All I wanted to do that night was get some people together for a
reading of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,
but the plan falls apart, and I resign myself to an evening of drinking alone.
Suddenly my buzzer rings. I
open the door. It is Jon Springer. "Do
you mind if Tiffany stops by?" he asks as he walks into my apartment.
I am surprised but also pleased. Tiffany
Moy was one of the few people still willing to do the reading of Woolfe.
She is also an actress and make-up artist we are going to use in the
filming of Hagstone.
Jon sits down and I ask him what’s up.
Jon says the plans are to pick up some woman named "Lung
Leg," a friend of Tiffany's. From
there we’ll go to Stardust Memories, a bowling alley featuring some heavy
metal bands, a former boyfriend of Lung Leg's playing guitar in one of them.
I’m about to ask him why we would do this, but then my phone rings.
It’s Tiffany. She's
at my front door but doesn't know which button to buzz. I walk to the front entrance, still talking to her on phone.
Open door. There she is.
Long blonde hair and a trench coat.
I let her in.
After a few minutes of chitchat, we pile into Tiffany's little
Toyota, Jon driving. Lung Leg lives
by Lake Nokomis, and, after some difficulty, we find her house and ring the
doorbell. She lets us in.
Lung Leg is draped completely in black and is wearing large
ornately-framed sunglasses. Her
face is pale, and her dark-red lipstick is over-applied and gives her
countenance a look of dispassionate sadness. Introductions are made and we walk out to Tiff’s car and
We arrive at Stardust Memories.
It is St. Patrick’s Day, and the bowling alley is busy but not full.
We walk to a mid-sixties style couch, backed against a wall and facing
the center of the bowling lanes. We
sit down. Jon asks me what I'd like to drink. I tell him Leinenkugel.
He gets up and walks to bar. Tiffany
and Lung get up and go somewhere. I put my feet up on the six-foot-long sixties-style fake-wood
coffee table. I observe the scene.
About half the lanes are dark and unused.
The center lane is occupied by a metal band dressed in black leather,
tight pants and long, stringy, and obvious wigs.
The various groups of customers clustered here and there are dressed in
the same fashion. I am wearing a gray sport coat, white shirt and necktie,
preparation for reading the part of GEORGE in Virginia Woolf, this goal now all but dissipated.
Jon comes back with the drinks.
The night grinds on, heavy-metal bands taking turns playing in the
middle of the lanes. I go a few
times to the smoking area, a wood-framed, cheaply built shelter covered in
plastic. I have uncomfortable,
desultory conversations with the other smokers.
At one point, I am back at the couch, talking to Jon Springer.
"Exactly why are we here?" I ask.
"Lung was in a couple of cult films in New York in the
Eighties," he said. "She
has some recognition in these circles."
I nod my head. I
understand completely. Film-making
depends not only upon talent but also name-recognition.
I have been in similar situations many times in the past.
Not as far as name-recognition as it relates to film producing, but as
far as sitting in strange bars wondering when I get to leave.
Finally, we go. Lung
Leg has seen her ex-boyfriend perform. We
walk to the car. Tiffany is sitting
inside, the engine running, herself on her cell phone.
Steam is coming from underneath the hood.
The engine is revving up and down. Tiffany
says it has never done this before. Antifreeze
is all around underneath her car. Jon
goes back into Stardust to get some water.
After some difficulty, we open the hood.
Radiator dry. Pour water
into radiator. We drive back to my
Smell of burnt meat in the air.
I realize I had left my crock pot on "high," needlessly cooking
the chili I had made the week before, coagulating into a thick go what was once
a soupy and tasteful mixture. Of
course, everyone wants some. I dish
out three bowls, myself imbibing in only a spoonful or two.
They like it but complain about the spiciness.
Lung asks for something to drink. I
give her a glass of brandy. Tiffany
and I start reading Who's Afraid of
Virginia Woolf, Tiffany reading MARTHA'S dialogue and myself reading
GEORGE'S. Jon puts on a video of
some of his films--"Living Dead Girl," "The Wood Witch,"
etc. Lung is interested, but
Tiffany and I are having none of it. We
are still reading Virginia Woolf,
treating Jon and Lung as though they were NICK and HONEY.
Finally, Jon offers to drive Lung home.
"I thought they'd never leave," I say, out of character,
but not really, to Tiff. We
continue reading. We take a break
and talk about the events of the night. Somehow,
we decide it would be funny if Tiff called Jon Springer and asked if he could
drive her and Mike Etoll to tomorrow's special effects meeting.
She talks to him and closes her phone.
"He's coming back," she says.
I ask why. All I want
to do is read Who's Afraid of Virginia
Woolf? Tiff says she doesn't
know why he's coming back. We
continue reading. My buzzer rings.
I answer. It is Jon.
I give him a look. He enters
and lies down on my couch. Tiffany
and I continue playing GEORGE and MARTHA while Jon occasionally turns over on
the couch. Eventually, in the
middle of the second act, we realize our energy is spent.
Jon Springer--who has not really quite fallen asleep--turns and faces
upward on the couch. We discuss
sleeping arrangements. Jon takes
the chair and Tiffany takes the couch. I
go to my own bed. I would have
liked to finish reading the play, but then I think of Hamlet--"...the
readiness is all."
Alarm wakes me up 9:00 a.m. I
walk to kitchen, noticing my keys on the floor.
Jon Springer is gone. Tiffany
is asleep on the couch. I start to
make coffee. My buzzer rings. I open door. It
is Jon, back from church. Tiffany
wakes up. We have coffee (except
for Jon), and talk about what to do about Tiff's car.
Jon offers to drive her home and/or help get the car to a repair shop.
Tiff says she has a mechanic she uses in Northeast.
Jon's phone rings. I pour
Tiffany and myself another cup of coffee. Jon
folds up his phone. He says he has
to meet with Mike Etoll in one hour. I
reassure him that I will help Tiffany with her car.
Jon leaves. I make scrambled
eggs and bacon.
Tiffany and I spend the next couple of hours drinking coffee and
reading through the Hagstone script,
Tiffany highlighting scenes for her makeup and special effects duties, myself
re-revising the dialogue. It is an
oddly peaceful and relaxing time, and we laugh quite often.
Eventually, we go out to Tiffany's car, a white Toyota Celica with
over two-hundred thousand miles on it, a vehicle who's hood apparently only
Tiffany can open, Jon unable to do so the night before and myself equally inept
this overcast and cold morning. The
radiator only takes a little water. I
tell Tiff to keep her fan on high, and then she follows my car with hers, since
I know the way to the shop. Traffic
was sparse, thankfully, and we arrive at the repair place without incident.
Tiffany's mechanic, a pleasant Latino fellow named Jorge, tells her he
won't be able to get to it till four-o'clock.
We go back to my car, and, after some discussion, drive to Tiff's house
It is one of many boxlike structures occupying land separated by
grid like streets, the flat rectangular lawns all brown with dead grass, the
whole area bleak and depressing and somehow forgotten,
like an answer to a question no one asked.
I pull up in the driveway. We
take out Tiff's bags and carry them into the house.
Tiff lives upstairs with her son, Marquis, each of them occupying
bedrooms separated by a bathroom. Tiff's
father, who lives downstairs, apparently is not home, and Tiff's son is still
asleep. "He's a night owl like
me,” she explains.
We go into Tiff's bedroom, a large area with a queen-sized bed and
at the head of the bed a piano keyboard. I
sit down in the only chair. I look
around. The place is cluttered, but
it is an interesting clutter. Tiff
does some organizing, folding out several blankets over her bed.
I notice my novel I had lent her, Silent
Typewriter, lying on the floor. I
think it poor taste to mention it. Tiffany
puts a Nine Inch Nails concert video on her television.
We pass the afternoon watching the video, talking, drinking coffee, etc.
I meet Monkey the cat. Monkey
seems preoccupied and meows a lot, exhibiting a kind of spring fever, most
likely wanting to go outside so as to interact with the chirping birds.
Marquis rouses and comes into the room.
He is seventeen, with long dark hair, wearing long shorts and
ankle-length socks. He has the
guttural inarticulateness of all teenagers but is actually pleasant enough, and
I find myself liking him. He plays
some of his "beats," computer-generated musical compositions.
I act impressed. What else could I do?
Tiffany is starting to get worked up, becoming anxious, trying to
get ready to leave, walking around, finding stuff, losing stuff.
Finally, she cannot find her cell phone.
We look around. I say, is it
in your purse? It is.
We arrive at Mike Etoll's house.
We sit outside for a while, finishing our cigarettes and talking about
alien implants, etc. I was just
going to drop her off but decide to go inside for a minute, to see this house
I'd heard of.
We knock on the door. A
middle-aged woman with long hair and a nose ring lets us in.
She tells us her name is Lorna Doone.
I notice skulls on the wall. "They're
down in the basement," she says. In
the basement are Mike and Jon and my old pal, Jay Smiley, of whom's head they
are going to create a latex cast. I
look around. There are horrifyingly
realistic masks of werewolves, demons, zombies, half-fleshed skulls, etc.
I become aware of a subculture of people into this kind of stuff, a
subculture into which I will become immersed for the next several weeks.
I say that I am leaving. I
go out to my car, making a u-turn on 31st and heading home.
Jon Springer comes over around eight p.m. to check out my crawl
space and the boiler room.
I have many duties to perform.
Go to the Colfax building and run into Kim, a tenant that is helping with
our shooting, offering her apartment as a kind of green room.
She asks about the keys--should she take Ted's, what to do, etc.
I tell her we'll figure it out. She
seems surprised when I tell her that this will be a feature-length film.
I go home. Springer
calls. Wants me to write a Tijuana
Bible script for movie. I start on
it, drawing freehand comic-like panels. Nygaard
calls. He is the lawyer who handled
my divorce some years ago. He is
also handling the legal contracts for Hagstone and has a small part in the movie.
Nygaard wants to walk around Lake Calhoun.
He comes over, talks me into taking walk.
We drive down to Lake Calhoun. Nygaard
drinks three beers as we walk around lake.
We argue about different things. I
point out to Nygaard that he is consuming more calories than he is expending,
and he is also acting very negatively. We
drive back home, argue some more, Nygaard warning me that Jon Springer will
screw me over. I tell him Jon
Springer will not screw me over, despite what Nygaard has seen in divorce cases.
"You just wait and see," he says.
