Sarandon, Robbins in Topless Rolls
For want of anything new, your chauffeur presents this dusty gem: Many years ago, driving north on Robertson Blvd. toward Beverly Hills, I noticed Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins following me in a vintage Rolls-Royce convertible. They were bling when we still called it flashy. But they weren't flashy so much as fabulous, the quintessence of Hollywood royalty. The rear-view mirror seemed to have birthed a magazine cover. It was back when both their careers were hot, when she was making a movie or two every year and pushing the age envelope hard -- before her current onscreen incarnation as a mom. He had just made "The Player" ... he may even have been wearing the same sunglasses. Movie stars, sunshine, blue skies ... it was an L.A. moment.
Except that my friend at the wheel was so starstruck, she slowed down to gawk and actually impeded traffic. Very smooth.
PaCarazzi is at a severe disadvantage. As noted, owing to widespread apathy, this blog is limited to contributions from just one person ... the genius who dreamed up the brilliant concept. (Memo to world: a pun is not sufficient grounds for a phenomenon. But you knew that.)
So now that said visionary has relocated to New York, where noone drives but is occasionally spotted being driven, what's a blog to do? Lower its standards, of course. Whereas in L.A., merely walking past disgraced Disney topper Michael Eisner was not worthy of inclusion in PaCarazzi (though the encounter did happen mere steps from a parking lot packed with cars), in New York, city of taxicabs, it seems the drawbridge might dip a little lower.
Oh, who am I kidding? I saw Ted Turner in Whole Foods today. The Whole Foods below the Time-Warner tower at Columbus Circle. He looked a little frailer than one imagines, and he appeared to be annoyed by how slowly foot traffic moved -- so much so that he did an impatient little monkey step to vent his disapproval. His handlers were only a decade or so younger than he, and they looked like fellow board members. Wish I could add more detail, but I didn't chase or tail him. In a classic display of the solidarity of the star-struck, when the woman to my immediate right stopped gaping she asked me, "Was that Ted Turner?" Like I know? Well, I did, but ... whatever.
Would news of a shopping cart redeem this anti-PaCarazzi transgression? What am I asking you for?
Uh, I can report that on a walk in Portland, OR, last week, we came upon two ridiculous Ferraris in the middle of a woodsy area. The lad who barred our car from entering the zone alleged the road was closed for a commercial shoot. What on Earth were they selling? Vertu phones?
DemoCarazzi at Work
OK, this is getting weird. Two PaCarazzi sightings in two days. I ought to get out less.
Today's episode: After voting at the local elementary school last night at 7 or so, I was leaning against an ornamental haystack in the parking lot trying to look up something with my new web cell phone when a midnight blue Mercedes CLS500 with Nevada plates pulled up. (Funny how the fancy new Mercedes looks like a Sebring. So much for DaimlerChrysler synergy.) A tall black man jumped out of the passenger seat, said, "Hey, fellas!" to my friend Peter and me, and walked jauntily into the polling place. Peter said, "That's what's his name ... Forrest, uh --"
A minute later, a leggy woman unfolded herself from the driver's seat and followed him into the building. Peter and I made some further astute comments, all of which escape me at this moment.
I can just hear you now: Is that Mercedes really fancy enough for PaCarazzi? Hey, close enough. You want fancy cars, you send me a story, wiseguy. Meanwhile, and more important, now we know that Mr. Forrest Whitaker votes. Bravo!
Hello, and welcome back to PaCarazzi. Welcome me back. I'm back in L.A., and today brought a nearly perfect PaCarazzi moment. It wasn't a fabulous vehicle that made it; no, it was PaCarazzi's very first paparazzi encounter. Hooray! It was so self-referential I could just spit. Or write about it.
As I pulled into the parking lot of a Sherman Oaks minimall this afternoon, I noticed a beautiful blonde woman crouching over a toddler, both of them hunkered down between a black Range Rover and the low wall flanking the driveway. She looked like a crazy person. But under the big sunglasses, baseball cap, and sweats, she gleamed with cheerleader perfection -- a popular Angeleno look. Just another valley girl-turned-mommy sorting out mysterious infant hygiene issues in public. I rolled past and parked a few spaces away. A moment later, she walked into the mall with a gray-haired guy wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Uxorius Trofius Encinus, I decided. Valley trophy wife.
