My realtor texted me Saturday evening, demanding that I put him on the list for our game against the New York Knicks on Sunday. Weiny, as he is called, wears his hair long in a Dutch-boy style and is obsessed with sports, having been an assistant coach for a college soccer team. He also plays pickup basketball religiously with many of the members of the Nets and hates physical contact of any sort. He generally refuses to play any defense, nor will he go after loose balls, citing a broken ankle he suffered in the mid ’90s. After a few glasses of 50-to-60-point Chablis—usually a Central Valley wine of recent vintage, most frequently from vineyards in the greater Fresno area—he usually gets dyspeptic and aggressive. I could tell from the tone of his text that he had been out boozing, likely with his Korean girlfriend, who rules him with an iron fist and has garnered the nickname “the General.” White wine is the only vice she tolerates.
His message wasn’t so much a request as a threat. The consequence of not putting his name down? He said he would come over to my home and go number two in my bathroom. After I banned him from using my facilities, our personal and professional relationship really blossomed. Understand that my bathroom is very, very small and the ventilation wholly inadequate. Even I don’t like to do certain things there, and to consume products like his favored Post Bran Flakes cereal would be reckless. His diet seemed to demonstrate a strange overreliance on cashews and other nuts belonging to the Anacardiaceae family.
His chronic bathroom abuse generated self-pity in me. Why have I been banished from the warm hearth of civilization and forced to fend for myself in this California frontier that has no morality or bathroom etiquette? If I’m going to live a no-rules life, why couldn’t it be in classic Hollywood fashion, snorting fat rat tails off a starlet’s implants in a Jacuzzi with Cristal powering through spigots inlaid with gold while a eunuch passes trays of dolphin caviar?
Studio Chief liked to taunt me with tales of such scenes, detailing famous actor’s sexual excesses. Recently, he mentioned how the honoree at the Golden Globes, an actor/producer/director of eclectic taste and voracious sexual appetite, had responded when asked how he stayed faithful to his Oscar-nominated-actress wife. The Legend said he sometimes called a fellow Oscar winner—who’s currently dating an actress one-third his age and is the star of the Academy Award-winning gangster film set in Boston—and would ask him, “What did you do last night?” And if The Legend was really feeling hemmed in, he would ask, “Tell me again.”
Meanwhile, it had to be pointed out to me at dinner in Beverly Hills that the reason my meal companion, a film financier, had gone to the bathroom at the same time as his girlfriend was not a synchronicity of bladders. They returned after a long absence and she promptly blew her nose on a white cloth napkin and left a bloody smear. The likely culprit: yayo. I simply wasn’t all that dialed in to the hard-partying Hollywood drug scene. Mostly, I commiserated with The Captain about how people liked to desecrate our toilets. There is an inescapable feeling in Hollywood that everyone is having more fun, doing more drugs, getting more free swag from gifting suites, and having more sex with Paris Hilton than you are.
My life? I’m down at the SRO New Amsterdam splitting a bottle with Mr. Jones and a yellow-haired girl—that’s my tragedy. Hollywood life for most of its citizens consists of slogging through awful scripts, scheduling meetings, fighting freeway traffic to make those meetings, trying to figure out why everyone always has to meet about everything, waiting for return phone calls, kissing frogs in the form of potential financiers whose bank accounts often don’t have the depth to purchase a Roth IRA, and dealing with narcissistic, entitled, deluded actor and director personalities. When not being forced to foot the bill at expensive sushi dinners with talent, it’s strictly Baja Fresh chicken burritos and two-item Panda Express combo meals. Meanwhile, beneath the chevron-shaped powder-blue-yellow-and-orange neon sign of the Chateau Marmont, Lindsay Lohan, the Cobrasnake, and some fashion-conscious freshman at Santa Monica High School are eating poached-shrimp salad with peppery arugula and blood-orange segments in a champagne vinaigrette. Frankly, that’s the clique you want to be in.
How can I be in the proper mindset to take on the New York Knicks, a team that didn’t have a winning record but had all the elements to go on a surge, when I’m being terrorized by my realtor and I’m fresh from the disappointment of yet another night I didn’t spend with Britney/Nicole/Sienna listening to a DJ spin the latest Strokes song at the exclusive Sam Nazarian Hollywood lounge Hyde? The Knicks featured a USC alumnus and former New York Giants cornerback/safety whose wife is an actress (they, I am certain, have no problems with Hyde access); a two-time league MVP point guard who stars in a TV show set in Las Vegas; one of the stars of a popular, whimsical medical sitcom; a video-game executive; and a tall, very good-looking actor who’s had small roles in films and who was difficult to distinguish from the hundreds of other tall, good-looking actors who get small roles in various projects. In fact, I often confused him for another actor, whose celebrity increased when he started dating the blond female singer of a multicultural hip-hop quartet.
The game was an exercise in frustration. We didn’t play poorly but neither did we ever really gel, and you could sense that we wouldn’t be surprised if we lost. Expectation is destiny, and the outcome confirmed our fate. It was a relatively close game, but no one really stepped up. The Knicks moved the ball exceptionally well, played together as a unit, got everyone involved, and maintained a 6-to-8-point advantage through most of the contest. The final score: 68-75. Another loss and more frustration for us. We feel like we are ready to go on a run, but another setback indicated otherwise. Weiny was waiting for me in the hallway after the game. “What did you think?” I asked.
With his usual bluntness, he replied, “You guys were shit.”
And he wasn’t wrong. Next up: the 1-6 L.A. Clippers.