Still mildly obsessed with this slight though acute Californication addiction. Catching up on all the episodes I missed of season 2 on On Demand. We all have our demons. And Hank Moody is one my many. His character hits a little too close to home sometimes. Not necessarily the thing a man needs when he’s on the straight and narrow. That influence. But we’ve all had our fair share of being the bad influence on others. So it’s a bittersweet love affair we have. We used to live mirrored lives of one another. But the new me now is scared shitless that one day I will unwittingly glance in the mirror and see the reflection of our once shared lifestyles staring back at me once more. But one day at a time. And I’ve never been one to run and hide from anything regardless of the potential danger. Life isn’t worth living without it.
There is of course the matter of 16 year old Mia stealing the manuscript for the first book he’s managed to write in almost five years and publishing it as if it were her own and it taking off and becoming a best seller. Only he can’t actually come out and tell the world that it is actually his new book, not hers, because he’s formerly had sexual relations with the hot little pubescent and if he does out her she’s threatened to tell the world about their secret. When the reviews start pouring in and the book appears that it is going to be a smash, I couldn’t help but wonder if the writers of the show hadn’t somehow managed to find a way to spy on the life of yours truly and the odd and cataclysmic series of events that have befallen me over the last few years.
At one point when Hank reads the New York Times review of his new novel that the rest of the world thinks is actually the work of this crafty young wench without scruples Mia, he exclaims “Holy fuck. Well I’ll be dipped in dogshit.” “Oh yes. I can relate to that,” I thought. Proud that he finally got a new book out. Proud that it is actually getting good reviews. And probably twisted up torn up and tattered on the inside about the wicked irony of his fate. He still broke. Her giddily receiving all the money and glory for his five years worth of hard labor. And he unable to do a damn thing about it.
I had to hit pause on the Tivo. “What the fuck? Are they following me?” I couldn’t help but see the resemblance. But as much as it stung it also somehow made me smile. “You aint the only cowboy beaten up by the young and the restless beeyotches of the world Fishy,” it seemed to say to me.
It reminded me of a recent event that brought the pain and tragedy all back to haunt my ass one more time. About a week ago I went to the local vitamin shop innocently enough to purchase a few bottles of Resveratrol – my newest anti-aging supplement obsession – when I noticed sitting on a shelf staring right in front of me a beautiful box of UltraMax Gold, one of the most cutting edge anti-aging supplements on the market today. I can safely say this because I developed, formulated, and designed this very product eight years ago. Three years ago the company I founded to sell millions of aforementioned boxes of the pure holy ghost of youth in a bottle called UltraMax Gold was sold out from under me by none other than Cleopatra Ecstasy, the once young beautiful and innocent girl of mythic grace but wicked potential lurking within that I once called “fiancé.” The same girl glorified in countless songs on many of my finest albums over the past ten years before I discovered just how deadly that poison of blind love can be.
One day I had more money collected than I knew what to do with. Real estate worth millions, and five smooth sailing companies. One, a solid multi-national that when sold would guarantee that I would never have to work another day in my life. My family would be taken care of. My future children would be taken care of. Life was good. Moving to New York and leaving the business in the hands of the ex was a gamble I knew. But six inches of signed contracts and agreements later, I felt that we were both protected enough that we could go our separate ways and still manage to run our vast little empire from two different locales.
Two years into moving to the big apple I was about to get an ass full of sour grapes when I learned that every bank account that I had had been changed, my name taken off, my American Express gold card maxed out and unpaid, and worst of all our company sold to a larger publicly traded company in the same industry, Naturade. I didn’t even learn of the sale of my own company till three months after it happened truth be told. Infinito told me over an MSN chat congratulating me on the great news. “DUDE! Congratulations man! You sold Ageless Foundation Laboratories! You are truly a rich man now! How does it feel?”
