Several years ago, my wife Ellen and I found ourselves in Los Angeles with a day to kill, so we set up a lunch with a couple of longtime friends, the writer Larry Grobel (some of his books are pictured above) and a successful movie producer whose name I won’t use because we’re still partners in a couple of interesting projects.
Larry had wanted to meet this particular producer for some time and the producer wanted to meet Larry as well, so that was at least part of the reason for our lunch. And it turned out to be a particularly nice lunch, complete with company that we’ve always greatly valued.
We’d jointly decided on Musso’s – the Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. If you’ve never eaten there, I recommend it as one of the must try restaurants in Hollywood. It’s the oldest so-called grill (founded in 1919) in the city, understandably famous, and it’s mostly the old school crowd: actors, actresses, writers, directors and producers.
I guarantee you’ll see someone famous eating there, either at the counter or in one of the many comfortable booths.
Anyway, over the years, I’d read many of the excellent books written by Larry, most notably Conversations With Brando, The Hustons, Conversations With Capote, Al Pacino – In Conversation With Lawrence Grobel and The Art of the Interview.
Larry’s books read beautifully and are filled with more insider Hollywood stories and critical insights than there are in heaven and earth.
Before crossing the street for lunch at Musso’s, Ellen and I stopped in at Larry Edmunds’s Bookshop and we bought each of the above mentioned books in hardback because I wanted Larry to autograph them. I’ll mention here that, in total, they weighed about 25 pounds; the Huston book alone (at over 800 pages) probably weighs 10 pounds on its own.
I should also mention, though, that I read that huge book about The Hustons straight through, riveted by page after page of terrific stories and photos involving the true film greats and the exciting and classic movies that made them great.
In other words, the real Hollywood.
Larry makes you feel like you’re right there, having a drink at the bar with these bigger-than-life characters and just waiting for the giant bar fight to begin at any moment. Informative and educational, yes, but (more importantly, to me at least) always fun.
In any case, our producer friend at the lunch brought a date, a sweet-natured young woman of 18 or 19. Did I say young? I hope so, because I believe it’s the point of this little piece. If not, you can feel free to sue me, for something akin to age descrimination, I guess.
Anyway, she was a true L.A. girl, very smart and well-mannered and extremely pretty, pursuing an acting career but working at an ‘oxygen store’ where one paid to inhale a dose of pure oxygen, meant to increase your thinking and, supposedly, your ‘being’ ability.
I’m not sure those stores exist anymore.
Ellen and I arrived at the booth at Musso’s last, lugging in that heavy pile of hardback books, and I carefully set them down beside Larry Grobel.
And as I said, we had a great lunch, right out of the movies as far as I was concerned and, over coffee and dessert, Larry brought up the first book, put it on the table beside him, took out a pen and generously autographed it to me.
To which he got a look of utter horror from the young woman sitting across from him.
When Larry picked up the second book to sign, the young woman with our producer friend could stand it no longer. “My God, you can’t do that!” she blurted.
To which Larry explained, “I wrote all these books and I’m signing them for Bob.”
The young girl still couldn’t believe it. She said:
“But won’t the library be mad?”