Literature In Los Angeles

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In LITERARY FICTION on May 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Problem is, Gary was meant to be a girl.
At least, this is what his mother-to-be wished for.

She wanted a girl just to call her Gabry.

Of all her addictions, Brad’s Gabry had always been the most dangerous one.

She was sixteen and she had a plan.
One night, she ran away from home to go see him in Hollywood.
To meet him for the first time. To chain him for life.

Actually, she didn’t really need to run away from home:  the only person in that van in a Long Beach parking lot was her mother and, she wasn’t exactly in the mood for prohibitions.

She was lying on the old couch in front of the fuzzy TV, trying to smoke a cigarette that she was too knocked out to bring to her mouth.
She just looked somewhere else, somewhere really far away, somewhere Gary’s mother-to-be tried to reach when she went down on her knees, took the cigarette away from her incendiary fingers and whispered “…Mom, I’m leaving.

The blind throaty sound she got as a response was not even close to something that can lead to a runaway.

She slowly stepped out of their van, lit a cigarette in the loneliest of her nights and, as her golden hills were impatiently beating on the mud, her mouth was blowing to the dark sky her crave for a change.

The red car of her girlfriend finally appeared through that industrial jungle.

The freeways sped them up to the hills of fame and their fake IDs opened the doors of the entertainment boulevard.

By the time she made her way through the crowd to the front row, Brad was already on stage.

He was rock.
He was punk.
He was God.

Somehow, Brad saw her too.
Somehow, she snuck from her private hell to his heavenly body.
Somehow, her hot, damned, undone fragility pierced his heart of lights.
Somehow, their rendezvous broke through the locked up gates of history like any other love story had done before.

He could never say no to her.
He couldn’t say no to the grip she had on his skin, to the mark she left on his lips and to all her desperate attempts to prove that, for once in her life, someone, someone like him, someone still able to experience life, really belonged to her.

Here Gary comes.
A boy was born.
But, Gabry was the name for a girl.
Gabry was the name of her song. Not really her song, as Brad wrote it before meeting her and never revealed for whom but, still, her song.

Gary is Gabry without the middle b, after all,” she thought.
That’s how she picked it as the name for her son and she seemed satisfied enough.

Brad, instead, seemed nothing but gone and… he actually was.
By the time he held Gary in his arms for the first time, he had been sent on a tour bus for his first world tour.

As time went by, Brad’s tour bus became a private jet and their home became a real home.
Not a crumbling van parked in a corner of hell but a brand new mansion in the Pacific Palisades.

But, Brad was never there; he was always far, on a rock ‘n’ roll stage somewhere.
He was being sent on another world tour and she was being sent home.
She was sent out of his way.
She was sent to the side, and she always felt alone.
Unfortunately, she was not completely alone:  she was with herself.

When Gary turned three, Brad had already toured Europe, Asia and America for the third time in a row.

Something had mysteriously changed him.
Now, even when he was in LA, he felt more comfortable in a room at the Chateau Marmont rather than at home with his family.
God only knows why.

She went back to that first night she ran away from home to see him in that Hollywood club.
She became that girl again.
Difference is, now she had no hope.

She was spending her days under the sun, on the deck of their Palisades home.
She was waiting.
She didn’t know for what; she was just waiting.

She waited until her biggest trouble found her.
One day, he knocked on her door.
Unfortunately, Gary was behind that door too.

This unexpected loser, this unannounced wannabe, this inconsistent nothing, this solid nature’s failure was looking for a revenge on Brad through Gary’s mother’s loneliness’ door and he found it wide open.

She fell for him right away.
Not enough, she was also persuaded that he was the only love of her life and Brad had been only a passage to him: she started saying she had probably been attracted to Brad only by the similarities they obviously had, since they were brothers.

In order to boost her new wannabe’s self-esteem, which was clearly a bit down, she never refrain to express her new feelings for him in front of the audience in the house, that was always and only her little Gary.

