FEAR & LOATHING @ SUNDANCE PART 4: Boozie Movies Gets In Too Deep
I'm standing outside of a small floral boutique that has been temporarily remodeled into a gifting suite. I'm chain smoking Newport 100s and getting plenty of ugly looks from the V.I.P. fest goers coming and going through the shop's doors.
I watch the constant parade of hot women with perfectly styled hair, perfectly pedicured nails, perfectly sculpted bodies, perfectly conditioned skin, and their perfectly formed asses strut their way in and out of the revolving door entrance. I've been told they're called swag hags around these parts. They're not here for the films; they're here for the free goods. Most of them already have two to five designer shopping bags dangling from their wrists; Versace, Paul Frank, Sony, Calvin Klein, Motorola,. They walk from suite to suite, they are handed thousands of dollars in free merch, and then they have a snap shot taken for online promotion.
Now, not just anyone can walk into these "lounges." Each shop's entrance is guarded by a bouncer with a card reader. The really important Sundance goers get all access badges that have a bar code imprinted on them. The bouncer swipes your festival badge, and if you're deemed hip enough, you get in, and you get free shit.
Half of these women are nobodies, just your usual assortment of high maintenance gold diggers, social climbers, sycophants, and celebrity whore groupies. Most of them are the trophy arm candy dates of the festival's star guests. During the last hour I've spent trolling the Apple suite, I've spotted Colin Farrell and Stephen Dorf waiting outside, sipping their seven dollar lattes while chain smoking organic cigarettes hand rolled by children in Guatemala as their super model dates stock up on free iPhones and iPads.
I'm probably the only heterosexual male who hates the current trend of women sporting yoga pants as every day wear and it seems that every attractive female here is wearing them.
Everywhere I turn my head, I see ass and twat. Yoga pants hide nothing. I can make out the folds of these strangers' labias, I can tell who has roast beef lips, or even who shaves or just likes to trim their bush into funky shapes. I can also tell exactly what type of thongs they're wearing. It's a complete tease and I don't like it. I feel like a starved, rabid dog that's been chained to a lamp post in front of a steak shop. Everywhere I go, I'm having hot nasty sex flaunted in front of me. I have to consciously resist the urge to just walk up and have a good squeeze of one of these perfectly toned tushes. It's emasculating.
And it's only a matter of time before the men in uniform are called in to take me away, either in handcuffs or a straight jacket. I try casing different bottom tier celebrities, asking them if they'll lend me their festival badge so I can score some freebies that I can pawn to make rent. I'm just a lowly unpaid blogger.
I've officially become the only panhandler at Sundance.
I feel like I'm 13 again, hanging around the white trash town trading post, trying to get strangers to buy me porn. I'm tempted to ask John C. Reilly if he'll grab me an issue of Leg Show or Cherry Popping Red Heads as he walks by.
I know I'm scaring most people off before I even get a chance to introduce myself. I look like a man who hasn't slept or showered in three days, mostly because I am a man who hasn't slept or showered in 3 days. I've repeatedly tried talking my way in with the bouncer, but the whole Uzi Silverstein bit wasn't working.
And that's when I see Michael Cera walking towards me. For a brief, fleeting moment, I think he may even be approaching me, once again thinking that I'm David Cross. But the moment he realizes that I'm the crazy drunk guy he was confessing his dark secret to the previous night, he turns his head in a pathetic attempt to act like he didn't actually see or recognize me.
Naturally, I walk over to him.
"Hey, Scott Pilgrim!"
He continues walking, keeping his eyes focused straight ahead as he speaks.
"Dude, I don't know you, can you please leave me alone?"
"Ah, c'mon. I didn't tell anyone about last night. We're all good."
He picks up his pace and breaks into a power walk and I keep on badgering him.
"I just want to borrow your festival badge for a minute so I can score a few things from some gifting lounges. I'll make it worth your while."
"There's no way I'm giving you my fest badge."
I'm pretty sure that Cera is about ready to burst into a full on sprint until I announce that I've found his cell phone. This makes him stop dead in his tracks and he finally looks at me.
I take the phone out of my pocket. I again pray to the god that I don't believe in that it's still working after the snow mobile accident.
And thankfully, it is. I unlock the screen and present Cera with a photo of a nude woman with blue hair, fake prescription glasses, and a giant tattoo of Krang on her chest. This woman's corpse was found in a dumpster earlier this morning, a fact that Cera is unaware that I know.
I keep a few feet distance between me and the young star. I can't be sure that he was the one who stabbed the young star fucker to death. Anyone with a tattoo like that certainly has issues, there's no telling what other trouble she may have gotten herself into after her little soiree with Cera.
Still, I can't be sure that he didn't do it, so I'm going to play things safe for the time being even if I'm confident that I could take him in a physical altercation.
But with the way he's starring at me, I also feel like he's definitely the kind of person who'll wait until I'm off guard in order to stab me in the stomach with a screwdriver .
