Suddenly he is everywhere.
Our culture is alive with his image.
And of course there is the film
Due out in theaters one week from today.
This rebel man,
Once my private hero
(I tattooed his dagger symbol on my arm in college)
Is suddenly as big as the Las Vegas of his creation
And like Vegas he is renewed
Cleansed and commercially viable
A man of letters
A great American writer
No matter his sinister side.
I’m happy for him
Though sad these days, too.
Sad that after all these years
I am still little more than a fan.
I never established myself
As a writer in the gonzo vein.
I never established myself as anything.
That’s my problem.
That’s why I lost it that day in Texas
Just one year ago
Not so much because I was left out of the picture
But because THEY didn’t know me at all.
I’d had them on the phone in the fall of 96.
They had my resume.
There was a chance at grunt work,
Production assistant they call it.
Then Johnny Depp came on board
Then Gilliam, or the other way around
And my chances went from slim to none
But I tried anyway
On the telephone from our rented trailer
In the sweltering summer heat of Texas.
And that fucking intern or whoever she was said,
“Do you know how MANY PEOPLE
Want to work on this production?”
I felt so small, so forgotten
So far from my native southern California
Such the nobody
So much the man my father had said I was
Just days before..
A man with nothing.
So Killeen, Texas.
So seething with bitter rage
I slammed down the phone
As one would drive in a dagger
And smashed the glass table top
Sending giant shards
Glass swords that would surely have amputated toes
Cut my bare legs to the bone
Were it not for a thin gauze of plastic
Woven through the glass
Holding the smashed thing loosely together
Like the tethers of my mind
Holding together for the moment
For that day
Only to let go at last
Months later in Oregon
In winter in the rain.
But by then the film was
As they say in the biz
In the can.
He’s just a tattoo on my arm.
Just a little zine I did
A character car I made
A belated boyhood dream.
I’ll never know him.
I don’t want to know him.
His work inspired me once.
From “Cello String Arm”