Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I’ve never had a friend quite like “Adam”. I’ve always typecast him as “the Brit,” and he is one of those people with a magnetic personality who skates his way through life on charm and the ability to just slightly con nearly everyone he meets out of a little something: a free chai latte at Starbucks, or an extra movie ticket, all the way on up to a free car and even a free place to stay for months at a time.

The most memorable cons he’s carried off have to be the cars. Only one was outright free; the others are an assortment of surprisingly decent-looking beaters that cost an average of $450 and have an average life span of 9 months each before they either conk out in the middle of the 110 freeway or literally catch fire on the Lake Avenue exit ramp off the 134. Each time one dies, he will sit sadly, contemplating for literally just a moment, and say “Oh well, $450 for 9 months of a car? That’s what, $50 a month? AMAZing!” and then it’s on to the next little favor that he rarely seems to return.

People just love the guy due to his saucy British charm, joyful personality and surprisingly decent teeth. Women also love him for being fit, funny and able to think of witty comments on the fly – all factors that make up for the fact he has a quickly receding hairline at just 32 years of age.

I became his best friend when he realized that through my entertainment reporting job, I have access to tons of free events and the occasional meeting with a celebrity. He wants to meet Sam Jackson or Ewan McGregor while seeing “Star Wars” films earlier than anyone else? Fine, I need a ride to said premieres because a sleep disorder leaves me unable to drive. It is a match made in heaven, and like Ferris Bueller and Cameron we are pretty much inseparable. We are like-minded souls looking to coast our way through life in LA getting as many free and cheap opportunities as possible together.

I meet him the first time on the set of a Kelly Clarkson video where we are hired to portray paparazzi. It is perfect symbolism for our lives and our takes on LA: pretending to be the most obnoxious hangers-on in LA society for a fictional storyline. But what makes us stand out is that we are supposed to take a couple of photos with flashing fake cameras and not show our faces, pretending to snap pictures at a movie premiere Kelly is attending.

Only I am determined to be noticed, dammit! So I take a couple of snaps and then would pull my camera down and yell, “Kelly!” Or “Work it, girl!” and occasionally yell out at one of the extras that looks like a celebrity, like the dude who is a dead ringer for Ted Danson. “Yo, Ted! Danson! Becker!” I yell and make the crowd around me burst out laughing. “Adam” quickly slips in behind me and starts doing the same thing. Even though it drives the director nuts, it bumps the crowd’s energy up on an overnight shoot and we not only get our faces seen in the final video, but also receive bonuses for livening things up.

So it is a couple months later that I am a little too generous and offer my couch for a night to a guy named Bill, a 40ish guy who is one of the “regulars “ at the Barnes & Noble I work at part time. “Regulars” were people who are anything BUT regular members of society, just who regularly hang out at our store reading our books and magazines for free while driving away our REAL customers through a mix of their literally crazy behavior and even more literal mysterious odors.

Bill is one of the cleaner ones, but I see him begging for change outside the AMPM gas station on my way home one Sunday night. He tells me he is due in court at 8 a.m. to see a judge about something. I should ask about what, but instead I tell him I have an extra room or a couch and he can sleep in one of those so he’ll be fresh for the court in the morning.

Bill takes up my offer, which I think will be for one night. But after I come home that night, he turns up on my lawn again, yelling for me to come down. It was after doing so that he informed me of another wrinkle in his situation: the judge won’t let him change halfway houses without deliberating about it for another week.

“Halfway house?” I ask. “Yeah, for drug rehab,” he says. “I’m over the habit, man. Just slipped once and busted my probation.”

Again apparently lacking all reason and sense of self-preservation, I try to empathize with that and so I let him stay a couple more days, telling my landlady and neighbors that Bill is my mom’s cousin so that they don’t think something strange was going on. But then Bill wanders the hall and hangs out on the front porch with his shirt off and his prison tattoos in full sight – tattoos I didn’t know anything about before!

All my landlady can say is, “Your mom certainly has some colorful relatives.”

