I.

I ran into Owen Wilson on Cahuenga.
Owen Wilson, I said, stopping short.
Hey man, he said, how’s it going? Are there are a lot of cops around here?

Cops? I said.
I was kind of concerned.
Like, what do you mean? I said.
Cops, he said. You know, police. I don’t know if I can park my car here.

I turned and looked and Owen Wilson’s car was parked right in the middle of the sidewalk.
Oh, I said. Well, I don’t know. I mean, I wouldn’t do that.

No? he said.
He looked at the car.
I won’t be very long, he said.
Well, I said. I don’t know. I just wouldn’t, is all.

But in the end Owen Wilson didn’t listen.
Thanks, man, he said to me.
It’s okay, I said. I hope you don’t get towed.
Me too, he said, and walked away.

I don’t know what happened to Owen Wilson’s car. It was a red car. I don’t remember what kind.
A few days later I heard he’d tried to kill himself.
But I guess everything worked out fine.

II.

I saw Forest Whitaker driving on Franklin. He cut me off in a big SUV.
Fuck you! I yelled, and sped up to catch him.
I hadn’t seen who was driving.
Then I did.

Oh, I said, Forest Whitaker.
He had that funny eye, you know.
I don’t remember which eye it was.
I remember thinking, Maybe he can’t see so well.

I used to be in a band where the drummer wore an eye patch. He’d lost an eye in a car accident. He’d had a lot of facial reconstructive surgery. He looked like Sammy Davis Jr., which was funny. (He was a white guy.)

Maybe it’s a thing about one-eyed people that makes them really bad drivers. I mean obviously there’s the depth perception thing. But maybe there’s also something else. Maybe it’s an angry-at-the-world thing that happens. Takes over. Makes you wanna kill people. But really, our drummer was always very nice. So Forest Whitaker was probably just an asshole.

III.

One day I went to Barney’s and bought a shirt. Don’t ask me what I was doing. $750 dollars for a shirt? Okay, actually I found a cheap one.

Anyway, I was standing there on line– it was a big line, there was only one cashier– and suddenly I noticed that Spock was in front of me.
Wow, it’s Spock! I said.

When I say I said it, I mean in my head, because he didn’t hear me or anything. He was standing there with a whole bunch of shirts on his arm.
His were the thousand dollar ones.

Anyway, we stood there and stood there and stood there. There was something with the guy at the front. He didn’t know how to work his wallet or something.
I didn’t care– it was like I was Spock’s friend!

Spock was pretty old and his ears weren’t pointy.
Leonard Nee-moy, I thought, trying it out.
It was weird to say his real name and not just Spock.
Then I heard a voice calling out.

I can help one of you over here! the voice said.
It was a cashier at a register to the side. There was no one on line. There was no wait at all.
Spock looked at me. I looked at him.

I moved first. I admit it, I’m an asshole. I’m the Forest Whitaker in this story. I skipped away with my one cheap shirt.
Then I laughed at Spock inside my head.

When I tell this story to people they smile.
Weren’t you worried about the Vulcan neck pinch? they say.
But to tell you the truth, it never crossed my mind.
It was just Leonard Nimoy; Spock’s pretend.

IV.

I saw Robin Williams at the Virgin Megastore. He was looking at the DVD new releases. I was standing on the other side and I looked up. I saw him. And I saw him see me.

Let me be clear: Robin Williams looked like shit. I love Robin Williams, but he did. He was skinny and unshaven and his skin was almost gray. He was wearing an old army jacket.

The worst thing about it was he looked so sad.
Robin Williams! I wanted to say. You’re so funny!
But he didn’t look funny. He didn’t, at all. He looked like he might crumble away.

For a minute I just stood there and tried to decide how to go about saving Robin Williams’s life.
Maybe I could buy him an omelet or something, I thought.
I couldn’t think of anything else.

But then it was over. Robin Williams walked away. He walked slowly, casually– he was scared. I knew that he was trying to get away from me.
He was in the corner where the video games were.

I knew that Robin Williams wasn’t buying video games. His hands were in his pockets and he was old. I mean, I’m old and he’s older than me. We’re lucky they allow us in the store.

I stood there for a while, while he let off this vibe that said PLEASE GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME. I guess he just wanted to be left alone so he could wander around town looking glum.

And so in the end I turned away, bought my CDs, and went out to the car.
On the way home I started to cry.
If Robin Williams can’t be happy, how can I?

V.

One night really late I went down to Ralph’s. This was when I lived up in West Hollywood. I had my loaf of bread, my diet Coke, a bunch of Slim Jims.
I got in line behind a beautiful woman.

I don’t know where the guy is, she said.
The cashier guy wasn’t there. No one was.
He’ll probably be back, I said. He can’t be far.
Then I got a better look at her.

