There Will Be Gifs

Sorry I haven’t been active on social media lately.

Especially this blog, twitter, facebook, my blog. I really miss my blog.

There Will Be Gifs

I’ve been really busy this summer… working on my fitness.

I’ll be back.

There Will Be Blog Posts.

There Will Be Blood.

-Mel

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To All My Friends (Who’ve Wondered Where I’ve Been)

I know I haven’t been around much lately. Too much anger. Didn’t really want to get it on you. I have a tendency to spew hate when I’m angry. I hate it when the bad guys win… I’ve been experiencing a what-the-fuck few weeks. The American election was hacked and I’m surrounded on all sides by people waiting for their chance to say “I told you so.”

“I told you so.” Among the bodies of the dead.

“I told you so.” Brought to you by the makers of Pepsi and Xanax.

“I told you so.” Translated from the original Russian. (actually, little known fact, it was in German before it was in Russian)

I’ve reached a point in my life where more people are younger than me than older. I’m surrounded on all sides by the children of the damned. Social media misfits more concerned with likes and dislikes. Trolls without bridges. History books unopened. But mouths that will not stay shut.

chinese-farmer

I haven’t been around much lately because I know me. The thoughts racing through my head should not be shared with anyone. My doctor doesn’t want to know. My lawyer doesn’t want to know. The fake twitter accounts of Russian trolls, who successfully influence the tired liberals into hopelessness and fits of screaming, don’t want to know.

For one misguided instant I considered self-immolation as a form of protest. Nothing else, it seems, can penetrate the walls of the corporate pay-to-play media and so-called social media’s cavernous, echo-amplifying, bottomless pits of ego and frustration. Setting myself on fire in front of some monument to our fallen democracy seemed like a good idea at the time… for like, literally, a second. For like one scary second.

So I’ve been away.

And I apologize. I figure there’s like 25 or 30 people who read my blog. And I love you guys. And I’m going to post some good stuff. Life goes on no matter how dire. I know my friend Alex misses my movie reviews. New shows, some of the best stuff I’ve seen on TV, came and went. Anybody watch Atlanta? That was amazing. Donald Glover is knocking it out of the park on the daily. Speaking of which, my list of the best albums from this year includes more genres than you can shake your rump at. Who knew I’d like Trap Music. OMG I like Trap Music.

Music, Movies, TV, the third chapter of my novel… but politics, fucking politics, pissed me off to such an extent that I couldn’t write but scream. I couldn’t think but scream. I could not talk because all the screaming made me lose my voice.

So I went away. Started meditating again. Got back to temple. Working out. Stopped doing the few remaining vices I’d allowed myself over the past decade. Pizza, Beer, Porn, Masturbation. It’s about time I stopped living like a 13 year boy without adult supervision. I’m gonna be 50 next year. And the US president is going to be Donald J. Tr… I can’t even say it.

The pounds flew off since I stopped eating garbage. It’s amazing how much more money I have in my budget since I stopped drinking. And the energy. The sexual energy. The mental energy. The spiritual energy… it’s through the roof. And now being channeled into less selfish endeavors.

thats-great-maybe

Doing yoga everyday. Getting to the temple at least three times a week. Working on my compassion and my mindfulness and my body. I will require these things to make it through the next few weeks. Let alone the next few years of protests and civil (and uncivil) disobedience. Gotta build my stamina for all the marching and demonstrating. Because, as you know, Donald J. Tr… I still can’t say it.

I’ll never be able to say it.

What is the true nature of reality? We see things as we want them or don’t want them to be. Sometimes a fantasy. And sometimes as our worst fears realized. We label situations and phenomena as good or bad. As helpful or unhelpful. As progress and advancement or… as the… the nightmarish, back-sliding, hateful, racist hell-scape that I can’t seem to wake up from. Somebody please wake me up.

WAKE ME UP!!!

I meditate to find love for the seemingly unlovable. I meditate to find focus amidst the din of unchecked voices (un-fact-checked and un-verified). I meditate to find the me that can help and not just criticize. That can pull his weight and not just pull his dick. That can be a calm in the storm and not just more destruction and distraction.

Because it’s looking more and more like we’re going to have to violently overthrow the US government. And I don’t say that lightly. People are going to die. People are going to die because they’ve lost their healthcare and can’t afford their treatments. Because they’ve lost their government jobs as the agencies that protect us, from emotionless and compassion-less corporations, are shuttered one after another. People are going to die because they’ve lost their minds after too many deployments in some foreign distraction called another war. People are going to die.

thats-awful-maybe

And we can’t just sit around waiting for a miracle. Like that one time that one guy resigned from being pope because he realized he was too evil and stuff to be pope so he let the cool guy be pope. We can’t wait for that. We can’t wait for lightning to strike his ostentatiously disgusting jet plane as it floats on a cloud of ego or one of his fucking hotels to collapse under the weight of his hubris. We can’t wait for that. And we can’t sit around watching our neighbors die from treatable diseases or complications from dangerous pregnancies or malnutrition. Fucking malnutrition in the 21st century.

