Monday, June 18, 2012


masking tape, J.D. Hastings

If you’re looking for something new and shiny, sorry – this is just a recycled compilation. The first three tracks come from a new site, Digital Refrain. I keep feeding them analog and they don’t seem to mind. The second batch is from various basketball-driven forums I've written for this season, and the final three are archived from Searching for Slava itself.

One of the common threads in my writing is the idea of marrying elements from the past to the present. Orphans of the Storm imagined a consortium of present day cultural icons attempting to revitalize a film studio founded by icons from a century past.

Jim Jarmusch recently appeared on the Charlie Rose show, revealing that his lengthy absence from directing had much to do with an obsession with a never released United Artists film entitled Long John Cabin (1935). The isolationist drama starred Wallace Beery as an agoraphobic woodsman bedeviled by incontinence, and was helmed by writer Dalton Trumbo in his directorial debut. The last known copy of the film turned to dust in a lonely warehouse, some years back.

Butterflies are Free had its roots in a running online conversation I had about bog snorkeling a few years ago. I added Michael Phelps and a great marsh painting by my father.

Michael changed into dry clothes and we were fed a hearty muskrat stew prepared by his friend Elin, a singer with a local pub band. And afterward, we sat by the fire with a good dark ale and finally talked about motivation and purpose. “I swim” he said, “It’s what I do and what I have always done. Lately I’ve been bothered by chlorine. After all these years.” And he just shrugged, as if there were nothing else about it. And stared with a sense of melancholy into the fire. And Elin came and put a quiet hand on his shoulder, each of us alone with our thoughts.

I threw a a number of disparate references, past and present, at a framework of LiLo’s ongoing train wreck in The Horrible Flowers. I think it might have disturbed some people. That’s okay, I’m only happy when it rains.

I took this assignment with a heavy heart. This is not the stuff of resurgent film studios or peaty bogs. It’s the cautionary last chapter of a life gone sorrowfully wrong. I remember Lindsay as a grinning imp on the set of Parent Trap – all freckles and cat eyes and young hopes. It was only a convenient snapshot of course. She was pushed and pulled relentlessly by the impossible forces of unconscionable parents. She could have been anything.

I wrote something for Pounding the Rock to mark the occasion of the Lakers’ three-game series with the Spurs, late in the season.

Up to the Forum in Charlie Cole’s ancient Volvo station wagon during high school, and later, moving to L.A. and punk bands – you could be anybody and dig the Lakers. And adulthood and parenthood, left to right on the radio dial with Chick Hearn, driving home from work. The first Phil Jackson years in Los Angeles – incense pots and rings.

J.M. Poulard from Warrirors World reached out over the course of the season for a series of email conversations which is one of the easiest and funnest ways to write a post.

I’ve watched Kobe since he came into the league and it’s been such a pleasure. To me, he represents something that’s so special about sports, the ability to be transcendent, to do things so extraordinary that time seems to slow or even freeze in the moment. I’m very conscious about his age and mileage, and look at each season as a bit of a minor miracle. His greatness isn’t as consistent anymore but he’s like Ali, he’ll still come off the ropes with a blinding flurry.

The following is from a Forum Blue and Gold preview of sorts, for the Lakers Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

Where did it go wrong? Or, how did it go so wrong, so quickly? It seemed to happen over the course of a game - an extended, senseless slide, like a nightmare car accident or a real accident - the ones that seem to last an eternity. It wasn’t any one game, of course. They say that you can’t go home again. It has been interpreted in many ways, a space in time, a memory, or the idea that you cannot return home without being deemed a failure. The Lakers return home tonight for a Game 7 that never should have happened.

I’ve written four Craig Sager stories for this site, they seem to get a little stranger with each telling. If I do another, it will return to a more solitary, lonely feel. Like the man himself. This excerpt is from episode two.

Highway 11 headed south, only one lane in each direction at times, the occasional logging truck approaching and thundering past. Craig Bartholomew Sager found himself smiling. A distant siren mingled with the song coming through his dashboard. Warm light sifted through the windows, softer than satin. It was hard to keep his eyes open. Just a perfect day, problems all left alone.

Last summer’s lockout negotiations often went late into the night, followed by pronouncements of doom from each side. I’ve gotten a wealth of material from Mr. Stern and had no compunction whatsoever about likening media consumption to a junkie’s fix.

In the end it came down to yards, not inches, and the eldest of elders turned slightly away and rubbed at his chest and wore his smile and his skin turned gray as he spun avarice into pride. And the lights blazed on and the town criers sat at devices and fingers danced over keys marked ‘insert’ and ‘delete’ and they cooked their bindles grimly and inserted thin needles into delivery systems. And the trails turned to tar until the spaces had filled and villagers put away their torches and stroked long beards and headed for home.

This one was just a drift of thoughts, and included one of many misadventures from my youth.

When I was in high school, my buddy Waldo and I got drunk and ran out of ice so we walked down to the Travel Lodge ice machine but the night manager chased us away so we drank some more and went back and pissed in the machine and left. The next day, we went down to the beach to bake. Our friends were drinking margaritas and we asked, “where’d you get the ice?” They answered like it was the most obvious thing in the world, “Travel Lodge.” Waldo and I snickered and sparked a joint.

A recent SfS change involved ditching the old black template with white font. I had mixed feelings, the color scheme allowed images to to pop out in a nice way. On the other hand, I just got tired of the reverse negative look. Searching for images often represents the final step of completion for a post but for this offering, I already knew what I wanted. J.D. Hastings is a San Francisco Bay artist who put together a series of collages from previously used masking tape. They fascinate me, not only for what they represent as works unto themselves, but in a sense of wanting to trace their roots backward, to their original usage.

Things that cycle - tides, trends, and generations. We're in the middle of a particularly good NBA Finals, and soon, the draft, free agency and the summer of guessing games. I heard from Kristi Fratello recently, daughter of the Czar. Slava's apparently doing well, working with the Ukrainian youth league. Nice update but it doesn't really satisfy my holy grail. I choose to believe that he's still nowhere to be found - a literary mystery. The search continues.

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