For the sake of preserving current feelings for posterity, I thought I’d jot down some words on the subject of the SmodCastle closing.
Good. I hate it. And all of you…
Whoah, right? So not what you were expecting. Thought I’d be all gracious and shit. Maybe even get sentimental. Well, you’re right. I will. I just like to keep you on your toes. It makes it much easier to sweep you off your feet.
Yes… I just made that up. I know… No, I know!
Anywho. For realsies. SmodCastle. Closing. My Thoughts… Go.
One year and six days ago I was living in L.A, having returned from a stint as a P.A on Cop Out some months earlier. Not gonna lie. I wasn’t doing much of anything in the months following my return to California. A lot of “napping with my dog” (which is just me napping, and my dog doing whatever he does… I like to assume it’s napping but he could very well be trading stock, dancing… I don’t know. I don’t like to judge). I was of course, still doing Bagged & Boarded each week, skyped with the mouth from the south, Jesse Rivers. And, I suppose I was making a lot of plans, but that’s sort of my m.o. I am a grand schemer but a unrealistic actualizer. To be honest, I don’t really remember what day to day life was like a year ago, or even a day before all this SmodCastle business started. That is how transformative and wholly defining this last year and the entire SmodCastle experience has been for me.
And, it all started with a single tweet.
And like that, my life changed forever.
Now I’m not typically a very “asap” type of guy. If I have a good idea, I hope and trust it will remain good when I finally trudge around to getting to it. Yet,-… This was different. I spent a good portion of my formative years hanging around improv theaters and comedy shows (specifically the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City, which without I’d be an accountant or something) and this was something I knew. Rather then jump into it and start my hyperbole machine as normal, I spent the next few hours SCOURING the internet for EVERY SINGLE theater/performance space/loft space in the Los Angeles area. I compiled a list. I color coded it. I inserted pictures and hyperlinks. It was wonderful for my OCD. This is about midnight now, on that same night.
In the morning I woke up early forgoing my usual holistic ritual of bong hits and not waking up and reached out to Kevin. I sent over my list of theaters, and hoped for the best.
This is paraphrasing colored by a magical year, so forgive me but I recall the conversation ended something like-
Kevin: Get on it. Call these people. Make it happen.
Telling me twice was far from needed.
I spent the next few hours calling every theater on that list, and basically pitching them on this yet to be named Smod/Pod Theater concept. Some were hesitant, some enthusiastic, most out of business. Somewhere around halfway down my list, I called The Complex group of theaters in Hollywood and spoke to a gentleman named Matt C. (an omen?). Not only was he receptive to the idea, but he had time that very afternoon to show Kevin and myself the space. I reported back to Messr. Smith, and that afternoon we rolled down to what would soon become the home of the worlds first podcasting theater.
And baby, was it a fixer upper
However, the obvious charm and potential read through the decades of dirt and bad taste, and like that- a deal was struck. The castle was ours. With the quick help and wit of @Geehak we also had a name… The SmodCastle. And the world rejoiced.
The next few months were spent in the trenches, cleaning and gutting the joint. Hanging art. Painting, and rigging, and hammering, and bleeding and oh so much physical labor. But, it was fun. And it helped the Castle come along a bit further. Twas like watching your ugly kid learn to walk… and get better looking. And I had some amazing beauticians to help me.
There would be NO SmodCastle if it weren’t for the invaluable help of a selected team of elite professionals. Aka, my good friends. When Kevin gave the renovation go-ahead, there were instant no brainers on who could join the team. Jeremy Graham brought the lighting know-how and the fearless ladder skills. Also, he aint afraid of a little electricity. Derick Armijo (who we’ll discuss a bit more later) and his pal Ryan Kain came in like champs and worked an insane amount of days/hours of no pay rather than the satisfaction of a job well done and the dream of creating the world’s first podcasting theater. Eliso was our heavy-duty cleaner and did a fantastic job few others would have dared approach. We had the pro help of Laura, and Chris and Jason- who hung the curtain and art, and built the table and front door. Brendoman came in on a few key occasions to lend a helping hand as well. But first and foremost, is the amazing and incredibly generous Melissa St. Hilaire, who was very much my every day partner in crime on the SmodCastle pre-production process. She soldiered it out, 10 plus hours a day, six days a week for about eight weeks with me, and only she truly knows where the bodies are buried. When you hear us joke about building that place by hand ,it really isn’t too much an exaggeration and without the incredible people mentioned above, it just would not have happened.
Also… Mewes built some shit.
