Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, 3 November 1997 – Portland, OR

Listened to two baseball games on the radio on the train—first, in Cleveland, then in Miami—Cleveland lost the first, won the second. Most annoying train ride I ever had, but still have a good feeling about the train, overall—really beautiful scenery, especially in Colorado in the daytime, and then Nevada and California the next day. Train arrived in San Francisco an hour late, in the evening, and I walked to the hotel. Actually, the train arrived in Emeryville and people going to SF take a bus to SF, Ferry Terminal. People were calling cabs, but cabs coming said it would be an hour! Saturday night, I guess. So I walked instead. It turned out not to be so hard, walking up Market Street—my stuff was heavy, but not unbearable. Then I turned on Eddy Street, where the hotel is—and that street turned into kind of a scary urban environment, kind of poor and run down, people hanging out everywhere, and I felt kind of vulnerable carrying such big bags. Some guy asked me if I wanted to buy some Ensure. Finally I got there, to the hotel, a welcome sight.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Thursday, 23 October 1997

Long drive to Philadelphia—stayed in a Holiday Inn. Pretty nice, but no pool. First morning there I walked around for about two hours, which was fun, and later we walked around putting up flyers, which was fun.

I called Sue Harvey—she had already seen the American Job movie. I had her pick me up and visited at her house. She's married now and owns a house—huge row house, with a nice back yard and garden. She has a big dog and about five cats.

Later, second day there, we did a talk at Temple University. Then Suzanne and Margot left on a train for NYC. Oh, also, the party after the first show was at The Balcony—pretty nice place—and the bands were good! Sue and Scott (I think her husband's name is) came to the bar, talked some more. Sue knows that guy T.J. who I met in Athens once and had breakfast with.

We left early on the drive for Columbus from Philly. It was an easy drive, really. Checked into the Ramada in Columbus, and it had a pool! Pretty nice big pool with a really hot hot tub and a really hot sauna. Drove downtown to campus late and ate at Garcia's, which was weird. Next day we picked up Hannah at the airport and went to the theater. They put on a big show/block party, with IFC execs there, including Mark Lipsky. I met Jeff Frank, owner of the theater (Drexel). Here I experienced stress. Who should I call? Mom and Dad came down. It seemed hectic, but it all worked out. Ate with Mom and Dad and Aunt Mary Alice at the Kahiki, and then went to the movie. Had to talk a bit before the show with Steve and Hannah and Jeff Frank and Mark Lipsky. Then answered questions after the show. Then saw Gilmore—talked awhile, also Misun, and Loren Lazarony, and Ron House and Trina, and talked to Brian on the phone. Scrawl played. Called Beth and left a message. Took parents back to hotel, returned for the end of the big party, then back to the Ramada, the picked up my stuff, then drove to parents' Radison, slept, up early, tried to swim in cold pool, but also hot tub and sauna were cold. It sucked. Drove back to Sandusky, ate at Millie's Diner in Galion, and then came back to Columbus with the Buick, for the end of the American Job show, answered questions. Aunt Mary Alice and Gilmore were at that show. Relaxed the rest of the day—talked to Gilmore for awhile—missed rest of the World Series game, then swam some more as Hannah videotaped us, and some young girls, and interviewed them. Got up early and swam. Sarah called the hotel in Cleveland, and they had no reservations or rooms. So we changed plans and drove to Sandusky, they followed me, and found a hotel room at the new Comfort Inn on Milan Road with a pool and good hot tub and sauna. Next day I drove with them (Steve and Sarah) to Cleveland and to WCPN for an interview (me and Steve). Then we went to the Ramada to check in, and meanwhile the Omni called, found reservations and gave them free rooms and dinner. So we checked out of the Ramada, picked Chris up at the airport and drove to the Omni. It's a really fancy place, in a lot of fake ways, but some nice, like phones in the toilet. Then we went to our free dinner and then we went down to the Cedar Lee Theater where IFC exec was again (a nice woman from Milwaukee) and American Job showed at 7pm. Jeff and Robin came for it, and also Karen and Chris Nottage, and Tim and Carolyn, and Bill and Craig and Mike Baker. So that was fun. During the movie I called Heather, and Jeff Curtis. Also went the restaurant for a ginger ale which was free—“On the house.” Went to the party briefly at the Grog Shop. Talked to Mike Baker. Left before bands played. Said bye to Steve, then, as he won't be going to the West Coast. Hopefully Chris and Sarah will.

