“All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”

On April 18, 2009 by Eden M. Kennedy

Getting to work was a little weird this week because Hollywood was just all over the place.

Hollywood’s outer perimeter involved trucks, vans, semis, SUVs, and burly men with walkie talkies attached to their butts.

Conveniently, the street in front of the post office was blocked off. On tax day.

That man in the brown t-shirt and shorts was being paid $8 an hour to walk up and down the sidewalk and pretend to shop.

There were Meryl Streep sightings, and intimations of Alex Baldwin, but in the ten minutes I was out there I didn’t see anyone but crew and extras, so I gave up and went back to the office.

The next day I had to drop off some stuff at the post office. I’d been thinking about trust, in a very New Agey way, and how if you trust that things will work out, sometimes they will, though maybe in a way you never imagined they would. I thought I’d try giving the universe a chance to show me something unexpected, but in order to do that I had to get over to where shit was more likely to happen. So instead of heading straight to my car, I decided to cruise past the set one more time.

Hollywood wants this movie to have an organic farmer’s market foodie type of thing going on, so dozens of potted trees had their root balls sawed off so that De la Guerra Plaza could be turned into a Christmas tree lot.

This circle of hell was also populated by lights, umbrellas, and small women in thick coats. Well, you know, it’s Southern California. With all those palm trees around the only way to signify winter is to show people wearing long sleeves.

I’m sounding kind of down on this little invasion, aren’t I? It’s one of the more perverse aspects of my nature to complain about things that I’m actually sort of excited about. I love movies.

“Hi, Steve!” That’s what a woman standing next to me said. She said it loudly but in a real friendly way. Steve looked over and smiled, and that made a couple of other women behind me say, “Oh, he’s such a nice guy.”

The only thing that popped into my head to yell was, “Hey, Steve, let’s get small!” I’m glad I didn’t, though. Referencing thirty-year-old catchphrases only opens the door to remorse. Plus, the smile of a movie star stepping into a car he’s not going to drive can be a complex thing. To me, his seemed to contain measures of gratefulness for the attention, embarrassment at the attention, weariness of the attention, indifference to the attention, and just enough concentration to listen to his messages. All wrapped up in a polarized lucre shell.

For a moment he rolled down the window so we could see him again — the weird status acknowledgment and graciousness of a gesture like that in our allegedly classless society merits an essay that someone smarter than me would have to write — and still with the same weary/indifferent/worthy smile. Then his window hummed back up and he was gone and I decided the universe had just given me a little punch in the arm to show it liked me, but that I shouldn’t push my luck and wait for Meryl Streep.

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27 Responses to ““All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.””

  • I was all that way when Jack Nicholson was filming “About Schmidt” in a house right around the corner from me. Saw him and Kathy Bates both. A much rarer occurance in Nebraska than in LA though, I’m sure.

  • like nyc. but much more glamorous.

  • I freakin’ love Steve Martin. I just might have jumped right in the window and begged for him to take me with him… Yummy!

  • Brilliant. I loved the way everyone in this town was going *sigh* movie stars are interrupting my life, then circling round and round the courthouse to get a better look.

    Ok, that was just me.

  • Steve Martin reminds me of my Dad, who is similarly funny in that absurdist sort of way. I’d always wondered what it would be like if the two of them ever found themselves in the same room.

  • Steve Martin has actually had a tremendous influence on me at a couple points in my life. But why Pink Panther remakes, WHY?

  • Steve Martin used to be on my 5 Men I Am Allowed to Sleep With and Not Get Divorced list, even though he is easily 25 years my senior. It wasn’t the age that got him booted off, though; it was the fact that I heard he is actually a bit morose in person. I can either do Old and Funny, or My Age and Morose, but never the twain should meet.

  • I convinced myslef that I was not at all interested in the filming and it actually worked! Despite my occasional urge to “swing by” I stayed clear of the location and have only regretted it now that I have read your post…

  • I wonder how I’d react if I lived there, and could experience that on an almost daily basis.

