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Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Short Movie That Wasn't: The Cartographer Script

NOTE: I made short movies with my friends from 2007-2010. I wrote The Cartographer during the particularly prolific year of 2008 in the month of September. I was 21. I never filmed the movie. None of my friends read the script. I didn't know anything about cartography. I still do not know anything about cartography. I may post more unproduced and unremarkable scripts. Blogger did not retain the original perfect format of the screenplay.

FADE IN:

InT. Daniel’s room-early evening

DANIEL BLOOM is sitting a table, focusing intently on something--that something is cartography. But really he is simply tracing the design of an existing map. DANIEL is an aspiring cartographer, though he is a little bit behind in terms of technology. He’s recently out of high school and eighteen years of age. He’s very dedicated to his dream of becoming a cartographer, and this dedication affects him socially. The dedication has led to distraction. As he traces, his friend enters into the room. His friend is ADAM POWIKKY. ADAM is also just out of high school and is eighteen years of age. ADAM dreams of one day owning his own aquarium. He’s not known for his tactful ways, because he believes blunt honesty is a strength and a weakness. ADAM has a girlfriend. DANIEL does not. ADAM enters the room, excitedly.

Adam
It’s Thursday, man!

DANIEL looks up, kind of annoyed.

Daniel
(trying to think of the importance of Thursday)
Thursday...Thursday...it’s the summer, man. LOST is over! What’s so great about Thursday nights?

AdAM
What’s important about Thursday?!? DUDE! It’s Shark Tale/Finding Nemo night!

DANIEL
Ah. How could I have forgotten?

AdAM
You sure as hell wouldn’t have forgotten if LOST was on!

DaniEL
Listen, Adam. I’m working on something major. I’m finally mapping Europe! Shark Tale and Nemo just slipped my mind.

ADAM looks at the table and the project DANIEL is working on. He notices the paper over the map and the fact that DANIEL is tracing.

AdAM
Oh, come on! You’re tracing!

Daniel
I’m practicing the art of drawing maps--the art of cartography! It’s a process. You wouldn’t understand! I am perfecting my art, Adam!

AdAM
Okay, okay. I understand that, but, Daniel...

Daniel
(looks up)
Yes?

ADAM
It’s the 21st century! Isn’t there computer software to do cartography?

DanIEL
Yes, there is. But Adam, you don’t understand my methods. You see, I have to grasp every aspect of cartography. I have to appreciate where it started and how it’s evolved. I have to master cartography! And hey, where’s Sarah for Shark Tale and Finding Nemo?

AdAM
She knows that it’s guy’s night out, Dan. Plus, I think she’s a bit tired of Shark Tale. Hey Dan...

DanIEL
What is it, Adam?

AdAM
I think a lot about the future, you know? Like what I want to do when I’m out of college and stuff.

DaniEL
You think about life when you own your own aquarium, eh?

Adam
Yeah, man. And not just that! I’ve been thinking about an aquarium with fish tanks like the one in Finding Nemo, you know? Talking fish and that stuff. It’d be so freakin’ awesome! One day, man...It’s going to happen.

DaniEL
I don’t doubt that, man! One day, I’ll be a professional cartographer and you’ll be the owner of a very successful aquarium.

DANIEL goes back to tracing.

AdAM
So, Dan...what do you say? Do you want to pop in Shark Tale and relax?

DANIEL looks at the DVD and then at his project. He thinks and thinks. And then he drops his pencil and rises from his chair.

Daniel
Yeah. Let’s do that.

DANIEL grabs the DVD case, opens it, and takes out the disc. He puts it into the DVD player. As he’s about to turn the television on, ADAM opens his big mouth.

ADAM
So, how are you doing, Dan?

DaNIEL
I’m fine, Adam.

A beat.

ADAM
You sure?

DaNIEL
Come on, man! Do we have to talk about this? It’s guy’s night out with Shark Tale and Finding Nemo! Why do we have to talk about Emily?

ADAM
Because it’s guy’s night out! It’s what we usually do, Daniel! We’ve seen Shark Tale and Finding Nemo countless times! We put these on and we talk about life! Why would tonight be any different?

Daniel
Because I don’t want to talk about her anymore or think about her.

ADAM
I know it hurts.

DaNIEL
It hurts and it’s embarrassing.

DANIEL sighs.
Adam
Let’s talk about it. You know, Sarah said--

DanIEL
I don’t-no. Go ahead.

AdAM
Well, Sarah said that you should talk to Emily. Discuss what happened.

