November 22, 2010
11:00AM – CHAD
Well, we had a busy day today, what with the TV Show idea pitch to the Independent Film Channel and then another screening of Total Badass at reRun later in the night (I was allowed to attend this particular screening because my handler, Aaron, was in attendance). Before I get to any of that though, I have a little in-house business to attend to, if you’ll excuse me.
Hey Bob, I noticed you saw fit to add in that little snippet in yesterday’s journal and take a parting shot at the fact that I pray before I eat. Although I disagree with what you said, I fully understand the way you presented it. After seeing the way I argued circles around Raphael on video, I don’t blame you for not wanting to get in a direct debate with me about it… especially not a written one. First of all, I want you to know that I totally respect you and Raphael’s points of view as atheists or agnostics or whatever you fancy yourselves. In fact, back when I was about fourteen years old, I myself went through that great awakening period where I questioned religion, spirituality, god… all that shit. I even embraced hardcore atheism for awhile, but later in my teens I took the next step in thought evolution and realized that atheists are just as closed minded on such matters as they fancy bible thumping Jesus lovers to be, so I’ve always allowed myself to remain open about the subject. That all being said, nowadays I just don’t feel like the existence of god is something that can even really be debated… and not because it is something that can’t be proven or disproven, that side of things has gotten plenty of attention in theological arguments throughout time. My whole thing is that I can sit right here while I’m typing this and literally feel the presence of something beyond myself and my mind going on in the world around me. It’s not even something I can argue against. Since realizing that, whenever someone denies this “feeling” or “awareness” or whatever you’d like to call it, I have to assume one of three things is going on: Either that person really isn’t privy to this divine presence, be it through lack of cognizance (the range of their perceptions simply isn’t as wide as mine) or they’ve simply been denied this particular insight by the very forces at work beyond our observance, or they are just as aware of it as I am, but have spent their lives trying to deny it, just as I did back in my early adolescence. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone fitting in any of these three categories… I pity the fools.
I mean, I don’t even necessarily want there to be a god, ok? Things would be a lot easier for me if there wasn’t. Even when bearing in mind the fact that god being on my side is the very thing that puts me ahead of so many countless others, I sometimes think I’d be better off blissfully ignorant. The last thing I’d like to make clear is that when I pray before I eat and do the sign of the cross and all that crap, I’m not doing it so god will listen or grant me wishes or anything like that. In fact, I’m not doing it for god, at all. I’m doing it for everyone around me. I’m doing it so my kids will always remember that no matter how fucking insane and without reason I might have seemed to be, even I was humble in matters of spirituality. I’m doing it because it pleases me to know that there are people in the restaurant or house or wherever I’m eating who were under the impression that nobody prays in public anymore, and yet there is me, of all people, doing just that. I do it because I know there are people who see it and automatically assume they know something because they’re so goddamn smart. And finally, I do it because, with the possible exception of the fact that I never wear two matching socks, nothing about me drives the women wilder, whether they believe in god, or not.
11:01AM – BOB
A quick aside from the tour journal: Dear Chad, as an agnostic, I’ve no need for debate. By nature, I don’t really give a hoot about god’s existence or lack of. On top of that, I took no shot at you praying by pointing out your sacrilege. And I certainly don’t mind if folks choose to believe in fairy tales or old books or old men spouting off or wizards and witches or the words of “prophets” or even the nebulous “spirituality” (and it don’t make me no never mind that you pray before meals–but honestly, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to wait until you’re finished praying before I eat or what… and sometimes you do it twice, wtf? I’m hungry! Damn these societal pressures!). As long as the implementation of people’s various religious beliefs end where my rights begin, I’m all for folks believing whatever floats their animal infested boat. But if my understanding of the drunken debate (most of which took place inside the pizza joint and isn’t captured on video) is correct, and it may not be as I was drunk, you misrepresent yourself as Christian. This is a great tactic to instigate a religious polemic, I’ll give you that. Performing the sign of the cross lures people into a dialectic about the Bible (not about the existence of a god). Since you don’t seem to believe that the Bible is the word of god and Jesus is the savior (from what I’ve garnered in these discussions), but you do believe in a higher power, that’d make you a deist, not a Christian. So the sign of the cross is a bit of a sacrilegious bait and switch, setting the debate up on false pretenses. (I think that kneeling and facing Mecca would be a great way to pray before meals. That’d get folks’ attention!) Poor Raphael fell right into your well-placed trap when he argued against Christianity and was ill prepared when you switched it up on him. He was stuck on the Bible, which is a different argument altogether. I agree that both atheists and god-believers (especially of the organized religion flavor) are equally close-minded about this subject. But, then again, I really don’t care, cuz I’m agnostic on the whole affair. I will give you this: If there is a god (and that’s still a big IF in my opinion), I’d be inclined to agree with deists and not the fools and their books. And you’re welcome for allowing you to bait me into a religious debate. Sincerely, Bob.