Have fallen asleep on couch. Wake
up to buzzer ringing. Lie still, as
though dead. Hear front door open
and shut. Rise from couch and
eventually check front entrance. Notice
large footprints on the welcome mat, footprints from the soft rain that is
falling. Go back in and make
coffee. Sara calls.
She comes over with "care package" from her father, Leo.
Four grocery bags of dried goods. We
spend a pleasant half-hour or so, drinking coffee and gossiping. She leaves. I
perform my care taking duties. Springer
and Mike Etoll show up around five-thirty.
We check out the boiler room.
I offer Mike some fake plants, an unasked-for bequeathment from the
production of my play Artist in Trouble.
Without hesitation, he accepts them.
We discuss the dressing of the room, the effects, etc.
I take off Bill Wittenbreer's tub faucets.
Both mechanisms need to be replaced.
I go to Colfax. Take apart hallway light fixture that has shorted out.
Visit Sara. We take walk
around Lake Calhoun. I go home.
Replace Bill's faucets. Phone
message from Tiff, something about Lung Leg wanting to ask me a question about
movie. I call Tiff back. We talk for a long time, half the conversation about movie
Tiff wants to make. Finally, she
decides to come over. I begin doing
dishes. Tiff shows up and we finish
reading "Virginia Woolf." It
is a cathartic experience, and I am grateful for it.
Wake up late. Make
coffee. Hard to get motivated.
Go to Colfax and reinstall fixture.
Walk over to Sara's and Vern's. Hang
out and watch "Jeopardy," then drive home.
Nice day. Springer comes
over and we unload film equipment into storage room.
His cell phone is ruined because it fell out of his pocket and into the
toilet while he was peeing. I ask
if I can bring up delicate subject. He
says sure. I tell him that he
occasionally has bad breath. He is
surprised. I tell him if I was
directing a film, working in close quarters with people, that I would want
someone to tell me if I had bad breath. We
discuss Mile Etoll's bad breath. Etoll
apparently is aware of it and regularly apologizes for it.
I say it's quite a crew we have, one stinky mass of people.
Springer asks if he can bring up delicate subject.
I say sure, worrying about, well, whatever.
He asks how much I'm going to smoke during shooting.
I tell him I will smoke outside. Jon
leaves, and I experience a vapid and vast loss of energy.
Wake up remembering dream about getting shot in the head while
sitting at an outside desk in some South AmErikan country.
I remembered falling to the pavement--somewhat knowing I was going to be
shot--losing consciousness, then recovering and joining my mother in some
apartment filled with South AmErikan Indians.
Call my mother later in the day and mention dream.
She says, you're kidding! She
had dream about me. I was clean cut
and wearing a military uniform, and the both of us were walking up some
stairway, my mother carrying a baby. Well,
that's the old Mandlebrot Set I tell her.
Call Tiff later in the day, hoping she won't answer so I can get
her voice mail and recite the chorus part of the fourth act of Shakespeare's
"Henry the Fifth," the eve-before-the-battle stuff.
Tiff answers. I explain, not without some ineptness, why I was calling,
then read her the chorus (why am I so afraid to talk to people?)
But she and I wind up talking for a long time, eventually both of us
searching for monologues (one comedic, the other tragic) for her upcoming
audition for some big-deal acting school. Of
course we both know what we are doing--we are avoiding having to prepare for the
upcoming film shoot. I have to
paint a wall, clean my bedroom, organize my shit, clean out the boiler room,
etc. And Tiff, well, Tiff has to do what Tiff has to do.
Kathy calls. Invites
me to poker party. I decide to go,
ride with Nygaard. It is perhaps my
last night out free from the pressures of the "Hagstone" shooting.
I wind up losing money--eight bucks.
I take it as a good omen. Often
times good luck follows bad. And I
want to rid myself of all bad luck, especially now.
Wake up late, remembering bad dreams involving my friend Nathan
Stanley hitting some young man. I
lie in bed, wishing someone would make coffee and bring it to me.
After a while, I am sitting on couch and drinking coffee.
I become aware of a toothache. Great.
It affects my whole persona, detracts from the tasks I have yet to
perform. I don't want a toothache
now! I think ahead to some future
time, when I have plenty of money and can get toothaches easily taken care of.
For now, I take an aspirin.
Springer calls. He
says Mark Borchardt has talked to him and wants to stay at Nygaard's house.
This was the original plan, but later changed after Springer had some
issues with Nygaard's attitude. Springer
booked a Motel 8 for Borchardt to stay at.
Now he wonders if he can get his money back.
Springer was going to stay at Nathan's, now wonders if he should stay at
the motel. I tell him, hey, once
you make a decision, stick with it. There
are a million more decisions to make down the road.
I paint my wall, then drive down to Super Valu.
Knowing my place will be under a kind of military occupation, I buy a
roasted chicken, three frozen pizzas and a four-pack of Scott's toilet paper.
I come home, my parking spot now occupied by the car of one of the many
Mexicans playing soccer in Powderhorn Park.
From some distance, I lug my grocery bags into my apartment.
I check my machine. No
I put away the groceries. I
lie down on my sofa, take a five-minute-siesta.
Of course, the phone rings. It
is Nygaard. He wants directions to
my place. Mark Borchardt is with
him. Borchardt has arrived!
Complete with daughter and daughter's boyfriend.
He puts Borchardt on the phone. We
introduce ourselves. I give
Borchardt directions, telling him I will be looking for him.
I smoke cigarettes and drink.
Eventually, I see out my window Jon Springer pulling up.
I let him in. We carry yet more shooting equipment inside, then wait
outside. Several cars go by, then I
recognize Borchardt. He is driving
a late-model Chevy with Wisconsin plates, a young woman and a young man in the
car with him. I signal to them.
They park in front of my building. We
introduce ourselves. Borchardt is
sporting his trademark long hair and oversized glasses and seems very
self-possessed and polite, "focused" as it were.
Me and Jon meet his daughter and her boyfriend, themselves cast in a
small role in the movie. Cell
phones ring. Nancy and Michelle are
calling, each independently trying to reach my place, asking for directions,
etc. We hang out, and the two women
show up. We carry stuff inside, fog
machine, fog machine juice (which spills on the floor and I have to later clean
up), a statue of a fairy (?), etc.
The principal crew has gathered together in my apartment.
Jon gives his speech. He
tell us we have to respect the building and its tenants, etc.
He tells us he is in charge when filming, in other words don't try to
co-direct. There is no directing by
committee. We all nod our heads.
He looks tired. Jon has come to the end of the first leg, now the real
Jon asks me if Borchardt can wear my clothes, since we are about
the same size. I say sure, but what
am I going to wear? We discuss
outfits with Nancy, myself bringing out my own clothing for Borchardt.
We decide on my long-john shirt and a few tee-shirts, maybe a stocking
cap. Blah, blah, blah.
I show everyone the Green Room, then the boiler room.
They are suitably impressed. We
say goodbyes, and they leave. I am
alone on the eve of the battle. I
pour a drink and light a cigarette. The
It is Jon. He is at
Nygaard's. He tells me he is
drinking a beer, that the stress has finally gotten to him. He says the realization of what he is trying to do has
finally sunk in. Now, after all
this time, now, he is finally nervous. We
both laugh. He asks if I can,
throughout this filming, give him moral support.
I tell him of course. I have
no points to defend.
Wake up at 7:15 am. No
dreams. Make coffee.
Too early to take a shit, off my regular schedule.
Springer shows up. Tells me
a Nathan story. Jon went there
night before to sleep, having arranged with Nate to stay at his house since it
was close to mine. Nathan was drunk
on his ass and entertaining some crack whore named Wanda.
Jon goes to a bedroom and tries to sleep, wearing earplugs. Wakes up when door creaks and Wanda enters, heading for Jon's
wallet on the nightstand. Jon
chases her out of the room, down the stairs, and out the door.
He tells Nathan not to let her back in.
Jon tries to go back to sleep, hears Nathan let the woman back in.
Jon chases her out again, mad as hell.
He tells Nathan to not let Wanda back in and to go to bed.
I ask how Nathan took this. "He
was mad," says Jon, "but he obeyed."
First day of shooting. We
pack and go to the Colfax location, in order to shoot the scene with Mark's
daughter and her boyfriend. Set
things up, they shoot, myself doing my care taking duties out front, sweeping,
Go back to Powderhorn Park, unload. Numerous actors. Shoot
solitary scenes with Borchardt, Tiffany makes up Gizelle to look like corpse.
Mr. Witkowski shows up. Shoot
that scene, very noirish. Shoot
scene with Charlie Hubbell and his "mother," an actress named Carol
Vnuk, made up to look brain dead. Order
sandwiches after some trouble; are told we are in a "dead zone."
Shoot scenes with Borchardt and Gizelle. Shoot boiler room scenes.
More hallway scenes. Finish
around ten-thirty pm. All scenes
shot that were scheduled. Patrick
Chenal stays over on my couch. We
stay up till 1:30 am or so, talking. guitar,
Second day. Trouble
falling asleep last night, wrong side of brain still activated.
Have dream of making love to one of the actresses, kissing her breasts.
Wake up around six, having to take shit.
Go back to bed, finally in dream mode.
Alarm goes off. Lie in bed
several minutes, then finally rise. Walk
into kitchen singing, "Good morning, good morning..."
Patrick stirs but does not rise. I
start coffee, then brush my teeth. Light
seeps in from windows. Door buzzer
rings. It is Nancy Ford, three
minutes early. I let her in. Patrick rises, goes to bathroom.
Other Nancy shows up—Nancy Hansen, the wardrobe person.
I ask her about my cargo pants she was supposed to patch up.
Nancy says they will be fixed soon.
Springer shows up. I realize
making a movie is different than putting on a play.
A play is a battle when you start rehearsal; a movie is a battle from the
moment you get up.
Other people show up, more coffee drank and made.
Phones ring. Nancy Ford is sent out to buy breakfast stuff.
I feel like I'm in the second act of Henry
the Fifth. Jon is setting up
for shots in my apartment, moving furniture, blocking windows, etc.
There are at least a dozen people crowded in. I tell Jon I have to do maintenance around the building.
I perform my duties, sweeping and mopping.
I run into Mark and Nadine in the basement hallway, rehearsing their
lines for the next shot. I tell
them that the dialogue has been changed--"White Buick" for "Blue
Cadillac." Mark looks at me
and throws down his script, shouting, "Goddamn it!"
I think, momentarily, Oh, Christ, do we have a prima donna on our hands?
I mean, is he really upset over such a minor line change?
Mark looks at me, measuring my reaction.
