Neo, you can't die. I love you. Now, get up!


I drove down to ComiCon (the Comics Convention) in San Diego yesterday to be on a panel after the screening of a short film I'd helped write and in which I had a small part. After the screening, the mandatory question-and-answer period, and the judo exhibition, I was trying to gather my gear and clear out. I had a meeting this morning at nine and thought I'd try to get in some normal hours of sleep. I was stopped by a young(er) guy who cocked his head slightly and said, "I just wanted to say that I appreciate the parts that you've contributed here and there on television over the past several years."

I looked at the guy. He was probably in his late thirties or early forties, balding. with nasty dark circles under his eyes. The convention hall was filled with all kinds of strange people. People in comic book character clothing, collector-types who appeared to never leave their caves. (Said he, who is sitting at his computer on a saturday afternoon.) So, this guy appreciates my work? He remembers Cop #2 on Cheers? He remembers the waitress's husband on Seinfeld? Yo lo dudo.

I've been interrupted again while writing this. Last night when I started it, a friend of mine showed up and we went to see Paul (or is he Peter?) Weller and Jill Sobule at the House of Blues. That's another story. But I have to say that Paul Weller really came to life at one moment during the show when someone in the crowd tossed a tee shirt at him. Weller stopped playing, grabbed the shirt and yelled (in his thick, distinctive English accent) "Don't frow anyfing again, you mothafuckah!" And then he went back into his poet playing guitar pose, perhaps playing a bit more furiously.

Anyway. The thing with the guy at the convention, my appreciator... It turned out he was a comedy writer, an actor, but he made his living, his real passion was his stand-up act. I knew I had seen those dark eyes before. It's part of the unsuccessful comic look. You see these guys hanging around the comedy clubs. Glancing up at you as you pass, seeing if you recognize them, wondering if you think they're funny. Only slightly less weird than walking past the mummies of Guanajuato.

A comedian. So. We start talking about the convention. He lives in New York, loves the neighborhood feel. You can turn a corner and there is another friend, or there is another world. In L.A. things are so spread out... blah blah blah. Somehow we started talking about running into celebrities in supermarkets. He mentioned several, even remembering the exact store. I tried to mention that I had seen Martin Landau, but I interrupted his flow. He smiled in acknowledgement of my paltry contribution and went on. As the list went on, he'd tilt his head, as if thinking, remembering. "There was Morey Amsterdam at the Safeway near Doheny. And then..." His head would tilt the other way. And another name would spill out. And details. He'd clarify, if I seemed not to recognize the name. He'd list their credits.

And then I got it. He wasn't talking to me. He was doing his act. His passion. He was sharing his passion with me. He was musing on the topic of celebrities. Oh, my, how wonderful. Isn't it amazing.

I was all set to trash the guy and his obsession with stars. Who really gives a shit who you've seen? They're just actors, and you're just another wannabe comic.

This morning, I was all set to mock, to finish writing this piece about that guy. But I got hungry. I stepped outside to walk to the supermarket, my camera slung over my arm. My neighbors across the street were having a yard sale, so I thought I'd see how they were doing. As I got to their driveway, an SUV type vehicle pulled up, backed up, and then pulled forward again, just missing me. The driver looked out and apologized. It was Carrie-Anne Moss. She and a friend got out and snapped up a big lamp. I asked Carrie how much they paid for it as they were loading it into the SUV. Her eyes are so amazingly clear. And she is stunning. When she looks you directly in the eyes...

And I am such a whore. I wanted to fawn all over her, tell her how much I liked the scene in Memento where she really messes with the guy. Hell, I wanted to marry her. But instead, I respected her privacy. Didn't ask for a photo. Just made a little non-Hollywood conversation and split. What a hero I am.

Maybe I was offended more by the fact that the comic was using his material on me than by his fascination with celebrities. I've been caught like that before. Apparently having a conversation with a comic, who is suddenly peering at you to see if the material is working. One woman I knew would actually stop talking and ask "Did you think that was funny?"
It is so annoying.

But this celebrity thing... It's hard sometimes to live here and not be in some sort of fantasy world. I've opened the door to find Kate Jackson. Pulled up to my daughter's school yard to find Mohammed Ali. Walked out of a book store nearly colliding with Martin Sheen. And then to merely walk across the street and nearly get run over by Carrie-Anne Moss...

As my brother-in-law said to me recently as I complained about the heat. "It's the life you chose!"

all material ©2001 iguanaking