Time for a bit of Rest and Relaxation. Enjoy this one:
Op-Ed This just in from the West Side: Who knew a nightmare election would wind up being such a gas
The unthinkable is in the air in Santa Monica: "You have to admit," people whisper, "this is a lot more fun than if Hillary had won."
Putting aside North Korean nukes aimed at Pixar, the hushed response is: "Yeah, I love it."
Nov. 8, 2016, made for a tough road back to Pacific standard pleasure, but after a period of grass-fed, plug-in hybrid outrage, we're having fun in ways we never anticipated. Watching the crackpot West Wing has become our joyous new pastime, moral indignation our new endorphin rush.
And this whole activism thing — oh, wow! In lieu of weekend screenplay reading, we're taking something called "the train" to somewhere called "downtown" to protest policies that will have no effect on our careers. Putting aside climate catastrophe, it feels as if God is on the side of this atheistic city.
How did we not know a nightmarish election would wind up being such a gas?
Maybe we thought liberal fury and fun just don't mix. Stewing over the annihilation of our every sacred belief can make any hint of joy rub a liberal the wrong way. (This is especially true in Santa Monica, where left-wing is so left, I once overheard a man on crutches in Starbucks say, "I tore my ACLU.")
Suddenly, dread meetings at Amazon with studio executives you mix up with other studio executives are spicy with pre-down-to-business politics talk.
But now, walking on Montana Avenue, the worldwide center of superfluous retail, fun wafts by in bouncy snippets:
" … he'll engineer peace in the Mideast when he can't even fill out an SF86?"
"… count on it, Kislyak will be a billionaire by next Friday."
"… and I watched it again on the Rachel rerun at 9."
Not since "West Wing" have we felt so well educated. Honestly, would anyone in the top 50,000 of the IMDB StarMeter know what a SCIF is if we had a President Clinton? Could anyone in SAG cite one person named Sergei, let alone two, if Hillary had won that un-lose-able election? If she'd known that the word "server" could be preceded by something other than the words "Tonight, I'll be your…" would we be using terms like "emoluments clause," "moral equivalency" and "contemporaneous" with almost full knowledge of their meanings?
Putting aside oncoming racism, Santa Monica's entertainment biz people are basking in snappier conversation. Suddenly, dread meetings at Amazon with studio executives you mix up with other studio executives are spicy with pre-down-to-business politics talk. In an HBO elevator, the actor who sucked the funny out of every line you wrote for him now makes a collusion joke with a passable delivery. And when you hear an entertainment lawyer start a sentence with "I have a source at Justice," you know there's been a sea change in local delight.
It was even (or especially) thrilling to see one of our own get neck-deep in political quicksand. Movie producer/Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin went before a House committee and tried the same meager, two-faced charm on L.A.'s own Rep. Maxine Waters that he might've used on a Paramount pitch. Putting aside fascism, her smackdown of Mnuchin was good for a solid week of industry-wide giggles.
And yet, despite all the newfound fun, that horrible post-election gloom is never far behind. At the moment, the Montana Avenue retail space that housed Clinton's local campaign headquarters remains an un-leased reminder of how confident we felt and how wrong we were. Show business people are used to being wrong, but the election loss was an all-new blindside. The best quasi-valid reason going around: The previous eight years clouded our judgment. We were deeply in love with Barack Obama and the deeper in love you are, the less perceptive you get, the more signs you miss.
Not bad, huh?
The transition period from Nov. 8 to Jan. 20 came close to the city-wide depression of the post-Rodney King days, made worse by the heated competition for who could take Hillary's loss most personally.
Clearly, the Women's March on Jan. 21 started turning things around. Nearly a million people downtown — marching, chanting, sharing mass commiseration — refloated our hope. And if you've never had VIP passes to a protest rally, get friendly with Jennifer Grey and treat yourself. You'll thank me.
Since then, activism and vigilance have bumped our spirits up to shockingly new levels, although we still say we'd prefer it if the election had gone according to plan. But deep down — and not that deep — we know we're having a better time the way things worked out. We quietly know — and not that quietly — if Hillary had won, odds are we'd be crawling along on Laurel Canyon listening to NPR reports on new Benghazi/email impeachment hearings instead of excitedly rushing home for three hours of scoop-time on MSNBC.
Funny, even the recent OJ Simpson news — a more familiar madness — didn't distract us from "Sessions should have never recused himself."
Yes, let that sink in: We threw over OJ for Jeff Sessions.
As long as all this doesn't lead to the end of the Constitution or, you know, the planet — welcome to the new fun, everybody.
Peter Mehlman is a comedian and former writer on "Seinfeld."
Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
- Adlai Stevenson
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