He laughs. "Oh, man,
that was beautiful!" he says. I
hit him on the shoulder. "Don't
do that to me," I say.
I continue with my care taking, taking a kind of refuge in my work,
letting Springer continue with his plan without interference with me.
The last thing I want to do is interfere.
Not for Jon's sake, but my own.
The day is so nice and bright and early springish, that I take up
it's energy, find myself wanting to labor and be outside, raking, etc., letting
Jon continue on with the energy of the film.
After all, I am just the screenwriter, my work is done.
As I'm walking into front entry, a young woman enters with fairly
short hair, though well-cropped. I ask the woman if I can help her.
She says her name is Mandy and she’s looking for apartment B-1.
I say that's my apartment. She
says she has a cat needed for the film. The
hairless cat has arrived.
Poor Mandy and the cat will have to sit for several hours, doing
nothing, waiting for the cat’s chance at the limelight.
I continue my care taking duties.
Michelle Witkowski, the production manager, is not here today, and
the catering duties fall upon myself. I
suggest Matt's. I taker orders.
3 Jucy Lucies w/onions raw, 2 JL's w/fried o's, etc.
Call in order. Fifteen
minutes for pickup. Jon gives me
his credit card. Tiff and I drive
down there. Matt's doesn't take
credit cards. I go to ATM, withdraw
my own money to pay for food. Get
food, go back.
I continue on, ignoring film shoot, working outside on nice day,
raking, etc. Shoot scene in back
stairway, fake blood on landing. Scene
set up, but I continue my Switzerland. Think
it ironic that area I had earlier cleaned and mopped, is now covered w/blood.
Big hubbub, moving to Colfax.
Tiff and I spend a few moments in my apartment after everyone has
left, sitting on my floor and smoking cigarettes. She decides not to go to Colfax, her make-up expertise not
really needed at this point. Plus
her back is hurting. We say
goodbye, myself running a few minutes late.
I meet the crew at Colfax, they are unloading from the back.
Jon and Nancy have parked their vehicles in forbidden parking area across
the alley. I warn them of being
towed. Nancy goes to talk to
tenants of other building. She gets
permission to park there.
Continue unloading. I
stand out back, doing what I usually do, smoking cigs and talking.
Jon comes up to me saying we can't film in laundry room, some man wants
to do his laundry. I say I'll talk to him.
Can I offer him 20 bucks? Jon
says sure. Talk to guy, explain
we're making a movie. The guy takes
20-dollar check from us. I wish I
could be paid twenty dollars to not do laundry.
We monopolize laundry room, Yet another tenant entering to do her
clothes-washing. Nancy says she'll
wash her two loads for free. So much bribery to make a movie!
I go to Kim’s apartment. She
invites me in for some wine. We
have a strange discussion, Kim telling me about biblical prophecy, psychic crap,
etc. I tell her I should get back
to fellow movie people.
I add to project 3 things. I
replace continuity Polaroid's connecting chain with key ring.
I fix doorknob that had fallen off.
Jon tells me the lens adaptor does not work. Says battery is new.
I say don't assume. I take
"new" battery and press terminals against my tongue.
No charge, I tell Jon. "But
it's new." Doesn't matter, I
say. Jon puts in another battery
and it works, and thus my legend grows.
After sitting around basement hallway, I decide to return Kim's
book, some catholic thing about exorcism. She
invites me in for a glass of wine. We
talk. Kim has long black hair and
pale blue eyes, and I am starting to feel the wine.
Knock on the door. It is Jon. He
needs key to lock up. He leaves.
Kim and I continue to talk. A
few minutes later her phone rings. She
hands phone to me. It is Jon.
He has left his wallet at Colfax, needs to come back.
He and I walk to apt. "Is
this going to happen every time I'm alone w/ an attractive woman," I ask,
"you calling me up and interfering?"
He apologizes, assuring me there is no ulterior motive.
He leaves, myself asking, "Are you sure you've got everything?"
third day of shooting
Wake up very reluctantly, dragging my consciousness through layers
of resistance. No memories of
dreams. I realize I have to get
moving. Make coffee, take shit (my
bowel movements finally accommodating to their new schedule), brush teeth, etc.
Phone rings. I let answering machine take it, the volume turned off.
Head out door with my script and cup of coffee laced with brandy.
Driving enthusiastically, much optimism in my blood.
Grey and rainy day, which I like. Arrive
at Colfax. Help unload, set up, etc.
We are using tenant's apt. as green room, some guy named Ted I have yet
to meet, his dog--some short-and-long beagle-type of creature named
"Frank" (why do people give their pets human names?
It just confuses everything), kind of a barker (which is another reason
we are there), but nice enough.
This the location for the entire day. It is a building in which I work as a caretaker.
We have no signed contract with the owner, only an answering message
saying that we could do some minor filming at this site, a message which I will
continue to save on my machine for legal reasons.
I have no idea what scenes we are going to be filming.
I look at the shooting schedule and become instantly bored.
Things like "46D," "13N,"
etc. I tell Jon I have to leave for
a while, will be back in forty-five minutes.
I drive back home, singing to myself, songs like "Will the
Circle be Unbroken?," "Till the Next Teardrop Falls," etc., songs
I don't even know the words to. Arrive
home, take another shit, put more brandy in my coffee, check boiler.
Feeling manic, that manic confidence that makes the whole world yours.
But just as I am about to leave, stepping out of my door, my cell cage,
my little garret, the power to the building goes off.
Battery-powered emergency lights are on in the hallway, exuding a
dismal glow. One of the tenants of
the building--Allen--the one member of the board who had voted against
the filming of "The Hagstone Demon," comes running down the stairs.
During yesterday's filming, we had tripped circuit breakers several
times, and in the back of my mind--and most likely his--is the question:
Was this caused by our filming?
We check the circuit breakers.
Everything looks normal. Allen
shrugs his shoulders. "Well,
we'll see," he says. I take
this as ominous. Allen goes back to
his apartment. Other people come
out and we gather around the front stairway.
Maggie May asks me for a cigarette, explaining that it's near the end of
the month and she is waiting for her SSI. I
give her three cigarettes. We all
hope that it is just a local power outage (especially me.)
I say I have to go back to the shoot, but call me if there's any trouble.
I give Cliff Weathers Jon Springer's cell phone number, since I don't
have a cell phone of my own. I exit
the building and climb into my car.
My Beemer's "empty" light comes on.
I drive down to the QuickStop on 48th and Cedar.
I also have to get cigarettes, and the Arabs running the place have the
cheapest packs in town. I fill up,
then drive back to the Colfax shoot. I
bring in a paper sack containing three cans of Miller Genuine Draft and put them
in the refrigerator in the boiler room.
I go to the "green room," not having much interest in
what is being shot. I find this
filmmaking process to be rather tedious, and I prefer sitting around and talking
to people and drinking coffee more pleasurable than actually being involved in
the making of the film. Mandy is
there with her hairless cat, Stella. Stella being the calmest and most professional of any of us.
We shoot Stella’s first scene.
She eats some fish heads set on a plate on a stove in an apartment that
was once inhabited by two meth-heads. The
apartment is basically a dingy room with a hopelessly soiled brown carpet.
I look at the monitor attached to the camera and see the hairless cat
munching on fish heads. This is a
scene that I wrote, and it occurs to me that the film is actually being made.
The film is escaping from the abstract to reality.
I go outside to have a cigarette.
A young woman with long dark hair walks up the curved stairway to the
front entrance. We look at each
other. "Are you here for the
shoot?" I ask.
She says she is. She
has several piercings on her face, upper and lower lips, one side of her nose.
It is raining slightly, and she has her hood pulled over her head.
We introduce ourselves. Her
name is Erika. She says she's a
member of "Suicide Girls." I
don't really care but ask her what that is.
Blah, blah, blah. Turns out
she's a body double for Nadine. She
says she works at Club 22 as a stripper. I
think to myself, where does this devout Catholic Jon Springer find these people?
Maybe I should become Catholic. I
let her into the building.
Day progresses. Much
sitting around. I find myself
bantering with Nadine, our shtick is that I am attracted to Nadine but she wants
nothing to do with me. I make
jokes. Sometimes they work,
sometimes not. My manicness has by
now dissipated. Different scenes
are set up, and I try, out of guilt, to participate.
I am the initial writer of the script, but I feel I am floating in some
kind of nether land. Why am I even
here, other than to engage people in tedious conversations?
At one point I find myself falling into hallucinatory
consciousness, trying to memorize a section of Shakespeare's "Henry the
Fifth," fighting against the call of sleep. The words blur. I
rouse myself, then go out on the back entryway to have yet another cigarette.
Completely unexpectedly, the back door opens and Tiff appears.
She is wearing her trench coat and plastic-framed glasses.
Her appearance (at least to me) was completely unexpected, but I was glad
to see her. I let her into the
Tiff and I sit with other people in the green room.
My name is called. Springer wants me.
Finally, I am participating in the movie!
Springer--who has been working like the devil himself--wants me to
help with the blocking between Nadine and Mark for the seduction scene while he
sets up the lighting, etc. I feel
flattered and also guilty. It
gradually dawns on me that this is my film, too. I can't just sit around making
small talk and bad jokes. I can't
just do what I have done in the past. This
is opportunity knocking, my chance to create the movie that is my life.
Mark and Nadine and I work on the blocking.
We get it down to a stylized film noir quality, and I think it plays
great. Springer comes in, starts
changing everything, wants to do a frenetic experience.
Everything I had told them--movement, then dialogue; movement, then
dialogue--is thrown away. Springer
has this idea of following the action with a hand-held camera.
We talk about this and that, interacting dialogue with movement, what
works, what doesn't. I think to
myself, why did he ask me to do the blocking?
I keep my mouth shut.
Springer uses a cam camcorder and starts working the process,
telling us we'll see what he's talking about.
We work the scene, Mark and Nadine saying the dialogue, moving here and
there, Springer following with the cam camcorder. Mistakes are made. Do
over. Do over.
Do over. Finally, he plays
back the tape. We all get it.
The initial blocking works into the movement.
Take a break. We go to
green room. Crew exits and starts
setting up lights, etc. I happen to
sit on chair next to Tiffany, who is sitting cross-legged on the floor, reading
a paperback. I ask what she is
reading. She looks up and smiles.
She is reading "Twelfth Night."
I tell her I miss my smoking buddy.
