For the summer of 1997 I stayed at my momster aka Rosie’s apartment off canoga park in the san fernando valley. I (and 1/4 of the valley) was living off my mom’s generosity, her purse when she wasnt in the room and lotto scratchers. Mad hot pockets. Weed i dont know who paid for. I was wearing coconut tanning oil as cologne and hollering at a lady named breebee.
Also that summer I met drew linnninington.
Drew and I had a few things in common.
- we both knew a burgeoning heartthrob named alan.
- burgeoning heartthrob alan went to Cal Arts and said i could get paid doing shakespeare in the park. I think he said the same thing to drew.
- drew and i both didnt have drivers licenses. So Alan drove me and drew around.
- Drew and i both liked getting fucked up. So we got high a lot in alan’s car.
We were in a production of henry the 5 that took place in parks through the santa clarita valley. That was a fantastic summer. I went back to the bay area and did god knows what.
I think the last time i saw drew i showed up super drunk at his house off formosa in 2002. I said some weird shit and left. But nothing bad or untoward.
We also watched the 2000 super bowl between baltimore and ny. It was a defensive game. I remember the game sucked, kerry collins was heehaw and we smoked a lot of cigarettes.
I recently got in touch with drew and asked him if i could interview him. I sent drew some questions and drew sent some answers back.
I thought it would be nice to take a walk with him and catch up. I had to switch the dates because my sister asked me to move a couch. I let drew know i had to switch shit up because we were moving stuff. Drew offered to help us move. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
I hadnt seen this dude in 15 years and when i switched times on him he offered to move a couch from long beach. I am sure other people who know him way better know him other ways, but that is how i think of drew- just a sweet fucking dude.
Who are you?
Starting with a loaded question, I see. I am a middle-class, white, suburban-raised, under-educated, over-stimulated, recovering alcoholic, American male who has lived a somewhat unorthodox life up until this point. I’m doing the best I can.
Why did you say it like that?
There are so many ways to answer that question, so I went with the most utilitarian.
What do you do?
Professionally, I currently work for a film & television studio. Personally, whatever best suits me whenever I can manage it. The years I spent abroad in my teens colored my view of the importance of work in how it defines one’s life, but I have spent the majority of it living in a country where that’s fairly important to most, so I’ve cultivated some pretty succinct answers for this question in the interest of saving time.
What do you not do?
Write short answers to simple questions. I don’t tolerate deceit, cruelty, willful ignorance, or strong-arming. On the other hand, I don’t deign to assume that I know what is best for others.
Do you still use one of the 3 stooges names when placing orders at fatburger?
Wow, I haven’t been there in ages. What a crazy old memory to bring up! That actually comes from one of my online handles, toothpickmoe (see: this email address). I also used to order food in a New York accent without being totally aware of it.
Do you like the 3 stooges?
I do, though not in any effusive way. They actually shot a lot of their shorts at Sunset Gower, after hours and on the sets of the major pictures because they had no money. One of the many odd tidbits I picked up working there.
How did your brother end up doing movies in prague?
Without going into great detail, we were both involved in the theatre scene there for many years in the mid-90s, him much more than I, and film was a natural progression since the artistic community was fairly small there. And it paid better, of course.
What is the family name Linnington?
Often misspelled. It’s Linington. People love throwing an extra N in there, at the very least. Research has shown it comes from the people who lived in the Linton River Valley in England. My personal family name was actually Lingington when we first arrived here, but an ancestor dropped the first G to make it seem less foreign.
How tall are you?
That seems to be up for debate, so generally I go with “over six feet”. If I settle on 6’2″ I inevitably meet someone much shorter who is 6’3″ and the inverse is also true.
Are you still writing?
Outside of social media posts, not much, no. I’ve dipped my toe back in a few times here and there, but since getting sober there hasn’t been much motivation to revisit that particular practice. Still have that 600+ unfinished manuscript sitting around here somewhere, but who doesn’t…
What do you hear in your head?
A fair mix of nothing, a pretty direct narration of the events and world around me in a non-specific voice, and the usual nagging thoughts that dog most of humanity.
What do you hear in your head when you are happy?
Occasional strains of music from my past in many forms, a pleasant and reassuring voice telling me it’s not all a lie, and the sound of the wind in tree branches.
What do you hear in your head when you feel negative?
Usually two or three different voices, all warring with each other over who is in charge. Which is actually an improvement over one voice telling me that everything is a lie.
Why are you moving to Baltimore?
The short and simple answer is love, which I think is a pretty damn good one. Slightly more in depth, it’s time to move on from a place that will forever be my home but has taken enough from me.
Has there been a day you deserved to die?
