. . . One could argue that it’s transferred, simply through osmosis,
I’ve been searching high and low for the right prognosis,
Now, I’ve settled on a term and found my diagnosis,
. . . It’s SuperCaliFragilisticExtraHalitosis. . .
(catchy, huh?. . . You have NO idea HOW catchy)
. . . I should probably back up and let you know EXACTLY what I am referring to. Though I owe no one an explanation of the malady that has befallen me in recent years, I feel compelled to “get the word out”, before others suffer the same fate. . . However, I feel that I may be too late for quite a few suckers. . . uhm, I mean “victims”.
Let me start by defining the word:
SuperCaliFragilisticExtraHalitosis – as defined in the “Danof89 Dictionary of Words that Should Be Real, From a Book That Should Be Too”
Supercalifragilisticextrahalitosis (soo-pur ~ cal – i ~ fraj – i – liss – tik ~ x – tra ~ hal – i – toe – sis) <noun>, sometimes an adjective. . . no, I think we stick with noun) An acute medical condition (or state of mind) brought on by a misguided perception that the State of California (in the United States of America) somehow holds some sort of “promise of a brighter tomorrow” (SUPER – CALI) to those people who are not born there (more specifically, those not born in the Greater Los Angeles area – excluding the inner-city, South Central and various “podunk” regions such as Culver City and Inglewood). In a weakened (or FRAGILE and UNREALISTIC) state, the “patient” may travel from as far away as, say Minnesota, to fulfill their “hopes and dreams”. Often times, packing everything they own in a late-model (for the 90’s) Saturn with four bad tires, leaving everyone they know and love, and traveling halfway across this God-forsaken country. . . for example. In a few short years (8 to 9) when it is realized that California is NOT all that it was made out to be in Movies and on Television, and with their dreams and hopes, for the future, shattered and decimated; the “patient” is left, incredulous and mortified, facing the “Stench of Truth”, rendering them nearly incapacitated and. . . with an “awfully bad taste in their mouth” that “just won’t go away”. (EXTRA HALITOSIS)
I know. . . right? That could be serious. . . perhaps FATAL . . . Yet, it happens year after year in this country. To people from this country. . . and abroad. (Not just one “broad”, I’m sure. Sorry, fellas. . . “equal rights” and all) I would be very interested to get my hands on some “verifiable data”, as to how many people make the pilgrimage to California and/or Los Angeles every year to “Make It Big”. . . It’s got to be staggering. I’m sure it’s over a couple dozen. . . I mean, I just can’t be the only one. There seem to be a bevy of “patsies” taking that plunge, though as I write this I DO notice an awful lot of people leaving California. . . “Cuz there ain’t no work”.(That’s a “real life” quote from an actual former Bakersfield resident, relocating to . . . you guessed it. . . Oklahoma)
“Things didn’t work out at the ‘Feed and Grain’, Harliss?” I said, concern dripping from my pores for my fellow man,
“Nope.” said Harliss, a man of few syllables.
“So where’s the wind gonna’ blow ya’ now?”, I asked, in words that he seemed to understand.
“Reckon I’ll head back to Oklahoma,” he managed, wiping the tears with his rebel flag kerchief.
“Whatcha’ gonna’ do back there?” I asked, prolonging this fictional conversation.
“Reckon I’ll work at the ‘Feed and Grain’ in Tulsa, with my kin,” he responded. . .
BINGO! Now you’re starting to catch on. . . (though this IS a composite of several conversations with “real FOLKS ’round here”)
I’m NOT going to go on with this bit, letting you think I’m that big of a dimwit (though, you may come to that conclusion on your own, by continuing to read). I’m not just some guy that fell off the turnip truck, I “AM” sharper than a marble and I do possess all of the sandwiches required to “have a picnic”. However, just like a lot of “suckers” (victims) out here in “LaLa Land” , I did fall into the trap of thinking, somehow, “I am DIFFERENT”. . . Don’t get me wrong, I AM. . . but so are a LOT of people out here. Unfortunately, none of them are HALF as interesting as me, and I don’t have any desire to learn any more about them or how they DON’T affect my life in the slightest. . . so, let’s proceed, shall we?
I didn’t gauge my decision on moving to California on any one thing in particular. That’s not necessarily true. I based it loosely on the teachings of John Tesh. I bet you didn’t realize he was a guru, did you? Truth be told, he isn’t. . . as far as you know. He’s more like a “spiritual advisor” . But I did admire his decision to leave “Entertainment Tonight” in 1996 to pursue his dream of making “Yanni-style”
music and host a radio talk show that relies heavily on the sponsorship of “Doggy Blood Banks” and “Tax-Saving, Retirement-Improving, Exercise Equipment”. . . He is a phenom, the likes of which, no one will ever see again. . . plus, he married Connie Sellecca, who, at time of press, has “aged” rather well. Unfortunately, as much as I admire the man, I should have seen his move from a highly lucrative gig, as cohost with Mary “My Voice Caused a Woman To Have Seizures” Hart (look it up) as a sign. . . but I didn’t. He “saw”, firsthand, that the talent pool in Hollywood was starting to look more like a “Septic Tank”. Add to that, the most recent “scandal” that John dumped Oprah. . . yes, “OPRAH”. . . back in the day, and you can sign me up as a “Fan for LIFE”. He saw the circus that the “Entertainment World” had become and decided to follow his dreams. . . and his heart. But HE stepped away. . . AWAY from the circus. He traded in his “Red Carpet Coverage” and “Celebrity Hobnobbing” for a piano and some dimly lit, radio booth spinning yarns and 80’s music CD’s. (Actually, I can’t confirm Oprah EVER “hobbed his knob”
and I’m sure that the room he telecasts his radio show from is “state-of -the-art” and has more than adequate lighting). In fact, I am giving the man more credit than I even know that he deserves. I assume that is why he left Hollywood behind. . . He has a new book out. . . but I can’t read.
