A Satire by Dave Murphy
It’s four in the morning, I’m staring at my laptop. It’s mostly done but I still don’t know where it ends or how it began. Some point to a chance photo op with presidential hopeful Rick Santorum at a White House Correspondents event. And some tell stories about a follow-up dinner at New York’s Strip House. Mr. Santorum enjoyed the signature steak. Lindsay Lohan picked at baby greens, and asked about the intersecting roles of media, politics and religion. She had a particular interest in universalism, and asked if he knew about Pentecostal snake handlers. Santorum supposedly replied, “I’m not really sure about that. Are you seeing anybody right now?”
That was a few months ago, before the teacup tempest became a perfect storm. I could continue setting the table but there’s no real reason. Anybody with a TV or internet pulse already knows. Her quiet meetings with friends turned into organized events. She discovered Kierkegaard and tried to improve on his sayings. She had lunch with Ann Coulter. Lindsay doesn’t go anywhere now without her flock of Lindytes, adoring young women in their white muslin shifts. And her advisers, hard-eyed hacks from failed campaigns and polemic wars. They’re all singing the tune of some fucked-up cult she’s invented called Friends of the End, and Rolling Stone’s on my ass to write about it. And I just want to get the hell away from the lower 48 and find a bomb shelter in Alaska with a couple cases of cheap red wine and a blanket and a pillow and ride the damned thing out until it’s safe to come up for air.
How did things go so terribly wrong? How does a simple quest for spirituality lead to societal conflict so utterly toxic that we dare invoke Armageddon? Nobody has a straight answer. Time Warner is throwing around theoretical numbers in the hundreds of millions for a weekly show and Lohan is still saying no, still uploading her doomsday prophecies on YouTube.
I felt like Marlow in Heart of Darkness, in the midst of the incomprehensible. I needed to reach out to those who had been banished from her inner circle, to tell my own friends, to sound out theories until they grew weary and stopped taking the late night calls. I was fascinated by a list of “guidances” she scrawled on note paper, since copied by the Lindytes at Kinkos everywhere, laminated and hung close to their hearts, brief lines in a child’s loopy glitter pen scrawl. The original document is said to be locked away somewhere, nobody will say where. Lindsay herself refuses to discuss it except to say it’s nothing. But her followers take time out of each day for their communication relaxations, discussing the six phrases endlessly:
If you love something, own it! Life is not a problem to be solved but the poison cannot hurt them. Sisterhood is the brotherhood of man. War is worth it! You may not like me now, but you’ll love me in the end. The horrible flowers.
Why the crossed-out words, and what about the flowers? I was in the middle of it now, with the strange world of existence and shadowy secrets closing in on all sides.
In March she flew to Mauritania for a meeting with an undercover Christian. There on the parched plains, in some stitched-together tent, plans must have been laid. In late April, another mystery flight with a trusted spiritual adviser and an elite security unit. She met with the leaders of FEMEN at a secret location in the Ukraine. Girls no older than herself, some even younger. But they are trying to organize a revolution. And her stunning appearance at the Mayweather-Cotto fight at the MGM Grand last month as she waltzed down the aisle, holding up a sign with the words, “Knock out the Devil!” They had to form a cordon to get her out of there.
And then two weeks ago, arrested by federal agents. From everything that’s been told, she gave them nothing, just flashed a peace sign. She hadn’t been seen again until she totaled her black Porsche on Pacific Coast Highway last Saturday. Lindsay was driving with an assistant and slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler. She told the cops that the trucker cut her off. What nobody mentioned was what was found inside the big rig – electronic jamming devices, an interrogation cage, and a tiny Smart-1 Freedom Jet. Days later, the authorities were looking to “clear a few things up.” LiLo responded by calling her travel agent.
I caught up with young Henry Hopper outside an AA meeting. He’s a strange and troubled showbiz kid who spent a couple days with Lindsay earlier in the year. He kept looking around, shifty-eyed. “I shouldn’t be telling you this but LiLo bought one of those teacup dogs online a few months back. She really loved the little freak and named it LiLo. And then it went and died a week later. Those things are just inbred little runts.” He finished his brief story and stared at me, as if it should mean something.
“Is that it?” I don’t have much faith in showbiz kids who call themselves abstract impressionists.
He stared back, angrily stubbed out his cigarette and stalked off. “You writers are all alike. Asshole.”
Where was I headed? Was I on a figurative tramp steamer, traveling back to the earliest beginnings of her journey, to where her simple joys were snuffed, to where unreasonable expectations were formed, to where seedlings were planted under her pale translucent skin? I penetrated deeper into the heart of darkness, reaching out to a former publicist who said, “He put it in her, man. That Santorum dude put the God-thing in her”.
I spoke to her mother Dina, who disagreed. “Lindsay has always been a child of God.” There is an element of truth in all stories. Lindsay’s maternal great-grandfather was John L. Sullivan, co-founder of Long Island’s pro-life movement. So there’s that.
In her most recent YouTube communication relaxation, Lindsay stared into the camera and said, “We are friends of the end and our misery will pour down for 40 days and nights. I’m only happy when it rains.” And then an eerie smile. The downfall dancer.
Like Kurtz, they followed her, they took all words as more than they were and attached immense significance. She held a great gathering at Elysian Park and asked them to believe in the end of days, and one of the Lindytes handed her a ceremonial horn that looked as if it were carved from a giant tusk, and brightly colored feathers and ribbons hung from it. She blew a long mournful note and the crowd shuffled their feet and stomped and swayed, and their voices which began as low grumblings grew into tumult and shrieking, and unintelligible cries. And they say that some had snakes with them, and strychnine in jars.
I took this assignment with a heavy heart. This is not the stuff of resurgent film studios or peaty bogs. It’s the cautionary last chapter of a career and life gone sorrowfully wrong. I remember Lindsay as a grinning imp on the set of ‘The Parent Trap’, all freckles and cat eyes and young hopes. It was only a convenient snapshot of course. She was pushed and pulled relentlessly by the impossible forces of unconscionable parents. She could have been anything.
I pushed desperately for an interview with Lindsay herself, I wanted to give her a chance to tell her story without agenda, unvarnished and true. It was not to be. I caught up with her at LAX, she was marching toward the international departure gates in her sheer muslin shift. Her troop of followers stopped behind her patiently.
“You know I’ve been trying to reach out.” I didn’t know how else to begin. I felt miserable. We were friends once.
She shook her head slowly from one side to the other. “It’s too late, David. The birds are in the air.”
And she stared into my soul and I saw battlefields and armies and the dust of childhood dreams. And she smiled, a narrow white line of teeth that sent icy fingers down my back. And turned and was on her way again, her diaphanous gown floating behind her like a cloud, and her determined young women following in lockstep, their filmy white garments also billowing. The horrible flowers. I watched until they disappeared from view. And let out a long breath. It was time to to pack the things I needed most, and to head to the Big White.
It’s 4:30 the morning. I’m staring at the screen of my laptop in a small windowless room. I don’t like it any better than I did thirty minutes ago but I promised them a deadline. The generator hasn’t kicked in yet, so I guess the world is still up there. I desperately want to sleep. I attach the document to an email, and press send, and put my earplugs back in. I’ve been listening to an old Leonard Cohen song all night.
“Then she gets you on her wavelength. And she lets the river answer. And you want to travel with her. And you want to travel blind.”