11:22AM – BOB
We have a meeting at IFC today. Right before the tour kicked off, Mia Cevallos, the badass film tour producer and the anchor back in Austin who is keeping this tour alive, bounced an idea off me. She thought that the tour itself would be a good premise for a TV show.
It’d basically be Chad and me driving all over the country, exploring the cinematic landscape as filmmakers on the road and partying our asses off. If you’ve been following the tour journal, you already know that crazy shit happens on the road. Chad and I have spent a lot of hours in the car, stoned out of our minds, cooking up ideas for the show. It sounds to us like a good match for the Independent Film Channel, as it has independent filmmakers at its core, has a bit of a travel-show vibe to it and will feature America in all its fun, craziness and glory. The one fault with the show that I have is that the idea of getting in front of the camera has no appeal for me. In fact, it sounds like a pain in the ass. But, I figured that if the show was a go, it’d help me get films made, and the sacrifice might be worth it.
Despite making films since the mid-nineties, I have very few connections in the biz. Mostly cuz I don’t like people. Or some shit like that. But Chad, as it turns out, has a friend with an “in” at IFC. And through Chad’s connections, we landed a meeting. We’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go about pitching a show. Neither of us have done it before. Neither of us have cable TV and don’t know what the hell IFC plays. But we figure that IFC stands for the Independent Film Channel and you can’t get much more independent than us. So it should be a perfect fit, right?
We’re also not sure how “prepared” we should be. Should we have a clip to show? Should we write something down on actual paper? I mean, a lot of our successes come from just being good on our toes. Spontaneity and shit. Chad and I did talk about the show for hours on end, so we figured that we are prepared enough. We also made assumptions about what IFC is and what IFC wants and shaped our “pitch” to match these assumptions. We figure to downplay the raunchy/nasty/illegal parts of the show and highlight the intellectual side of things. These “independent filmmaker” types can be quite high-minded, so I’ve witnessed. The long and the short of the plan is the old good cop, bad cop routine. I’ll be talking about the show’s overall structure and why it’s good for IFC and Chad will highlight the crazy and fun things that happen to us on tour. On our walks across Manhattan Island over the past few days we’ve been working up the pitch. One key factor is that since Chad will be, more-or-less, the host of the show he’ll need to charm their pants off. It is a woman we’re pitching to, so he’ll charm her pants-suit off, I guess. We’ll need to convince her that we’re (and mainly that Chad is) charming as fuck and people will want to watch us act a fool for weeks on end. And I’ll work the filmic angles. Together, we’ll paint a picture of a show about touring filmmakers exploring the American cinematic landscape and partying balls along the way. It’s good for the thinky-side of the brain and the party-side of the brain. We can’t lose. And we’re on a fucking roll.
We filmed some stuff up to, during and after the meeting. Witness:
2:30 PM – CHAD
Ok, so we had our big meeting with the Independent Film Channel people. Going into the meeting, I had to do some thinking because I figured it was going to be hard for Bob and me to both do the talking without seeming like a couple of disorganized idiots who would say anything to get their own TV show, whether they deserved it or not. Since we had been in The New York Times, and were basically the toast of the town, I assumed that the brain trust at the network would be familiar with our work and would realize that although I might be very entertaining and a brilliant writer and all of that, it’s actually Bob who has the technical wherewithal and ability to film, edit, and produce a finished product. On this assumption, I decided that it would be best for Bob to handle all of the industry double-speak and jibber jabber while my presence alone assured them that my talents would be at their disposal. Plus, I had to film everything at the meeting, in an ironic twist from everything I just said. Anyway, turned out that approach wasn’t such a good idea, after all:
(Coming Soon – Additional Footage)
2:44 PM – BOB
Well, that completely backfired. It turns out that the show they wanted was the one that we didn’t pitch. They want the funny/party-balls show. In our ignorance, we figured to play nice in order to get the green light on our artsy-fartsy film show about touring filmmakers and then sneakily tweak it into a show about making a film show that turns into a party show that turns into a vehicle for getting famous. It was a solid plan. Or so we thought.
