Tag Archives: celebrities

Celebrity run-in

I was downtown the other day when I saw a famous celebrity. I didn’t know that it was a famous celebrity at the time. I’m not one of those guys that looks at anybody else when he’s out of the house. I always have this fear that I’m going to make eye contact with a total lunatic, and he or she is going to start screaming something like, “What the hell are you looking at? What?” and then follow me around, because it’s not normal behavior to call someone out for accidental eye contact, I can only assume that the non-normal behavior would extend to following me home, yelling at me the whole time, threatening me.


No, that’s crazy. But yeah, a celebrity. I was on the corner waiting for the light to change, there were a bunch of other people waiting, and one guy says to this other guy, “Hey, aren’t you?” and then he said the celebrity’s name. At this point, I mean, I heard it, but I didn’t want to add to it, that’s how these things start, right? One person calls out a celebrity, and then I’m joining in on the fun, looking, trying to say hi. And then there are like five or six people, all trying to get some time in with the celebrity, everybody trying to make a memory here, an experience, “Did I ever tell you about that time I ran into a celebrity in the city?”

And then, well, I can’t speak from experience, seeing as how I’m not a celebrity. But if I were a celebrity, and all of the sudden I’m on some random city street, and I’m waiting for the light to change, but now I’ve got twelve or thirteen people all trying to say hi to me, telling me how much they loved that cameo appearance I made on Saturday Night Live six years ago, maybe asking for an autograph, I’d probably want to make a run for it, I’d want to excuse myself and then hail a cab and tell him to drive, anywhere, just get going.

And then maybe the crowd would be mostly cool, but you know there’d be like one or two really bitter people who’d feel as if they were cheated out of their serendipitous celebrity run-in. And they’d carry it with them forever. And then maybe years later there’d be an article about this celebrity on some web site, and this jerk would write a comment in the comments section, something like, “Well, I ran into this person one time, and let me tell you, talk about rude, this celebrity didn’t even know how to interact with a bunch of regular people.” And maybe it’s not true, maybe it is, all I’m saying is, it’s got to be tough, always at the mercy of the public.

So that’s why, when I heard this celebrity getting called out, I tried to play it cool. I respect the privacy of celebrities. That’s why I’m not naming who it was. I don’t want to play into the whole gossip thing. It’s not my place.

But yeah, it was, “Hey, aren’t you Keanu Reeves?”

OK, it was Keanu Reeves. And I know I said that I wouldn’t say anything, but I’m trying to paint the picture of this story, and I’m trying to imagine it without really knowing who it is. It’s not clear. And I’m not slandering or anything. Keanu was pretty cool.

“Yeah,” he said.

And the guy said, “That’s awesome. I love your movies.”

Keanu said, “Thanks.”

And that was it for a while, this light was taking forever, finally the crosswalk sign started blinking that red hand, but traffic was still flowing in the opposite direction, so we were looking at another ten or fifteen seconds of waiting. And I don’t know how Keanu or anybody else felt, but it was awkward for me, this conversation that was started, but never really got past the initial hello.

Keanu must have felt it too, because after five or six seconds, he said, “Yeah well, you’re a pretty cool guy. Usually when people see me on the street, it’s the cell phone cameras, it’s the pictures. And I get it, I really do. But it’s just refreshing to not have to deal with it when I don’t have to deal with it, you know?”

And the guy was like, “No, I don’t know.”

Keanu tried again, “You know, I’m just, thanks for being cool.”

And now we had the light, and everyone started walking. But this guy, something must have been really off, because he just snapped. He started yelling out, “What do you mean cool? I don’t care if you think I’m cool or not. You can’t tell me who’s cool.”

It started getting really aggressive, just like I had imagined it might get. Keanu looked around to see if there was some sort of a crowd forming, but no, it was just me, this guy, a bunch of other people not paying attention. Yeah, I guess I was a little, if not involved, I’d definitely stopped to see how it was all going to play out. And remember that whole thing I said earlier about me not looking and not caring and trying to be all cool? I guess that wasn’t entirely true. I was kind of looking. Hopefully it was subtle. I’ve actually always dreamed about celebrities stopping me on the street, complimenting me for being so cool. But that’s kind of like a reverse invasion of privacy, right?

“You’re telling me I can’t use my camera?” Now the guy had his cell phone out, and he pointed it at Keanu, just trying to get away, trying to hail a cab, but there weren’t any immediately available. “What’s wrong Keanu, you don’t want me taking this video?” And then finally a taxi pulled over and I could hear Keanu say to the driver, “Go, just drive, anywhere.”

And then the guy just put his phone back in his pocket and kept walking. What a psycho. I’m telling you, it’s got to be really tough to be a celebrity. And Keanu, if you’re reading this, if that guy ever posts that video and tries to make you look like the bad guy, I’m here to set the record straight, that you were being totally cool, that that guy was nuts. Get in touch with me, I’ll write a statement, whatever, maybe we could talk about it, maybe get like a cup of coffee or something, if you’re free, whatever, if you need it is all I’m saying, I’ll explain that you were totally in the right. Just let me know. For real, I’m cool like that, seriously, I’ve already imagined how crazy it must be to be celebrity, and in my imagination, I can totally relate, all right, you can let your guard down with me, for real, I’m one of the cool ones here.

