A French artist has made this installation piece in the Palais Royal with words from famous authors who've written about the Palais Royal; Flaubert, Zola, Colette etc. I think it's so very cool. A great synchronicity of words and place. It made me think of Christo, remember the artist who wrapped huge things in the 70's and 80's? We've got a print of Christo's wrapping of the Pont Neuf and I'd love to see some mesh of buildings, structures and monuments wrapped with words written to describe the stories set there.
I was just in LA for the West Hollywood book fair. It was a wilting 108 degrees - - of course I got lost driving downtown taking surface streets to avoid the freeways and ended up in some decrepit once flamboyant area of old Hollywood. Full of 30's Spanish stucco bungalows and old apartment buildings that knew better days...very Chandleresque. You could almost see a man with a Fedora hat stopping on the heat flattening pavement to light a cigarette. Or Mae West pulling up in big Packard with her retinue of rent boys and swirling a boa. The tall sentinel Palm trees lining the streets and out in Glendale the coyotes cried in the early morning. Eerie keening like screams. It made me want to know the history of this place when orange groves filled the landscape instead of the #405 and strip malls. To know the geography when the air held no smog, the streetcars ran, the past of these buildings, these mean streets Chandler wrote about. LA despite it's Elayness still evokes more than the less than tasteful billboards on Sunset Strip, the tourist buses heading to the La Brea tarpits. There's an energy, most people come from somewhere else and it's an industry town. The industry being film and TV and writing. The real insiders treat their work as a craft, a trade. On one panel at the WeHo bookfair the creator and writer of Columbo, now in his 80's, was interviewed by Christopher Rice and talked about the old Hollywood. When writing a good story, script or 'treatment' meant something. How even in network TV a good story line dealt with issues, emotions and had something to say. "That's why Columbo became an icon, the everyday man who by sheer persistance and plodding got his 'man'. His raincoat, his old French car on the streets of LA, no one ever confused Columbo with anywhere else. People identified with Columbo and the stories I co-wrote with my partner still hold up." He then smiled and leaned forward "But I'll tell you the most important thing you need to remember about writing." Everyone leaned forward, wiping our brows in the heat. "Good writing is good writing."