As you saw, Chad videoed the meeting. And maybe it was the trying to film the meeting that led to this, or maybe it was the wake-and-bake but Chad froze up and mostly sat silently through the entire meeting. Left me hanging. His contribution of the flavor, the fun and the crazy part of the show was nowhere to be seen or heard. For days, we had formed a tandem plan of attack akin to business in the front and poker in the rear style of good times. I was to cover business, Chad gets to poker. In the end, it was a bunch of me yapping about the film-tour aspect of the show, waiting and waiting for Chad to jump in with the crazy tales. The plan, as it turns out, was not being executed according to the plan. It was way too far leaning toward the thinky-side of the brain. Massive failure. No show.
So yeah, I blame Chad. But I honestly wasn’t fond of the idea of getting in front of the camera anyway, so I’m not too bummed. And aside from the 40 minutes of their time and the free bottles of water we scored, we did learn something, so all is not lost. What we learned was that The Independent Film Channel is no longer the Independent Film Channel. It’s IFC. Like the toxic “Fried” in Kentucky Fried Chicken, the F-word has forced a change over at the once-Independent Film Channel. It is now known as IFC. Our idea, we were told, is five years too late for IFC. They are no longer interested in being a channel about independent film or filmmaking in general. They want comedy. They love lowbrow. How the fuck Chad and I pitch a show that is not lowbrow or funny enough for anyone is beyond me. Going in, we thought that we had to trick the Independent Film Channel into giving us money by being more highbrow. Oops.
But, what the hell, we took a shot. Something ventured, nothing gained. And we filled up an otherwise empty Monday afternoon in NYC.
7:17 PM – BOB
We headed back down to Brooklyn for the screening tonight.
Aaron Hillis, the booker at reRun and film writer scored me a copy of MovieMaker Magazine. I wrote an article for their current issue, the annual “Complete Guide To Making Movies” issue. I hadn’t gotten a hard copy yet, so I was glad that Aaron hooked me up. I took the opportunity to film Aaron’s take on the “stunt.” He caught some flak for it, but all is well now. Here‘s his angle:
11:47 PM – CHAD
The screening tonight at reRun was great. Just when we thought nobody was going to show up, we get there and the first person we see is Austin’s own Billy Bishop. Bob and I were like, holy shit we can ‘t believe Billy came to see the movie while he was up here in New York for Thanksgiving, but it turns out he was just there to drop off some t-shirts and posters that ReRun had ordered from him for their 2007 Film Festival. No, but seriously, Billy and Suzanne Bishop were both there and they even brought Joey Edwards, for good measure. Austin expatriate, Carolyn Malerba was there with her fiancé Jason, who owns Fresh Salt, a bar on the very southern tip of Manhattan. There were also some new faces, namely a couple of young guys named Gene and Joseph, who I started thinking of as “Punk Rock Gene” and “Jet-Set Joseph”, respectively. Jet-Set Joseph basically assured me that he was partying all over the country and would be attending most if not all of our screenings in the northeast and throwing down with us in every city. Punk Rock Gene totally saved my ass later that night, because the subway I had to take home was re-routed all to hell and I just happened to run into him down in the tunnel. I was way too fucked up to have ever gotten back to where I was staying without his help. Speaking of where I was staying, it was with Eric Payson and his girlfriend Emily at a high-rise apartment across the street from the Empire State Building. Payson had been out of town the whole time, marooning Emily in the apartment with me and Bob. When I finally got back to Payson’s house early the next morning, he had made his triumphant return. I remember him trying to talk to me and shit, but I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I was a danger to myself and those around me.