Hey, I said. Do I know you? You look really familiar.
Yeah, she said, I get that a lot.
Then I realized.
Demi Moore.

Demi Moore, I thought. What’s she doing here? At Ralph’s in Hollywood at 3 a.m.?
This was back when she and Bruce Willis were together.
I looked around, but I didn’t see him.

This is crazy, she said. I’ve been here forever. And all I’m trying to buy is this.
She held up an Evian bottle and waved it a little.
I smiled to be nice and shook my head.

If you want, I said, suddenly having an idea, give me the money and I’ll pay for it when he gets back.
Are you sure? she said. That’s really very nice.
It’s okay, I said. I don’t mind.

And so Demi Moore gave me a five, and walked on out into the night. And I stood there a while until the cashier came back, and I paid for my own stuff and kept the five.

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BEN LOORY's fables and tales have appeared in The New Yorker, on This American Life, at Word Theatre, and on Selected Shorts. His book Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day (Penguin, 2011) was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

131 responses to “I Ran Into Owen Wilson On Cahuenga, and Other Encounters With People Who Don’t Know Me”

  1. Rachel Pollon says:

    Yay! Fun. I like your nonchalant savoir faire. (I’ve always wanted to drop two French phrases back to back!) This is indeed what it’s like to live in our fair city. We are all celebs. (No we’re not.)

    • Ben Loory says:

      i like to think of myself as the host of this city-wide event. that way it’s fine that no one knows me. cuz i’m in charge of it all. (and obviously insane.)

    • Grist says:

      Rachel, nonchalant is a word, not a phrase.

      • Rachel Pollon says:

        Grist,

        Of course you are right. I was shorthanding for the sake of pithiness.

        (Also, I know “shorthanding”isn’t an actual word. And that my shorthanding may not actually have been pithy, but I tried.)

  2. Irene Zion says:

    When I was in LA last year, I was in the Farmer’s Market, I think in Hollywood.
    Kenny Johnson walked by.
    I almost fainted.
    He was the guy who played Curtis Lemanski on The Shield and then was Ham Dewey on Saving Grace and I just saw him on Sons of Anarchy, although I missed the last show of the season and I’m really angry about that.
    Anyhow. I was blubbering something like: LOOK! LOOK! LOOK! to Victor and he was, naturally, looking the other way and then Lenore grabbed my arm and told me to be quiet because stars don’t want you to notice them.
    But I was really excited.
    He looked EXACTLY the same as he does on TV.
    I’m still excited.
    I looked him up and he’s been on EVERYTHING on TV. I wish I could see the shows now that I know who he is.
    It’s like when you see Cyril O’Reilly from OZ on TV selling Gold. He isn’t even Irish! He isn’t even brain dead. I believe everything I see on TV.
    Probably that’s not a good thing.

    • Ben Loory says:

      if stars didn’t want you to notice them, they wouldn’t be walking around. they’d be in tahiti or something, wearing pig masks. i mean, unless they’re down and out or whatever, in which case it is only nice to lend a helping hand. i still feel like i let robin williams down. he was going through some hard times, as i recently learned in an interview he did for that horrible movie about him and what’s-his-face being fathers or whatever to stupid kids. why does he make such crappy movies? he should never have stopped doing coke. that’s when the problems entered in.

  3. Zara Potts says:

    I love that you wanted to buy Robin Williams an omelette. Eggs always make things better, I think.
    You know, when I was in LA, the only celebrity I saw was Colin Hanks, and he isn’t really a celebrity – just a famous person’s son. I was disappointed.
    (Speaking of famous people – I hope you have purchased your autograph stamp, Ben. You still owe me those six signatures….!)
    Lovely piece by the way. The flow was gorgeous and soft, the words gentle and humourous. I love your work…

  4. mo says:

    this is like your “empire state of mind” for the west coast. the last line would be the rollicking chorus.

  5. sheree says:

    Great read. Thanks!
    While growing up in a small resort coastal town north of L.A I saw all kinds of stars doing all kinds of normal things. My friend and I once whistled the mission impossible theme song while walking down a long corridore behind Peter Graves. He thought it was funny.

    Hope your new book lands a home soon!
    Cheers!

    • Ben Loory says:

      i hope my book lands a home soon, too! don’t you want to become a publisher? you and peter graves could go into business together and rescue me from a life in the gutter.

      • sheree says:

        Some pretty amazing things have been written from a gutter view. Are you certain you’d want to make that kind of sacrifice? I mean if I were rich and could finagle my way into cahoots with Mr. Graves?

