My latest, greatest, synchronicity…
On April 19th, 2023 I will be joining Paul Williams (the director, not the songwriter or the rock critic or the architect) onstage at The New Beverly Cinema to discuss his films “Out Of It” from 1969 and “The Revolutionary” from 1970. In the late 1990’s I wrote and released a song called “April 19th”about the synchronicity of bloodshed associated with this date, including The Revolutionary War, the first shots of which, are said to have been fired in Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19th, 1775.
Here’s the song…
I will also be joining Paul at The Roxy Cinema in New York City on Wednesday, March 29th, which is actually the screening I am most excited about. It’s just less of an obvious synchronicity to me, date-wise. Beyond that I consider a 35MM screening of “The November Men” in front of an audience to be the World Is Wrong cinematic event of the year.
In April of 2021 we covered “The November Men” on The World Is Wrong podcast.
Ever since I purchased it on a Troma video tape in the mid 1990’s this gonzo low-budget assassination thriller has obsessed me. For the podcast I spent several hours interviewing the film’s writer and co-star James Andronica. James was extremely forthcoming about everything except how to get in touch with the film’s director, but after our second 3-hour recording session, James told me, in his old school Brooklyn way, that he considered me a friend and gave me Paul’s e-mail.
At first Paul didn’t respond but after the podcast came out I sent it to him and he reached out pretty immediately. He liked what I had to say about his film and wanted to correct some of the things James said about it. We recorded an interview and Paul told me he’d just finished writing his memoir. He asked if I’d like to read it. I said, “Of course”.
I was blown away by how much I related to Paul’s career; his way of seeing the world; and some very specific personal life details we share. His story fills in some major gaps in the common understanding of “New Hollywood” as his rather significant contributions to films like Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” and Brian DePalma’s “Sisters” have been mostly airbrushed out of history by the twin forces of his production partner Edward Pressman’s ambition and Paul’s own ambivalence toward what he might refer to as “egoic pursuits”. Beyond film Paul applied his ambition to revolutionary politics, the study of enlightenment practices, and relationships with some very impressive artists of the era including Margot Kidder, Karen Black and Julie Christie.
Paul’s own films are steeped in the times from which they come, but they are not well known today. Paul was the first director to cast Jon Voight and John Lithgow in a major film role. He finished his first feature before his generational peers (and friends) Scorsese, Coppola, DePalma, Spielberg and “Out Of It” cinematographer John G. Avildsen. And yet, maybe because of his name, or maybe for other reasons (synchronicity?) he kinda got lost in the shuffle. This may be changing. Quentin Tarantino spilled some positive ink on behalf of “Out Of It” in his book “Cinematic Speculation” which is probably what inspired the New Beverly booking.
When I told Paul how much I dug his story he asked if I could help him get it published. I told him I didn’t think I could be much help with that, but I could see a very compelling podcast in his story. Perhaps this might generate interest in the memoir? We recorded a few and then Paul got distracted or I did, and the next thing I heard…with the help of film scholar and historian Paul Cronin, Paul (Williams not Cronin…well…both actually) found a publisher (The University Press of Kentucky) and it was coming out under the title, “Harvard, Hollywod, Hitmen & Holy Men”. It’s out now.
Once again. Synchronicity! The third season of The World Is Wrong was drawing to a premature conclusion and the timing was right to throw my energy into THE OTHER PAUL WILLIAMS, the fourth season of The World Is Wrong? Will there be a fifth? That’s probably a question for The Pop Oracle.
Our most recent episode is about Paul’s relationship with The Black Panther leaders Eldridge Cleaver and Huey P. Newton. In the episode that comes out next week Paul talks about the parallels between the Sanford Meisner acting technique and his studies with Buddhist master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. During the most recent recording Paul got a call from his old friend Elliott Gould who seemed both amused and a tad ill at ease to find himself being recorded when he was just calling to see when Paul was going to be in LA. Or perhaps I’m just projecting some of that old school 70’s paranoia onto an otherwise benign exchange between friends that I was lucky enough to witness, and capture, and publish. Wait! Am I the villain in this story? My god! What have I done….
I am deeply curious to see who emerges from the fog of history and what stories these old revolutionaries may have to share.