EVERYTHING is A SUBSTITUTE: the lie is that there is any real thing – keep it a secret!

the joke’s been made before: amplitude, volume. Fat and loud.

J: You can understand why Americans make big disaster movies. It feels like we’re inside some vast beast.

It sounds like it as well.

The ride to Universal Studios went like this – in a coach you couldn’t see out of because of the advertising that covered the windows, all of them, except the front windscreen, with from the inside a black holey gauze, from the outside King Kong crushing the bus, stuck onto the bus not crushed. Bad trompe l’oiel. Is there a category in Deleuze’s baroque, bad baroque? ad-bad baroque? baroque Obama? – which is not fair. Still… The folds of fat hanging off people that the people are. And if the soul is the body, then, a state of spiritual-physical apotheosis being reached… were it not for the mobility scooter, and the wheelchair, opted for, taken as an option… Many in these oversized perambulators could walk, resisted learning? Lived in a future where walking has become redundant? Lazy?

Try again:
Adult beverages – two bus trips, the first to the depot, with ‘Call me Jeff if you had a good time on my bus, Charles if you didn’t,’ send one of your group in, it gets real hot in the depot; patter about drinking bus-drivers: So I was at the bar this morning. You think I can drive with this traffic sobre?

Both bus-drivers, info about Universal revolved – pun? – around food. Where to get all you can eat. More than you can eat. Get the entree, it’ll feed a family of four. And as we’d found at Disney, a major proportion of the real-estate given over to eating establishments. Fat.

June gloom – that, according to the second bus-driver, ‘You know why most of our drivers are women? … [obligatory pause for comic timing] Because women know how to talk. We know how to talk real well,’ according to her: June gloom is the white stuff in the smog, makes it difficult to know if that’s a storm brewing, or just gloom of June in the grey-brown smog soup.

freeways, land of freeways and flyovers. J: Why would you build a flyover like that in an earthquake zone? Looking down on four layers of traffic from the graceful arm of a one-lane flyover.

freeways blocked with traffic for hundreds of kilometres on the way home, an always consistent spacing, in both directions, except on the carpool lanes, to qualify for the use of which all you need is two to a car. I asked. So I know. I said, That’s all you need?! Yes, it may seem like that’s nothing, but the fines for using it with one person in the car are very steep. No imaginative use of mannequins and dummies in the passenger seat here, the Americans are too literal? Result: hardly any vehicles using the carpool lane.

The Library Tower is the tallest building downtown, the Library Tower. It’s the first place the aliens attack. Is it full of books?

Let it be known that it was, is and always will be, in the Shrine Auditorium that Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire.

And that the garment district rivals New York’s. It is not however a pretty area, being in an old part of the city.

The painted eyes of a massive figure on the side of a parking building follow you as you pass.

That film has gone to the $2 movie theatres.

Not me, uh-uh. No way!

Los Angeles was the second mission developed by the Spanish, San Diego the first.

The Church of Scientology, Tom Cruise.

Capitol Records might look like a stack of records, but the architect denies that’s what he had in mind. He simply submitted what he thought was an interesting design to a competition. Which he won.

The sight of Saddle Ranch Chop House greeted us on our arrival at Universal Studios. Make sure you get more than a couple of adult beverages in you before you try the mechanical horses out the front.

Universal was Peter Jackson land, his contribution – the largest 3D wrap-around screen in the world, wrapping around the tour bus on the tour, the medium for the King Kong experience – dominating all others. Well, the latest, the newest, the most popular.

Later, the kid from Seattle and his dad, on the never-ending aircon-chilled trip back to Hojo’s (You’ll never hear anybody calling it Howard Johnson’s): The Simpsons Ride was my favourite. And it was my Dad’s. It’s most popular which must mean that most people like it.

The Simpsons Ride was a dressed up over-loud – deafening in fact – flight-simulator experience, with big screen showing a cool Simpsons’ fantasia, with a logic to it, set in Krustyland, a ride that goes wrong – of course – badly wrong, the novelty consisting in the device by which you arrive in front of the big screen. You enter a small vividly cartoon-illustrated room, to climb into a car, four in front, four in back, which, when the ride commences, pops up through the ceiling of the room. Looking around from this vantage, I could see the other cars, that had risen out of the other rooms. And, which spoilt it, the edges of the wraparound screen, one clearly not as big as PJ’s, because PJ’s is the biggest in the world.

Consider the function of the superlative.

Scariest means ‘paid to be scary’ so if not scariest, not paid enough? Needing pre-emptive tips?

The House of Horrors was scary. The actors dressed scary jumped out of shadows. The actors came right up and did not stop short of touching you. They even chased you. I whacked one with a water bottle.

Jurassic Park dropped you vertically down an 80 foot drop.

We said to each other after that: You’re not in Disneyland anymore! No guarantees it’s going to be a nice ride.

The guy on the door at The Mummy said, Sure, you guys’ll be fine. It only goes backwards for a short while.

It accelerated at enormous speed, took us on a wild ride, stopped sharply then reversed back down the same route in practically its entirety, before grinding to a halt again, making a quarter-turn, accelerating as if to repeat the ride. A bang. A flash of light. The doors opening. You were out.

Lunch of filled rolls from ersatz Parisian cafe in International Street. Check out the signs. Places we’d been not so long before. Piaf’s Milord coming through the tannoy. Lucille Ball with Dezzie’s tombstone in the back of her pink convertible Caddy rolling by. A German accent on International Street: I SEE YOU LUCY! The Russian couple next to us with fond memories of I Love Lucy. How?

Sitting there eating the dry rolls with the tasteless tuna or chicken – the only flavour bread-and-butter pickle and ‘sun’-dried tomato -, a parade of obscenely fat… No. Fat is the wrong word. Distorted before fat. Bodies distorted by overeating. Fat then if the obscenity of this distorted flesh is understood by it.

Fat asses, fat haunches in the uniform of Universal Studios, the khaki brown shirt and black pants. The buttocks rising against gravity in bulbs out from the hips, as if double-buttocks.

Black Americans fat too. Young group, the guys following in oversized T’s and low fat-wear. Three girls, one chafing so badly, her legs bowed under her butts – bubble, if by bubble nothing fragile and ephemeral is understood, but proud from the body, standing up, a power of impertinent fat – barely able to walk.

And a statistically unlikely preponderance of mobility scooters. Scooters are optional. Mobility assistance. Not a necessary ride because I can’t walk but an I wanna ride because I’ll be damned if you’re gonna make me walk all that way! Mobility scooters and wheelchairs as a basic freedom and matter of individual choice. Go faster, Grandma! said the grand-kids hanging on, out for the day with Gran, their favourite, cos they get to ride along.

Self-induced mutations of the human body.