  6. you are such a star by proxy. or just a star, really. i have encountered jackson browne three times. i think he’s following me. but he seems harmless, so i’ll let it go. i saw the first joe millionaire at a restaurant/bar in laguna beach. this was when people remembered the show and he was working the hell out of his 15 minutes. another time, at the same restaurant, I had brunch with Elliot Gould. He was across the room and unaware that we were brunching together, but we were.

    I get way more geeky when I meet writers. and when i saw jen from last season’s top chef in the castro.

    (btw, everyone should read ben loory’s story at http://www.wigleaf.com. he is a superstar.)

    • Ben Loory says:

      oh, lauren becker… you’re embarrassing me. next thing you know you’ll be sending me cash. by the way, do you have my address? i can send you an envelope. i can even write the address on it. simplify things.

      elliot gould… never really understood the elliot gould phenomenon. he’s like, a movie star for people with no dreams?

  7. Dude! You totally made Demi Moore a shoplifter. Or you were her accomplice. I can’t decide which is cooler.

    I saw Robin Williams once at the Best Buy on La Brea. The one with the Target? I was riding the up escalator, and he was riding the down one. He had on Oakleys and a tee shirt and shorts, and he stood with pretty much exactly the same stance as the bodyguard who loomed behind him.

    Both projected an effective keep-your-distance vibe.

    I imagine, back in the day of Mork, it was hard to walk down the street if you were Robin Williams. I guess it never got a whole lot easier.

    • Ben Loory says:

      i’ve often wondered about the legalities of that, actually. the way i see it, no jury in the world would convict ms. moore, as she did everything in her power to pay for her water (besides actually stay and, um, pay for it). she even overpaid! although i wasn’t the one selling it. i don’t know. i tend to think it would all be on me.

      what we need here is a legal opinion. anyone?

      anyone?

      lauren becker?

      • sad when i am called upon for a legal opinion. however, you are the sole criminal here, ben loory. demi acted as a reasonable person would (unlike when she did that stripper movie) in accepting your ostensibly kind offer to pay for her water (with her own money) and you clearly ripped off ralph’s. but they both have lots of money. which doesn’t make it right. just less wrong. and pretty funny.

        slim jims and diet coke?! really?

    • Ben Loory says:

      p.s. i used to live two blocks away from that best buy. then they built the best buy and i moved. i could already tell robin williams was coming. i felt it in the air like a poisonous cloud.

      • Ha! That’s awesome. That Best Buy is across the street from that . . . what is it, a concrete factory or something? You know the imposing, industrial building I’m talking about, corner of La Brea and Romaine . . .

        West Hollywood is where it’s at. I didn’t mention my experience working at the gym before, because I figured it’s cheating at Scrabble in terms of star-sightings: Patrick Dempsey worked out there, as did Eva Mendes. So did a guy from The Wire, one of the agents from the Matrix franchise, and a vampire from Underworld.

        I also don’t mention because they were all just members working out, and they were all, uniformly, just totally nice. My first day there was the day I met Patrick, and he asked if I was new before giving me his member number, shaking my hand, and welcoming me to the job.

        • Ben Loory says:

          yeah, the cement factory with the little escalator that carries the rocks up to the top? or down from the top? or whatever? that place is cool. i thought it caught on fire one time but it was someplace else. i watched it burn from the roof of my apartment. the other place, that is. the one that was on fire. not the cement factory with the escalator. i bet robin williams never rode that escalator. he’s too good for cement.

  8. Phat B says:

    I took a piss next to Tom Hanks while he was filming “That Thing You Do.” I was pretty buzzed and considered peeing on his foot just so I could say that I peed on Tom Hanks. He is a hand washer.

  9. Alec says:

    Excellent. Atmospheric. There’s a dream-like quality to the feel of reality in your stories, Ben. And I love when you blog your dreams, too. There’s an amazingly pragmatic, down-to-earth quality to your dreams.

  10. Lovely. Why did Owen Wilson park on the sidewalk? Why is Forrest Whittaker’s eye all wonky and shit?

    So many questions.

    One time, I was at the Malibu Inn with my ex. There was a birthday party for Kate Hudson or something. Her mom was there, her then husband, the Black Crowes dude, Owen Wilson and and Kurt Russell. My ex got really drunk and kept yelling “Snake! Snake Blitzkin!” And then he got kicked out, which was bad since he was the covering for the sound guy who had gotten in a surfing accident earlier that day.

    I like your stories. I’m glad you posted this.

    • So your ex Escaped from the Malibu Inn?

    • Ben Loory says:

      i don’t know why owen wilson parked on the sidewalk. i don’t know why owen wilson does anything.

      except write the royal tenenbaums. THAT i understand. the rest is like… a total mystery to me.

      forest whitaker, who cares. ooh, i’m a ghost dog, ooh. dork.

      • I understand that, too. Great movie. One of my faves.

