Confessions of an FSM Intern
Installation #1: Look Ma, No Hands
by Jason Comerford
When I told my grandmother about my intention to come to Los Angeles
for an internship, she gave me a worried look and said, "Don't go
out there, Jason. Stay in North Carolina and work. There's nothing but
crazy people out there." Grandma lives in South Carolina, and hardly
ever travels. Taking care of my ailing grandfather is an adventure enough
-- she'd much rather stay somewhere she knows and understands.
Needless to say, Grandma's worried look was not the first danger sign
I'd seen. Earthquakes, LAPD, and places that are whispered about -- Compton,
South Central, the FSM office -- plagued me endlessly.
Understand this. I'd never seen the Pacific. Never set foot in California.
Hardly ever even spoke to anyone in those places aside from my irregular
communication with the FSM team and the composers I interviewed. Everyone
was always very nice and forthcoming, but still my doubts lingered.
But still. I'd committed myself to a career in the Film Industry. Something
I wanted to do since I was five and saw Ghostbusters for the first
time. I always tell my friends to stop whining and accomplish their goals,
no matter what. I always tell them to roll with the punches, to quit bitching
and moaning. Time to take some of my own advice.
So I called up the FSM team. "Need any help?" I asked. "Sure,"
Tim Curran and Lukas Kendall said. I imagined two gruff trolls in a newsroom,
rubbing their hands together and cackling and salivating at the prospect
of fresh talent to exploit.
"Okay," said I. "I'll come out for a month." Look,
Grandma, to the wolves I send myself.
I've been trying to figure California out, and still an accurate description
tends to elude me. People told me that there was a Starbucks on every corner.
They weren't lying -- there's one right outside my apartment. People said
that the women were consistently beautiful -- that was no lie, either.
I've seen beauty I never thought physically existed. People said you can
get anything you could ever want here -- no lie. In one stretch of road
I saw a Persian hairdresser, a Borders Books and Cafe, and a rental car
agency. And I have yet to really explore this place.
I'm still a pathetic fanboy tourist. I saw the Nakatomi building (the
building used in Die Hard, which is the Fox headquarters) and freaked.
I saw the Comedy Store and started pointing and screaming. Ditto for the
Mann Chinese Theatre, Beverly Hills, the Santa Monica Pier, the Virgin
Megastore, and so on and so forth.
Then reality sets in. Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Hollywood -- they're
all just towns, like every other town I've been in. There's just more to
see. I saw the famed Hollywood letters and said, "Big deal."
I saw The Perfect Storm at Mann Chinese -- it's a tourist trap,
and the nine bucks I paid for the mid-afternoon show seems like robbery
in hindsight. I took a walk on the beach at Santa Monica -- it's just another
ocean, albeit colder than the Atlantic. I envisioned a lot of uber-rich,
uber-snotty people everywhere speeding around in BMWs and Porsches, but
there are plenty of working-class schmoes like myself puttering around
in spit-and-baling-wire cars to balance the load. Maybe the rich people
tend not to mingle with the commoners. It's probably not kosher.
Parking, groceries, gas, movies -- the prices are obscene. Ever paid
four bucks for a gallon of milk before? Well, I'm sad to say, I have. The
grocery stores have valet parking. (That's the damndest thing I've seen
yet.) If you don't know exactly how to say "caramel macchiato",
you're looked at like a leper. You can drive like Jeff Gordon on methamphetamines,
but if you jaywalk or run a red light, you're in big trouble. ($50 and
$300 tickets, respectively.)
But it's cleaner than I thought. The air is clean and clear, and the
sidewalks are swept daily. Everyone smiles and is polite -- even the bums.
Need directions? No problem. Places are fairly close together and easy
to get to -- the streets are ridiculously easy to navigate, as long as
you're not puttering around at rush hour.
And the FSM office? It's more like my mom and dad's office building
than a bustling newsroom. There are couches, computers, bookshelves, videos,
DATs. I recognized Jeff Bond's cubicle immediately -- there's an autographed
picture of Charlton Heston in one of the Planet of the Apes flicks
on the wall, next to a vintage poster of The Mephisto Waltz, surrounded
by more sci-fi and genre toys than I could shake a stick at. I can only
assume that the Phantom Menace calendar on the wall outside the
cubicle area is some kind of a joke. But the photo montage of Jerry Fielding
conducting an orchestra is fascinating, as is the huge Italian poster of
The Wild Bunch -- Il Muccio Selvaggio! it screams. There's a framed
collection of photos of Lukas tossing a couch of a window -- dare I ask?
And there is, of course, music everywhere. You want it, it seems, you
got it. Beside Tim's computer alone is seemingly every Varese CD released
in the past two months. (Basically, everything I've wanted to hear but
hardly can afford.) I used to wonder where they put all the CDs that they
review -- I doubt they know, either. All the song-compilation CDs are kept
on a pair of racks near the stairs -- they look like they've been quarantined.
Look, Grandma. I made it all right, in one piece. Now I just have to
do like I always do -- put my nose to the grindstone and hope like hell
that it gets me somewhere.