There’s a reason they call it The City of Dreams.
I first hit Los Angeles in November of 1991. My boyhood chum, Rick Austin, was then working for MTV-LA as a producer on MTV SPORTS and on their movie show, THE BIG PICTURE. He found himself working on a PR piece for THE GODFATHER III that Paramount loved so much they offered him his pick of upcoming films upon which he might work some similar magic.
Rick, being no piker, instantly said, “Star Trek VI.”
“What’s your take?” the Paramount suits asked.
Rick’s a pretty quick guy, so from a running start, he says, “Let’s get a cast member from THE NEXT GENERATION to call up the events of STAR TREK VI on the Enterprise computer, and we can cut to interviews of the actors involved in the movie, talking about the plot, the shoot, whatever, and make it all look like a historical document of the Star Trek universe.”
So they said, “Make it happen,” and Rick called me up in Massachusetts, and filled me in and told me if I helped him script it, I’d get an onscreen credit and he’d get me on the Paramount lot to watch ’em shoot the special.
A couple of weeks later I was standing on a transporter pad and sitting in Picard’s ready room watching Rick plan shots with Rob Legato and talking with Guy Vardaman and shooting the shit with Michelle Forbes at the craft services table behind the bridge viewscreen and basically just livin’ the dream.
“I love this place,” I thought, more than a few times.
A few months after THAT, I moved down to LA to try to get in on the production side of things, and while helping Rick on a shoot at the first game of the playoffs, down at the Forum, I got my nose broken in the middle of the Rodney King riots.
Rick and I went to the Lakers playoff game on April 30, 1992, entering the Forum before the riot started and exiting the game after it was in full swing. Wisely reasoning that this might not be a good night to run out of gas, Rick less wisely pulled into the gas station right across the street from ground zero to tank up. After pulling out his wallet to pay, Rick was accosted by several members of the local citizenry, physically proclaiming their dissatisfaction with the American system of jurisprudence in general and with the Rodney King verdicts in particular. Rick had his wallet stolen; I retained my wallet, but got my nose broken. In telling the story to chums later, we hit on the best way to describe the surreal scene: “Ever see the first ten minutes of Blade Runner? Crazy people, flying cars, stuff on fire, Harrison Ford running over cabs, shooting people…”
“I hate this place,” I thought, more than a few times.
I eventually made my way up to San Francisco, where I met the best girl and bought the best house in the best city in the world, where I write and produce comics of my own invention while publishing the books of other talented creators as well.
And I found that it was time to go back to Los Angeles again.
We had some meetings set up with some fine folks, and I was a little apprehensive. Not because of the meetings, but because Los Angeles and I didn’t really part on the best of terms. There was that broken nose thing, and the earthquakes, and the fires, and the mudslides, and the thing with Catherine O’Hara at the Dresden.
But I got on the plane anyway, and I lost myself in the best present I got for Christmas, KOROLEV, by James Harford, and I reminded myself that even if the meetings weren’t immediately productive, it’d be nice to take a gander at how the entertainment business looked from a new perspective.
Our meeting at Natural Talent went very well; Mimi and I were very happy to meet with Donna and Kelly. They’re clever folks who obviously know what they’re doing. Their receptionist, Francis, is a cool cat, too, and is a well-versed comics fan. And Natural is just down the way from the Museum of Flight, which houses a replica spacesuit. So there are good vibes all around, there.
Oh, and let me mention the other spacesuits.
At last year’s San Diego show, Mimi and I struck up a conversation with Hector Cordoba, a talented artist and sculptor, who, along with his wife Jessie and his cousin Elias Cordoba, comprise Nostrum Costumes, a prop-production company outside of LA. We arranged with Elias to come see their warehouse and to pick up a pair of prop spacesuits that we’re going to use to generate interest in ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE at comic book conventions. Instead of scantily-clad booth bunnies, I’m thinking supermodels in spacesuits.
But maybe that’s just me.
Elias and Hector hooked us up with the full-on prop: outer excursion lunar suit, backpacks, boots, helmets… the whole nine yards. There was so much equipment to take home that we couldn’t carry it back on the plane, and had to drive the Mustang convertible we had rented back up the coast to San Francisco.
And it was somewhere on that trip up the 5, listening to Mimi scream out the lyrics “I said do ya speaka my language, he just smiled and gave me a vegamite sandwich…” along with the radio cranked up and tuned to a Fresno oldies station, in the middle of the night at 95 miles an hour sitting in a Mustang convertible filled to the brim with costume spacesuits and after meetings with some folks who seem to be on the same page as me that I realized I was basically just livin’ the dream again.
“I love that place,” I said, to Mimi, as the glow from the lights of Los Angeles retreated behind us in the rear-view mirror.
So it’s not exactly a stylish return high atop a white charger, but at least it’s not exeunt holding one’s nose.
There’s a reason, you know, why they call it The City of Dreams.
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