I push my free hand into my pocket, gripping my keyset ring, positioning the numerous keys in between my knuckles while balling my fingers into a fist, readying a makeshift weapon in case he decides to attack.
He stands there for a few moments, staring at me in silence. We both just stand there in silence, like some stand off from an old Western although I have no idea who the bad guy or good guy is here.
Cera finally speaks.
"Ok. We trade."
I hand him the phone and a five dollar bill. I tell him I'll meet him at the Starbucks in two hours.
One hundred and twenty minutes later, I've stuffed about $2500 in electronics and designer goods into my messenger bag and have already started writing up craigslist marketplace listings for when I return to Philly.
CHAPTER 8: NOT EVERY GUY IN THE SAUNA WANTS A REACH AROUND.
I try sweating out the previous night's alcohol and drugs at the Park City Peaks Hotel's small gym area.
I'm not a guest here but with all of the commotion around town, it was pretty easy to sneak in. I've already taken a swim in the heated Olympic sized pool and hit the bikes for about an hour and a half for some heavy cardio. I've already tightened up my arms and chest with some free weights, and now I'm sitting in the sauna with a gallon jug of water trying to rid myself of the all the toxins that I willingly forced into my body the night before . I've always had a manic personality. Most of everything I do, I do to an extreme. I work hard, I play hard.
As a hairy Greek man who generally over dresses for every occasion, who works in the arts, and spends a lot of time working out at different gyms, I get cruised on a lot. Reading classic literature and French existentialism publications in any gym sauna or steam room seems to be an open invitation for strangers to start masturbating in front of you.
I've spent about an hour in this sauna while reading Warren Ellis' new book, The Gun Machine. Every few minutes, I'll take a break and lay back and get some crunches in, turn over, and pump out a light set of pushups as well. And during this time, I've had at least three random men come into the sauna and try to start some nasty reach around party.
Really? What about reading a book says that I'm here in a public space just waiting for you to come in and show me your embarrassing excuse for an erection and jerk off?
It's even stranger when it's a middle tier indie film darling who's been in the gossip columns with wife drama recently.
The worst is lifting my eyes off the pages of my book to find a hugely influential director I grew up admiring, awkwardly playing with his saggy old man balls that are now hanging down by his knees.
I just want to sweat out last night's drunk while reading my pulp in peace, please.
The third man who comes into the sauna has a chest nearly as hairy as mine. He has the perfectly well toned physique of a man who works out daily with an expensive top notch personal trainer.
Here we go again. This guy is definitely another fruitcake looking for some dirty anonymous fun.
He sits down at the opposite end of the sauna with a novel of his own in his hand. I don't know if this is a good thing or not. I still don't know if having a book in the sauna is some secret gay code for public masturbation. I've googled it before but nothing comes up. Yet, every time I bring a book to the sauna, someone ends up wiping their dick out in front of me.
The nearly perfect looking man acknowledges me with a simple hello that's friendly and unassuming while not invasive. He's not trying to start a conversation, and I'm not getting the impression that he's trying to test any waters. He actually keeps to himself and reads his own book.
It's a pleasant surprise.
Once my gallon jug of H2O has been depleted and I start to feel lightheaded from the heat, I decide that I've lost enough water weight to look healthy for the rest of the day, and I hit the showers feeling confident that I'm not going to be secreting any more whiskey fumes from my pores.
Once I'm dressed in the slick new duds I scored from the Dolce and Cabana and Calvin Klein gifting lounges, I lock up the bags of other goodies in one of the gym's tiny lockers.
I check myself out in the mirror. I look like a Hollywood player now. I look like I ought to be dating a Russian model with the figure of a sickly wilder beast who probably has a tapeworm.
Just as I head out, the impeccably attractive man from the sauna calls my name.
I turn around to find him leaning against the wall with the novel in his hand and then I realize it's Bradley Cooper.
I'm shocked that he knows my name. I met him briefly on set for Silver Linings Playbook. The production had rented out a family friend's home for the film. When shooting wrapped, the family that owned the Upper Darby home that doubled as Cooper's place of residence threw a small party, and many of the local crew members, and even some of the actors, showed up.
I had worked the film for a few days but received a personal invitation to the party from a friend who crewed as a higher up on the production.
I shared a few friendly words with the rising star at the party, but nothing memorable. We certainly didn't speak enough where I'd expect him to remember me or my name well over a year later. Bradley Cooper really is a friendly, gracious, guy. I almost hate him for it. He's now the sexiest man alive, and he's still a decent dude. He has the type of perfect, well mannered, super charismatic personality that serves as an ugly reminder just how shitty, awkward, and prickish you are by comparison. He's perfect looking, a decent actor, and incredibly likeable. I can't fucking stand him.
But I don't feel any practical reasoning to exude any type of animosity towards him. I don't even know how to respond to him. I'm acting weird and awkward but he effortlessly keeps the conversation going.
"Are you here for ScreenAnarchy? Seeing any good films?"
I didn't even think I had talked to him enough to share any of those details.