Had a good day in Sandusky on Tuesday, watched baseball Tuesday night. Left Wednesday morning, 7am. Chicago around noon, then big train for the West. It's now Thursday, in Colorado.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Saturday, 18 October 1997

In Columbus for the second day—oh—what did I miss? In Philadelphia—called Sue Harvey, and went to visit her at her house—she owns it, is married to a guy named Scott (?), has a big dog and many, many cats. Later she and her husband came to the club—the Balcony, where some OK bands played.

The other high point was going to Temple U. to give a talk to film students.

Wait, to continue Boston—on the night of the show I called Nancy, met with her on a street corner, drove around, met her friend and 3½ year old daughter, Veronica! She said she was going through a bad divorce. And her mother died last summer. And Pete died last summer.

Later I had dinner with Revolution John and talked. Then the movie—met with John's wife Roz, and then just before the movie, Claire and Karen and their friends. Talked to them all after the movie. Skipped the party.

Now in Columbus,

Now on the train—

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wednesday, October 15 1997


As expected, I'm getting more and more lax about writing everything down. But perhaps it can be salvaged. What are the high points?

We stayed, instead of at the shithole Susse Chalet in Boston, at the home of Esther's grandmother, Ms. Nadia Williams, in Rockport, Mass, or more specifically, Pigeon Cove, Mass, which is a cape or something, jutting out into the Atlantic on the north coast of the state, near New Hampshire. Her house is an aging old house in the woods—the main part was built in 1660, and then additions were built a hundred years later, and then eventually more additions were added. We couldn't remember exactly how many rooms there were, or how many total beds there were in the house—attics and back stairways, etc.

The next night we stayed by the ocean in “The Studio”—an A-frame, kinda, by the ocean, and at night and in the morning we walked by the Ocean, the Atlantic.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sunday, 12 October 1997

Pigeon Cove, Mass

I've been falling asleep writing lately, quite a bit, really tired, drinking way too much coffee, too. Yesterday was a weird day, checked into the hotel south of Boston, then went to the theater, Kendall Square in Cambridge—kind of a weird, modern, mall complex type of place. We set up there, then met up with Suzanne, Christie, and Esther. I tried calling people, only talked to Revolution John. Then we started making plans. Plans, plans, plans, plans, plans, more plans than I can keep straight in my mind at once, more plans than can exist together at one time together with or without the help of experts who collaborate to plan to make plans together and with each other and among and with.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday, 10 October 1997

Providence, RI

Spending more time in the Motel 6 lobby. I am feeling rather relaxed and comfortable here, like a ______. [illegible] I'm just about as tired as I can be after a good night's sleep. Yesterday, after the barber shop, drug store, walking around, we waited at the theater for the New York contingent from about 2pm until 6pm or so, when, oh, stayed there—ate dinner at the theater. Then we went down to the RISD auditorium, met with John Terry, the head of the film department. We set up in the RISD auditorium, which was quite nice—and big, and had a pretty good video projection system. Steve and I noticed a squirrel in the auditorium, a squirrel that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. They put a table and chairs on stage and Margot, Suzanne, Steve and I sat there and one by one showed respective clips and talked about them and the movies. I don't really remember what I said—just rambled on a little bit about its origins and the script and lack of a script. It all went pretty well, answered questions, and then we went back to the theater (Cable Car Cinema) and to a club (AS220) and here and there, in between I introduced American Job screening, then talked to like three people afterwards, who were very nice. Went to the club, it was a drag by then, but downtown Providence was excellent.

