Friday, November 14, 2008


Dejected, anxious, bored. The weather's largely crap, and there's nothing more desolate than gray, barren Michigan landscapes. I can see why people flip out here, and if I wasn't already fucked up, I'd probably join them, ripping off my shirt in traffic, throwing rocks at the flying deer overhead. The general social mood ranges from continued liberal giddiness and wide-eyed expectations (tempered somewhat by "realistic" libs, who counsel that a centrist corporate war state is the best we're gonna get, so shut up and let Dr. Barack tend the machine without added stress), to bizarre right wing fears of an emerging Marxist junta. Some of my rightist relatives seem to expect a dictatorship or cultural upheaval or something unbelievably horrid-- exactly what, I'm not quite sure. None of them I know ingest hallucinogens, at least the kind I'm familiar with. Maybe the skies are relentlessly gray there as well.

I have plenty of thoughts about the state's new management, but lack the energy or interest to flesh them out here. I've stopped talking politics with my liberal friends, simply because I've said what I have to say and they don't want to hear anymore. They feel no need to defend their Obama love, impervious to criticism, indifferent to doubt. They Want To Believe, need to maintain whatever state of grace they're in. Fair enough. I know when I'm beaten. I've read Sun Tzu and less militarist Taoists. Only a blind fool would keep charging that Teflon wall, and my eyesight's not quite gone yet.

Amazingly, "Savage Mules" keeps selling, neither blockbuster nor bust. It's the most successful thing I've written, and I've done no serious promotion for it. From the look of things, that's not going to change anytime soon. Verso's publicity department, a dented tin shack on the edge of the East River, has been pretty vacant on the hustling front. Maybe it's their size. Or maybe they feel that since "Mules" is selling without ads and reviews and readings, why waste money and effort on finding a bigger audience? Radical publishers. Blah. You think they'd treat Karl Marx this way?

Just as well. I've returned to the Large Project, the mega-whatever I'm sketching out and writing in bursts. This is gonna be either the strongest, strangest book I've ever assembled, or it's gonna be the Director's Cut of "Heaven's Gate." Too early in principal photography to tell. I recently watched "Hearts of Darkness" for the first time, the documentary about the making of "Apocalypse Now," and I completely relate to Francis Ford Coppola's rising madness as the film overwhelms him. His rants to his wife about how he's making a piece of shit and wants to kill himself resonates with the ranting in my head, only I don't need to be in the jungle to lose my mind. In the end, Coppola found a way, however ragged. "Apocalypse Now Redux" is a masterpiece of sorts, at least to me. If I can approximate the visual energy of that film in this book, it would be a Director's Cut I could happily live with -- with fewer helicopters, of course.

I've developed a dreadful habit that I have no intention of quitting. Yes, you guessed it: I enjoy "Californication," the Showtime series starring David Duchovny, about an asshole novelist, Hank Moody, and his misadventures in decadent LA. While I share much of Jim Wolcott's disgust for the show, unlike my friend, I revel in its shit all the same. I honestly don't know why. The dialogue oftentimes is so gawd awful that it makes me laugh out loud. The plotlines are preposterous. The acting's usually over the top. Yet I find a certain peace when watching "Californication." The only explanation I can cough up is that the concept of a novelist -- not a screenwriter or a producer but a novelist, pushing 50 no less -- getting so much Hollywood pussy is so extreme that I've bought into the fantasy. And unless single women have gotten dumber and less selective, the lines Duchovny's character uses to get laid would probably get you slapped in the real world. But in Hank Moody's world, the ladies fairly cream at every crude one-liner. I don't think I've ever picked up a girl by guessing her clit size. Does that really work these days?

Speaking of dumb and crude, I happened to catch about a half-hour of "Employee of the Month," an alleged comedy starring Dane Cook and Jessica Simpson. Now, as much as I disdain Cook's stand-up, or jump-up or mug-up or whatever the hell he does onstage, he has a decent film presence, and with the right material and director, could actually become an agreeable character actor. Simpson on the other hand is just plain bad. Utterly beyond repair. How she got to be a celebrity I have no fucking clue, but then, I'm clueless about many things. Her attempts at comic timing are pitiful, almost non-existent. It looks like she's trying to wriggle something out of her nose, her eyes expressing confusion. Simpson is so bad that Leonard Pinth-Garnell should introduce her every performance. She's too late to work with Ed Wood, for whom she'd be perfect, but she'd blend in nicely on "Californication."

My dear friend Jim Buck, who also knew Russ well, found this Barq's commercial featuring The Poster Boys. I was hesitant to share it, since you get no real sense of the Boys' unique comedy style. But what the hell. After all, they're just selling root beer. Jim's (not Buck) on the left, Paul's in the middle, and Russ is wearing the shades.