The highlight of this past week for me, hands down, was attending the REEL TO REEL: HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION event at the Grammy Museum in Downtown Los Angeles with Cousin Lorenzo and The Counselor. Harry Dean is one of my all-time favorite actors, so to be able to sit in the front row, less than fifteen feet from his smoky, surreal aura…was a fairly fortuitous experience for me. Special thanks to my cousin (a museum member) for the hook up.
Stanton. Is. A. TRIP.
The photo above was taken by my good friend Peter Hastings, who I worked with on “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness”. Like Stanton, Peter is something of an artistic journeyman. He even shot the Kris Kristofferson segment of the HDS documentary, “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction”, which is currently streaming on Netflix. If you haven’t seen this thing, you have GOT to get on it. I suggest, also, that you wait to watch it at night. It’s a gem. I’ve now seen it 5 times. For HDS is not just some face you recall from countless movies you’ve seen over the years. He’s also a singer, a drinker, and a philosopher. Dare I say, he might even indulge in the green, leafy stuff from time to time. Listen, at 88-years of age, the dude can pretty much do whatever the hell he wants.
Lovingly, respectfully directed by Sophie Huber (a friend of Peter’s), the doc is less a paint-by-numbers assessment of Harry’s career than it is a moving, dream-like, artistic portrait of a man who Stanton’s own personal assistant Logan Sparks describes as the “Forrest Gump of Hollywood” (Harry Dean has stumbled into some VERY unique situations in his storied life).
Best of all, he is very weird. And hilarious. I think you’d have to be to work on over five film projects with the great David Lynch.
It was just a fantastic evening. Lorenzo, Adam, and I kicked off the proceedings with Happy Hour hijinx at Tom’s Urban down on S. Figueroa Street, which is just a few doors down from the museum. There we met our server, Leah, who turned out to be quite the lovely African-American enchantress. She and I seriously hit it off and I hope to enjoy some laughs with her again sometime when I pay a re-visit. After Harry Dean, we all returned to Tom’s for a nightcap, but Leah was long gone. Although we did manage to converse fairly intimately with a fellow member of her staff who was a charismatic, aspiring actor-type fellow struggling with cancer. ALWAYS an eye-opener when you realize how fortunate you are that you get to sit with your friends late at night, drinking and laughing and busting balls and pounding french fries and NOT have to sweat such ordeals. Not yet anyway, knock on my own stupid head.
Oh! I almost forgot. After a screening of the film, there was a very brief, bizarre interview with Harry Dean and Huber followed by a four-song performance by Harry featuring Don Was on upright bass. Was is also a friend of Peter’s (this guy knows everybody!) and was wearing flip-flops, sweatpants, and a GIANT SCARF and FEDORA on a hot, late-summer night. You shoulda SEEN the shit-eatin’ grin on Was’ bearded face as he jammed with HDS and Jamie James on guitar. Madness.
When Harry Dean was escorted (slowly) off the stage, there erupted an annoyingly-clogged traffic jam of people. HDS wound up basically stopped right in front of my face. I stared at him. He stared at me. I said nothing. Neither did he. Then some bespectacled putz appeared and begged Harry for his autograph…to which Harry replied, “Why?“.
WINE PAIRING: In honor of HDS, I would say ANY Old Vine Zinfandel from the Lodi region of California will more than suffice.