Updated: February 7, 2003, 9:50 AM ETBy By Tim Keown, ESPN The Magazine
This address can't be right. 1616? Can't be. There are numbered mail slots inside the locked plate-glass door, and there it is, four black letters -- ZITO. Hard to believe, but 1616 it is. The three-story complex is a couple of blocks off Sunset, in Hollywood, on the side of town where the not-yet screenwriters wait tables to make rent. There's a guy storming the sidewalk with his clumpy, matted hair bouncing behind him, muttering 12-letter epithets while rooting through garbage cans. Languages and smells and sirens and helicopters merge into LA's horizontal cacophony. A guy selling stuff out of 1616's carport says, "Buzzer? No, sorry." Smiling and helpful, he's trying not to laugh at the idea of this place having an intercom. "You looking for the ballplayer, right? Second floor. He's up there. You need him, you go around and call him. No problem. His window on the other side is open." The false, helium laughter of a game show pours out of a downstairs apartment, competing with a rapidly escalating smoker's hack. I call out, "Barry," a little hesitantly at first. No answer. A little louder. "Barry!" Nothing. Finally, louder still, with a bit of what-the-hell mixed in.