By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Beverly Hills High School was a pretty cheesy place in the mid-’70s, populated with the sons and daughters of 1950s matinee idols, 1960s caper-film directors and ’70s television writers — Quinn Martin Productions was to the parents of the class of 1977 what Lockheed probably was to the parents at Long Beach Poly. Except, this being Beverly Hills and everything, most of the fathers had already moved on by the time their kids were in high school, leaving their children and first wives rattling around in huge, empty houses in the flats while they styled in the hills with second wives who all looked like Meredith Baxter Birney.
Anyway, even in a place like this, my friend Ricky stood out. He too lived alone with his mom in a home large enough to house the Harlem Globetrotters and their immediate families, and it too was decorated to the hilt of 1964 glam, complete with the wet bar stocked with the makings of a proper Harvey Wallbanger. Ricky was obsessed with Starsky & Hutch. I mean, we were all obsessed with Starsky & Hutch to some degree, with the chicka-chicka soundtrack and speeding Grand Torino, but most of all with the idea that basically unreconstructed Jewish guys, as almost all of us were, could talk tough and stay out late and pull just unbelievable chicks. But Ricky’s obsession was a little beyond that. He persuaded his mom to get a personalized STARSKY plate for her Jaguar XJ-12, for one thing, and he acquired a library of soul-music 8-tracks that went well beyond what any of us had known — I heard James Brown for the first time in that car, and the O’Jays and the Spinners. He grew his hair out into a Jewfro fairly majestic in its proportions. And he spent most nights cruising around in his mom’s car, picking up girls by saying that he was Starsky or his dad was Starsky or some combination of the two. Although it was hard to believe that a girl existed who was dumb enough to fall for his Starsky line, girls there were — fat girls and thin girls, black girls and white girls, an entire line of Persian girls whose names all seemed to be Fariba, girls who seemed to have nothing in common but an obsessive devotion to a certain ’70s TV show, and also truly enormous breasts.
I’ve thought a lot about Ricky in the week since the Starsky & Hutch movie came out; about whether he ever did lay his hands on one of those Grand Torinos, whether he still rocked the shell-necklace thing and whether he was still able to make his vague resemblance to Paul Michael Glaser work its way with the ladies — if Ricky looks like Ari Fleischer now, I don’t even want to know about it. Because, as hard as I try, I can’t imagine anyone — anyone— hopping into a car with a teenager claiming to be Ben Stiller’s son.
Going To See the Elephants
“You’re getting a little deep here,” the young woman in a black serving outfit warned me. “Catering isn’t rocket science.”
Maybe I had been reaching a bit, asking her to divine the political significance of the minipizzas, mozzarella kebabs and mushroom-stuffed chicken served to 600 Republicans at the Bush-Cheney re-election rally last Wednesday. But corralled behind a tight cordon sanitaire inside the Shrine Auditorium’s hangarlike Expo Center, I had little else to do: Print reporters were barred from circulating among the people who paid up to $2,000 per plate for those kebabs and a glass or two of Mondavi.
Still, I was able to talk to people passing by, and this particular slice of the GOP seemed in a good, almost harmless mood. They were not the gay-crucifying, hyena-breathed Republicans one hears about in the bolshevik media. And I didn’t spot any of the flat-earth activists perennially miffed at having to pay taxes to maintain the roads they drive upon or to hire the firemen who periodically save their sage-shrouded homes. Instead, they were people who worried about the businesses they’d worked years to build and, as one told me, about the national “moral decay.”
Eddie Braun, a sun-burnished veteran stuntman who lives in Manhattan Beach, stopped by the media Gitmo with his young son Declan. A little while earlier, the two had met the president, whom Braun described as “very gracious.” I asked him about the knot of protesters standing outside the Shrine.
“They have a right to voice their views — they’re Americans too,” Braun said. “We specifically took time to see the demonstrators — this is a huge history lesson for Dec, and I don’t want him to get a manicured version of the presidency.”
Just before Bush spoke, a contingent of women wearing white baseball caps bustled into the room and occupied the table in front of me. These were the ebullient Desert Moms from the Coachella Valley who had hired a bus to get here. Their leader, Randi Desnees, told me there were 30 such Moms who had spontaneously organized in Palm Desert to support Bush and Congresswoman Mary Bono. (“The media assumes working moms are all Democrats.”) This was the Moms’ first political event, but they would soon head home because, Desnees said, “we’ve left a hundred children behind.”