Sunday, November 11, 2007


Saturday I drove up to Bass Lake, about 14 miles south of Yosemite.

Sunday I drove home.

I did this because my friend Trish turned 50 and I absolutely had to be there to celebrate her.

This past Spring Trish almost died when a horseback ride went horribly wrong and she ended up in a Medivac helicopter with a crushed chest.

But that's not why I had to celebrate her.

I had to be there because we've known each other for the past 20 years, we have witnessed all the ups and downs and we're both damn glad to be here together.

My plan was to rent a car, a comfy full sized something or other and drive up very early. With no traffic it's about a four hour drive through what I think is a really beautiful part of California. You go up the 5 to the 99, drive to Fresno and make a right. You see farms and cows and barns and fields filled with grapes and cotton and beans and orchards of pitted fruit and apples. It's the part of California where life seems to be lived more simply.

At least that's how it looks from the highway.

So back to the renting of the car. I walked across the street to Enterprise and they gave me a Buick which had sofa sized front seats and a burl wood console. It was silver and reminded me of something that a recently divorced grandmother named Sylvia might buy herself. It had a "cushioned" ride and I felt safe in it.

I put in a homemade CD from back in the day when I used to take long road trips to San Francisco to see the Dead and turned the volume up to just below bass blowing out the speakers level and began to roll up the 101. I became aware of a sound that I at first thought was the rattling walls of the semi in the next lane, but I passed him and the sound, something like metal being dragged on asphalt got louder.

The sound was coming from Sylvia's Buick.

I pulled off the freeway somewhere in the valley and found myself in the middle of BF Egypt with not a gas station in sight. I didn't pull over to see what was going on because the idea of the car not starting on the side of the road in this wherever I was spot did not appeal. Plus the fuel light had come on because they'd given me the car on empty and I was thinking that gas would be cheaper further away from LA proper.

I was wrong.

I was also screwed because when I got to the gas station the bottom of the car, the undercarriage? was dragging on the ground. This was not my fault. I swear. I called the people at Enterprise and gave them the cross streets and asked them to find me another car. Turns out I was just down the road from another location but they were all out of full size cruise mobiles so I ended up in a Kia Optima. A 4-cylinder Kia Optima.

And then I got lost.

And then I got stuck in traffic.

I really wanted to whine. I was feeling so put upon and pissy. But I had no audience so instead I put in the CD and turned up the volume and headed over the Grapevine... in the slow lane with trucks. It's amazing what singing Ramble On at the top of my lungs can do as far as an attitude adjustment.

The Kia got amazing gas mileage. You gotta find the good where you can.

I finally got up to Bass Lake about 5pm. There were 13 of us and baby Cole, Skye's 5 month old son who got to come along because he's nursing. He's a pass around kid who enjoys snuggling. Trish had made us all gift bags and she was taking us all out to dinner.

Good times! How could I be tired?

Dinner was hilarious, how can it not be when you have all those women together. My favorite line of the night... "I had to marry him. I felt so guilty. I'd never had a one night stand before."

After dinner we decided not to go to the casino but rather to go home and watch a movie. Welcome to our 40s. In previous years we would have at least swung by the Pines Lounge for shots and at least a cursory perusal of the local boys. Instead we were home in our pajamas watching "The Land of Women" and debating what in the world Meg Ryan has done to her face. Lips and eyes? She doesn't look like herself.

One by one people started passing out and my God they were snoring soooo loud! Who knew that those sounds could come out of girls?

The morning brought fog over the lake and very strong coffee and more conversation. There was a storm coming in, so less than 24 hours after arriving I got back in the Kia and headed home.

I was a little freaked because by weather on the way home. I had fog and light rain until I reached the Grapevine and just as I started going up mountain the skies went completely dark and it began to pour!

I've never driven the Grapevine in weather like that. I've only seen news coverage of the multi-fatality car crashes and ensuing traffic snarls that occur in these kinds of conditions.

The visibility was about 20 feet and it was raining so hard that water was pooling in the fast lane and cars were throwing huge sheets up onto the windshield completely obliterating it. Everyone drove about 45, which was really effortfull for Kia and we were surrounded by lots of big ass trucks.