She is leaving anyway, to watch horror films with Charlie Hubbell, so we
go out to front steps to have cigarettes. Mark
Borchardt comes up steps from his car. We
talk. Movie-making is nothing but talk. Talk talk talk. Kim
comes out from her apt., her St. Bernard, Brutus, in tow. Intros, etc. Finally,
Tiff leaves. I feel guilty about
not walking her to her car--something I had always done--but I did not want to
embarrass her, as if Tiff wasn't capable of walking herself to her car.
A lonely feeling enveloped me.
I go back inside. The
set is closed. I go into green
room. Nadine's body double, Erika,
the suicide girl, is curled up on the couch.
Nancy Ford, the AD, is meandering about, uselessly organizing Styrofoam
cups, empty cans, pieces of paper, etc. I
sit on the couch, pulling my stocking cap over my eyes. I want to leave, to go home and sleep, had even said earlier
to Springer that I might do so. He
acted surprised and kind of tiredly hurt. "But
you have the keys. You have to lock
up." And the it hit me--I am
with them in the battle. It
is as much mine as anyone's. I
stick it out.
Eventually, Erika is called for Nadine's body double.
Erika is a woman not afraid of nudity.
Eventually, the shooting ends. We
start to pack up, Will breaking a light bulb in the process.
I see Erika walking down the basement hallway on her way out. I say goodnight. She
stops and turns around and shakes my hand, thanking me for this opportunity, as
if I actually had something to do with it.
"See you at the premiere," I say, two minutes later wishing I
had asked for her email address. Courage,
Harrison! Act, act, act.
Wake up instantly, feeling great, then realize it is light outside.
I look at clock--11:00 am! I
had forgotten to set my alarm. Phone
message from Jon on my machine. I
call him, no answer, then call Marilyn. Talk
to Jon. They had finished shooting
and are packing up, on their way to my place.
blah blah blah.
Jon and Ron and Will arrive. It
is an overcast day, the sun occasionally peeking out as though to check on us.
We set camera up in back alley behind the building.
Neighbor from nearby house comes out and asks what we're doing.
He is a black man of medium height, wearing a sweatshirt with
orange-and-black stripes. "Are
you making a movie?" he asks. I say yeah, a horror film.
I walk up and introduce myself. We
shake hands. His name is Doug.
This house Doug lives in is of some notoriety in the neighborhood, many
times people hanging out on the front porch and yard, speaking loud and
obscenity-ridden dialogue, cars pulling up, etc.
The people in my building consider these people threatening, have said
things like, "I hope I don't get mugged going out to my car."
To be honest, I myself was concerned about the outside filming we would
have to do, such as today, but my confidence has grown.
There is no need for confrontation.
It is better to have allies than enemies.
Eventually, the other people arrive, Tiffany with her milk jugs of
blood, and my old friend Marilyn Murray, who has been in a couple of my plays
and is a real trooper. Tiffany
complains of a headache, also that she is on her period.
I check my medicine cabinet and give her a Valium.
We shoot scenes in the first-floor hallway, using a tenant's apartment
(Amy, who graciously obliged us.) The
shooting seems to be going fast and efficient.
Jon says we must have skipped
something. We are actually a bit
ahead of schedule. I check my
script. Nope, I say, we are on track.
We set up for the next and final shot at this location for the day,
a killer shot, a shot that only cinema can create.
The script says: Douglas enters building. He
sees Mrs. Brennan lying face up on the stairs, her eyes open, a pool of blood
underneath her head. Since I am
the caretaker of this building and am responsible for any damage we cause, I
walk away to do something else. Awhile
later, I come back. There is dark,
red, beautiful liquid on the back stairway, pooling down the steps into a large
puddle on the lower landing. Tiffany
and Michelle assure me that it will easily clean up. Marilyn lies down in the blood, an unseen pillow under her
head to provide comfort, for she will have to lie there for quite a while.
I go off to do something else. When
I come back Jon shows me the images on the monitor.
This film is black-and-white, and the scene is classic film noir. A scene one will remember for the rest of one's life.
The shot is over. There
is much frenetic discussion about how best to clean up the blood.
We bring out terry cloth towels and a garbage bag.
Me and Will start at the top of the stairs, and Nancy takes a mop to the
bottom landing, while the others prepare to move to Colfax.
I go into my apartment to take a piss and notice the time. It is six pm. I
go back and tell Jon, asking what time people are supposed to meet at Colfax.
"Six," he says. I
have the only keys to the building, so I hurriedly prepare to leave.
Sam Thompson, a young man who is documenting the making of Hagstone, asks if he can ride with me. Sure. I gather
my script and put on my leather jacket and we walk out to my car.
We run into Michelle, who has just arrived, carrying
bags of KFC. She asks me if
she should bring food inside. I
tell her we are going to Colfax. "But
are we going to eat here? Where's
Jon?" "No," I say, "bring the food to Colfax."
She looks at me. "I'm making an executive decision," I say.
"But I should talk to Jon."
Go ahead, I say, starting to walk away.
"How do I get to Colfax?"
I start to tell her, worried about the people no doubt already waiting at
Colfax, and I say there are eight other people that can tell you how to get
there. "But I need to get into
this building." I walk back,
open door for her, then Sam and I walk quickly to my car.
As we drive, Sam is asking me questions, his camera running and
pointing at me. He asks is I've
lived here all my life. "Not
yet," I answer.
We arrive at Colfax, Dave (Mr. Witkowski), Mike Etoll (special
effects), his nephew Matthew Ng, and--son of a gun--the tattooed suicide girl,
Erika. I ask if she's involved in
tonight's shoot. She says no, but
that she had asked Jon if she could just come and hang out, since she has no
social life. Though I find this
hard to believe, I am glad she is here. I
let everyone in, introduce them to Frank the dog, who has to growl and bark for
awhile before becoming comfortable.
Back to Powderhorn. Only
one left is Nancy, tidying up the stairwell.
The stairs have an obvious reddish hue, though they have been mopped.
She beckons me into laundry room and speaks in low tones, tells me some
guy from the building had been yelling at Jon, having issues with our occupation
of the building, not the least of which was the five gallons of fake blood
spilled upon the stairway. We hear
voices. I walk out of room and see
Allen and Michael, sitting at the top of the red-tinged steps.
Michael is the president of the co-op and Allen is the secretary, though
in my opinion he acts more like the emperor.
Both appear very displeased.
Allen says, "I'm fuming right now. I'm fuming." Allen
was the one member of the co-op board voting against our filming in the
building. Nancy comes out.
Allen threatens to bar access to building, claiming we had violated our
contract. He says they are going to
have the stairwell acid-washed and repainted and Jon Springer will have to pay
for it. Nancy, a bill collector by
vocation, handles them with superb skill, myself trying to keep my mouth shut.
Allen asks if there’s any other shooting scenes they should know about.
I tell him we’ll be filming the removal of a dead body from the
building. Allen says no, we can’t
do that, citing the effect it would have upon the neighborhood.
He also says the tenants of the building are displeased with our filming
there, though my experience with them has been nothing but pleasant. I start to lose it.
I ask Allen if he has the ability to read minds, not only of the
tenants but of the surrounding neighborhood.
I stare at the fucking prick and move closer to him.
Nancy steps between us and tells them everything will be taken care of,
whatever that means. Allen and
Back to Colfax. Mike
Etoll has raided a few dumpsters and turned Ted's apartment into a garbage dump,
Tiffany working on Dave's body to make him look like corpse.
I wonder where Erika is. I find Jon's script and copy Erika's #.
Smoke several cigs outside while drinking beer.
Michelle tells me I should keep alcohol consumption on low profile.
I wonder who is this woman. I'm
the fucking writer, and I'll have a beer if I want.
Tiff, having heard about red stairs, offers to go back and clean them,
saying that simply mopping won't work, they need dishwashing soap and scrubbing
by hand. We go back to Powderhorn
and spend two hours scrubbing floor, eventually getting stain out.
Take before and after photos. Go
back to my apt. Talk for a while, kind of giddy with tiredness.
I tell her my idea of having a party where no one speak a language, only
gibberish. It seems to fit the day.
Tiff leaves. We have a late
start next day (four pm at Scooterville building.)
Sleep well. Spend time
on computer, writing yesterday's events. Grey,
drizzly day, perfect weather for the upcoming truck stop-whore shot at the
Scooterville building, a location I have yet to visit.
Do a load of laundry. Run
into Allen. We are surprisingly pleasant with each other, and no mention
is made of the previous evening's encounter.
Jon has told me to let Nancy handle the situation.
I had composed an email to Michael Kloss the night before but didn't send
it. I think.
(Better check.) Take hot
bath, then drive the old Beemer to location.
The Scooterville building is located a few blocks north of
University Avenue, just east of Stadium Village. It is an industrial area, and the seven-story building stands
alone amidst a recently razed landscape, surrounded by acres of land laid bare.
The weather is still gray and not quite raining, temps in the fifties.
I run into Jon in the gravel parking lot.
He asks if I can go back to Powderhorn and get lights from green room.
Of course, I say. By now I
am used to this kind of thing. I
drive back in rush hour traffic to my place.
Change my outfit somewhat. I
am tired of dressing in work clothes. I
put on khakis and a turtleneck, with a long brown Seventies-vintage leather
coat. Drive back.
I walk into bldg and run into Matthew Ng, Mike Etoll's nephew (later show
him a few magic tricks.) He
takes me inside. We walk up five
flights of stairs carrying the lights. I
am reasonably certain that the building has an elevator, but I could use the
Jon shoots hallway scenes, Nadine, as Karna the succubus, dragging
an extremely disheveled Mark Borchardt down the floor, slamming him against the
wall, etc. Jon is shooting with an
old Super-eight film camera. I see
Robert Easly, who's studio we are using as green room and later as location.
Meet more new people. Go
upstairs to Christian's studio. He,
like Mike Etoll, is a special effects genius.
He shows me the bust of the cat creature.
It is an extremely disturbing visage, a human-size feline head, its
wrinkled brow furrowed in anger, its nose small yet human, its teeth sharp and
piranha-like. Like Etoll, Christian also has various demon heads and masks,
etc, lying around.
Shoot truck stop scene. Could
not have gone better. (more later)
Black Mass scene (more
drive Jackie home, but first have you pick up her friend in south
Mpls, then to Lauderdale. Jackie
talked manically the whole time. She
gave me some bud for driving them. Came
home, the streets and highways dark and glistening, a night made for film noir.