So yeah. We need to violently overthrow the US government… but with love. Out of compassion for our fellow human beings these people have to go… on both sides. I will not be governed by hate. And also I will not be governed by hate. So that really no one has to die for idiotic and preventable reasons.

We’ve been hacked. Our election. Our government. Hacked.

And respectfully, the only course of action, after you’ve been hacked, after they infiltrated your system, installed their malware, their trojans, their porn, the only course of action is to unplug the damn computer, and reinstall the operating system.

I went away.

But I’m back.

I’m going to see Rogue One tomorrow. So I’ll let you guys know how I like it. I’m going to post all my reviews and stuff over the holiday season. There’s a lot. You know I didn’t even realize it was the holidays. This is usually my least favorite time of year (except for the Doctor Who special). Because I’m alone and everything about this time is geared toward family and friends and stuff. But ever since I’ve rediscovered my faith, going to temple and Dharma classes and meditation, I don’t feel so alone.

I feel great actually. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time. The healthiest I’ve been mentally, spiritually and physically. The best.

And to think, I owe it all to the rigged, hacked, fraudulent and fucked up election of Donald J. Tr… you know what, I still can’t say it.

You guys thank him for me.

See ya tomorrow after Rogue One (unless I’m too hyped to post anything but OMG OMG OMG OMG then I’ll post on Saturday after Dharma class)

Now watch this 2 minute video.

– Mel

Songs That Defines Me: Drug Life (An 11 Song Bio-Playlist)

What follows is about 45 minutes of music that serves as an audio autobiography. Up until now, my Songs That Define Me series has been very general but these represent certain times in my life. So it takes all eleven to make a complete picture. Not that they were recorded at those times but that they represent them. It is in essence the soundtrack to the musical of my life as it relates to drugs. I only post the audio versions with lyrics when I can find them. But if I can’t then I post the lyrics underneath.

So without any further ado. I give you…

DRUG LIFE (An 11 Song Bio-Playlist)

Three Seeds by Silversun Pickups
The movie opens on a boy with a chip on his shoulder. He’s angry at the world but doesn’t really know why. He’s brilliant, if I do say so myself, but he’s in constant pain and in constant fear and still he doesn’t know why. He never learned how to make friends or trust people after years of physical, mental and sexual abuse. And the only advice his mother gives him when sending him off to school is to pretend to be normal. (Yeah that didn’t work). He turns to alcohol. And it makes it possible for him to talk to other people and to make friends. This is the story of his three inner selves: His fearful self, His angry self, and his better self. This is Drug Life.

Remove the bullet from my head
Extracting over confidence
Hidden so easy to pretend
Too bad the rush was found again

I can see the pictures on the floor
Sketches of what was there before
Three came from one little seed
The last one is all I need

I can see the bottle on the ground
We turned the corner safe and sound
No thought of him as it was done
A clean execution
A clean execution

Cool like the ocean
Burned like a summer home
Fooled by the notion
That the sums don’t add up at all

There’s the line that is leading clearly feeding
All the things I don’t believe in
But I’ll step in once again
Cut in line to get closer to the
Source of all the things I’ll never belong to
Step it up and sign right in again

Cool like the ocean
Burned like a summer home
Fooled by the notion
That the sums don’t add up at all

Cool like the ocean
Burned like a summer home
Fooled by the notion
That the sums don’t add up at all
That the sums never add up at all
That the sums don’t add up at all…

Swimming Pools (Drank) by Kendrick Lamar

Our hero begins drinking in High School. He carries a little bottle of Jack Daniels around in his jacket pocket from the age of 15. In those days liquor stores didn’t card. They just looked you up and down. All you needed was strength of purpose. By that time he had been through some abuse and it showed on his face. They weren’t gonna deny him anything. Most people looked in his eyes, full of pain, worry and grief, and simply came to the obvious conclusion, “This man needs a drink.”

Washing of the Water by Peter Gabriel
But when High School ends he withdraws from the world. Riding around on the subway all night. Going to night-school in the afternoons. Working in the day as a messenger. Always drinking. drinking. drinking. Riding a river of fear to a sea of pain. His life becomes a river of darkness flowing into a sea of loneliness. A river of alcohol to a sea of… alcohol.

