Blog: Stars in Malibu

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Burt Ross

When I moved here over three years ago, a friend of mine from New Jersey exclaimed, “I bet you see lots of stars in Malibu.”

I told him he was right on: “I see them almost every night when I go out.”

“That’s fantastic,” he replied. “It must be exciting to see all those stars.”

“It really is,” I responded. “On some nights, I can literally see hundreds of them.”

“Oh, my God,” he gushed. “It must be like each night is the Academy Awards.”

There was a strange pause.

“What are you talking about?” I inquired.

“What are you talking about?” he replied.

We finally realized that he was talking about celebrities and I celestial beings. (There is a difference, you know.)

The simple fact is that stardom is totally wasted on me. I don’t read the tabloids or watch shows which promote or exploit the famous, so with a few exceptions, I don’t know a star from the rest of us mere mortals. I wouldn’t even recognize any of the Kardashians. (I gather there is a whole clan of them, but that is just a rumor I heard.) I have never seen a reality show. (I hope this confession doesn’t mean I have to sell my home and leave Malibu.)

A few months ago, my friend Tris Imboden – the “happy drummer” for the band Chicago – was driving me around and pointed to a home.

“Stevie Nicks lives there,” he observed.

“Who is he?” I asked Tris.

He slammed on the brakes. “Are you putting me on?” he said. (I guess I was supposed to know who this fellow was.) “Stevie Nicks is a she not a he,” Tris explained as if addressing somebody who had just landed from Mars.

“Stevie Wonder is a he so why can’t Stevie Nicks be a he?” I wanted to know.

Tris continued driving and sighed, “You are hopeless.”

When I first arrived in town, a neighbor told me that Don Henley lived near me. I asked him who Don Henley was. I can still recall his look of utter disbelief bordering on disdain. “He plays with the Eagles,” he informed me in a most condescending tone.

I checked online and reported back to my neighbor, “Don Henley does not play with the Eagles.”

Condescension became total derision, “Don Henley is the Eagles,” he reported as if talking to a first grader.

“Well, you might want to know I checked online, all the way back to the early 1960s, and Don Henley never played for the Philadelphia Eagles. I would put money on it!”

My neighbor could barely contain his frustration. “The rock band the Eagles not the Philadelphia Eagles,” he explained, leaving out the words “you idiot,” which were clearly implied.

I come by my difficulty recognizing the famous quite honestly. My dad was at a Paris hotel back in the 1980s when he saw a woman whom he recognized, but wasn’t certain from where he knew her. He thought and thought, and finally concluded she was a member of his country club in New Jersey. Just as he was about to approach her, he heard somebody exclaim, “There’s Lady Bird Johnson.” It’s not everybody who can confuse the former first lady of the nation with a member of his country club.

So, if any of you have some stars to show me, you’d be better off pointing me to the heavens.