In the Doppelganger's Shadow

Monday night I took the chair at the head of the table during the Last Monday night at Gemini Ink. For those outside the loop, Gemini Ink is the most visible literary non-profit group in town. They bring in top writers to run classes and give readings. I've groused before about the prices for their classes, but my friend Jean made a point that they're actually considerably cheaper than classes offered by other, similar organizations. She's right. It's just that I'm poor. Anyway, Gemini Ink offers a monthly free writers workshop on the last Monday of every month. It's run by Jim Dawes. One of its weakness is also one of its strengths: you never know who will show up one month to the next. There are times when only six folks show up, and the awful writers out-number the passable ones. But the next month, it might be all gravy, and lots of it.

Last night we had plenty of good gravy flowing. 12 people showed up. Two decided to just observe. But ten readers is a pretty damn big group, seeing as there are only two hours to get to everyone. (Actually, I let the evening go from 6:30 until 9:15, so that everyone would have a chance to read and receive feed-back.)

Michael Faia was first up. He's an extraordinary writer. He's got at least two huge novels going. Hundreds of thousands of words. He's an older man. Maybe 70? He writes with a density of Faulkner or Thomas Wolfe (though not so youthful and giddy as the latter) — stories that fold in upon themselves, told in pristine syntax and a marvelous flow of lovely, unexpected vocabulary. Michael does what I do when faced with Gemini Ink's imposed four page double spaced limit. He pushes out his margins and manages to sneak in a 1.5 space between the lines. Also, no 12 point bullshit for him — it's 10 point font. But who's gonna gripe. He can write, yes sir. Monday night, three and a half of his four pages was a description of a car crash in progress. Brilliant stuff.

We had two poets, a novelist with her first chapter, a couple of complete short stories, a middle chapter of a young adult novel, and some works-in-progress where the authors are still deciding where the work is headed. All was refreshingly good.

We closed with a dense three page piece Russ had written earlier that day in a single, purging session. One of his strongest pieces, hands down. It, like Michael's piece, had an automobile theme. And, like Michael, Russ was using a density of prose, complex syntax, and an impressive vocabulary. He also inserted this sense of velocity that kept things moving and always in focus.

Here is a blog where the story, with a few changes, can be found.

I only hope Russ doesn't decided to edit this piece too much. He's never satisfied with his creations, and is forever tinkering. He needs to walk away from this piece. It stands alone and complete damn well.

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Tuesday was another Erik Bosse event. And, like the Last Monday at Gemini Ink, I really didn't do anything except show up, hang out, and turn out the lights when I left.

We had our second Tuesday night 48 Hour Film Project meet-and-greet at the Ruta Maya Riverwalk Coffee Shop in downtown San Antonio.

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We had maybe thirty-five people show up throughout the night.

The first people who arrived were Sterling and Julian. They're high-school students who attend Brakenridge. But more importantly, they work with San Anto, the westside arts organization. They directed an excellent short documentary that screened at the Josiah Youth Media Festival. They also were gracious enough to be panelists for the Media Now Workshops we had during the Josiah Fest on Saturday.

As the evening progressed, we eventually had appearances by team leaders Lorenzo Lopez, Andy Miller, Richard Galindo, Nikki Young, Michael Druck, Joey Carrillo, and Travis Thomsen. Maybe there were some other team leaders I over-looked, or maybe they showed up while I was talking to the media.

Kiko Martinez, with the San Antonio Current, showed up and did a quick interview with me. He placed a recording device on the table, and I blathered out all sorts of useless crap. I'd just downed one of Ruta Maya's cappuccinos, so I was pretty wired. Actually, I believe, after a question concerning the San Antonio Film Council, I muttered something about, “well, this is better said off the record, you understand, but–” blah blah blah.

I then flagged down Travis as a good subject to be interviewed by Kiko. He is more articulate than I. He's leading a team. And, importantly, he was involved in a similar contest last year, the San Antonio Film Commission's 48 Hour Film Experience.

Just as Travis sat down with Kiko, Mike Greenberg of the San Antonio Express-News came in. I gave him the basic over-view. He told me that what he wants to do is to follow one of the teams through the process. Sounds great. I mentioned some of the teams I thought might make for a good story. Nikki's team would be very organized and professional. Andy's team would also be quite professional, yet no doubt achieve something of a free-wheeling party atmosphere on a set crammed with several charismatic extroverts; also, I quipped that the director of the new feature “Where's Chloe?” was an integral crew member, and, after the stress of his own huge project, he is past-due for a nervous breakdown. Always good material for a newspaper article.

We'll see if we can match Mike Greenberg up with just the right team.

During a lull, I noticed that Victor (Sterling and Julian's teacher from San Anto) had showed up. I went over to their table. I told Victor that I was trying to get a teenage girl to lead a team. A couple of local filmmakers want to sponsor a teen team, and they would rather the director be a girl, to help balance out the demographics which, in film, tends to skew towards the dreadfully macho. Victor told me that one of his talented students is a girl. Sterling (or was it Julian?) pulled out a flip phone and called the girl. She was interested and free on the dates needed. The three turned to me. “Let's do it,” I said.

