It's push and shove And Christmas Eve You stole my heart Now I wear it on my sleeve And I'm standing here Where a boy once stood When he dreamed of worlds That lay beyond the woods... Daniel Boone and Peter Pan Davy Crockett and Spiderman We fought together Blood brothers every one We used to save the world Before each day was done... It's winter now On Nelson Street The shadow men Celebrating my defeat Never been afraid And not about to start So they stole my dreams Don't mean they broke my heart Daniel Boone and Peter Pan Davy Crockett and Spiderman I fought beside them Blood brothers every one We used to save the world Before each day was done... And I'm wishing hard On every star I see That you'll find a place In your heart for me... It's Silent Night And final drinks I'm too far gone To hear what anybody thinks Now I'm walking home Can someone tell me Where that is? Somewhere someone wakes To a Christmas kiss Daniel Boone and Peter Pan Davy Crockett and Spider Man I fought beside them And with Zorro I would run We used to save the world Before each day was done... Before each day was done... It's done... Cc) Frank Howson 1998
I don’t usually remember my dreams, well the in-your-sleep dreams I mean. Maybe three in my life. But the other night I was awakened in the middle of one and it’s a little bizarre to say the least.
Anyway, in this particular dream I am arrested for killing Ayn Rand. Still with me? Not sure if I actually did it or not but as we know newspapers are only interested in the charges and not so much in the final judgement, so, pretty soon I am in big hot water. Boiling in fact. And as if that wasn’t uncomfortable enough they are throwing the book at me. Perhaps The Fountainhead, I was too busy ducking to check. I then remember going through a very lengthy trial that was straight out of Kafka. I have to say things weren’t going well for me as the cavalcade of witnesses were called. Drunks, the heavily medicated self-published, real estate agents, Mormons, one armed guitarists, fortune tellers, gypsies, tramps and thieves.
My court appointed lawyer was an elderly Chinese gentleman who appeared to be about 500 years old and dribbled from the mouth when he got excited. Still, he had his wits about him and had he been able to speak or understand English he may have been quite effective. His cross-examination of the witnesses had to be seen to be believed. If the Judge had’ve been awake at the time I’m sure he’d have called a halt to the circus. He did wake a few minutes before the end of proceedings and grumpily pronounced Hemingway to be “…a cunt!” I wasn’t quite sure how this applied to me or my case but was too intimidated to enquire. My Chinese representative seemed to take it in his stride and smiled in a knowing way. Perhaps this was a good sign? Taking the positive angle I smiled at the Judge who smiled back at me. He then announced in a disappointed tone that the jury weren’t very well hung and adjourned the case until they could be re-cast. On that note everyone went home to be greeted by their loved ones and a hot meal, followed by re-runs of classic football matches, while I was beaten to a pulp in my holding cell which the guards took literally and, having no TV set to watch football, they attempted to kick a goal with my head. In all objectivity some of them did show promise as league players. I did at one point attempt to convey the news that the football they were using had a migraine but this was met with increased hostility and I was accused of using too many big words.
Hence another three quarters were played. This time I kept quiet and assumed my role. Finally I threw my voice and did a very convincing imitation of the final siren which they bought, hugged each other, shook hands, copped a feel of each other’s bums, and left the field complaining about the lack of good umpiring decisions these days. I couldn’t, in spite of my intense pain, help thinking what great sportsmen they were. Dreadful human beings – but great sportsmen. This was the last thought that stampeded through my mind before I lost consciousness.
I was shaken back into this world bright and early the next morning, in dream time, in order to return to court. I told the guard, who smelled of cheap bourbon and herbal cigarettes, that I had to postpone my court appearance before our esteemed Judge as I was fairly convinced I was in the initial stages of a brain hemorrhage, but this was met with “well who gives a fuck you dumb fucker fucking your way through life and fucking every fucking thing up for every other fucking dumb fuck!”
I took that as a “no”.
I found that if I tilted my head till it was resting sideways on one shoulder it relieved some of the pain. So, that’s how I appeared back in court. Looking like an amateur theatre version of Quasimodo. I’d fretted needlessly over my appearance as the Judge looked past me and mistook a nun in the next row to be me, stating that he was going to take into account that I was a lady of the cloth and not to worry.
My lawyer, the very learned Mr. Dim Sim, gave his final impassioned summation, in Cantonese, to a silent ovation from nonplussed creatures inhabiting human-like bodies. The Judge finally broke the stunned silence by burping and muttered, “Better out than in” and the really hung jury and those in attendance took this to be the final judgement and a deafening uproar broke out in the courtroom, along with several fistfights, a rape, a child birth, and a scattering of small time thefts.
As everyone had lost interest in me, and noticing the open door, I slowly made my way best as I could, considering my head was still laying sideways on my left shoulder, through the crowd of rioters and those with an axe to grind. Soon enough I found the sunshine and a busy city street awaiting me.
