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Sunday, 29 December 2013

11am Friday Morning, Los Angeles

I didn't even tell Matt that I was coming to LA. I got in touch with Tina, his wife, and told her to keep it a surprise.

Tina and Matt headed to Hollywood and Highland for 11am on the Friday morning, meeting point: Johnny Rockets diner.

I crept up behind them and, over-egging my English accent, said, "excuse me, could you tell me where Buckingham Palace is, I'm looking for the Queen."

Matt's what-the-fuck look quickly turned into an oh-my-god-it's-really-you look. We hugged it out -- and then I hugged Tina, the both of us happy and a bit surprised that we'd manager to pull off a cross-ocean-surprise. 

We jumped into their car and Tina sat in the back, insisting "you two need to sit in the front and catch up". But catching up was never our style, instead we just burned on forward. We created new in-jokes, new observations about life and new experiences right there in the heart of Hollywood.

The years had passed but somehow our friendship hadn't. And this time Tina was really a part of it too -- we were three people digging each other's company and all the crazy stories that went with it.

Weird what you remember and what you forget when the years pass without seeing a friend. We'd kept in touch but never in a sane way. We'd written each other constant letters over the years but they were all in character. I wrote to him saying I was the MI5 looking to recruit him for service, and also wrote him many letters in character as Alfred .M Peffle, a shy dyslexic who was afraid of letter writing, and I sent him music compilations that consisted of one Tom Petty song on repeat, backwards. He emailed me every few months with a diary of updates, but they were mostly fictional, and written in the style of a deranged, psychopathic eater of small to medium sized bagels. 

We chatted about gluten, not really quite knowing what it was, so we went to a gluten-free store and asked them, but they didn't know about gluten, only about things they were free of gluten. Then we went to Rocket Fizz in Burbank and stocked up on sugary goodness. The time whizzed by and Friday soon disappeared into a distant day, the greatest of days, the day when I got to see Matt and Tina again.

Cut to a few days later and we were screaming across town, laughing hysterically at our comedy sketch ideas, knowing we'd never make them because they were more powerful when only for us. We ate in vegan restaurants, and they were GOOD, who'd have figured!? We went for a coffee but guess what, a film crew had taken up the best seats. We were grumpy about it, about the inconsiderate nature of film crews -- knowing that it's more our style, if needing a shot in a coffee house, to sneak in with a camera and sound gear and get it in five minutes while no-ones looking.

It was while showing Matt and Tina my recent work on my battered old laptop that I realised just how in-sync we were, creatively. I'd literally watch and read ANYTHING they produce, they're humans who inspire, excite and challenge me, and THAT is what art is. We have have this great bond as friends, and it's based on WHO WE ARE, WHAT WE FEEL and even more so, WHAT ART WE MAKE. 

We chatted about the distances that we felt had grown between us and the Hollywood system, with all of us now content and happy to work on our own projects in our own time to our own audiences, regardless of how big or small they are.

Another night we met up for pizza. I waited around for about thirty minutes by the North Hollywood Subway Station. I don't think I was waiting because they were late, I think I was just crazy early. I listened to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's cover of 'You Ain't Goin' Nowhere' on repeat about eight times because it totally and completely captured the energy of the night.

They arrived and we went for pizza. We decided to sit outside, but then a band started playing and wow-- they were bad. Luckily it started raining so we had the excuse to disappear. We returned inside and chatted more about life.

It was that night or some other night when we went back to their place to listen to OLD RECORDS. Everyone knows that vinyl sounds better, they just down realise that it makes life A MILLION TIMES SWEETER, too. We drank tea and chatted about Billy Wilder and Stephen King and Neil Young and reptiles and then we played a game that I didn't know the name of so we called it 'Fat Erica' and laughed ourselves deep into the Hollywood night.

LA has a way of being chilled and casual yet at the same time, a million things happen all at once. A thousand things happened in LA and only a few of them were in the company of Matt and Tina, it's just that they happened to be the most memorable.

Care to share?

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