Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
A couple weeks ago I went to LA for professional reasons. Well, were they professional reasons? It was mostly just to hang out, but I wanted to hang out in Hollywood, a place that I sometimes Zoom with, so I think it counts. It's networking! What is networking if not hanging out with the knowledge that work could happen but probably won't?
I had thought that I would take some meetings while I was in LA, which was mostly a ploy to get free Box waters in various offices. Hydration is important and I'm frugal so if that means I have to spend an hour pitching an executive on my Lady Elaine Fairchilde origin story movie in exchange for 12 ounces of complementary water, I'm going to do it. I also wanted to take a meeting with my manager to find out how tall he is since we started working together during the first year of the pando and have never met in person. I feel like I've spent the last two years slowly but surely meeting people I'd heretofore only worked with on Zoom, sizing them up, and going "Hm. Okay! Good to know!" I get very disoriented when people's energy is different from their actual height. So I am pleased to report that my manager is does actually seem, energetically, like the height that he is. Which is a good height, a great height. The best height. Case closed.
I also got a free box of water from his office so it was really a win all-around.
The thing is, though, the day I arrived in LA was also the day that the WGA strike started so I couldn't do any more meetings. While I was a little sad about not being able to find out how tall other people are, I unequivocally support the strike--for many reasons but mostly because I think it's important to work for more than just Box water. And I was excited about the opportunity to actually picket (there's not a lot of picketing happening in Philly, so I had to jump on the opportunity while I had it). I had lunch with a friend and then moseyed over to the nearby CBS TV Studios where there was a picket line circling under the watchful eye of a giant James Corden.
I felt momentarily unsure of what to do because the WGA is split into two segments--East and West--and although they work together, you're a member of one or the other. I'm a member of WGA East and this picket line was organized by WGA West and I hadn't RSVP'd (does one respondez-vous for a protest?) and also I've never written for a CBS television show (though, again, I would gladly talk to Julie Chen or Chuck Lorre about Lady Elaine Fairchilde's fraught childhood and wild college years). So, as I walked up, I was like "wait am I allowed to picket in this picket line." Which, babe, yes. No one is going to gatekeep the thing that is trying to keep people from going into the gate.
But I was legit nervous about this! I didn't have my WGA card on me so I didn't know if I was going to have to pull up an episode of Better Things on my phone and be like "Okay, I wrote this joke coming up but not the next one. But then in the next scene I wrote two jokes so may I have a sign please?" Am I striking correctly?!! How you gonna have imposter syndrome about not doing your job? Just pick up a sign and walk around, Sister Suffragette!
One of the things I found very interesting about hanging out with industry people in LA is that the prevailing fashion style seems to be "fancy pajamas." Everyone seemed so comfortable, languid and lovely and lazy and louche. Everyone dresses like Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello on a COVID walk.
I loved it but it made me very tense. East Coast cities, by and large, do not do this. Everyone in New York dresses like a Succession character or a JLo character, and everyone in DC dresses like they just finished their shift at J. Crew, so encountering people out and about in wrinkled t-shirts, linen pants, and a shawl-cardigan-situation was stunning to me. I was like "I have to work harder at being relaxed! I have to put more effort into a casual, unfussy style!" Confronted with and coddled by glorious fashion tranquility, I was inspired to become more deranged.
My friend Ken, with whom I co-wrote the Walt Whitman episode of Dickinson, took me to a gay party see-and-be-seen situation, so of course I put on, like, a blazer like I was trying to sell Joel Kim Booster insurance. I ran into all these people that I follow online and am a fan of. Some of them even had the generosity to recognize me back, which was delightful. "I AM VERY RELAXED!" I yelled over the music. "HAVE YOU CONSIDERED CONVERTING YOUR TERM POLICY IN TO WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE?"
Anyway, LA was lovely and I can't wait to go back. I feel like it was an incredibly productive work trip where I did absolutely no work, which is what all work trips should be, honestly. Like, I literally marched around holding a sign that was said "I'm not going to work". I don't know why I didn't go earlier, except that I had no reason to. But why should not having a reason for doing something ever stop me?
Kings of B'more is now out in a gorgeous paperback!
Congratulations, the Best Is Over! is coming in August! Publisher's Weekly gave it a starred review!
Random thing on the internet
I have no idea why I'm thinking of this song from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding, but I am and it's very pretty.
I AM VERY RELAXED!,