END OF SUMMER STORY-THON, Day 13 (more info on Story-Thon here)
Today's suggestion is from Chelsea Hodson: "He totally wants it."
THERE IS NOT ENOUGH ROOM ON THIS CHILI’S COMMENT CARD TO EXPRESS THE FEELINGS I HAVE DEVELOPED IN OUR SHORT TIME AS CUSTOMER AND WAITRESS KATRINA I SPEND 50 WEEKS A YEAR ON THE ROAD AND EVERY TOWN LOOKS THE SAME AND EVERY CHILI’S BUT YOU ARE A HIDDEN TREASURE OF UNIQUENESS AND IF THERE WAS A PART ON THIS CARD THAT SAID “SERVER WAS CHARMING AND VERY BEAUTIFUL” I WOULD CHECK “STRONGLY AGREE” AND IF I HAD THE MONEY I WOULD TAKE YOU AWAY FROM ALL THIS IF THIS IS SOMETHING YOU EVEN WANT TO GET AWAY FROM I KNOW THEY MAKE YOU SMILE BUT YOURS SEEMED GENUINE SO THANK YOU AND PLEASE SPEND THE TIP ON SOMETHING NICE FOR YOURSELF I KNOW THAT’S SOMETHING CREEPY OLD MEN SAY BUT I REALLY MEAN IT AND MY BURGER WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BLEU CHEESE CRUMBLES ON IT AND IT DIDN’T BUT I DIDN’T MIND I’M RUNNING OUT OF ROOM I’M AT THE RAMADA UNTIL TOMORROW EVENING AND MY NAME IS TOM.
END OF SUMMER STORY-THON, Day 12 (more info on Story-Thon here)
Today's suggestion is from Andrea Bichan: "I'll never do that again"
Well, I for one can’t believe it. Our four years here are over. Friends, as I stand here before you, let me just say that I really never thought we’d see the day when we’d leave this high school parking lot.
It seems like only yesterday we were fresh-faced graduates of this high school. It seemed those four short years ago like this parking lot was just a place where we’d go to get in our cars one last time and drive away to futures uncertain. But though the parking lot seemed cold and impersonal, the future was even moreso, and we found ourselves returning to the parking lot again and again. As much as we swore time and time again we were never coming back, that bell for last period every day at two ten would find us back here in the front seats of our tricked-out Hondas or reclining in the beds of our friends’ rusty beater pickups, ready to learn.
Sure, the teachers taught us what they could those afternoons. Mr. Lagdon taught us that he still hates being called “Mr. Fagdon,” and hates it even more when we insist that he “can’t do anything about it ‘cause we don’t go here no more.” But we learned even more from each other. We learned that Dougie heard that Mary Posner is pregnant by Chuck Feigman, no joke. We learned that Alan Pendleton went away to college and turned gay, despite our protestations of “No way!” and “Gross!”, and Gary’s insistence that he knew it all along. We learned from Darryl’s cousin that Taco Bell might be hiring, and then we learned shortly thereafter from Darryl’s sister that they ARE hiring but you gotta do a piss test so fuck it. And most importantly, we learned to appreciate each other. And even more importantly, we learned how to carve a wicked zucchini bong.
And now it all comes down to this: a piece of paper. Four years after we were handed our high school diplomas, we’ve been handed another piece of paper honoring our achievements. But what does it really mean, “Restraining Order?” Sure, it may have our names on it in fancy computer-printed lettering. But does it really describe us? And sure, it may say fancy things like “five hundred feet away from school building at all times or face penalty of arrest and fine.” But can it really sum up the memories and experiences we’ve had here? And sure, we may put it on a job application, because we’re legally required to do so. But the job we’re really qualified for is the job we were doing all along: the job of loafer, burn-out, and cautionary tale.
