Off-Week (or Tweeting on Empty)

“In 65, I was 17 and running up one by one…”

The soundtrack at Barnes and Noble was surprisingly good.

Not only was there was a cool cover (non-Nouvelle Vague) of “Dancing with Myself” but there was also some Fine Young Cannibals, Devo and Donna Summers’ “Hot Stuff”, which was partially an inspiration for a one-act play that ranks among the favorite things I’ve written.

I took out my phone to send out a multi-text, a common occurrence for me, distinguished from a mass-text message (“Hay guyz new phon numba! Just tlln u 4 kiks!”) by that it usually contains selective information, as in “Hey you want to see a movie?” to people I usually see movies with, “Brother/Sister plays tomorrow” to potential play-goers and “If it wasn’t Oswald, then who gave Ted that brain cancer and who’s next, you?” to Ro-shaved-off-his-fucking-beardo Malone and Jason Lee simultaneously.

This time it was a simple askance that came out before its recipients:

“Opinions on Devo?”

As a youth, I’m sure I had heard the song “Whip It” around, unexplained, but I didn’t gain full consciousness of it until, like several other musical discoveries, I found them through parody, with a licorice-whipping Smithers on The Simpsons singing some lyrics in a brief aside during a performance of “I Want Candy” by “The Simpson Family Smile Time Variety Hour”. It was a good episode. Looking back on that show, I credit it for much of my good familial experiences and interests (similar to Animaniacs in that respect) but still resent the writers for being Harvard grads.

The people who went to Harvard from my school were douches.

I don’t remember who they were but yeah, I’m sure of it.

Except for that one kid who got a scholarship and whose single mom raised three kids.

And that other one from the projects who got to go to Italy as a result.


Anyway, the obvious recipients were taken care of first. Consider, this was an extremely esoteric text coming out of nowhere on a random subject that could possibly disrupt the day of somebody doing something important. So of course, I had to send it to Rob and Jason Lee, since the only thing Jason was probably fucking with Photoshop and Rob’s idea of “something important” was playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

Next were spacial considerations. I had found out from an article or somewhere while trolling about movies that Devo was from Ohio. Thus I was probably obligated to text-message the two Ohioans I knew most prominently: Chadd Harbold and Mike Sweeny. There were problems with both of these recipients. I had just ditched out on Mike after a good 4-hour of chunk of waiting with him at his job selling Christmas trees on Hudson St and playing pool at the off-duty policeman’s bar nearby. It’d be a little strange to send him a text, 15 minutes after leaving him to fend for himself at Filene’s Basement (no thanks).

As for Chadd, the last time I had tried to do something Ohio-y for him it was singing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio” at a Karaoke night, with a dedication to “Chadd from Ohio”.

It turned out you can listen to a song with a funky beat and some good guitar solos and never realize how depressing it is.

Shit, man. That song’s about people getting gunned down who are like 20. That it happens in Ohio is like a fucking travesty.

The point being it can be hard to figure this out until you are face-to-face with the lyrics on a blinking electronic-blue screen, highlighted for your following convenience.

It turned out to be kind of a downer.

I didn’t text an old not-girlfriend of mine who I knew was a fan because I already knew her opinion and I thought I had drummed up a solid group.

Jason never answered.

Rob said “They’re fantastic. Now what the fuck do you want from me?”

Mike said “They’re from Ohio, thus awesome.”

and Chadd said “what’s that?”

“Chadd’s from Ohio and he doesn’t know ’em.” I told Mike.

“We sure he’s from Ohio?” Mike replied.

“Well he’s actually in Ohio right now. So where’s your cred?” I texted.

“I AM Ohio.” He proclaimed.

And there was nothing really I could say to that.

I went back to reading “The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide” in the auditorium section of the fourth floor of Barnes and Noble, trying to learn what I could and excited to read the book and steal the serial code from the back of it so I could sign up for the author’s “member-only one-hundred-percent film-festival resource-guide”.

I signed up using the same phone I’d sent all the texts with.

Hours earlier, when Mike Sweeny and I had been walking to Barnes and Noble, he almost ditched out because I was replying to a text while walking.

“Don’t you think you’re missing out on a certain degree of reality when you do that? Stare down like that?” Mike asked.

