Someone Else

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Writers are sort of like farmers – it’s always bad news.  When the weather is good and the crops are full, farmers complain about a bumper crop depressing the price. How can we make any money, they complain, when there’s so much supply in the market?  And when the weather’s bad and the crops aren’t yielding, they complain that they don’t have enough to sell. 

Writers are the same way.  When the business was limited to three or four booming networks and everybody had a cushy studio deal, they complained that the market was saturated with identical product.  And now, when the market is fractured into a dozen diverse networks and the chaos of the internet, they complain that the margins are so tight, there’s no way to make any real money anymore.

And that’s just writers, one subset – admittedly, the most cranky subset – of a industry filled with complainers.  I like Fiji water and they gave me Evian.  My episode fees are inside the deal.  The leather in my car’s interior squeaks.  My kids’ private school wants more silent auction items.  My office is too far from my parking spot.  They ran out of goody bags at the event I went to.  It’s too dry outside.  I can’t get my BlackBerry to synch.   The aisles in Whole Foods are too crowded. They’re reducing my back end participation. My Kiton suit is too pilly.  The housing market is soft.  They changed my regular yoga class.  The network is only giving us a presentation budget.  I can’t book a massage until Thursday.  My iPod earphones irritate my ears.  I have a cold.  Mediocre sushi.  It’s hot.  Traffic in this town.  The studio notes are stupid.  Casting is stressful.  My knee hurts. 

Look, I’m not pointing fingers.  Except, you know, at myself.  I’m sure there are some of you out there, who, like me, work in the entertainment industry and, like me, tend to wear the whole thing like an itchy sweater.  An itchy cashmere sweater.

Which is one of the reasons it’s useful, every now and then, to notice what some other people do for a living.  I’ve been involved in an organization called My Friends Place for almost 10 years – it’s a homeless youth agency based in Hollywood – right on Hollywood Boulevard, actually – and the people who work there everyday, and the good souls who volunteer there week in and week out – fill me with a kind of jealous admiration.  If I was a better, less selfish, less greedy person, I’d like to think I’d fit right into their team, doing the hard, necessary work of trying to get young vulnerable abused people off the streets and into safe, productive lives, trying to get homeless new moms – barely out of childhood themselves – into parenting classes, secure housing, and new beginnings. 

I know, I know.  It’s an awful cliché – especially this time of year – to start talking about how blessed and lucky we all are – all of us listening to KCRW, all of us toiling in this baroque, over-the-top industry, living in this sunny city next to this spectacular beach – and how there are some people who don’t complain about the bottled water and the network notes, who do difficult jobs for way less money, or who don’t have houses to worry about the declining value of…if that’s a sentence.  You know what I mean.

I mean, for me, anyway, that I’m lucky.  I’m lucky to be able to complain about the things I complain about.  And in 2007, I’m going to try to keep that in mind for as long as I can. 

Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year.  And that’s it for this week.  You can find out more about My Friends Place by going to myfriendsplace – all one word – dot com. Next week, we’ll make some New Year’s resolutions.  For other people.  For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long