Open Mouth, Insert Cash

Pulitzer material.
Pulitzer material.

When I’m not mogulizing – and if it’s not a word it should be – I’m talking about it.

“Mogulizing” is the notion of both “becoming as well as being a mogul as in ‘media mogul.'” Currently, I’m on the “becoming” side, which is just like the “being” side but with C-O-M jammed in the middle. I’m not sure if this has a secret meaning that would-be moguls are meant to decipher on our way to total “moguldom,” the enlightened state of the mogul at which point one is ready to instruct others in the art of mogulizing.

Admittedly, I’ve done this prematurely on a few occasions. When speaking to an English class at San Francisco’s Balboa High School a few years back, I was asked where I attended journalism school and admitted that I hadn’t, but that “I’ve seen ‘Fletch’ a few dozen times.” Since the flick was off their cultural radar by about 15 years, I was compelled to explain its plot and related trivia (did you know Chevy Chase beat Mick Jagger for the title role?). Suffice it to say, I was not invited back. At the Willamette Writers Conference a couple of years back, I presented an ingenious little talk titled “From the Byline to the Brand Name,” which permitted me no less than an hour and a half to discuss my own tribulations going from zero to 35 whilst making a living stringing words together in a manner that suggests meaning.

During the Q&A, however, lightheaded from gazing at my own navel so long, I suggested that aspiring writers might be better served actually writing rather than attending conferences.

Once this reached the conference organizers, of course, the ink mysteriously ran dry on my invitation to return. I conceded I was wrong on at least one point – walking the length of an Airport Sheraton parking lot is a fine way for writers to get some much-needed sunlight.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to the Northern California Screenwriters Group. Overcome by my online OCD, I posted this fact on Facebook and promptly received the replies, “Thank God. They need it,” from a studio exec pal in LA; “Yeah, please tell them I said ‘You’re welcome for standing on your picket line with you, now please make Apatow stop,'” from a journo friend and colleague in San Francisco, and simply “Ha!” from her buddy.

Of course, I shared these comments with my audience as a sort of rallying cry for those embarking on screenwriting careers 500 miles from the action (hey, there are worse ways to start a career in the biz, trust me). I’m pleased to say, my chat resulted in an invitation to speak at a forthcoming Napa screenwriters expo. Needless to say, I will not invite writers to write instead of attending, convinced as I am that in the very least they need to come out and see me, right?

Come 4 p.m., Tuesday, June 9, I’m one of three guest speakers appearing at La Muse, Vins et Fromages at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club, 574 First St. E., Sonoma. I’m one of three guest speakers presenting in my capacity as Sonoma County’s Lifestyle Ambassador (which is to say, “Sonoma brand advocate and branded entertainment specialist,” though it sounds equally meaningless). Ned Hill, of La Prenda Vineyards Management, Inc., and social media promotions director, Shan Ray, are also presenting.

Somehow, I’m billed last, just above the cheese course (provided by The Epicurean Connection), which I attributed to being a late addition – perhaps another mogul dropped out.

Fact is, I’m particularly good in a pinch, when expectations are low and comic relief is necessary, if unintended. Spoiler alert, I’m going to reveal the plot of “Fletch Lives.”

The Late Projectionist on Kindle

Next of Kindle: The Late Projectionist goes digital
Next of Kindle: The Late Projectionist goes digital

??A torrid tale of angst set in a surreal little town a bit like Petaluma.? That?s how the rather breathless review of my novel, The Late Projectionist, opened in the Bohemian a decade ago this month. The novel itself opened more abstractly: “Clamor, racket, fracas, din…” and now, thanks to Amazon’s digital Kindle platform and its corresponding iPhone app, I’ve got not just the first line, but the whole damn book in my coat pocket (as with the rest of my digital life). Though, I’ve long enjoyed instant access to my films via the iPhone’s YouTube app, I must say there’s something quaint and, well, novel, about having my own book in my phone (and I can guarantee it’s a better read than the average “phonebook.” Bah-dum-bump).

This “corrected text” second edition of The Late Projectionist was first republished last year and has been released for the Kindle platform on the 10th anniversary of its initial publication in June of 1999.