November 20, 2010
10:43AM – CHAD
So, we have a screening today at noon back at reRun, but Bob just got a text from Aaron Hillis, who booked the screenings, explaining that he wasn’t going to be able to make it down to the movie this afternoon. Now, that really shouldn’t be a big deal, but apparently I’m not allowed over at reRun anymore without Aaron there to take personal responsibility for me. We were specifically texted not to go down there without him, so I guess he’s my official “handler” for the week. This gives me the day off to watch college football.
11:11 AM – BOB
Regarding last night, my filmmaker friend Michael Galinsky wrote this:
About 8 months ago my good friend Bob Raysent me a cut of his documentary “Total Badass”. The cut was a bit of a mess but it was clear that there was a pretty amazing tale unfolding. Tonight i saw the final cut at a screening in Brooklyn and I was shocked at how much he had been able to do without changing it significantly.
The film follows his friend Chad Holt, who is a total badass. I’ll leave the explaining and the reviews to the reviewers http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/movies/19haleroundup.html but i did want to relate a post show screening story from tonight. Early in the film we learn of Chad’s exploits in his band, Front Butt. In the band he would wear a butt in the front of his pants and he would leap from the stage into a trash can. It was clear from the footage that the performance transcended schtick. The danger and the pain were real and palpable, painful to watch. The band, like all other aspects of his life was designed to transcend expectation and push the envelope in all directions. It would be quite easy at first glance to kind of dismiss the front butt, and the stage diving, and the music as a gimmick. However, it was clear that while for some people the experience was like a freak show, for others there was something transformative about how Chad pushed way beyond the boundaries to an area of danger almost as a gift to the audience. In pushing himself so far he made room on the other side for those too scared to push themselves.
In order to drum up press and enthusiasm for the screening, the booker had promised live stunts. He bought a trash can and Chad was urged to use it. While in some ways the film is a chronicle of Chad’s exploits, it is also a tale of redemption. Over the course of the film, Chad pulls his life together and is able to start taking care of his son and daughter full time. At the screening Chad said, “I don’t want to do this because I’m at a different place in my life. I’ll do this, but it won’t be authentic and it will be kind of sad. But ya’ll take a vote and if you vote on it I’ll do it.” I voted no. It was a tie. I had a bad feeling about it for two reasons. Number 1, I just thought it would be a lame gesture. Number 2, Chad mentioned that he didn’t have health insurance and I just thought it would be awful if their film tour was messed up because of this silly gesture.
After some awkward back and forth Chad brushed past me and headed towards the front of the venue holding the trash can. The filmmaker had given me his flip camera to capture the q and a so I followed behind him. When we got to the front he started to take his wallet and phone and lighters out of his pocket and dumped them on the hostess platform. A few people had streamed out of the venue to witness, but he didn’t wait around. He dove into the trash can and headed down the stairs. I felt the same hot jet of adrenalin that I get when my kids fall. He flopped painfully down a couple of steps and I knew that something was wrong. He hit the middle platform with a thud and then rolled down the next section. He hit the bottom explosively and flopped to a halt. Staring at both him and the little flip camera screen had given the whole thing an edge of surrealism.
The filmmaker, Bob has his little photo camera trained on Chad. He filmed the stillness because Chad wasn’t moving. I headed down the steps and it was clear that he was breathing but my sense of dread began to turn towards real fear. With his feet splayed at an awkward angle it seemed that he might be hurt. I also thought that he might be faking it to let those who had voted for his degradation feel some guilt. There was a lot of confusion and the stress level started to ratchet up the longer he laid like that. I searched Bob’s expression for any sense of fear or doubt, but found none, which was comforting – at first. My jacket was locked in the theater so I got the promoter to let me in. He seemed a little nervous, but excited by the tension. We were all kind of joking about it, but after 20 minutes i was starting to get nervous. The danger of it started to get to me. Sure, there was a 90% chance he was fine, but if he was hurt, or had a spine injury he needed help immediately.
