The Fall and Rise of Andy Dick, Part Two – The Myth

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My wife is a tiny bit jealous – just a little.

I was spending time with one of my Wizard friends, and now I’m teasing her about it. She’s fascinated with my friend Wendell, and has been ribbing me about how I’m hoarding access to him. Somehow, without being told, she can sense Wendell is training me in sorcery, and she’s envious. She wants in. But Wendell is here at Akbar with other pals – theater writers, performance artists, radical faeries et al – and I’m not about to bother him to teach us incantations, hand witchery, or request the tricky instructional task of opening dimensional portals.

It’s too much to ask at 11pm on a Monday.

The after-show is winding down; people are starting to remember to get tired. My band played a couple of songs, (at Ian MacKinnon and Travis Wood’s Planet Queer), and we’re all basking in the after-gloaming. The boys and I did well, and now’s the time we collect our accolades out front on Sunset with the smokers, travelers, fortune tellers, and ghosts. I’m pretty confident after tonight that our show on Sunday, July 29th (at 7pm! 10 bucks!) at the Satellite will be pretty tight. Everyone seems to be feeling pretty okay.

(get tickets here!)

Then, for the second time in less than five days, there he is. Andy Goddamn Dick.

(She’s there too. The lovely blackberry-lipped pixie-faced girlfriend. The woman in the sundress from the first night. The one who kept storming in and out. She’s not angry tonight. She looks different, though, almost goth. She’s put together a simple outfit. Black shorts, tight, a matching halter top. Maybe that’s what it is. But she seems calmer tonight. More fluid. Andy is feeling gregarious. He’s shaking hands and saying hello to folks. I’m glad he’s feeling better – his cataclysmic #metoo resurfaced recently, but he seems less cagey than last time. I realize, he’s dressed just like her – that’s cute!)

Hey, I say to my wife, that’s the guy I was telling you about yesterday – Andy Dick from News Radio. Wanna meet him?

Sure.

Okay.

So, I call out to Andy. I wave. I don’t think he recognizes me, then, suddenly, he does.

Andy has always been such a bright light to me. Like me, it’s clear he has issues with his energy level, and maybe his is even worse than mine, now that I’ve encountered him a couple times? Sure, I have my hypomania flare ups, but he seems to be running pretty hot, pretty consistently. Then again, what the hell do I know? I never open the newspaper anymore. I can’t even do NPR in the car. It’s just silence and daydreams, and rattling around the old memory castle any time I have a long drive ahead of me. I just added a small, secret courtyard somewhere on the grounds. Not sure exactly what I’m going to put there. Possibly, a very fey Minotaur? A two-spirit Wendigo? The Thin Woman?

There’s still time to mull it over, I think, smirking. We only have the entire rest of our lives…

Andy comes over. I beam at him. Look who it is! Andy! Hey – I wanted you to meet my wife, Ann. Andy smiles. It’s genuine, but then his eyes narrow as he starts to shake her hand. I turn to try to introduce Lammy, but Lammy is just staring at Ann and Andy, his mouth agape. Lammy takes a while to process things, sometimes.

I think to myself, oh, maybe he’s still thinking about the show. You do that sometimes. If a show is particularly good, it can feel a bit like waking up from a dream, after, if there’s flow.

Lammy is suddenly alarmed. He points. I glance over at Ann, who looks horrified for some reason. Andy is smirking, impish, a sudden ugly, triumph in his eye. I don’t like this, but now Ann is rushing off, possibly to the lady’s room? I missed something. Lammy looks shocked. His head turns toward Ann, who is disappearing inside. Should I go see what’s going on with Ann, I ask? Lammy says, yes. That would be a great idea.

I catch her in the ladies room, wiping her ear out with toilet paper. She looks annoyed. There’s a smudge on her face I noticed earlier. One of the performers kissed her on the cheek and left burnt umber on her cheek. It looked sweet out in the street lights – like a kiss – but here in the ladies’ room, she’s rubbing it and it starts to smear into a bruise. Then, it fades – gone, entirely. She throws the toilet paper into the toilet. (Women love toilet paper. Good luck, if you sire three daughters; you’ll bankrupt yourself on toilet paper.)

She takes more, and wipes out her ear again.

Moments like this, you shouldn’t envy. She looks at me, and I look at her in the ladies room.

Did Andy do something?

Yes.

What?

Ann sighs. It seems like she is considering whether to speak to this at all. One of the things I love and respect so much about her is her incredible self-control, her wisdom about situations like these. Ann never comments unless she feels like engaging, which means, sure, you can ask her a question, but she never owes you an answer. Finally, though, she speaks.

He stuck his tongue in my ear.

Gross!

Yes. It’s gross and tiresome.

(This, to me, seems like an understatement. There’s something in her body language that looks exhausted, beyond annoyed. There’s an awfulness just beyond her blue, orange flecked eyes, and it’s speaking to me. It’s saying, Michael – this is one of 10,000 instances like this. It’s saying, this is just a small part of a lady’s daily hassle. Indeed, I think to myself, gays inflict this vulgar, pathetic type of behavior on one another all the time).