I almost slip and tell him that my name is actually Uzi Silverstein. I have to keep track of all of these conflicting personas and check them in their right lines.
Bradley starts to get dressed. Every single aspect about this guy is intimidating. He continues talking.
"You're from Upper Darby right?"
"I just got roped into a photo shoot in the lobby upstairs. "MS X" from the Philadelphia Film "XXX" and "MR. Y" from the Philadelphia Film "YYY" are here and they want to get some snapshots of everyone form Silver Linings Playbook here as a kind of Philly in Sundance
thing. You crewed on the film didn't you?"
"I worked two days as an additional with the locations department. I'd hardly say I was part of that film."
"Hey. If you worked it, you worked it. You're part of the crew; you should come up for the photo shoot. I'm meeting them in 15 minutes."
"I don't think they'd want me in those pictures."
"Come on, it'll be fun."
CHAPTER 9: WE'RE FROM PHILADELPHIA. YOU KNOW, PHILADELPHIA. WE HAVE ROCKY, CHEESE STEAKS, SOFT PRETZELS, CREAM CHEESE, AND THE LIBERTY BELL. WE'RE NOT FROM NEW YORK. WE'RE FROM PHILADLEPHIA. WE'RE A CITY TOO!
I imagine if I were to look closely enough, I'd see a lot of wet spots on nearly every pair of yoga pants in the Peaks' hotel lobby.
I can hear every woman within earshot's distance swoon as Bradley Cooper makes his way through the hotel lounge. I can smell their yearning and desire. There's a famous face everywhere you turn, but every woman's gaze is fixed only on Bradley. I wonder what it's like to have that type of presence, that type of power.
We get to an area at the back of the bar where a large Sundance photo op screen has been set up with a pair of nook lights.
Jennifer Lawrence is already waiting for us looking annoyed and impatient. She obviously doesn't feel like doing this right now.
Still, she's even more beautiful in person. She's radiant.
The beautiful people, the beautiful people.
MS. X from The Philadelphia Film XXX and MR. Y from the Philadelphia YYY are both waiting for Bradley's arrival as well. MS. X is wearing a Rocky sweatshirt while holding a Jim's cheese steak in her hand. I can't believe she flew all the way out here with a cheese steak from Jim's. Jim's is over-rated anyhow. Mr. Y is wearing an Eagles Jersey on top of his suit and has a soft pretzel and miniature liberty bell in his hands. Then there's Neumann. He works for MR. Y. I still don't understand what it is that he does. He has a bunch of lofty titles and is always showing up for every major festival, party, and event. We don't get along, never have.
I guess he thinks I'm a brown nosing leech. Maybe I was. I had always struggled to make the right impression before giving up and deciding that I'd rather make myself a living parody.
Every time I see Neumann, I think I'm Jerry Seinfield.
Anyhow, I've shown up just in time for the Philadelphian Vaudeville show.
It's funny how my city's entire identity is based on 4 or 5 things. No one ever talks or writes of Philly's film culture beyond that boxing movie, or its music scene, or its artists. It's always about the cheese steaks, the cream cheese, the soft pretzels, our asshole sports fans, and of course, Rocky, a fictional fucking character. Joe Frazier, one of the most iconic and famous boxers in the history of the sport is from Philadelphia, but it's a Hollywood actor from New York whose statue rests at the bottom of the art museum steps. Every Philly group seems to screen Rocky at least four times a year each.
We have a tendency to canonize anything that features our city. For the next decade or two or three, Silver Linings Playbook will become the defining film for our town. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence will be dragged out to our city and used as props for all manners of political fundraisers for the next decade or two or three as well. They'll be coerced into accepting all sorts of bullshit awards and honors in some silly attempt to remind the world that we do exist, and that we're not the 6th borough. But really, we totally are.
We had Mark Walhberg accept some bullshit lifetime achievement award on behalf of the city of Philadelphia a few weeks ago. I still don't clearly understand why. I think it's because he was in The Happening and that Undefeatable flick. The mayor came out to hand him the award and then Broken City, a film about New York, was screened to the local press. Walhberg spent the majority of the press conference texting on his cell phone, probably playing Words with Friends. It was pretty funny. That's who we are. We hold important award ceremonies in honor of the fact that we're the home of The Happening.
We're so desperate to have a taste of stardom and cultural importance and relevance within the American lexicon.
MS. X and MR. Y try to pretend I'm not really here. They're trying their best to handle the situation diplomatically. They take turns having their picture taken with the two stars while they hold their Philly props up for the camera.
I ask if I should take my shirt off and pose in my white wife beater to make it more authentic.
Bradley Cooper laughs; at least he has a sense of humor.
I decide to keep it going and tell Bradley, "Well, you know, if we really want to make this photo shoot represent Philadelphia and our sports culture, I oughta smack Jennifer Lawrence's ass, spit at Neuman over there, start a fight with the hotel owner, and then piss myself. And by the way, where was that scene in the movie? We both know that your character should've died in a DUI while Jennifer Lawrence spends the rest of her life working at the Llanarch diner while spitting into the snapper soup."