Great! Now I’ve brought my mother into my secret shame, and have no way of really kicking Bill out because everyone there will think I’m an asshole for kicking out a relative! Maybe most people don’t care about what others would think, but it was firmly rooted in my upper-middle-class, suburban, guilt-tripped Catholic upbringing that we are always to worry about the outside world would think of our actions! Wanna have a woman sleep over? What will the mailman think as she’s leaving?!

But wait, it gets worse: Bill was one of those people who always needs to have a conversation, no matter how asinine. I, on the other hand, watch certain shows with an obsessive focus to detail. What makes this sad is that I admit I watch some really stupid shit sometimes.

So on the fourth night of that week, I’m watching Jay Leno’s monologue on “The Tonight Show” when Bill says he’s gotta tell me something – NOW. What he reveals was that he has killed a man before and gone to prison for it. Though it was an “accident” of course – like every killing in the history of crime. Turns out Bill was on a meth binge “with my old lady” – the only time I’ve ever heard that phrase outside of a “Starsky & Hutch” episode – in some cheap motel in east Pasadena when another friend in the room wouldn’t shut up.

Bill warned him to shut up or he’d punch him. The guy kept talking, Bill punched him and the guy snapped his head back against the TV that was hanging, mounted, out of the wall. He then fell forward and cracked his ribs on the room’s dresser before passing out. Bill and his old lady ran for it, but Bill was eventually caught and sent to prison for involuntary manslaughter.

And now he is on my couch. This is clearly a story designed to say, “I’m fucking staying in your place, as long as I fucking want.”

And that’s where “Adam” really comes into my life. I call literally everyone I know even tangentially – literally about 300 people – and ask them if they know someone who can move in, immediately, that night. My only prerequisite is that the person referred to me not be a killer – accidental or otherwise.

And so “Adam” calls me after hearing about the place, telling me “Cheers!” and agreeing to help me chase Bill out that night. Bill doesn’t believe me when I tell him an English friend of mine is moving in immediately – “You don’t have an English friend. Who does? And I’m not leaving ‘til I see the fucker.”

Well, the fucker shows up on schedule at 7 p.m. that night and the two of us manage to convince Bill to leave without getting the authorities involved. In exchange for saving me from the uncertain terror of impending, looming, ever-present death, “Adam” finagles staying with me for free and paying $200 a month after that.

And for the next six months, we have a blast. He is not only my roommate but my chauffeur and the two of us have access to nearly every party and event we want. Even after he moves out, we stay tight for four more years so far, dreaming up short films to do together, hosting shows together, and just generally serving as each other’s wingmen with women. I get more out of it socially than he did, catching the leftover glow of his socializing glory.

And then it all comes crashing to a halt two Sundays ago.

I go to pick up “Adam” at LAX after he went home to England for two weeks. The reason for the trip is perfect for him and his strange life. He has been approached a few months before by a man who says he might be Adam’s father. Of course, all his life, Adam thinks another guy is his father. The whole thing turns into a real-life, very British version of the Maury Povich show, as the mystery father offers Adam a free trip home if he agrees to take a blood test and settle the question of who is his father.

It turns out the new guy is his dad after all, but Adam manages to make it work out well with everyone involved: new, real dad, fake, old dad and mom – the lady who’d slept with them both, creating a real-life “Mamma Mia’ situation. Adam calls to tell me he has two families now, including a couple of hot half-sisters that he is now thankful he’d never shagged.

But when Adam comes back to LAX, he is acting a little sketchy. He asks me to pick him up, but never gives me the flight number or airline before he hangs up – just a time: 2 p.m. I wait and search for two hours, his voicemail full and his not accepting calls or calling me, before someone suggests I check out the customs office.

There I learn he got busted and is being shipped home. His visa has always been strange – he officially has one year but someone “accidentally” typed in 10 years and he never bothered to complain about it. He’s managed to ride out 5 years here in the States including a different trip home without getting caught, but this time he botches his stories. I always wonder if he made that mistake himself or if he paid someone to make it. But he is my key into a whole other social strata – especially when he starts attending Bel Air Presbyterian Church and starts getting invited to house parties in the ritziest parts of town.

