This project started almost a decade ago. The creation myth of this movie is that my friend, Jamie Dewolf, sat in the Oakland, CA bar “Cafe Van Kleef”, in which he was surrounded by local filmmakers, and spun a tale. A tale of a finished script about a wonky crime caper starring a bunch of local weirdos, poets, perverts, vagrants, strippers, and manic dick swingers. After everyone at the bar agreed that this was worth a go, Jamie, that very evening, set about writing that previously mentioned finished script. And as the saying goes- “What a motherfucking ride.”
Oh, what a ride it was. (Trust me on this one. They actually let me act in it after knowing I have never acted in anything just because I was one of the weirdos, or poets, or perverts…)
First off, the folks behind the scenes, the people who really did the work, like Phil, Brains, Josh, and Jamie, gets all the credit. These guys, who put in so much work into this movie whenever they had a spare inch, are the ones who deserve a standing ovation. They fought for this movie. Who can say that they spent almost a decade on a singular thing that everyone thought was too grand in scale to succeed? I certainly can’t, so color me “Bravo, you odd-looking miscreants. Bravo. Down to the frayed edges of your clothing and up to the wrinkles in your smiles, Bravo.”
They did all the work. Speaking for myself and being completely honest, during the filming of my scenes, and without exaggeration, I was either kind of drunk, really drunk, or on my way to freestyle my dialogue with mime gestures. I didn’t do any fucking work. I definitely came from the school of “I got this, I got this” acting with a minor in “how can we make this line have less syllables?”. These guys, the crew, had to deal with my shit and somehow edit my train wreck into something cohesive. Again, and this can’t be said enough, if anyone deserves a congratulations it’s the crew.
I suspect everyone involved has their unique story about their time spent on “Smoked the Movie”, about their ride, and I would sincerely want to hear about it. Personally, I always wanted to tell mine but not in too much detail because its none of your nosy business. Instead, I want to present to you a list that is zig-zag, out of order, and contains very little detail. A list that I hope will help illuminate my small corner during the time it took, from the beginning to right now, to get this movie done. Hopefully this list serves as a metaphor for the scope it took to get a no-budget, genuinely independent, rag-tag movie into the hands of cool kids.
-I have lived in 8 different apartments.
-I moved to Minneapolis for 6 months before the movie was finished.
-I have been in 3 long term relationships.
-I stopped smoking weed and switched from Jack Daniels to Jameson.
-I couch-surfed (aka Lightweight Homeless) for a total of a year.
-I lost 100 lbs.
-I’ve worked at 11 different restaurants.
-I’ve been fired 4 times. Once for good reason, three times because ding-dong bosses hate competency.
-I’ve been to Italy, Fiji, New Zealand, held at the Vancouver border twice, and traveled to most of the United States.
-I have yet to wash my movie “costume”.
This Saturday, September 29th, after multiple one-off showings up and down the West Coast of North America, “Smoked the Movie” will finally have its showing a few blocks from where it began; in downtown Oakland.
I live in Los Angeles now but in a few days I will leave this sun-drunk desert (home of the original “snorting cocaine off dicks” party) and make my way up to my old neighborhood to witness the carnival of local show business.
It’s Town Business like it should be. Finally. And I’m good god damn excited about it. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.
P.S. Full Disclosure and in honor of “Smoked the Movie”- I am very drunk and every sentence above should be read with a slick smile and a sexy wobble.
Most rejection letters are form and have no personality. Each one sounds exactly like the other. Which I completely understand why. But not this one. This one is by far my favorite. Out of the handful of journals and magazines that declined my work so far this editor took it upon himself to say why and I respect that.
He made it sound like my writing is what people want to read when they think no one is looking. And I like that.
Below are the contents of that email- copied and pasted, I received a few days ago. I’ve redacted names but other than that it’s exact. Honestly, I have no ill-will and I don’t publish this out of malice and/or spite. I just think it’s awesome.
A lot of this is funny. And it’s very well written. And I’d never let my religious beliefs stop me from publishing something. But I am not going to hell for you.
Seriously, this has a lot of good stuff going on, and it’s well written, but I gotta pass. I love the premise. And the telling is riotously funny in parts, but I don’t feel like the payoff meets the promise. When you have something so outlandish, are running the risk of offending so many, you need that knockout blow.
But send us more. We sat on this so long because we really liked it. My (editing) partner [redacted] loved it. I am a lapsed Catholic.