        • Ben Loory says:

          i really think it’s one of the best movies of all time. have you ever seen the old romantic comedy “Trouble in Paradise?” it’s ernst lubitsch, b&w, 1930-something… i swear to god wes anderson must have watched it a thousand times. and then hired owen wilson to make his movie.

        • No, I haven’t. But I’m going to now… Netflixing as I type.

        • Kimberly says:

          Ben – I have much to say about this piece, but I had to stop. right. here.

          Ernst Lubitsch. Trouble in Paradise.

          YOU KNOW THIS FILM??

          I was pretty sure I was the only one who knew this film (and actually OWNS A COPY ON VHS) and was as big a fan of Lubitsch (or ‘the Lube’ as I like to call him*) as me – at least big enough a fan to know more of him than The Shop Around the Corner or Ninotchka

          *That’s a lie. I don’t call him ‘The Lube’. That would be disgusting.

        • Ben Loory says:

          yes, that would be disgusting. we’ll just act like that never happened.

          trouble in paradise isn’t as well known as it should be, i agree. which is weird, since it’s a perfect movie. like, perfect. it’s not even particularly funny, i don’t think…. i mean it’s not laugh out loud funny or even all that quotable… it’s just out of its mind and yet fully inescapable, one frame from the next from the next. everything is exactly opposite. you’re like, oh! oh! oh! all the way through, step by step. it’s like the platonic ideal of a romantic comedy. or even of a comedy in general. or even a movie! a classic movie, at least. it’s not the platonic ideal of a bergman film. (that would be duck soup.)

          i think the thing that keeps it from being famous is that nobody famous is in it. people don’t generally discover the old movies unless they have cary grant or jimmy stewart or claudette colbert in them or something. and lubitsch hasn’t stayed current like capra or hawks because he’s got that european-snooty going on. (which clashes with the nascar phenomenon.)

          anyway… to me, the weird thing is: that you have a VHS copy! the window for that was so short! that thing must be worth like $300 bucks! or it must have been before the DVD came out…

          (i have a VHS copy of employee’s entrance which i still keep a VCR handy for.)

          oh, i like talking movies with you! even though i’m sitting in my house typing by myself.

        • Kimberly says:

          I actually fired up the VCR last night to watch two movies – something so monumental and unusual for ‘normal’ people, I very nearly updated my Facebook status with it.

          And then I figured that would be lame.

          But then I just wrote it here and it doesn’t feel nearly as lame, if only because you, too, still use your VCR. 🙂

          Ah, VHS tapes. It’s like 8-tracks, but with pictures.

          I had bought the VHS tape of Trouble before the DVD was available. But if the DVD has been issued, I’m going to buy that bad boy and sell my VHS on ebay and finance a few things I’ve been holding out for.

          If you watch so many movies, why haven’t you played my TNBLE: At Home Edition – Name That Obscure Holiday Movie Quiz yet? You could win fabulous prizes…

        • Kimberly says:

          By-the-by – all this pre-code talk is scintillating… Employee’s Entrance? Seriously, Loory. I’ll trade ya. Food for films? Done.

        • Ben Loory says:

          sounds like something jimmy carter might be involved in. but how exactly does it work??

          i haven’t done your holiday movie quiz because i hate holiday movies. i’m the grinch! except i like presents. especially when they’re made out of food.

  11. Jesus, there’s a question for all of us.

    If Robin Williams can’t be happy, how can any of us?

    Fuckin’ Robin Williams.

    • Ben Loory says:

      the guy deserves a break. is my own true belief. even though his movies are bad for the world.

      • I’ve never seen The World According to Garp. It’s on my list of movies I feel I should see before I die.

        • Ben Loory says:

          i haven’t seen it since it came out, and i was very young then, so i can’t say much other than that it was probably not a good movie to see when i saw that young. there was this terrible part where… where… well….. i don’t want to ruin it…. “ruin” it…….. anyway you don’t actually see it…… anyway……. it’s very disturbing……. especially when you’re young……. and male……… urgh……. you should probably see it now, just so you know what i’m talking about….. and john lithgow’s in it, he’s funny!

  12. Greg Olear says:

    I was in LA for 48 hours and saw two celebrities, which is two more than I’ve seen since I moved to New Paltz four plus years ago. Dennis Quaid was at the restaurant near Book Soup (thanks, Brad, for spotting him), and Chuck Mangione was on my plane (he flew first class).

    Forest Whitaker wasn’t an asshole. He just needed to get those Earth Wind & Fire tickets from legendary scalper Mike Demone…

    This was a great piece…I love celebrity stuff anyway, but it was very well told. Good stuff, man.

    G

    • Ben Loory says:

      DENNIS QUAID, FROM D.O.A.?!?!?!???!!!!!!

      i love that movie. for real.

      don’t know why, though, you know, since it’s awful.

