Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 126

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 44
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 18
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 14
Kevin Burns: a friend and former customer


“Adam and I take a three week trip to California”

As part of the requirements for Adam to graduate from his high school, Lexington Christian Academy, he needed to “intern” somewhere in a field of interest for him. Adam had a serious interest in acting so he asked my friend, Kevin Burns, for the opportunity to intern for Twentieth Century Fox Studios in California. Kevin, a vice president there, was in charge of producing most of the A+E Biography television shows and he agreed to allow Adam to work there. Since Adam was too young to rent a hotel room or car, I decided to go out to California with him. On one hand, this trip could be a disaster because Adam and I didn’t always get along and it could be a nightmare being stuck in a small hotel room together for almost three weeks. On the other hand, it could be a good opportunity for Adam and I to get closer as father and son, especially since he’d be moving away to go to college soon.

I had no real idea of how much money to bring on a long trip like this, but since I don’t like to use my credit card, I brought what I thought would be enough cash to cover most of our expenses including food, gas, and some entertainment. We packed our suitcases, said goodbye to Mal and Cassy, and flew to Los Angeles. After we landed and got our rental car, we drove around Los Angeles until we located the office that Adam would be working in so we wouldn’t get lost and be late for his first day of work. Adam thought that this was a waste of time but he knew this wasn’t open for “discussion.” I liked to be prepared. With that detail out of the way, we headed to our hotel.

Elsa, my favorite travel agent booked us into a reasonably priced hotel about twenty miles from the Fox Studio’s lot where Adam would be working. I wrongly assumed that this would require about a half-hour of commuting time each morning. Although the hotel was very close to the major highway that we’d travel on, it ended up taking us anywhere from one hour to one and a half hours to make the trip each way because of the heavy traffic. It was one of the biggest inconveniences of “living” in Los Angeles. One of the nice conveniences was the selection of restaurants available to us. The tiny town where we lived in Massachusetts had no such dining options. Adam and I were not gourmet eaters (we preferred quantity over quality) so we frequently chose to eat at “Taco Bell.” In fact, one day, we ate there three times!

When we arrived (on time, of course) at Fox Studio for Adam’s first day of work, Kevin Burns had left authorization with the guard so that we could get inside the studio lot. We were directed past the soundstage where the television show, “N.Y.P.D. Blue,” was filmed (a short distance from Kevin’s office bungalow) but I was disappointed that the year’s episodes were already all filmed so the soundstage was empty. Kevin introduced us to his assistant, Scott, and his secretary. This was the only staff that Kevin employed to work with him in this office but he had many more employees at his much larger offices on Van Ness Boulevard in Hollywood. Adam spent his first day on the Fox Studio lot working mostly with Scott. Rather than just hang around, I drove around the city of Los Angeles, checking out the local comic book stores. Most of the stores had weak inventories of vintage comic books and collectibles but mainly focused on new product. This new stuff didn’t interest me much because I had access to all of same material at my own comic book and collectible stores, “That’s Entertainment,” in Massachusetts. I was hoping to be able to buy some old comic books that my customers needed to finish their collections but I had no luck at the retail comic stores in Los Angeles. I would get luckier on my first weekend in California.

Next chapter: Adam and I find a local flea market and make a great “connection.”

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