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The Night I met Allen Ginsberg

By Johnny Depp

An appreciation of Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady and the other bastards who ruined my life

There I was, age thirteen, eyes shut tight, listening intently to Frampton Comes Alive over and over again, as some kind of pubescent mantra that helped to cushion the dementia of just how badly I wanted to whisk Bambi, the beautiful cheerleader, away from the wedge of peach melba that was the handsome, hunky football hero. …

I was daydreaming of taking her out behind the 7-Eleven to drink Boone’s Farm strawberry-apple wine and kiss until our mouths were raw. ZZZZRRRIIIPP!! was the sound I heard that ripped me from that tender moment. My brother Danny, ten years my senior and on the verge of committing fratricide, having had more than enough of “Do you feel like we do?,” promptly seized the vinyl off record player and with a violent heave chucked the sacred album into the cluttered abyss of my room.

“No more,” he hissed. “I can’t let you listen to that shit anymore!”

I sat there snarling at him in that deeply expressive way that only teens possess, decompressing too fast back into reality. He grabbed a record out of his own collection and threw it on.

“Try this … you’re better than that stuff. You don’t have to listen to that shit just ’cause other kids do.”

“OK, fucker,” I thought, “bring it on … let’s have it!”

The music started … guitar, fretless stand-up bass, flutes and some Creep pining away about venturing “in the slipstream … between the viaducts of your dreams. …” “Fuck this,” I thought, “this is pussy music — they’re not even plugged in! Those guitars aren’t electric!” The song went a bit further: “Could you find me … would you kiss my eyes … to be born again. …” The words began to hit home; they didn’t play that kind of stuff on the radio, and as the melody of the song settled in, I was starting to get kind of used to it. Shit! I even liked it. It was a sound I hadn’t really ever given any attention to before, because of my innate fear of groups like America, Seals and Crofts, and, most of all, the dreaded Starland Vocal Band. I didn’t give half a fuck about a horse with no name, summer breezes or afternoon delights! I needed space to be filled!!! Filled with sound … distorted guitars, drums, feedback and words … words that meant something … sounds that meant something!

I found myself rummaging and rooting wildly through my brother’s record collection as if it were a newfound treasure, a monumental discovery that no one — especially no one my age — could know about or understand. I listened to it all! The soundtracks to A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango in Paris, Bob Dylan, Mozart and Brahms … the whole shebang! I couldn’t get enough. I had become like some kind of junky for the stuff and in turn became a regular pain in the ass to my brother. I wanted to know all that he did. I wanted to know everything that rotten white-bread football brute didn’t. I was preparing to woo that fantastic little rah-rah girl out of the sunlight of the ice cream parlor and into my nocturnal adolescent dreamscape.

And so began my ascension (or descension) into the mysteries of all things considered Outside. I had burrowed too deep into the counterculture of my brother’s golden repository, and as years went by he would turn me on to other areas of his expertise, sending me even further into the dark chasm of alternative learning.

One day he gave me a book that was to become like a Koran for me. A dogeared paperback, roughed up and stained with God knows what. On the Road, written by some goofball with a strange frog name that was almost unpronounceable for my teenage tongue, had found its way from big brother’s shelf and into my greedy little paws. Keep in mind that in all my years of elementary school, junior high and high school, possibly the only things I’d read up to that point were a biography of Knute Rockne, some stuff on Evel Knievel and books about WW II. On the Road was life-changing for me, in the same way that my life had been metamorphosed when Danny put Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks onto the turntable that day.

I was probably about fifteen by this time, and the cheerleader had begun to fade from my dreams. I didn’t need her now. I needed to wander … whenever and wherever I wanted! I’d found myself at the end of my rope as far as school was concerned; there seemed no particular reason for me to stay. The teachers didn’t want to teach, and I didn’t want to learn — from them. I wanted my education to come from living life, getting out there in the world, seeing and doing and moving amongst the other vagabonds who had the same sneaking suspicion that I did, that there would be no great need for high-end mathematics, nope. … I was not going to be doing other people’s taxes and going home at 5:37 P.M. to pat my dog’s head and sit down to my one-meat-and-two-vegetable table waiting for Jeopardy to pop on the glass tit, the Pat Sajak of my own private game show, in the bellybutton of the universe, Miramar, Florida. A beautiful life, to be sure, but one I knew I was destined not to have, thanks to big brother Dan and the French-Canadian with the name Jack Kerouac.

