Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Saw A Celebrity And His Posture Was Perfect

"Sure baby, mañana." It was always mañana. For the next week that was all I heard--mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.

Page 94 of "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac

This passage is especially fitting, since I've put off this post for nearly a month now. Soooo, I saw a celebrity and his posture was perfect, Warren Zevon. Just who was he? You'll have to get to the bottom of this absurd post to find out and no scrolling past the lumpy gravy or you'll miss out on a feast of a tale.

For the first time in my life, I have actually contemplated moving back East. I was happy, being there with my in-laws and while I don't know where I am in Manhattan half of the time, at least I am never truly "lost."

I do find it odd that people cannot divine inspiration from the normal chaos in their lives. Kerouac and so many before and after him, had to discover the vast wide spaces of America, to discover themselves and their writing voices. I have found that being in the middle of nowhere does nothing for my inner narrative nor does being around stable people that I love.

If anything, it is the exact opposite. I write best in the City of Saint Francis...stepping over the junkie panhandlers with their pit bulls. Dodging obnoxious yuppies, SUVs, bullets, prostitutes, trannies, and street preachers. This is where I write best.


That's the voice of the Garmin GPS when you don't take the given route. Sometimes it's fun just to make a wrong turn, just to hear that voice say "recalculating..." Sometimes it's completely accidental, because other drivers won't let you over. Though at one point, the thing got made at me when I didn't take prescribed route and I stayed on Main Street, so it tried to send me to the other side of town.

I mean, what if I drove the car into the Long Island Sound?


Car does not belong in water, please turn back.


Please unplug me and throw me back towards the shore.


I don't like water, please, throw me back to the shore before it is too late.


Look, you bastard, either you toss me back to the shore, or I will shock you with every bit of electricity that's in the car's battery!

On our last night in New York (that is Long Island), I was driving my Mother-in-law's car and we didn't have the Garmin because that came with the rental car, we got lossssst-ah. One of my Brother-in-law's gave me an exit number which I became fixated on and needless to say, we were on the wrong freeway for that particular exit.

No problem, we only overshot our destination by a couple of towns and I had managed to negotiate a nice detour through the Miracle Mile. I recognized the corners, but most of the stores have been completely revamped. The thing that gets me is that the Missus rarely knows where we are, whenever get east or south of Hicksville and she lived here some eighteen years. I guess she is truly a California girl now.

And now? The finale-

So we flew Virgin back and we hit a bit of a bottleneck going through security. It seems everyone was flying that Saturday and the line was a little exhausting. We bought some food, because The Kid doesn't like the roast beef wraps that Virgin serves up and we sat down.

There's a guy sitting across from us who seemed fairly non-descript in a person-watching sense, I didn't see anything I could draw from him, writing-wise until I saw what he was reading. It was a magazine about fantastical and mythical creatures, and this magazine seemed to be pushing these creatures as real. This gentlemen had the magazine folded over and the page that was facing me, had an article about the "The Cat Woman of Brazil."

So my eyes wandered up from the magazine to see who would read this stuff, I knew that it wasn't John Carlucci, because I've seen a picture of him on Facebook before he took it down, though John would've been my first guess. As I looked up, I recognized this guy and my eyes bulged out like a Tex Avery cartoon, good gravy! An Oscar-nominated actor was just sitting there reading this magazine and he had a look on his face like "crap, I've been recognized!"

I opened up my cell phone and was careful not to make it seem like I was taking a picture, and thus, spooking the guy. I typed a message into my cell phone and showed it to my wife...

Don't look up right away, be cool. Paul Giamatti is sitting right across from us.

She looked up after a few moments, very casually, but he knew we were going to be staring at him from here on out. I was so trashed from the trip, that I completely forgot "American Splendor" and "The Illusionist," or I would've pestered him right away. You see, I believe that celebrities should be left alone, it's just the way it's done in New York and that was the way it used to be done in San Francisco, back when we were the playground to the stars before Vegas.

The two main reasons why I didn't recognize him right away, was because his posture is so much better in person. So much so, that you realize that he is hardcore method, the guy gets completely into character when he is on screen. He also looks much better in person to the point that he can pretty much travel incognito, as long as no one studies his face for more than a few seconds.

You'd think that I was the only one, John Lennon, but no one else recognized him right away either. I pointed him out to The Kid, who only knows him from Big Fat Liar and The Kid was suitably impressed. I tried to get The Kid to ask him for an autograph, because I'm a coward like that. The Kid wouldn't do it. In retrospect, I should've threatened to cut off his XBox 360 privledges to force him to get that autograph, because I'm a bastard like that.

Paul was trying to stay below the radar as much as possible, he sat in the third to last row, instead of First Class. He had his headphones on the whole time and the few times I got up, either to use the restroom or let The Missus or The Kid back into the seats, he wasn't talking to anyone nor was anyone bothering him.

We landed at LAX for our stopover and I called Katie about my Giamatti sighting...she of course wasn't home. She has a life and stuff, so I left a message. Then of course Paul walks right by just as I hung up. I was going to get his autograph, but The Missus said to leave him alone and you figure that if someone waits that long to leave a plane, they don't want to be bothered.

An elderly Indian lady in a sari recognized him right away and he smiled at her. This was a fitting ending to a brief quasi-surreal encounter.

Paul: You want to know true terror? I survived a flight with Cormac Brown.


Dale said...

Great story and nicely told Mr. Brown!

I once was at LaGuardia waiting for an American Airlines flight and into the waiting room walked Mr. G. with a small duffel bag. He took the seat farthest from everyone and kept his nose in a magazine the whole time. I think I'm the only person who recognized him. Like you, I leave the celebs alone. I know I'd end up sounding like a total nerd.

Maybe we should be recalculating our approach?

Cormac Brown said...


I always wonder if character actors want to be left alone as much franchise stars? I mean, Paul knows that he is ten times better than the majority of actors that get billing over him, so how much acknowledgment does he crave?

I would've loved to have his autograph, though all indications were he didn't want to be bothered.

James said...

You had an encounter with probably the most normal celebrity ever! Awesome!

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Good for you, leaving him alone. Very Canadian of you!

I once had an almost-meet with Roger Ebert (he was standing just-this-close to me at a book store); by the time I figured out the least nerdiest thing to say and turned to say it, he had vanished.

But in my mind - he knew.

Just like Paul knew with you. He's a smart guy. Possibly telekinetic.

Cormac Brown said...


Absolutely. He was the most normal guy ever with just a tiny bit of apprehensiveness...unless this was him acting.


I would've flipped at Roger Ebert and is that they are psychic, or are they conditioned to be that way from everybody and their grandmothers approaching them?

Quin Browne said...

oh, nicely done, sir! i wouldn't reconise him, i don't reconise anyone. ever.

Cormac Brown said...


If he sat next to you, his familiarity would make you eventually wonder just where you knew him from.