DaNIEL
What is there to discuss?!? She dumped me because I didn’t want to go see the Sex and the City movie! She chose to ignore the fact that I was very busy with a map!

ADAM
Well, she might’ve been mad because you were tracing--

DaNIEL
I am a cartographer! Maybe not professionally, but I am at heart!

AdAM
I’m not insulting you, Dan.

DanIEL
Do I really want to be with someone who--

DANIEL pauses to collect his thoughts.

DANIEL
She is special....

AdAM
Let me be honest with you. I think you might be a little too dedicated to your dream, Dan. And I support that! I really do but sometimes you’ve got to pull yourself away and do things like seeing a movie with your girlfriend. And you’re still in the tracing stages...

DANIEL walks back to the table and sits in the chair. He picks up his pencil and begins tracing.

DaNIEL
I’m not much in the mood for Shark Tale tonight, Adam.

ADAM nods and ejects the disc. DANIEL continues working.

Cut TO:

Int. Sean’s office-the next day

DANIEL is lying on a couch. His psychiatrist is sitting in a chair. His psychiatrist is SEAN CARTON. SEAN is recently out of college. DANIEL is his first patient, but they’ve been doctor/patient for about two months.

Sean
So, you’re tired of the lack of respect you think you’re receiving?

DanIEL
Yeah. And it’s not even the first time as I’ve told you, Dr. Carton. Whether it’s Emily or Adam. Hell, even Sarah and I don’t know where the hell she gets off insulting my dream!

SeAN
And this does bother you?

DanIEL
Yeah, it does. I don’t ever get over it. It’s always in the back of my mind. It affects my practicing too.

Sean
Dan, we’ve been meeting for about two months now. We’ve talked a lot about your aspirations. But it’s been about how people have not accepted it or how you feel inferior around people when those people are talking about college and majors and whatnot. We haven’t delved into the reasons behind your choice to pursue cartography. Why cartography, Daniel?

DanIEL
It’s just something I connect with. When I was little and saw maps, I was fascinated by them. I loved the shapes of the continents and the lines that divided countries and states. And then as I got older, I was fascinated with how they’re made and found out there’s science and math involved. Cartography’s about communicating a lot of information easily and effectively.
(a beat)
I think that’s what I like the most about it.

SeAN
It’s really simply something you love, eh?

DanIEL
Yeah. I love everything about it. And people don’t understand, Dr. Carton.

SeAN
You can call me Sean, Daniel.

DANIEL
Okay. But they don’t understand.

SEAN
Here’s something I’ve learned over the years: there’s always going to be someone who laughs at and mocks what you love. All that matters is that you have a passion in life, a love for something. I want you to go home and calm down. Don’t think about last night. Try to enjoy some hours of peace.

DANIEL nods as we...

FADE TO:

Int. Daniel’s room-later that day

A montage of sorts: DANIEL grabs a map of the world and places it on the table. He grabs paper and places it carefully over the map. He sits down and begins tracing. We FADE IN and OUT as he traces. There’s a smile on his face throughout.

CUT TO:

Int. Daniel’s room-the next morning

DANIEL looks like he’s just woken up. He has a glass of orange juice. He’s looking at his table intently. Suddenly, ADAM enters into the room. ADAM is very excited.

ADAM
So, I’ve been thinking about life--

DANIEL stares at ADAM.

ADAM
What?

DaNIEL
How in the world did you get into the house?

AdAM
Your mother.

DaNIEL
It’s 8 in the morning!

AdAM
I didn’t sleep but that’s beside the point. The point is: I have something related to cartography that you could do for me.

DANIEL wakes up immediately, quite interested.

DANIEL
Really?

AdAM
Yes! You know how I never stop thinking up designs for the aquarium I hope to one day own? Well, I want you to draw the map of the future location.

DANIEL sits down moodily.

Adam
What? What’s wrong? I’m trying to--

DaNIEL
Damnit! You’re mocking my dream again!

ADAM
No! Seriously, Dan, it’ll be between Butler and--

DaNIEL
No, man. Thanks for...whatever but no thanks. I will not be mocked!

AdAM
Listen, man. I’m just trying to...I don’t know.

DaNIEL
See! I knew it was mockery!

AdAM
Hey, I just want to, you know, not have any tension between us anymore.

DaNIEL
There’s no real tension between us!

AdAM
Sure there is! And it isn’t just about cartography! It’s about--

DaNIEL
You went to Sex and the City that night, Adam.

