Movies #7

January 6, 2011

Daniel Gould to Jim Driscoll


Hi JD;

I will follow up regarding your comments on my 10 "best" and other film matters a few days from now. In the meantime, lets get business out of the way.
Two copies of the book: hardbound.
As to sending a check we do NOT have "checks" per se in the Netherlands. Since I have been here the method of payment for rent, utilities, car insurance, et al has been by automatic monthly payments. You instruct the bank whom to pay and they do the rest until you notify them to stop. Individual payments are done by bank transfer. So, if you wish, send me the bill for both the book and postal cost when you do send them and the transfer numbers for your bank account. You can also wait to send my copy for the time when you send the one to Bryse which will be during May.
As to whether "a" or "an" is correct when preceding a word beginning with an "h" I certainly won't argue your point since I agree with you. I was nit picking when I sited it. I must admit I am still trying to master the English language and I DON'T expect to do it in this life time.
The title of my first book: "Women Loved and Those Had Sex With!" Provocative to be sure and it was meant to be thus. It wasn't really erotic and the title and subject theme were both meant metaphorically. The story begins about six months after the break up of my marriage (Aug. 1967)  which coincided with "The Summer of Love." It was about six months before I began to date once again...And I never looked back...Well, almost never looked back. The theme was more of a social commentary on my understanding of the American system: the one that we had been taught and the actual one. To be blunt, at the end, you had to decide which women the protagonist was "fucking" and those he was "loving." Of course, there was both sides to that coin. Some of the women I was loving were only having sex with me. And one of these "shes" was the USofA. I was loving her and she was fucking me (the "me" representing the American public). Another factor that had lead to this was that I was living in Chicago during the Democratic Convention of 1968. I was in Grant Park listening to the exhortation of Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs when Chi-Towns finest attacked a group of kids who were lowering the American flag. Females were running down the aisle, I was seated in, with their faces streaked with blood. I was living on Lincoln Park where the violence first broke out. I was radicalized in five short days. Remember the scene in Wexler's Medium Cool? The police attack an assembled group, while the camera was rolling, and you here someone shout, "This is for real, Wexler!"
Finishing a book is psychologically akin to a woman delivering a baby. You come way with post natal blues and want to the pregnancy all over again. So I began a detective novel. An American---ex FBI man--living in Amsterdam. Wes Cord is his name. I wrote about 100 pages and sent it off to a friend in America for evaluation and direction. Unfortunately, I didn't make a copy and the original was lost. The next book was influenced with my leaving NYC to return to Detroit. My ex-wife had called to say, "Hey, surprise, the kids are going to come live with you!" Well, at the time, I couldn't afford three children---ages 11, 12 and 13---in Manhattan---and had no desire to move to Brooklyn---so it was back to Detroit. (When I got to Detroit, she changed her mind. It would be another year before she abandoned them and they came to live with me.)
Before departure, I talked with a publisher about doing a book titled: The Assembly Line Blues. The format was to get a job at one of the automotive plants and keep a diary. I already had some insight into what to expect. The summer after graduation, from university, I had worked at a tool and die factory where my father was working and had been since 1948. He was a metal lathe operator. A few impressions:  The stalls with the sit down toilets had no doors. I would write, What can you expect from people who are not given the respect to be allowed to defecate in privacy. I also wrote that Detroit was a factory town where the blacks hated the "honkeys" and the whites hated the "niggers"...And the problem was both groups were either "honkeys" and "niggers." I love music. All styles. I often would visit blues clubs where I was the only white person. I was shunned. Nor did I see any blacks in the white music joints. Today, Detroit is a black city and the suburbs is almost lily white. I asked my Dutch friends who had seen "8 Mile"---Eminem ---if they understood the title? no one did.
Anyway, I had 75+ single spaced typed pages of the manuscript but it was all about my inability to get a job in any of the plants. I even appealed to the UAW that seemed to try an help, but as one union official at a Chrysler' plant---a black man who was as much anti union as he was anti industry---said to me, "If Jefferson [where the UAW head offices were located] wanted you to do this book you would be working on the line by now!?" I got the message. I would write,  "I had left Detroit to get an education so I would never have to work in the automotive plants never once thinking there would come a time when I couldn't  get a job in one."
The next book was begun within a year of my return to Amsterdam. The holding company, for the English division of a Dutch publisher, I worked for, announced that due to the new recession they were liquidating my division. I went back to West Cord, my American detective. Again, about 100 pages into the novel I lost it. That's another story.
