What Would Michael Moore Do?

I could never be a gonzo journalist like Michael Moore. I’m conventional and polite and so middle class.

Moore, on the other hand, is outrageous and bizarre and completely Screw the Establishment.

Still, I think his documentaries are hilarious. I’ve seen them all. I love watching him chasing down the rich and mighty and asking them tough questions.

My favorite Moore film is his very first one, “Roger and Me,” in which he brazenly chases down Roger Smith, the chairman of General Motors, who has closed several auto plants in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.

Moore barges in everywhere he thinks he can find Smith — in his private club, in the GM headquarters, in a fancy hotel ballroom — trying to get an interview. Eventually, he does get a short interview, and lots of laughs and outrage in the process.

I thought of that movie today as I did my morning run.

That’s because this wasn’t just any run. I decided I was going to spice up my route today by running past the house of the biggest celebrity in my neck of the woods, Larry Bird, the former Boston Celtics forward and now president of the Indiana Pacers.

Here’s the catch. Larry Bird lives in a gated community.

Correction: He lives in a gated community within another gated community. It’s not far from my house, just a mile or so.

But I wondered: Could I get past all the gates and security guards to see where Bird lives?

It might be like crashing a State Dinner at the White House, or pushing my way into the NORAD command center.

Or maybe not. Perhaps it would be easy — like walking into the employee break room of the CVS pharmacy — someplace you’re not really supposed to be, but not too tough to do if you set your mind to it.

Well, there was only one way to find out. Go check it out.

I didn’t want to interview Bird. I just wanted to see where he lived.

It would be a minor thrill. Bird is a huge celebrity in Indiana. He grew up in a poor, rural Indiana town called French Lick, then became a world-famous player for the Boston Celtics. He was called the Hick from French Lick.

And he was good. He was MVP of the National Basketball Association three times. He scored 21,000 career points. I remember watching him play when I was in college.

Bird, who grew up dirt-poor, became very famous and very wealthy.

So I wanted to see his house.

But where exactly did Larry Bird live? That was the first challenge.

He’s not listed in the phone book. His address is not on WhitePages.com. I’ve heard he lives in the Sycamore Springs gated community, not far from my house.

Luckily, like Michael Moore, I know a thing or two about digging up information. For starters, I turned to Zabasearch.com, a web site that helps track down information on just about anyone, including Larry Bird.

And within two minutes, I had Larry’s address. Two clicks later, I had Google map to his house.

So off I went, with my camera, to see how close I could get to Larry’s house.

There was no particular reason for doing it. I just needed a new running destination, and this would spice up my morning.

I ran for about a mile and a half until I arrived at Sycamore Springs — or at least the wall around it:

And a little closer:

I ran along the wall, looking for an open gate. I wasn’t going to jump the wall. I really didn’t feel like having a guard chase me down or call the cops. But if I could find an open gate, I would waltz right in.

Damn, this one was closed and locked:

I stood there and looked at the gate and thought: WWMMD? (What Would Michael Moore Do?)

Well, he wouldn’t run back home, without getting his story, or his photo. He would keep trying.

So I ran on. A few hundred feet laer, I found another gate.  This one was open. Score!

I didn’t see any “No Trespassing” signs. I didn’t see any guards in the guardhouse. So I trotted through the gate and down the road.

I grant you, it was easier for me to do than Michael Moore. I was an average looking guy, with a small camera. I wasn’t a 300-pound guy with a camera crew.

No one would notice me. So I ran down the road and took a look around.

Funny thing, though. I didn’t see a single person on the sidewalk or on a front porch. This looked like a ghost town.

But it was a pretty place, not a single piece of litter or an untrimmed tree. The houses were all immaculate, and patriotic looking to boot.

In fact, if truth be told, I’ve been in here before. One of my son’s friends lives in the neighborhood, and I take him there to visit every now and then. But the front gate is usually closed, and I have to dial in from the phone box at the guard house when I’m dropping him off.

I turned down one road after another. The houses were of various sizes, some modest, and other gargantuan.

Finally, I found Larry’s street. And there was another gate. This one, too, was wide open.

Again, no guard. No “Keep Out” sign. So in I went.

This was the swanky area. Many of the houses edged up alongside a pond with a big fountain.

The houses were much bigger here. I tried to see which one might be Larry’s.

Was it this one?

No, that address didn’t match.

How about this one? It has a basketball net in the driveway.

No, that address didn’t match either. Besides, Larry’s a rich guy. If he wanted to shoot hoops, he would have a full-sized, indoor court in his basement, not some cheesy net in his driveway.

Well, how about this house? It looks like it belongs to some sports millionaire.

Nope, wrong again. But we’re getting warmer. Larry lives right next door, in this house:

Not a bad-looking place, is it? According to the satellite photo, it has a tennis court and a pool in the backyard.

I couldn’t see Larry anywhere. I thought I might get lucky, and see him mowing his lawn, or getting his newspaper.

If I were Michael Moore, I’d go right up to his front door, press the intercom and start a conversation, like he did with Charlton Heston in “Bowling for Columbine.”

But I didn’t have any big questions for Larry, except maybe, “Hey, why do the Pacers stink so bad these days?” Or maybe, “Don’t you wish LeBron played on your team?” Or “When are you going to draft a forward as good as you were?” Or “Did it hurt to see the Celtics lose game seven of the championship last week?”

If I got the interview, I’d have to call it: “Larry and Me” — in honor of Michael Moore and his best movie, “Roger and Me.”

I took one last picture, and then starting running home. Altogether, I ran 5.6 miles in 50:28.

Hey Larry, next time you’re out for a run, feel free to come to my neighborhood. I don’t have any gates. And there’s a good chance I’ll be out front, mowing the lawn.

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One Response to “What Would Michael Moore Do?”

  1. such a great blog! and anything NBA has my attention! a few of the Lakers live in Torrance I wonder where now??

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