Rogers Hammerstein, a reality TV producer of some fame, taps his thumb on his iPhone screen, writing a rather too long group text to a group of industry buddies.
Two years into the pandemic, what had been a regular Saturday morning gang whose members met for breakfast at Art’s Delicatessen in Studio City was now almost entirely given over to a virtual social circle, with some studio gossip thrown, along with a few lame golf jokes, all in their collective phones.
God, how Rogers hated the virtual stuff. Zoom meetings, FaceTimes, etc. Alright, you can do work instead of nothing. Well, you’ve never been stuck in traffic yourself or had to listen to the boring stories of those who were late for the 405. But he missed the 12:30 table at the Ivy. He missed the Polo Lounge martini afterwards. Really, he missed the guys.
“Guys listen up,” he texted. “You know that SB 9 nonsense? The thing about our Sacramento buddies to whom we send such resources when election time approaches? Grandma’s apartments, duplexes, triplexes, four houses, is that a lot for heaven’s sake? »
He paused and pressed send. Seconds later, Brownie White, the big lawyer, texted, “Secondary suites. ADU.
“That’s right, Brownie, the technical term. The point is, are we going to let those big Silicon Valley cats in bucolic Woodside eat our LA lunch when it comes to stopping this massive California densification? He hit send.
Randy Peters, Disney exec: “I have to admit the Palo Alto-adjacent wildcat action is a pretty smart rip-off, though. But what about cougars? they say. Where are the cougars going to live if rabid real estate guys invade the sprawling lawns of Woodside with little dingbat rental units? Pumas also have rights!
“The fact is,” Rogers continues, “those Facebook morons in Woodside have never even seen a cougar in their town! actually not a bad idea, and we can take it to the bank – this story of mountain lion habitat for sale to bleeding hearts in Sacto to keep grannies out of apartments in their corner , capice? But here in your Brentwood, your Tarzana, your Hollywood Hills, we got our cougars registered! Remember that fat cat P 22? The one on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the Hollywood sign in the background ?
“It was Nat Geo, baby. He’s a feline, not a swimsuit model,” Walter Luger reminded the group.
“Same difference,” Rogers continued. “He is world famous! I have video of him hiding under this house in Beachwood Canyon in January. He caught this koala at the Los Angeles Zoo the other day. He’s the king of Los Feliz! Girl in the Times talked about her “tawny beauty”! “He’s the Brad Pitt of the cougar world,” says this chick with the big cat tattoo. She speaks our language! I tell you, 22 is our boy against all that ugly dense LA”
“I don’t know, Rog,” the lawyer intervenes. “We need to keep our powder dry with the elect for when we really need to grease the wheels – in-state production tax breaks, that sort of thing. The Lions? That didn’t work for our Big Tech brothers.
“They didn’t know how to sell the story!” Roger answers. “Who’s better at storytelling than us big Hollywood cats. Am I right?”
Gang radio silence. Rogers gave up.
“OK, I have a tee time at Lakeside in an hour anyway. Just trying to protect your overpriced damn good. Ciao for now and, hey, next year in the old stand d’Art’s, am I right?”
Larry Wilson is a member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group. [email protected]