Half an hour passed. Errand complete, I was nosing my little convertible out of the lot when I noticed two swarthy young guys with priapic camera lenses hovering by the driveway. Photography exchange students? No, they were too animated and focused to be tourists, hopping around like drops of water in a hot pan as they jockeyed for the perfect angle.
Then I understood. They were the new killer paparazzi you read about. I've never seen these guys prowling the streets in daylight, though I've read they can be rabid in pursuit of the quarry. Some apparently force stars' cars to crash just so they can get the photos. Or something like that. Ask Lindsey Lohan about it. Or Lizzie Grubman. No -- wait. Leave Lizzie alone. In any case, the old guard paparazzi are up in arms over the debasement of their once-noble profession. And over the fact that glamourous, profitable celeb photos have been commoditized by a couple of entrepreneurial photo brokers and their hordes of hungry young shutterbugs. Kind of like those lord 'n' vassal blog empires everyone likes so much.
The driveway stalkers on my left confirmed that they were indeed paparazzi, and when I asked who they were shooting, one said, "Denise."
"Denise?" I asked.
Oh. Right. Yes, she is very pretty. Thought she had brown hair. Whatever. I don't get out much.
On my right, a lone cameraman shifted from foot to foot, maybe a yard from the star's Range Rover. Their animation was almost painful to watch. And then, like God's own mercy, there she was, a flaxen-haired beauty carrying a baby and walking slowly toward strangers who wanted to shove their lenses down her pants.
"The poor thing," I thought. But what nonsense. She knew very well when she fought for wealth and fame that they'd cost her privacy and normalcy. She must have read the Star at least once before she showed up in it. In the checkout line, back when she shopped for herself. My pity congealed into lurid interest in the exchange unfolding behind me. I wasn't even thinking of PaCarazzi.
Meanwhile, back at the minimall, Ventura Blvd. traffic had me penned in, so I just sat there and watched the movie star walk warily to her car. She hugged her baby tighter. They were all starting to shoot, moving toward her. Where was her escort -- had he set her up? What would she do? What could she do? What would they do? Oh, the thrill of it all.
She forced a big smile and said, "Hi. How are you?"
What else do you say? The traffic parted and I pulled out as they closed in, clicking and whirring for the fans.
Inverse Ham Sandwich
Terry from Boston recently reminisced about when she lived among the stars, back in the '90s, up on Sunset Plaza Drive ( a windy road that goes straight up from the Sunset Strip into a posh neighborhood). "I don't remember the cars," she said, "but one day I was driving down the hill in front of Fabio and behind Teri Garr." They must have wondered who the hell she was. The baton twirler?
David, a former Angeleno, is a car buff from way back. He likes motorcycles too, as you'll see in this fond memory.
I was taking a date home on my motorcycle one night. As we passed the Improv, a famous comedy club on Melrose, I noticed a Vincent Black Knight, an incredibly rare English touring bike from the early '50s. Only 30 or so were ever made. I told her what we'd just passed, but she wasn't interested in stopping to look at it. I dropped her off at her place, said goodnight, and circled back around to get a good long look at the machine.
As I neared the club, I saw a tall guy in a full helmet getting on the Vincent. He pulled out into traffic, and I came up alongside to admire the bike. He noticed me checking him out and motioned for me to follow him. We pulled over at Centerfold, a latenight newsstand just a few blocks from the club, and when we pulled off our helmets, I realized it was Jay Leno. He was incredibly nice about the whole thing. He answered all my questions and even admired my own bike, a nothing little BMW r65. Quite a genuine great guy ....
David has another story:
L.A. is home to a lot of strange vehicles, and they aren't all finely tuned exotics. I was driving along Mulholland one afternoon when I saw a ball of fire coming up in my rear-view mirror. Then I realized it wasn't fire, it was just smoke. In fact, it wasn't smoke either -- it was steam. Someone was driving a Stanley Steamer on Mulholland Drive. I had to get a better look. First I slowed down to check it out in my mirror, then I let the car pass so I could watch it go by. It was Leno again.
These cars were made in the first two decades of the last century. They sell for between $35,000-$150,000, and they run on steam, just like a steamboat. True relics of a bygone era.
PaCarazzi! is where you read about stars and cars! PaCarazzi! is trainspotting for the auto-besotted. PaCarazzi! is bird-watching for asphalt-dwellers. PaCarazzi! is the easiest place to get YOUR star car story published!