I had found the teachers, the soundtrack and the proper motivation for my life. Kerouac’s train-of-thought writing style gave great inspiration for a train-of-thought existence — for better or for worse. The idea to live day to day in a “true pedestrian” way, to keep walking, moving forward, no matter what. A sanctified juggernaut.

Through this introduction to Kerouac, I then learned of his fellow conspirators Ginsberg, Burroughs, Corso, Huncke, Cassady and the rest of the unruly lot. I dove into their world full on and sponged up as much as I possibly could of their works. The Howl of Ginsberg left me babbling like an idiot, stunned that someone could regurgitate such honesty to paper. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch sent me into fits of hysterical laughter, with the imagery of talking assholes and shady reptilian characters looming, always not far behind. Cassady’s The First Third rants on beatifically like a high-speed circular saw. The riches I was able to walk away with from these heroes, teachers and mentors are not available in any school that I’ve ever heard of. Their infinite wisdom and hypersensitivity were their greatest attributes and in some cases –as I believe it was with Kerouac — played a huge part in their ultimate demise.

I had the honor of meeting and getting to know Allen Ginsberg for a short time. The initial meeting was at a soundstage in New York City, where we were both doing a bit in the film The United States of Poetry. I was reading a piece from Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues, the “2nth Chorus,” and as I was rehearsing it for camera, I could see a familiar face out of the corner of my eye: “Fuck me,” I thought, “that’s Ginsberg!” We were introduced, and he then immediately launched into a blistering rendition of said chorus, so as to show me the proper way for it to be done.

“As Jack would have done it!” he emphasized.

I was looking straight down the barrel at one of the most gifted and important poets of the twentieth century, and with all the truth and guts I could muster up, I said in response, “Yeah, but I’m not reading it as him, I’m reading it as me. It’s my interpretation of his piece.”

Silence — a LONNNGG silence. Ticktock tickrock ticktock

I was smiling nervously, my eyes sort of wavering between his face and the floor. I sucked down about half of my 5,000th cigarette of the day in one monster drag and filled the air around us with my poison. It was at that point that I remembered his “Don’t Smoke!” poem … oops … too fucking late now, boy, you done stepped in shit! I looked at Ginsberg, he looked at me, and the director looked at us both as the crew looked at him, and it was quite a little moment, for a moment there. Allen’s eyes squinted ever so slightly and then began to twinkle like bright lights. He smiled that mystic smile, and I felt as though God himself had forgiven me a dreadful sin.

After the shoot, we took a car back to his apartment on the Lower East Side and had some tea. He was gracious enough to speak to me about the early years with Kerouac, Cassady and the others. We spoke of many things, from the cost of a limo ride to the high-pitched voice of Oscar Wilde; he actually had a recording of Wilde reading The Ballad of Reading Gaol. He flirted unabashedly and nonstop for the duration of my visit, even allowing me to smoke, as long as I sat next to the kitchen window and exhaled in that direction. He kindly signed a book to me and a couple of autographs (one for my brother, of course), and then I made my way back to the hotel, only to have already received a call from him, inviting me to some kind of something or other.

From that day forward, we stayed in touch with each other over the next few years and even spent time together from time to time. Our communication continued until our final conversation, which was just three days before he passed on. He called me to say that he was dying, and that it would be nice to see each other again before he checked out. He was so calm and so peaceful about it that I had to ask how he felt given this situation. He gracefully said that it was like a ripple on a sea of tranquillity. He then cried a little, as did I; he said, “I love you,” and so did I. I told him I would get to New York as soon as possible, and fuckin’ A, I was gonna go — the call came only days later.

Ginsberg was a great man, like his old pals, who had paved the way for many, and many more to come. The contribution of these people goes way beyond their own works. Without On the Road, Howl or Naked Lunch, for example, would we have been blessed with the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Dylan? Or countless other writers and poets of that caliber who were born in the Fifties and Sixties? Where would we be without modern classics like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or The Times They Are A-Changin’?

So much has happened to me in the twenty years since I first sat down and took that long drag on Kerouac’s masterpiece. I have been a construction laborer, a gas-station attendant, a bad mechanic, a screen printer, a musician, a telemarketing phone salesman, an actor, and a tabloid target — but there’s never been a second that went by in which I deviated from the road that ol’ Jack put me on, via my brother. It has been an interesting ride all the way — emotionally and psychologically taxing — but a mother-fucker straight down the pike. And I know that without these great writers’ holy words seared into my brain, I would most likely have ended up chained to a wall in Camarillo State Hospital, zapped beyond recognition, or dead by misadventure.