AdAM
Yeah...it’s about that.

DANIEL begins flattening his papers.

AdAM
Come on, Dan. We’ve got to talk about it.

DANIEL
(irritated)
Why’d you have to go that night? Why couldn’t you have just told Sarah that we had to watch Shark Tale and Finding Nemo?

AdAM
Because she knew we watched Shark Tale and Finding Nemo the previous night! In all honesty, Daniel, I had to go that night.

DanieL
No, you didn’t!

AdAM
Sometimes it’s about her. I force her to go to aquariums all the time. The least I can do is take her to a movie.

DaNIEL
Emily was the third wheel that night, Adam! I didn’t go, and that left her as a third wheel. Your decision to go ruined my relationship!

AdAM
It sure as heck didn’t! Your decision not to go is what ruined your relationship! Stop blaming others for the things that don’t go right in your life! If I come over or if Neil comes over or Gary then it’s our fault that you aren’t practicing. Just tell us that you’re busy and re-schedule for another night. And if I go to a movie with my girlfriend, and Emily decided to still come, then it is my fault. You could’ve taken a couple of hours out of your night to take Emily out to a movie or something. And man, it wasn’t the first time you pulled that shit on her. So don’t say it’s my fault that she broke up with you! It’s entirely your fault, Dan.

A beat.
DANIEL
I’ve got a lot of work to do today. Thanks for coming by.

AdAM
I don’t mean to make you mad but, sometimes, I have to speak up.

DaNIEL
Yeah, yeah. I just have a lot of work to do.

AdAM
(remorseful)
We’re both headed to college in the fall. There’s plenty of fish in the aquarium...

DANIEL
Yeah.

DANIEL begins tracing. ADAM nods and walks off. After Adam leaves, DANIEL tries to trace but seems visibly bothered by the conversation. He breaks his pencil, takes his maps and papers, crumbles them, and throws them into the trash.

CUT TO:

Int. SEAN’S OFFICE-later

DANIEL is on the couch. SEAN is in his usual chair.

SEAN
Your maps are no more? You didn’t salvage any after you calmed down?

DANIEL
No. They’d be no good anyway. Can’t do anything with a crumbled map--at least for what I was doing.

SeAN
Why did you throw all of your maps away?

DanIEL
Frustration, I guess. I mean, all I’ve been doing is tracing existing maps. And that’s cost me friendships and Emily.

SEAN
You’ve told me yourself that you love cartography. You still do, right?

DaNIEL
Yeah. But--

SEAN
But what?

DanIEL
I don’t know.

SEAN

And tracing is part of the process of becoming a great cartographer.

DANIEL
Yes.

SeAN
It’s simple, Dan. You’ve got to buy new maps. You can’t give up on what you love because of other people’s perceptions. There’s a concept in sociology known as the looking glass self. It basically means that a person defines him or herself through other people’s perceptions of you. This forms a person’s identity. And Dan, you have a terrible perception of yourself. The Looking Glass self isn’t a negative concept. It’s not fatalistic. It’s not defeatist. You have to stop focusing on the negative and focus on the positive. Have you thought that maybe people aren’t looking down on what you love and maybe they appreciate you and would like you to be around more often?

DaNIEL
No.

SeAN
Think about it; but don’t stop doing what you love.

Cut to:

Ext. Street corner--moments later

DANIEL has just left SEAN’s office. He’s walking and he is rejuvenated. And then he runs into EMILY--his ex-girlfriend. The girl who dumped him because he didn’t want to see the Sex and The City movie.

DANIEL
(upon running into her)
Holy hot air balloons!

EMILY looks surprised.

Emily
Daniel! How are you?

DaNIEL
I’m okay. I just came from Dr. Carton.

EmiLY
How’s that going?

DaNIEL
Well...you know...it goes...well.

As they converse, Daniel does not stand in one place. He’s always slightly swaying or in some kind of motion.

EmILY
So, how have you been?

DanieL
Okay, as I said seconds ago. I, uh, threw my maps away.

EmilY
(shocked)
Why?!?

DanIEL
Uh, it happens. I was frustrated.

EmILY
About what?

DanIEL
Things.

A beat.

DANIEL
Me and Adam got into a fight and you were in the conversation. The whole Sex and The City stuff.

EmILY
Oh.

DanIEL
And I’ve had a lot of time to think, Emily, about that, and the way I behaved when we dated, and I’m sorry.

EmILY
I know, Daniel.

