Sometimes it’s honestly possible to find fun things to do. Or at least, some of it was most definitely fun; some of it, well….
The fun part was seeing another runthrough of Real Time w/Bill Maher. Lisa and I’d always planned on doing this together, but, well, you know. So instead I do it, and try not to think about what it would’ve been like had she been able to go as well. Crying, like booing, is probably not appreciated. But it would easily be possible especially since we’re approaching, amazingly, the first anniversary of Lisa’s death (which was no mere death; I’ll go to my grave believing that). Instead, I chat with people about politics, an easy thing to do in the environment of these particular attendees since the head writer/warm-up comic asked by applause how many Republicans there were.
None. Zero. Goose-egg. Crickets.
Not too surprising.
I was interested so see how close to three p.m. the runthrough would start; I’ve come to think that if the rehearsal starts at three, everybody’s pretty sure of what they have, while every minute after three means the “fresh-baked comedy goodness” the head writer refers to is taking a little longer to get out of the oven and onto the plates. That’s all.
Maher entered, and I must say he looked like someone who really believed in the set. I thought it killed. From here, I don’t want to play spoiler; all I can say is if you get a chance, check out the live show or a repeat. You may disagree, you may be outraged, but you might also laugh. It’s possible. The runthroughs are especially cool, I think; Maher does around 30 jokes for either tomorrow’s monologue, next week’s, or maybe the thresher; then you get any set-pieces the writing staff’s planning on doing; finally, of course, “New Rules” and what I thought was a fascinating tho perhaps flammable editorial. BTW, the show’s just been picked up for the next two years. Feel free to boo or applaud as you wish. It’s all good.
After, I kept heading north toward Hollywood Blvd.; why I chose to walk it in high heat remains a mystery. I was sober at the time. Go figure. Anyway, at a certain point I gave in to reason and bussed it the rest of the way. At my age and considering the medications I’m on (one of which specifically advises the patient avoid excessive sun), it’s OK to take the bus. I just love walking.
After numerous blocks of shockingly expensive houses, I finally saw this place I’d so often heard of. Lisa had prepared me to be disappointed, so I wasn’t, but it was painful nonetheless to see Hollywood as it truly is. The homeless/disenfranchised population made me think of Zappa, who wrote about them and the hookers and the cops, and wrote so well. I really heard and felt his presence there as a guide. BTW, Zappa’s lyrics provide an amazing guide to the region; every day I see more reminders.
One more thing. Lots of people told me Zappa had a star on the Walk, but he doesn’t according to Wikipedia. It was crushing to see who are already there. Eventually, I found myself in the Hard Rock, just walking around looking at memorabilia; suddenly, and interestingly situated between the stage and the bathrooms, was an enormous portrait of Frank along with a pair of leather pants, of course signed: Butt Of Course on the left cheek, and his signature on the right. Amazing.
Afterwards, I walked among the crowds and the impersonators: Batman, the least believable Elvis I have ever seen, Marilyn Monroe (also really stretching believability since this woman was a size 2 or 4 at most, and wasn’t Monroe size 14?), even Don King. DON FUCKING KING? WHY?
The economic gulf between Beverly Hills and Hollywood/Vine is sickening. The rich of course have sycophants, most of whom obviously think they’ll wind up able to afford Rodeo Drive.
For me there was a bus to take, and this room to get back to. I notice it’s almost 4:30 a.m. in Toronto. That’s home. Not here.
Still, I’ve been encouraged by all the place names from Zappa’s work; it makes me feel I know this area a little better, in somewhat the way Allen Ginsberg said Ezra Pound’s Cantos made for a great walking tour of that other Venice (“I sat down on the Dogana’s steps/for the gondolas cost too much that year”—it was wonderful to do the same, however briefly, decades later.
As for me, there’s the broadcast tomorrow and then a little quiet time to write and check out some racing on TV. These days I take great comfort in seemingly small things. One day soon in Toronto; there’s my hope.