I picked these two 20-somethings up from a Hollywood hotel. They had just moved from Queens NY a few days ago and were on their way to look at an apartment. The car practically vibrated with their alternating waves of excitement and fear. This was the first time either of them had lived away from home and their parents but they were best friends, they wanted to be actors, they wanted to take their shot at their dream. The one in the front seat pointed at various houses, asking about this neighborhood, that. They were excited by the freeways, the palm trees, fancy cars, even graffiti, and it was infectious. I mean come on, LA is ridiculously beautiful and ugly in equal measure. It’s a fascinating city, a mystery that does not unveil itself immediately. A tree hanging off the freeway you drive day after day will suddenly surprise and amaze you — why didn’t you notice that before? A stone wall will hide a lush garden. A crappy looking donut shop will have the world’s greatest fried balls of dough that you have ever stuffed into your greedy little maw. Their unbridled enthusiasm was a good reminder to be wary of the Great Wall of Jadedness that often starts to be built around me when I’m just going about my daily business of living.
Later in the day, I picked up a slick, sleek thin-mustached hipster at a Culver City ad agency. He turned out to be a pretty high ad exec who had just been poached by a major company to create an in house creative agency. At first, he was reluctant to tell me what he did, but nosy being that I am, I asked a lot of questions. He realized I knew quite a bit about advertising and it turns out we had lots of people in common. Most of my ex-co-workers became big time commercial directors and have their own production companies. Yet, here I am driving him back to his house. I admit it — my ego had to close the door and scream a little. What am I doing here? Why did everyone’s life go in one direction while mine wandered off the clear cut path into the woods? But the one thing that always saves me, that always feels true, truer than any of the ego shit, is that I have faith. Faith that this is right for me right now. Faith that I was supposed to pick this guy up just as I was supposed to pick those girls up. Faith that my feet know more than my head. So I let my ego die another small death and had a really great debate with Mr. Advertising about personal responsibility, capitalism and creativity, aggregates versus archetypes, and so much more. When he got out of the car, he said, “That was the most intellectual conversation that I’ve ever had during a Lyft.” Maybe I’ll make that “My Thing.” Like Lucy in Peanuts and her psychiatry booth. I’ll put up a sign. Intellectual Conversation. 25 cents. I’ll be the fucking Slavoj Zizek of Lyft drivers. I’ll brand myself. I’ll shoot it. I’ll pitch it as a reality show. It’ll be like Fishing with John, that show where old school hipster John Lurie goes fishing with friends like Tom Waits and Julian Schnabel. I’ll be famous!!! I’ll be rich!!! Oh shit — ego again.
I thought you died.
No, still here.