Sunday, December 01, 1996

Letter to Xenia

My Dearest Xenia:

Or should I say “The Fabulous Miss Xenia” as Stephan calls you (remember him? he was the one who let me stay in the “monks bunk”). I am not sure why he refers to you in this way. I guess you made a big impression on him. Stephan and I are in constant touch via E-mail. It’s a great way to keep up because it is totally effortless. No stamps, no post office, you just push a button and it returns itself to the person who sent it, like an electronic homing pigeon. now we are trying to rig our computers so that we can talk and see each other live. It is called C-U C-Me technology.

So your sister has arrived. You should get a big African tribal mask. Then if she has any boyfriends over that you don’t like, you can frighten them off in the morning.

Things have been Ok here. I don't have many plans for Christmas. I have a few invitations for New Years and that should be good. I am mainly working and trying to get my video project off the ground.

We experienced another set back this week. The guy I was negotiating with for the space turned out to be a total fraud. He was stringing me along hoping to get me to commit to producing his project. I am the king of getting people to work for free and I guess he figured that out. The thing is I only get people to work for free, for me. Me Me Me!!! When push came to shove he had no authority to lend out the space. I am now dealing with the person who is really in charge. Unfortunately we have to cancel the shoot until late January at the earliest. I also started hunting around for some other options and have had one good meeting so far.

I went to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. My intention was to go to Chelmsford, the town where I grew up. I got a “knock knock” from my best friend in the forth grade a few weeks ago. We hadn't talked in over ten years. He found me on the internet and we started e-mailing each other and had made plans to meet up again this past weekend at our 20 year high school reunion. I took a bus up north, they have movies on the busses now, an excellent innovation. I stopped over in boston on the way and spent a night at a friends apartment. The next day I came down with a really bad case of the flu. I was so sick and weak and crazy that I couldn't go anywhere and had to cancel all my appointments. I didn't even make it to the reunion.
It was pretty much the worst Thanksgiving I ever had. A four and a half hour bus trip to nowhere... to a porcelain banquet table. Yes, it's just a little cough now, but one week ago this microscopic invader had me on my knees.

I did have some interesting fever induced delusions. I wrote some of them down.

1. My body is the crashed jet liner from "The Lord of The Flies" Each aching muscle is the complaining voice of a child passenger. The real torment begins when they started arguing with each other.

2. I have to get up. I have to escape. I Rene Calvo alone know the secret to the Kennedy assassination. There were 3 Lee Harvey Oswalds! How else can you explain the contradictory sightings prior to Dallas? The triangulation crossfire in Deely plaza? A small highly trained contingent from the legion of Oswalds being bred by ex-nazi scientist in Brazil. Why? Kennedy would have given the Israelis jet fighters. the Israelis would have bombed Cairo where an ancient order of Egyptian masons that funded Hitler are headquartered. They would stop at nothing to keep their cabal intact. even... poison. I can't move!!!

3. I am a toy. a plastic toy. but it's OK, it's good plastic.

These are the memories I will
treasure from the Thanksgiving
of “96”.* *Available on video cassette
Johannes was here for a visit in October. It’s always fun when he’s in town because he is like
a guy who has just gotten out of prison. He runs around calling people, going to parties, chasing girls and staying out all night. He was never home once before 3 am and he got up every day with me at nine. I bet he is still sleeping back in Germany. He bought tons of corny shit (and a few good tapes and CD’s). On my birthday I celebrated “Pesto Fete 96”. I took all the basil from my
garden and made a quadruple batch of Pesto. I invited over a few close friends and we drank wine, ate pesto and cake and talked until late.

Johannes and I went roller-blading in
central park a lot. There were some rainy days but they never lasted. It was nice skating in the fall. The park is empty and the road is clear. You can really zoom along. The air was a little cool so you didn’t get over heated. Johannes also helped me fix my skates. Now they’re like rockets. I still go to the park now when it’s sunny. But it’s impossible to find
anyone who wants to go along.

