THE BEST OF THE WORST

Let’s agree not to say or write 2020 was the worst year we can remember because, well, we don’t know what’s coming next.

I mean, no one could have predicted this sh-t show, this confluence of events, this utter turd avalanche that hit the world, and the United States in particular, for the last 12 months.

Sure, some of it.  But…all of it???

You can’t primarily blame any one person, but here on my throne in Hollywood I do

so, privately, each day.  And I do so publicly once or twice a week when I go on his twitter page and simply type –

LOSER. YOU LOST!

It’s cheaper than renting this van!
(currently googling how much it would be to rent this van #2021)

My husband thinks it’s immature and silly but hey, it makes me feel productive AND a lot better, two things I haven’t experienced much of since, well, 2019.

Admittedly, I do it partly in the hopes that he might see it or someone else will who could tell him.  But I mostly do it because one of the few positive things I’ve learned in this horrifically awful past year is that if some small act that doesn’t involve drug taking or violence lightens your load then hey, why not?

Does that make me no better than a Karen or a Ken

I’m gonna need to talk to the manager

Well, that’s for others to judge.  Which, I’ve also learned in the last year, is inevitable.

Speaking of judgments, I will admit that in wanting to normalize 2020, i.e. not give it any MORE than the already underserved and very extra special attention it’s currently getting, I attempted to make a traditional best and worst list.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Everything bad couldn’t come close to the totality of the year itself, so why list any one of them individually?  Everything good was simply just that — good.  Not great, not list worthy and certainly nothing much to write home, or here, about.

Perhaps there should be a moratorium on lists and awards for anything to the end of time for this entire year? 

Can someone make that rule? 

Joe?  Kamala?

She’s on it. #MOREMAYA2021

Do we want to give anyone that much executive power ever again?

I gotta say once I get past all the virus, disease, death, mask wearing and hand sanitizing of it all, well, there isn’t a lot left except the nascent smell of alcohol permeating everything in my room or on my person. 

Certainly not enough to explore the issue of executive power with.

And if there were I left them in a recorded Zoom chat that has likely already been permanently deleted. 

2021 – Year of the Hammer

Though as we all now know, nothing is permanent and certainly not one bit of it is EVER permanently DELETED.

I will say binging all six seasons of Schitt’s Creek nicely filled up a dozen or more evenings in our house this year.   And learning I’m not that unlike David Rose, only THREE decades older, filled a few online therapy sessions.

I found my religion

There were also the Sarah Cooper videos lip synching to audio of that LOSER spouting off recommendations of bleach injections; Leslie Jones’ Twitter commentary on those opining on the state of the world due to the LOSER; and a barrage of so much cable news that I became obsessed with writing to MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, gay man to gay man, in an effort to get him to purchase a shirt, jacket and pair of pants that fit him right.  That’s how much I felt obligated, as a newfound friend, to tell him. The same for Pete Buttigieg.

Of course, Kornacki was just voted one of the sexiest guys alive (Note: People’s “Chartthrob’) and Pete is moving to D.C. to be in Biden’s cabinet so in the long run it’s probably a good thing I didn’t excel at follow through all during all this turmoil.

Leaving that to Chasten… for now

Though watching Ryan Murphy’s Netflix version of The Prom was a great big gay piece of bubble gum that gave me relief for about as long as, well, bubble gum lasts. I could also say the same for Disney’s Hamilton, David Fincher’s Mank (Note: Watch Amanda Seyfried steal the Glenn Close’s eighth chance at an Oscar this April!), every Christmas movie on Hallmark and Lifetime and all of the many offerings on Turner Classic Movies that temporarily kept me from going insane.

Except for the Westerns.  I hate the TCM (or any, really) Westerns. There, I said it. 

Way harsh Chairy!

Though I did enjoy Damien Chazelle’s dramatic musical limited series, The Eddy (Note: Somehow sorta gay) as well as The Queen’s Gambit (Note: Somehow VERY gay).  Thanks Netflix and don’t think I haven’t noticed your 2020 recommendations have now confirmed a sort of, VERY definite pattern.   

Though not a list.  Never a list.

Which brings me to the one thing I DO gravitate towards and couldn’t resist this year  — the 2020 f-k off videos.

This… exactly.

If there were a best of list to be rightfully made for this past road kill of an almost obsolete calendar it would be each and every one of them.

You might want to listen to this viral TikTok ditty from this all female group called Avenue Beat, literally entitled “Fuck 2020.”  This year being what it is, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that these three young childhood friends from Quincy, Ill., who have been singing together since they were 14 year old, have already been getting major nasty Internet blowback for all the attention they’re getting.  To which I reiterate their message of:

Though equally as good was the Toronto advertising agency, Public Inc., that produced the ultimate mental health PSA, #Eff2020.  It’s everything you’ve thought and/or screamed at your TV, or out loud in small, socially distanced groups when you were feeling especially feisty  – aka – All. The. Time.

That being said, perhaps we should close out the year on some small positive note of… hope? I’m not an especially spiritual soul except when it comes to the white witchery of Stevie Nicks. 

She released this haunting new song in October and no one told me. 

But, I found it anyway.

And if that’s not a road map for 2021, well…..

Stevie Nicks – “Show Them The Way”

I’m Going to Dreamland

** Minor Spoilers of Netflix’s Hollywood ahead **

I don’t know about anyone else but for the last few months I’ve been living in dreamland.

