Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The night Cyrus was shot.

The call came into the mailroom because I didn't have a home phone yet.  "What was that all about?" asked my world-weary, Panamanian mailroom boss.
"Extra on a movie."
"How much?"
"$35 for the night."
"That's nothing!"
"And they take 20% commission."

"Where do you have to go?"
"Riverside Park at 96th Street... at midnight tonight."
"Sounds like a lot of shit to me."


There are hundreds of guys already at the park.  Many, I'm told, are real gang members in some kind of summer program and, presumably, are NOT paying the 20% commission.  There is a lot of grumbling that real gang members do not dress the way we're being dressed here in THE WARRIORS.


Be afraid.  Really afraid.
I'm given my colors:  a vest and straw hat.  Just the idea strikes terror in people.  And, even though I've been assigned a fake gang, none of my homies want to talk to me.  In fact no one is very friendly. 


The 2nd unit director barked orders.  "Okay, Cyrus is going to say 'Can you dig it' three times.  The first two times you do nothing.  The third, time you go apeshit - but SILENTLY."  Lots of uneasy grumbling.  But compliance.  If you look at the movie, it's kind of funny.  Cyrus says, "can you dig it" twice and and is met with stony silence.  He says it a third time and suddenly everyone GOES BESERK."  The noisy part, as they say, happened in post.


After digging Cyrus, there was lots of down time.  I'm bored.  And it starts to rain.  And I was beginning to feel a cold coming on.   Now, my cousins left the Kirk Gibson game early to beat the traffic.  So I suppose I missed being up close and personal to an iconic movie moment, because I left right before Cyrus was shot. ("That's the Warrior!  He shot Cyrus!  The Warriors did it!").  But I was cold and scared and tired.  And wet.


The next day I reported to Arthur.  "There were gang members dressed up in baseball uniforms and on roller skates."
"Well at least you got paid."
"No, they're not paying me because I left early."
Arthur went back to taping up a cardboard box.
"I told you sounded it like a lot of shit."

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Red Train



This is an indirect response to my friend Dean's excellent article on riding the Los Angeles subway.  My life seems to parallel Dean's in a few ways - I'm in exile from show business, I live in North Hollywood, I work downtown and I commute on the red line every day.  That's really not as remarkable a coincidence as it sounds - the subway is only useful to those who live in North Hollywood and work downtown.  Or go the other way.  MOST of the time, I'm happy not to be stuck in traffic.  Some of the time, fuck, I'm on the subway.

Here are a couple of things to know about the LA subway:

1)  There are currently two lines - the Red and the Purple.  The Red Line goes from North Hollywood to Union Station (downtown).  The Purple Line goes two stops - to Wilshire & Western.  And... that's it.

2) It runs on the honor system.  NO ONE works there.  No ticket sellers, rare appearances by law enforcement.  Every six months or so they do a ticket sweep.  If you get caught without a ticket in your pocket it could set you back like $275.  Surprisingly, they rarely seem to catch anyone.

3) I almost always sit in the last car because there are less people there.  The less people the better.

4) Sometimes people talk to you - crazy people, panhandlers, insane people... that's when it seems I'm really paying the price for not being in a private car.

Dean says he see me once on the subway.  It was 5:30am, I probably wouldn't have gotten up and said anything to him either.  Sure beats the bus, though, right?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The night I broke psychotically. Well, one night in particular.

I was talking about this with my comedian friend Jonathan the other day.  Once, toward the End of My Comedy Days I had a small break on stage.  All of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of a Moment.  More specifically, an extended moment of silence.   I was standing on a stage, every person in the audience was looking at me, expectantly, and I didn't know what to do next.  One of two things had happened:  I had either just told the set-up to one of my jokes, or I had a break from reality and everyone in the audience was in stunned silence and just staring at me not knowing the protocol of what to do when the person in front of you has suddenly lost touch.  In my tiny little rote brain was this idea that if I just let out some words, either people were going to laugh or they would stare even harder.  The moment stretched on.  I decided to chance the words.  I said something.  Everyone's face erupted with laughter and time moved on again in real time.  Existential crisis averted, at least for now.

What I didn't tell Jonathan was that I hadn't had any type of mental breakdown, what happened was that I was so freaking bored with my own act and my own demeanor that I lost interest - and my place - in mid-joke.  Once there, I decided to explore this moment of potential emotional danger and perversely enjoyed standing in the eerie silence wondering whether or not the joke would work. I don't remember the specific, but any comic will tell you that if they have a joke on auto-pilot - it always works.

I loved doing stand-up.  But I hated repeated.  And I ran out of things to say.  Had to stop.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I'm glad she was born, I'm glad she's alive, etc.

No one reads this - including my wife - so I can be honest.  I read my post from when my daughter was 9 months old and very little has changed now that she's 15 months old.  I'm a terrible person.  I don't love spending time with her, and she doesn't hold my interest.  And it's not that she isn't cute.

She's probably half the age she is now.

What amazes me is that I know that by 15 months I was all into Amalia.  When I'm with Orly she yanks my face, or grabs the remote or speedcrawls to the farthest free point.  She has done one thing, so far, that points her on the right track - "so big" with her hands in the air.  She is also grasping rudimentary sign language.  When she can sign "I'm hungry" and "I've had enough, Daddy" then I think I will go in.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a chore to be with her, she's quite cute and smelly; it's just that she's no smarter than your average cat.

This is Pokey. She ran away.

Where I feel bad is that when I was younger and had average cats, I was endlessly fascinated with their every moves.