One night, my best friend and I were taking a walk in Venice, California, which we often did, most of the time at night. Many times, we would walk to every border of Venice, like two dogs marking their territory. There are many awesome fucking reasons to walk around Venice. Most nights took us down to the beach through “the corridors” that went through a line of houses, which was a narrow sidewalk with front yards on either side and extremely close living arrangements. We’d stop with a mid-trip rest that consisted of both of us sitting on a deserted beach, Venice fucking Beach…deserted…at the witching hour before returning home via the faster route, which was down Venice Boulevard. Some nights the fog was still thick in Venice and we would go and look at the street lights thrusting Jedi light sabers through the branches of trees. On nights when we didn’t really feel like a long walk, but the fog was thick, we’d go look at our favorite trees anyway. During the holiday season, we would go down to the canals and marvel at the lighted houses. One house, in particular, had a garish display in the lawn…during Halloween it was ghosts and goblins, during Christmas it was wire-made reindeer and Santa. During either holiday, this house had more display than yard. They actually had two properties on the canals. One to live in and display their yard adornments, and another across the alley to store their yard adornments. Both properties had the exact same color and trimming. There was always a crowd around this house on the canals during the holiday season. It was beautiful. It was Venice. On the rare nights when it would rain we would run around and frolic like our inner-childs had taken over and we would splash each other by stomping on puddles when the rain subsided. It was bliss. On this night, however, we were just doing our standard “neighborhood” walk, which was about a three mile walk that didn’t include the beach or lights or puddles.
We were almost done with our walk. We were about five or six blocks from our apartment and we could see a tall figure standing in the middle of the street. This figure didn’t move the whole time we approached. As we neared, we could tell that it was a black man and he had his head pitched back as if looking at the stars. Not the stars directly above, but maybe 45 degrees off into the distance. He didn’t turn around, but as we breached his peripheral vision, we caught eyes and he asked, “Do you smell gas?”
Then he tilted his head up again as if to catch a stream of aroma one inch above from where his nose normally rested. Then he said, “I smell gas.”
He looked at us again and asked, “Do you smell gas?”
My friend and I took in exaggerated motions of smelling and looked at each other. We clearly did not smell gas.
My friend said, “No”, since we both knew she had the better sense of smell.
The man shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hmm…I smell gas.”
Then he turned and walked away from us, towards the sidewalk.
As he walked away, a bolt of recognition came over me. This man was Carl Weathers. The former Oakland Raider who found fame as Apollo Creed in “Rocky” and Dillon in “Predator, but who I also love in his role as “Action Jackson” and his turn as himself in “Arrested Development”. In “Arrested Development”, he had a certain bit whereby if somebody was throwing away a food item…let’s say, a chicken bone…he’d say, “No, no, no, no…you throw that bone in some broth, add a potato…baby, you got a stew goin’”. Shit cracks me up. I repeat that bit with anything anybody is throwing away. If you’re throwing away a bubble gum wrapper, I’m like, “No, no, no, no…you throw that bubble gum wrapper in some broth, add a potato…baby, you got a stew goin’”.
So here we are, Carl fucking Weathers is walking away from me. I worked in commercials and movies a bit and was not really a “hey, there’s a famous dude” type of guy. But this seemed a bit different. This was Carl Weathers. This was Action Jackson. This was Apollo fucking Creed!
Right about the time he was reaching the sidewalk, I said, “Hey! Aren’t you Carl Weathers?”
He turned and said, “Yes”
I was positioned in a manner where I was looking at him from over my left shoulder, and as soon as he said “yes”, I abruptly wrenched my body around and lunged out with my right foot, taking a large, yet not abnormal, step towards him and extended my right hand to shake his hand. He jolted back a little bit, with his hands raising from their natural resting position to just near his waistline, before he realized I was just coming to shake his hand, which I did.
I made Apollo Creed flinch.