Author Unknown (3)

July 8, 2020

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Oh, but how you want to be known for something! Even for just one book. One story. Being published is a fantasy as powerful as any opiate, more so because of your tireless effort. Each book was an obsession, like Captain Ahab’s Great White Whale, Ernest Shackleton’s quest to find the arctic passage, compelling you forward, driving you insane. You forsook everything to write –parties, movies, dinners with your wife, talking and fucking. _______ vacillated between resignation and resentment, jealous of your ardor for writing, how you cherished the craft more than her. It would pay off, you told her, you told yourself. When you became a known commodity.

You came so close…

The meetings in Hollywood were electric, with so many important people giving a shit about you and your work. Even so, the pinnacle eluded you. For your first book you settled with a dozen mostly positive reviews on Amazon and a $7,500 dollar option from Touchstone Pictures that went nowhere. Your second and third novels had equally mixed results. None were failures. But none were great successes, at least in terms of the marketplace.

Self-publishing demanded you do your own marketing and publicity. Being an ad man you took this on with gusto. For The Last Generation, you produced a teaser video, which can still be found on You Tube. You created billboards and posters for The Happy Soul Industry. For Sweet By Design you hosted an online book cover contest, giving away an iPad to the winner. Each book had its own website, Facebook and Twitter. You wrote press releases. You wrote more queries, this time looking for options, reviewers and always a legitimate publisher. Above all, you wrote checks. Lots of checks. Some days it felt like buying lottery tickets. Other times you were pissing in the wind. But you paid. You would always bet on yourself.

To be continued…

(If you’re interested in any of my books please click on the links right side of this blog!)

The Storage Locker (2)

April 4, 2020


Every day you brought another load, chipping away at the boxes in your soon-to-be-former home’s crawlspace, from the jammed shelves in the garage, from your wife’s endless wardrobes. Every day you filled the car with possessions. Public Storage Works was off the 101, skirting the freeway in a dilapidated neighborhood of San Rafael. It loosely resembles the fabled production lots where you once made TV commercials, but drearier. Here stuff got put away and locked down, each unit a tomb for the diminishing lives of its owners. Staring at the numbered lockers, you observe a sad looking man creeping out from under a half-lowered gate. Like a gaunt bear emerging from his den. Squinting in the sun, he lights up a cigarette. You flash on a moment. A music video was being made in the studio next to where you were filming, for the band Linkin Park. In the merciless, midday sun you had smoked a joint with the guitarist. In Hollywood anything could happen.

To be continued…

Eve Babitz

February 26, 2020


Overlooked as a writer for being a looker, the bombshell author, Eve Babitz. You discovered her while reading a biography of Jann Wenner, the mercurial founder of Rolling Stone magazine. She was merely a footnote, yet you were immediately smitten. Babitz would become infamous for the now-iconic photograph of her playing chess with Marcel Duchamp in the nude. The old man had thankfully worn clothes. Yet Eve was in all her glory. Wavy dark hair obscures her face, highlighting the body. And what a body! Eve’s proud breasts cantilevered over the chessboard and your imagination. By her own admission, Eve was a party girl, part of the in-crowd in 1970’s LA. And she liked to fuck. A lot. Unabashed about her lust, Eve considered sex an art form. Her –ahem– position was that even the most average person could become an artist by creating “sexual masterpieces.” To Eve, sex was creation and nothing to be ashamed of. Eve, you quickly learned, was also a gifted writer. In between carrying on with many luminaries or just lucky guys she met at one of her favorite haunts, she managed to write numerous books. None best sellers but those who read and reviewed them said they were special, capturing not only the gossipy aspects of her life but also the druggy, smoggy, sun drenched milieu of Los Angeles in the seventies. She was compared to Joan Didion, her peer and good friend during those heady years. In a fit of passion, you promptly order both women’s books, lustfully reading them one after the other, alternating between the two as if in a three-way. Didion you’d heard of but of “Eve Babitz with the great big tits” you were ignorant. Not anymore. A zaftig siren, a flirter of men and fame, blithely taking her own talent for granted, Eve was irresistible.



