Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Story time

Gather 'round the campfire. Here's a tale from back in early 1989. A friend of mine (we'll call her L) had suggested we catch a movie. Apparently there was a Pedro Almodovar flick (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) playing out in Hollywood, and she'd been wanting to catch it while it was still showing. I figured what the hell. L was a fun person to hang with, and the film had garnered some good reviews. So one Friday night we set out (with plenty of classic Lou Reed piping through the car's stereo speakers), first to pick up another friend of hers from Long Beach (I forget his name, but he was a lot of fun to be with as I recall) and then went up to the Los Angeles area and cruised along Sunset Boulevard.

All along Sunset Boulevard we kept noticing these posters that depicted some guy posed like Marlon Brando on a motorcycle, with the caption "Dennis Woodruff, Actor". None of us thought much of it at the time. Since we had tons of time on our hands and next to no money, we decided to find a Denny's. As L parked, we noticed that there were more of those Dennis Woodruff posters plastered all over the place. L's friend and I were becoming increasingly amused. So, we go into the Denny's, and with the spare cash between us share a plate of fries and each order a cup of coffee (at the time Denny's was known for being generous with refills). Since we were seated at a booth by a window, we had quite a view of that portion of Sunset, which in that part of Hollywood was pretty run-down. The view is important for my story only because it wasn't long - while the three of us were enjoying the fries, coffee, cigarrettes and conversation - before a late 1970s Olds Delta 88, plastered with Dennis Woodruff posters and what I can only guess was his personal phone number appeared. We watched the driver park that heap nearby, and sure enough that driver was none other than Dennis Woodruff himself. At this point L's friend and I were dying laughing. To her credit, L tried to get us to behave, but even she was having a hard time maintaining her composure. So, Woodruff walks in, sees the three of us and (if you were expecting an altercation here, you'll be disappointed) walked up to us and said, rather low-key-like, "I guess it is kind of funny." As he turned around and walked to where he would be seated. I couldn't help but notice his jacket had both a Screen Actors Guild logo as well as (of course) the words "Dennis Woodruff, Actor" emblazoned on it for all to see. I'd later learn that he was pretty notorious for his efforts at self-promotion around Hollywood, and I'm guessing that he was pretty well used to (or even welcoming of) the amused reactions of whatever bystanders he managed to encounter. I'll give the dude credit for sheer chutzpah.

Well, we finished up our meal (if you can call it that), saw the film (it lived up to its reputation), and then cruised around LA and The OC until the wee hours, listening to Lou Reed and shooting the breeze - which was pretty much what bored college students with minimal disposable income would do. The only other excitement was when we noticed what looked like a pretty huge fire out in what we figured was the Westminster or Garden Grove area - so we drove as near as we could get to the scene and watched this building that apparently was still under construction burn as firefighters tried to put the fire out. After that, with the effects of the caffeine and nicotine wearing off (and additional nicotine doing absolutely no good), we called it a night.

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