Wednesday, September 06, 2006


A couple of weeks ago I saw a movie called Second Hand Lions that may have had a profound and lasting affect on me. The premise of the thing is that a shady woman leaves her son in West Texas with two great Uncles while she goes to "school" in Las Vegas with her boyfriend. These two uncles have somehow come across a tremendous amount of money, and some say it is through their wild lifestyle that they acquired all this wealth, while most have no idea how it came to pass and just made up stories about how they got it. Either way, this mother, upon learning of this massive soon-to-be inheritance, decides to leave her teenage son with them for an extended time.

The moral reason for leaving him there was so he could have a positive male influence on his life; of course, as she drives away leaving the young lad with two strange men, she whispers, "See if you can find out where that money is" and takes off.

What the young man initially finds is two hardheaded old bastards (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine) who come off as horrifically callous and unbelievably crude. What he eventually realizes is that these two guys, especially Duvall's character, have lived more than anyone he will ever meet. Leaving Texas in 1914, they arrived in Europe shortly before World War I erupted. Instead of leaving the continent, as more sensible men might, they decide to try and stay a step ahead of the Kaiser, staying away from the wavering fronts at all times in their tour, but still enjoying Europe's elegant atmostphere. After a night of drunken revelries, they somehow become signed up with the French Foreign Legion and spend a good deal of time in the Middle East as brawling, wild Americans in a foreign land. As the movie continues, more and more is learned about the adventures that these two guys had back in the early days of the American century.

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Immediately after watching it, my mind drifted to the life that I am bound to lead. I realized that I have written so little in the past month because I have had nothing to write about. I read six or eight different books during the summer, and even they couldn't move me to any thoughts that I hadn't had before. What I need are the experiences, and the actually sights and sounds of these places.

I love the epic tales crossing continents, dimly lit bars in foreign lands where palm trees line the open windows and History weighs down heavily on those that tread there; conspiracies and money and lies and cigarette smoke and life, hard shots of odd whiskey that can take the stain off a table. If I am to write anything that will be remotely interesting and different, than I must lead a life that is interesting and different. That, unfortunately, does not mean moving out of Wayne, only so I can work for thirty years just to be able to afford moving back to Wayne; I'd rather burn that house with the picket fence down sooner than live in it.

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As I walked through Barnes and Nobles today, I realized what all of the books I read have in common- one man traveling across the country or the world, writing from a nonfiction perspective, about the people and places that they come across. One book was David Horowitz's Confederates in the Attic, where he delves into the odd world of those who are still obsessed with the Civil War by touring battlefields in the South with "hardcore" reenactors (a strange brood they are). Another was a book (which I already forgot the name of) about two college dropouts, one of which played poker, the other sold T-Shirts outside Fenway Park. They were so heartbroken by the Red Sox loss in the 2003 ALCS that they decided they were, in fact, losers, and that they had to get out in the they took the first flight to Baghdad. You Shall Know Our Velocity is another about two men in the streets of a far away African country; On The Road is a classic story of hitchhikers in the uptight American 1950's. A Star Called Henry and its sequel, Oh, Play That Thing, about an IRA hitman who must take to the sea for America after the Republicans turn on him...

I am seeing the trend my life is taking, and I don't like it. It seems like it may be too easy to get caught up in a regular job, getting benefits, getting paid well, and then end up never leaving New Jersey for the life I'm looking to lead, namely, that of a writer.

My world will be a world where I actually have something to write about that other people haven't often experienced. This blog may in fact be a vehicle to stay connected when I embark on this journey. What I can say is that I think it will happen at the end of next year sometime.

If anyone has any ideas for any interesting places to go, drop me a line.


wallray said...

I loved that fucking movie i just saw it for the first time on TV a while ago as well. At first i thought i was not going to like it but as soon as they started shooting at sales men with there shotguns i was hooked. I feel your pain sometimes i just want to get up and walk away as well. Though i feel scared to drop it all humans like comfort and lets face it being homeless is anything but. The journey is there to be had go for it man and youll be all the better for it what do you have to lose a picket fence BORING. I see the trick to writing and im no pro as to express the felling of somthing some eles can relate to in a creative way.I enjoy your writing and would love to see you do it. Adventure can be found anywhere you just have to look even in a bottle.

PS I thought you were moving to Boston.

J said...

I've figured Boston is a place I could end up at...however, an open ended trip to another continent is something that I should do now.

Too much Hemingway for me I guess.

I'm in the planning stages for it now...I'm thinking Morocco, and I've got two buddies that are down to go. More on that later.

PowerLifter1974 said...

Places t go...Hmm...Denver for one ala Cassady, i lived there for a year and a half, not a day goes by that i dont long to go back, someday i will....any larger town in England (UK), i lived for 3.5 years with odd trips to Dublin Ireland for guiness, another great place, and then there's paris, burial ground for one of the worlds greatest poets and lyricists to grace this fucked up planet......just do it, dont wait for people to get on board, likely they will never quit the comfy 9 to 5 anyway....i am now 32 yrs old with one child and another on the way yet i wont stop living the dream, someday i will......also dont forget this, the story you may want to tell may be in your own back yard,.....i have no idea about to elaborate?....sumthin to chew on....

J said...

Something about North Africa is drawing me. I got lots of time, but I want to drink a beer with the Mediterranean at my back.

We'll see. I'll write more about this later. I'm no Emerson, and I need to travel to tell my stories.

Randolph said...


go anywhere. the journey there is what counts.

if you know where you're going, you'll plan. if you plan, you'll make things happen that you wanted to happen.

get in the car. drive 1,303 miles and see where it gets you. if it isn't interesting, drive another 688 miles, and so on. and so on. that's the best advice ever given to me, so i'll pass it on.

ObilonKenobi said...

I always wanted to see that movie but never took the chance. I will now after your review. As for the desire to strike out on your own to discover the world, I say do it now while you are young enough and do not have the ties to home (like mortgage and kids). There is somthing to be said about a man going out in the world on his own, by himself to discover not only the world but his place in it.

Can't wait to read the novel about it!!!