Very soon, this wannabe felt like his time to make it big had come.
But, to make what, exactly?  To even come close to the fame of his brother in the music business was impossible.
So, he tried first painting, then surfing and, at last, acting.
The only positive feedback came from the closing credits he got for being interviewed in one of the many videos about his rockstar brother.

Until, one day, it came to his mind that he could succeed in the only thing Brad had failed: to give Gary’s mother the baby girl of her dreams, Gabry.

One night, as he was watching her asleep, he felt the right moment had come. 
By the time she came back from her hangover, she would find her dream come true.
By the time she came back from her hangover, his performance would be done irreversibly.

He took his thing out.
He made it hard.
He made it sharp.
Then, he undressed Gary and began the surgery.

Widow by Michael Hussar

“That was probably the work of someone who accidentally drank a little.
This is all Gary’s not-anymore-mother was able to tell the police, the social workers, the judges, the journalists and whomever showed up at her door with the same horrifying pictures and questions: “Could you please explain us who did this to your son?!”

“That was probably the work of someone who accidentally drank a little.”
She never had anything else to say.
To Gary, she never said anything at all.

Then, one day, she just hid all of her words under a grave of pills.

The wannabe instead, on his side, had a lot to say to the doctors who studied his chemical induced psychosis.
He was telling them that, if it was not for a few unlucky accidents (he was probably referring to the multiple and severe infections and traumas his attempt of sex change surgery on Gary caused him), that would have been the greatest art work of his life.
Though, he was blaming himself for the two beef steaks he took from the fridge as Gabry-to-be’s breast implants: they were not round-shaped enough.

At the time, Gary was six years old.
At the orphanage he was taken to, he was given a picture of his dad Brad, holding him in his arms in the bathtub of a hotel room.
His mother had taken that picture.

The more he looks at that picture, the more he feels his mother is still there; holding that camera behind him, holding Brad’s heart, holding their family together.

The more he looks at that picture, the more illusions of compassion replace the torment of the carmine cuts on his white chest.

The more he looks at that picture, the more he turns his enormous girly eyes to you and says:
“Just call me Gabry. That’s the name my dad wrote on my destiny with a song a long long time ago….”

Story by Liliana Isella.

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In LITERARY FICTION on May 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Father of mine
Tell me where have you been?
You know I just closed my eyes
My whole world disappeared

You know, maybe this guy is right.
This guy is the nephew of the building manager.
He’s the one who’s letting us stay here even now, after the remodeling.

The new tenants seem to have money.
You can tell from the cars in the parking spots and from the way they look at us or, actually, don’t at all.
But Jesus doesn’t care. He just calls them The Rich Losers and lets us stay here.

His uncle has been the manager here for twenty years.
When he got this position, he couldn’t believe it; all his friends who had crossed  the Mexican border with him were still burning their backs under the sun of the San Fernando Valley—for nothing.
They were all still illegal, working as bricklayers and not even able to speak English—not yet.

Instead, he had studied hard for all his first year in Los Angeles, working ten hours a day as dishwasher in a Mexican restaurant—seven days a week.
Every day he used to get off work and run straight to his free English class for immigrants on Lincoln and Venice.
It was hard because he had no time left for anything else but it became worthy when, in the same restaurant, he was promoted to busboy. And then, to server.

One day, just by talking to one of his frequent customers, this opportunity to become a building manager came up.
He had to take a six-week training course; done that, his new job was set.
The new building company also sponsored him for a green card; that way, he obtained the freedom to go back and forth from Mexico as much as he liked.

And, it was right on one of his trips to Oaxaca that he persuaded his youngest sister, this fourteen-year-old peasant, to move to Los Angeles.
He paid the coyote the double of what they usually charge just to make sure nobody would rape her.

This Mexican little thing made it safe to Los Angels but, once here, she didn’t make it so in the little alleys of the big Angels’ City.
You know, shit happens: she found a buddy who got her pregnant but the buddy was beating her, so she gave birth alone. Then she found another buddy, but he was beating her too so, once again, she gave birth alone.
By the time she was nineteen, she had found lots and lots of new buddies and given birth for the third time.
After that, nobody knows what became of her.

