A trip to the deli, an evening with ''Daisy of Love,'' and a Twitter account put EW's columnist in a weekend frame of mind, musing on the thin line between real life and entertainment
Diablo Cody: All a-Twitter
It was a cool recent Sunday evening in Laurel Canyon, that picturesque gash of a neighborhood I like to call ”Hollywood’s cleavage.” I’m making a run to Greenblatt’s Deli at the foot of the canyon; my boyfriend is sick and has requested a quart of chicken matzo ball soup. ”#Swineflu” is a popular hashtag on Twitter today, and anyone with the slightest throat tickle or temp spike is fearing the worst. I choose to confront this possible pandemic with food; some might stockpile Tamiflu, but I stockpile, well, stock.
Los Angeles is often described as the nadir of vapidity, a smog-choked space cradle. By contrast, Greenblatt’s always feels like an oasis of warmth and substance. Inside the deli, people are buying cheapo vodka, Reubens with Russian dressing, and bottles of Piper-Heidsieck, which, according to a handwritten placard, tastes better than Veuve Clicquot. (My palate, deadened by years of junk food and aspartame, probably wouldn’t know the difference.) The soup takes a while to arrive, so I linger by the deli case and size up each customer. I don’t care that much about spotting celebrities, but I’m wildly curious about the people who buy tongue. Who is the target market for organ meats these days? Does anyone under the age of 75 eat offal, and if so, could it make an ironic comeback at L.A.’s trendy gastropubs? (Apparently, it already has. Laurel Tavern, the new hot spot on Ventura Boulevard, serves a trio of roasted marrowbones. Sometimes one serving of connective tissue just isn’t enough.)
After I get my soup, plus a corned beef sandwich and a pickle the size of a Wiffle bat, I drive back up the canyon in the hopes of getting home by nine. Daisy of Love is premiering, and as you might infer based on my past coverage of Rock of Love, I’m not going to miss a second of VH1’s latest ”dating” show. As soon as I get home, I settle in with my German shepherd and Chihuahua — the Yao Ming and Spud Webb of the animal kingdom — log on to Twitter, and turn on the boob tube.
My boyfriend is still ailing. His toenails look gray; his eyes are rheumy. I hope he’s okay and that this swine flu thing is just a blip on the zeitgeist, like avian flu or Sarah Palin. As it turns out, Daisy of Love isn’t making him feel any better. The star, Daisy De La Hoya, is a trinket-size blonde who wears a pink bra as outerwear; she’s charming enough, but her tattooed suitors are pretty nauseating. I enjoy tweeting their resemblances to other, more famous men. One looks like John Stamos with an anarchist’s mohawk; one looks like Colin Farrell with Gore-Tex cheek implants; one is a sad-eyed Jack White stunt double. None of these men seem like they’re genuinely there to find love, but that doesn’t stop them from accusing one another of insincerity at every turn. Ah, reality TV: where opportunists delight in exposing opportunism! It’s kind of like the indie music scene.
I realize this column is just a series of disjointed ramblings — all marrow, no bone — but I swear I’m driving at something. There’s something magical about spending a Sunday night watching real people at a deli, then watching fake people pretending to be real on TV, then engaging in (arguably) false interaction with (arguably) real people on the Internet. Never at any prior point in time has this been possible. As I watch Daisy, I’m even exchanging Twitter messages with a couple of reality TV veterans, which adds an extra layer of mind-tweaking weirdness. Dig!
Tomorrow is Monday, which means I go back to work writing scripted television (well, all TV is scripted, but we’re permitted to acknowledge it on our show). In the morning, I’ll drive my car to a backlot in the Valley that boasts, among other sets, a fake New York street and a fake Central Park where Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes once traded barbs. I’ll park in a spot marked with a fake name. The line between real life and pop culture has been smudged like sidewalk chalk. In the midst of all of this networking, spying, texting, and commenting, all walls seem thinner. People seem closer. If anyone is wondering what Ashton Kutcher is doing, the answer is readily available. It’s a different kind of connective tissue. And it’s just another Sunday.