Probably more than a few of the days I detoxed from alcohol on my own. That was not a smart choice, but I somehow lucked through it. As far as feeling like I deserved to die, I don’t have much of that ideation anymore. Brief, flitting moments when the existential angst rears up from the depths, but they tend to pass without much fanfare these days.
How old were you when you got your drivers license? I think I was 24.
I don’t know because it hasn’t happened yet. No plans to change that any time soon.
What is the strangest thing you ever saw at Trader Joes?
Oh jeez, I could probably fill a book if my recall was better. So many things come to mind, but watching Henry Rollins and Janeane Garofalo flit through the aisles together like two teenaged buddies is probably the best of the strange. One of the worst would be watching a homeless woman shuffle out of the back room where the bathrooms were leaving a trail of feces behind her. The bathroom itself was a horror show. Good times.
What do you think is the last album you bought on cd?
I honestly haven’t the foggiest. I’m a bit musically stunted, have been for years. I listen if it’s on, but I rarely go out of my way to put some on myself. There’s usually a movie on in the background for ambient noise. Which is weird, because I love music; I just don’t really seek it out much anymore.
Who is your best friend?
Until recently I didn’t have much of an answer for this. Not that I don’t have friends that I feel close to and have done for years. Some are even like family, which is a classification I’ve come to value quite highly as I age. It isn’t a slight against others as much as myself; feeling that I’m not open or giving enough of myself in friendships to have anyone be close enough to consider me a best friend. I was just discussing this with my girlfriend the other night and came to the realization that if there ever was anyone that met all the criteria for a best friend in my life, it’s her.
Who has been kind to you at a moment when they really didn’t have to be?
Interesting question. Recovery is full of people receiving kindness that don’t feel like they deserve it. And I’m certainly no saint; I’ve done things in my past I’m not proud of and will do so in the future, I’m sure. That said, I can’t really think of specific times where I’ve been struck by someone’s overt kindness to me. I find it a little amazing no matter what, the world being what it is, but inherent kindness is something I like to think I’m capable of myself so when it manifests in others towards me I don’t fancy that I’ve ever felt like it was unwarranted. Everyone deserves kindness.
I think Alan told me you were working at Sunset Gower Studios in one of the unions. What were you doing there?
I worked for SGS for 5 years as an Assistant Stage Manager and moved over to Bronson in 2013 as the Lead. It’s not a union gig; facility staff for both lots are non-union apart from Local 40, our electrician/HVAC techs. Film & television stage managers are usually quite different from theatrical ones, and mine is even more removed from that. And thank goodness for that; I have nothing but respect for the people that do those often thankless-but-crucial jobs. I’m essentially a landlord or superintendent as with a residential building (I did that for a few years too) but for a studio. I work for the owners, and we don’t produce any content ourselves. Essentially I’m the go between for the owners/operations and the clients/vendors. I make sure everyone is happy; that the owners feel like they’re making the most money they can, the vendors are getting a fair shake, and that the clients aren’t being nickle-and-dimed. I have two guys who work under me, and they handle a lot of the daily grind stuff I did over at Gower. It’s not the most glamorous job in the Dream Factory, but it pays okay and I’ve done far worse for far less. I’ll miss aspects of the job, but it also is time to move on. That’s sort of a theme in my life right now, if you hadn’t noticed.
Do you see any patterns in your life?
Well, I’m an alcoholic, so yes. I’d say life is full of patterns; those that interlink both inside of your own life and with those of others. The trick or key is finding the best way to weave those patterns together into something cohesive and usable. I’d never say that we’re locked into those patterns, but straining against them causes a lot of strife and pain. Acceptance of their existence and embracing what they actually mean to and for you seems to be a much better way to go about the business of living with and within them for me.
How many books have you read?
That would be extremely hard to quantify. Easily somewhere between a fair amount and nowhere near enough. I used to be a much more voracious reader of fiction. These days pleasure reading is more about facts, current events, scientific data, and historical oddities. I did track everything I read during one of my stints in Prague and managed something like 50 books in 6 months, which felt pretty good. But I was young and without television or the internet at large then.
What makes you uncomfortable?
People who assume I share their uninformed and bigoted beliefs purely due to my appearance. Goodbyes, occasionally. Praise, though I’ve gotten a little better at that as time passes. Close talkers. Emoting for the sake of exposure rather than qualitative experience.
What was the first video game you beat?
Definitely Super Mario Bros., but that was a joint effort. The first games I remember doing on my own and getting a real sense of accomplishment from were the Sierra games: King’s, Police, Space, and Adventure Quests.
How has your life been unorthodox up to this point?