Overcast and rainy day. Arrived
one-a-half hours late for next shoot. Fireside Inn. Found
everyone down in the basement. Bunch
of semi-drunk regular patrons arrived for extras in the film.
I walk in, and almost immediately Jon comes forward and beckons me.
I walk back into a space behind the bar, where the camera is set up.
"Look at this," says Jon.
I look at the camera monitor.
It is a rectangular black-and-white image of the bar.
Borchardt is sitting at bar, head down, his body slumped forward.
I don't recognize him at first, but the scene looked great,
hyper-realistic. I'm not sure what
Jon is doing. He has entered into a
kind of hypnotic faze, being outwardly polite, responding to issues brought up,
but always returning to an inner focus. Jon
calls to set up for the next shot.
The mood is festive, bar patrons asked to be extras, meet and have
fun with people, sitting at bar, swapping stories and jokes, sitting with woman
named Jody and young guy with sideburns named Jeremiah.
We are encouraged to smoke, since the fog machine broke down.
later, Lola and friends show up, Mark sleeping on floor.
Jon and I run lines w/ Mark and Mike, first time we have done so on this
shoot. Lola and Matt show up
Long night at Nelson bldg. Shooting
outside in rain. Jon shoots
unmercifully Great shots, though. Afterwards,
stand in parking lot
Tiff on rag
Slept till two pm. Made
coffee. Day off film, sort of.
Sam, the tow truck driver, called, wanting to know if we wanted to use
him tomorrow. Call Jon and ask him.
Jon doesn't want to pay Sam 100 dollars, though fifty is okay.
I call Sam back and tell him. Sam
says he'll think about it, call me later.
I call Tiff and offer to bring cd-rom of "Artist in Trouble"
photos, a few of which have Jay Smiley with his comb-over wig.
She says come on over.
I drive through the rain to Tiff's house in Bloomington, looking
forward to spending some time with her. I
take wrong direction and wind up driving several unnecessary miles but finally
made it. Her car is not in the
driveway, and after ringing bell a couple times I think maybe she's not home and
start to walk away. Door opens.
It is Tiff. She lets me in
and we go up to her room. I am
surprised to see Charlie Hubbell there, sitting cross-legged on Tiff's bed. I heard they were maybe going out but wasn't sure.
(The Saturday Night Bowling Alley Debacle, the beginning of this journal,
I asked Tiff if Charles was her boyfriend.
"Uh, no..." she said, looking me and Jon as though she were a bit
affronted. I asked if he was her
ex-boyfriend. Same response.
I knew they were friends but... blah blah blah)
It was a bit awkward, but Charlie was friendly enough.
I had brought ice cream and popcorn, but neither of them wanted any.
Charlie went out to get sandwiches.
Tiff and I tried to get her dvd player to play AIT, but it was no go.
We were able to get the rom to work in her computer, though, the pictures
coming up on the screen, and I felt my mission was a success (though not without
some thwarting going on) Charles
returns with sandwiches, then sits on chair reading a book while Tiff and I ran
through photos. The situation
reminded me a little of GEORGE in Virginia Woolf reading his book while MARTHA fools around with NICK.
I leave after a half hour or so, get gas, buy a paper, go back
home. Kind of a lost and drizzly
Alarm wakes me up 8:00 am. I
turn it off. I wanted to get up
early, do some maintenance, maybe vacuum, etc., but sleep keeps calling me back,
and I feed upon it. Eventually,
rise a little before ten. Make
coffee. Brush my teeth with apple
vinegar and baking soda. Have
confused thoughts about breakfast. I
feel I should eat, but I know people will be coming over in an hour-and-a-half,
most likely bringing food (a scenario which did not prove true), but still, some
dim voice from my body tells me to consume calories. I think of eating Cheerios and milk, maybe with toast, but
what I really want is huevoes rancheros. I
turn my skillet on, then turn it off again.
I become disgusted with my indecision.
I turn the skillet back on and pour olive oil into it.
Huevoes rancheros I shall have.
Of all the days of our schedule shooting, this is the one I feared
most. We will be in the back alley,
with perhaps interference from rowdy neighbors, plus the asshole in my building,
Allen, the neurotic who screamed at Jon Springer two days
before, and which later the same day I had to deal with, Allen sitting on the
back stairs, along with Michael, the president of our little coop, telling me,
"I'm fuming. I'm fuming."
I hope not to get kicked out of my apartment--when I leave, I would like
to do so under my own terms--but I have already made the warrior's decision: to
accept death as a consequence of any choice you might make, and once death is
accepted, well, then everything else is a gift.
If I lose the place in which I dwell, then so be it.
I make and eat my huevoes ranchero, and feel better for doing so.
I check my email, to see if there are further ramifications from the
other tenants. No new messages. Relief.
I drink coffee and smoke cigarettes.
Eventually, one by one, the crew shows up.
The crew! These
people--Nancy, Ron, Will, Jon, Sam--and later the actors--Mike and Jay--and then
later, Mike Etoll and Tiffany and Michelle-- these people, so rare and few,
these people who believe there is something beyond the nine-to-five existence,
these people who don't mind their routines disrupted because they have no
routines--these people who have honored Jon Springer and myself, have devoted
the best of their talent to this cause--these people, these warriors--
I feel humbled by their presence and participation, and I renew my own
personal vow to do the best I can.
Meanwhile, the mundanity of the real world must be dealt with.
We set up in the back alley. Jon
has his camera set across the street facing the back entryway, a jacket draping
over the camera, a jacket that Jon would occasionally poke his head under, like
some old-time photographer. A
Minneapolis policeman named Rick shows up with his squad car, also a highway
patrolman (whom Jon tells us he has known since kindergarten) named Matt and his
Jon and I go up to the uppermost balcony of the back of my
building, Will accompanying us. This
for an overhead shot of the dead body wheeled out on a gurney into the coroner's
Shoot scenes of Douglas and Detective Willis interacting/.
My friend Billy gets cast as an extra walking past scene.
Has to sign release form.
Much to write about, but will continue later.
Final shooting inside hallway, Jay Smiley and Borchardt.
Scene does not work so well, in my opinion.
Something off, not fitting in the temper of the other scenes.
I think to myself, not for the first and most certainly not the last
time, what the hell are we doing?
Must end now. Tired.
Hope I have made enough notes but probably not.
What do you put in, what do you leave out?
I was glad that Tiffany brought her son, Marquis, to the shoot.
I think it is healthy that younger people interact with older people
outside of the normal strictures of society.
We all live under the stars of night, and if we have nothing else, we
have each other.
Must close now. The
rest is silence.
Basically had the day off. Filming
was all in St. Paul, and I meant to join with the crew later in afternoon.
I went to Colfax to do much-needed maintenance.
The carpet was littered with scraps of this and that, the back stairway
dirty. I ran into Bryce, he said
nothing on his way past me, two young Mexican boys following him, nothing other
than how's it going. I liked the
smoothness of the encounter, and deemed it a good thing I had shown up. We have no contract with Colfax, unlike Clear view, and we do
not want to jeopardize our location.
Went back home. Called
Nancy. She was trying to find
Gothic exterior location. Blah blah
blah. Most of the scheduled scenes
had already been shot, the only one left being at the James J. Hill library.
I check my script. It is a short scene, only four lines of dialogue, and I
figure Jon can handle it without my help.
I completely waste my time, or at least I do not spend it as
productively as I should. I don't
do laundry, clean my apt., that sort of thing.
I watch Seinfeld. Eventually
wind up getting on computer and drinking, sending an email to Tiffany with a
passage from Thomas Wolfe's "You
Can't Go Home Again." Don't go
to bed until five-thirty am. What
is wrong with me?
Door buzzer wakes me up sharply at 8:00 am.
I rise quickly from bed. With
a subconscious military efficiency, I slip on my cargo pants (recently repaired
by Nancy, the woman in charge of wardrobe,) and I open door.
It is Michelle, bearing breakfast goodies, etc.
I let her in, realizing I am still somewhat drunk.
I make coffee. Other people arrive, one by one. The day has begun.
And the day is cold and windy, a light coating of snow on the
ground. Michelle tells me it is
like twenty degrees outside. A week
and a half ago, it was eighty degrees. I
prefer today's weather to the former.
Jon and crew prepare to shoot.
I vacuum the hallways, sweep and mop, etc. I have already jeopardized my situation here, and do not want
to provide my enemies with more ammunition than they already have.
At one point, I join Nancy as we go around taking down the flyers wrapped
around telephone poles announcing yesterday's shoot.
Crossing 31st Street, we see Allen in his new Toyota Tacoma.
We wave, then wait until he parks and goes into building before we also
I go into apt. Phone
rings. It is Michael Kloss, telling
me that the coop board is convening to discuss the new contract and also the
scene involving the removal of a dead body.
I tell him that the scene has already been shot, without incident.
He seems surprised, then says it is probably not necessary I attend the
meeting and he will not bring up the matter.
Why does everyone kowtow to hyper-pathetic Allen?
We film yet another dangerous scene. Borchardt, as Douglas, hears phone ring, picks it up, hears
"eerie hissing noises" and goes on a rampage, slamming down phone,
kicking stuff, (I am huddled down in my kitchen, having performed the task of
ringing my specially modified telephone,) making his way to the living room,
turning over a bookcase, swearing loudly, going into my bedroom, tearing that
apart, trying to find the source of the hissing noise.
It is a loud scene. Fortunately,
we only have to do two takes.
We move to Nathan's. Much
sought-after extras appear, and we convene at the Mayday Cafe.
Davis Wilson is there, along with Steve Kath, people from the satanic
mass shoot at Scooterville, Tiffany, Gizelle.
I have no money, only my check card, and Nancy buys me a Cafe Mocha.
We sit around and talk, while Jon finishes shooting scene with Lung and
David O'Sullivan and Borchardt. Nancy
comes back and tells us to come on in.
Most bizarre shooting yet occurs.
Half-naked men and women, fog machine working, late into the night,
pizzas ordered and quickly devoured, more filming, snake bed, Nathan arrives
with some pretty woman whom he says is Jerry Springer, Nathan joins Coven,
wearing his top hat, the evening goes on and on...
Final shooting scene, fog, coven crawling towards Julie, chanting,
"death, death, death." During
break for camera lens change, we notice Lung has fallen asleep on couch,
slumping against bare-chested Jackie, snoring like a sailor.
At one point she starts to cough and spit up.
Fearing she will vomit, we grab plastic kitchen bag and hold it to her
mouth. She is half-conscious
(earlier stuff about Lung wanting a drink, Nancy trying to keep it a dry set.)