Bradley Cooper nearly coughs up a lung. Jennifer Lawrence looks both bored and confused. But then again, Jennifer is from Kentucky, Bradley's from Philly.
I see Neumann talking to the hotel's security, working a way to get me taken out of here for sure. It's complete Déjà vu.
I shake Bradley's hand, thank him for the fun time and give him my condolences.
"I'm sorry that you're going to be stuck doing these stupid fucking Philly centric photo ops for the rest of your career."
I excuse myself and make my way towards the hotel's exit when I see an attractive young woman wearing a pink body suit hanging upside down with her legs wrapped around a silk curtain strung up from the ceiling. As she hangs upside down, she's pouring champagne into festival goers' glasses.
This is a highly trained, world class acrobat, an athlete, and an artist. And she's flown out here from god knows here working for tips as a drink server. It seems more and more to me that Park Ave is the boulevard of broken dreams.
I've never had a glass of champagne poured by a woman in a skin tight bodysuit hanging upside down and decide that this is something that I ought to try at least once in my life.
There's a small stand with a tray of glasses underneath her. I grab a glass and lift it up to the woman. She scissor kicks her powerful legs and twirls around into a new position, all while holding the bottle of Korbel, never spilling a drop.
She gently lowers herself down to me while pouring the sparkling golden nectar into my glass. She finishes off the bottle as she does so. She's able to maneuver herself so that she's able to place the bottle back on the glass tray.
Her face is now in front of mine. It's just like that moment from Spider Man and I'm almost sure she's leaning in to kiss me.
And then she does.
"It's been a long time, Greg."
I purr in return, "Hey, Cindy."
SUB CHAPTER: CHRISTMAS CARD FROM A STRIPPER IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
In was Christmas Eve of 2009.
I was living in Austin Texas and things were not going well.
I moved out to Austin on a whim. Disenfranchised with New York and knowing that I could never find any type of sustainable paid creative work in Philly, I packed up my Saturn and drove cross country in pursuit of something new.
I had lucked out at first too. I landed a prestigious internship with Fantastic Fest. During my first month there, it was the happiest I had ever been. For a brief time, I had thought that I'd finally found a place to belong. I had finally made the right decision.
But through a series of unfortunate, confusing, and complicated circumstances that I still don't understand, I found myself fired and alienated from Fantastic Fest. I found myself working a string of low paying temp positions and I eventually found myself having nowhere to live. After six months, I was stuck sleeping in the back of the station wagon I drove out there with. I worked a minimum wage job with the mail room of a local government office, saving up so I afford my drive back to Philly. I kept my car parked in the lot of Gold's Gym where I had a membership so I at least had a place to shower.
I had seen all of my dreams and ambitions die in front of me and then Christmas time rolled along and I was alone, broke, and homeless. It was a dark time.
Naturally, I took to Craigslist and wrote a personal ad, desperate for some type of company on Christmas Eve. The holidays have a tendency to exemplify all of your personal problems when you're single. Simply put, Christmas will fuck you up, and I couldn't have possibly been any more fucked up.
I received only a single response to my posting. Her name was Cindy, and she was drop dead gorgeous in the photo that was attached to her email. I didn't believe it at first. I thought it was a lark. I was sure I was setting up a date with some 50 year old male serial killer.
But I didn't care. I had nothing to lose and I had a loaded .357 Colt Python in my glove department in case I ended up on a date with Jeffrey Dahmer.
We met at the Elephant Room, a small but exceedingly hip basement jazz bar in downtown Austin.
There were maybe 4 other people in the bar apart from us.
To my pleasant surprise, Cindy was real, and just as attractive in person as in her photo. Only, she wore her make up like a stripper and I found it odd that she refused to take off her puffy winter coat inside the cozy little music club.
That, and she was nasty; a mean, grumpy, impenetrable person.
Making conversation with her was like pulling teeth. She downed each of her drinks in a single gulp like a fraternity brother anticipating a date rape. She complained about her job but remained coy about what it was that she actually did.
Finally, she asked me, "Well, just what the hell do you think I do?"
"I don't know."
"I'm sure you can make an assumption."
"I'm sure I could, but no one likes a person who makes assumptions. If I'm wrong, I'm going to be an asshole."
"I'm a fucking stripper, and I just got off of work an hour ago. Merry Fucking Christmas right? I had to spend the last three hours rubbing my crotch on a bunch of fat drunks' hard ons and I'm still not going to make rent next week."
I tried my best to cheer her up but my efforts were futile. I decided that I'd rather spend Christmas alone than with someone like this. I excused myself but she wouldn't let me go. She was shocked that I was leaving her so I could drink alone at another bar.
"You're not going to try and fuck me?"
"Every guy tries to fuck me."
"I'm sorry for that but you're mean and I'd rather just drown my own sorrows out in solitude than continue to try and make this work, whatever this is."