We went back to the front and I checked his feet. They hadn’t moved at all. I started to get freaked out, so freaked out in fact that I felt the need to leave. Bob moved forward and peered inside the trash can with a lighter to check his eyes. He was calm but appeared nervous. He couldn’t seem to get any kind of response from Chad. Finally a guy standing near by said, “This is ludicrous, i’m calling an ambulance”
I left. I still thought it might be a performance but I was cooked. i couldn’t take the pressure and i didn’t want to get caught up in the drama. I bid Bob goodnight and took off in a foul mood. I thought about Chad’s kids. I pictured him in a wheel chair. I felt like shit and my thoughts were flying around like bats in a small room.
About three blocks from the venue I heard the ambulance on its way and i was glad to be out of there. When I got home I saw that I had a voice mail. My friend Adam had called to tell me that moments after I left Chad popped up. It had been all performance. In total badass form he talked his way out of trouble with the ambulance.
That was high art.
2:02PM – CHAD
Ok, so there’s this bar in Manhattan called Stout, and it’s like Texas Longhorns headquarters if you are in New York City. During a good year, the entire club is packed with Longhorn fans during the football games. This year, 2010, has been so shitty for the Longhorns that the fair-weathered fan base has dried up and the bar only shows the games in a dingy back room, hidden away from public view. Bob and I went to said dingy back room and ate a pizza while Texas beat the shit out of Florida Atlantic to vent out some of their frustrations over the year’s other losses. You know how a guy will get his ass kicked in a bar fight, so he goes home and beats the shit out of his wife and kids? That’s kind of what Texas did to Florida Atlantic.
10:51 PM – BOB
I’m sitting in a house in Long Island. I know it says that it’s Day 11, but I’m really writing this from the future. If you’ve been reading the tour journal, you already know that all my entries are time-traveling lies. So really, it’s Day 16 (Thanksgiving eve) and I’m acting like it’s Day 12. I know this is confusing, but time-travel always is. Anyway, my point is that I don’t remember what happened on Day 11. I know it was only five days ago, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what happened. In fact, five days ago seem like it was about 27 months ago… maybe it’ll come back to me. I’ll let you know, if so.
Perhaps the distraction of a possible NYC fire will liven things up:
11:45PM – CHAD
We went to visit our old friend, Patrick Holmes, at The Living Room where he tends bar. Patrick is a friend from way back when Bob and I lived next door to each other over on West Campus in the early 90’s. He’s been living in New York now for well over a decade and I look him up anytime I go up there. Shit, he came out and saw Rock Opera out there when we took it up for the New York Underground Film Festival way back in 2000. I guess that excuses him for not coming to any of the Total Badass screenings this time around. Plus, he did get us so fucked up at the bar that I really can’t tell you anything about the night, other than Patrick was there.
12:01 AM – BOB
Chad and I walked back to the crash-pad near the World Trade Center. We found a hard-copy of the Village Voice. The page with the review has a huge pic of Chad. It’s the pic on the DVD cover (thanks, Jerry Milton!) where Chad is in a tumped-over trashcan, apparently naked but with shoes on and knees bleeding. A striking pic, to be sure. And the Voice knew this, giving it nearly half the page.
Official Tour Page: www.badassfilmtour.com
November 19, 2010
12:21 PM – CHAD:
We had to wake up in Raleigh today and haul ass directly to New York City for our big Friday premiere there tonight. Along the way, we blazed through Richmond Virginia, Baltimore Maryland, Wilmington Delaware, and Philadelphia Pennsylvania. They’re all on film, if anyone gives a shit:
8:20 PM – BOB
The drive from Raleigh to Brooklyn took eleven and a half hours. It should have taken about eight to nine, but we got lost. The good news is that I hear that if you can make it to NY, you can make it to anywhere. (NOTE: And that’s despite the toll roads):
On the Road in the Car…
Chad’s Phone call Request for a “Stunt”
Drive/Arrive in NYC
Pulling up to the reRun Theater
9:30 PM – CHAD
Ok, so a week or two before we left for this trip, our producer, Mia Cevallos, had been talking to Aaron Hillis, who booked us our week-long run at The reRun in New York City. Somewhere along the way, they decided it would be a good idea for me to do some type of publicity stunt before, during, or after the screenings for the audience’s delight. I told Mia that sure, I would come up with something between now and then, but that it goddamn sure wasn’t going to involve me getting into a trashcan of any sort, which I already had the sneaking suspicion was exactly what the theatre had in mind. Along the way, I also started emailing and chatting back and forth with Aaron, all the while promising that I would do something spectacular, but steering the options away from anything trashcan related. I even told him at one point, you know, why don’t we announce that I’m going to have sex with a minor right there in the theatre and then at the last minute it actually turns out to be one of the Chilean miners and the whole thing had been a big play on words? This was back when that was much more topical humor, mind you.
