Land of the Seeds: Manhattan Before It Became Disneyland

(The Other 42nd Street)

This will be an epic post because the personal ideologies that led to it have been a long time coming in terms of the actual formal expression of them. This is a passionate, deeply considered topic for me.

I was inspired to write this entry after riding my bicycle on 91st Street, in between First and Second Avenues. While speeding down the block on my old green Schwinn, I slammed on my brakes in one sudden, jarring reflex, thankful that there were no vehicles directly behind me. Before my eyes, which were suddenly glazed in absolute awe and wonderment, I observed an original Checker taxicab, one of the old "big-boy models" with the exquisitely hulking antique body and, of course, the yellow and checker design which were featured so prominently in the Manhattan movies of the 50's, 60's and 70's. You know, the taxis like Travis Bickle drove in Taxi Driver. Immediately, I was taken back in time in my own mind to another New York or, as I consider it, Manhattan before the Times Square area morphed into an ugly techno-wonderland with a constant stream of media images in every nook and cranny...what I like to call The Other Disneyland. Oh yes, and when 42nd Street was the super seedy porno-theater retreat-street...and not the tourist attraction that it is currently.

Just the day before, I was walking with a friend on the Upper West Side. This walk ultimately became a "movie tour" of the West Side as we passed by The Dakota (the deluxe, legendary New York apartment building with the open courtyard where Rosemary's Baby was shot and where John Lennon was gunned down in 1980), the apartment building "penthouse" where Sylvia Miles lived, with poodle, when she invited Jon Voight up for the misbegotten trick in Midnight Cowboy, and what was once (but is decidedly no longer) Needle Park at West 72nd and Broadway, featured in 1971's The Panic in Needle Park as the hang-out for the heroin addict characters.

About a year ago, my brother and I spoke on the phone. Then residing in Brooklyn, he informed me that he had recently watched Scorsese's Mean Streets, and deeply and openly lamented that the New York of now could never compare to the New York of that film.

I believe firmly that this rapid evolution in the image of Manhattan began when the original Checker Cabs were expired in 1983. Confessedly, I have the most enormous love of the New York films of the late 60's and early 70's, certainly more than any other time and place on celluloid. New York City had the grit, the edge, the often seaminess and the indescribable flavor that it sadly lacks now in the age of gentrification. This entry intends to explore the films made at the outset of the evolution (circa 1982 and 1983) and pay tribute to the films before that age that captured what is in my mind the true Manhattan.

To begin, I wish to name a few key films to be shot in Manhattan during the evolutionary period of 1982 and 1983: Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy (1983), Susan Seidelman's Smithereens (1982), Bette Gordon's Variety (1983), Henry Jaglom's Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? (1983), Yvonne Rainer's The Man Who Envied Women (1985), Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City (1981) and Lizzie Borden's Born in Flames (1983). Each of these films represents the ethos of Manhattan as a movie location on a geographic basis. In The King of Comedy, there is a sequence in which Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard are stomping down Broadway approaching a Times Square astonishingly without MTV or CNN news-feeds and Disney Channel image-streams...and you can see the occasional Checker taxicab pass by on screen right. In Smithereens, characters frequent now-nonexistent bars and punk-band clubs in SoHo, and a SoHo itself that no longer exists in the wake of the Neo-Hipster post-X generation. Take a walk through it as it exists now, then watch Smithereens and maybe compare it to the SoHo of Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation (2005). In Variety, the lead character works in the ticket booth of a porn-theater on 42nd Street. I am not, nor have I ever been, a frequenter of these establishments, but where can you see a single theater of this kind on the 42nd Street of today? In Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?, Cafe Central on 79th Street near Columbus is featured prominently as a hang-out for the post-30s singles crowd and Checker cabs are still on the radar. In The Man Who Envied Women, shot 1982-1984, the Upper West Side and Central Park West is the specialized area and, surprise surprise, Central Park West seemed to be the area that has changed the least. Prince of the City, which features many New York locations throughout its 167 minutes, peaks into the netherworld of the Bronx ghettos and the Washington Heights of yore...and into the buildings of ill-repute before they even became known as crackhouses. In Born in Flames, released in 1983 and shot over a period of almost two years, a fictional New York underground world of a quasi-future (i.e. the future as rendered by low-budget filmmaking) makes one long for the self-proclaimed glorious past. Even the bigger budgeted Soylent Green (1973), set in the year 2022, makes one hunger for that "something lost" in nearly an identical way. In a sense, this is a deep feeling of nostalgia for something that, on the surface to most people, is the Before to a current the fat-cells of a jelly-donut that regret that they will never get the opportunity to join the legions of other fat cells on an obese man religiously intent on shedding copious pounds.

