It’s been a while. March and April were a whirlwind. February too.
— I worked on this. It was a challenging one, and a little different for me. I loved the challenge.
— Michael messaged me (you know. Michael. This Michael.) when he heard the news about After Hours and he was flipping out. It’s his favorite movie of all time. I asked him “Did we talk about that ever??” He said he didn’t think we did. Imagine the weirdness of this. Our relationship is so strange and special. We were CHILDREN when we “went out” (I mean, not literally, but, whatever.), and here we are, still in touch, and I am hired by Criterion to write the booklet essay for his favorite movie. It’s perfect.
— Speaking of Michael, he wrote Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves! There were all these red carpet pictures of him and I’m super proud. When it opened at the theatre down the street for me, there was a line down the block of D&D fans, all dressed up, waiting to see it. I sent Michael a pic.
— I went to Ebertfest. It’s been years because of the pandemic. It was a last-minute decision. I decided to go for multiple reasons. 2023 is my 10-year anniversary going to Ebertfest – the same way it was my 10-year anniversary going nuts in Memphis and getting diagnosed bipolar. I went to Memphis this year at the same time to commemorate how far I have come. I thought, “what the hell, let’s do the same for Ebertfest.” The first year I went, I was still so out of my mind, in the first month of being diagnosed, and … Mum came with me. I don’t remember how that decision was made. In retrospect, I think she came to just support me. (sob.) She ended up coming to Ebertfest for 4, 5 years in a row. It was this yearly thing we did. The other reason I suddenly decided to go: there are so many people I only saw once a year – Ebertfest people – people I really like, people I looked forward to seeing. The last time I went to Ebertfest was 2018 or 2019, I can’t remember, and I had no idea then I should be saying GOODBYE to all these people, other audience members, panelists, ushers, all the people I looked forward to seeing. So I was excited. I flew to Chicago, Mitchell picked me up at O’Hare, and we drove down to Champaign-Urbana together. This will be his third time accompanying me. We only stayed two days of the festival and it felt like we were there a week. The opening night film was Nine Days (which I reviewed), and had a great time interviewing the talented director Edson Oda and executive producer Jason Michael Berman onstage after the screening. It was incredible seeing that beautiful film on a large screen (one of the largest), and to FEEL the audience listening around me – 1200, 1300 people listening closely – it’s one of my favorite sounds in the world.
— Spent a couple days in Chicago afterwards with Mitchell and Christopher. We lazed about, we walked along the lake shore (experiencing a lightning-fast and sudden blizzard – horizontally driving snow and everything), we got together with Emma and her boyfriend Ben, it was a wonderful (albeit short) visit.
— I’m in a Ulysses reading group this year. It’s been tough to keep up, but I am doing the reading and having an absolute BLAST with it.
— Meanwhile, I was getting ready for this. It was postponed a couple of times for various reasons but we finally got the date nailed down. I prepared my notes for my introductory speech.
— MEANWHILE, in the middle of all this, I got a message from Criterion that Martin Scorsese wanted to talk to me. Now we have already made contact – or, he has made contact with me – and I have met him on a couple of occasions (the 50th anniversary gala of the Film Society at Licoln Center, and a couple of the NYFCC dinner awards) but I am sure he wouldn’t remember me. He only knows me now from the Raging Bull video-essay and now the After Hours essay. He has to approve everything on these Criterion releases. Everything I wrote was sent to him for approval and/or notes. So. He wanted to talk.
— A couple weeks passed. I was in contact with one of his assistants. He was busy. Of course. Marty is always busy. But finally a time was found.
— Martin Scorsese called me and we proceeded to talk for forty minutes. About everything. He talked to me about my Raging Bull essay and we talked a lot about After Hours, but then we talked about other things. I made him laugh. He said at one point, “I grew up in Little Italy–” and I wanted to say, “I know, Marty. We all know.” He was funny and extremely nice. It was amazing. I went into the call nervous. But about five minutes in, I was no longer nervous. He put me at ease. He told me the next time we meet to please introduce myself using the words ‘Raging Bull After Hours’ so he would be sure to remember me. “I’m old.” he confessed. And you KNOW I will. It was incredible.
— Five days later I was introducing Viva Las Vegas at the Paris Theatre in New York. It was a great event. Great turnout. Lots of friends, lots of people I didn’t know. My speech went great. The movie was so much fun. The whole thing couldn’t have gone better. Went out for drinks afterwards with a random group of my friends, none of whom knew each other outside of me – so we all bonded together, and became a group as we ate and drank. It’s my favorite thing. People meeting and connecting. I was so happy.
— To re-cap: In the same week I
1. had a 40-minute phone conversation with Martin Scorsese
2. introduced Viva Las Vegas at the Paris Theatre.
— It was only on the following day when it occurred to me: “Okay so … for this week at least … I’ve been living the dream.”