Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Salad Days

I had lunch at an ultra-chic restaurant called The Ivy on Sunday. I had a salad. This is how far I've come since I moved out here. I didn't think it could happen to me, but the fact is I drive an SUV, I have regular appointments with a woman who calls herself a "Synergistic Healing Practitioner" and I'm on the weirdest diet in the world that includes drinking a concoction made with coconut oil, grapefruit seed extract, almond milk and a mixture of alfalfa, kelp, wheatgrass and algae. What the hell have I turned into?

It all started last year when I got sick and couldn't seem to get better. After a few months of feeling terrible, I was willing to try anything. My friend Patti, whom I met when she acted in my short movie, suggested that I try Cranial Sacral Release Therapy. In addition to acting, Patti is also a certified massage therapist, and Cranial Sacral Therapy or CST is the latest thing. She said it might help with my low energy, and as a matter of fact it did. The first few sessions were pretty amazing -- that's when I experienced a tremendous release of tension and energy just from having her apply a little pressure to certain spots on the back of my head. And I definitely felt better afterwards. More energy, less tension.

Patti also suggested I start taking acidophilus for my stomach. I'd been having trouble digesting food and that was wearing me down even more. The acidophilus helped a lot. I got to the point where I could almost get through a whole day without feeling exhausted. Patti went out of town for several months and during that time I actually did start to get worse. I went back to my regular doctor again and he told me I was perfectly healthy.

Meanwhile I was trying to relearn guitar since one of the guys in the band decided to quit and I moved from being harmonica player to harmonica and rhythm guitar. One night after practice, when I was particularly worn-out, I pulled into traffic and got sideswiped by a guy making an unannounced lane change. This made about the third time my front bumper had been knocked off. I'd already spent a thousand bucks fixing the front and this just added insult to injury. I got a Russian mechanic to bolt it back on for me after several other body shops refused to work on it.

Finally Patti came back and I started the therapy again. My car was in decent shape and the band was really coming together. I was back on track. But then one of the cases I was working on went to trial and I was plunged into an overtime nightmare. I had been doing all right handling regular workdays, but the added stress of preparing for trial and working 60-70 hour weeks was making me feel exhausted, angry and muddled.

I couldn't seem to shake this damn thing, whatever is was. The doctor had already ruled out all the serious stuff as well as mono. I asked him about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but he just scoffed. I started looking up things on the internet and found that there are a lot of people out there who seem to be struggling with the same problem. Only no one seems to know what it is or how to get rid of it.

Patti came to the rescue once again, suggesting I undergo an herbal intestinal cleansing program. I agreed to give it a try and for a week I was drinking a mixture of charcoal, clay, flax seed and pectin to help clean out my gut. Afterwards I felt a little better, but I still wasn't back to normal. But in reading the catalogue from the American Botanical Pharmacy (where I got the gut cleanser) I came across something called Candida Albicans, which is a form of yeast that lives inside our body and sometimes can become overgrown. The symptoms of the overgrowth were identical to all of the problems I'd been having for the past year. And one of the causes of the overgrowth is taking antibiotics. I had been given antibiotics by both my dentist and my doctor about four times in a three month period right before all this began. Before that I hadn't taken any since the eighties.

So now maybe I knew what was wrong, but how to get rid of it? One way is by going on a strict diet and eliminating sugar, starch, yeast and gluten from your diet. Sounds simple enough, but what does that leave you with? Salad. No dressing, though, because vinegar is fermented. And no croutons! Hell for most of my life the only reason I ate salad was for the croutons. Anyway I decided to try the diet and see if would help. Plus I got something called Superfood from the herb doc to supplement my diet. And I'm eating lots of garlic.

Meanwhile, some jerk smashed into my bumper again. This time I just tied it back on. To hell with it. Then I got a leak in my power steering system that caused big clouds of smoke to come billowing out from under my hood every time I stopped the car. I decided it was time for a new ride. After trying out several different models, I settled on the Honda CRV. I'm just getting sick of being stuck behind all those other SUVs and not being able to see anything. I found a real nice one owned by a couple who live in Pasadena and are in a rock band. They were very cool and I think I got a great deal. Only one little problem -- they owned a dog.

I didn't notice at first, but the day after I bought the car the dog smell really hit me. I really wanted to get rid of it before my niece Annie and her boyfriend Nate came up to visit, because I was planning to give them a tour of Hollywood in my new car and I didn't want them to suffocate. I took the car to a car wash on Sunset where they charged my a hundred bucks to "detail" the inside. Afterwards, when I got it home, I found a clump of dog hair in the back seat! I'm not sure what "detail" means, but I guess it doesn't include "vacuuming." I took the car back and this time they really went at it. When I got it home it smelled like cleaning fluid. At least it was an improvement over the dog smell.

But the next day when I went out to the car the damn dog smell was back! I ran to the grocery store and bought a can of air freshener and fumigated the inside. Annie and her boyfriend were due in a half hour. The air freshener seemed to help, but I noticed when they got in the car the first thing Annie and Nate did was roll down their windows.

We began our tour of Hollywood with a fancy lunch at The Ivy, pretty much the place to see and be seen. Just like Danny DeVito's character in "Get Shorty" does in the scene filmed at The Ivy, I had to order off the menu to accommodate my bizzarre diet. But the waiter took it all in stride. I'm sure it happens all the time. The rest of the day we visited some of my favorite spots like the Chateau Marmont and the Greystone Mansion. But I think Annie and Nate were most impressed when we went by Ozzie's house in Beverly Hills and Ashton Kutcher's restaurant Dolce where they filmed one of the episodes of his MTV show "Punk'd." I'm astonished that I'm hip enough to know what the hell that means.

Anyway, that's more or less how I evolved from a normal, everyday ex-Brooklynite to an avocado eating, SUV driving, MTV watching Hollywood flake who gets cranial massages and has his car "detailed."

Don't judge me too harshly. I've been out here for almost five years -- a man can only hold out for so long. Don't laugh. It could happen to you.

"Hollywood" Dick