Last night, Jay and I went to see Tim Minchin play at the Wiltern Theater. I don’t much like going out on weeknights, but we always go see him play if we hear about it in time.
I’ve been a fan for many years, but I’ve felt an especially silly affinity with him the past four years because he and his family moved to LA (either from Australia or the UK, I can’t remember, and they went back and forth between the two several times) right around the same time we did. Minchin weaves his family (wife he’s been with basically forever and clearly has a great sense of humor, two kids who inspired both wonderful and funny-horrible songs over the years) into his material and his banter, so they’re always an invisible presence when he performs.
Two years ago, December 2015, we saw him play at the Ace Hotel, another one of his short mini-tours to warm up for some other thing he was about to do. It felt like 2015 had been a hell of a year, with the rise of ugly sentiments stirred up post-Ferguson, with g*merg*te and the slow-motion-oncoming-collision of the current president. We – the sort of people who’d go see Tim Minchin play live – were hopeful but tense. We felt a little uncertain and wanted him to make us feel better.
And he did. The Ace is a gorgeous venue with a stage low enough to feel a little like a community theater, intimate and accessible, and the show was hopeful and warm. For the final number, he led our happy assembly of 1600 atheists and humanists and anyone who doesn’t mind hearing the Pope called a fucker in a reverent, soft, truly hymnal version of Hallelujah.
Bowie would die one month later, Prince five months. The primaries after that. The election in November. As we were leaving the theater, we saw J*ss Wh*don some rows back, causing a traffic jam on the aisle.
The show last night at the Wiltern was the last of his four-date mini-tour Leaving Los Angeles. They’re moving back to Australia; the film he’d been working on has fallen apart and this place – always suspect – for sure no longer any place to raise kids if you’ve got another option that isn’t the UK. He’s already written the song about the leaving, he played it for us. It’s not funny really – not comedy, anyway, he’s doing some serious material now – it’s just about how this place is weirdly hard-easy to love-dislike.
It can’t but make me take stock. We moved here almost four years ago with our fingers crossed that Jay could start over in a second career here. He qualified for his union this summer, legally changed his name to his professional name in September. I took a new job to be able to move; we got acquired this October by a much bigger company. Rent is still pretty much 50% of our take-home income, because LA rent sucks and keeps going up along with the cost of benefits, though if Jay gets a union job that’ll get better.
Assuming unions still exist next year, assuming that being a 1099 worker won’t cost more in taxes than he makes in take-home income, assuming there’s still an internet to stream the content he helps make.
I’m nervous as fuck these days. It’s not just waking up every day bracing myself to check the news, and the spiraling rent and fear that our landlord will decide to run us off when we can’t afford to move, and the two 11-year-old cars (we’re idiots, don’t buy two cars in the same year). It’s also the three 12-13-year-old dogs (again, idiots), one who’s now blind in one eye and I think pretty much deaf, another with bad hips and a recent gastric situation that revealed he’d lost 1/4 of his weight in 6 months.
Things have turned so surprisingly in just two years. Getting old is weird and exhausting. I cannot even guess where I’ll be in two more. Living in a shipping container on the moon? Seems possible. Still here, but with half a dozen more roommates and no electricity, just telling stories around a burning oil drum? Okay. Full-on Mad Max? Yeah, I can see it.
I don’t know, I just don’t know anymore. But we saw J*ss again last night, and it sure seemed like he was working awfully hard to get anyone else there to make eye contact with him.
Good. At least that’s something.