Many of us in Walnut Creek have been there – the dreaded flashing lights in our rearview mirror.
We may not know what we’ve done wrong but we know we’ve done something and it’s going to cost us. Matt de Lima has been there so many times that the 33-year-old club manager who claims he got pulled over 30 times in 2010 decided to take action.
Or rather shout “Action!” as the camera rolled.
De Lima simply did what any real 21st century guy would do. He made a parody music video about his four-wheeled run-ins with the law and uploaded it to YouTube.
Called “Used to Have a Car,” the 4:56 minute video stars De Lima himself as a clueless recipient of nonstop tickets from the Walnut Creek Police Department. Finally, with his car towed, De Lima is reduced to bumming rides for himself and a date from his randy grandpa who can’t resist putting moves on De Lima’s girl — who De Lima then loses to another guy, minus hair like De Lima but not minus car.
Walnut Creek viewers will recognize local spots like Tomatina’s on Main Street, the Department of Motor Vehicles on Broadway and Vice Ultra Lounge, a club on Arroyo Way that De Lima used to manage.
“All the tickets I’m holding in my hand are really mine,” said De Lima during a recent interview at a new restaurant and bar he is getting ready to open in downtown Walnut Creek. De Lima’s car actually was impounded and his license suspended due to his many moving violations.
And although De Lima rocks a Chris Daughtry vibe, the tune he croons with his own lyrics as the soundtrack for his nearly five minutes of fame is the sprightly yet mournful 1988 song “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. A consciously ironic choice, according to De Lima.
“I never get tickets on the freeway,” De Lima said. “But here in Walnut Creek I was getting pulled over every day. I got a ticket for doing 31 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone. I got a ticket for an ‘aggressive lane change.’ ”
Most people who know De Lima wouldn’t be surprised that De Lima turned to mass media entertainment as a way to vent his frustration with his traffic ticket pile-up. De Lima started his college years as a theater major, once playing four different roles in one night for a student production of “The Philadelphia Story.” De Lima later changed his major to communications and worked in local radio before finding his true calling in restaurant and club management.
When he was managing Vice, formerly O’Kearny’s, De Lima wondered whether he was being harassed.
“I definitely thought I was being singled out because I was the new guy in town,” De Lima said. “And every time I get pulled over, they give me a breathalyzer test.”
De Lima also says he got lots of violation tickets at his club.
“Seems like I was at the courthouse every day,” he said. “But I’m not giving up and going away. San Ramon is very business friendly. They’d love to have me open up down there. But I love Walnut Creek.”
De Lima also admits to having some love for the Walnut Creek Police Department. “It’s not like the whole WCPD is bad people. It was just two police officers who made my life hard. But that was in July. I haven’t been harassed lately. Maybe I’ve earned some respect now that I’ve been here for a while.”
The Walnut Creek Police Department denies that De Lima was ever harassed. “The Police Department does not single out or harass anyone. We have received no complaints from Mr. De Lima regarding harassment of any kind. We would obviously encourage anyone who wants to complain about such behavior to contact us,” stated Lieutenant Steve Gorski in an email response to a reporter’s questions.
“Officers do not decide who receives a suspended license (a misdemeanor). That decision is made by the Department of Motor Vehicles or a judge. However, if an officer is aware a driver has a suspended or revoked license based on prior contacts with that person, the officer is expected to take enforcement action if they witness that person driving. I cannot speak to the logic of a person knowingly and repeatedly driving on a suspended license in an area frequented by police (Vice Nightclub).”
Some of the 2,241 viewers of the video agree with Lt. Gorski according to the comments section. “... drive thru walnut creek many times... never gotten a ticket.... This guy needs to learn how to f#*%ing drive and what a way to rip off a GOOD song and turn it into a piece of s*&%t” states one.
Others empathize with De Lima. “Great Job. Hella funny. Aint nuthin like turnin a F'd up situation into some fun ,” says one supporter “F*&#k WCPD. That's all that they do. Tickets tickets tickets,” says another.
With the aplomb of any true performer, De Lima takes both his fans and critics in stride. In fact, his sheer enjoyment of writing, directing and acting in the video has inspired him to make more. Relax Walnut Creek, his next one will feature his hometown of San Lorenzo rhapsodized in a Katy Perry song parody. And there will be others. “Every song will be a true story and each one will be funny,” promises De Lima.