We move her to bottom of staircase, propping her slumped against the
wall, her hands clutching the plastic bag.
Afterwards Jon shows everyone footage.
It is impeccable. Jackie
says she can't call her mom for a ride this late.
I tell her she can sleep on my couch.
We go back to my place and sit on couch talking and having a drink (Winsdor).
I put on "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold."
Jackie didn't know who Richard Burton was, which doesn't make me feel old
so much as sad. Eventually, she
falls asleep. I leave the movie
playing and move to my computer. She
is there now as I write this.
Pickups tomorrow, my place, late start. This is the movie that is my life.
Wake up to alarm at nine' o'clock, sleep deep dreamless sleep until
10:30, then rise, with difficulty finding my morning sweat pants, since
Borchardt had thrown clothes and bedding all around during the crack-up scene.
Go into kitchen and make coffee. Jackie
is still on couch, her lengthy, feline body wrapped in my afghan.
I brush teeth, feeling somewhat rested and optimistic.
Return to living room and open blinds, the sunlight of yet another
unseasonably cold morning streaming into apt.
Jackie turns over on the couch, squealing protest.
I ask her if she wants coffee. She
mumbles something incomprehensible, eventually sitting up.
She asks me for a cigarette. I
give her one, then tell her that people will soon be arriving, to which she
responds negatively. "No,
no," she says, "they can't!"
I tell her we have a film to make. I
offer to drive her home, but this not now an option because, as Jackie explains,
she had taken the bus along with her roommate's bicycle, to her mom's house,
from which her mother had driven her to Nathan's, leaving the bicycle at her
mom's, and now she could not return home sans bicycle because the roommate would
freak out. She tries calling her mom, but only gets voicemail, says she doesn't
know her mom's schedule. I say she
can stay here till things get figured out.
"But people are coming over, and I just want to sleep."
She has already slept more than I have but apparently yet needs more
sleep. I tell her she can sleep in
my bed, an offer she takes me up on.
Jackie goes into my bedroom, lugging afghan and bags and shoes with
her. I see Borchardt outside,
getting out of his car. I walk to
entrance and let him in. Ron
arrives a minute or two later. Eventually,
my apartment fills up with our small, little, dedicated crew. Jon is the last to arrive, explaining that he had to work on
some contract stuff. Ron asks me at
one point if there was a person sleeping on my bed or if it was a prop.
I tell him that is a real person, it is Jackie, wondering why Ron would
think I would place a prop under the covers of my bed.
I shut the door to my bedroom, therefore eliminating further inquiries.
I hear Nancy saying something about Erika, the tattooed stripper we
had hired as a body double for Nadine and whom Michelle had sent home a few days
ago. I ask Nancy what she is
talking about. She tells me that
Erika has died. I say what?
Nancy had but few details, only that Christian who knew Erika's friend
so-and-so, had found out that Erika had died recently.
I said, I guess that explains why she wasn't answering her emails.
The joke fell flat, even as I spoke it, and a cold feeling wrapped itself
around my entrails. Erika was
young, vital and alive, and all she had wanted to do was hang out with our crew,
explaining she had no friends, no social life.
This news inflected all the activities of the day, one's mind
occasionally returning to it, amidst countless decisions of minute character,
the countless questions and countless answers, where is this light bulb?, what
happened to such-and-such a prop, a death of one of our own, flying in from left
field and landing with a chilling thud.
The shooting for the day is by seat-of-the-pants.
We are filming what is known as "pickups," little scenes to
provide continuity, corrections of this and that, and I generally leave Jon and
the crew to their own devices. Around
six' o'clock Nancy returns with sandwich fixings, two loaves of bread and sliced
ham and roast beef, bananas and grapes, a nice and refreshing change from our
steady diet of pizza. Nancy makes
the sandwiches herself, making a big point of announcing that she has washed her
hands. Jackie ambles into the
living room, grabbing a can of pop and asking me for a cigarette.
Everyone is rather bemused to see her.
Jackie has by now slept sixteen hours and seems rather surprised that we
are all here, says something to the effect that, wow, making movies is a lot of
work. She eats a sandwich, then
announces she is returning once more to bed.
Who are these people?
Mike Etoll has been working on dressing the "Hannibal
Room," this old section of the boiler room that had once been used for
storing coal, a low-ceilinged bunker-type area, with walls and ceiling of poured
concrete, a room adjacent to the main room of the boiler, spooky enough in its
own right, now becoming yet more creepy--a soiled mattress on the floor, cattle
skulls hung on the wall, various bizarre and occult-type items spread here and
there. Who are these people?
Sasha shows up, an equity actor who is going to play CARL, a
brother-in-law of Borchardt's character, a priest. Sasha has many problems with the script, pointing out plot
problems, saying he had written on his script, in big letters, "why?",
on various pages. He brings up good
questions. This is material that
Springer had taken upon himself to rewrite.
I realize that Jon writes from a cinematic viewpoint, leaving plot and
logic to take of itself. This an area of the script I really have yet to visit, an
area of full of complicated crap, rotten dialogue, an area that I had at one
rewrite boiled into tersely eloquent prose and which Jon had re-rewritten into
namby-pamby ness. Jon wants to make
the characters--at least the "good-guy" character--into nice decent
human beings. He wants them to
speak propaganda. But I have told
him that nice, honest, stalwart characters are not interesting.
I realize that Sasha, the difficult actor's presence and demeanor
is something I can put to my advantage. I
have to rewrite the ending, but at the same time I cannot rewrite to please
Sasha, and I may have to, at one point, "have a talk."
I may have to point out that Jon is the director, I am the writer, and he
is an actor.
The evening progresses. At
one point, Jackie's mother arrives to pick her up. She finally leaves. I
drive down to Minnehaha Liquors and buy a liter of Korbel and a six-pack of MGD,
fuel for the upcoming rewrite. Other
liquor stores were closer, but I wanted to drive some distance in the cold and
refreshing night, to be alone at for at least a fifteen minutes or so, to not
have to talk!
I come back. Things
are wrapping up. I sit down and
look at script, am repeatedly interrupted by people coming into my apt.
It is getting late. Ron
comes in and looks at me. He
slightly shakes his head. "You
don't want to see it," he says. I
ask him what it is I don't want to see. "The
Hannibal room," he says. "You
will never be the same." I
say, oh great, yet another disturbing image to be crowded into my brain.
Yet, of course, I have to see it. I
walk into boiler room and enter coal room. Mike is in there along with Will, a young man acting as grip,
carpenter, handyman, whatever; a young man who has that rare quality to do what
is asked, no questions asked, dedicated to the task at hand; smart, able,
trustworthy; an unsung hero.
I look around the room, which is illuminated by a cylindrical
fluorescent work light. A dirty,
soiled mattress lies on the floor. Skulls
of cattle and indeterminate creatures hang from the walls and ceiling, an old
dresser is draped in black velvet, various bizarre objects covering it, the
shelves pulled out in rhythmical degrees. Wherever
one's eye looks, it cannot escape the macabre.
Not that is there any comprehensive sense to the claustrophobic vista,
this microcosm of occult obscenity, it is chaos, yet chaos with a purpose.
I go back to my apt. to work on the script.
The shooting in the basement hallway is wrapping up, and I feel relieved.
Who are these people? Nancy
is sitting on my couch. She looks
up and says Patrick is going to stay at my place tonight.
I say what? No, Patrick is
not staying at my place. I have to
write. I cannot have anyone else
here. Patrick will sit on the couch
and engage me in conversation, and I will not be able to write. I say, yeah, any other time he is more than welcome, but not
tonight. Nancy apologizes.
Jon says he can stay at his hotel room (or motel room, whatever.)
Calls Patrick, saying, rather bluntly and without explanation, you can't
stay at Harrison's.
Mike Etoll is using my phone, talking to god knows who.
Jon is sitting on my best chair, obviously tired.
I tell him about the gunfighters of the old west, how they would pause
half-a-beat before shooting. I
explain this is what we have to do in the upcoming shooting schedule.
To not rush things, to not pull the gun from the holster and shoot
without aiming, but rather to take that half-second of delay.
The subject of Erika is brought up again. Jon says how it affected him that he wasn't able to work,
though of course work he did. We
start laughing at our memories of Lung and her performance/behavior, Jon
imitating Lung's voice: "Do
you want a cookie?" We laugh
out of tiredness, giddiness, and I realize how much I love these people, these
people standing before the void, living these lives that are so precious, and I
love what we are attempting, our little arrow shot into the inexplicable, these
people who show up at my place early in the morning, ready to do battle, and I
cannot but think of myself as lucky, lucky that I have friends such as these.
Wake to Nadine's voice on my answering machine, asking if there is
anyone there to let her in. I get
out of bed immediately--like the previous morning--slipping on whatever clothing
happens to be at hand, and I let her in. As
usual, I have woken up still somewhat drunk but, oddly enough, never hung over.
And thus the day begins.
Once again my apt. is taken over by an occupying force, and, as
usual, there is that lag time, a period of waiting, of pensiveness.
Tiffany shows up, once again not in a particularly good mood.
She tells Jon Springer that from now on she would prefer to do make-up
from her own home (which happens to be in Bloomington, twenty miles away.)
Jon seems somewhat confused by the request and tells her that wouldn't
really work. Tiffany and Gizelle go
into the green room, and Tiff begins applying makeup to Gizelle. Mike
Etoll shows up with his beautiful and quirky nephew, Matthew, and they, along
with Christian, begin tweaking the Hannibal room.
I announce to several groups of people at various times that I am leaving
for awhile to attend to my care taking duties at Colfax. No one seems particularly interested, and so I eventually
Once again, it is a cold windy day, filled with solar warmth, a day
that slaps you in the face with its vitality, and I drive to Colfax with the
radio on, stopping at the Arab-run Qwik Stop for the best cigarette deals in
town. At Colfax, I go into apt. D
to take another shit. It always
easier to take a shit in private, rather than to sit on the toilet and listening
to a dozen people babble on inside your living space.
I walk down to the Bryant Hardware Store to get light bulbs, then
stop into Gigi's for a cup of Cafe Mocha. I
go back to Colfax, kind of my home-away-from-home, since I take shits there,
replace a couple of burnt-out light bulbs, then go out into the cold windy day
in the front of the building, complete with a broom and long-handled dustpan,
scooping up numerous cigarette butts. Then--reluctantly?--I
really would like to walk around the lake, to engage in outdoor activity, but my
responsibilities preclude such a choice.
