Sunday, January 6, 2008

Day five...Identify don't compare.

I had on the TV the other night flipping around between late night talk shows.

They are all pretty awful. It doesn't matter who is writing for them, if anyone. The hosts are all tired, submissive dogs who had their incisors filed down years ago. The jokes are as predictable and bland as fish sandwich Fridays in school. The big difference there...tartar sauce. Heaps of it.

I can remember watching the first few years of Letterman back in the early eighties. TV was a different game then. Kind of like the MLB these days. A few major players and then everyone else. All of the hopeful stragglers with their spotty, snowy band widths had to have good, fresh ideas like "Creature Double Feature" or "Dialing for Dollars" or nobody cared.

Letterman cared. He had just been assigned a prestigious task. Following Johnny. That must have been rough.

But remote controls were far and few between back then and getting up from the couch to change the channel at 12:30 took effort. My hands were smaller and the tiny buttons we are so used to today were instead giant, imposing knobs. Knobs that resisted arrest as you turned them and landed on each consecutive channel with such force it felt like a .44 magnum. If you are old enough to remember smoking areas inside hospitals then you know what I'm talking about.

It was Letterman or nothing. Gray, static charged, antennae fueled, nothing, perfectly centered in a faux wood paneled shell that was as heavy as a mahogany roll top desk. He knew his competition was a test pattern. Or maybe, if you were lucky, a loop of the flag waving with call letters in the corner. But he cared anyway. He was funny as hell and someone who spoke our language. He felt our same pessimisms and annoyances with everyday life because, back then, he was still like us. He wasn't the Mad magazine cover of a bloated celebrity head, force-fed with jokes as predictable as a Dukes of Hazzard outcome that he is today.

I remember the first writers strike in `88. In light of the more recent strike, and subsequent return of late night shows, I kind of wished for the same unpredictable behavior that happened on Letterman in `88 after he decided to go ahead and broadcast without a scrap of script. But I was young and impressionable back then and to me it was still funny. At least the way I remember it. I'll have to review via youtube. How amazing is that. One of the millions of entertainment choices we have today. We live in a golden age of options. But the Tyrannosaurus Rex could devour anything he could possibly think of back in his day too.

So, it was with great optimism and excitement that I sat and waited for the accomplished actor, director, and photographer Leonard Nimoy to appear on Craig Ferguson.

I knew what was coming. Einstein being interviewed by Mr. Bean.

And so it was.

Nimoy has been photographing women in various states of undress for a few years back. A juicy bit of chum for Mr. Bean.

But Nimoy, like Einstein, had a sense of humor. He sat before the always baffling Scot (how did he get this show?) and batted away with great yet slightly uncomfortable timing, all the requisite queries that he was peppered with. And they were mostly not regarding Star Trek.

Leonard's latest book of photography is of obese women. Clothed and nude. Dancing, sitting, posed, and candid. It's a great, uniquely powerful book. He is a wonderful photographer. He cares about his subject. But this is not just chum for Mr. Bean, this is a Princess Cruise ship sinking in the middle of the ocean. And it's dinnertime. Was he a chubby chaser? he was asked. Did his wife know about this? And of course the raised eyebrow as he leaned back in his chair that implied; what went on after the cameras stopped? Cue the "Boinggggg" sound effect.

This is not the BBC Craig. This is America, and our audiences aren't still mourning Benny Hill. They didn't laugh en masse as Mr. Bean expected, and this was nice to see. This was progress. Because it wasn't and isn't funny.

My mother died from a disease brought on by obesity so I can only appreciate so much his efforts of trying to dispel the myths that fat is not pretty.

Fat will kill a person. It all too recently did.

It is one of my problems. I've never been a skinny man, even in my teens. But that problem right now is on the back burner. Drugs and alcohol are in prime time. My VHF, if you will.

I was lucky enough to be a subject last fall for Leonard Nimoy's latest project. No, it's not nude photos of obese men. It's a project entitled "Who do you think you are?" It is about our secret self. The person least on display for the public. I chose the Courageous Alpha Male and I wore a Scoutmaster's outfit. Long story short, I got to pose for the same iconic figure that I was watching on my television screen being interviewed by Ferguson. The same man countless fans have dressed as with pointy ears and light blue uniform; Mr. Spock.

And I felt funny.

I felt funny because someday, maybe in a few years, if this project sees the light of day Leonard Nimoy will have to do press for it. If, god forbid, Ferguson still has a show Nimoy will probably agree to be on it. And Mr. Bean might flip to the pictures of me in the Scoutmaster's outfit and ask some impolite questions.

And this is showbiz.

And this I'm totally cool with or I wouldn't have agreed to the sitting at all.

The weird part is, I'm losing weight.

I don't have a license anymore and so I must use my two feet and walk most everywhere. I've lost 5 pounds in 11 days and I feel great. And if my future is as I, and my lawyer predict, I will be walking for a few more months. I'll probably have to walk to the registry to get my new license. It will be warm out and I'll be wearing a t-shirt. A clean one.

I will have to sit. They will take my picture. And I won't look the same.

The same guy who sat in front of the white background 4 years ago hungover, fat, and stoned won't be sitting in front of the camera wishing his face would stop twitching and could they please take it again.

No.

Maybe, as I look back on it in the near future, I'll see my secret self.

And he won't be an alpha male at all.

He'll be me.

1 comment:

Deb C said...

All I can say is I am proud of you hunny and i support you!! always here for ya