This will come as a shock to many people, but there aren't too many "celebrities" running around Indianapolis on a day-to-day basis. Routinely you'll see various Pacers or Colts walking around downtown, but the city is laid back enough that it's just not a big deal to see Marvin and Peyton having dinner downtown. That said, there have been two occasions where celebrity encounters in the Circle City have left me both impressed and slightly shaken.
It was a Friday afternoon just before Christmas-time, and I was in the Avid suite doing some last-minute editing on a project. From behind, I heard my boss giving somebody a tour of the company. I turned around just to say hi and wave to whoever was getting the tour, and standing before me was former rejected Circuit City employee and the city of Detroit's man of the year, Ron Artest. I walked over to shake his hand and he walked in the edit room, and proceeded to ask what I was working on. He asked questions like a curious 4-year-old; what was the video about that I was working on? How many video cameras did we have? Where did I get the graphics that were used? When was it going to be on TV? And as I answered each rapid fire question, I kept thinking to myself that this guy could take my head off for no apparent reason at any second.
After his tour, Artest was scheduled to have a meeting with my boss about our company re-doing the website for his record company, and about a documentary that Ron wanted to make about growing up in Queensbridge. Ron told my boss that he had ordered lunch from downstairs, and asked if anybody minded if he ate his lunch during the meeting. After being given the go-ahead, Artest headed downstairs to Hooters, which is located immediately underneath our office. (On a side-note, there is no worse physical feeling in the world than going into work hung over and catching a whiff of overnight frying grease while waiting for the elevator.)
When Artest walked back into the office, he was carrying two buckets. One was empty, and the other was filled with 50 Hooters chicken wings. In the course of a 60-minute meeting, Artest calmly and deliberately downed 50 wings, placing each bone into the empty bucket when he was done with it. I kept wondering how many more he could eat, and he just downed one after another like a machine. It was an impressive display, and when he was finished, you probably could have given him 50 more and he would have tore through them without a problem. The meeting ended and Ron said he was really excited to start working with us. Meanwhile, we all marveled in the overall surrealness of what had just been witnessed.
Unfortunately it was not to be, as the very next day Ron had his final blowup with the Pacers, eventually getting traded for a soft European who plays no defense and sits out of playoff games. For months the Artest story would set the standard of "weird run-in's with celebrities" stories, but it would later be dethroned by one of the legends of the state...
TO BE CONTINUED