Oscar has left the building. My neighborhood returns to relative Hollywood & Highland normal. Before I head back out in the Vegas 90210 short shorts to protect Hollywood Boulevard from democracy and Jimmy Kimmel, I wanted to kinda sorta quickly share a few thoughts about last night’s notable Oscar’s ceremony.
Bear in mind, I didn’t watch the whole ceremony in a pristine private screening room devoid of distraction. I watched in a bar. Because it was Sunday and that’s how Jesus would screen it. As Chris Rock commenced the 88th Academy Awards, I manfully strode in my short shorts down a Hollywood Boulevard congested with star-struck tourists eager to catch a glimpse of what Joan Rivers is no longer here to assess. (I took up some slack – “What Are Those” VIDEO). Late I was, en route to my viewing party at Tinhorn Flats as Lt. Frank FFIREHS of Vegas 90210, taking photos with tourists from around the world delighted to behold the theatrical menagerie of nearly every iteration of law enforcement, from security guard to Secret Service … and yours truly in rainbow tactical leg warmers. As frequently happens in my daily life, they wanted pictures with “Lt. Dangle”. (Even though the real Lt. Dangle clearly distinguished me as … well, you’ll see shortly.)
Because I’m that guy. The one Thomas Lennon (aka “Lt. Dangle” of Reno 911!) calmly calls “bigger”. The one with whom Nick Swardson (aka “Terry” of Reno 911!“) recently spread the news of sweat pants and Super Bowl Champion Minnesota Vikings glory. The one Thomas Lennon (aka Felix #5 opposite the non-Academy Oscar of The Odd Couple on CBS) screams “MARK!!!” while doing a Wassup Drive-By on Hollywood Boulevard the other week. As seen in The Hollywood Reporter. That guy. The smelly background actor busker guy who never had the decency to study at UCLA or USC film schools, frequent Julliard, or embellish the Bard with the likes of Sir Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren or Tom Hardy at The Globe (as directed by Shakespeare understudy Ben Affleck).
With all due respect to Greg Proops (whose sober assessment of the vital impact of awards shows led him to retreat to San Jose for a vodcast), here’s a few quick thoughts and reflections, inadequately informed and hastily assembled, but without the Brian Williams compensation.
CHRIS ROCK EFFORTLESSLY ROUNDS THE BASES
VIDEO. Nuanced jazz, Chris Rock fired word picture bullets I expect to ricochet across the fruited plain. Whatever seemed to to others to fall flat actually revealed and highlighted the very points Chris was making about race in America and what’s left to do for Hollywood to get better. Too funny. He killed. As only a master comedian at the top of his game can. Something I’m clearly not, as my freshman forays into the realm of Periscope (Mark Roman, Vegas 90210 – my handle) reveal.
LADY GAGA TAMES THE NOT SO ESCHEWED BARBARIANS
VIDEO. When one earns their living in short shorts and rainbow tactical leg warmers, it is a rare opportunity to experience a tiny taste of what women (and some men) struggle with daily: unwelcome advances, sexist taunts and hate speech … to outright criminal assault and rape. I notice in my daily conversations with other men that most guys are criminally clueless as to what most women have to endure daily. With “Til It Happens to You” Lady Gaga demonstrated beautifully how art can heal, inform and inspire. We only hope more men begin to grasp the message. Men like the several passing strangers (unfit to be labeled “gentlemen”) last night making rude remarks about what they’d like to do with body parts of the elegantly dressed ladies in my Oscars after parties group. The struggle is pervasive, relentless and real. Gentlemen, we need rise above our primal urges. Or withdraw from civilization.
REAL VEEP BIDEN CALLS FOR ACTION
Speaking of which, none other than the Vice President clearly stated HOW. Not fictional VP Selina Meyer played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (behind whom you might notice yours truly in an upcoming episode) on HBO’s Veep. ACTUAL Vice President Joe Biden. A pledge is one thing. Taking decisive action when the occasion requires is what saves lives. It is how we all can Heroteer.
THE BIG SHORT
VIDEO. I’m in it. In one of the Vegas conventions scenes I’m the featured suit on the down escalator. Unlike Brad Pitt with all his Hamletesque dialogue, not letting Christian Bale, Steve Carrell or Ryan Gosling get a word in edgewise, I perform. Without. Saying. A word. Where’s my Oscar? I’m also a recovering mortgage broker. Unlike the dangerously accurate portrayal of mortgage broker douche bags in the film, I charged reasonable fees and become a mostly referral only business. (I think there’s even a nice review somewhere on Yelp from a previous client.) I didn’t make nearly as much money as some. But I made enough to be able to see and support my son on a regular basis (unlike the last several years). And I was never really into it. (Banking or sales or anything that makes the film Office Space so painfully funny. And accurate.) So when the events portrayed in the film unfolded (I remember vividly the day New Century expired), my new found poverty liberated me from sales and enabled me to pursue my passion. Quite a full circle: to act in an Oscar-winning film that portrays the very industry I escaped … to become a performing artist.
CROWN PRINCE OF HOLLYWOOD: LEONARDO DICAPRIO
VIDEO. He’s earned the title. Well played, sir. Respect.
SPOTLIGHT AND A SPECTATOR
VIDEO. Quite a compelling film. It reminded me of All the President’s Men. I’m a former student editor. When I refused to stop publishing my independent newspaper I was expelled from college, defamed and put on the FBI’s Subversives List. I’m also technically Catholic, practicing agnostic and recovering from the child abuse of religion (see “Son of Elmer Gantry’s Bitch“). So this film resonated with me in ways several and powerful. And let’s not forget that Morgan Freeman not only announced the Best Picture winner, he offered this calm assessment of #OscarsSoWhite.
I’m so happy to be back in LA (since November), living in Hollywood, pursuing my craft. The experiences my career continue to afford me only reaffirm that I’m in the right place doing the right things at the right time. I may never be more famous than “limited-purpose public figure” per that federal judge in the Hillsdale College defamation suit debacle. I may never be wealthy. I may never again return to the income the State of Washington child support bureaucrats imagine I still have from a former industry of mine that no longer exists the way it did (as portrayed in a film that only just won an Oscar and was nominated for Best Picture). I may not be able to do much for my son these days. He may feel quite like the daughter of Bryan Cranston’s Trumbo in that clip during the Oscars. And only for many good reasons. But I can pursue my passion. I CAN give my son that. The example.
The two stories that jump out at me this morning fit the binary math of broadcast news: rubberneck and feel good.
Fellow humans have taught me I’m supposed to experience “catharsis”, the Greek word meaning, as my high school Shakespeare teacher Mr. Duda taught me, “glad that ain’t me”. I should judge this teenager for being selfish. It wasn’t about him. The people he “left behind” are more important. Look at all they did for him … before he took his life. Our “world class” health care system did its part. He probably didn’t even pay his bill, so serves him right. Why was he an artist? It was just an open mic. Looks like the music career he “tried” didn’t work out. Why didn’t he go get a “good job”? You know, as a salesperson or a lawyer. Or a doctor.
What do you mean hospitals like UCLA and USC follow a policy of patient dumping at Hollywood Bowl (after they got caught dumping downtown)? My alma mater would NEVER do something like that! Look, UCLA just signed a cancer kid! What concussion? Sports heals! Especially if I get my spread this weekend! What are you gonna tell me next, that my church rapes children? That the electronics I’m using this very moment are built from raw materials stolen by child soldiers? That our entire banking system is built on lies, fraud and crime? Why can’t I just enjoy my $5 morning coffee and pretend everyone who feels the sun like I do now hasn’t a care in the world? Why is that so wrong?