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8:12 am - Sat 5/15/04
Becoming \"The Man\"

Becoming "The Man"

Fri 5/14/04 (7:43 a.m.)

In "It's a small world" news...

Yesterday, on my way to the bank to cash a check, I ran into Devin Weissberg, the plaintiff in the case I just juried on.

He was very friendly. When he saw me, he smiled broadly and said "Hey, how's it going?" (I think I said, "Good. How you doin'?"). And as I went on my way, I heard him say to the guy he was with, very upbeat, "That was one of the jurors...".

If I sound surprised that he was "friendly" and "upbeat", it's because we ended up not awarding him anything for his case.

I won't bore you with all the details–and it's feeling like "ancient history" to me now, anyway–but basically, Weissberg was suing Bochen Louie, the owner of the property he used to rent, and her son Victor (Who was the manager), for discrimination (The owner and her son are Chinese. Weissberg was claiming that when he started dating a woman Mrs Louie thought was Vietnamese, she didn't approve, and as a result, she made things so unpleasant for him that he had no choice but to move, incurring moving expenses, higher rent, and "emotional distress").

While opinion was divided as to the charges--There were at least four different "actions" in the suit ("discriminatory eviction", "breach of the 'Covenant Of Quiet Enjoyment'", violation of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, and "conversion" of a small refrigerator that Weissberg planned to donate to the Salvation Army for a tax write-off)–Everyone was pretty much in agreement that Vincent Louie had just gotten stuck in the middle of this mess, and hadn't done anything wrong.

And even though some of the jurors thought Mrs Louie probably had said some of the things that were alleged, while some thought the case was completely bogus, whatever had happened, Mr Weissberg hadn't proven "emotional distress", or even specific "damages" (For example, he said he'd had to start seeing a psychiatrist for depression, and was on an anti-depressant, but he'd filled his first prescription only ten days before the trial started. And he had no documentation for the value of the refrigerator, which would have been pretty minimal in any case–it was a small refrigerator he'd bought used for $200 back in 1999–not to mention that it was debatable as to whether he'd made a good-faith effort to arrange to pick it up from his apartment, or was already "building a case" for a lawsuit at that point).

There were a few more twists and turns in the case than I'm getting into right now, but like I said, this is feeling a little "ancient history"-ish; I'm just rehashing it now for the benefit of the one person out there in D-land who might be interested.

When the trial was over, and I learned the defense had offered a decent settlement (And the defense attorney said this could have been hashed out in a day in front of the judge, instead of with a week-long jury trial), I found myself feeling a little sour about the experience--A week out of my life, and the lives of 13 other jurors, all so Devin Weissberg (A law student who prosecuted his own case) could play lawyer.

(9:41 a.m.)

I kind of don't want to get into it, but I've been thinking a lot about the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal that's been in the news...

Unlike most things that happen outside my self-interested little bubble, this has stayed with me, and really bothered me, pretty much since the story first broke.

I think, at a gut level, my upset is pretty basic–We're supposed to be "the good guys", and what's seen in those photos, what soldiers were told to do--I believe that's what happened--and what soldiers did (Because they were "just following orders") is categorically not what "the good guys" do.

It's at times like these that I realize I really am an American at heart. By that, I mean I obviously didn't have anything to do with this, but I feel ashamed nevertheless, ashamed as a citizen of this country. It makes me realize I really want America to "stand for something", and "sexually humiliating and abusing prisoners" isn't what I had in mind.

And how much more gasoline could you pour on this already volatile situation?

I mean, doesn't the Middle East already hate us enough?

(9:32 p.m.)

Doing a couple loads of laundry, so I'll have some different choices of outfits for new headshots tomorrow.

(Speaking of laundry, while I was in the laundry room, another tenant asked if she'd be seeing me on tv again anytime soon. It was cool to be able to say "Yeah", and tell her about the Time Warner spot.)

I'm going to Cary and Kay's tomorrow, where Kay's going to do my new headshots, and we're going to go out to eat and stuff. I'm looking forward to it. It's been awhile since I've actually had something to do on my birthday (And it makes me glad I decided to take the day off).


I debated not putting some of the above stuff in here--the jury duty stuff is boring, and I've got nothing particularly insightful to say about the Iraq situation--but then I decided that that's the stuff in my head right now, and...well, there you are.

Still thinking about the Time Warner commercial...

There's something I told Cary recently that I think bears repeating in here...

At callbacks, there was an actor I recognized from the Hyundai callbacks.

I didn't know his name, and had talked to him only fleetingly the last time. And while I have nothing against the guy--I don't even know him--I found myself really wanting to beat him again.

I want to become "The Man" in this guy's eyes, the guy he's afraid of, the guy who always beats him out of the part, just like Dick Hill was "The Man" when I first started doing community theatre back in Lansing (Back then, if I were at an audition and Dick walked in, I'd be like "Oh f***, it's Dick Hill! I might as well go home...").

I'm embarrassed to admit that, but there it is.

(I thought about it recently--It's unlikely the actor I'm talking about ever saw the Hyundai spot, and of course, the Time Warner spot hasn't aired yet. So as of this writing, he doesn't know I'm someone to be respected. I'll have to beat him out of two or three more things before it registers.)

First and foremost, I want to act, but I'd be lying if I suggested the element of competition doesn't factor in. It always has--there's a thrill in "getting the part", of being the guy who wins the prize--and I think that's only human.

But beyond that competitive drive that's "only human", I think another force is at play here; in a larger sense, what I'm hungry for is not so much victories over other people as a victory over my circumstances.

I don't know if I can "beat" the unhappy circumstances of my childhood, but it's a big part of what drives me forward. I want to be triumphant, to embody the idea that "living well is the best revenge".

The Time Warner gig was a very positive experience for a number of reasons, but one particularly nice thing it did was make breaking into tv and movies seem a very reasonable, acheivable goal; What I did in the commercial, with just a few "tweaks" here and there, could just as easily have been a scene in a tv show or a movie.

I'm sure there will be things to learn about each different set of circumstances, but at this point, I basically know that I can do it.

And that's a nice thing to know.

Well, it's moving towards 11:00 as I write this, which means it's time for me to gather my wardrobe, hop in the car, and head to Cary and Kay's.

See ya!


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