At least three people interviewed me yesterday—two from local school newspapers, and one guy on the phone from Ohio—Cleveland, or Lorain. I went to check out Carberry House, as Heather asked—it's abandoned now. Today I called Jonathan, and me and Steve and Sarah drove out there and visited—his wife, Cindy, wasn't around but their new baby, Emma, was, and their cat and two new dogs. It was really nice to see him—high point of the trip so far. Now we're at the theater on a Friday night. I'm really quite tired.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Thursday, 9 October 1997

Providence, RI

Sarah and Steve and I are at a barber shop in Providence, and Steve's getting a haircut. He's done, and described it as “outstanding.” Joseph's Barber Shop. We went around to a few stores, found a tobacco store, and went to a really great Portuguese general store that had all these records—Fado records, etc.—no way in hell to know what's good and what's not. This store has everything, all kinds of weird misc. products. I will return here, I hope, each day I remain in Providence.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday, 8 October 1997

Providence, RI

Yesterday morning we left Sarah's mother's house—oh, earlier, she got up and took Chris to the train station to catch a train to the airport. Then Sarah and Steve and I drove to Providence—which took all day, but not a bad drive, really, except when we got to Rhode Island and a huge traffic jam for road construction. Then we got to the Motel 6 and the trouble began. The corporate Fuel Tour American Express card wouldn't go through, the motel was full (fortunately Sarah had called ahead) and it took us two hours to get checked in. Meanwhile, we ate at the hotel Country Restaurant—breakfast all day, at least. I had greasy corned beef hash. The hotel was OK, then, and I called Heather, and Elissa, too.

This morning we drove into Providence—found the theater—which is really nice, with couch seats and a full cafe, some of which Steve spilled on my notebook. Then we went to Louis Diner, which Heather recommended, and it was great—really cheap—$2.65 breakfast with good hash browns, a good waitress, and old Louis himself, a great old weirdo talking to us, telling us the waitress likes to “listen” too much!

Then we walked around Brown and RISD and looked for papers and flyers, and looked at the waterfront and found the theater where the talk is tomorrow, and then found the faculty member at RISD who was coordinating it. We were in his office and I looked out the door and there was Jonathan Highfield, who I knew from Iowa City—I had no idea he was in Providence—he's teaching English at RISD and is remarried and has a little girl named Emma. It was really nice to see him. Me and Jonathan and Steve went walking around and he gave us somewhat of a tour, and then bought us coffee and nachos. We met back up with Sarah and back to the hotel and then ate at a Thai restaurant. Then to the theater, and watched both Alchemy and Arresting Gina. Now back at the motel watching a Janis Joplin special on VH1. Good nite!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Monday, 6 October 1997

Washington Plaza Hotel - Washington DC

Chris and I are sitting at the pool at the Washington Plaza Hotel in downtown Washington DC—it's a pretty outdoor pool facing a modern, curved, 9 story hotel, and it's plenty warm to swim, an unseasonably warm Indian summer day in the 90s. The hotel is filling up with a huge, unmanageable group of Germans—I don't know of what affiliation. There's a Peace Corps group meeting on the pool deck, and the Germans want to swim, presenting the hotel authorities with non-existent problems. Chris and I are invisible, anonymous guests—Stephen is staying here just tonight, and we're waiting for Sarah.

Our first night in DC was really good, a decent crowd for American Job at the Key Theatre, at the late, 9:30 show—I answered questions afterwards in the lobby and we sold T-shirts and posters. Sarah and Chris and I are staying at Sarah's mother's house, and it's quite comfortable—she and her husband just moved in—not too far into suburbs—and I even have my own room. We picked Chris up yesterday at the airport, he's mostly tired from working on his documentary and he's burnt out. I've been feeling good, but tired, too, from lack of exercise. Went out to eat at a nice Thai restaurant, really good, with Sarah's mom and her husband, they took us out, really nice of them. Last night we ate at [illegible] Restaurant, quite good, near the theater—and today we had lunch at a good place, I had chili and a spinach salad. Plus, brunch on Sunday at Sarah's house—I'm eating well. Not going crazy.

Yesterday, everyone got into town, including Suzanne, Esther, one of the coordinators, and others, including Adam, the guy who does stuff with the Sundance Channel website, and who interviewed us in LA. So everything was very festive and exciting—we went to a party at a shithole called The Black Cat. I was very tired, all in all.

