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Bleak Projections & Joyful Noises

By Gary Gordon
Oct. 22, 2001

There’s a TV ad for Chevrolet that proclaims: “Drive = Love”.

I don’t know what to make of it. It strikes me as either incredibly profound, perhaps the answer I’ve been looking for all my life, or one of the most stupid, most ridiculous notions I’ve ever heard expressed. Then I think, I could be wrong.

Second-guessing. We’re all standing on shaky ground, looking for hand-holds, each with our own ways of making sense of it all.

My way is to try to find the unified field theory of the apparently diverse elements that make up each day, or week, or month-you get the idea.

It’s got a back-beat, and it goes like this:

I re-read Leviticus and Numbers last week. Sure, everyone knows Genesis and Exodus, but if you want the really unpoetic, repetitive, busted narrative stuff, the kind of writing that probably inspired William Burroughs and J. Edgar Hoover: Leviticus and Numbers.

Speaking of numbers, at a hastily-called meeting of representatives of the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Pico Improvement Organization, the Main Street Merchants Association, Santa Monica Mall, and the City, it was revealed that Santa Monica might take as much as a 25% hit in tourism dollars spent here. That is bleak, and will have major ramifications.

The sales clerk at Sears was unaware that the local economy is in trouble. At least, I think she was unaware, because she really didn’t give a damn if I bought anything, and certainly didn’t feel like helping me out when I was trying to find out if I could look at the manual for a piece of equipment I thinking about buying.

This was a few minutes before I ran into Rich (the chef who makes the omelettes at the Main Street Farmer’s Market every Sunday) in the book store.

“How about that, we both read!” I exclaim.

“What’re you doing here?” he asks.

“I thought I’d get a copy of The Koran,” I answer.

“Yeah, I was just looking in that section,” he says, pointing to the Eastern Religions section.

I notice he’s holding a book about cooking.

“So how’s it going?” he asks.

“Oh, I just read Leviticus and Numbers the other night,” I answer, already having discovered that no one I’ve told this to has any idea of what to say upon hearing this.

So we talk about the plan for the City to allow people going to the Farmer’s Market to park at the beach lots for free and I tell him about the CVB meeting last week and the follow-up meeting this morning.

“It looks bleak,” I said. “The answer is a campaign: think globally, shop locally.”

Actually, the slogan we’ve come up with is: Shop Santa Monica.

Speaking of slogans, Jerry Rubin (the dead one) wrote in “Do It!” (way before Nike) that he was struck by the insanity of reducing the meaning of the word love by Shell Oil in their slogan “Cars Love Shell”. (This was in the 60s, before the era of Smart Cars, which, since the future is now, are capable of love, but, because the future is imperfect, are incapable of commitment.)

Speaking of oil… the emails fly (?) fast and furious, some suggesting that one reason We are Over There is to finally get that pipeline built, across Afghanistan, the one the Russians wanted to build back when they were the Soviets.

I look through the Eastern Religions Section and decide on three books: an English interpretation of the Koran, a book about the history of Islam, and a book about the Talmud.

In Numbers, 31, God apparently tells Moses to form an army and do battle with the Midianites. After they win, God tells Moses to massacre all the women and children. It is a spectacularly ugly passage, but I don’t know enough about the context, so I’m hesitant to take it at face value. I think this reluctance to simply state the obvious without filtering it through Spin Control would make me an excellent modern war correspondent.

I read the introduction to the Koran; it’s a history of previous translations of the Koran, many done with fantastic maliciousness. Then I read some of the history of Islam by an author praised by many Muslims and discover a bloody past-and that doesn’t even include the battles with the West. He points out that Islam has always been political as well as religious in that the story of the way the Prophet got it done is as important as why he did it. The history of Saudi Arabia and control of the holy sites alone is enough to provide many new meanings for the phrase “occupied territory” and notions of terrorism.

Then I remember: no religion, politics or sex at the dinner table.

The Yankees slaughter the Mariners; but the Diamondbacks won. At least no team that hijacked a stereotypical racist graphic of a native American will be in the World Series. And, I don’t like dynasties, in the geopolitical world or the world of baseball. Go Diamondbacks!

At the Concert For New York last Saturday night Clinton said: “We are mountains of courage with hearts of gold.” A very classy line. A goal. Then he introduced James Taylor, who sang “Up On The Roof” by Jerry Goffen and Carole King.

And once again I’m reminded, vividly, our strength is in our diversity.

I put away the books and my thoughts of the CVB meeting and watch the Bravo special called Popular Song; tonight it’s about the 50’s.

Frankie Laine, who prefers to be a jazz singer is recruited by Mitch Miller to sing “Mule Train”; Miller also recruits Tony Bennett to cover Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart”. Goffen and King write for the Shirelles, Phil Spector collaborates with Ellie Greenwich and her partner and The Righteous Brothers (from Orange County) on “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Lesley Gore, in what could be the first Feminist song (written by two men) sings “You Don’t Own Me”. Deanna Love, one of Spector’s favorite singers, sings King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”. Neil Sedaka demonstrates how his classical music training leads him to a Brazilian composer which leads him to a variation on a piano riff which he uses in “Oh Carol”. Burt Bachrach & Hal David write “Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa” for Gene Pitney, and an old-time Tinpan Alley songwriter, writes Rock Around The Clock--

You’ve got hillbillies, blacks, Jews, Italians, gays, people of all ages, city-folk, country-folk and even Orange County folks all collaborating on inspirational music-

No one can beat that.

Chevre means goat cheese. A chevron is a heraldic symbol.

Heraldic Goat Cheese = Love?


Music = Love.

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