It was another 75° day in LA. The kind that can either make you gloriously happy to live in such perfect warmth in February or want to make you want to go home and lay down and turn on the TV for a little feeling of connection to life outside of Cali. Those goddamn Santa Ana winds were beginning to whip around. I know the clichés about them creating madness.
As I walked around the garage I couldn’t help wonder what her show would of looked like at the Getty. The ceilings are so high and these figures are so small … and why she would of cared given that she was working her way into a TV series.
It doesn’t matter now, I’m not being paid to figure that out … just to find her. The last message she left her producing partner was very paranoid and disturbed. Something about not being able to take the suspense anymore and then she was going out to a meet someone for a drink at Soho House in Malibu. Looking down I picked up some pieces of paper … something she’d been working on for the show, I guess.
I thought I’d take a drive up the coast to see where it started. I stopped in at the Blue Bottle, one of the many gentrified coffee joints on the east side. There was a French bulldog sitting outside with his owner at a little table, a real cutie … LA is lousy with French bulldogs. While I was waiting for my regular drip, I took a look at the material I’d picked up from the ground, maybe there was something there.
Today is the day… the day we’ve been waiting for. The meetings, the talking, the words floating through the air back ’n’ forth over the round table in my dining room. Will, N and I head out into the rush hour traffic driving across the city of angels, heading to our first pitch of the day. It’s like the gold rush all over again. And I’m thinking of you. How would you do it? N’s manager has a last minute breakfast and she’s afraid he’s going to be late. N is driving and texting. She does it so effortlessly, as she flicks her cigarette ashes out the window, one foot up on the dashboard or so it seems. The light is soft even on the harshest of mini mall signs, Pizza Garage, Donut Kingdom, Big Hair Salon, Rock N Roll sushi, Urban Cupcakes … Tall palms line the street, so mysterious how they live with so little ground for roots. Never falling over but bending against the onrush of the Santa Anas, swaying together natural-like, arching up into the bluish, dusty sky. They are dying … mostly planted in the 1930s … I never thought about trees dying from old age.
Their palm fronds laying on the ground the only sign of duress, add material to shopping carts, all tools for no income housing.
The first pitch is at FX, a very male audience. How strange to sit and listen to myself being described as an “icon.” Will is always very sensitive about this and usually makes a joke about it at some point which relaxes the situ.
It’s killing the guy because he’s a fan but it really doesn’t fit them. “We get it, we love it, but not sure we can program it”. He seems almost apologetic. When we get out the door a translation is made: “They were nice to be so honest about it. It means they would ask us to do a pilot but then might just shelve it,” says Will.
We get into the elevator, I feel slightly dazed as someone pushes me up against the elevator wall and kisses me. No one seems to notice. He puts his hand to the back of my head, his hand is very square and meaty. The door opens and we leave to get in our cars. In the garage tires squeak. It would really be good to do an art show in one of those talent agency garages. Curate a group show from their random art collections that decorate the lobbies and offices. Everyone likes to see money on the walls. I make a mental note to revisit this on the garbage heap of ideas. This one is recurring though. We pile in and begin the long drive across town to the next place, Netflix. But before that we stop and have lunch to kill time. It’s next door to the clothes store where I like to shop. There’s a card that says “Netflix and Chill.” There’s a pair of shoes that remind me of the time we walked around NY after an art dinner and found a horse in a police trailer left on its own. It was one of those still nights on the Lower East Side. She was a magnificent creature, chestnut brown with a perfect movie white streak down her nose. I leaned in to have a better look and her tongue lapped across my face shocking me into endless giggles. A rare moment of pure fun removed from art, fashion and money, a rarity in NY City … sometimes I don’t know what you want from me.
“Your words are a barricade.” That would make a good card. “You’re a mystery like that horse …” He walked over to the edge and looked down at the valley, light swirled around through the dust.
“No thanks, I don’t smoke,” she said. He put his hand to the small of my back and guided me to a corner of the balcony so we could talk … he’s suddenly kissing me again … his hand is holding the back of my head …
We arrive at Netflix, it’s just off a weird part of Sunset Blvd. Just a few scattered Thai restaurants, the building is creamy, we sign in at the gate, security is heavy. The lobby is opulent with a bar and sort of an adult kids campus not unlike Silicon Valley, or how I would imagine it. There is no elevator, they come out from a hall, it’s a ground floor conference room. I’m nervous because at a previous dinner with Cindy, the head, and her girlfriend, she was very quiet, her girlfriend did most of the talking. N had warned me it might be like that. But today she was very warm and welcoming, they all were. They sat on one side of the table, we sat on the other. They’re probably overcompensating for the fact that they’re not really going for it. Killing us with kindness to soften the blow … It was all very relaxed outwardly, although I was expecting coldness … My mind keeps drifting … Afterwards when we left the party and we had that fight about … something … It got too stoned and talked too much to a friend from NY.
