Before I lay out, in excruciating detail, the nuts and bolts of my personal escape from L.A. I wish to lay out, for the edification and enjoyment of mainly my younger (post Baby Boom) readers, a synopsis of the film’s plot while also highlighting some of the more outlandish precepts employed in the story. For my own nostalgic reasons, I’m including some garishly true and somehow appropriate facts about where in the area’s underbelly some scenes were shot. Though based on satire, some of them have some unfortunate kernels of truth to this day.
In 2000, a massive earthquake strikes the city of Los Angeles, cutting it off from the mainland as the San Fernando Valley floods. Declaring that God is punishing Los Angeles for its sins, a theocratic presidential candidate wins election to a lifetime term of office. He orders the United States capital relocated from Washington, D.C. to his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia and enacts a series of strict morality laws. Violators are given a choice between loss of U.S. citizenship and permanent deportation to the new Los Angeles Island, or repentance and death by electrocution. Escape from the island is made impossible due to a containment wall erected along the mainland shore and a heavy federal police presence monitoring the area.
- Several scenes were shot in Carson, including the Sunset Boulevard and freeway sequences.
- The Sunset Boulevard scene was filmed in a landfill, where production staff constructed over one hundred and twenty structures to create a shanty town.
- In order to create the impression of a crowded post-apocalyptic freeway, two hundred and fifty broken cars were sourced from a junkyard in Ventura.
- Happy Kingdom was supposed to be Disneyland, but Disney didn’t give them permission.
- The character of the President was Kurt Russell’s idea. He based him on televangelist Pat Robertson.
Garishly true and somehow appropriate facts
- I am very familiar with the city of Carson because it is part of the area where I grew up which includes Mom’s house. It is NOT within 20 miles of Sunset Boulevard, though it does include parts of more than one freeway.
- No one who lives anywhere near Sunset Boulevard would ever allow a landfill along that famous and winding path, though it does traverse a few canyons which would otherwise be an ideal location for a landfill.
- A crowded post-apocalyptic freeway is much more realistic than the fantasy interchange I remember seeing in La La Land. As I recall, that one used only pristine and very colorful vehicles to showcase the dancers swirling around them. I suspect they were digitally added, and probably not superimposed over any real cars, and certainly not any of that would have come as a result of trucking them for a two-hour drive in moderate traffic from Ventura.
- Happy Kingdom was supposed to be Disneyland, but Disney didn’t give them permission. I don’t know if anyone named Disney would have let the filmmakers use it, but clearly the corporate suits who owned it at the time didn’t think it would be good for that place’s image.”
- Kurt Russell, who plays the main character, Snake Pliskin, in this 20th century film, has moved on to portraying Santa Claus in this century. Russell’s inspiration, Pat Robertson is an all too real televangelist, still alive and kicking at the age of 92. You may still be able to see him, in the wrinkled flesh, on TV in an episode of the still airing The 700 Club. If you’re so inclined, you could also check out his failed 1988 presidential campaign.
Escaping from what followed me to L.A.
I had already gone through Mom’s stuff before her passing more than once, gleaning and disposing of a little more each time. I’d also done something similar with the stuff my idiot ex had sent me in a POD, including some of his high school yearbooks and church stuff. I had no problem putting those in the recycle bin, along with mine, but I kept the stuff he still had from his first wife and the daughter he had given up for adoption.
I imagine he had been drunkenly crying when he packed this stuff up so didn’t really know, because he probably couldn’t see or focus, what he’d put in there. He also sent me mismatched kitchen stuff, which he could have matched with what he had in his own kitchenette. I’d combined and organized some of that with the plethora of similar stuff Mom had. Neither one of us used most of it anymore so what doesn’t have sentimental value is being left behind.
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