Wednesday 12 September 2007 @ 1:37 pm
I didn’t get to sleep until 5am, so when I’m woken up at 7:45 to take Harley to school, it stands to reason that I’m like “Y’know – I used to walk to school when I was a kid…” But in the age of sexual predators and child killers, I slap on some clothes and groggily stumble out the door to the car, where I somehow manage to get the kid to school without driving into a telephone pole or through a Starbucks front window. I come home and almost immediately go back to sleep.
When I wake up, I watch some season three of “The Closer” that I’d downloaded from iTunes (awesome show) and answer email. Google news sends me a link to this story on SlashFilm.com about Jason Bateman saying he’s not in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.”
A few weeks back, I got an email from Brad Pleyvak, one of the fellas who runs News Askew, that read…
The attachment read…
I’m a huge “Arrested Development” fan – and equally as big a fan of Jason Bateman. I’d only ever met him once: at the Baja Fresh on Sunsent and Fairfax (the one next to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf). I was in line with Schwalbach when I spotted Bateman outside, sitting alone at a table, eating and reading a newspaper. I nudged the wife and was like “Holy shit – it’s Michael fucking Bluth.” I’m never… never the guy who wants to talk to famous people, but, Jesus – it’s Michael fucking Bluth! Sitting not ten feet away from me!
After some initial hesitance, I opted to bug the guy while he was eating and tell him how much I loved the show and his work on it, opening with the standard “I hate to bother you, but…” Thankfully, he didn’t seem bothered, saying “Thanks, Kev,” as I was heading off. The whole exchange lasted about fifteen seconds, and I was shocked as shit the dude knew my name, as I’d never said “Hi, I’m Kevin Smith.” (If this story sounds familiar, it’s because I’d talked about it in SModcast 4, around fifteen minutes in.)
But as cool as that brief exchange was, and I much as I love Bateman’s stuff, I wrote “Zack and Miri” for another guy I love. So I wrote back to Brad and told him not to run the story on NewsAskew, as there was no truth to it.
That’s when the story showed up at Ain’t It Cool News…
And even though Quint urged folks to take the info with a pinch of salt, it wound up running all over the ‘net…
…as well as a slew of others. And I never thought to simply say “It’s not true” to anyone but Brad at News Askew. Jason, however, was asked and did have an answer for Peter Sciretta over at SlashFilm. Then, over at Mtv’s Movies Blog, Shawn Adler threw up a link to the SlashFilm article, but it kind of insinuated that Bateman had passed on “Zack and Miri.” So I called Shawn to clear it up and asked him to adjust it on their site.
However, in case folks are still unclear, I’ll second what Bateman said: no, he’s not Zack in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” We never asked him and he never read it. He was a great idea for Zack, as Bateman’s a genius who drops performance clinics in even small roles (“Smokin’ Aces”, the upcoming-but-gonna-be-retitled “Quebec”), but like I said: I wrote the role for someone specifically, and that specific someone’s the only guy I’ve ever sent the script to.
With that all settled, I head to the airport with Jackman to pick up Malcolm, who’s just flown in from Toronto. We hit In & Out on the way back, and the boys indulge in some Double-Doubles while I sip an iced tea (*sigh*). We get back to the house, and I chill for a bit while Jen heads out to yoga. I order some pizza for the guys, and creepily watch them eat again, bullshitting for an hour or so. Harley returns from her afterschool play-and-dinner date, and I say g’night to her. Shortly after that, I join Jen in the bedroom, and we watch some more of “The Closer,” during which I fall asleep.
I wake up to this email…
I knew “Red State” wasn’t gonna be an easy flick to get made, but that email kinda turned me on. Harvey Weinstein has been fundamental in making “Pulp Fiction”, “The Piano”, “Fahrenheit 9/11″, “The Others”, “The Crying Game”, and a host of other flicks with initially commercially dim prospects (not to mention our entire filmic catalogue, minus “Mallrats”); for him to call “Red State” disturbing and challenging strikes me as a badge of honor. Whether it means he ends up financing it or not, we’ll see. But this is a man who built his name and company distributing challenging flicks; having him call “Red State” “challenging” really floats my boat.
I drive Harley to school, then stop by the View Askew office, where I run into Bryan Johnson and Brian Quinn. We chat briefly, and then I head to Coffe Bean to grab Jen a latte’.
When I get home, I’m kind of all over the place, preoccupied with some shit that’s been up in the air for awhile. Feeling unsettled and eager for some centering, I coax Jen into some early morning nookie to clear my head. Mercifully, she takes pity on me and throws me a bone, after which she heads to yoga and I check email.
That’s when I get the phone call I thought would never come.
Bryan Johnson, who’s been running the West Coast chapter of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash has been wanting to get out of his managerial position for some time now. Big Bry’s always hated retail, going as far back as when we worked together at Quick Stop and R.S.T. in the pre-”Clerks” days (indeed, I’ve said before, Bry was the model for Randal). He ran the East Coast Stash for almost two years when we first opened it (before Walter finally agreed to take it over full time), and he hated that. Then, after I opened the West Coast Stash and went through some employees who just didn’t work out, I begged Bry to come West and take over that store for awhile, ’til I could find someone else to run it.
Problem is, I don’t like turning over the retail aspects of View Askew to anyone but family. Walter (who I’ve known for almost twenty years) runs the Stash East. My brother Don runs the Online Stash (which Bryan ran for years before giving it up). And after two failed attempts with non-family managers at the Stash West, I was elated to get a key member of the inner circle back in charge of the Los Angeles operation. But that key member reached the end of his patience with the gig some time ago, and has wanted out for awhile. And even though that stinks for me, Bry’s been goodly enough to stick around Stash West far longer than he wanted to.