I realize you don’t know me. Maybe I don’t know myself? I don’t know how to fight, I’m a lazy communicator, I feel like a young boy with you. The dialog inside is so quiet and distilled and articulate, with no words. My verbal output is like the ball on a mini golf course, hitting it slightly … as the space between us is very short, but the obstacles seem too intricate. The quick blurt of my words is not what I intended, more like a search party … half a thought… the ball lurches forward and wanders off to the side having missed the hole and gets lost in the wiggles of astro turf that needs repairs. And you look into my eyes. “Do you like being famous?” The question paralyzes me. I mean, I think I wrote a whole book around it and my ambivalance towards it all, which I guess is only obvious to me. It’s my turn, but the words are not what I mean, they’re just sign posts, like the miniature castle that marks hole number 2. The feelings inside like water slogging about. They naturally hit the side of an object and move around it, lapping onto the edges of whatever hard surface is in the way, teetering … the plonk …
Give me a guitar and some electricity, or a paintbrush, but god forbid I should have to verbally declare myself, myself. I don’t want to have to fight … even though I want to be seen, the silence can be unbearable like stillness of 112° desert heat.
You can project all you want on me … JK’s voice in my head now rings “TV is your new medium for artmaking, I’m so jealous. It’s a mantra now in my head to keep me feeling grounded and not “too LA.”
The pitch is going really well but we know it’s not going to happen and we don’t want this one anyway. All smiles as we leave and get our car from the valet. Valet parking in LA is just part of the landscape.
The traffic driving back to the east side is heavy, after 3 p.m. N insists on taking Sunset all the way, rebuffing my attempts at Angeleno traffic speak. Her tolerance for me with it is high but now she just ignores as she puffs away on her cigarette, she turns up the music. There’s a reason she’s a producer, she’s in the driver’s seat. She’ll have to get C’s borrowed Prius steam cleaned again from all the smoke. I’m still not sure what a producer does or why there are always so many but I’m beginning to get a grasp. Someone can get a credit just for bringing in a name actor to a project … a vision built producer by producer.
Last night in my jetlagged state I dreamt about S.
I saw this tall woman wearing the same color orange dress as the one I just bought in Paris at Vanessa Bruno, more a jumper with shorts and sleeves with slits but my favorite orange color.
She had a hat on and as I was going up to her I realized who it was to my horror. We’d never had a face to face since the break-up. I looked down because I couldn’t believe how tall she was and discovered she was wearing very high heels that disguised her dumpiness. As I was walking towards her I was trying to decide if I should just say “I forgive you” but when I got up close and saw her weird almost pancake make up and slited dark eyes, in my disgust I just yelled ”GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU’RE SO FAKE … I HATE YOU,” I woke up and looked at my phone. It was 4.30 a.m.
We’re sitting in the lobby of STARZ. It’s more like an innocuous office building. None of the pretense to design that the other networks have. The walls are dark and there are four framed posters on the wall, none of us recognize the shows. One of them is American Gods. We sit and wait. There’s a giant flat screen with a TV show playing. It’s very cheesy and digital looking. There’s a heavy sex scene going on. This sensuous, nude, statuesque, African-American woman with long black hair is sitting on top of a white dude who closely resembles Steve Bannon … white, pasty, overweight and ugly. For a second I feel like they have a porn channel on I can’t believe this is mainstream cable TV, except that the guy is starting to shrink as she fucks him until he disappears and is sucked-up into her vagina … this as it turns out is American Gods, the new show on STARZ. Later at home my friend googles it. Vanity Fair calls it “the most political show on TV.” They finally summon us into the conference room for our pitch. The three women are all very casual-conservative looking. They have no pretense to coolness. They’re incredibly enthusiastic and the pitch goes really well, we leave feeling really good about it if not confused. Later they pass on it saying, they haven’t figured out their programming yet.
It’s magic hour on the balcony … the fake plastic hedges are every 10 feet across the wide expanse. He throws my back so far over the railing I thought I was going to fall. Instead I pivot and roll onto my stomach.
Keep your head in the game … on to love, a witness … a connection … a feeling I know and recognize as the blurry outline of love or rather a trigger . You are too good to be true, as they say, kind, sweet, handsome, deep, talented, dark … addictive. Do I have to give up my soul ?