Look forward to reading more of your work.
You Sir/Madam/Robot, unite people.
The other night, as I was perusing the erotic services area on your website to maybe procure a hooker of high standards and low rates, I stumbled upon a picture in an advertisement- a pussy billboard if you will. The picture was someone who looked strikingly familiar.
After close inspection I realized I know this working girl. I know her biblically. What I’m trying to say is, without being crass and demeaning, is that I use to bone her.
She was in her usual pose (a sort of wrestling squat, contorted face, titties free from constraints) with a price, or donation if you will (wink wink), for the services she provides placed boldly under her picture.
(On a side note, it was nice to see that she didn’t let her love of learning new languages fall to wayside. Apparently she speaks Greek now and is willing to speak Greek to willing men for only 150 roses (wink wink) extra.)
I wasn’t shocked to see “Cinnamon” on your site since I, only a few months prior, also indulged in my entrepreneurial spirit and posted an ad in your Erotic Section. Unfortunately, “Bronco seeking Philly. Must love ‘The Snorkels’ and possess excellent credit” never took off and only received one disturbing reply I will not get into.
Thank you Erotic Section on Craigslist circa 2006 for rekindling the fond memories I have of her. Thoughtful memories of those nights when I didn’t have to give her 100 roses (wink wink) for the “full girlfriend experience” because she just wanted to make-out for free.
Those nights when all I had to do for some naked barbecue (aka- La Bone) was to smoke her out and find a romantic, quiet, secluded parking lot, and let the magic happen…organically- and I can’t stress this enough, without charge.
It was goddamn beautiful.
When it was just the two of us in the back of her two door Honda Civic, still in our work uniforms, singing along to Mac Dre, all the while doing the sit-down version of a Cross-Fit workout until our hamstrings cramped up, and not a care in the world (except for worrying about when our hamstrings would cramp up).
Damn, Erotic Section of Craigslist circa 2006, we were just two young kids then! We barely knew each other, but we enjoyed marijuana and doing stuff while on marijuana, so we became fast friends. And we were almost in love once, the girl and I, sometime around the middle of the last month hanging out with each other, and I will treasure that with all my heart.
Jaylee Alde circa 2006
1848 Whipple Road
Union City, CA 94587
Local watering hole in a dying strip mall. Ten or so people bellied up. Ages range from 35 to 60. Various degrees of drunk. Two pool tables. A large calendar of the home and away games for the San Francisco 49ers’ 1998 season. Neon signs of domestic beers.
It’s early evening, the sun is still fat in the sky but dusk is creeping. The main principles are at the elbow of the bar. They are red faced with wet eyes. Whiskey and beer sit in front of them like a taunt. They quietly listen to the drunks talk.
Drunk #1- ”Is that what Punani means?”
Drunk# 4- ”Yup.”
Drunk #7- ”Yup.”
Drunk #2- ”Yup.”
Drunk #1- ”Huh. I always said, “Purbobby”
Drunk#3 - ”Why?”
Drunk #1- ”I don’t know.”
Main Principles 1 & 2 silently nods their heads. They drink the shots of whiskey and finish their pints of beer.
Main Principle 1- “I have always wondered about the origin of the word “Punani”“.
Main Principle 2- “The high school I went to on Oahu; the street it was located on was called “Ala Napunani”. It meant “the sweet flower”. I always thought it was a Hawaiian term.”
Main Principle 1- “It could be Swahili.”
Main Principle 2- “Yeah, probably.”
5600 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
It was a bright, hot Monday morning. I hadn’t slept yet. My special lady friend was out all night and hadn’t come home yet and a motherfucker was stressed. The thoughts of her popping pills and swigging whiskey like a bad day, with two dudes I have never met, were gut punching my thoughts.
But I was hungry.
I got off at the Rockridge Bart and walked half a block to my favorite brunch joint. I was woozy from the lack of sleep and feeling betrayed and hurt. Luckily, Crepevine makes a mean corn beef hash with rosemary roasted potatoes that could make the devil giggle. So I trudged forward.
I washed down my food, anger, and growing resentment with a tasty safari cooler drink and tried to shake the thoughts of my special lady friend dancing buck naked on a wobbly IKEA coffee table with 2pac playing in the background, while the two dudes I have never met, set up a webcam.
108 West 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
I’ve been in a sweater vest mood lately. It makes me look like I have good credit and can be trusted.
