My Year As A Cowboy (MouthFun)

Hello.
My name is Nick Amadeus. I’m a screenwriter from New York City, and for the last year I have had the strange privilege of being Sam Shepard.

That is, until this week when Twitter, rightfully so, shut down my Sam Shepard parody account, @CowboyMouthFun.

I considered leaving my identity a mystery and letting my followers imagine my version of Sam riding a horse into the Twitter offices and getting into a drunken fistfight with their programmers, but then I would not have been able to do what I wanted to with this blog post:

Which is to thank You.

I started CowboyMouthFun after being cast as Sam Shepard in a play that my wife wrote (what a lady!). I knew basically nothing about Mr. Shepard then (and, truth be told, I still don’t), but I was fascinated by what he represented to me: The Modern Cowboy. A man with the hands of a farmer, but the soul of a poet. I grew up in Manhattan with an actress mom and a gay playwright father, so country wisdom has always been a powerful, mysterious thing to me.

And so, when thousands of you smart, funny people gave me your ear for a daily laugh and retweeted things Sam said about the Farmers Market not having any bullets or whatever – I can’t tell you how much it meant to me. I never could have guessed that typing 140 character observations about modern life into a little white box could yield such a feeling of connection with other people.

In particular I’d like to thank Alison Pill, a lovely, smart actress who got the joke, Roger Smith, an author who put me among his hard boiled heroes, and bellewitch66. Their continued support  and positivity allowed me to reach a wider audience with my jokes about having fingers too dirty to operate an ipad. And, of course, the real Sam Shepard, who I’m told is not only a gentle cowboy, but also quite the playwright.

I will miss “Sam” but not as much as I will miss all of you. Please continue to let his spirit of salty philosophy flavor your life. I went out back and asked him if he had anything to say to his followers, but he just tossed the knife he was sharpening into a tree and said,

“It’s Sunny out. Get off th’ damn computer machine.”

Love,

Nick Amadeus 11/14/12
@NickAmadeus
NickAmadeus@gmail.com

An Honest Hello.

I had a fight with a friend today.
That friend is named Blockbuster Video.

“You and Blockbuster?! That seems like a rather Odd Couple to begin with, Nick!”
I know!
Yet, until last night we had a respectful working relationship.
Let’s back up a bit.
I’m a sensitive chap. I admit it. For better or worse, occasionally things IRK me more than they would a regular person (see: The time I shoved the Children International Girl, The time I yelled at the Mcdonalds Guy, The OTHER time I shoved the Children International Girl.).
So, yes, I am admitting I am more TUNED IN to the subtleties of modern aggravation.
That being said:
I like movies. I watch movies on TV. I watch movies on Netflix. I watch movies in theaters. It’s something I spend a lot of time and energy on. I love them.
A few months ago, F and I were on an obsessive jag. I think we were watching Glee or Quantum Leap, or Glee. The point is, we were out of discs! We NEEDED more discs! Netflix was going to take DAYS to deliver. This was an emergency of the restless division.
I remembered I still had this old Blockbuster card collecting dust in my desk.
“Oh, but that place is just awful, F. It’s going to hurt my sensitive emotional feelers just to set foot inside! What if they have a GREETER!? He’ll be all, ‘Welcometoblockbusterhowareyouthisevening?” and it will all be one word and he’ll have said it a million times and I’ll feel sorry for him and hate him at the same time!”
“We NEED Glee discs. Suck it up.”
So I sucked it up. Guess what? It was wonderful.
Michael, the manager, realized he recognized us from ‘The Old Days’ and chatted with us about movies and music. We didn’t want to leave. The option of genuine human interaction was suddenly somehow trumping our desire to continue watching a TV show.
We returned many times since then, often to Michael cheerily greeting us. Sometimes I’d go in just to look at movie boxes and consider things I might get from Netflix! They didn’t care. We were all just people existing in a similar space. Once we went in there and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was playing. We just hung out with Michael and his staff and watched it for 20 minutes.

Last night, however.
Last night was bad.
You know when your tooth has a cavity, and the exposed nerve is okay as long as you don’t chew on that side? But then you forget, and you’re having a Frozen Strawberry Shortcake Bar and you bite into it and it feels like you traveled into a new dimension that’s only filled with pain and white light?