River, river, carry me on
Living river, carry me on
River, river, carry me on
To the place where I come from

So deep, so wide, will you take me on your back for a ride
If I should fall, would you swallow me deep inside
River, show me how to float, I feel like I’m sinking down
Thought that I could get along

But here in this water, my feet won’t touch the ground
I need something to turn myself around

Going away, away toward the sea
River deep, can you lift up and carry me
Oh roll on through the heartland
‘Til the sun has left the sky
River, river, carry me high

‘Til the washing of the water, make it all alright
Let your waters reach me, like she reached me tonight

Letting go, it’s so hard, the way it’s hurting now
To get this love untied
So tough to stay with this thing, because if I follow through
I face what I denied
I’ll get those hooks out of me
And I’ll take out the hooks that I sunk deep in your side
Kill that fear of emptiness, that loneliness I hide

River, oh river, river running deep
Bring me something that will let me get to sleep

In the washing of the water will you take it all away
Bring me something to take this pain away

Everything’s Just Wonderful by Lily Allen
Then he discovers cocaine. It solves so many of his problems. Depression, shyness, lack of energy. Cocaine. All of sudden he can talk to women. Walk into a job full of people. Cocaine. “He’s got so much energy. What a go-getter. Give that man a pay raise.” So our hero gets a job and a girlfriend and an apartment and he starts taking college courses. And it’s all thanks to cocaine. It was almost like Real Life.

Droogs by Anderson .Paak

The story takes a sexy turn here. Because for him, drugs and sex become closely related. The urge for sex is mixed with the desire for drugs. And so what follows is a string of destructive relationships and meaningless hook-ups and more drugs.

She don’t give a fuck
She don’t ever stress me
We don’t even talk
All we do is sex and leave
No there’s no love
She don’t even like me
But if we have drugs
She can be my wifey
When we have drugs

I got lost up in it, got lost up in it, got high for a minute
Said my lust for life and these lights are bright and I love these women
Said we bopping slow and we do the dance like we more than winning
Said she off the beat but she’s fine as fuck so I find the rhythm
No love is greater, in this whole world we made up
This love is made-up, it’s made-up
It’s made-up, it’s made-up, it’s made-up (say, aye)
I don’t know this bitch but I love this shit and we both are splendid
And she loud as fuck so I grab and touch and she don’t get offended
They goin call the law if we don’t get lost in Wynn parking lot
She don’t like me dog, she just like the drugs my nigga, don’t get it twisted

How many more can you give to me?
How many more can you give to me? I know you’re feelin me
Grinding and biting and kissing me
Who gives a fuck bout your history? nobody mentioned it
I coulda taken them all, I coulda taken them all, look at me dog
Look at me dead in the eyes, tell me you ain’t in love

She don’t give a fuck
She don’t ever stress me
We don’t even talk
All we do is sex and leave
No there’s no love
She don’t even like me
But if we have drugs
She can be my wifey
When we have drugs

You my one and only, my one and only, I’m on one homie
I don’t know your name I just love that ass, and I’ll pull that pony
Said I hate the club, but I make the club when I walk into it
Said you hate the drink, but you take the drink when I offer fluid
No love is greater, in this whole world we made up
This love is made-up, it’s made-up, it’s made-up, it’s made-up, it’s made-up

I can say right now that I’ll lay you down, I got lots of rubbers
I don’t give a fuck, you don’t give a fuck, we was made for each other
Your friend ain’t cute but my nigga’s a trooper, he’ll take the L
I’m high as fuck and you high as fuck so we parasailing

How many more can you give to me? How many more can you give to me?

I know you’re feelin me
Grinding and biting and kissing me, who gives a fuck bout your history,

Nobody mentioned it
I coulda taken them all, I coulda taken them all, look at me dog
Look at me dead in the eyes, tell me you ain’t in love

She don’t give a fuck
She don’t ever stress me
We don’t even talk
All we do is sex and leave
No there’s no love
She don’t even like me
But if we have drugs
She can be my wifey
When we have drugs

Hash Pipe by Weezer

Eventually this leads to a life of chaos. Moving to crystal meth and then crack. He does more and more. In and out of hospitals. In and out of rehab. Emotions flying off the hook. In and out of jail. Alienating everyone around him. Until finally he’s alone. Just him, his crack pipe and his self-destructive behavior. Paranoid, angry and alone, he’s pushed everyone else away. He settles in with crack as a substitute for human contact. His life is reduced to a constant struggle to get more crack. To do whatever to get more crack.

Please by U2

One night, while crawling around on his knees searching for something that wasn’t there, he breaks down. He realizes he’s hit the bottom. For him there was no lower he could go. Determined and alone, he begins the fight to try to get off drugs. In a montage of failed attempts. And valiant second and third attempts. We see him crying with every failure. Throwing out pipes only to buy new ones. Vowing to never use again then breaking his vow, sometimes in the very same day. At this point he only has himself to blame. And he only has himself for strength. Just he and the better self that he knows he can be. His life flashes before his eyes in a series of emotional motivational scenes. After months of trying, he finally gets clean.

