A couple of weekends ago I was having lunch at Curry House, when this extremely dark guy with a long Native American-type braid walked in. As he got closer, I realized that I recognized him.
“Pete?” I asked.
He squinted at me. It’d been about two years since we’d seen each other. “Heyyy, what’s goin’ on, man?”
“Holy fuck, you’re darker than Wesley Snipes,” I said. "You're like an infinite void, you're so black."
For all the years that I’d known him, Pete has always been a very tanned fellow from playing tennis all the time (He was on his college team). But now the man was so black, he could’ve shown up naked to a funeral.
“Been surfing a lot lately, dude,” he replied. "S'my new addiction."
Surfing was a logical fit for the guy – surprised it took him this long to figure it out. He’d always talked and dressed like a surfer. Plus with his complexion and long hair, everybody assumed he was Hawaiian, when in fact he was Korean. Hot blonde chicks found his faux Polynesian-ness “exotic,” which suited him perfectly because that’s all he’d date.
Eventually we exchanged contact infos, and I went back to eating my katsu curry. I’d forgotten to ask him what he’d been up to.
The guy’s career was in career-switching. When I’d met him, he was an intern at my agency, trying to become an account planner. Earlier, he was a management consultant, and Lord knows what he was before that. A sun spot, maybe.
After his internship, Pete decided what he really wanted to be was a copywriter, and I helped him create the ads for his first portfolio. It took a little over a year, during which he supported himself with modeling and acting gigs. When he was finally done, his portfolio ironically turned out to be more impressive than mine; and in his very first copywriting job he was easily making more than me. It was a very "The pupil becomes the master" kind of moment.
After a couple of years, he lost interest in advertising and decided he felt more passionate about something else: Sculpting and writing poetry. I shit you not. It was around that time we lost touch.
Last week he called me at work and invited me to see “The White Horse Is Dead,” which was playing at an indie film festival in Santa Monica. He’d spent two years writing and directing it.
He then excitedly read a comment to me over the phone that was written in the LA Times: “Closing the festival competition is Pete Red Sky's "The White Horse Is Dead," a well-sustained, creepy psychological drama …”
“You wrote and directed a fricking movie?” I asked somewhat incredulously. “And when the hell did you change your last name to Red Sky?”
“It’s a long story, dude,” he replied. “I’ll tell you all about it later.”
We chatted for a while, and he told me that in between sculptor/poet and writer/director, he tried becoming a children’s book author. I was half-expecting him to add "/DJ."
Surprisingly not being able to make any money in sculpting, poetry or kid's literature, he decided to make a movie. With film and equipment donated from Kodak, he did just that. The rest was financed entirely with his credit cards.
I checked out the movie tonight with my girlfriend, and yes, her mom. It was a quietly intense, moody film, although I got a little impatient with the pacing. The scene where the main character feeds her pet leeches with a bloody tampon was an interesting touch - perhaps a rejected idea from one of his children's books.
As we were driving home, my girlfriend said that while she enjoyed the movie, she thought I could've made a better one.
"For every thousand people who think they can do it, there's one person who actually goes and does it," I replied. "I'm one of the thousand."
And, as I write this, Pete's already working on his next film.
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