After being away for so long, LA decides to throw me a welcome back party in a way that only this strange magical village by the sea can.
20 Brooks is located a block from the Ocean where a passing parade of folks go up and down all day. This sea-side strip goes by many names; Oceanfront Promenade, the Ocean Walk, the Boardwalk.
It’s the place I’ve described in previous LA Stories where the freaks all hang out and the tourists come to see them and muscle beach and the basketball courts etc.
And it was the setting for what I can only describe as a very LA day. In a good way.
I was on my way back from the Santa Monica Production offices of the company that’s making Diary of a Superhero (latest update: Very good casting director hired, we wait to see who she can tap). Great meeting, and I’m feeling pretty good about that film and its production.
Walking in the sun, along the beach, surrounded by tanned rollerbladers, tattooed Latino gang bangers with pitbulls and low rider bicycles being pedaled by guys dressed like they’re out of Blink 182, I feel at one with the town and that I’m getting the hang of the LA screenwriter thing.
Then I hear someone call, “Karl!”.
I turn to see Ross Ventress, a mate from South Africa days who works in Singapore now, running along side.
After hugs, what are you doing here’s and big smiles, he points to a shoot by a beach house. He’s doing a Levi’s print campaign; the models lounge lazily between takes as the wardrobe primp and the hairstylists faff and the photographer checks the light.
Another mate, Peter, also a South African and Singapore regular, is there with Ross, we chat and it turns out the guys have a spare ticket to a show that night in town. We make a plan. I’ll drop my stuff off and we can take my car and we’ll get to downtown later to see Iron and Wine.
But as I run back home, I pass a guy begging for money. There are always beggars here, and I’m about to run past when I see that he has a sign that says, “I’m famous, I need your help”.
This guy looks just like actor Jason Alexander, George Costanza from Seinfeld. Wow, that is a good likeness. Hang on…
Me: Hey, are you Jason Alexander?
JA: Uh, yeah, that’s me.
Oh my God, it really is him.
Me: Um, what are you doing?
JA: Well, you know there’s this writer’s strike on and business is slow and I’m just seeing if I can scrounge up some cash, you know, if you could help me out…
I’m so stunned that it’s him that I reach for my wallet.
I think I’ve explained my taste in men before in LA Stories and Mr Alexander fits the bill to a T. I used to have quite a thing for him. And he’s actually cuter in real life.
He’s talking, I’m barely listening as I wonder if I can lick this 5 dollar bill that I’m pulling out before I give it to him. Or maybe I could write my number on it…I mean he’s played a few gay characters….
JA: Let me ask you something…
Yes, I will go on a date with you.
JA: Would you have given me this money if I wasn’t famous?
I wonder if it would be wise to say, “no, it’s because I wanted to nail you for a long time.”
Instead I start talking about the other beggars on the strip and that I give money to; the ones that have an angle. There’s the guy with signs like “Need petrol for the Lear Jet”, and the guy who does the spitting competition.
We both agree that they are good angles. He has a nice smile. Hmmm. So I say that you know, yours is a weird angle, but hey, it’s an angle.
JA: What do you think of my sign? Someone said I should make it ‘I made you laugh, I need your help’.
I think for a moment, then I can’t help myself.
Me: How about, ‘I didn’t get my own spin-off series, I need your help’.
He looks at me with the straightest of faces. He blinks a bit. Then he says…
JA: That’s pretty funny.
JA: That’s actually pretty funny.
There was something very Seinfeld about this moment.
Somewhere in our chatter he let slip that he has a wife and kids, so with no possibility of seeing him naked, I decide my work here is done. At least I can give him some money, which makes him my bitch in some convoluted way that I will rationalize to myself later.
I wave the fiver out to him and tell him, listen I really need to run, my friends are waiting for me.
JA: Thanks man, but I can’t take your money. But if you just turn around and look there…
How I missed the entire camera crew lurking behind me is a tribute to my blondeness. I watch Punk’d and think, how dumb are these people? Well, apparently as dumb as me.
Damn you Jason Alexander, you did get your own spin off series after all.
As we sat in the concert that night, watching a wonderful performance and I think back on a day of script meetings, Levi’s shoots, Seinfeld encounters and great folk music in an art deco concert hall all topped off by a starlit night drive home on the deserted freeways, I have to say that when LA turns it on, it really does turn it on.
But I’m not quite an Angelino yet. I didn’t pitch Jason a film project.