Difficult Men


I enjoyed this book.  (A sequel about Amy Sherman-Palladino etc.?)  Here are a few items of interest.

David Chase talking about what he learned from Stephen J. Cannell:

“Cannell taught me that your hero can do a lot of bad things, he can make all kinds of mistakes, can be lazy and look like a fool, as long as he’s the smartest guy in the room and he’s good at his job.  That’s what we ask of our heroes.”


“I’m not a mogul, I’m a writer.  I write every day for five hours.  If that doesn’t make me a writer, what does?”


And here’s a good tidbit:

The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood [the book] was finished three years after the project began.  (“Simon was very heavy into fantasy baseball one of the years,” Burns said by way of explaining why it took so long to write.)

There’s some great stuff about how cool Clarke Peters is.

Peters was an erudite, fifty-year-old native New Yorker.  He had left the United States as a teenager for Paris, where there were still the remnants of a great African American expat community.  Within weeks of arriving, he’d met James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and the blues pianist Memphis Slim, among others.

While Peters was running basically a salon in Baltimore, Herc and Carver were playing video games all day and going to strip clubs.

David Milch does not disappoint:

The actor Garret Dillahunt, who first played Wild Bill’s killer and then the character Francis Wolcott, was given and asked to study 190 pages of biographical material about a sixteenth-century heretic named Paracelsus.


Later, talking about John From Cincinnati:

“My understanding of the way the mechanism of storytelling works is [that] any story is constantly appending specific values to the meanings of words, and of the actions of characters.  And the fact that story uses as its building blocks words or character that the audience believes it has some prior recognition or understanding of, is really simply the beginning of the story, but not its end.”

Um, yeah no shit duh. 

Say what you will: for my money, the opening sequence to JfC is the best ever in TV history:


“An undecided creature in a paint-splattered robe”

“Paul may have the genius of a great painter, but he will never possess the genius actually to become one.  He despairs at even the smallest obstacle.”

That’s what Cezanne’s childhood buddy Emile Zola said about him.

Cezanne was sorta slouching toward law school back in Aix like his dad wanted him too.  Zola was having none of it:

Is painting only a whim that took possession of you when you were bored one fine day?  Is it only a pastime, a subject of conversation, a pretext for not working at law?  If this is the case, then I understand your conduct; you are right not to force the issue and make more trouble with your family.  But if painting is your vocation – and that is how I have always envisaged it – if you feel capable of achieving something after having worked well at it, then you are an enigma to me, a sphinx, someone indescribably impossible and obscure… Shall I tell you something?  But do not get angry: you lack strength of character.  You shy away from any form of effort, mental or practical.  Your paramount principle is to live and let live and to surrender to the vagaries of time and chance… Either one or the other – either become a proper lawyer, or become a serious painter, but do not become an undecided creature in a paint-splattered robe.

Shall I tell you something?  But do not get angry.  That’s terrific, Zola.

Cezanne got it together eventually.  Maybe he was inspired by his buddy Achille Emperaire:

Achille was a dwarf and a hunchback, also from Aix.  But he had the stones to go to Paris and hack away at painting.  Wikipedia:

Adamant to make the grade, [Achille] would ask for help anywhere, undaunted by the prospect of living in the streets. He even wrote in his letters, ‘When occasionally I can spend 80 centimes on a meal, it feels like an orgy. […] The rest of the time, to skip a meal, I quell my hunger by eating bread crumbs with wine and sugar.’. Also, ‘Paris is a massive tomb, an unquestionable and awful mirage for most people. While a few get along, most of us fail, believe me.’

Getting those Zola quotes from this book I bought at the Taschen store for $9.99.


Thanks for the good work, Ulrike Becks-Malorny!