So be proud, Humboldt High School Parking Lot Class of 2007, or more specifically Class Of September 16th 2007 At 3:32 PM When Ignacio The School Rent-A-Cop Decided To Roll By On His Golf Cart And Be A Real Dick. We might leave behind cigarette butts and beer cans and burrito wrappers, and car-detailing magazines that fell out the passenger door when we opened it to throw out the beer cans and burrito wrappers, but we take away memories that will last a lifetime. Whenever Reggie sells pot to a kid through his dune buggy window, we’ll remember the Humbold High parking lot. Whenever The Noog does peel-outs to scare marching band kids, we’ll think of the Humboldt High parking lot. And whenever Travis shouts “I love you!” at the sophomore Stephanie Allerton and she goes “Fuck you” while she tries to get in her car and he goes “No fuck you, skag,” we’ll think of Humboldt High, which means soon we’ll probably be thinking of Humboldt High a lot in front of Stephanie Allerton’s house, or Stephanie Allerton’s after-school job.
I’m no different than you, fellow graduates of the parking lot. I just happened to be sober enough to write this speech on three bar napkins, and drunk enough to start reading it. This is not goodbye: we will see each other again, at gun-shows and dog-fights, at free summer metal concerts and free summer rap-metal concerts, and in the lobby of STD clinics where we will all simultaneously point at each other and go, “Jessica, right?” And I trust we will all see each other at the ten-year high school parking lot reunion, once the restraining order term is up, and I trust we will all be wearing nice suits and rocking hot wives because we all got rich playing online poker just like we always said we would.
I will leave you with this: You may be wondering, has our time together in the parking lot prepared us to face the real world? If the real world consists entirely of pumping the bass as loud as it can go on the factory stereo in your Accord and debating the “freak potential” of the new crop of freshman girls, then answer is yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
END OF SUMMER STORY-THON, Day 11 (more info on Story-Thon here)
Today's suggestion is from Crystal D: "chess boxing"
Alright, dude, here’s what you need to know about film school.
Do NOT think you can just film the chess playing black dudes in the park. I know it seems like it would make great B-roll for your film that’s set in the park, but everybody thinks that. These dudes are used to it. If you shoot them, they will demand money from you and if you don’t give it to them, they will ruin your movie. Trust me. Sophomore year my friend Akheel was doing his Sight and Sound project and he had a whole close-up of his lead actress he couldn’t use because chess pieces were flying through the shot behind her. Then every now and again a chess-playing dude would cross the frame to go get his chess pieces from where he’d thrown them. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t know how Akheel didn’t notice it at the time. But Akheel is a dude who likes to be up-close-and-personal with his actors, not behind the lens, and you have to respect that.
Do NOT think that just because a Parks Department employee approaches you when you’re shooting in the park that because they’re not a real cop you can just ignore them. The Parks Department employees see people shooting in the park all the time, they know what the deal is. Don’t be fooled if they seem mentally challenged or like a teenager doing community service for petty vandalism: they may be one or both of those things but they know that real cops get paid on movie sets and they’re gonna want a piece of that action. And if they don’t get it, they will fuck your whole deal up. First semester Junior year my friend Benji had to delay his whole Advanced Color Temperature project for a week after his boom operator got taken out by a slow-rolling Parks Department golf cart with no one at the wheel and a brick on the accelerator. Truthfully Benji could’ve just gone ahead with the project since it was actually not supposed to have any sound, but Benji is the kind of guy who might turn in his silent project with surround sound or turn in his Digital Filmmaking Techniques final on an old-fashioned paper zoetrope, and that’s just who Benji is, and you gotta go with it.
Do NOT think you can do pick-up shots of pigeons or squirrels in the park. I know it seems like a great idea for cutaways, but the pigeons and squirrels are used to humans, used to human film productions, and somehow conscious of human copyright law. They know that you need a signed release in order to use their image in their film, and though they can’t express that desire through words, or wield a pen at all to sign a release, just try getting around it. My buddy Charlotte’s thesis film “thoughtbox: a shadowplay” had both pigeons and squirrels in it, and it ended up getting into Sundance and ended up on a short-film compilation DVD, and you better believe that no sooner did that DVD hit finer independent video stores than Charlotte got served with a tiny lawsuit printed on tiny paper demanding regular-size money and lots of it. Shortly afterward, Charlotte was wheeled out of her dorm by EMTs while she cackled, “They can TALK! They have LAWYERS!” and was committed shortly thereafter, but what you gotta know about Charlotte is she’s the future of American film making, so there.