People don’t even exactly know who, among all of those buddies, Jesus is the son of.
He has always been said that his mother went to study English in a school that is far away and she will be back soon.
This is a lie—of course—but, it’s true that she really needed to learn English: as a fact, she could always find plenty of buddies but never a single word, when she had to speak.

Thank God, Jesus is always too high to wonder why his mother picked a school that is so far away, when there are tons of free classes just in the neighborhood.

In the meantime, the uncle and his wife have been trying to raise Jesus as their own son, together with their other six children.
But, it’s not easy. You know, people might not know who Jesus’ father is but, sure they can tell he’s the son of a Mexican bitch.

Because, when she disappeared, she took away her two other children but Jesus.
Because, at some point, rumors were suggesting the reason why.
Because, for those rumors, Jesus is the son of his uncle.

Yes, for those rumors, Jesus is the son of a loving brother who used to fuck his tiny innocent sister.
Can you believe that?

Story by Liliana Isella.


* Father of Mine by Everclear.




Story by Liliana Isella.

Woman you’re a mess
gonna die in your sleep…*

There was something, about this girl.

This Afro-American girl, Geena, was totally into the party scene and totally into the rock ’n’ roll scene. She was a groupie; a while ago, she had traveled on the tour bus with a pretty famous local band a few times. The first time was when she was dating the bass player; the second, when she was dating the singer. The third time, I guess she was dating the lighting technician, but I am not sure—maybe it was the sounding technician, instead.

She was also totally into the drug scene, but totally healthy enough to hike every morning up to the Hollywood Hills. She used to make this daily effort ‘cause hiking is totally a Hollywood thing and she was totally a Hollywood girl.

And, above all, she was an actress. Totally.

Excuse me if I am using all these “totally” but, for a little while, I was totally sucked into the memory of her quick way of speaking that was full of all these “totally.”

The vision of the black and fuchsia highlights all through her long, bleach-blonde hair was confusing, especially because of the contrast with her dark skin. And there was something weird also about her disarticulated thin limbs, about her big, black eyes, about her too linear eyebrows and about her red, full, juicy lips.

