Since it came up again this week, it bares repeating that I was too good a student to be in Caddyshack. Yeah, the iconic movie Caddyshack with Bill Murry, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield… I could have been in that. Really. When I was in High School a bunch of kids skipped school for a week to be extras lurking around the background of several scenes. My Mom would never have let me and I was too good a kid to secretly sneak out of school for a full week. Yeah, I was a mega-dork back then too. If I were that age today I would likely be the last kid in the class to know what a Fidget Spinner is (if you don’t know, ask someone under 18)
So as a reminder of what I missed out on, whenever I watch Caddyshack, one of the classic comedy movies of my era, clear as day I can see annoying Jeff Jacobs. He is the obnoxious kid that sat behind me in Spanish class who surreptitiously covered 2 pages of my yearbook with semi offensive doodles of Asians, African Americans and Quaaludes. Yeah Jeff Jacobs, who despite the numerous clues and notes we left, never figured out that we were the ones that threw our lunch trash onto the passenger seat of his always unlocked VW Beetle everyday for weeks (why didn’t he just lock the doors?). Yes Jeff Jacobs, who when his car was deservedly covered in shaving cream as revenge by someone he pissed off, was too lazy to wash it off for weeks till the Miami sun turned it into a sort of smeary smelly acid 1960s trippy sort of pattern.
That Jeff Jacobs is right there in the movie, even in the famous synchronized swimming pool scene. Steve Mckittrick is in there too. So is Rob Morrow, the guy from Northern Exposure and Numbers, who back then was just another one of us dorky theater kids over-acting in school plays. Unfortunately just hanging around talented people does not mean their abilities rub off on you. Rob got much better; I’m still just a loud ham.
Several of the kids I did theater stuff with went on to some fame. One went on to be a screenplay writer, another a sports channel editor, an actor in Doogie Howser MD, a rock singer with numerous albums, a member of a comedy improve troupe and Joe Haj who is the acclaimed artistic director of the famous Guthrie Theater. Yeah, I didn’t do any of those things.
Even my buddy Mike attended the American Academy of Performing Arts. After High School I never pursued any of that stuff. I still enjoy writing. I mean, I have been writing the column you are reading for eleven years. My original college major was English. Based on my wonky grammar, spelling snafus and ever changing tenses, you can see why that ended after a year.
Advertising seemed like a more predictable and profitable way of using my creative energies. Unfortunately, I learned most advertising jobs are not those glamorous fun creative ones like the swinging, smoking, drinking dudes on Mad Men or even Darren’s wacky adventures working for Mr. Tate on Bewitched. Aside from the ad industry’s very few creative titans like David Ogilvy or Jerry Della Femina (who once stood up in a meeting with Toyota executives and humorously(?) suggested the line “from the folks that brought you Pearl Harbor”), most real world advertising jobs are either crunching data numbers, doing repetitious remedial level artwork or selling ads for throw-a-way newspapers and low budget local TV stations. Not wanting turn into a sleazy slick talking sales slut like Herb Tarlek from WKRP, I never really wholeheartedly threw myself into that profession.
But I still like to write. Over the years in my spare time I have worked with friends on various scripts and projects. Some good, some bad but none that have gone anywhere. Last summer I was invited along with a couple of buddies on a trip from L.A. up the coast to beautiful Big Sur. It was a fun weekend, although a significant amount of it was spent with them making fun of my desire to stop and have a drink at every bar we walked by. What can I say, I was thirsty. Mind you there were only three bars in the entire sleepy coast town, but that was not the point. I guess that was better then when they teased me about my new obnoxious local ‘friend’ Lance, who I got stuck playing pool with at one those damn bars I was originally so eager to slip into. Old friends can get away with busting chops.
Hanging out one morning in our little cabin in the woods we hatched the idea for a horror film script. I guess that is not surprising since one has been constantly writing scripts for years and the other has a degree in film making. I thought of Ed Forrest, the head of the Florida State advertising department when I was there. One day he walked into the office I shared with another Teacher’s Assistant and he said to my buddy while pointing at me, “you just keep him around to think up all the good weird shit, don’t you?” I took it as a compliment and that is exactly how I felt that morning bouncing around ideas with people more talented than I. That ended up being my favorite part of trip and rare moments like that are when I regret not pursuing a more creative career.
When I got back home my life got too busy with the real world but my buddies finished up the script which is called Cabin 2. They tried to get me involved but my wife and I were busy having just both changed jobs, both dealing with resettling our parents as well as buying a new house and prepping our old one for sale.
It’s a good script that I can still see some faint traces of my original input in. I’m back in the fold with the guys helping them with some social media stuff so if you want to help make a movie, we really can use the assistance. Visit the film’s Kickstarter campaign (click the little blue CABIN 2) where the gang is raising money to take the first steps to getting the movie made. Who knows where it might go but it is fun to be doing something creative again.
Jeff Jacobs ‘creative’ additions to my Yearbook…