True Lies

From our 1983 parody issue, in which we mostly made fun of ourselves — with a little help from our readers:

New Organ Found, April 1, 1983

There is a new organization that will appeal to all loyal Weekly readers. The Sid Vicious Chapter of the Brentwood Gay and Lesbian Health Spa, Knee-Jerk Liberal, Raquetball and Third World Appreciation Society has been holding biweekly meetings for the past few months. However, only a few people "in the know" are aware of the meetings’ location. (Dropping in at the Zero Zero will not help.) Evelyn "Ed" Asnaw of the Rodeo Drive Spendarama and Tennis Club explains that the Sid Vicious Chapter was formed as a result of the split between the Melrose Plastic New Wave Clothes and Hair Clique, and the Doheny Drive-in Quiche-Eaters and Screenwriting Workshop. "We just couldn’t understand each other any more," says the attractive Ms. Asnaw, who, prior to writing a successful diet book, worked as a waitress at The Palm. "I mean, the Melrose group was absolutely opposed to vacationing in Ibiza again this year while children are starving in Tangier, and they suggested instead we all go down to Compass Point Studios and hang out with Grace Jones and Tina Weymouth! The Doheny crowd wanted everyone to donate a Gucci item to Australasian refugees, as soon as they locate Australasia on the map. The split was considered inevitable."

What started out as an April Fool’s prank became real when hundreds showed up at Griffith Park looking for the Love-In:

From "Love-in in Griffith Park," by Michael Dare, March 29, 1985

Produced by Bill Graham in conjunction with KCET, this promises to be the highlight of the week for any ’60s freak. The last one was in ’71, so it’s about time the flower-child tradition was revived. The entire area around the merry-go-round will be magically transformed this weekend into a time-warp extravaganza, with speakers such as Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman and David Crosby (who still hasn’t cut his hair). At noon, free Kool-Aid will be served, and at sunset the Grateful Dead will start playing till sunrise. Bring a blanket, dig out that flowered shirt and ankh you haven’t worn in 15 years, and let it all hang out.

Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Weekly created a "what if" scenario — and reported it as though it really had happened here:

From "Black Horizon: California’s Monster Spill," by Michael Ventura (with Pamela Klein, Laureen Lazarovici and Harold Meyerson), September 14, 1990

Last March, the Department of the Interior put the chance of a monster California oil spill at 94 percent. Well, our government was right for a change. At 4:28 a.m. Sunday, September 9, two Valdez-size tankers collided off Catalina. Now, if you look to the west, you’ll see black horizon where the ocean used to be.

Drive toward the coast any way you go (Pico, Santa Monica, Wilshire, whatever) and there’s an eerie moment when the street dips down toward the sea but that splash of blue in the distance — just isn’t there.

In its place is this blackish splotch, as far as the eye can see. Lots of people have commented that it exerts a sinister fascination. You can’t take your eyes off it. In certain lights it glints with delicate colors, the way little slicks in the gutter sometimes do. (Isn’t it better that the gutter is now a fit metaphor for the sea?) But there’s nothing delicate about the smell. They don’t call this oil "crude" for nothing. The stench is a pall, full of carcinogens which, when the wind is right, stink all the way to San Bernardino.

It’s basically the same stuff that’s in your gas tank, but when you look at that huge dark thing out there, it feels threatening, almost alive, as though it wants not only to stain and foul, but somehow suck up, the coastline. Even the L.A. Times has noticed that the U.S.’s biggest oil spill, this "monster" as everybody’s calling it, doesn’t just scare and appall you — it gives you the creeps. I know it’s my imagination, but to my ears it seems the surf no longer pounds — it slurps.

No one caught L.A.’s mood better than CNN on Monday morning, when the stuff reached shore: that little girl standing on the Palisades, holding her mother’s hand, her pristine face a study in apprehension as she said, "It’s icky!" Then, as though on cue, she burst into tears. This being a town full of stage mothers, some cynics wondered whether the bit was rehearsed. CNN denied it, and, with the media’s typical and sentimental single-mindedness, they played it over and over. Every paper ran the picture the next day, right next to the dying sea turtles and the dead gulls. No doubt the kid’ll be on the cover of Time or Newsweek. But it’s not all sappy. Her frightened disgust was real, and she said it for everybody, for we all feel helpless when we look out there. It is icky . . .

