I was driving through Beverly Hills yesterday, on my way out to Malibu, and the signs in the yards caught my eye.
Not the “For Sale” signs. Nobody likes to talk about it openly, except when they’re celebrating diversity, but Beverly Hills is currently undergoing the greatest ethnic turnover since Harlem went from white to black in the 1930s. Nearly a quarter of the city’s residents are now Iranian, and 40 percent of the school kids. The last municipal election printed ballots in three languages — reconquista
Spanish, Upper West Side English, and “Death to the Great Satan” Farsi. What the fall of the shah started, the rise of the mullahs will eventually finish, and 90210 will be just another precinct in Tehran, with the same taste in interior furnishings.
No, the other signs. You know, the ones that say “ARMED RESPONSE.” (They’re usually just to the left of the “Kerry/Edwards” signs.) Not only in Beverly Hills, of course, but in Santa Monica, Hancock Park, Brentwood, Bel Air, and all the best neighborhoods in town. The signs that advertise our private-security services.
You see, although we in Hollywood are personally opposed to firearms, and passionately support gun control, we have to be realistic about Bush’s America and protect our families and, more important, our possessions from burglars, stalkers, muggers, street people, the homeless, immigrants, the Christian Right, and tourists from Kansas City.
That’s why we were all so taken aback by the recent D.C. circuit-court ruling, which found that the residents of Washington are constitutionally entitled, as individuals, to possess firearms. It’s bad enough that every criminal in L.A. County has unlimited access to guns — now they want to give them to ordinary people, too?
Everyone knows perfectly well that the Bill of Rights was meant to protect the federal government against the depredations of the citizens — if you don‘t believe me, just ask senators McCain and Feingold — and no finer example can be found than good old No. 2, the militia amendment, which obviously refers to the Texas Air National Guard or whichever outfit it was that Bush weaseled his way out of, and not some stump-toothed survivalist hillbilly in flyover country.
You see, anger management is very important here in Hollywood. In the old days, barely literate glove makers from the old country could rant and rave and scream and holler; thousands turned out for Columbia chief Harry Cohn’s funeral, the saying went, because they wanted to make sure the S.O.B. was really dead. As Red Skelton quipped: “Give the public what they want and they’ll come out for it.”
But that is so old Beverly Hills. Today’s moguls barely raise their voices above Don Corleone whispers. They drink water or, if they’re feeling frisky, Diet Coke. They drive dead-silent Priuses. Why, if you didn’t know any better, you’d hardly believe they were even there.