“Uh, well, it feels like shit bro because I have no idea what you are talking about.” He shot me over the link to the SEC filing and sure enough the tight-hearted little wench had somehow managed to physically sell the company behind my back, without my signature, authority, or even knowledge. All the while we spoke everyday and she continued to assure me that everything was going fine at HQ and that it would only be weeks, maybe even days, before we closed on the biggest deal of our shared business collaboration. This went on for nine months. Three months after she had sold the damn thing already. Why she kept up the front for so long after the dastardly deed had been done I have no idea. When I finally learned of her folly I immediately called her. “I knew you’d be mad,” is all she could say. She blamed it on her husband Flyboy and her attorney. Ahe said that they coerced her into doing it. She was speechless for a while and then eventually just became defensive and tried to defend her action, promising to make good on her “mistake” and pay me. Naturade as it would turn out later didn’t even know I existed anymore. They were under the assumption that I had sold out years before. I was speechless. Dumbfounded. In shock.
The term for it is “white collar crime.” Fraud. Grand larceny. Embezzlement of corporate funds and assets. And there’s not a damn thing the police can do when someone steals that much money from you unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire a law firm. That’s an ironic twist to American capitalism. Steal a TV and you go to jail. Steal a few million dollars and you have a good chance of walking away free as a bird.
It was a blow to my clueless head so hard and shocking that I fell into a downward spiral of denial, disbelief, and utter stupification. There was simply no way that anyone would do that to someone they were so close to for so long. Or so I thought. But I began to understand another meaning of the old adage “different strokes for different folks.” What might seem unthinkable to one person may seem perfectly acceptable for another if the situation presents itself and they think they can get away with it.
So the once wealthy Ambassador known as Fishy who sped around South Beach in his turbo fueled BMW 330 icc convertible smoking ten dollar cigars found himself dead flat broke overnight and locked out of all possible means of getting access to any of his hard earned cash because the bitch had changed all his bank accounts, maxed out his cards, sold their business, and was holding his real estate hostage. Crisis? Hell yeah. Someone call 911. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
I learned a lot from the experience, I’ll confess. I learned how dishonest I was myself. By having to deal with someone giving me an ass fucking so heinous and cruel and heartless I was forced to face my own transgressions and indiscretions and moments of dishonesty towards others. It was my only way out of the pain I was in. I needed to cleanse myself, my own inner demons, first to better deal with the battle I was now facing against a group of ethically challenged foes that I was never prepared in life prior to ever do battle with. And the only way I could do it was to clean myself out first.
I also learned the value and meaning of true friendship. Friends came to my aid like I had just spontaneously combusted and burst into flames, came running from all four corners of the globe. Some gave me money to keep going. Some gave me daily moral support. My brother, mother, college friends and roommates, and numerous former-girlfriends of the past called on a daily basis just to check up on me and see how I was doing. This was something that I will never forget. Eighty years old in a rocking chair on my front porch I will still look back on that year and the friends and family that came to my rescue in awe and with gratitude. I was born with a lucky star over my head man.
One day while walking in the rain down a wet Manhattan street I was cursing God, “Why have you done this to me? What am I meant to learn from this?” A voice whispered in my ear. “God didn’t do this to you Fishy. People hurt other people. That’s life. God has graced you with more friends than you know what to do with to get you through this. That’s God. you have it reversed.” I got it. I understood. God was grace.
More lessons than I could ever write about in one blog post at 3:30 in the morning. But more than anything I learned that one day life can seem utterly perfect and stable and in a matter of weeks it can turn to utter shit turmoil and chaos and downright desperation sometimes. People are not always what they seem. And no matter what someone is telling you to your face it doesn’t necessarily mean that that is what is actually happening. I can honestly say that if you would have told me that three years ago I would have told you that you had it all wrong. That if we are good, then only good things would happen to us. Because that is all I had ever experienced before in my life. I walked around in a blind hippy ynew age daydream of a life. Felt like an angel skipping through the world spreading love and light and peace and joy and inspiration and receiving nothing but the same in return. I never imagined that something bad could happen to me, especially not by another person. And especially not by someone I had been so close to for so many years.
