Harry Punch had a theory about certain people who got to a level of fame because of inherent talent or sparks then they had to self-actualize without benefit of the fame machine—people like Jonathan Richman, who turned down rock stardom as a young man and was still making great albums yearly near seventy, or Tom Green, who was currently filming his extended road trip through the west with his dog. They were anti-famous. Bill Murray didn’t qualify for this category, being world-famous, nor Jim Carrey, though he came close. Andy Kaufman didn’t live long enough quite, but sure. Harry couldn’t think of any female examples of the principle, maybe Laurie Anderson. The same thing happened when he tried to write a speech on Holy Fools, then he thought of a few female ones, but they’d been abuse victims with hearts made weird by fear, like Miss 45, which showed the hard lot given women by society.
Bill Murray was known to show up unexpectedly in weird places all over this land doing things like washing dishes at a party or guest kicking in a soccer game, forever pursuing his lifelong Zen self-relaxation ambition. Years ago there was a rumor he lived in Denver and Harry thought he saw him taking a piss beside a house he was walking past near 12th and Washington and called, “Hey, Bill!” but whoever it was scampered off into the bushes. There was a period of uncertain length where this character might show up anywhere, having cracked the code of what to do with fame like hardly anyone before him: use that power to go around dispensing koans.
That’s not all there was to it with Murray. He also seemed preternaturally relaxed and confident unlike most mortals. Harry’s friend Turkey Watkins was sitting around in his apartment one night, there was a knock on the door, and it was Bill Murray. “I have a message for you.”
“Sure, come in.” It was really him. Bill Murray. “You want some coffee?”
Turkey got Bill Murray some whiskey. “Go ahead, let’s hear what you’ve got to tell me. What a great comedian. I’ve always liked what you think of the human condition.” Turkey wasn’t sure what to say. Bill Murray seemed totally relaxed as he threw back the shot of whiskey. His face was completely relaxed, free of all tension, made of some smooth material. His whole personality seemed totally relaxed which was part of his powerful strangeness making him seem like a genie or something, and made it possible for him to get away with things.
“Listen, you got your mattress from Mattress Mart,” he said, “There are so many Mattress Marts in every major city, sometimes two in the same strip mall or right across the street from each other.”
“The Mattress Marts,” said Turkey Watkins, digesting all this info. It seemed Bill Murray knew everything about all the cities on earth. What did it mean?
“Mattress Mart. That’s right.” Bill Murray got up and left the room after telling Turkey that. That was the best part. He would show up in another city next and work another tiny miracle, then go film another blockbuster comedy with embedded mysticism. He was having a great time as a Boddhisatva. One film featured him as a modern saint. And there were already a couple of movies about him besides all the ones he starred in. One of these seemed better than the other, but they both had the same basic message.