In my belief, the post-O'Hara Manhattan (i.e. I am referring to writer Frank O'Hara's poetic conception of 1950's New York) as documented in cinema can be divided distinctly into eras without feeling arbitrary, because each of these eras has an undoubtedly different feel when viewing the films respective to them. First, there is the Neo-Grey-Flannel-Suit Era (signified by films like The Apartment, Two for the Seesaw, The Pawnbroker, Sunday in New York and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), then the Warhol Era (these are not strictly Warhol films, but simply movies, either indie/underground or mainstream, made during and right after Warhol started his experiments in filmmaking in the late 60's, signified by films like Midnight Cowboy, with its "wild hippy party scene," Greetings!, Hi, Mom!, Taking Off and Coogan's Bluff), followed by the Urban-Junkie/Loner Era which conincides with the Literary Jetset Era (signified by films like Born to Win, The Panic in Needle Park, Believe in Me, Maidstone, Such Good Friends and Ice). Following these first three, there lies the Summer-of-Sam Era, a time marked by the paranoia and pressures of a struggling late 70's economy (signified by films like Saturday Night Fever, Girl Friends, Annie Hall, Nunzio and Rich Kids). Beginning in the 80's, the arrival of the No Wave Movement saw the complementary arrival of the New York punk film (examples being works by filmmakers Amos Poe, Nick Zedd, Jim Jarmusch, Vivienne Dick and James Nares). The No Wave Era also will point to films like Mr. Mike's Mondo Video, Koyaanisqatsi (strictly in its use of New York), They All Laughed, Dear Mr. Wonderful, Street Smart (featuring a depiction of the last remnants of the old Times Square) and Lightning Over Water. Other films released by the company Pacific Arts around the time were also revealing of the No Wave's influence on the New York films of the time. Following the 1983 Evolution came the arrival of the Yuppie Film. Look no further for films of this era than The Secret of My Success, Big and Baby Boom. The Manhattan Financial District underwent a Renaissance of sorts in American film as Yuppiedom prevailed in mainstream cinema, particularly New York mainstream cinema of the late 80's. The post-1992 New York films are just one mass blur as the evolution became visible to the naked eye for the first time.

To pay tribute to the "golden-age" films, I am going to begin with an unlikely film, and one that is vital to mention. Milton Moses Ginsberg's Coming Apart (1969), starring Rip Torn, Viveca Lindfors and Sally Kirkland, is a reflexive hidden-camera metadrama shot in a single Manhattan studio apartment. The film is a mostly one-camera-angle shooting directly into a mirror reflecting a window peering high over Manhattan's West Side. We never leave this apartment throughout the length of this two-hour film. Not once! Yet, you get a feeling of a different New York, a much different New York, lying outside the doors of this single location. You feel it without seeing it. That is what my point is. It is not so much a visual thing (although the "visual thing" is the major component of the evolutionary adjustments I mention before), but a feeling of what it was and what it meant for people to live in New York before the technocracy took hold of the city's infrastructure. It lost some of its intrinsic character as time progressed. I still love living in New York. I cannot imagine living anywhere other than a city, and this is the king of cities, but I wished I lived in the New York of then as opposed to I could shoot it and make movies in it.

