"Got a pencil?" Jim Brown asks when you call to arrange a visit. "Here's what you do. Call 310-652-7***. Ask for Rockhead Johnson. He has my calendar. You two work out the date."
"I'm sorry," you respond. "What was the first name?"
"Rockhead. Rockhead Johnson."
So you dutifully dial the number and wait for Rockhead to answer, but instead you get a receptionist at Amer-I-Can, brown's public-service organization. Summoning the most businesslike voice that circumstances will allow, you ask, "May I please speak to Rockhead? Rockhead Johnson?" A long and awkward pause follows, after which you're told that Rock is out of the office. Rock will be back in an hour. Can Rock return your call?
"This is Rock," Rock says when he phones back later. "Rock Johnson."
By now the full horror has hit you: You've been had—suckered, as Brown likes to say. The man's name isn't Rockhead at all. Only one person calls him that, and only one person gets away with it. You've just been juked by Jim Brown.
He is still a familiar presence on television, an imposing bust on the small screen: His square head sits on square shoulders, a square hat sits on his square head. At 58 he remains an enormous Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot of a man. His arms are crisscrossed with scars, his fingers veer off at each joint in unexpected directions, remnants of the cartoon-violent NEL of the 1950s and '60s.
But that vision of a massive, muddied Brown begins to evaporate in your head while you drive, high above Sunset Boulevard, on a serpentine street that runs like a stream through the Hollywood Hills, Benzes and BMWs docked bargelike on both curbs. You turn off and plunge down into Jim Brown's driveway, where a young, besuited chauffeur, who has been dispatched by a local television studio, takes it upon himself to try to shoo you and your sorry blue Pontiac from the premises.