Ann, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see it. I was trying to see if Lammy wanted to meet Andy too.

She shrugs and sighs. It’s getting late, she says, and gives me a crooked smile. Andy has moved into the bar, to continue his daily binge. We sidle past him quickly, trying not to raise his attention.

We get out into the fresh air. Ann is parked across the street. I walk her over to her car. We came separately tonight. We talk about Andy a little, and how it sucks that, even supposed safe spaces are sometimes inundated with predators. But mostly, Ann wants to talk about what a lovely mini-show Evil Mutants had, and what a supportive, generous community Planet Queer cultivates.

She’s being generous. I know she’s grossed out and she’s trying to make sure my evening ends on a good note.

(In other words, she’s being a good person.)

We talk about upcoming events, meals we need to plan for the week, and I tell her I’ll see her at the compound, or back on campus. We have nicknames for the estate we’re haunting these days.

I kiss her cheek; we say our goodbyes.

I wait outside on a bench with Lammy and a boy named Robin who’s flirting with him. Ann drives by and I wave, but she’s got her mind on the road. It occurs to me – She’s no Orpheus. She’s my wife, not Lot’s – this creature does not look back.

A snippet of parchment flies out of a dusty cabinet in my castle’s study anti-chamber. It’s a private study I put retired ideas, just off the King’s quarters. He needs to be near his early writing, so he can remember what Prince-hood was like.

(bridge)

Just like Orpheus, you’re heading down the Harefield Road.

Clear out the underbrush, someday you might emerge.

But like Lot’s wife, you couldn’t help but watch it grow.

Just be careful you’re not petrified….. by the suuuuuuuurrrrrge.

(breakdown and final chorus)

You looked back!

You looked back!

Your eyes were begging, (please, oh please,)

just cut the kid some slack!

You looked back!

You looked back!

With a glance you missed your chance.

I’m never coming back.

You looked back.

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On the concrete, something I haven’t seen yet in California. Something I only ever think about in Florida – a Palmetto bug. It’s long and sleek and shiny. About two inches of hairy legs and antennae. They’re glorified roaches, but, to add a horrifying, odious layer – they can fly.

But, this one is languishing on the sidewalk, twitching, half squished. It’s clearly in the throes of death. It occurs to me – the most humane thing might be to kill it now, but there is a Buddhist principle in some sects that forbids this sort of thing. I consider the dilemma, but, presently,  I have bigger cats to skin. I turn to Lammy, who seems to read my mind. What are you going to do, he asks?

Head inside, I say.

I enter the cool blackness of Akbar. Behind me I hear Lammy mumbling something which sounds like, good idea.

I’m not sure. Maybe Lammy was talking to me. Maybe he was inviting cute Robin into his memory castle. In any case, Lammy’s opinion about this isn’t relevant to me any longer. I’ve pulled the trigger.

I’m going to beat the shit out of Andy Dick.

(to be continued)

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The Fall and Rise of Andy Dick, Part One – The Legend

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She storms out of the restroom of Akbar. I can’t help but notice her, fuming down the runway from the powder-room to the sidewalk. She seems annoyed; over it.

I nudge my friend Lammy, who’s off processing something else. He misses her. He’s looking over at Pete Zias, a sultry comedy genius who’s doing my show on the 29th. Lamy is caught up in thought, and I’m trying to bring him back to focus on this spurned, lovely, fresh-faced ingenue vamping out of Akbar. She seems straight, I think. I bet her gay friend did something major, and she’s not having any more of tonight.

I check my phone. It’s still early.

I love watching women fuming. I like seeing them angry. I like seeing the veneer peel back. I don’t want to see everything, but watching a woman get furious is like watching a force of nature in action – a hurricane or a tornado.  When my mother was younger, she covered some spider veins with nude pantyhose. I mentioned it to her once, wondering how she got them, and she said, oh, those are from your brother. Yours are here, she then said, and pointed somewhere else on her leg. I never mentioned it again, but I felt humbled in the moment. I really love women.

When raised into ire, they show a hint, a whisper of that age old anger I identify in myself. Sure, it’s not at all the same situation as being a gay man, but it’s a very similar, equally complicated dynamic. Trying to be the prettiest version of yourself, getting punished for it. Trying to be an uncompromising, high riding bitch, getting punished for that, too. Trying to be a boring version of yourself, getting criticized. I could keep going:

I have always loved women. Nurturing and twisting, empathizing and uncompromising, thoughtful and self absorbed and generous to a fault, and sometimes just plain selfish. I love women for what they are, when they are, who they are. Even when they act ridiculously entitled, I’m apt to make excuses for them. They’re women. They understand.

We all need each other. We have to love one another, the men, the women, the gays, the straights, the colors and the whites – people somewhere in the middle of those “either, or” paradigms. And most women understand that. Sometimes you have to draw it out, but most women get it.

Trust me though, this particular chick has had it. She’s done with tonight. I can tell that on the storm-out.