To one customs officer, he says he is a Christian missionary. To another, he says he is a cruise ship entertainer. And when he manages to get on the phone with me for a second, he wants me to tell them we are roommates who are also a duo cruise ship act.

“Why don’t you just get us a marriage license while you’re at it?” I sarcastically reply.
There is an awkward pause on his end just then. I think he has actually considered doing just that.

I realize that those of you reading or hearing this may assume that I have no personal standards, considering I allow a meth-taking killer onto my couch without checking his background. But faking a marriage to my best male friend is indeed where I draw a line in the sand.

It doesn’t matter anyway, because the feds hear “Adam” asking me to make up the roommate/entertainer story and abruptly takes the phone away, ending our call. It is just the last straw in that day’s problems, in which he can’t name what church he is with, or what ship we are on when the officers ask. A moment later, I realize that if I lie to the officials, I’m probably going down the tubes of the legal system with him.

And it’s that realization that troubles me most. Somewhere in the Bible it says that to lay down your life for another is a great thing. But this sacrifice is rooted in dishonesty, what I’ve come to realize is a pattern of constant spin. (And I know I'm no angel: I was a really needy, co-dependent kind of friend much of the time and we had plenty of arguments.)

So, a half-hour later I watch as the dude who is my best friend ever, whom people have always laughed about us having a “bromance” together, is led past me in cuffs by two burly pissed-off customs guards. He is getting a free trip back to the motherland from Uncle Sam, though he is now able to have two families help him through it. As he glides past, he has one of his beloved teas in his hand and a smile on his face, saying “They won’t let me talk now, bro – Cheers!” as if he is a pop star being pushed through by bodyguards. And this time all I can do is watch – like the director of that Kelly Clarkson video originally ordered me to do so long ago.

FROM "STINKFIST" TO FINE WINE SCENTS: The story of Tool singer Maynard James Keenan

If you wanna know why a guy who sold 13 million albums with a band called Tool and songs about "Stinkfist" (if you don't know what that means, you don't wanna!) and "Prison Sex" (ditto!) is now making fine wines and asking you to sniff it, then go to my "Wide World of Film" blog and check it out!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Read all about Jackson's fantastic performance as the Neighbor from Hell in the new thriller "Lakeview Terrace" at my other blog, "Wide World of Film." Up now, movie's out Friday- good flick! Its at Then stick around and read other celeb profiles! If you like what you see, let other blog fans know! Thanks!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

GOOD GOD, AM I TURNING MIDDLE-AGED ALREADY!? (aka a rare, brief moment of personal reflection and self-awareness)

So this has been an interesting year so far: sold my first essay to, been headlining storytelling shows all over LA, now taking a class with one of the best story/performance teachers in the country and just landed a radio show on a big time station (KRLA - AM, home of Dennis Miller!) after 2 years of trying to break through.

But with that radio break, being picked up by a conservative radio station (even if we are trying to be funny on it) has completely made me wonder just what the hell has happened to me in the past few months.

I'll be exploring some of the things that i've been going through since June in another essay, but let's just say I bottomed out on a few levels (nothing to do with drugs or alcohol). Since then i've been working harder than i ever have before to become a good human being and more importantly a healthy one. But as I've gone through hypnotherapy (its OWN ball of wax, you'll see that too!) I've come to reclaim the passions and attitudes i had been ignoring for years at my core. It's made me more spiritual, got me back into music more than ever, set my movie habit on fire, and... apparently turned me into a right-wing jerk again.

It began with a vague distrust of Obama and grew and grew (there's other essays about that on this site). But now that i"m actually gonna make money doing my political harangues (along with my good friends Jake and Brant), I've been watching as much Obama-ness as i can (i.e. hs Letterman appearance last night) and then watched Bill O'Reilly's four-night showdown with the O-man on the "Factor" show.

This is the first time i've actually WATCHED the "O'Reilly Factor" on purpose (as opposed to seeing it on monitors in airport lounges where i couldn't change the channel). And I've come to think of a few things.

