Life is funny:
I used to work at a talent agency, way back in the mists of time (okay, two years ago). I'm not particularly proud of that, but a fella's got to eat, right?
The agency business is bizarre (and sad, and stressful) - you have this whole stable of actors, some of whom have been with the agency for years, who call you often, keep you posted on their latest play, short film, class, or contact made ("Hey, I saw Joe Blake at the Ralph's on Olympic, and so I just went up to him, you know, very politely
, and introduced myself to him. Then I saw on the breakdowns that he was casting a new AOL spot. Can you call and pitch me, since he knows me now?"). God bless 'em, they can be almost childlike in their hopefulness.
So, you get to know them, and you like most of them. I mean, you're pulling for them - they work, you get paid, right? And, truthfully, you become emotionally invested in them on some strange level.
(Okay. By now you're probably wondering how this all relates to the lede - "Life is funny", remember? Fair enough. Bear with me for a few more grafs, and we'll get there together.)
It's not surprising, then, that after I left the agency, during the long, hard winter of my unemployment, my mind would often drift back to the those folks on my old phone list. What were they doing? Who booked a pilot? Who got a drop letter? Did anyone of them remember me, even vaguely, whether for good ("You booked it!"), or for ill ("Come pick up your headshots")?
Then I'd mentally shrug and go back to worrying about paying my rent.
But Hollywood is a small town, interconnected and insular, and I'd bump into them here and there, or see a name in the trades, or spot a familiar face milking an under 5 appearance on Friends
for all it was worth. Still do, as a matter of fact.
Like today: I'm sitting in the office, idly Googling "Los Feliz
" (I do it so you won't have to), reading about yet another hiker
who tried to take on Mt. Baldy and instead received a major schooling from Ma Nature, and I suddenly realize that not only do I know this person from my days in the agency salt mines, but she lives in Los Feliz. Then I vaguely remember seeing a news piece on the incident (which echoed a fear I have - somehow getting lost on a hike, and having my "rescue" aired live on KCAL, to my great embarrassment, and the unbridled hilarity of my friends).
The newspaper piece mines the irony of the unfortunate woman's situation (seems she went for a birthday hike, which almost became her last birthday present to herself), and contains this telling, and poignant, observation:
"S------, who is an actress, declined to state her age..."
Good girl. You may have just cheated death, but you know that your name will be in the paper, along with the fact that you are an actress, and goddamn if you're going to let some producer out there read your age. Not gonna happen.
And it was then that I had one of those meta moments, where you become acutely aware that living in L.A. is like living inside some kind of great echo chamber, where your life is on a constant feedback loop in which people, places, and events are thrown back at you by the media, or the TV, or the movies.
We're all fair game here, and we accept it. Hell, we love it. Disorientation addiction, maybe. Or maybe we're all just media whores, even (or perhaps especially) those people who claim to revile the shallowness of L.A.
And now here was this woman I used to know, who had inadvertently become a news subject, and I was consuming that news, a voyeuristic observer of her brush with death.
Which brings me (finally!) around to the central thesis of this piece (which I'm starting to think may never - possibly should never - see the light of day): life is funny. It's completely random, and random events, by their very nature, will sometimes cluster together in seemingly meaningful ways. What the fuck does it all mean? Nothing!
Like a Paul Thomas Anderson film it just sort of happens, and for a minute you think "Oho - this is headed somewhere meaningful!", but then it doesn't. It just sort of peters out, and then frogs fall into a parking lot in the Valley, and all you can think is "Hey! That's the Sears on Laurel Canyon!", or whatever.
But isn't it great?