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Orange County | Dana Parsons

Steve, I Have This Wild and Crazy Idea

May 25, 2003|Dana Parsons

Dear Steve Martin,

First of all, huge fan.

In the way that certain songs have left an indelible mark on me, so has your comedy. I wish I could explain it better, but I hope you know what I mean. Let me just say five words: The Man With Two Brains.

You don't need to be flattered (or do you?), so I'll get to the point. I write a column for The Times and read last week that officials of the annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival have asked you various times to be the grand marshal for their Memorial Day weekend event. They apparently have asked every couple years or so, but you've never been able to do it.

I'm asking -- and this is my idea, not the festival's -- that you say yes for 2004.

They didn't pick your name from a hat. As someone who graduated from Garden Grove High School, you're the ultimate local boy made good.

In 1998 at the Writers Bloc program in Los Angeles, you acknowledged, under intense questioning, your Garden Grove roots, adding, "where there is neither a garden nor a grove."

I picture you reading this and asking yourself, "Steve, why would you want to be the grand marshal for a strawberry festival?"

Well, it's all for charity. A spokeswoman says the festival raised about $150,000 last year. With someone like you marshaling, that figure likely would rise. But, guessing you already donate heavily to charities, I suspect you need more motivation.

So, let me state the obvious, yet something you may have overlooked:

You've done stand-up, (I saw you open for the Carpenters in Omaha in 1975 and left with a side-ache from laughing -- at you, not the Carpenters). You've been a serious actor, a comic actor, a screenwriter, a playwright, a banjo player, a sketch player, a novella-ist, an essayist, an Oscars' host.

Steve, have you ever been a strawberry festival grand marshal?

We both know the answer. With all due respect, it's the missing feather in your cap; the thing undone. Not to be indelicate, but the clock ticks for all of us.

I took the liberty of asking what your duties would be. It sounds like a piece of cake.

You'd leave Los Angeles (in your own car) around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday to arrive in time for the 8 a.m. celebrity pancake breakfast. You'd be taken to the parade site and placed comfortably in the lead car (a vintage convertible).

For the next hour, you'd move very slowly along the route and wave to adoring fans. You'd then attend the VIP reception, where you'd meet Garden Grove dignitaries. You'd then be asked to put in 30 minutes at a public autograph table.

Then you're done. You'd be back home by early afternoon. "It'd be a good eight-hour day, there's no kidding about that," spokeswoman Fran Mulvania says.

Steve, you could do it.

Years ago, you offered an alternative to a generation that only wanted to get high -- "Let's Get Small." What better way to get small than coming down to Garden Grove?

This year's marshal acts on a soap opera. A fine talent, but she's not Steve Martin.

You are Steve Martin.

I remember the Omaha concert when you asked the audience to sing along as you spelled out Nebraska. "N-N-Nab," you said. "N-a-b-i-s-c-o ... Nebraska!" You had an arrow through your head. It still makes me laugh.

Make me laugh again. Say yes to the strawberry people.

Comic legend.

Wild and crazy guy.

And next Memorial Day weekend (I hope), Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Grand Marshal.

Best regards,

Dana Parsons

*

Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at (714) 966-7821, at dana.parsons@latimes.com or at The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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