Here is a place I know. It is easy. I know where I am. I am here. I am afraid of it. I dream of living in this. It isn’t a thing that is anything else. It is the thing, all of itself. And I am here. Lucky me. There is a sound. It is quiet and not. Oh, an abstract thing. No. It is tiny and whole. It is physics. It is a big thing. It is the everything thing. But don’t say that. Too many steps back.
It is that thing in you, that thing you hold too tight, little too much of you that you don’t want to let out, that you might say no to, that you might think that is too much and is everything. And that is the thing, tiny as it might be that is everything. It wakes you and makes you remember.
It was a while back and I was different then. But I wasn’t. You weren’t. We were there. And we remember. And that is the curse. It is love. Or memory.
I sit on the fire hydrant protective pole and think about this intelligence of ours. The buildings are big and I am impressed by that. I watch the people pass, the conversations, always on the phone, that Doppler effect, remarkable, words whole and real with the smiling, angry face, shards fleeting by, almost seizing that, like music, trying to compose those notes, understand that language. Yeah, it seems like hieroglyphics now, walking sideways, feeling so smart and full of it, and then not. Intelligence. My faux mantra. Life is being in it. Intelligence is understanding that. And so then? Then is the word. What is behind the locked door? The memory as a child of something not there. The reason for addiction. What goes on around that corner?
We imbibe. We rock and deride. We dream. What else can do that? And, essence of it, is intelligence in those very things? Irony of ironies, what if that is the only thing, to be wet and erect, and that we only need to stay delighted or angry or just freaking about that. We are the intelligent ones. Who else could dream up the idea of a disco ball, something so pure as that, that has no name nor gender or race. It just spins and plays all the right music.
A Bill Murray character pitches the idea of a long-time hockey fan who comes early to his team’s games to watch warm-ups and befriends the opposing goalie before the Stanley Cup finals by talking about gladiator mentality of the goalie, the defender of the universe. He helps him sort his game sticks as he realizes an opportunity to damage his confidence and so help his team win. He takes him out afterwards to a bar and tries to get him drunk, to no avail. The goalie, Elephant, sneaks into a private club which our hero tries over and over to break in and succeeds at the end, finding friends and family inside, with Elephant. He is admonished by all, but promises that there is a plan, citing winning the lottery as the first point. No one believes him until he locks into a death stare – performed by John Turturro and Elephant – during which there is a back and forth series of accusations which makes everyone tear with laughter.
The agent loves the pitch and commissions it to his go-to – played by Tom Hanks – who sets up his work space into a giant white room like a hockey rink to begin the process. Bill Murray’s character is devastated and sets up his massive musical pitch “I am Elephant” during which a giant King Kong set arises out of the dim with the chant of “I am Elephant” as Murray holds up a placard and high-fives a series of animals – elephants, tigers, hippos, Tony the Tiger, etc. – who come out the King Kong door and then from the opposite way, as the scene devolves into chaos – llamas, sharks, emus parading past. However, the agent is sold on the pitch of the Murray character getting to write, and Tom Hanks bows out gracefully. Murray goes on to write the story in which it is revealed that Elephant the goalie actually is using the fan as part of his routine in the championships, always pretending and manipulating opposing fans to his side. Even with this revelation, they all still love Elephant who lets in the losing goal at the end.
The Sacred Whore is my first novel, the story of a group of prostitutes who kidnap a college basketball team to air their views on the dismal morality in the United States. It has its moments, mostly characters realizing themselves. But more than that, it was the dogged focus of getting those 446 pages written. And then transcribed to 706 pages, typed, double-spaced. And then edited down to 432. And again down to 365. And then adapted into a screenplay. And to have both rejected again and again. A harbinger of what writing would come to be.