This morning,at around 9:15, our train rolled into L.A.’s Union Station. Within 15 minutes, my friend from college Ron Bottitta met us at the station. Ron, whom I have written about before, is an actor and a good one.
Because he is an actor, we had him give us the guided tour of Hollywood. He regaled us with tales of Hollywood, people he knew, and special effects he had been involved in. Among things we heard, snow in movies is made by soap flakes, he’s met the actor who played Harry Potter, and Tin-Tin was made using these digitized dot things on a suit he wore.
As my family and I remarked about how well L.A. looked after all those disaster movies, we drove to the Hollywood sign, saw Mullholland Drive and saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hours later, we saw Ron and his wife, Holly Fulger in a surreal play called “Penelope” where Holly (a famous actress ) remained silent and our very mellow and kind friend Ron went ballistic and killed a man in the final scene. There is so much more to the play than I can describe here — it’s an emotional roller coaster to watch, in ways that far surpass anything I’ve seen in years. Every emotion known to man appears in the play it seems, and they all came out of my quiet, humorous and pensive friend Ron, whom my family has just met, and his acting friends. Nothing in L.A. is as it seems, and that’s the way it is supposed to be for many if it’s denizens. The acting community is everywhere, it seems, and playing in small 99-seat theater like Rogue Machine, where we were.
After the play and a brief but informative chat with Holly, we went to the Mount Washington section of L.A. where my friends Craig and Frances live. From the outside, the house looks uninhabitable. Craig came
out wearing a skirt, sporting scraggly long hair and a limp. Nothing in L.A. is at seems, though. Inside, the house features a spiral staircase, a new refrigerator/freezer and a beautiful garden plot — all maintained or installed by Craig.
Craig is a genius who knows more things about more things than I can even imagine. Craig designed a program that won an Animation award in the Rose Parade his first time out when he was in High School. When I first met him, he had a blue Mohawk and a skateboard. Now he flies and fixes GPS radio-controlled helicopters and grows tomatoes. For a former skateboard punk rocker in a skirt, nothing is at seems.
Between visits with Ron, I took the wife and kids to Beverly Hills. As we were walking around, the most surreal event of the day happened. In the middle of a glamorous lunch between two women, Muzak played “pSpirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. The song, a solid rocker about Christianity fit nothing in the scene as the women drank their white wine and showed a style that only Rodeo Drive can offer. They have off an air of self-importance that showed that they were important people. In L.A., nothing is at seems.
Why do put on personas? For some, like Craig, it’s because he is a strong personality and doesn’t notice or care about it. For actors like Ron, it’s because it’s what he does for a living. Saddest of all are people like the women on Rodeo Drive who believe their persona is who they are. For others of us, like myself, it’s because we dull our emotions or just aren’t paying attention. As Ron gave everyone a welcome hug before leaving to go home, I shook his hand. He’s a better friend than that. As he drove off, I realized that I, too, should have given him a big hug. I hope it won’t be long before I can rectify that mistake.
One doesn’t have to live in L.A. to be other than they seem. It’s just more likely here.