Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Forth of Forever

    As a child I was petrified by fire works.  We lived on a block that had a marina at the end of it and every Fourth of July the surrounding towns would walk down my block to the marina with their chairs, beer, and families, to share in the annual spectacular.  I never went; I had never seen a firework, and didn't need to - hearing them made me cry. 

    I’m going to bring this up now and it’s going to make little sense out of context but it will make sense later.  Batman is my favorite thing.  I draw the Bat-symbol on just about everything I can get my hands on. I still think that even after all these years that at some point Batman will scoop me up in the bat mobile, make me his robin, and bring me back to Gotham City where I will live out my days as his sidekick. Batman is the only superhero without superhuman powers on which to rely. Which makes him infinitely more badass, because you know that fears are cold and real for him. Batman is a normal man with superhuman courage.
      On the 4th of July we celebrate the birth of our country, a long weekend away from work, our family, friends, and the official start to the summer.  When you’re young and single the 4th is exciting because girls get drunk and you can make cheeseburgers no problem.  I have spent the last 20-fourths on a place called Fire Island, NY. Usually I would go to Ocean Beach where my crew of knuckleheads would dress up in some kind of outfit, whether it be pirates, or super short shorts, etc.  We would make fools of ourselves, and love to the beach at the same time. 

I did not do that this summer.

    I’m in a new place, with new friends.  I’m in the Sunshine state.  I was clueless as to what the best option would be.  I was invited to a pool party at a hotel, a beach music festival in Venice; after some investigation my friends and I ended up in a community called Paradise Cove which exists in Malibu California.  It’s a trailer park for millionaires.  You hear about Malibu in movies and on TV.  It’s considered on the world’s most beautiful places.  I assure you that it is.  I had never been there before and man what a day I had.
    The house we were going to was the house of a brother of a friend’s boyfriend.  A man I had only met two times prior, but was kind and inviting.  He was gracious enough to invite my two girl friends and a buddy of mine out to his house on a hill overlooking the expanse of Paradise Cove and the massive scenic cliffs and bluffs where America truly ends.  The weather was perfect.  The smell of the ocean was unlike any I had smelled prior, and the vibe of the place was magical and refreshing.  It was like a vagina that had a disco ball inside it that never stops spinning.
The house we were invited two is the house of a man and his girlfriend.  The two of them and the boyfriend of my friend were in the ending stages of putting together a documentary about happiness.  Literally, the movie is called "The Happy Movie," and it studies the scientific and spiritual side of why people are happy.  Right up my alley.  Upon arrival we were instantly put to work painting a golf cart yellow with smiley faces all over it so that it could be a part of the Golf Cart parade happening later that day.  That’s right, a Golf cart parade.  We painted this thing and made it the happiest little cart ever. 

