Tag Archives: Silver Lake

A Sample of the Red Flags that Made Me Realize I Desperately Need a Job

1.jpg-I was walking home from Trader Joe’s and I saw a group of people shuffling into a colorful building. It ended up being a guided meditation for gay addicts in recovery. It was hard to get a word in, but I decided to stay. I’ve been going twice a week since May.

-On June 3rd, I rode my bike twelve miles to get a taco because I couldn’t find my car keys.

-Nine hours ago, I was shirtless in my bedroom. I was also pantless. But I wasn’t thinking about my lack of shirt or pants, I was watching two flies buzz between my bedside lamp and a photo of myself wearing a suit on a mountain looking very lost.

I’ll spare you the gory details but in quick succession I killed both flies. One with a New Yorker[1] where I was reading about a divorced lesbian couple in Manhattan who were fighting each other for the right to raise Abush. According to the article, Abush is a six-year-old boy from Ethiopia.

Before I killed the fly, I had already decided that these presumably bored (read: loving) millionaires also needed jobs. Or more demanding jobs. Or they could adopt more children from Ethiopia. Or America. They needed to do something to keep Abush as far from the limelight as possible. And I say this as someone who grew up on the Central Coast where there were more kids named Forest than Bill.

But this isn’t about people named after and for shrubbery. Three months ago, I had killed one, maybe two flies in my life. In the last week, I’ve killed at least double that figure. We’re talking upwards of three flies. If I don’t find myself in an air conditioned building with free coffee and a desk with a phone I’ll never answer, I worry that I could kill as many as a half dozen flies before the year is even over. This troubles me.FullSizeRender.jpg

-Yesterday, I put my left foot on an escalator’s handrail, brought my head to my knee and had a nice long stretch for three floors in the Sunset Boulevard location of Kaiser Permanente.

-I went to the doctor for what I’ve heard called a “check up.” Nothing was wrong with me. I told the doctor that, but also said if he wanted to put his stethoscope on my back and listen to me breathe or whatever, he was welcome to do that. He looked at me like I was fucking insane, confirmed from a distance that, at least physically, I was fine and then told me that they didn’t validate parking for patients. My co-pay was $15. Parking in the structure for 53 minutes was $86.

-Since Sunday, I’ve spent nine hours in the sauna and two in the steam room and I fucking hate the steam room.

-I introduced myself to someone who I thought was my neighbor because I’ve seen him on and off for the last five years. He replied, “I’m carrying mace and as a member of the United States Postal Service I’d be within my rights if I used it on you right now.”

-I’ve started wearing sunscreen even though I once saw a poster in the nurse’s office in college with a teenage girl sporting a neon tank top and third degree sunburn. A blurb above her remorseful face read: 80% of skin damage occurs before the age of 18. I was 19 at the time and decided then and there I was never going to wear sunscreen again. The nurse told me that I definitely had alcohol poisoning but the worst was over and to be careful. She was so sincere that I felt one of us should cry. It was a relatively short game of chicken before she walked me out. I won’t say who left in tears because I’m a gentleman.

-I’ve watched both seasons of “All or Nothing” with the LA Rams and the Arizona Cardinals and I have no idea who won the Super Bowl last year.

-I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt from my high school (average class size: 107) and I almost introduced myself.

-On Wednesday around midnight, I got home from hockey and was greeted by two coyotes on the stairs leading up to my place. I thought, “Well, if I have to fight these ‘yotes to the death, so be it.” But then I remembered the flies I’d killed. Flies with fly families and fly children who probably stayed up at night wondering if their fly mother and father loved them and would ever come home; flies that can relate more to Jeff Goldblum than I can because I’ve never seen that movie.

As I stood there, my shoulder going numb from the weight of my hockey bag and my head full of Jeff Goldblum, which is exactly what that fucking guy would want, I saw the coyotes were long gone and while I might not have a job, I did still have four episodes of “The Keepers” waiting for me upstairs, and in this life, well, that’s more than enough.

[1] I signed up for a trial subscription seven years ago and I haven’t figured out how to cancel it. As a result, I’m wildly cultured.