So in the end, what can anyone … scholar, professor, student or biographer … really say about these angels and devils who once walked among us, though maybe just a bit higher off the ground?

 

 

published in Rolling Stones Magazine  07/08/99

SLEEPY HOLLOW

What we have here is the product of two men. After his screenplay for “Seven” was produced, Andrew Kevin Walker’s retelling of this Washington Irving story was sold and promptly sat on the shelf for a few years. Director Tim Burton, after a long string of artistic and commercial successes, had a pair of setbacks. His cinematic adaptation of the “Mars Attacks!” trading cards was all sight-gags, and no soul. Recently, he spent a year in pre-production on a Superman movie, only to have Warner Bros pull the plug a couple of months before filming would begin. In a no-brainer, the director and the script found each other. There are two things that make this the perfect Burton project. The first is the latest addition to his gallery of beloved outcasts, Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp)- by Ron Wells for Film Threat.

In this version of the tale, Crane is not a schoolteacher, but a New York City constable in 1799 (though still a foppish girly-man). At this time, superstition and piety still rule the populace. After a childhood trauma, Crane has rejected both in favor of science and reason. When attempting to apply both to police work, the would-be forensic scientist is ridiculed and sent upstate to apply his “detecting” skills to a series of murders in a small village called “Sleepy Hollow”.

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in full, please follow the link above.

CANNES/MAY 15, 1998: ENJOY YOUR TRIP!

ust as a drug trip, the day was an upward motion from reality to a dream, with its rise and its flash when I met Johnny and remembering our meeting when I went to bed after a very special trip.

THE PRESS CONFERENCE: A bad beginning. For the beginning of the day, I’m not really lucky. The press conference is over-crowded and I couldn’t enter the room. Anyway, I didn’t have the right pass. The access is only authorized to the journalists with the pink pass and I had the white. But there was another way to watch the press conference. On the first floor of The Festival Palace, there was a place where you can sit on deck-chairs (as if you were on the beach) and follow the press conference live as it is broadcast on TV Festival ! ! ! A lot of people agree with me when I say that’s the best way to hear and record a press conference. You’re well installed and the sound is better for your recorder. That’s how I saw and recorded the Fear and Loathing press conference. Vicki will put some clips from the conference soon with this report.

THE MOVIE: Let the delirium enter your mind. SYNOPSIS – The gonzo journalist Raoul Duke is scheduled to write an article about a motorcycle race in Las Vegas. He travels there with his attorney, Dr Gonzo, driving a crimson convertible full of every sort of drug and pharmaceutical product. They begin a savage drug-fueled trip into the heart of the American Dream. REVIEW – The most interesting part of this movie is Gilliam’s choice to dedicate the entire movie to his characters, by the cinematography, the special effects and the editing, to make the audience live the trip of the individuals from inside. Sure, Gilliam uses too much moving animals for the hallucinations. But the choice of the frames, the deep focus, the colors, the filters, the design ? Las Vegas is absolutely fabulous ? the acting a little exaggerated from Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro but exactly right for their mad characters. The editing which follows the trip exactly, slow or fast depending of the characters’ mind, give the film wealth, which make the hallucinatory trip of the two individuals almost palpable. Terry Gilliam tells a story showing the trip at the good and bad moments, without any morality about drug-addiction in his filmmaking. People may regret his no-engagement against drugs, but it’s an artistic choice depending on his interpretation of the novel upon which the movie is based. The two characters don’t care about the consequences of their behaviour. They just enjoy their journey in Las Vegas, experiencing with drugs the limits of their bodies. That may be shocking for our 90’s eyes, but we have to remember the spirit of the 1971 Hunter Thompson novel. Gilliam’s filmmaking gives a light and humorous but finally realistic description of the perception of drugs in the early seventies. Finally, the only reproach we can address to Terry Gilliam is having lost his idea by giving a sort of morality in two sentences about the drug consequences at the end of the movie, granting to the American morality at the end of a great movie which was just a glance without any message on the story of two individuals.

