Friday, July 30

Close Encounters
I was eating at Whiz Burger yesterday--a roadside burger joint near my house that's a 50s throwback--I overheard a guy on his cell phone say, "This is Michael Franti." I thought it must be some other Michael Franti, not the musician. Then I heard something about the show, and I turned around and it was indeed Mr. Franti, with his long dreads coiled on the back of his head, his daughter in tow.

I hardly ever see famous people, and it's always kind of weird. Granted, Franti is not an A-list celebrity. But he's famous enough that it's strange to see him off the stage and doing something mundane like waiting for a hamburger. Since Franti is such an activist, too, I was kind of surprised to see him at Whiz Burger. I guess it's not McDonald's, at least. Or maybe he was getting a veggie burger.

When I was in LA once, I saw Val Kilmer in Double Rainbow, getting an ice cream cone. I told my friend, "That guy looks just like Jim Morrison," because of his 70s glasses and retro clothes. (This was a few years after "The Doors" came out, too. I guess he just liked the look.) And a few weeks ago, my housemate and her friend spotted the actor and screenwriter Owen Wilson on the street here in SF. At a distance, they followed him down the street. When he sat down at a sidewalk cafe, they went across the street and took pictures of him sitting there with his sunglasses and NY Yankees baseball cap. But his nose--and lately, his hair--were unmistakeable. And last weekend, my friend Peter hung out with comedian Andy Dick all weekend, singing with him on stage and partying backstage afterward. He had a bunch of stories about Andy drunken antics, which I won't repeat because his reputation is already as tarnished as it could be. You've seen the VH1 specials on him, right?

Anyway, I recently read Toby Young's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, which is all about trying to cover the NY celebrity scene and the politics of this so-called journalism. Ever since, I've wondered how I'd act around famous people, or distinguished people, or connected people. I'm slowly building a network within the science writing community, and while I don't know anyone really big, I might meet some of those people soon. It happened that there's another science writer in my French class, and he's old friends with the editor-in-chief of Wired, where I'd like to intern. How would I act if I met him? I'll have to pick up that semi-cheesy self-help book I was reading before, First Impressions.

Nicest thing ever
Since I'm leaving soon for Geneva, my housemates are looking for a replacement. My housemate Esther (the one who paparazzied Owen Wilson) put an ad up on Craigslist and she told me, "I wish we could just put a description of you on here, Mason, and say, 'This is what we're looking for.'"


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