I received a business card.
I was at the premiere for The Descendants and a man in a pink shirt bumped into me. Hard. Oh god I’m sorry, I said. He didn’t apologize, didn’t walk on—he was staring at me. Then I really looked at him; wrinkled pink dress shirt, beard, food in his teeth. In retrospect, I think he had food in his pockets. Movie premieres, and this one in particular, have pretty heavy security, so I thought at worst this guy was just pickled and made eccentric by enormous, casual wealth. Who knows anymore.
Are you Ken?
I am, I said. I looked around; my wife was gone, getting a drink. The bottom floor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was packed. The food & drink were Hawaiian in theme. My goal was simple: find Shailene Woodley again and say WOW and congratulations then leave. But the man in the pink shirt said, I’m here to offer you a meeting with Mr. LaBar of LaBar Partners Limited. He’s a big fan of your work. I said okay, looking for my wife, smelling con. Here’s his card, the man said. I looked down, flipped it to its back:
I didn’t process the absurd, almost liquid string of abstract language that summarized the firm’s services until much later. The guy in pink then accidentally sneezed some food onto me, which is fine, and left. He looked confused. I think he was going for the door.
So I dismissed this weird encounter as another weird encounter at weird, shambling Hollywood parties. Within each successful product’s fanfare—premiere, award show—there are many agented souls with their own angle, hawking misrelated products & services, attempting an air of happy, serendipitous opportunity. I get it and it’s okay; let’s face it, if you complain about this facet of the entertainment industry then you probably don’t understand the reason the entertainment industry exists. But then, two days later, your phone rings—I looked, it was an unfamiliar number from France. Only now do I know the enormous network of telephone number rerouting that LaBar Partners Limited employs to appear “at the head of things.” I answer and hear something roughly like:
“Kenneth! Or do you prefer Ken? Kenny? No matter. I haven’t a great deal of time, so I will get to the heart of the matter: my firm LaBar Partners Limited, which you are no doubt familiar with through the great financial cabal of Hollywood, is in a position to present you with a mutually beneficial business arrangement vis-a-vis your personal brand image and certain, shall we say, temporary staffing arrangements we require for C-suite new business meetings—”
He was interrupted here by someone I assumed was a flight attendant. I could make out an angry back-and-forth over peanuts and cell phone usage on the plane.
“Amateurs everywhere!” he continued: “I will present my case to you in our global headquarters in Atlanta, but I assure you this opportunity is more than a win-win, Kenny. Dare I say a triumph-triumph? I will have my assistant contact you with travel arrangements—”
The call ended with a brief squeal.
At this point, I’m thinking two things:
1. This is some of the weirdest and most in-its-own-asshole business parlance I’ve ever heard.
2. My wife and I have always wanted to see Atlanta in the fall.
To be continued…