We have the 48HFP teen team!

And I know they'll bring it to completion.

I shook their hands. Next Tuesday I'll get to meet the girl who will direct this team.

It was like Hollywood deal-making in miniature. It was also very sweet and cute (unlike Hollywood deal-making, I presume).

Herman showed up. I'd called him to see if he still wanted to lead a team. But his preferred crew had moved off to California. And money is pretty tight for him. But I think I might have got him on a team as an editor. Just what Herman likes to do and does well.

Lorenzo (who has a background in local TV) says he might have lined up some television interviews for the 48 Hour Film Project. That'd be great. We'll see how all this goes.

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Today I received a call from Jennifer Belasco. She's doing a piece on the 48HFP for 210SA, a free weekly tabloid that concerns itself with the San Antonio entertainment scene. I suspect that their targeted audience is significantly younger than myself, but I have no choice but to sing their accolades. The three film-related events that have consumed my summer have all been featured (or will be) in the pages of 210SA. Thanks guys!

I was watching some documentary online about the history of the Situationalists, with the obligatory sound bite from Greil Marcus connecting punk rock with the Parisian postmodern highbrowery (a particular intellectual contortion which has always made me suspicious) — and that gave the documentary the opportunity to cut to Malcolm McLaren. He was seated in some sedate Hyde Park garden wearing some ghastly collision of pinstripe and tartan. But what made me smile was the text in the lower third region of the screen: Malcolm McLaren, Impresario. Sure, it was accurate. But still wonderfully old world pompous.

If only I were more enamored of this event-organizing, I'd give thought to placing that on a business card. Erik Bosse, Impresario. This recalls my business card I had in my early 20s: Erik Bosse, Agent Provocateur. The woman at the passport department barely rolled her eyes and suggested that I change that title on the “occupation” line to “student.” Ah, but those were innocent times. Try that today, and mom would be sending those Christmas fruitcakes care of Camp X-Ray (now, the new, improved Camp Delta).

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Carlos was by earlier this evening. He's currently without internet access, and Time Warner Cable can't come out until Friday. So, he stopped by and sent some emails. He's got a couple of acting gigs up in Austin. One is a prison tough. And that's something he can do in his sleep. It's really just his El Picante (his own creation, a Mafia del Monte crime lord), but with a wide streak of overt cruelty.

While on my computer, Carlos apparently checked his MySpace account and forgot to log-off. Oh, but I was sorely tempted to go in and muck around with his profile. You know: favorite movie, Sound of Music; favorite music, hip hop and anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber; TV, Seventh Heaven and Sex and the City!!! But I didn't. And now, after closing the browser, it's too late. The password wasn't saved. I'm kicking myself now.

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For some time now I've been aware of another Erik Bosse. Well there are two — other than me. The info that Google brings to us is a boundless bounty. There is a guy in Massachusetts who's pretty young. Maybe 20? Rock and roller. Plays bass, writes poetry, and is a talented photographer.

As an art-minded guy, I'm curious if he's pissed off that there is this old guy (me) polluting the googleability of his name — a name which, by all rights, should be unusual enough to be unique. Sorry, Erik.

But the real problem is Eric Bosse.

He's maybe five years younger than me … but, as a sort of doppelganger, living the life I should be living.

Years ago I submitted a piece of prose to The Exquisite Corpse (a Louisiana Lit mag edited by Andrei Codrescu). It was turned down (probably because it sucked). Yet, Eric Bosse had no trouble getting published by the Corpse. I later discovered, as I was getting into film work, that Eric had also beat me to that. While living in Colorado, he had done a few films (and, it seems, continues to make films). And after visiting my friend Jo Smalley some years ago as he was working on his MFA at the writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula, I felt a strong twinge of envy — one day, perhaps, I could get into a MFA program. But wait! Eric Bosse, I believe, found his way to the very same Missoula MFA program. He's done pieces for McSweeney's, dammit! And while I'm sitting on my ass whining about — well, whatever — Eric is writing reviews on the works of some of my progressive heros such as Noam Chomsky and Greg Palast. Oh, least I forget, he has a collection of short stories coming out in 2008!

What the hell am I doing with my life?

Congratulations for all your successes, Eric Bosse!

There is mention, in passing, of me in Eric's blog.

“By the way, there's another filmmaker with my name out there–and he lives in San Antonio, the city of my birth, no less–though he spells his first name with a k. I'm quite sure he wouldn't want anyone mistaking my work for his.”

But the truth is, I have no problem with people mistaking Eric's work for mine. In fact, there is a misspelling on a link to a McSweeney's page where Eric's name is spelled with a “k.” Okay, the truth is, it looks like I'm the shit — McSweeney's & all that. But ever since I've gotten into the habit of self-Googling (yeah, I do it — proud of it … and don't look at me like that!), I've read a good amount of Eric's prose. He's very good. The themes we each explore aren't so divergent. I mean, it's not like one of us is writing romance novels or making Christian feel-good films.

As doppelgangers go, I don't think I could do better than being in the shadow of Eric Bosse.

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