When I introduced Just a Bit Outside earlier this week, I mentioned that while conceiving and pitching the site, I'd come up with a bunch of words that would serve as guideposts while building it. I shared a few of these words with you, but one of those I didn't share was transparency. To the degree that I'm able, I intend to tell you what we're doing, why we're doing it, and when we screw up. Which we will. Screw up.
In that same essay, I trumpeted the participation of Jeff Garlin. This gave me a great deal of pleasure, because I'm a huge fan and thought he would bring certain qualities to this page that might otherwise go missing.
I first met Garlin a couple of months ago, over pancakes (him) and French toast (me) before one of his shows at the legendary Largo. He was funny and engaging and down-to-earth, with occasional hints of sincere self-deprecation. When some tourists asked if he'd been on a certain sitcom way back when, he could not have been nicer to them. I said I like his movies (true); he said he likes my books (and loves Joe Posnanski, of course). He was everything you could hope for, when meeting a Hollywood celebrity whom you'd long admired from afar.
And when I pitched Garlin on writing for this site, he was immediately enthusiastic. Turns out he's a huge baseball fan, even more than I'd guessed. Oh, and the money? Don't worry about it. Let's not even talk about it.
Immediately after our meeting, I e-mailed this great news to my bosses, but also cautioned everyone that we shouldn't count on anything until we had Garlin's first piece in hand. Wealthy people do play by different rules. Even the ones who seem really nice when you're eating things covered in maple syrup.
Over the weeks since, I checked in a few times. Yes, everything's still good. Yes, of course you can put me on your masthead. One more check-in last week, before we finalized our design and prepared to go public. I'm in, man. I'll have something for you Tuesday.
Monday, I received an e-mail from Garlin's lawyer, listing a few seemingly minor concerns about our deal memo (which I'd dispatched some weeks earlier).
Tuesday, I published the essay about JABO's impending birth, with Garlin figuring prominently. Wednesday afternoon, we launched JABO with Garlin, head shot and all, listed among our contributors. The site looked great, and I was thrilled with our Opening Day lineup. I gotta tell you, it made for a really nice few hours there.
Wednesday evening, just as I thought it was safe to bask in my continuing good fortune, I received a terse e-mail from Garlin.
He said he couldn't do it. When I responded in confusion and dismay, he explained that he really wanted to do it, but just couldn't because of professional considerations. Does Garlin do impressions? I don't think he does. But I've been imagining another meeting over pancakes, and this time he does his best Michael Corleone: It's not personal, Robby. It's strictly business.
One of these days, maybe I'll grow up enough where I don't take it personally. Right now, it really hurts and I wonder when I'll be able to enjoy Garlin's work again. It's okay, though. I know that in the big picture, I'm barely a mite on the flea on the pimple on the ass of Jeff Garlin's career. But this mite just spent five tremendously happy days in the Twin Cities, marred just briefly by one painful e-mail exchange. This mite will find another flea on another pimple on another ass. There's always another ass.
Not that Jeff Garlin's an ass! I can't see into his heart or his mind, but I suspect he's a decent sort. And he said he likes my books! I hope he's healthy and happy and gets great ratings in his new time slot.
Anyway, I just thought you should know how Jeff Garlin was supposed to be here, and now why he won't.
p.s. Anybody have Larry David's number? I hear he loves baseball. And is a real peach to work with, besides.