I made a deal with Bry some months back: “I’ve got a year and change left on the Westwood lease,” I said. “If someone sub-lets the place, I’ll close it and you’re free.” It was an easy deal to make, because with all the open retail slots in Westwood, who’d wanna take the Stash?
It’s not the first time I was wrong.
The phone call I got was from Carol – the woman who runs the financials of View Askew and my sundry businesses. She tells me that the realtor in Westwood just fielded a firm offer from an internet cafe’ that wants to take over our Stash West lease.
So as of October 15th, Bryan’s dream comes true: he gets to leave the West Coast Stash, guilt-free – because we’re closing it for good.
I’ll miss having a West Coast store, to be honest. Aside from the obvious joy in owning a comic book store in my neck of the woods, it also served as the studio/stage at which we shot “Sucks Less.” We hosted multiple hours-long signing events there, including…
The “Clerks X”/”Jersey Girl” DVD signings…
The “Mallrats X” DVD signing…
The “Degrassi” signing…
The Jim Lee signing…
The “Southland Tales” book signing…
And it was the ticket pick-up for lots of other events, like Vulgarthon 2005 at the Cinerama Dome…
And the Cinespace screening parties…
It’s been the center of a lot of good times and a lot of green.
But, in truth, the stores have never been about earning a living for me; they’ve always been about the fun of owning a comic book store(s). If it’s not fun to one of my dearest friends – the guy who’s helped me out so many times over the years, both professionally and personally – then it’s no longer fun for me. The moment it becomes a burden more than a blessing, it’s time to re-think it.
Part of the charm of those stores, for the fans of the flicks (and, largely, those are the folks who shop there), has always been about the people behind the counter. Walk into the Red Bank Stash, and there’s Walt – the Fan Boy from “Mallrats”, “Chasing Amy”, and “Strike Back.” Walk into the Westwood Stash, and there’s Steve-Dave himself. If the store’s not gonna be staffed by someone who’s not in the flicks… well, there’s little point, for me, in keeping it going.
And while Stash West was always a nice little earner, it’s never been anything close to the earner that the Red Bank Stash is. The east coast Stash sits in the cradle of the View Askewniverse – Monmouth County, New Jersey – so it’s always been the more popular of the two stores. You can visit it en route to see the Quick Stop, or Jack’s Music Shop (from “Chasing Amy”), or any of the other locations we’ve shot the flicks at back home. Westwood Stash never had that going for it. Sure, it had a shitload of props from the flicks on display (like Stash East); but at the Jersey store, you can really immerse yourself in View Askew by taking a five minute ride and buying Gatorade in the actual Quick Stop. If the store was earning twice what the Red Bank store earned, I’d start manning the counter myself. But while Stash West turns a nice profit (albeit a small one: the Westwood rent is double the Red Bank rent), it’s just not worth the effort if one of the key figures in our operation’s not gonna run it anymore.
So it is with a heavy heart (yet a happy heart for Bryan, who’s finally free) that I report that the October 1st signing at Stash West will be the store’s last day – which means that not only can you get your copy of “My Boring-Ass Life” signed, but you can also pick up a shitload of stuff at 50% off (we don’t wanna have to truck everything back East).
After that phone call, I take a shower and get dressed for a meeting at the house with the “Zack” in “Zack and Miri.” He’s been away working most of the summer, so this is the first chance since late May/early June that we’ve had to get together and firm up some schedule stuff, talk story notes, go through the potential “Miri” list, and just generally bullshit and catch up.
When “Zack” goes, I talk to Scott and Carla about some business stuff, then chill with Schwalbach and tell her about the Stash. She takes a shower, and I head into the bedroom office to do some writing.
At 5:30, I pick Harley up from her friend’s house, and she asks me what 9/11 is, since they observed it at school today. Being that the kid’s eight and not in dire need of knowing what a horrible, sick fucking world she lives in just yet, I give her some broad details about what happened six years ago, using words like “naughty” and “crazy man.” We get home, and Jen fills in the rest, stepping as gingerly around the gruesome details as I did. She immediately wants to know where the “president of the naughy men” resides, so we hit her rarely-used globe to indicate the distance between California and the Middle East. I don’t have the heart to get into the fact that the “president of the naughty men” has terrorist cells all across our country, and that there’s been whispers of something called a “suitcase bomb” since 2001 – because if my juvenile daughter can’t sleep peacefully at night, the terrorists win. We observe a moment of silence for the dead, and then Schwalbach observes a stiff drink in the wake of having to candy-coat the account of the most terrifying and sobering day in our nation’s history.
At seven, we have some people over for White Trash Taco Night. Mos, Cookie, Jackman, Malcolm, Bryan, Quinn, Chay, Trish, and two of Trish’s friends join Harley, Reyna, Jen and I at the dining room table, where everyone indulges in a deliciously greasy meal. Everyone but me, that is; like the dogs circling the table, I merely eyeball the food and the diners jealously.
After dinner, we all sit down for some poker. By the time we stop, I’m up $160. We say g’night, and lock up for the evening – Schwalbach and I retiring to our bedroom, falling asleep to “Frasier.”
For Stash East, it’s just another in a long line of store events. For Stash West, however, it’s a swan-song.
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