Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On The Oscars...

The Oscar Ceremony has been a staple in my life for many years. Others have The Super Bowl or The World Series or some other event they never miss. I, generally speaking, couldn't care less about all that. On Super Bowl Sunday, I was sitting at this computer trying to get some writing done while Angie whooped and hollered like a godless heathen at the game between the Saints and the Possums, or whoever the hell it was.

I do remember once being a baseball fan of sorts and watching the Mets in The World Series back in 1986. I was in a small pub in midtown east watching game six with my buddy, the late Robert Fiedler, when some enormous woman leapt upon his back as some ball rolled between someone's legs unexpectedly. All I remember is Robert uncharacteristically calling for help, laying on the floor, with this behemoth of a woman on top of him.

I remember being excited the same year when the Bears won the Super Bowl and betting my buddy, John Bader, ten bucks that they would go undefeated the following year.

But on the whole, the sports stuff bores me. Not counting heavyweight fights, of course. As a former Golden Glover and amateur boxing historian, I have always geared up for the big fights.

But the Oscars have always been another story.

Seeing Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row with his Ray Bans has been a perennial image for me.

A while back, Angie and I were at The Kodak Theatre where the Oscars take place. The front door, that is.

Even after all these years in the business and having known and worked with so many celebrities, I still turn into a kid sometimes about all that. I can't seem to get my mind around the fact that the guy I'm talking to is the same guy up on that big screen. Celebrities seem like the creatures in Avatar to me. They just aren't quite real. Now, I know this is a very midwestern kind of view to have. The kid from small-town Missouri still thinks of all celebrities as Clark Gable, not human, not flesh and blood, not worthy of actual concern. Just this icon towering above me saying iconic lines that someone else has written.

And then I meet someone. A real celebrity. Paul Newman, standing outside Chelsea Center for the Arts in 1987. He had a band aid on his cheek. A little smudge of dried blood next to it. No idea what happened. But, as pedestrian as this sounds, I remember thinking, "Oh, he bleeds."

Woody Allen, grabbing a cab at the exact same moment, on 44th and Lex in 1990. It was raining and when I realized who it was, I deferred the cab..."you take it, Mr. Allen." He said, no, let's share it. He would pick up the tab. But we were going in opposite directions, so he took it alone. But here's what I remember about that. His hair had been dyed. And the roots were grey, almost white. I remember thinking, "Oh, he's vain."

Many others. I have since actually been onstage with celebrities of sorts. I have become good friends with some. I won't list them. But later when I see them on film or TV, I never think of them as people I know personally. I think of them as Clark Gables.

So this Sunday, Angie and I are having about 12 or 15 people over for the Oscars. Gonna put out a huge vat of my chili, some chips and dip, some soft drinks, and watch the big show. Gonna root and cheer and sigh and curse just like it was a sporting event between the Saints and the Possums. Gonna get catty and sarcastic about the fashion design. Gonna make fun of the predictably bad musical numbers. In short, gonna have fun. But I'll be thinking this the entire time: "See that floor they're walking on now? I was on that floor a week ago with Angie. That's the same floor. We shared that floor."

I like being in awe of celebrities. I don't want to ever not be in awe of celebrities. Reminds me who I am.

See you tomorrow.