Today we got up, met up with Suzanne, Steve, and Dante and went to the NPR studio and did an interview with Pat Dowell. The studio was extremely high tech and fancy. Then we went to a restaurant and I went to a payphone and called Kristen in Portland, and she interviewed me. Then we went to Steve's hotel and sat by the pool. Later, Sarah picked us up and we went to George Washington University and I parked the van in the parking garage while Sarah and Chris and Suzanne went in to a conference hall with a setup for making a TV show. I had to sit off to the side in the front of the audience with a huge name-tag in front of me. The presentation, which included clips, which were kind of bad on the faulty technology, went on for quite awhile—like over two hours—with lots of questions afterwards. I talked to a whole bunch of students afterwards. Chris and Suzanne had to rush back to introduce movies, so I stayed at dinner at TGI Friday's—oh, where we went for dinner afterwards, courtesy of the department. I talked to a bunch of students about various things, then Steve and Chris came back to pick me up. We gave a girl a ride back to Georgetown and she told us about her plastic surgeon, breast reduction surgery, rich doctor father, etc. Then we went to the theater—oh, on the way we stopped at a place where this woman said there was a club. It was closed, but we got to hear from a homeless guy from Alabama, how he needed money to buy some Pepto-Bismol because he had eaten some bad seafood.

After the American Job show, we had a short Q&A, but the theater manager was clearing us out, but then I noticed suddenly, Calvin Johnson! He was there with his band, Dub Narcotic—and didn't even know I was in this movie. Also along was Ian MacKaye, which I realized later, who said (Sarah said) something about “Stipe” telling them to go.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Saturday, 4 October 1997

En Route

We're in the Plymouth Voyager, me, Sarah, Stephen, and Dante, on our way from Raleigh to Washington DC. Said goodbye to Jim and Joyce this morning, by 9:30 or 10:00 we're on our way.

Yesterday, shows went a little better—a handful of people at American Job—a small but good audience. I answered a few questions afterwards. Talked to some nice people in the lobby. In the meantime, as well, we've spent a lot of time hanging out in the theater lobby. This is a two screen theater on a particularly deserted strip-mall in the middle of seemingly nowhere—but no less nowhere than anywhere else in suburban sprawl. The best part about hanging out was talking to, or mostly listening to, Wes, the theater manager and head projectionist. Wes is a very funny, talkative, outgoing, young, southern gay gentleman who says he works at six theaters and has been doing so all his life. He has opinions about everything, is very smart, looks like he's only about 20, says he moved out of home when he was in 6th grade. I can't remember half of what he was talking about now. If we would have had the proposed video camera we would have several hours of Wes at this point, talking about everything, and very little else.

We did a little exploring of Raleigh in the past couple of days, and found some cool stuff. Sarah and Joyce and I ate lunch at The Mecca one day, an old lunch counter downtown. And then Sarah and I ate lunch the next day at Big Ed's City Market Restaurant—the famous downtown Raleigh place, and it is very, very good. I had barbecue pork, coleslaw, potatoes, and collard greens, and chocolate pudding for dessert.

I'm jerked out of my country cooking reverie by our arrival in downtown Washington DC, smack in the middle of a giant Promise Keepers rally in the Mall, under the Washington Monument, or wherever the hell we are. There's a giant rock concert like stage set up with a huge screen hanging under it with the speaker at the moment projected on the thousands gathered here. He's talking about taking our cities back in the name of Jesus. It's about the most bizarre sight I've ever seen. Now they're all singing a hymn. It's all men, that's the first thing you notice. I've got to read something about this organization when we get in—it's fascinating.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thursday, 2 October 1997

Raleigh, NC

Caught in a whirlwind of activity since I got off the train in Raleigh. I didn't carry my notebook with me, have time to jot anything down, or have a chance to read Moby-Dick in what seems like several weeks, but in fact is just a day or two. I changed trains in Washington DC, and had a couple hours to walk around. Their station is huge, very fancy, and full of activity. It's right in the middle of everything, it seems. I went walking down the street and was within sight of several huge monuments that are overly familiar, but which, of course, I've never been very interested in. It was all very creepy in person—and overly quiet, very weird—the sound of a guy playing Jimi Hendrix songs near the strain station was very welcome. I sat by a reflecting pool—I almost always like fountains—and smoked a cigarette, taking care to not even leave my matches on the ground when I left, for fear of arrest.

