Before my unscrupulous colleagues in the fourth estate take this story public and the pictures permeate the net, I want you, my friends, to know the truth. Last month in Los Angeles, a large metropolitan area in southern California, I was caught on film perpetrating an act that for the purposes of decorum I'll describe only as "unlawful." The transgression occurred at the corner of La Brea Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. ("Hollywood after hours" + "someone named Grant" hasn't historically equaled a winning combination, though my experience wasn't as Divine as Hugh's.)
As I maneuvered the mean streets of Beverly Hills that evening, en route to my place of accommodation, I was flashed! as I drove through a busy intersection. Not by a human being, though for the right price I'm sure such things could've been arranged. No, this flash came from a camera tethered to a traffic light under which I had - as I later learned - too tardily traveled.
I ran a red light. And the Fuzz has the film to prove it. Somewhere George Orwell is giggling fiendishly.
Ten days after returning home, I was greeted by correspondence from the Los Angeles County Superior Court and Visitors Bureau, thanking me for my patronage. Enclosed was a series of snapshots, celluloid souvenirs, beginning with:
- a photo of where my rental car was when that particular light turned red
- then of my car recklessly rolling through the intersection (along with approximately three-fourths of Los Angeles County)
- then a close-up of me - hopeless miscreant that I am - behind the wheel, cavalier and criminal, ready at any moment to take an 11th item to the express checkout line or remove the tag from my hotel bed mattress. ("I have a pair of fingernail clippers, and I'm not afraid to use them!")
Go for a ride, and they take your picture. Kind of like Disneyland, except not as expensive. The court only charged me $340.
My own little Kodak moment in the shadow of the Kodak Theater. This ugly imbroglio begs a couple of questions. First, isn't this a violation of my rights, specifically my inalienable right as an American-born...American to obey only those laws which I deem worthy of my compliance and/or those which don't infringe upon my personal freedom to do whatever I jolly well please? What's next, asking accounting firms to open up their audit ledgers?
Second, can the cops get any lazier? I mean is it humanly possible? Can't we hook up television monitors in their living rooms so they won't have to get off the couch? Think of the money they'd save on uniforms. If Krispy Kreme would offer home delivery, we could start tomorrow morning.
I realize mine will not be the most widely-publicized or titillating controversy involving people in L.A. doing naughty things on camera. Thanks to sensationalist media sleazeballs like The Wall Street Journal and Barron's, we were all kept abreast of how the porn industry, concentrated primarily in the San Fernando Valley, was recently shut down for a couple of weeks because several "actors" tested positive for HIV. That headline, while sobering for the subjects involved, was about as shocking as "Bonds Draws Intentional Walk" or "NBC Cancels 'Whoopi.'"
But don't get distracted. The most pressing issue at hand is whether we as citizens will allow our personal and private privacy to be invaded by these invasive invasions. And also where am I supposed to get $340? I hope they at least throw in a set of mouse ears.