Dennis Hopper’s “The Last Movie”

Like Micheal Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, critics have attacked and mocked the excessive ways of Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie. Rather than focus on the film – the imagery, characterizations and experimental structure – they honed in on the sensational stories of orgies and cocaine consumption because that’s what sells. The truth is, while Hopper’s film may be flawed, it is seminal – directionless, faded and disturbing. Under the tutelage of Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, Hopper constructed an experimental narrative – including a title card flashing missing scene as if we are watching a rush – continually reminding the viewer of what this is – just a film.While it’s not earth-shattering genius, neither was Easy Rider nor even Midnight Cowboy or Apocalypse Now for that matter, but it’s genuine and a far cry from the processed images of today, all seemingly rendered from a rendering of a rendering. Personal and real, The Last Movie itself will be rendered soon enough. “Love is everywhere.”

Waking Through Six Layers

I was naked, of course, and late for class, when I was passed by a running figure, a boy who had died years before, and then another, his friend, someone I thought was still alive. I woke myself up and walked down a steep stone-lined avenue, searching for his friends, and then woke myself up from that. I was in bed and asked my wife for the phone. She gave me a calculator. I woke myself up from that and explained my anxiety to her about whether the other boy, Nick, might be dead. I was moving too slowly and woke myself up again, now exhausted and confused about where I was. The phone was working and the search engine. But I was still asleep and woke myself up again. I waited a long time before finding out. There was no news.

When I’m Writing Right

The thing swells up, tit-tattering, a power almost in my control, the front edge out, a clean, pure thing, like it just might be everything I can know. I follow, sliding rails, clearing gaps, a mad chase into the mountains, a blur until I am still, inside of it, just taking dictation, and then think that, like I actually know. And it is gone.

Ice Friday: Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”

SHYLOCK: What judgement shall I dread, doing no wrong? / You have among you many a purchased slave, / Which like your asses and your dogs and your mules / You sue in abject and slavish parts / Because you bought them. Shall I say to you, / “Let them be free, marry them to your heirs! / Why sweat they under their burdens? Let their beds / Be mades as soft as yours, and their all their palates / Be seasoned with such viands?” You will answer / “The slaves are ours!” So do I answer you: / The pound of flesh which I demand of him / Is dearly bought, ’tis mine and I will have it. / If you deny me, fie upon your law! / There is no force in the decrees of Venice. / I stand for judgement. Answer: shall I have it?

Too Many Spongy Black Fungi

It was the black fungi’s texture more than anything that was intimidating – and the volume – but I like mushrooms and so ate them all while working on a screenplay about taking psilocybes at a Grateful Dead concert and expected to go on a massive involuntary trip. But it wasn’t like that

I just felt wonky and, after reviewing a few more pages, drifted off to my deep-jungle Carlos Castenadian dream-past, escaping savages in dugout canoes only to be cornered, the spears and arrows raining overhead, and then sunk by a polar bear at which point I decided to wake myself up, not wanting to be mauled, roasted or whatever was to come next. I lay in the cold stillness to consider how much we were ahead of that, that I shouldn’t be so concerned with the extra demands at work, just be happy for what I have, even if a tribal chief of the worst order was at the helm of the country, and felt like that on my way to work, until a wave of exhaustion hit me and I wrote this instead.

Overlooked NYC: Frank Campbell Funeral Chapel

What do Fatty Arbuckle, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Irving Berlin, Joan Crawford, Mario Cuomo, Judy Garland, John Lennon, Jackie Kennedy Onasis, Igor Stravinsky, Mae West, The Notorious B.I.G, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ayn Rand all have in common? A funeral service at the Frank Campbell Funeral Chapel on the corner of Madison and 81st Street – just two blocks from Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum. As far as funerals go, this appears to be the last place to be seen.

Ice Friday: Dante’s “Inferno”

Canto XXIII

Silent, alone, sans escort, with one behind/ And one before, as Friars Minor use,/ We journeyed. The present fracas turned my mind To Aesop’s fable of the frog and the mouse:/Now and this moment are not more similar/Than did the tale resemble the newer case,

If one is conscientious to compare/Their ends and their beginning, Then as one thought/ Springs from one before it, this now bore

Another which redoubled my terror: that-/ Having been fooled because of us, with wounds/ And mockery to make them the more irate With anger added to their malice- the fiends/ More fiercely than a dog attacks a hare,/ Would soon come after us.