I opened a restaurant and there was no time to write. This was true when I did the magazine. By the late 80s I again had time. But had found that writing was sheer work and more often than not torture bordering on masochism. That's when I got into drawing, a boyhood hobby. Art allows me to create my own world and escape into it which is also true---and one of the attractions to writing---but it is also relaxing, fun and just as therapeutic in a more healthy way. But the need to write still nagged at me. I consoled myself with the fact that technology was taking some of the sting from it. Reading about "word processors" made me think about doing it again. By then I had an electronic typewriter---with a correcting feature---and was doing short pieces. One was "Letter to Alice." Alice was my mother's girlfriend from the age of 13 or 14. I would call her at Christmas and on her birthday. Once she asked me, in the early 90s---"Why are you living in Holland" and leaving unsaid "...and not the world's greatest country." On the phone, I replied, "I like the weather." In the weeks that followed, I felt that that had been a flippant answer and began to compose a more direct reply. It took nearly two years and was over 40 pages typed single spaced. Her reply was, "You don't think much of this country." I answered, "I love my country...But I don't like it very much." 
I really got back to writing when I began the "3D List" six years ago; 40+ times a year with about 5,000 words/newsletter. I take off July and August because not much is happening on the art scene during the period. Last year, I decided to do the parody of the pulp fiction novel and dredged up Wes Cord once again. I took it from another direction in that Cord, now in semi-retirement---reminisces about previous cases. It is filled with cliches, tongue-in-cheek asides, etc. As I mentioned, it is about 70,000 words long and I did it in five weeks. And that was the point. The original writers of the genre---Hammett , Chandler, et al---churned them out as fast as they could and more than often that not under "influences." (I remember reading that in one Chandler opus that at the end he had solved all the murders but left one unaccounted for. And that reminds me of Hitchcock who often had McGuffins(?) in his screen scenarios. Things mentioned but never accounted for.) 
But, publishing...Well, that's the crux and bane of story telling. I did not succeed as a literary agent. I specialized in foreign titles looking for an American market. I was representing award winning authors, but could find no takers among American publisher. Not even the French strip series Asterix. It was frustrating not to mention demoralizing. Even now, I am having problems.
I did a series of 16 essays on the topic What Is Happiness. It was for a Dutch website. It was how I found the Dutch literary agent. He liked what he read and translated them into Dutch. He found a few interested publisher. One actually agreed to publish it. So he sent the man a DVD copy of the documentary "I LOVE ART" assuming that that would cement the deal. The publisher, seeing that I was well known in the "art world," called someone he knew close to it and then decided NOT to publish. I have NO idea what this person could have said, but I do acknowledge that I have a few enemies in the scene (one I call Blubbery Belly who has been "stalking" me for over three years. Unbelievable and, of course, another story). We have been trying to use the detective novel---with intentions to make it into a series---as an enticement to publish.
Was it Vonnegut that said, "...And so it goes."
I do have a few files in which I collect material for future works. One I call Meat Market. It is a working title but it relates to my years at the meat market (7 or 8) on Kercheval. (Side note:  I envied you, at the time, that you had a job at Food Fair---nee, Tom's. I envied you because you got to work more hours per week and made more per hour. Well, I got over the envy about the time that I began to realize that I was a very good cook. One reason for my culinary talents was working at that meat market. I learned the cuts of meat and how to determine quality by just looking at a piece of meat. But, again, the title is a metaphor and related to growing up, in Detroit, during the 50s. The people who were Doc's (my name for the owner from "What's up Doc?") customers---some of whom had been coming into the market since he opened the door in 1921---are the focal point. (Another side note. Doc, before he had opened the shop, had worked for another meat market in Detroit and told me stories about delivering order to Ty Cobbs home, "He never tipped me. He was cheap!"). I must get around to collecting the notes and putting them into some sort of form.
Beware of asking me simple questions. As you can see', I have no short answers. Sometimes in talking with someone I know well, and in responce to something they have said, I will say, "That reminds me of a story..." And their reply is, "Keep it short!"
As to the book about my marriage, that my grandson now finds interesting to inquire as to its history, well, as I said, I have been putting it off. You knew the lady and, in fact, grew up with her: Janice Carrico. Perhaps that's enough said.
You said that your book sales have been meager. As I mentioned, in my first email, to you, that I had Googled "James Driscoll, B-Movies" but didn't get a hit. Since your title includes "B-Movies" this comes as a surprise; and should not be the case. I would suggest that you design both a website (perhaps allowing for other B-movie buffs to have a discourse) and have someone---who understands the intricacies of the Internet---place the info on the web. And I can introduce you to a person who will do it cheaply. My grandson.
My youngest daughter, Michelle, broke up with my grandchildren's Dutch father about seven or so years ago. She met an American married him and returned to the USofA. She had been gone over 20 years. My grandson is Dutch and he has informed me that because of this he can't "get a job [no social security number], a drivers lincense or go to university." He is, of course, appealing this. In the meantime, he has set up a small business as a web designer ( So he can design a website, advise you as to what company to use for it and set up the intricate term connections which will bring up your website when someone Googles: Film history or B-Movies. Let me know what you think.