Monthly Archives: December 2001

12/16/01 Beethovens birthday today,

12/16/01

Beethovens birthday today, I don’t know why I always remember that. Probably the ravenous diet of Peanuts cartoons from deep in my formative years, and just as kismet would have it, we watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” tonight. I was struck at the crudeness of the animation, and how the vocal editing was strung together in a way that makes the kids sound like they recorded the entire show without breathing. I was also struck at how beautiful and simple the show is – even the rampant Jesus stuff sounds perfectly logical coming from Linus in his little soliloquy on the stage.

I drove to Shelter Island today, which is a pretty rotten journey. The mess of highways that emerge from the Midtown Tunnel suck to be sure, but the whole idea of a car ferry twice in one day – is basically a dealbreaker. Just like they planned it, I guess, to keep brown people from cavorting on the island. When I got to Dad and Carole’s Kountry Estate, I suddenly realized why they are selling: it has about one-seventieth the charm of their current sprawling compound in Napa, and positively zero cachet. Still, there’s a bunch of their shit in the garage (including that super 1971 collage of my dad’s press releases shellacked onto a giant piece of driftwood, yikes) and I struggled to get the dining room table out.

I recognized it as the “nice” table from our childhood, the one that the guests ate on, as opposed to the beat-up veneer we used for everyday life, which could have easily been a ping-pong table but for a few twists of fate in the journey of that piece of wood. Of course, this “fancy” table in Dads garage is now beat-up and about three decades behind in fashion (parquet top!) but seems very sturdy. Unable to screw the legs off, I had to lash it to the top of the Land Rover and sped off down I-495, no doubt to the rabid jealously of my fellow travelers.

Tonight, I sat up with Tessa, who has been missing her father a lot lately. Blakey died a week after the terrorist attack (and by all accounts was not terribly interested in it) but Tessa has been Josephine Distraction for the better part of three months, and now that the holidays are in full swing, she misses having a dad around for Christmas, even one that is far away. We talked about the future of Asset Pictures, her paralysis in the face of the mountain of mundane tasks awaiting her, and I began to feel that I was healthier than her in at least one respect: I dont let my personal life minutiae get in the way of avoiding it. More specifically, I think I’m good at big projects because a) I am pretty deft at beginning things, even if they’re bad, because I approach them using a certain stream-of-consciousness; and b) I don’t seem to have any “finishing issues.” I’ve heard of people having finishing issues, and frankly, it seems sort of silly to me. The only thing I had trouble finishing was “Ivanhoe.”

12/15/01 Tonight I went to

12/15/01

Tonight I went to the usual Christmas party at the Pinckert girls place on St. Marks – somehow I find myself there every year, regardless of where I actually live in the country. Liz Mann accompanied me, and it was really good to have her there. Under no circumstances could I have waltzed in there solo and felt like staying for more than a nanosecond – with her, at least, one can comment on the silliness afoot without plunging into useless solipsism. And while I didn’t know very many people there to begin with, the second we put our coats on to leave, a bevy of old friends paraded through the door: Celeste, Diane, the nutty Brandy, and even Alex Yong and Wendy. Original Pink House resident Tom Holden was there as well, and in a flash, I realized how long it had been since actually being at a party with the old crowd. Probably not since my own party exactly a year ago tonight.

I was put back into the mood by a website I found today, cobbled together by a guy named Gus who befriended a group of girls in Charlottesville in the early 90s and ended up living in this house they called Big Fun. The place eventually grew into central Virginia’s cultural metaphor, a Gen X hangout/commune that housed a bunch of folks vaguely peripheral to the UVA scene. There is a glossary online at:

http://www.spies.com/~gus/bigfun/

that is deeply analogous to the scene we created in Chapel Hill (albeit without the heroin and Robitussin abuse) and temporarily made me long for the days when I was surrounded those incredible people for so many years. I do pretty well not to romanticize the decade or so I spent in Chapel Hill, and I think I have a pretty healthy understanding of the mess we were in back then. But the swirling scene of the early to mid-90s provided more creative petrol than most people experience in a lifetime. Im sad for the folks that are still stuck there (indeed, the Charlottesville “Big Fun” scene seemed to disintegrate under the corrosive blend of phone bills, gas companies and untrustworthy housemates as well) but we part of something really great, and unless I write a glossary myself, really unsung.

