Archive for March, 2011


On Meeting Larry David

I am about to craft a lengthy blog post from the memories of a 30 second interaction.

Because I am awesome…………………………..

To the uninitiated, Larry David is the co-creator of one of televisions most successful shows ever produced.  “Seinfeld” ran for 9 seasons on NBC (1989-1998) and has been in reruns since at least 1994.  I remember being a kid and wondering what all the fuss was about.  I had seen an episode or two and didn’t get any of the jokes, didn’t understand any of the hype.  And then, one day, the Indians played an afternoon game on Channel 43 and were followed by a “Seinfeld” rerun.  I can’t tell you how it happened, or even the year it happened, but that was the day it started to click.  I laughed.  My sister laughed.  Two black kids from the fringes of the ghetto were being entertained by the words and actions of two Jewish entertainers.  We didn’t grow up being told what we should and shouldn’t watch, so to us, it was just like that time we discovered “Ghostwriter”.  But little did I know this “Seinfeld” thing would grow into a minor obsession and that that minor obsession would grow into something more like a full blown frame of mind.

Fast forward a few years to 1997.  I have just been kicked out of my mom’s house, I’m not doing well in school and I don’t like living with my dad too much.  The few things I had to look forward to on a daily basis were:  food, video games, internet porn and “Seinfeld”.  Every night at 7 and 11 pm I’d be able to catch reruns of my new favorite show and on Thursdays I’d tune in to the new ones.  At the height of this “minor” obsession I was pulling in about 12 episodes a week.  And once WGN started showing reruns an hour behind when we got em in Cleveland it grew to around 15.  In ’98, the week leading up to the series finale, I wrote an episode myself. (I guess some might call that “fan fiction”?)

The point I’m trying to make is that during my most impressionable years “Seinfeld” was the thing that made the greatest impression.  If I cracked a joke at school, during baseball practice or at my job after high school it was somehow inspired or lifted directly from the words Larry David had written.

For most of “Seinfeld’s” run Larry David was a faceless individual.  He didn’t really come to prominence until he got his own show on HBO, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.  On that show he essentially plays himself, a caricature in some spots, but mostly it’s a dead on interpretation.  How do I know this?  Because, last Friday, as I’m leaving a book signing (where I met with Neil Strauss, my new personal hero [That’s another blog post]) I see a white guy, bald headed, horn rimmed glasses, strolling through the mall with his wife.  Now, no offense to anyone, but this is a Jewish neighborhood I’m in and there isn’t any reason to believe the gentleman I’m looking at isn’t just some normal guy.  Except, he clearly isn’t.  Not to me, anyways.  The guy I was looking at has made me laugh more times than I can count, more times than anyone else on this green earth.  And if any of you value laughter, or cherish memories from your childhood you can easily imagine my surprise when I see the man who helped deeply affect me in both of those areas.

I’m a talkative guy, I always have a smart-ass comment, a clever retort.  But I was rendered speechless for the first time in what was probably a decade.  My jaw went agape.  The man pressed forward, his wife shooting me a glance.  It was as if she had seen this all too many times and knew what was coming next.  The man looked over, also not surprised to be getting this type of reaction.  He wasn’t shy, but he wasn’t trying to hog the limelight either.  His exact words were “Ah hah, yep, yep!”  Because, of course, I asked the stupidest question you can possibly ask someone not suffering from amnesia- “Do you, you, your….?” (I was trying to say “Do you know who you are??  You’re Larry David!”  Came up a little short, though.) He gave a full wrist handshake (presumably because he’s slightly germophobic, I don’t actually know) and bounded down the escalator to the parking garage.  I stood in amazement.  A woman looked at me and smiled, she was happy that I was happy.  Everyone else just plain old went on about their business, I mean, it’s not like they were meeting their idol or anything.

My one takeaway from the whole thing?  Just when you think things are going poorly, or that they *should* be going better there’s always something to remind you that you’re in just the right place at just the right time and you don’t need to be anywhere else.  For if I weren’t living my life as I should, or if I weren’t doing the things that made me happy, I wouldn’t have met my idol either.

Advertisements

A common misconception about SoCal and the west coast in general is the near certainty that everyday is filled with warm, beautiful sunshine.  The sun part?  True.  The warm part?  Not so much.  I can’t quite tell how many square feet this house is but just know this:  The walls are paper thin; the owner’s a cheapskate; and the “heat” that does kick on seems to only come out of one duct on the first floor by the ping pong table.  All that means is once the sun goes down, and the night air gets chilly, so do we.  I’ve never seen more people walk around indoors with hoodies and jogging pants on than I have since I’ve moved here.

Dishes, well, they don’t really get washed.  At least not when you need them to.  The real forks get horded, stored in people’s rooms for safekeeping (not really, they’re all just selfish assholes.  Probably.) I keep a stash of plastic ones in a blue tub in a closet under the staircase.  (GOD, I wish I could imagine shit this odd.)  The current “house manager” (i.e. jobless resident who supplements rent with chores) is in San Diego so now the trash isn’t getting taken out either.

There are random movie posters all over the walls, fully framed and prominently placed.  But, there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it.  We have “Bride Wars”, “War”, “Deja Vu” and some old 60’s joint, the name of which escapes me.

