Character Study

March 8, 2008.
Insomnia Cafe on Beverly Boulevard.

The dude who has just ordered a turkey wrap with the Asian woman at the counter has situated himself on the sunken-in couch below the Impressionist painting of two policemen patrolling the rainy, cobblestoned streets of a European city. Dude carefully plops his backpack on the couch and pulls out a thick paperback novel, slightly tattered and torn from a long residence within the weathered recycled-cloth bag.

He's trying to educate himself on the material for the upcoming independent film he's shooting this weekend. It's an updated adaptation of a turn-of-the-20th-century morality tale (written by some dead dude, natch), and this should be the role he'll be proud to put on his reel, especially after co-starring in that homoerotic horror flick he shot last winter. The book is a challenge to read, and he is all about conquering it. Plus, he'll have the chance to sound intellectual at the press junket when asked if he had been familiar with the book before getting attached to the project, to which he'd answer, "Yes, I've read it, and it's always been one of my favorites."

March 9, 2008.
Corner of Santa Monica and Roxbury.

He's nearing 70 years in age and wears the only piece of dapper clothing he has left, a black three-piece suit that he manages to keep clean while standing outside for hours. He holds the same cardboard sign ("Homeless Veteran Looking For Work") night after night as traffic whizzes by. He hopes for a generous driver at the red light, a random stranger to throw him some change. Perhaps the son he hasn't seen in 12 years will drive by and offer a helping hand, a reminder of the love he once had with a family he once knew.

March 16, 2008.
24-Hour Fitness on Pico Boulevard.

The brunette with the recent rolled-up issue of In Touch neglected in the cupholder of her Stairmaster, in my writer's mind, is a bartender at a sports bar on Sunset. Today is her one day off, and she is thankful for the time to workout because of the nausea-inducing audition she has on the ABC-Disney lot in Burbank tomorrow. She is hoping to burn off the birthday cake she inhaled at her best friend's party the night before.

She hates the fact that she can be easily replaceable in this town full of actors who get to write off their gym memberships come April 15. She realizes she is one of many of hundreds of thousands struggling for the same recurring roles on a CW drama or that one guest stint on Special Victims Unit.

March 18, 2008
The Grove.

He's more than just one of those Angeleno hipster dads. Sure, he's pushing the sporty boutique stroller (check), a sleek, gray messenger/diaper bag draped over his shoulder (check check), his Diesel denims (a gift from his gay brother-in-law) ending in a flare that manages to show off his cheap-yet-stylish flip-flops. He rushes across the crosswalk to get out of the Farmers Market and make it home in time for Idol - and to start making the tacos for dinner. After all, it is Taco Tuesday. He had promised his wife he'd have her dish ready when she walked in the door. He is glad to have these two weeks off before starting his next project at the architectural firm he founded with his old roommate from Stanford.

He leaves the mall empty-handed with the regret of not having purchased a birthday gift for his sister who lives in Santa Barbara with her much younger boyfriend, a Brazilian installation artist.


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