Well, today we’re rolling up The New Jersey Turnpike about three hours before show time, and Aaron calls us. The motherfucker is at Home Depot as we speak, shopping for trashcans, talking about what color and size do I want. I’m like dude, my trashcan jumping days are behind me… but he sort of skirts around that and tells me the bar needs a new trashcan, anyway. I tell him that as long as the bar needs a new trashcan anyway, then I tend to favor the larger (64 gallon) Toter brand trashcan and have never seen one in any color but gray. I then reiterate that I’m not getting in a goddamn trashcan but I did offer put on a clinic of sorts, where I would teach members of the audience or members of the staff or whoever was interested how to jump into the trashcan and do all of the tricks themselves. He’s like, what tricks? I explained that it’s not just as simple as jumping in a fucking trashcan like some asshole, there is actual skill involved in it, and there are specific, recognized tricks and stunts in the world of trashcan jumping (a world, keep in mind, that I saw come and go years back) many of which I had invented and perfected myself. You’ve got The Guadalupe, where it’s just like when you jump off a dock along the Guadalupe River with an inner-tube, slide the tube under your ass in midair, and splash down into the water sitting perfectly in the tube except instead, you’re jumping off the stage with a trashcan and landing inside it on concrete. There’s The Holy Diver, where it’s basically diving head first off a platform into a barrel of water like the daredevils of yore, except it’s not a barrel, it’s a trashcan and there is no water in it. You’ve got The Grand Prize Game, which is just like the game of the same name from The Bozo Show out of WGN Chicago where the kids would throw ping pong balls into little buckets arranged in incrementally increasing distances away, winning prizes as they went, except you are the ping pong ball and you’re throwing yourself off a stage into a series of trashcans. There’s The Inch Worm, where you stand in one trashcan, bend over at the waist headfirst down into another one, and then “inch” along the floor inside the two of them while people try to break your back. There’s also The Fondren Family Planner, which is really just getting inside a trashcan and throwing yourself down several flights of stairs, but it’s actually only called The Fondren Family Planner because one of the best ones I ever pulled off was on a night at Room 710 when most, if not all of the important Fondren Family members were in attendance. There are shitloads of tricks… King Kamehameha, The Butterball Turkey, Oscar the Grouch, The Walk In The Park, The Man In The Can… too many to name, really. Back when I was into this shit, I was probably the best in the world at it and might even still be, but I’ve moved on, you know? I’m ready for a new generation of trashcan jumpers to come along and take it to the next level, which is why I was more than willing to put on a clinic for the people who were coming to the movie. No fucking way am I going to get into a trashcan myself though, because in all seriousness, I actually have done some other stuff since then creatively, like the movie I’m touring the country with, and I just don’t need that shit anymore.
So, fast forward to the theatre/bar a couple hours later. (Ok, I want to talk about something real quick. We get a lot of theatre/something-or-others on this trip, ok? Most of the places we show at, when we roll into town, it’s not simply a theatre… it’s a theatre/bar, a theatre/museum, a theatre/roller rink, a theatre/something-or-other. I just want to make that clear, to you and me both.) We get to the theatre/bar and everything is going fine… Mark Hutchins is there early on with his wife…Raphael Vargas shows up with this fine-ass date…a girl who used to work at Cream Vintage on the drag when I delivered Whoopsy! Magazine is there… we couldn’t have asked for a better reception when we rolled into Brooklyn.
