May 2, 2013
I'm reading "The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir" by the filmmaker William Friedkin (The Excorcist, The French Connection) and he certainly has had a crazy up and down career. He is brutally honest about the first documentary he directed for the legendary documentary wizard David Wolper, (who by the way did "Appointment With Destiny" about the OK Corral fight). The Friedkin doc was called "The Bold Men" a pilot for an ABC series. He and an editor spent six weeks doing 12-hour-shifts a day, six days a week, stopping for lunch only. When they showed the finished doc to Wolper and a room full of executives, the big dog had a cow. Wolper took off his shoe and threw it at the screen, busting a hole in it. "This is the worst piece of shit I've ever seen!" He screamed. A fellow director chimed in, "F--king awful! A simple idea, and you assholes made it incomprehensible!"
"I was crushed," Friedkin says simply. Wolper had another guy recut the entire film in a week of sixteen-hour-days and the subsequent showing was a critical and commercial smash. And, amazingly, Friedkin didn't get fired and went on to make "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection."
Anyway, Friedkin opens the book with an anecdote about receiving artwork from a fan who loved his movies. Friedkin didn't like the artwork and threw it away. Turns out it was by an upcoming artist named Basquiat, who started as an obscure grafitti artist, then graduated to primitive paintings and his artwork now sells in the $14 million dollar range. Which brings us back to: what in the hell is worth saving?
Unfortunately, we Baby Boomers are prone to saving everything. Got this tidbit from Gay:
“It’s a tidal wave — you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what’s coming,” said Julie Hall, a North Carolina liquidation appraiser and author of “The Boomer Burden: Dealing With Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff.”
Boy Howdy. I resemble that remark. I collect hats (150+), I collect books (1,200 and counting), I collect postcards (800-ish), I collect Route 66 signs and related stuff, not to mention the piles of artwork I have created from my days at New Times to National Lampoon to True West.
When Kathy and I were in the cafeteria in the Hotel Mediadia in Madrid, I overheard a professor type talking about the fifties and the rise of the consumer society. He quoted President Eisenhower saying to the American people, "Buy." And the American people said, "Buy what?" And American business said, "See the USA in your Chevrolet," and the American people said, "Cool. I can do that." So we bought and bought and collected and bought books and magazines about collecting until the entire country is overrun with storage sheds on top of storage sheds for all of our crap. Or, is it treasure?
When we were returning from Spain I heard a news report in the Chicago airport about all the crap we save and some crazy statistic about each man, woman and child in the country has seven cubic feet of crap and that we're drowning in our stuff.
I made a vow to Kathy that I'm going to fill a big trash barrel tomorrow with some of my junk. The bad news is, I could easily fill ten of them but I'm afraid of throwing out a treasure. I realize this is where hoarding starts.
For one thing I have all these sketchbooks that I have filled with notes and ideas. Here's today's page of sketches about a seedy, noir type tasked with delivering three call girls to the coast:
Good idea? Or just more crap to throw away?
"It's much easier collecting than dispersing."