Los Angeles: Year Two
For our rambling adventures in life, love, and the pursuit of happiness in Los Angeles – we hit the official two year mark this week, April 22nd 2013 (to be precise). I’m not quite sure why I distinctly remember the date as in my grey days I have a tendency to gloss over and forget others of significance (Other than it’s close to my birthday, I had to completely uproot myself from San Francisco – quitting a pretty decent job with a production company, leaving behind a heady friend base, and jumping into a shark tank filled with lazers, piss and vinegar, razorblades, used needles, cocaine, vast uncertainty, and the chewed remains of all of the other poor schlepps that tried to “make it big” in the City of Angels). It was a momentous occasion to say the least. As a boy I dreamed of having a life in cinema. I was engrossed and enamored with film, tales, acting, and the fascination that comes with becoming part of a story that was so far removed from your own little-Kansan life that there was only one reasonable answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Many young children wanted to be President (because Ronald Reagan was an actor and actors make the best politicians) or a policeman or a fireman or perhaps even an astronaut (because we still dreamed of space). No one wanted to work on Wall Street. No one wanted to be a lawyer or consultant. Maybe a veteranarian. Maybe a doctor. Those were answers for other kids. Those were the things that made your parents gush with pride when an 8 year old is asked for their take on the world and life before them. I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to work in film. More-so, I wanted to be a stuntman (mostly because Lee Majors was one bad motherfucker). I knew at that tender age of truth exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up and I spent the next twenty years trying to achieve that goal. Ask any 8 year old kid an honest question and you’ll get something completely unexpected, the truth. To paraphrase anonymous, “There are three types of people that tell the truth: Kids, the drunks, and the angry.” It’s a good thing that I’m all three. Buckle up, Charlie. The truth machine is at the wheel.
So, Los Angeles… The air is different. I started running again with the dog recently. He’s getting grey and lumpy and apparently we are beginning to share a few of those traits. I thought it probably good for us to get out of the house every once in a while so I pick up the poo bags, throw on a pair of soccer warm up pants and beat the shit out of my knees. It’s fair to say that we both miss the blustery beaches of Pacifica. We miss chasing squirrels, although I have seen a possum and a few raccoons that looked as though they were carrying knives, but I digress. I can’t believe that I started running again. Fuck running. Especially in Los Angeles. Not only is running in this city similar to smoking half a pack of cigarettes, there is literally a fine powdered dust of chemicals and seeded metal in the air. Have you seen the dust and shit that collects on the hood of your car? It’s shiny. Dust is not supposed to be shiny. Sure, the sun is warm, the pools are cool, the house parties are ridiculous, and the people are beautiful but I can’t run three blocks without coughing. I took a trip back to San Francisco recently and the air was so clean that it hurt to breathe. I’ve learned how to shallow breathe over my two years living here.
Traffic. After some careful studying of patterns and the awesome ridiculousness of some 2 million people on the road at any given time I’ve come to a solid semi-scientific conclusion. People in this city either: 1.) Don’t know how to merge. (or) 2.) Are complete inconsiderate shits and won’t let people merge. I’m glad you’re all in a hurry. If you don’t let other people change lanes and merge into traffic, then you’re fucking it up for EVERYONE. You’re an asshole. Merge. Most of the wrecks I’ve seen? Freeway entrance ramps and low speed collisions. Merge. So help me, if you’re on the phone and not fucking paying attention to moving traffic on city streets… this is why I can’t own a handgun. I would become a traffic vigilante. I once got pulled over and was given a ticket because the person driving in the lane next to me was totally fucking unaware that I was in the lane next to them as they tried to enter my lane. You know what I did? Hit the brakes. A CHP officer was behind me and I got the ticket (for a broken tail light – but that’s not the point). I wouldn’t have gotten the ticket if you were paying attention to what the fuck you were doing on the goddamn freeway at 70mph instead of checking out your Facebook selfies, motherfucker. Merge.
Food. The food here sucks. I’m sorry. It’s awful. I have eaten buffet meals better than any expensive shit I’ve eaten in Los Angeles. The mexican food is better in the Mission of San Francisco than any taqueria or eatery I’ve been to. Just because you drizzle a little truffle oil on pasta or garlic fries does not make you a culinary genius. You know why food trucks are so popular? Because the food in this city is a joke. They literally line up on weekends to eat hotdogs made popular on some goddamn television show. I did eat a decent burger today… in Old Town Pasadena. There was bacon involved, so I stand my ground. The food in Los Angeles is a joke that they play on everyone that lives here. On the other hand, I have had a few decent drinks… but you’ve got to work really hard to screw up a cocktail, buddy.