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For $300 I’ll Let You Crash into My Car

JLG.jpg

I’m sitting on my deck, drinking my fourth cup of coffee and pretending to work. Which feels unnecessary because there’s no one around and I don’t have a job. Yet I’m holding myself accountable, or at least drinking the amount of coffee that should beget progress, when I hear the crunching of metal. Or the crackling of plastic. Either way, what I really hear is, “Hey, where do you think you’re going?!”

But I’m focused on my work. It’s amazing that one’s coffee can get cold when it’s this fucking hot outside, yet mine does. I’m not even wearing a shirt because of the heat and yet my coffee is the same temperature as the water in Morro Bay right now.

“I think that’s my neighbor’s car!” I hear a woman say. See, this is why I can’t get any work done. People are constantly shouting in my neighborhood. Oh great, and now there’s the pounding of footsteps coming up my stairs. Where’s my shirt?

Parker-Posey.jpg

My dog starts to bark at my neighbor, a woman who looks like Parker Posey, if Parker Posey had decided to not pursue acting and become a Silver Lake mom instead. I find my shirt, I put it on. Now that I’m thirty, being fully clothed feels necessary.

She’s pointing to her phone and talking at a manic pace. “I was watching the guys work on my yard and I saw this truck hit your car and the guy tried to drive off so I chased after him and I was going to take a picture—” she points to a man dressed like a park ranger who isn’t a park ranger but more likely a gardener. “That’s him.” Then calling out to the man who isn’t a park ranger, “This is my neighbor!” She tells me again that he was going to drive away but she wouldn’t let him because she’s “kind of psycho” when it comes to these things.

I follow her down the steps and clumsily shake the hand of the guy who hit my car, which confuses everyone. I think I say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” My neighbor leads me to my car and points at the area that the guy crashed into – it’s my front bumper. It was hit once before by an Asian kid in Santa Monica who reversed into me while he was talking on the phone. His insurance company gave me $800 which I handed over to the Cha Cha Lounge over the course of a few Friday nights. The blemish remained. But this guy had fucked up that same corner a bit more. There was a dent and the headlight was crooked. I honestly wouldn’t have noticed if my neighbor didn’t point it out.

I’m getting ready to begin what I’m sure will be a brief and embarrassing conversation with the guy who hit my car when Parker Posey says, “Great. So do you think you could move your car? Whenever you get a chance, of course. Because I’m getting some work done, so…” She pointed to another massive truck. This one was blocking her driveway.

“No problem.” I’m aware that my car is a major blemish on the street. I’ve often wondered if a few neighbors were going to get together and buy me a new one because I’m undoubtedly bringing down the value of their homes by parking in front of them.

Parker Posey disappears into her mansion and I look long and not very hard at the corner of my car. It’s hot out, which is about the only thing I’m thinking.

The man who is not a park ranger speaks unintelligible English. His teeth have round edges, but his skin has that beautiful deep olive complexion that they only dole out near the equator. He’s maybe sixty years old. I think he’s saying something about a fair price. I ignore this and I ask for his insurance and his license. I plan on taking a picture of each and then just dealing with it later. Such is my policy. Deal with it later.

The important thing now is that I move my car. Parker Posey has reappeared and is smiling intensely, waiting for me to move it. She doesn’t have all day. Her house is worth close to 2 million. Last year, I Kelly Blue Booked my car out of curiosity and it came up as $615. Something tells me that number isn’t going up.

Again, he asks for a fair price. “Um, how about $400?” Cars are expensive to fix. I’ve probably put 10 grand into my $615 car in the last three years. He shakes his head and tells me that’s way too much. I suggest the insurance company again but this dude is strongly opposed and I’m not shocked. This is Los Angeles. I’ve almost exclusively been involved in accidents with guys who didn’t have driver’s licenses. I once got rear-ended by a Mexican guy and his daughter and for some reason I ended up giving them two hundred dollars. I try to not tell that story too often because it confuses everyone. But you had to be there, watching this father-daughter duo chipping away at the American Dream in a Toyota pickup that was definitely nicer than my car. I didn’t want to interfere with their perception that anything is possible. Including the person who is not at fault paying out the guy who just rear-ended him.IMG_1195.JPG

But I’m not quite ready to pay this guy. Really, I just want to go into a cool room and drink coffee that is warmer than the air temperature. “$200,” he says, shrugging, which I assume is a symbol of his generosity. I mean, I’m not a professional negotiator, but we both know where it goes from here. He says $200 a couple more times, I say $400 and eventually, one of us (me), drops down to $300 and we agree that’s fair.

