Thursday, August 18, 2005

The place to be

Humans are meme* sponges, and none are spongier than children. In first grade, I got infected by the fame meme. I vanted to be a star. If only Cintra Wilson had been a playmate on my street; she might have inoculated me against the fame virus. As it was, I fell under Hollywood's spell. I saw a want ad in the TV guide for child actors and I bit. When I was four or five, I spontaneously broke into song at our local pizza parlor, where they had a real live piano man. I belted out "Home on the Range"; I was the original karaoke maven. (My wife would call it budding exhibitionism, and she'd be right. Hmm. Exhibitionism. Isn't that what blogging is all about?) Bottom line, I loved having an audience. As I recall, I got a job from my first casting call, a major role in James Whitmore's upcoming TV series, My Friend Tony (January to September, 1969). If you follow that link, you'll learn the following: When he was in Italy shortly after the end of World War II, John Woodruff was almost pick-pocketed by a very young street hood named Tony. Years later, a fully grown Tony arrived in America to join John as half of a private-investigation team. I was that very young street hood! See? I'll bet you always wondered where you'd seen me before. I only had to do one thing for this role: pick James Whitmore's pocket. I recall that Whitmore was a royal creep who couldn't be bothered to learn my name (I was 'the kid'). I also recall that in the story boards for my scene, everything appeared in silhouette. I figured the drawings had to be in silhouette because the director hadn't met me yet and didn't know what I looked like. When the show finally aired, the whole family watched it. There I was in the opening credits -- where I would be week after week for the show's whole run -- a tiny silhouette in the uppermost fifth of the screen trying to pickpocket a slightly larger silhouette. Fame. But it got better. Before long, I would find myself sitting nearly naked in Eva Gabor's lap.
Unfortunately, unlike other eight-year-olds, I wasn't that into blondes. But you're probably wondering about Eva's thing for younger guys.
You know, I've always wondered why I can't ever manage to catch MY episode of Green Acres on television. The answer is easy: six seasons, 170 episodes. As best I can tell, mine is episode 145, "The City Kids". Here's my Green Acres insider FAQ. Since the kids at school only ever asked me two questions, this will be short. Q: Did you meet Arnold the Pig? A: No, I did not get to meet Mr. the Pig. Q: So I bet you think you're pretty cool, huh? A: Well, yes, actually -- Q: Dontcha, punk, ya little shit -- A: Okay, the Q&A is over now . . . For Green Acres, my role required that I run around the Douglases' living room with a giant candle holder and get myself stuck up the Douglases' chimney. (Is there something oddly phallic about that, or is it just me?) Once I'm stuck up the chimney, the other kids tug on my legs to pull me out, and they pull off my pants by accident. When they finally get me out, my face is all smudged with soot. Hmm. Are you laughing yet? After the director got himself a satisfying take, I ran off the set. My main thought was to get my pants back, but Eva Gabor intercepted me, plopped me on her lap, cooed madly at me, and tried to wipe my face clean. My mother was no help at all. She was so ecstatic to find me giving Eva Gabor a lap dance that she hung about, basking in Eva's starlight, gushing how much she loved her in Gigi. I'd really, really like to say I grabbed myself a bit of stellar action, a fistful of Hooterville Hooters, as it were, but sadly, I was embarrassed as hell sitting half-naked in some strange woman's lap. Yet another example of me passing up an opportunity to score. So: did I go on to become the youngest Brady? Did I get to play Eddie's father's son, or the littlest Munster? No, although I could have become a model for the star of MTV's The Head:
Yup, I became a nine-year-old creep, a genuine prick. Couldn't understand why the other kids weren't as impressed with me as I was. I may be misremembering this, but I think the camel-back-breaking straw came the day our teacher announced that a boy in one of the other first grade classes had died in a dune buggy accident. I waved my hand, and when the teacher pointed to me, I said, "Well, at least he'll get his name in the newspaper." Based on that, my parents decided that this fame thing had gone a bit too far. That was the end of my acting career, except for my starring role in our first grade class's production of Chicken Little. Weird thing is, I never really missed it. D. *"Memes are the basic building blocks of our minds and culture, in the same way that genes are the basic building blocks of biological life." - from Meme Central. Better definition: memes are infectious thoughts or ideas. "Blueberries are blue" is not a meme. "M-m-m-my-Sharona" is (if you hum it and get other folks to hum it, too). Courage is not a meme, but a code of chivalry is. Religion is the Typhoid Mary of memes.
P.S.: Bare Rump is back. I thought about having her meet up with Seymore Butts on his casting couch (what -- you don't think Seymore would be interested in a hot new actress named Bare Rump?) but Karen says Bare Rump has too much integrity to appear in a porno. Ergo, Bare Rump's Diary remains PG-13 (weeeell, occasionally R) for the time being.


Anonymous Stamper in L. V said...

I wasn't aware that Whitmore was such a jerk. We've seen that episode a couple of times in the nearly 23 years we've been married. Funny, I thought the Whitmore gig came after the Green Acres gig, but you know what my memory is like.
Funny piece, I enjoyed reading this.

8/19/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

"Religion is the Typhoid Mary of memes."

That's my new favorite quote.

8/20/2005 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Thanks for reading, Beth. With the weekend slowdown (which seems to have started on THURSDAY!) I was beginning to wonder if anyone was coming around. See ya

8/20/2005 08:13:00 AM  
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