Watching her was a totally capturing experience. There was something disturbing about her figure, but still, you just couldn’t stop looking at her when she was talking about the fake ID she got to get into the clubs because she’s under age, or when she was talking about the twenty empty bottles of vodka her landlord took out of her trash and set in front of her door in the attempt “to show me what? That I am an alcoholic? Of course, I am not, motherfucker!” or,  when she was talking about her ex-model boyfriend that “…left for London to shoot this commercial, and after that we were supposed to move in together in a luxury 1940s condo just off Hollywood Boulevard, the same condo Veronica Lake had lived in for a certain time—he had promised it—but over there, some fucking where in Europe, he met this girl, this Burberry’s heiress, and I do not know how—but I think because of her money, what else would it be? I mean, he loved me, he still loves me. Totally—they got engaged, and… and I just can’t believe it. Really.
A common friend, another model that was there shooting the same commercial with him, said that the week before that my boyfriend got engaged to that bitch, one evening they had gone out all together for a few beers in a pub and my boyfriend was showing her pictures of me and… and, after that, I don’t know what the fuck that bitch put in his mind. I don’t know, but I know that he did not come back anymore, not to me at least, maybe to L.A.; but who knows where, in L.A. He just didn’t answer the phone anymore, not even the million times I tried to call him with the blocked number—maybe he knew it was me.
Fuck…. He was gone, totally gone, and he stayed so for a long while.
Until, the other day.
The other day, the sun was hot and it was just a shining afternoon and I was going to the Chateau Marmont to have drinks by the pool with this guy, Randy, this thirty-something producer from the East Coast that was in town for the Oscars.
I was in my car on Sunset Boulevard. I was almost there, almost at the hotel, and just one block before, the light turned red. I stopped my car and… and… and, under that blinding sun, I turned my eyes up, and… and he was there! I mean, my boyfriend was there! I saw him!
I saw my boyfriend for the first time after he had left for London to shoot that fucking commercial! He was standing there, under the blinding sun, looking at me. Can you believe this?
He was staring at me! He was staring at me from the big Armani’s advertisement on the Sunset Strip, the one next to the hotel. Fuck, I couldn’t believe that. I just couldn’t. I broke down, totally.
I mean, I was almost there, so I didn’t give up on my drinks with the producer, because I am an actress and hanging out with the right people in the right places is my job, even when I am totally broken inside.
Once I met with the producer I tried to forget I had seen my boyfriend on that poster just a few minutes earlier and I tried to make an impression on him, no matter what.
And, I think I did, but… I mean, the sex was totally great, especially the blow job I gave him in the Jacuzzi—“the best blow job ever, baby”, he said. He liked also my new boobies. You wanna see them? He wanted to fuck them. I liked it. I grabbed his dick and I started sucking and licking it like I hadn’t drunk or eaten for days. Then with my hand I grabbed his neck—with the other one I was still holding his cock—to make him look at me while I was sucking and I looked into his eyes like I never had something so tasty in my mouth in my whole life and… and he came in my mouth.
He loved it. I learned how to please any cock from a movie my ex boyfriend, the one I was with before my boyfriend, showed me.
My ex-boyfriend was performing in it with a hole he had just hired to shoot this educational video for all the chicks he was dating. He wanted to make sure that any slut who craved his cock was able to suck it properly, he said.
But, the perfect blowjob I gave the producer in the Jacuzzi comes with another secret: for the all the time, I imagined the producer was my boyfriend. I had the vision of his stunning body in front of me, like in the picture of the big Armani ad on the Sunset Strip.
Not even the three Martini Vodkas in a row the producer bought me before the blowjob, or the two Sex On The Beach I had right after, saved me from thinking about my boyfriend: it kept coming to my mind that maybe he took her to Paris, the city we were dreaming of getting married in.
I mean, it was too much to think about. So, after the blowjob, I totally broke down and cried in front of the producer and he got kind of mad like, “…what’s wrong with you? I thought we were having some fun….”
I tried to be like, “We are, honey, totally….”
But, right after I broke down again, he asked me to leave; he said he had forgotten about a meeting he had to join in a little while.
Though, before he left, I came out of the Jacuzzi and, while I was wrapping myself in one of the hotel’s towel, I asked him, “Am I still ok for that part in that movie?” and he said, “I’ll call you, baby, ok?”
So, at least, I will be in something soon—as soon as he calls me.
My boyfriend will see me somewhere as I saw him on the big Armani advertisement on the Sunset Strip and he will remember what I look like and he will regret that he left me and he will feel the urge to call me and…. And I’m sorry, but it will be too late because, by that time, I will be someone, and I won’t be there thinking of him, drinking for him and crying for him; not anymore… totally not.”

Yes, there was something disturbing about her figure, but still, you just couldn’t stop looking at her when she was talking about this new drug called “speed” all of her friends—and herself—are into. When she was talking about how she would like to take a break from alcohol to make it big as an actress, but she said it is just the acting thing, all those auditions that seem to lead her nowhere, that makes her drink. When she was talking about how she would let the cocaine out of the picture, but she said the coke is just what she needs to stay sober from drinking. When she was talking about how her mother, that is married to someone in Colorado, calls her “all the time, just to make sure I don’t go to sleep too late at night… but we always end up getting so mad to each other.”

There were so, so many other things she was talking about. And, even if they were making no sense at all, you couldn’t stop listening to her. You couldn’t stop watching her.

There was something, about this girl.

Story by Liliana Isella.

Photo: Model Chanel Iman.


* Once Bitten Twice Shy by Great White.



In NO SPEAK ENGLISH on May 5, 2010 at 11:03 am

L’odore del cloro prende alla gola sin dalla strada. Un odore coriaceo, che si ostina sulla pelle molte ore dopo il bagno. Una volta oltrepassata la porta giunge invece il rumore sordo dell’acqua agitata dai corpi e le grida giocose dei bambini tra gli spruzzi. 