So that happened!

We entered and right away made a new friend! He wanted to know if we needed help finding anything! He wanted to know LOUDLY! No thanks. We’re fine.
Gee, that was odd. That fellow almost seemed less like he wanted to help, and more like a sniper had him in the crosshairs and would ‘take him out’ unless he followed instructions. You know, like that Colin Farrell movie Phone Booth!
No matter – we’ll just be polite to the loud man and go about our biz.
Loud Man was not alone though.
Loud Man had friends.
Loud Man’s friends also had snipers on them, and by the 5th friend asking us if we needed help finding videos in a video store, I started to feel a little bit like I was being threatened. Like I had exceeded the time limit for browsing and I was now doing something wrong.

Look. I’ve worked retail. It’s not fun. I know. I KNOW! I also know this isn’t the fault of the folks working at this video store. They are just doing what someone told them to do, and they don’t want to lose their jobs.
I went to pay and I made another new friend. His name was FRED. FRED TALKED THE LOUDEST. Fred had a number of sentences he had to say to me VERBATIM or he would not be doing his job. Watching people say things they have said ten thousand times is like watching a fish die to me. It’s just the least human thing I can imagine. It’s so close to relating, but so, so far away.
So FRED is monologuing at me about when my Dvds are due back and I asked him, quietly:

“So, did you guys – did you by any chance get new management here?”

“WHY YES WE DID!”

“Yeah. Because the staff – you know? The staff seems a little amped up.” I kept getting quieter, but FRED kept getting louder. It was like for all the polite words he was saying to me, I WOULD HIT YOU IF I WERE NOT WEARING THIS UNIFORM RIGHT NOW.

“YES! IT’S MUCH BETTER, ISN’T IT, NICHOLAS?”
(FRED had read my name off the computer, we were not on a first name basis.)

“Well, no. I – I just kind of want to not be bothered.”

“WELL THESE VIDEOS ARE DUE BACK IN THREE DAYS, NICHOLAS! YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND NICHOLAS.”

Faryl turned to me and said, “Where’s Michael?”

She’s very smart.

So I don’t know where Michael is. But I hope for his sake he has not had to sit through the same hours of corporate customer service drills the rest of these poor folks have. And I REALLY hope that if he has, I don’t have to see him that way.
I know this seems petty.
It seems like I’m a guy with the privilege not only to rent whatever movie he wants, but the luxury to complain about the nuances of customer service. But it’s not that. I don’t want a butler. I just want an Honest Hello. When I see people in jobs who are robbed of the opportunity to give an Honest Hello, it makes me sad. Because it spreads, and before you know it, the boundaries of earnest interaction fade, and people you meet outside of a capitalist environment say one thing and mean another. Everything gets muddled. People get lonely.
It all starts at the top. It starts when a management level guy gets told he needs to make more money and the best way he can think to do that is to do SOMEthing. A lot of times doing something seems logical, but is anything but human.
Communication is tough enough even when we’re trying our best. If you’re in a position of regulating peoples behavior for profit, I say, just go with what you’d want.
You would want an honest hello.

Until I get that, it’s back to Netflix and shoving people.

Hairoes

Sometimes when I have too many things that are important to me I sit at my desk and realize that three hours have gone by. I’m reminded of that doctor on The Simpsons who said that Mr. Burns was totally healthy because all of his diseases were trying to get at him at once, so none actually did. They were all stuck in a metaphorical door.

It always comes back The Simpsons, doesn’t it? It’s the greatest shorthand our generation has. Like hieroglyphics.

Anyway, when I feel all my important stuff getting stuck in the door I try to find a silly thing that I can get through, and maybe the others will follow.

So, on an unrelated note, here are a bunch of guys whose hair I like.

