the actress and the pop star, part 2

The pop star went into rehab. This has been widely reported, even though his level of fame in this country is nowhere near the insanity he deals with in Europe. (When I asked him why he thought this might be, he said it was because he refused to promote his albums in America. It struck me that he was keeping the States as a kind of vacation home, somewhere he could go to relax and escape the viciousness of his job as Absurdly Famous Person, and then perhaps retire to when he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to be an AFP anymore. For all the outrageousness of his music persona, I sensed some geek in him, and geeks are often driven and even defined by their obsession — whether it’s computers or books or music-making — and obsession is an essentially solitary thing. So even when some geeks manage to become socially sophisticated and sought-after and tragically, traumatically cool, their introverted nature means that too much of the “social thing” triggers unease, exhaustion, discomfort. It’s much easier to be wildly famous when you’re an outgoing narcissistic exhibitionist with little to no talent to speak of, other than that grotesquely fascinating personality* and inevitable trainwreck of a life. But I digress. My point was: I wondered if becoming insanely famous in this country would only ruin it for him — if not for the people who make money off him — and if on some level he always knew this.)

My friend A., the actress who’d been involved with him (see earlier blog entry — or not, depending on level of interest) called me to vent her frustration over the tabloids. She focused on one story which rattled off the supposedly obscene amounts of substances — including espressos and cigarettes — he was ingesting per day. “Such bullshit,” she said. “I was with him all day sometimes and I never saw him drink, like, 700 cups of coffee…” (Hell, there are days when I drink 700 cups of coffee and I’m not going into rehab anytime soon. Knock wood.) “And he smokes maybe two packs of cigarettes a day at most.” I commented on one of the things I noticed when I was hanging out with him and A.: he did not drink. At all. When the rest of us were drinking wine, he was asking for water. Whatever demons he’s wrestling at this particular point in time, alcohol doesn’t seem to be among them.

I wish him nothing but the warmest, the absolute best, and a long and healthy life.

And because life has a quirky sense of humor, especially in this city, days after I blogged something about how aforementioned pop star has such a rugged, world-weary presence he makes Justin Timberlake “look like a suburban schoolboy in comparison, a child”, I had another Celebrity Sighting. Live long enough in westside LA and you can checkmark your way down a seemingly endless list of the various celebrity species, from the commonly found famous blonde socialite, native to the area, to the rarely spotted aging yet elegant British glam-rock star merely passing through the territory. Binoculars not required, unless, of course, you are severely disturbed. So this sighting was of Justin himself, doing lunch with a couple of his people in the sunlit terraced restaurant of a Beverly Hills department store. And, indeed, looking sweetly boyish, like an unusually well-dressed college freshman dining out with his parents.

* And some of you reading this who immediately recognize the person in question might think that he of course falls into this category, and I’m sure he’s had his moments, but I truly didn’t get that impression. Neither did the actress.

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