Ambiente piastrellato, igenico ed ovattato. Si accorge che quella che lei ha sempre considerato una distrazione – il fatto di dedicare la propria pausa pranzo ad una sana nuotata – non ha in realtà nulla di spaesante rispetto alle giornate passate in ospedale.
Spinge avanti due monetine verso il cassiere, e si avvia verso gli spogliatoi. 

Nascosta in un vicolo del quinto arrondissement, nel cuore del Quartiere Latino, la piscina Pontoise è un gioiellino architettonico degli anni trenta. Sotto un’immensa vetrata si specchia la grande vasca circondata dalle cabine, distribuite su tre piani e separate dal vuoto da una sottile ringhiera in ferro battuto.
I cabiniers accolgono i nuotatori, scelgono per loro una cabina e ne aprono e chiudono la porta.   

Vi si respira un’atmosfera che ricorda quella dei primi bagni romagnoli:  le porte sono di legno azzurro o bianco a seconda del piano, ognuna con un forellino ritagliato proprio all’altezza degli occhi per permettere di afferrarle, essendo prive di maniglia. A Bianca ricordano i film interpretati da Edwige Fenech negli anni del voyeurismo soft; chissà quanti si sono lasciati tentare da una sbirciatina. 

Fa un cenno al cabinier perché le apra la numero 75. Appoggia la borsa, si toglie le scarpe, fa scivolare le calze, sfila lentamente gonna e camicia e li ripone con cura sull’appendino.
Una volta nuda, osserva con occhio critico il proprio corpo:  i piedi con le cipolle che iniziano a dolerle perché porta troppo spesso i tacchi, le unghie senza smalto, i polpacci salienti e la pelle delle coscie che inizia a cedere proprio sopra al ginocchio. 

Il pube, e i suoi riccioli neri. So eighties, direbbe Matthieu, che si rifiuta di farle l’amore se non è perfettamente depilata.
“L’épilation intégrale est une mode héritée des films pornographiques américains. Elle reflète l’influence de la culture américaine sur les mœurs européennes et l’obsession hygiéniste de la société d’aujourd’hui”*, ha letto nel quotidiano Le Monde.
Anni di lotta per la parità e siamo ancora qui, pensa annodando la lunga capigliatura in uno chignon.

Eppure la affascinano queste contraddizioni, sopratutto quelle di Matthieu, che si scandalizza quando lei racconta che in ufficio il suo stipendio è piu’ basso di quello dei suoi coetanei di sesso maschile, che accetta di essere invitato a pranzo senza considerare l’invito un’offesa alla sua virilità, che rivendica alto e forte la condivisione delle fatiche domestiche.
Matthieu è anche molto attento al proprio aspetto fisico, compra creme anti-rughe, sceglie ed abbina con cura i vestiti e si reca regolarmente dall’estetista.
Metrosexuel, direbbero i sociologi. Una volta sotto le coperte, pero’,  scopre un uomo che ama possedere, che le chiede di incarnare le proprie fantasie e preferisce farla sua da dietro. 

Dopo avere indossato il costume,  si volta verso la porta. Incuriosita, si avvicina forellino per guadarvi attraverso, trovandosi alla sua altezza.
Sussulta. Una pupilla in tutto simile alla sua la osserva; pupilla marrone che appena intravista scompare. Con uno scatto  indietreggia, troppo sorpresa per reagire. Afferra poi la porta ma fatica ad aprirla e, una volta fuori nel corridoio, è vuoto. 

Le scappa da ridere. Prende l’asciugamano e si incammina verso la vasca.
Da un’occhiata all’orologio a muro: sono le 12.50. Si fissa mentalmente l’obbiettivo delle 13.35.
45 minuti è la durata minima dello sforzo fisico perché sia produttivo”, le ha insegnato Adrien. Sotto i 45 minuti, tanto vale starsene a casa sdraiata sul divano a sgranocchiare pop corn davanti alla TV.
Bianca si aggiusta gli occhialini sul naso, sistema la cuffia e lancia braccia e testa davanti a se in un tuffo. 