Perhaps thats what the Pink House movie is all about, but I doubt it. Entire swaths of that experience were lost in the translation, and what we have now is something vastly different. Movies don’t capture “scenes” very well, at least the word in its most cliquish, zeitgeist-sense. If you weren’t there, you don’t get it, and a movie won’t give it to you. Any attempt to recreate it will seem “twee” at best and “nauseously self-involved” at worst. I can only hope the movie we made about the Pink House makes people laugh, and any resemblance to the “scene” where I lived will be accidental, tertiary, and a delightful surprise.

Speaking of the Pink House and tertiary accidents, C was at the party tonight. I took Liz up into the sequestered room where C and E were chatting, knowing full well C wanted nothing more than to escape my presence. As usual, I stormed in there, asking her questions, being a simple, swell dude. Coming down the stairs, Liz asked “Was somebody making someone uncomfortable up there?” I said, “It was me, baby, all me.”

and stalagmites

12/2/01

Here I sit in Silver Lake, in the house belonging to Tessa’s best friend Jason, and it’s probably the only place decent enough to sit and write. I’ve spent the better part of a week trying to rescue what is left of my paper trail from the garage of the Beachwood house, and it amounted to a much bigger ordeal than I ever imagined.

Just setting foot in the Beachwood house is a test of one’s impermeability to all things rotten. It is dank, foul, with the deep-set smell of dead dreams. The current residents, a hodge-podge of scarcely-concealed resentments masquerading as quixotic careerists, painted all of the walls the colors least likely to reflect light without actually being black. Then they turned off the boilers because they were sick of paying high gas bills – leaving the place unthinkably dark and bone-chillingly cold, almost an exact replica of what the place might have been like in the late 1870s. Sinks don’t work, outlets do not give forth power, toilets don’t flush. The only thing that works is my own legacy: free cable for the rest of eternity, thanks to some marijuana slipped to the Cablevision guy sometime in 1997.

The garage is its own chamber of horrors; the only thing lacking are stalactites and a ghost railway. I had built a room in part of the garage, erected a wall, even installed an air intake valve, carpeting, and a dehumidification process. For $100 a month, I left my stuff in this part of the garage knowing I’d return to collect it. Approximately three weeks after I did this last July, the house cynically moved all my stuff into a puddle of standing water on the OTHER part of the garage, and rented out the room I’d built. I returned this week to find pretty much everything I owned coated with a millimeter of mold, if not disintegrated completely.

The Theory of Social Impact, championed first by early sociologists at the University of North Carolina, states “the more people involved in any given situation, the less likely any one of them are going to take action.” It was a theory developed out of the hideous rape, beating and murder of Kitty Genovese on a Brooklyn street in 1964 that produced 34 witnesses (with none, of course, taking action). The same theory explains the Beachwood house, a constant miasma of blame-shifting, selfish grubbing and complete lack of a moral center. Being back in that place forced me to reflect upon the hideous cast of characters I lived with – H____, the big-boobed casting assistant who peed in her room’s trashcan; Raquel, who did lines of cocaine on my dining room table and then tried to sue me when I kicked her out; I____. and his girlfriend S____, both of whom disappeared one Thanksgiving owing us over $1000 in rent and bills; the spiritual sinkholes of Su____, T____, and another unnamed couple. Not to mention some of the house’s current residents, who make the homeless men living under the 101 Freeway look full of self-respect.

September 11 has only put the stupefying, moronic sensibility of Los Angeles at even greater odds with New York; after seeing true heroism, comraderie, life-affirmation and community in Manhattan, I’m even more disgusted with this place than before, and I thought that would be impossible. I looked at all the emaciated, collagen-lipped dunces-about-town lining up at Starbucks today and I wanted to ask them how they DARED to even get out of bed this morning. I sat in horror tonight as one of the beautiful twentysomething actors behind us at In N Out Burger tried to explain what a “Freudian slip” was to her dim-bulb compatriots (and even she didn’t know who Freud was).

I used to think that I took a wrong turn somewhere near the beginning of my three years here, that I missed meeting some eventual business contact at a party in October 1997, that I missed out on some special crowd gathering that would have made 1998 bearable without 60mg of Prozac every day. Now I know: that crowd doesn’t exist, that business contact is a figment of bullshit. Everything about my life is better when I – and now MY STUFF – is out of here. Dean Smith used to say about basketball games “you play the first half to get to the second half” and now I know I was here just so I could get out.

-ian