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      You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard. Some that you

       recognize, some that you've hardly even heard of.  People who worked and 

       suffered and struggled for fame. Some who succeeded and some who suffered 

       in vain.


       From Celluloid Heroes by Ray Davies of The Kinks


      West ushers us into a cultural funhouse, where what seems real is illusory, yet 

       it’s the illusions which are, in some sense, the true reality of Hollywood.


       Film Historian John Springer on The Day of the Locust


I’ve spent time on that Boulevard.  I know that illusory reality.  I performed at venues and events on or near that (in)famous stretch of concrete with names like Bar Sinister, Bondage Ball, Club Hell, and Bat Cave.  The audience enjoyed my shows.  Many would stare as I performed my sensual spectacle of pleasure and pain.  I could see the effect on my audience in their erotically charged eyes.  Like Faye Greener in Locust, I “enjoyed being stared at.”  I admit it.  I’m a bit of an attention whore.  Many are.


And there’s nothing wrong with that.  In psychology, it’s referred to as positive reinforcement.  As a performance artist, I was reinforced for possessing certain knowledge, skills, artistry, and the ability to entertain.  Reinforcement for being accomplished, whether as a performance artist, rocket scientist, or plumber, contributes to one’s self-esteem.  A positive sense of self translates into increased psychological well-being.  Everyone likes to be positively rewarded for their achievements, their status recognized.  Even in the humblest of professions, accomplishments are rewarded (e.g., Bishop, Iman, Rabbi, etc.).  Titles reflect statuses and one must garner a certain amount of attention in their quest to earn such titles.  However, in earning the title, one often exchanges goods and/or services be it labor and/or time to showcase themselves.  They sell themselves for some type of reward, some type of recognition . . . for attention.  When I was a graduate student we worked for next to nothing as teaching or research assistants.  Or, we offered our labor for free as “volunteers."  Why would we be academic serfs?  We did so to be apprenticed as academicians. 


Everyone sells themselves.  It’s just called different things.

  

                                                                         *


It [Homer Simpson's cottage] is a pivotal location in the novel and is the nexus from where Homer’s tragedy emerges.  Harry meets Homer at this house while peddling his snake oil. It is where Faye winds up after Harry’s death providing her the resources to pursue her acting career fulltime. However, she soon bores with the arrangement and invites Earle and Miguel to live in the garage.  This accelerates the demise of Homer and Faye’s situation (such that it was) ultimately concluding with Homer stumbling upon Faye and Miguel having sex. The home was:


     A rented cottage in Pinyon Canyon . . .. It was the last house in the canyon and 

     the hills rose directly behind the garage. They were covered with lupines, 

     Canterbury bells, poppies, and several varieties of large yellow daisy. There were 

     also some scrub pines, Joshua and eucalyptus trees.

                                                  

                                                                        *


The rig passed and the crowd’s mania subsided.  There was to be no riot on the Boulevard, at least not on this night.  A few hours later, it was empty save for a few security people and some stragglers.  Their glamorous Hollywood night over, a family made their way to their car.  The woman mindfully carried a sleeping child slung over her shoulder, the man with another towed in hand.  A dingy orange-yellow stained fast-foot wrapper clung to the woman’s skirt.  A filthy and rotting prophylactic grasped at the man’s shoe, not letting go.