To put myself in Martin Sheen's Apocolypse Now character would be absurd. But I'll tell you this much - as we head up the coast of Great Guana Cay, things are going to get a lot weirder, and already, I can't help but imagine Martin Sheen as Army Captain Benjamin Willard, heading upriver, into the depths of human madness.
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|Owens Valley, California|
When I lived in Western Malibu, sometimes I would see Martin Sheen at the grocery store, or at the post office. One night, it was 3:30 AM, I was buying No-Doz. Sheen was buying orange juice and vodka. To each his own. That was when pictures of Heidi Fleiss and his son were on every tabloid. I wasn't thinking about Apocolypse Now. I was thinking, being a part of Hollywood must really suck bad.
Living among all that wealth as a student on a fixed budget made me aware. I lived in a beachside mansion for two hundred and fifty bucks a month. My low rent in a gated community meant I also had to water the plants. I adored the diverse and laid-back Malibu sensibility. But here, my neighbors were mostly Hollywood insiders.
The alcohol and drug abuse in these ultra-rich gated Malibu communities was intense. At night, I would sit out on my balcony and watch husbands and wives curse at each other, sometimes throwing pots, crescendoing in the maddest and most unnecessary drama I had ever seen.
The world of the Hollywood hangers-on - the people who prey on directors, actors, screenwriters - is surreal. It is a collection of industries that breeds a sort of demanding, overworked, point-your-finger-at-everybody, yell like mad with your fingers on the blackberry mentality. In this world, exaggeration, name-dropping, frantic emotionalism and angry rampages all blend together with vocal self-confidence.
Mike Meldman is the President and CEO of Discovery Land Company, the successful golf development company responsible for the Bakers Bay Club. In 2005, when the Guana Cay controversy erupted, Discovery Land Company was based in San Francisco.
San Francisco's largest newspaper caught wind of their controversial development in the Bahamas, and wrote about it. Several of the world's largest conservation organizations are also based in San Francisco. San Francisco was beginning to make less and less sense for a company like Discovery Land Company, which, in a bad real estate market, needs to focus on the 'ultra-rich'; the big spenders who live in a bubble where, even in sinking economies, money flies like the wind.
Besides, several Hollywood stars were already becoming big fans of Discovery Land Company properties. And big fans mean big bucks. Meldman moved the company to Hollywood. Soon, he was cozying up to George Clooney, and Meldman appeared in his first motion picture, Ocean's 13. He played a golf developer.