Within seconds I was lost in the crowd. Well, as lost as I could be given my new appearance.
I bear no grudge against anyone who mistreated me, but if Ayn Rand was still alive, I’d kill her.
(c) Frank Howson 2017.
And was conquered
So many roads to choose
But they all became the same
I was driven
Before being driven mad
To seek a meaning to it all
Or at least some of it
But you clouded the issue
Appearing quite a few times in my life
In the guise of different women
Always fooling me
As I laughed into my drink
Thinking I’d seen it all
You were an exquisite distraction
To my work
But God always removed you
Leaving me with just enough pain
To be able to write about it
So there you live
In my work
Always intoxicatingly crazy
To us mere mortals
Who worshipped at your throne
Thinking we had the time
To make a clean getaway
Before the fall
But it came
And now old men
Aged before their time by you
Stand on street corners
And reminisce about their broken hearts
Take the easy way out
By writing about it
God tells me if I write it enough times
Eventually it’ll all make sense
But I have my doubts
And life is short
(C) Frank Howson 2017
I cried when they took away all the things I had loved and lived for.
My voice became ravaged and ragged when my spirit was broken and the walls came down to reveal my soul was really 500 years old. It was God’s way of humbling me which is the only way to Him/Her.
I wandered the wastelands in search of a reason to find a way out. It took years to think of one. But I thought of you long before I met you.
I have no agenda other than to do my work and treat other humans with kindness and respect. I will be damned for this and smirked at by those with no backbone or chins.
I look around at all the lost souls who act in an arrogant way, telling you things that are not true in order to impress, swearing on bibles that simple songs are too complex to play, manipulating situations that are really of no importance, protecting their over-inflated egos at any cost, convincing themselves that guests arrive to see them and not the hosts and, still, I feel sorrow at their ignorant pathetic-ness. Wasting their lives and their opportunities for inner peace by waging a war to defend their hollow delusions which are, and always were, meaningless.
We live in a world where the banks own you now. They can afford to be arrogant and rude to their customers because they need no longer keep up the pretence of performing a service.
I hope in my time I live to see the public rise up against them. Yes, there will be blood, long time coming.
The plague will descend from ourselves and inhabit the dull-eyed crowds that linger in the shadows of that which cannot be spoken. Friends, whom we thought were friends, will try and entice us to visit them whilst they are contagious so that they can infect us and watch us weaken and die as they feast on our souls. Spiritual vampires pretending to be human will survive by repeating things they have overheard in order to make small talk and fade into the scenery undetected. No empathy. No conscience. They will devour anything, anyone that gets in their way. For the mere existence of real people will torture them until they have succeeded in extinguishing the flame.
I feel like I’m dying as a result of the most selfish man in the world who gives you guilt trips if you don’t risk your life paying homage to him by breathing in his environment – and his disease. Nothing you offer as a sacrifice is good enough because he has been denied attention for 40 years and his desert is calling.
“Thou shalt not worship false gods!” I scream as I destroy his overcrowded temple to his own ego.
His family call him their stalker as they continue to feed his insatiable hunger for attention and a limelight that no longer shines and in fact only ever did in his dreams.
Thank you for weakening my already troubled heart. Your play acting concern was less than convincing to the children present and has been noted in the Book of the Dead.
My last glimpse of this world will be of my best friends clammering to be photographed with the man who destroyed me. I see they are all smiling.
(C) Frank Howson 2017.
My birth was a bit messy from recollection and ever since I have been flaying around like a man drowning in gasoline. People have come and gone in my life, some leaving an impression, others facial scars, but still, I wouldn’t change it even if I could shoot them.
Life is funny isn’t it?
Sometimes you win and sometimes the cards are stacked against you. Still, it keeps us occupied doesn’t it? I mean, otherwise we may turn into animals and attack each other thinking there was no purpose to it all. But the good news is, there is. I can say this with all certainty now as only a few weeks ago I was stirring my pot of porridge when I saw God’s face on the surface. He said unto me, “Listen, go forth and tell all the fucking morons that I have spent a fortune on this human experiment and have nothing to show for it. Other than one lovely Jewish boy and he doesn’t count because he is related on his mother’s side. All I ask is that you scumbags make a little effort and be nice to each other. It’s not brain surgery y’know? Oh, and your porridge is ready.”
I have since taken to the streets spreading the good news that God is alive and still loves us. And that we need to be kind to each other. In return I have been beaten, spat upon, cursed, betrayed by friends, had my sex tapes made public by Billy Bush, been blacklisted by Hollywood, been lectured by Robert DeNiro on morality, and treated by the media worse than Donald Trump. It could’ve been less kind, though. I could’ve been treated like Joan of Arc and roasted like a chicken as a public entertainment. Thank God I wasn’t a woman.
