Register Tuesday | January 21 | 2020

Off The Road Again

"I have to admit I found so many of the cities utterly disappointing. "

Hello, dear reader. It’s been two months since my last confession, and while I am not sure if there is even anyone out there reading this thing, I apologize for my prolonged absence. I was nearing “broke” status and had to take a job shooting a TV show for six weeks across the East Coast and Midwest. Maybe I mentioned it. And since I was determined not to take my laptop (because it holds way too much important stuff in it), there was no blogging (and not much emailing for that matter) to be done on the road.

I took the job because I needed the money, but the idea of staying in nicer hotels than I could ever afford while getting the chance to see sixteen cities on someone else’s dime was a nice incentive too. While I don’t think it wise to divulge the name of the show, I will tell you it’s a reality-based show about a sports team that has a cult following of fans who are crazy about these guys. To you and me they may be just mediocre players we’ve never heard of, but to their fans, these guys are like rock stars. I’m talking kids chasing the tour buses, underage girls hanging around the hotel hallways late at night, all that stuff.

So I was one of the camera guys in a small TV crew of four on this big adventure across America. We did sixteen cities in forty-five days, traveling between cities on the bus by night, waking up at dawn in some new place, where we would stay for two or three days. Then we would get on the bus again. I have to admit, before the trip I was a little excited about seeing so many new places. I had long wished for a trip across the country and this was as close to one as I had come in a long time. Unfortunately, however, I have to admit I found so many of the cities utterly disappointing. Downtown Cleveland was a ghost town (don’t believe the city’s slogan: “Cleveland Rocks!”), Detroit lived up to my low expectations, and Tampa was… Tampa. For the most part, the downtown areas of each city were largely the same: a few greasy spoons and some upscale business joints, a Kinko’s, some municipal buildings, and an arena. If we were there on the weekend, forget it: you’d be lucky if you found anywhere to eat besides the hotel restaurant. Those cities that had shopping areas were the same from city to city, mainly just streets lined with the exact same chain stores that you would find at the mall: Foot Locker, Banana Republic, GAP, bla bla bla. If there was ever any doubt, Corporate America has officially taken over. The only cities that had some sort of unique character were the usual suspects: New Orleans, Memphis, Miami, D.C.,and Chicago.

But I have no regrets. I was paid well (though I’m still waiting for the check), and if it ever arrives I should have enough money to last through the winter. Like a squirrel hoarding acorns.

And of course, it’s good to be back. This may have been the first time returning to L.A. actually felt like home. There’s a few days left of summer and the ocean is still barely warm enough for a dip. Unfortunately, I have a short film that my partners and I are racing to get done in time for the Sundance Film Festival deadline. Which is this Friday. We should make it if the computers behave and everything goes according to plan. Which it never does. I’m sure my fingers will be typing about it in the next day or two.