So, with two monts
Was transformed into this,
And other assorted miracles like that.
With a completed interior and a new sign hung on Santa Monica Blvd, the SmodCastle doors were kicked open in a grand fashion on Prima Nocta, which will go down as one of the best nights of my life, and also the night I learned to tone it down to avoid heart attacks (Hyper was an understatement). This empty space, (or rather dirt filled) that we entered for the first time a few short months before, had been magically transformed into a living, breathing, thing; full of energy, people, laughter. It was insanely fulfilling. And from that night, it remained fulfilling to the very end. To provide laughter to cats is my own goal in life, and to have a hub for that? You could feel the positive energy in the room. I know there are more “noble” pursuits in life, but if we somehow provided you with a worthwhile time, I feel very accomplished about this entire endeavor.
This was my first real “job” though I have been working since the age of 14. Finally, I knew what It meant to be proud and love what you do for a living. I had a reason to wake up in the morning, a reason to be productive and real life positive reinforcement for this work well done. Full seats, happy crowds, great podcasts. Life quickly had purpose and I found myself at the SmodCastle almost 7 days a week, if not for a real reason than just looking for some excuse to be there… Because there, was where it was all happening. Nothing made me happier then to see an excited line queued up on Santa Monica, chatting about the night’s potential greatness. And as the theater got bigger, and the crowds came quicker I knew that the small 44 seater was not long for this world. I equate it with the Beatles at the Cavern Club. You just HAD to know they were destined for more than that. And yet it was never bittersweet, because above all- we were the SMOD Castle. SMOD, key word. This wasn’t about the theater, but rather the people who made it. So when it became apparent that the demand had just grown too large for our small space to accommodate, the writing was on the black box so to speak.
And yet, the good times rolled on.
In one year, I have met so many heroes of mine; made so many new friends and had so many once in a lifetime memories created in that tiny little theatre, on a shady block in the “Bad part” of town. On a personal level,.. I got to perform again. Doing Bagged & Boarded live this past year (longest run SModCastle show, kids) has been a thrill and a dream I never knew I could achieve. Watching my friend Brendo grow as a performer. Getting to chat with the people who inspired me to be the weirdo I am today… and foremost, making strangers laugh; has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, one I doubt can be rivaled and I want to thank anyone and everyone who had anything to do with it.
I mean… folks. In one year… On one stage… I got to talk to
And that doesn’t begin to skim the surface of all the amazing guests that came through the doors in a year. So that rocked… And on a personal highlight– I got to do a show with my dad, in front of a live audience. That’s something I’ll never forget.
Hell, I met my girlfriend at this theater!!! What? I didn’t? What the shit ladies….? I was there….
The day has come where the drawbridge is almost shut and as the puck shifts up the block a bit, I want to take the time to individually thank the people who made the theater what it was.
Jeremy, Melissa, Ryan- you already got your shoutout. Greedy Bastards.
Ming Chen- For all the last minute, late night phone calls about poster images. For your tireless work on that damn ticket website. For your love of bizarre sodas.
Ken Plume – For your patience, your grammar lessons and your audio help. Remember, Bagged & Boarded wouldn’t exist without you… so it’s all your fault.
Megels- I know you wont read this, as you are afraid of the internet. But… you make it easy. Go team Smod. (Strong Island, what!)
Carol- Another who wont read this but another with infinite patience, kindness and inspiration. Class act.
mc chris- Not only did I get to know one of my all-time favorite musicians this year, but I got to know that he is an awesome dude. And… I got a song out of it. Way too kind a guy.
Amy Phister- Through it all, your positive attitude and willingness to throw down for the cause made day to day life that much better. Thank you.
Prima Nocta Cats- Bry, Walt, Quinn, Katie- Thanks for lending your time/talent to be there for the birth of a dream. Good peoples, each and every one.
Tom Green- It’s been a pleasure to get to know one of my early comedy idols and see him really develop his craft live with some awesomely talented guests.
Paul Hipp- Is a sick sick man… and a hilarious and talented one as well. Thanks for the private shows, music history lessons. You and Zig Zag are priceless.
Ralph Garman- The one person I didn’t know before, and someone I’m proud to say I know today. A hilarious gentleman who has been nothing but the epitome of class/generosity.
Scott Mosier- I dont like to admit weakness, but your intellect/wit is scary to me sir. Thanks for giving your name and all those great book recommendations.
Jay Mewes- He built some shit and one time he got me pizza. Nang. Im proud to call you a friend, sir and it’s been a blast getting to call you a “co-worker”. Street Fighter Noise.
