Friday, October 21, 2005


I ran into a very old friend this morning on my way to the j-o-b. I saw him several weeks ago at the J&M cafe - a spot where many of my old loves and cronies tend to brunch it seems. He in his Range Rover looking over the $900 pickup I was driving today. He passed me his card - something to do with wine. He apologized for not having called - Busy, he said, while his eyes darted over the truck.

In high school I palled around with both the high and the low. The stoners, the merit scholars, the Deadheads, the Punks - I was a populist. I was interested in all of them and I preferred doing drugs and drinking to being in class. So while those bound for the Ivies, Cal and Stanford were in classes I was often getting high with the rabble. One morning I recieved an invitation to take bong hits in the new car of a knucklehead. With us was a merit scholar with a penchant for Leary and The Dead. There were quite a few kids that seemed able to mix drugs and scholarship - it was an either/or thing for me. So these three unlikely chums - the knucklehead jock, the hippie genius and the populist soc - went off to smoke pot in the knucklehead's new Firebird. He asked what we thought of the new car. I laughed - I drove a VW Rabbit and was strictly into Euro cars at the time. (Probably why my friend this morning couldn't get over seeing me in the old F-150) The hippie proclaimed, An automobile is simply an extension of one's over-inflated ego. Totally dude, replied the jock.

I like cars and I stay pretty busy. I fall prey to seeing cars as status symbols. It's weak, I know - I'm trying to break the chains. I bought a mini-van and a $900 pickup in the last year for chrissakes.
But being busy as a status symbol, or even as an excuse, is silly. I abhor people telling me that they're too busy. If it were a pissing match, I might certainly win. But I'm not talking about that. I thought I would leave that I'm busy crap behind in NY. But it's here in little old Portland as well.

So next time you hear yourself claim to be busy, stop for a sec and see if it's true. If it is, ask yourself if what is keeping you busy is that important. If it isn't, dump it and look at the sky for a few minutes or really listen to a friend.
It's so much better than BUSY.
And if you are busy, try expressing it in a different way, especially to those you love.
Sorry for the soapbox if you came to hear about the pursuit of filmmaking mastery -- I'm in a reconstrucion of my psyche phase.

What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

p.s. It's been a hell of a week - holding down ye olde grippe shoppe, moving house, teaching, producing Nick's film, etc. I didn't have time to read books, write or contact old friends, but I found some time for my family and friends, I watched some baseball and I squeezed in a little time each day for the development of my inner life.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

9 - 5

For the past several years I've avoided a day job for the purpose of devoting time to filmmaking. There were periods during which I enjoyed substantial income from freelance work and other endeavors, but I've consistently been the type of grandiose fool that presumes the highest weeks' income to be the average. I never dealt in seven figures, but I was hanging in the sixes and I completely understand how millionaires go bankrupt. I have avoided bankruptcy, but I am penniless.
While the wine flowed and the roses bloomed I invented a path for myself that was a shotgun approach to building a career as a filmmaker. I was all over the place. I thought directing commercials translated into features. i thought writing prose was no different than writing for the screen and the screen no different than for the stage. I thought directing actors and coaching actors was the same thing. In my best estimate I would say I spent a third of the time inventing and reinventing the path, a second third of the time agonizing about things not happening fast enough and comparing myself to others and the final third of the time was divided between creating and shameless self-promotion.
I'm mentoring someone presently that insists on making the same mistakes. Often I let myself wallow in the pity that no one showed me the way. My experience with this apprentice teaches me that perhaps I neither sought out the input nor listened to it when I heard it.
There's an old refrain that none of us likes to hear - Don't quit your day job. I never had one to quit until now. Funny that. I thought that once I got to this place - optioned screenplay, packaging deal - it would be all aboard the gravy train. It's only getting more difficult.
The 9-5 is helping.
So, based on experience, I would echo that old refrain. Until the contracts are signed and the check is on your hand, don't quit your day job. And if you don't have one, think about getting one.
I want to be cautious here so as to not project my woes onto unsuspecting and perhaps undeserving others. First of all, I want it both ways. To be an artist and to live in luxury. I put the cart before the horse over and over again. I throw money at things and plan later. I seek the easier, softer way of doing things. Worst of all, I've done a lot of work for the purpose of seeking recognition.
Currently I make less in a month than I once did in a week or even a day. Yet I can pay my bills. And I know what it takes to conceive, manage and complete a film. It's far more simple and far more difficult than I ever imagined.
Having a day job eliminates the need to expend energy plotting and scheming the way that I did while I was looking for the quick score. I don't have any extra money to throw at half-baked projects, so I have to have a plan. Since I don't have time to do it all myself I have to hire a producer to manage the project, something I should have done from day one. As for the recognition seeking, I know that if I do my best work and put it out there, it will be recognized or it won't. That part is really out of my hands.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


August Wilson died at 60.
That pisses me off and makes me sad.
And, as when anyone dies under the age of 70, it scares the bejesus out of me.

I love Fences and Two Trains Running.
He was a tireless writer and a great contributer to the American Theater.
May the man rest in peace.


The Master Says 003

One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking. I have only touched it, just touched it.
-- Dorothea Lange

The Master Says 002

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.
-- Albert Einstein

Saturday, October 01, 2005


The origin of the term refers to the separation and isolation from society of the hermit or monk.
Indeed, wabi is literally poverty, but it came to refer not to the absence of material possessions but to the non-dependence upon material possessions. The material world is that which is interpreted and conceived of by the intellect (largely ego in my opinion). The intellect serves mainly to abstract information or to interpret information that has already been abstracted. Wabi is a divestment of the material that surpasses material wealth. Wabi is simplicity that has shaken off the material in order to relate directly with nature and reality. This absence of dependence also frees itself from indulgence, ornateness, and pomposity. Wabi is quiet contentment with simple things.
Nothing lasts. Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect.
All of the beauty and knowing in life is not "out there" to be discovered, but instead is right here in this moment - right before our eyes. In the book Wabi Sabi Simple, Richard Powell shares that “wabi sabi is a way of life that appreciates and accepts complexity while at the same time values simplicity.”
Powell concludes, "To accept these realities is to accept contentment as the maturation of happiness, and to acknowledge that clarity and grace can be found in unvarnished existence."
This all reeks of Pragmatism. Cassavetes was a big fan of William James and Pragmatism. The only problem with studying philosophy is its innate dependence on abstraction and intellect. Great for the Ivory Tower, not so for the stage.
So give me a stage where this bull here can rage …

Also looked at a lot of Dorothea Lange photographs today. So beautiful. Talk about being devoid of material. Nobody got no shoes!

A river dertchee,