"I WOULD NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FROM SELENA!"

“I WOULD NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FROM SELENA!”

Someone said the strangest thing to me the other day. I think it went something like this:

“I really want to see ‘A Day Without A Mexican’.”

I mean, can you imagine?

Not only did he want to see it. He really wanted to see it. When I pressed him for further details, he said, “I heard it’s good.”

And I’m all, “You mean, you’ve actually heard things about that movie?” Seriously, I see tons of movies, and so do all my friends, but that one’s not even on my radar. I haven’t seen any trailers, or any commercials, I don’t know who’s in it. Zilch. Then I told him I had seen “Saved!” and it was pretty good, and he was like, “What’s that?!” It was as if he and I were living in completely different worlds.

And, of course, in a way, we are.

You see, “this guy” was the guy who cuts my hair, who’s Latino, and — not that it matters, but I like to mention these things — heavily tattooed. For a city as diverse as it is, Los Angeles is extremely segregated — whether white, black, or brown, inked or blank.

It reminded me of my initial reaction when Selena died: “Who?!” And then there was my reaction upon seeing her millions of grieving fans on the news: “Huh?!” I’m used to hearing things like, “Xuxa is the most popular TV star in Brazilian history” or “Googoosh is the Madonna of Iran.” Since I’ve never been anywhere near Brazil or Iran, I think I can be forgiven for not knowing who Xuxa or Googoosh is — and the only reason I know them now is, who can forget names like Xuxa and Googoosh? But Selena was a superstar I never knew, right here in my own country.

When people say things like “L.A. is so phony” or “L.A. is so schmoozy” or “Everyone in L.A. has a screenplay”, they’re not really describing all of L.A. There’s a whole other world here that the rest of us often forget about, a world that has its own celebrities and music, and TV shows, though thankfully, I think we all have J-Lo in common. I remind myself of this every time I see the words “… and featuring Paul Rodriguez”. I mean, somebody‘s kept that guy popular all these years.

The great cultural divide of L.A. is like a fault line, deep and treacherous and splintering off in dozens of directions. I find myself on the other side of it whenever I hear someone say, “You mean the Pet Shop Boys are STILL making records?” (Answer: “Some of the best records of their CAREER!!!!!!”)

Imagine the reaction if Rufus Wainwright met an untimely end. (And having seen a very languid, bleary-eyed TV appearance of his a while back, I do worry — you know, cigarettes and chocolate milk are just a couple of his cravings.) The streets of West Hollywood would be cordoned off for round-the-clock vigils, and guys in tank tops would be blubbering to Conan Nolan on KNBC about what an icon Rufus was and how cruel life can be.

And as all of this was going on, a large number of people passing by or watching the spectacle on TV would stare at the sight and go:

“Que?!”

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