A: Well, should we have a drink, gentlemen?
W: You know what time it is?
(We walk into the Green Mill)
A: 5:20, if that clock is correct.
(William talks about we probably won’t go to the Hancock, which Scott would really like to get some shots of them there in the restaurant at the top, from which great views of the skyline are afforded. William has to return to Urbana for his radio show, and we’re clearly running late. Adam talks to Dave, the owner.)
A: Is it true that Al Capone used to own this this joint at one time?
OWNER: No. No, he hung out here, but Machine Gun Jack owned it. He worked for Al Capone.
A: Oh, okay, right.
OWNER: It’s true that he hung out here all the time, but he never owned it. Machine Gun Jack owned 25% of it, during Prohibition.
A: Right, right.
OWNER: So, that’s the official scoop. Cocktails?
S: I’ll have a Jameson’s on the rocks.
W: I’ll have a… draft beer. What ya got?
OWNER: Schlitz, Bells, Guinness.
D: Guinness, or you know what I’ll have a Bells. Guinness sounds a little heavy right now.
OWNER: You wanted Bells.
OWNER: And what’d you want?
D: I’ll have a Bell’s, a Coke, and a glass of ice water, please.
A: So have you ever been in a slam here, Scott?
S: I actually read here a couple times when I lived out here.
W: I’ve only been in a slam at Weeds.
S: Slams are alright, I don’t know, but once you start taking yourself seriously as a writer, it’s hard to do.
A: I’ve seen some pretty good people at the slams though. I’ve seen some really good poets.
S: Yeah. I have too but—
A: I’ve seen some really bad poets as well.
S: It’s really more of a performance thing though, than a—like Dirk at a slam would be—although actually Dirk I’ve seen him do some performance type stuff, but most of his stuff wouldn’t translate real well into a slam environment. Or William’s poetry for that matter.
W: I don’t know.
(We drift into a conversation about Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack. An offensive play William hated when we saw it. It was a pretty bad production.)
S: William is a conservative, actually. He comes from the country, ah, South Carolina.
A: You don’t say?
S: He was on the ah, Jesse Helmes re-election campaign.
W: The good old days, when people tried to make plays about things. Content.
A: The good old days.
S: You want content in plays?
S: What the hell is that? We’re all about spectacle, man. Why else would we be the kind of people who plant grass with kids, at the same time as we’re writing a hypertext novel that’s almost sure to be damaging to the youth of America? Because of all the drug references.
W: We can use BBEdit to go back and replace the drug references with health foods, can’t we?
S: Yeah, but that would be selling out, man. We don’t wanta do do that.
W: I think if we can apply the concept of selling out to something that’s distributed worldwide electronically for free, then we’ve probably already sold out. By the sheer arrogance of many of, most, pretty much all, of the pages.
S: Yeah. It’s pretty much sold out. It is pretty much about turning us into, uh, Millennial literary superstars, which is kinda self-indulgent.
A: Well, it’s all a hype factor. I mean ultimately in the United States now it seems like the cult of personality wins out over trying to doing something the hard way. Ultimately it’s the people who hype themselves up the best, you know, are the one’s who come out on top. It’s bizarre.
W: You’ve put your finger on the heart of our project. We’ve been—
A: You’ve gotta do it.
W: We’ve been writing well-done stories for years and years, now it’s time to work on hype.
A: Work the system.
S: Rebuild the system, really, is ultimately what we’re trying to do.
(The hour has grown very late. It is nearly certain that William will miss his radio show. We talk for a while about hats. We discuss the real reasons William doesn’t like William T. Vollman. Somehow we get into a long discussion of Krass-Mueller’s work, from The Dust-Buster of Anarchy to the little things he’s published since In Cold Jest. Dirk pretty well unpacks the whole corpus, and we debate his conclusions. We speculate, accurately, on what Krass-Mueller will next publish, and how the whole media blitzkrieg has affected the eccentric young author. But this was a long and convoluted conversation that most people would have zero interest in reading. We eventually get out of the bar, and pose for one more shot before we head back to my house, and the boys head out of town. Goldblatt’s.)
Drinking with the Ghost of Al Capone
700K RealAudio File