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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Those damned choppers!

January 1st, 2013

BY MICHELE GENDELMAN

From 2003 through 2005 I inflicted a humor column upon this publication, in which, among other topics, I recounted many of my experiences and exploits as a showbiz comedy writer. I called it “Mulholland Jive.”

The house in which my fellow-comedy-scribe husband and I have resided for the last twenty-six years sits approximately half-a-mile north of Mulholland Drive. The hills leading up to it literally begin their ascent in my back yard and continue through several small canyons to Mulholland, which follows the crest of the low mountain range separating the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles from the Big City proper. Where I live is a neighborhood called Sherman Oaks. (The oaks, we’ve seen; we have yet to learn whence Sherman.)

Friends and relatives from other parts of the country continually ask me which film and TV stars live in my neighborhood. When they visit, they eagerly accompany me to the local mall and grocery stores, hoping for a glimpse of a celebrity. Truth be told, it was rather fun, living in a faubourg full of “I’ve seen that guy a million times!” character actors and bona fide stars (“Oh my God, is that Annette Bening squeezing avocados in the produce department?!”).

Until last year.

Sherman Oaks is also (or was) home to the star of a long-running, highly successful situation comedy which I’ll call Two and a Half Wits. This particular chunk of stellar matter suffered what the various news media referred to as a “meltdown” late in 2010. Let’s call him… Charlie Schmuck.

By the start of 2011 the meltdown had left a toxic puddle of publicity that quickly became a raging river of trending that fed into an ocean of memes that created a tidal wave of national outrage and curiosity, navigated by representatives of every news medium in existence. They followed Schmuck, questioning his drug use, his fitness as a father, and his sanity. After separating from his understandably indignant missus, did Schmuck move to Brentwood or Beverly Hills to lick his wounds (and cocaine off the siliconed breasts of his “goddesses’”)? No. He bought a house several doors down from his former home — half a mile from mine. Every time Schmuck pulled yet another headline-grabbing stunt, our narrow canyon roads were clogged with news vans and reporters.

And then… then came the choppers. Whirling birds of prey-lebrity. Helicopters from Fox News, ABC, CNN, TMZ.com, from the local news services. One weeknight, they buzzed us from late afternoon until 1:30 a.m. On another evening, I watched on the Internet as the gossip-choppers circled Schmuck’s former residence for two hours while he and his entourage ate burgers in the back yard, waiting for the estranged wife to come out and speak with him (oh, now there was a breaking story). The choppers’ noise was deafening, even from a half-mile away. It was like that scene in Apocalypse Now when Col. Kilgore and his helicopters swoop down on a Vietnam beachhead, loudspeakers blaring "Ride of the Valkyries." I love the smell of fake news in the morning!

Eventually, the video vultures moved on to fresh meat. But Sherman Oaks is still home to many other celebrities from the film, TV, and music industries, and any day now one of these morons will be photographed cheating on her husband, or get caught waving his gun in a nightclub, or be seen shooting Oxi on a studio soundstage, and it’s here come the helos.

Da-dah-da-dh-DAH-dah-dah-dah-da-DAAAAAH! •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: 10th Anniversary Issue, Gendelman | Link to this Entry

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