Thursday, October 21, 2010

Melancholia

"In a real dark night of the soul," F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day." Scott knew a little something about living in Southern California. That inner storms rage here, even though the skies remain mostly blue. That there are a lot of starry smiles masking ulterior motives. He understood the surprising vagaries of this place. He quickly figured out the weird duality of paradise. He dealt with it mostly through gin bottles, discovering the way a couple of drinks made everything funnier, but a slew of them brought torrents of sad, the kind of sad that never fit in with all the palm trees and sunshine.

There is a rumor that Fitzgerald once got thrown out of South Pasadena's Raymond hotel. The story goes that he got drunk and said the place had too many god damned flowers. The same story has also been attributed to Charlie Chaplin... someone else who understood the light and dark of this part of the world, and the way both are yin/yanged here forever. And if you live in Southern California long enough, you'll spend time on both sides. Not all of us reach for a gin bottle. Some of us just crawl under the covers, instead.

It rained in South Pas yesterday. It was a good day for a bad mood. It was a good day for huddling in one of the lighter, lovelier parts of Los Angeles -- one with all those (wonderful) god damned flowers. It was a good day for lurking inside within your shadow while nature rinsed away some of the outside grime.

Three o'clock in the morning? Yeah. Definitely. But this time just for one day.

20 comments:

Gunn said...

Thanks for sharing both the photograph and the text that goes so well with it.....
Greetings from Gunn ( Stavangerdailyphoto.com)

Jilly said...

Love the photograph. I think that feeling - when you are living in paradise - is 'not another damned day in paradise' or however the t-shirt slogan goes. Somehow we get the feeling we shouldn't get low when the sun is shining...

So often tho creative people such as those you mention are bi-polar - I suppose not really known in their day - genius goes with depression it seems.

Back to my dogs. woof woof ....!

You always get me thinking, dear Laurie. Love your words and photos.

Judy Williams said...

This has a happy sense for me. I can see a little girl looking up, making wishes on stars in the sky, after she pulls back the lace curtains. I can see rows of stuffed animals, caught in their forever smiling faces, sewn with buttons and hand made stitching. This, in its simplicity, takes me to a simpler time. No computers. No Ipods. No text messaging. When little girls looked up into the sky. Some said prayers. Some just dreamed.

Mister Earl said...

I was out of sorts yesterday. Maybe something strange in the air. Great photo and story. To think F. Scott might have been here, even drunk!

Green Guy said...

You match photo with words better than anyone. And both the images and the writing are fantastic.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

It's reassuring to hear I'm not the only one. Bring back the sun!

Dixie Jane said...

Everything looks better through a lace curtain. Maybe it is the reason I have them in my house. I know about huddling under the covers on a dreary day. But I love that blue sky and those god-damned flowers. And I love the way your telling touches my soul.

Dirk said...

Imagine if T.S. Eliot had had to live in LA for a while...he would have gone quickly insane. His cruelest month would have been almost every day. I'm glad the weather cooperated with you...a gray day makes a gray mood so much more bearable. Does everyone's mind work that way or is it just some of us?

Mike said...

What I think I like most about your work, Laurie, is that you allow yourself to be vulnerable to your readers and viewers. You aren't sarcastic in lieu of honest in your writing. There is too much forced cleverness out there.

And your photos are just first rate. This one is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Spooky!

Laurie said...

Thanks, everyone. You have no idea how great it was to read your kind words today. Sometimes we all need to feel a little creative connection, like other humans are hitting the balls you're lobbing over the net. Tribes speaking the same language. Colors blending. (Metaphors mixing! Ugh!)

You know what I mean.

Must have been something in the air yesterday. Whether it was the bottom of a gin bottle or the underside of a down blanket, I hope everyone crawled out today.

Ken Mac said...

did he coin the dark night of the soul phrase? We've all been there, often for many nights at a time

Mister Earl said...

@Ken Per Wiki, it was coined by 16th century Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross in a poem by that name. He later wrote a treatise with the same title, which was a commentary on the poem.

altadenahiker said...

I was just thinking yesterday how we quickly get and shed the blues around here. Three days of rain or three martinis, and I'm over my limit.

Raymond Hotel -- I didn't know that about Chandler! What a great piece of history. And what a great photo.

Jean Spitzer said...

Wonderful stuff out of such a cold and dreary day. were you in LA early enough to remember Chaplin's studio on La Brea? Later a recording studio.

Mister Earl said...

Chaplin's studio was later the home of A&M Records, the A of which was Herb Alpert. I went over there once in the early 80s to get a poster that I'd seen pictured in the Wall Street Journal. It was a poster for IRS Records. It had a picture of a G-Man with the logo, "IRS - Stepping Back Into the Future."

Laurie said...

I lived down the street on Formosa Avenue in Hollywood for two years when I first moved to Los Angeles. Know the studio well. Fond, fond memories of those days.

Laurie said...

In fact, I was just a few doors down from here -- Chaplin's French film set on Formosa, around the corner from A&M. Magical times in my old apartment which, we were told, was one of Valentino's first places he (briefly) lived.

http://blog.allanellenberger.com/book-flm-news/charlie-chaplin-film-set/

Jean Spitzer said...

Know this area well. Used to walk it as a child. Frequently alone. . . .Those were very different times. Not any safer, just less nannying.

TheChieftess said...

There must have been something in the air in the whole of California...it was a bit of a blue day for me too! It's been grey and cloudy and rainy all week...yesterday I was pining for the sunshine! Today...it's "another damned day in Paradise"!!!

(insert blessed for damned!!!)