left column in tahiti

you are so much more important than i am

"Fuck ‘em one. Fuck ‘em two. Fuck ‘em all."

One of my friends says this all the time, and I’m beginning to think it’s a motto to live by. I remember being 18 in college and all dramatic and zen and shit and thinking that "fuck it" was a pretty deep personal philosophy. I soon realized that was crap and took off the beret, put down the Kerouac and started to care about things in a real way. To be passionate.

Well, I’ve now come back around to the "fuck it" theory.

Here’s the problem: it’s become more and more screamingly apparent that a lot of people in my life, both personally and peripherally, are completely self-involved. This is something I harp on a lot, but bear with me, because its true. And it effects us all.

From the guy who cuts you off in traffic because he doesn’t see you/care about you, to the woman in line at the post office on the cell phone talking loudly to her hairdresser about the coffee enema she received that weekend at the spa in Ojai, to the group of friends talking loudly during the movie, to your friend who only talks about his own problems or the minutiae of his fucking boring day while never once bothering to notice, let alone inquire, about the fact that you have a new tattoo on your forehead or you’re crying or you’re bleeding profusely from a bullet wound to the eye.

And you know the old adage about the squeaky wheel? Well, these are thems. And these are thems that be taking all the grease, leaving you forlorn and rusting like some redneck’s ’67 Mustang on blocks in the front yard with the ivy growing around it.

And you simply cannot compete on a level playing field with these fuckers. You just can’t. How do you get love from a person who genuinely likes you but would fail to notice if you were on fire because they were too busy telling you about the new diet they’re starting tomorrow and oh that reminds me, mom has been driving me nuts lately… (This is another sign: they refer to their parents to you as "mom" and "dad" instead of "my mom" or "my dad".) And you, my friend, are now part of their web… you are in a place where they can talk to you as if you’re dear diary, but like dear diary, the relationship for them is one sided. Diary gets no airtime, baby. Diary listens… and silently drowns...)

Part of the reason I found myself so involved watching The Talented Mr. Ripley was because I recognized that Dickie / Tom relationship so well. The degree of pathetic-ness aside (as well as the gay stuff), I’ve been there. On both sides. Dickie is fine. It’s fun for a while - finding someone who just wants to bask in your heat. But ultimately it’s boring empty and mean. The Tom shit, though. Woah boy.

One night in early high-school a bunch of us, before we had cars, were walking down the street in Berkeley. I remember I wanted to stop somewhere for some reason and everyone was just like, "naw, let’s go on." So I went. Then a couple blocks later, Jim needed to stop and make a phone call to his girlfriend. Everyone stopped and waited, interested in Jim’s every move and willing to follow because Jim was the golden boy and Jim had recently had sex for the first time and Jim was rich and Jim Jim Jim. Me, I kept walking. Five blocks later I didn’t even bother to turn around, I knew no one was following. They were probably all gathered around still, Oooooohing and making kissing noises while Jim talked to Rachel. But I didn’t go back. Even then (hell, way before then) I was aware of the group dynamic and the lure of Some and was determined to go against that. I guess I was being a rebel. Rebelling against "the system". And while I had some sense that in essence I was fighting the good fight, at the time it sure felt painful and lonesome.

(And to some I am Jim. I am the golden boy. But I don’t act the part for long. I get bored.)

And to this day that dynamic is still there with Jim. He’s married and has this wonderful apartment and is simply way way way more interested in his life than yours. Even though on paper, in terms of excitement, one would think my life is 1000 times more varied and interesting than his. And people, the same people walking down that street years ago, still laugh and ask questions and listen to the minutiae, details which I would be perfectly willing to listen to, were it not so fucking obvious a fact that homeboy just doesn’t really give a fuck about anyone else.

And it’s not only the golden boys and girls who do this. You know who else it is, albeit in a varied form…

The flakes.

The flakes are often very nice, generous people. But they just skate by on their flakiness. They’re late, they don’t show up, they cancel dates, they disappear for weeks on end… and it is all somehow forgiven to the fact that homeboy is flaky. He doesn’t mean any harm, he’s just a flake.

Well, people, I gots news for you. Flakes practice as vicious and cognizant a form of manipulation as the overtly self-involved. Do you have friends to whom you probably wouldn’t speak for months if you didn’t pick up the phone and call them? I do. They like me. Even love me. I’m very important to them. They’ve just been really really busy.

And some of these people do not have jobs, folks!

