Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking It To Austin

     I’ve always been frightened by “the south.”  Even when I was a little girl, and we drove for hours on some hellacious back road from Southern California to Oklahoma;
my dad smoking cigarette after cigarette and driving like a bat out of a flame and my mom, turning around every 2 minutes to tell my brother and I “to knock it off” and enjoy the scenery or she’d “draw a line on the seat between us and then it would be all over for the one who crossed it.”  Well, the scenery was miles and miles of f@*#ing cows and rundown barns and “fillin stations” where the guy would mosey on out in his bibbed coveralls and pump your gas for you at a snail’s pace, all the while speaking in some kind of language that me and my bro were weirded out by.  
     We had relatives in both Texas and Oklahoma and all were bigger than life in ever way you could imagine.  Hell, one glass of ice tea took me 3 days to finish.  I have never seen people eat so much.  Pie was the food of choice and the “N” word was thrown around as casually as a football.  But that was then and this is now and I’m headed back to The Lone Star State manana; to the bright lights and big city of Austin where I have never been.  From what I’ve read about Austin, my daddy wouldn’t have tread there if it were the last place left standing on the planet. 

Destination: The Austin Film Festival
     The Driskill Hotel seems to be the center spot, the hub,  for all the action that will take place in the upcoming week at The Austin Film Festival.  It’s swanky and full of ritzy, pretty people with lots of “moola” to burn, and to be quite honest; I’m scared to the bone. 
That kind of ostentatious glamour and luxury, equivalent to the night on the red carpet, is what girls from trailer parks watch from their sofas with a bag of Dollar Tree popcorn and a Bud-Light.  Of course,  I’m nervous as hell!  But gals from a park can also fake it until they make it and I’ve packed cool (worn) cowgirl boots, ($7.50), a cocktail dress from Banana Republic ($2.00), black footless tights (a buck) and a suitcase full of other yard sale scores.  The girl’s got game and she better because the reason she’s heading to
a state that has towns called Looneyville and Buffalo Mop is to hobnob with some big boys and girls in the film industry, attend workshops and panels and hopefully pitch her screenplay, 27 Angels, to a couple people who might be willing to give her the time of day.
     I’ve spent the last two years co-writing a screenplay that’s fairly good and I’m packing my bags tonight and taking it on the road.  Actually Austin itself, from what I’ve read, sounds anything but ostentatious and it certainly doesn’t sound like I’ll need a gun. And the AFF sounds like it’s hip, yet casual and jam-packed with big names that are approachable. 
     And though I am very proud of my trailer roots, I didn’t list trailer park manager on my business card.  But 27 Angels might tell it all and perhaps it should.  My dark comedy takes place in a park and opens a window on a world that most people would simply drive on by… a world of misfits; the disenfranchised, the low-income welfare recipients who pay for their groceries with food stamps and wait in line for slabs of free butter and cheese. 
There’s a story or two there. 
Perhaps we look away because we feel they arrived at this place in life due to their own doing.  I recall this saying my grandmother used frequently, “They made their bed, now they have to lay in it.” I think that mentality has falsely guided an entire generation of Americans; that and this one which goes hand-in-hand, “First of all, I don’t see America having problems.” a direct quote of George W. Bush when being interviewed by Bob Costas at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. 
     According to the Reuters report, nearly 40 million Americans receive food stamps; that’s 1 out of 8.  This has increased by 260,000 since the economic recession of 2008.  Hmm…an increase in people who can’t buy food and at the same time, an increase of profits for CEOs and companies like Chevron.  Hey, did you know that health insurance companies found increased profits of 56 percent in 2009?  No wonder Republicans don’t want Universal Health Care.  Their sugar daddies in the health insurance ‘bank’ wouldn’t be able to buy them as many treats.  I believe we look away, not because we necessarily think like my grandmother or like George, but because if we look too long, then, in turn, we must take a hard look at our own lives and ourselves.
     I hope I’ve got what it takes to not only wear my yard sale rags with confidence, but hold my head high and talk about my project, 27 Angels, like I talk about anything that is near and dear to my heart.  It will take guts, but not balls.

I agree wholeheartedly.  I’ve got mine packed, Betty, and I'll be taking it to Austin.
And unlike Vegas, what happens in Austin won’t stay in Austin.  I’ll be reporting the good, the bad, the ugly, to you all.   
Believe me, if Austin feels the least bit chilled or unwelcoming, I can always hitch a ride to
Crume Gin, Moonshine Hill, or Chocolate Bayou; all towns somewhere deep in the heart of Texas.

See y’all in Austin!


  1. You go get 'em Val! I can't wait to hear what happens! It is like a really good novel... except it is not fiction. Talk to you when you get back!

  2. U cowrote a screenplay? We're da link to it?

  3. Take those friggin boots and kick them high up in the air girl, cause they don't know whats a coming!!! The full report will be much anticipated.

    Love to you on the dusty trail......


  4. Thanks gals for your relentless support!
    Here I sit in The Austin Motel that takes pride in the fact that it hasn't changed since 1938. Perfect place to hang my hat for the next 10 days!
    Anonymous...thanks for the inquiry! Who are you and where can I send you a read?

  5. Austin watch out!! I am so proud of you Valerie for venturing forth to follow your dream. I'm reminded of a moment when I was seated next to Alice Walker at a conference in Chiapas. She said something challenging to the guy up front doing all the talking, and he chuckled and accused her of having balls. She stood up from her chair, grabbed both her voluptuous breasts, one in each hand, lifted them high and said "I don't need balls, I've got mammaries!" I swear it took him a full minute to find his voice again!
    You put on those boots and that lovely, genuine smile, and enjoy feeling right at home with all those folks who have dreams too.......
    And yeah, when do we get to read this screenplay?!
    Love you,

  6. Yeehah! U go cowgirl! I LOVE Austin and am sure you will too! I am so proud of you for being there to promote your screen play. Have fun in lovely Texas, my daddy is there also right now. All my best to Barbara! Love oxoxoo ~Elida

  7. Well, look who just flew into Texas yesterday? Austin will never be the same! Loved the blog,Val, and your honesty about what to expect. So, Brave Heart, know that you've got this great big cheering section backing your venture 100 percent, all eager to get the skinny on how it was. Can't wait to see you and get the full report, up front and personal. Then for a little R & R in Shiner to kick back and see how we country folk live. What a contrast...Austin to the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner. See you soon...have a great experience rubbing elbows with the film/screenplay big-wigs!