Greetings from the Pacific Northwest and the Figure 8 Ranch. Long story short, I have been running in circles since the World Premier of our film The Outside Circle: A Movie of the Modern West, at the Thin Line Film Festival in Denton, Texas. I’ll explain why in a minute, but suffice it to say that our experience at the festival was incredible—after getting there.
I won’t bore you with details of 18 hours in delayed flights, an unexpected stay in Denver, or any of the weird third-world adventures accompanying domestic travel that are now mostly routine in modern, robust, and according to President Joe Biden–the excellent economy and upward trajectory of the United States. This is the same man that tries to shake hands with thin air, but I can tell you that if you want to be treated like a human being, or expect appropriate customer service, do not fly United Airlines. If you decide to fly United Airlines then what happens to you next can only be your own fault.
Last thing on modern air travel—and since my father was the youngest man ever hired by American Airlines, spent 37 years in that career, retired with a seniority number of 1, and given that relation I have been flying commercially for 50 years all over the world, here is a thing to ponder: because of the 18 hours of delays we missed our flights and were bumped from our first class seats (I will only fly first class now, and eat the money, because it is the only way to receive even a modicum of respect in air travel) to those tiny-toilet training seats in the back of the airplane. I was fine with all that and understood the thing. But I was sandwiched between an aggressive transsexual and a stinking Hare Krishna and felt like I was being bundled for a kind of ancient Samnite burial ceremony.
At any rate, when the cart came out I was in sorry need of a drink and attempted to buy one with a debit card which was verboten. It was “touchless,” a phrase I didn’t even understand but the flight attendant told me I was welcome to “download the app” and give United Airlines my credit card through my phone while sitting in a chair at 34k feet–just so I could somehow end up with a weak screwdriver made with phony orange juice. I told her “I don’t even know what that means,” which terrified her and my far too intimate seatmates. Rows fore and aft noticeably froze as if in anticipation of the next Tik Tok airline freakout video. So I offered cash, real American dollars, which used to be a thing, but that was no good either. So finally I just waved her off and stared at the seat back in front of me–imagining my first moves in an unexpected and, we were told, unlikely, water landing.
But forget all that. We made it to Texas, my wife, Brady Murphy, and me, and had enough time to enjoy meeting up with some incredible friends for some great dinners and for some exploratory trips to the Fort Worth Stockyards and also the National Roping Supply in Decatur, Texas, which is an incredible place if you care about cowboy things.
One of the dinners we enjoyed included a meeting with Paul Slough, who was one of the “Biden Four”, a Blackwater employee, Army veteran, and member of Raven 23 who was ultimately convicted by the Justice Department and imprisoned under what can only be described as a show-trial–for responding appropriately to an ambush in Iraq. Look it up. I’m happy to report that Paul is an incredible human being without an ounce of bitterness—a feat I find incredible–who is now working as an aide to a Texas State Senator. He is an exceptional human and I am honored to call him a friend.
The World Premier was a success, good turnout, great reception to the film, and a wonderful chance to answer thoughtful questions during the Q&A session afterward. Post premier we headed to a restaurant that had previously sent me an eleven page manual and aggressive contract on how to book a reservation for more than ten people, which I refused to entertain while making a command decision to simply storm the restaurant anyway. They didn’t like it, but in the face of all that they seated us, and it was an excellent crowd: cowboys, doctors, a Billboard recording superstar, a Marine Corps general, cinematographers, movie producers, and some regular folk like me who are just dumb enough to keep things interesting. I don’t remember the food because I was having too much fun watching the restaurant staff work against everything in their nature to overcome a decidedly priggish demeanor.
Quick interlude: it occurs to me that modern media platforms are essentially Plazas, in the same way that drug cartels claim plazas in the narco state of Mexico. I was a narcotics detective and I can tell you that entire thing is also a reality in the United States, even if we choose to ignore it. At any rate, the fight between Elon and Twitter is an excellent example, minus the bodies hung from highway overpasses. That isn’t happening yet but I don’t rule it out. In Chicago there isn’t any need. They just shoot 40 or so people every weekend for sport and to control the corners where they sell Mexican dope. In the digital world I would encourage you to watch to see who ends up controlling the Plazas. Bezos has the Washington Post, Musk looks certain to get Twitter, and Zuckerberg is still clinging to BookFace and Instagram. The government doesn’t know which end of a cow eats and which end shits, so they are useless except to create this new Homeland Security thing called “The Disinformation Board” which is probably the scariest thing I’ve read since finishing Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot in a cold sweat.
All I’m saying is to keep a weather eye out. Post Uncle Vova’s invasion of Ukraine–and now that we are knee deep into Joe Biden’s dementia riddled turn as emperor–shit is going to get even more weird.
It’s possible that’s all we have ever done as human beings–and all we are ever capable of doing–is fighting for our little place on the plaza. Somebody else always owns the damn thing, naturally, and controls the muscle, but for us little people it’s occasionally nice to carve out a sunbleached patio where a guy can sell some shaved ice to tourists now and then. I don’t know if I’m over the target but I’m entertaining thoughts on the subject.
Also–and I’m rushing through this because we are in the middle of packing our house up—I told you I would tell you later and here it is: we are moving to Texas.
It remains so gratifying to have great friends. One of mine is Jim Cornelius, who came yesterday to help me move some absurdly heavy furniture down impossibly narrow stairs, and wrecked his back in the process. I ran some emergency salves down to the Nugget Newspaper this morning in a weak attempt at amends, but I’m grateful for the help. Anyone who will actually show up to help you move is made of sterner stuff than most.
That’s all for now. I have to move four rugs and then jump on the tractor and figure out what to do with a mountain of horseshit I’ve been pretending wasn’t there. Hiding horseshit may be more complicated than hiding a dead body. Also, there was a writer, I can’t remember who at the moment, who was said to place his bare feet into a bucket of fresh horseshit under his desk because it was the only way he could write. I do remember that he was a German writer, so that may explain it.
Finally, some more good news: our film was accepted at the Hill Country Film Festival in Fredericksburg, Texas. We will be showing there in June. If you are in the area, and can make it, would love to see you.
Stay in the fight.