The train down to Raleigh, then, was a bit of a drag, being a smaller, less spacious variety, and after being on the train a full three days I had about had enough. The smoking lounge here was really funny, being part of the cafe car with certain, designated smoking TIMES—like half hour periods every two or three hours—so I sat in for a couple of smoking times and listened to everyone talk—about smoking, of course, and also various tragedies, maladies, revenge, and hospitalization.

When I reached Raleigh, at least seven cab drivers descended on me, and wouldn't leave me alone until I explained, to each of them, that I was waiting for someone to pick me up, and if I had them drive me to where I was going, even if I knew where that was, when the person came to pick me up I wouldn't be there. This explanation seemed to satisfy none of them—they must have thought money was an issue and I was bidding for the lowest offer, or perhaps I was waiting for some regular, favorite cab driver—some despised rival of theirs.

Jim arrived before too long—we had never met, but we were the only two there besides cab drivers, so we had no mix-up. We went back to his apartment and talked—Joyce was meeting Sarah at the airport—Sarah had missed her first plane. Finally, they showed up. Sarah had picked up the mini-van at the airport. There was some kind of mix-up, naturally.

The next day, Sarah, Joyce, and I went to breakfast at Watkins Grill, a good ole' country diner, and a good way to start off any stay somewhere new. I got a good feeling, and a cheap breakfast steak, and some fine grits. I strained myself from making any jokes about “Does Dale Earnhardt drink coffee here,” etc. as Joyce said it was a NASCAR hangout. I didn't want anyone to misinterpret my sense of humor, me being a yankee and all.

Later we met Steve from the CLC film group—he's going on the tour, and we had to drive out to the airport car rental place to get his and my personal information recorded on the database. Naturally it was a hassle. Then we started countless journeys back and forth from the theater where the films would be, then to the bar in Chapel Hill, 30 minutes away, making arrangements for the opening night party. In the meantime, we kept ourselves occupied speculating, wondering, and talking about people behind their backs. It would prove to be one of the primary diversions of a shindig such as this.

The preparations consisted mostly of putting up a huge banner in the theater, and one in the bar. The banners announce the “Fuel Film Tour” and some of the sponsors. Later, there promised to be more banners with more sponsors. Putting up banners is harder and more time-consuming than it would seem. Later, a representative from Conde Nast, one of the sponsors, a pleasant woman named Despina, showed up to make sure things were running smoothly. She got to see that the banner in the theater was up, and also see two of the three people who attended with opening showing of American Job leave the theater after about a half hour. Two nice southern ladies in their eighties. They saw me and recognized me and said, “You're beautiful—but that movie is terrible.” I guess if I was taking the role of the traditional actor, hearing that they thought I was beautiful would probably be enough—but as it is, I'm not that concerned with my beauty. I was considering giving them a pep talk, but I thought there is no reason they shouldn't hate the movie—me being here to encourage them shouldn't change their minds. I hate the art business. Anyway, once you start getting into the habit of trying to explain everything, the next thing you know, you're old.

Later we saw Delicate Art of the Rifle, the CLC movie, and I met the rest of their core group: Dante, Todd, and Alicia. I guess Alicia had designed the T-shirts and posters we will be taking with us to sell in each city, and I must say, as a not-fan of posters and T-shirts, these are quite nice. If there is anything left of them by the time we get to Portland, I'll probably have developed some kind of uncontrollable fondness for them and choose to own a few. As far as the movie goes, I liked it quite a bit—it's very unusual in pacing and style—I won't go into it now, but I think we'll all have a lot of explaining to do. I don't want to come off as pretentious, but when I consider this whole thing, it could appear that what we are doing is taking difficult art to the strip-malls of America, and it could turn out to be a folly of the highest order. We'll see.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Tuesday, 30 September 1997

On the Train – Cumberland, MD

Now on the 2nd train of my trip – the “Capitol Limited” – it's another big “Superliner” train, but I had to sit next to someone, so less room to sleep. Cumberland looks like a nice town from the train. I'm always attracted to these old, brick, small towns where the church steeples are the tallest structures. It makes you think about how arrogant and un-Godlike it is to build skyscrapers. It's like just coming out and saying, “Business and money is more important than God.” You would think the Christians would have put up a good fight—maybe they did—but I guess they got rolled over on that one. Now it's to the point that when someone builds a skyscraper, Christians don't even twinge. Hell, they're the ones building them!

