A Day In The Life – March 2005

This morning I awoke at 4:30am, because I have to be in Burbank on vigil at 9am and I want to work out first. Ian gets up also as his triathlon, Strawberry Fields, is this weekend and he has a lot of work to do as co-director. Chiefly, the southern California rainstorms have made the ocean dirty and he is having the water tested so that the athletes can do the swim without worrying about getting sick. If the bacteria levels are too high, the TRIathlon will have to become a DUathlon, with just cycling and running. I admire Ian how well he handles all this stress. I couldn’t do it.

I go to the gym and ride the stationery bike for an hour and a half. My right knee, recovering from surgery to repair the cartilage in November, is getting stronger by the day. I read the LA Times and go over my Spanish while I am on the bike. I am in Spanish class again, with my friend (who is also my fantastic publicist) Jerry, and I get a lot of my studying done at the gym! I have been riding for so many years, I can get my heart rate up high and still read. Perfect multitasking: exercising my body AND my brain.

I have had to get up early because I am part of a 22 day, 24 hour vigil at the GM site where the last 70 or so EV1’s are being held before being sent to the crusher. I leased an EV1 for 7 years, until GM stopped their electric vehicle program, took back all their cars, and sued the state of California to roll back its clean air mandates. The EV1 was the most magnificent car ever, and, most importantly, it was 95% cleaner than a gasoline car. Unfortunately, since they were only leased, never sold, so I didn’t have any control when GM decided not to make them available anymore, and I purchased one of the last available Toyota RAV4 electric car (GM, Toyota, Honda, Ford and Chevy all produced electric vehicles in the late 90’s to comply with California’s clean air standards, but because those have been so weakened, every one of those companies have pulled their ev’s off the market) .

It is bad enough that electric cars are no longer available, but to add insult to injury, GM is CRUSHING all their perfectly functioning EV1’s. Over 800 have been crushed, and the last of these unique, technologically advanced cars are sitting in a lot in Burbank, being removed truckload by truckload to Arizona to their death. Until 22 days ago, when an intrepid band of electric car drivers and supporters decided to launch a protest. At least one of us has been on watch at the site 24 hours a day. We take 4 hour shifts. In the last 3 weeks, only one truckload has gone out, carrying about 6 cars to the crusher.

We have raised 1.9 million dollars to purchase the remaining cars for $25,000 each, and absolving GM of any liability or responsibility for the cars. Our offer has been ignored by GM.

What is really galling is that $13,000 of taxpayer money went into each EV1, and now GM is crushing them. Does GM really have a right to do that with something we all invested in?

My watch is from 9am-1pm today. Usually I would take the early morning 5am – 9am slot to avoid traffic, but this week I am coming in later and the traffic is pretty light going towards Burbank. I take over from Al, who reports that all has been quiet. It is cold and I have a jacket on and a blanket around me, but I am not complaining, as the first 2 weeks we had to endure the torrential rains! In a couple hours the sun will be out and I will be sweating in my tshirt – that is March in Los Angeles for you! I try to balance my checkbook and make some business calls, but during my watch a reporter from the Washington Post comes by, as well as several passersby who are curious about all the signs and who are all supportive of our cause, so I get nothing of the sort done. And several people come back who have visited before – when you are a presence for over 3 weeks, you get to know the joggers, the dogwalkers, the neighbors. At 1pm, Chelsea is there to relieve me, and Al is back too. Dency, a stage manager for the Academy Awards and the Carol Burnett Show among others, whom I met when I was a guest on the Wayne Brady Show which he was stage managing, is a RAV4 EV driver and he is on-site too to help out. This is why we have been able to pull together folks for over 130 consecutive four hour shifts these last 3 weeks: we are all very passionate in our belief that the EV1 must not be just sent to the crusher. The cleanest car in the world! The most innovative car in 80 years!

I come home and have some phone calls to make to my manager, Daniel. I have just signed to do a movie, Lover’s Revenge, in Ottawa in mid April, and am trying to juggle another offer that shoots in Montreal in May. Thank goodness Daniel is a master juggler, and I have confidence he can work it out.

Tonight I am going to dinner in Hollywood with my old and wonderful friends, Brien and Kate. We have so much history together – I met Kate when she was a caterer on American Flyers in 1984 and Brien a year later in Young Artists United – that we always laugh a lot and stay out way too late. Which I cannot do tonight as I have another shift at the GM site tomorrow morning…


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