Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Black Road - Video Treatment

Last summer, my fascinations with the end of the world, zombies and cowboys led a very smart girl to say, "Why don't you write a movie about cowboys who survive the 2012 zombie apocalypse?"

So I rounded up another very smart girl, Audrey Dilling, and together we wrote a screenplay called The Black Road (I spoke of this on Love Phones). We're finishing up revising it right now and in a couple of weeks I'm going to drive down to LA and see if I can if I can't generate some interest in this script.

One day, when we should have been writing, Audrey and I made this "video treatment" (think of it as a trailer for an unmade movie) for our script. It's funny and low budge, which is a little misleading because the script is designed to be a major theatrical blockbuster that's funny, sad, touching, scary, exciting and finally very glorious.

Know anyone who I should try to take a walk with in LA? Please let me know...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Under the Big Top: Cirque L'Amour

In early 2007, I met pack of musical wanderers and punks who took me for an adventure on the North Portland waterfront.

One of them called himself Nick the Creature. He wound up crashing in my living room that night and said he'd be in touch about the circus he was planning to start once he moved up here.

Of course, I didn't believe him. I hear stuff like that all the time. People love to talk about things and never do them. But not Nick the Creature.

Over the last couple of years I've seen more and more hype and excitement around Batty's Hippodrome, the circus Nick had promised, which came to exist with the help of former Someday Lounge and Rotture booker Noah Mickens.

But just in the last few months, with a new residency at the Bossanova, have Nick and Noah really come into their own. I had the pleasure of meeting with them for a story about their upcoming Cirque L'Amour which appeared in last week's A&E (a week early since dinner reservations require notice).

All the background and proper nouns ate up my word count fast so here are a couple of choice bits I had to cut.

Mickens has been performing since he was six. "If I go to a show," he says, "a lot of what my mind is occupied with is thinking about these people and their lives and rehearsing together and knowing each other." But he explains that with the proliferation of behind the scenes specials on DVDs and TV, "I think that more people in general have clearer ideas about show business."

I can totally identify with that because it's how I watch live music, especially punk shows. But my favorite anecdote that had to go was how Nick and Noah first met. Nick showed up to a variety show Noah was putting on at the someday lounge and asked if he could help. "Everyone wants to help," Noah says, "If it means being the star of your show." So he asked Nick if he could set up some folding chairs. "I did it," says Nick, "and he was kind of amazed." Both agree that in the circus business, it's harder to find someone to do an inglorious task than it is to find someone to walk on stilts and breathe fire. I think this willingness to tackle the nitty gritty is what will make this weekend's show great and why Nick and Noah will go far.

Photo of Kazum at Nick and Noah's first show at the Bossanova last December by Micah Goldstein. For a full list of performers and more info, go to the Bossanova's website.

Note: The Bossanova is not actually a big top and I am told there are no clowns in the show but there is, in fact, a cupid.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In Defense of Rod Blagojevich


The following is an op-ed I sent to the New York Times last week. They chose not to publish it, but I had a lot of fun writing it.

Of course I thought it was completely outrageous when I heard what that now-former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich planned to sell Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. I even sarcastically posted "Blagojevich '12!" on my Facebook page. But, as the politician's demise played out over the following weeks, I actually came to support him.

The first sign that Blagojevich might be more than a simple, two-dimensional corrupt politician came when, despite clamoring from his colleagues, the media and the public, he didn't resign. Not only did he not resign, he went ahead and appointed a new Senator, who was ultimately seated.

That's when Blagojevich won me over. Any other politician would have apologized and politely faded away. But Blagojevich did what no one expected him to do and it paid off. Naturally, I cheered when instead of showing up to his own impeachment trial, he went on talk shows. I saw it as a challenge. "Try and impeach me," he seemed to say.

In those final days in office, he compared himself to Gandhi, King and Mandela, and I certainly wouldn't go that far. Those men are heroes. But Blagojevich, I think, is very much like a classic American anti-hero. He's a cowboy. I see him as a wanted man who, cornered in the saloon, knows he won't get out alive, but resolves to fight it out anyway.

And isn't that what Americans are supposed to do? Aren't we a nation of people who go up against the odds and succeed? Yesterday, as Blagojevich made his last stand, he also made a good point--he's been impeached, but he hasn't even been convicted of a crime yet. And I couldn't help but feel that justice wasn't served, the same way I'd feel if a gunslinger were shot down by a posse before he was brought to a judge. "Remember Blagojevich!" That's what I'll say next time I see a courageous soul fighting an impossible fight.