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CALIFORNIA DREAMING

by Samora Chapman / 30.06.2015

PART ONE: LOST IN LA

Planet Hollywood is the centre of the universe. Well, that’s what people here believe anyway. The funny thing is, just about everyone in the world has been here – not physically, but psychologically, via the silver screen. No matter who you are or where you live, there’s a good chance ‘God Hollywood’ has soothed your pain, made you cry tears of joy, made you ache with empathy, kept you company when you felt lonely, babysat your kids or won you a long sexy kiss…

When I found out I was coming to Hollywood I did two things – I got my busted front teeth fixed and I borrowed a copy of Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis of the Chilli Peppers. A couple weeks later I hopped on a plane to LA with my sparkly new smile (#vanity) to cover the Jameson First Shot project (which we introduced here) and attend the premier of Mark Middlewick’s short film, The Mascot, starring Adrien Brody. All courtesy of Jameson and the strange demi-god, Kevin Spacey.

Sometimes life’s like a movie.

***

Before we get to the film, allow me to connect a few dots…

Travelling is so seductive but you forget how intense it is too. You’re forced into close proximity with all these people from all over the world, crossing paths and tangling wires. Everyone is exhausted; everyone is on a journey; and it all happens in these strained, confined spaces.

My most vivid memory of the journey to LA was seeing a Muslim man with his prayer mat observing Maghrib in the middle of the busy airport in Frankfurt. His eyes were closed and he seemed to be in total serenity. He had chosen the most unlikely spot – in between queues at the over-crowded international check in. It was a beautiful moment.

I arrived at LAX after a grueling 32-hour journey, slightly dazed and apprehensive about customs. I had a bad feeling…

I sauntered up to ‘the border’ tryna stay calm and was met by a guy called Cruz – a tough Hispanic copper. He looked at me like he could smell a hippie rat…

“Where do you live?” he asked.

“South Africa,” said I.

“It says here in your visa waver that you’re from Iran?” he said with a mean grin.

“I’m travelling on an Irish passport. Maybe the travel agent clicked Iran instead of Ireland?” I offered nervously.

“How ‘bout we just put down Afghanistan huh?”

His homies laughed. I gritting my teeth. Fuckers.

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Men in blue busting vagrants on Venice Beach.

“You do drugs kid?”

“No.”

“But you smoke a bit of marijuana right?”

Yes. I mean no. Fuck.

“I’m a spiritual person. I don’t do drugs,” I answered.

Cruz asked me what I was doing in America and reprimanded me for not having a journalist’s visa. Then he called over his superior, Gonzalez or something else with a ‘Z’ in it, and gave the guy all my travel documents.

“Go with him,” ordered Cruz, not bothering to look at me or explain what was happening.

Gonzales took me to a room full of hopeless looking travelers; including an entire family from Lebanon that was trying to immigrate, and a frantic Korean man who was losing his mind (they had detected that he had an unresolved felony in the US, so he was in the shit). We were unable to use our phones or computers and there was no clock on the wall so time dragged as cops came in and out, did paper work and dealt with outcasts.

After waiting for what seamed forever, I went through another round of pointless interrogation, then eventually got-the-hell-up-out-of-there.

When I left, the Korean dude was in a corner hanging his head, sobbing. He told me his aunt lived in LA and she was dying of cancer.

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I arrived in Hollywood and met the glamorous Jameson team and some media colleagues at a five star hotel on Sunset Boulevard. The whiskey and rich food flowed freely for the next few days leading up to the film premier, and I walked the streets lined with palm trees and Porsches – wondering where I fit in. The Jameson peeps treated us (media) like royalty… they were so gracious and polite that I felt like an honorary movie star.

But the Cali heat beat down and combined with the jet lag and multiple hangovers to make me feel like I was walking knee deep in the concrete. I was literally sinking into the ground and there was quicksilver flowing through my brain instead of blood. It’s hard work playing rich and famous.

I soon met Mark Middlewick, the South African director who had come up with the golden script that got me here… and he was one of the coolest, realist cats I’ve ever met.

His film premiered at Paramount Pictures on a balmy Hollywood night. And he totally nailed it…

*Tune in tomorrow, as we sit down with Mark Middlewick, Adrien Brody and Kevin Spacey to find out more about The Mascot and what makes Hollywood tick.

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Images © Samora Chapman

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RESPONSES (3)
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