Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Today, June 1, 2004 marks my ten-year anniversary of living in Los Angeles. Sure, there's been some extended leaves of absence for periodic sabbaticals in New York, Fort Lauderdale, and One Great Summer in Europe, but it's been ten years since I first moved out West with my brother on June 1, 1994. My brother peaked quickly, outearning each of his three college graduate housemates, including myself, while still only eighteen. But after quitting the cush gig following a dispute, he had a rough go of it, selling coupons door-to-door before packing up and moving back to Florida. All that in six months. And those same six months kicked my ass, too. I lived with my brother in a very hot apartment in Hollywood, right down the street from Rock 'n Roll Ralph's while attending a summer program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for six weeks. I did not yet have a car. Then, my brother and I moved into a four-bedroom house in Brentwood Glen with two of my friends from college, and I partnered up one of them on the money-making scheme of buying a car at auction and selling it for a profit. But, hindsight being 20/20, the car we bought was a dud and we couldn't sell it. Nevertheless, that crappy 1990 Volkswagon Fox that refused to stay in third gear allowed me to lie about having experience as a waiter to get a job at Country Star Restaurant, a Hard Rock Cafe-type place for country music fans at Universal CityWalk. But, after a month poorly waiting tables in my personal Museum of Hell, I took a bad spill rollerblading around the neighborhood, broke my wrist and busted up my chin. Without health insurance, I hesitated before finally going to see a doctor and paying out of pocket (and debt) to have him put a cast on my right arm past the elbow and leave it there for ten weeks. Bye-bye, rollerblades. Bye-bye, Country Star. I tried taking the Level One class at The Groundlings, but the instructor politely instructed me to take the class over when I got the cast off. So I slipped into a foggy, dopey, bad-movie watching depression for several months before deciding to go home for the holidays to Florida to regroup. I returned in late December and shortly thereafter my brother announced that he was moving back home. On January 5th, the cast was removed from my arm once and for all and a friend/guardian angel I met out here through my college friends got me an interview at Castle Rock, and they gave me the job. Once again, possession of that 1990 Volkswagon Lemon qualified me to perform the functions of the job, namely messengering packages from one end of this massive city to the other during a perpetual rush hour, and sure enough, the Fox eventually died on a Castle Rock run, blowing a head gasket while delivering a package to Rob Reiner's house in Brentwood. I had the car towed to a nearby gas station and the owner of the garage bought the car for something like three hundred bucks. I know I handed over the proceeds to my partner, and I know he really wanted to strike it rich in the car auction business, but I can't really repay him for eating his half of the money so that I could drive this crappy car and try to make a life here. I can thank him though. Deep down in his blackened soul, he knows who he is.

Ultimately, upon fleeing the Hotel California after failing to be discovered while working at the Burbank Airport location of Alamo Rent-a-Car, my brother proved he was not that invested in his Show Biz Dream. Whereas I stayed here to nobly pursue my SBD (Show Biz Dream, not Silent But Deadly) of becoming a filmmaker. Hey, I knew the odds were long when I moved out here. I knew if I didn't get discovered quickly, I'd probably have to work my ass off for a bunch of years to become one of those overnight success stories publicists like to concoct. I knew the shot. And while I haven't exactly outwitted, outlasted, and outplayed, I've endured. I've persevered. Granted, in ten years, I've written only a couple of screenplays and neither of them even got within sniffing distance of what you would call "interest," and really, when you break it down, following a lengthly stint in the Castle Rock Mailroom, instead of movies, I've been working in sitcom television for eight seasons and have yet to land that coveted breakthrough bottom-rung job known as staff writer, but have been making my living as a writers' assistant, though everyone who wants to manages to hear it as as assistant writer -- Dammit, I'm still here. There's no adequate way to summarize or justify what I've been doing here in La-La Land for a full decade. There's no neat 'n easy recap. Hell, I couldn't even remember half of it if I tried, and I bet that's still a good percentage compared to most. However, I have a confession to make, and me being a Jew, you know it's serious.. I Love L.A. I've grown to love this doomed city. Not all of it, but a lot. There are still things about it I despise and will probably never come to terms with -- the traffic, the pollution, the natural disasters, and the Dodgers to name a few -- yet I've learned to live with those things. At least enough to not want to move away. No city is perfect. You have to learn to accept the city for who or what it is. I still don't know who or what L.A. is, but I've accepted L.A. And L.A. has accepted me. Now if I could just get a fuckin' break already...


Nova wins! The Nova High School baseball team won its first state championship over the Memorial Day weekend.

While that may not mean shit to most of you, I'm pretty amped about it. Nova High School in Davie, Florida happens to be my alma mater and I happened to be on the baseball team for a season and a half during my sophomore and junior years. During my rookie year on the team, aside from the very rare plate appearance (I went 1 for 3 with a single, a RBI, a groundout, and a strikeout), I sat the bench and watched as our outstanding team won the district and sectional championships before blowing a late lead and losing the regional game to crosstown private school powerhouse Cardinal Gibbons. A double-play ball through the legs in the last inning cost our Nova Titans a trip to the Final Four and a chance to play for the state championship. Cardinal Gibbons went on to win the title that year.

In the middle of the next season, I started to get the sense that I was never going to be a starter on the team and I decided to quit. I retired from baseball and joined my buddy David Lazarus in the broadcast booth for the remainder of my high school life. In the years since, I've read and heard that Nova baseball has continued a tradition of excellence, reaching the final four twice, but failing to come away with that elusive state title.

Pat McQuaid, the man who made me run laps for joking around and didn't try to talk me out of quitting is still the team's coach, and now he finally has his state championship after 30 years of trying. McQuaid is an excellent baseball coach who knows the game inside and out, teaches it well, and works his ass off for the program. I'm happy for him and I congratulate him and the rest of this year's Nova Titans -- State Champions.

Looks like the student body hasn't changed all that much since my days at Nova.