Bonus footage: there’s a storm-back-in. She’s tapping on the lady’s room door! By this time Lammy and I have migrated over to say goodbye to Pete, and his lovely friend Marcel, who has the bright heart of a mime, and the sensitivity of Proust. Kind men, I think to myself, as we bid goodnight. I see the upset woman walking back out again, out of the corner of my eye. She has short hair, and a pixie’s face, and blackberry red lips. It’s something thin and gauzy draped from her. Maybe, it’s a sundress? I can’t tell.  It looks effortless and smooth but maybe she’s pissed? She leaves again. We move to leave behind her. I look back to try to catch a glimpse of Pete and Marcel laughing. I want to leave Akbar with that image in my mind, so I turn my head, expecting to see these bright, funny boys.

But, instead, right behind me, it’s Andy Dick. Andy fucking Dick.

He gives me a sigh and a look like, yes, it’s me, you’re recognizing me, it’s not a good time, let’s move things along. He even does this thing where he takes one finger, aims it sideways, and rolls it at me. That gesture people do, when they want you to wrap something up in a business meeting, or maybe even over coffee. But I don’t care. It’s Andy Fucking Dick.

“You’re Andy Dick!” I say, immediately out on the sidewalk. The fuming woman perches in a shiny red convertible with a handsome male driver. He’s tan and has a pencil mustache. Mischievous, smirking, he looks well-heeled. I turn back to Andy Dick. “I’m a huge fan of your work. News Radio is a brilliant piece of Americana.” I grasp his hand to shake it, and hold it, squeezing his opposite shoulder with my left hand. Eye contact, mutual respect, meaningful touch. “Just brilliant,” I say.

“Thank you,” he says. You’re a kind person. He says it with a sort of sadness in his eyes.

(Once I was allowed to go to a carnival. It was high school and I could drive, and I was going there with my friend Fred Woodchord. Things didn’t work out like I’d wanted them to, and my friend left early. I stayed. I was there when they were wrapping up and I saw all the artifice packed up for the night. Carnie folk, like I’d seen working at my parents’ laundromat in Brooksville, Florida. They come and do huge loads of laundry. The soap turns brown! But somewhere in my memory castle I access the night of the carnival. I stayed too long; ate too much sugar. Played too many penny arcade games. I drove home feeling mildly ashamed and kind of sad, like how Andy looked at me.)

“Hey,” I say. “You did a really good job, bud. You’re a classic.”

Andy’s smirk softens and he stares deep into my eyes.

“You’re a good person,” he says.

“You’re brilliant.”

And that’s it.

Andy breaks the spell, moves toward the red car, with the smirking, handsome, 40 something driver. The young woman is almost girlish now. She’s back to neutral, dreamy – checking her cuticles.  I move to try to introduce Lammy, but the moment has passed.

Andy hops into the convertible, I move with Lammy, northwest, to my car. Oh my god that was Andy Dick. I know. Did you ever see News Radio? What’s that? It’s a sitcom from the 90’s – brilliant cast, Steven Root is in it! It was Phil Hartman’s last major project. Maura Tierney.  Dave Foley. I could go on.

He’s an American treasure, I tell Lammy. We get into the car to flyer more at Gold Coast, and possibly Trunks. Maybe Motherload while we’re at it.

Did you know Andy Dick was an inspiration to me, I ask Lammy. Lammy shrugs. Oh yes! He probably has something similar to chronic hypomania! Certainly, he’s an addict – he’s very open about that when he interviews. Not sure if he’s in recovery now, or not. I’m so proud I met him! He was clearly gay and making it as an actor when I was young, I say. Lammy loves to say little, and chime in to disagree about semantics. He reminds me that Andy Dick is bisexual. I don’t care, I say. In my head, when I was a kid, watching Andy Dick star in (hands down, no arguing) the best sitcom of its era. In my head it was a gay man succeeding in comedy, and not toning it down. Not even trying. For the 90’s, that was as badass as you could be.

Lammy smirks and shrugs and I drive us west. He’s much younger than me. I’m blathering about mania, and how it can trigger brilliance, and how I’m so blessed at this time in my life, and how the world, life, the Holy Spirit, the Great Spirit, whatever it is – is lining up synchronic vibrations for me this year – is being so kind this time around. It’s not nasty like five years ago. It’s good this time.

I’m so proud of me, and of Lammy, who did some pretty awesome communications today, as a friend, at his business. I’m so proud of bisexual Andy Dick, and how even a cruel, ugly world sometimes can’t keep those special people who hold a small light inside apart. Not for long. Not forever. It lines itself up for us, just as it does for the meanies, the bullies, the awful, grabbing, fear-mongers. Sometimes, it synchs for us, too.

We turn left on Fairfax. Lamy puts his hand on my knee. He’s worried about a man crossing the street. I joke about how, he wouldn’t be walking so slowly if I wasn’t trying to turn left. Lammy misses the joke.

He’s off somewhere for a split second. He’s in his memory castle. He’s processing something else.

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