Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Little Time Bombs

The ocean offers some answers. Cool water. Swirling sand. Big splashes against rocks. Salty mist. Growing up in Indiana made oceans exotic. I still feel childlike when walking a beach. Venice is a touch chaotic, its boardwalk vaudeville for tourists. But a glance at tall palms soothes me. Head clear. Mind at rest.

Sure as fuck beats that Ann Arbor hotel room. My three week bender about did me in. Hanging on to a life that no longer exists.

My son released me. Penned a letter telling me to go. His basic raising is done. He wants to move to the next stage. This includes his dad getting back into the world. So here I am, getting back into it.

Don't know if I'll ever move to LA, but I could do well here. There are plenty of spaces for me to read in and perform. Gave another reading at Ron Lynch's Tomorrow! Saturday night. Not as vibrant as the last time. Reading a parody of 9/11 manias pretty much silenced the audience. A few chuckles, but mostly stares. Friends told me that the crowd was rapt. Maybe so. I couldn't see past the front row. Read into the harsh stage lights. Dove directly into the seats.

Everyone that night worked the audience. What Barry Crimmins calls re-inflating a leaking beach ball. What's different than most rooms was Ron's reaction. He kept it smart. Didn't surrender to cheap bits. Brought the audience to him. It helped to have Chris Walsh and The Doorknockers on hand. There's no fourth, fifth or sixth wall when these guys perform. Whenever I'm around this kind of energy, I believe in comedy again.

After the show, Chris, Doorknocker Davey Johnson and I had a nice chat about the humor biz. Both are thoughtful, precise. Chris is especially analytical. Onstage he slices metal. Offstage, he's soft spoken. He and brother David are regulars at Upright Citizens Brigade, among other outlets. They are well-regarded in the LA scene. Not an ounce of cynicism or jadedness. Their performances are infectious, odd, funny. Where they'll end up is anyone's guess. But they'll emerge at some point. Sooner than later.

Not that LA is completely inspiring. The entertainment machine is everywhere. You hear its hum when talking to its employees. My friend Eric knows that sound well. A former comic book writer turned screen scribe and script doctor, Eric has stories. Entertaining, horrifying stories. Nothing that would surprise you. Still, it's amazing what people in the business are capable of. What they'll do without blinking.

Over lunch, I said to Eric that at least Hollywood doesn't bomb and occupy other countries. "Not yet," he replied.

Eric reminds me of my old friend Mark. When in LA in my twenties, Mark showed me Hollywood's fringe. Old theaters. Deserted movie lots. Locations where legends worked. Mark's deep knowledge of film history gave these places life.

Eric's similar. After lunch, he pointed in directions where Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton filmed. Knew exact locations for each project. Of course then Hollywood was more of a cow town. Laurel and Hardy filmed amid suburbanites driving or walking past their cameras. You can still see those ghosts in shorts like Hog Wild. Going about their business. Walking past giants they didn't see.

Think I'll go walk in their wake. If I spot two guys in baggy pants and derby hats falling off a roof, I'll know to keep walking. Mustn't ruin a take. We all have our places.