the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: CAA

The Russian Market


I feel a little guilty bringing up some marital issues yesterday with Sophia, but I guess it is not a “true blog” unless you get in trouble with a family member over something. The truth is, none of us are perfect, and in most things, I couldn’t ask for a more supportive woman for a wife or a friend. I haven’t been the best of husbands financially, and Sophia has always stood by me in whatever I do (or haven’t done).

Sophia has been especially encouraging in my writing. A few days ago, I called Sophia and told her that it might be time to start writing something creative BESIDES my blog — something where I can actually make some money.

“That’s great,” she said. “I was waiting for you to say that. What are you going to write?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Why don’t you call your agent and see what’s going on?”

“Are you kidding? I haven’t spoken to him in two years. He probably thinks I moved to Tibet and became a monk or moved to Encino and became an accountant.”

“Eh, he wasn’t good for you anyway. What about that meeting you once had with that young literary agent at CAA [Creative Artists Agency]?”

“That was over a year ago. And we never even talked about the script. All he talked about was HIM. About how he was a big shot with “Young Executives for the Environment” or something like that, and how we have to save the oceans from pollution.”

“Well, put him on your contact list anyway.”

“OK, I’ll sit down on Sunday and start thinking of some idea…”

“Oh, well, before you do that… I volunteered you to drive my mother and her friend Maya to the Russian market on Santa Monica Boulevard.”

This wasn’t too bad of a request. I like going to the Russian market in the Russian-part of West Hollywood. I like seeing all the cans of exotic foods and the different types of cheeses. Fruits and vegetables are usually half the price of the regular supermarket, although they frequently look like the “rejects.”

Neither Fanya (Sophia’s mother) or Maya can speak much English, so it is always an adventure going out with them alone. My Russian vocabulary consists of “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” and “this is tasty,” but the women get such a kick out of hearing me pronounce these incorrectly, that it is very easy to make them laugh.

The trip from their apartment building to the market usually takes ten minutes, but Sunday was different. Melrose Avenue was blocked off because of the annual AIDS walk. It took me forty-five minutes to get to our destination. Maya, a flamboyant woman, was sitting next to me in the passenger seat, chewing my ear off in Russian. I have a feeling she was once a real beauty back in Moscow, because she loves attention. She always dresses in flashy, zebra-striped outfits that are a size too small for her body. Even though it was a beautiful day on Sunday, she wore a small mink stole to protect her from the non-existent “Fall breeze.”

We finally made it to the Odessa Market. Fanya bought meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Maya bought vodka and a carton of Marlboros.

On the way home, I tried to take a shortcut, which was a terrible idea, and we got trapped in the middle of the AIDS walk. A police officer was blocking traffic, allowing the walkers to pass by. We were stuck there for what seemed like ten minutes, and I had a helluva time trying to explain to Maya what a AIDS march is all about.

The walkers were segmented into groups, each being from a different sponsoring company, and the first walker of each group carried a little sign signifying what company they worked for, much like they do with the national flags in the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.

As we waited in the car — I saw the sign of CAA talent agency pass in front of me, and a huge contingent of employees following behind. I’m not sure — maybe it is because Maya looked so flamboyant — but it seemed as if every member of this group was looking directly at us as they passed by.

One walker even looked familiar.

Yes, it was that agent that I met with — the crazy one into environmentalist causes! The one I was just talking about with Sophia a few days earlier! The one who I was thinking of contacting and jumpstarting my career!

I smiled at him, but the look he returned was not a friendly one. It was more of a glare… almost of disgust.  Uh-oh.  Suddenly I realized why — I was there in Sophia’s gas-guzzling SUV rather than participating in the AIDS walk, while sitting next to a woman wearing a piece of FUR around her neck and holding a carton of CIGARETTES on her lap?

Why, why, why DIDN’T I take the Prius instead?!

When I got home, I crossed CAA off my contact list.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: The Information Superhighway of Broken Dreams

A Message From Our CEO


My name is Roger Hedgegood, CEO and President of ToughBoy Toys. 

Now that the popular Lonelygirl15 on YouTube, an inspiration to countless teenagers across America, has been outed as a fake, a mere marketing gimmick developed by filmmakers repped by CAA — I think it is time to come clean as well.   

As part of a promotion for our upcoming Christmas toy for boys ages 10-14, Fighting Ninja with Talking Penis, our marketing department developed a blog centered around a self-named “Citizen of the Month.”  Using the names of my two pet gerbils, Neil and Sophia, my marketing department, under the creative guidance of V.P. Marketing, Elaine Lansky-Kramer, developed this entertaining and poignant blog hoping to create a buzz about our new toys. 

I know many of you have grown to admire “Neilochka” and “Sofotchka.”   I hope you will continue to enjoy this exciting interactive storytelling experience.  Even thought they are not “real” in the traditional sense, you shouldn’t stop showing your love and affection.  It is you, the fans of Toughboy Toys, that are the real stars.  And here’s some exciting news – soon there will be “Neilochka and Sofotcha” brand “skinny jeans” coming to a Gap near you, from sizes 0-6. 

A special thanks to Pooja Rajghatta Associates of Bombay for all their assistance with Neil’s “emails” and “phone calls” and the William Morris Agency for supplying us with the actors who played Neil and Sophia on their “visit” to New York and the Berkshires.

Thank you and remember, “Fighting Ninja, Talking Penis!”  — on sale at Walmart stores starting on November 12!


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