Apocalyptic Summer Camp

There are several blogs I read where I really can't keep up with the massive waves of prose generated. And Dennis Cooper is one of those. Curious as to how he ever finds time in writing his novels, I looked him up in Wikipedia, wondering if there was some sort of correlation between the beginning of his blogging life and the end of his publishing life. Well, it seems that he's still actively writing for publication (you know, in those old clunky things they sell in book store — you can find them if you ventured beyond the racks of calendars, Harry Potter air fresheners, plush animals, and electronic handheld Scrabble dictionaries). I learned that Cooper considers his blog as a literary entity itself. Yeah, I like that idea. But daily 2500 word posts can be fairly exhausting to keep up with.

However, he often offers a post which is a series of pasted in images or YouTube vids.

Recently he threw in a whole slew of links to Roy Wood-related video links.

Roy Wood fronted the Move, one of the great late period psychedelic Brit bands. From about 1967 to 1972 they remained extremely popular in Britain. But until they morphed into the Electric Light Orchestra, they were pretty much unknown in the states.

My sister turned me on to the Move. I was skeptical at first. I hated ELO (and it should be noted that Roy Wood left that band after their first album). But Paula played me some the Move's songs off a “best of” album. I was hooked. She always has good taste. It's wonderful stuff — sometimes power pop not too far removed from the first generation mods (like the Who), sometimes straight-ahead '60s brit rock (like the Hollies), and, eventually, pushing into the Slade glam realm. There are some songs with a clearly Beatles tone (such as the dark side of “Penny Lane,” “Blackberry Way”). Where would I be without “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” and “The Lemon Tree” on my iPod?

But from the Dennis Cooper posting I learned something new. When Roy Wood left ELO, he formed something called Wizzard. It's a crazy hybrid of George Clinton, Gary Glitter, and Phil Spector. I've watched several live performances of Wizzard on YouTube. Brilliant … or maybe awful? I don't know yet. But I'm still intrigued.

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Thursday I had an appointment at PrimaDonna Productions. Nikki is running an acting summer camp for kids. She wanted me to show up as a filmmaking guest. She also requested the presence of Carlos Pina. Oh, I know how Nikki's mind works. She wanted to show her kids some of my films, because they are, for the most part G-rated (what I like to call a Hard “G,” to hold my head high among the rough-and-tumbled world of renegade filmmakers), and many of them featured Nikki Young herself. They also featured Carlos Pina (in his capacity of actor).

But those were all wise reasons. The kids got to learn about the collaborative process. And they would certainly be interested in watching short films which stared their teacher, a woman they now know well.

We started with the kids taking turns as if me, Carlos, and Nikki were running auditions for commercials. They entered, introduced themselves, allowed for a short interview where we asked all sorts of impromptu questions, and then they had to read or recite the lines. We had, I believe, five kids.

When it looked like that portion was done with, Carlos leaned to me and whispered: “You're gonna have to photograph me. No one's going to believe I'm lecturing to kids.”

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And he stood up and gave his story. There was a whiteboard, and he used it!

I'm not sure if Nikki really wanted us to get up in front of the kids and do a little presentation, but Carlos was quite a success. The kids loved him. Forget all his bluster about being a dark-core bad-ass, he's just a sweet guy who makes movies about parallel universes infested with demons and crime lords, ambiguously working towards bringing about some sort of apocalypse. But Carlos has an unswerving moral code. Violence in his films is stylized to the point of artificiality. And, in his own life, he almost never resorts to profanity.

After Carlos' presentation, Nikki allowed the kids a snack break.

And then we screened some of my short films. “Treasure of the Perro Diablo,” “The Price of Stamps,” “I Do Adore Cream Corn,” and “Operation Hitman.”

It was strange revisiting a bunch of my stuff. These aren't all aimed at kids (and, hell, they certainly aren't all good films), but they went over fairly well. Nikki starred in two of the pieces, and was a featured extra in another. Carlos was in all four. He also provided the score to three of the films.

The kids had some interesting comments. When they mentioned that they had trouble understanding some of the passages I was able to explain what the problem was — and usually it wasn't because they're kids, but because I screwed up.

As me and Carlos were saying our goodbyes, Nikki whispered that she was looking forward to reading about my take of the class in this blog.

Damn! First Carlos wants me to photograph him for the blog, and then Nikki ponders how this will play out in my silly little on-line journal.

I'm feeling the pressure.

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Friday I drove out to the Fox TV affiliate studio here in San Antonio. Lorenzo Lopez wrangled an invite for him and myself onto the Fox morning new show. I delivered a 48 Hour Film Project promo DVD so they can have some visual cut-aways. I don't know how the show is structured. I stopped trying to watch TV because my television gets such poor reception. Anyway, Jessica Hernandez is the newscaster who's producing our part. It's a good thing that I'm no longer crippled with neurotic shyness when it comes to this sort of stuff (and, man, I've come a long long way), but I'd much prefer not to subject the gentle Monday morning viewers — who are no doubt cautiously feeding their raw hangovers a heavily-sugared steaming cup of Tasters Choice — to my bloated, slovenly visage.

“Oh, good lord! What is that? Brrrr…. Millie, you can pull the plug on the waffle iron. I'm heading back to bed. Call my boss, would you please.”

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