She bought me a glass of Johnny Walker Black and urged me to stay for a while and her attitude took a complete 180. Suddenly, we were hitting it off like gangbusters. The chemistry between us was electric and I ended up going back to her place after closing out the bar.
I've learned through many experiences that most strippers are fucking crazy and they live crazy fucking lives.
Cindy lived in an enormous McMansion forty minutes outside of Austin. She lived in the type of ugly, modern, cheaply constructed, drywall palace that can only be paid for with Texan oil money.
When I pulled up into her driveway, I couldn't imagine how she could afford such a place. The moment I got inside, I saw that only half of the interior was finished. The place was still in the process of being built. There was heat and electricity but no running water.
There was hardly any furniture either, just a mattress in the living room with a small TV, a lap top, a bong, and a small collection of DVDs strewn about the bare floor.
More importantly though, there were two long silk robes hanging from the ceiling. Cindy was an aspiring aerialist. She had moved to Austin, Texas from Minneapolis for a world renowned circus training program. She came to the Mecca of hip and weird to hone her craft, to chase her dreams just like me. And just like me, it all came crashing down and she was stuck stripping to survive. Now she was just trying to save enough money to get home.
Just like me.
We were two broken, lonely hearted people in desperate need of some form of vindication even if it was only of the carnal.
We smoked some herb and she gave me a private performance of her aerialist talents. We fucked all through the early morning hours.
We woke up, still strangers, still completely and entirely fucked in our lives, but at least we weren't waking up alone.
We found a greasy spoon diner for breakfast, smoked a little more, and saw Avatar 3D like every other fucking person in America that day. And that was it.
Every year since, we still trade emails every Christmas, wishing each other a better year than before. We don't play catch up. We never talk about our lives. But it's become an important tradition to acknowledge each other's existence. This is what artists do, this is what they understand, the importance of being acknowledged, having the reassurance that they aren't just the figment of their own imagination.
CHAPTER 9 CONT
Cindy continues looking at me for a moment before flipping herself right side up and dropping to the floor.
She smiles before asking me, "Is it Christmas already?"
I return the smile and say "Christmas ended only a month ago."
"Well, I guess it's close enough for an anniversary. Are you working with the festival?"
"What are you doing here?"
"I honestly have no fucking idea. I'm making an asshole out of myself. You?"
"I'm getting paid."
"I'm glad you're at least a bit closer to doing what you want."
"It's gotta be better than giving lap dances."
"You'd think so wouldn't ya?"
"Either way, it's good to see you."
"I can't talk. They watch me like a hawk and if they see me fraternizing with anyone, I'll get docked. You have a pen?"
I find one in my coat pocket and hand it to her. She promptly writes her cell phone number on the back of my hand, marking her territory, staking her claim. I find it cute.
"Greg, call me. Some of the other girls working with me have a party of their own going on late tonight. I can promise you, it'll be better than any other festival jig in town."
"Cindy, I have no doubt about that."
CHAPTER 11: DUDE, HAVEN'T YOU EVER SEEN LETHAL WEAPON 4?
I find myself whistling with a spring in my step. Even with my stinging urethra as a result form my enlarged prostrated, even though I've lost my Quaaludes, even though I'm only one drink into this day, I feel good.
Then again, I'm a manic depressive. Even without substance abuse, my emotions are constantly in flux, riding incredible highs and indelible lows with no reasoning.
Fuck it, I'm gonna ride this wave for the time being. I light a cigarette, put my earphones on, and listen to some Operation Ivy.
I aimlessly wander the many narrow cobblestone streets that course through and around the heart of Park City like a circulatory system.
I find myself in a deserted back alley, only it's not entirely deserted. There are three men in plastic masks and black hoodies messing around with something behind a dumpster.
I said it before already, "men, masks, and hoodies is always a bad combination." I already expect that these assholes' masks are modeled after Guy Fawkes from V from Vendetta and I already expect that my good mood is about to be ruined just as fast it begun.
I approach the three men and my expectations come to fruitarian.
I say, "Hey, guys!"
They turn to face me and I wait for the joke to sink.
"Hey, guys! Get it? Guy. Guy Fawkes. Hey, guys? Anybody?"
One of the men immediately draws a gun on me, a 9mm Beretta 92FS. Beretta may be known as one of the highest quality gun manufacturers in the world, but the 92FS has a fairly notorious defect; the slide release button used to disassemble the pistol for cleaning is a bit too a quick and a bit too easy.
The other two men are just staring at me while making threatening poses, so I assume that it's only the one who is carrying here.
I put my hands up in surrender and wait for my chance to attack. I let a solid 20 seconds pass as I stare down the barrel of the Italian made gun.
I leap forward reaching out my right hand, getting a grip on the slide; I push it back with as much force as I can muster. A live round is ejected from the chamber as another is instantly reloaded, but I'm also able to get my thumb on the slide release, pressing it down. The slide pulls forward towards me and straight off of the frame of the gun.