Here’s the jacket copy: Chris F. is an aspiring screenwriter whose ambitions bridle against his pathetic, small town life ? the scene of his yet-to-be-written “motion picture version” of his life. Annoyed by his chronic egoism, his barista girlfriend laces his coffee with what’s later revealed to be psychoactive dishwater. The result is Chris F. develops psychic abilities and a deeper grudge for his hometown and its inhabitants, whose thoughts he hears. How his?new-found powers draw him into an antiquarian book caper with his wannabe filmmaker pals is the stuff of that first novels are made of, but suffice it say, such shenanigans could lead to true love and redemption, or the destruction of all he knows. Likely both.

Get the Kindle version of The Late Projectionist. Here’s the complimentary Kindle app for iPhone (launches iTunes). As always, The Late Projectionist is available in paperback.

And yes, I’m writing another one…

Publicist Nonplussed about Sonoma Jazz+

VinSpinPR Headquarters.
VinSpinPR Headquarters.

Apparently self-proclaimed “public relationalist,” Mick Robbins, was nonplussed about last weekend’s Sonoma Jazz Plus event. It wasn’t the thumping and wumping of the live music acts’ amplifiers that rattled the windows of his mobile “PR Unit” (a van parked at Depot Park where he camps with animal rights activist-turned-“adventure-meats”-advocate Paul-Henri Moreau), but the fact that his client, local street musician Nelson Mint, couldn’t get booked. Or, more to the point, Robbins couldn’t get him booked, which led to an acrimonious dissolution of their working agreement at a local tavern Saturday night.

Mint, a fixture of the Historic Sonoma Plaza whose act consists mainly of strumming jazz chords on a five-stringed guitar and yelling insults at passing tourists, contends that Robbins promised him a billing at the annual festival as well as “star treatment.” According to Mint, what he received instead was a citation for disturbing the peace while busking outside the event while atop an empty wine crate Robbins claimed was the “alternative stage.” As for his billing, Mint’s name was scrawled in ball-point pen on the back of a parking ticket envelop with a stick-figure depiction of the musician playing his five-stringed instrument. Paul-Henri Moreau’s signature, twice the size of Mint’s headline, was penned at the bottom.  “This is why I’ve avoided messing with the music industry, man,” spat an indignant Mint, who committed to a 50-percent split with Robbins’ company VinSpin PR. As to what Robbins intended Mint to split with him remains unclear, but thus far it does not include the cost of Mint’s $125 citation.

Robbins, however, claims that Mint is misdirecting his ire, which he suggests should be aimed at Sonoma Jazz Plus who allegedly refused to acknowledge Robbin’s efforts to book his client by refusing to notice the signage posted on the side of his van that read “Musician for Hire, Enquire within.” The fact that Sonoma Jazz Plus is based in Aspen, Colo. notwithstanding, Robbins claims he performed due diligence in promoting Mint’s career. Failing a proper booking, Robbins says he improvised by creating a “fringe festival,” and booked Mint as the headliner.  “Fringe festivals are all the rage right now. Mint should be grateful he got to headline his own gig at the premiere of what will surely become an institution in fringe music festivals,” said Robbins. “Sure, he played on top of a wooden box this year – but at least his box was wood. The guy playing at the fringe-fringe-festival only had a cardboard box.”

Indeed, Henri Moreau, who took umbrage with Robbins’ client after he criticized his poster art, launched his own concurrent fringe festival across the street from Mint in the parking lot of Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall. Contrary to Robbins’ claims, however, Moreau was not performing atop the cardboard box, but rather performing with it in lieu of a more traditional instrument. Impressed with Moreau’s apparent talent for percussion, Robbins briefly explored merging the festivals into a “fringe festival juggernaut that could take on Sonoma Jazz Plus outright,” but could get neither party to agree since Moreau insisted on creating the posters and Mint insisted that he not. The dispute erupted into a verbal confrontation at a local watering hole, though the bar manager suspects the trio’s yelling match was actually meant as a diversion so that they might skip on their tab.

“Anyway, it was a long shot to think that Mint could fit in the lineup of Sonoma Jazz Plus,” said Robbins of the bill, which featured Joe Cocker, Chris Isaak and Ziggy Marley. “I mean, he actually plays jazz.”