Tag Archives: lawyers

Let My People Go

A very sweet thing happened last night.  One of the younger denizens of the dormitory-slash-tenement I wound up living in by some cruel twist of luckless fate came by to offer his support in my defense against the (in my opinion) nefarious Susan Blais.  He not only offered to testify at my upcoming court appearance, but suggested I spearhead a “class action” suit on behalf of most of the beleaguered residents of this shithole.  I’ve been feeling like Moses all day, with the theme song from “Prince of Egypt” playing on maximum rotation in my head.

Charleton Heston as Moses, history's most famous schizophrenic after Jesus Christ (burning bushes talking to you? time to reach for the anti-psychotics, buddy). This was before he dropped the staff and picked up a gun on behalf of the NRA. We preferred the old weapons; more flair.

My young friend guilelessly believes that just because I have the “moral upper hand” that I will win.  I explained that legal right and moral right are two very different things.  Ms. Blais has the legal right based on a technicality and she is exercising it, as is her right as the owner of this property.  She is doomed to win.  It will be probably be a Phyrric victory, as most assaults of this kind against my august person usually are, but that is neither here nor there: I want out of here, a.s.a.p, and suggested to my young friend that he and whoever else wants to join in the so-called class action suit to do the same rather than fighting a wacko over control of her own property.  Possession is nine-tenths of the law, which includes possession by Satan, apparently.

He said, “I never like to say this about a woman, but she is a real cunt.”  Jinx!  That’s exactly the word I muttered when I got my summons.

Indeed, justice can work as often against you as it can for you.  As I said in a previous post, in this case I am a victim of justice.  And it’s nice to know that everyone around me agrees.  It will give me courage when I raise my staff in court and bring a plague of locusts down to ravage Ms. Blais’s entire property portfolio and slaughter her first born sons.

Mistaking moral right with legal right is completely understandable for people outside the law industry.  Just because you are right, doesn’t mean they can’t make you wrong, or in this case, just because what Susan Blais is going to me is wrong, doesn’t mean she isn’t within her rights to do it.

Web page for my contentious film HATTER.

I learned the distinction between moral and legal right a couple of years ago, when my film project HATTER was under siege from various directions.  It was flattering that it caused such a brouhaha, but it wasn’t pleasant to discover that, even though wrong was being done to me, I “didn’t have a leg to stand on,” as Alan Cumming put it so aptly when he called  me from the set of Julie Taymor’s “The Tempest” in Hawaii.  He capped the conversation with, “Come on, James, this is Hollywood.  You know how it goes,” meaning I should capitulate to the meanies, and furthermore ought to be coerced into doing it by that cliché.  Yes, but Alan, darling, I’m not a bottom, I don’t take it up the ass from anyone. So I thought about it for a while, and understood that, while the moral upper hand felt good, doing the right thing by the project felt even better, so I turned the screenplay into a stage play and called a holdback on the film while everyone simmered down.  It’s now being cast in London, with the wonderful Sean Mathias directing.

To stick with the biblical theme, what happened to HATTER was sort of like the Judgement of Solomon: in order to keep my baby alive, rather than have it butchered by the opposition, I gave it over to someone else. Provided  it lives, let it be raised by another parent.  As the play goes up this year (hopefully; it’s an extremely edgy piece, not for the squeamish), I will blog more about it and fill you in with the details of what happened during that period.

It’s quite the story, with quite a few morals.

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Monkey Monday

I’m not sure why I’ve named this post that way.  I was staring at the screen when gratuitous alliteration just flew right in my face and out through my fingers.  I’ll try for gratuitous assonance tomorrow.

Here’s my image for the day, because no post should go naked:

James and Rain on set

That’s me and my creative partner Rain Li our first night shooting together, on location at the Tate Britain.  Awwwww.  During the first take, she held my sweaty hand.  Awwwwwwwww.  I found the pic floating around some dusty folder in a forgotten corner of my hard drive, so I got it out and posted it.  Looks as good as new.  Note how she has cheekbones and I have more hair on my cheeks than my head.

Met with a potential new client today, a criminal defense attorney who is looking for someone to do his advertising copy, layouts, web content, the works for very little, of course.  He’s one of these handsome, improbably glib guys who is a guest legal expert on TV, commenting on high-profile cases.  His office was in Beverly Hills … well, right on the border of Not-Beverly-Hills-Any-More.  It seems nobody over the age of 23 works there, even though he’s in his early 50s, maybe, I’m guessing; nobody in or around that zip code/fault line looks his age.  He says he gets 2,000 calls a month from people who have been arrested.  That’s staggering.  I told him to stop nickle-and-diming me over my fee and show me some of that green if he expected me to bring in even more arrestees with my superlative copy and sparkling layouts.  To be honest, this is the sort of thing I love, the kind of advertising work I would frame if given the opportunity.  These are like the ads that Dr. Zizmor, Dermatologist, has been hammering us with on subway cars in New York for 25 years: badly, randomly chosen, garish colors; indifferent copy; troglodyte typeface and layout.  Screamin’-at-ya cheap.  And as if by a miracle of self-inflicted preservation, Dr. Zizmor himself never ages, mainly because it’s exactly the same ad as the one from 25 years ago.  This is the sort of bizarre gig that I’d take on now just for the anecdote later.  And genuinely love doing it.

After Mr. Criminal Defense told me how much he was willing to pay for all this advertising — you just know this dude has some swank, hyper-modernist spread in the Hills with a glittering diamond view of LA and a vanishing-edge pool that will trigger an existential crisis just looking at it — and I had chuckled away a lump of random rib cartilage rising in my esophagus (why had I come all the way out to Not-Beverly-Hills-Any-More on the bus for this?), he asked me if I ghostwrite books.

“Hell, yeah,” I replied.  I finished ghostwriting the first 10,000 words of a Young Adults novel two weeks ago and had such a great time that I had bad separation anxiety after I handed it in and they said, “Right, good job, you can piss off now.”  I tried in vain to get the full gig writing the whole book.  I had a blast.  I was sitting there typing and laughing like Liberace banging out the Turkish March on the piano while high on E and methamphetamine.  I was sorry it was over. So anything this guy wanted to propose, I was in, just to get my ghostwriting fix back.

“I need a book on the Top 10 Celebrity Crimes of all time,” Criminal Defense said.

Christ.  I’ve seen that program a hundred times on a hundred different channels — VH1, E!, Extra, etcetera.  OK, maybe not a hundred, but enough.  “It’s a prop,” he added.  “Something for me to hold up when I’m on TV like I’m the expert.  You just Google the information about the cases and rewrite it.”

Just like that.

We then started haggling about the price for that, too.  He wanted to pay a fifth of what I could bare-minimum do it for, if I weren’t so hungry for work, that is.  “It’s a prop,” he repeated.  I told him that in that case we could just print up a bunch of pages with “Lorem Ipsum” dummy text, slap a picture of OJ Simpson snogging Lindsay Lohan on the cover and, presto! Dummy book to hold up on NBC Nightly News.  “No, it has to be real,” he admitted.  My inner plaintiff rested.

Weather in LA today: paradise continues.  There was a bit of cloud cover this morning.  I thought it might get interesting, but no.  Sunny, high around 70.  Luckily a cool wind picked up because I only had a heavy sport jacket to wear to the interview, the lighter one being at the cleaners, the other lighter one being a wrinkled mess, and not being wrinkled in a cool, meaningful, linen-ish way.  Wrinkled as in the lapels look cranky and geriatric.


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