On looking for a place
Location location location – such is the power and frequency of real estate agent numbspeak that one begins, in the midst of the frantic scramble to find a place, to absorb it and apply it to other areas – to orgasm, or to ontology. It is a wagon train of vacuity, and in a sense it unlocks the secret principle upon which America’s manifest destiny was built: the search for an anyplace, a utopia, an Eldorado, the Big Rock Candy Mountain. It is the lure of the emptiness on the map which exists, the map, anyway as a picture of the adventurer’s advance and vocation – to claim by describing. It is the American songline: location location location. This is the no there there of Gertrude Stein’s famous phrase, with 3br, a spectacular view of a spectacular view, and it won’t last long on the market at these prices.
The homeless and the homefull – such are the pertinent divisions in the state of our nation at present. We drive around Santa Monica with one (increasingly maniacal) eye peeled for the For Rent signs, and the other observing the native custom of slowly, slowly traversing the street at the lights – often because the natives have no other choice of speed, hobbling on canes, being convoyed in wheelchairs. Santa Monica has more than its share of retirement heavens. It is into this set that Whitey Bulger famously faded while avoiding the nationwide manhunt for him, and what my wife and I want to know is not the secret of his relationship with his FBI controllers as he finked out his crew or if he strangled his sub-captain’s girlfriend, but how the heck he managed to successfully wrangle a “fabulous 2 bedroom 2 bath with patio must-see” out of the maws of Westside Rentals, which has its mits on the whole rental business in this town.
Meanwhile, our standards fall as we strive for our own location glimmer. What you can get for a cool 1500 per month in other gooberish divisions of Los Angeles, such as I don’t know, Baldwin Hills, is simply laughed at in Santa Monica. Fork over 4000 and we will talk about a washer drier in your unit, sucker. Temporarily homeless and camping in our Airbnb rental in Venice, we feel the stress of the moment, our suitcases piled everywhere, poor Adam having to sleep with his parents like he did when he was three months old, and every day another irritation as one or another of our daily routines has to be modified. In this state of motion without a pre-determined endpoint, work suffers. I have three editing jobs to do, and I want to finish the sixteenth chapter of my novel, where the characters seem to me to be frozen in midgesture and the lovely farce of revelations and incidents I dreamed up weeks ago is beginning to fade, as the faucet of my invention (in a full bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and Mediterranean faux ceramic tile) is shut off. I need an imaginary plumber to unclog the pipes of my imagination, evidently. I need the wings of an angel to lift me above the wagon train of location location location that has led us all here to butt up, in our trashy glory, against the Pacific, which lends all this tawdriness its weather. We are not worthy. Really.