Cornwall ON – In spring 1996 I was working for the Habs. It was fun, but I was leaving the sports biz to take my shot at professional writing; chiefly writing screenplays and hoping to break into producing movies.
It was crazy, but after locking myself away for a few months, and writing my butt off I’d finally finished some work and sent a few off to Toronto seeking an agent. I was shocked at the positive response and went to meet some agents and ended up signing the dotted line.
I’d decided the market at that time was in Los Angeles. I was naive and innocent in many of the ways of the industry; but full of energy, hope, and not knowing better; fearless.
It was a great adventure. None of the apartments I’d reserved to look at from Craigslist panned out. It was a huge city and I wasn’t driving.
Fortune, or maybe some Lost Angels were looking after me though. I ended up sharing a 2 bedroom apartment near Pico and Robertson. The previous roomie had been one of Sammy Davis Jr.s kids, and my roomie’s grand dad had been a music publishing giant for MGM in their glory days.
I soaked up the sun, some of the culture and walked the soles off a lot of shoes. One of the places I always wanted to go to was Barney’s Beanery. Barney’s was legendary. It was Bogie’s hang out. It was Jim Morrison’s hang out. They used the long bar for Oliver Stone’s The Doors. It was a lot of people’s hang out; especially as the moon filled a night sky over Santa Monica.
It was the last few years of the long bar splitting off from the more touristy restaurant side. You never knew who you’d meet and everyone had a story which was always enhanced after a few rounds.
My friend Ian decided to crash on my couch after flying in from Dublin and we had a few adventures. I remember the two of us oodling a delightful blonde who seemed to be holding court. Her name was Emma and she was a nanny for one of the members of the band, the Police; remember them? Doo doo doo, Yaa ya ya…
They had an apartment nearby and Emma would escape on weekends with wads of cash and good cheer. She was delightful and could tell a story, but was also an amazing listener. Maybe it was simply a rush for her to listen to adults instead of kids conversation? Many would hold court with her; most wanting to wake up the next morning in that celebrated apartment; few had that opportunity.
One day I started a chat with this gentleman. He knew Emma well as he had been hanging at Barney’s longer than I ever did. He found out I was from Canada; from Montreal, and we started chatting about everything from politics to Schwartz’s. It was a great chat; we writers end up having some great chats in bars like Barney’s. He had been from Montreal too.
His name it turned out was Michael Sarrazin, and this week sadly he died at the age of 70. LINK
A very young Michael Sarrazin with Julie Christie in “In Search of Gregory” Michael is the conductor in this clip.
He like many actors had a great and long career. It had its ups and downs, but he was a kind and gracious man and fine drinking companion for the night.
It always felt good to find a fellow Canuck in a foreign land. Canadians have a find tradition of being where the action is and seeking out new places and discoveries.
Barney’s tore down the wall and that long bar is no longer that special place. I’m not sure whatever happened to Emma, but I’m sure only good things could happen to her. It was a magical time in a magical place, on a magical night.
RIP Michael Sarrazin May 22, 1940 – April 17, 2011