Todd and I talked about this the other day, and he gives those people one warning, and then that’s it. I, stupidly, value people and relationships and so struggle with my rage and call them anyway. I hear this: "I was wondering why you hadn’t called."


Thinking back on it, when I first started watching Friends and Seinfeld, I had a visceral negative reaction to Kramer and Phoebe. Everyone loved them, but I thought they were selfish selfish little fuckers. I learned to grow to like them, but it’s clear now that my reaction was to the fact that everyone around them let them constantly get away with hurting people… because they were flakes and that’s what everyone accepted and knew was coming. In fact, Jerry is an example of the more overt kind of self-involved person. Granted, he cares about his friends or at least does ask them about such and such in their lives, but think about it: why does everyone always go to Jerry’s apartment? Does Jerry ever go to George’s? No. Are you kidding. Everyone comes to Jerry’s cuz Jerry is the King. Jerry Jerry Jerry.

Hollywood is just full of that variety. Full of people who simply know and accept that they are 1000 times more important than everyone else. Think about it: why can Harvey Weinstein get away with, for instance, threatening to throw my friend out the window when this guy worked for Harvey? Fuck him. Throwing a tantrum in a Park City restaurant because Fine Line bought Shine out from under him? Forget the Fine Line fuckers, what about the other patrons of the restaurant? What gives that Jaba-ass the right to ruin their dinners? Maybe a young man was proposing to his girlfriend and had chosen that restaurant. Maybe a distraught grown-up son got his mother out of the nursing home for one night and he’d chosen to take his shaky and often confused mom out for a special dinner. I wish one of these people would have stood up right there and said, "Listen you fucker: I’m eating dinner here. You’re not in Hollywood anymore, so shut up or I’m going to punch you very hard in the eye." (I should have done that when Cuba Gooding Jr. ruined my birthday dinner last year by loudly holding court at a restaurant. I should have.) Todd recently had a late commercial audition. He was the last person in after about 300 guys. He finished and as he was walking from the room, one of the ad execs said very sarcastically, "Well that was worth waiting for." Todd just walked out, but now he wishes to god he’d turned around and chewed the self-important prick out.

And the solution for the self-involved, (if for any of you this hits close to home), is rather simple. Put your fucking attention on something outside yourself. Whether you are how you are because you’re sad and unhappy or because you really just think you’re the cat’s meow: pay attention to something else for a second. James Taylor has a song on Hourglass called Up From Your Life. And that’s what you need to do: "Look up from your life." There’s a whole world out there.

So anyway… in coming to the end of my rope with these selfish stupid little people, my instinct is to turn around and fuck the world. Welcome people into my web and use them for my purposes. For my fear of being alone or need for acolytes or whatever it is that motivates these people. (Good question: is it from being told as a kid that you’re the center of the universe and can do no wrong, or is it making up for being totally ignored?) But doing that does not interest me. As an exercise, perhaps, but I know my nature, and my nature is summed up well in a line from Joe Vs. The Volcano:

I've done a lot of soul searching lately. I've been asking myself some tough questions. You know what I've found out?


I have no interest in myself. I think about myself, I get bored out of my mind.

Perhaps this is part of the reason I was drawn to acting in the first place. The desire to try on someone else’s skin for a while. Plus, I genuinely care about others. I’m interested in their lives. So instead of turning more bitter than I already am and turning into a Harvey Weinstein or a Dickie, from here on in I’m simply going to cut these people off if they pull that shit. Even if it’s painful to be without their seldom-offered light, I’m not putting up with that shit in my life anymore. And perhaps as a side-effect I’m going to turn into one of them anyway, by virtue of putting on the "Fuck ‘em" hat.

I hope not. But if I do, well…they created it.

The Larry King Happy Song Corner

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Whenever I see your smiling face. I have to smile myself. Because I love you. Yes I do. And when you give me that pretty little pout. It turns me inside out. There's something about you, baby. I don't know. Isn't it amazing a man like me, can feel this way. Tell me how much longer, it will grow stronger every day. Oh, how much longer. I thought I was in love a couple of times before with the girl next door. But that was long before I met you. Now I'm sure that I won't forget you. And I thank my lucky stars, that you are who you are, and not just another lovely lady sent down to break my heart… speaking of which. Whenever I see my dinner ready on the table when I get home from the studio, the Yankees game on the TV, a huge stein of frosty Lowenbrau, and you already at your choir rehearsal, I have to smile myself.

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