It was 6:30am and the phone rang. I live in Los Angeles, and a lot of what I do is based on the east coast, or at least the midwest: my agent, my publicist, my webmaster, the Fox News television producers ( for whom I’m a contributor) and my mom! So when the phone rings that early and I’m still alseep, I’m a bit out of it. My publicist told me there would be a change in my schedule that day for television due to “what happened in Japan.” And I’m like, “what happened in Japan?!” So my publicist said: “Oh my God, it was the biggest earthquake in the history of Japan, perhaps in the world ( 5th largest), there was a quake, a tsunami, it hit Hawaii and is headed for Los Angeles in a couple of hours!!” That got my attention. Okay, I’m a bit more awake now. Say what!?!! Wait a minute. I remind my publicist that my baby brother lives in Hawaii, as she knows and she assures me that Oahu ( as he lived in Honolulu) wasnt hit bad, she thinks Maui got most of it. And she also didnt know, my brother had just moved to Maui, this week.
On top of that I live in Los Angeles. And when she said the “tsunami is headed for Los Angeles in a few hours….” I had visions of Cecil B DeMille’s parting of the red sea, or some Hollywood film version of the Tsunami, memories of the footage from the Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka. I told her I had to call here back. So I phoned my mom, in Boston. “Mom, mom is Derek ok?! (my baby brother) Crying ( which is not unusual for my mom, she cries at Tide commercials and Brady Bunch reruns), “he’s in God’s hands now…” WHAT”!!!?!! He’s in God’s hands”!!!? Is he dead? My mom tells me she spoke with him at 3 in the morning; and he was fine- but, that was BEFORE the Tsunami hit Maui. “So Mom, is he okay NOW!?” She tells me “I dont’ know, should we call him?” Should we call him!!!? I tell her I’ll call her back. I try and try numerous times to contact my brother. I even call the operator and ask them if they can interrupt the call; no, she advises me “we dont’ do that anymore.” Funny, we can illegally be wiretapped, but cant tell if people are talking on the line after a tsunami to see if they’re alive!!?
Finally he answers. He’s okay. And he laughs at my concern. See my brother Derek, my baby brother 10 years younger than me is a bit of a thrill seeker. He loves fear, danger, living on the edge. He has had more speeding tickets than a cop can write and honestly told the judge once before having his license suspended: “Your honor I CAN’T drive 55” a la Sammy Hagar. He has jumped off cliffs over 80 feet high into water that felt much like cement upon landing. He surfs and to hear that Maui was getting waves 6-9 feet high when you surf 15-20 foot ones, well, it was no big whoop. And he was fine, the island was fine, the people were fine: no injuries, no fatalities. Call Mom back, let her know her youngest child is alive and well.
Call the publicist back, let her know I’m ok to do television; although I’d be driving toward the coast where the threat of the tsunami was looming. Turn on the news, anchors showing footage of the devastation in Japan and saying “it’s going to hit Los Angeles at 8:34 am.” By then, it was 8:32. And I waited, and waited, and then we saw footage of damage in Santa Cruz, north of Los Angeles. And it was all so surreal. The skies were blue with not a cloud in them, the sun shining bright and the temp was 72; the kind of weather people move to Southern California for.
All in all, we never did get hit like those in Japan, Sri Lanka or the crowds in those Hollywood films; and I’m thankful for that. And although the book of Revelation would state that these are signs of the end of the world; unlike the REM song, I dont believe this is the “end of the world as we know it.” Later as I pull up to get gas and notice the high prices, I have to laugh. The little chick on my shoulder reminds me “dont sweat the small stuff leslie” and in light of over 1000 dead in japan and over 80,000 missing as I write this, a few cents more at the gas tank isnt going to …kill me. Leslie Marshall