Enterprise Carolina sits at edge of the end of the world, and she doesn’t know it. These are the first few months of the Event: clocks and timers have slowed down, the Swedish rock band Roxette has made a comeback, and talking cats are making sporadic appearances — also some Seraphim.
Enterprise Carolina carouses with mountain bikers and Hell’s Angels. She wears shitkickers. After dinner she gathers her gang of fellow fifteen-year-olds and contemplates vandalism in the half-empty malls of Culver City.
They beat up old men! They shoplift from The Limited! They return shoplifted items to the store and (brazenly! brazenly!) demand a smaller size, a larger size, a different color! They stare down older girls and giggle at their weight behind their backs! They fill up on samples from the food court! They loiter by the fountain!
They wear leather and dog-collars, fishnet stockings cosmetically torn, heavy mascara, and silver and silverette chains with skulls, monkeys, Celtic crosses, and the suggestive tongue logo of The Rolling Stones. Their hair is dramatically gelled. They sulk. They do not like you.
Their performance is not without problems.
Enterprise Carolina is a bit too beautiful. One feels uncomfortable with this hyper-eroticized depiction of a teenager, balanced as it might be by Carolina’s dramatic revelation to Lozenge Carmichael — sidekick — that she is a virgin and will remain so until married. Carolina is pure and has a heart of gold — is this what we need for the days after the end of the world? Should we not be stepping away from this queasy mixture of hard-edged grit and cotton-candy idealism?
And what of the design choices? Enough with the Mad Max clones already. So the world ended. Fine. But why do we — all of us — feel the need to wear clothing that is dusty and torn, and patched together willy-nilly?
The Wal-Marts and the Gaps are still running. Why not go there? Have we lost our zest for tasteful outfits in our collective wait for judgement from some Supreme Being? Must we own wolves? And why drive souped-up cars welded from makes both domestic and imported? And why decorate them with spikes, gun turrets, and shark fins?
Time has become unmoored and we are no longer at the whim of mortality. Fine. The old men who have been beat up will get up in the morning and have their coffee, unbruised and sprightly. I’ll still be writing this review. Enterprise Carolina will still haunt the streets of Culver City — she will march under the yellow and red backlit signs of Indian, Thai, and Cuban restaurants, and she will walk to Sony Studios and make obscene gestures at the movie ads (This week: The Rapture, Or: Wishful Thinkers), at the tourists, at the cats who just can’t seem to shut up. I don’t think we should be overdramatic, is all.
It is not overdramatic, however, to rhapsodize about Enterprise Carolina’s beauty — to say that she will be a stunning woman when and if time begins to move forward again. That she might abandon her life as the leader of a wild outlaw gang. That she might pursue college and get a degree in liberal arts. That her golden hair and crooked smile and street smarts have won the respect of Capsule Reviewers everywhere. That she is dazzling and worthy of admiration, stomping in her shitkickers into the haze of this fiery perpetual sunset, fading from us as we take our notes and make appreciative comments to fellow Reviewers. That she has enthralled us. That she is remarkable in a time that is anything but.
Five stars. Five golden stars. Five golden stars and my heart.