Outside HBO in the plaza where all the corporate identical buildings meet, it feels like some kind of theme park, there’s a giant teapot tipped over into a fountain in the giant plaza made to feel like a patio. Here beige is mixed with cream with hints of pastel that enhances the Disneyesque feeling of the landscape, or rather beige is the new white. I first noticed beige as the enemy when my parents resurfaced their/our Spanish house with new stucco. It came out looking like a shell wrapped around the original coating. Thick and blob-like with spotted holes in the corners making it look diseased like “the pox” in a western. The color of skin, middle class suburban white skin, folded into a fortress of easy comfort and safety.
Inside HBO, W points out that it looks like the set for The Devil Wears Prada, saying it gives him the chills.The walls were all tinted mint green glass not quite frosted, not quite transparent juxtaposed with rosewood slotted walls forming curves, as if to say we’re warm but don’t get too comfortable. We don’t have to wait long before they call us in. It’s a very cozy office. They are very friendly. Steve mentions the song I did for their show Animals, which I haven’t seen yet. Our pitch is getting tighter but maybe still too meandering. The 25 word pitch from The Player is just not us. We aren’t interested really in HBO because they buy and shelve a lot of shows, at least that’s their rep. The micro mushroom dose I took earlier has just kicked in, so I feel really present … As we leave I start thinking about your shirt. There is something about the light grayish blue color with the dark tanned skin that brings out your jaw line in a way that makes my heart and whole body just say “Yes, no question about anything. I want to rub my nipples along the front of the Japanese polished Oxford cloth and buttons.” Is it the fit or the color or both? It makes me feel so superficial. Yes, that’s all it takes to turn me on… tumble dry wrinkled … there is just a hint of grayish turquoise which I’ve never seen before. Not the usual slate grey … unattainable more a hint of wishful contrasted with firm sensuality.
After HBO we head out across the patio to another building for Hulu. We’re waiting for the elevator, the door opens and Amy P and four young girls step out of the elevator. The girls look like teenagers but they must be in their twenties. SO fresh-faced and non-stylized in their dress. They look more east coast than Cali. Non-blondes, nondescript clothes. They were coming straight from a pitch. We hug and laugh at the coincidence of it all. He’s back and his hand slips inside the back of my skirt, again no one seems to know he’s there. He puts his tongue in my ear and says “Where did you go?”
“You trust me don’t you” … “I don’t know should I? Do you trust yourself? People change.”
“The Oceanside provides a drama that replaces individual activity.”
The Hulu pitch goes like most of the others. Everyone is super nice and seems into the idea of the show. We leave feeling really excited. But our final pitch is with Amazon and they are the place we’re most interested in.
We meet with Amazon the following week we hear back … they want it! But I don’t know what that means yet.
He’s there again … grabbing the back of my head and pushing it to his mouth. It’s not forcing just firmly guiding like he’s done this a million times.
Where do you go when you disappear?
I have spent so much of my life worrying about the dudes in it, are they happy, what did I do, what are they doing, why haven’t they texted or called? Why are women the ones who so often care take of the relationship? I don’t feel adored or loved, I just feel like I’m responding to what you want. I know it’s not my part to make you like me but it’s like an urge that won’t go away.
Tomorrow we start writing the outlines for two scripts. We still need to get the final green light. And then we have another meeting with …
I’m not sure I’m dreaming but you’re there, and I suddenly wake up and look at my phone and see that there’s a pic from you of me from my Instagram. It’s 4 a.m., the time I usually wake up … It’s like a sleeping pill of reassurance that you’re there somewhere on the other side of the world thinking enough about me to send me a picture. And a word or a single letter that has no meaning other than what I ascribe to it, that it meant something to you to me …“I’m in the experimental phase of my life.” I feel I’m taking a step off a cliff and falling hoping to land on something or somewhere delicious where I’ve never been, like I’ve lived my life for. What’s happening in a sleepless dream … that’s not a nightmare?
And I wake up and find your poem on my phone, that hints at things that I’m not sure of but feel somehow I know and want to know more … as you say I want to know more … good morning
I wake up and remember where I am in
un love oh yeah, devolving love unspinning detangling our neurons and fibers, hair like tendrils that goes on and on zooming out of sight floating backwards I think my hand reaches out to grasp at one of yours receding in the other direction spinning backwards like a bad dizzying out of focus digital action movie moment. The slow motion and repeat button are killing. This scene isn’t even in my life but it sill leaves a bad taste in that’s dry, familiar and can’t be quenched
My sheets are soaked. Soon I’ll be up, dressed walking around, making breakfast, checking my email and making cheery benign conversation.