During Johannes visit Halloween came and went. We attended two parties also went to the Greenwich Village Parade. I made my own costume. Here in America they used to put pictures of lost children on the side of milk cartons. They had headlines like “if you see this child call 1800-MISSING”. I designed a big milk carton on my computer and pasted it to poster board. Then I cut a hole where the face of the child went, so that when I put it over my head, my face showed. I got great reactions. I got so bold that I jumped over the police barricade and joined the parade. I would go from policeman to policeman looking lost, making a little play. People were laughing like crazy.

I have been working the last two weeks in a new place, Merrill Lynch, a big financial corporation. The graphics are really boring. We call it the “Name Badge Institute of America”, since most of the time we get stuck making name badges. There are however 3 good things about this job. 1. They have huge windows facing New York Harbor and there is a beautiful sunset behind the Statue of Liberty every day. 2. They have a really great cafeteria, with international cuisine and low low prices. 3. The people there are pretty nice and they all love me and want me to work here forever.

Why do they love me?

I worked here for a week over a year ago. There was this woman, Michelle, who was complaining all the time about how boring her job was and how her life was in a rut. Well, it happened to be leap day. That extra day you get during leap year. (We call it Sadie Hawkins Day) On this day you’re supposed to do something out of the ordinary. So I asked her “What would you do, if you could do anything”? She replied that she would like to be an apprentice at Milton Glaser’s studio. So I said that didn’t sound so hard. I picked up the phone and dialed information and got the number. Then I called and asked to speak to the studio manager. When the manager got on I handed the phone to her and said, “Go ahead, ask”. Her face had turned bright red and she could barely speak but she managed to make an appointment. A year goes by and when I return to this job I’m like some kind of local hero. I’m the guy who changed Michelle’s life. Everyone I meet there says “Oh, so you’re René, we’ve heard all about you!”. They look at me hopefully, tell me their problems, like maybe I have some magical power to change their boring lives.
The good thing is that I can do no wrong (within reason, I suppose murder is out). I come in late every day. I’m lazy. I talk on the phone and still they don’t fire me. So I guess I have to hang out here for a while.
anyways. I guess it serves my purposes for now. I spend a lot of time here working on scripts and making phone calls and using the facilities to make brochure type stuff. I hope all is well with you and you are healthy and happy. Anytime you want to visit New York give me a call. I think you would love this city, especially the dance scene. I’ll give you a call so we can work out the fax thing.

Love René XXXOOO

Friday, September 27, 1996

Letter to Jutta


Thank you for the tour of Germany 96 postcards. I have a little expo on my wall. All famous sites. Here is the latest.

On the way back to New York the plane from PIA, Pakistani International Airlines, hit turbulance caused by hurricane Hortense. So I gripped my seat (some uncontrollable instinct believing that would save me) and breathed like an expectantant mother. In. Out. If I had grown up in another era, I might of prayed. Instead, I remember to breath.

It’s not that I am afraid of flying. People always say in wonder “You’re afraid to fly?!” I’m not. Flying is actually quite nice. What I am afraid of is the sound of shredding metal as Saudi surface to air missles tear into the helpless belly of a commercial airliner. What I am afraid of is a suspicious package of chocolates exploding beneath my seat and sending me screaming into the stratosphere. What I am afraid of is that the complicated machinery beneath me will choke on some misplaced metal fragment like a chicken bone, convulsing in the air as it tailspins into the frozen artic waters. That’s what I am afraid of. Flying? No, the flying part is nice.

I am making lentil soup now. The aroma fills my apartment and drifts up the stair well. It is full of fresh herbs from my garden. Fresh Oregano, Thyme, and Rosemary. I have enough Basil to make a couple of gallons of Pesto. The summer was wet here in New York and when I returned home my garden was approching rain forest status. When I go out back to weed or water people yell from nearby windows. “You have a beautiful garden”. It’s really a good feeling to plant stuff and see it grow. Even if my little Rosemary is a tiny being compared with the huge hedges we saw in the south of France. This is New York, where anything that suvives is considered a miracle.

