Anonymous said: No more updates? It's like my favorite soap opera was cancelled without notice, or the entire crew was beamed up in Roswell. Come on, little filmmakers, give us Act 3...
Things moved so quickly after Austin. I started writing, the tour concluded dramatically and tearfully, we all parted ways, I (the blog writer) ended up in San Francisco with a whole other adventure on my hands, then returned back to the East Coast and had to face reality.
I would love to finish this story. I am now too fearful that I’ve forgotten the details.
New Orleans was going to be packed with stuff to do. We were going to meet up with Phoebe’s boyfriend Christian, who hooked us up with an empty house to crash in for the night. We had some scenes to shoot inside the van that kept us occupied on the long, long drive.
When we arrived, we met Christian at the empty rental house, cracked some beers, and unloaded the van. We had some time to plan out the evening ahead and relax for a bit. Christian’s father had a connection to a lovely restaurant where we were able to eat to our stomachs’ content at a major discount ($100 off the bill!). After that, we grabbed cameras and made our way to Bourbon Street, where we were set to capture footage of Aviv….getting drunk. Aviv is completely alcohol free, by choice, and has only been drunk a handful of times in his life. We were determined to get him well lubricated, because the last scene of the night involved Aaron and Dan having a drunken heart to heart.
Due to his impending alcohol consumption, Aviv relinquished directing to Rachel, and assistant directing to Jim. Christian, a filmmaker himself, joined us on second camera as we started beating the street.
Overwhelming doesn’t begin to describe what Bourbon Street on a Saturday night is like. Dan, Aviv and Chelsea’s job was to wander the street, looking for places to pressure Aaron to drink. Christian and Phoebe’s job was to stay close behind them and capture it all on camera. Jim and Rachel’s job was to stay behind them all, keeping track of where we were going and that both cameras were getting different things.
Lights, signs, giant drinks, go go dancers, shot girls, beads, brass bands, police officers on horses, giant crucifixes illuminated by beacons of light with people handing out pamphlets on how to be saved. People in their best party wear swarming the streets like a river rapid, pouring into every empty crevice on the pavement, spilling out of doorways, hanging their rubbery necks off the balconies above us. Jim and Rachel split a pack of cigarettes just out of pure nervousness. Keeping track of three actors and two camera people in a sea of sweaty, rum soaked chaos is something we’d not like to do again any time soon.
As we drifted along the street, Aviv was coaxed into a foyer of a bar by a beautiful brunette holding a tray of rainbow colored test tube shots. Dan selected a shot for him, the first, and he chose blue. The shot girl piped in, “you sure?” The blue one was the most potent, made with Everclear. Dan vehemently agreed. Down Aviv’s hatch went the blue concoction. The first drink was imbibed.
After dicking around watching some amazing zydeco bands blast through songs and an old man shred a washboard he was wearing like a vest, we forced Aviv to move on to the next drink stop. Bourbon Street is like Disney World for debauchers: every few feet there’s a half naked girl dancing in a doorway, a beefy tattooed dude ordering you to come in to his bar for the world’s biggest beer, people draped in necklaces ornamented with containers of neon booze, boys and boys and girls and boys and girls making out in alley ways. It was highly tempting to grab a crazy cocktail and soak it up but we were all sworn to stay sober. Rightfully so, the madness on Bourbon Street was dizzying without any extra help.
We found Aviv’s next drink at the hand of another doorway shot girl, this one best described as a black Barbie doll. She was serving jello shots and booze infused gummy bears. Aviv would have one of each, the crew decided. With much, much trepidation and coaching, he was able to choke down the jello shot, chewing it, against our advising. It tasted rank, as all jello shots do, and he suffered. The gummy bears weren’t as bad.
It was then when Masha showed up. An old roommate of Dan and Aviv’s, she joined up with us on Bourbon Street to take us to a less intense/more local bar. We needed to shoot some more scenes of Aviv just drinking himself steadily into intoxication.
She navigated us to The John, another punk rock dive bar, the kind that suits us. More scary movies playing on a projector, more jukeboxes, more ashtrays, more PBR. Aviv endured another beer, and he wasn’t really feeling it at all because there was just too much commotion to get lost in drink. We headed outside the bar to the street corner to shoot the drunken heart to heart scene between he and Dan. They faked it, hamming it up, take after take, until we really captured a sloppy, uninhibited connection between the two. It was actually a really fine moment of acting for both of them.
We wrapped, happily, tired. We said our goodbyes to Masha. We rocked the van back to the rental house jamming R&B and hip hop. We shot one final scene back at the house, where “drunken” Aaron crashes on a comically small mattress (smaller than a twin bed). We craved sleep. We had a ridiculously early and long day ahead of us tomorrow.
We came into Memphis around midnight. We cruised along the bright city lights, Elvis murals, shady side streets. The only goal was to get to a motel and get some sleep. We found a Motel 6 next to an Arby’s on a busy street — a typical, less-than-stellar setting for our caravan. We piled into our dubious motel room, taking into account some blanket stains that probably most certainly weren’t blood, but maybe just red nail polish.
The more restless individuals, namely Jim, Dan and Rachel, wanted to explore the infamous Memphis nightlife and grab a drink. So the three of them hopped back into the van around 1am and found a cool-looking dive, called the Lamplighter Lounge.
All that can be said about the Lamplighter is that the ghastly spirit of Memphis heartbreak and mystery lives within that bar. The walls were perfectly peeling with cigarette smoke damage, life size cutouts of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe bearing down upon us, dirty industrial carpet under foot and blood red light emitting from the vintage lamps. There was an old jukebox and one of those pool tables with the low hanging green light above it.
The bar was totally empty except for the bartender, a dark haired, bespectacled girl whose name we never got. We ordered beers and before we knew it we were enthralled by a gruesome horror movie playing on the small TV screen, on mute (later we found it was a French film from the 80s called Possession). Then, the bartender cut a potato up (because she wanted to make french fries I imagine) and found a thick, black snakelike mark running through the middle of the halved potato. Pure evil, we assumed. Then, our mysterious beer maiden started to talk about her poetry, how she thinks some angels are alive and some are dead, that angels like to meet in The Boardroom (the toilet) at the bar, and that if we went in there, we might meet the ghost of a young man who used to work there, who died just two seats away on the very bar we were sitting at, about a month ago.
Then Keith appeared, shuffling out of the kitchen from behind a dirty drape. He had the swollen midsection of an alcoholic, but his shellshocked facial expression, stammer and rigid shuffle was evidence enough that he was plastered beyond repair. He scraped his feet slowly to the other side of the bar, eyes wide and unblinking, and starting shouting along with Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” as it came on the juke. He eventually made his way back around the bar, picked up the red telephone perched behind the counter and started dialing 6 repeatedly, muttering into the headset.
We were almost at our discomfort limit. Two young hipster chicks had grabbed seats at a table behind us and we chatted them up for a bit. They were too cool, too old to be so young, too jaded to be in Memphis as they puffed on American Spirits. When some more townie types rolled in and started a game of pool around 2 am, our trio decided to tail out of there.
We were graced with a bit of bittersweet luck upon our arrival. Aviv had called to tell us good news/bad news. Good news: we got an additional room to sleep in at the motel for free. Bad news: It was because SOMEONE had clogged the original room’s toilet and it wouldn’t flush (number 2). So we had 4 beds instead of 2, albeit one room would be infected with the smell of un-flushed bowel movement. We made do.
The next morning was filled with a southern, gravy-covered breakfast. Then, we hit the road toward New Orleans, Louisiana. The rambling spirit of Memphis came along with us.