Iconic ’80s Possessions

Authentic ’80s Experiences

Something kind of neat that one of my friends from the ’80s groups I follow reminded me of:

In my office sits an original script for St. Elmo’s Fire.

I worked at Columbia Pictures in the late ’80s, my first real job out of college. I did script research and had access to a library of hundreds of scripts at the offices in New York and in California, which was where my bosses worked. I was kind of the East Coast end of the script research department. Although I didn’t work on this script (it filmed before I was hired there), I had my bosses send it to me because I identified with it, having just graduated. It was not one of my favorites at the time.

It’s marked third draft, dated October 8, 1984, as received for archiving. My old boss’ name is stamped on it, Donna Brainard, who was head of script research in the legal department in Los Angeles. She lived in Venice Beach with Henry Colman, the producer of the shows Hotel and The Love Boat. I had drinks at their home the week they flew me out to meet the LA staff. My head was spinning at the time, at 23 years-old, only six months before having been drinking beer at frat parties, suddenly meeting Hollywood producers.

Sometimes it’s cool to be the kind of semi-hoarder who keeps absolutely everything. I also have the script for Spike Lee’s “School Daze” and a Jodie Foster movie called “Stealing Home.” Not sure why I kept those two of the ones I worked on– although Spike Lee was a big deal at the time and that film was a musical. (I think I had to research something about the sorority names at Howard University for that one.) These items are now 30+ years-old, and St. Elmo’s– although not exactly art–has become an iconic piece of ’80s cinema.

The daily research work at Columbia Pictures was tedious sometimes to the point of driving me to the brink insanity (which is one reason why I left), but it had certain advantages.  My boss in California got me an autographed photo of Tom Cruise in Top Gun one day when he was on the studio grounds, because they knew I was obsessed. There was a screening room in the building where the staff could view movies once a week, before they were released to the public, so we could see the results of the work we were doing–even if it took more than a year to sometimes see the final product. They showed other studio’s movies as well there, since we were in fact educating ourselves about the competition in watching these films, too.  I saw Oliver Stone’s Platoon there, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, The Big Easy (I worked on those last two), a thriller called Sea of Love with Ellen Barkin that was popular at the time.

Now and then, someone famous would come through the building. We employees had our own little network wherein we’d call and alert each other when someone was aware of a celebrity passing through. Me and my buddy would then ride the elevators up and down repeatedly trying to catch that person. I took a ride with Dustin Hoffman once, and Kevin Bacon. My buddy caught Michael J. Fox. Similarly, if one of us saw someone famous on our lunch breaks, we’d call up to the rest of the girls in the building, and everyone would come out to see. Me and the girls followed Sylvester Stallone down Fifth Avenue one day when he was shopping for engagement rings for Brigitte Nielsen.

I rode the elevator up and down for about an hour the day Tom Cruise was rumored to be on-site.

Back to St. Elmo’s, below you’ll see the page with the moment that I ironically related to most closely at the time. It’s where Jules (Demi Moore) sits rocking on the floor of her empty apartment, wrapped in a sheet (and in Rob Lowe), and says…

“I’m so tired, Billy. I never thought I’d be so tired. At 22.”

New Adult angst at its finest.

This also resonated with me, just out of college, since at the time I had a bit of a
Demi Moore look going on, one of the few times people ever said I looked like anyone famous. You can kind of see the parallel in the following rock-and-roll headshot, and a clip from Demi Moore in “About Last Night.”

A few more pages for your viewing pleasure:

 

 

 

 

Love this scene, where Wendy brings Billy to dinner at her house with her  family and her franchisee brothers-in-law.

Mrs. Beamish:Where did you and Wendy meet again?  Billy:*Prison*

 

 

Title page, closer view.  Not a bad perk at all.  Wish I had taken home 20 scripts.

I like having been an authentic part of this era, and having memorabilia that has seasoned into something that’s meaningful to people. And having memories and experiences of pop culture that were more exciting than I gave them credit for at the time.

 

 

 

Write Here, Write Now Anthology 2016

“How do you know these things about Italian guys, Ma?”

“Because I married one.”

 

The GLVWG Write Stuff Anthology is now available on Kindle and eBook format, for the first time, including my short story:

CHANGE FOR DOMENICK

itialyNever go on your first date with a guy who asked your mother out first.

Especially if she has this near-psychic ability to pinpoint a person’s true character down to the bone within two minutes of meeting somebody. My mother was weird that way. Half the time she was mistaken for a giggly twenty-five year-old. She loved low-budget sci-fi movies from the 1950s and believed Bigfoot was out there. But when it came to a person’s character, she had your number the minute she saw you.