    After the cart was completed we decided to eat some food before we took the cart down the hill towards the beach to start enjoying the community festivities.  I was having a great, creative, and productive day with new friends of mine in a new place. 
    We brought an abundance of meat with us. They had a grill we could use, and because I openly stated a while ago that I am a BBQ master I took the reigns. I took the meat cooler and began prepping the meal.  In the cooler was marinated chicken, burgers and other BBQ-ing essentials. Under all the meat was a chocolate bar, so while I was making the meal I decided to open the bar and proceded to eat the better part of half of it.  Soon thereafter my buddy came downstairs saw that I had eaten half the bar and began laughing. 
“you didn’t just eat that, did you?”
“Yea, what’s the big deal.  I like chocolate.”
“That wasn’t just a chocolate bar Matt.  That had mushrooms in it.”
    I begin to freak out.  I don’t do drugs.  At least I haven’t since college, and I just at six people’s worth of mushrooms.  So I freak out, people assure me that everything is going to be all right, and after about a half hour the world starts swaying.  I thought I was going to be the fucked up kid on the couch that his friends have to be constantly checking on.  I thought I was going to see the devil pop out of family portraits.  I figured I would have been incapacitated.  That did not happen.
Instead, we got on the yellow-painted golf cart to promote this movie called Happy that the filmmakers were promoting that day in the golf cart parade. We handed out business cards that said, “Happy 4th of July”, and the URL on the back which is  (Shameless plug, but Jesus it all made sense.) 
    On our way down the hill we got the tour of Paradise Cove, every house more beautiful than the next.  I couldn’t tell if they were waterfront houses, restaurants, or resorts.   It was a mixture of all of those things.  Every deck had multiple kegs, BBQ’s and celebrities on it.  This was nothing short of something you could only dream about, and we hadn’t even made our way to the beach yet. 
Upon arrival to the sand, our tour guides were amazed at the waves, they said this was an exceptional day for the waves, and it was.  Every wave seemed to be designed by Perfection and to perfection, and every surfer seemed to be getting a ride at the same time.  I stood there wide-eyed and amused by the coastline, my friends, and the power of the Pacific.  I grew up on the Atlantic and had often dreamed of this new ocean and what it would be like in the summer: well this was the living embodiment of my dreams.   I was every Beach Boy at the same time and I could actually hear Brian Wilson singing in the background.
    We decided to talk a walk down the cove towards a bluff.  We had smiles on our faces and our worries dissipating as we began walking.  Before long, we stumbled on a party on the beach.  This was no ordinary party.  There wasn’t one ugly person at this party, and there were also a bunch of white men with dread locks.  My friend Bill and I stood there in amazement because the second we walked towards the party a dance craze started and before long about two hundred people were just rocking out, while men surfed the waves and random Americans sat on the beach appreciating our freedom as a nation.  I did feel a bit out of place.  I didn’t know anyone besides my friends and all of these people seemed to be Paris Hilton carbon copies. 

    I took a dip in the ocean.  I walked up slowly to the water and dipped in, turned around and looked at the edge of America, at my new friends, and the ridiculous nature of what I was watching and said to myself, “Matty, good choice.”  A good choice in leaving New York, a good choice in a woman, a good choice in my day on the beach, for accidentally taking mushrooms... and I just thanked myself for having the kind of faith I had, in everything.
    We preceded to walk up a little further away from the party and we found a path in the middle of nowhere that resembled something right out of Jurassic Park.  It winded into nowhere and was extremely interesting.  After finding an appropriate place to urinate we somehow met back up with the girls and headed back to the golf cart parade.
    Then it hit me.  I needed a beer, but couldn’t find one.  I had been hanging out inside a beer commercial all day but had no beer so we walked past the rave party on the beach again and I procured a miller light, thank you God.
    There were multiple points on my walk back to the parade where I saw things that I could swear were places I’d seen in movies or TV, like where Dylan McKay and Kelly from 90210 god laid together, or where those cheesy beach movies from the 50’s were filmed.  It hit me though, in looking around, being aware that I was at peace.  I stopped everyone dead in their tracks and stated, “Guys, I know this may sound cliché and cheesy, but I’m at peace with everything right now at this moment.”  I was.  They all laughed because they understood.  I called my father back in NY to wish him a happy fourth of July.  I had spent the last 28 fourths with him and although I regretted not being next to him I knew he would be happy with my surroundings and thoughts, with my choices. 
    As we entered the town I began to talk to the man whose house we were staying in about some of the odd objects and things I saw in his house before we left.  Eventually I got to asking him why he had about 3 unwrapped limited edition "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight" movies on his shelf and he preceded to tell me that he was best friends with Christopher Nolan, the director of those movies, and that hew childhood friends with him and his brother Jonah, Jonah being the writer of those movies as well the next installment of the franchise.  Mind you I spend more time debating what may happen in the next movie with people than I actually know about what’s going on in the real world. 
    Again, Batman is my favorite thing, besides my family, my friend  best friend jimmy, and my other best friend and girlfriend.   Without batman I’m nothing.  I was hanging with childhood friends of Chris Nolan, are you kidding me Los Angeles?  I was in the right place at the right time, and I was high on mushrooms.  I screamed like a little girl that got her period for the first time and I’m wearing white spandex in a unisex gym class. 
    After they convinced me to calm down so that I didn’t fall off the cliff I took a deep breath and another look at the ocean.  This was a great day.  As we proceeded to make out way up the hill and toward the houses again I could hear about four classic rock songs being played by four different bands and I could see the celebration start.  The town we left had morphed into festival, and the houses were in full swing.  There were ice cream vendors, face painters, an official watermelon seed-spitting contest next to someone’s house.  People were smiling everywhere and I had no option than to follow suit.  Eventually the Happy Movie Golf cart came around and we were actually in the parade passing out cards and running up to houses and promoting the movie that I’m convinced I was meant to promote, because I’m a generally happy person. If someone isn’t happy I either make fun of myself or just make fart noises in an effort to put a smile on their face.  Happiness is an abundance on my farm and during the months off  I harvest that crop and force feed it in your face until your toilet hates me.  And here I am promoting a movie about it amongst the richest and most influential people in the LA area.  I have my yellow shorts on and a caravan of cool to stand on.  