The hooded man is stunned by my sudden actions and I use the opportunity to get a clean, solid sucker punch in straight to the side of his jaw. In one smooth, balletic motion, I swipe the pistol out of his hand, fit the slide back on, and put one back in the pipe. In five seconds I've now turned the scenario back around with the gun aimed at my perpetrators.
I take a few steps back so no one gets the same idea and attempts the same thing on me.
The man who I just clocked removes his mask and pulls his hood back. It's G-Clip, and once again, I expected as much. He rubs his jaw as he pleads to me.
"Film school, let me explain, dude."
CHAPTER 12: THE FIRST RULE OF PROJECT MAYHEM
One hour later and I'm sipping hot coco spiked with Jameson and Baileys in a small maintenance shack for one of the many ski resorts forty minutes outside of the main town. The small drafty wooden room is occupied by at least a dozen men and women in black hoodies and Guy Fawkes masks, and of course, G-Clip.
He shows me all of the guns his small militia has acquired, and holy fuck, do they have a lot of guns.
There are cases of Glocks of various calibers stacked in the back. G-Clip explains to me that he was able to sneak these off of the set of The Avengers when he was working as a second unit key P.A.
You have to understand that guns are just like cars. Glock is the official handgun of the U.S. military, most city police forces, and now Hollywood. Look back at all of the action movies of the last 5 years. In all of the posters and marketing materials you've seen, how many actors are prominently holding Glock pistols, almost always the GL 26 sub compact 9mm. The 26 is now the most popular carry conceal weapon in the United States. I stopped carrying mine after seeing how sexy it looked on Scarlet Johansson.
I've always been partial to revolvers myself anyhow and nothing says fuck off to a would be robber like shouldering a .357 Colt Python.
God, I hate it when people talk guns and here I am talking guns. I hate it the same way people talk sports, the way they argue about player stats as if there's an actual science or math to it, as if the way a person throws or catches a ball matters in any way.
Gun nuts love spouting useless trivia. They get hard talking about all of the different makes and models of the firearms they own.
"I like the Springfield but it pulls to the left a little, but it packs a lot more punch than the Beretta. Walther is over-rated and overpriced. Rugers are like anything that's still American made. They used to make a good gun but their manufacturing has gone downhill. You're better off saving a few bucks and going with a Taurus, they might be made in Brazil, but they used to do the manufacturing Smith and Wesson, so you're getting a Smith and Wesson, at half the price."
How does any of this matter? When does anyone ever really find practical use for their carry conceal arms? And they're an asshole if they want to. Yes, guns are about fantasy, and it's a pretty fucked up fantasy. Still, what man with blood pumping through his veins doesn't fantasize about being John McClane.
G-Clip has amassed a pretty damn impressive arsenal. He has cases full of Franchi Spas 12 gauge automatic shotguns, modified AR 15s, some AK 47s, and some of that futuristic shit where the magazine loads in the back by the shoulder rest.
There's a long wooden tool table that's lined with hundreds of magazines, all fully loaded with what I presume are live rounds although I notice there's different colored pieces of tape on the magazines. Half the clips have a small piece of red tape on them, the other half have blue.
Right here, right now, I'm looking at enough artillery to conduct a siege on a small military outpost.
It's probably the wrong decision, but I start drinking my Irish whiskey spiked cocoa a lot faster. I need a good buzz and I need it fast. This is too heavy.
G-Clip shows me a large map that provides a blueprint for the entire town of Park City and explains his grand master plan to me in explicit detail.
"This is Project Mayhem, man. I got into the Anonymous network a few years back and they opened my eyes. I took the blue pill and never looked back. We've uncovered a major conspiracy here at the Sundance Film festival. You look around and then you look past the façade of celebrity, and what do you see? What runs all of this?"
"I don't know G-Clip, Robert Redford."
"He's just a front, a puppet. Sundance may be posed as a morally, socially, environmentally conscious film festival, an everyman festival, a festival to celebrate the blue collar, the down trodden. This was intended to be the antithesis of anti Hollywood sentiment. It's named after a Native American ceremonial ritual where you offer personal sacrifice for the benefit of your family, your people. This was often done with self mutilation and is the reason why Sun Dances are now illegal to hold on most reservations."
"I have no idea where you're taking this but Robert Redford is not anti Hollywood, he's no Nick Zed, I wouldn't go claiming that Sundance was ever anything even approaching transgression or counter culture."
"You're getting me off topic, Film School. I'm trying to tell you that Sundance isn't a film market."
"What is it?"
"It's an underground, black market for international arms dealing, specifically, to aid the IDF."
"No. No, no, no, no. We're not going here. I'm not taking part in this conversation. This isn't happening. I'm not even writing this. You can't even joke about this. I'm not going to include this into the story."
