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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MERCANTILE AMERICA CONTINUED: DESERT MUSINGS AND THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

Do you travel as much as you used to? If not, you’re like us. Aside from our snowbird movements between Michigan and Florida, we don’t do much of it these days. That may account for why, during DBD we find ourselves reminiscing more about trips taken when we were younger.

--I was just thinking about your work as an extra.
--What about it? I bet you think it’s dumb.
--No, I don’t, that’s not true. It’s important work, as you point out every time we watch a movie. “See right there? Those are extras.” But I was thinking, by now, they should be running out of ideas for reality shows. “Real Housewives of Bayonne, New Jersey” must be in the pipeline. “So You Think You Can Mud Wrestle.”
--“So You Think You Can Tuckpoint.”
--Exactly. Remember when we were in Palm Springs?
--It was too far to fly for just five days.
--I know, but do you remember the tour we took?
--Mostly, I remember the dumb tapestries we bought at a consignment store in Rancho Mirage. But yes, I remember. I remember because we were the youngest people on the tour. Except for the driver. We were in a minibus with a driver who thought of himself as being in show business. He drove us past all the closed-up houses, giving us juicy tidbits.
--Except almost all the stars were dead. A bygone era, but he talked about them in the present tense. Big stars don’t live there any more. Unless you stick with the Charleston, it’s no good for clubbing. The stars who lived there are either in Forest Lawn, or some nursing home for actors. God, what must it be like in the day room?
--It was sad. The houses and landscaping were still being maintained, but everything looked bleached. Faded.
--Well, it’s a desert.
--I know. Bob Hope’s house was up on a mountain, wasn’t it?
--Yes. He was still alive back then. I remember wondering if he was up there in his wheelchair, looking down through a gun scope. He must have had one, after all those trips to entertain the troops.
--It was so dry.
--Yes. That was the first time I ever saw vapor being used at an outside cafe.
--Little jets of cool steam, that’s right. To add some humidity.
--Back to your film career. I was thinking, back in Detroit, we could put the third row in the van. You could offer visits to all the sites where you’ve been an extra.
--I see. Another tour bus.
--Why not? The whole thrust of TV now is someone’s take on reality, correct? You’re personable, well-spoken. You could wear what they asked you to put on for this movie or that. Your gawker costume, your airport waiting lounge ensemble. I see it catching on. Never mind stars dancing, or twenty-somethings whining about the bugs on some island. Give people down-and-dirty reality.
--That’s already been taken. There’s “Dirty Jobs,” there’s “Hoarders.”
--Too exotic. I’m talking the hard-scrabble, inside scoop on life as a movie extra in Motown.
--I could tell them about Sigourney Weaver, how real she is in life. How nice she was to the girl extra who asked for her autograph during a scene.
--Exactly. Or about Ron Perlman, who isn’t one bit like the heavies he portrays. Promise you’ll take notes from now on.
--I don’t know.
--Just think about it. Frankly, I don’t see why this couldn’t be syndicated wherever impoverished states like Michigan give the film industry huge tax incentives. Tapes of your show could be training films. See what I mean?
--Yes, well, I’ll consider it for consignment.

2 comments:

  1. You guys are cracking me up. Personally, I'd have to take that tour, not give it; I haven't got the energy left to entertain and it takes less and less to entertain me, so I'd be just the consumer you're looking for.

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  2. Nance-
    Not so: you entertain/inform me every time I read your work. In actual fact (at least from what Barbara's told me), a true-to-life reality-based tour and expose of life as an extra would somewhat resemble the film Andy Warhol made years ago of a man sleeping for eight hours. Everyone just waits around and waits around between "takes" that never seem to end. I am not personally interested in this career path.

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