a place where docents volunteer time to explain the history of a building that originated in a love affair. These docents revel in the history of their city; they understand well that culture is contained in everything from a city’s history to its commitment to contemporary artists. Sometimes, I feel that Marion Davies is wandering the halls, looking in on us all, and smiling.

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