Monday, December 21, 2009

Docs and Limbo

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm stuck in Los Angeles for another day. It feels like I've been in limbo for the last couple of days. Once I got wind of that major snowstorm (even though it's been 60+ degrees every day in Southern California), I knew that my trip back to NYC for Christmas was going to be hell and I fell into a state of limbo.

When I got back from Las Vegas last Monday after our annual outing, I was spent. Crushed. Beat up. My body had run the gauntlet as I ended week six of a six week bender. I needed rest. Shit, I probably should have checked myself into rehab, but I needed to catch up on a shitload of work that I neglected. I had a few end-of-year projects that I needed to attend to. Truckin' was late. Shit, all I wanted to do was sleep. Sleep. Sleep. But the work was piling up.

I had a rare moment when my body agreed with my mind. I was able to get four and five hours of sleep per night without any problems. I decided to go with the flow and listen to what my body was telling me. Slow down. Recuperate. Let the wounded back heal. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

But of course the extra rest didn't jive with my schedule. I had to make a tough decision and change my Friday flight. I didn't want to go anywhere. Shit, walking two blocks to the coffeeshop was a chore. We bought a Christmas tree and I wanted to enjoy the fresh smell of pine needles that filled the apartment when I woke up in the morning. I loved writing in the dining room before the sun came up in the darkness -- save fore the muted glow of the Christmas lights.

I was comfortable and didn't want to leave. You see, when I fly from West to East -- it fucks up my entire schedule because I essentially lose a day with the three-hour time change going from LA to NYC. Throw in a six hour flight and two plus hours dicking around the airports and another ninety minutes of commuting to/fro and the next thing you know -- my entire day is shot.

For $150 change fee my problems would have been solved, plus I would have one less day of my mother nagging at me in the frigid conditions of New York City. That was well worth the price. Several months ago, I originally booked a Friday morning flight out of Burbank and on Wednesday, I changed it to the red eye on Saturday night out of LAX. It gave me an extra 1.5 days to bask in the warmth of LA's sunshine, plus I could enjoy the tree and relax. The new flight would have gotten me into NYC at 6:30am with time to spare before the Jets game at 1pm and a day of football at my brother's apartment.

But then the snowstorm fucked everything up. I was on travel tilt a full day and a half before my flight asI listened to the weatherheads pontificate about the blizzard. I had to "wait and see" before I made a decsion (or a decision was made for me) which never bodes well with me. I prefer to make lightning quick decisions and move on with my life. But the storm was just in its infancy. Who knew if NYC would get bombarded or if it was just hysterics from the fear mongers and the city would only get a light dusting? Of course, my mother would not let up with the calls and emails. She had a point (a rare point) but she was nagging me nonetheless because I was in limbo.

My flight was scheduled to leave as the snow hit the city but land after it stopped. The gamble was this -- would JFK have their runways cleared by 6:30am? Another question... would there be cabs at the airport to take me home?

On Friday night, 24 hours before my flight, I monitored the storm which dumped a decent amount of snow on the Virginia/DC area. They got pummeled and the path was headed towards NYC. I scrambled to change my flight before JetBlue officially canceled my flight. The result? I could only find a flight on Monday night -- 48 hours later. I had no choice. I switched to the Monday night red eye. I managed to finagle an extra row aisle seat, which was better than humping a red eye in the middle seat.

By the time I woke up on Saturday, JetBlue had offically canceled my original flight. I'm glad that I was proactive and switched before everyone else got fucked. Otherwise, I might have been flying on Christmas day in a middle seat squeezed between the fattest guy on the plane and a crying baby.

I was in limbo the last few days, sort of like a refugee, but with better luggage. My bag sat half-packed on the futon in my office. I was unmotivated to write for the first and only time in 2009. Burnt out is a good description. I was inspired, but couldn't bring myself to lock myself in my room and peck away at the keyboards.

Instead, I decided to do what most of America does... self-medicate and watch movies.

I asked Nicky out on a movie date. She quickly accepted. We had not seen a movie in the theatres in a while. We used to go see one a week, but these days we've been super busy with traveling, and simply did not have the time. What little time we had were devoted to catching up with the DVR/TiVo and old Top Chef episodes.

Up in the Air was in limited release over at the Landmark Theatre. We went to the matinee and were the youngest people in the theatre by thirty years. The octogenarian next to Nicky fell asleep mid-way and started snoring, much to the dismay of his very Jewish wife who kept yelling, "Wake up! Stop snoring!" That distraction was nothing compared to the old black guy who shouted out religious messages at the screen whenever someone cursed. He stormed out of the theatre before condemning everyone else inside. To sum up, he said we were going to hell. Even Goerge Clooney.

I blurted out, "Merry Christmas."

Up in the Air is a book that was made into a film starring George Clooney. Parts of the film echoed my life. The constant travel. Living on planes, in hotels, and in airports. Clooney played a suit who spent 300 days on the road racking up 10 million frequent flier miles. I finally had a character that I could identify with as he lived the unconventional life constantly in transit and living out of his carry-on bag for his adult life. Shit, that's what I've been doing since 2005. But the sappy love story killed the flick for me. I wanted more on the road hijinks.

