California is an abundant place and I thought I would investigate its wealth by a trip to the La Brea Tar Pits this week.
First of all, the asphalt in the 23 acres of land that La Brea is know for is not actually tar. Tar is man made, whereas asphalt is natural and by all accounts a very powerful preservative, as the bones and fossils they are still finding there date back to 40,000 years ago and some are 80 per cent intact.
Asphalt is sneaky, innocently covered in grass and leaves and a little layer of water so that when animals go for a drink they cant see what lurks underneath. Picture the scene…
A little horse trots up for a nose in the trough. He sticks in the asphalt. Its the ass’s fault (sorry) – realising he is stuck fast and sinking, he neighs out for help. A sabre toothed tiger is attracted to his plaintive cries and any initial campy sympathy turns to schadenfreude – tiger thinks, ‘oh that sucks, look at you, all stuck‘, whilst whittling his nails. Mother Nature’s real evil kicks in as tiger idly thinks, ‘Dinner!’ So, the tiger leaps on the horse and eats the horse, then the tiger realises it is stuck, and the irony of being mired in its own selfish greed causes him to roar, and the wolves hear the tiger roaring with despair and frustration and come and eat the rest of the horse and the tiger, and then wolves howl about their own self motivated greed, then the vultures see the party and get their share and squawk their imminent deaths, then the tiny birds and rats get the vultures and then the insects get the rats and before you know it a whole ecosytem has been swallowed up all on top of each other in one huge greedy carnival under the floor.
Isn’t it a bit like Hollywood today? Well, we are yet to find an entrepreneur who can make the asphalt into age-defying beauty treatment. A face full of that stuff keeps the collagen in shape for 40 thousand years….you heard it here first.
Looking at the oily ooze, I couldn’t help but further reflect, ‘Which animal would be outside of the sinking cacophony of a successful tar pit, making notes and watching the whole affair, darkly chuckling? You know, the insurance broker of the animal kingdom.. ‘ The cockroach! I bet you at least ten pence there are no poetically preserved cockroach skeletons for exactly that reason. I know, OK? Because even if you think of swatting at one of those things, they know before you do. They are intuitive and cunning and know when your guard is down and when it goes up. (One bit my friend Mark on the face while he slept. While he slept!) This is who the tar pits were invented for: insects with intelligence but no integrity who have thwarted our attempts to nuke the eco-system and remain steadfast in my old Hawaiian apartment.
It also got me to wondering, what would I throw into my own personal tar pit? What part of my life would I like to see sink slowly and deliberately without trace? I guess it would be the part of LA that feels artistically impenetrable. I have been here for a while now, making a new life and dealing with all the glorious insecurities of being a newbie, making new friends, forging ahead with my acting and VO career. It’s tempting I guess to want to sublimate the fear associated with all that, but the thing I am learning is, if I didn’t want to make feeling uncomfortable into something great then why leave? I have learn again to be open and that taking risks in personal life translates exactly to what is available artistically. I have to tell my truth, hard but necessary for any human, never mind any artist. Also, there lies the possibility for such growth and expansion and genuine change in this move, that real death of old habits can happen. If you want to make a change in your life, I do recommend it. Before moving to LA from Scotland I really wouldn’t have, in case it would encourage running away – your shit only follows you in that circumstance, and in the worst case scenario must be excavated with difficulty years later, fossilised as perfectly intact and undealt with.
I realise just how important friendships with history are when making the leap to a new place. Old friends can spot when you are pretending to be fine and but secretly rolling your homesickness under the carpet, and call me on stuff in a way I cherish more and more. With the growth of new and wonderful friendships and artistic partnerships stateside, I hope that they too will be around for the next 40, 000 years and become a part of my interior landscape, as I feel the ground beneath my feet slowly becoming solid. But not too solid I hope. Just solid enough to keep my edge..
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