I left high school in the middle of sophomore year, went to Europe with my brother, and kicked around between there, here, and Northern California for 4 years before settling in Hollywood in ’99. I never attended structured education outside of 1 semester of junior college after that break from it, and don’t regret it in the slightest. I’ve managed to cobble together something resembling intellect through my own pursuit of what interests me and what others around me are well-versed in. I tend to hold what are seen as progressive values without identifying myself as such or aligning with any particular political party or social movement. I’m also an almost life-long resident of Los Angeles and have only driven a car once, which makes me pretty unorthodox in the eyes of most.
What was it like living in Prague when you were a teenager?
It was pretty damn amazing. Life fell into place very quickly when I settled in there in ’96. I had a flat, a job, a girlfriend, and was cast in a play within the first few weeks of arriving. Despite it all seeming more than a little surreal as it was in such a foreign place, it was very much just what my life was as it was happening. Sometimes I look back on it all and wonder how the hell I got away with it.
I forgot that you totally do have an accent when you talk. Namely, you dont sound like a dude from Los Angeles. I forgot what words you say and how they sound, but you completely dont sound like you are from Los Angeles. You do sound like you are from New York. Is someone in your family from out there?
I’m often told I don’t sound like I’m from here, or that when I tell people I am they’re surprised. My whole immediate family is from New York and I was born there myself. We moved to Southern California when I was two years old and apart from summers and holidays spent on Long Island, I didn’t spend much of my formative time there. My parents both have fairly soft accents, they tend to come out when they’re angry or drunk like most transplants, but I suppose spending my whole life around them had an effect on how I speak. Plus years of acting can tend to make a person sound like they’re from wherever they need to be.
Why do you think the 3 stooges so violent and mean to each other?
Because it was funny? I’m sure there have been whole papers if not books written on it, but they’ve never struck me as more than capitalizing on the popularity of slapstick and refining it into an art form.
What can you say in Chezch?
Not much anymore. I remember the important stuff like some curse words, please and thank you, and some of the restaurant Czech that was essential to the job I had. My comprehension was always far better than my ability to speak it, much like Spanish.
What is the 600 page unfinished manuscript about?
It centers around 12 different women living in a sort of future/alternate earth where corporations have taken the place of governments and magic has re-entered the world. Sort of a sci-fi/fantasy mix. It also deals with time travel, so the chapters and time lines start off as largely disjointed and slowly begin to mesh together as the story unfolds. I certainly bit off more than I could chew in many ways, but it was a lot of fun to work on and I miss those people.
What are some of the strains of music from your past you hear in your head when you are happy?
Lots of jazz, mainly the greats. Coltrane, Davis, Rollins, Brubeck, Monk, Baker, etc. Sinatra is a staple as well. Sometimes a grunge-era song or some Beastie Boys will creep in.
What was the first concert you ever attended?
Without family along was Lollapalooza ’92. The last show of the tour at Irvine Meadows. It was an epic experience for someone as into the 90s rock music scene as I was and I’ll never forget it.
When we were talking the other day, i was saying something about the inner voice and how sometimes it can lead me down the wrong path because it just sounds like the regular voice in my head. You can discern between the different voices in your head warring over who is in charge?
I can, after a fashion. Most of the words I hear in my head don’t really have specific voices per se. It’s more like I see/hear the words as they come, I suppose. And each “voice” has a different tone to it, or color almost. The easiest way to discern which one I should be listening to is that the “loudest” ones are usually the wrongest.
How do you find ways to not engage the voices warring in your head?
I let them say their piece instead of fighting against them. Whether or not anything valid is being put out there, it’s going to play, so I’ve found it’s best to just let them run their course so that I can get back to the business of living when they’re done.
How are you like your mom?
I’ve always looked more like her. And I get my interest in the human brain and behaviors from her. I’m also quick to support and trust people in what they feel strongly they need to do with their lives, and I know that comes from her.
How are you like your dad?
We both are seen as quiet, thoughtful people. There is a calm and centered way about him that I have always admired and hoped to emulate. Also being able to talk to most anyone casually and a head for numbers.
When are you at your worst?
When I allow negative thinking to take over the majority of my brain’s activity. Even though I can logically see this happening and not want it to, it still does. The difference now is that I know it is temporary and not necessarily abnormal. Just another state of being that occurs in the course of virtually everyone’s lives. So I suppose when I feel singularly bad about being myself, as if there aren’t literally billions are people who feel the same or worse. Essentially when I think of no one but myself.
I think it is so exciting you are moving to Baltimore, mostly for love. It is the best best best. What do you imagine will happen? Do you have fleeting images of what will come?
