from walls all around my office the airbrushed faces of celebrities (made up as pirates, rock stars, and revolutionaries) stare out at me from movie posters. Each movie star looks directly at me, like a dead uncle from a haunted oil painting. The men on the posters want to fight or tell me a bit of hidden wisdom, depending on their age. The women want to fuck me, or make love to me, depending on their character. There is a strict formula for these one-sheets. I have a poster on the cramped wall of the closet that I work in, but there aren't any people on it. It's for the movie Volcano.
Some of you might remember the movie Volcano. It was a Tommy Lee Jones "vehicle" about, remarkably enough, a volcano that erupts under Los Angeles. The great thing about the movie is that the volcano destroys the Beverly Center, a truly hideous mall in West Hollywood, in the last 10 minutes of the film. I hate the Beverly Center. There are two great things about the poster. the first is that no one is staring out at me, as it shows a wide shot of Los Angeles being engulfed in lava, and the second is that LA doesn't really look like the city on the poster. I mean, it's got our landmarks, but the city just doesn't look like the one on the poster. You can't see the Capitol building, the Hollywood Sign, and downtown at once from the north. The 101 doesn't cut through them like that. It's just so wrong it's fun.
Also, slate's Adam Kirsch has this article about the lack of great writing about los angeles. He mentions, citing Mike Davis' numbers, that since 1909, there have been 138 books or movies that "have dealt with the destruction of the city by fire, flood, earthquake, nuclear holocaust, or alien invasion." It's not that bad.