Manhole by Ani DiFranco

He gets off the drugs and rebuilds his life. He remembers the hollow advice of his mother. So he pretends to be normal. He moves to a new city. He lies about his past. He lies to himself. He gets really good at lying. His past becomes something that happened to someone else. But not to him.

I’m holding here a book, notable, but not the greatest
Stolen for me by the latest in a long line of thieves
And I’m just about to drop it down that manhole of memories
When I realize it doesn’t bother me like love’s mementos usually do
And I look up to see who’s different here, the latest me or the latest you

‘Course, you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t lie, he just doctors everything
Chooses some unassuming finger and quietly moves his wedding ring
Who rewrites his autobiography for any pretty girl who’ll sing
But you can’t fool the queen, baby ‘cuz I married the king

And maybe it was I who betrayed his majesty
With no opposite reality, like a puddle with no reflection
Of the sky or the trees, but after my dreaded beheading
I tied that sucker back on with a string
And I guess I’m pretty different now, considering

I kissed you on the street that night on the far side of fourth
But I didn’t like the taste in my mouth or yours
And ignoring the persona you wore for my benefit
For once I had the balls to call it, just call it
But a lesson must be lived in order to be learned
And the clarity to see and stop this now that is what I’ve earned

And maybe it was I who betrayed his majesty
With no opposite reality, like a puddle with no reflection
Of the sky or the trees but after my dreaded beheading
I tied that sucker back on with a string
And I guess I’m pretty different now, considering

I’m holding here a book, notable, but not the greatest
Stolen for me by the latest in a long line of thieves
And I’m just about to drop it down that manhole of memories
When I realize it doesn’t bother me and heartache not so dire
‘Cuz I looked up to see integrity finally won over desire

Climbing Up The Walls by Radiohead

Sadly once he kicks the drugs all of his psychiatric problems resurface. He had forgotten why he started drinking in the first place. And after several run-ins with the police they eventually throw him in a psychiatric hospital. There’s not a lot of words in this section. It’s mostly just images of horror and isolation. And the voice of a sadistic orderly taunting him in his pharmaceutical haze, “You didn’t think it would be that easy now did you?”

I am the key to the lock in your house
That keeps your toys in the basement
And if you get too far inside
You’ll only see your reflection

It’s always best when the choir is out
I am the pick in the ice
Do not cry out or hit the alarm
You know we’re friends till we die

Either way you turn, I’ll be there
Open up your skull, I’ll be there
Climbing up the walls

It’s always best when the light is off
It’s always better on the outside
Fifteen blows to the back of your head
Fifteen blows to your mind

So lock the kids up safe tonight
Shut the eyes in the cupboard
I got the smell of a local man
Who’s got the loneliest feeling

And either way you turn, I’ll be there
Open up your skull, I’ll be there
Climbing up the walls

Dig by Incubus

While in the hospital he sees such horrors in the way the mentally ill are treated. And once he gets out, he vows to use his experiences to help others. And so the angry young man from the beginning let’s go of his anger. He leaves the hospital a new man. With a new lease on life. But with an absolute disdain for how the homeless and mentally ill are treated in his country. The sun is shining for the first time in his life without drugs. Fade out.

Roll Credits

Let Go by Frou Frou

End Credits Song. As the song plays, the credits roll and we see pictures of the man on whose life this movie is based. People in the theater who didn’t know it was based on a true story gain a new respect for the film. Others are amazed by how much more handsome the real guy is compared to the actor who plays him. There’s not a dry eye in the house. And once the credits are done all that’s left on screen is a dash and a name. Some in the audience smile knowingly before the house lights come up.

Thank you for listening.

– Mel

Un-Stressed

Mel Rook & The 7 Deadly Sins

I live
In a constant state of panic
It’s my default setting.

So, when everyone else freaks out
Cause the shit hit the fan
Or the world’s gonna end
I’m like, “What else you got?”

They always ask me,
“How are you so calm?”

I never say
Because it doesn’t matter
And this is not the time for that
Just stand over there and be quiet
I’ll handle this

You see people
We’re at DEFCON 1
High Alert
Battlestations
State of Emergency
All hands on deck
Clear the bridge

Cuz you guys…
You’re just visiting.
I live here

I

Live

Here.

But once it’s done
And everyone goes home
With a pat on the back
They say, “Good job.”
“Relax.”
“Let’s party.”

I can’t…

Because I’m a
High-strung
Stressed-out
Thin-skinned
Quick-tempered
Nervous
Neurotic

And that
Was the only time it’s useful

But you’re welcome.