Photo by Alice Sienna

Acqua. Un brivido la percorre mentre si lascia scivolare nel blu.
Quiete dei fondali metropolitani. Le piace nuotare perché il silenzio, unito al ritmo dalla sua respirazione subacquea, schiarisce le idee. 

Dal fondo della vasca ed intravede le sagome di altri corpi che si muovono lenti.
D’estate, quando abbandona la spiaggia per il largo, le piace osservare la superficie da sotto, filtrata dallo specchio mobile del mare.
Muove piano le mani e segue con lo sguardo le scie dei flutti e i riflessi dei raggi di sole, ma presto viene risucchiata a galla. 

Nella sua corsia i nuotatori si inseguono in una danza disarticolata trascinando scie di bollicine, come nuvole perse in un cielo terso.  
Si unisce a loro nuotando a rana, mantendosi a debita distanza dall’uomo che la precede.  
Pensa all’ultima cena con Matthieu, segnata dal tintinnio delle posate sui piatti e dallo sguardo fuggente di lui mentre le parlava del piu’ e del meno.
Era già tardi quando sono arrivati al ristorante; hanno ordinato frutti di mare e c’erano le ostriche ma lei non aveva fame; non aveva fame perché sapeva che lui stava per dirle quella cosa

Ma alla fine lui non ha aperto bocca, se no per quel piu’ e quel meno. Hanno bevuto molto vino bianco ed entrambi non vedevano l’ora di lasciare la tavola.
Lui poi ha finto un mal di testa e si è rifugiato in un taxi. 

Non riuscirà ad ammetterlo.  Scaccia via i pensieri concentrandosi sul nuoto. Deve mantenere il ritmo perché ha scelto la corsia veloce dove di solito si nuota a stile libero, mentre lei si ostina a nuotare a rana. 

Durante la pausa pranzo le altre corsie sono affollate da casalinghe in sovrappeso o pensionati che procedono lenti. Le poche volte in cui si è trovata fra loro ha optato per la tavoletta, lavorando sulle gambe, e anche li’ era troppo veloce. 

Sentendosi raggiunta, accellera il ritmo e cosi fa il battito del suo cuore pressato dallo sforzo. Affonda e solleva la testa dall’acqua soffiando l’aria fuori dai polmoni con energia. Quando gli occhialini le si appannano, si decide a prendere fiato. 

Tornata in cabina si toglie il costume che fa splash a terra. Com’è brutto il rumore dei vestiti bagnati. Appicicaticcio, come l’odore del cloro.
Strofina energicamente il corpo e i capelli con la salvietta. Piegandosi per asciugare i piedi si accorge di aver calpestato un foglietto di carta e lo afferra con la punta delle dita.
E’ inumidito e l’inchiosto è sbavato, ma si riesce ancora a leggerne il contenuto.
“Je vous ai vue, vous êtes belle. Vous m’avez vu aussi et vous avez aimé. Appelez-moi.” **
Segue un numero di telefono. Lettere e numeri si ritagliano sulla carta  con eleganza, sottili ed affusolati, quasi a tradire l’abitudine dei legami epistolari.

Bianca si avvia verso l’uscita. Fuori c’è il sole e soffia un venticello frizzante che ricorda l’inverno.
Si lascia sorprendere da uno starnuto e le torna in mente quel proverbio carico di saggezza popolare:“Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil.”***

Story by Alice Sienna


* La depilazione integrale e’ una moda ereditata dai film pornografici americani. Riflette l’influenza dei costumi americani sulla cultura europea e l’ossessione per l’igene nella societa’ del giorno d’oggi.

** Ti ho vista, sei bella. Mi hai visto anche tu e so che ti ha fatto piacere. Chiamami.

*** Aprile, non ti scoprire piu’ di un filo.
Il proverbio vuole intendere che ad Aprile la bella stagione puo’ ancora alternarsi con le piogge; in questo caso, oltre a riferirsi allo starnuto della protagonista Bianca, si riferisce ironicamente anche al suo togliersi i vestiti nella cabina della piscina.

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