 

Inspired by HBO’s Tanner ’88 series, we created our own political candidate, Martin Ansgar, "a likable, left-leaning American Studies professor from Whittier’s Rose Hills Community College":

From "Travel With Marty: ‘Insult to common sense’ or ideological road warrior? An interview with Martin and Elsie Ansgar," by Tom Carson, February 7, 1992

ANSGAR: I’ve moved up a whole point in this week’s polls.

WEEKLY: Which leaves you where?

ANSGAR: At 1 percent. [Laughs.] But given I haven’t even gotten there yet, it’s better than I expected . . . If I don’t get 3 — let’s say 2 — percent on primary day, I may just bag the whole thing. I don’t know. Jerry Brown was on the radio saying he expects me to get 4 percent. But he’s just doing that to heighten expectations, get people thinking I’ve fallen on my face if I don’t make it. It’s an old game.

WEEKLY: Still, you don’t expect to win. Who will?

ANSGAR: Not the people, put it that way. But to tell the truth, I thought that Bill [Clinton] had it wrapped up — until this, this flower-lady thing.

ELSIE ANSGAR: I have to say, and maybe I shouldn’t, because it could hurt Martin’s chances, but I’m just convinced that that woman is lying. It just doesn’t sound like my Bill Clinton, and I’ve known him for years.

For weeks after this April Fool’s story about a fictional Hollywood guru came out, managing editor Kateri Butler, who posed as spiritual counselor Gioconda Monette, was repeatedly stopped by enlightenment-seekers:

From "Connie Does Hollywood: The Industry’s Latest Spiritual Fad," by Jerry Stahl, March 28, 1997

It all begins with puce. That’s a color you don’t see a lot of. Or I didn’t. Until, some months ago, summoned to a meeting by some higher-ups at CAA, I noticed a peculiar thing. My summoner, a Big Dog in the agency’s After School Special Wing, was sporting a puce bow tie. His partner, who’d always been the monochromatic type, worked a puce-on-puce skirt-and-sweater combo.

The thing is, puce is a pretty horrific color: purplish-brown, with a kind of muddy undertone. So it seemed more than a little odd that a pair of high-profile professionals would both go that way. Too cowed, however, by the heady status of the team to mention their mutual fashion gamble, I wrote it off to the peculiarities of power . . .

So okay, you’re thinking to yourself, "Some heavy hitters have started showing up in a color more commonly associated with motel carpets. What’s that got to do with the fastest-growing spiritual movement to sweep L.A. since Marianne Williamson started hawking audiotapes?" Well, hang on. Cut to Christmas ’96, and I’m in Goa, on the southwest tip of India, holed up with the legendary Ben Stiller banging out Howdy Doody, a big-budget musical based on the life of Buffalo Bob, the man behind the much-loved ’50s television icon. Ben’s slated to star and direct himself as the wholesome kiddie host, a secret swinger with a soft spot for cocktails and blondes. But that’s not the point. The point — did you see it coming? — is that Stiller, when he wore a shirt, wore a puce muscle T. Not every day, but enough to make me nervous. What’s more, when I ask him about it, mentioning the odd profusion of puce I’d noticed on the Hollywood scene before we left, he averts his eyes and changes the subject in an evasive, vaguely pained manner I hadn’t experienced from him up till then . . .

I wouldn’t let Ben off the hook until he told me all about it.

"I can’t tell you," my partner insisted. "You’re too cynical. You’ll just make fun of it."

"Make fun of what? What do you mean?" Now I was really piqued . . .

"You’ll turn it into a story," he said, fidgeting with the amulet he’d taken to wearing around his neck. "The truth is, there is something. I mean, a lot of people have found someone who helps them out. Spiritually. There’s a kind of pressure only people in this business — at this level, understand. And this particular person deals with that."

Now, of course, I was the one getting defensive. Hey, I’m a spiritual guy. I killed at my bar mitzvah.

"There’s a woman in Los Angeles," my partner went on, but tentatively, reluctantly, as if wary of giving away too much and inviting a puce-colored chariot to swoop out of the sky and smite him. "Her name’s Gioconda Monette, ‘Connie’ for short. She’s not exactly a guru. She just helps people. Mainly famous people. Anyway, everybody who’s into her wears this color. Connie says puce manifests the perfect blend of heaven and earth. See, purple is traditionally the shade of royalty. In some cultures it’s worn by priests. So that’s, you know, what’s holy in all of us. And brown represents the earth, the world we live in."


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