Here’s the thing: You could just NOT shoot in the park. But honestly, you can’t beat it. I mean, it’s got benches and trees and stuff.
End-Of-Summer Storython, Day Ten
Today's suggestion is from Derek Shaak: "Whiffleball is fuckin' hard"
Meanwhile, in a world with stronger gravity:
“Welcome back, you’re listening to KTAT, your sports talk station. I’m Ted Ranahan, this is Wiffleball Tonight, the home of all things having to do with America’s national past-time. Tonight we’re be talking about Rory Beats’ controversial new homerun record. We’ll be taking your calls, so if you want to weigh in on this topic that’s got everybody in the Wiffleball world talking, use both hands to pick up your phone, dial one eight hundred six one seven, then rest your fingers for a second, then dial seven seven eight seven. Alright, looks like our first caller is Craig from Slow Water. Craig?”
“Hey Ted, long time listener, in fact when I was a kid, your show was on past my bed time so I’d take my little transistor radio under the covers and listen until the covers got too heavy and started crushing me. First time caller, but I feel so strongly about this I just had to pick up the phone even though I was recently injured at work and my doctor told me to avoid all strenuous activity.”
“Well thanks for calling, Craig. So, Rory Beats. Some say the greatest man ever to wield the yellow plastic bat, and while the numbers seem to bear that out, some people hate him. What’s your take?”
“Ted, since spring training this year, as soon as the grass started struggling its way upward from the soil of America’s wiffleball fields, everyone knew that Rory Beats was on pace to break Elmer Taymor’s all-time home run record. But nobody was excited. Everybody always says the same thing: Rory Beats did it with the help of steroids. Well here’s the hypocrisy I just can’t get over, Ted: Elmer Taymor used steroids too.”
“Right, Craig, but I think the bone everybody has to shovel with Beats is that he uses way more steroids than just the steroids all of us humans use to be able to work, live, and move around. And certainly way more than Elmer Taymor ever did.”
“All due respect, Ted, I think the amount of steroids coursing very slowly through Beats’ veins is besides the point here. I think it’s just a convenient cover everyone uses to hide the real reason for Beats’ unpopularity: racism. It’s simply another example of the racism that follows black men around no matter what the sport, whether it’s wiffleball or Nerf football or waste-paper-basketball. It even dogs what few black players there are in air hockey. Let’s face it, Ted. Most people have this deep-seated belief that African-Americans are physically superior and their achievements are somehow less valuable. They think they’ve had an unfair muscular advantage ever since their ancestors were picking cotton—“
“Well I think we can all agree that cotton is extremely heavy.”
“Oh, of course. But to me the whole thing smacks of an outdated, racist mentality. These people haven’t been slaves for a long time, yet in the world of sport, they still wear the Styrofoam chains of racial bias.”
“Fair enough, Craig. Thanks for calling. Next up we’ve got Todd from Four Foot Mountain. Todd, you’re on Wiffleball Tonight.”
“Hey Ted, this is a little off-topic, but I went to a Baltimore Land-Orioles game the other day with my family when we were visiting, and those fans are out of control. They’re pelting players with cloth swatches, paper cups, wadded-up Kleenex, anything they can get their hands on. It’s extremely dangerous.”
“I have to agree with you a hundred percent there, Todd. The club has got to do something to get their fans under control. You know, for most people it’s rare to get a day off with the family to go out to the ballpark, and you already have the extreme physical stress of getting from the parking lot to the ballpark and the tension of knowing that the ballpark may collapse inexplicably at any time just like any standing man-made structure, but to add to it a bunch of drunken, rowdy fans who don’t care if they give somebody brain damage with a hurled hot-dog wrapper. We fans have to worry enough about wiffleballs flying wild into the stands, let’s not have dangerous projectiles coming from the stands themselves. From what I understand, people are sick of it, and their attendance is dropping like a leaf. Todd, thanks for dialing in to Wiffleball Tonight.
