Personal time

I haven’t had any, which is why this blog hasn’t been updated in a week. Between seven hour meetings, location and tech scouts, and getting 7 hours of sleep or less each night, there’s hardly any time to write or relax.

Someone who had read my blog and then met me in person said that I hadn’t said anything bad about Michigan yet. There’s really not much to say though. I like it here but I wouldn’t want to live here. We drove through Detroit a couple of days ago. This city is tragically empty – full of enormous gutted buildings, and I’ve never seen so much destruction. Detroit is the post-apocalyptic city of our time. I told a girl last night that I imagine that this is what the cities of the future will look like after everyone has moved away. Not that there aren’t other abandoned cities in the world today, it’s just that there aren’t too many in the United States, at least not on this scale. In a couple of weeks I’ll be going downtown to explore.

I cut my head in the shower a couple of days ago. I think the curtain rod fell on top of me after I tore it out of the wall with my momentum. I bled for almost an hour but it seems to be healing really well.

I can’t believe I’ve been here for two and a half weeks already. We start shooting on Wednesday and there’s tons of work to be done before then.

Speaking of personal work…revision revision revision.

Cross the river

In my dream I cross the river. In the winter, I guess it’s possible to cross the icy stretch, but now there is nothing but sun and open water. I move northeast, through settings characterized by Munro, farms and spaces on the edge.

At the bar, D blows smoke at the people having a birthday party in the center of the room. We try to think of good films and when we do, both of us talk about them for a few seconds.

“I’ve never been into Scorsese,” he says, “but I respect him.”

Outside it has begun to rain, the temperature dropping to the low thirties. We expect snow. He tells me Detroit would be a good place to shoot a zombie film.

“You have to start with The Usual Suspects, because that film was revolutionary.”

“Fincher is a god,” I reply. “Zodiac? A masterpiece of mood.”

I dream of crossing the river. Not by the bridge Eugenides describes, not by the tunnel, not in any imaginable way. Maybe I fly.

Soul Classic

We were the idealized couple and you, you were in awe, enthralled and enraged by our perfection. We had it all, I suppose – the afternoon sex, the guava tree in the kitchen, the art school teaching positions. We didn’t understand or care to know the struggle of those destitute of love. On Mondays I would sleep in while Regina let out the cat and practiced yoga on the balcony. I think she liked to show off for the neighbor across the way, or the itinerants on the corner, and I liked that.

I didn’t care about the novel you were writing, your feat of technical prose. I didn’t care that my mother had cancer and jumped into an oncoming train. There were few things to care about besides money. We all had strange names and attended pretentious literary events where graduate students read balefully miserable poetry on the metaphysics of cardigan sweaters. Or birds, always baleful wild birds in flight. We didn’t know anything but pretended to have read Lolita and The Catcher in the Rye and In Search of Lost Time and some of us had indeed read those masterpieces, not to mention Ulysses. But no one mentioned Ulysses or Bolaño and we sat in the back, rapturously devouring every word, every enjambed line.

When you finally finished the novel, an epistolary romance in the style of Dostoyevsky’s Poor Folk, none of us had any idea of what to do. We thought the canon would take care of you, like the free market. The book didn’t sell well but certain subcultures adopted is as the new anti-machismo, so we were satisfied, though none of us even knew what machismo meant. Some believed in you. Others thought of it as mental masturbation, narcissism, the crypto-mythological bullshit of modern art.

When you slit your wrists, some of us quoted Esenin and Mayakovsky while others preferred to pretend they didn’t know you. Still others alleged they were with you in the final moments.

No one knew where you had come from. You appeared like the parable where Christ rides a horse into the mountains to seek enlightenment. We were the mountains but you found no enlightenment. We assumed you were bitter and moved off, on the way to other readings, other coffee shops, other downtown lofts. You had always sat in the back, taking notes when you should have been socializing and arguing about Proust with the rest of us.

None of it made sense, not the warm water or the sharp blade. You’d been living in the studio then, scraping by on a modicum of respect and tips, writing by night. I didn’t care. I wanted to keep having sex whenever I damn well pleased. One of the boys offered you his couch and there you stayed after the money ran out.

Regina had soul in spite of everything. You told her no one asked you your name. You liked the anonymity. You told her about soul classics. “A soul classic,” you said, “captures the imagination of the lovelorn man or woman desperate for some hope of redemption through romance.” What did that mean? we wondered. We really wondered about that one, about what a man born thirty years after the advent of soul knew about soul classics. What could kids born fifty years after The Beatles performed in New York know about The Beatles? Shit, everyone knew something. The cancer had spread to her stomach and lungs and she couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t always able to breathe.