My friend is friends with Keanu Reeves

I’m so pissed off. One of my friends moved into a new apartment building a couple of months ago. “You’ll never guess who lives in the building with me!” he started telling me. He was way too excited, way too happy. I could just tell by the look on his face that I’d wind up resenting whatever words came out of his mouth. “Keanu Reeves!” Yup.

I tried to at least not look pissed off, but I probably didn’t do too good of a job. At least I didn’t go right ahead and tell him exactly what I was thinking, which was, so what? You live in the same building as Keanu Reeves? Big deal. Seriously, how is that at all news, at all something to be even remotely happy about let alone gushing with excitement? I live with tons of other people. I don’t even know anybody’s name.

What, do you think all of the sudden because you happen to live in close proximity to a celebrity that you two are going to somehow hit it off? Be friends? “Maybe he’ll knock on my door someday to borrow a cup of sugar!” my friend offered. Please, nobody borrows sugar. That’s ridiculous. If ever found myself in the position where I was in the middle of cooking or baking something, and I realized that not only did I not have any sugar, but I needed a whole cup, like a whole package of sugar, I’d either run to a store and buy some, or more likely, I’d just give up the whole project right there and throw everything away. Because obviously I hadn’t thought this through. Obviously I got way too impulsive about baking, about just throwing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl without even bothering to stop and think to myself, wait a second, do I have any sugar? Do I know how to bake? I tell you what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to start knocking on a bunch of random neighbor’s doors asking them for free groceries. If somebody ever came to my house with an empty measuring cup in hand, I’d take the measuring cup, tell them to wait there one second, and then I’d go inside the house and lock the door. I wouldn’t answer for the rest of the day.

But that’s not what I’m pissed off about. I mean, yeah, I guess I got a little pissed off there, but what I’m really pissed off about is the fact that he did it, my friend, he’s actually like friends with Keanu now. I don’t know how it happened. Well, I know the details of the how, but I just can’t figure out why. They were in the elevator or something and my friend couldn’t help himself. “Oh my God! I loved you in The Replacements!” or something like that. If I were a celebrity, I’d be so annoyed. But not Keanu. They hit it off.

They did like a karaoke night thing at his place the other night. And guess who wasn’t invited? “Oh, you know how it is,” my friend tried to tell me, “I don’t want to impose.” Yeah, he didn’t want to impose at the party, but he had no problem imposing on Keanu’s elevator ride. Isn’t that like an invasion of personal space or something? And it didn’t work for me. I spent like an entire afternoon riding up and down in that same elevator, hoping I’d get my own celebrity run-in.

And I did, I got it, Keanu finally showed up. But it wasn’t just Keanu and me, there was also some old lady in the elevator with us. She had already been up and down like five times that day. I know because I was there every time. On her fourth trip, she must have assumed that I was like an elevator boy, because she just walked in and said, “Twelve, please,” and I was like, “Excuse me, I’m not an elevator boy, you can’t tell me what to do,” and she said, “Elevator boy? Could please just push the twelve button for me? So I did, but only after I pushed two through eleven first.

Anyway, she gives me this dirty look when she walks in, but completely forgets about me once she realizes that she’s sharing my elevator ride with Keanu. “Oh my God!” she starts gushing, “I just loved that movie that you were in with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson! You know, the one where Diane Keaton flashes the camera? What a great movie!” and Keanu was like, “Hey, thanks a lot. See you around.” And the next thing I knew it was Keanu’s floor, and he was getting ready to get off, and I hadn’t even gotten to say anything to him, like anything at all, and I really wanted to go to that karaoke party.

So as he stepped out of the elevator I kind of shouted, “Wait! Keanu! I loved Bill and Ted! Wait, I mean The Matrix! I loved The Matrix!” and as the elevator door closed, he said something to me like, “Man, those movies came out a long time ago buddy.” And that was it. I banged on the door really hard and screamed, “I love karaoke!” hoping that he heard me through the metal. I think he did, but still, he had no idea who I was or how we might get in contact with one another.

Which was such a shame, because if that stupid lady wasn’t there, I had such a good plan. I had this newspaper with me opened up to a crossword puzzle, and when Keanu stepped into the elevator, I was going to be staring at the paper, like totally not even paying attention to Keanu at all, like it could have been just anybody that walked in. And I would’ve said without looking up, “Hey man, do you know a seven-letter word for ‘empty orchestra’ Japanese origin?” And he would have said, “karaoke,” and I would have made a little show of counting out the letters, looking a little puzzled but then finally relieved when I figured out that it fit. And I’d look up and say, “Hey, thanks a lot.” And he’d say, “Sure, no problem. It’s funny you mention karaoke. I’m having a karaoke party at my place tomorrow night. You live here, right?” And I’d say, “Yeah, sure,” and then I’d stick out my hand and say, “Rob. And you are?” “Oh, I’m sorry,” he’d put down his groceries or whatever, offering me his hand, “Keanu. Keanu Reeves.” And I’d just act all casual, like I’d never heard of him before, and I’d say, “Great. Sounds great. Maybe I’ll stop by. Nice meeting you Keanu.”