– Mel

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7 Times A Movie Saved My Life

Under the heading of Things That Make Me Happy:

On this blog I like to talk about movies, list the things that I like, and talk about myself & my life in embarrassing detail. This is one of those posts.

Typewriter

I was thinking about movies that represented important times in my life. That not just reminded me of those times, but that affected, informed, reflected and transformed those times into some of my life’s most important moments.

These are movies that (figuratively) saved my life.

To the list…

Raider of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Firstly, the movies were an escape:

To escape.

I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark EVERY DAY for several months. Two, sometimes three times a night. After school, instead of going home, I stayed at the movie theater and watched Indiana Jones take on the Nazis over and over again. Sometimes I paid, sometimes I didn’t pay at all. Those days you could hang out near the exit and walk in as people walked out. But I wasn’t about to go home.

Where doesn't it hurt?

“Dammit, Mel where doesn’t it hurt?”

I knew every word.

I hid at the theater, the way Indy hides on that cargo ship.

“There’s a place for you in the hold. Go my friend. Go.”

Indy

Fear is a horrible thing.

“WHAT ABOUT JONES?”

“Jones is dead. I killed him. Herr Colonel, that cargo you’ve taken, if it’s your gold, go in peace with it but leave us the girl. She will reduce our loss on this trip.”

“Savages! We will take what we want and then decide whether or not to blow your ship from the water.”

Top Men

We’re just gonna store this one away and forget about it.

Seriously though, I know every word, every sound, every note. Raiders of the Lost Ark is my happy place. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Top Secret (1984)

Top Secret

To get over a bad break-up.

Val Kilmer in an over-the-top Airplane style comedy. Several jokes per second. Pure silliness. Insanely funny. But more than that. My first break-up.

Sun Tan

This one’s simple. I was 17. I’d just broken up with my first real girlfriend. I’d never felt such pain in my life. No, wait. That’s not true. I had felt pain like that. But it was when I was a kid. I didn’t know what caused it. Non-physical pain hardly really registers with children. Because there’s nothing physical to blame. No fall. No sprain. I couldn’t blame anything for that heavy, empty feeling in my heart. That crushing feeling is a mystery pain to a child.

So, with the first girl, the first hand, the first time someone reached into my chest, pulled my heart out and broke it in front of me, it wasn’t just that very pain. And that very cause. It wasn’t just her. No. Getting my heart-broken finally helped me to realize that it had been feeling like that all along. It was the rejection. That’s what that was. The feeling you get when someone you love treats you like something they scraped off the bottom of their shoes. Finally I was able to identify the feeling I was feeling.

Hello

It was a lot to put on one girl. I should have thanked her for opening my mind to the realization of all the pain I’ve ever felt. I didn’t realize I’d been in pain the entire time. And it destroyed my image of the world like the crumpled photograph of the forgotten lover. I couldn’t breathe and a part of me didn’t want to anymore.

So, as I do, I went walking.

This is a recurring theme. I walk when I’m in pain. Like running away from my problems but slower. I’m a walker. This one time I walked to the multiplex – a theater with six or more tiny theaters contained within – and I bought a ticket for Top Secret. I loved Airplane and The Kentucky Fried Movie. I love that silly stuff. I sat there in the theater crying through the coming attractions… in the dark.

Boots

By the middle of the film I was crying on the floor with laughter. Laughing my ass off so hard my sides hurt more than my heart. It is one of the silliest movies ever made. So many visual jokes. So much zany. So much funny.

There’s a point during pain when you think it may never cease. No matter how many times pain has come and gone away. THIS time… This time it’s moving in for good. But then a movie (or a song) just blows that theory out of the water. You’re singing. You’re dancing. You’re still inside the pain but the laughter has shoved it over to the side and made room for pleasure. Room to smile again.

How Silly

I can’t say Top Secret is one of my favorite movies but it is a movie that saved my life.

“How silly can you get?”

Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink

To make the writey things BLAH

Speaking of things that feel like they will never end. Writer’s block is one of those “Oh my god. This isn’t going away” type things. One of my worst bouts was after getting notes from a severely demanding “producer” (I use that term loosely) and then getting to a point where I couldn’t see the words. They weren’t even words. They were just shapes on a page. Have you ever felt like that? Like words aren’t words just letters. And it’s all just shapes on a page that make no sense. That these so called words are in a language that you do not understand. Only to come to the realization that you also think in that stupid language. Your thoughts are also in that same alien gibberish that you don’t understand. And communication no good think fuck words… WALK.

The Fink Feel

So I walk. I find myself on the street. Walking it out. Walking it out. I lived down in the village at this time. I use the term lived loosely. I went through several homeless phases in my life. From homeless teen to homeless artist to homeless drug addict to chronic homeless to homeless mental patient. This was the artist phase. (I use that term loosely) They put me up in a hotel with a typewriter and nothing else. And I drank. And I wrote.