      • Greg Olear says:

        The same.

        Well, it’s got one of the best set-ups of all time. “I’m here to report a murder.” “Who’s murder?” “Mine.” That’s what they call a hook. Whether it’s Quaid in it or me.

        • Ben Loory says:

          plus there’s john donne in it!

          so i get to quote it here:

          THOU hast made me, And shall thy worke decay?
          Repaire me now, for now mine end doth haste,
          I runne to death, and death meets me as fast,
          And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
          I dare not move my dimme eyes any way,
          Despaire behind, and death before doth cast
          Such terrour, and my feeble flesh doth waste
          By sinne in it, which it t’wards hell doth weigh;
          Onely thou art above, and when towards thee
          By thy leave I can looke, I rise againe;
          But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
          That not one houre my selfe I can sustaine;
          Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
          And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.

          hooray for dennis quaid! hooray!

      • Grist says:

        Check out the 1950 D.O.A.; it’s much better. Edmund O’Brien (whose specialty was suffering) plays the victimized hero. Directed by Rudolph Maté, who started in European films (a film noir Lubitsch). Maté was a cinematographer first, and it’s full of great shots of L.A. when there were streetcars on Hollywood Boulevard. The shoot-out takes place in the Bradbury building.

        • Ben Loory says:

          yeah, i particularly like the luminescent toxin, or whatever it’s called. the prop guys must’ve had fun getting that together.

          the one thing i really HATE about that movie is those weird super-loud slide-whistle wolf-calls they put on the soundtrack during the hotel scene where he’s ogling the women passing in the hall. i mean, wtf??? who the hell’s idea was that, and who was the asshole who okay’d it???

  13. Jim Simpson says:

    Hollywoodland. You still have the five?

  14. Janine Adair Kohanim Ferrell says:

    I love reading the comments on TNB. Makes me feel like I’m in a room with people I like,
    which almost never happens. Makes me wonder what TNB was thinking when they deleted
    comments that happened before the reconstruction? Shame on TNB for allowing the appearance of dead air after their writer’s have poured out their guts and waited nervously for the responses to roll in….I’m hoping you archived your old responses, Ben. They were priceless.
    BTW, I just decided. I don’t care if it’s been done. I’m going to go ahead and write about my encounters with Steven Tyler and Crispin Glover, and Sean Lennon (I did a mini psychic reading for him when he was 12) and Glida Radner and Gene Wilder and John Larroquette and Ally Sheedy and that kid from Silver Spoons that grew up to be a drug addict that i met at a party for drug addicts and, and…Oh am I name dropping? 😛 Sadly I write in a dank cave in Seattle which means no one will ever read it and see how cool i really am….damn.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Janine,

      The old comments have not been deleted. They can be read here:

      http://archives.thenervousbreakdown.com/

      Now, if you please, tell us about Crispin Glover…

      • Janine Adair Kohanim Ferrell says:

        Well, Greg, I’m not proud of that encounter.
        This was one of those instances that shouldn’t count
        because he came into my place of employment…..and
        we frequently helped celebrities at the Bodhi Tree…..
        However, Crispie had recently been in the news for being
        a total weirdo and buying something like antique
        gynecological examining tables or something, so of course
        I wasn’t just going to let him go hide in the tantra section
        of the bookstore….nooo…I had to follow him, and be a
        complete nuisance while my compatriots cheered me on
        (ok, I was 22 and bored, so shoot me). Truth is, he was
        a pretty shy perv, and as I became more and more “helpful”
        he became more and more flustered until he finally just turned
        red-faced, jammed his hands in his pockets and fled….
        I still feel guilty.

      • Janine Adair Kohanim Ferrell says:

        Oh! And thanks for the link!

  15. Becky says:

    I didn’t know that Owen Wilson wrote The Royal Tennenbaums (sp. ?)! Really? I love that movie, and now I have a whole new respect for him.

    He parked on the sidewalk because he had a drug/alcohol/brain problem back then. And probably also because it was closer to where he was going.

    I suspect that being Robin Williams is very draining. Even without the cocaine and whatnot. Like, he must crash often. Either that or he is always having to conserve his energy for one of his spastic, manic outbursts, especially in his old age.

    I am fascinated by Robin Williams. Maybe especially now that I know he looks like a terminally ill bum. I’m sort of fascinated by anyone whose brain is capable of moving that fast, and I suspect that it is a sort of savantism. An uber-function hiding or sneakily expressing some serious malfunction.

