Friday, April 29, 2011

Hollywood Boulevard & Death Drive (1933)

When I wrote about Hollywood's penchant for pummeling Los Angeles (read it here), I mentioned fiction that shared this apocalyptic perspective.  I cited Myron Brinig's The Flutter of an Eyelid, a novel from 1933 that ends with the destruction of California and the death of nearly all of its characters.  It is a strange, interesting, little-read novel with a biting sense of humor.  For instance, we see the various characters fall into the ocean, and one of them, a particularly obnoxious radio evangelist (fashioned after Amie Semple McPherson), is swallowed up by a whale -- then spit back out, apparently in disgust.

I wanted to I provide some passages from the catastrophic climax of Brinig's novel, passages that describe a scene much like the promotional poster for the movie 2012.  They may be a bit overwritten at times. but taken together, these paragraphs form a kind of prose poem that I rather like:

* * *

Los Angeles tobogganed with almost one continuous movement into the water.... From the sea, this furor of finality was a mammoth spectacle, as if the land were on wheels rolling into the depths of an invisible grave.  And as the land stood on end, like a sinking ship, the waves rose high with a hungry, mad roar, solid walls of water iridescent and exquisetely green in the sharp sunlight.  There was a breathless embrace of land and ocean, and of this conception death was born.  Horrified cries and screams pierced the atmosphere, a continuously moving wheel, a spectrum of sound.

Only winged creatures could escape; and all the singing birds released themselves from firmness into a sparkling freedom of swift air, until the blue of the sky could not be seen for birds flying away, to the sun and the seas and shores of Mexico and South America.  The small pink and white, blue and orange stucco houses of the shore were blown like colored sands into the tempest.... Trees were uprooted, and like captive women, dragged by their green hair into the mad, tumultuous arena of death.  Huge boulders were ripped from their smugness and fell like great meteors, many of them crushing men and women and children in their descent.  Presently, the birds in the sky were fewer; the sky was clear, the sun bright and harsh, moving like a golden chariot of triumph over a field of carnage....

For days and weeks, flotsam and jetsam of wreckage floated over the sea, pieces of fragments and odds and ends of color that had once been California.  But after a year, no one could know that California had once existed in this place, though the sky was ever blue and the sun was ever brilliant, going his grandiose way from East to West.

1 comment:

  1. AlbinoBlacksheep has his own twist on California's "demise".... I subscribe to the ending of his short-short film.

    [disclaimer: if yer sensitive to "expressive" language, a.k.a. cussin', this short-short film may not be for you]