How is a think tank like a movie studio? It’s all about the parking. Of course, there’s less snobbery with think tanks. Hollywood people are among the most hierarchical characters on the planet, famously consigning writers to Siberia when it comes to a parking place. (“You’re a writer? Parking’s at Ralph’s supermarket.” “But Ralph’s is three miles from Warner Brothers.” “Next time be a director.”) But almost everyone at a think tank is a writer of one sort or other, so it is at least egalitarian. Still, parking can be murderous, especially if it’s on a college campus.
I found that out today because the powers that be at Stanford’s Hoover Institution – in some misguided moment – saw fit to invite me to spend a week at the institute as a media fellow. Getting up here to the Palo Alto campus was a snap. Fifteen minutes from my Hollywood Hills home to Burbank Airport. An hour from Burbank to San Jose. (Well not completely a snap. The flight was more than a little turbulent from the canyon fires near Sunland.) Then an easy half hour in a rental car up to Stanford.
That, as they say in sit-com land, is when the fun began. Never rely on a GPS on a university campus where about seventy-five percent of the roads are blocked, except to pedestrians and bicycles, unless you’re in love with the word “recalculating.” I circumnavigated the Stanford campus approximately six times until a nice campus cop took pity on me and allowed me to triple park while running into the Hoover Institution for help. (At that point I had spent the better part of an hour parking – the Hoover people were very sympathetic.)
But it was certainly worth the effort. I am now ensconced in a Mission-style room in the Stanford Faculty Club with all the creature comforts. But better than that… up here at the Hoover Institution you get to hang out with guys like this and this. Beats Hollywood any day of the week. And the wine isn’t bad either.