I know most of what takes place at Huffington Post involves politics, but I needed to go in another direction today. The constant bombardment of our senses with news stories that are overwhelmingly negative can leave us struggling to grin by the end of the day. The advent of the twenty-four-hour news station has compounded the problem. I wrote a blog on Huffington Post on February 8, 2006 called "It's All Ted Turner's Fault, Or Stop That Bronco!" that discussed the changed dynamics of our daily news reports.
The negative images often change what has been a good day into a stress-filled evening. There are many days when I decide to step away from the media blitz. I accomplish this by dropping the newspaper in the recycling basket unread and not turning on CNN when I sit down at night. To relieve some of the stress created by that negative sensory overload, I have decided to tell you a story that has no political message, no deep thought-provoking ideas, and no mention of George Bush. I am also pretty certain there will be no profound statements found in the following paragraphs. It's just something I hope will help you grin today.
What follows took place at a Habitat For Humanity blitz build in Los Angeles in December 2000. The project was called Hollywood For Habitat. It was the brainchild of screenwriter Randy Wallace, whose best-known work to date is Braveheart. Randy wanted to find a way to get Habitat and Hollywood to know each other. Invitations were sent out to a variety of people in the entertainment industry to come out and spend a few days using their hands and hammers to help move the world one step on. This project was the first of what will be many similar builds. I know selling Braveheart has helped my friend Randy Wallace eat well, but I know his work with Hollywood For Habitat has made him sleep well.
Since I am a building contractor who has been active in the past with Habitat, I was fortunate enough to have been asked to supervise the construction of one of the houses at the first ever, Hollywood For Habitat build. Day three of this weeklong project, I realized I had yet to take a single picture of what was going on at this site. At the end of the day, I went to my car and started walking around the site and taking a few pictures. A crowd had gathered a couple of houses over from the one I had spent roofing. I looked to the center of the group and saw Robin Williams being interviewed by a young girl who was having a bit of trouble getting Robin to focus on actually answering any question she asked. In typical (if that word can ever be used in the same breath with the name Robin Williams) Robin Williams's fashion, the action was fast and furious and the crowd was loving it.
As the "interview" ended, Robin was doing what Robin does. He was signing autographs, taking pictures and carrying on with the crowd. I couldn't resist getting involved. I grabbed a piece of cardboard from a nail box and waited with the thirty or forty other people as Robin worked the crowd. When he finally stood face to face with me, I said, "How about an autograph?" Robin graciously said, "Sure." With that I replied, "Who should I make it out to?"...................
TWO SECONDS OF SILENCE -- For two seconds, Robin Williams was speechless. That might not seem like much, but this was Robin Williams, one of the quickest minds the world has ever known. It was the longest two seconds of my life. He then caught himself, looked up at me and said, "Clarence." I wrote on the piece of cardboard, "To Clarence, Love Tom." I handed the piece of cardboard to Robin and walked off. Then, as I walked off, Robin turned to the crowd, raised the piece of cardboard over his head and yelled, "I got Tom's autograph!"
You may wonder what the hell Leonardo DiCaprio has to do with this story. Well, for two seconds of my life, when Robin Williams froze, I was just like Leo on the front of the Titanic. I was The King Of The World. I had stopped Robin Williams in his tracks for two seconds.