WORMS (part 1)
I awoke today to find my online computer devastated by a worm. The guy who deals with such things for me said it likely came from Face Book. “All those hackers over in Eastern Europe target Face Book.” He agreed to come tomorrow to deal with it. I wasn’t about to curse Face Book – it’s fun, and the worm could have originated elsewhere – so I damned all worms and their makers to hell and went out into the garden. Eastern Europe – that’s ironic, I thought as I headed out to weed tbhe autumn crops.
There were earthworms everywhere – one sign of a healthy organic garden. Immediately I excluded earthworms from damnation. Then I remembered a couple of my better known recorded stories for families with children. The River Tales project I did for public radio back in the 90s had two stories about a giant sea worm in the Delaware River. (These stories are available on CD from the Delaware Riverkeeper on the website http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org. Look for Tall Tales from the Watershed. Proceeds benefit the Delaware Riverkeeper, advocate and protector of the river – a source of drinking water for some 20 million Americans. But I digress.) I narrowed my curse to include only computer worms and their creators.
This morning I discovered that my computer firewall wasn’t sufficient. Last night I discovered that I need a firewall around my career as a playwright.
About a month ago, at a restaurant in Chelsea after an opening that included a video installation by my good friend Robert Bery, a woman approached me and, with a heavy Eastern European accent, said “I didn’t know you are also a writer. That’s interesting. I am a writer, too.” She introduced herself and then I remembered her. She had put on some weight and looked more matronly than the last time I saw her. I had met her twice before: once at a party at her and her husband’s apartment – a rambling place with a large roof terrace on the Upper East Side of Manhattan – and once when she and her husband showed up as guests of a guest of mine at one of Jeff Deitch’s holiday parties where I performed.
“Anything I might have read?” I asked politely.
“No. I write screenplays,” she answered. “But none have been produced.”
I was about to blow her off when she added, “I have a screenplay right now I need help with. Do you ever collaborate?” I told her I sometimes do script doctoring. She asked for my number and put it into her cell phone. “You won’t steal my story, will you?” she asked.
“Is your script registered with the guild?”
“Yes. Of course,” she answered.
“Then how could I steal it?”
The next morning she called and we agreed to meet at a Starbucks on Columbus Circle. She showed up a half hour late and empty handed. Minutes into the conversation, it became clear that she had no script – though on the phone she had said it was a third draft. She didn’t even have a story. She had an idea that revolved around her being stalked while reading a French novella from 1892. She had it all cast in her mind – except for who would play her. “The actress should have an accent just like mine, and blonde hair just like mine.” I cut her off and told her nobody was going to make a movie like that. I told her she needed a real story with a beginning, middle and end before she could start writing the screenplay, let alone cast it. “Would you help me write it?” she asked.
“For twenty five thousand dollars I can help you,” I said.
“Not a problem,” she answered. “I know Russian moguls. I am going to Ukraine at beginning of October and I'll bring back the money.” I agreed to read the novella as soon as I could lay hands on a copy, and to think about a story.
Over the next couple of days there was a flurry of phone calls. I found the novella on line, in French, and began to read it. I ordered a copy of a translation of the book from Barnes and Noble. The woman showed up at a gig of mine with an entourage and we all went out afterwards. She kept talking about the book and “the movie”. I told her, “Get me some money.”
(to be continued tomorrow)