02 August 2007

california squirmin' -- the middle bit of the tale


One of the odd side effects of a week spent snorkeling and hiking and mountain biking and tromping over hill and dale in a dusty scout camp and then sleeping on a rusty saggy creaky military cot in a camp filled with at least five scout leaders who should seriously consider trying out for the US Olympic Snoring team is you end that week exhausted.

I mean, dog tired, bone tired, that kind of tired where you ache too much even to hurt.

The excitement/drama/insanity of our Extraction Day out of Catalina and back to LAX only added to the mental and physical exhaustion for me. I was one of two leaders on this trip charged with the planning and execution, and my specific charge was the transportation issue. In other words, it was my ass on the hook to arrange and coordinate a very tight travel schedule for 52 scouts which included pre-paid reserved travel via boat, bus, and plane.

It all went off without a major hitch (oh, sure: the bus company did send a 49 passenger bus rather than the 55-seater we'd reserved and double confirmed, and that meant many of us were riding in other people's laps, or had dirty smelly duffel bags of funked-out laundry in our laps), and I got everyone on the plane, and then I changed into civilian garb and motored to Sherman Oaks and had a beer (God Be Praised) and had a fun dinner and another beer or two (God Really Be Praised), but then it came time to sleep.

And I'm here to tell you, brothers and sisters, I slept.

Ten hours of rack time and I wakened in exactly the same position as when I'd dozed off the night before. Given that I average something like four and a half hours of sleep per night normally, sleeping for ten hours straight is analogous to a normal person sleeping for, oh... I dunno, let's say "a week."

I padded around Deb's home, looking as perky and pleasant as I ever do when I first waken (note: for those playing along in the home version, understand that for the first 40 or so minutes after waking, I would gladly devour my own children if they were to bother me with such offenses as "conversation" or "loud glances."). I sucked back two cups of what might have been coffee, and as conscious sanity was finally starting to bleed back into my braincase, Deb wanders past.

"Wanna catch a Dodgers game?"

"Well, I dunno. I mean... (garble garble garble)."

"It's free."

"Oh. Let's go, then."

Turns out that Warren Leonard, late of The Screenwriting Life blog (allegedly soon returning to an internet near you), is connected in no way worth explaining fully to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, as in "he has an office and a nameplate and everything." Warren is Good People, and he and I have tried a few times to hook up on my recent fly-bys of LA, so this time he'd offered comp passes to club level seats out in Chavez Ravine.

It was one of the gloriously beautiful days which only happens 320 or so times a year in SoCal, the Mets were in town so there was a packed crowd, the seats were fun, Warren's office is right across the hall from Tommy Lasorda's (which says something, I think, about any "honor" associated with being in the presence of such bombast that The New Guy gets sentenced to endure such), and Warren remains a hopelessly decent and smart guy. Deb and I sat and caught up with Warren, harassed him a bit for letting his blog lapse, talked about where we were all hoping to go, career-wise, talked about various projects in the works and on the boards... all in all, it was a Very Good Day.

Trying to look and act like real Angelenos, Deb and I refused to pay much attention to the game and made sure to leave at least a full inning early to avoid the traffic. We thanked Warren again as he ducked back into his office to do some more writing, we headed to her place, then I quickly sponged off, gathered my gear and headed down to Hollywood to do a working dinner sort of meeting with my producing partners on this odd new... thing.


We all met at Kip and Deb's home which is located approximately zero-point-nine blocks from Lucy's El Adobe.

"Ooooo... we have this great old school Mexican food place we'd love to take you, Brett!"

"They're closed."


"Lucy's. They're closed on Sundays."

"Oh. Wait-- you've been to Lucy's?"

"Not in the last 18 hours, no."

We wound up at El Compadre, another classic Hollywood beans and rice place down on W. Sunset. Dark, old school, kinda retro kitschy funky in that "this must be what a Mexican food place looked like in the Eisenhower administration" sort of way. Food: passable. Drinks: very nice (hard to much screw up a top shelf 'rita with a float of Grand Marnier). Atmosphere: quite nice (I think 40% of the female guests there either have been or soon will be featured in some magazine in some various stage of undress. Yowza.).

After feasting a bit, we headed back to Chateau Kip & Deb and worked til midnight on our pitch for the next day's meeting. They (Kip and Deb and Tina) also insisted that we work on our bios for the leave-behind doc we intended to (wait for it...) leave behind, and asking me to get serious about my own biography is kinda like asking an 8 year old boy to NOT jump in that great big pile of leaves you just raked up in the yard.


My version of my bio included such pertinent factoids as "graduate and founder of the University of Ron (Ron, France)" and "unable to visit Louisiana under his real name" or maybe "Brett was raised by wild storks until found my wandering Methodists," so the rest of the crew had to do some heavy lifting in order to get anything useful onto that section of the page next to my name.

We all liked the demo script I'd sent the night before leaving for Catalina. (The "night before"? Try "two hours before I'd intended to wake, except I never actually slept that last night as I was crazy busy and wracked by paranoid fears of forgetting something."). We punched it up a bit, worked out a lot of talking points for the impending meeting with a producer, and left around midnight feeling pretty good about the next day's get-together.


Even after a long day filled with LA images and attitude, I was still not ready to avert my gaze, so I opted for longer route back to Deb's, rolling past Paramount through Hollywood up to Highland so as to take in more scenery.

West Hollywood round midnight remains a surreal place for me: it somehow always comes off as slightly less authentic than a Universal Studios tour version of West Hollywood round midnight. Everything garish is a little too garish, the squalor a little too squalorous, the freaks a little too freakish. You pass a dozen familiar corners and landmarks, and immediately remember moments from three dozen movies or TV shows, and then snap to the weird fact that this is not some show—this is real, and the movie you are watching is your life—and suddenly you begin to realize that there is no fantasy too wild—no pipedream too ridiculous—to not make some sense in this insane world of neon and make believe.

It's Hollywood, baybee.


Julie O'Hora said...

Tag, you're it!


Eric said...

Long time reader, first time commenter.
It's a random question, but I'm starting a blog about my playwrighting life at Graduate school, and I want to include a progress bar as you have, and I was wondering if you would be so kind as to tell me how to do that.

aggiebrett said...

Gosh. Thanks. MAybe next time you can give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it.

It's not *difficult* -- it's just some code you add into your blogger template file -- but it's always squirelly to try and post CODE into a blogger comment window, as the brackets and coding get gnarled. Feel free to drop me an email and I'll send you what I use:
b r e t t m a n (at) c o n s o l i d a t e d (dot) n e t
cone of silence B