    And, of course, there’s that comedian’s profile. The dysfunctional individual finding escape in humor. I mean, Wilson and Williams are both comedy-types and both have had raging, self destructive substance abuse problems. Some of the darkest moments you ever hear about on the bio channel are in comedians’ stories. They’re really, generally, a very depressed, endlessly approval-seeking bunch. So it’s probably unwise to hinge your prospects for happiness on any comedian. In fact, I’d say that a glum Robin Williams is a sign that all is right with the world, all things considered. Comedy and Tragedy. Yin and Yang. Om. That whole thing.

    A bottle of Evian costs $5 in Hollywood? Or Demi Moore is just so filthy rich she doesn’t care about her change?

    • Ben Loory says:

      yeah, owen wilson co-wrote the first three “wes anderson” movies. then he stopped and they turned to shit and so far no one seems to have figured out why.

      i agree, robin williams is endlessly fascinating. it seems like his mind and soul are of infinite size but stuck in a really small container and he’s just buzzing about like a fly in a matchbox or some kind of metaphor or something. or maybe it’s just because the first time i ever saw him he was wearing a red jumpsuit with a silver triangle on it and saying “shazbot.” makes an impression.

      as for demi moore, i think she just had a five and wanted to be nice and not demand change and whatnot. it was all a pretty fast and painless transaction. for everyone! even ralph didn’t feel a thing.

  16. Becky says:

    The only time I ever laughed so hard that I nearly vomited was watching “Good Morning Vietnam” for the first time. I was 11 or 12 or something. Spasmodic, rigor-inducing laughter. He can make a million “Flubbers” and “RVs.” I don’t care how often he flops. As far as I am concerned, he is forever the man–the only man–to have taken over my brain and body in such a way that I nearly puked for joy.

    That kind of experience will stick with a girl. Nanu nanu.

    • Ben Loory says:

      i’ve never seen good morning vietnam. i know, i know!!! i know!!!!! i keep meaning to but then in the end i just sit in my house and stare at the wall for seventeen years instead. i will try to get around to it soon. hopefully before they come and take me to the crematorium.

      when i was in high school robin williams mc’d some kind of award show on tv. i don’t remember what it was. it wasn’t the oscars… might have been the emmys or something, i don’t know… anyway something went wrong and he just had to improvise for a while to fill time…. it was so awesome, funniest thing i’d ever seen… i don’t remember any of it… but it was amazing! and he was wearing these crazy billowing pants… like mc hammer, but before mc hammer so it wasn’t as stupid as that makes it sound, and he had a pocketwatch on a long silver watch-chain… he just never stopped talking and running around and laughing and everything he said topped what he’d just said and then that and then that and then that… it was like watching twenty thousand people have an argument through the mouth of one body, and all of them were the funniest people of all time… it was (quite literally, probably) insane… i wanted to be him so bad right then and for the rest of my life and i still do…. please nobody dig that up and post the video… i don’t want to see it… let me have my memories…

      poor guy.

      • Becky says:

        *sigh* Robin Williams. What a buddy.

        I watched some VERY early routine of his on comedy central. Haven’t been able to find it on you tube or anything. It was ancient. Certainly when he was still on drugs. He was sweating like an animal and jumping up and falling down and gesticulating wildly and throwing his water around, jumped off the stage and made a lap of the theatre, assaulting people as he went, and by the end of it, even I was exhausted. I think he even had prop hats. It was lovely.

        • Ben Loory says:

          “sweating like an animal” pretty much sums it up. he was always so far over the boundaries. and none of it ever seemed laid out. it really did just seem like he did a lot of coke and ran out onstage and went insane for a while. nobody really does that anymore. or at least, nobody funny. it’s the “funny” part that’s hard to come by i guess.

  17. Darian Arky says:

    Back in the mid-80s I cut in front of this guy at a bar in Carmel, looked up, saw it was Clint Eastwood, and thought, “Shit, I don’t have a gun.” That was the closest I ever came to being in a movie, even if just in my own mind. He was drunk, so I could’ve had the drop on him.

    Came across Christopher Walken on the street in Prague in the 90s, but no one was recognizing him. He saw the look of recognition on my face as I got closer and said, “Please don’t.” I just kept going. I’m sure it wasn’t personal.

    (I saw Michael Stipe’s dick, but I already wrote a blog about that years ago, and no one wants to hear about it anymore. It’s not like the first thing out of my mouth is always Michael Stipe’s dick, though.)

    I want to run into Uma Thurman. But I’m afraid I’ll just fuck it up. I should make some notes that I can just take out of my pocket. I just need to figure out a way to prepare her too.

