Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks, just let me get to Starbucks and have a coffee before…ring ring ring. Before you ring I said to my iphone, not out loud, as it ringed the old school ring I had it set to.
“Oliver, it’s Lee.” Meaning Mr. Lee my Korean accountant who takes my permanent state of financial crisis far more seriously than I myself am capable of—because there is no longer such a thing as debtor’s prison.
“Hey Mr. Lee,” I answered, hoping that he was not expecting me to have figured out how to pay for the damage Misha did by driving my SL500 into that swimming pool, because I told her I was too old for her.
“Oliver is it true you haven’t called Amoeba Records in over a year?”
This question was even more discouraging than the SL 500 bill. You see way back when I was a Hollywood insider I produced a DVD titled “Mike Fenton’s Actors Workshop”. Mike Fenton being the preeminent casting director of all time and the DVD being the definitive five and half-hour course on how to get a job in Hollywood. A good seller for years, I just stopped—
“Has it really been over a year?” I asked Lee.
“Close to two years, Oliver. And you haven’t called Samuel French either…I suspect I will be hearing this from every other store that buys the things that you’ve produced. In my profession Oliver we call these intellectual properties passive income sources. Do I need to explain what that means?”
“No. But Lee why do you even care? I haven’t paid you in years.”
“Because I’m Asian…I live for this. Now the buyer at Amoeba, her name is Jackie, told Lisa, your manager, that she wants five hundred copies, but she thinks you’re hot, so you must deliver these yourself.”
“No way, Lee.”
“They will pay you cash on delivery. And Oliver while you’re on Sunset take a hundred copies for Samuel French…”
I will not bore my beloved readers with the degrading details of this errand. And I do not mean to say that ordinary work is degrading, but I’ve always loathed artists that grub for money. I’m the last of a generation, that would be X, to believe that being the best at what you do should bring an adequate sustenance. And to this end I must digress. Has the idea ever floated through any economist head that speaks his piece on Fox, CNN, or MSNBC that maybe the problem with the economy is that people have just become so stupid and lazy that no company can survive with them running it? Does it bother anyone that my lifetime GPA is higher than either of the men that ran for leader of the free world? In fact one’s GPA was so low that he would not release his transcripts. And I’m not talking about the Naval Academy. Fake it, til you make it baby!!!
So of course, Amoeba only took half the number of DVD’s that they ordered giving me the exercise I so needed, shleping the extra’s back to the car I had to borrow from Stan Peters, Hollywood’s scummiest and most powerful producer, whom to his credit thought the SL 500 incident was hilarious. And if you recall Stan gave me the car for writing a script I have yet to finish. My point being that even dropping off an order of the simplest item to the very person that’s ordered it—most likely will turn into a less than quality experience. However, for Mr. Lee’s sake don’t hold this against Amoeba. If you want to make it in Hollywood go buy Mike Fenton’s Actors Workshop there or at Samuel French for that matter. And being benevolent for a moment, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, Amoeba is the best record / DVD store in America and Samuel French is certainly one of the coolest bookstores on the planet.
So, by Thursday I had some cash in my pocket again, which turned out to be a good thing for Eric Everhard my friend the porn star. You see he got arrested for shooting a scene without a permit somewhere in the valley.
“Oliver, she was just running through the park with a BB gun. It wasn’t like a sex scene or anything. Just a girl with big tits in an orange jump suit running with a BB gun. And twenty cop cars showed up.”
“And you thought this was a good idea why?” I asked. Anyway, the only reason this tribulation is of any relevance is that I spent all of the money I had so painfully extracted out of Amoeba, getting Eric out of the clink.
Now when my lifelong friend Ed, who is a multi-millionaire, invited me to dinner at Fleming’s I had for some reason not anticipated a need for cash and because I had just had a fair amount in my pocket the day before it somehow had alluded me that I was without a cent and eating a very expensive meal.
“I’m so stressed. I can’t watch the news anymore,” Ed lamented.
“Listen, my friend. Look at the bright side….” Now I’m a gifted writer with an incredible imagination but I was stumped for several moments in my quest for a light at the end of the tunnel that was not the freight train that the people doing the people’s business are trying so hard to put on the tracks. “If things get any worse, and it’s looking like they will, Las Vegas will be forced to legalize prostitution. Can you imagine, legal right on the strip.”
Ed told the waitress, “bring me a drink every time you see that my glass is empty until the moment I leave,” before she could even ask us what we would be dining on. “Oliver, I need legalized prostitution in Vegas right now, like a moose needs a hat rack…But do you really think that might happen?”
Fleming’s was unusually busy for a non-Laker night at LA Live. Dine LA had really brought the people out. This is extremely important to consider—more people more dishes.
Jennifer, the hot managing partner stopped by our table to chat right about the time that my prediction that Westside real estate prices, where Ed has a very large home in the hills, were down at least thirty percent with another thirty to go—at least. Ed turned colors and excused himself—abruptly. I feeling profoundly bad for not cheering up my friend turned to Jennifer and began chatting about this and that until the bill came.
“Oh…I don’t really know how to put this, but…” And then I explained the whole bail thing.
“Oliver that’s terrible. Don’t worry about it. You can pay tomorrow.”
“No Jennifer, I have to change my ways. I will do the dishes. Send Jose home, I’m ready to work off my debt.”
“The dish washers name is Tim, and our dish washing system is pretty complicated.”
Taking off my Zegna coat to make the point that I would not be denied I said, “I’m serious. I can’t take another debt, even if it’s only a two hundred and eighty dollar dinner.”
So, like I had done in reform school all those years ago, I cleaned off the plates and washed, rinsed, and dried. The time was flying by because JJ, Gay David, and Jeanine The Graphic Designer had been in the bar drinking and noticed my disappearance into the bowls of the kitchen. Thinking they might catch Jennifer and I up to some shenanigans they came to spy.
“Oliver, does that girl Nichole you’ve been hanging out with lately live in my building?”
“Yeah she does, why?”
“Well a girl that looks just like her knocked on my door right before I left—looking for the guy that lives next door to me. And this guy’s a player—she’s not the first.”
“Great,” I said finishing the last of one thousand three hundred and twenty dishes.
As I walked home, enjoying the beautiful night, I text messaged Nichole as I had promised to do when I was finished with dinner. To absolutely no surprise she did not return my text or answer her phone. And yes, I thought about taking any number of girls home that were in the bar at Fleming’s, but my hands were sore and chapped from washing all of those dishes—and I had been wanting some quiet time to sit and read the East of Eden.
The East of Eden by John Steinbeck, like my books Criminal and In Development, is on the Harvard list of books that one must read to be considered truly educated. If you haven’t read it, go down to Metropolis Books on Main Street and buy a copy, so far it’s pure genius. Anyway, it was the next morning and I had just gotten to the chapter where the treacherous character Cathy is introduced into the story. Nichole’s text said something about her having fallen asleep unusually early. “Can you come to Starbucks I miss you.”
And we sat on the bench outside. “You look so sick,” the crazy homeless man said to her of all people. “My mouse looks healthier than you.” She began to cry, which along with my murderous look sent the guy scampering along to ask some non-English-speakers a few feet away if they could spare some money that was needed to put gas in his Lamborghini. Nichole put her arms around my neck and I held her as she cried for a while longer.
I decided that I would take her to a particular spot on the beach in Malibu that I like to sit. There the bad news from her doctors that she had to come in for another scan would drift off in the breeze. I knew that it would be a beautiful day—probably our last.