He opens his wallet revealing about seventy $100 bills and accidentally plucks out five. He puts two back and hands me $300. I shake his hand, then I drive my car twenty-five feet and park. When I get out, the park ranger is walking up to me, “$300. It’s good.” Then I think he tells me that he’s working nearby, or something about the transmission of his truck. Where he crashed into my car actually looks pretty bad in this light.

But hey, a deal’s a deal. And in America, we don’t welsh on our terrible decisions. We double down. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have $300 to burn at the Cha Cha Lounge. Also, I’m looking for a job. Preferably one that doesn’t require a working knowledge of cars or negotiation skills. Thanks in-advance!

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The Increasingly Burdensome Road to Not Being a Shitty Person

Hear, hear!

I applaud myself for  quitting coffee while drinking an antioxidant-rich green tea in a converted warehouse. I read on the chalkboard that this particular green tea is grown in the shade under straw mats for twenty days prior to harvest. The warehouse, in its current state, prides itself on fresh pressed juices and onsite colonoscopies. I went to a party here once about six years ago. Back then, the space prided itself on throwing parties that went so late McDonald’s would no longer be serving breakfast by the time you got out.

Downtown has changed.

So have I.

Instead of my thrice-daily coffees, I’m drinking about twelve green teas a day. I feel no guilt about this. I imagine this is how Buddhist monks pass their days. It strikes me as evolved. After all, these are a people who have protested by setting themselves on fire; sitting cross legged until their skin falls from their cheeks and chins, their bones crumble into each other and their ashes land on the ground, at the mercy of the wind. People watched. People took pictures. Everyone admires a man who can set himself on fire.

I’ve tried other forms of moderation.

No whiskey.

All that happened was I started skating through bottles of Malbec like they were Capri Suns.

There’s always cold turkey.

“I’m trying to start smoking more weed,” my friend said earnestly as we sipped mescal.

We’ve talked for years about smoking more, about getting into the habit of it; the way others resolve to go to the gym. Or to read more. But we are creatures of habit.

Guy comes here all the time.

While I’m at it, I’m thinking of other things I might give up. I gave up haircuts and sunscreen some years ago, but that wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’ve also quit seeing the dentist and the doctor with any regularity, but that wasn’t intentional either. They just kind of fell away. They stopped calling and I lost interest. Maybe it was the other way around. I’ve heard of people losing girlfriends this way. I guess I’m lucky to have only lost a general practitioner.

I’d like to go on, to build this list, but a militant homeopath with hair down to her waist and without an ounce of body fat to spare, tells me I must follow her. Between the neon lights, under the wind chimes that no wind ever reaches, just central air, if it blows hard enough. The woman is either thirty or a hundred. It’s impossible to say for sure. It must be all the chia seeds, all the nutmeg.

Anyway, I’ve sat on the wrong couch and now I have no choice but to let them thread a hose up my ass. It’s their specialty. That and the juice. It’s the fountain of youth, they say. In reverse.

I object once again, but she tells me it’s too late. That I consented when I signed the iPad for my cancer-curing green tea. I’ve brought all of this upon myself, she says. She hands me a burlap sack that once held coffee beans from Kenya. She instructs me to wear it like a smock. There’s a hole for my head. “Please,” I say. “Anything but the–” I gesture toward the hose.

“It’s the Gravity Colon Hydrotherapy or…” she dangles a lighter then points to a red five-gallon gas can. “The can is vintage. The gas is 4.59 a gallon.”

“That’s absurd!” I say. “Gas is three dollars a gallon down the street from my house.”

“Well, we’re not down the street from your house. We’re at Juicetopia Co-Op Exchange, est. 2014.”

She has a point. “You have a point,” I say.

“So?” she says. In one hand, the coffee bean smock, in the other, five gallons of gasoline. “What’ll it be?”

“Sorry to be vulgar,” I say.  “But what’s the price difference?”

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The Age of Enlightenment: Ah, Adulthood!

Ah, Sausalit

A guy walks into a bar.