    • Ben Loory says:

      michael stipe interrupted my lunch at erewhon one time to ask me how the soup was. i said what? he said the soup, how is the soup? i said oh, it’s pretty good. then i looked down at it and realized that it actually was pretty good. so then i nodded, sort of to myself, and said really good! really good! then i looked at michael stipe and he didn’t look very impressed. like maybe i wasn’t excited enough. so then he said thanks, and walked away. and then i realized that it was michael stipe. then i tried to think of what i should have said to michael stipe. but i couldn’t think of anything other than i really hate that fucking song about standing in the place where you live, or whatever. so i guess it all worked out okay. i should go back there. that soup is good.

  18. saw John Lovitz just staring at the street on Hollywood Blvd. he looked weird, like in a daze. took me a couple years to realize he might have been looking at the stars. didn’t he beat someone up once? i’d like to know why. wouldn’t want to piss him off.

    • Ben Loory says:

      he beat up andy dick, i think. for obvious reasons. and also because andy dick apparently gave troy mcclure’s wife some cocaine and then as a result troy mcclure’s wife killed troy mcclure. is i think the story. anyway i don’t even need to know that. i’d beat up andy dick if i met him. actually that’s not true, i have met him, and all i did was look at him and think, oh, it’s andy dick.

  19. Ducky says:

    Famous people generally suck; I’ve met a bunch over the years. Now when I see one, I run the other way.

    Worst FP ever: Frances Ford Coppola
    Best FP ever: Harrison Ford

    The only one I really want to meet is Eastwood.

    Great post. A lot of fun. How high was Wilson?

    • Ben Loory says:

      in order to answer that i’ve have to know how high he usually is. i mean, he seemed exactly the same as always, which is either stone cold sober or out of his fucking mind… hard to say, you know? i will say that he was very pleasant. it was just like you’d imagine it to be. just instant hey we’re friends just talking, it’s just that i’m kind of not here cuz i’m a lunatic-genius-idiot-child. (i’m talking about him, not me.)

      i would never want to meet clint eastwood. that guy’s scary. i’m grumbly! grumble grumble. okay.

      i’d like to hear your coppola and ford stories. my mom’s friend went to school with harrison ford. she said he was an asshole, which i took to mean he was probably pretty awesome.

  20. Kimberly says:

    I lied. (Again.) I don’t have much to say about this post.

    (Still really impressed you know Trouble in Paradise)

    But I really liked this. Your writing makes me happy.

  21. Tony DuShane says:

    great piece.

    i sat behind robin wright penn at a screening for a wim wenders film. i walked to the front with my camera to take a photo of wenders. as i walked back to my seat i looked at her and she smiled at me.

    • Ben Loory says:

      that is a wonderful story! in fact, it might be my favorite. it’s like, that and animal farm, side by side. or neck and neck, i suppose.

  22. […] Loory has a really lovely story in Wigleaf–The Rope and the Sea. He also shares some celebrity sightings at The Nervous […]

  23. Marni Grossman says:

    Maybe there are people wandering around LA hoping for a Ben Loory sighting. I know I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled if I ever make it out West.

    • Ben Loory says:

      goodness, marni grossman, i’d hope you’d just call, so i could take you to alegria for a burrito! and guacamole. and that specially flavored coffee with all the brown sugar in it.

  24. Tom Hansen says:

    Robin Williams filmed World’s Best Dad or whatever the hell at my girlfriends apartment building.I didn’t see him. I wasn’t dating her then. I wouldn’t have cared anyway. Idon’t like him. People say I look like Owen Wilson. I don’t like it. I don’t like him either (except for the Zissou movie)

  25. I loved this. Made me laugh. It’s an ode to living in LA…has a Joan Didion/going down to Ralph’s in a bikini because of the Santa Anas vibe…do you know that piece? Thanks for this great piece.

    • Ben Loory says:

      i don’t know that piece. to tell you the truth, i try to stay away from joan didion. her writing makes me want to do horrible things to myself with a knife. or maybe to joan didion! joke! joke! that was a joke. i would never do anything harmful to joan didion. i’m a peaceful man. anyway, i’m glad you like the piece. i personally am always hoping to run into the big lebowski in ralph’s. in his bathrobe, of course. but he’s never there.

  26. TammyAllen says:

    I’ve seen many celebrities. I lived in LA in 80-86. Bruce Willis used to stalk a friend of mine. We were cocktail waitresses at Ivy at the Shore. But a funnier story is that Evel Kneivel’s son used to stalk my roommate and she had to get a restraining order. I could go on for days but I’m sure no one cares.

    On a very serious note, Robin Williams suffers from Bi-polar disorder which is a real disease.

  27. Lorna says:

    My three famous people sightings are:

    1. Tom Selleck on the San Diego freeway. He was kind of an ass. I mean he should be used to people gawking at him on freeway and not speed away like that. And I didn’t even get the eyebrow lift.

