(I originally posted this on Facebook during a series of retro photos which had me and someone else in them. Spoilers, two people hit the like button.)
March Me-And-Ness, No. 23 — Me and Richard Ludt, March of 1998, Pasadena, CA. Richard was the key grip on a one-day marathon session of pick-up shots for the Academy Award-winning film Gods and Monsters, starring Ian McKellan and Brendan Fraser. Both actors appeared for about an hour in front of the camera.
I often brag about having witnessed firsthand five of the stars of Clue do their thing. I should probably brag about the time I saw a two-time Oscar nominee, who in his spare time plays Gandalf and Magneto.
So, funny story — Richard Ludt's crew were called the Lost Soul Grips, and he ran them like the Expendables with fewer wrinkles. You don't just hire one of his boys; you hire the whole lot, or you hire no one. (A grip, for those outside the "biz," is the filmic equivalent of a theater's "stagehands.") The Lost Soul Grips had their own logo, their own t-shirts, and their own website. Richard always dealt with producers and DP's in that weird way where he is the captain, and the captain is all about his teammates, and mentions that a lot. I did five movies with him, so I heard this line over and over and over again. Maybe his selflessness was presented a bit too selfishly?
Many of the other people I worked with disliked him and his group. I immediately liked him, and he would no doubt have invited me into his group if I hadn't made a couple of radical career choices (the second of which was to leave the business entirely).
Anyway, Richard is a longtime recovering alcoholic. So after this exhausting session of filming tiny bits of scenes so the complete Gods and Monsters film was coherent and perfect, Richard said what he always said: "I'm going home to my family. I know you guys are going out to celebrate. Just make sure you get home safe." He turned to leave.
And then ...
... then ...
... okay. It's just you and me now.
We are now far, far, FAR below the point where 95% of my facebook friends ever bother to go. And since this pic isn't dynamic or in color — and I've not tagged anyone in it — we are now in the secret vault of my loquacity. This pic will get scrolled over and ignored. So here is where I get real. Buckle your seatbelt.
First, let's play a little prank. Let's see who hits the "Like" button without reading all this garbage. You, who have made it this far, should NOT click the "Like" button. If you have, unclick it. If you simply must leave a visible trail of your appreciation, put a comment below that reads, "Funny story!"
Well. Last night I saw a person pouring her heart out on Facebook: posts about feeling sad and lonely, wronged and betrayed. There were few concrete details, but it involved a man. She wrote a poem, which I read and liked. I thought it was useful and cleansing, and told her as much. No one bothered to read it but me, because Facebook isn't about reading (q.v. above). It may have been when I joined back in 2009 — can you believe it, that long ago. Photos were a rare thing, and links were just hypertext without summary boxes and thumbnails.
But things change, and Facebook is now a gossip magazine of mostly memes and links that the readers share themselves. We all just scroll through the photos, or videos, or thumbnails to links, or a little map showing the path where some asshole rode his bike. If a post is all text, and longer than a Twitter-length quip to rival Oscar Wilde ... well, it had better be about an illness or death or something real. At least, if you want any kind of reaction!
Some people are all about reaction. It's the validation of one's craft: a reaction is based on your post being read. The "likes" and comments for my stuff are fine, but I especially like when people are too embarrassed to leave a trail on Facebook (where others might see) and instead call me or tell me in person. No offense, but that is the only reaction that matters to me. It means a real emotional connection was made, and that is a hardcore goal of any art.
I have written at least a hundred of these posts: old pics, presidential bios, dedications to teachers, Calvin and Hobbes, vulgar and shame-free stories about my past, etc. They take time and I get no payment for them. And I know very, very few people actually read them. For example, three of the pics in this month's series featured women who I tagged and wrote about ... and none of them liked or commented or even texted me privately.
And you *know* how women feel about their picture being shown! ;)
So what does that mean? That it slipped through the cracks and they didn't notice? I doubt it. When you get a notification that "Morlock tagged you in a picture," you are very likely to look at it. So maybe they dislike the picture, or the whole idea I'd put it up, but they can't say so. That would be rude. That would be to "stoop" to my level. People are supposed to ignore the past, at the parts I want them to ignore. Etc.
And they also can't unfriend me, because they are smart and know that I might post the pic and they won't get to see it.
But would I do that?
Ah, now we come to it: the intent of the author. When the young woman posted the poem I talked about earlier, she only meant for one person to read it: the man she was pining over. She really didn't care if others read it. But she never actually said that, so her intent is unclear. I'm only surmising about it myself. So, did I post pictures about people to get their reaction — and ONLY their reaction? Or, am I just writing as a cathartic expression?
This is pretty likely when talking about me. I am, if you didn't know, forty-one years old, with no kids: a habitual bachelor. I'm selfish and often proud of it. When I write, I AM GOD, and I create or destroy worlds as I see fit. I control everything about the words I put down: the order they're in, the emotions they conjure up, and even the taste that's left in your mouth after I'm done. If I want to be depressing and tell people that I'm depressed, I can do that, and it will be written well. If I want to be appreciative of a good person in my life and tell everyone about him/her, I can do that, and it will be written well. And if want to be an asshole, a selfish cocksucker who deliberately deceives 95% of my facebook friends by hiding some text like this in a picture post no one will bother to read ... oh, I can do that too.
And maybe I've already done it before. Maybe, like, ten times, and you just didn't know it.
Ha, just kidding. Don't you worry: I would NEEEEEVER use this dirty little trick to write about you. Little embarrassing stories about you. Completely private thoughts and secrets I have about li'l ol' you. The written equivalent of, say, standing behind a man while he's napping and sticking my tongue out at him while someone else takes a picture of it.
If I did that kind of shit, I would no longer be a god. I'd be a monster.
Oh yeah, Gods and Monsters. It's a really good film. You should check it out. Richard Ludt actually did work on it, but I didn't. That was bullshit. The picture was taken in 2000 on the Universal Studios lot during a Monster Magnet music video.