While most of you who don't live in Los Angeles were sleeping Monday night, we Angelenos were glued to the set, watching a three-hour, low-speed car chase involving a new white Bentley unfold. The chase began around 8 pm, not long after the driver allegedly assaulted his girlfriend with a deadly weapon in North Hollywood, and wound its way all over the city (on the 101, 5, 10, and 405 Freeways) before ending near its start point, by Universal Studios.
It's difficult to explain to non-La La residents why car chases -- high-speed, low-speed, ones involving stolen U-Hauls -- are so compelling. Part of it is that we live in our cars. Part of it is that we live in a sunny "It's All Good" bubble that is only punctured -- and called into question -- by calamity, whether it's by fire, mudslide, earthquake, or car chase. It's a Didion-esque way of looking at the world: the dream is held together by the underpinnings of disaster.
The White Bentley Car Chase was particularly narrative-friendly, because of the make of the car. Internet rumors quickly spread that the driver was Chris Brown. When the driver finally stopped in Universal City and cameras actually captured his face, the story changed. It wasn't girlfriend-beater Chris Brown after all, but Miami-based DJ Khaled. So not only was the driver rich, but he was famous, too. How very L.A.
Once the driver stopped, he sat in his car for an hour-and-a-half, surrounded by cops, before shooting himself in the head. He later died at a local hospital.
As it turns out, the driver of the White Bentley was a "businessman of Pakistani origins." He was probably rich, but he was not famous, until, of course, the few hours before his death. He was not famous until he put a gun to his head in the shadow of the movie studio whose first European production was Fahrenheit 451, a movie about a dystopian future wherein television is killing free thought. He was not famous until his last moments were uploaded a dozen times on YouTube. He was not famous until he shot himself in a $100,000 car, right next to one of the largest Toyota dealerships in L.A., one that promises on its website "to provide you with the car of your dreams."
How very L.A. indeed.