Under goosegrey LA skies again. June gloom they call it and when I lived here it was mostly a Santa Barbara thing. But now the gloom has dribbled its way south and it is colder here than it is at home. Change. Change in the climate, change in the shape of my memories, change in the weather on the west coast. Change in my memories most likely a biggish factor. Memories and imagination are wonderful cohorts. They both have a devious streak, but they are not the same.
Imagination is an endlessly fertile world of colours, make believe and what ifs. Memory should be more like a repository of what happened when and where and with whom. Memory may be monochrome, but the how of it plays into the picture too, and that is where imagination weasles its way in to create false realities that exist only in your head and in no one else’s.
Memory is why I am here. Talking about the past, talking about what brought us to the here and now, different narratives compared and contrasted. Narratives that gain their own independent voices as we talk and talk under the sad old skies. These are the skies that shadowed Hollywood’s golden age, and the orange groves felled to concrete and big movie company lots. Pondering Marilyn and the tragedies of lost icons, lost friends, pondering all the people briefly met, the wrap parties, the launches, wannabees that turned into stars. And the bands, the music. Whisky A Go Go, Madame Wong’s, McCabe’s. All those places and the sounds echoing across the 405 all the way to PCH and driving home to Malibu half cut, smug that this is LA all straight lines and no corners. Would never have risked it in London where the difference between red and green tended to be academic, but you paid attention all the same.
The hot summer air when the Santa Ana winds are blowing. The chill and damp of the coast at night and the sounds of the highway. And of the sea, always there, always moving on and shaping more memories, memories of strangers, memories of shining people and of the dross that is most of us. Memories that are the font of imagination, whether they are yours or mine or those of writers long since gone whose voices we can yet hear. This is why the work matters so much more than the authors. The work speaks to us and only us. It speaks to the embers of memory and imagination and those embers spark in endless, infinite flames. A refuge, where memory and imagination lead us to places of magic and marvel. These goosegrey skies still shine on the magic and the marvel of long told stories and on the stories we’ve yet to tell.