Malcolm Ingram- Oh, Malx. You were truly one of the boys sir, and Ill forever cherish the time we all spent hanging and shooting the shit. Also- Blow Hard made me chortle.
Also Rans- Ryan and everyone at Golden Apple, Jensen, Matt Cruz, Jesse and Cathy Meza, Ross and Kim, All the SModSquadders, Destinee, Sean and Rod, Josh and Chelsea, The Gates Bros, Josh (Old School), Kelly, Ken Horton, Zak Knutson, Joey Figueroa, The entire Black Box crew, Jordan Mewes, The entire Smith/Schwalbach family and last but not least; my family- and to all I’m forgetting -You know what you mean to me. And if you dont… Take off your pants and I’ll show you.
And to EVERYONE who ever graced/performed on our stage- Yeah… Can’t ever thank you enough. You will receive your sacrifices at the next harvest.
Also, if I forgot you- I’ll edit this and no one will be the wiser, will they?
Throughout the entire year run of the SmodCastle, besides myself, there have been two people who have been there almost 90 percent of the time, pledging their weekends and energy to help further the smod dream along. I knew they were good dudes before this, but after this past year I have come to appreciate just how loyal and hardworking they really are. And funny. Derick Armijo and Brendan Creecy. The SmodPloyees. I could not have done this without you, nor would I have wanted to. For all the chats, laughs, meals, last minute talk downs- It’s been not only a pleasure working alongside you but watching you both grow into hilarious podcasters in your own right (check out Pop Sickles now, if you haven’t already). I’m a dick. We all know this. Not many people would have hung along for the ride. It means the world to me that you two dudes came along for the journey with me, and I wish you nothing but bigger and better in the future (which I’m positive is coming your way). Plus… you make a cute couple.
I feel like I’ve done this many times but many times will never suffice. To Kevin Smith…. For life. And I know that sounds silly, but I really cant imagine what my existence would be like if you hadn’t graced it sir. Going from a fan, to a friend, to a business partner- you have never been anything but welcoming, and kind and have shown me more encouragement and faith then few people ever have in my life. This is your party sir, I’m just honored to have gotten an invite. I know I’m me… so that’s saying alot, but in the past year I really feel I’ve grown more as a person then I ever have before, and I can only thank you for that. For the opportunities, the friendship- The fact that you saw something in me that others have dismissed or written off. You always go with Hockey analogies, but I’ll go the more traditional route. You gave me wings to fly, dude. And I promise I’ll never touch the ground. People always say don’t meet your idols; I say it matters who your idol is. Mine, wound up being the best possible influence my life needed. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you… I am and forever, gratefully, a proud member of Team Smod.
Without an audience a theater is just seats, and I can’t make blowjob jokes or Patrick Duffy references to seats. To EVERYONE who ever came/supported the SmodCastle… I can’t ever fathom how I would thank you enough. You made this past year beyond fun and gave me something to do with my life and a new sense of pride in it. You rock. Find me for free cookies.
With that said, what now? Pizza, obviously. But besides that…. not much changes surprisingly. All the shows that were birthed at the castle live on bigger and better at The (soon to be) Lovitz PodCast theater, and dare I say, the plan sounds fucking amazing. As as fan of all these people (which I remain and always will be) I can’t think of a more exciting time. Also—– S.I.R anybody? The future is so bright you gotta wear shades with Smod printed on the side. I HIGHLY recommend everyone check out the new network and get down to the Lovitz as soon as humanly possible for some of the funniest show in the world . Also— Booze! (people like Booze)
What does all this mean for me personally? Well, it means I get to take off my business hat (which was heavy and smelled like scotch) and put back on my “performer” bandana (so comfortable- notice how it breathes.) Bagged & Boarded is still very much a proud weekly member of the SmodCast Network and can be heard, as always for free each week at SmodCast and Itunes. Where will the show be recorded? One blog post at a time, kids. But suffice it to say- if you live in Hollywood and wanna see me record the podcast live, you’ll definitely get your chance.
Other then the pod, I got some other really cool, varied projects in the works that I’ll be announcing soon. I cant thank you all enough for your support as to now, and can only beg that you continue to give it in the future. But… it’s gonna be a good/busy summer. *Tease.
It’s been a life changing year, folks; one I’ll never forget.
The puck is moving, and as such, so should we be. Rejoice… or have joy thrust upon you.
“SmodCastle’s” Matt Cohen
- Forever Smod