I had the music on and was singing at the top of my lungs for encouragement. Moving my hands from their clenched positions at 2 and 10 on the steering wheel was not an option so I decided to make the best of it.

(I was also thinking how sad it would be if my last meal turned out to be Jack in the Box instead of In'n'Out!)

It was an endless and ominous march up the mountain. I was aware that my whole body was clenched and I'd broken out in a cold sweat. I was getting completely wrapped around my own axle, mindfucking myself into a panic and just then I crested the top of the mountain...

... the rain let up and the sun was shining through a hole in the darkness and it created the biggest and most intense rainbow I've ever seen, the end of which spread across all four lanes of highway 5 ahead of me.

The song that was playing at that moment was Avalon by Roxy Music...
Now the party´s overI´m so tired
Then I see you comingOut of nowhere
Much communication in a motion
Without conversation or a notion

I really like this song, but at that moment I LOVED it.

I was so grateful to be in that moment right then. And everything was perfect and exactly as it should be.

I drove out of the rain and through the end of the rainbow.

The end.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I have more than a few friends walking the picket lines right now. These are not people who make a lot of money. They're probably going to be in trouble quicker than some of my other friends who work in production who are going to be out of work as a result of the strike.

Let's face it many of my writer friends are already in financial trouble because they've been running down the dream and it's been getting away from them what with the onslaught of reality programming.

The only friends in the industry who are not going to be in financial trouble are those who work for "the companies". Doesn't that sound like some ominous, faceless demononic sect in a John Grisham novel?

It's kind of feeling like that right now, and J. Nicholas Counter is starring as the oily little minion who does their bidding.

Here's what I see coming in the near future reality. Television as we know it is going to disappear and be replaced with large, flat screen monitors attached to our computers and we will be downloading all of our programming options and e-mailing and chatting through this one device and it's all going to interactive. It may take me a while to get with it because I can't even text message yet, but most people over the age of 5 will be rocking the downloadable entertainment.

Advertisers will be foisting their sales pitches at us from all directions also via this avenue and they're going to make it fun. It's their only option. I have Tivo and I haven't watched a commercial ever since I got it. I won't watch shows at their regularly programmed time because I don't want to watch commercials. I spend way more time watching TV then I ever have because it's all content all the time.

This technology is available to everyone and when it comes to priorities in America - watching TV is up there in the top three with God and Country. I granted a Make-A-Wish, not that long ago for a family that lives in an area that you normally only see from a news helicopter covering the murder of a child after a drive by occured at a birthday party. They are receiving assistance from the state and the mother was claiming to be single although a man that the little kids called "Papi" was in the back room smoking out of a bong the whole time I was there. This family had a flat screen TV with a full cable package and a DVR that allowed them to scan through the commercials on MTV's Cribs.

Digital video recorders were introduced in 1999 and in less than 10 years the technology has evolved so quickly that you can get one for less that $200. Think about cell phone technology and how quickly that has evolved. You can watch stuff on your phone - right now. I do download television and watch it on the computer while I'm working at some mindless task, and I know I'm not the only one. Currently downloaded technology is my only exposure to advertising.

I mean other than the crap that comes at me all day long out in the world.

So for "the companies" to state that "new media" is an unknown source of revenue is not only obtuse it's insulting. If the writers don't strike hard and hang tough now they are going to get royally screwed and that's an ass fucking that's going to be felt throughout the industry. Even those who don't get paid residuals will feel it because their unions negotiate with "the companies" for pension benefits based on profits from various revenues.

To deny that the bulk of revenues generated in the future is in new media is to basically say to all the people who work so hard to create the content that they don't matter and that they are easily dispensed with....

.... the situation the good guys find themselves in in a John Grisham novel, right before they stand up, fight back and kick the shit out of evil.

CBS has sent out letters to the showrunners on their shows advising them that they will be sued for breach of contract if they don't perform their producing duties. CBS as in Les Moonves. No one better represents the shift to bottom line business man as opposed to creative genius than Les Moonves. I cannot fault his bottom line. He's an excellent businessman. But entertainment used to be about taking risks and telling stories. This is the guy that gave us Survivor and CSI. I'm sorry I know CSI is the number 1 show in the country but I think the country is dumbing down and that's proof.

Well, that and the election of George W. Bush in 2004.