Monday, January 24, 2011

I Once Almost Killed John Wayne

Someone on Facebook that I know used as their profile picture for a while a portrait of John Wayne resting a rifle barrel on one shoulder and looking Kinda Westernish. I'd had a couple of shots of Cabo Wabo and was basically free associating and saw the picture and remembered I tried to kill the guy once and almost succeeded. Well, I tried to hit him in the head with a hardball. Murder wasn't my motive. Hitting a target was my motive. I used to do "extra" parts as a kid. To get these jobs your overseer takes you to Meglin Agency when you are a kid and they look at you and decide if you are "what the studios are looking for." That means - at the time - that you COULD NOT POSSIBLY LOOK MORE WONDERFULLY AMERICAN THAN YOU ALREADY DO. And I was one of those kids who could not have looked more Wonderfully American than I already did. I could also learn a song in five minutes and sing it on key and in tempo and could tap dance better than a nigger. So Meglin Agency would send me out on "calls." "Hollywood" is extremely insular. There's a pathway to walk. There is only one pathway. You dont "break into" show business. You are invited in. It's like the Hells Angels for Jews. How long you stay there depends on how much money you can earn for your agent and the hiring party. Hollywood is like the Mafia, word gets around, and you are either "in" or you are "out" in Hollywood. If you are "out" you cannot make a phone call to ANYBODY. You are "out." If you are "in" you can right this second walk up to the guard at MGM - do they still have MGM? - you can walk right up to the guard at Warner Brothers and say why you are there and off you go, not even a pat down, not even an escort, you have the run of the entire fucking property. You can knock on Clint Eastwood's office door if you are inside the walls and they'll say come in. In fact the door will be open you just go in and someone will politely talk to you. That's how it is. The Hollywood Film Industry is insular even to other million dollar branches of the entertainment industry. Stevie Wonder cannot walk up to the guard at Warner Brothers and get waved through unless someone already inside the property specifically requested to see him. Jack Nicholson on the other hand probably could. "Hey, I'm just here to see if I can fuck Mel Brooks' personal secretary. Is Mel here?" "He is in Aspen, Mr. Nicholson." "Is that big titties secretary of his here?" "I don't know, sir, go right on in and let me know." "Thanks, fucker, here's some Laker tickets." "Why THANK you, Sir!!" "Nooooo fukkin problem....." I seem to have lost my place. So I would do lots of "facial appearances" on a lot of tv shows because I looked like an American Lad and I showed up to work on time and I did what I was told and I didn't fuck with people and then I picked up my check and went home. ONE of the shows was some tv show drama that John Wayne was a guest star on, like "Father Knows Best" or some tv drama like the Twilight Zone, or Mrs. Twatlicker's Pussy Adventures that sort of thing. Danny Thomas, or something. Who knows. So we were all at a park at the baseball part of it and there was supposed to be a kids' baseball game going on and they had to do "establishing shots" of the game in progress. Television drama is telling a story in pictures and sound and looking inside of someone else's imagination. In reading a drama your own imagination is doing tons of work as you read. In TV drama, other people do all the work. You just sit there and get affected in some way. So there was something supposedly occuring at a little league game and they needed to establish that there was a little league game going on and so they needed to film some little league shit. They wanted to film some kid hitting a pitched ball. They had some pitcher camera and back aways from the batter pitching baseballs carefully at the plate and I was the designated hitter because I was the only "Hollywood Kid" who wasnt a totally abnormal idiot totally-dorked-out-to-the-absolute-max geek, I could actually do things. And hitting a ball with a club was one of them. So since I could predictably hit the pitched ball every time and not look like a spaz doing it and since predictability is essential in filming because you have to do everything over and over because something always goes wrong and if the kid at least can hit the ball every time then that's one less thing to worry about. So I was the ball hitter. I'm a nervous, extremely self-conscious, fellow but sometimes all of that evaporates: and it is generally when a projectile is involved. When there is a projectile involved a kind of silent snow, secret snow descends softly all around me and all sounds and all thoughts and all considerations of right and wrong and some sort of unearthly Bad Thing coils around my soul and squeezes all the good impulses and good inclinations and every drop of empathy out of it. Especially if there is a human target. But any living thing will do if the assignment is to kill it. I don't know who exactly it is that does "the assigning." It is very likely me. So I was at the bat once again and they figured they had enough rehearsals and it was time to actually expend some film in trying to get the scene completed. I was in the batters place and there was someone who could throw accurately pitching and the camera was out by second base only closer but farther back than the pitcher, and cameras then were very large and on wheels with a seat and climbing apparatus for the director and very large. VERY large. And they cost 25,000 dollars. Which today would be 200,000 dollars. Surrounding the camera was a small line of people on either side and one of them was John Wayne. John Wayne was a very ordinary guy. He talked to anyone and everyone and he was "Actually John Wayne." If you pissed him off he would knock you down. If you said something funny he would laugh. He was as much on view and generally wandering around as all the rest of us. He wasnt off "in his trailer." He was at work, we were all at work, and when the job got done everyone goes home. And even in the movies everyone wants to go home. Overtime is a bitch. So John Wayne was out there behind the pitcher off to the right along with the camera and some other people involved in things. He was just hangin' out, i guess he wanted to see if I could hit the ball with film rolling. Probly everyone wanted to know. These are all professional adults. Lifers in the movie business in one way or another. And one of them is John Fucking Wayne - one of these employees there on this day. And that's all he was; another employee being paid by the same Whoever as all the fucking rest of us. He was one of the workers and that's how he conducted himself. After a while he ain't John Wayne no more, he's the tall guy that you've seen before in a million movies and now he's here doing what he's told to do like all the rest of us, and he's not being an asshole or a "star," he's just some really tall, engaging guy named Marion trying to pay the fucking bills. So John Wayne is out there by the camera and the whoeveritis is calling quiet and they're clacking things in front of the camera and some other guy is hollering something and the director is shouting things to the pitcher because there's no mikes being used at the moment and meanwhile this silent snow, this secret snow is starting to fall all around me and all these voices and all this imagery is fading and now all i can see is a very large black object with a large square black metal frontward-facing helmet made of four parts on the side of the astoundingly expensive lens and a little to the left of it is John Wayne, the world's highest-paid actor. Really expensive camera?....or really expensive star.....which to hit..... which to hit..... which to hit.....which to hit. My universe had become two potential targets. The