By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
It’s been very hot the past month and Al is suffering. I’m in a faded pair of yellow Polo swim trunks, sandals, T-shirt and a Giants hat. (It’s hot, I told you. Queer Eye guys, step back. I’m fine.) Al, on the other hand, looks miserable in his white long-sleeve dress shirt, and the dark-gray dress pants aren’t exactly pool-ready. I’m telling you, he looks like he just walked from LAX carrying his rental car. Very rare to sweat in this town, and certainly frowned upon. Starbucks isn’t exactly Wendy’s — it takes a while to get your drinks — but the place is air-conditioned. What the hell did he do before coming in here?
I’m now waiting next to Al. I have to act fast — the frosty coffee Slurpees (7-Eleven, if you’re reading, you should sue) are almost ready, and nobody’s waiting ahead of Al.
“Hi,” I say. Good and simple. He’ll think I’m an equal. Or an idiot.
I decide to up the ante, but nothing’s coming. Fuck. Did I even vote for him? It was a crazy week and my car was really acting up during the 2000 election. “I really liked your speech at NYU.” It’s all I could think of. It was a good speech. Not great, but good.
“Well, thank you very much.”
You know that SNL skit when Sting hosted and it’s Sting on the elevator in an office building and Kevin Nealon gets on and can’t do anything but stare at the floor in silence because he doesn’t know what to say to Sting? I’m Kevin Nealon. Al is Sting. I would have told Sting that the whole tantric sex thing was just plain weird. He should fire his publicist or divorce his wife for letting that out of the bag. Made him sound like a dick. But what to say to Al?
Me and Al. Silence.
“So, are you giving another speech here in L.A. this weekend?” Okay, are there even speeches given on weekends?
“No, my daughters live here, so I’m out visiting, and I have to do some business, as well.”
“I see.” Pause. “That’s cool.” I’m 31 and ‰ I’ve just said “That’s cool” to Al Gore.
I extend my hand and Al takes it. A good shake, cleanly dry and professional. Like a doctor’s handshake after your 10 minutes on the papered bed-table.
The drinks are coming now; the barrista is separating two lids.
“Well, that speech really was great, and I know you’re still undecided — running, not running but . . .”
“Oh, I’m not undecided. I’m definitely not running. I’ve decided.”
“Well, too bad. But I respect that.” I’m sure he’ll sleep better tonight.
“Two mocha frappuccinos with whipped cream,” calls the barista.
Al takes his drinks, gets two straws from the napkin station, and heads out the door.
The middle-aged man and woman behind me were speaking what sounded like Finnish, but they were all grins as they filled up several disposable cameras with vacation snapshots of our nutty culture, embodied here in a Hollywood parade to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that landmark moment in American culture: the release of National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Animal House, the most popular film comedy of all time, pitted the hedonistic and anarchic Delta House fraternity against the uptight proto-yuppies of Omega House at fictitious Faber College in 1962. To promote the film’s silver anniversary and National Lampoon’s Animal House Double Secret Probation Edition, a new DVD containing a clever segment in which some of the original cast update their characters, Universal shut down a few blocks west of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue last week and re-staged the film’s infamous parade sequence.
Director John Landis plus cast members Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst, Peter Riegert, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Mark Metcalf, Martha Smith and James Widdoes rode in cars and on floats. So did co-writer Chris Miller, who wrote the two short stories on which the film was based for National Lampoon magazine. Judy Belushi Pisano, widow of John and a former Lampoonwriter/art director, represented her late husband. DeWayne Jessie, who led Otis Day & the Knights in the debauched toga party scene, reprised his sweaty version of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” and a pop-punk trio called MxPx packed a punchy “Animal House,” the movie’s theme song. And then there was my father, Animal House producer/Lampoon co-founder Matty Simmons. I was 23 and had already put in eight years working at the ’Poon when the movie was released.
I wasn’t surprised, then, to see a real live elephant plodding down the route, supplying the scatological humor of the parade as the pachyderm’s keepers followed with shovels and garbage bags to hearty applause. The Deathmobile careened down Hollywood Boulevard to “disrupt” the parade, and out popped a Belushi look-alike.