THE PARTY: The apogee of the trip. In spite of my invitation, it was hard to enter the party. The guards made me wait about 20 minutes. The reason was Johnny Depp himself. He was inside with Kate Moss so the organizers didn’t want too many people around them. After this long wait during such an important moment in my life, I finally entered with friends. First we went to the bar to have some Champagne. Then I went to the area for dancing just to prove to my friends that I’m not there only to see JD but also to have fun. I was very surprised to see Johnny just one meter in front of me, seated at a table with Kate Moss. Arrrrgggghhhh! That’s not a dream : he is there. As I looked again, I saw him talking to someone I knew. So I went over to them, to say hello to my friend and of course to Johnny. Very politely, he talked to me and I answered him stupid stuffs like “Hi ? How are you ? Good Champagne ? Enjoy your party ?” I didn’t want to disturb them anymore. Johnny was touching Kate’s hands for a while and he didn’t seem to enjoy the party very much. So I went back to the dancing area. A few minutes later, he left to attend another party for “The Ninth Gate”. Around three o’clock, I decided to go to bed, my mind full of pictures of the coolest man I’ve ever met. Sure he said those things to me to be polite. He certainly must have said the same words to a lot of people during the party and ours was a 2-minutes meeting that he surely does not remember. Anyway, I was really happy to meet him. He IS really cool.

MARIE

from johnnydeppfan

ELIZABETH’S MEETING, MAY 8 1998

I met Johnny and Terry Gilliam on their press tour for Fear and Loathing. They did an interview at our radio station and I thought I would pass a picture along to you. Johnny was the nicest guest we have ever had at the station and Terry was constantly cracking jokes and laughing. Along with the souvenir picture, I salvaged one of Johnny’s cigarette butts and have it in a test tube. This is not something I normally do, but hey, you take what you can get.

I knew that there was a possibility that Johnny and Terry Gilliam would stop by the station that evening for the interview, but there was more of a possibility that they would call in or not come by at all. Knowing my luck, it would be the latter. Unfortunately I had spent the previous evening at a local “watering” hole and was suffering the next day from too much “water”. Clad in jeans and a shirt freshly crumpled from the floor, I stumbled into work unprepared for an actual face to face meeting with anyone out of the ordinary. One hour before we were off the air we got the news, from our “Italian connection,” that they were coming by after all. Nervousness set in. No amount of makeup or hair-styling could help me at this point. At least the dirty shirt had aired out.

Terry and Johnny arrived and I was sent to bring them into the studio. What the hell, all I usually get to do is pull music and make bad jokes, maybe put in an order for food. I am totally honest when I say that I am horrible at recognizing people. Also that I wasn’ t really sure what Johnny looked like, because, well…I’m stupid. So, I took the back door out of the studio and headed down the hall to the lobby. The offices were closed so there wasn’t anyone else in the building. I could see a group of people at the end of the hall where it was dark, and then there was a guy walking towards me, heading towards the men’s room. I said, “Hi” and rushed by him wondering what that “deer-in-the-headlights” look was on his face for. When I reached the lobby, I realized that everyone there was either old or female. The guy I passed in the hall and ignored was Johnny. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why am I so stupid?

Johnny came in and introduced himself to everyone in the room and shook hands. I sat in the corner and tried not to drool, rock back and forth and laugh hysterically. During the whole interview, Johnny chain-smoked and I dreamt of days to come where I could sit in a damp basement and roll his cigarettes for him. Hour after hour, day by day. Anyway, after the interview, I was running commercials and Johnny was signing things and taking pictures. I had to get in one of these. So, I left one of the interns at the board and told him which buttons to punch. He looked scared to death. What’s more important, a picture with Johnny or a little dead air? I leaped like a gazelle to the other side of the room and was making my move to stand next to Johnny in the pic and somehow I got caught in a Jedi-body-switch manuver and ended up a person away. Aaack. Oh well. On their way out, Johnny shook my hand and remembered my name. I thought that was very cool. In an equally un-cool move, I grabbed the ashtray and kept a cigarette butt for myself. It is now hanging in a test tube from my ceiling, right next to Mike D’s plastic cup with protein drink residue. On a completely different note, Johnny and Kate broke up the next week. Maybe my impression wasn’t so bad…

Paris Film Festival

I met Johnny on Sunday, April the 5th of 1998: he was there to give an award at the ending ceremony of the Paris film festival, where his friend Sean Penn was the President of the Jury. I was at this festival but people without invitation weren’t allowed to be present in the theater for the ending ceremony, so I decided to wait a moment behind the barrier to see some stars. And then, he arrived (with his director Roman Polanski). I was totally crazy because it wasn’t provided he would be there.