question was, could I actually hit one or the other them with a baseball aimed and fired from a BAT from a completely unpredictable pitch from a complete stranger ? Was this even in the realm of possibility much less the realm of liklihood?? And of course the answer was a complete and absolute, no question about it, positive and definitive, no mental reservation, yes. Did the fact that there were a million eyes on me matter? No; there were no eyes on me. Only the eyes of the Force which was now in full operation. Was I at work? Was I at a job site? No. I was in a realm of quiet energy, majestic purpose, meaningful existence. I was in a place where I had been born to be, a place that had suddenly appeared, a place where only firepower matters and the will to set it into operation. I was not in a place of doubt or decision or conscience. I was in a place of attack and not just attack but successful attack, where the outcome was as if a reality already, an outcome of action-at-a-distance via a projectile. I set the projectile on its way and Nature, in Her benevolence and reliability and in faithful obedience to my desires deposits the projectile at the place of my choosing, which, based on my past performances, would be a place of maximum destruction, pain, sorrow; a sympathyless unasked and undeserved outrage upon the Innocent at my hands via the mighty internal power now surrounding me, the silent, secret snow of quietude and surety and the happy, peaceful ignition of every cell in my body in soft radiance, glowing like happy eternal, undying suns, cores and anchors of sturdy light, the glowing, radiant, fair and lovely light of pain from far away and coming to your door, you the poor undeserving victim of my little idiosyncracy. There was the mundane, unceremonious holler of AK-shun. The cameras of course are always exposing film long before the cry of action, but that is just to give the film cutters enough film to dispense with before getting to the 35mm exposures on a strip that are where the "story" starts. Action. Yes, action for everyone else there but not for me. For me the action was well underway; it began when the white comforting snow began to fall and muffle the sounds in the air and remove all from existence except for me; a projectile; and a worthy target. A target of Unusualness. A target of Consequence. A target of Majesty. Unfortunately I was presented with TWO such targets simultaneously; John Wayne, and a whoppingly important piece of equipment in a movie - the camera...... and only one projectile. And they were both right next to each other. could I hit even one of them? Of course. That was not even in the equation. All of Nature was nestled within my bones and atoms and whirring in calm, relentless efficiency. Miss? Not make contact? Not send the baseball to its target? Its target of Monumental Consequence? Those were questions not even worth asking. The question that was worth asking though was - which target. Holy shit, there are two of them; both of them excellent; John Wayne, terrestrial icon for all the nations; or a very expensive, cant-be-replaced-today-at-least Panavision rolling 20 Century Fox high-end piece of equipment? And the beauty that is overarching, to use Rush Limbaugh's favorite word, all of this was.....i would not get into any kind of trouble, either for killing John Wayne or for destroying an essential piece of equipment. For who could PLAN such a thing? Who could possibly PREMEDITATE this???? And the answer is of course, nobody. Who could make a flying machine? Nobody. Who could transmit sound and picture through the atmosphere without wires? Nobody. Who could light up the earth with a filiment of tungsten? Nobody. Who could premeditate and carry out an execution-by-baseball through the swinging of a bat in a completely randomized scenario of a thousand different variables over which there is no central control? Nobody. The destruction of the camera or the death of John Wayne now thus assured, there was at the same time the somewhat conflicting instance of there being two worthy targets and only one traveling baseball. For some reason this did not annoy me as much as - looking back on it - it probably should have. In fact i did not see it as a problem. I must have concluded on some level that I could destroy the both of them. At the word "action" the pitcher went through his calesthenics and released the ball. I was forced to pay some cursory attention to the baseball because i seemed to lack the gift of clairvoyance, however at the same time i was able to put my real mental image on the target yonder: which now had two locations. In my innocence and youth I blamelessly assumed both objects would be destroyed. This was not the way apparently the Universe is constructed regarding these "gifts" if they can be called gifts, this silent secret snowfall of death and destruction. Apparently focus is required and mine was split. The baseball came to some location near me and the Mechanism Now In Play moved me, i don't remember, either forward or back, in order to present a common ground where the ball and the "sweet spot" of the bat could intersect. You hear a lot of talk about the sweet spot but what is it exactly. It is the place on the bat where there is as much mass behind as there is in front. When the bat makes direct, face-on contact with the baseball at the location of the sweet spot and it is at the maximum power-location of the swing: you don't really "feel" the bat hit the ball. No, what you feel is the baseball equivalent of an ejaculation. Now, there is no sperm involved nor is the penis engaged or activated. It is more of an emotional, spiritual experience. It is like you have done something majestic but felt no effort or pain or discomfort. In fact striking the baseball on the sweet spot is a mood-elevating experience even if it is a pop-foul, or an
into the glove out or if you are beaten to the base or if its a home run. What happens to the ball after you hit it with the sweet spot makes no difference, the spiritual ejaculation of having hit the ball on the sweet spot is satisfying enough. It reaffirms your self-deluded opinion of yourself as a major-leager. But this is not a baseball lesson; contact having been made in as exact a manner as i had wished, the hard sphere of death and destruction departed again at an acute angle from which it had arrived and shot in what appeared to be a gradually ascending path at ramming speed toward the camera and toward John Wayne and yet not at an intersecting course with either one and shot just above and to the left of John Wayne's head who was standing just to the left of the large camera apparatus. Others in the line of distant onlookers looked at John Wayne whose head was the closest to the flight path and he looked at them and all were experiencing a moment of fun; that kid, wow, he almost zonked you, ey? - hahahahaha wow, do we need to shoot that again? - and everyone said no, that was fine. I had looked to watch the ball before i started the cursory run to the base and felt a bit of remorse; i had missed both John Wayne and the camera; apparently two targets in simultaneous competition for destruction had created some disturbance in the plan. They wrapped up the day and everyone was glad that the shooting was all over and we could all leave. Whether or not anyone came over to me and said good job this or that was really swell that...i have no idea. I do know nobody had ducked, and the head the ball came the closest to - Mr. Wayne's - had not moved as the ball flew by it. It all happened too fast. If it had just been a foot to my left he would have been down on the ground with a badly injured face and skull. If. On the plus side, if there is a plus side, i didnt kill John Wayne. On the minus side he lived to make The Conquerer. What was he thinking. I blame myself; I could have maybe knocked some sense into him.


