I worked in Los Angeles for three months when I was in my 20s and never even saw a movie star, never mind hung out with one. But then, Caren Jeskey is living a far more interesting life than I am. Her Saturday report:
Summer 1995. A handsome young man walked into our regular little coffee shop on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. He was overdressed in the rumply elegant way of a rich person wearing fine fibers, juxtaposed by our cut-off jean shorts. My friend and roommate Jayne and I spent hours at that shop. We’d play backgammon addictively, smoke Marlboro lights, and drink coffee for hours on end on our days off.
With a warm smile and bright, beaming eyes, the tanned, brown haired stranger asked if he could join us. “Of course,” we said. Why not? The three of us sat around an oval table drinking coffee and tea, and he got a scone. He and Jayne talked The Birthright Israel and Kibbutzim.
He leaned back in the sturdy wooden chair a few times, and rested the back of his head on clasped palms in a pleased way. I was not privy to the thoughts in his head, but can imagine them now. “This is nice. They don’t know who I am. I can just be another guy today.”
After a while he looked at the time and said “I have to get going. My wife was getting her hair cut next door and she’s probably done by now.” We said our goodbyes. When he left the owner looked at us, laughing. “That was Alec Baldwin.”
My first thought was “Kim Basinger is next door.” I just loved it. I’d always rather liked Alec, especially in "Glengarry Glen Ross." During my time in Lalaland I managed to meet Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Sinead O’Connor, and now a Baldwin brother.
This must have been shortly before Alec assaulted a photographer a few days after Kim gave birth that October. It was 12 years before he called his 11 year old daughter a “little pig” and threatened to “straighten [her] ass out” with a strangely cool tone. It was 16 years before he was removed from an airplane at LAX when he became belligerent after being told to stop playing Words With Friends on his phone.
I had not listened to the aforementioned message, nor did I know much if anything about his list of aggressive outbursts, until this week. Halyna Hutchins’ death hit me really hard, as I am sure it hit a lot of you. I actively followed the story this week, compelled to learn more. I sobbed at the horror of it all. Ms. Hutchins should not be dead. As I learned more about the chaos on the set, it got even sadder. Someone should have pulled the plug before this fatal disaster.
In 2008 I read a long profile Why Me? about the now infamous Baldwin in The New Yorker. I remembered thinking, at the time, “this poor guy. What a mess.” My heart went out to him back then.
I revisited the piece this week and could not stomach reading much of it this time around. The writer describes Alec as full of regrets and “very conscious of what’s lacking in his life.” It’s revealed that his brother William says, for Alec, “there’s always something to whine about.”
In the piece, Alec imagines himself as successful at Leo DiCaprio and declares ““I wish I were a horse—strong, free, my chestnut haunches glistening in the sun.”
He also dreams of versions of himself as a restaurant critic, the owner of an inn, and a radio DJ. Anyone but himself. With multiple awards and a great deal of financial and career success, he was still discontent. He pondered what it could be like to live a simple life rather than trying so hard to steer himself to an imagined better place.
There are multiple instances of Alec using aggressive language and glorifying violence. When he biked the wrong way down a New York street and got stopped by the police in 2014 he Tweeted “New York City is a mismanaged carnival of stupidity that is desperate for revenue and anxious to criminalize behavior once thought benign.” Um, just don’t bike the wrong way man.
He suggested beating the shit out of a drunk driver “for a couple of hours" as a just punishment. He claims that he is “not afraid of anybody. I don’t have a drop of fear in my whole body. Never. Never.” Clearly I’m not buying it. It seems that his whole life is based of a fear of not being seen. How ironic.
A chilling Tweet he published in 2017 is circulating on the web: “I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone.” I just wish Alec had grown up sooner, admitted his part in things that have gone wrong in his life, gotten help to learn to manage his anger, and perhaps gained some humility. If he had stopped chasing his elusive version of fame sooner, the world would be a happier place today.