Briefly, he was exactly as Sam has written: very nice, generous and smiling with everybody (when the guy by my side gave to him a 1 dollar banknote to sign it, he said joking “am I worth only this price?”). He signed lots of autographs and allowed lots of pictures. And when a man who was with him told him he had to enter the theater, he wanted to stay longer to sign other autographs and take pictures with fans who were behind the other barrier. An angel!!! (Contrary to Sean Penn who hadn’t stopped when he had passed very quickly in front of fans, before Johnny). He was the star who stayed the longest time with fans, and when he was gone, everyone said he was great. Since this day, I love him still more. I took 2 photos of Johnny, but I didn’t talk to him because I was too impressed to tell him something interesting, I prefered to be quiet.

encounter from johnnydeppfan

BARRY GETS CLOSE TO JOHNNY AT THE VIPER ROOM

Background: Summer-Fall 1995 I went to the Viper Room a few times, the energy was amazing! I went on December 31st. Sandra Bernhardt was performing, which was terrific.

Suddenly, I turned-around and I saw Kate Moss sitting on the back of the booth near the bathrooms, and I said to myself “He’s gotta be here!” I looked down from Kate, and there he was, sitting in the booth drinking wine. Hair hanging in his face, being kind of sullen.

Edward Scissorhands and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape have touched me deeply. I so wanted to tell him, but there was no getting near him with all the bodyguards. Flea showed-up. It was quite the scene.

Nevertheless, the crowd (and bodyguards) became casual by 2AM, when I was coming out of the men’s room, and there he was, standing right next to me: tee shirt and cords, very Johnny. I lingered for a moment, as he was talking with someone. I considered approaching him, but didn’t want to be rude by butting- in.

Suddenly, he headed-off down those stairs, into the night. Maybe some other time!

Barry

John Tesh’s producer’s encounter

A few years ago, when I was the Marketing Director for John Tesh?s music I heard that Johnny Depp?s trailer was parked right outside my office on the Paramount lot. He was shooting a film on a stage right behind the Mae West building where I worked.

That put me in a bit of a fix. I had a policy against any sort of star deference on the lot. It was rampant and kind of sickening and I wanted no part of it. I routinely passed Kevin Costner, Niles from Fraiser, Tom Cruise and others while walking around to the catering truck or on errands and we would smile and nod, like anyone else. I once had a temp assignment working for Patrick Stewart. Being no fan of Star Trek, I didn?t know who he was until someone told me later that morning. At lunch, Patrick and his girlfriend came back all lit up. Apparently Pierce Brosnan was right outside, having also eaten at the Commissary. I didn?t say anything.

?Pierce Brosnan!? Patrick told me. “Don?t you like him??

?I don?t know who that is.?

?James Bond!? his girlfriend blurted.

?James Bond! Don?t you know James Bond?? Patrick asked me, leaning over my desk to make the point right in my face.

?Listen,? I said, ?I didn?t know who you were until about fifteen minutes ago.?

But Johnny Depp?I knew who he was. And he was on my short list. What to do?what to do?

Part of my job was to manage the swag?the merchandise?John Tesh cds, videos, t-shirts. I didn?t have much to offer. I got out a piece of letterhead and tried to tell him what I needed him to know.

Johnny,

I was in Macon, Georgia when I discovered you three years ago?watching What?s Eating Gilbert Grape with my family. We?re still quoting that movie. So?years of laughs, then. And then there was Arizona Dream and Benny and Joon and Dead Man. The thing is, I never thought I?d have the chance to tell you?to thank you for doing what you do. And to let you know about just one family whose days you made better.

And also to thank you for not becoming what this industry insists you become. For doing this on your own terms.

Keep shining?

I pulled one of the coveted wool John Tesh tour jackets from the top shelf and put it in the box.

PS Didn?t want you to be the only one of your friends not to have one of these.

And with a lick and kiss it was done. I walked it next door to Stage 19.

?Is Johnny Depp here?? I asked the stage manager?

?Yes he?s right there ? just finishing up this scene ? give him just a minute.?

?No no ? will you please just give him this for me??

?Why don?t you give it to him ? I?m sure he?d love that and he?ll be done in just a minute,? she whispered.

?Really,? I told her, ?I?ve said everything I have to say in the letter ? I don?t want to put him on the spot but do please make sure that he gets it. Will you??

?Yeah if you?re sure,? she said.

?Thanks.?

That was late Friday afternoon.

What a kick. To get to let him know. How often does that happen.