We tried not to think about it too much. We played soul classics at your funeral, and though there was some disagreement (some thought Joy Division would have been more apropos), everything turned out alright. We were alright. We were alright.

I tried to forget about finding you squared in the tub, the water tinged a surprisingly mellow red. No one asked about us and that’s just as well.

Hey, soul sister

I used to listen to Train a bunch when their first single came out 12 years or so ago. Damn, that was a long time ago. Their new single seems like a step in a more pop-oriented direction, complete with weird references to gangsters and thugs, as if Pat Monahan and the songwriters were paying homage to the newly minted listeners of the late 2000s. He sounds great but if you listen to the lyrics you’ll notice little idiosyncrasies.

Today I spent nine hours doing a script breakdown on Scenechronize, a web solution to production management. It’s a cool website but the learning curve is somewhat steep. I think other people will have some trouble. Seems like I’m the only one updating anything right now, and I’m pretty sure the other ADs won’t be logging on at all. I still prefer the old paper chase.

We start shooting on the 31st and go for six weeks. I’m thinking about stopping in Iowa on the way back or maybe going to NYC or something of the sort. I’d like to meet some friends from Canada. Maybe they can make it out one of these days.

I keep thinking and thinking about J and I can’t stop. All the losses keep adding up.

Detroit

We’ve been here for six days, in a city made up of small, interconnected townships. Driving through the barren plateau plains of Wyoming we saw rivers of snow flow across the road, obscuring the lane markers. Outside, the wind chill sent the temperature to bitter lows. In 36 hours, we covered 2300 miles. I slept in the front, occasionally dreaming but mostly feeling the road beneath us. In Iowa, smoking at rest stops is illegal. We drove on and I woke up as we neared Chicago six hours later.

Michigan has no expression, only forests punctuated by strip malls and adult stores. Pre-production began on Monday. We start shooting on the 31st, working six five-day weeks until May 6th. I should be on the way back to LA by the tenth.

I finally know why “8 Mile” was titled that way. I completely forgot that Eminem was raised in Detroit.

Finished Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned,” and I’m not extremely impressed. It feels very much like a collection about the problems of white men, which begin to grate on the reader after a certain amount of time. The stories begin with the humorous and meander to the more serious until finally, we see trauma and a brief attempt to regain the sense of humor we started with, namely by an account of a bunch of down on their luck Vikings who decide to rape and pillage a neighboring island, and in the process, come upon some rather surprising discoveries.

It’s not that it was badly written. Tower definitely has a way with verbs, but his empathy and connection seem lacking.

Still Haunted

Still haunted by your absence, I enter the city prepared. On campus I forget you. I do not look for you or go to your apartment. I do not even remember you: the unbound knot of your spine, our awkward first trip to the city, photographs of your mouth on my body.

I do not walk the five blocks to see you. I forget about the distance.

In the city, we do not speak of you, your present absence. We forget. We drink wine and compliment each other. I do not dream of you. You do not approach me.

I see no one. All are names and blank faces striding past into the darkness.

I am one of a group which boards the train at the station and miraculously moves as one through the tunnels. We surprise each other upon arrival, for we are unintended.

I board the plane with Proust. Outside, the runway lights imitate a flower or the curvature of your profile, two intersecting lines of brightness reflected into my eyes.

I remember you. I let you go. I let myself go into the darkness of the world, the unending horizon.

Whoa

I didn’t realize it had been nearly a week since I last posted. It’s not that I don’t have time to write, it’s that I’m spending too much time doing other things, so the blog was put on the backburner for a short time. I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow, then leaving for Detroit on Thursday. I will try to write more, but I will be in Detroit for six or seven weeks, so it’s hard to judge how much free time I will have. I guess it depends on whether or not I’ll be working six day weeks and if I will have access to a computer.

Finished 2666 about four days ago. Amazing novel. I’m still processing it. In the meantime, a couple of book recommendations: Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” is a pretty good collection of short stories. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it does keep on making me laugh, so I recommend that you pick it up. Alice Munro’s “Too Much Happiness,” her new short story collection, is exquisite. Or at least the first story, “Dimensions,” is horrifying and heartbreaking and amazing. That’s all I’ve had time to read out of that collection, but if it’s any indication of the quality of the rest of the collection, it will be amazing. Pick up both of those for a marvelous contrast between voices and styles. Literally.