24-HOUR HEART SHAPED BOX (a fleyshie Friday histoire noir)
As I was saying: it starts with the magazine in the plastic surgeon’s waiting room.
I’m in there to get the ol’ trombone looked at again—you remember when I broke it. I’ve got my right ankle balanced on my left knee in that wide-open private-dick kind of way, and I’m flipping the pages just to hear that flsh flsh sound, not really reading any of the articles. Stupid ol’ biddy magazine anyway—meant for Upper East Side tomatoes with up-do’s, bound and gagged to the glamorous life.
That’s when I turn to a page that makes my ankle-balancing foot hit the floor.
“I’d rather go naked than wear fake Chanel,” blares across the page. On the opposite page is ol’ Courtney Love herself, chained and gagged in more Chanel bangles than the day she was born, but not wearing much else. The article’s about an apparently infamous event that escaped my little-dick office: Love showed up to Paris Hilton’s birthday bash in a fake Chanel frock. The mag takes the high road: “The fallout was swift: The dress hit the press, word reached Karl Lagerfeld at the Chanel atelier, and one miffed couture client who had ordered the original promptly canceled it.”
Horror in the plastic surgeon’s waiting room! Horror across this great nation of ours, from atelier to shining atelier!
My client is a tool for the fashion industry!
The waiting room’s closet door opens, and out steps Love. “If you’re famous and want to keep wearing beautiful clothes, you have to be a tool of the fashion industry,” she tells me.
“All right, Love,” The fact that she’s in my plastic surgeon’s waiting room’s closet doesn’t faze me at all. “For what other industries are you a tool? Is there a certain MILL you work for?”
Love tips her blond head.
“You know, the mill right next to Gin?”
Her cheekbones look quizzical.
“Come on, Love, the GOSSIP MILL?!”
“I don’t work for them,” Love snaps. “They don’t give me pretty clothes.”
“You’re the worst client I’ve ever had.”
“I’m not your client. Seriously.”
“Yeah, okay. Let me get back to putting your dollars to work.”
“I’m not paying you anything.” Love disappears back into the closet. I look at the door.
“I’m on it,” I say.
They make you wait at a waiting room like this. A lady walks in. She’s had a little work done, sure, but good work: maybe just the jowls. She’s a brunette lady who’s perfectly happy being an attractive matron, as opposed to an Upper East Side 45-year-old sex bomb. You can tell she never goes out into the sun without a floppy hat.
The lady happens to walk in when I’m tearing the Courtney Love article out of the magazine. “I won’t tell,” she says, nodding curtly and looking away.
“Thanks, tomato,” I say.
“A dick, huh?” the lady asks. “You break your trombone?”
“That’s about the size of it.”
“Well, it’s healing nice,” the lady says. “I wish we could say the same for Owen Wilson.”
“You read my mind.”
The lady nods and goes on. “I believe the poor boy needs help. But there are some that are saying that the whole shebang was a publicity stunt. Seems he’s playing a troubled character in his upcoming film ‘Darjeeling.’ I don’t believe that, of course. I’ll tell you what I find interesting…”
“Go on and tell me,” I say.
“Look at that mag in your claw. Did you notice the Kate Hudson spread 20 pages back?”
I look, and sure enough, Wilson’s ex herself is all over pages 452-462.
“What’s interesting about that?” I ask.
“Kate Hudson and Courtney Love in the same issue of Harper’s, the month that Owen Wilson tries to kill himself?”
Just then the doctor comes out. “Friday,” he says. “Let’s see that trombone.”
The old tomato nods once, deep and rich as an heirloom. “You wait,” she murmurs to me. “It’s all connected, you’ll see.”
The doc checks my honker and gives me the okay. I walk out to see Marty, the receptionist.
“Not this time, Marty,” I shake my head gently as she tries to hand me the bill.
“When’re you gonna pay what you owe us, Friday?” she asks, the golden chains on her left wrist jingling like a warden’s key ring.
“Marty—gorgeous, funny Marty.” I say. “Anyone ever tell you you look like Melissa Rivers?”
“Out,” she says, waving the left manicure at me as I go. “Oh, wait,” she calls before I shut the door. “The other lady who was in here left this for you…”
She hands me three folded up pages of magazine. The Kate Hudson article from the waiting room, neatly torn out. The brunette lady opens the waiting room closet door and looks at me. "Shh," she says before going back in.
I head back to the office, and my head’s about as gummed up as a gumshoe gets. Did Kate and Courtney conspire to lead Owen to suicide? Did the Chanel atelier have anything to do with it? How about Kate’s kid, Ryder?
