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Justin Timberlake picks me up in his black Porsche 911 convertible, in front of the Chateau Marmont. “Don’t worry,” he says. “We’re not doing the Chateau Marmont celebrity interview. You know, ‘We’re at the Chateau! And Bobby De Niro walked in! And he ordered salad!’ ”
No, he’s taking me to a little joint on Highland Avenue called Ammo that he likes because it’s “cool” and he can go there without getting noticed and we can sit outside and smoke. (Even though Justin doesn’t smoke, you kind of get the feeling he’d like to.)
“Didja eat lunch?” he asks. “Good. Neither did I. Fucking starving.”
He peels out of the Chateau…and almost runs over Mos Def, who is walking up the driveway.
“Yo, bro!” says Justin. “What’s up?”
“I’m mixing a record out here, bro,” says Mos Def.
“I can’t wait to hear it!” says Justin.
“It’s good, it’s good.”
“All right, man.”
“Take care, bro.”
Nice wheels, I tell him, as he accelerates rather abruptly out onto Sunset Boulevard.
“Yeah, well, it’s better than my extra-small penis car.” And that would be…? “My Ferrari,” he says, adding that he also has a Bimmer, which he lent to his parents for the week. Oh, and a Jeep and a Dodge pickup “with a winch” on it. A winch? “Wow, you really are from New York,” says Justin. “A winch is a device that you attach to the front of the, uh, truck, and you can tow people out if they get stuck.”
“I’m into cars. You know, boys and their toys.”
He tears down Sunset, almost clipping another (lesser) vehicle. “You know when I’m an asshole?” he says. “In traffic. I get road rage so badly. I’m on my best behavior today. But I get road rage like you wouldn’t believe!”
After some L.A. parking drama, Justin ﬁnds a spot near Ammo, steps out of the car…and a fan materializes on the sidewalk. (So much for not getting noticed.) “You’re my favorite!” squeals the young woman, who just happens to have Justin’s face on a button on her denim jacket.
“You’re my favorite, too,” says Justin.
The woman practically faints.
We sit at an outdoor table, and Justin orders the turkey meat loaf. Midway through lunch, Ben Stiller walks in, stops to say hi.
“Hey, dude,” Justin says. “How’s the missus?”
“Cool,” says Stiller. “We got, like, the baby. A 10-month-old. Life is good.”
“Awesome, man!” says Justin.
L.A. can be so scintillating.
Now a horn is honking. There’s a fan sitting in a car just off the curb who, having spotted Justin, is beeping and waving frantically, trying to get his attention. Justin waves back. “I feel thankful.” he says. “There are parts of my celebrity that are really cool. Like that. That might have made her day, you know? And by the way, don’t get me wrong—it has nothing to do with me. It’s just like she saw somebody that she saw on television. She knows not one thing about me.”
After the meat loaf, we return to the Porsche, only to ﬁnd that the fan, the one we encountered earlier, is still there. And now she has a camera.
“Hi,” says Justin. “I’ll bet you wanna take a picture with that camera.”
“Ohmygod,” she says. “I’m, like, your biggest fan!” She pauses and frowns. “Even though you guys haven’t put out an album in, like, forever.”
Justin smiles tensely. She is talking about ’NSync, Justin’s erstwhile Boy Band, the one he’d just as soon forget.
“I even got ’NSync on my license plate,” she adds.
(How adorable, I whisper. “Please don’t remind me,” whispers Justin.)
“All right,” he says to the fan. She can take a picture. He lifts her camera out of her trembling paws and hands it to me. “Don’t mess this one up,” he tells me.
“Thank you soooo, soooo much,” she says.
“You’re quite welcome, sweetheart.”
He hops back into his Porsche.
“Okay,” he says. “That’s the part that slightly freaks me out.”