how have i been, you ask?

“I’m one of those regular weird people.” ~Janis Joplin

5.13.10                                                                                        austin, tx

I’VE BEEN LIVING IN AUSTIN FOR JUST UNDER TWO MONTHS NOW, and thanks to Facebook I’ve had a steady stream of people asking me how I’m liking Texas.

So in the interest of brevity and my desire to write one version of that answer rather than dozens of responses to the same question, I’ll give you the short version right now. If you’d like to hear the extended play, keep checking back here for the gory details.

Okay, so maybe gory’s a slight exaggeration. But only slightly. In the short time that I’ve been here, my soul’s been eviscerated, chewed up by the meat grinder of failed expectations and financial chaos. But today’s a new day and things are looking up.

For those of you who don’t know, Tamale, my girlfriend of 3+ years moved to Austin 14 months ago. My plan was to follow her out, but not until I had a steady, decent-paying job lined up. Finally, a full year later, a production company I’ve done a handful of projects for tells me the Janis Joplin documentary they’re making has been approved by the Joplin estate and the project will be announced at South-by-Southwest in March. Oh, and I’m in the budget as the writer.

So what do I do? I quit my job at the Silverlake dispensary and buy a one-way ticket to Austin. It was perfect. Just the kind of gig I was looking to land to start my new life in Austin.

We hit what felt like a speed bump days before I left LA when I found out the project was now NOT going to be announced at SXSW in March. Instead, they’d wait until April to deliver the news to the media horde at the Tribeca Film Festival, where the producers were premiering their latest music doc. Not the best news. But still, the thing was a go. So far.

But within days of getting to Austin, everything changed. And it wasn’t pretty. In the midst of doing a million and one tasks for the film’s director–whose last doc earned her an Oscar nomination–I found out there was a snag. The music rights were going to be more expensive than the producers had anticipated. The project was now officially on hold.

And yet, the director was still coming out to Texas for a week of shooting, which she promised to pull off on a shoestring budget and many hours of my efforts…for which I’ve still yet to make a dime.

But I did get to meet the nice people you see in today’s photo. Those are the Mosers, a sweet old couple who used to live next door to the Joplins in Port Arthur. The place behind them is the old Joplin house. They had some interesting recollections about Janis and her family. We also spent time with childhood friends of Janis, her kindergarten teacher and a woman who used to employ Janis as a babysitter for her kids. In Austin I walked around the UT campus with one of Janis’ first boyfriends and I paid a couple visits to the home of one of Janis’ high school party pals.

The whole experience was…fascinating. Educational. And frustrating for more reasons than the simple fact that I’ve yet to get paid and the movie’s in limbo. But that’s another story for another time.

Since all that went down I’ve plunged into pit of darkness I’m only now starting to pull out of. Is that too much information for my first day back on the blogger bus?

It is what it is.

Or is it?

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5 thoughts on “how have i been, you ask?

  1. Hey Bob… it’s been years since I’ve seen you, but I check in on your blog from time to time to check up on you. Sorry times are a bit tough for you now, but you’re an amazing guy and I’m sure you’ll make it through, EVEN in Texas! A long time ago, two neighbor friends and I found you off of I-55 in between St. Louis and Chicago with your wonderful VW van, 90 degree sunny weather with no breeze, a flat tire, and a rude discovery that they sold you the van with no jack to change the tire! Kind of a midwest plains version of being up shit creek without a paddle! We decided to help you out cause we couldn’t go back to chicago thinking of you dying out there in the sun without enough food, water or a tire jack, so after changing the offending tire we invited you over for a shower and a badly burned steak dinner. It’s been an interesting several years but everything’s turned out for the best. Kyle and Chris, the two guys who did most of the heavy lifting on changing your tires, had very different stories… Kyle ran into some problems with drugs and wound up serving a year in prison for a cocaine offense, but I think that finally woke him up and he got his life in order. Kyle manages an oil change place now in the chicago suburbs, and by coincidence still lives within a few blocks of me in a different town (his girlfriend goes to college near me now). I’d like to think the preventative maintenance he does helps spare people from as many breakdowns as you suffered, and he does better work on oil changes than the one he was supposed to do for me the night of his big joy ride. The other guy, Chris, joined the national guard after 9/11 and is an Illinois state trooper…. by coincidence, he patrols the same area of I-55 that you had your flat at and when he’s not assisting broken down motorists, he reminds drivers to watch their speed so they don’t get in nasty accidents! I’m still a lawyer but have concentrated in bankruptcy and make my living by putting people’s lives back in order. In most of my cases, I set up court-protected payment plans and loan modifications to keep their people in their homes after financial problems like job layoffs and extended medical problems (coincidentally, situations a lot like what I was going through when I met you). I guess, my point is, nothing in life is as much as a coincidence as one might think. There really are lessons to be learned from life, and the good things you do in life really do come back to you… and others. I hoped to email you but didn’t see an email address anywhere on your blog, so I wish you all the best hope to get back in touch sometime. Take care and don’t change your cool personality and kind ways!———–John

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  2. Hey Bob… it’s been years since I’ve seen you, but I check in on your blog from time to time to check up on you. Sorry times are a bit tough for you now, but you’re an amazing guy and I’m sure you’ll make it through, EVEN in Texas! A long time ago, two neighbor friends and I found you off of I-55 in between St. Louis and Chicago with your wonderful VW van, 90 degree sunny weather with no breeze, a flat tire, and a rude discovery that they sold you the van with no jack to change the tire! Kind of a midwest plains version of being up shit creek without a paddle! We decided to help you out cause we couldn’t go back to chicago thinking of you dying out there in the sun without enough food, water or a tire jack, so after changing the offending tire we invited you over for a shower and a badly burned steak dinner. It’s been an interesting several years but everything’s turned out for the best. Kyle and Chris, the two guys who did most of the heavy lifting on changing your tires, had very different stories… Kyle ran into some problems with drugs and wound up serving a year in prison for a cocaine offense, but I think that finally woke him up and he got his life in order. Kyle manages an oil change place now in the chicago suburbs, and by coincidence still lives within a few blocks of me in a different town (his girlfriend goes to college near me now). I’d like to think the preventative maintenance he does helps spare people from as many breakdowns as you suffered, and he does better work than on oil change he was supposed to do for me on the night of the big SUV crash. The other guy, Chris, joined the national guard after 9/11 and is an Illinois state trooper…. by coincidence, he patrols the same area of I-55 that you had the flat at and most of his time he assists broken down motorists andreminds people of their responsibilities not to drive as fast as we did on our trip, and to be more careful than they were about speeding the next day when they totalled my SUV! I’m still a lawyer but have concentrated in bankruptcy and make my living by putting people’s lives back in order and setting up payment plans and loan modifications to keep their homes after job layoffs and extended medical problems (coincidentally, situations a lot like what I was going through when I met you). I guess, my point is, nothing in life is as much as a coincidence as one might think, there really are lessons to be learned from life, and the good things you do in life really do come back to you… and others. I hoped to email you but didn’t see an email address anywhere on your blog, so I wish you all the best always and hope to get back in touch sometime. Take care!———–John

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  3. Hi and H U G E huggggzzzzzzzz… SO sorry to hear about your lack of peace… What a GREAT way to lead up to it (JJ), tho… winks… Will DEFINITELY lift you up in prayer – for peace & tranquility, financial abundance and a fantastic outlook for your lucrative future… May our Lord bless you richly as you journey forward… We love and miss you… Hugz to Molly from us also… <

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