on the road

(“We just wanted to make a nice genre film, and look what happened.” — Martin Scorsese being interviewed on the Academy red carpet [on TV in the background as I write this])

The husband E. will be in May’s issue of Vanity Fair, which is their ‘green’ issue, which will feature a story about the most amazing car in the world pardon my obvious bias (which doesn’t make it not true). I heard that VF had arranged to shut down the carpool interchange of two major freeways for the photo shoot so I tagged

(Leo Dicaprio on the red carpet — man, I loved his Blood Diamond performance, was surprised and delighted to see him get the nod for that instead of The Departed, just because I have a soft spot for any actor who can convince me he’s a strapping blond roguish South African male with a secret heart of gold)

along, curious to see how this gets accomplished. The entrance ramp was blocked off by a sign and two police cars — “I’m with the shoot,” E said, and an officer waved us up and through. A big green screen was raised at one end of the stretch of lane, a red Tesla waiting in front, along with lights and cables and camera equipment and people milling. The photographer was a friendly balding man with an accent (his business card gave a Swedish address) whose primary concern was “not making this look like a car ad”, a challenge which he mentioned more than once and found “interesting”.

Stunning view of the city from every angle, your gaze casting over the levels of freeway to the sprawling, woven cityscape below, low-roofed buildings and trees — palm trees, eucalyptus — with the clustered skyscrapers of downtown LA (the closest thing to a traditional skyline the city has) in the distance, and the rise of mountains beyond, and often a jet or helicopter cutting through the sky. Windy, cold. Some cars would honk their horns as they blew past the other side of the concrete partition. I wondered aloud why they did this.

Someone said, “They think we’re making a movie.”

“So they’re offering moral support?”

The photographer, Jonas, glanced over E’s outfit — jeans, t-shirt — and nodded in approval, then turned him over to the stylist who added a rugged leather jacket (“This is your job, this is my job,” the stylist said, “you build cars that will save the world and stuff, and I play with zippers all day,” and someone said laughing to the stylist, “I’d rather have your job”).

The trailer was set up a short distance down from the shoot, a small table laid with brownies and cookies and an icebox filled with drinks on either side of steps leading up to a spacious, hardwood-floored interior. More food was set up inside. There was a guy reading a magazine up front, a flatscreen TV playing above his head. I think he was the driver, but his primary responsibility during the shoot seemed to be operating the RV’s complicated-looking espresso maker (“When we did a shoot in France,” he told me, “I couldn’t make this stuff fast enough, they were drinking espresso like it was water”). He made me several espressos.

The back end of the RV had been given over to styling and make-up: a closet filled with pants and sweaters and jackets, which all looked to be E’s size, and

(taking a moment out now to rewind the Oscars’ opening monologue on TiVo — who made Ellen D.’s pantsuit? is that Gucci?)

a vanity table and a very pretty young blonde woman who brushed powder over E’s face. “You look like that Canadian actress…Rachel McAdams,” he said pleasantly.

She said, just as pleasantly, “That’s because I’m her sister.”

(“No one can fill the seat like an American” — Ellen DeGeneres. Heh.)

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