The Magazine

Hollywood Hybrid

How the stars are reducing their carbon footprint.

May 19, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 34 • By JOE QUEENAN
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The basic thrust of Living Like Ed is that if more people resembled Ed Begley Jr., the world would be a better place. Clad in his shorts, white calf-length socks, plaid shirt, and vegan tennis shoes, an ensemble seen again and again in a 240-page book padded out with numerous photographs, Begley has gotten it into his head that a lot of people not only want to be like Ed, but to look like Ed. This is not necessarily the case. When daydreaming about Hollywood stars we would like to resemble, most of us think more along the lines of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, perhaps even Ryan Phillippe. I personally have little interest in living like Ed, but would love to live like Johnny Depp. And even if I did learn to live like Ed, I'd still rather look like Colin Farrell. I think this sentiment is fairly widespread; I also think that the energy-saving movement will never gain real traction with Middle America until someone writes a book called -Living Like Keanu.

Although the subject is quite serious, and Begley's energy-saving tips radiate a creative zest Leonardo (DaVinci, that is) himself would envy--why fly from Los Angeles to New York when you can drive?--Living Like Ed is dry, repetitive, and claustrophobic. It is also unnerving, for in the course of the narrative we learn things about the author we would rather not know. Most of this information is supplied by his long-suffering wife Rachelle.

For starters, she reports that Begley stands outside the bathroom and times her showers to check how much water she is using. (His two children, who do not appear in the book, presumably fled the house years ago.) Second, he drives across the country when he has business on the East Coast because flying is toxic. Third, the day his wife went into labor with their daughter Hayden, he insisted on driving her to the hospital in his electric car, the same car that had once caught fire on Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

Fourth--and this is the really alarming part--after he finally agreed not to drive his pregnant wife to the hospital in his unreliable electric car, he insisted on driving her in his natural gas flex-fuel car--which just happened to be out of natural gas. So the pair had to take a 10-mile detour all the way out to Glendale to fuel up, even though Ed was worried that his wife was going to "deliver right then and there."

As she recalls:

So he pulled off and went to a gas station, but even then he would not get out of the car and pump the gasoline. So I had to get out of the car--in labor--and pump gasoline.

Rachelle admits that her marriage would probably not have survived "all this craziness" unless Toyota had come out with the Prius, a more obstetrically friendly vehicle. Maybe it would have been better if Toyota had held off a bit longer. Maybe she should have left him at the gas station.

Joe Queenan is the author, most recently, of Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country.