A few years ago, I read a book about persons who’d unsuccessfully attempted suicide, and then grown to be grateful for their failures, even though several of them had survived mangled or paralyzed. The author had apparently intended his book to be inspirational, but my own principal takeaway was that jumping off bridges or tall buildings commonly doesn’t get the job done. This troubled me, as I’d earlier ruled out an overdose of pharmaceuticals as the coward’s way out, and I’ve been cowardly enough in life as to be uncomfortable with the idea of being cowardly as I leave it. I thought of hanging myself — which I understood was apt to involve a moment’s sexual ecstasy — and of handcuffing myself to the steering wheel of my car while it was in the garage, and then turning the engine on, but I was pretty sure, given my mechanical ineptitude and dread of all things automotive, that neither was the right choice for me.
Eventually I hit on the idea of suicide by cop, even though well aware that, if I got one who was a rotten shot, I might wind up in worse condition than if I jumped off a building. I went to Toys R Us and bought myself the most convincing-looking AK47 they had in stock, drove over to David Geffen’s 13,600-square-foot house on Angelo Drive in Beverly Hills, originally built by Jack Warner of Warner Bros. fame in the late 1930s, and then gutted and rebuilt by Geffen, who is gay, and thus has exquisite taste. I handcuffed myself to the front gate, threw the key into a thick hedge, and began shouting about how I’m a better songwriter than Jackson Browne and a better screenwriter than Robert Towne, and thus had deserved Geffen’s patronage a lot more than they had.
At least one of his colleagues, probably hoping to curry favor with someone who hadn’t flunked out of cop school, called the LAPD, and five minutes later I was surrounded by cops, television news teams (every last one including a reporter named Kelly or Kelli with blonde hair on whose maintenance she obviously spent a great deal of money), and a few bemused Latino gardeners.
A helicopter buzzed and sputtered overhead. It felt as though I’d finally regained the stardom of which cruel circumstances and my lack of talent stripped me in 1973. I reached into my Adidas duffel bag and produced my AK-47, inspiring much gasping.