Hello, and welcome back to PaCarazzi. Welcome me back. I'm back in L.A., and today brought a nearly perfect PaCarazzi moment. It wasn't a fabulous vehicle that made it; no, it was PaCarazzi's very first paparazzi encounter. Hooray! It was so self-referential I could just spit. Or write about it.
As I pulled into the parking lot of a Sherman Oaks minimall this afternoon, I noticed a beautiful blonde woman crouching over a toddler, both of them hunkered down between a black Range Rover and the low wall flanking the driveway. She looked like a crazy person. But under the big sunglasses, baseball cap, and sweats, she gleamed with cheerleader perfection -- a popular Angeleno look. Just another valley girl-turned-mommy sorting out mysterious infant hygiene issues in public. I rolled past and parked a few spaces away. A moment later, she walked into the mall with a gray-haired guy wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Uxorius Trofius Encinus
, I decided. Valley trophy wife.
Half an hour passed. Errand complete, I was nosing my little convertible out of the lot when I noticed two swarthy young guys with priapic camera lenses hovering by the driveway. Photography exchange students? No, they were too animated and focused to be tourists, hopping around like drops of water in a hot pan as they jockeyed for the perfect angle.
Then I understood. They were the new killer paparazzi you read about. I've never seen these guys prowling the streets in daylight, though I've read they can be rabid in pursuit of the quarry. Some apparently force stars' cars to crash just so they can get the photos. Or something like that. Ask Lindsey Lohan about it. Or Lizzie Grubman. No -- wait. Leave Lizzie alone. In any case, the old guard paparazzi are up in arms over the debasement of their once-noble profession. And over the fact that glamourous, profitable celeb photos have been commoditized by a couple of entrepreneurial photo brokers and their hordes of hungry young shutterbugs. Kind of like those lord 'n' vassal blog empires everyone likes so much.
The driveway stalkers on my left confirmed that they were indeed paparazzi, and when I asked who they were shooting, one said, "Denise."
"Denise?" I asked.
Oh. Right. Yes, she is very pretty. Thought she had brown hair. Whatever. I don't get out much.
On my right, a lone cameraman shifted from foot to foot, maybe a yard from the star's Range Rover. Their animation was almost painful to watch. And then, like God's own mercy, there she was, a flaxen-haired beauty carrying a baby and walking slowly toward strangers who wanted to shove their lenses down her pants.
"The poor thing," I thought. But what nonsense. She knew very well when she fought for wealth and fame that they'd cost her privacy and normalcy. She must have read the Star
at least once before she showed up in it. In the checkout line, back when she shopped for herself. My pity congealed into lurid interest in the exchange unfolding behind me. I wasn't even thinking of PaCarazzi.
Meanwhile, back at the minimall, Ventura Blvd. traffic had me penned in, so I just sat there and watched the movie star walk warily to her car. She hugged her baby tighter. They were all starting to shoot, moving toward her. Where was her escort -- had he set her up? What would she do? What could
she do? What would they
do? Oh, the thrill of it all.
She forced a big smile and said, "Hi. How are you?"
What else do you say? The traffic parted and I pulled out as they closed in, clicking and whirring for the fans.