"That's right film school. All these big film producers and film buyers wheeling and dealing their films, it's all just a way to launder their money. They're not really forking out millions of dollars for some shitty new mumble core film that 15 people are going to end up watching online. They're buying and trading guns, bombs, tanks, explosives, all of which is being stored in a cave in the side of one of these mountains. When the festival ends, and Park City becomes a ghost town once again, large semi trucks start rolling in, and then they roll out to shipping docks all over the country. And then all of those boats that take those shipments? They mostly go to the same place. We're here to stop it. We're here to defend the people of Palestine. We're here to take down the Hollywood machine. We're here to..."
"No. No, no, no, no. NNNOOOOPPPPEEEE. Nah uh. Not doing this."
"Are you with us, Film School? Are you with the cause? Look at your life? Where are you at? What happened when you worked in the film world? Look at who gets ahead and who gets used like a battery, drained and tossed for another? I got shot in the fucking ass for them! It's time to return the favor. How about it, Film School?"
I'm afraid to say anything. There are too many other people in this room, there are too many guns. I have to play along, at least, for now.
"You're right, G-Clip. Fuck em all, let's fuck their shit up."
G-Clip smiles and lights a spliff.
"Righteous, man. I knew I could count on you."
G-Clip explains that I had caught him setting up charges in that back alley. He gives me a rundown of his insanely complicated and convoluted plans. I have a hard time following it. Then again, I spend most of his long lecture texting Cindy about getting a location and time for some big party later tonight.
What of the plan I understand is that G-Clip has set small charges around Park City which will be blown tomorrow at a designated time, creating mass panic and chaos. There will be both a faked shooting and a real shooting. Why? I don't really understand. The magazines with blue tape are packed with blanks. They plan on staging a shooting spree during the screening of The East, some silly topic film about a love triangle between an anarchist terrorist and a corporate capitalist spy. People will first that it's a real shooting. G-Clip has already filled the audience with dummy shooters and dummy victims. It will draw all of the attention away from the real shooting planned for the award ceremony.
In the end, everyone will think that the fake shooting was a tasteless viral marketing ploy; meanwhile, G-Clip will cripple the Hollywood machine and knock the Israeli military force a few notches back.
G-Clip is crazy. This whole thing is crazy. He's not really part of Anon, but then again, it's pretty hard to have any cohesive structure when your group is called Anonymous and anyone with a cheap $3 mask can take claim as a working cell for that group and attest that his actions are on that group's behalf.
I have a real simple solution for thwarting these dickheads' plans. G-Clip has been ranting on and on and on about evil Hollywood and Israel and everything else. All of his little minions have been coming and going keeping themselves too occupied to pay any attention to me.
Meanwhile, I've been switching the red tape with the blue tape on the magazine clips. Fuck it, let these assholes shoot each other up.
G-Clip finally stops his diatribe and extends his hand to me to shake.
"You with us right, Film School?"
My phone buzzes and I see that Cindy has sent me the location for the party.
"Sure, but only if you can give me a ride."
CHAPTER 13: THE BEST SPOT IN THE WORLD FOR A RAVE IS A MATTRESS WAREHOUSE. YOU CAN COMFORTABLY PASS OUT ANYWHERE.
Turns out that Cindy's super secret, super awesome dance party is in the back of a Mattress Warehouse.
I haven't been to an underground rave since I left Austin in 2010 and I'm nervous about what I'm walking into. I open the doors to the empty, dark mattress store and make my way through the deserted aisles following the muffled, booming bass of electronic music coming from the storage area in the back.
I pull out the joint G-Clip gifted me with and light it up, slowly pulling in a mouthful of smoke into my lungs. I hold it for most of my trip to the stockroom entrance.
I exhale as I open the door and my ears are bombarded with a dubstep remix of M.I.A.'s
I've arrived just in town for the song's chorus. The sound of guns being cocked in rhythm to the dropping beat fills me with dread. I'm the only one amongst all of these people who knows what may end up happening tomorrow. And it'll all be on me.
I take another drag off the spliff.
A topless woman in a purple tutu wearing backlight face paint with flowers drawn on her breasts approaches me. She wraps one arm around my shoulder her leg around my thigh. With her other free hand, she takes my joint out of my mine and treats herself to a puff.
With the joint still dangling from her lips, she pulls the zipper down on my jacket, pulls it off, and tosses it to the ground. She then does the same with my shirt.
She's hasn't even spoken a single word to me yet mind you.
By now, the joint is just about kicked. She flicks to the floor and puts it out with 6 six inch clear plastic heels that have flashing lights on the inside. And then she walks away.
Everything slows down as I scan the room and take in all of the madness happening around me.
I generally can't stomach to be around hippies, but sometimes, they're the coolest, greatest people in the world. Fuck the film festival; this is a mother fucking party.
There might be a hundred or two people spread throughout the spacious warehouse, crowded, but not packed. Still, it's certainly overwhelming.
In one corner, there's a suspension rig set up with an attractive, naked, dreadlocked, blonde woman in her mid 20's hanging by the meat hooks that have been surgically inserted into her back.
There's an artist creating live psychedelic imagery by mixing paints into a clear fish bowl that's set up on top of an old school overhead projector.
