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The Jane Austen Book Club

Leave hovel at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. Fearing that van will not fit into the Little Tokyo Mall parking structure, I grab a $6 spot a mile away.

Walking in the sunshine, I build up a nice sweat in my black undertaker suit as I pass various homeless missions and legions of the dirty and deranged. If my advertising doesn’t pick up, I might be joining them.

No surprise I am the first of four panelists to arrive for the Channel 35 public access cable TV show.

Here’s how the pitch went Sept. 5:

Luke,

I produce an award-winning public affairs discussion program called “L.A. Roundtable,” which airs on the city’s cable channel, LA Cityview channel 35.
Each program is an in-depth one-hour discussion with a panel of four knowledgeable folks, guided by moderator Dave Bryan of KCAL9 and KCBS2 in a free-wheeling open discussion format. All of the top pols from Arnold Schwarzenegger on down have been on the program, as well as myriad community folks.

We’re planning on taping a program about the advent of bloggers as journalists, and exactly what that means. Since you are known as one of LA’s top blogging journalists, we hope you’ll take part.

Eric Spillman (yup, the same one) has already agreed to be on the panel, and we’re working on two more players to be announced.

I hope you’ll want to join us.

Sounds good to me.

I’m brought into the make-up room and fussed over by a real live woman. I try not to let it show how much I am enjoying this. I fear that my feminine side is a little too big.

She says my eyes are puffy.

Well, I’ve been listening to my Air Supply and crying over you, crying, crying…

I’m joined by Eric Longabardi (ERSNews.com) and Bill Boyarsky (LAObserved.com and the Jewish Journal, former LA Times city editor).

Every time I say something to Longabardi, he cocks his head, cups his ear, and says, “What?”

Did I mention how good it felt to be touched by a woman?

Longabardi and I are on one side of the table, facing off with Spillman and Boyarsky.

The discussion is spirited and goes for an hour.

I believe this show will change my life. I’ll be able to date a whole different class of women after this.

5 p.m. I stuff my lithium-bloated carcass into a tight pair of blue jeans and drape on the nice white dress-shirt I wear to shul.

I stand in line for about an hour, alternately reading The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court and checking out chicks — a darkie across from me, an older voluptuous brunette just ahead of me…

Go in. Snag a seat in the center of the fifth row from the back.

A young woman scoots by and sits beside me to join her friends.

I never get to see her face but she has a lovely bottom.

Her scent and girlish laughter is intoxicating. She talks to her friends about her editor and the executive editors. Maybe she’s a writer?

She texts some guy on her phone.

Then she reads the novel, “The Jane Austen Book Club.”

We laugh at the same places during the movie.

At the end, I can’t stand the sexual tension any longer. I turn to her in the darkness and say, “Is the book set in Sacramento also?”

“Yes,” she says.

That’s the extent of our story.

A Zocalo girl announces a forthcoming event featuring Bush’s chief speech writer Michael Gerson who’ll talk about the need for heroic conservatism.

There’s loud hissing in the crowd.

Patt Morrison moderates the discussion between the writer-director Robin Swicord and actors Kathy Baker and Hugh Dancy. I find Patt alternately wise and convoluted, funny and predictable. “How did you like your character?” was one of many trite questions.

Patt: “Jane Austen is the 19th Century Oprah.”

Robin: “The conceit of every book club is that the participants are talking about their own lives and just using the books as a pretext.”

Hugh: “I went to Oxford for three years. It’s the world’s worst book group.”

Robin: “They construct meaning by getting together.”

Patt and Robin wax lyrical about our need to set aside time from technology to form community. Well, just join an organized religion.

Only a few people left after the movie but there’s a steady trickle of people flowing out during the discussion.

Once I give up all hope with the sheila, I leave too, powering down Crescent Heights and remembering the good times of four and a half years ago when I took this same trip prior to my first time with my hot young girlfriend.

Why aren’t there more porn movies set around book clubs? Say, the Marquis de Sade book club where members use their learning to heal each other.

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