Thank you, I am very excited about it too. To have the motivating factor for something, anything, be love is an amazing gift and I am grateful for it each and every day beyond measure. She and I have already spent a fair amount of time daydreaming about the things we will do together. Going to baseball games, taking walks to parks and museums, day trips to nearby cities, working on the house together, building a future. These are all things that sound amazing to me and are huge motivators. Positive ideation of the future is generally not something I often practice for myself; I tend to do my best to live in whatever moment I’m in, so this has been a wonderful change.
What was it like being in love in Los Angeles?
It’s one of only two places I’ve spent large amounts of time in whilst having that emotion and they’re both very different cities. I don’t think I’ve ever really viewed being in love as geographically specific. Paris and Virginia are for lovers and all that, but I’ve never associated LA with anything other than home. Because of love the grass is greener and the skies are brighter, but when is that not true for here?
How many computers have you owned?
Technically I’ve only ever bought one laptop with my own money, which I still have. Everything before that were desktops that were gifts. I tend to ride computers into the ground.
Can you tell me about your experience detoxing on your own?
I quit cold turkey and on my own after over two decades of regular, heavy drinking that had escalated to chronic alcoholism for a few years. Not generally a good idea after your body has developed such a dependency on it. I avoided convulsions, which is quite lucky. Lots of shakes, sweats, nightmares, mood swings, suicidal ideation, and full hallucinations of all five senses. For a week solid every time the sun went down “things” would start to crawl out of the shadows towards me. The most defined they ever became were a sort of spidery, smoke/glass-like creature. They were everywhere and nowhere. Impossible to touch or catch, but always lingering out of the corners of my vision, occasionally actually in my full field and taunting me. If it weren’t for my dog at the time being completely unaffected by them I would have been 100% convinced they were real a few times.
Do you ever feel like not drinking is like drinking?
Not for me personally, no. The process of recovery can definitely get like that and some people need to replace the routine with another, but that hasn’t been the case for me. I lived life in a very specific way when I drank the way I did and I changed the bad parts of it, but a lot of who I am is the same.
It warms my heart you still dont have a drivers license. It seems to me to be a nonviolent protest against the city of Los Angeles. Do you know how to drive a car? What never interested you in driving?
Most people seem to think it’s very weird, but there are a growing number of people that find it to be a positive thing. I’ve only had one lesson that was very short, so I cannot say I know how to actually drive a car. There are some strong opinions that I could drive if I had to, but that seems to stem from it being a hard idea to swallow that I never really have. It wasn’t something I ever had a burning desire to do; many of my friends were older and started before me, so in the blush of early driving days they liked having an excuse to drive more in picking me up somewhere; and then I moved to Europe when I was in my teen years where there was no reason to have a car, really.
Would you have to work the whole time at Trader Joes? I dont see how you can slack off at work.
It was a pretty good place for constant busy work, yes. Working the register keeps you pretty much “on” the entire time, which is why they try to limit those assignments to 3 hours tops at a stretch. Outside of that, there’s always restocking to be done. And cleaning, of course. Two of the gigs I had that did lend themselves to a little more slacking off was helmsperson and samples. At the helm, you walk around the store and look for customers in need of assistance. It’s very easy to simply “not find anyone” and do laps and laps around the store. Handing out samples can be fun and busy, but there are long lulls and they gave us a stool to sit on, so it was also easy to sort of fade into the background.
What Trader Joes did you work at?
Store 40, on Santa Monica Blvd. It’s gone now, replaced by a massive apartment complex, but they did put a new store on the ground floor of one of the buildings. There was talk of that happening for almost the entirety of the 8+ years I worked there. Only took them an extra decade or so to get there.
What movie do you have on right now for ambient noise?
Suicide Kings, which I’ve sort of watched a few times now.
What are some of the movies you were excited to ask Heather is she has seen?
We actually have a pretty interesting mix of similar and dissimilar taste in films. Of course there have been lots of conversations about what we’ve seen and what our favorite stuff is. I tend to like crappy movies, so I don’t expect people to like or agree with my opinions. That’s actually part of the fun of it for me. There are a lot of television shows that we share interest in and being able to watch some of those “together” has helped to make the long distance thing work.
When did you know you were in love with Heather?
It was an interesting transition, because I’ve loved her as a friend for many years. We had a strong, almost familial, bond from pretty early on. We even called each other brother and sister for a good while, which seems odd now but made a lot of sense then. The short of it is I reached out to her after getting out of rehab looking to reconnect and gain some support from an old friend. Over the course of several months our correspondence changed tone, and when we finally saw each other in person the spark was evident. Long distance obviously has an effect on the way these things work. When she finally said it out loud over the phone it was something we obviously both had been feeling for some time. That cemented my feelings and took away any of the doubts I had. I ended up saying the same to her a few days later, also over the phone.
