Register Sunday | August 18 | 2019

Garden State


Oops. I woke up this morning early and realized I had not blogged in a week! The days are going by way too fast. I spent the first part of the week in New Jersey, shooting a video on medication safety (Yes, I was on the edge of my seat too…) and the rest of the week moving into my new apartment. So those are my excuses.

First, New Jersey. For those of you living in Kenilworth, New Jersey, I can only say I’m sorry. I’m sure the constant drizzle had something to do with my impression of the town, but what a bleak town. I was staying in a hotel by the highway, the Kenilworth Inn, which was clearly a former sleazy motel that was now trying to attract a more legitimate clientele. And I suppose it was working, because the complementary continental breakfast of donuts and coffee was packed with “the Wal-Mart folks.” I put that in quotes because as soon as I entered, the waitress asked me if I was “One of them Wal-Mart folks.”

One thing you forget when you live on the West Coast for awhile is that most people in the country do not work out or see much sun after September. (You know it in the back of your mind, but it’s easily forgotten.) This was the crowd that attended the lecture I was filming. For the most part, they were pasty and overweight and not the least bit fashionable. You forget that there are people out there who still smoke cigarettes and eat donuts. Regularly. (The irony is these people were all workers in health care!) I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that- people can live however they like and I ain’t judging- but New Jersey is definitely on a different planet from Venice, CA.

The lecture went well, really easy stuff, and I had hired a kid named Andrew to shoot with me. A friend had recommended him and he could not have been more perfect for the job, because he was young and eager to do a good job. He had been quiet on the phone beforehand, but in person he was one of those people who actually have a lot to say once they get comfortable. We had a long drive on Tuesday afternoon to our second location and we chatted about French films and the current state of “indie” film and how it isn’t really indie at all anymore. It was refreshing to talk to someone who was genuinely passionate about movies and being original. I don’t meet many people like that anymore.

I spent the nights in the hotel watching the Red Sox play the Yankees, one of the most amazing comebacks any of us has ever seen. I hadn’t watched baseball in almost a year and was amazed that I could be so riveted to the TV, alone in my room, for nearly SIX HOURS. How does that happen? It just proves that sports provide a real, spontaneous, unscripted drama that no writer can ever compete with. You may disagree, but have you ever seen 50,000 people scream and yell and cry and jump up and down at a movie? I didn’t think so. There is nothing like the suspense of a full count with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and the home team down by three. And though such an event might seem contrived in a baseball movie, in real baseball it happens surprisingly often! The most amazing part about the drama in sports is that it is also completely trivial, when you really think about it. The games serve no real function, they provide no tangible service to the world, and yet they can matter more than anything else in your life in those moments. Maybe that’s why some people hate sports; the point of it all escapes them. But the beauty of sports is the meaning that each person brings to the game, whether it be the nostalgia of seeing your first game with your dad or catching a touchdown in some forgettable high school game or collecting baseball cards, etc. Everybody has their own reason for caring, but also there is a beautiful collective meaning too. The people of that city or state or country are instantly and easily bonded in powerful ways that can make two strangers smack hi-fives. What a strange human invention when you think about it.

I was going to write more about my new apartment and what it’s like living with my new roommate (and what it’s like living with a woman for the first time) but that will have to wait. I’ve got to go watch game two of the World Series.