    So the parade was in full swing and golf carts of all different shapes and sizes were strolling down the streets, some were huge unicorns, some were mocking the oil spill in the south, but everyone was smiling and we were cruising down the cove stopping at houses with people and promoting the movie, I handed a card to Howie Mandel, and a slew of others.  I really don’t care about Howie Mandel aside from the fact that he created Bobby’s world when I was kid, but I was on mushrooms his face looked crazy.  Eventually we stopped at the house of the producer of the Happy movie.  His name is Tom and I didn’t know this at the time but he is the best friend of Jim Carrey who, aside from Batman who is fictional, Andy Kaufman, and Robin Williams, is my favorite human being and a man I hope to one day be compared to.  This man Tom, the producer, co-wrote Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, and ever other Jim Carrey movie that I adore.  I was standing in the house that was built on not just his success but the success of my idol and that freaked me out.  I had read about this man and seen him in interviews for the past decade and a half and here I am standing in his house on the forth of July, drinking Jack Daniel’s on his deck, awaiting a fire works display.  I peed in his daughter’s bathroom, drank from his faucet and shook his hand and thanked him.  Little did he know I wasn’t just thanking him for his hospitality.  I was thanking him for inspiring me for decades.  I made my presence known and based on the contacts I made that night I hope to sit down with him and let him know that I’m the second coming of what he started almost twenty years ago. 
    My friends were convening on the cliff with the massive amounts of others as we awaited the display and I walked right past Pamela Anderson yelling at her son.  I saw an MTV cribs years earlier about her living in this community and here she was, being a mom right in front of me as the sun was setting in Malibu.  I used to watch her bouncing around on channel 9 when I was 9.  Crazy.
The first works started and I put my arms around my old friend, and my new friends, thinking about everything that transpired that day.  It was perfect.  It was meant to be.  It was magic.  Everything that took place was beyond serendipitous and coincidental.  It was fate.


    When I was six or so my father came up to my room on the forth of July and asked if I would hold his hand and walk down to the marina to the fire works.  He said, “Matty, you don’t have to look at them.  You can sit in my lap and keep your eyes closed; your ears covered by your hands and your head down.  I just want you to be there with me.” After he coaxed me with a cheeseburger I said yes and I walked down the street towards the water shaking with fear and I sat in his lap, closed my eyes, covered my ears, and kept my head down.  Once they started, he tapped my head and whispered in my ear. “Just look up Matty,” he said.  “You’ll be ok I promise.”  I took my hands off my ears, and lifted my head.  I gently opened my eyes.  I couldn’t stop looking.  To this day I love fire works.
I’m glad I looked up.  I’m glad I’ve learned to conquer my fears about trying new things I’m scared of, because I drove across the country having never been to LA, and I was petrified by it.  I sat on a NY street 3 days before I left with my best friend Nate and cried out of fear of the unknown. I was scared of the bright lights.  Now I’m a part of the fire works I was petrified by. 
Thanks Batman,  I mean Dad.


  1. my favorite part is the last line because I know how powerful that sentence really is:) I'm so glad I got to share that day with you, even though everybody's face was melting.

  2. Now I fully understand why it was the best day...and I must say, I got a little teary at the end. Funny and touching.