Highway to the Danger Zone

I don’t know why I chose that title.

I’m not sure it even makes sense.

I was interviewed this morning. The interviewer was Austin, a handy/capable (not handi-capable) grip and actor from my short-film shoot. I was obliged to work on it, by the law of film-school-favors, wherein if he works on my film for free I am obliged to work on his. What he in turn needed me for was to ask me about life after film school for a documentary project he was doing on recent film alums for his documentary class, ironically the same one I had taken in the same semester he had taken it, with the same teacher.

It was raining, the sporadic, tantrum-style rain of recent New York City days–brief, in intense and varying spurts–and I huddled across the street on the bench in front of the old-fashioned coffee shop, after an early morning wake-up that consisted of leftover sitcoms and an over-dose of repetitive, concurrent video-gaming.

Austin was late by a couple minutes, but staring in to the faces of his crew was like looking in a funhouse mirror into all the ways you might be reflected. One of them was Israeli talking on the phone to his mom in Hebrew and comparing how our recently cut Jew-fros might have matched up had they been present. One of them was talking about an introductory film class disdainfully, since he was unsure he would be able to make a “serious” movie in it, as he said so with a “serious” face. A final one was ministerial, overseeing the others as he picked out restaurants around the street he might take his crew out to, in exchange for their willingness for a film-school school-project schlep.

“Was there any point when you realized that you weren’t going to have a job when you got out?”

Austin came and the interview began. I sat on the same bench facing Austin trying to chose between playing my bravado to him or the camera, knowing my old teacher Sam Pollard would be seeing this and trying to figure out, somewhere in my head, how to make him laugh.

“You know, I’m optimistic.” I told Austin as he assumed the squinting stare of the nouveau-documentarian. “I’ve only been out of school for 6 months. It’s true I used to think that I would have a job when I got out of college, that the people who didn’t have jobs were losers. But I work somewhere I like, even if I don’t get paid and I’m part of something I believe in. Now you can talk to me in another six months when I’m unemployed and my film’s been rejected and I still don’t know what to do with my life. But I live my life in horizons and when this job ends I’ll have one. And I’ll try to find the next one from there.”

The questions continued, but I’m a bad/good interview and every time Austin gave me a question, it was another excuse for me to tell a story, to give a viewpoint. Talking for me, conversation, sometimes feels like a theater in which I can relive the best moments of my life, revive the confidence and energy that I’ve felt previously, or just even articulate and work out what’s in my head, like a shower or a good BM. In any case the kiddos looked on enraptured and I felt like I had a job well-done. I told them whatever success stories I could think of, from my friend Zach Weintraub who had shot a good feature for nothing on a digital-picture-camera, to my friend Chadd, whose star-studded-celebrity-event I was attending the next day. But as they left, I realized the stories I told them, I told myself and that it was time for a self-revival.


The truth is, denizens of Feitelogram: I haven’t been writing enough.

Or even more than that, more simply, I haven’t been doing.

When I met with Antonio Campos, he told me to make another short film. There’s nothing stopping me from doing that except for me and my own head. If I wrote something, I could gather friends, shoot on weekends, ask my parents for money probably and they’d probably shell out.

I could sit at home and finish a screenplay I haven’t touched in three weeks, or at least begin the process of beginning.

The truth is, having a job, an internship, some structure, has both stabilized me and squelched me.

Since I have structure to my life, times that I am busy for much of the week, I have less need to write, less emotional, desperate lashing (though I still seem to do much of that here). At the same time, I have less energy to write, less drive, since my job has made it so I can’t attend or even schedule my writer’s group, meaning that I’m not even around anyone who is writing.

In short, I need to work harder or smarter or both to carve out a niche for myself if I want to continue to be creative. When I think of the people who I told stories about to that film crew this morning, it was people that decide to do something, to only worry so much about how good it would be and just get it done. To be creative in the literal meaning of the word.

That’s what I need in my life and that’s where my blog comes in. Where y’all help.

As I once told Jason Lee, whose blogposts have now returned to a consistent diet of job hunting and Nicholas Cage film-blogging after a queasy experience as an Asian-food-deliveryman, blogging is writing, it’s working out your muscles, it’s keeping in shape. It’s a lifeline back to the world of your mind, the world it is easy to get out of touch with when you are forced to explore the questionable territory of your own value by a job or an internship.

It’s good just to keep it out, keep it going.

And if I’m posing, I’ll be damned if I ain’t posing here.


If there’s a reason if I gotta self-analyze that I chose this title for this post, it might be an unconscious need for Karaoke.

Much like my lapsed writer’s group, Karaoke has been something missing in my life as I face challenges to schedule it that I did not face in my grand summer of after-school unemployment. It’s become so distant that I often can’t even think of singing my own songs, like I once did, when I spent a whole couple afternoons listening to “Thunder Road” on repeat so I’d get the cadences right as to not embarass myself, which I’m sure I still did.

Instead I think of my friend Rob Returning-Beardo Malone and think of songs for him to do. As a gesture, when we went together, I’d often write his name down for a song I’d thought for him to do, something I had anxious anticipated. As I’ve written before, Rob has a crooner, eccentric-PA style that often goes well with campy songs sung un-ironically like “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris or “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates.

I feel like he could do a good rendition of “Highway to the Danger Zone” if he tried, but recently, while brushing my teeth, my Pandora Radio put on “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day, an iconic song of 90s teen angst which seems anathema to Rob, but which I pondered what his spin would be like. Would he croon it, or go for a straight-up Billy Joe-impression? Or would he simply pass and give me a withering “come on, Bro-ham-amus!” kind of look? I couldn’t say honestly and I smiled through my brushing teeth.

“You know,” I told Austin playing this one to the camera. “Last night I had a friend invite me to see 2012 at midnight. And most people when they would do that, they’d do it with excitement or not at all, dismissing the movie, rightly, as trash. But my friends I made in film school can do it someway where it’s ironic and it’s genuine and it’s a fun time for both of it all at once.”

I paused.

“Doesn’t mean I fucking went, 2012 looks awful.” I said. “But if I hadn’t gone to film school, where would I have ever met people like that?”

2 Responses to Highway to the Danger Zone

  1. Lisa says:

    I am so proud of you/ This is a great, I mean great and amazing and well-written blog and it’s about effing-time, my sonny. Job well done!!

  2. too many poets, not enough poetry says:

    yeah i’ll change it when you change the nicholas in cage to nicolas.

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