Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And then there was Snot..

I ran across this comic book cover for a character called "Snot Girl."  






I have my own snot story to tell.

When I was a young science fiction screenwriter living in Santa Barbara, there was this band called, ironically, "Snot."

They got signed by Geffen Records, recorded and released an album, but ultimately never got anywhere.

Before this happened, I was friends with the leader of the band. I was his pizza delivery guy, and he thought a lot of me for forsaking a real career for my writing passion.

Once we got pretty tight, I could walk into closed parties with two pizzas for the band the way they liked and deal directly with them.  While the groupies and the music business barracudas looked at me like, 'Who the fuck are you?', the band leader would pick up on this disrespect and tell the band manager in front of everyone to pay for the pizzas and tip me well.

I never got dissed after that.

One night, since we were the only pizza place open until 2 a.m., I got a call to deliver to their house up on the Riviera in Santa Barbara about quarter to two.

I was glad to take it.  I was a night bird, writing detective fiction and mysteries and sci-fi until sunrise most nights of the week.

I got to their place and had the pizzas ready to go, but the band and the manager were fully asleep on the couches in the living room.  They had left out the money for me, so I just went to put the pies on the table.

Before that could happen, the phone rang.  I picked it up and said into the receiver, "Snot house, this is the pizza man, how may I direct your call?"

There was this laughter on the other end of the line, and, in a deep British accent, the voice on the other end of the line chuckled and said, "Very funny, who have I got really, is this Scotty the Band Leader?"

"No, this is the pizza guy really.  My name is Arthur.  The band is passed out right now and I am just delivering the pizzas they would have eaten before passing out.  Who is this, anyway?"

The man scoffed and said, "This is (name withheld to protect the famous) from (call letters of one of the biggest radio stations in London, England).  I've got 1.9 million screaming fans on the air and we are absolutely insane about Snot and your new album, now, c'mon, drop the pizza guy joke, who have I got on the line really, is this Scotty, the lead singer?"

Silence hung over the line and I realized I was live on the air on an overseas call from a huge DJ from a huge radio station and hundreds of thousands of people were listening to the next thing I was going to say.

And, I was a Hollywood screenwriter...

So, I did the only thing I could do, which was to switch to 'it's the biz' mode.

So I said, "Well, first of all, I think it is incredible that you got this phone number.  It really shows what kind of clout in the industry you've truly got."

"Thank you," The DJ said gushing with gratefulness. 'Boy, did I have a lemon on the line', I said to my Hollywood sentience.  He had the kind of anticipation in his voice telling me he felt I would soon divulge some 'real identity' of who I was and he would be a god amongst his listeners. 

"But I have to be straight with you because Santa Barbara is where Hollywood moves to when they have money," I told him.

"Yeah?  Yeah!?!?," he replied with a gasping excitement, almost not believing how good he'd got it when he dialed that number that must have cost him a gigantic favor to get.  He was drooling with anticipation of the 'reveal' and felt he wasn't going to be disappointed.

In fact he felt like this was going to be a home run for him over the moon.

"But the truth is, I am the pizza guy.  I'm standing in the living room of Snot with two hot pepperoni, tomato and pepperoncini pizzas just like Snot likes them.  But, they are all passed out here and really can't talk.  But, they left the money out like they always do, and, they're good tippers.  I know them pretty well, is there anything that you want me to tell your listeners about them?"

There was a deafening silence as the DJ realized I was telling the truth and he said, "Oh my god you mean to tell me I've dialed the home phone of the band with hottest single in London right now with almost two million fans listening in drooling anticipation of an exclusive interview with Snot and I got the pizza guy on the line!!!"

I kept cool and told him, "Well, its not that bad.  I am a science fiction screenwriter, and pretty cool in my own right.  You could got a Little Caesar’s driver who could barely understand English and then where would you be with all those people listening?"

He just groaned for a few seconds, not knowing what to say, and the conversation I'd been having woke Scotty up, who looked at me and said, "Who is that, Art?"

I had the stage experience to say over the air, "Hey, Scotty is waking up.  Maybe you'll get that interview after all."

The DJ roared back from the brink of entertainer death.  I know that vibe because I have been there onstage many, many times. And probably will be again. "Oh god, get him on the phone, please! Pleeeeaaasssee!!"

