Time: 4 a.m.
Temperature: 92.6 F
Servings of alcohol at Wax after the play tonight: lost count at eight
Days without a cigarette: 52
Days since my 30th birthday: 52
Pieces of Nicorette: 240
Nights of insomniac half-sleep: 51
Number of cars I’ve listened to passing in a ghostlike whoosh down the dim, smoggy canyon of Broadway and pushing sleep away: 189 … 190 … 191 …
A very loud telephone rings one and a half times before I can arrest it. It’s 7:30 a.m. In B movies, people awakened by the phone always say “yes” or “hello” in this fake groggy voice. In real life, when the phone wakes you up, and you know you have completely forgotten whom you’re supposed to be prepared to talk to, you panic. In a split second, I’m wide awake in bed, screaming, “Yes! Hey! How ya doing!”
Sixty seconds later, I am talking about Pi with Henry and Ty, the hosts of the WFNX morning show. They tell me the Boston Globe and Herald gave us three out of four stars today. There is a pause. This is drive-time radio. Thousands of kids in traffic on the Mass Pike and Storrow Drive are drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and waiting for me to say something stimulating.
I say, “Um,” and gather my resources. Then, somehow, the speedball of fatigue and adrenalin kicks in, producing a new, funnier personality than my normal one. Morning Radio Guys have this suave energetic style and, within seconds, I have tuned in to their upSTAT tonality and am trying to toss the banter around.
But they want to talk, seriously, about Pi. They both saw it last night at a preview screening hosted by the station, and they seem to have had deeply personal reactions to the film. It’s kind of weird. At one point, Henry says, “When I walked out of the theater, I felt that I was somehow a different person.” They talk about the film as if it were a precocious, demented kid whom we should all be nice to. In the end, we have a thoughtful, sincere talk, and I have a big smile on my face.
I toss and turn for an hour and then get on my bike and go over to give food and water to my girlfriend’s cats, Vlad and Angelo. The poor guys have been sweating out the heat wave while she’s in California. I think they’re a little lonely, too. I wonder if they know that Russell Weston had been shooting cats before he started trying to shoot senators. We hang out in the bathroom for a while, sweating and brushing against each other in a friendly way.
I go to eat a solid breakfast at a quiet sidewalk cafe in the West Village, near the river, and begin to read through my lines for the play I’m in tonight. Right on cue, two red-faced skells begin waltzing around in the street in front of me. One of them keeps repeating, “wheremybagatbro?” The other one is saying, “Step up to me an I’ll snap ya neck.” I try to pay attention to my eggs, wheat toast, home fries, and fruit salad and ignore them. Each gets the other in a headlock and starts pounding him in the face with loose fists. Blood comes out. A big guy walks into the street and tries to break them up, but they ignore him, so he smacks each in the head and walks away.
They continue steadily talking shit and banging themselves bloody on the curbside for the benefit of a small crowd. No one wants to get near the blood, and it seems that at some level, this ritual is what they need to be doing. They keep fighting and, after a while, I go back to eating. I figure, hey, if I let them ruin my appetite, I’ll still have to pay for the food. I finish and get on my bike as the cops pull up. One guy is wobbling around, a grim smile on his battered face. He says to his friend, “I love you, bro. But you gotta go down,” and jumps back on him. It’s straight out of Point Break. They crash into my table, flailing.
When I get home, I find I have an e-mail from Jessica at Artisan, our distributor. Pi opens today in the “second-tier” cities. Since I built and maintain the Web site, she has sent me the list of cities and theaters. Based on two very strong weekends at the Angelika in New York, we had been hoping for a total of around 30 screens. I open the list and it has more than 60 cities and theaters on it, spread over four release dates, with a note that more are to come. All right! I revise the Web page.
Darren, the director, and Eric, the producer, call from L.A., where they are working the opening night screening at the Nuart, doing press, and putting together their next movies. They have been getting the newspaper reviews from across the country all morning. The reviews are consistently good to excellent, and I get some very nice words for my performance. The press book is now an inch thick. Eric and I talk a little about what we’re going to say at the Rising Tide Summit, this highbrow, daylong New Technology think tank where we’re going to be on a panel as “the Storytellers.” We are both a little wary of this event.
By now I have forgotten to be tired. I get a few decent hours of work done, write my Slate diary, do my push-ups, take another shower, drink an iced coffee, put gray streaks in my hair, and walk down to the Ohio Theater for the closing-night performance of Sander Hicks’ new play, The Breaking Light. I play a steak-and-Cutty-Sark CEO who falls in a coup by a faction of Born Again Christians, Communists (disguised as motivational speakers), and my New Paradigms Director of Marketing. Then the ATF surrounds the corporate compound. On the way to the theater, I jog a little. I can’t wait to forget myself again.