Back to Powderhorn without incident. I sit in green room, talking w/ Tiff and Gizelle as Tiffany
applies makeup to Gizelle’s face, turning her pale and gaunt.
Suddenly, Tiff turns around and says to me:
"What are you looking at?"
I say, "Nothing," wait a moment or two, then stand up and
leave. What the hell was that
Jon continues his marathon shooting
stuff about room hannibal room, later hell room, later hell hole
Nadine is hanging out, walking around with pale-green skin and
exquisite veins along her neck and face, her eyes wild with white contact
lenses, her hair a tousled mess. Looking
at her without warning--such as Nadine coming through a door or up behind
you--produces a sudden start in myself, and I say to her, "Quit doing
Mike Etoll and Will have been preparing the old coal room off the
main boiler room, placing an old soiled mattress on the floor and then creating
this devilish shrine along the walls--cattle skulls and stuffed armadillos, a
composite of the bizarre and macabre, Hindu statues of various multiarmed gods,
a wooden stick with a skull carved at its top leaning against the moldy,
poured-concrete wall--a montage of the minute and obscene, of images wished
forgotten but now are here. Many
candles of various sizes are placed throughout the display.
I recognize some familiar items--the stuffed alligator my father had
brought back from Panama, a green statue of Buddha I had stolen from the Widow
Gockley. Mike lights some incense
placed between the crossed legs of an elephant-headed deity placed atop what
used to be my dresser. A mummified
female corpse is laid across the bed. Who
are these people?
begin filming, Borchardt dropping through an open manhole, wearing nothing but
his wife-beater shirt this unseasonably cold and windy day.
Myself standing near the alley, along with Nancy and Patrick, helping
Mark to climb down the manhole. Mark
becomes preoccupied with rust along the inner sleeve of the manhole, saying as
how he hasn't had a tetanus shot within the last several years.
We perform a complicated process of placing blankets and discarded rugs
so at to better facilitate a free-free exercise.
The filming goes long into the night,
all of it now down in the hellhole. I
am not much interested in special-effects shots, preferring instead the nuance
of dialogue and things involving actual acting,
but I occasionally pop in and view the proceedings, noticing that everyone
involved in shooting in the hellhole is coughing like dustbowl tuberculosis
patients. I step into the space,
noticing instantly the atmosphere is putrid and toxic, a sweet pungent smell
that any normal animal, such as a squirrel or dog, would immediately retreat
from. Jon looks at me and says,
"We have to find out what's causing this and get it out of here."
I point out that it probably didn't help that Mike Etoll had sprayed an
aerosol can of black paint on the mattress, plus, for no cinematic reason, had
lit incense on the obscene shrine, plus god-knows-what-other substances he had
used in creating this bizarre setting. Jon
motions to the stack of moldy two-by-fours on the floor.
"I think it's the wood." I
point out that the wood had been here since the beginning and no one had
registered any complaints till now.
The night progresses, and I wonder what
I have unleashed. My neighbors, the
other tenants in the building, live relatively normal lives--at least compared
to what I am currently going through--and I hope these various activities--doors
opening and slamming shut, people scurrying about, corpses moved from here to
there--will not disturb them too much. (tbc...)
Patrick stays over on my couch.
Gizelle and he and I watching the first part of "The Wild
Bunch." Gizelle and I talking
after Patrick had fallen asleep. Gizelle
leaves and I walk her out to her car, carrying her massage thingamajig, now
three in the morning. I try to
write but am too tired.
Buzzer rings. I awake
but instantly relax, hearing Patrick rise from the couch, and I take comfort in
realizing that he will open the door. The
buzzer continues to ring--and it is not a pleasant-sounding buzzer--and
eventually Patrick calls to me, pleadingly--"Harrison, I can't open the
door." I slip on sweatpants,
possessing the mood of a bear woken from its hibernation.
The buzzer continues to ring. Patrick
has turned the wrong knob, implementing a lock device which can only be opened
by a butter knife inserted between the door and the jamb.
I find a butter knife--the buzzing continuing incessantly and not helping
to improve my already foul mood--and insert it between the door and the jamb
and, after, after a few attempts, open the door, proceed up the flight of stairs
and let in Michelle and Nancy. So
this is how movies are made?
The rest of the crew and actors arrive, including a new face--Cindy
Kurtz--ready and willing to get on with this movie business.
Film scenes in front hallway and my door/
Jon makes Cindy cry for and hour-and-a-half, standing at my door.
I go out to get cigarettes and return.
She is still standing there crying.
She turns to me and says she has "snot."
I go to bathroom and come back and give her toilet paper. She blows her nose, then stands awkwardly, what should I do
with this? I take snot-laden toilet
paper from her and dispose of it. What
else can I do? I am the writer.
Cindy and I have beer while others are shooting yet more scenes in
the hellhole. Why would I go back
in there? Which is more pleasant?
Picked up Mom and went to brothers. Email from Jon, etc. Script
Filmed stuff here, then Colfax, then back to my place.
Coffee with Tiff, sitting outside Gigi's
Dreams do not
remove me from the shooting. Dreamed
I was confronting Jon. All day at
St. Joseph's, my big role as a priest, Tiff did makeup on me, made my hair dark
with mascara. Took three washings
to get it out. I look forward to
next day off. These will be car
driving scenes involving a trailer and car-camera mounts
Wake up at seven-thirty to Nancy's voice on my answering machine.
She speaks loudly in the present tense, informing me as I lie in my
comfortable bed with warm covers over me, that the schedule has been changed.
The weather has dictated that the crew will now gather at my place in
half an hour, and basement hallway shooting will commence.
I lie in bed, looking at the ceiling.
The news does not sit well with me.
I consider pretending not to be home, to endure numerous ringings of my
buzzer, poundings on my windows, ringings of my phone with urgent messages left
on my answering machine, knowing that eventually these people will leave.
But of course I cannot do this. This
is the movie that is my life.
I rouse from bed and make coffee, then lie on my couch, covered
with my brown-and-beige afghan, listening to the coffee maker gurgle through its
noisy cycle, hoping I can at least have a cup of coffee and a cigarette in
precious solitude. But just as I
take my first sip, pull my first drag of tobacco, of course, inevitably, bzzzzz!
I rouse myself yet again, letting in Nancy.
I return to my couch and afghan. Nancy
sees Tiffany through the window, lets her in.
Other people arrive, complete with their lets-make-a-movie work ethics.
I don't give a damn. I
continue to lie on my couch, smoking my cigarette and drinking my coffee.
Who are these people? Why
are they doing this? Why did I
write this stupid script?
As the day progresses, I find myself inadequately trying to be
productive. They are filming what I
consider to be Scooby-doo scenes, scenes that I did not write, people groping
through hallways with, of course, fog.
You can't have a horror film without fog.
I am worried about the fire alarm going off. I am but a caretaker in this building, and we have already
pissed off people, people that could jeopardize my tenancy, and, after the
blood-on-the-stairwell incident a week-and-a-half ago, the last thing I desire
is the fire alarm going off, people rushing out of their apartments, etc.
Will uses saran wrap over the smoke detectors, but I fear this may not be
adequate, and I surreptitiously disable the alarm, even though I had told Jon I
couldn't. Double fail-safe.
I hang out in my apt., occasionally trying to write but I cannot do
so because of the numerous and petty interruptions.
I am called to the hallway because of a script problem.
This or that line of dialogue isn't working, they say.
That's because I didn't write it, I tell them.
Lakewood stuff, snow driving down, dead detective, etc.
Sam with black eyes.
Tiffany called. Talked
till my phone went dead. Good
Have the day off, at least off from the movie-making.
Get decent amount of sleep, though still residual tiredness throughout
the day. Clean around the building,
sweeping and mopping up the messes made by the crew.
Bright sunny day but with a deceptive coolness.
Went for afternoon walk down by river, wishing I had dressed warmer. Nygaard came over later.
I tell him about Erika. He
doesn't believe me till I show him obituary.
Tiff calls, but I tell her I can't talk.
Friday the Thirteenth, and is it ever. Jon and Will and Nancy come over to bring stuff to Colfax.
I join them later. (Jon asked if I was coming over, I said of course)
Day from hell. All day
spent filming one scene, albeit a complicated scene replete with special
effects, a puking latex replica of Jay Smiley's head, in which the tube comes
undone and fake vomit spews all over the couch and floor and also Mike Etoll.
Earlier, during struggle rehearsal, Sasha cuts his thumb and Mark has to
be taken to urgent care because of a swollen shin bruise.
Tiffany hurts her back while rising up from a squatting position and
jamming into the under ledge of a claw foot tub.
I also find out I will no longer be employed as caretaker at
Colfax. Nothing to do with film, I
Shooting continues until 11:00 pm. I have glass of wine with Kim, who is also moving out end of
month. A sea change is in the air.
Wake up with five hours of sleep under my belt.
I actually wake up before the alarm.
I am getting used this warrior schedule.
We fight daily a series of small battles, and by doing so we fight a war.
Having some time on my hands before people start arriving, I try
and shit and am successful. My
schedule is adapting. (Mark
Borchardt and I had talked earlier about the difficulty and awkwardness of
taking a shit while people are but a few inches away on the other side of a
door. I told him apartment D was
unlocked and he immediately thanked me for the information, going into Ted's
apartment and quickly returning and walking past me with a roll of toilet
Anyway, my morning solitude was well-appreciated but short-lived.
Nancy, of course, was first to ring my buzzer.
I have grown to like and appreciate and, occasionally, admire Nancy.
She speaks her mind, is not afraid to loudly laugh, and takes
responsibility for her life with a tempered enthusiasm.
Michelle arrived next, I think.
I also remember seeing Jon's van parked on the street outside my window,
though I could see no life in the van. Everything
blurs together. I wear sweatpants.
I don't care.
Nancy sits across from me, venting about Michelle and other people
that annoy her. She speaks like a
man, not couching her concerns in polite circumlocution, but rather mowing down
in broad swaths the actions of blah blah blah
Donuts in the green room. I
put up a notice on the Clear view Cooperative kiosk about the day's filming,
including the good news that this is the last day of filming.
Yet more special effects, Sasha dying (at last!), Tiff gets into
incinerator. Jon told me earlier
that if we shot everything today, we could have a movie that made sense.
Then, with his late-game pessimism, he says things like, the movie is
hanging on by a thread, he hopes he doesn't lose the video tapes, etc.
Once again, an army invades my apartment, my living quarters.