I told Scotty, "Hey, it's some DJ live on the air from London.  He's got two million listeners on the air and he says your song is the number one his all over London right now.  You want to talk to him, Scotty?"

I was holding the phone a little away from my ear as people do in order to be able to hear someone else while they are on the phone, but that did not deter the DJ from screaming, "Put him on the line!  PUT HIM ON THE LIIIIINNNNNEEEEEE!!!"

He was losing it, something you never do onstage or on the air.  Brits, they know the entertainment business, but not necessarily always entertaining.

You gotta be cool.

Scotty looked at me like he was too out of it too really take a call, but he was also able to hear the DJ begging for his professional life for what could only be called a scene transition.

I looked at Scotty and said, "The dude is a little stressed to be talking to the pizza delivery driver while keeping all those people on the air.  I think you should talk to him and calm him down or something, Scotty."

I could imagine hundreds of thousands of people laughing their asses off right then as the DJ was screaming even louder, "Put him on the line.  For GOD'S SAKE, put him on the liiiii-iiii-iiiii-iiiii-iiinnnnneeee!!!"

I've punctuated the last line in such as way so you will get the idea that in spite of my holding the phone away from my ear while getting Scotty tuned in to the current happening, everyone in the room who had been passed out before was now coming around to a waking state because that voice from 'over the pond' was bellowing with such a pathetic wail and bawl that well, only a few things more in the audio space would have almost raised the dead.

In other words, the worst thing that could happen to anyone in the entertainment industry that could happen was happening, short of simply dying up there. He was having a meltdown live. Oh brother, and I had tried being so cool with him.

Scotty realized he had to do something, but like a rock star, realized he really didn't have to do anything he didn't want to do either.   So he nudged the band manager on the foot with his and roused him, explaining that I had a DJ from overseas on the line and he needed an interview.

The band manager pulled himself up, dusted himself off, but really couldn't actually stand.  But, you don't have to stand to take a call, so he reached for the phone.  I had not met him so he did not know me. He was newly assigned by the label, most likely.

He took the phone and I said, "he's gonna need some calming down."

He looked back and me and nodded in understanding. He began talking to the DJ and had to go into 'damage control' right away, and said while looking at me with a rather condescending stare, "Yes, that was the pizza man on the line."  

Scotty caught the condescending look and said, "He's Arthur, and he's my friend.  He's the official Snot Pizza Man.  You can quote me on that," and he promptly started going back to sleep.

The new business manager changed his tone of voice and repeated what Scotty had said to the DJ, who could still be heard in a meltdown whimper tone people have when they are psychologically stepping back from the brink of professional suicide of the on-air meltdown, and said, "Really?!? He's a friend of Scotty's!!??"

"Yes, he is.  Scotty just said so, but let's get to what you wanted to talk about - which is the band I manage, Snot."

I heard the business manager taking control of things and knew that Scotty might be in good hands after all.  After all, in show business, character counts as much as smoothness during stressful moments.

I nodded at him like he was becoming ok in my book, and I was forgiving him for the note on condescension earlier. Scotty was watching out of one eye, while the eye the manager couldn't see was closed, and I reached out, took the money from the table and put it in my shirt pocket.

I bid them all a good night and shouted loud enough for all the listeners in London to hear over the phone, "Good night from Santa Barbara all you London Rockers!  And thanks for listening to Snot from the pizza guy!  Order some pizza soon and tip well, because Snot does!!"

The manager went wild eyed until he heard it all, and then realized what a public relations coup I had just handed him from off the cuff (in the comedy business we call it 'just riffing it') and smiled like he knew that I knew I'd just done most of his job for him, and there was a trace of gratefulness in his red and barely focused eye.

Scotty, while drifting back to sleep, curled up a sardonic smile on his face with a glimmer of laughter in his barely open right eye, and flipped me the 'bird of camaraderie' as he muttered, "Get the fuck out of here asshole."

"Anytime," I replied, and left with a smile on my face, back to the State Street pizza place that owned the pizza night in Gaucho territory.

The Lone Comic TM
Defender of Creativity and Entertainment SM


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