Left NY today. Heading north up into the Vermont woods. I leave Delirious on its own, playing on two screens daily. With every mile that passes beneath the wheels I feel a sharp twinge of distress, like I’m abandoning a newborn infant on the sidewalk. With every mile I hear it crying. It is hungry. Alone. Terrified. And surely without me there to protect it, it will perish.
Oh, for the love of christ, Tom–you sound like Sally Struthers channeling Sally Fields.
You’re absolutely right. I apologize. The birth metaphors always get me. I’m in a strange limbo. The film is out. There is very little I can do about it now. The moving on is necessary and completely disorienting especially with the post partum depression sneaking up and peering in every window. Where am I now that the 6 year conception is complete? Who fucking knows? I feel like I’m on acid (an experience I’ve had only twice, once by accident) and everything I look at slowly and quietly turns inside out.
So, where do we go from here? Shall we go back to the beginning? Back to the little sperm that sidled up the Fallopian Tube of my brain and said to the sexy egg standing there, “Hey, babe; wanna dance?”
I was on 67th and Park. I remember that. I was doing a shot for my movie, The Real Blonde. The light was fading. Daryl Hannah was crossing the street toward the camera. I was frantic with haste. This was the last take we would get before the light went. The shot was almost complete when to my utter astonishment some paparazzo jumped into the frame and began shooting Daryl.
I went insane. I ran up to the guy, grabbed him by the neck and flung him into the street. “You fucking idiot!” I yelled, “Get out of my shot!” In an instant he was bleating like an enraged goat, “You touched me! You fucker, I’m suing you! I’m suing you!”
I was speechless. This whackjob ruins my shot and he’s suing me?! How did he come up with that kind of logic? What goes on in his brain that makes him so instantly and irrefutably the offended party? That was it, right there—that question started it all. I felt like a biologist looking at a species; both fascinated and repulsed by the paparazzi at the same time. What draws someone to their profession? What do they get out of it? How do they justify their heartless, vicious intrusions into people’s privacy?
A few years later I ran into this same guy at a party. Something made me walk up to him and say, “Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” I’ll never forget the way he flinched, as if I was going to punch him. I told him I was thinking about doing a film on paparazzi and asked if I could hang out with him for a while. His name was Chester and his initial defensiveness evaporated the instant he saw that I was seriously interested in paying attention to him.
I ended up spending over 2 months with him. He took me to parties, fashion shows and movie premieres. He drove me around in his car. He allowed me into his apartment. The first time I rang his buzzer a scowling Ukrainian super poked his head out the door and said, “Who you look for?!” When I told him he spat and turned his back on me, “That fokkeen asshaul!” This was indeed how the world looked at Chester and his profession. Bottom feeders. Maggots. Parasites. Vultures. I asked Chester how he felt about this perception.
“Fuck ‘em all,” he said. “I’m just doing my job. These people judging me are the same ones who rush out and buy the magazines with all my pictures in them.” Then he shrugged and thought for a moment. “But some of these paparazzi fucks are scumbags and they ruin it for the rest of us licensed professionals.” He showed me his press card, proud to have the tangible proof he was not a member of the cesspool. And this was the way Chester responded to every one of my questions; first defending himself and all paparazzi and then absolving himself by insisting he was above them. It quickly made something clear to me–he was a total schizophrenic. Part of him believed he was good, righteous and even equal to the celebrities he stalked. The other part was absolutely convinced he was a dirty, slimy, disgusting piece of excrement. And these two identities were in constant, relentless war with each other.
Coincidentally at this time I was making some realizations about family dysfunction. In particular the way a child will fight to maintain the belief that a parent is noble and good even when the parent is in fact a monster. This need to keep the parent good is so great the child will ultimately make him/herself the one at fault; the one to blame; the one clearly unworthy of being loved and deserving of such horrific treatment. This had a lot of resonance for me especially in Chester’s presence.
Every night I’d get out of his litter-strewn car, take a long, hot shower and write down my observations in a journal I was keeping. There was no central idea for a film yet. There were not even scenes, only fragments. But I knew without a doubt I had my main character.
THIS JUST IN: apparently my pangs of distress about the abandoned infant were not unfounded. Delirious has just been pulled from its two original screens in NY and and moved to a different single theater. The same thing has happened in LA. Not really in the mood to write much more tonight. Good night, my friends.