Socrates Gone Mad in Southern California

Slomo at the Acropolis
‘Slomo’ at the Acropolis

Slomo is a 69 year old man who roller blades in slow motion along the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, California. He does this daily, unceasingly, and is known by nearly everyone who frequents the beach, bars or coffee shops. Many discount him as drug-addled, schizophrenic, or crazy. But he is not so easily dismissed.

For Slomo is Dr. John Kitchin, a former neurologist and psychiatrist, who abandoned his lucrative career in order to live in a studio apartment by the beach and pursue “a kind of divinity” through skating. Slomo is not crazy. He is a clear eyed, articulate, and bright man who has forsaken the lifestyle of the “typical institutionalized, educated, Western man.” Continue reading “Socrates Gone Mad in Southern California”

Prostitutes and Playwrights (Another Conversation with my LA Agent)

Woo Ho

I called my agent to tell him I’d finished another play.  He wasn’t pleased.  He thought plays stole time from screenplays that he might be able to sell.  It was an ongoing debate.

One time, I mentioned the value of art for art’s sake.  I thought he’d have a stroke.  He popped Tylenol like Tic Tacs though – and that might’ve saved him.

The Phone Call

David:  I wrote a new play.

Agent:  What’s this s— about?

David:  It’s about the Irish novelist, Flann O’Brien.

Agent:  You wrote a f—ing play about a f—ing novelist?  Where’s it premiering?  In a black hole?

David:  If it gets up in LA, I’ll comp you tickets.

Agent:  No thanks.  I mean, I’d love to see your f—ing play, David… but I don’t like sitting alone.

David:  That’s a good one.  You use that with other clients?

Agent:  They don’t write f—ing plays.  I don’t understand why you do.

David:  Because screenplays rarely get made even when sold… but plays do.  Believe it or not, I like seeing my work produced.

Agent:  And I like to sleep with beautiful women, but you don’t see me going to all that trouble.

David:  The trouble of actually sleeping with them?

Agent:  You’re f—ing hilarious, David, you know that?

David:  I’m your client, aren’t I?

Agent:  Look, I can meet a semi-attractive woman and take her on dinners and dates and all that bulls—.  Or I can sell a screenplay, not one of yours apparently, and buy a beautiful hooker.

David:  Are you saying that writing a play is like dating a semi-attractive woman and writing a screenplay is like buying a beautiful hooker?

Agent:  Which is less trouble?

David:  You’re suggesting that I prostitute myself both professionally and personally?

Agent:  Of course not.  I’m advising you to prostitute yourself professionally… so you can buy a prostitute personally.  Sometimes I think you don’t know which end is up.


You can buy my debut novel, ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.

 

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‘Pitching and Kissing’ (Meeting Producers with my LA Agent)

My agent organized pitch meetings with a few production companies.

“Make it short and sweet,” he said. “Just give them your f—ing pitch and see if they bite.“

“So you know,” he added. “The more important they are, the worst dressed they’ll be. You meet a d—–bag in a Speedo and flip flops, their last film probably made a 100 mil. Meet a s—head in a suit, their last film was probably seen by less people than one of your f—ing plays.“

I went to the meetings. No one was wearing a Speedo. I did meet with one guy in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts. True enough: he was the development guy for a comedy team with a string of hits.

The last meeting went like this.

Pitch Meeting

An office in Santa Monica. Impressionist art, movie posters, a red couch. I’m ushered into a conference room.

Their development guy is maybe 25, wearing black jeans and a Talking Heads tee-shirt. The usual small talk. I mention CBGB. He thinks it’s a government agency.

Eventually:

D-guy: I read that script.

David: I thought I was here to pitch it.

D-guy: You are. But I like to read the script before people pitch it so I already know what they’re going to say.

David: What’s the point?

D-guy: It’s like when the police ask questions that they already know the answers to.

David: Am I a suspect?

He coughs out a knowing laugh.

D-guy: Your only crime is a screenplay that feels like it was written in the 80’s.

David: When the Talking Heads were big?

He lets it slide, or else hasn’t yet realized that he’s wearing their shirt.

D-guy: If you’re going to write something like this, it has to have a modern feel… say like the Bourne series.

David: I see. You mean the Bourne series based on the books written by Robert Ludlum in the 80’s, right?

End of meeting.

Back at my agent’s office, I tell him what happened.

Agent: You gotta learn to kiss a–, David.

David: I don’t do that very well.

Agent: It’s not hard. I do it every day. All my clients are a—holes. Want to learn how to kiss a–? I’ll show you.

He walks around the desk and kisses me on top of the head.

Agent: How hard was that?

You can buy ‘THE LAST ISLAND’ here.

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