There are other films worthy of mention. William Friedkin's The Night They Raided Minsky's, shot in early 1967 and released in late 1968, recreated the Lower East Side of 1925 without losing its place in New York filmmaking history's treatment of the late 60's. I could watch the location work in this film for days without growing bored. Claudia Weill's Girl Friends, released in 1978, was a then much-touted, acclaimed indie film that has a singular way of possessing a feeling of "lost New York" when watching it today on my old VHS. The look, feeling and ethos of the Greenwich Village in Brian De Palma's Greetings! (1968) and the Midtown in his Hi, Mom! (1971) are, once again, gone today. It goes without saying that the Manhattan in Midnight Cowboy is nowhere to be found. The picaresque locations in the opening montage of Dog Day Afternoon, the beautiful East Side "rooftop gardens" in Henry Jaglom's A Safe Place (1971), the Central Park of Bill Greaves' Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (1968), the then less-developed Chelsea area of Yvonne Rainer's Kristina Talking Pictures (1976), the Needle Park of Jerry Schatzberg's The Panic in Needle Park (Needle Park is now known, in the post-Giuliani era, as Verdi Square), the Times Square of Ivan Passer's Born To Win (1971)...all gone gone gone.

So what does it all mean now? How can we juxtapose it to what it meant then? How can we do it as filmmakers and film watchers? How can people like my brother reconcile the feelings he had for the New York of Mean Streets to the only New York we can walk through today? And, ultimately, what is the value of a place and the character of location, and what role does it play in our intake, digestion and renewing appetite for films that seek to capture time, place, atmosphere, the common feeling of its teeming people, for posterity? The pre-evolutionary, pre-gentrification places were seedy...but for filmmakers, this New York was the land of the seeds. Ideas sprouted from the harsh realities of urban life...from the personality of the city itself. Now, all we have is this little word, "retrospect".

Best of 2008 Lists

1. VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (Woody Allen) I had the privilege of seeing this twice in the theaters, and even had a strong hankering to see it a third, but I waited for the DVD availability. It is fair to say that, the first time I saw it, I "only" enjoyed the film, nothing more. But upon additional viewings, I became aware that Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a film by a director with nothing left to lose or hide. I have likened this condition and circumstance to a director like Preminger who, at the end of his career, had established himself to such an extent that he felt free to (as Roger Ebert put it in his 1971 review of Preminger's Such Good Friends) experiment and experience a customized sense of freedom, "because what Preminger once invested in width he [has] now invested in depth." Amidst Allen's balmy, summery lightweight "spree-film" feel, there is a startling and exciting kind of maturity in Allen's voice. It is not that I am saying he lacked a maturity prior to this film, but this particular sense of maturity feels new to Allen. This film possesses the voice of someone who is willing to admit that relationships based in (a) impetuosity/white-hot passion/tempestuousness, (b) submission, (c) longing for security, or (d) solely within the aesthetic or cerebral, are all equally indictable, faulty and shallow. After a lifetime of films (40-some films from 1966 onward), a majority of which deal in topics involving relationships and finding happiness in your other, Allen with this film has channeled his insights on the dynamics of human relationships into a work that encapsulates a great deal of what came before. And I am not even mentioning that he seems to have dropped his annoying habit of designating a "Woody avatar" in his films of the last ten years (think Branagh in Celebrity or Will Ferrel in Melinda and Melinda, among others), although a lot of that charming Allenesque verbosity and pedantry arises here and there, just as if to remind us whose film it is we are watching. And the performances...I cheered when Penelope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress. She is stunning, and what an entrance she makes! You feel her electricity at all moments. As John Waters put it when he designated this very same film the best of 2008, "it makes heterosexuality look good."

2. FROZEN RIVER (Courtney Hunt) I actually just saw this last night. I agree with everything Mr. Tarantino said about the film at his Sundance appearance. The film put my heart in a vice and twisted it to painful degrees. Films can do that, but it is rare that it can do it to such an extent. Wow.

3. MILK (Gus Van Sant) In recently discussing the current trends in biopics, I gave a friend a copy of Karel Reisz's 1968 film Isadora, starring Vanessa Redgrave as Isadora Duncan. I offered it as an example of what biopics can do (evoke a sense of poetry in a genre that relies a great deal of clinical biographical facts) and what most of them tend not to do nowadays. Milk elicited a response in me, and I was a skeptic going into the theater to see it on this account. Van Sant possesses enough dexterity in the directorial department to know that biopics need not be so rigid, or for that matter exploitative or embellishing, in their delineation of fact...and without sacrificing fidelity to the real story. And Van Sant makes choices too -- brave choices that other current Hollywood "journeymen" directors would have altogether avoided...not that a "journeyman" director would have gambled on doing such politically risky and highly topical material.

4. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Tomas Alfredson) I saw this one recently too. How this got past the Academy Awards this year is what I want to know. Oy!

5. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Danny Boyle) Of course, with Danny Boyle, you know a certain amount of over-stylization, tawdriness and plasticity is expected. But the movie still worked me, though.

HONORABLE MENTION: Humboldt County, directed by Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs. This film is a lovingly conceived and executed homage to the "existential dramedic journey films" that were fashionable in the 1970's, with films like Five Easy Pieces and Harry and Tonto. And you've gotta love that ensemble cast, which includes Frances Conroy, the endearing but artfully unnerving Brad Dourif, the ubiquitous Peter Bogdanovich, Fairuza Balk and Chris Messina, who has proven to be this movie year's "master of disguise" (his shift from the stiff, judgmental yuppie bore in Vicky Cristina Barcelona to this film's yeoman pot-farmer he-man is quite a substantial, astounding shift).

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Defiance (what could have been a great movie story turns out to be another plastic Hollycaust drama), The Dark Knight (I was almost totally uninvolved on any real emotional was all mechanical and alienating to me, without a heart really), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (so much possibilities, the mind boggles...and what did they do?), Mister Lonely (good premise marred by lack of focus and lack of ability to evoke audience sympathy for the characters on display)

GUILTY PLEASURES: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (I wish they would drop the opening ten minutes and the annoying, pseudo-funny drunk-girl-on-the-loose subplot, we might have had something more here...but still, a sweet little movie), Cassandra's Dream (okay, so technically this isn't a 2008 film, but it was released in the U.S. this year, so I am counting it)

REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THESE IN 2009: 36 Views from Pic Saint-Loup (Jacques Rivette), Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese), Public Enemies (Michael Mann), Whatever Works (Woody Allen)


1. ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS (Luchino Visconti) Region 2 UK DVD from Eureka! Masters of Cinema Collection One of my favorite films of all time gets a beautiful transfer (beats the hell out of the Image Entertainment disc you can get over here), along with tons and tons of extras!
2. SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (Pier-Paolo Pasolini) Reissued DVD from Criterion Love or hate this film (the former group seeming to be in a decided and largely disapproved-of minority), you've got to admire the Criterion boys' and girls' treatment of it.
3. SATANTANGO (Bela Tarr) DVD from Facets Okay, let's face it, even a small number of real cineastes have had the patience to sit through Bela Tarr's 7-hour opus. I was transfixed, though. But then again, I made a film this past year that, in its sense of black-and-white photographic austerity that could be called "beautifully ugly," shares a kinship with Satantango.
4. CAMP DE THIAROYE (Ousmane Sembene) DVD from New Yorker I never thought I'd see this on disc in this country for some reason. I had been waiting to see it for awhile and it was worth the wait. Featuring an interview with Danny Glover as a disc extra, this film detailing the fate of Senegalese soldiers in the French Army following World War II is a deeply affecting drama about colonialism, with a little so-called "post-colonial hospitality" dashed into the recipe for a work about civil unrest.
5. THE JACQUES RIVETTE COLLECTION Region 2 UK DVDs from Bluebell Respectable-looking transfers (if not perfect) of films long unavailable by one of my favorite directors. The collection includes the director's cut of Love on the Ground, Gang of Four and Wuthering Heights.
6. A DAY AT THE BEACH (Simon Hesera) DVD from Code Red A fascinating and largely missing entry in Polanski's early-mid career body of work.
7. THE HELMA SANDERS-BRAHMS COLLECTION and THE ALEXANDER KLUGE COLLECTION (tied) All DVDs from Facets Finally getting some New German Cinema stuff out there. Ay, Facets?
8. 2 FILMS BY PETER GREENAWAY DVDs from Zeitgeist Films Excellent new transfers of The Draughtsman's Contract and A Zed and Two Noughts and decent extras from a director with whom I have a highly-respect-but-mostly-dislike relationship. Both come with transfer comparisons as a disc extra.
9. BLAST OF SILENCE (Allen Baron) DVD from Criterion I have a soft-spot for movies shot in New York in the 60's. For this reason, I could watch Blast of Silence, an early noir-indie, over and over again.
10. WOMAN TIMES SEVEN (Vittorio de Sica) DVD from Lion's Gate There's something about an omnibus...even if it's only from one single director. The episodes are freely hit-and-miss and here and there, but an interesting film to put in De Sica's pantheon.

