April 5, 2005

I feel like a robot by the river Looking for a drink

* The Book Standard reports on the long struggle to get A Confederacy of Dunces made into a film. [via] excerpt:

"Years after Toole's death, his mother gave the manuscript to writer Walker Percy, who passed it on to the Louisiana State University Press. In 1980, the LSUP printed about 800 copies of the book's first edition, which took off to become a best seller and win its author a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

"But before the LSUP even printed 'Confederacy,' the manuscript had found its way into the hands of Scott Kramer, then a 19-year-old executive at 20th Century Fox. Kramer had written to the publisher about an entirely different matter — requesting a botany book for his mother — but became its sole contact in Hollywood. When "Confederacy" was in galleys, the LSUP sent it to Kramer on the off chance that he might be interested.

"Thus began an extraordinary 25-year journey through which 'Confederacy' has dominated Kramer's life and become a Hollywood legend. He is still working on the project but admits that it has given him cause to reflect.

"'I am certainly not looking for projects to become as emotionally involved with as 'Confederacy,'' Kramer quips. 'But when you have put so much time into something, it is hard to give it up.'
"But Soderbergh and Rudin had different notions of how to make the movie, and when Rudin moved ahead on his own — hiring Fry to write a script — Kramer and Soderbergh sued. That lawsuit stalled the film for several years before Miramax optioned the book from Paramount.

"By then, Soderbergh's interest in directing 'Confederacy' had waned, and he and Kramer attached David Gordon Green, in turn bringing aboard such talent as Drew Barrymore, Mos Def and Will Ferrell. The movie seemed set to go, but precisely then, Miramax's relationship with parent the Walt Disney Co. began to flounder. Stuck between Harvey Weinstein's passion and Michael Eisner's wallet, "Confederacy" froze until Miramax's option expired in January 2004 and the book reverted to Paramount.

"'Projects that are not genre films or aimed at specific audiences are hard to get financed,' Kramer says. 'On top of that, because this book is so well-known, there have been wrestling matches going on between a lot of people who have tried to attach themselves, and that doesn't necessarily help.'

"Kramer hopes to lock in a new financing deal soon and says the key players — Soderbergh, Green, Barrymore and Mos Def — remain attached. But his office answering machine sounds sadly prophetic in declaring, 'If you are calling regarding 'Confederacy of Dunces,' that project is now on indefinite hold.'"

* On Allen Ginsberg's Wichita Vortex Sutra. PDF file of Wichita Vortex Sutra.

* N+1 magazine's It Goes to Eleven: or, How Nirvana Sounds Now. excerpt:

"For post-Cobain Nirvana fans, like post-Garcia Deadheads, the experience of seeing the live show, of being in the same room (or arena, or stadium) as The Man Himself, is a foreclosed option—always already impossible. So the posthumous issuance of increasingly obscure material is not only the closest we can get, it’s all we’ve got (cf. The Dead’s endless stream of live releases or their most recent collection, Rare Cuts and Oddities: 1966).

"Though his ghost may never forgive me for saying so, the man who once said he’d wear a tie-dyed shirt only if it were “soaked in the blood of Jerry Garcia” had a lot more in common with the old hippie, who outlived him by a year, than he’d have cared to admit. (There was heroin, for one thing.) Jerry knew they would deify him after his death, since Deadheads had been regarding him as a prophet for decades. Cobain, whose career arc and ethos and musical project (and fans) were diametrically opposed to Garcia’s in every way, couldn’t have known that in death he’d finally grow wings. But this much he surely knew: it’s a fucked-up world. Proof? Look at the group photo on the back cover of The Dead’s 1969 album Aoxomoxoa; among those pictured is a young Courtney Love."
"The death (read: suppression) of irony in the post-9/11 world has had one positive consequence: the re-establishment of a cultural space for earnestness. Back in the early ‘90s, Nirvana’s pain and anger seemed primarily existential. As such, they were frequently accused of complaining about nothing. Now, as the shitstorm of the second Bush administration drags on, ever thickening, not only does their angst seem justified but the political dimension of their rage is cast into increasingly sharp relief. We’re entangled in an endless, pointless war; reproductive rights are under constant assault; the ANWR is getting drilled like a tooth; the religious far-right is the only grassroots movement that can get any press coverage. Krist Novoselic’s squawking mockery of the Youngbloods ('C’mon people now…') in the opening seconds of 'Territorial Pissings' is worlds more poignant now than when first released.

"If things have gotten as bad as Nirvana always made it sound like they were, this should only go to show that if they hadn’t existed we’d be scrambling to invent them. Novoselic is right: this democracy is broken. Cobain’s howls, however, are more persuasive—and comforting—than a well-reasoned call for electoral reform could possibly be. What the two have in common is earnestness. Luckily, we don’t have to pick one or the other. We need both."


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