At April 7, 2011 at 11:15 AM , Blogger Backwater said...

The Duke is stone cold dead.
Therefore the verification of this story by the parties of the first part is reduced to a one party verification. Brings to mind three can keep a secret if two are dead; I think uncle Bennie Franklin said that.

At April 9, 2011 at 3:11 PM , Blogger jj solari said...

you callin' me a liar?

At April 10, 2011 at 6:18 PM , Blogger Backwater said...

Nay,nay. I am putting forth the truth that no one or group can contrive a story that would put yours in question; they were not privy to the facts of the actual activity that you and Duke were partaking. Your story is safe with us.

just sayin'

At April 11, 2011 at 10:18 AM , Blogger jj solari said...

i dont consider it a major incident in my life. just one that happened. i could make up better stuff if i own personal interest in the tale is not the event but the motivation for the event. which was "the desire to do harm." even if anyone there was to recall the incident they would merely say "yeah, it was close but no big deal, nothing happened." which is true. nothing actually happened. other than my own frustration at not fucking something up.

At April 11, 2011 at 10:19 AM , Blogger jj solari said...

i dont consider it a major incident in my life. just one that happened. i could make up better stuff if i own personal interest in the tale is not the event but the motivation for the event. which was "the desire to do harm." even if anyone there was to recall the incident they would merely say "yeah, it was close but no big deal, nothing happened." which is true. nothing actually happened. other than my own frustration at not fucking something up.


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