Who am I fucking kidding? I walk into a bar. I walk into a German bar on a Thursday night to meet a man who is about to become a father. It’s a celebratory time, but with his pending fatherhood and my pending adulthood, a quiet pint is where we will start and where it will end.

But this is a reunion and we’re short two, which means that this quiet pint(s) is really just a precursor.

Still, everything has changed and even though I used to drink well into Wednesday morning with these guys, the times have changed. One is almost a father, one is almost a professor, one has been growing his hair and talking about moving to Istanbul. We’ve all matured. All that tequila at the Roosevelt, all those Bloody Marys on Cahuenga minutes before last call; they’re all behind us. We have credit cards now that are mostly paid off. We have life partners and lovers turned tantric masseuses who just want what’s best for us. They tell us so in postcards from Montreal.

Yet, despite all of that. Despite uncorking sophisticated beers in a strip mall in Echo Park, despite a lack of identification we still find ourselves in a car, a hired car, trying our best to find something that might raise our blood pressure and give us something to question in the morning. A young Bruce Lee type in a Toyota Yaris takes us to a fire station that moonlights as a bar. We miss it three times. What ivy and a lack of signage do for credibility, just complicate things when you reach a certain level of maturity.

But it’s closed and our driver finesses us through Silver Lake until we’ve found a place that will have us – we the would-be father, the novelist, a man headed for New Orleans in the morning and myself. One of us grabs a microphone and starts singing a song that I should probably know, but I do not. Then there’s a round of whiskey in front of us. Then there’s another. And another. The lights come on, but we’re not done yet.

The world has expanded for me. Everything is greater than it once was. It’s multiplied. Which is to say I’m seeing double. Luckily, I’m not behind the wheel. No, I’m in front of a stage explaining to a woman in a leather bikini that my lapdance days are behind me – I gesture to my friends as evidence of my maturity – our maturity really, but they’re at the bar getting drinks, probably explaining to the girl who’s too war-torn to dance, the cultural significance of Je Suis Charlie. Or maybe they’re just sussing out the bourbon selection. Either way, my hostess, who has been enjoying Los Angeles greatly since relocating here from Victorville six months ago, has moved onto a Korean guy with a ream of singles. I think he goes to my gym, but I can’t say for certain. I haven’t been since the spring.

I slap the backs of my friends, delighting in all the change that has taken place. Look how far we’ve come, I say. Can you believe it? My god how we’ve grown!

There’s only one place to go from here. I’ve been there before. No, not the speakeasy with the Thai matron, a farmer’s market of coke dealers and the watered-down whiskey near Hollywood and Normandie. No, I don’t think the bouncer with the two eyes that are running away from each is in any rush to see me. Plus, I’m a fully realized mature adult. That means that buck stops at gentleman’s club, and not an inch farther.

My god, I’ve grown. Before leaving I do a lap, looking to see if there’s anyone from my youth still working here. Alas, even the grizzled bartender who is too chubby, old and acned to gyrate for singles isn’t from my era. How the times have changed. I whip out my phone. If it’s 3:26 a.m. now, and I have to be at work at 8:15… I ask the bartender for a pen, a napkin and a calculator. Mature I may be, but a mathematician I am not. We order another round of whiskeys. There’s no sense in solving this equation on an empty stomach, and in my old age, I’ve earned this.

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Life After TV

homeless at home

Today marks the beginning of a new era. I’m preparing to enter the next phase of my life as a member of Los Angeles’ transient community.

Four months ago, the show that I was working on was canceled. In the months that followed, I quickly spent all of my money shooting a short film that risked the lives of five or six of my friends plus several hundred strangers who were driving north and/or south on Highway 1 near Big Sur in mid-May.

Then one day, about two months ago I was in the red. I took my dog for a walk, applied for four hundred jobs and then it was June. I was still in the red. I took my dog for another walk, went on three hundred job interviews, and then it was July. That was Tuesday.

But the past is the past and what’s the point in dwelling? Insert quote about being fiscally responsible and thinking ahead and not being any happier, but being generally safer and more stable if you do. C’est la whatever, bruh.

In preparation for my new life, I’ve been looking at living spaces. In a lot of ways it’s similar to apartment hunting: identify a neighborhood, list the things you must have (parking, on-site laundry, proximity to grocery stores, gym, etc) and then drive by at night to see if it’s as nice as it was during the day.