Baby. Some of you know, (by the several hundred photos I’ve already posted on Facebook and Instagram – I know… I’m that asshole), the wife and I have birthed a beautiful baby girl. She is really good looking. I’m not bragging. Some of my friends have had kids and they’re not that cute. This kid is high paid print work and commercial kind of cute. If she starts making more money than me in this city, I might be a little jealous for a while but I’m hoping that when she’s making all of her Hollywood friends and she’s got some guy straight out of UCLA that wants to cast her in the next big Indie movie that goes off to jerk everyone off at Sundance, I might get a cameo role. Until then I’ll just do what I can to pimp her out to casting agents and maybe FINALLY get my goddamn SAG card. This city is a media machine. Film and Television is a very cannibalistic business. We grind up the brilliant artists of many generations (often borrowing from previous successes) and package them up on a nice million dollar(s) marketed platter and see if those that continue to create these products will eat their own filth. Every billboard in town is pushing some new show or film or actor… often being switched out around award season to vie “for your consideration” in the case that the Academy member driving through the silvery sheen of the city was some how painfully unaware of the cinema contributions offered for voting and nomination. If you go to other cities they have advertisements for soda and local businesses and Cracker Barrel and shit. Not Los Angeles. We advertise shows and films that are coming out a month from now… and we’re going to beat you about the head and neck with it until opening weekend. Then we’re going to complain that we lost millions of dollars because no one goes to the movies anymore… because they know a bad movie when they see it. You can’t re-edit a film to try to trick people into seeing it. I just watched Hyde Park on Hudson. I thought it was going to be a fun film about a weekend with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, starring my man Bill Murray. Some of it was. Most of the film was about how depressed his 5th cousin was after finding out that she wasn’t the only one sleeping with a Polio cripple. I sat through the whole thing. You know why? Bill Fucking Murray. However, I do love the resurgence of ushers. If you’re in a theater and you’re on your phone or you’re being disruptive, you will get your ass tossed out of the theater. No apologies, no refund. I’m thinking that if this professional career doesn’t work out, I’m going to volunteer to be an usher in movie theaters just to teach some inconsiderate little shits what it means to go to the movies.
The Professional Career. All bitching and joking aside. I’m extremely lucky to be doing what I’m doing. I often second guess myself wondering if I’m meant to be here… if I’m meant to compete in this endless arena of new faces, fresh talent, and old school Union cock-blocking. I didn’t know. I had to move here to know. I had to sit through almost 4 months of trying to open doors and network with people so that I could get a few jobs here and there to contribute to the ridiculous amount of rent I pay for a 2 bedroom 1 bath. I know that those connections and friends are priceless. I’ve worked on films, commercials, television shows, met childhood heroes, become friends with extremely talented actors and performers, and have begun to finally feel confident that I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing the multi-tiered jobs that I do since I was 18. I’m 36. I’ve been doing this for 18 years professionally. I’m finally the guy on set realizing that there are tons of people that have no clue what they hell they’re doing. I still get on set and have people treat me like shit (because outside of the 18 years of experience, I’ve only been in Los Angeles for 2). I love being a part of this stuff. I also love writing and acting. I’d love to be able to make a little money acting, but so do 200,000 other people in this city. So, I do what I do best. I create. I dream. I help people. I try to keep a sense of humor about things because in the grand scheme of it all, I get one go at this whole “life” thing. Right now I’ve got it pretty damned good or at least better than when I got here. I work every day at making it better. On those days that I come home depressed and ready to throw in the towel, there are three people (well, one and 1/2 and a dog) trying to pull me out of my black spiral fit of manic depression and get me back to being happy… not so that they can take advantage of the spoils… but because they actually want me to be happy. I forget that sometimes. I’m not a naturally happy guy. Most days I’m damaged goods. I forget that when I’m happy, I can dream. Dreams are what fuel adventure. Dreams are what got me here. Dreams are what taught a small boy to never give up, never be told that he can’t, and never never never stop working hard to attain your goals. The two years here have been trying at times, but I’m not ready to give up just yet. A friend of mine found me in a moment of doubt and stopped me cold, repeating the phrase over and over again until he was sure that my eye were locked in his and that I was paying attention: “You’re on the right path. You’re on the right path. You. Are. On. The. Right. Path.” I needed that. I needed someone to reassure me (as all actor-talent types d0). In this world we’ve grown too fond of seeing people fail. I needed to hear that I wasn’t delusional. I needed someone to tell me that I was doing the right thing, for far too often I’ve seen my friends give up on themselves, give up on their dreams, and settle for something that they never would have settled for. They let the shackles of life stop them from attaining something that they desired and accepting that what they had accomplished was “good enough.” I was coming close to that mark. I was feeling that although I had spent some time and had some small successes that those fragments of happiness would be enough to satisfy the fire started by an 8 year old dreamer with his entire life ahead of him. I started to believe that I had set the goals too high, and that none of it mattered any more. I needed someone to set me down, slap me in the face and scream, “YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING.” So I’ll give it a while longer, work harder, press the envelope, and maybe one day… just maybe find that level of success that I have been shooting for since I knew that being an astronaut was for suckers. Ol Tom said it best, “You’re innocent when you dream… when you dream… you’re innocent when you dream.” I couldn’t agree with him more.