I'd heard O'Reilly is just a horrible human being, when in reality i think he's a compelling presence (again, i don't know if something's wrong with me!). But the thing is, I also don't understand what's wrong with the guy! As in, not that there's NOTHING wrong, but what the hell IS it with him?!

I've seen "The Colbert Report" plenty, and know that it mocks O'Reilly. But i had no idea that the real-life, ostensibly serious Bill actually has nearly everything he says appear in writing on the screen next to his face - AS HE"S SAYING IT!!!!

Does he think we're f-ing retarded?! Is HE?!

WHY would someone have the very thing they're saying put in writing next to his head while he's saying it?! Does he think we're all deaf from the shouting he does each night?

The other thing that makes me worry that i've crossed the line into middle age-ness is that I don't understand technology (I've never played XBox, Playstation, Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution or any of that s***! And i hate the concept of IPhones forcing us all to be sheep in lines (see other essay in this blog for more on THAT). And I only got my first real cell phone 2 years ago, at age 35!!! I just bought an MP3 player two months ago, loaded it up with CDs (none of which were from this decade, I assure you! Another old man trait!!!) and then proceeded to LOSE it!!!!!

But the thing that REALLY pisses me off to no end is tattoos. I've never seen so many of 'em til i moved out to LA, so maybe it's a geographical anger rather than an age-related one. But because everyday is a beach-worthy day in Southern California (i'm not kidding!!! 24/7/365!!!) people seem to flaunt them more than other places.

Seriously, WTF are you thinking when you cover your entire shaved head in tattoos? Do you just plan on never working a day in your life again?! Do these nitwits ever have second thoughts? Do they ever have thoughts, PERIOD!?! Last night i saw some amorphous blob of a human being (i seriously couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman, and I"M 300 pounds so I can judge!!!) asleep on the red line train to Union Station, who had what looked like an open bloody wound on their cheek but in reality was...Tada! A tattoo of two dripping cherries! Right on their friggin' cheek!! Their CHEEK!!!! WHY?????? And then on their throat area, in ever-so-tasteful cursive font that mostly Latino tattoo recipients seem to favor, were the words "Candy Shop." Oh, and i almost forgot the two piercings jutting out of his/her/ITS lip and the indeterminate, also-cursive tattoo just above their eyebrows?

Would you hire that person? Or run the other way?

Yet i'm always thinking "I guess they dont' want to ever work again." Or "good luck getting a decent job with that!?"

But now, in my increasing moments of clarity about my own faults and weaknesses, I'm starting to realize these pinheads probably DO have jobs, and they're probably making a lot more than me.

Journalism don't getcha rich.

Maybe I'm just jealous. I'll get a picture of Obama tattooed on my a**.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Before I get into anything substantive, I thought I'd throw a few news jokes at ya. These are by me, for good and bad (or bad and worse):

Did you hear about McCain's choice for Vice President? He picked a real hottie, Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska. Who knew the VP could be a MILF? Better watch what I say, or the FBI's gonna be after my A.S.S.

Everyone took one look at her and finally agreed Alaska's a great place to go drilling.

I've heard of swing states, but who knew Alaska's a "Schwing!" state?

Her husband is part Eskimo. So you know he'll be rubbing his nose in everyone's business.

Hillary's pissed that the Republicans picked a woman. Bill just wants to know if he can trade Hillary in for her.

Geez, this has happened so fast and dramatically, I have to ask if she's supposed to lead the free world, or if this is simply a new reality series for Lifetime?

Palin's one tough cookie, though. She hunts, fishes, snowmobiles - and i think i just saw her behind the wheel on "Ice Road Truckers."

I don't know about Obama, though. He wants to be leader of the free world with just two years' experience. Come on! You need five years if you wanna manage a Circuit City.

They're telling everyone to flee Gustav. Who's naming the hurricanes these days? Gustav doesn't sound like a threat - it sounds like an old German. What's next - Hurricane Klink?

Shannen Doherty's coming back to he new "Beverly Hills 90210". She 's now so old, that's not just her ZIP code. It's her age.