This is normally not a place for movie reviews but once in a while a film comes along that I cannot help but discuss. Focus starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie is just such a film. Unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons.

Focus is bad. Shockingly, inexcusably bad. The script. The acting. The direction. It’s wrongly made in every way.

Where to begin? The story is about a con man (Smith), who mentors another (Robbie), and the subsequent shit they get into. Forgive my logline. It’s not really possible to put this mess of a narrative into words. The screenwriter couldn’t do it and neither can I. Between elaborate and unbelievable cons the couple falls in love (awkward and painful) and are ultimately involved in a super con that goes awry.

Or does it???

Look. This sort of thing is supposed to be fun (like The Sting or Paper Moon) but alas it is anything but.


Instead we have stereotypical bad guys drawn up like buffoons from the worst Steven Seagal movies: The corrupt Spanish racecar driver! The inscrutable Asian gambler. The funny fat friend! These guys are thrown into the movie like dodge balls. None hitting their mark.

Bobbing and weaving, Smith and Robbie almost get by on their looks alone. That these comely actors fail in every way is alone inexcusable. Margot Robbie is freaking hot, no question. She’s the “It Girl” who blew us and Leonardo Dicaprio away in The Wolf of Wall Street. Yet, half way through this movie I wanted to strangle her. Blame the script and the actress’s ham-fisted efforts to sell it. As for Smith, he hasn’t really done a good film in years (I Am Legend had its moments) and this outing keeps that string alive, achieving a new low. Here he channels George Clooney and comes off more like Rosemary Clooney.

The film’s IMDB page claims it cost over $50 million dollars to produce. After smith’s salary I suppose most of that went into the James Bond-like locations: Manhattan, Barcelona, The Super Bowl in New Orleans! But they are squandered, at best serving as distractions from the ridiculous story.

In the end it is the script that defeats this film. Like a good con we should not be able to detect exposition. In Focus the plot fills and back stories are rampant and obvious. Every con must be explained when it’s completed. And even then they are to put it delicately implausible. At one point we are lead to believe a character makes a bad bet based on subliminal cues, one of them buried in lyrics to a Rolling Stone song played on the radio! It doesn’t work because it couldn’t work.


If the film weren’t so listless it might become famously bad like Showgirls. More likely it will just fade into oblivion, making a portion of its budget back streaming online, yet never to matter ever again.

Co-Founder, Waterfront Film festival: Hopwood DePree

So my script, Belzec The Made Undead won 2nd or 3rd prize (they don’t tell you which) at the Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck, Michigan last week. Don’t make fun. This is the same festival that premiered March of the Penguins a few years back. The WFF has been going 13 years now and is considered a top tier festival.

Elated, I made the 2 ½-hour drive in significantly less time than that. To add to my good fortune I was invited to stay at the household of Lesa Werme and her delightful family. They made me feel very welcome, even leaving out a piece of her daughter’s homemade carrot cake for when I came in late from seeing the film, Ashes, which was pretty damn good by the way (the cake and the film).

Once ensconced in the quaint resort town of Saugatuck I hightailed it to the screenplay winner’s reception downtown. There I met several of the other finalists, including the Grand Prize Winner, E. M. Spairow. A native of Michigan, she now resides in California. Fittingly, her script, Manifest is an LA Noir thriller.

Some of the winners, screenplay reception

Winning here has already generated interest in the script by several interested parties. That’s the big prize, really. It’s damn hard breaking into Hollywood (let alone advertising), you not only have to do a tremendous amount of work on spec but you need to work all the angles as well. Even then is no guarantee. The WFF was the first festival I entered. So I am one for one.

Make that two for two! Last night I received notice that Belzec: The Made Undead got first place at another festival, The Indie Gathering. I am over the proverbial moon. I guess all those years in the grind house are finally paying off!

Belzec: The Made Undead imagines an undead plague in a Nazi concentration camp. A group of American POW’s attempt to escape, even harder now, when they ‘can’t tell the living from the dead.’

In addition to Belzec, I’ve also written a screenplay for my second novel, The Happy Soul Industry. While not entered into any festivals (yet), it is in the hands of some very good people.