I’ve learned 3 BIG LESSONS about living in LA since last we spoke:
1) You should always take a chance to use the bathroom when you have it. Time bends here and - no matter what - you will not have another chance until about 15 minutes after things get urgent.
2) There is, in fact, weather in Los Angeles. No, compared to the Midwest, it is laughable. But yes, you should still have an umbrella and a jacket near by - no matter what they told you…
3) No one in Show Business ever ‘Makes It’
I know, the first two lessons were kinda’ fun and easy and then I drop the hammer with this third one. It’s a doozy - but stick with me because I could not be more right about this: No one 'makes it'. Not you, not me, not Angelina Jolie, not Neal Patrick Harris, not… well, maybe Glenn Close and probably Robert Redford - but that is simply due to longevity.
Every actor under 70 no matter how famous and wherever on the spectrum of income and fame, falls asleep in fits (unless properly medicated) wrestling this one: How long will this last? Was that gig my last gig? Have I become a joke, or worse… irrelevant.
It’s not only why Birdman was such a good movie, but why actors, in particular, licked it clean. The movie tells a very human tale of age, and legacy and mortality that people in and out of show business can all dig. What plumber, for example, could not identify with the film’s examination of the “value” of your work; or what nurse did not see herself in the theme of job versus family.
But, of course, actors saw themselves everywhere in that movie - not just implied. Older actors - and younger actors who will be older actors - were all struck a little dumb by it, I found
Because there it was: the tale of an actor who had appeared to have Made It. He had been famous, successful, would be remembered for his work, and was still rich… until he starting throwing his money at a chance to reclaim fame. This time a fame he felt worthy of.
Whoa. What a mind fuck, right? Even if you’ve got it all, you’ll be fundamentally disappointed with yourself if you didn’t get it soon enough, or have it long enough, or attain it genuinely enough...
Ultimately the movie disappointed me - but we can talk about that over a beer sometime - what it nailed, in my opinion, was that subtle nugget of the Business: We’re all Sisyphus.
If your Greek mythology is rusty - Sisyphus is the guy who rolls the boulder up the a hill each morning, only to watch it roll back down each night. Bullshit, right? An existence defined by failure and re-starts. Forced to push forward just to stand still. A lifetime of anticipation of a restful success that will never come. Who could stand that?
Well, there is exactly one tiny group of people who could stand it - nay, rejoice to be there. It is the minority who like rollin’ boulders. Those fools awake each morning in paradise.
Those who find failure in anything but a still boulder on a hilltop upon which they sit comfortably and watch an Athenian sunset. Well… the gods are assholes.
As for me - just under six months into The Thing here in LA - I find that I like listening to Public Radio while I sit in traffic. I like all the people… Well, I don’t like each individual person, of course, but I like all-of-em-all, if you know what I mean. I think the palm trees are so cool, and auditions are still really fun - even though I book maybe 10% of the ones I go on… maybe.
I like that it’s February and my butt is sunburned, and I like all the grapefruit and avocados. I like the leggy models in Hollywood that make me feel like a Mrs. Potato-Head when we stand at the same stoplight; and I like the gaggle of gay latinos in Los Feliz that always tell me my lipstick looks ‘bueno.’
I wanna make money and I want the people who know me to nod with approval when I tell them what I’m currently working on. I want to be engaged with what I do and curl my toes and hit my chest when I talk about it… Forever. Everyday until I die.
In short, if my boulder stops rolling up or down that hill one second before my heart stops beating, then I fucked up.
May we all find a boulder to love. Amen.
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