Jess Franco's Sadomania is being projected on another wall.
There are three or four fully nude women wearing backlight reactive body painting dancing with hula hoops.
There's a guy breathing fire in one area, there's a woman dressed in some dominatrix getup flogging another woman's ass with a line of others waiting their turn at another. There are numerous blankets laid down with small groups of scantily clad hippies sharing hookahs, some couples have already taken to making out and even having sex on bare mattresses laid out sporadically in different areas. I spot Cindy and two other women swinging between silk robes strung up from the ceiling.
These are the people who make Sundance run. These are the party performers, the waiters, the bar maids, the cocktail servers, the sound technicians, this is the face of the festival that you never see.
I can't help but think of Fight Club. "We cook your meals, connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. DO NOT FUCK WITH US."
These are the unsung artists of the festival; these are the people who trudge along, hoping to get a break that will never come. And one thing is for sure, they know how to have fun.
No one gives a shit about status here. No one is trading business cards and trying to impress anyone else. No one gives a flying fuck that some shithead actor bombed with his directorial debut. It's goddamn refreshing and there isn't a single famous face to be seen anywhere.
Even better, the people who are wearing sunglasses indoors right now are doing so because their tripping their fucking faces off, not because they want to look cool.
I occupy myself with dancing although I doubt I can really call it that. I jump up and down, rubbing myself against some of the glowing naked rave women while waiting for Cindy to come back down from her silk robes.
One of the hula hoop girls offers me a sip of her drink. It tastes like corn whiskey. Great, and now I'm drinking some home brewed moonshine. This is already spelling disaster.
I can already feel my mind slipping away for the night. I'm only barely conscious and I know I'll be time traveling soon enough. I close my eyes and let hooch wash over me.
The music and lights and all of the naked glowing people bleed together into a single, pulsing, vibrating, form that's swirling all around me or am I swirling around it.
I feel hands on my chest, small but strong. I feel the sting of a woman's finger nails digging into my skin. I open my eyes and find Cindy standing in front me. She gets a handful of my chest hair and gives it a firm tug. It hurts but I like it.
"I forgot just how hairy you are, you're an animal."
I shrug my shoulders. I don't know whether to take the comment as a compliment or an insult.
Luckily, she reassures me.
"I fucking love it."
"Merry Christmas, Cindy."
She has to stand up on her tippy toes to kiss me and I'm only 5 6'. She continues dragging her nails down my chest, combing my hair, while she talks.
"I have a friend who wants to meet you. You into S & M at all?"
"I don't know."
"You ever been flogged before?"
"Never literally. I'd say I've been flogged through most of my career."
"Don't ruin the fun by trying to get all clever and wordy on me now."
Before I can interject, Cindy is wrapping a black blindfold around my head, folding a knot in the back. I don't object until she puts the handcuffs on. But I don't really object hard enough because I'm wearing them and they're locked into place.
She guides me across the dance floor through the party and bends me over some type of upright standing surface. Cindy seductively undoes the buckle to my belt and proceeds to unbutton my pants, letting them drop to the floor.
I'm not sure how much time passes as I stand there blind with my back arched and ass pointed out towards god knows who. I hear some laughing before I feel the leather straps of the whip crash across the small of my back and again on my bottom.
It stings like hell but I've felt worse. I hear someone say "He didn't even flinch, hit him again, harder."
I get another lashing, and then another and another. On the 10th or 11th lashing, I feel skin splitting open. Only then does it stop. I fear how bad it must look as all of the laughing and cheering that accompanied the whipping has suddenly stopped.
The burning sensation has turned cold and wet and I know it must be the bleeding that has shut everyone up.
Someone pulls my pants back up for me and guides me across the warehouse again before helping me down on one of the many available mattresses. I can't be sure if I'm time traveling again, time becomes an elusive concept once more. Maybe I'm lying down for 2 minutes; maybe it's been an hour already.
The music has turned to a steady mix of pure dub step. I can't tell when one song ends and another begins, it sounds like Transformers having anal sex.
Someone comes to my side and unlocks the handcuffs and removes the blindfold before standing up again.
I'm still lying down as I look up at her. She's beautiful. Dressed in some weird leather bra corset thing and an Amazonian loin cloth, she looks like slave princess Leia, only, it's not Princess Leia but Princess Amadala. I'm can't be sure, but it looks like Natalie Portman.
"Are you Uzi Silverstein?"
No. no.no. no. no. no.
"You served in the IDF with my father. You are one of the greatest double agents we've had. I presume you're here undercover. I have been looking for you."
No. no. no. no. no. no.
"You are in grave danger, Uzi. We all are. There are terrorists here among us hatching a nefarious plot that only we can stop. You must come with me."
No. no. no. no. no. no.
TO BE CONCLUDED IN FEAR & LOATHING AT SUNDANCE PART 5 SOMETIME NEXT WEEK... or... whenever I have the fucking time to finish it.