Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Movie, A Few Years After the Beginning

I'm not sure if it still goes on, and I don't ever want to find out, but on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings, if there were no sports to air and no reruns worth rerunning, CBS 2 in Los Angeles would air movies you've never heard of. It would be more expensive, I'm sure, to air the higher-profile movies, so we'd get movies like Mojave Moon, starring Danny Aiello, Anne Archer, Alfred Molina, and Angelina Jolie early in her career, circa 1996. All I knew about it when it aired one idle Saturday afternoon on CBS was that I liked the opening song, "Lavender," by Watsonville Patio, and wanted it on my mp3 player. I watched nothing more than those opening titles, those tracking shots through the desert in Palmdale, as I learned just a few minutes ago.

I've played "Lavender" over and over (Try it here), but never was curious about the movie until now, when I'm in the desert in Southern Nevada, when it's 104 degrees outside right now and expected to be 114 on Friday, 116 on Saturday, and 117 on Sunday. So why would I even be interested in a movie called Mojave Moon in the midst of this heat, which keeps me inside the house and unable to enjoy my city during the day? First, because it's called Mojave Moon, because it reminds me of the evening to come, the time of day I look forward to most during the summer because I can walk my dogs a longer distance and be able to have my desert back for a few hours. I know it's the desert and it's expected, but still being relatively new to Las Vegas over nine months now, I'm still getting used to it. And I will get used to it, but the surprise will take some time to wear off. Yes, surprise, and a little disappointment, even though this is expected.

10 minutes into Mojave Moon on Amazon Instant Video (I rented it), I like it so far because it looks at streets not always known in movies set in Los Angeles. But Mojave Moon isn't only set in Los Angeles. On IMDB, the sole filming location is Palmdale, where we went many times when we existed in the Santa Clarita Valley in order to go to the only Sonic near us, a 45-minute-or-more drive, but still going out to even further isolated territory. If Los Angeles wants to call itself the desert (and it's not because of what it's built and what it has become), they would have settled in Palmdale, and Palmdale would have been Los Angeles, and there they could have called themselves the desert and meant it.

I liked Palmdale to a degree. I liked that it felt more honest than Los Angeles. There's no bullshit in the desert, at least on the surface. With people in the desert, your mileage may vary, but I've met more nice souls here in Las Vegas in nine months than I had in nine years in Southern California, genuine nice souls, and not posing for some kind of advantage. But I think I'm also interested in Mojave Moon because I'm long gone from Southern California, because I never saw Southern California at the time this movie was filmed. That's why I want Buena Park to be the end of my first novel, why I want to write extensively about Anaheim for my second novel, because I don't have access to them anymore. I know them well enough from the dozens of times I visited, but now I can really think about them, what they meant to me, what they'll mean to my characters. I know Buena Park and Anaheim go on, that they may have changed in some spots after I left, but I think the general feeling remains the same, such as Buena Park remaining a quiet, small town next to Anaheim, that cares about its history, that wants people to know, and that's why the ghosts of its history hang heavily on it. Not necessarily bad history, just what it once was. That's why I always liked Buena Park.

And being nine months gone from Southern California, I can look at Palmdale in this movie and not have that little dread. I liked going to Palmdale, of course, for Sonic, and for the Walmart across from it that was there for you to get what you needed, and it had what you needed, and it had a hardy soul to it. Yeah, I know, Walmart with a soul. But in Palmdale, even the stores have little bullshit. But I've also never known a movie before to be filmed in this particular desert, so I'm curious about that, too. Even with it being 104 degrees right now. Plus, I've always liked Danny Aiello, and, to me, Angelina Jolie looks a lot more attractive here than she is today. But mainly, what do they do in a movie set in that desert? That's what I want to know.

Even more pressing is that there was some kind of Irish movie, or near Ireland, that was released in 1996, and involved children, with some kind of math thing, that aired on CBS 2 one late Sunday morning, and I can't remember the title. I keep thinking that Colm Meaney or Aidan Quinn was in it, but no luck through IMDB. It may come to mind one day, but not today. Today is for the desert in Palmdale, for Mojave Moon.


  1. Children. Math thing. Wish I knew the title. It's hotter than holy hell here. In so many places people say, It's not the heat; it's the humidity. Here, it's the heat and the humidity.


    1. It just popped to mind, and I found it on IMDB. Turns out it wasn't about math at all: Pete's Meteor

    2. Glad you found it. Drives me crazy when I can't remember stuff.

    3. As per your suggestion, I listened to "Lavender" by Watsonville Patio and 5 minutes later, I found myself downloading it on my mp3. Thank you! Thank you for suggesting a great song. I love it when I find gems like this, be it a hard-to-find song, movie, tv show, or book.