John Murray Publishers - 2010
There is nothing like a holiday after a torrid stint on the front-line, documenting events from Iraq in Ayres book: 'War Reporting for Cowards'. Who then succumbs to the ultimate tonic of living the American dream in the deadly parable of 'Death by Leisure'; a story of Ayres painting tinsel town, 'red, white and boo - hoo!'. Notably a far cry from the war-torn terrain of Taliban fighting and distant popping, whereby war-commentators such as Fisk, Lloyd and Adie occupy legendary journalistic statuses, destined for the very few. Ayres embraced nine days, and then ran off like Benny on Hill's customary TV end credit. The option of being a Hollywood correspondent destined - mixing with the plastic population - the body enhanced tribe where superficial-Dom has an evangelic lifestyle of its own. The result of generations observing 500 plus TV channels looping advertising campaigns 24/7 - every dollar earned either gets toaster-racked down some waitress's cleavage or is invested in Dr. Choo's body beautiful practice. 'Golden Globes from Dr. Choo, just for you' - By no means is this book a Kingsley Amis piece of British American literature whose 'tongue in cheek' American-isms made the bourgeois 'piggy snort' while setting fire to Virginia tobacco: Ayres evidently doing his own update of Amis's 'One Fat Englishman' is broadly 'chick-lit' in comparison; on a par with 'Bridget Jones's diary' and her gargantuan pants - whereas Amis embarks on grating Anglo-American relations in the early 1960s. Ayres didn't exactly break the mould; he took LA life to his bosom - maybe, it could be a case of too much TV station hopping in his LA 'LeisurePlex' apartment - too much plastic use on the magnetic strip and staring, open-mouthed at Silicon Valleys. 'Fake, fake, fake, real, fake, fake, fake, fake, real, fake, fake, what the...?' One million dollars credits reportedly obtain by Ayres - easy as if picking fruit. Chances are he hopped on the sub-prime housing market: ye-es, our credit addicted cousins still play out the mortgage game as if it is a TV game-show on 'Channel 886' to the American dreamers - during the sub-prime housing crash; from 'You-Bet-You-Can-Mortgage Corporation': 'dealing with dreams since 2002.' A film production of, 'Carry-On Regardless' a slap-stick comedy about, daydream believers, going sub-prime bananas, imitating our cousins 'the Monkees'- I envisage, the un-ironed simian features of Syd James landing the leading role,'- screeching 'Yahh, yah, yah, yah, yah' and grinning like a botox free Chesire Cat.
For the initial nine days Ayres fitted into Californian life comfortably - helped by a 'self-talk' middle-aged American female talking in his head giving him a mandatory 'Have a G'day', vocal - everything is 'swell and dandy'. By day ten: the vocal slowed and a noticeable tonal twang of a radio show host, expertly shifting tonal frequency wave according to severity of leisure activity - resembling a female newsreader on CNN. I hasten a guess it is Ayres attempt to do deep thinking. He approaches subliminal messaging from advertising agendas -'Gotta have pancakes at Tiffany's with maple syrup and a cold glass of sunshine'. Sunshine is J2O for us Brits. Street names start with 'Sunset' - they're obsessed with hope, sun orientated signage, aesthetics, weather, floods, the KGB, hurricanes and terror plots - yet not bothered with recycling, climate change, apocalyptic doom-dwellers, or finance sector crashes. As a Hollywood reporter for the Times in London, he automatically became profoundly cheerful compared to his dreary toned counter-part in London, signs of superficial-Dom already settling into Ayres mindset. He is a Californian 'Leisureplex' resident and partly Hollywood Benny Hill scallywag, who's on the look-out for leggy pins, so he can get into Hollywood's VIP suites; he succeeded - according to his book 'Death by Leisure'. Chris possessed an ample number of 'Ayres and Graces', amongst the glitz and glamour plastic populous - only a select few have the gumption to fulfill an agenda of the kind Ayres got accustomed too. 'Don Johnson, eat your heart-out'. In the land of the fake, it transpired; all of the Hollywood occupants could not recognize a fake, even if he was standing right in-front of them, wearing a fake facial expression, so-long you've enrolled into the superficial-dom entity and appreciate Dr. Choo's work by exhibiting one of his masterpieces on your arm. Namely a leggy painted wax-work accessorized with wok implants. Although a majority of the Hollywood tribe has one expression only, due to their facial creases having been ironed out, cheek-bones and temples lifted and botox'd to superficial-dom - Proving that Ken and Barbie dolls are real!
The titled chapters clarify a humanity that endorses Chris Ayres personality: 'The desperate period' portrays a writer, who never takes himself seriously, an open book, possibly. The chapter, 'Never - Never Land', should never have happened. A disclaimer boldly claims that all data reported in this chapter is common knowledge in the public domain and that any details concerning any exchanges with MJ (Michael Jackson); presumably, and the author remains private - so 'no air in this bubble' - very deflating in all honesty. The paparazzi and VIP's are on first-name basis, allowing for informality to mask superficiality. Parties are marketing machines, endorsement opportunities, a make or break scenario done over expensive bubbly. I fear the American's haven't got to grips with the term; 'liquidation' - 'More liquid eh Jon?' Credit is your friend in LA, you need as many friends as you can get pal. Ayres, unlocked his inner-spending self, did his own 'QE' Quantifying Easing on the plasma screen imitating Blackpool Illuminations, a bachelor palace, sport utility vehicles, and a compulsion to eating luxurious fish eggs - not exactly normality for a lad from Northumberland - Albeit, part of the parcel for reporting on celebrity chit-chat from across the Atlantic - 'Gotta be innit, to win it!' Ye-es, 'America's Flip Jackson is never far away - the voice of fiscal treason, could be deemed a tad 'flippant' to the untrained commerce ear - brain-washing sub-prime real estate dreamers. "Property equality ne-vvv-er dwindles to a mere crumb. Be bold and multiply, look what Jesus did with the feeding of the five thousand?' Remember Flip Johnson when you reach the promise-land, licking caviar off a supermodel's peerrtt areola".
Preaching capitalism is one thing, portraying it as godly scripture is another thing, entirely. On the 'flip-side' there is another 'Flip' "Pick-up your Dolphin credit NOW?" Meanwhile in sunny Scunthorpe, in a basement flat where heat never stays, a hard-working pensioner is choosing whether to heat or eat? American's would flippantly call it 'swings and roundabouts'. Chris Ayres cautionary tale is about seventy percent 'LA reality' and thirty percent reality. It is a clever, witty, piece of non fiction, fiction. Those who're confused what reality really is - please take a pool-side seat, soak in the sun and absorb a dose of reality LA style, it'll compliment the umbrella Pina-Colada.