My buddy Marianne’s Sweet 16 party was at Pat and Jim’s restaurant in Patchogue, Long Island. The party ran long. Ma waited for me in the lobby, with her long Mediterranean-looking little-girl hair; as usual, smiling like a six year-old.

A D.J. named Domenick packed up his light board and cables in the front of the restaurant.

Ey,” he said to Ma, unplugging things. “You missed the party!”

“Me?” she said. “I’m just a taxi service.”

*    *   *

To continue reading, only $2.99 on Kindle, buy at:GLVWG image

http://www.amazon.com/Write-Here-Now-Anthology-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B01ETJPF5W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1461705320&sr=1-1

Take a read, give a review! Plenty of other terrific fiction from the Lehigh Valley inside…

Or find Domenick in my Channillo.com short story series, “A Run In My Tights.”

 

Who Owns the Giant Wrench?

Who Owns The Giant Wrench?

A Discussion on Intellectual Property

wrench pink

My mother is funny sometimes, God love ‘er. When we lived all together, she’d constantly instruct us to put the clothes in the dishwasher and the dishes in the hamper. Throughout my first two semesters at college, she mistakenly addressed my mail to Pittsburgh, New York. (I do this kind of thing now all the time, of course.)

After I moved out and found myself in college, I developed a theory. I said, Mom, someday a lightbulb is going to go off in God’s head and he will realize he forgot something. On that day, a GIANT WRENCH is going to descend out of the sky and tighten around our heads, and God is going to give that one little half twist that has been missing.

For years, when Mom said something non-sensical or couldn’t think of the right word, she’d look at me and say, “The wrench.  The wrench is coming.”

I told my roommates in college. The Giant Wrench became famous, facetiously chasing each of us any time our brains took one of those momentary vacations, as we systematically destroyed gray matter come the weekends.

Decades later, my ex-roommate Susan from college, whom I adore, is polishing a work-in-progress. She says to me, “I wrote about the Giant Wrench!”

I think, wait… no fair.

The Giant Wrench is mine!

But is it?  I think of all the moments I have written about, and am in the process of re-writing, and have yet to write, that involve her. Adventures we had together and things she said to me that have stuck in my mind and thoroughly cracked me up. We had our own language, derivative of only us roommates.

Yet in being my funny and insightful and wickedly witty comrade, spouting intelligent dialog at the drop of a dime … hasn’t she been writing that stuff the whole time? If I borrow her as a character, am I stealing her material?  I recently reopened a copy of On The Road: Did Jack Kerouac plagiarize Neal Cassady’s life in creating Dean Moriarty? What did Neal Cassady have left to write about, then?

What if all the Dean Moriarties and Tad Allagashes and Tyler Durdens of the literati-verse stood up and demanded their own sovereignty?

(Okay, so Tyler Durden sort of did. But still within the construct of the narrative.)

There’s a woman who jogs in a neighborhood near my home.  We see her every year when the weather warms up.  She is suited in tight black spandex from head to toe—including a hood that wraps across her face, even in 90 degree weather.  A long, black pony tail swishes back and forth behind her head.Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

My family calls her the Ninja Jogger.

For years, I thought the Ninja Jogger must make an appearance in a story somewhere, this curiously anonymous, skinny woman who could be Catherine Zeta Jones in “Entrapment.”  Who knows what identity she might employ in her regular life, among toddlers and willow trees and lawn-mowing men in cargo shorts?

A few months ago my daughter, studying creative writing at a university outside Philadelphia, remarks: “I’m writing about the Ninja Jogger.”

I think, Oh shit.

So who owns our mutual experiences? Does the copyright go to whoever writes them down first? In that case, I’m quite behind the game here. Is it whoever coined the phrases in question?  In that case, my husband came up with the name “Ninja Jogger,” comic book junkie that he is. And have I blown the cherry on the concept solely by mentioning her here?

For me and Susan, we’re trying to proactively divvy up our experiences so as not to duplicate each other’s efforts in our works. I can only hope for the best possible outcome: Maybe we will become known as popular novelists who struggled together through a long and reflective kinship. Dare I even mention, like that gaggle of expatriate writers of the Jazz Age, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cummings, Stein, sitting at cafés together in Paris and expounding on their own writerliness.

That would be something worth sharing the Giant Wrench for, even.

We’ll work on that.

Meanwhile, I hope the Ninja Jogger was not an English major, too.

 

“…God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war…our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t, and we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” 

― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club (Tyler Durden)

“Taste … is a matter of taste.”

― Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City (Tad Allagash)