O Unsightly HDV!

The last few days, amidst finishing my screenplay for a feature I am directing next year, I have been loading up on the viewing of relatively recent titles on DVDs that I would never willfully spend money on renting or buying, but nonetheless have (or had) an interest in seeing. Among the titles: Juno (a fairly satisfying film whose main vices are overly ornamental dialogue and a staggeringly high, record-making "hipster quotient"...and don't inundate my mailbox asking "What does that mean?" because I am sure you know), The Constant Gardener (engrossed me much more than I had anticipated), a second go-around for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a movie that, as an Indy fan from childhood, I detested (and, whaddaya know, the movie still pissed me off) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (very impressive work here), among others.

I encountered a DVD at the library called Mendy, honestly a rather lackluster film, shot on HDV. The film tells a tale of religious doubt and crisis of faith rather parallel in theme to that of Devil's Playground, a documentary about the period of exile that Amish kids spend soiling their wild oats away from their tight-knit Amish community. In the case of Mendy, the story is of a Brooklyn Hasid's attempt to transcend the restrictions of his own insular community...of course, with every intention of violating the "Shomer Negiah" status (the concept in Halacha that forbids or restricts physical contact with a member of the opposite sex, except for one's spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents). I was, right from the start, alarmed to see that the movie had been shot on HDV.

To begin, there is a very helpful link that I will provide so an unfamiliar reader can get acquainted with the differences between HD and HDV.

I have virulently avoided shooting on this format for as long as it has been on the market. I sampled the format for a weekend a few years back and wound up completely and utterly despising its flat motion, its fallibility in rendering color data properly, even in the least bit, and filmmakers' tryingly obtuse dependency on the facility of the format, and with this I am talking about overt lighting laziness. I have a filmmaker friend in the Midwest who recently completed a feature which he is now in the process of sending off to festivals. When he asked my thoughts, I came right out and expressed my dislike for the fact that he chose HDV as his shooting format. I told him that, on the first level, it detracted from my viewing experiences because the motion is the first thing one notices, and it looks so...well, to be completely honest, so ugly to me.

I am not the only one who feels this way about HDV. I know quite a few people who have opted to shoot SD 24P in lieu of HDV. There are alternatives provided in the above link I have provided. What can I say? I was called upon to shoot someone's film in Philadelphia recently. When he informed me that he was shooting HD, I informed him right out that, if he planned on using HDV, I would have to back out. That may sound snooty and abrasive, but it takes a lot for an image-maker to view images that have been in some way compromised, as I feel that HDV does rather uniformily.

We Are Our Characters

I am going to branch out on this post from the usual film kibbitzing to discuss the turning of a page in my life and the start of a new chapter, after a previous chapter which covered a very agreeable five-year time span spent in Philadelphia...and to also observe how cinematic the last two days have been for me. I have just moved to New York City, to an apartment on the 24th floor of a high-rise on the Upper East Side, to be exact. I think it would be a crime not to write about the last 48 hours in some form. So, as a freshly born hambone (I would have never even considered keeping a blog a year ago), I am choosing this online journal as the format for my account. Although I consider myself (apart from broadcasting my film work) a private person, I feel quite inspired to immortalize the contents of this post in an open forum.

I will begin by saying this: it is experiences like the events of my last few days of which movies are made, in my belief. How many films have you seen in which someone, if not the main character, packs it up and relocates to the Big Bad City only to have something outrageous befall them? There are at least a few I can name off the top of my head. I have no trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, but there are times where I see myself as the lead character in a movie, from a subjective P.O.V. camera's perspective. When I feel an emotion, I find sometimes find myself playing for the camera, even though I am well aware one is not there. It makes the moment richer to me. Life is cinematic to me, and I am a cinemaniac in that regard.

Okay, so onto the meat and potatoes. A friend of mine, along with a mutual friend of the two of us, helped me move two days ago. I do not have a license, so my friend was the driver. I rented a U-Haul, loaded up all my stuff and hit the road. It was an emotional time. I had grown very much to love Philadelphia, and the people I had known within it, and leaving it was not the easiest thing in the world (despite my eagerness to flee the operatic, obnoxious, broken-English kvetching of a psychotic Greek landlord).

