It was almost exactly 12 years ago (sometime in early March of ’06) when Hollywood Elsewhere abandoned the two-columns-per-week thing and began banging out items and stories on a steady bloggy-blog basis. And as of 8.20.18 Hollywood Elsewhere will have been running as a stand-alone for 14 years. But a more important anniversary will be celebrated two months after that (or eight months from today), for October 2018 will mark my 20th anniversary in this racket. For I began my online adventure on Mr. Showbiz sometime around 10.10.98. I stayed there for a little less than a year (until August ’99), and then was hired by the guys. I stayed with them for three years, and then leapt over to Kevin Smith‘s unfortunately named Movie Poop Shoot site. Smith cut me loose in June of ’04, but graciously kept me on salary for a few weeks more.

Snapped 18 years ago in the main dining room at Trattoria alla Madonna in Venice.

Posted on 8.14.12: I get things wrong from time to time and occasionally don’t think things through enough, like anyone else doing a daily column, but I’m not sitting here and tossing fruit-loops in the air and catching them in my mouth like a seal. The column right now is a late 2012 synthesis of where things have evolved and where my voice, which has taken me many, many years to find and modulate in just the right way, takes me. If a thought feels good or intriguing or amusing before it’s fully articulated, I go with it and work it out and give it shape and propulsion. Except for libidinal longings and that line of country, I trust what surfaces.

If I wanted to I could bang out the straight-laced mainstream journalistic stuff that I used to write in the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts. But things have evolved. It’s a process. And one of the aspects of the here-and-now is that I’m no longer editing the impulse to share my occasionally eccentric views, when and if they happen to arise. When I was writing in the ’90s for Entertainment Weekly and the L.A. Times and L.A. Times Syndicate and Mr. Showbiz and all the others, I restricted that stuff to private memos. In the late ’90s and early aughts I stared to let some of it out. And now if it’s in my head, it pretty much goes right on the page. (Except for icky-intimate stuff, I mean.)

So this is where things are, and as far as I’m concerned people slamming me for saying stuff that they consider to be loopy or beyond-the-pale (like my aspect-ratio rants, which are about what should be by Movie Godz standards as opposed to what Variety reported in a review printed in 1954) is like people complaining about Pablo Picasso painting people with both eyes on the same side of the nose, and asking “why didn’t he stay in his blue period”? I am in no way comparing myself to Picasso in any substantive way, of course, but I understand what he meant when he said in the ’50s or ’60s that it had taken him decades to learn how to paint as simply and directly as a child. What I’m doing isn’t analagous in that respect but I’m letting the personal out more and more and blending it with industry jottings and critical views and coming up with a new synthesis of some kind. Bit by bit, stroke by stroke, you prune away the crap and deliver what is essential and true.