And thrust upon Chad a shoddily writer Liability Release form:
Liability Form – Evidence
10:03 PM – CHAD:
It was mentioned to me that Aaron had printed something in a magazine promising these people a stunt and he also had a couple of cameramen there to record it, so again, I start getting the impression that trashcans are becoming an issue. The reRun Theater has a really nice restaurant attached to it and before the movie, Bob and I were treated to dinner with Aaron and one of the cameramen who was there to film me making a fool of myself. I had the filet mignon. You and I both know this was the only time in my life that I will ever dine on filet mignon as a guest of honor, so I made goddamn sure and did that while I could. Over the course of dinner, Aaron and I are going back and forth about how I’m not going to jump in a trashcan and he even gets me to sign some kind of waiver that releases him and the establishment of any type of liability, which I found to be extremely unorthodox, but I signed it and told him it was a moot point because I wasn’t going to be doing anything dangerous. Somewhere around that time, I hear a voice in my head… not one of my voices, mind you… but just the collective voice of differing opinions says, “Hey asshole… He booked your show for a week-long run. He gave you a filet mignon. Now, shut up and get in the fucking trashcan.” So, I cut a deal. I told him that if I could get someone from the audience to do a trick with me (which was obviously going to be The Fondren Family Planner straight down the two tiered flight of stairs right at the bar’s front door) then I’d do it too, knowing that nobody in the place is going to have the guts or the humility to try such a thing. I also told him that I’d take a vote after the Q&A and if more than half the people wanted to see me do the trick, I’d do it because I was convinced that having seen the movie and then heard what I was going to say afterwards, most people would understand why getting in the trashcan would be a bad idea.
Stunt I – Chad’s Acquiescence…
Ok, so it’s after the movie and we’re doing the Q&A and according to Bob, I rambled on quite a bit drunkenly and bored the shit out of everybody. In my mind though, I was delivering one of the most impassioned sermons on the state or art in our society to ever be publicly expressed in New York City. My main point was that if I got in the trashcan, it wouldn’t be art, it wouldn’t be real, it would not only be bullshit in that particular moment in time, but it would retroactively go back and turn everything I had ever created in the world of trashcan jumping into bullshit, as well. My main piece of evidence was the trashcan itself… the one Aaron had just bought from Home Depot. Not only was it physically deficient (it was a little 32 gallon piece of shit) but it was completely devoid of any soul or spirit. It had never been used. It was completely clean. In order to drive this point home, I told them the story of Alan Nelson, which is good for Alan, because he ghosted us out in New York and didn’t come to any of the shows, but it looks like he made it into the tour journal, anyway. I met Alan through his brother Pat, who used to work at Room 710 and was not only always a good friend, but he was a big supporter of the stuff I did… my writing and my shows. I always thought that was cool because he was a bit younger than me and it just made me proud that something I did could have an effect on someone from another generation. I used to call Pat Nelson “Butt-Crack Pat” because he always wore his jeans low with no underwear so when he was behind the bar, you had to sit there and stare at about a third of his ass all night. It wasn’t really as unpleasant as it sounds though, because Pat’s ass looked just like a little baby’s. Every time I’d see it, which was usually about fifty-three times a night, I’d think to myself… not in a gay way, mind you… but my fatherly instincts would come out and I just wanted to like, powder it and wrap it up and put it away for him, like he was my kid or something. Anyway, Alan moves into town, and Butt-Crack Pat really wants us to meet because it’s his older brother and he’s also a performer and shit, so Pat gets him to come out to a Frunttbutt show even though Alan was really sick with a stomach virus or something. Well, we get about two songs in, and I notice Alan off in a corner at the 710 leaning over a trashcan with it gripped in both hands, just puking his fucking ass off in the thing. My first thought was, wow, at least Alan wears his pants a little higher than his brother, Butt-Crack Pat, but I also realized that even though that particular trashcan wasn’t “in-play” just yet, it would be. Sure enough, about fifteen minutes later, I’m so covered in Alan Nelson’s puke, I could taste it, and not because any had gotten in my mouth, no, but because there was so much of it on my face, I was breathing it in through my nose and it was cycling all the way through my sinuses. This wasn’t just, had-a-little-too-much-to-drink-on-a-Saturday-night-so-most-of-it-is-just-beer-anyway style puke, either… it was sick-man vomit. Now, was there anything redeeming about being in that situation? Not at the time, no, but years later, I thought it served as a good parable about the difference between an authentic, bar-used trashcan and one that still had the fucking price tag on it. A trashcan at a bar is filled with not only physical perils like puke, spit, broken glass, cigarette butts, and so on, but it also contains the lies, the broken dreams, the tears, the laughter, the so-called good times of all the people who have gotten fucked up there. That’s what makes it a trashcan in a bar. Therein lies the art. (Did I spell it wrong on purpose? We’ll never know, will we?)
