January 11: HBO’s Luck

I cannot tell you why I found myself thinking about HBO’s doomed series, Luck, while I was out on my morning hike. Wait a minute, I do remember why. I was listening to a song that was used in the last episode. For some reason, Luck must have been cursed from the outset. Much of it was filmed at nearby Santa Anita Park. And, sadly, the horrible race horse deaths that plagued production of the series have continued in the years since. I don’t believe anyone knows precisely why. It was not a perfect series, but it had some very interesting elements, all of which were coalescing as the series reached its untimely end.

As I was making my way down the hill, listening to the song, I thought about writing a letter to Dustin Hoffman. I mean, what the hell is he so busy doing lately? I thought he might be interested in doing a movie version of Luck (that I, of course, would write), since I believe he was one of the main producers of the series. He’s likely had a lot riding on its success. I thought that pretty much everyone involved with the series were still alive and working. But, then I thought of the character of Gus Demitriou who was played beautifully by Dennis Farina and I remembered he died way back in 2013 at the age of 69.

That really slammed the door on my idea because I felt Gus was the heart and soul of the series. I actually met Dennis Farina once on the golf course. Man, that was a long time ago. I was playing golf with my brother John and my father, that shows that it was at least 14 years ago and obviously more. We were playing at a now defunct golf course out in west Simi Valley called, holy shit, I can’t remember the name! Well, I guess it doesn’t matter but in a way the make up of the course influences the story. Oh, I remember! The name of the course was Lost Canyons. A better name might have been Lost Ball Canyons. I would guess the average player, across handicaps, lost between 6-10 balls over an honest 18 holes. It was bad enough if the air was calm and if it was windy, forget it. We were playing the 18th hole and getting close to the green when suddenly a golf ball bounced up and smacked into my golf bag which was standing on the fringe between the fairway and the rough. I looked back up the fairway to see a man riding in the golf cart alone, waving at me.

“Man, I am so sorry,” said the man as he came to a halt. “Are you Ok? This is my first time here and this place kicked my ass. I’ve lost a ton of balls today. I had to buy a fuckin’ dozen at the turn.”

“No problem,” I said. “Your ball didn’t even come close to me. Anyway, I have you beat on lost ball stories.”

“What do you mean,” asked Farina.

I shook my head and said, “You know that par-3 17th? Well, I lost my birdie putt on that hole.”

Clearly incredulous, Farina said, “What the hell do you mean you lost your birdie putt? How the hell do you lose a putt?

“Easy,” I said. “I had a 20 footer up the hill, should have broken about two feet left. But I got all excited about it being for birdie and I smashed it right off the back of the green down into the canyon. Never saw it again. Unless you want to climb down after it I say it’s lost.”

Farina gave me a good belly laugh and said, “Damn, I wish I had caught up with you guys earlier!”

He seemed like a genuinely good guy and I really enjoyed him in that role.

Even I could magically convince David Milch, Dustin Hoffman and the gods at HBO to make the movie, I wouldn’t want to see it without Gus. I would say don’t bother, boys.

By the way, the song I was listening to was Otis Taylor’s Nasty Letter from his 2003 record, Truth Is Not Fiction.

Just buy it, it’s fantastic.

January 11: HBO’s Luck

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