I get the article back to my desk, spread it out. It purports to be an interview about how hard it is for Kate being a single mom. But, really, it’s about her adorable house:
It’s a glorious summer Saturday, and we’re chatting in Kate’s Pacific Palisades lair. Few venues could better symbolize Kate’s Hollywood lineage or, indeed, her self-styled domesticity, for this is the house she grew up in with her parents Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell (ff. note: italicized, bolded and underlined, because this is celebrity name-dropping within celebrity name-dropping)… Now it’s a cozy-luxe mélange (ff. note: italicized, bolded, and underlined because it’s the word “mélange”) of fur-trimmed pillows, Marni rugs, and an altogether decadent purple, gold and black dining room. You’ve gotta have a little Prince in your home, right?” she laughs…
The article is also about her looks:
Kate is an easy hostess with a talent for instant girly-intimacy. She remarks that her much-scrutinized figure—today poured into leggy Paige denims, a simple Ever tee, and sky-high Pierre Hardy patent pumps—did not “snap back” from its voluptuous state until 18 months after Ryder was born. Frankly, I suspect “snapping back” may be somewhat euphemistic. (ff. note: italicized and underlined because… what is this writer GETTING AT? Is she picking on Hudson's newly "matronly" figure? How far do these fashion rag dames stoop?) “I pole dance… I’ll run, do Pilates, mat work… I’ll go take a Spinning class,” she confesses.
Confesses, that’s right. Holy smoke. The whole fashion industry might as well confess for orchestrating Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt. I think I got it now: I hit the streets again.
You’ve seen “Zoolander”; we’ve all seen it. Ben Stiller plays a male model with a fashion-industry-fueled hypnosis-murder plot on his head. It’s all been done before.
I go to Conspiracy Comics down in TriBeCa. It’s a weekday, so there’s nobody there save what look like two grubby college kids on vacation. They’ve both got ironic hooded-sweatshirts, ironically hooded-up.
The back room is where all the good stuff is. And it turns out, Suits McGee and Carrie Long-Sleeves are standing ten paces apart. Their faces buried in books. Books of a comic kind. Comic books.
“I need some help,” I say. Suits and Sleeves give me the eyes.
“Would there be any reason why the fashion industry would be out to get Owen Wilson?”
They look at each other. Carrie mutters, “Third stack back, twenty books in.”
I’m not gonna give you the whole frame-by-frame of “The Fashion Industry’s Conspiracy To Get Owen Wilson To Try To Kill Himself, Sort Of Like What Happened To Ben Stiller in ‘Zoolander.’” It’s a pretty quick read, so you can head down to TriBeCa and snap it up yourself. The basic gist of the mill is that Wilson was dating Francesca Versace when the story broke that he had been in a concurrent year-long shebang with Kate Hudson. None of that would matter a twit if Francesca wasn’t the niece of Donatella Versace, sister of the late Gianni Versace and Queen of the Versace Empire.
If you need me to connect the dots for you after THAT bombshell, you should go back to Sunday school. This here’s the school of Friday, and it’s never going to pat you on the back and feed you applesauce.
Suffice it to say, they didn’t succeed in their plot to fit Owen with a 24-hour satin-lined heart-shaped box. And if I were Steve Coogan, I’d watch my back.
So, that’s how it goes. You figure something all out, and then it turns out there was a comic book that figured it out before you did. Isn’t that just the way. A dick works for the rich and the mysterious, a comic book conspiracist works against them. But everybody shuffles the same sidewalk. Sniffs the same trash. Pees in the same alley.
I flip a quarter onto the checkout desk on my way out.
“Thanks for the memories,” I say to the hooded-kids and the clerk in his nifty Buddy Holly specs.
“That magazine is $4.50,” the clerk says to me.
“I’ll be seeing you,” I say.
“Wait,” the clerk says. But a dick waits for nothing. Or at least, not much.
Guess it’s time to tell Love she doesn’t owe me Jack-Nicholson. Isn’t that just the way. The New York pavement is wet with a funny kind of half-rain. I turn the collar flaps up and head into the weather.
Guess it’s time to send my bill to Gather and hope for the best.
Not like a dick hopes for anything.
The wind hits my face.
Or at least, not much.
Inevitable Epilogue: There’s plenty of good gossip for the having out in Hollywood, and I’ll be back with more of it next week. In the meantime, you simply MUST check out Britney Spears’ performance at the Video Music Awards on YouTube. An amazing architecture of dancers, camera angles, costumes and lights… and in the middle of it all, one barely-dancing, hung-over broad, barely lip-syncing. Tragicomedy gold.