Ain't We Got Fun
Once more it's the spotlight for the hometown of Nicole, O.J. and Monica
By Steve Lopez/TIME
BRENTWOOD, Calif -- She could have been from anywhere, but it wouldn't have been as
delicious as this. When the most famous White House intern in
U.S. history fell into her father's arms last week, at his home
in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, she was three blocks
from the house where Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered.
If you start at a point midway between those houses, and then
drive north exactly three-quarters of a mile, you will encounter
the ghost of Marilyn Monroe. Last week a work crew was
remodeling the bungalow where the actress died.
Marilyn and J.F.K. Monica and Bill. Kids were selling star maps
on Sunset Boulevard last week. Down on the coast, a seal washed
ashore in the storm and took refuge in a public rest room even
as Monica was taking refuge from the El Nino of all sex
scandals. And a Brentwood News headline read, STAR TREK CAPTAIN
TAKES OVER AS MAYOR.
Actress Kate Mulgrew will be installed Feb. 21 as the honorary
mayor, replacing David Horowitz, or was it Sally Struthers? Said
the incoming mayor: "We will bring back romance and style."
Monica had no choice but to be from L.A.
The locals were worked into a lather last week not by media
parasites but by the fear that Brentwood would be misread by the
Jackie Raymond, president of the South Brentwood Homeowners'
Association, sat in her magazine-spread country home on
notorious Bundy Drive and referred to "the M incident involving
O." She will not say "murder" or put a J after the O because
once you put it out of mind, it never happened. If you want the
real scoop on Brentwood, Raymond says, you should read her
newsletter, which includes a "Good Neighbor" feature on Marie
Lewis, a tireless activist who enjoys gardening and has "also
kept chickens and, at one time, ducks."
All very quaint, but the outside world doesn't need a modern-day
Mayberry. We want there to be a place where the homes start at
half a million dollars and movie stars walk down the street in
dungarees--as long as we don't have to live there. With all due
respect to Marie Lewis and her poultry farm, we're more
enthralled by the Brentwood News item about the opening of a
Whole Foods market. Sighted pushing carts filled with such items
as bottled water and organic carrots were Brooke Shields, Steven
Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Sophia Loren and the cast of Melrose
Place. One more nugget pulled from the News: "Dustin Hoffman
recently bought the home of an elderly lady so he wouldn't have
to walk across her flowers to get to his tennis courts."
Don't you understand, Brentwood? There has to be a place like
this--a center of pop pathology--or the rest of us would go nuts.
Monica, actually, is not technically a Brentwood girl. She grew
up just to the east, with both feet in the petri dish. Monica,
whose parents' divorce papers listed a psychiatric-therapy bill
of $1,800 a month, is a 90210 girl.
"I wish she lived back in Beverly Hills, because she loves the
camera," says Mr. Blackwell, the famous arbiter of fashion
disasters. "Beverly Hills would be more suitable for her because
it's a more plastic area." Monica is essentially a feline, Mr.
Blackwell says. "She loves cleavage, bust lines, scoop necks,
legs, the whole scene." And thank God, says he, she got rid of
those dreadful bangs.
Brentwood is about money, says Richard McNeil, who manages the
Brentwood Cigar Club. After his acquittal, O.J. began hanging
around the cigar shop because the owners had hired two "very
attractive airhead blonds" to minx around the place. Live bait
for local libido. It backfired. When other customers saw O.J.,
they walked out.
It starts in the modest flatlands, Monica and Nicole territory,
and climbs the Santa Monica Mountains, where the homes are
obscenely gorgeous and the salt-air view of the Pacific so
tearfully stunning that you have to get on the cell phone and
either call the shrink or schedule a facial.
Mezzaluna, the restaurant where Nicole left her sunglasses and
Ron Goldman found them, is gone, victim of its own celebrity.
Across the street, a tanning salon sits next door to a skin-care
At the Brentwood News, editor and publisher Jeff Hall says his
readers are like those in any community. They want stories about
schools and traffic, crime and commerce. But given Monica, last
week he was preparing a column on Brentwood as the center of the
We wouldn't want it any other way.