Anyway, the crowd wasn’t buying it. They still wanted to see me jump in a trashcan. I even took out the release form and showed it to everybody, trying to explain to them how ludicrous the idea of signing a release just to do one fucking trick would be after doing the shit for real down in Austin for the better part of a decade with no such legal wranglings. I singled out Aaron and the other employees of the club specifically, and told them that even though they might have found the shit amusing in a movie, if one of my old bands were to actually come up there and play a show in real life, we would fuck their place up so bad that not only would they have to stop the performance, but they’d never allow me back in the building again. Nobody cared about any of this shit… the crowd was still split, literally right down the middle in numbers of those who wanted me to get in the trashcan and those who didn’t. Well, my faith in my fellow man was so shaken by then, I just figured if these motherfuckers were there to see tricks, then that’s exactly what I’d show them.
I scooped up the trashcan, told everybody come on, I’m not waiting, and walked right out the theatre up to the front of the bar where the stairs were while everyone was still clamoring to get out of their seats and break down their cameras and shit. I took everything out of my pockets, set the trashcan down at the edge of the stairwell, got in it, and threw myself down the stairs, just like you do a Fondren Family Planner. Only thing is, I wasn’t doing a Fondren Family Planner. I had reached a little deeper back in my repertoire, all the way back to literally the oldest trick in the book. Playing Possum was always fun back in Texas, because it weeded out the people who had seen my shit before from the ones who hadn’t. Playing Possum is when you do one of your regular tricks (The Fondren Family Planner in this case) and then act as though things have gone terribly wrong, leaving you either dead or paralyzed for life. Then, you lay right there in a catatonic trance until either the very end of the night when everyone has gone home, or until the trick itself transcends art back into real life and someone calls in the proper authorities to come and take back charge of reality. As an expert trashcan jumper, I can assure you that this moment always comes… usually in about the seventeenth minute with a standard deviation of four minutes either way. Far and away, the funniest shit that happened before the fire department showed up (keep in mind I was watching all of this go down, floating above the scene of the “accident”) was when Aaron was openly lamenting that maybe the trashcan he bought was of the wrong size and the big ass bouncer goes, “What’d you get, sixty-four gallon?” and Aaron says, “No, a thirty-two. “And the big guy says, “Nah, man. That’s not big enough…”
So basically, I had people just sitting around postulating about trashcan jumping, and the little nuances of the sport, like the proper equipment and shit. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. When I saw that the fire department had showed up and they were headed inside, I transcended back into my body, got up out of the trashcan, walked up the stairs and ordered a beer from the bar. Eventually, EMS and the police showed up as well. I was summoned to come talk to the lead fireman, and when he asked me what was going on, I told him the truth. I said this is what I do. This is who I am. I have a movie out about me jumping into trashcans. I came out here on tour with it, people came to see it, and this place begged me, amid much fanfare, to do one single trashcan trick for them, so I did one. I even did one of my oldest, most basic stunts, seeing as how they were all newcomers. We had people here filming the shit and everything. It was all very meticulously planned out. I have no idea what went wrong….
Stunt, Part II:
After the Fire Department
2:02 AM – BOB:
The screenings tonight were fucking awesome! These were some of the most rowdy crowds yet. The Hell on Wheels screening was a hoot. There were lots of derby gals (and soon-to-be derby gals) in the crowd, including a cute pack of them right front and center. I did the q&a and only after did I realized that my pants were unzipped. I’m sure that was a thrill for all the front row gals. They bought merch and had me autograph some posters, and I’m certain that this was only the case because my fly was undone. I’ll do all my q&as this was in the future.
The Total Badass screening was rowdy fun as well. And I think Chad did some sort of stunt tonight. Fun.
Thanks Raleigh and NYC, Aaron, Hutchins, Vargas and the hot toll road dames!