By Sunday I?d forgotten all about it.

Monday morning I walked into my office to a ringing phone.

?John Tesh Productions? ?

?I?m looking for Samantha.?

?This is Samantha.?

?This is Johnny.?

John Tesh is on a plane, I?m thinking, Oklahoma bound, and why is he calling himself Johnny to me. How creepy. Too early. I didn?t respond.

?Johnny Depp?? he continued.

I sat down on top of my desk, reminding myself we?re all people and trying to breathe normal and not say anything that would give me away.

?Hi Johnny.? Safe enough.

?Samantha??

?Yes??

?That is one of the coolest, sweetest, funniest things that?s happened to me and I have to meet you.?

?Oh you don?t,? I told him. ?Really that?s so good of you but you don?t have to do that.?

?No I do! I want to ? I have to meet you. And by your letterhead I can see you?re close. Will you come to my trailer??

I flashed back to bands of my youth. Not the old ?ever see the inside of a tour bus? line. But no, he wasn?t like that. Something told me he wasn?t.

?Sure,? I said.

?Come soon,? he said. ?Today is our last day of shooting and we?ll be done by noon. Will you really come??

He sounded entirely earnest.

?Yes I?ll come.?

?Great ? I?m looking forward to it.?

I sat on my desk for a few minutes, replaying the conversation ? burning it into my memory. Then I called Ingrid upstairs.

??so how long do I wait??

?Go now!? she said. ?Johnny Depp has invited you over — GO!?

?One hour it is!?

The minutes took forever and I knew I was taking a chance to wait. But pride wouldn?t let me do otherwise.

The hour passed. By the time I got to his trailer, I was having a hard time passing for nonchalant. Who?s nonchalant in the middle of a dream coming true? How fraudulent.

The door was cracked and I knocked and someone said to come in. When I opened it the sun poured in on exactly four Johnny Depps sitting side by side on the sofa. Stand-ins and doubles all dressed exactly the same. The one on the right end leaned forward, then the one in the middle almost stood up. The one on the far left smiled and nudged the one next to him. (Will the real Johnny Depp PLEASE…) ?I ? I?m??

The one on the end stood up. ?Samantha??

?Johnny??>

He leaned down so as not to hit his head as he strode across to the door with his hand out. Then he came down the steps and hugged me and thanked me and asked if I had time for a walk. At first I didn?t know how to be. ?Yes but I really don?t have anything to say ? I told it to you in the letter.?

?That?s ok,? he said. ?I have some things to say.?

?Oh yeah??>

?Yeah! What?s it like working for John Tesh??

“It’s uh?”

We both laughed and it was entirely normal and easy and funny and familiar?like we?d known each other from way back.

?Well do I look like you imagined me?? I asked at the end. He looked down and gave my overalls a tug. ?Exactly.?

I saw him a couple years later at the party for the premiere of SLEEPY HOLLOW and he stopped talking to Marilyn Manson when I walked by. He looked at me like you do when someone is vaguely familiar but you?re seeing them somewhere you?re not used to seeing them and you just can?t put it together. But he did stop talking mid-sentence and smiled and said hello. It was enough.

He is enough. In a town where egos are huge and presents are always looked upon with suspicion or the idea that they are owed, he is more than enough. He plays a different game. >

A few years later, working in the international marketing department of Paramount Pictures, a publicist acquaintance had to get down an interview with Johnny Depp at the Cannes Film Festival in France where Depp now lives. He came by my office afterwards. ?How was it?? I asked, feeling somehow like I was asking after a distant friend.

He shook his head. ?He doesn?t even shower. He?s a lousy interview. His hair was filthy. He wouldn?t even put on a clean shirt. He wore the same shirt for three days in a row. We offered him a clean one.? I was laughing. ?It?s not funny,? he snorted.

Oh yes it is. It?s brilliant. He?s found a way to keep the dogs at bay.

As recently as Sunday night at the Golden Globes, Joan and Melissa Rivers deemed him the absolute worst-dressed. Must?ve been a real feather in his cap. The truth is he?s never looked better ? he just didn?t look like what the industry had dictated the ?look? is for such events.

Whatever you think, he?s inching his way through the cesspool of Hollywood moviestardom. Tuesday he was officially nominated for his first Oscar ? fittingly enough, a role in which he plays a pirate.

And from Macon to LA ? we?re pulling for you. We?ll be holding the back door open for you ? we?ve watched long enough to know how you come in.