DanIEL
I’m an idiot for the most part, Emily. I’m selfish. I never treated you the way you deserved to be treated. I swear things would be different.

EMILY looks down.

EmiLY
I don’t doubt that, Dan.

DANIEL
So, uh, why do you look so the opposite of what you just said?

EmILY
I like things the way they are now, you know?

DaNIEL
Not exactly.

EmILY
We’re going to different schools in the fall. I think it’s best that me and you-together-remains in the past. Don’t you?

DaNIEL
Well, not exactly, considering what I said is the complete opposite of what you just said. Come on, Emily. I’m trying to draw a map back to your heart, but I’m running out of pencils!

EMILY looks at him sadly. Daniel sighs sadly.

DaNIEL
I’m sorry I didn’t take you to the Sex and The City movie, Emily.

EmilY
It was never about that, Dan. I’m going to go. Take care of yourself.

EMILY walks off. DANIEL stands there, rejuvenated no more.

Cut TO:

Ext. Street-early evening

DANIEL is walking with a bag of newly purchased maps. He bumps into ADAM while walking.

ADAM
Dan!

DANIEL
(not expecting Adam)
Hey Adam.

Adam
(about the bag)
What’s in there?

DANIEL
New maps. I kind of threw out every map I owned. It was a thing.

AdAM
Wow. Hey, listen: I’m sorry about our last conversation. I didn’t mean to...

Daniel
Don’t apologize. I needed to hear that. I was a getting a bit too carried away with cartography. I bought some software, so I can start actually making progress.

AdAM
That’s great, man.

DanIEL
Yeah. I saw Emily a few hours ago.

AdAM
Woah. How’d that go?

DanIEL
Not well, but I think I’ll be allright. I kind of asked her to take another chance on me and she rejected me.

AdAM
Aw man.

DanIEL
I’ll seriously be allright.

AdAM
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there’s plenty of fish in the aquarium, buddy. And it’s just like Shark Tale and Finding Nemo.

DANIEL
(chuckles)
You’re going to be a goddamn great aquarium owner!

AdAM
Want to head back to my place and play Ecco?

DaNIEL
Sure.

DANIEL and ADAM begin their walk to ADAM’s, joking and whatnot.

The end

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Grimm "Chupacabra" Review

Network television does not foster ambiguity in characters, especially in the villains, whether it’s a macro villain or a micro villain (i.e. a villain of the week). Diego’s a great example of the quasi (or not so quasi) morality tales that mainstream pieces of pop-art have told more frequently in recent years. Bad guys are bad because they’re bad, and they’ll receive a terrible comeuppance for being bad. I watched the end of The Internship last weekend. The movie’s essentially Wedding Crashers in Silicon Valley. I thought indifferently about the movie until the morality play ending, in which the antagonist of the film is punished severely for his cold business stratagem. Current popular culture loves to extol its progressiveness in thought and consumption of art, but Hollywood, its writers, its producers, produce stories most popular in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Grimm’s villain of the week/sacrificial lamb, Diego, falls into the other trope of safe primetime acceptable family viewing television. The episode establishes him as a great person, a loving husband, a devoted doctor, who would risk missing his flight for the sake of the sick in the Dominican Republic. His colleague tells him, “We can’t do it all on one trip!” So, he’s a great person. A rare blood disease morphs him into the violent chupacabra. He brutally murders his neighbor and his neighbor’s dog, retains no memory of it like a werewolf, and accidentally spread the disease to his wife. He’s confused and selfless by the end, committed more to everyone but himself, and so he gives his wife the only dose of the cure. Diego dies an honorable, selfless death. The character still paid for his crimes with his life, but he saved a life-his wife’s life.

“Chupacabra” is better for what happens around the Chupacabra case. Wu becomes more assimilated into the world of Wesen and Grimms. The slow assimilation destroys his mental balance, but he’s closer to truth and contentment. The nightmares will stop. Hank and Nick do their part by explaining Trubel’s situation with the FBI agent. Wu doesn’t understand. He confuses what’s real and what’s not, which is potentially fertile thematic ground for the show if the world wasn’t rooted in its absolute existence. If network television branches out into more experimental television, which will never, ever happen, an exploration of “reality,” would shatter consciousness and perception. For Wu in Grimm’s established world his arc inevitably leads to acceptance and then contribution. It seems, in the New Year, the police department may finally become an issue for Nick. Finally.