This is a good place to be for about 50% of the time, given the realities of a worldwide pandemic.  Which doesn’t change the fact that for the other half of the time it’s been, let’s face it, kind of nightmarish.

Yeeps

Of course, nightmares are also dreams, just ones that bring out strong feelings of fear, terror, distress or anxiety.  At least, that’s the dictionary definition.

Though most of us don’t think of dreams or dreamlands quite that way.

We Americans especially like our dreams.  We like them so much we even once upon a time coined the aspirational phrase, The American Dream and had ourselves believing it for more than several generations.

In 1950, anthropologist Hortense Powdermaker took this idea one step further by famously naming Hollywood The Dream Factory.  In that seminal book, she masterfully dissected the push and pull between art and commerce in a culture and industry that has never done particularly well at balancing both.

Still, we soldier on and attempt to make sense of things, don’t we?  In much the same way we try to understand how a wonderful dream could just as easily become an unendurable, soul-crushing nightmare.

Certainly anyone who has lived in Hollywood for any length of time could wax poetic on both (Note: Depressingly so, for at least 50% of the time).  As a Hollywood resident myself for close to four decades, well, don’t get me started and don’t even ask where I would start….

It was with this understanding that I approached Netflix’s new Ryan Murphy miniseries Hollywood.   That is because, well, there is no other way to approach it.

Let Miss Patti take you for a ride

Hollywood is a perfectly flawed, dreamy, nightmarish and confoundingly implausible representation of the American, well, dream, told through the lens of moviemaking in the 1940s.

It’s fabulously beautiful in both sets and human beings, the latter of whom seem almost inhuman, especially the men.  But that’s the point, isn’t it?  When you can’t get beauty in real life Hollywood can always, to some degree, provide it.

How is this allowed?

It is also fabulously absurd in a fairly satisfying way as it attempts to bridge the gap of facts and fantasy by using the lives of both real life Hollywood people and make believe characters we might have enjoyed them encountering in order to address the sins and Pyrrhic victories of our collective pasts.

I, for one, don’t mind seeing a shy, soon-to be-famous Rock Hudson falling in love with a talented and very hot Black male screenwriter.  Not to mention, it’s pretty thrilling to experience the smart mouthy woman married to an obnoxious, know-it-all studio chief get the chance to choose what movies she thinks should get made when her husband becomes unceremoniously, um, indisposed.   Most especially, who wouldn’t enjoy seeing Eleanor Roosevelt making a convincing case for the first Black female star of a mainstream Hollywood movie to a mini-board room of power brokers and somehow managing to change history?

Too much, too silly, too ridiculous, too many plot holes?  I don’t think so.  And yes, of course, there are and it is.

Like most Ryan Murphy shows this is the point, the conceit, the infuriating flaw and the watchable/unwatchable challenge we’re up against.  We dealt with it to good and bad effect in every season of FX’s American Horror Story, raged at it all during the first season of his continuing Netflix series The Politician, admired the tight balancing act in the Emmy award-winning The Assassination of Gianni Versace and marveled at the sheer strangeness of it in his first bona fide big hit TV show, Nip/Tuck.

Not to mention his most delicious camp delicacy #mamacita4Ever

The one thing you can say about Mr. Murphy’s work is that it’s seldom drab and dull.  As a fellow gay man of a certain age, I’ve personally dubbed him The Great Pasticher.  Take any one of his series and you’ll find multiple homages to scenes from famous movies and TV shows, history, current events and pop culture in general all twisted in whatever fashion HE deems fit in order to tell a story.

It’s a love it or hate it approach to art but it’s almost never boring.  I’d rather deal with a zillion plot holes than be bored to tears and on this score, nothing he does, even the trashiest of the campiest, ever totally disappoints.

Boring is not in his vocabulary

One of the primary conceits of Hollywood is the centerpiece location of the Golden Tip service station (Note:  Oh yes, he did come up with that name), where men, women and presumably anyone in between can hire one of many hunky hot male attendants for sexual favors and get their every tank imaginable filled to dizzying effects.

All you have to do is drive up to the gas pump, look into the attendant’s eyes and utter the magic phrase:

I WANT TO GO TO DREAMLAND.

Take me away

And then, yeah, it’s just that damn easy.  In fact, far, far simpler than finding the balance in real life and, well, who wouldn’t like that???

Of course, this fictional filling hole is not made up out of thin air but rather a roman à clef version of a gas station in the real 1940s Hollywood famously run by the late Scotty Bowers. 

If you’re a gay guy of, once again, a certain age like myself and Mr. Murphy and haven’t heard of Scotty at this point, well, that’s impossible.  But for the rest of you, check out his 2012 memoir, Full Service, about the business in question and you’ll see Hollywood (the miniseries, at least) strays only far enough away from the facts to make its overall point.  You might also want to check out the 2017 documentary of his life, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood and ask yourself if, at the end of the day, you don’t find everything he says and has claimed, well, mostly true

This is the consistent aspirational nature of much of Mr. Murphy’s work.  That would be a what if fantasy correcting the past for any of us who have been or ever felt marginalized. (Note: This of course, is pretty much everybody as far as real-life Hollywood is concerned).

It’s not always an accurate or totally buyable portrayal but, somehow, if you squint, he often makes it seem possible and, strangely, beautiful.  It’s a different kind of dream factory, to be sure, but one that gives us a brief respite from the Nightmare (Note: Pick One) we’re currently living through quite nicely.

Netflix Hollywood Trailer Music