I don't read during the flight to LAX. I don't watch a movie. I fuck around on Facebook—I ﬁnally joined for real, as Joe Goldberg, as me—but it's not what you think it is. I have to fuck around on Facebook. I'm a hunter going on a wild safari and I need guides on my trek through this small segment of the foothills of Hollywood known as Franklin Village. I need camouflage. I need friends and it's not the worst thing in the world to need people. I am inspired by the Fast & Furious movies where the heroes Toretto and O'Conner can't hunt the bad guys without first assembling a team. I need help ﬁnding Amy, the same way they need help ﬁnding a corrupt Brazilian drug lord. And I can say this for the aspirings in the Upright Citizens Brigade: They're an open bunch. They accept Joe Goldberg, writer as a friend, and these people talk a lot. About the dry cleaner and Tinder and their shoes and their auditions. And yes, they talk about someone they refer to as Amy Offline.
The best resource so far is a guy named Calvin, who works at a used bookstore right next to the UCB. He posted a job listing for someone to pick up shifts and I wrote to him. I think I have the job; none of the other dudes he knows have experience with a register. I ask him about rare books, if he ever sees any original editions of Portnoy's Complaint. Maybe Amy already started moving her inventory. He writes back:
LOL dude we get like one valuable book a year. Mostly people who live up Beachwood dump their moldy shit when they move or their parents die or whatever. Or like people on the block are broke and they try to sell stuff but it's supereasy mostly it's like you get like a couple bucks it's superchill dude.
In addition to Facebook and Twitter, Calvin has a website where he reveals everything you could ever want to know about him. He's an aspiring writer-director-actor-producer-sound designer-comic improv player. Can you imagine yearning for attention so badly that your identity required all those hyphens? He worships Henderson and Marc Maron and suspenders and beards and pictures of beards and Tinder and bacon and Breaking Bad and things from the '80s. In Brooklyn this guy would be working at a branding ﬁrm. He would be playing poor and checking his 401(k) late at night. But Calvin has a PayPal account where "fans" can help him pay rent. I could never respect Calvin, but he's easy and grateful that I'm willing to ﬁll in when he needs to audition.
I order a Sprite Zero and vodka. My second most useful Facebook friend is an older aspiring stand-up comic named Harvey Swallows. I applied for an apartment near UCB in a building called Hollywood Lawns. Harvey's the manager, and when I e-mailed him about the apartment, he responded with a Facebook friend request and invitation to be his fan. Angelenos. Harvey is the West Coast equivalent of my old coworker Exclamation Point Ethan. Harvey is another open book with his website: He changed his name to Harvey Swallows and moved to LA to be a comic at the "ripe young age of fifty-seven." His catchphrase is Am I right or am I right? He's big into #ThrowbackThursday and he's shared so many photos of his old life in Nebraska, when he was married and selling insurance and growing sick with aspirations. Note to self: Do not get sick with aspirations. They eat your brain and trick your heart and you wind up on a stage in a basement saying unfunny things and waiting for someone to laugh.