All was well on the road. My kitty cat was relaxed and the other company in the truck was delightful. We moved into the new place without trouble, up all twenty-four floors, and went to celebrate with a few beers afterward. The Steelers won the Super Bowl (which, even though I really have no real care for sports, was proud of this due to the fact that I am originally a native Pittsburgher). Everything was going my way. We parked the U-Haul in front of the U-Haul place because they closed at 5:00 (why would they do this on a Sunday, I have no idea) and I was to come back the next day and drop off the key to the U-Haul folks. Leave it to the next day to be horrendously shitty in comparison.

The next morning, I arise, catch two subways down to Chelsea to the U-Haul place to find the truck missing! I went inside and asked the U-Haul folks if they pulled the truck into their garage. "It was towed," they told me. After much confusion and "Chinese fire-drill"-style hysterics and confusion as to where they towed the truck (mixed with a dash of corporate apathy), they told me I had to go down to the tow-pound to redeem it. Now keep in mind that I don't have a license and I don't drive. Even if I were to redeem the 17-foot truck, I would have no way to drive it back to Chelsea. I arrived at the tow-pound, a real hole-in-the-wall filthy pigsty on Pier 76, where I learned that the charge for "heavy-duty towing" was $390! Welcome to New York City, Mr. Daniel B. Kremer!

Outside, broken and about to keel over upon learning about the exorbitant charges, a nice Jewish couple approached me, claiming they overheard me talking to the abrasive and rude "pound receptionist" (for some reason, that seems like an oxymoron to me which is why I put it in quotations) about my case. Keep in mind that I wear tzitzis and a kippah 24/7 nowadays, and what they saw was a young man at the end of his rope within 24 hours of arriving. The man of the couple offered to drive it back to the U-Haul place for me. I couldn't oblige the offer because of various red-tape reasons, but he told me about how New York "tests" people. "There is always something that does that," he told me, after which he encouraged me to keep the faith and that all would be well.

Circumstances led to a U-Haul worker arriving to take care of the truck and relinquishing me to return to the Upper East Side to unpack my boxes. On the subway back, I sat next to an old man dressed in a very distinguished manner, in a nice, cashmere overcoat and a wool cap. He looked at me, and I felt his stare (keep in mind, he was about three inches away from me). He had seen one of my tzitzis hanging out. In Hebrew, he asked me, "Ben kama ata?" ("How old are you?"). It took me a moment to realize that he was speaking Hebrew (the roar of the train made it difficult to hear). When I told him 24, he said in an Israeli accent, "You look like you are 15 or 16," to which I laughed (even for an older man making the guess, this is quite a stretch). "How old do you think I am?," he asked. I guess 74-75. "You should have your glasses checked," he told me. I laughed again. "I am 91 years old," he told me. "You don't look it," I said. "You look amazing for 91." "Are you a yeshiva boy?" he asked me. We talked for a little bit more. When he was about to get off, he told me to go to Israel and join the Israeli Army, informing me that he was once a General in the Israeli army, offering me a Shalom Alaichem as he exited the train.

The day continued on after that, and other noteworthy things happened (like my chatty, but kind-hearted 67-year-old landlord stopping by to talk about tzedakah, the mandatory charity required of Jews of which he is a recipient in light of the fact that he has health issues and medical bill-paying becomes an issue...I am telling you, all this Jewish stuff just happened coincidentally), but this passage of time was particularly noteworthy to me. To me, it was very cinematic. It was my christening (if you will) into the city of New York. It may have cost me, but it was a test. And I just felt like writing about it. I just marvel at the fact that we can channel the so-called "tests" we are thrown in life into some creative engagement. It is the covenant that we have as artists...and yesterday, more than any other time, reminded me of the goodness of adventure (both good and bad). Even when I felt like disappearing and claiming a pseudonym when I was handed a nearly $400 bill, I just thought to myself, "Adventure allows for cinema and all the arts to take shape, whether they are positive or negative, real or imagined." The stories we tell each other are often not as powerful and worth their weight in gold as the stories we tell ourselves as we make our way through these adventures.

This has been Dan Kremer's Chicken Soup for the Pretentious Artist's Soul. This is Dan Kremer...out.