  • It’s great that he wears all black. It makes his hair shine like a beacon of light to the world.

  • Wow! How awesome is that.

  • We were on our way to the Buffalo River when we drove through Kingston, Arkansas in the middle of the filming of Chrystal. Billy Bob Thornton has a completely different vibe.

  • I am pretty sure Steve is a better banjo player, thought.

  • For the record, I have nothing but respect for people who can utter 30
    year old catchphrases.

  • It’s funny that you say a better writer than you would have to describe it. I’ve never read anything better than you on celebrity. I thought your post on Brad and Angelina on Mamapop was amazing. Not only was it funny but it was something else…like you have some kind of angle on things like this that other people don’t have.

    I wish you’d write more about this. If you can. Honestly, I *think* you write poetry and it occurs to me you could do a series of essays on famous people. It’s not like it’s not been done but not the way you do it.

    Now I’m truly being inarticulate. I can’t put my finger on it–what it is about your perspective. There’s just something to it. Like you articulate our trappedness as the spectator but also the fascination. We are fascinated. And you do it without the rancor that also accompanies discussion of celebrities (that phenomenon is fascinating in itself).

    I want to be your agent, in other words. Unfortunately, I’m not an agent. But I would try to be if I were an agent.

  • You could have shouted, “Hi King Tut.” That may have been worse, and yet better.

  • Hey, that joke’s not thirty years old!

    *counts on fingers*

    It’s, um, thirty-five years old.

  • steve martin!!! ive always ahd a crush on that hair. You lucky thing

  • I grew up in Santa Monica. For laughs, my siblings and I would play the game of pseudo-celebrity sightings, as in “I stood behind Phyllis Diller in line at Starbucks” or “I saw Gwyneth pushing a stroller down Montana Avenue”…only sometimes, it really would be that celebrity, not just a look alike!

  • Ozma, that’s got to be one of the nicest comments ever.

  • Man, living in LA can be kind of crappy sometimes, but things like this really brighten my day up, too. One time my boyfriend almost ran into Jim Carrey and he (Jim Carrey) was like, “hey, buddy!” in a really easygoing way. Then I was like, “awwww.”

    But yeah, what Ozma said (I liked the Mamapop piece, too).

  • oh, fussy–the clearinghouse post of a couple of weeks ago had me worried that you were closing up shop. Today’s post was perfect–thanks.

  • I didn’t think people in California even turned around to look at movie stars. Shows what I know. I heard once that Steve Martin carried around business cards that say, “This card certifies that I had a personal encounter with Steve Martin.” These were intended to short circuit attempts at conversation by strangers and requests for autographs. I had memorized his album(oh dear)as a kid in the 1970s and actually went to see _Pennies from Heaven_ because he was in it (don’t remember that one? There’s an excellent reason). After I heard about the business-card-fan-deflection, though… I was forced to go to Pink Panther 2 by my kids but, luckily, I was really tired and slept through most of it.
    He looks like he was trying to be nice here, though.

  • Steve Martins best movie?

    Parenthood or the short film of his ediquette/manners as a waiter are my two choices…

    Happy Earthday everybody:
    http://www.stlmag.com/media/St-Louis-Magazine/January-2008/Luddites-Delight/

  • Well, *I* fell down on my butt on the ice in Vail right in front of Gregory Peck in 1984. So. There. However, since then I have always been the person who goes “What?! Where?!” and sends the star scurrying away before I see him/her.

  • “Then his window hummed back up and he was gone and I decided the universe had just given me a little punch in the arm to show it liked me, but that I shouldn’t push my luck and wait for Meryl Streep.” OMG! What a great line! I get that feeling that I shouldn’t expect too much all the time. Another nice bit of writing.

  • and that movie is… gotta be It's Complicated i've been seeing commercials for…man to see alec..i love 30 rock.