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The Nose Knows

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The baffling headlines scream for scrutiny and interpretation: Barry Manilow, fresh from seaside recording with Bette Midler, disoriented, walks into wall, breaks nose. Barbra Streisand, strident free speech advocate, sues for millions over internet photos of beach-cliff estate. Comedic actor Jamie Kennedy, perceives expansion of hilarious white rapper character from TV sketch to feature-length film as an idea whose time has come – the film convincingly refutes this notion.

What do these fine talents have in common, besides recent ill-fortune? It all seems so obvious now, literally as plain as the nose on my face: nasally-endowed victims, all tied to a fulcrum of fate whose name echoes in the canyons like a curse on the briny breeze: Malibu.

Malibu – pricey coastal playground to the entertainment elite, with Mediterranean semi-arid climate, mountainous terrain, and an abundance of seismic activity. Halfway around the world in a mirror setting lies Delphi, Greece.

Like showbiz visionaries, ancient Greeks consulted the gods for advice by interpreting dreams and scrutinizing sneezes, thunderbolts and flying birds. But for REALLY BIG decisions, the Hellenics sought the words of the gods, conveyed by the oracle of Delphi, the most oracular of all the oracles, located in a temple carved in the southern side of Mount Parnassus.

According to a recent study led by Jelle De Boer, a geologist at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, the temple sat directly on top of two intersecting faults where permeable rock allowed gases to rise, especially after earthquakes.

The Greek geographer Strabo (c. 64 B.C. – 25 A.D.) wrote that “the seat of the [Delphic] oracle is a cavern hollowed down in the depths…from which arises pneuma that inspires a divine state of possession.” In other words, the oracles of Delphi made their prognostications and pronouncements under the influence of hallucinogenic gas, apparently benevolent, or at least efficacious to advice-giving.

It is my theory – proudly unsullied by even a whiff of scientific evidence – that the prideful real estate of Malibu is itself gassy, and that there have been recent emissions. The Gases of Malibu would appear to be malevolent, based upon the worrisome evidence. Naturally, those with generous instruments of respiration are more susceptible to its effects, hence the lingering Manilow disorientation, hypocritical Streisand litigation, and Kennedy overreaching.

And it isn’t just this Olfactory Three who have suffered – a tour through the Celebrity Homes of Malibu reveals many a miscalculating personage of pronounced proboscis and probable gas exposure:

Mel Brooks – “Dracula: Dead and Loving It” in 1995

Gary Busey – entire career since “The Buddy Holly Story”

Cher – Greg Allman, Gene Simmons, last several surgeries

Emilio Estevez – career since “The Mighty Ducks”

Dustin Hoffman – hosting this year’s Grammys

Sean Penn – life since Madonna

The list goes on and on. Historically, how many ill-advised films, misconceived recordings, contradictory lawsuits, disastrous relationships, or preposterous television projects have been feverishly formulated under the pernicious influence of Malibu’s intoxicating vapors? Only the nose knows.

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About Eric Olsen