I’m havin’ a daydream, but keepin’ the day job
OK, stop it already with the red pants jokes. For the three or four of you who didn’t see the picture in The Aspen Times last week and thus failed to call me about it, that’s what I was wearing when the reporter came to interview me about my new movie deal. I should have seen it coming. The photo, I mean. I haven’t worn those shorts since 1992. It figures that the one day I get bored with my regular clothes I’m photographically immortalized on the front page of the hometown newspaper. I never saw Hollywood coming, either.That would be an example of the greatest serendipity since hops found yeast. It happened like this: Last year I compiled a book of 180 of my best letters to the editor, which were submitted to the papers by 23 characters that I made up over a period of four years. The sure-to-become-a-local-collectors’-item first edition is now available at Amazon.com for $20.95, but at the time this occurred it was all I could do to find it on my own hard drive. Anyway, I printed a dozen books for all of my friends to enjoy and ended up with two extra copies. I decided to give the spares to a couple of local bookstores for critical review.As of this writing, I’m still waiting to hear back from one of the stores and the other gave its copy away. And, this is where it starts to get good.It turns out that there was a woman in town who writes for The Robb Report. She was staying at The Little Nell doing a travel story on the hotel. She was browsing through the selections of the bookstore in the lobby and asked for a book that would give her some local flavor. The clerk reached behind the counter, pulled my book out of the circular file, wiped a shard of mustard-smeared bologna skin off the cover, and handed it to this woman.She read it cover to cover on the plane trip home. It gets a bit hazy here as there are unconfirmed reports of an oxygen system failure on her flight. Nevertheless, it is undisputed that she was laughing when she arrived in L.A. She took the book home and laughed some more as she perused it on her couch. Her husband asked what was so funny. She told him that he had to read it. He picked it up and glanced at the cover description that was carefully crafted by me to quickly pique potential readers’ interest. He told her that the book sounded stupid. She became indignant at this unintended slight on her literary taste and told him that he probably wouldn’t get it, or something to that effect. Thus challenged, he grabbed it and headed for the bathroom, determined to study the tome, missing none of its subtleties or ironies. Hours later he came out laughing too.Well now, just guess what this man does for a living. That’s right, he is a movie director looking for a new project. He immediately went out and doubled the sales of my book by purchasing another dozen copies to distribute to his suntanned colleagues for their thoughts on it. Lo and behold, they called me to see if the movie rights were still available. I kid you not. Now, I imagine that many of you want to know what kind of a deal I struck. Well, let’s just say it’s a back-end-loaded arrangement with lots of incentive clauses. This is Burbankspeak meaning that I showed up to the negotiations without an agent.For the uninitiated, an agent comes along to say things like “Thanks. We’re exploring all of our options right now. Our people may get back to you.” In other words, they’re very good at stretching the truth.Anyway, when I walked into the room without an agent, there was an audible sigh of relief. I left an hour later with a speculative contract, a cup half full of latte and a prayer. I was thrilled!Lots of people ask me what the movie is going to be about. I tell them that it will likely be a full-length documentary using the controversies and characters in my book as a segue into exploring the “real” Aspen, its unique issues, and some of the characters who call this town home. This seems to satisfy most curiosities, but it really means that I have no idea what the movie is going to be about. I have learned that in Hollywood when you sell your rights, that includes the right to know what is going on. But, that’s OK. I like the people who are doing the film and trust their expertise. I am going to enjoy the experience. It takes me back to the days of youth, when life was fueled by dreams. Somewhere along the way the tank begins to run dry and, in our wisdom, valuing economy over adventure, we refill it with the cheaper stuff – reality. We end up modifying our engines to run on the lower octane fuel and even get used to the underwhelming performance in exchange for ease of handling. For now, I got another gallon of the good stuff and I’m going to drive it like a Hotel Jerome shuttle. I’m unsure about the destination, but it’s going to be a fun ride.And there’s plenty more room on this thing, too. We all need to get on. I don’t care if your ambition is to write the great American novel, help people all over the world, or just break 90 in next year’s Realtor Open. If you are not already, start dreaming again! Because in dreams, it’s even OK to wear red pants.Roger Marolt is touring So Cal this week. Tell him where to go (and what to see) at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tuesday morning at Bone’s Barber Shop in Basalt, the seating appropriately spaced, the congenial ambiance welcoming as always, and the conversations all over the place. It was cold outside and some overflow people were waiting…