The lights have been halved in every area possible.  Meaning, well, let’s take the large bathroom for example.  It’s around 300 sq. feet on it’s own, fucking huge.  Supported by two lights, one in the shower, one in the dead center of the room.  The one near the sink has been “disabled”. Problem with that?  You can’t see ANYthing happening in the mirror.  Shaving?  Nope.  Trimming your nose hair?  Nope.  Want to know where the pimples are to put your acne cream on?  Better have a flashlight app on your phone. (Of which I’ve made good use lately.)

Two people have moved in after me and in a few short breaths two more are moving out within the next 10 days.  It’s gonna be odd, however long I’m here, getting used to making connections with folks whose lives hang by the same tenuous threads as mine.  As quickly as they go, so could I………………….

Or so it feels that way.  I feel like Will Ferrell’s character in “Stranger Than Fiction”, like I’m a character in someone else’s book and I’m only here for the reader’s amusement.

I won’t exaggerate the week’s events, there’s no need to, this all really happened or is currently happening.  Revel in the hilarity that is my life………………………….

Tuesday, March 1st

With my roommate needing to return home because of an emergency and me unable to find someone to sublet the bedroom to we were forced to break the lease on our apartment 6 months early.  I found a place, reasonably priced and in the neighborhood that I had grown fond of over my time in LA.  We pack the first run of my belongings into the backseat of his BMW and proceed to move me into my new place.  I call the guy subletting the room to me, he meets us at the back door and in we go.  I snake my way into (what I assumed was) my new bedroom pop open the door and what do I see?  The “previous” tenant’s belongings were still in place, unpacked and very much not in shape to move anything anytime soon. The three of us agree “Oh, he must just be coming to get all that tonight.”  So back to the apartment we go to pick up run number two.  Not even in the door for more than 20 seconds I receive a phone call from my “new” “Landlord”.  The guy that was supposed to be leaving and moving in with his “mates” from Australia wasn’t doing that and I needed to grab my things and find someplace new to live.  So, let’s recap: Breaking the lease on my old apartment and unable to move into my new one equals…………………….. HOMELESSNESS!!!!!!!!  Or, so I thought.  We frantically re-pack my stuff into the BMW and head to the nearest Starbucks to use their wi-fi so I can use my roommate’s laptop to check Craigslist for anyone showing a rental immediately.  I sent some emails, made some phone calls, but found nothing I could view that evening.  I did come across a few Hostels, dorms for “transient” adults.  They’re mainly geared towards foreigners backpacking through the SoCal and space for regular folk like me is rather sparse.  How much does a room for a “transient” adult such as myself cost??  Anywhere from $65-$85 a night. Not to mention I still have all that crap I need store until I find a permanent spot.  The hostels were a no go.  It was just cheaper to stay in our current apartment and pay the pro-rated rent, around $49 per day, on top of our early termination fee.

Wednesday, March 2nd

I returned some email messages, returned some calls and was able to set up a few appointments for Thursday.  I sold some phones.  I ate some chicken.  I said stupid stuff on twitter.  Wednesday was a fairly normal day……………………………..

Thursday, March 3rd

Which pretty much was a giant fucking set up because Thursday was just a mindfuck.  My first appointment was at 10 am, 5 blocks north of my current location.  “IT’S TWO BLOCKS FROM THE SUNSET STRIP, HOW BAD CAN IT BE?” I said to myself.  Well, let’s just say Hollywood isn’t what we were told it was when we were kids.  I don’t know that its ever been.  But this, this was…………. It’s a  6 bedroom, 3 bath…….. that houses……….. 20 people.  The ceilings were exposed (like my basement was off of 147th), the kitchen had 3 refrigerators, the rooms had paper thin plywood for walls.  I mean, they made rooms where there weren’t ever supposed to be rooms.  The laundry room was outside (even for SoCal it was in a weird spot for a house).  And to top it off the options for my bed were in a tiny crevice upstairs meant for 4 people or…………………….. in the same room as the 45 year old mexican maid/landlord’s aunt.  (I wish I were making this up.)  I said some nice things to the guy who showed me the place and got in the car hoping the next spot would blow me away.  Yes, I was desperate, but I still had standards, ya know? And oh yeah, I became and uncle for the 6th time that morning.  All at once, all day I felt happy, sad, nervous, excited, determined, doubtful, worried, hopeful.  So, the second location (this day felt like all the worst excerpts of ‘Million Dollar Listing’ they could put together) was up near the “Upright Citizen’s Brigade”, how bad could it be!?  (Fool me twice, is that what they say?)  Look, I grew up in the ghetto.  Went to school in the ghetto.  Played baseball in the ghetto.  But I have never and will never be “ghetto”.  Also, I love my people, but some of you all have got to be doing  just a “lil” better.  I say all this because the guy who showed me the second place was either: A) A film student who likes to smoke a lil weed and is just trying to make it in LA like the rest of us; or B) A drug dealer who uses Craigslist ads as a way to sell his product or trick people into checking out the place so he can hem them up and rob them.  Either way, I wasn’t having it. (PRO TIP: If you want someone to rent your place do not have 1) Your shirtless, tattooed “brother” hanging out at the kitchen counter or 2) Some random dude that you pretended to not know but who really lives in the bedroom ask me to see this awesome “closet.”)  I marinated on the situation, do I look for more places or do I just roll with the house that reminds me of “The Real World” on steroids??  I needed to make a move and get this over with so I chose to move in with the mexican woman.  She doesn’t speak english, she let me have a TON of closet space and she lets me watch “The Walking Dead”, so, it aint all bad.

There’s more, but I’m tired, so I’ll tell you guys about the rest tomorrow.