But life is long. Goddamn is life long. And we live it if we’re lucky enough. And we learn. One of the most important things I learned was to come back down to earth and realize that I was just another raindrop in a sea of humanity. I had been rich for too long. I was lost in sea of materialism and felt separate from most of the people around me. Everyone was either poorer than I was or wealthier. I had lost perspective. In the last three years I often joke with my friends that I again feel “at one with the people.” I can feel them. Smell them. Feel like one of them. I can smile with them. Joke with them. Talk with them. Laugh with them. It feels good. I am happy. I am starting over again financially at a time when I thought I would be living in a townhouse of my own in Soho half the year and a villa in Tuscany the other half the year. But I am still happy. I may have lost the empire. But I didn’t lose the brain and guts and heart that built it to begin with. Which means i can do it again.
That was until a week ago when aforesaid box of UltraMax Gold stared me right in the eye at this particular health food store. I asked the sales clerk how the product was selling. He said “pretty good.” I told him who I was. He couldn’t believe it. He had never met any of the owners of a vitamin manufacturing company before. He only sold our products. He wanted to learn as much as possible about the industry as I could tell him. It was fun revisiting the old school so to speak. I picked up the box. Right there on the side of the box was our 800 number. The same toll-free 800 number I had ordered from AT&T back in my bedroom of my small rented little apartment way back when I first started the company. And here it was still on the box being sold by another company and I wasn’t receiving a dime for the sales. The bitter pill made me choke a little but I attempted to keep my cool and kept examining the box, revisiting the memories of what created such an amazing fortune and life for me and so many others.
I turned the box over and looked at the back. There on the back was our mission statement. My mission statement. The one that took me three weeks to write, perfect, and finally release to our marketing department. “At Ageless Foundation Laboratories we believe that anti-aging is more than just extending the final years of our lives…” I read the whole thing. “God that is fucking good,” I thought. And here it is. Still on the box. My logo. My formula. My box design. It was all too much.
I rushed out of the store to get some fresh air. I called G2 who has worked for me for over ten years now. He started working at our company when it was just a fledgling little sapling of a tree. Back when there were only three or four of us. By the time we peaked we were doing 4 million a year and had 35 employees. He still works for Naturade and still works on the UltraMax product line that I created way back when. He could relate.
“G2 I’m looking at the box and the damn thing even has my original promotional ad copy still on it!” He responded: “Dog, not just that. They’ve got your formula, your logo, your name, its all you on that box man. They got it all.” “Dude I’m so sad… how am I supposed to feel bro? I’m torn up inside. This is fucked up.” “Yes it is my brother. Yes it is. Just try to be patient and diplomatic. Perhaps one day it will work out man. But keep taking the high road. It will work out.”
Wise words. And in a few hours I was back into the new life of The Ambassador. Doing my thing. Actually I was smack dab in the middle of filming a Bed-In for Peace 2008 style to learn more about and support peace all over the world and especially in the suffering Middle East. This is my new life. And it felt good. I soon forgot about my pain and resentment and realized that somehow over the last three years though I lost it all at the drop of a hat simply by trusting too much and not looking ahead enough I had somehow managed to create an entirely new life that was bigger and better and more exciting than I ever imagined it was going to be. Africa, Iran, meetings at the UN, TV shows, new albums, new loves and old loves, good friends and supportive family, and a deeper connection with The Divine than I ever thought possible.
So I’m watching Californication. Hank Moody is getting his heart ripped out by reading a stellar review of his first new novel in five years but its authorship is credited to a heartless young nymphet who takes a devilish pleasure and pride in the fact that she ripped him off and got away with it. Sounds familiar. He’s left with a bottle of vodka, a cigarette, and countless romps in the hay with strange nameless women to drown his sorrows and bitterness. And in that moment I realized that I wasn’t Hank Moody anymore. My days of bottle drinking, cigarette smoking, and romps with nameless women to numb my pain are behind me. Somehow I have managed to free myself from most, but not all, of the ache and resentment. “Keep moving forward” I tell myself. “Even when you feel like you can’t move a muscle, move one anyway. Just take another step. It’s only getting better from here. Truth is we never know what’s right around the corner.”
Goodbye Hank Moody. At least until next season. Let us hope for both of us that Season three offers us both a better script. And if it doesn’t, we’ll rewrite the fucker ourselves. Amen.