Letter from California

An archive of the weekly "Letter from Calfornia", written by Jim McCarthy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Stone Cold Stupid-May 30, 2005

Do you sometimes feel like you have to be careful talking to your neighbor about, say, the stray dogs in your neighborhood. It sounds crazy I know, but think about it. Mutt talk could lead to a discussion of cruelty to animals, which could lead to talk about the God-given Rights of Strays, which could lead to talk about human rights. The next thing you know, you’re debating such riveting topics as Dan Rather and the flushing of a toilet in Cuba. Soon enough, one of you will say the other is worse than Five Angry Hitlers and the other will be accused of wanting America destroyed. There goes the annual neighborhood hoedown.

That’s why I try to limit my conversations to things like Krispy Kreme donuts. In all the conversations I’ve had on the topic, no one’s had anything negative to say about Krispy Kreme except the fact that they wish they could eat more without turning into a tub. In fact, I dare say everyone in America agrees on at least this: if Krispy Kreme donuts were calorie-free, I’d eat them like Tic Tacs. Alas, perhaps in the next world.

This week, though, I came across something else that should bring all Americans together and bridge some of the nasty issues that divide us.

Oliver Stone is a jackass.

I’ll admit I’ve had it in for him for a long time. I was having a celebratory dinner in a restaurant in Santa Monica a few years ago with a big group of friends from business school. We had just graduated that day and were feeling pretty good. Someone mentioned that Oliver Stone was a regular haunt in this place, and I scanned the room with my eyes looking for him. I let it be known that if anyone saw him, they should report his odious presence to me immediately. I probably even offered a reward. I vowed that if I should come across Oliver Stone that night, I would provoke him with insults until he felt obligated to punch me. At that point, my plan would be to give him a sound thrashing in retribution for “Any Given Sunday,” which came out that same year. Anyone who could make a movie about pro football starringAl Pacino, Cameron Diaz, LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx and still manage to make it both stupid and boring deserves a trip to the woodshed. I’ll admit, this wasn’t the best thought out plan in the world, but fortunately (for him), crisis was averted because he apparently found other amusements that particular evening.

Nevertheless, people from all walks of life have good reason to chase him out of other eating and drinking establishments across the land. I can’t be everywhere you know. Whether it’s calling Democratic President Johnson a murderer in “JFK” or making a whole movie about Republican President Nixon for the sole purpose of making Tricky Dick look like a mean old jerk (sure, he probably was a mean old jerk, but why make a movie about it?), Stone’s got everyone covered. His back-slapping friendship with Super Villain Fidel Castro doesn’t exactly win him any friends either.

This week’s news that Stone was arrested in Beverly Hills for drunk driving and drug possession didn’t come as the world’s biggest shock. Note also that so far, no fellow celebrities have risen to his defense or protested that he’s been framed. The Beverly Hills Police Department doesn’t have the toughest beat in LA. Theoretically, if they wanted to frame somebody, they’d have spare time. After all, their primary responsibility is scouring the streets of Beverly Hills, pulling people over who don’t look rich enough to live there.

Framing Stone doesn’t make a lot of sense. After all, his career is on the wane. He may have invented the phony documentary genre, but others have taken it to heights of deceptiveness and falsehood he could only have imagined. It’s akin to the way abacus salesmen must have felt after the calculator was invented.

So chances are, Stone was busted legitimately. How does a wealthy, famous 59 year old man get himself into a situation where’s he caught driving drunk and transporting illegal drugs across Los Angeles? Where was his chauffeur? Couldn’t he have called a cab? In a pinch, why not just pay 8 or 10 people on the street $500 each to sherpa you back home on their shoulders rather than driving drunk in the middle of the night. It’s either because he’s got a problem in the substance area or because he’s such an ego-inflated blowhard that he figures he can get away with it. I’m guessing it’s a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

Once it’s all over, he’ll make a movie about it, undoubtedly. Brad Pitt will star as him, and instead of driving drunk and carrying drugs to his mansion on the west side, he’ll be driving back from a 24 hour toy drive-a-thon at the orphanage with a heavy cold. President Nixon will be the arresting officer, out to get him because he’s young, handsome and popular. President Johnson will be the judge who sentences him to death before Fidel Castro parachutes in to rescue him.

It will, of course, be classified as a documentary.


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