Alright, my producer Ron went to the trouble of lifting his head up from his desk to tell me it’s time to go to commercial, so that’s what we’re gonna do. A quick word from our sponsors, including Ernst Chiropractic, ‘Specializing in Treating Strains And Sprains Associated With Blinking, Breathing, And Tilting Your Head Upward To See What The Weather’s Like Outside,’ and then we’ll be back with more Wiffleball Tonight."
We interrupt this somewhat leisurely paced End-Of-Summer Storython to tell you that I love Kanye West. I un-i-fucking-ronically adore the man like no other living recording artist. His new album is chilling on my hard drive and I haven't listened to it yet.
His albums always seem to come along at fortiutious times in my life. I first heard "College Dropout" when it was loaned to me by a girl down the hall my Freshman year. It had just come out and I was putting on my shoes on my way to the first Hammerkatz show at UCB. I had been in New York six months and I was already performing at UCB: I was pretty fuckin' psyched. I had just enough time to listen to "We Don't Care" before I headed out the door.
Sometimes you get tinglies when you listen to the right song at the right time: like up and down your spine. I got 'em that night. I think Mr. West is responsible for more of those sensations than pretty much anybody in music. For me, anyway.
"Late Registration" came out around the time Donald, Dom and I sold our pilot to Comedy Central. Like, I had just experienced one of the biggest triumphs of my life and Kanye had just come out with an album full of triumph songs. I could put on "Touch The Sky" at any time, walk around New York, and feel fucking invincible.
His lyrics are full of insane ambition and self-reflection and self-critique, but he made the thing those lyrics are sitting on and ten times out of ten that thing is fucking beautiful. Massive drums that don't sound like anybody else's and expertly flipped samples that prove that the man is above all other things a great listener. He is not the greatest lyricist of all time, but I love how evidently proud he is of the occasional clever couplet (like he won't stop pushing this "what would y'all do for a Klondike" thing on us). He's goddamn catchy and his lyrics are goddamn catchy and he knows it and he knows where they fit in his genius productions.
He captures what it is to feel underappreciated and hungry and boastful and self-loathing and preoccupied with music. He wants to go to heaven but he also wants to shine. He exists primarily to prove you wrong. No one rides the line between hip hop's better and shittier angels better, no one is more full of shit and no one is more honest.
I think Kanye West is pretty hot but no one thinks Kanye is hotter than Kanye does, and you know what? He's right. Chicago's Kanye West is the goddamn ridiculous man.
Now dude has come out with an album called "Graduation" shortly after my, uhm, graduation. It is a time when I am feeling the least sure of anything I have in a while, but rich with the possibility of incredible shit happening at any moment. I guess it's my "if I could just get one beat on HOVA/we could get up off this cheap-ass sofa" period. I have heard four songs off the album: "Can't Tell Me Nothin'" (it's got some of my favorite Kanye themes but he came a little wack lyrically) "Flashing Lights" (the synths on this album are R-TARDED) "Champion" (Sampling Steely Dan? It's like he's trying to curry favor with me when I'm firmly in his camp) and of course "Stronger," which is simply. Fucking. Perfect. The rest is gonna be uneven: it's Kanye. The rest is gonna be eclectic and catchy and game-changing: it's Kanye. The rest is gonna have weak-sister skits no one will ever even rip from the CD: it's Kanye, and that's why they invented iPods.
A friend who is as excited or more excited than me sent me the album. I'll probably still buy it. Dude deserves a couple bucks for all the tingly life-is-amazing feelings he's given me, I would be happy to finance one square inch of the BAPE shit on his back.
Now: it is Labor Day, it is sunny, I have a few hours 'till I have to be at work. I am going to go walk around with the new record by Kanye West. New York, what's goin' on?