MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

Skip the butter, add the floss

Much of the fun for civilians attending ShoWest comes in strolling through the aisles of the exhibition hall, where the latest trends in concessions, furniture, cleaning supplies and technology are put on display. This year, there were few products that caused any kind of a stir, but one or two managed to stand out in the crowd.
The attractive soda jerks at the Coke and Pepsi booths were pushing energy drinks and flavored water, alongside staple soft drinks. Even Tab was juiced up with caffeine – and some kind of Chinese root or herb – so it could compete with the high-octane youngsters. Coke unveiled its new Black line, which combines the familiar tonic with coffee. I hated it, but it appears as if I’m in the minority.
The single most intriguing new concession item was StaiNo’s Floss ’N’ Toss, which qualifies as one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-it ideas. The product is sold in the same vending machines that typically dispense plastic capsules filled with cheap trinkets and candy. The company simply has crammed its retail dental floss device into the bubbles, in hopes of attracting consumers who enjoy a good floss after their popcorn. Each 50-cent capsule contains four flossers, which, one hopes, will be disposed of in an empty popcorn box or napkins, instead of being thrown on the floor with the uneaten nachos. Sounds bizarre, but I think it will be a hit.
If any further proof of America’s obesity crisis were needed, representatives of seat manufacturers confirmed that the width of the average chair has expanded from around 18-20 inches, to 22-24 inches. Since volume is important to exhibitors, it’s logical to think that this adjustment was made necessary for reasons other than pampering their customers’ rear ends. They probably got tired of using shoe horns to extract patrons from their seats.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon