You Cannot Say That ! *
“You cannot say that. Nobody can. Those words never go together in the English Language.”
He was back! I was in Sisyphean Hell. I was chained to a cave, rolling a rock up the hill and watching it crash down again. I was in the worldwide headquarters of Video Vegas Industries, out in the back.
And the part they didn't tell me about 20 hours of two inch video. It would have to be cut. And not on big trucks with engineers and crew, no. Just me.
And on a Sony 150, an analogue offline semi-pro editing machine, accurate to within four frames. Well this sounds just peachy, just fine. But within four is not an accurate frame. And even when you made the right cut, sometimes the machine would get it in its own mind to do something else, like cut three frames before, or six after. And so you'd pray. And rub rabbits feet and things. And you'd wind up destroying that cut and the shot before. And then you'd have to backtrack and re-cut that shot, and the cut going into that shot. But…right! That cut wouldn't be accurate either, that'd be off by, oh, say, three or four frames.
So for a week or more I'd be cutting backwards, destroying the cuts I'd already made, while Orson berated me and the crew backwards and forwards.
"This is not the English language," Erupp! “Egaugnal hsilgne eht, ton, si, sihT.” Errrrrpppt Clink, “This is not…” and so on and so forth. Over and over with a stack of tapes and approaching deadline. No wonder I started snapping at the maid.
Week after week, way beyond deadline, and I couldn’t finish a cut. And over and over, berating, demeaning, insulting, hurling vitriol at me and the crew. I don’t know, somehow it was just like home. And for this I live in a dark cavern, in a heat blasted desert, in a town of neon tarts and desperate wagers… and I’m thinking… “For this I turned down the Marines!”
And much later, Donny had a tape. One of those bootlegs passed around by sound engineers. Outtakes and Comedy Albums you played at parties, like we had in the truck. There was Paul Boomer’s Farting LP, there were various stars yelling at each other in outtakes. And there was Orson Welles. And then like an acid flash to editing, editing, editing in a barn in the desert, and from the speakers, the Voice of Welles assailed me again.
“This is not the English language. You cannot put the key light there. Did someone really write this?…Tiny Little Snow Peas!?, I don’t believe it!”
It was an acid flashback. I’d had too much sun.
No. It was real. And then I saw it, the remnants of genius, if taken apart by mercantile forces and forced to bend to the will of the masses and the lawyers and ex-wives, the humiliation turned toward the world, the act honed like a magician's turn, a misdirection of self-loathing anger… turned into an act.
‘Tiny little snow peas!’ ‘Tetley Tea Bags’, ‘Mondavi wine’, it didn't matter. It was all a show for the booming stentorian voice. The sad gravitas hung on the man like a shroud. Causing a well known director to submit a bill; “$50,000 - For… attempting…to direct Orson Welles.” and having to listen over and over again…to...
“You cannot say that. You cannot write that. Those words don’t appear in that order anywhere in the English language.”