The other case Nick and Hank work involves the pure Wesen death group that terrorized Rosalee and Monroe once. Rosalee’s terrorized again by a phone call and the hanging corpse of a fox (I think it’s a fox, or maybe a cat). The group kidnapped Monroe near the end of the episode, because the series won’t return until January 9, 2015. The story’s not great for a specific reason, which is an issue that the writers don’t care to fix, or don’t notice: marginalization. The serialized stuff happens in spurts. The creative energies every week go into the case-of-the-week. Renard discusses his child with a resistance leader. The Resistance wants to find the child. Viktor and Adalind plan to find the child. Neither group will come near the child until season six. The threat to Rosalee and Monroe happened in spurts. Burning wood in front of the house; a hanging, gutted animal, and in between Rosalee and Monroe seemed relatively unconcerned-relative the other stuff happening around them. The absence of the treat does not add to the dread and doom of the threat. I mean, one doesn’t feel dread because time has passed between threats. It’s more of a bullet point the writers want to return to. For the audience, it’s a forgotten point. If not that, then it’s a point without urgency.

Other Thoughts:


-Twists and turns happen in the last act. Juliette’s a hexenbiest. Monroe is forcibly taken from his home. Wu lost it at a bar. Come back in January to see what happens next.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Vampire Diaries "Christmas Through Your Eyes" Review

Magic. Blah. How does a character defeat magic in a genre show? I wrote about The Vampire Diaries’ reliance on magic in past reviews. Magic’s easy to write. Kai becomes the most dangerous witch villain in the series by sticking his hands into the earth and sucking the Travelers’ magic. It’s a cop-out as well as convenient, and Kai’s at the center of other convenient scenes. Genre television builds to the crescendo in May. Contrivance, therefore, becomes a necessary evil, routine even. Damon and Alaric nearly pulled off a plan in which they’d use a gun to shoot a magic-free Kai, who had crossed the border into Mystic Falls. Jo rushes out of the house, unwilling to let her brother die, because then her twin siblings would need to merge per the ancient customs of their Gemini coven. Alaric does not shoot. Damon throws his hands in the air. Later, in a meta moment, he bemoans the sacrifice of logic for the sake of doing what Alaric’s girlfriend wanted. If Damon had replaced ‘girl’ with ‘the season’ or ‘the story’, I would’ve swooned. Metafiction would have reared its deviously fun head into The CW demographic.

Thus, Kai lives to suck the magic forcefield into his body, becoming more of a tempest than a tempest, and immediately endangering Elena’s life. Jo disappeared after her plea to spare her brother from a gunshout wound to the head-to power up, as it were, for her magical fight with Kai. The merging seems unnecessary for the foreseeable future. The duties of the siblings for the coven are a load of bologna. One hopes, in the New Year, when the second act of the season begins, that Liv, like Luke, realizes the futility and superfluity of family obligations. A major part, or theme, of the series has been the death of parents, of grandparents, of family, and of becoming stronger through, because of, that loss; however, another major theme has been survival-doing what one must for oneself without regard for the others. The seemingly inevitable synthesis of the series may be vampire, human, brother, sister, girlfriend, boyfriend, learning to co-exist. Jeremy, that specimen, asks Matt why he won’t try to coexist with Enzo. Matt babbles nonsense. Jeremy’s correct. The only way for the violence to stop is to live in harmony, but that won’t happen until the series ends.

Stefan wonders why he and his friends have the ability to stop the most evil being but lack the power to stop cancer from growing and spreading in a person. The Joyce Summers turn for Sheriff Forbes happens quickly-like Joyce Summers in the fifth season of Buffy. “Christmas Through Your Eyes” has a scene that’s intercut between two opposing plans involving Kai. Tyler’s plan works before Damon’s. The scene’s all set-up. The Sheriff Forbes collapse has no set-up. It happened. It’s scary. It’s unstoppable. It’s real, lousy, crappy, depressing, sickness. One never feels more helpless than when a parent is dying from something medicine and doctors can’t stop. Sheriff Forbes’ sudden sickness happens on the fringe of the episode. Her sickness re-bonds Stefan and Caroline. It sets up TVD’s very own and very sad “The Body” episode in the New Year. Perhaps Enzo will deliver the equivalent of Anya’s “I don’t understand” monologue.