Dejected by the sappiness of said film, I turned to documentary flicks to soothe my pain. For the next few days, all I did was pop muscle relaxers to dull the back pain and pharmies for the buzz as I sit on my couch in a daze and watched documentary after documentary. That does not include the random video surfing on YouTube where I found a lot about the alien disclosure project and all these 2012 doom/gloom videos.

I had a few documentaries on my list but I also took the keen suggestions from friends after a email plea to Iggy, Ryan, and Otis. And through the miracle of Twitter, a few other folks sent me their suggestions ("Man on a Wire" was mentioned the most).

Here's what I watched in a short amount of time...
King of Kong
The Story of Anvil
Jerry Garcia: Can't Take It with You
Kurt & Courtney
Stoned in Suburbia
The Union
Miles Davis (some French doc)
I posted the video to King of Kong in a previous entry. That was the best of the bunch. You can find it on YouTube.

Four of the docs were music-based documentaries. There was a French take on Miles Davis and he was surly as hell.

Can't Take It with You is a BBC doc about the estate war between Jerry Garcia's greedy widow and his ex-wife, Mountain Girl. Hippies fighting over money and Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

Although I'm not a heavy metal kinda guy, I was enthralled with Anvil, the story of two 50-something ex-rockers who had their fifteen minutes of fame in the early 80s then faded into obscurity. Yet, they were still chasing the dream. So hard not to root for those guys.

Kurt & Courtney iss another BBC doc that focuses on the suspicious death of Kurt Cobain. I used to think that Courtney either killed him or hired someone to do it -- but after seeing the flick my theory changed into... Kurt killed himself but Courtney drove him to do it. I dunno. Maybe she hired someone? That's still shady any way you look at it.

Of course, the two other flicks were about... marijuana. The Union dealt with prohibition. And I loved Stoned in Suburbia which detailed increased marijuana use in British suburbs mainly by housewives and grannies. Funny ass shit seeing 80-year old British women discuss the properties of skunk and Northern Lights.

I also had a comprehensive list that my friends suggested, but we think alike because I had seen most of them!
Otis Rec's:
"CSNY: Deja Vu"
"Festival Express"
"Word Wars"
"Paradise Lost"
"Cocaine Cowboys"
"Enron: The Smartst Guys in the Room"
"A/K/A Tommy Chong"
"Super High Me"
"Hearts of Darkness"
"The War Room"

Ryan Rec's:
"Shadow Company"
"Fog Of War"
"This Film Is Not Yet Rated"
"Our Brand Is Crisis"
"Driver 23"
"A League Of Ordinary Gentlemen"
"Who Killed The Electric Car"
"The Corporation"
"Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos"

Iggy Rec's:
"42 Up"
"Devil's Playground"
"Fog of War"
"The Story of Anvil"
"No Direction Home - Dylan"
"The Union"
"Touching the Void"
"Word Wars"
"The Kid Stays in the Picture"
"Man on a Wire"
As you can see, there was some cross-over selections.

I had already seen many including of the suggested films... Fog of War (McNamara is pure cold-hearted evil and the original "Cigarette Smoking Man" from X-Files lore). Devil's Playground is about young kids having a year of sex, drugs & Rock n roll before the return to the Amish faith. No Direction Home is something I watched in Australia a couple of years ago. I was on a mountain climbing doc fix for a while and saw Touching the Void. A few years ago, I saw the Robert Evans biopic which put a new perspective on that dude and Hollyweird in general. D!g is one of my favorite music docs that chronicled two 90s indie bands. The Dandy Warhols hit it big, but Brian Jonestown Massacre floundered due to their inner turmoil. Shadow Company is an eye-opener about mercenary armies in Iraq. Super High Me is more stoner fodder. The War Room chronicled the Clinton era. I saw the Enron flick while I was in Australia. Cocaine Cowboys was in heavy rotation on cable a few months ago. Festival Express is an old favorite of mine with Janis Joplin, The Band, and The Grateful Dead touring Canada on a train. And Hearts of Darkness is a film by Francis Ford Coppola's wife as she gave you the backstory about the struggles Francis endured in making his epic film about Vietnam.

And here are my suggestions...
Art & Copy
American Movie
Food Inc
Straight No Chaser
Off the Grid
Union Square
Off the Grid is an insane tale about people choosing to unplug and live in nowhere New Mexico. Straight No Chaser is a Clint Eastwood flick about jazz legend (and one of my heroes) Thelonius Monk. Union Square is about NYC heroin addicts and reminds me of an Arthur Nersessian book. Surfwise is about a doctor who pulled his kids out of school, dropped out of society, and drove around in an RV while he taught his kids how to surf. American Movie is about one man's struggle to make art in small town America. And Food Inc is an indictment on the big business food industry.

Many of these documentaries can be found on YouTube or Google Videos. The rest are on Netflix and some you might be able to find on the interwebs.

Next up for me? Man on a Wire.

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