City Beat: 'Terminator,' 'Governator' fans swarm Schwarzenegger
Do not imagine that a much-criticized Arnold Schwarzenegger shuffles along avoiding the spotlight and bowing his head in shame.
The former governor of California travels in a world in which he is the brightest star.
On a book tour for his memoir, "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story," he is surrounded by fans of his action movies, fans of his bodybuilding, fans of his rags-to-riches immigrant story. They are a forgiving crowd who adore him and will wait hours for the chance to tell him so.
Wristbands and standby slots for his Los Angeles book signing at 6 p.m. Friday at the Grove shopping center were snatched up by early Friday morning. How early? A line had already formed before 5 a.m.
Rhett Crosby, 37, left Phoenix Thursday night to get there and waited outside the Barnes & Noble until 1:30 a.m. Friday morning. When security guards told him he had to leave, he went to the shopping center's garage and slept briefly in his car. He was first in line outside the bookstore at 4 a.m.
"You've probably found the No. 1 Arnold fan in the world," he said. It started when he saw a photograph of Schwarzenegger posing when he was 8.
"My father was a bodybuilder too, so we worked out together and did a lot of the Arnold workouts," Crosby said.
Asked if he was bothered by Schwarzenegger's affair with his housekeeper and by the way his hero kept news of the son the two had from his wife, Maria Shriver, Crosby said: "I'm a Christian, and I know that there was only one perfect person that ever walked this Earth and that's Jesus Christ."
It was the same refrain down the long line of autograph seekers that snaked across two floors of the bookstore. Nobody's perfect, people said, and besides, he's done more good than bad.
Schwarzenegger was nearly an hour late for the signing -- which provoked more criticism from the crowd than anything in his life story. Still, when he came out they cheered loudly, "Arnold! Arnold! Arnold!"
On Friday night, City Beat mingled with the crowd at the book signing. Here's what I sent out on Twitter:
ALSO:Parole for Charles Manson follower unacceptable, D.A.'s office says
-- Nita Lelyveld
Photo: A man flexes his muscles for Arnold Schwarzenegger during a signing event for the former California governor's book "Total Recall" at a Barnes & Noble store this week in Los Angeles. Credit Jae C. Hong / Associated Press