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Fame and Leering in L.A.



6:55 p.m. Dear God! If four stoners could ever leave on time for anything the world would stop turning, the universe’s expansion would come to a screeching halt.

There are four of us speeding down Highway 101 in a little Toyota Corolla that seats four so long as they are circus midgets. Assistant Editor Lagos drives while I ride shotgun, scanning the radio for election news. My religious fanatic artist Mr. Lister sits in the back practicing his sketches, and Lagos’ boss McGrady sits next to him bitching about everything.

U2’s on the radio saying how it’s a beautiful day, but Bono’s full of it. The race between Bush and Gore is really tight, and the prospect of four years in the Bushes makes me tremble.

I woke up this morning and voted Nader, just for the hell of it. I knew Gore would carry California, so why not? He looks like a gremlin, but he wants to legalize pot.

And yet, a Bush administration intrigues me. With the backing of a Republican Senate and House, George W. could appoint neo-Nazis to the Supreme Court and enact legislation to deport every foreigner La Migra could find. He could go out of his way to shoot every last Alaskan polar bear and put an oil derrick on their graves.

At least there would be news. I would have columns for the next four years, maybe longer. Bush may just well be to me what Nixon was to Doctor Thompson – a man worthy of a little fear and loathing.

8:07 p.m. Gore just won California, and its coming down to Florida. Something like 76 percent of registered voters have turned out today to cast their votes, and the idiot on the radio is jabbering on about the causes of this year’s boost in voting.

I attribute the 100 percent boost to Jon Stewart and his “Daily Show,” but the idiot voice keeps talking out of the radio:

“The real question is … who’s going to win?”

Thanks for clearing that up, Chuck. I thought the real question was whether Bush likes sodomy.

9:20 p.m. After dropping McGrady off with the Democrats in downtown L.A., Lagos, Lister and I haul ass to the LAX Marriott. The ballroom is downstairs, but you can smell the rich near the escalator.

Inside the ballroom, about 300 of the most terrifyingly boring people I’ve ever encountered mill about sipping $5 bottles of beer, their eyes darting to the big screen TVs in the corner every minute or so.

Mr. Lister is all dreadlocks, Elvis sunglasses, a red club shirt and boots with flames on them. The Republicans look at him as though he’s a leper, and he cuts an easy path to the bar. I grab some “I Love Bush” buttons and disguise myself. Lister can afford to be a leper; he just draws. I have to actually talk to some of these horrid-looking people.

Later. The ballroom of 300 Republicans looks like someone kidnapped the rotary club of some small Midwestern town, stuck them in a room and forced them to smile and pretend they liked each other. The back quarter of the ballroom is a rat’s nest of TV cameras and media tables, and the ultra-bright lighting bounces off the pale, reddening faces of the guests. The room glows in a halo of cracker majesty, and I don’t want to talk to any of these people.

Gerardo the Marriott bartender is my new best friend. He too, thinks it’s bullshit that the Republicans can spend 170 million dollars on their campaign and not be able to afford an open bar for the election night party. My rum and cokes cost five bucks apiece, but by the third one Gerardo knows to pour them strong. Lister is having a field day drawing all the drunken, sagging, bloated, Republican faces, and they leave him alone. He just looks too weird.

A little later. Just when I resolve to stay near the bar, get drunk and talk to none of these boring idiot people, Lagos points out Jeff Todd. Jeff is 27, salesman, Republican. Jeff is wasted and loud. He hits on Marisa and three other Orange County debutantes in the same breath. They humor him like you would a sleazy uncle, and he saunters off to get more alcohol. I tell Lister to start sketching.

Jeff likes George Bush because of lower taxes. Every single Republican I interviewed mentioned taxes or investing their Social Security. Every time, like a trained seal, the party line came spewing out, and the party line was money.

“When the government starts investing in the stock market, everybody’s gonna be successful,” Jeff slurs. “Quit spending money on the little shit, and let’s get rich.”

Jeff had partied at a few election nights, and I ask him how tonight’s alcohol prices measured up.

“The Marriott is ridiculous. Whenever it’s a hotel they fuck you. They always rape you in hotels.”

Jeff’s face is severe, and I am unsure if there was some Sodomic back-story to his rape comment. Better not pursue it.

Later. The normally sedated Republicans cheer and wave when they realize their ballroom is on national television. A 10-second burst of jubilation for the cameras, then back to idiot conversation and drink guzzling. I hate these people more and more. It’s getting late and no conclusive results in the presidential race. My heart is especially going out to poor Lagos.

She has to write the straight news story. Trying to get intelligent quotes out of these half-dead, half-drunk Neanderthals is hard enough, but all they do is hit on her. I see some old Jewish Republican slobber a wet kiss on her cheek, and I know it’s almost time to go.

I find Lister sketching some terrible caricature of a Republican soccer mom, and I try to shield the awful sketch from any onlookers.

“Jesus that looks ugly,” I say.

“I kind of like them,” Lister says wistfully, “They’re so timid they just let me draw these sketches of them. Every now and then they’ll ask, ‘so what exactly are you drawing? But that’s it.’ ”

11:24 p.m. We’re on the freeway again, heading downtown again to pick up McGrady. In the silence I ponder the tour of hell that was the Republican election night party. In a way, the alcohol situation at election night was a parable for America.

Old white men and women bought overpriced drinks from Gerardo and Miguel, the Mexican bartenders, who were the only cool guys I met all evening.

The Mexican bartenders had voted Gore but made sure to smile when the cracker elite under-tipped them.

“They’re so rich. We thought they would tip right,” Gerardo said as he poured my fourth rum and coke. “We expected more.”

“Get used to it se-or, “I said. The crowd of Republicans erupted at some footage of Bush on the big screen. “That crazy fucker is going to deport your ass, so be careful. These are dark days.”

I tipped Gerardo well for my overpriced drinks. Contrary to the opinion of the guests, you can’t take it with you. I said hasta to G, and he gave me a warning.

“D’as negros, se-or.”

“S’, G. D’as muy negros.”

3:08 a.m. Home. The Nexus bunker. Everyone is drinking, and the paper is almost done. Florida is doing a recall, and no one knows who will be the next president of this mutant country. No matter who wins, nearly half the country is going to hate them.

I think its going to be Bush, and I know we’re all doomed. There hasn’t been this many Republicans running the show since 1954.

Remember 1954? Eisenhower. The Cold War. McCarthyism. “Happy Days” …

God help us all.

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