Shore Enough

When life presents you with opportunities, you have to take them, or else you’re some kind of lily-livered pansy and we can’t be friends anymore. For example, if you have the chance to lie to Pauly Shore, right to his face and in a sincere voice, you should do so. Otherwise, how can you say you have truly lived?

I am happy to report that I took advantage of this opportunity during the Sundance Film Festival, which ends today. Pauly Shore was in Park City, not because he had a film in Sundance — if there is any justice in the world, he is not even allowed to buy tickets to Sundance — but because he had a film in Slamdance, which is sort of like Sundance’s younger, pot-smoking brother that plays in Park City at the same time, so that if you get tired of watching good independent films at Sundance, you can go watch the movies Sundance rejected.

Pauly’s movie is “You’ll Never Wiez in This Town Again,” and according to the woman who approached me and my friend Jamal in a Park City restaurant, “it’s the worst [expletive] movie.” What’s alarming is that this woman was apparently surprised that something starring Pauly Shore would be so awful.

Now, perhaps you are fortunate enough not to remember the shameful period in our nation’s history when many of our young people were under the illusion that Pauly Shore was funny. I know I have blocked out most of the details of this era, though certain images of Mr. Shore cavorting with one of the Baldwin brothers in something called “Bio-Dome” have etched themselves into my memory in such a way that even the most thorough scouring will not remove them. My greatest fear is that through the recent resurgence in Carrot-Top’s visibility via the TV commercials in which he harasses strangers into making long-distance phone calls, he, too, will enjoy popularity reminiscent of what Shore had in the early 1990s. Surely you agree our culture cannot endure another terrible reign of unfunny clownery from a talentless comedian; we are still paying the price for letting Gallagher think he was funny, and we stopped encouraging him years ago.

At any rate, Jamal and I were walking along Park City’s Main Street one night during the festival, doing what everyone does during Sundance, which is to look for celebrities. Should you ever find yourself in Park City during the festival, I urge you not to pick your nose in public, because you can be sure that EVERYONE is looking at everyone else’s faces, hoping to recognize someone famous.

My personal track record with locating famous people during Sundance is sadly very sparse. I do not get invited to the same parties the cool people do; any party to which I am invited is probably not going to be very cool, almost by definition. And while many festival-goers are able to spot celebrities on Main Street, my luck runs the other way. On the night in question, I saw Pauly Shore twice, and real celebrities zero times. So you see what I mean.

The first time we saw Pauly, he was flanked by about six stylishly dressed men and women, who we assumed to be his entourage, though what Pauly Shore needs with an entourage is anybody’s guess. At any rate, upon seeing Pauly, I was inexplicably star-struck. Now, I believe I have made clear my dislike for the man’s body of work; if I have not, allow me to do so now: Pauly Shore is among the least-funny, least-talented human beings on the planet, and his films rank among the most unpleasant experiences of my life, and I include the time I cut off my own leg with a chainsaw in that statement.

So why was I giddy at having seen Pauly Shore? I believe it is our natural tendency, at least in America, to be inordinately fascinated with famous people, whether they deserve to be famous or not. The fact that we have seen them on TV or in the movies and are now seeing them in person is deeply, deeply cool, because somehow it proves they exist, that the fantasy of television and film really can come true.

I said nothing to Pauly when we passed him the first time, but two hours later, we stumbled across him again. This time, he was standing still, having his photo taken with two young men who appeared to be fans, though it’s possible they were members of his entourage whose job was to pose as fans for the benefit of passersby.

I saw my chance. I had to say something to Pauly Shore. But what? Honesty clearly would not cut it, for all of my honest feelings would have been hurtful and might have contained large words he would not have understood. So I went with lying. As we passed him, I patted him on the back and said, “Hey, Pauly, I loved your movie,” even though I had not seen it and almost certainly wouldn’t have liked it if I had. He said, “Hey, thanks, buddy,” and gave me a thumbs-up.

The great part is, I don’t think lying to Pauly Shore even counts as a lie, Ten Commandments-wise. I’m sure if Moses had the chance to say something untrue to Pauly Shore, he would carpe the diem, too. You should do the same.

The events contained within this column happened on Jan. 19, 2003, whilst covering the Sundance Film Festival. It was the fourth year I'd covered the festival full-time, but only the first that I really got out and around and socialized. Previously, I had holed up in screening rooms and watched movies all day; this year, I still did that, but then I spent the evenings doin' stuff.

I saw some real celebrities at Sundance, too. Up close and personal, I saw Minnie Driver, Beck, Wilmer Valderrama (from "That '70s Show") and Denis Leary. Celebrities who appeared on stage when I was in the auditorium, thus putting us in the same room at the same time even if they didn't know I was there, included Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter, Steve Zahn, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert Redford and Patricia Clarkson.

The thing about celebrities is: They're all tiny. Seriously, most of them are no more than 5 feet tall.

Inexplicably, I received this angry letter at my Daily Herald e-mail account:

First Esnider how old are you??Did you ever see a shore movie?You look young mid 20ish,you probaly just graduated past year or two right.You know pauly was funny at that time or he would not of had all those chicks.If you think about it i really do not think that you raelly know what you are talking about?What is he famous for, well like Gallagher is being himself.I was attending Arizona State College when he did a comedy act and it sucked but he was real and that is what made him funny.To see him and lie to him your a fool and your not being yourself.Iam surprised that you did not get a pic with him,couse i know you had your camera,just like every other local in this state.Do not get me wrong please,he is not all that funny but he is hollywood,have you ever been there besides field trip,he has money,girls and no house payment.So next time you see a celeb that you do not like don't say a word simple as that.......................

I'm not sure why this person is angry, but next time he needs to ask a parent's permission before using the computer and sending e-mails to grown-ups.