I made something I was proud of until… More producers. More notes. More changes. More stress. I walked. I walked past the Cinema Village Theater; an artsy multiplex on 11th or 12th street. I said to myself, “I will see the next movie starting.”

Barton

It was Barton Fink. I wouldn’t lie to you. I didn’t even know what that was. Didn’t know the Coen Brothers. I’d seen Raising Arizona but that’s it. At least with Top Secret I knew what I was getting into. I loved Airplane. I knew it was a comedy. I knew that it was just what I needed. But this one, I walked into blind. I didn’t know a damn thing about it. Nothing.

And it too was just what I needed. Barton Fink is a movie about writer’s block. The main character suffers from it. Everyone in his world has a debilitating frustration with communication… and it is marvelous. You have to love the universe’s sense of humor.

Barton Fink Hotel Room

Some turn to drink. Some turn to murder. Some put their names on other people’s work. Each character deals with it a different way. Not being able to find the right words is maddening. And not just for writers but salespeople, professionals, professors, executives, executors, etc., etc.

Fink

Barton Fink was the first time I saw the genius of the Coen Brothers. A film written by two of my favorite screenwriters when they were blocked while writing another of my favorite films; Miller’s Crossing. They used it as a way to work out of their… their own… what’s the word? (the word is BLAH).

I do this thing now that I’m pretty pleased with. When I can’t find the word I’m looking for in a reasonable amount of time, I put BLAH (all caps) in its place and move on. I don’t even think about it. When I go over what I’ve written an hour or two later, the word I wanted is immediately apparent. It hasn’t failed me yet. (Now that I’ve said that, I’m going to reopen a file and it’s going to read blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah. Serves me right for jinxing it)

Life of the mind

Barton Fink is one of my all-time favorite movies. Not just because it helped me out of a sticky situation and I left that theater and went back to my tiny hotel room and re-wrote the best thing I’d ever re-written in my life into something barely recognizable as my own. But I still pull that movie off the shelf when I’m having trouble with the letter thingies. The little letter thingies. Because it’s also a really good movie. Really really really really good.

“I’ll show you the life of the mind!”

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir Dogs

To work out my post-incarceration aggression

It was the first thing I did when I got out of jail. I went to the movies. It’s what I do. I couldn’t walk. I was too angry. I had to rest my sore leg on the back of the seat in front of me. The theater was crowded but nobody said shit to me. Reservoir Dogs was playing. And I laughed through the entire thing. Especially the torture scene (think De Niro in Cape Fear). It was exactly what I needed. Exactly. what. I. needed.

"You're welcome."

“You’re welcome.”

During one of my homeless stints, I carried my belongings in a backpack. This time out it was mostly books. But I had one of those packs that distributed the weight from your shoulders to your waist. It was still quite a workout. I read books on writing. Books on Buddhism. Books I loved. I would read them and I would sell them. During the day I would go to the illegal flea market and set up a store to sell my books while I played my guitar.

Mr Blonde

It was not illegal to sell books (something to do with the first amendment). So whenever the cops would come and close us down, I would calmly pack up my books and leave. But for some reason, this last time, an officer decided to walk over to my “store” and stand on top of my books so that I couldn’t pick them up. I tried to work around his boots until; finally I said politely, “Excuse me sir you’re standing on my books?”

Well that did it. How dare I be polite. He grabbed me and slammed me to the pavement. Yelling at me to stop struggling (I wasn’t). To stop fighting him ( I wasn’t) Soon there were five officers on my back. Twisting my arms. My neck. But the last one; A female officer who was standing and watching and being admonished for not joining into the abuse. She had to prove herself I suppose. She grabbed one of my legs and twisted it until my patella snapped and I screamed bloody murder. And they all laughed. They had destroyed my knee. Two surgeries later, it has never fully healed. And they laughed. And arrested me.

Tortore Scene

I was complying. I was leaving. Selling books isn’t illegal. And I asked the officer politely to not stand on my books so that I could remove them. Judge said that when I called them MY books it was an admission of guilt. Guilty of what you might ask? Guilty of placing books on the sidewalk. They beat me. Destroyed my knee. Arrested me. And stole my beautiful backpack… basically my home. They handed me back my books in a plastic bag after a weekend in jail. They treated me like I was subhuman and I could do nothing.

I got out of jail and went to a theater. What else? I went to see Reservoir Dogs.

Harvey Keitel

“You shoot anybody?”
“Just cops.”
“So, no REAL people?”

It was cathartic. Even the torture scene. I left the theater singing…

“Don’t know why I came here tonight.”

I know exactly why.