I have been working for a phamacutical advertising company. It is in a big sky scraper in mid town. There are no windows where I work and the air is processed by huge machines that think humans require refrigeration, like meat. On the sunniest day you have to wear a sweater. The people there have yellow skin from working long hours under florescent lights. But the cash is good and soon I will escape.

There are a two different galleries here in New York with shows of the art work of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens. I visited them in the pouring rain today. What can I say? Cool.

I turn on the TV and am amazed. There is absolutely nothing on. This is supposed to be a form of entertainment? Education!? The good thing is that it inspires me to work on my indie-sitcom! Yes it’s unheard of, it’s new, it’s completely insane. My show is to be called, Pefectly Frank. It features a completely unredeemable working class lout, Frank O’Brien. He will be played in drag by my good friend Rita Ashdale. The show will also feature a demented laugh track. I want to take the genre of sit-com (situation comedy) and smash it into a thousand pieces.

I hope all is well with you and that school is O.K.. Take care.


Wednesday, January 10, 1996

Letter to Jutta


New Years Day, 1996. Happy New Year. Hope all your dreams come true.

I was at a party last night, and I had gotten there a little late. Wait a minute, let me back up. Last night I went to a party at Damien’s. He’s the Artistic Director of the theater where I am in residence. His wife made this pretty spectacular spread. I left there to go to another friends party in a loft in SoHo on 26th street. I got there, it’s a big place, and it was jammed. But it turns out that they were charging $15 to get in. I thought that was incredibly cheap thing to do. Especially not to warn people. So I left and went to another party which was on 57th street above Times Square. I started walking towards “The Deuce”, I thought I could just skirt around the crowd. I had no idea how big the crowd that gathers around time square is. In the news they usually only show this one shot of it, about a solid square block. What you are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg. That mob extended for five or six blocks in every direction. I had to walk four blocks out of my way to get around it. I almost got trapped and swept away in it twice. It was like a scene from “Day Of The Locust” Car horns blasting, bottles smashing, people vomiting. I reached my destination which was the Righa Royale. I had to convince the police to let me through. The party was on the 52nd floor. To the south it looked down upon the swarming mob, to the north was Central Park. I asked for a glass of champagne and the bartender told me it was all gone. All they had left was Frexinet Cordon Negro. I grunted. A guy next to me said “It’s not so bad.” I replied “I’ve had better champagne at wedding receptions in Lowell.”
His eye’s lit up. “Lowell? Why did you say Lowell?’
“I’m from Chelmsford.”
“I’m from Lawrence. Do you know Guido, I mean, John Parent or any of the Parents.”
“Chris Parent is one of my best friends.”
So there I am. New Years eve on the 52nd floor of the Rhiga Royale and the first person I meet, knows my best friend from grade school. It’s a big city, but it’s a small town.

Received your letter. I can only imagine what you are going through and it pains me to know how you must be suffering. From what you describe there is no solution. If you throw him out you will feel like you let down someone you care about, when they needed you most. If you let him stay he will start to drag you down with him. So there you have it. Two bad choices and all you can do is pick the lesser one. If you were here I would wrap my arms around you and give you a big hug. Then I would cover your face with a hundred little kisses, stroke your hair and tell you that everything is going to be all right.

December 7th.
New York city is buried in one of the worst snow storms in decades. There are no cars outside, just swirling snow, thunder and lightning. We go to the movies and see La’America. The next day the city is so peaceful. All traffic is banned, except emergency vehicles. People are walking around in the middle of the streets, smiling at everyone. It feels like you are in a picture postcard from the turn of the century. Every now and then a fire truck comes roaring down the avenues bright red against the virgin snow.

Thinking of you often.

Much Love.