“What? I’m trying to reply to a text message, jesus Mike.”

“That’s the problem.” Mike said. “You’re always in it, you’re not experiencing life.”

“I think this is how people experience life nowadays, or how they will.” I posited, putting forth some questionable phiosophical futurism.

“Well, that’s a sad world then.” Mike replied.

“What?” I asked. “Sorry, another text.”


Normally a vacation might inspire relief, but free time only makes me anxious and waiting, all the more.

It was a dark week at my work this week and so I was given dispensation to stay at home, see movies, do whatever I do. I only have two more weeks left at my job though and I’m not getting paid, so I feel like somehow I’d rather be at work. Instead. I took time out to see plays, watch a movie or two, spend time with my girlfriend and go completely ape-shit insane about Sundance acceptances, a call that was supposed to be made on Wednesday.

How insane you might ask? How bat-shit-bonkers have I gone over waiting?

I joined Twitter.

It’s very, very depressing.

The story goes something like this.

I spent the week, as I’ve spent the past two virtually, refreshing the Withoutabox “Submission Status” website, checking it periodically throughout the day to make sure that there were no message from festivals, no rejections or missing DVDs, no requests for press kits or other crazy things. To be honest, I didn’t know what I should expect: I had never seen anything but tranquil information from my Withoutabox home page. But in the startling event that there was, that there WAS something. Well, damnit. I would be there.

As the week and then the day of phone calls arrived, I took it to another level, coordinating via text-message on a tri-hourly basis with my friends who had concurrent submissions to Sundance, combing the web for information and reporting back.

It’s unclear why this Sundance mania had taken me. I had bearish about my chances there to everyone, including myself. I had been much more enthusiastic about Nashville, where one of my lead actors had been asked to speak last year, or Cannes Cinefondation who, presented with my endorsement from the filmmaker Antonio Campos, literally “cooed” at me over the phone from France.

But perhaps it was the club-ishness, the secret notification-before-a-notification of it all that had me wild, that there was a supposed “day” in which your fate would be decided and that all of us, the whole film’s-cool-crew–we would all know at once, like a bolt of lightning at the pearly gates (that I’d believe in if I wasn’t a Jew).

It was struck by this mania that I joined Twitter.

First, I just searched without joining, figuring that short filmmakers were probably in to that whole “new media” thing. If senator could do, then why the fuck not them? It was instant, I didn’t have to know the people, like on Facebook. Like my Google Voice account, I could search “Sundance” and people’s voices, their conversations would appear.

But then when someone said they were accepted, I wanted to know more, wanted to see more, wanted to hear what that meant. As Wednesday passed and none of us heard, I took the leap and joined.

It’s Friday now and the offices at Sundance are closed for the weekend, the same break that anyone at any other job would get, including my parents.

My friends and co-conspirators have concluded that notifications will be given next week, a sentiment echoed by a sage teacher of mine, who I talked to on Wednesday, Sharon Badal.

For now, the “Twitterverse” is quiet, with my search results only turning up feature news (which Sundance releases in spurts) and deals on spas and sofas.

Next week will come and go and what may happen will.

But the mortgage on my virtual soul that has been made.

That is something much more troublesome.

5 Responses to Off-Week (or Tweeting on Empty)

  1. too many poets, not enough poetry says:

    when are you going to make a “libelous statements re: jason lee” category? i answered that text: and who the fuck ever does anything ‘important’ at 3:30 in the afternoon?

  2. Lisa says:

    cut off twitter immediately! you need to express yourself in an unfettered way. If you want structure, see poetic forms like sestina, sonnet, villanelle. Not Twitter! Exorcise the dybbuk!

  3. too many poets, not enough poetry says:

    build-a-PapaArmondBear workshop. antichrist edition!

    dismissal of all film violence as a “j-horror rip off”? check.
    blatantly false account of film action? check.
    blatantly false account of film history? mmhmm.
    rant on nihilism? duh!
    vast exaggeration of his/critics’/programmers’ importance? OH BABY YES!!! (cultural gatekeepers? get over yourself).

  4. GF says:

    Your best typographical error so far! “Since the only thing Jason was probably fucking. . . .”

  5. GF says:

    Mm. There’s also “short filmmakers.” We might need to push back awards-season.

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