I had never been more in the mood for violence. It was dangerous. Reservoir Dogs helped me through that. Sometimes you just have to see cops being tortured and shot to feel like a human being again after being treated like an animal.

Cop

I don’t hate cops. I hate the way that when one of them is a menace, and shouldn’t be wearing a badge, the others have to join in with the abuse of authority because that’s their code. I don’t hate the woman who destroyed my knee. I wish she were stronger and more able to resist her peer’s pressure. Or at least I wish she would have stopped before… before the crunch. She was aiming for that crunch by the way. She had set out to do what she did. Destroy my knee. She was trying to impress her peers. “You think you can abuse this guy. I’m gonna make him limp for the rest of his life.” I don’t even hate the cop who walked on my books… not much anyway. He probably got shot in the head years ago… after having his ear cut off and doused in lighter fluid (a fella can dream, can’t he?).

Stuck in the middle with you

“Yes I’m… stuck in the middle with you.”

Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull

To confront my violent temper.

Don’t be alarmed. I’m still going in chronological order. When I saw Raging Bull for the first time it was in re-release. Sometime in the nineties. There was a girl that I worked with. Not really, but I worked with her boyfriend. He was a fucktard (in the traditional sense). He would verbally abuse her in public. And she was the sweetest little waif. Pretty. Smart. Completely out of his league. And he knew it. But he kept up this steady stream of abuse.

Raging Jake

Once I saw her flinch when he raised his hand. Something I had seen first hand… second-hand… third hand. I’ve been a bully and I’ve been bullied and I’ve seen people I care about be bullied. And this was an angel. I was secretly in love with her and this… fucktard was frightening and belittling her. But like I said, I am in no position to judge.

She once said in passing that she didn’t need anyone to fight her battles for her. That the thought that she needed saving was a sexist one. She wasn’t talking about herself when she said this. But I knew she was talking about herself. We both knew. But I had never thought about it that way. I had always believed that when a woman had a problem the right thing to do was to solve it. To play the hero. But if I’m the hero, what does that make her? Why can’t she be the hero of her own story? I can be the side kick, The wise teacher. Comic relief. As long as I’m in the fucking movie I’m good. Changed my whole way of thinking. I love it when people do that.

Raging Bull De Niro

I would chat with her while she waited for him. (we worked long nights at a book store uptown) and it was she that recommended I go see Raging Bull. I was a movie fan. I was a Marty fan. I had never seen Raging Bull. I think she saw the way I looked at her. Admiration, Lust, Pity. She knew about my anger issues and that me and her boyfriend had bumped heads a few times. (I could have easily pummeled him into the ground if I didn’t already know that wasn’t what she wanted). There was a little art house theater that I’d never been. And for the record, she wasn’t asking me out. She was just telling me to go see Raging Bull. And I am nothing if not good at following orders.

Robert De Niro

I went on my day off. And I saw, not a bio pic about an aging fighter, but a movie about a slave to violence. About an aging bully. I saw people I’ve known in Scorsese & De Niro’s Jake Lamotta. I saw my tormentors in him. Bullies and Stepmonsters. But worse, I saw myself in him and I was disgusted and ashamed. (I’ve broken my pinkie punching a wall so often that my other fingers have disowned it). But all I could really think about was her. As I cried at the end and as the credits rolled, I looked over to my right and there she was. Across the aisle a couple rows back. I didn’t even know she was there. I didn’t say anything to her. Her face was soaked. She must have been crying the entire time as well.

We sat there in silence during the credits… separately. We left at the same time… separately. She never said a word to me so I never said a word to her. I just knew I didn’t want to be a slave to my anger anymore. I didn’t want to be that guy. And I wanted to thank her for the movie even while it hurt so much to see an angel cry.

Cathy Moriarty

I heard she broke up with that fucktard soon after. Or maybe it was even that night. Weeks later he told the bosses that I was stealing and that the address I had given them wasn’t a real one. (It was a church that let me pick up my mail there). So, only the second part of his complaint was true. But that was enough for them to fire me.

I never saw her again.

Henry V (1989)

Henry V

To finally declare war on my addiction

When I battled drug addiction (It was crack and cocaine) I would promise myself that I was quit the very moment the drugs and the money ran out… it was over. I was done. Then I would forget my promise as soon as I could afford to. I would regularly check into Detox. And the entire time, while most of the addicts were having sex (yes, Detox is a mad fuck fest), I would be plotting the course from the front door to the drug spot. And by the time my time was up, I knew the route by heart. I would head from the hospital to the dealer. I wouldn’t even bother to remove the tags.

"You disgusts me."

“You disgust me.”

Tell me about it.

