Ladies and Gentlemen...The Shins!

The other night – the night of the near miss with Ivan Reitman – my buddy and I went to a very plush bar at a very plush hotel on the edge of Bev Hills. (FYI: I don’t drink, but my buddy does. So I just watch him drink while I down diet soda and/or cranberry juice. Don’t want you thinkin’ I’m a lush.) Anyway, we’re sitting there having a nice chat...and the guy sitting next to us joins the conversation. Turns out he’s from New York City. Just so happens I’m (originally) from New York City, so we talk about what a great city it is. He’s buying us drinks and we’re buying him drinks. He eventually tells us he’s the manager for a band called The Shins. I’ve never heard of The Shins. Hey, I barely know who Avril Levigne is, so no big deal. Anyway, one thing leads to another and our new pal invites us to see The Shins play Sunday night at The Greek Theater.

I need to point out that I don’t go to concerts. I’ve seen very, very few in my lifetime. Let’s see, I saw ELO back in 1981...I saw Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick several times in the 90s...I saw Eric Clapton back in about 1993 (cuz my friends had extra tickets and I went along for the ride)...I saw the Monty Python troupe at the Hollywood Bowl back in 1982...and I’ve seen maybe two or three other live stage performances...and t-t-t-that’s all, folks. So yeah, not a big concert-goer. But hey, our pal from NYC is a nice enough guy, and my buddy loves live sure, I’d love to go!

So last night we went. Let me tell ya, the Greek Theater is a lovely venue. It’s outdoors and nestled in the Hollywood Hills. (Last time I was there was in the mid-70s. I saw Carol Channing in some live comedy show. Whatever.) When we picked up our tickets from the will-call window, we were pleasantly surprised that our NYC pal also left us passes for the hospitality area. Nice. Lots of arty types. I overheard a guy ask a young gal: "So, what do you do?" The young gal responded with: "I’m a writer." (When people ask me what I do, I tell ‘em, "I clean toilets at the airport." They tend to leave me alone after that.) After a bit of time hangin’ in the hospitality area, my buddy and I took our seats. We we’re just a handful of rows from the main stage. I was feeling a little too old to be in this particular crowd of 20- and 30-year-olds, but I felt a lot better when I spotted a 70-year-old guy sitting a few seats behind me.

Anyway, the boys from The Shins eventually came onstage and played their first number. I’ll admit, I liked what I heard. Keep in mind, I don’t like about 98% of what I hear these days. But I liked the persona this group had. They seemed fun, good-natured, professional; they didn’t seem like they were trying to act cool. They merely played their music...and they did it well. My buddy and I wanted to beat the mad rush out of The Greek Theater, so we left after about an hour. While The Shins don’t play music I’d rush out to buy, I will give them a thumbs up. I wish them much success.

So, what was the point of this little story? Um, actually, there was no real point. Not really. But I guess it kinda backs up what I always tell people: If you’re a screenwriter, you can’t hole yourself up in your room day and night. You need to get out in the world and meet people – shmooze a little – cuz the next guy you meet might be a hot-shot Hollywood director or the manager of a big-time pop band...and those are two business cards it can’t hurt to have in your Rolodex.

Of course, this "getting out into the world" thing really only works if you live in Los Angeles. If you live elsewhere – for instance, Ames, Iowa – then you're pretty much up a creek without a paddle. Sorry.

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