Pitching the Pitch: Black and Fat

Dez: This group of guys have a friend they think is a cat.

Zed: That’s your pitch?

Dez: What do you think?

Zed: These guys are on drugs?

Dez: No.

Zed: It’s a stoner movie.

Dez: No.

Zed: They think their friend is a cat?20150314_165131

Dez: A cat. A fat black cat.

Zed: I don’t get it.

Dez: That’s just what they see. It’s a perception thing.

Zed: The world sees a black guy?

Dez: A fat, black guy.

Dez: Why does he have to be black?

Zed: It’s a comedy.

Dez: Are the other guys black?

Zed: No.

Zed: And these white guys see a fat, black cat? fatblackcatDez: Yes.

Zed: Does he think he’s a cat?

Dez shrugs.

Zed: It would work if they were dogs. Or mice.

Nigel Baines

I couldn’t go in the water. It was too dark. And cold. Newfoundlabrador2010 006I had got the fish hook stuck. I just wanted to forget about it and make everyone walk away. But they wouldn’t.

“You have to go in,” the old woman said.

I kept pulling on the rod, moving it in every direction.

“I’ll go.” Nigel Baines stripped down to his underwear and went in, just like that. I watched his legs kicking up as he went down. It took him all of 15 seconds. He was hailed with warm towels and hugs.

“You can have as many grilled cheese sandwiches as you like! You deserve it.”

I was allowed to come too, but I didn’t. I stayed behind and stared into the dark water, that fearful place, and hated Nigel Baines.

Ice Friday: Joan Didion Confronts Mortality

Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking faces the harrowing absence of death with systematically beautiful language.

On most surface levels I seemed rational. To the average observer I would have appeared to understand that death was irreversible. I had authorized the autopsy. I had arranged for cremation. I had seen the ashes placed in the wall and the marble plate replaced and the service held. I had done it. I had acknowledged that my husband was dead. P1000848I had done this in as public a way as I could conceive.Yet my thinking on this point remained suspiciously fluid. I happened to meet a prominent academic theologian who spoke of ritual itself as a form of faith. My reaction was unexpressed but negative, vehement, excessive even in me.

Later I realized that my immediate thought had been that I did the ritual. I did it all. And it still didn’t bring him back. Bringing him back had been through those months my hidden focus, a magic trick. P1000829By late summer, I was beginning to see this clearly. “Seeing it clearly” did not yet allow me to give away the clothes he would need.

“Paint”: Expunging Ellen’s Thoughts

DAVIS (Reflecting on his father’s death): It’s not how I’m supposed to feel.

ELLEN: My parents like everything I do. It’s exhausting.

DAVIS: There’s nothing. (Pause) I’m just bored and rich. I have nothing in me. He was dead and I didn’t care.

ELLEN: You didn’t get along with him?

DAVIS: Heroin means more to me.the-velvet-undergroundELLEN: Hitting the junk, just like that?

DAVIS (Pause): The song.

ELLEN (Sarcastically): You don’t say?

DAVIS: “All the dead bodies piled up in the mounds.”

ELLEN: Another broken, lost soul.

DAVIS: I remember the first time I took acid. I was in Max’s apartment and he had this metal giraffe, this angular metal thing, a souvenir from a safari or something. (DAVIS holds his hand out in front of him, miming the action) And I’m staring at this stupid thing, waiting for it to get weird, expecting it to start dancing or talk to me. (Pause) And there was nothing. It was just the same thing.

ELLEN: Why are there no cartoon giraffes? I can’t think of one. There’s everything else: bear, lions, kangaroos. But no giraffes.(Pause) They’re so tall. They see things.giraffe

Why I Write: Naked Smiles

I’ve had no success in getting my writing published. I am on my ninth novel now. Yes, nine completed novels and nothing. I’ve written six screenplays, two novellas, too many poems and articles, and this, my 757th blog post. And nothing.Why I Write: Naked SmilesMy publishing success is limited to a momentary sports column, a handful of advertorials for British Columbia Tourism and failed copy for a toilet company. Why I Write: Naked SmilesOnce, I posted a comment about the paparazzi the day after Princess Diana’s death and got a positive reply. Yes, 19 years later, and I still remember that one comment. Why I Write: Naked SmilesMy most successful blog – 1,200 hits – was due solely to the image of Bachelorette hopeful Jade Elizabeth posted along with it.

Over these many  years, I have accumulated hundreds of rejections from literary agents – all kindly phrased – while friends have listened to my writing ruminations with fading patience. Acquaintances are more interested because they don’t know any better.

It’s not that I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m just trying to figure out what I’m doing with all of my time. It’s a dream of something – recognition, immortality, dinner with the president, a night of naked adulation, an admiring smile. Why I Write: Naked SmilesI am well aware of Orwell and Didion’s thoughts and agree that it must be in my nature and that I am my only I, but it doesn’t feel like that very often. Not today anyway. It seems more like I’m being stubborn or, more accurately, a dumb shit. Why I Write: Naked Smiles

Waiting for an Earthquake in the Wrong Place

Everyone had gathered in an old bank vault, not the vault, but an old bank with a vaulted ceiling. The safest place was in the board room but that was full and no one would open the door. I stayed along the wall and looked up at the plaster ceiling, the finery of 19th century workmanship dangling in delicate, broken segment high above. I moved corner to corner, past the huddles of people I did not know and who did not want to know me, and finally down a hallway that led to a narrow staircase and a wooden basement. I knew that it was a bad dream and I had to go down.Syria 179The first door came eerily open and I was afraid. I shut it and jumped away, continuing to the next where I found more cold and dark and decided I must go back to the first and face my fears. There was nothing there. It was empty with a dirt floor room wand a draft. I didn’t question why it was under the bank. It was just there, like the witches and killers and crypts beneath my childhood home. 20140914_112837The first rumbling was clear, like an airliner coming in too low. The next was less so. And that was it. The vaulted bank room was empty by the time I returned.

Overlooked New York: Sacred Dakota Road House

Perhaps you remember the recent controversy regarding a ‘mosque’ being constructed a few blocks from the World Trade Center? Once a coat factory, the site was to be converted to a social center with a Muslim prayer hall. alg-ground-zero-mosque-jpgVarious loons from across the country referred to it as the “Ground Zero mosque,” or the “Victory Mosque.” Newt Gingrich went further: “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.” And so all of this inspired the loons to descend, requiring the property have 24-hour security. Which-Formerly-Housed-A-Burlington-Coat-FactoryThere was a bar next door – The Dakota Roadhouse – cash only and free spicy nuts. Dakota RoadhouseI met a number of intense people there – plenty of frazzled brokers, a guy fresh out of prison, waitresses at the end of 14-hour shifts, a rambunctiously flirtatious couple from Denver – and the televisions, like the music were always too loud, even if there was a free Coors Light with every Yankees home run.

Anyway, that was all torn down. P1000922 P1000926 P1000929It’s a long and winding and sordid tale – told best here – that seemed on its way to becoming a tres chique Muslim Center and Museum. spacemosqueBut that’s history too. Plans now call for a 70-story condominium. 45parkPerhaps the sacred and profane Dakota Roadhouse will find a home atop of this.