All Seriousness Aside. . .
If asked to describe myself, I would probably have to do as many of you do, when describing yourselves. I would have to compare myself to a fictional character, who is being introduced, for the first time, to another fictional character. . . Let me give you an example:
Me?. . . Think Michael Scott, from “The Office” meets Tom Hank’s character in “Big”. . . that’s me. . . You get it?
. . . and for the record, don’t ever try to “pitch an idea” to a studio saying this is “like something meeting something” (i.e. Think “Cujo” meets “When Harry Met Sally”) – if they were meant to meet, chances are they have. . . and they probably can’t stand the sight of each other. . .
Here. . . I’ll give you a “composite” of “me” in say, an interview with a “prospective publisher, movie studio and/or literary agent”:
“So, what kind of writer do you want to BE?”, asks the prospective publisher,blah,blah agent, while fixing the seam of his pant-leg that has now ridden down to reveal his pasty white skin, because the dress socks he wore today won’t cover his underdeveloped, lumpy, varicose vein-riddled calf muscle.
“Published.”, I reply.
“Ha, Ha, hmm. . . but seriously, could you elaborate?” , noticing that I am noticing his dress socks also don’t match.
“Uhm, okay,” I say, carefully measuring my ‘thought’, “A big, pink, fluffy published writer who wipes his butt with hundred dollar bills. . .’cuz I’m rich!”
“Ha, Ha! That’s GREAT! They warned me about you! Thanks for your time. . . Trish can validate you on the way out.” he says, reaching out his hand – I assume to “touch” mine.
“So is that it?” I ask, rising to my feet, still confused about the whole “hand” thing.
“Oh, that’s MORE than enough. . . Thank you.” he replies.
“So. . . ” as I reach my hand to ‘touch’ his, “I just wait to hear from you then?” confident this one’s ‘In the Bag’.
“Uh, yeah. . . wait. . . you should definitely WAIT. . . ” he says.
My hand meets his and he “shakes” it, then looks at me as if I just handed him my underwear “skid-side” out.
Now, can I be honest here?. . . I thought I had it there, right up until the “handshake”. The problem, as I see it (and it always has been with me) is that “I Call it Like I See It”. I very rarely pull any punches and I say what’s on my mind. Some might call that an honorable trait. . . But NOT in “REAL LIFE” and CERTAINLY not. . . in CALIFORNIA. You see, in a lot of ways I’m still a”Big Kid”
, which can present a whole host of problems. I guess I’m lacking that level of “maturity” that lends itself to those who seem more inclined to find “wealth” and “success”. Some of those in a position to “help” me achieve some of the goals I set out to achieve back in 2002, when I packed up the old Saturn and “Headed West, Not-so-Young Man” are busy with younger, more “visible” talent. Others, would try to take advantage of what they perceive as a degree of naivety and plum “SQUASH” me, before I can even “get going”. Perhaps taking some of my “ideas” with them. But, if I AM perpetually honest, I probably need to be honest with myself. So to the dozen or so of you that have been “afflicted” with the same “condition” that shares the title of this “bit”, allow me to impart a little wisdom:
NOBODY that lives and works in The Greater Los Angeles Area wants you to live or work there. You threaten them. Do NOT ask any of them for advice or you will surely end up living under a bridge and writing your name on walls with your own feces.
Have a “marketable” skill or learn a trade. Do NOT rely solely on your “talent” or you are dead in the water. Literally. . . the beaches are lined with dead artists, writers and actors. You might want to take up welding or carpentry.
Trust NO ONE. The moment you do, you are in trouble. People like to make a lot of empty promises in California, then substitute them with “less than desirable” alternatives and not ALL of them are named Schwarzenegger.
Get a JOB. . . like a “REAL” one, or if you’re like me, take whatever you can get.
If you decide to leave EVERYONE behind to pursue your dreams, make sure it’s OPRAH.
The term “Greater Los Angeles Area” is a LIE. . . in and of itself, it is greater than NOWHERE. . . except Bakersfield and maybe certain parts of IRAQ
The ONE shining point and the BIGGEST source of pride that I’ve had since leaving the Midwest as a somewhat accomplished Toy Designer, aspiring Childrens’ Book Author and Creator of Full-Length Animated Feature Films – turned Married, Father-of-Four, School Bus Driver, is the whole “Married and Father-of-Four” part. From a pure “Sense of Accomplishment Standpoint”, I couldn’t have scripted it any better. . . and though I’m still a “Big Kid”, NOW I have some of my own. . . and a chick that “digs” me. For the last 7+ years they have definitely become the most “interesting” part of my life. That’s the “Sweet Smell of Success”, not the “Stench of Truth” caused by my “condition”. . . I’m afraid to report, there is no “cure”, but all hope’s not lost. Because there IS, apparently, a “vaccine”. I guess that makes me a “clinical trial”. I look at all of them every day when I roll out of bed and try to face another day living with my “illness” and KNOW that I have some people counting on me not only to face it. . . but to “Kick it’s ASS”
. . . So though my priorities have definitely shifted, I still like to tell stories. Some I tell to my kids. Some I share with you. . . and SOME, are still waiting to be told. . . I can tell the HELL out of a story. . . for the right PRICE. . . and LET IT BE KNOWN that my wife and kids aren’t a mere afterthought, post script or footnote (unlike the CELEBRITIES that inhabit the city that rejects me) They are the beginning, middle and end of my story (my family NOT celebrities). . . One that’s still being written. . . You’re welcome to tag along from time to time. . . this still might be a BLOCKBUSTER. . .
‘Til Then. . . Go Figg’r!
Peace Out. . . Later. . .
D A N