My friend Jackson West (not to be confused with my cousin Jaxon Kramer, who is working as a production assistant on Kid Nation) is raising money for his student film, Dominoes. I'm pasting the details at the end of this post (just scroll down to the photo and ital if you want) - for $10, you get a copy of the DVD when it's done, but even just $5 would go a long way. To display my brilliant math skills, if 400 of you gave $5 each, he'd have raised his $2,000 (though he's already raised $175 but I'm too lazy to do all that math). Photo by Tim Shey taken from my cupcake interview with Jackson.
As I was telling him, I have great respect and admiration for anyone who can both ask for and accept help; I have a soft spot in my heart for people who've struggled with alcohol and/or drug addiction not only because I come from an alcoholic lineage, I guess you could say, but also because I think we all struggle with something, and those who've gone through that, who go through that, because it's an ongoing, omnipresent process, have had to face themselves in ways I think a lot of us are reluctant to do. I'm not an alcoholic, but I could be, pretty easily. I have not only an addictive personality, but that compulsion to see things in such an all or nothing way that for me it's easier not to drink, than to do so moderately. Last night I jokingly told Funky Brown Chick that I credit her and her podcast back in March with quitting drinking, and she said, "Oh, I'm sorry." But it's not a bad thing; it was actually a really pleasant, friend and fun-filled night that the next day made me wonder what I would make of myself without martinis, dirty or otherwise. Whether I could get myself through awkward social situations, awkward anything, without needing a drink to bolster me. It was more of a self-challenge than anything and now, all these months later, I don't even really think about it, except in the sense that I'm grateful not to be walking around with a hangover or lamenting any regretful behavior.
I've been savoring the new Autumn de Wilde book Elliott Smith that my kind friends at Chronicle sent me, all these stunningly beautiful portraits of him, some silly, some just so intense. On the inside there's a post-it, and the back, a letter to him from Sallie Mae congratulating him on paying off his student loans. Both are so utterly mundane, things we'd probably throw in the trash, and yet you stop and read, and wonder about this man who hated his name so much that he changed it, who wrote love letters to alcohol, who could still huge rooms with just that voice and a few notes. There are some great interviews in there too, with his sister Ashley and Sam Coomes and Larry Crane and others.
I met him only once, and really we were just sitting backstage at a club that no longer exists, talking to Mary Lou Lord, and thinking about Mary Lou's song (well, Nick Saloman of The Bevis Frond wrote it (and it's on their 1998 album North Circular), but I think of it as hers, and always will remember her singing it at CMJ right after he died, clearly a wreck, but going on anyway) "Stars Burn Out." The question Mary Lou, and Nick, ultimately asks in that song is "Can anyone say why stars burn out?" I've heard her say it was written about Hendrix, but whether Hendrix, or Cobain, or Smith, or whoever, the question of why some people "lose out to their demons" and some don't isn't quite clear, and I think there are certainly people who make their lives look nice and shiny and pretty on the outside, but are self-destructing on the inside. Is that progress? Perhaps, of a sort. Fake it till you make it, except that I think faking it can only go so far before you don't know what's real and what's fake. What's you and what's your persona, and I think there is also something to be said for letting yourself fall apart. For not putting on the shiny prettiness and just owning whatever the darkness you have in you is. Not forever, not to wallow in it, but to confront it, to face it, to deal with it, versus psyching yourself into thinking you're doing so and really not doing anything at all.
This is a weird time of year for me, too many memories hurtling back at me like the last year never happened, so many events and people who just remind me of where I was a year ago and me no more clued in as to why things went down the way they did. It really is like 2006 all over again, yet not, but still, there are the exact same parties, events, and yet I feel way more than a year older. There's more on that, but another time. I will say that I have infinitely more respect for people who can ask for help, who can attempt to better their lives, who can recognize those self-destructive ways, and through whatever means necessary, battle them. For it is a battle that in many ways is never won, and for me this year has been about attempting to live in the moment, to be as present as I can be. I certainly don't always succeed but seeing as I have 2 weeks left to be 31, I'm trying to work on myself as much as I can, and, while trying to help and support those I care about, also recognize that at the end of the day, helping and bettering ourselves first and foremost is probably the only way to truly create change in our lives and our worlds. Before I completely hijack the point of this post, I'll just urge you to check out Jackson's page and, if you can, donate something towards helping him raise his goal.
I’ve returned to school after nearly a decade to finish the credits necessary to receive an undergraduate degree, and as part of my studies I’m producing a student short. The story, Dominoes, is about four young people in rehab coming to terms with the most difficult challenge of their lives — overcoming substance abuse and dependence. Unfortunately, it’s a situation that’s all too familiar to most, and one for which there is no fast and easy “cure.”
Telling the story is the easy part. Casting, finding locations, selecting shots and writing the script complicate things, but are part of the learning process — and so is fundraising. After considering a number of options, from selling shares in the film to holding a night of vaudeville-style dinner theater, I think I’ve struck upon one that offers the least extra work for friends and family and the most value to donors: DVD pre-orders.
For a suggested donation of $10 or more, you’ll (eventually) receive a disk in the mail that includes the completed film, behind the scenes footage, outtakes, my video diary and anything else I can fit on the DVD. You’ll also get a mention in the credits, updates on when and where the film can be seen on the big screen and any links to any reviews or press it might receive. My hope is to raise as much as $2,000 — while I can complete the project for less, anything over the $800 allotment from the school can only make things easier. Unspent monies will be donated to the general fund for film students at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.