FRESH YARN presents:
"And breathe." Wai Lana says as she arches back, almost touching the soothing waterfall flowing behind her.
"I fucking love that woman," my father proclaims as he sips from his 39-cent cup of coffee and lifts a dense, beige buttermilk bar to his mouth, "I love yoga."
I have to admit that watching Wai Lana, dressed in traditional Hawaiian garb, bending and stretching in front of Mt. Fuji or Niagara Falls is a great way to start the morning. Wai Lana is the Bob Ross of the television-yoga world -- always calm and leading you to believe that the Inverted Action Posture is achievable before nine a.m.
"Why don't you do Yoga with me, Tania?" my dad asks in his gruff New York accent.
"Dad, you're not doing yoga, you're drinking coffee and eating a doughnut."
"I'm doin' yoga, by osmosis," Dad says, proud of himself.
Throughout my life my family has mastered the art of Osmosis. We took the idea of sleeping with a book under our pillows in order to absorb information, a little too seriously. See, it's not that my family's lazy, it's just that if given the choice of: a. working hard or b. not, we pick b. not. Why do yoga when you can watch it? Why pay your bills when you can pray that they go away? Why write a spec-script when you can stare at your computer?
Somehow I thought that by quitting my day job, moving to LA and proclaiming that I was, in fact, a Writer, I would automatically get an agent, a six-figure deal and the life of celebrity and glamour I could become accustomed to, if given the opportunity. I tried to explain my vision to the company that holds my car loan, but they had difficulty sharing my vision. "No, see I'll pay off the loan, in full, but you've got to give me some time to get famous. Yes, I'm serious. I live in LA I'm a writer. I'm gonna make it. Yes, 562 area code is in Long Beach, but I'm just biding my time at my father's apartment until I make it big. What? I'm 30 years old. What's so funny?"
As the calls from loan and credit card companies became more frequent and intimidating I had two choices: 1. To finish my Will and Grace spec script, which I've been working on since I got here seven months ago -- I only have about 30 more pages to go; then get an agent, who gets me a job working on a sit-com, before the end of this month. Or, 2. Follow in the footsteps of my family and find an easy way out.
The ad read, "Monster Car Makeover! We're putting the Real in Reality!" It went on to say that I could qualify to win lots of money and a new car if I had a lot of energy and a good smile. Those were my only assets. I was perfect for Monster Car Makeover. I mean that's what LA is all about, right? Taking your talents and turning them into an opportunity. I quickly called the number under the ad.
"Hi! I'm calling about Monster Car Makeover!" I said giving them a preview of all the energy to come.
"Great, you sound like you have a lot of energy." The voice on the other end said.
"I do. My name is Tania Katan. I'm an aspiring sit-com writer who just moved to LA."
"Oh, that's why you have a lot energy." I could tell that she liked me already. "I'm Ann. So, you wanna be on the show? Okay, have you seen our show, Extreme Resistance?"
"Okay, how about Maximum Employment?"
"No, actually I don't watch a lot of TV."
"A sit-com writer who doesn't watch TV?"
"I figure I watched enough TV as a kid to really understand the genre."
"Okay, I'm gonna ask you a few questions to see if you qualify to audition: Do you own a car?"
"How would you feel about working in a garage with sexist, sewer mouthed mechanics?"
"I'd fucking love it, I'm a nasty whore myself." I was getting into character.
"Great, one final question: Do you have a brother who would be willing to be your teammate?"
"Well I, I "
"Because if you have a brother as your teammate, it'll really increase your chances of getting on the show."
"I have a twin brother."
"Amazing. That's what we're looking for. I need you guys to send me two videotapes by 11 a.m. on Wednesday, all right? Great now let me explain the concept of the show."
It didn't matter what Ann said after that because, well, there was no way my twin brother, Paul, was going to be on TV. Like he says: "Television is breeding legions of consumers who are buying into the White Is Right mentality of the Country of Us versus the ghetto of Them." Even if he considered being on TV there was no way he'd support a show whose sole purpose was to pit people against one another in hopes of winning currency and a car. It's everything that he stands against, but I had to give it a try because I needed the money and the thought of having two cars sounded very LA.
I didn't realize that dirt floors existed in first world countries. Paul's house, which I refer to as The House of Sick, but he simply calls, "home," is a squalid two-bedroom commune for wayward hippies and dusty dogs. The smell of patchouli and body odor filled the air. The off-white cushion stuck into the frame of the papasan chair was stained with bong water and other things that were brown and icky. Paul entered the main dirt room, sat on the floor in lotus position, and closed his eyes.
"Hey Paul." I said.
"Hello my sister."
This is not gonna work.
"So I have an idea for us, Paul, it involves transformation and mobilization."
"Right on, Tania."
"It sounds really enlightened." He breathes out.
"It is, see "
I went on to describe how a team, Paul, and me will work with three mechanics to transform my car into a chariot, a tank, or a boat. Then we have to race against the other team and the winners will take home a new car and $3,000. "So all you have to do is make a videotape stating why you want to be on the show. And have fun with it, talk about how well you and I get along, and send it to Ann. Would you do that for me Paul?"
"Sure, Tania. You know I still have the equipment I borrowed from public access to make my two new shows. I told you about them, right?"
Can I lie if he's doing me a favor? "No, you haven't told me about them."
"Well, there's Feng Shui Guerilla Squatting. It's like Michael Moore meets Trading Spaces. I go into upper middle class people's homes while they're out of town and transform their spaces into a monument devoted to tempeh, Bob Marley and living off the grid. I tie-dye their towels, batik their curtains, you know, man, really open up the space. The second show is The Anarchist Nanny where I "
"Sounds cool Paul, just make the tape and send it in, Okay?"
"You know what's so cool about us, Tania? That we spooned in the womb. I love you twin."
When Ann called to say that she had received and played both of our tapes, I was overjoyed, "Paul and I are a pretty great team, huh?" I said.
"Did you see your brother's tape before he sent it in?"
"I'm going to send it to you."
"Great, so, are we're gonna be on the show?"
"What? What do you mean?"
"I mean, No."
"There is no way you and your twin will be on Monster Car Makeover."
"What's wrong with me and my twin? We're amazing. We're Apollo and Diana; we're Mary-Kate and Ashley; we're Chang and Eng!"
"You're Freak and Show. I'm finished talking to you now."
"Wait, ah, do you need a writer?" She hung up.
arrived early the next morning. I unwrapped the tape, popped it into the
VCR and pushed play. It was a close up of my brother, with both sides
of his long blond hair braided and a red bandana wrapped around his head.
As the camera pans back we see that Paul is sitting in a canoe with a
beautiful mountain behind him. The camera pans back further to reveal
that he cannot paddle his canoe because he is surrounded by old television
sets in disrepair. He carefully gets out of the canoe and walks over to
a nearby highway. There too he is confronted with mounds of old TV sets.
The camera moves in for a close up on Paul, he sighs. A single tear rolls
down his face as he says, "People start reality shows, people can
stop them." He extends his first two fingers, creating the peace
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