I was walking to a lunch meeting on Sawtelle Boulevard at the industry-standard 1 p.m. when I noticed a new vendor, Crepes To Go. It was sandwiched between the Tokyo Noodle House and a store that sells eclectic imported household items in the tradition of true Japanese weirdness: a parrot-shaped orange peeler whose beak punctures, and whose tail skins, your fruit; colored staples; air guns. The Asian crepe seller had a food poster that advertised “worst service in town” and admonished customers to know exactly what they want before ordering. Each crepe was named after a Hollywood star, alive or dead. The restaurant had adopted the decorating convention of discount laundromats and mechanic shops that have signed headshots of obscure 1980s actors framed on their walls. I have seen more jheri curls at my rims shop than at an O’Jays concert.
As I evaluated the savory pancakes, I was astonished by one crepe in particular, the Bruce Lee. It was a fantastic creation. A plastic reproduction was glued to a small plate and hung on poster board that rested vertically on a glass window. It featured a conical crepe with ladles of mud-brown curry gravy, curry skin, cheese, extra curry sauce, sausage, corn, and onions. It was something that could only be created by stuffing a Magritte pipe with some rock cocaine, smoking, and dreaming of Parisian street vendors. I immediately BlackBerried my deucin’ ex-intern and inquired if he liked crepes. He seemed unsure, and I recommended he consume one before returning to The Captain’s studio to continue their script project. It could produce the sum of all fears: a grundle-dislocating holocaust in his tiny bathroom. Still, as horrifying as my intern’s overactive bowels are, they can’t compare to New Yawk’s TV show.
Or, more specifically, his shitcom.
I had come down with a cold and was forced to switch from bourbon and gingers to screwdrivers with a chaser of Emergen-C. I decided to put on the TV. Occasionally, I peruse some MTV and maybe an episode of Antiques Roadshow. Ever since Ashleigh Banfield and her titanium glasses left the news, I can’t stomach much in the way of current affairs. I needed some distraction, and I didn’t want to take a call from my sister, who was alarmed by the mangy condition and length of my beard. It’s begun to scare small children on a daily basis. While surfing channels, whom do I come across but my teammate New Yawk playing a married father on his show. The episode revolved around his distress at the potential of his daughter leaving the nest. I tried to detect any hint of self-loathing, some glimmer of recognition that he was trapped in a celebrity ring of hell, that he was Orpheus descending. I was unsuccessful. New Yawk is a real actor. He has talent, and somehow I had roped him into being one of the leads in an independent film I’m producing in the spring—the film’s exploration of a drug-infested neighborhood couldn’t be further from the cloying ecology of his show. I would rather watch Fox News. I would rather see an hourlong interview with Ann Coulter. I would rather see Ann Coulter take on the Black Widow in a marathon game of billiards on ESPN2.
The chest cold had aggravated my asthma and I was back to taking prednisone. The steroids had me all hopped up. Resting on my bed, I called The Captain up to see what he had in the way of Valium. The Captain had access to a buffet of meds through a plethora of gay catering contacts from back when he worked Hollywood parties for a living. The party that ended his catering career was a bacchanalian affair thrown by a gay couple in the Hollywood Hills. There was an Arabian theme, and he was forced to go shirtless: he wore only a vest, curled shoes, billowing teal pants, and a turban. They gave him a faux scimitar, which he kept sheathed. There was a lot of grab-ass as he collected emptied glasses and replenished the hummus. When he took the garbage out of the bathroom, he was confronted by a partygoer engaging in an act so disturbing that he put the trash down, doffed his turban, and skated out of the party never to return. The enduring benefit of the ignominious catering trade was continued access to high-quality pills. “Don’t go crazy, I know how you get. And no more than two drinks.”
I took some meds, finished my screwdriver, and fell asleep. I tried to play in my Saturday-morning pickup game at UCLA, but my lungs burned and I couldn’t summon a satisfying breath. I cut it short and tried to get some rest before the Sunday game against the Boston Celtics. I would be playing against the son of the owner of a series of highly successful delis in L.A. and a sports agent who played at UCLA as an undergrad. Fortunately, the latter didn’t show up, and we felt like we had a good chance at putting the Celtics away. I didn’t like Boston. Not the team, nor the town or New England generally. I had recently visited Cape Cod, Boston, and Nantucket, and was surprised that they had yet to be integrated. If ever one could be oppressed by one’s own people, it was there. The residents were obsessed with chowder, American flags, cedar shingles, pinochle, naming their homes, and wool cardigans. I am certain the Hy-Line ferry is no safer than a Thai raft—a few logs bundled with twine—and it could barely negotiate the choppy waters off the coast, though the passengers were too drunk to notice.
For this game, I wished we had English, who couldn’t attend. I wondered if he fell into the deep, dark abyss of the K-hole. His absence was a bad sign, and the contest proceeded in fits and starts. The Celtics weren’t that good, but we weren’t, either. The game was close at halftime, and we huddled up, still not gripped with a sense of urgency. We should beat these guys.
The second half wasn’t any kinder. For some reason, if we aren’t hitting on our cylinders early, we have a hard time jelling late. We didn’t shoot very well, we missed some easy looks, and our ball movement was poor. Deli Son, the captain of the first NBAE team I was on three years ago, was playing well in his usual reckless fashion. As I guarded him, I kept thinking about a VH1 special that aired last year, following him and his model wife around L.A. doctors as they tried to have a child. At times, lacking self-awareness can be an effective thing. The minute he got the ball he would go full tilt toward the basket. At times, he careened out of control, but at others he was able to bank it in or, worse, get a foul called on us. We were down 12 points and we went to Coach’s Son, who, with his 3-point marksmanship, would give us our best chance at making up ground quickly. He tucked his feathered hair into his headband and rubbed his hands. It was of little use. Too little, too late. He nailed a few treys, but the game ended with a Nets loss. New Yawk finally made an appearance, as did Show Host, either taking a break from the X Games or his Hollywood infotainment daily. Neither was in game condition. We rotated a lot of guys and nothing ever solidified into an effective unit. Our record sank to .500, 2-2. For a team that was one basket away from making the NBAE finals last year, we weren’t playing to our potential.