These days I keep to myself and have stopped eating porridge lest I get any more messages from you know who. I mean, I myself, even, don’t know why God chose me to be the bearer of his good news although he does have a history of choosing flawed messengers. Life is complicated enough without all that.
Father, forgive us we know not what we do.
(c) Frank Howson 2017
The most precious things in the world are those things that are irreplaceable in our lives. We are gathered here today to say farewell to one. Irreplaceable in his talent. Irreplaceable in our hearts. Irreplaceable in his truth. There’s a lyric in a Jackson Browne song that says, “Does it take a death to learn what a life is worth?” No. Not in this case. I think we were all aware at every stage just what Alex Scott was worth in our lives. I will miss that golden voice that could even make the reading of the telephone book sound profound. I will miss his shining talent that I was honoured to have witnessed in full flight. But most of all I’ll miss his friendship. His smile. His wicked sense of humour. The twinkle in his eye. His thoughts. His priceless stories. The look on his face when he listened to Beethoven. And that laugh that I was fortunate enough to capture on film. I will also miss his honesty. In this business of show where people tell you what they think you want to hear, and then distort the facts behind your back, Alex was a beacon of truth. If you received a compliment from him, you knew he meant it. I was fortunate to have received a very big compliment from him about a film I’d done. I still bask in that glow. But, perhaps to balance me, at the screening of my next project he told me, in his most measured tones, that he felt it was “a piece of shit”.
To paraphrase that lyric again, “There’s no way I could tell you what he meant to me.”
Perhaps his most fitting epitaph is written in the words of Antony lamenting the death of Marcus Brutus… ”This was the noblest Roman of them all. His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world: “This was a man!”…
Recently, there was a funeral for the preacher who, along with the members of his Bible reading class, was the victim of another senseless gunspree in the U.S. and President Obama attended to eulogise him. To papaphrase – he said – “I could spend a lot of time listing this man’s triumphs, noting his awards, his acts of kindness, naming the many whose lives were changed due to his compassion. But – perhaps there is no greater accolade than the following – This was a good man. And he lived a good life. And we are better for having known him”. Rest in peace, dear Alex.
Good night, sweet prince. I’m going to miss you every day.
(c) Frank Howson July 2015
I realised at an early age that even the experts and the top CEOs can be wrong. Sometimes the only thing these people who sit behind desks have going for them, is a desk. No one is infallible. And when you start thinking you are, you’re believing your own publicity and headed for a fall. We’ve seen some of the greatest generals and leaders in history eventually stumble on their own ego, and make silly mistakes. For every Napoleon there’s a Waterloo. Take it from one who knows.
So, I question things. Bobby Kennedy once said, “…Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”
Although I have worked hard, struggled, persevered, and sweated blood and tears, at times I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Starting from humble beginnings I went onto co-run Australia’s most successful film production company during its heyday. We sold Australian films all over the world at a time you couldn’t give them away. Miramax, Paramount, Disney, J&M Entertainment, Skouras, Warners, etc. were just some of our buyers. Unfortunately a lot of people grew resentful of our success and worked against us. And then, left to our own devices, we became undone by the relentless pressure and massive responsibility to keep topping the last product and raising the bar amidst disappearing money.
All I learned from that is this, there is no formula for success. In fact every time something or someone succeeds it seems to be for a different reason. Is it destiny? Well, Bob Dylan once said that, before he wrote his first song, he just knew he was going to be the greatest. So I guess one of the ingredients is destiny.
What about timing? Certainly. The art of being in the right place at the right time. Would the Beatles have succeeded 10 years before? Or 10 years later? Probably not. They were of their time.
Luck? Yes, of course. But how much of our luck do we make? Sam Goldwyn once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Perhaps luck is really the law of attraction. The Indians have an old wisdom, “The smile you send out returns to you.” So perhaps it’s true that if we want something bad enough and send out enough positive energy in that direction we are eventually rewarded. Albert Einstein agreed that “everything is vibrations.” We are an energy force and so is the world, so if we get our “vibrations” in synch, the doors to success open.
Art, and especially films and music, is about timing, vibrations and harmony. The Beach Boys once wrote a song about it. So is success about timing? Trust your instincts and don’t go against them or get talked into things that don’t feel right. The legendary Broadway director and writer Moss Hart once said, “I have succeeded many times and I have failed many times. Every time I succeeded it was for a different reason. Every time I failed it was for the same reason – I said yes when I meant no.” Learn to trust your instincts and to back them.
Discipline? You betcha. You’re not going to succeed if you can’t get out of bed in the morning. While you’re sleeping away your life the other guy is out there working on making his dream come true. Or stealing yours. What you put into something is what you get out of it.
I am blessed that creativity has been my life. It has not only been my love and joy but also my career. Looking back, I could not have wished for anything better.
(c) Frank Howson 2014
photograph by Gail Turner.