Once again, I find some of my books laid half-open and
ends at midnight. we
are done shooting at my building. As
they pack up an move out, I say, where's everyone going
Alone at last, and relishing it, am called by Patrick, how do I get
from this place to that, etc, I tell him sleep on my couch.
wake up, make coffee, talk to Patrick. Make up excuse about having to visit my mother.
Patrick eventually leaves, and I relish in my solitude.
Then I start to miss people. Just
Called Elizabeth, then Kate. Kate
called back first. Went over to her
place. She and Jim argued over the
ownership of a particular dictionary. Came
home. Talked to Nancy about
tomorrow's shoot. Am giving Etoll a
ride to site, no bones about it.
Sleep without setting alarm. Wake
up around nine-thirty. Tiff stops
over around 11:00 to do my makeup for video interview.
We eat ham and eggs and toast, then she applies makeup.
It feels good to have her touch my face, kind of a gentle massage.
I ask her questions about makeup, applying foundation, etc.
Classical music is playing in the background.
It is a nice and peaceful start to the day.
We also discuss guerilla theater we are going to do during my interview.
Tiff offers to drive. We
get in her little Toyota Celica, listening to the new Nine Inch Nails album,
"Year Zero," or something like that.
The day is at that perfect temperature where you can wear as many or as
little clothes as you like and still be equally comfortable.
I could have spent the whole day riding around with Tiff, listening to
the music, watching the scenery, relaxing because Tiff is a natively good
driver, as she is an actor, realizing there is a flow to these matters, a timing
and point of emphasis. But, of
course, all too soon, we arrive at Nelson Office Supplies and our appointment.
We go to the sixth floor, riding the old-fashioned elevator,
stepping off the elevator and seeing Nancy at the end of the hall, talking on
her cell phone and saying, to whomever she's speaking, "They're here right
now." Nancy leads us to a back
warehouse area where a camera is set up for the dvd-extra interviews, people are
setting things up, adjusting lighting and sound, Jon, looking as tired as ever,
is overseeing the activity. Mike
Etoll and Christian Hanson are practicing being interviewed by some guy named
Paul, a tall guy with a long face and a wispy goat-tee, a stocking cap and
numerous piercings on his ear lobes. He
carries a strange black box with a silver crucifix embedded on its lid.
Again, as with most of these goth people I have met, he seems very
sincere, intelligent, and normal. I
am not at all sure what Satan thinks of this.
Tiff whispers to me that she has to change.
I nod my head, having no idea what she meant.
I run into her later. She is
wearing a magenta wig with wide pony tails
Things are setting up. There
is time to kill. Tiff and I walk
over to The Artists' Grind, a coffee shop advertising on its brick-wall canopy
"sammies," (whatever they are), a "gallery," and, of course,
"wireless internet." We
want only coffee. There is a liquor
store right next door, "Sherrat's Liquors," real old school, and I go
in to buy a pack of Camels and a pint of Korbel.
I hand my freshly lit cigarette to Tiff and go inside.
As I am purchasing my items, the clerk motions to someone behind me.
"Hey, Mary," he says, "you gotta see this girl outside
here." Mary comes over and the
clerk points out Tiffany. I point
out that she is a friend of mine. The
three of us walk outside into the sunshine, and I make vague but generous
introductions. Everyone smiles and
laughs, including Tiff. She and I
walk into coffee shop. Nancy is
there, along with long-faced, ear-pierced interviewer Paul, and Mike Etoll and
Christian. It has that feel of a
coffee shop located in an industrial area with early afternoon sun coming in,
that feel of people who have nowhere else to be, and so they are, as us, here.
Nancy offers to buy me and Tiff coffee, which we let her do.
Nancy's phone rings--they are ready for us.
We make our way back to the studio.
Mike and Christian are really interviewed this time by Paul, the
camera rolling. I am next, but
there will be some time before this happens.
Tiff and I go out for a cigarette. Standing
out on the sidewalk, Tiff vents. "Those guys didn't even mention me, all the stuff I've
helped them work on. Like, hello,
maybe they could at least mention my name."
I agree with her and join in her anger.
I do not like it when women who have contributed as much as any of the
men, if not more, suddenly find themselves swept into the background.
We go back up. My
interview starts. Interruption,
sound not working. Jon Springer
comes up to adjust my microphone, noticing the pint of Korbell in my jacket
pocket. He smiles.
I take bottle out and place in my cargo pants pocket, then decide to take
a pull, which I do. Interviewer
Paul notices. Makes for good press,
I tell myself.
Interview starts, Paul being friendly and asking pre-established
questions. Then Tiffany, with her
magenta, twin-pony tailed wig enters and whispers in my ear.
I tell her, "Hey, you tell Spielberg I'll talk to him when I'm damn
good and ready."
Of course, the take does not work. Jon interrupting things and coming up to adjust my
microphone, the whole thing on the point of becoming embarrassing, everyone
involved confused. I explain that
it is avante guard theater. We
start over, but the magic is lost, and that is sometimes what happens in avante
guard guerilla theater. I decide to
cut the losses, and Tiff winds up sitting on a stool next to me while Paul
valiantly, and to his credit, continues the interview.
Tiff drops me off at home, after worried concerns about antifreeze
leaking from underneath her car. Nothing
is easy in this life. An hour or so
alone to myself, and then the pagan, Satanic mass ritual thing, located on a
horse farm outside of Stillwater. Bonfire
going, half-naked men and women, blah, blah, blah.
A gusty and impertinent wind blows.
I drive Gizelle back to her car, following Tiff in her intrepid
Celica. It has been yet another
grueling and time-consuming shoot. I
walk up behind Jon and his camera. He
is filming the smoke rising from the ashes of the quenched bonfire.
I watch through the camera monitor.
Jon turns to me and says maybe we can use this for titles and credits
I drive Gizelle to her car, parked at some suburban cineplex,
following Tiff in her car till the point of no return.
I get home around two am, stay up till three or so, setting my alarm for
seven-thirty. This is the movie
that is my life.
Wake up before alarm, return fitfully to sleep, ever aware of the
annoying buzzing sound that is about to occur.
Eventually rise from bed and make coffee. I sit on my couch. Time
passes by, not that I don't relish it, but this also time I could spend
garnering valuable sleep. I call
She answers, saying, "This is Nancy."
I ask where everyone is. She
explains, that, oh gee, we decided not to meet at my place until ten' o'clock.
I point out the obvious, that I could have actually gotten some serious
sleep. She says she didn't want to
call me at two-in-the-morning, possibly disrupting my sleep.
I let it go, not presenting the obvious arguments.
I have time to kill, this morning of mid-April...
Eventually, a skeletal crew arrives. This is the nucleus of our group--Jon, the director; Nancy,
the assistant director; Ron, the sound guy; Will, the grip;
Mark, the lead actor; and myself, the...
well, whatever. We drink
coffee and eat doughnuts, then drive to Lakewood Cemetery, filming a short scene
in which Marks kneels before a tombstone and places flowers on it.
Jon says he needs a gas station bathroom for a scene of Mark washing
blood off his hands. The bathroom
should be grungy and large enough for Jon and his camera.
And it should also have an outside entrance so we shoot the scene without
having to ask permission. Nancy and
I take off in her truck to go location scouting.
We stop at a BP station on Lyndale and 36th.
I go in and buy cigarettes and ask to use the bathroom.
It is large with panels-panels and could conceivably work.
Trouble is, we would have to ask permission. We head south on Lyndale, Nancy becoming increasingly
frustrated and vocal about it. We
find another gas station. I go in
and use the toilet. Too small.
Nancy goes into the women's room of an SA on Lyndale and 40th,
talking to Jon on her cell phone. Again
too small. We leave in her truck to meet Jon at the first bathroom, a
ceramic coffee cup sliding across the dashboard as Nancy makes a sudden right
turn, coffee spilling. "Goddamnit!"
says Nancy, grabbing the cup and throwing it out the window, the sound of it
smashing behind us. "Will you marry me, Nancy?" I ask.
"I've always wanted to marry a woman with such a sweet
disposition." "Shut the
fuck up!" she tells me.
We meet up with Jon. He
checks out bathroom, coming back towards us and shaking his head.
I suggest we think outside the box (yes, I actually said that),
suggesting that he simply use the bathroom located in his office building.
He thinks for a moment or two, then nods his head.
I smile smugly to myself, thinking, this is why I make the big bucks.
We go to Colfax to shoot one more scene in Ted's apt., then back to
my place, to do close-ups of Mark responding to Sasha's death scene.
Nancy sets up her portable propane-fed barbecue thing on the front stoop,
and we all have hotdogs and chili and chips.
There is a noticeable lack of energy this last day of shooting, everyone
moving with an underwater slowness. Jon
says we need a cheerleader. "Give
me an 'H,'" I say. "Give
me an 'A.' Give me a 'G.'"
But the little joke falls flat, expending what little energy I had left,
dissipating into the blue sky of mid-April.
The crew leaves to meet with Cyndi at Colfax, and I stay home to
work on Mark's final over voice monologue, which by necessity must be rewritten.
I meet up with the intrepid crew later at Jon's office space, and we
record Mark speaking the lines, again constantly interrupted by overhead
airplanes and underneath buses. But,
eventually, we get the job done. Slowly,
as though waking from a dream, we realize the shooting has ended, the battle is
over, we have emerged on the other side.
Though any or all of us could have left at that point, could have
gone home and started to catch up on our lives, we lingered, sitting on the
couch and chairs surrounding a large coffee table, even Jon drinking a beer from
the twelve-pack Nancy had brought. We
reminisced about the different events, laughing with that giddiness of the
over-tired, many of our comments not even making sense, but who cares?
We were battle-weary, we were fuzzy-brained and shank-cheeked, but we
were warriors, and we were relishing, finally, not defeat but victory.
I slept the sleep of the guilty and the damned.
I get out of bed around nine-thirty, make my coffee, perform my toilet.
For once, I have no dread of a mass of people swarming into my place.
The radio is playing Bach, intricate and relaxing.
I call Bill. We talk.
Eventually, I begin my care taking duties, sweeping the back
stairs, mopping up the residue left by the film crew, and a sense of prosaic
normalcy returns. Nancy and Mike
Etoll come by to pick up the mattresses left in the hell hole.
I tell them I will finish cleaning the rest.
I do laundry. I don't fold
Take bath. Drive to
wrap party. It is fun.
Blah blah blah. Come home. Finish
diary. The rest is silence.