But that didn’t happen. And after I finished banging on the doors I turned around and that lady was still standing there with me in the elevator staring at me. And I just looked at her for a second and then screamed, “What?”

Al Trautwig: You’re my hero

My brother was telling me this story about how a while back, he and a group of his friends found themselves sitting next to a local television sports broadcaster at a bar. It was the guy who covers everything for New York’s MSG channel, providing commentary for the Knicks and the Rangers. I don’t even know who he is. I guess I could look it up. Hold on a second.

OK, that was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be, and I’m usually so good at the Internet. I typed in “MSG talent” into Google and was redirected to MSG’s Wikipedia page. I realized that, out of the twenty or so people on the list, I had no idea how I was going to figure out which one could be the guy my brother was talking about. So I just wound up texting my brother. OK, the guy’s name is Al Trautwig. I don’t know, I guess I’ve never heard of him either.

But that’s exactly the point of what I’m trying to write about here. This guy, Al Trautwig, probably has the best job on planet earth. He’s everything that I want to be in life. Not a sportscaster, no. I don’t know anything about sports. I’m just talking about job and status. He’s reached the perfect level of celebrity that a human being can ever hope to achieve. His ratio of celebrity to regular guy is so perfectly balanced that he is able to fully enjoy the very best that both worlds have to offer.

Let’s examine my brother’s run in. He and a group of friends were at a bar and they notice that they’re sitting close to Al Trautwig. Yes, the Al Trautwig. (Every time I type this guy’s name, I find myself switching back to my Web browser, just to make sure I’m getting the spelling right.) Somebody strikes up a conversation, “hey aren’t you Al Trautwig?” and Trautwig gladly takes the bait. The next thing they all know, Trautwig is holding court, fielding questions, providing off-the-record analysis. At the time, LeBron James was getting ready to leave Cleveland, and there were rumors mounting that he might come to New York. Trauwig’s alleged response, “I’m not going to start masturbating about it until I have some definitive evidence,” is probably one of the funniest answers to a question I’ve ever heard in my life. I hope it was off the cuff, but it was too spot-on. He probably had already used it like five times.

I want to be Al Trautwig. He’s got it absolutely made. He can live his life like a regular guy, but he’s also on local TV, and every now and then somebody’s going to recognize him and he’s instantly going to be elevated to the level of (minor) celebrity. He’s just famous enough that he’ll get attention to the point where it’s still flattering, and not a life-altering nuisance. Can you imagine if you wound up sitting at a bar next to Tom Hanks? It would never happen, because Hanks isn’t a regular person. If he tried to go to a bar, he’d be bombarded by hundreds of star-struck fans coming up to him and saying inane stuff like, “Wow. You’re so famous. I love your work.” And Hanks would have to politely respond, “Gee, thanks a lot. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. OK. Bye.” And, thanks to all of the commotion, there would probably be a huge line out the door, making it really inconvenient for anybody to even so much as get a drink or just enjoy the night. People would start to resent Tom Hanks, growing more and more jealous of the crowd of people clamoring to hopefully, to maybe have just one moment with him. Eventually Hanks would give up on his night out, glancing towards his cranberry and vodka, realizing that he’s already spent so much time greeting the public that he didn’t get to even take a sip of his drink, and now the ice has all melted anyway. He’d settle up his tab and have his personal assistant call his chauffer and on the way back to his mansion he’d sit in the back of the car, looking out the window at all the regular people living their lives, interacting amongst each other, and he’d think to himself, “Where did it all go so wrong?”

Trautwig, on the other hand, can go to a bar, entertain a group of people for ten minutes or so, go back to his own business, knock back a couple of drinks, and then take the subway back home. I can’t think of anything better. He gets to go out, and everything is just a little bit cooler, but not so cool where it gets distorted to the point where it isn’t cool anymore. He’s the apex of cool.

I’m reading back on what I’ve written so far, and it sure sounds as if I have this guy all figured out. But now I’m imagining Trautwig stumbling across this post one night as he stays up way too late Googling himself, a habit that started off innocently enough but has now warped into this twisted nightly compulsion. He’s reading this to himself and growing more and more enraged by each sentence. He might be thinking to himself, “Who the hell does this guy think he is? I’m just as famous as Tom Hanks! I’m not regular! I’m Al fucking Trautwig! Trautwig!” he screams as he raises his fists in the air. But I really hope that’s not the case, because I definitely prefer the first imaginary Al Trautwig that I’ve created to the second, deluded, grandiose egomaniac Al Trautwig that has crept into my imagination right now, just at the end of this post. Al, give me a call. Let’s sit down and work this all out.

Holy shit, my phone is ringing. Oh, but … never mind, it’s not Trautwig, it’s just my mom.