I don’t actually know Neal Pollack, and even calling him an “Internet friend” would be a stretch, but I am nonetheless indebted to him for his unwitting contribution to this site. A few months after I started defective yeti I wrote about an event I attended, in which Neal was interviewed by John Hodgman. The post gained me some measure of notoriety as it was linked from all over the web, increasing my daily hit count by a dozen or more, and catapulting me into the rarefied ranks of E-list bloggers where I remain to this very day.
Neal Pollack’s newest book, Alternadad, is a sobering look at what happens when a baby enters the life of a man incapable of remaining sober. — MB
On Monday night (Tuesday morning?) at 1 AM, I found myself in the studios of WOR Radio, in New York. I was to be a guest on The Joey Reynolds Show. I didn’t know much about Joey Reynolds, other than that he used to be Wayne Newton’s manager, sometimes serves his guests homemade cheesecake, and wrote a memoir titled Let Your Smile Be Your Umbrella, But Don’t Get a Mouthful of Rain. Also, his real name is Joey Pinto.
I arrived at the studio baked out of my mind, which was the only way I could make it to 1 AM with any semblance of coherence or humor. There, I found a woman named Ronnie Koenig sitting on a white leather couch. Ronnie is the former editor of Playgirl Magazine. She has written, and is performing in, a play based on that experience. We wondered what we were doing on AM radio at one in the morning. Meanwhile, Joey Reynolds was talking on air to a guy with a German accent.
Joey’s producer came to get Ronnie, which left me alone in the foyer to do nothing but pace and do easy yoga stretches. A panel discussion was in progress on the radio. In addition to Ronnie Koenig, Joey’s guests were Kenny Kramer (the “original” Kramer), and an Albert Einstein impersonator. They spent much of their time talking about the high personal cost of fame. Meanwhile, I waited to get into the cocktail party.
When it was finally my time, I entered an empty studio. Everyone else had been ushered out the back door while I was taking a piss. I met Joey Reynolds, who was aging, but in a good Tony Bennett kind of way. Reynolds, who had not yet seen my book, took a look at my readers’ copy, said, “Alternadad? What the hell is this?” and then launched into another on-air monologue about the high price of fame, and also about how he doesn’t like upper-level radio station management. Fifteen minutes later, he cut to commercial.
“You have to connect with the people,” he said.
I hadn’t yet said a word.
Eventually, we talked at length about my book, an interview that, I’m sure, led to thousands of sales. During commercial breaks, he told me about his friends Charles Grodin and Dan Parcells, the brother of Bill Parcells. And then it was over. Before I left, I had to pee again. Joey was in the handicapped stall, smoking.
“Nothing to see here,” he said.
“I saw nothing,” I said.
He looked at me kindly.
“You’ll do fine,” he said. “Just don’t get addicted to fame.”
Somehow, I felt like he understood.
And then he was off to interview the former manager of The Smithereens.
— Neal Pollack