I imagine living in Cumberland—it's easy to imagine living places you see from the train, and most likely everything you think is wrong. It looks like a place where I could get around without a car pretty well—live and work downtown. Could I find a job—maybe at a department store? Are there any department stores left? I bet there's some good breakfast places, somewhere I could find a bearable job, and a cheap place to live, above a store or something. Not cheap enough, but with some distinguishing aspect like a good window or a large bathtub or a skylight.

I guess I could go to anywhere in the country on the Amtrak train since it stops here. Three hours to DC, 15 to Chicago—I could get anywhere in the country I wanted to go without flying or even getting in a car. I guess the first big drawback I can think of about living in a place like Cumberland is no movies. Not the ones I want to see. Jim Carrey, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford. Then start the cycle over. “We show four kinds of movies here—Jim Carrey...” That is always the big thing—movies—that decides where I can and can't live. I'm sure other small factors—such as people—could possibly come into play, but we needn't ever even think that far.

Somehow things like skyscrapers never bother me in New York, but I guess in general New York is a place where very few rules hold true. It seems like it could be the one place I move back to. Plenty of reasons not to, but plenty of reasons TO. It's the city of plenty. The fact that it's hard to despise an enormous shrine to an automobile like the Chrysler Building is a good example of the contradictions of NYC. It's a Godless place, but then it's not either. Not that I care one way or another about a place being Godless or not, it's just that New York can be so many things at once.

Chicago, however, never should try to compete with New York—they should never have built anything taller than a church, and just let it be a rambling, dense, old-fashioned brick metropolis. Skyscrapers don't have anything to do with wise use of space and density—not when so much space on the ground goes dilapidated and unused within such a short distance to the skyscraper. Skyscrapers are about power, only, and that's it. In Chicago they built a skyscraper church—an interesting though misguided idea. Would it be something God would approve of? And anyway, it's still lorded over by the cheesy, ugly Sears Tower.

The train got into Chicago just around after work rush hour—especially for offices downtown—5 PM on a Monday. No worse time can you imagine to step into the hub of downtown—people leaving their offices with lifeless faces of death. They're like zombies, but never have you seen zombies, or people, move so fast. From the elevator to the revolving door to the choice of transit—single-minded, every day, it's the most horrible sight I've ever seen. And those are the good jobs! Certainly it's better to work downtown than in some horrible office park somewhere, but I guess the commute is the thing that makes either one what they are. It looks like Chicago is putting in high-priced downtown residences like every other city, but still, this would be no place to live. I walked around looking for the old-time, slightly run-down restaurant I ate in before, but I can't find it. I don't know if it's gone, but I see nothing but fast-food places and expensive restaurants—nothing in between. I'm sure if you lived or worked down here, you'd discover something—and I've known from visiting other times there are really good neighborhoods in Chicago. And almost every big city has a lifeless, cold downtown hub—but this has got to be the worst. By 6 PM the streets are empty. The only one left is me and a guy trying to ask me for money—for a bus back to his home—and he even shows me the note from his loved one. It's as windy as any place I've ever been. People think that Chicago was named “The Windy City” because of its wind, but it was named that by some New Yorker making fun of Chicago's constantly trying to compete with New York, and talking itself up. Part of that included trying to beat out New York in the skyscraper derby. So they cut down all the trees and built concrete wind tunnels on the edge of Lake Michigan. Anyone will tell you that's a bad idea. Now, “Windy City” had a duel meaning, but they are connected.

The only other person on the street now, as it gets dark—besides me and another guy with a handful of dimes who needs 40 more cents for bus fare—is a woman who is leaning out of her car door—her “Club” firmly in place on the steering wheel—a white, middle-aged, middle class woman—what's she doing? Oh, she's tying on roller blades, and now locks her car, and with a big smile she's off down the street. Who would pick the downtown business district of Chicago just after dark to go roller blading? HER—I guess—and, oh, now it occurs to me what she's doing. She rules Chicago.