Saturday, November 11, 2006

Oh Swinger Where Art Thou?

Click here: Renewal of 1960s Marina Blocks Coveted Views and Irks Boaters - New York Times

It's amusing to think of those swinging bachelors circa 1968 still rotting in their one bedroom condos, collecting Social Security, wondering what the fuck happened. Of course, some might say: how different are they from you, Doug?

Best to let the reader answer that, but I'll go on for a moment. I'm more like Bunuel's Simon of the Desert. I was ever the broke hippie. These guys had a primitive, Playboy sense of entitlement and for a couple decades it seemed to be working for them. Or maybe they have ALWAYS been grotesque, deluded, losers and they just never realized it, being the grotesque, deluded, losers they were & are.

They seem the spawn of Hugh Hefner's konsumerist hedonistic vision. I guess it's a vision that, though patently hollow & sterile, still seemed viable as long as their bodies were young. But now that they are old they are doubly grotesque.

Am I just IMAGINING these wild and crazy guys are moldering away on Fiji and Tahiti and Panai Ways? Presumably they themselves would have us believe they're still perfectly plausible & valid. They don't really still hang out at the bar of the Baja Cantina, do they, hoping to pick up myopic Euro tourists?

A few successfully hustled themselves out of the Marina and into Brentwood or Bel Aire. But surely they remained, at heart, hustlers and swingers. So if they're now putative family men, what kind of family men are they? There may be a novel there, but would anyone care to read it? I think the subject was already done 30 years ago in Save the Tiger, the old Jack Lemmon film about the burned out middleage-crisis businessman chasing the young chick and an alternative lifestyle. Oddly, Jack Lemmon almost 20 years before that played the young swinging LA bachelor in Under the Yum Yum Tree. But he was more innocent and endearing and less predatory than the real thing. Also amusing to think that his neighbors in Billy Wilder's The Apartment took him for a swinging bachelor when he was actually just an exploited schmuk. The exploitative schmuk and true predator was his boss, Fred MacMurray. The difference between Fred MacMurray (circa 1960) and the aging lost uprooted swingers in the Marina is that Fred M had his place in society. He was an exec, working fulltime in company, he lived in a bedroom suburb with a standard issue wife & kids, AND he preyed upon his employees in a droit de seigneur (sp?) mode. In short, he had a formidable platform for his not-so-secret predations.

There used to be a health club on a tiny spit of land where the Marina Freeway petered out at Culver Blvd. It disappeared years ago to make way for the new freeway extension. But in the late '90's Erin and I belonged and briefly used the pool and, once, the sauna. Why once? Because it was crawling with exactly the pervy lost middleaged Marina creeps I'm talking about. There was always a jagged vibe about that joint. My wallet was stolen from the lockerroom there. Someone quickly slammed charges on the credit cards before I realized it was missing and cut them off. And when the place shut down to make way for the freeway, the proprietor did it without warning, absconding with the membership fees which many of us had paid in advance. There is so much about the Marina that is not worth mourning.

I think of the actors' manager and putative movie producer who had a condo by the water in the early '80's. He got the place cheap because the previous tenant had quietly committed suicide in there and hadn't been discovered until days later, when neighbors smelled something was amiss. It had to be the stink of his bloated body which told the world he was gone because he had no friends or relatives to notice his absence.

This manager, we'll call him Greg, roomed with a huge former Jets lineman and sometime actor named Tony. Tony, a cheerful and pathological liar, would lure girls he found at the, yes, Baja Cantina, back to the condo with promises of coke. The one true thing he told them was about the coke. He and Greg really did have coke. I remember being over there one night when Greg was feeding one of his clients, a 14 year old moderately famous child actor, line after line. The boy has somehow managed to grow up relatively unscathed and is now a successful, middleaged, TV actor-director.

And what has become of Greg and Tony? They're no longer in the Marina. I saw Tony playing a thug in a Sopranos episode a couple years ago. He must weigh 375 pounds. Greg went on to produce some very bad exploitation flicks. I think he had a wife and kid for a time. Maybe he still does. You can take the hustlers out of the Marina but you can't take the hustle out of the hustlers.