But the very last time I went through detox, instead of heading to the drug spot, I took a walk down to my favorite theater. The good old Cinema Village Theater: Revivals, First-runs, Cult Classics. I swear to you, every single movie they play there is amazing. I said to myself, I said, “Mel, you’re going to see the next movie playing and it’s going to help you out of this cycle.” It was Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. Again I knew nothing about it. I had the Complete Works of William Shakespeare growing up. A book I could not read when I was 7 but by the time I was 12 I had read cover to cover. No that’s a lie. I had read the Comedies and the Tragedies. I hate to admit this, but I skipped the Histories altogether.

Kenneth Branagh

So I entered the theater knowing nothing about the play or the movie or the history for that matter. Needless to say, it was just what I needed. Cinema Village comes through again.

This fight was going to be an epic battle. I was completely outgunned, a superior force that had taken down better men than me, better men, was mocking me with little affordable vials of extremely addictive crap. But I would learn to outsmart it. I was determined to win.

War

They like to tell addicts to “take it one day at a time” but that was never working for me. I was always a few steps ahead myself. So what I was going to have to do was take on my addiction – the NEXT day at a time. I would do everything I could TODAY, anything and everything I could think to do THAT DAY, in order to make sure that I would not and could not do drugs TOMORROW.

For me it was money and access. (It’s different for everyone) For me I was always able to stop when the money ran out. For a lot of folks, that does not stop them. And the other thing is that I could never truly claim victory. Because as soon as I started feeling proud of myself, that was the moment when I let down my guard.

Henry V

“You’re doing it, boy. You did it. You beat it. Good job.” “You, sir, are the man. Now how about we go celebrate with some crack? You’ve earned it.”

I mean, the only way to claim true victory is to die never having done it again. Which is why certain folks can’t visit me on my deathbed. (I’m looking at you, crack dealer)

But when I feel like I’m going to let myself down I start humming the tune from the movie. “Dominay. Do-minay. Dom-in-ay. Oh, Dominay. Domi-i-naaaay.”

That’s my battle song, baby.

Better Men Than Me

And I can tell you this with complete honesty and confidence; I will not be smoking crack tomorrow. And after more than a decade & a half totally crack and cocaine free, that’s the most I will allow myself to say. Because for all you people who think addiction isn’t real, even after all this time, I still wake up some nights sucking air. Trying to get that hit. The one from my dream. It’s an awful feeling.

Better men than me…

Spider-man (2002)

Spider-Man Poster

To stop running away from my demons and move back to New York

“I am so high, I can hear heaven.”

You know, this one was not so much about the movie but the song from the movie. It’s a Nickleback song (I know) or more accurately a Chad Kroeger song (same thing I suppose). I was living on the road back then. Travelling from city to city. Either sleeping in my car or on a friend’s couch. It was the best way for me to stay ahead of my addiction. Never staying in one place long enough to know where the drug spot was. Plus I got to see a lot of the country that way. Never got all the way to Seattle but I wanted to.

Mary Jane and Spidey

From 98 to 02, I was just running. I’d stop in a city. Get a job. Stay there for about a year or until I found out where the drugs were and started thinking about them. And then I was back on the road. Then this song comes on the radio.

“…and they say that a hero will save us…”

You know, the one from Spider-man. The first one with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. From the first trilogy. The Sam Raimi one. The good one.

Peter Parker

It wasn’t really the song but the ad for the movie. And I’ve always loved Spider-man. Spider-man reminds me of when I was a kid. When I had dreams. When I had promise. When I had confidence coming out of my ass. I was gonna see the movie anyway. But listening to that song made me realize that the only place to see it was back home.

“I’m not gonna stand here and waaaaaaaa-it…”

The Hero

I sang that song the entire way. I didn’t own the single. I didn’t even know the words. I just sang the part from the commercial and from the trailer. I pulled into Manhattan after driving for hours and hours cross-country. I drove directly to the movie theater, parked my car with all of my belongings and walked in to see the movie.

Mary J and Spidey

Just wanting to see the movie at home was all the motivation I needed to stop running. I’ve been back in New York ever since.

Dorothy was right.

There’s no place like it.

“I’ll hold on to the wings of the eagles. And watch as we all fly away….”

… And that’s my list of 7 movies that saved my life.

There are other films that I throw on when I need them: Casablanca, Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters, and New York Stories (particularly Scorsese’s Life Lessons) are my go to break up movies. Each with its own way of making me feel better about how bad I am at relationships.

And when I need inspiration there are a bunch of action films that get me pumped. I’ve mentioned most of them. They are all over my blog.

But as for when I need a laugh? There was a time when I would throw on some Monty Python or Mel Brooks, (Flying Circus, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein) but these days I can just go to social media and in a few moments I’m laughing hysterically.

Social Media

You people make me happy.

These days, it’s almost too easy.

– Mel