Inspiration arrived in unlikely form of a used valet parking ticket on the sidewalk between Mason and Giorgio’s, two very expensive restaurants in Santa Monica Canyon. One side was printed with a glossy promotion for The Irishman, a mostly streamed film that was being touted as “The movie event of the year.”
Brilliant! I thought. But why not take this whole awards season, or what’s left of it, to the streets?
Not like Joaquin Phoenix, of course. Nobody wants to see the contenders arrested, especially after flying all the way to Washington to deliver a lecture on vegetables and climate change.
Far more effective to do it right here in Los Angeles, in a way that would deliver immediate aid to those who need it most. This is only a little bit far-fetched. Let me explain:
A few years ago, those of us in the New York Times L.A. bureau were plagued by a pile-up of seasonal movie swag. We didn’t want it, and by policy weren’t supposed to keep more than a couple of cookie crumbs. But it was way too much trouble to send the stuff back. So a stack in the corner just grew and grew.
Being a direct action type, I finally threw the best stuff in a big box, and hauled it down to a bench on the beach—barely a block from Giorgio’s and now Mason, in fact—where some of the shivering homeless used to congregate. No one was around. I left the promotional goodies. By the next day, transients were plodding along the bike path in snappy Hollywood logo-wear, and carrying a couple of umbrellas, as I recall, from Fox.
Now imagine this on a grand scale, in an awards-happy city that is lined with both red carpets and semi-permanent homeless encampments. Get the two together. Add some show business zing, like they did at the Hollywood Canteen in the World War II years.
Quentin Tarantino could lead a caravan of catering trucks. The cast of Little Women could serve sandwiches, in costume. Phoenix, if he’s out of jail, could distribute vegetarian tacos—fresh ones, not left-overs from the newly plant-based Critics’ Choice Awards.
Direct action would be more useful—both socially and promotionally—than eating mushroom risotto at the Globes. I’ll bet even Ricky Gervais would show up to help replace a couple of tent-camps with period-perfect prop bungalows built by Martin Scorsese’s crew from The Irishman.
The socially aware media wouldn’t dare make fun. All the morning shows would have to show up. The most generous contenders might even win a few votes.
And, if nothing else, those folks on the beach would get some fresh logo-wear.