When you’re looking at outdoor living spaces a few obvious places come to mind: under freeway overpasses, Skid Row, Cahuenga Boulevard, industrial side streets, shrubbery off of the freeway. I’ve decided I don’t really have the heroin problem it takes to live on Skid Row, and I’m too old and not punk enough to join the Hollywood homeless, so I’m basically limited to living near the freeway in a bush, or in some abandoned building in the warehouse district that doubles as a brothel/stash house. Now that I’ve identified the area, it’s time to consider the things I can’t live without.

Silver Lake Youth Hostel

Ideally, I’d like to be close to a center of commerce so I have a short commute to where I’ll do my panhandling. Secondly, I’d like to be close to the L.A. River so I’ll have access to some wild life and a place to bathe on a regular basis even if the water is only a couple inches deep.

Since I’ve never been much of a camper or an outdoors person, in preparation for my life outside I plan on buying everything I’ll need to live comfortably under an overpass near the L.A. River (so far Glendale Boulevard and Fletcher Boulevard bridging Silver Lake to Atwater are my top contenders). “Everything” includes a 16 person tent because I like my leg room, a gun because I’m scared of raccoons, five boxes of Uncrustables because their life expectancy is longer than mine, and a gym membership because just because I’ll be homeless doesn’t mean I am going to become a lazy, out-of-shape fuck, too.

In a lot of ways, this is like when a doctor says, “You’re dying. Go home and get your affairs in order.”

Getting my affairs in order looks like this: designing my panhandling signs so I’ll be able to compete in the cutthroat climate of trying to get people to give me money.

Design

Getting a haircut.

Haircut

Breaking the news to my fiancée that we’re going to be in a long distance relationship from now on: her up in the hills, me down by the river drinking prescription cough syrup and fishing for alligators.

fishing on actavis

Once I’ve done all of that, I think I’ll finally be able to focus on the important things in life. I’ll get to be one of those people who is like, “yeah man, one day I was just like, what am I doing with all these material things? This isn’t how humans are supposed to live. So I just gave everything up and now I only have what I need on a daily basis. A toothbrush, an air guitar and my integrity.”

And it’s not like I’m just going to fall off the radar. It’s not like I’m moving to Humboldt County and giving it all up. No, I’ll still be in L.A. I’m just adjusting my lifestyle to my cash flow. So if you’re ever down by the river, don’t be a stranger. Come say hey!

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The Afternoon Beer Dilemma

Das Boot

I’m triangulated between two bars. A right triangle. Or maybe it’s another kind. Regardless, this coffee shop’s patio is hemorrhaging charm as I watch the sun lift itself higher, watch my work stay exactly where it’s been, watch the clock tick and with each tock make a case for relocating to a proper wateringhole.

It is technically the “afternoon”. It wouldn’t be completely uncivilized to have one, maybe two beers then continue with my day. It might be just the change I need. Beer: The Afternoon Delight. Beer: Better Than An Espresso. Beer: Go from Meh to Delighted!

There are other considerations. It’ll be a late night. After this work, there will be other work. I’ll be in a dark room with a bunch of screens watching take after take after take of actors saying the same fucking lines over and over again, only sometimes it’s slightly better and other times it’s slightly worse. In light of that, maybe a beer is a necessary retreat. A pat on the back. A lollipop after an inoculation.

vaccine

The bars haven’t moved.

The World Cup is going on and although I’m not following it, I could always sidle up next to some Belgians, some Germans, some Grecians; I could paint my face in the bathroom then reemerge a fan. I’m not picky about the country. Not when I know there will be beer and camaraderie.

The other bar will not have the World Cup, but my feet will stick to the floors. It’s like walking in tar, but it gets stickier and stickier as I move closer to the horseshoe where they dole out cheap liquor and beer. It will be dark, very dark and the minutes will slip into hours and the day into night. No one will be cheering. There might be a couple co-workers huddled around sad margaritas celebrating whatever people who sell cell phone plans might celebrate.

The bartender will be somewhere between thirty and forty. A retired hipster, banished to a hipster bar where he must watch the clientele get younger and younger. Where he can read Rilke in the afternoons and wait for his girlfriend to show up with her just-of-age friends. He can hide his book too slowly, hoping to be asked about it, then give them shots of Fireball. Which is what they came for. They do not care about Rilke or how hard it is to retire from hipsterdom.

