Sunday, December 4, 2011

thank you for leading my other lives

a former friend, rich, once said, 'happiness is realizing your potential.' unfortunately, we've way too many alternatives in the modern age, and that can lead to despair. i console myself  with gratitude to others for doing what i don't have the time for. alas, rich despised me and cut me dead for not fulfilling one of his fantasies. so be it. can't please everybody. 

that said, i want to thank sam shepherd. once, wandering around fort mason in san francisco, i dropped into a rehearsal of inacoma which sam in the middle of directing. famous as an avant-garde playwright, he adoped one of my alternative selves, the way i thought i'd retire with millions. friendly - we'd had pieces on the same program at the first bay area playwrights' festival - he invited me to see the show. i wasn't sure a play about an unconscious woman had much potential. pedro almovadar finally did it with talk to me.

at six i'd wanted to be an actor, immediately dropping the idea when my mother proposed i memorize the poems of winnie-the-pooh. my ambition didn't quite end there and later i wrote and acted in a movie, the same with a stage adaptation of kafka's metamorphosis. i imitated professors and did a bit of stand-up comedy at the university. in the meantime sam starred in movies, wedded a famous actress, and roams a ranch in new mexico. that's not all he did for me. before he became a star, my sister send me a postcard: made it with sam shephard last nite. he took care of my long-standing urge toward incest,  kept me out of trouble. thanks again, sam. 

on a much more decorous side, i'd like to thank my friend dennis palumbo for taking care of several potentials. first, he made a name for himself as a screenwriter. i met him when kevin bacon and others shot whitewater summer, available to view on amazon, at and in the neighborhood of my lookout. i watched another actor play me. then the scenes were cut. damn. still, i got to hang out with that crowd for several days. 

dennis had been called in to doctor the script, though he'd only get a bit of cash and no credit. unhappy with the whole scene, he decided to run off to nepal. after three months he returned to become a therapist. you can see where this is heading. too many people have told me that's what i should have done. trouble is, did i really want to sit in a room baffled by other people's anguish when i couldn't cure my own? dennis did more than that. he wrote a column for screenwriters and turned in into a book he's helped wannabees realize they're not really that good, or better than they think. 

a couple days ago i read his latest novel, fever dream, and i couldn't put it down, squeezing in minutes between other opportunities (read my review on amazon) and haunted by the story still, i'm experiencing a gritty pittsburgh, his hometown, and plenty of rapscallions, and the difference between the haves and the have-nots depicted with a scarifying flair. thanks, dennis, for being a screenwriter, therapist, and novelist. you've freed me from way to much work. and i didn't mention your family. yes, you've done it for me. 

sam shephard needs no introduction. look at dennis palumbo's website:
or simply google him. lots of columns on huffington post, etc. 

now i can go back to drinking my morning tea and allowing the doctors, lawyers, and pimps out there to pursue the many fates i'm too lazy for.