The cancer storyline runs parallel with the flashbacks to the Mystic Falls Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in the blessed year of 2009. It juxtaposes past and present. Caroline had her mother and father. Caroline and Elena had Bonnie. Stefan gave Mystic Falls in a snow globe to Caroline, a trite and cheap gift to her in 2009 that means more and which she places in her mother’s hand in 2014. Bonnie, all the way in magic land 1994, stages her own tree lighting ceremony. Bonnie and Jeremy work in unison. He stands by the tree, in Mystic Falls, and tells her that he misses her. Bonnie tells the tree that she misses everyone in Mystic Falls and then she burns the tree. Yet another recurring theme emerges during and after the parallels in the past and present, in Bonnie’s literal past/present situation, and all the coven craziness, which is that the characters, to truly triumph, will need to defeat the past. The Elena compulsion storyline during the early season seemed a trite way to complicate her romance, but it allowed for her and Damon to create a new path together free from the prison of the past.

Liv and Luke make a decision because of the past, the burdening past, that prison. Liv makes the worst decisions. Whenever faced with a choice, she chooses a less than wisely. Liv decides her life, and her brother’s life, are worth more than Jo’s, who saved their lives twenty years ago. Luke takes off. Liv doesn’t. Luke leaves with warning that she must remember Kai’s murders fall on them because his life was spared for theirs. Again there are burdens, guilt, responsibility, which must eventually burn away like Bonnie’s tree. Kai shifts focus to Elena. She hasn’t been in peril in awhile. Kai also acts as another foil to contented happiness for Damon and Elena. She travels to the Salvatore house, but Damon can’t see her. Kai cloaked her. Magic. Blah.

Other Thoughts:

-Matt Davis and Ian Somerhalder seemed to really enjoy the Alaric-Damon spat that culminated in Alairc calling Damon a “dick.” My favorite part of their little drama was Alaric’s disbelief about Damon acting selfishly. Damon admits to acting out of a desire for control. I wish Alaric would’ve listed the atrocities Damon committed. Maybe not. The reformation of Damon is a welcome change to the ‘I am a bad man’ Damon that’s been oft-repeated in the last two years.

-Enzo and Matt are unlikely partners in destroying Stefan’s life. Enzo envies Stefan because Caroline likes him. Enzo lists more reasons, but it’s because of Caroline. Blood feuds on The CW involve women 99% of the time. Matt’s murderous attempt on Enzo’s life failed because of Kai’s magic mojo with the Travelers’ bubble of magic.

-The Vampire Diaries will return January 22, 2015.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SCHWOE: A Story of Failure Ch.3, Pt. 2 (The End)

The issues for August and September depended on the Vans Warped Tour. They were mega-issues in my mind: Nine band interviews, an extensive review of the Warped Tour from behind-the-scenes as well as in front of the scenes, cd and dvd reviews. Oh yes, the seven previous months were failures but months eight and nine wouldn’t be. No, sir, Schwoe would rise like a phoenix from the ashes and soar through the blue sky. Stop me if you’ve read this already over the course of my little story. Yes, Chris, every month would usher in the age of relevancy for Schwoe fanzine. But, Chris, the age of relevancy never came. Each month passed without a change in Schwoe’s readership, without improvement in the overall quality, without anything happening.

I never learned how to make Schwoe succeed.

I sat in Pete’s basement with him, Jawn, and my other friends, the night before the Vans Warped Tour on August 7, 2003. We had played a game of basketball before we settled in the basement, ate party mix, told jokes, and anticipated the Warped Tour the next day. Basketball games with my friends had high stakes. We played actual games for fun, but we played individual gimmick games with a purpose and intent. Things were on the line. One night in the summer of 2003, a rather friendly woman came around Pete’s neighborhood to flirt with the boys. Two friends played a game of H.O.R.S.E. The friendly girl agreed to make out with the winner. Decisions about girls were made on the basketball court. Another friend spent the day practicing with the high school football team and arrived exhausted and slightly dehydrated, unaware a game had been played by two of our friends to decide if he’d call the girl he liked. Pete and I battled in H.O.R.S.E., and a similar game named after another friend, to decide if I’d call the girl I liked at the time. Girls and basketball became more important than capturing The Scene I loved. I called the girl I liked because I lost the game, the same girl I danced with earlier in the year. The phone call was pleasant, cordial and fun. She began calling me for the rest of the summer. A game of basketball gave more than one week of trying to convince a publicist to give me access to the Warped Tour. In the basement that night we all talked about the Warped Tour. I went the year prior and had experienced it. Jawn and I gave our tips about how to handle the day. We’d leave early the next day to make sure we wouldn’t miss any band we wanted to see. The Warped Tour posts set times on the day of the event. One never knows when one’s favorite band is playing. The conversation turned to the press access I’d gotten for my friends. My friends debated who would do what. I emphasized the necessity of taking pictures and conducting interviews. We were sixteen and wild, though. My friends just wanted to see the show. I sort of did, too.