Future Bartender

I’ve decided to train my eyes on the work ahead. It’s important work about conjoined twins: what it’s like to have your own brain, heart, liver, but have to share a dick. Yes, it’s deep and philosophical, and though the audience for conjoined twin comedy is small, I think I’ve cornered the market. I understand their plight because while organs divide them, I’ve got organs in revolt; micro revolutions happening within my brain, my liver, my heart. The lines have been drawn, declarations have been made. One will take no more afternoon beers, one will take no less. One wants to write deeply important conjoined twin comedy, the other wants to catch up on Louie. One suggests that I train for a marathon, the other thinks a nap is in my best interest.

The bars, of course, still have not moved. I appreciate this.

Once, I saw the Salton Sea from a mountain and I was told the San Andreas fault line was getting closer. 6 inches a year; an impressive pace. This wasn’t the ayahuasca. These were the facts.

SA

But the bars still have not moved. Despite fault lines, yoga studios, coffee shops, forthcoming luxury condos. Or maybe in spite of them. I’m not clear on the distinction or their reasoning. Maybe I better pop in, have a word with the proprietor, really wrap my head around the plan and the stand that’s been taken. If it happens over a beer, so be it. Someone has to carry the torch.

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James Franco Has (Allegedly) Slept with Everyone in Silver Lake

james-franco involved

I’m five feet from the counter when Kat shouts, “You know how James Franco lives up the street? Well, I’m pretty sure he’s fucked everyone in this neighborhood, but me.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Kat. Truly, I am. But I did some horrific things to my liver last night and I—”

“Jesus, you smell like The Smell.”

“The Smell?”

“It’s punk club. Or a sort of wannabe punk club because punk doesn’t exist anymore and—”

“A double shot of espresso would be great.”

She pulls at her gaping earlobe. You could fit a clementine in there. “After Operation Ivy, there really wasn’t punk at all. It only lasted like three years, tops. Everything else is bullshit.”

“They broke up like six years before you were born, Kat.”

“I know and it bums me out every fucking day.” Kat looks past me to the girl that’s now next in line. She’s wearing a flannel shirt, has blonde hair, and hasn’t taken her sunglasses off yet even though it’s foggy outside. “Iced coffee?” Kat says.

The girl smiles, picks up an apple then digs into her purse. A nickel falls and because she’s pretty, and I’m chivalrous as fuck, I reach for it. The floor is concrete and the nickel is slick. It takes me about thirty second longer than it should have to pick it up. “Here you go.” I say. “I know you were desperate for it.” She laughs, says thanks, then takes her iced coffee from Kat. Kat winks, the girl turns on her heels and walks out.

“I would bone the shit out of her,” Kat says. I nod because that’s maybe the most reasonable thing she’s ever said to me.  “She hasn’t paid for a coffee here in weeks and what do I get out of it? Nada. Not even a thanks.”

“I’m pretty sure she said thanks.”

Kat ignores me or doesn’t hear. “And now she’s taking apples and shit? She’s gonna get me fired. Still…” She leans on the counter, presumably lost in some sapphic daydream. There are now four people behind me in line. I clear my throat and she says, “Last week, she told me she fucked him.”

“Who?”

Kat looks at me like the idiot she clearly thinks me to be. “I’m not even going to dignify that with a response,” she says. “You know who.”

“Kat, please,” I implore her. “Coffee, a tea, anything.” She rolls her eyes then slowly pours a sad cup of coffee. “Happy?” she says. I’m not, but I thank her and put a buck in her tip jar.

“You know I live off tips, right?” Kat rattles the tip jar. I drop in a $5. She nods approvingly then says, “Next.”

I’m headed out the door, wondering how I ended up paying six bucks for this “free” coffee when  James fucking Franco walks in dressed like he’s fresh off the set of the “Rebel Without A Cause” reboot. He smiles and  in voice that’s smoked five thousand cigarettes, he says to me, “Hey. ”

Before the second passes and we go our separate ways, I’m certain James Franco has fucked everybody in a five mile radius. And maybe the world. And why wouldn’t he? What else is one to do with eighty-seven doctoral degrees?

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