The Things That Happened Tomorrow

New York is in bloom.
I’m on a bench outside a coffee house, and friends keep stopping by. For a moment, You feel what life could one day be like.
It’s nice.
Michael hovers over me – Complements my outfit and sits down to tell me tales of triumph and self discipline. He is an Old Master, I listen intently, until he sees a pretty girl and decides his path is going to be behind her’s.
Bookstore Pat is next. He asks me if I’m waiting for inspiration, I say I am, which isn’t true. Inspiration more like the paint I plan to put on the walls after I build the house.
But it seems a little wordy and indulgent to explain that the blinking line on my screen is a pile of 2x4s I have to put together. So I say, yeah, and save the indulgence for you.
Pat introduces me to a homeless man named Greg. I introduce myself, leaving out my new last name that still feels like a special little secret. He shakes my hand and says, GET MOVIN!, as I ponder what is unintentionally good advice, he turns to a random passerby and says, HEY DICKHEAD!. I’m suddenly glad I met Greg through a referral.

——-

Nina married Tom this week in Atlantic City. It was the first wedding Faryl and I had been to since ours, and it felt like a beautiful out of body experience – like watching a new cast do a show you already performed.
And in a way, so many of life’s big things tend to feel that way, but now I’m just paraphrasing Willy Shakes. That’s never the best idea, he said it pretty well himself.
Congrats to N and T. I’m so happy for you both.

——

What’s the most special place you’ve ever been on a date?

——-

THINGS, as of late:

The Best Show On WFMU, Romantic Comedies of the 80’s and 90’s, Stephen King, Billy Idol, Phil Spector, Californication, My Father’s Black Henley Shirt, Friends (The people, not the show.)

The Joyous One.

The Intense One.

I’m writing to you direct from my car.
On Mondays and Thursdays I, according to New York parking regulations, turn on my engine and “move” my parking spot for an hour and a half, usually not moving a foot.
I bring this up not just because I think it’s rather fancy that I can accomplish this, and write to you, and listen to Kelly Clarkson all at the same time, but because it doesn’t make any sense.

And I have to do it anyway.

The last few months have been very rich and rewarding for me, and in turn, difficult to blog about.

And much of it made very little sense.

Faryl and I have been planning our wedding. This is wonderful. I love her more than I had ever imagined I could love someone, and this is something I certainly feel I should share with those close to us, if not just to let them share in our joy, because without all of their guidance we would have not ended up where we are. As a practical guy though, sometimes the stress of planning a wedding makes about as much sense as saying, “Hey! I love you! Let’s open a hotel!”

(I couldn’t be happier though.)

Between Faryl and I, 3 of 4 of our living parents got cancer this year.

This doesn’t make any sense.

I have no words to describe this kind of thing other than it seems entirely unfair.

But you have to go through it anyway.

Luckily, the news is looking good for everyone affected. Our thoughts are with them.

Things up at the farm are great. When it gets cold all the land gets covered in a vast desert of snow and you can see the footsteps of where you’ve been. The river freezes and you can walk out on it and see things from a perspective you would not have imagined possible.

Exited for the coming year, and all the possibilities ahead.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the nice traffic cop has just told me I must actually move my car for real.

So Anyway…

Hi.

      … I thought about posting a funny picture of myself in a body cast as a possible excuse for my lack of blogging the past few months, but then I thought better of it.

  …okay, what the heck.

Life is good – if not wonderful. A big year approaches, with at least 1 ‘major life event’ approaching (No – it’s not my Bar Mitzvah. I almost had one of those when I was 13 because my mom said we could make $10,000 easy, but I couldn’t get it together.).

I ran into an old friend while dining on a ‘Bad Boy’ at Lenny’s Bagels. He asked me why I hadn’t been blogging more. I realized I had been writing about the beauty of the small things in life, but my time had been so full of big things this year, and I didn’t know how to share them.

So we’re working on that.

 

Mr. Thorn tossed his Black American Express card at the clerk like a poker chip.

“Oh boy, you’re going to hurt my arm with that thing.” said the kid behind the counter.

Thorn smiled at him, “What a stupid thing it is! A million dollar credit limit. What a waste!”

The kid looked up from the titanium credit card for the first time.

“Trade me?”

Things on my mind, right now, and in general:

1. Wedding

2. Building a house on our own that will feel safe and inspirational. (Sub-questions: How do you patch concrete? How do you frame walls? Why are none of my friends plumbers?)

3. Isaac Asimov

4. Comfort vs. Productivity

5. The Man in Black from LOST

6. THE FUTURE.

More later. Good to talk to you again, it’s been too long! You are such a good listener.