Who is your second favorite dodger announcer?
Ha! There is no comparison, so I’ll have to go with Fernando just based on his career as a player.
What makes Heather your best friend?
She’s the person I want to share every good moment in life with, whether we’re together during it or telling her about it after. When things are rough or bad, thoughts of her make them easier or better, and I can talk to her about those times too. I trust her implicitly and value her input and opinions. We share a lot of silly jokes, which is integral to any good friendship for me.
What does Heather like about you?
I don’t have a clue. Just joking, of course. She’s very vocal about the things she likes about me, which is both flattering as hell and humbling as fuck. Why don’t you ask her so I don’t have to uncomfortably type out a bunch of self-aggrandizement?
Is there anything you are interested in doing today?
Specifically today? I’m looking forward to eating something and taking more steps toward making the move out east. Neither of those are actually specific to today, though.
Where were you born?
Syosset, NY in a hospital, according to my parents. I know very little about the place other than it’s where I was born.
It was funny when i made the joke about you helping us move over the weekend and you said of, course, moving can be hard. My sister laughed and said Drew is so sweet. How do you see yourself as a person?
Thank you, that was very kind of her to say. I guess that sort of sums up how I like to view myself: someone capable of bringing humor and kindness into others’ lives. I’m also fairly solitary, stubborn, and overly practical.
What should I try not to do when I hang out with you?
What an amazing question! So many issues could potentially be nipped in the bud if people asked this sort of thing! It does give a lot of power to the other person, though, I suppose. Hmm, anyway, I guess people should try not to assume anything about my beliefs or values as I try to do the same for them. Or overly denigrate others in general. I don’t enjoy conversations that are purely to spread hate and anger without any true cause or interest in solving that negativity.
It is wonderful you feel in your bones it is time to move on. Do you find yourself trying to come up with reasons to stay in Los Angeles?
Not really, no. I’ve made the decision and feel it is a good one, so I’m more looking for ways to celebrate the place that I’ve called home for so long in a sort of proper send-off way. And cities have a tendency to find reasons for you to stay on your own once you make the decision to leave, so I don’t need to help it out any.
What will you miss about Los Angeles?
That’s a pretty long list, actually. Not sure how groundbreaking any of it is. The food, the weather, the caliber of people you can meet, the history that clings to the edges of the city despite its constant attempts to tear it down (literally), the diversity, the side streets for walking down, the maligned but actually useful public transport system, so many beautiful museums and parks…. I could go on, but let’s stop there.
What do you not want to do in Baltimore?
Not give it a fair shake as my new home. Fall into old habits. Be afraid of its relative newness to me. Become a seafood fan.
Do you fear getting what you want?
Absolutely not. I specifically don’t ask for much so that it’s never frightening if it actually happens.
When did you grow the handlebar?
A few months after re-entering the world from rehab. It’s something I’ve always liked the look of on my odd face and since there wasn’t anyone other than me to keep happy at the time, I said fuck it. The fact that Heather enjoys it is a huge plus.
How many cigarettes do you think you have smoked?
This is way too depressing to think about. Let’s just go with a metric fuck ton.
How do you sidestep destructive patterns?
Usually I stumble into them, see the crap it’s gotten all over me, and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Otherwise, when I put my mind to something, that just becomes what the new norm is. When the old patterns creep back in I simply identify them for what they are, let them have their say if it isn’t too distracting, then continue to move on along the new path that I have chosen.
I saw you had a copy of American Gods on the wooden table. What is that book about?
It’s about the old gods and the new and the struggle between them and how it affects mankind. There’s a series on television based on it as well if you don’t have the time for a new book.
What is the closest you have come to seeing something in your head and it coming to fruition in the world?
My tattoos. Certain well-constructed thoughts put into sentences that seem to actually get in peoples’ heads. I’ve made a really amazing sandwich once or twice in my life.
What is your relationship with your past?
Tenuous. I suck at chronology, so a lot of the things that have happened to me definitely happened, but my grasp of when and how they fit in with each other is weak. I’m very prone to nostalgia and romanticizing the past, but making a shift to sobriety has changed many memories to dusty bits best left alone. I feel I retain many of the lessons I’ve learned more than the actual experiences that taught them to me.
Have you read Homicide: Life On the Streets by David Simon?
I have not, though I imagine I’ll be reading a lot more Baltimore-based literature in general for a good while. Do you recommend it?
Conversation to be continued. Until then…