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The Total Man Package -Or- Dan's Dirt: 10th Anniversary of the Austin indie Slacker
by Dan Murphy
According to my horoscope in this week's Austin Chronicle, the world is starved for more of my influence. It's time to begin proving I'm not a brilliant underachiever. So, it's time for Dan's Dirt-Dun'nit Daaaaaaaa! (Sing it. It's dramatic music).
That's right, I've gone Hollywood in Austin! Last month was the 10-year reunion of the independent movie SLACKER. Like a true slacker I waited until now to write about it. It was filmed in Austin in 1989 and released in 1991. You all really need to rent it if you haven't seen it. It's excellent. Like the name implies the movie is about Slackers. I met the director, Richard Linklater and many of the Slacker cast at the after party. Linklater is a mainstream director now: Dazed & Confused, The Newton Boys, etc. I'll get into the ridiculous details of the party later in this column.
Unlike most Slackers (Kirk-O-Matic), I actually bought a ticket to the reunion show and after party. I have never seen so many part timers, in-between job whiners and movie maker wannabees in my life. These people had less drive than the "Dude" from The Big Lebowski. I even saw three people I knew as other test subjects at Pharmaco (a human guinea pig research facility). One was the ever-sardonic Steve Nelson who I also know from another Slacker job I used to work at: The Gallup Poll. Steve and the other Pharmaco guy (who was wearing a Pharmaco T-Shirt) I met at the after party aren't even eligible for Pharmaco studies anymore. In true Slacker fashion, they bitched about how Pharmaco wouldn't accept them anymore because they both had some health defect. How dare Pharmaco request healthy subjects to test?!! I didn't even talk to the third Pharmaco guy I saw there. He's a major loser in my book because he thought Babylon Five was a good TV show.
The Austin American-Statesman even ran a Slacker contest. No, you idiots! I didn't win! I would have been a shoe-in if the contest was held during the years of 1995-97. (I was a later bloomer. I didn't start serious job surfing until I was 26). One year I called in to do my 1040EZ taxes over the phone and it wouldn't accept more than ten W-2 forms - and I had twelve (True Story). So, I just filed the ten of 'em. Today I would have been exposed as a fraud if I entered the contest because I now have some goals, my bills are paid, I'm investing for retirement and I exercise.
Anyhow, the guy who won the Slacker contest had some similarities to me. Not only is he a chronic job surfer but he said, "I can always find another job at $7 per hour." I still say you can always find another shit job if you want to.
Oh well, there's always the 20-year Slacker of the Year Contest to look forward to. You know I'll be living in the same damn efficiency apartment, riding the same bike and probably be doing the same thing. Then I'll really be qualified. Of course, with my luck Judd (a slacker grip/production assistant friend) will have moved to Austin by then thus destroying my chances.
Or maybe I'll just pray to the gods of Slackerdom and totally annihilate any competition. Slacker powers activate: Give me the job-surfing abilities of intellectual preaching Sasquach (a chain-smoking conservative redneck friend who has the gait of a sasquach); the total lack of preparation and shit-fit running skills of Jeff Painter in the college years (one of my college roommates), the excessive sleeping talents of Caveman (another college friend with a sleeping disorder) and the out-of-control tell-you-anything powers of Jerry Delony (the UFO conspiracy guy in the movie Slacker) to form Dan the Brilliant Underachiever Man!!!!
Now, I'll finally move on to what happened at the reunion show and after party. Before the show began, I went to a Starbucks on the corner to get some coffee. I just picked up my coffee and turned around and who did I see but Jerry Delony, the UFO guy from Slacker. It was at that same Starbucks that Jerry was filmed in a documentary by Kirk Hunter called Beyond Slacker Dome. Jerry was sitting in the same section that he sat in for the documentary. Some things never change. He's a nice guy and introduced me to his wife. I mentioned to Jerry that I thought it was cool that they just improvised his part in the movie. He said it wasn't improvised. He improvised for the audition, but he said that he and Linklater actually walked up and down the streets of downtown Austin trying out different lines until they got something they liked. He said Linklater was a good writer.
On the way out, at the bottom of the steps, I ran into Richard Linklater. He was getting ready to have his picture taken with a couple of old ladies. They gave me their camera and asked me to take a picture of them with Linklater. I took the picture and told Linklater that I thought he did an excellent job with the movie. Then I handed him one of my business cards (with Judd's info on the back) and said, "I know this is a long shot, but I've got a friend who does grip and production work and if you need someone give him a call." At first he looked like he was scrambling for a trash can. Then he said, "Well, you never know" I'm sure he's trashed it by now. Sorry Judd.
At Antone's The Pall Bearers, a punk/country band, were playing. The lead singer was a 40ish and wore a cowboy hat and boots and looked like a redneck. The other band members were rockers. They were pretty funny to watch and I liked their music. While the band was playing, this guy in his fifties was dancing in front of the band with a girl in her late twenties. I think this guy was having a '60s flashback. He looked like a Russian novelist dancing at Woodstock.
Furthermore, (yeah, yeah, I'm almost done, damn it!) I met some more cast members at the Antone's party. I met the Ultimate Loser Band guy and told him that he was shorter in person. He looked taller in the movie. I stood near the cab driver and spoke with the anarchist in Slacker, Professor Mackey. He really is a UT professor. I asked him if he used to debrief Top Secret documents for LBJ when he returned to Texas after his Presidency. He said he didn't. Ask me later if you want to know why I asked him this. On the way out, I ran into the JFK Conspiracy Nut, John Slate. I told him I enjoyed his part in the movie and that I've got an old college roommate (Jeff) who made his character look like an amateur.
Finally, I met the Ayatollah of Conspiracyola: Alex Jones. He's a syndicated radio host who is always talking about government corruption, government concentration camps, black helicopters, etc. He's going to be in Linklater's next movie, Waking Life. Alex also has a public access TV show that's pretty entertaining. I've met him before and he's always been very nice and sticks his hand out for a shake.
Well, that is it for now folks. I'll talk to you later. And remember: to be the man you've got to beat the Dan! Take Care!