I woke up on the morning of August 8 and walked to Pete’s. Everyone gathered on the front porch. From there, we walked to the bus stop to catch the route number nine bus to 4th and Walnut in Old City, Philadelphia, PA. The bus ride from Pete’s to 4th and Walnut is nearly one hour long, depending on traffic. The route takes one through Roxborough past the high school, Gorgas Park, and dozens of small shops, and into Manayunk, and thenonto the Schuykill expressway, and into Center City. The first stop in Center City is 30th street station. The bus takes a turn onto Chestnut street and then it’s a straight shot to Walnut. Long bus rides afford a man time to think. I thought about Schwoe and the Warped Tour. I thought about Schwoe’s future, that is the viability of it, whether it was really worth it to continue doing it with all the failure and disappointment it brought. The ride on the route 9 bus is a relaxing ride. It takes you past the small shops that line Chestnut from 23rd until 4th. The bus passes Independence Hall. You step off the bus and walk a few feet over to 4th and Walnut. Carriages pulled by horses line the streets of Old City. Tourists can sign up for a number of tours that begin in Old City. My friends and I started walking towards Penn’s Landing to catch the ferry over to Camden, New Jersey. The four blocks are a treat to walk. Old City is historic. The Founding Fathers walked the same cobblestone streets. Duck boats drove by. The Duck Boat tours were a staple of tourism until a fatal accident several years ago. Duck Boats had wheels. Tourists were driven around Old City before or after their ride in the Delaware. A Duck Boat drove up Walnut and pointed out the band of lovely Philadelphia teenagers on this resplendent morning in the city of Brotherly Love. A crazier friend of mine waved his middle finger and yelled ‘kiss my ass’ because he was young, obnoxious, and crazy.

I felt burdened by the responsibilities of the Vans Warped Tour press access. I worried that my friends wouldn’t do their jobs. I worried that I’d miss the show. That was the key--that I’d miss the show. I cared about the show way more than I cared about interviews and access. The thought stuck me on Walnut Street. I enjoyed Schwoe way less nine months after the idea came to me, and eight months after I made it happen. Dan and Paxton were gone. Nick did not contribute a single review. Mick was as much as a phantom as he was the director of Schwoe subscriptions. Mr. K only took care of the website. Schwoe fell on my shoulders. No, I didn’t need Dan back to help me, nor Ryan, nor Nick, or Mick. I didn’t need Schwoe. The past several months ran through my mind like an old picture show where you bend over to look through a lens at still images coming across. I felt tired. I learned that what I thought mattered didn’t matter at all.

I didn’t report to pick up my press and photo passes when we reached Camden.

I never announced the end of Schwoe on the website. No one cared that it ended. I e-mailed Elsie to tell her, because I didn’t want her to send any more press kits. I thanked her for the wonderful help she provided during Schwoe’s brief run. Truly, without her, I wouldn’t have accomplished what little I accomplished.
The Scene, as I pretentiously thought of it a decade ago, began to change. Two of my favorite bands, Fairweather and The Movielife, broke up on the same day in September. The record labels I adored emerged as villains after stories of how they treated their best bands came out. Every band matured after Blink’s self-titled release. Fairweather is an example of band maturation. Saves The Day evolved with each record. They started as a Lifetime rip-off band but completely carved out their own unique style, which was a style without a style, or, rather, evolution as style. Saves The Day released a pop-punk classic in 1999. By 2003, Saves The Day were most similar to The Beatles. The bands I loved were breaking up or changing. I was changing. Change is good, necessary; without it, we atrophy, turn to stone. Schwoe hadn’t changed.