But the real magic of a wool V-neck with no sleeves, is that when I sip on whiskey in my shot glass apartment, while eating instant ramen with two different kinds of flavor packets, as I use a hard ass tortilla for a spoon, is that it doesn’t really feel like the soft plunge into rock bottom.
Sweater vests, like butter and recreational drugs, make everything better.
…and then there I was, downtown at The Edison, sweater vested up and about to panic. I started the night drinking absinthe. By the end of the night, I was head butting whiskey and for some odd reason, couldn’t remove my right hand from my special lady friend’s ass.
It was last call and I was ready to leave. I waddled to the bar and asked to close out. When I get my tab I’m momentarily struck dumb.
Did they just hand me the bill for a used Volvo?
Did I just fucking buy a used Volvo at the bar?
Why does this bar, which looks like a steam punk’s wet dream, sell vehicles geared towards middle aged white women, and why did I purchase one?
A mother fucking Volvo?
No, apparently I did not. Apparently, the drinks were just good god damn expensive. Apparently, I still need to catch 8 forms of transportation to get to work.
But did your boy sweat? Did this handsome chunk of Bar-B-Q get nervous when he pulled out his debit card to pay the tab? Did he? Huh, did he?
Fuck no. I had my sweater vest on.
P.S. They had very pretty women dressed in fancy flapper era lingerie running around doing circus/clown shit. I thought the place was cool. But I also grew up going to bars where old people named “big al” and “lonely alcoholic lady” played keno all night and got fucked up on brandy- and I also thought that was kind of cool then so…
1616 Webster Street
Oakland, CA 94612
I rarely leave my apartment on my days off. The main reason I never leave is because I have become a staunch opponent of “pants” and “underwear” and “any type of clothing”. The world will never accept the true “ass out” me so I stay indoors.
But sometimes I do venture outside and scour my downtown neighborhood for food or as I like to call it, “lazy hunting” or “getting my Sarah Palin on.” One weekday afternoon I begrudgingly put on pants and walked into the sun. I eventually stumbled into the Happy Burrito with my motherfucking wallet cocked and aimed, ready to shoot a motherfucking burrito right in its motherfucking head.
I was hungry and feeling like Samuel L. Jackson.
I ordered a Carnitas Burrito with extra sour cream to-go that set me back almost 9 buckaroos. I knew something was amiss from the start when they handed me my bag and it felt empty. The shit had no weight to it is what I’m trying to say, my bitches.
I’m a taco truck fan. I expect my burritos to have some “umphh” to them. Yadaimean. To feel weapon-like in my hands. I’m fat and beautiful so I need my food to feel either like it could satisfy my deepest hunger or I could beat a raging moose to death with it (Palin style!).
The burrito I got from this place was rather limp-dickish. You know, non-aggressive and flaccid. What I’m trying to say is, I wouldn’t drunk text it at 2a.m. and write “hey Burrito, what are you up to right now?”
And because food equals freaky to me I give it…
Jumbo’s Clown Room
5153 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
I don’t know when it happened, or how, but I like it so I’m not going to question it…me and my ol’ lady like to make it rain on them hoes.
Maybe it all started in San Francisco, on that fateful and classy night, when we bounced from strip club to strip club, soaking in the sights of titties and high heels. Our fingers were stained with the scent of dollar bills. Our eyes were framed in neon and g-strings. Our minds, firmly planted in the gutter, with thoughts thundering across us on the finer points of “booty clapping” and the always pressing concern of “how low can they go?”
Either way, three nights ago, at around midnight, we stepped into Jumbo’s Clown Room for the first time…
The Pros of this establishment:
1. The strippers choose their own song by using the motherfucking jukebox.
2. It is small so it feels like the best/sleaziest/booziest house party you have ever been to minus that weird quiet guy on the couch, who wasn’t invited, and showed up with only a can of beer. The guy who smells like burnt plastic.
3. The cocktail server had a vicious mullet.
The Cons of this establishment:
1. They don’t show hoo-ha. (Not really a con since if they did show their Pink Cadillacs, they couldn’t serve the booze. I love the booze.)
P.S.- Other than watching pretty women undress and strut for us, another point of attraction was the pack of lesbians who, at the other end of the bar, were GETTING AT the dancers. I kid you not, I would say at least two of them actually- no shit- fell in love with a stripper.