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JOSEPH N. BELL

This Town Is Just Too Funny

February 04, 1989|JOSEPH N. BELL

I've got a great idea for a TV series about a town that has all these bubble heads running it who keep getting into all sorts of bizarre scrapes.

In one episode, there's a crisis over some people who are down on their luck and don't have any place to sleep. The guys who run this town, see, don't want to provide a temporary shelter for these people because then they won't go away and some others might even come.

So they figure out that while these homeless people are out looking for food or work during the day, they'll steal their bedrolls and burn 'em up.

This story will be a two-parter because our heroes have to back off a little bit when some ordinary citizens aren't pleased about the destruction of the bedrolls and make angry noises.

So our guys get together and come up with a new plan. They decide--this will have 'em rolling in the aisles--to dig up all the shrubbery around the civic buildings so these homeless people won't have any place to hide their bedrolls. There's this really funny scene where they cut down a juniper tree while a guy is sitting under it. And the final shot will be a pan across the civic center grounds showing them naked as jay-birds. Sort of like Lawrence, Kan., right after the bomb hit in "The Day After."

For the pilot, I'm thinking about doing an episode on hookers. Female hookers. Now hooking is illegal although standing around on the street isn't. But the movers and shakers in this town don't want the hookers hanging out, so they tell our heroes to do something about it.

What they decide is just to run in all the women they think look like hookers. If it turns out at the police station they aren't hookers at all, the police turn them loose. No harm, no foul. Of course, the same thing holds for the women who really are hookers since they weren't doing much of anything at the time they were run in.

Well, predictably, a lot of liberals and feminists get upset at this, and there's a great scene where our heroes tell an ACLU type and his sidekick from the National Organization for Women to take the Constitution they've been waving around and stuff it. Or words to that effect.

Since Santa Ana has been having some problems similar to those described here--pure coincidence--I decided to go have a look at the area along Harbor Boulevard, where the suspected prostitutes are being rounded up.

Well, I drove through the area the Santa Ana vice squad told me was the hunting ground for the hookers and didn't get solicited once. This is an area of RV and mobile home lots, car repair shops, fast-food places, a handful of motels and several small shopping centers.

Since I couldn't find any hookers, I decided to talk to some merchants. They all said I came too early in the day (it was about noon), that the ladies didn't appear until late afternoon or evening. None of the merchants to whom I talked were particularly upset, since most of the action takes place after business hours.

One told me: "I see them on the corner or in the parking lot once in awhile, but they aren't any great problem for me. This is a heavy tourist area, close to Disneyland, and I suppose that's why they hang out here."

Another said: "You don't have much trouble telling them by the way they're dressed. But I haven't seen much difference since the police cracked down. I ran into one at a bus stop yesterday, and she told me she just got out of jail and was back at the same old stand."

One young man who not only runs a business in the area but is raising a family there, too, said that his wife was frequently propositioned by cruising drivers and that his little girl once picked up a condom on the street. But he was more angry at the system than the hookers.

"It's an age-old profession," he said, "and they'll never get rid of it, no matter what they do. The answer is simple enough. They should make it legal and license and inspect the women and set them up in houses. Then, at least, we'd get them off the streets."

I can't use that in my script, of course. It's much too rational. And not very funny.

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