The pop-punk era began and ended with Blink 182. Blink 182 was a departure from the style they made mainstream on Dude Ranch, Enema of the State, and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. The Scene was a community. Maturation and evolution dissolved the community. Brand New split their fans when they released Déjà Entendu as Blink 182 split the scene entirely. New Found Glory followed Sticks and Stones with Catalyst in 2004. Catalyst owed a little to Blink 182. Catalyst had pop-punk elements but its departure from the sound of the previous two records seemed an extension Blink 182’s self-titled release. Bands pushed the boundaries of their genre to see what could be done like the genre of jazz when musicians experimented with free jazz, infamously so by John Coltrane. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala left America’s next great punk band, At The Drive-In, in 2001. In 2003, their new band, The Mars Volta, released Deloused In The Comatorium. Omar and Cedric felt trapped by their genre. The Mars Volta was the opposite of their former band--they ushered in the return of prog rock to the main stream. Thrice made their mark on The Scene with three releases. In 2005 they released Vheissu, a record, which shattered the genre that they were previously identified with or were representative of. The Starting Line’s best album is 2005’s Based on a True Story, which moved the band forward, and which prevented them from turning to stone. The RX Bandits, one of the bands that began It all for me, released The Resignation in summer 2003, another record that showed incredible growth. The sound of the independent scene changed. Labels couldn’t label bands as simply.  My favorite bands were growing and changing and Schwoe wouldn’t have kept up with the change. Schwoe would’ve fallen behind.

I briefly re-started Schwoe in 2005. Technology change. Myspace offered me a platform to run Schwoe more easily than I ran it in 2003, which was on a lousy laptop, through e-mail, and, later, with two horrible websites. I spotlighted my friend Mic’s band, As Summer Fades, in the triumphant return of Schwoe. Jawn interviewed our former guitarist’s band, No Return, for the first issue. I spent a couple of days putting the online issue together on Myspace. I planned on writing exclusively about local bands. I published the new issue for one day and then I deleted it. Mic wondered why I spent so much time on the issue only to delete it a day after publication. He didn’t understand.

The story of Schwoe seems rather unremarkable a decade later. I thought about Schwoe and Elsie during my days editing my college newspaper’s entertainment section after publicists would reject my requests for interviews. I wondered, with a little mile on my face, how the hell I managed to interview The Starting Line on their bus, how I got a Warped Tour staff member to put my name down for press and photo passes, how I got press kits twice or thrice a month, and so on, when I couldn’t get an interview for my college newspaper. Were publicists nicer in 2003, or was my timing just incredibly good and lucky? A lot of life is about timing and luck. I didn’t know whether or not to feel proud of Schwoe for accomplishing what little I accomplished, or if I should feel badly about Schwoe because it failed. Schwoe is a story of failure, but it’s specific to me. Someone may read the story and think it not a failure, because, in a way, it’s a story about ignoring the perceived failure, the non-existent readership, and putting your head down and doing what you want to do because it’s what you want to do.

The Schwoe experience taught me a valuable life-long lesson about doing what you want instead of waiting around for someone to do it for you. In the years since Schwoe, I made short movies, recorded a pod cast, wrote short stories and screenplays, wrote for my college newspaper and a local alternative weekly, and created my own blog(s). I played drums in a band. I stopped playing drums. I played drums again for one time only when a friend needed me for a show. Any girl who caught my eye knew she caught my eye because I told her she did, because I feared not knowing what would happen if she didn’t know; if I never put myself out there; if I never tried. My father and mother told me to do what I love in life from an early age--do what you want to do, execute your ideas--that’s why you’re reading this story, because I wanted to tell the story. I didn’t want Schwoe to exist only in my memory or on a horrible website. I did this, this happened, no matter how unremarkable it is. Yes, I failed. I totally failed. It is but a blip in my life, but its part of my life. I did it. I made it happen.

I interviewed The Starting Line in the spring of 2008 for West Chester University’s The Quad. Elsie didn’t handle publicity for the band anymore. There were no headaches. I didn’t make mistakes. I figured out the interview game five years ago. Matt sat across from me in The Electric Factory’s back room. He looked exhausted. Kenny was in the corner, talking to a guy. Tom and Mike were nowhere in sight. Matt didn’t remember me from five years before. I didn’t ask him whether or not he remembered interviewing with me that day in March for my stupid little fanzine. Why would he? I asked why the band decided to take a hiatus. Matt’s response was media-friendly. He wouldn’t say they were taking a hiatus because they were exhausted, because they felt like they failed to accomplish their goals I saw the reason in his slumped shoulders, in the bags under his eyes, and in his disconnect with the interview. He was exhausted, needed a break, and needed something new. I got it. That’s it. People burn out. They need something new, whether or not that something new is a job, school, house, person, or project.


They need to move on.

About The Foot

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Originally, the blog was titled "Jacob's Foot" after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. Since that ended, and I wanted to continue writing about TV, it became TV with The Foot. I write about various television shows. Follow me on Twitter @JacobsFoot. E-mail me at mynameischris1@yahoo.com.