Well, dear readers, just as I was about to start writing these here notes, I read that the wonderful actor Rip Torn passed away. He had a nice, full life. So, before I begin these here notes, here’s my Rip Torn story. When I was fourteen, I was hitchhiking in LA a lot (everyone did in those days – it wasn’t like now), and one day on Sunset Boulevard by La Brea, someone stopped and gave me a ride. He began chatting with me and asked me what I wanted to be. I told him an actor. He told me he was an actor. I asked him his name – Rip Torn – you never forget a name like that. He was so lovely and gave me, this young actor barely into his teens, such kindness and encouragement – never forgot it and always wished I’d worked with him so I could tell him. Flash forward thirty-two years, 1993 – I’ve become a full-time record producer and am crazy busy with my first three projects, but I still haven’t removed myself from the commercials world as an actor. One day, my agent called with an appointment. I told him I was way too busy, but he said it was a huge national spot and I should go. I happened to be only five minutes from where they were casting, and so I drove there – it was for the role of a scientist.
I walked in and there were fifty actors in lab coats. I couldn’t believe it, but that’s what actors were starting to do, show up in costume. I was in T-shirt and jeans. I signed in and a few minutes later was ushered into the room. I was introduced to the agency and the person who’d be directing the commercial – they didn’t mention his name, but boy did his voice sound familiar. I remember the first words out of his mouth: “Oh, thank God you’re not wearing a lab coat.” I laughed, he laughed, the room laughed, and I did my audition – no dialogue, just a funny take and exit. When I did it, he roared with laughter, and said, “And you’re subtle!” I left, knowing I would get a call back for sure, but I didn’t get a call back. For the first and only time in my long career of commercials, I just got the job. They’d told my agents I was perfect and just what he wanted. I found out the director’s name – Frank Oz – that’s why his voice sounded so Muppet-like.
I showed up at Raleigh Studios (formerly Producers Studio) and reported to the very same soundstage where, eighteen years earlier I’d shot The First Nudie Musical. I got in wardrobe (lab coat) and was introduced to the star of the commercial – Rip Torn. At lunch, I told him about the hitchhiking thing, and he was so delighted to hear the story. I’m told he was a troubled person, but I never saw any of that, I just saw a funny, irreverent, and very kind person. Here’s the commercial.
Eighty-eight is an awfully good run. RIP Rip.
Yesterday, well, I know it happened but other than that I’m not at all sure what went on. Let’s see – I got seven hours of sleep. I answered e-mails, forwarded some new orders, and then Grant and I went to lunch. I hadn’t been to Stanley’s since they closed their original location and moved to their current location, a much smaller venue, so that’s what we decided on. We got right in. I had my starter Caesar salad (they don’t do half Caesars anymore but our server just made the starter salad with Caesar dressing) – that was great – and then I couldn’t resist having my beloved grilled chicken pasta with red onion, broccoli, and cashews in a cream sauce – heavy, but absolutely yummilicious. I’ll be going back soon – it’s so convenient – not even five minutes away. They really have so many things I love and their salads cannot be beat.
After that, I came home, then moseyed on over to the mail place to pick up a package, which I picked up and was a package. I came right home. I got a chart to proof, so spent time doing that and going over the way I wanted the accompaniment rhythm, which wasn’t quite right. After that, I spent some time going through the book that was in the package: Highway Patrol Locations, Then and Now. Great idea for a book, but the quality of the photos is low-fi at best and the now photos are rarely the exact angle, which is what you really want. One wishes the quality were better. Also, I tagged at least a couple of locations that aren’t even mentioned in the book, including one off Laurel Canyon, unless I somehow missed it, but there is nothing that even mentions Laurel Canyon even though you can see that address clearly. But it’s certainly my kind of book and the author certainly has his heart in the right place and has done yeoman work in tracking so much of this down. It’s amazing how much they shot in the Valley, including one great shot just about a two-minute walk from here.
Otherwise, I listened to music, had some telephonic conversations, tried to think thin, and did some work on the computer.
Today, I can sleep in, which I shall, then someone’s coming at noon o’clock to pick something up. After that, I’ll eat, hopefully pick up some packages, and then I have to begin breaking down the two parts of GEE into sections, as the way you upload this to ACX is in shorter sections. I have to read up on all that. So we’ll call it Part One Section One, Two, Three – and like that, because that’s how they want it. The Adriana book isn’t a problem, since those are chapters. I’ll do a little work in the garage, continue choosing songs for the September anniversary show, then I’ll relax.
The rest of the week is meetings and meals, Diana Canova arrives on Friday and I’m sure we’ll meet up over the weekend, then we go into the studio to record GEE on Monday and Tuesday. We should be able to finish within the eight hours I’ve booked – hopefully even in less time.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, sleep in, have a brief visitor, eat, hopefully pick up packages, organize, choose songs, figure out the sections for GEE – about twenty pages each – and then relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like. So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, as we bid a fond RIP to Rip.