Sorkin remark #1: “No one ever in life starts a sentence with ‘dammit.'” Wells counter: “True, but I say ‘dammit’ to myself over and over so if a character is alone at a desk, in bed, driving or in the shower, it’s usable.” Sorkin remark #2: “I’m in a constant state of writers’ block. Writers’ block is my default position.” Wells counter: “What Aaron means is that it’ll sometimes take him a couple of hours to start churning out thoughts and passages. Which is more like writers’ stall than block.” Sorkin remark #3: “It’s not that dialogue sounds like music…it actually is music.” Wells counter: “But if you try too hard to write ‘music’ it’ll come out stilted and turgid. You just have to turn on the spigot and hope for the best.”
Six years ago I wrote the following about a trailer for Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life: “It’s basically saying that the cosmic light of the altogether is out there and within us, but the rough and tumble of survival (along with some brutal parenting at the hands of a guy like Brad Pitt‘s character) keeps us in a morose and damaged place. And what a sadness that is when brutalized kids (Sean Penn‘s character) grow up and start passing the grief along.”
I dealt with a fair amount of dark-cloud vibes from my late dad, an advertising guy who passed eight years ago this month. I’d like to think that I didn’t pass along the bad stuff to my sons, but of course I did to some extent. This is especially true concerning my younger son, Dylan, and for this I am truly sad and sorry. This morning I happened upon a piece that I wrote about my father a couple of days after his passing. It’s honest and decently written, and in honor of all that water under the bridge…
“My father, James T. Wells, Jr., had 86 years of good living, mostly. He was miserable at the end, lying in a bed and watching the tube and reading and sleeping and not much else. I think he was okay with moving on because his life had been reduced to this. He was a good and decent man with solid values, and he certainly did right by me and my brother and sister as far as providing and protecting us and doing what he could to help us build our own lives.
“But he was also, when I was a kid and a teenager, a crab and a gruff, hidden-away soul (his Guam and Iwo Jima traumas as a Marine during World War II mashed him up him pretty badly) and, when he got older, something of a curmudgeon. But not altogether. He could be funny about it. Mean funny. Two or three years before his death we were in a Woodbury luncheonette, and when one of the waitresses called out to another in a nasally tone — ‘Jeanine!’ — my dad delivered a nasal imitation that was audible to several diners sitting nearby — ‘Jeanine!’
“I feel very badly for his suffering the indignities of old age and the mostly horrible life my dad lived over his final year or two. I know that whatever issues I have with my manner, attitude or personality, it is my charge alone to deal with, modify and correct them. But I also know deep down that Jim Wells was the father of it. He lived in a pit so deep and dark.
I’m visiting the Wilton-Fairfield-Georgetown area this weekend, mainly to attend a tribute party/concert for the recently departed guitarist Tommy Schulz. Born into wealth, Tommy grew up on a sprawling horse farm in Wilton. Distant father, badgering control-freak mom. He lived for decades on a modest inheritance, and of course had been influenced by the usual liberal values. But as he grew older Tommy embraced the working-man ethos of Georgetown, the leafy, less affluent area that borders northeast Wilton, and — face it — became a kind of Donald Trump fan. Not actively, of course, but he was said to have muttered agreement with Trump’s views. We all have our foibles. Bruised and cynical, Schulz would have nonetheless loved this photo, which was thrown together this morning by HE Photoshop pinch-hitter Mark Frenden. (Mark also composed that brilliant American Friend poster last January.)
The late Tommy Schulz, Donald Trump during a Washington, D.C. gathering that Schulz never in fact attended. But that’s okay.
During a wedding reception in Fairfield last night, a guy was demonstrating a DJI Phantom drone, the latest version of which sells online for $1400. Very cool. It has a little gimbal-mounted vidcam that sends video back to the user’s cell phone. It can rise 400 feet without breaking a sweat, and can fly as high as a mile depending on weather conditions. The owner said he’s registered the drone with the FAA.
The forthcoming TV spots supporting Trump and Hillary will almost certainly be more savage than anything seen in any previous Presidential season. That famous 1964 “Daisy” ad, an anti-Goldwater spot beginning with a little girl picking flowers and ending with nuclear Armageddon, is generally regarded as the most damning, but Hillary’s forthcoming beware-of-Trump ads will be tastier still. This 6.20 PAC ad hits the mark, but seems relatively restrained given what Trump has said over the past year.
“Published in 1977, almost a decade after his yearlong sojourn in Vietnam and after he had recovered from his own bout of depression brought on by his war experience, ‘Dispatches‘ was a sensation — an acutely observed, acutely felt, wisely interpretative travelogue of hell, deeply sympathetic to the young American conscripts, and deeply skeptical of the political and military powers that kept them there.
“Written with the residual rhythms of the 1960s counterculture, redolent of drugs and rock ’n’ roll, it was also partly fictionalized, though its authenticity was received by critics — and ordinary readers — as indisputable, and they treated it as an exemplar of the kind of fiction that is truer than fact.
“In an interview on Thursday, the novelist Richard Ford, who was a friend of Mr. Herr’s, said ‘Dispatches’ ‘gave an emotional, verbal and aural account of the war for a whole generation — of which I am a member — particularly for those who didn’t go. His nose was right in the middle of it, and he wrote exactly what it was like to be in that place and to be that young.” — From Bruce Weber‘s 6.24 N.Y. Times obit-profile of Michael Herr. Here’s my 6.24 quickie.