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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Coming from a land without hinterland: inside baseball with Guy Maddin

Guy Maddin still hasn’t crafted a “See you at the debate, bitches!” but he remains a key konversational kut-up. Among his words to Brian Darr at Greencine: “[T]he person I became before I even considered making a movie was a direct result of Winnipeg’s isolation. I’m kind of an obsessive, and as a kid I became obsessed with baseball broadcasts from very distant American AM radio stations for a while. Listening to them maddinvirgin_5678.jpgis like listening to secret CIA short-wave ‘casts – they’re very layered with interferences from other stations, or percussive signals from satellites or something. It’s like listening to sound sculpture, and every now and then a pitch count, or a play-by-play announcer’s voice would weave in throughout all of the layers of static and crackle and give a little bit of desperately needed information before weaving off into the distance again. Since the reinforcement was so intermittent I really got hooked on listening to this stuff in my loneliest, most virginal, deepest darkest adolescent days. I sort of constructed, in the isolation of Winnipeg, this model, almost like a blind person would, of what America looked like, based on the acoustic landscape I got from these things. That would only happen in a city with virtually no hinterland. Once you drive out of Winnipeg, it’s 8 hours to Minneapolis or 6 hours to Regina which is just another Winnipeg. And so you’re far from the places. Other artists from Winnipeg, more successful ones, often say the same thing. That unlike big cities, where there are lots of things to do and warmer weather, we don’t talk our best ideas out into the cafe night air. You’re stuck inside, and there’s nothing to do but actually doing your stuff.”

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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