Amos the alien

I think that I wrote a little post a while back about an actor I know in Hollywood who believes that he is a robot. Obviously, the fellow is mentally ill. I haven’t tallied the number of robots per mental institution around here, but I’m guessing that the condition, taken together with its mechanical specifics, is an unusual one. That actor is the only robot self-identifier that I’ve met, anyway.

Not so with aliens, and I’m not talking about my Mexican gardener. I am amazed at the number of professed non-humans that I know, and even work with. Take my friend Amos. Ask Amos at a cocktail party about his planet of origin and he will cheerfully tell you that he is not of this Earth. In Hollywood, at least, there are multiple extraterrestrials for every robot out of the closet.

“You can’t interview me,” Amos told me one time, “but you can buy me a drink and we’ll enjoy a conversation and if you record what we say using that Droid you carry around in your back pocket, than I won’t hold it against you.”

Amos works as a greensman at Universal. He’s a specialized set dresser who deals with plants, real and artificial. Sometimes he reports to the art director and sometimes directly to the production designer. He’s got a green thumb. Literally. He lives in Glendale.

So we met at The Bar on Sunset one Tuesday night. Dark and noisy. We’re drinking Ice Bombs, which I can recommend. (Blue raspberry vodka, orange vodka, vodka, and Sprite. Lots of ice, of course.)

“Listen, Amos,” I said. “If you’re an alien, why don’t you keep it a secret?”

“Why should I? Nobody cares.”

“INS might.”

He laughed.

“Are you kidding? Amos Greenberg from Brooklyn? The guy the studio loves for his great sets?”

“What about picking up women?”

“Hasn’t hurt me, that I can notice. To tell you the truth, they get it in their minds that they’ll uncover the equipment and point to it and say, Looks pretty human to me, haha, but then when the moment of truth arrives, their mouths drop open and they say You’re right. That thing ain’t human. Not that I’m complaining! they say.”

“So what are you doing here? Besides dressing sets with ferns and palm leaves, I mean. Invading the planet?”

Again he laughed.

“Who’d want to invade this shithole?” he said.

“Hey, you’re talking about Hollywood here. Maybe Brooklyn’s not so hot, but show a little respect for the industry.”

Amos was shaking his head.

“You’ve turned your planet into a crockpot. What self-respecting alien would come down here and invade Detroit, for Christ’s sake.”

“So then what? Are you studying us? How we doing?”

“In what respect?” Amos said.

“The respect of advancing as a race. Of developing, evolving, reaching the point where we can zip around the galaxy or whatever, hanging out like you are.”

“Ninety-nine per cent of sentient races become extinct within, oh, a few thousand years of their initial technological breakthroughs.”

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“Humans are way too smart for their own good. They should have got smart slower, much slower, over hundreds of thousands of years. You’re still too much animal to survive, being this smart. You’ll come to an end quite soon, in one of the thousands of ways that you’ve developed, on purpose or inadvertantly, to kill yourselves off. It’s one of the reasons that Earth is so popular as a vacation spot. A visitor like me can act like an animal here, be quite bestial, quite instinctual, and yet still hang out with smart people. Nobody wants to take a vacation at the zoo… It makes me giddy just to think about it. When I come here, I can abuse drink and drugs, I can watch senseless, mindless acts of violence on film and TV and on playing fields and on the street. I can litter! I can drive around in cars spewing carbon, flicking my cigarette butts and beer cans out the window. Anything goes.

“Believe me, when I go home to a sane civilization, I immediately start counting the days left before I can come back here again. It’s like you, running down to TJ on a weekend to behave badly. I’ll be depressed for years after you’ve blown yourselves up, or poisoned yourselves, or screwed the pooch some other way. No pooch screwing on my planet.”

This news should have been depressing, but, after all,  the human race invented the Ice Bomb, and we drank enough of them to laugh off the whole thing, at least for the evening.