    2. Britney Spears in Walmart in Vegas at about 5 am… At least I’m pretty sure it was her and that dude Kevin.

    3. I rode on the same plan as Ziggy Marley and one of his brothers while flying out of St. Martin a few years ago. He is a very down to earth kind of guy. He also has a nice smile.

    Oh, okay

    4. Dean Roland with Collective Soul almost touched my hand at a concert and I screamed like a teenage girl. I’m now embarrassed to even attend another concert…. I’m certain he’ll remember me.

    • Ben Loory says:

      i can’t believe you know the name of one of the guys in collective soul!!! you just might be my new idol!!! (my old one was that gold one in raiders of the lost ark.)

      • Lorna says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure how it happened really, but I know the names of ALL of the band members….. Even the drummer. I blame twitter.

        So, If I’m an idol do I get to sit up high on some pedestal? Cuz, I’m not really comfortable being up that high.

        • Ben Loory says:

          don’t worry, the pedestal has that thing so it sinks slowly down into the stone, which will put you at a more comfortable level. of course then the big boulder will come and make us run down the tunnel and fall in the pit. so maybe we need to rethink this.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          You throw me the idol, I throw you the rope!

          Alfred Molina, you’re the best cameo ever.

  28. Gloria says:

    The Robin Williams piece made me really sad. And really happy. Weird.

  29. Gloria says:

    Also, one time, when I lived in Dallas, I was at a record store with my friend Richard and he realized that he was running late for work. So he spotted the bassist from Hootie and the Blowfish looking at CDs and he asked him if he could drive me home. The Blowfish bassist politely said no. Richard drove me home. He was late for work.

    • Ben Loory says:

      jesus, people recognizing dudes from collective soul and hootie and the blowfish!!! what’s going on around here???!?!? it took me ten minutes to recognize demi moore! i’m starting to feel like a retard.

  30. Erika Rae says:

    I’m so glad this got re-posted (sort of) so that I could read it (since I apparently missed it the first time). So great. Can’t stop chuckling.

    • Ben Loory says:

      erika, how come your gravatar photo doesn’t look anything like you? it’s confusing. is that actually you? i mean, both yous look great, but they don’t resemble each other. is it just me?

  31. Erika Rae says:

    I don’t understand. I think it looks like me…but now a few people have told me that. Hmmm…maybe I’ll try and find a new one.

    • Ben Loory says:

      don’t go changing to try to please me. i love you just the way you are.

      • Erika Rae says:

        HA – But it’s not you, it’s me.

        (Ben Loory, you are the sweetest.)

        So. Since we’re discussing gravatars, what are you looking at in yours?

        • Erika Rae says:

          …and now I’ve gone and changed my gravatar just for you. I’m striking a thoughtful pose. I’m thinking about what the heck you might be looking at in yours.

        • Ben Loory says:

          that doesn’t look like you, either!!! go back to the first one!!! immediately!!!!!!!!

          you must have some kind of weird deflective skin that makes photography of you impossible.

          (i don’t know what i was looking at in that photo. i was probably just trying to look romantical.)

          i feel bad for causing all this consternation.

          now i’m going to make bacon.

        • Anon says:

          @Erika Rae: Perhaps a fedora would help…. (:

          @Ben: Bacon. Now there’s a celebrity I would like to meet this morning.

        • Erika Rae says:

          @Ben: Making bacon is always an appropriate response to trauma. But I told you before when you were at my house, I am terribly nonphotogenic. I have nonphotogenic genes. It’s a disorder. Or perhaps you just don’t recognize me because I’m being *thoughtful*. Give me a little while, I’ll see what else I can come up with.

          PS – I think that will be the photo I use when I become poet laureate of the United States.

          @ Anon: I actually thought of that, but alas, I lent mine out last week and it has not been returned yet.

        • Anon says:

          Scoundrels abound! What is your hat size? I shall send you a new one. I would lend you mine now but then I would, quite literally, lose face.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Oh! If only I had a light saber!

        • Erika Rae says:

          OK. I have found a picture of me with Aspen. I was sort of hoping that Aspen’s presence would prove that it is, indeed, me in the picture. What do you think? Does it make me look fat? ( ;

  32. […] …and the time he saw Robin Williams looking like crap… […]

  33. Uche Ogbuji says:

    “If Robin Williams can’t be happy, how can I?”

    Ha! As Zara would say, Sartre can suck it. That’s REAL French philosophy, bitches!

    Nice manouevre to pocket the cash in the Demi Moore episode, too.

  34. […] am I?  Read more and find […]

  35. Mary Richert says:

    Yeah, so I’m late to the game on this one. Really late. But I need you to know that that is the best ending ever.

  36. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    This is hilarious. Sometimes it’s just fun living in L.A. I almost ran over Owen Wilson in a crosswalk once in Santa Monica. But like you said, he’s a-okay. So far so good.

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