A Discourse of the Most Famous Doctor...
“OF HIS PARENTAGE AND BIRTH" Chap. 1
I was born in the town of Redlands, in the state of California, in the U.S.A. fathered by an itinerant mentalist, who kept wandering, and so my Mother
married and airforceman, who treated me as his own; but the marriage did not last but 2 years, and when my Mother remarried, to a businessman, he adopted me,
as yet having no children of his own. When of age I was sent to a Catholic school, where I was deemed a dreamer, and slow, and pointed out to the other
children for their abuse. Being a believer, I took it in as my unworthiness. The second marriage, which produced a sister adn brother for me, also did not
last; there was a 3rd marriage, more passionate, but also doomed. We moved to an Alpine style mountain resort to get away from the smog and other
detrimental city problems (the 1960's being a very turbulent time). In the Catholic Church there I became an altar boy; my Priest often talked to my about
joining the cloth, but I wanted to be an actor, as I performed at every opportunity, also with puppetry, ventriloquism, music, magic, and clowning.
In a lit class in high school with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Hammersmith, I was introduced to Goethe's FAUST, Part One, which the class did a
round-table reading of; I "played" Mephistopheles. I noted the similarity to my biological father's stage name, Doctor Faustus, and wondered if there was
some connection (I had heard vaguely of the story before, via my readings about movies, as there had been some made of it). Next vacation, staying with my
(adopted) Dad, I spent much time, as I was wont whenever there, downtown at the big library. This time I began to research the legend of Faust, which was
originally Faustus, and found the story went back to the 16th Century. Not only that, but that there was an historical personage who used that name, a
practitioner of the Black Arts, and believed by many to be in league with the Devil (main sources being E.M. Butler's THE FORTUNES OF FAUST, and THE SOURCES
OF THE FAUST TRADITION by Philip Mason Palmer and Robert Pattison). Another past-time I had downtown was to go to one of the string of run down movie
theatres which showed four movies, usually exploitation, for a buck; one day I was drawn to the one frequented by gang members, who smoked pot inside, which
is how I first experienced it, prompted by the horror film amongst the foursome, which was DOCTOR FAUSTUS ('67), starring Richard Burton, who also co-
directed, based on Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan tragedy. First up was one of Pam Grier's action films (I had such a crush on her), then one of Sonny
Chiba's, so I was rightly stoned from the "cloud" by the time of DOCTOR FAUSTUS; which was a great way to see it. I didn't stay for the 4th movie (probably
some T&A, as was the usual).
This, then, created a quandary. I was fascinated with the story, the historicity, and curious as to my father's choice of moniker. I was, after all,
a devout Catholic (tho' not of the condemning all "heretics" and "apostates" variety). Through my interest in horror films I had read up much on the various
superstitions of the Christian world. But what could lead my father to connect himself with a man who made a pact with the Devil?
Back in school, taking another creative writing course from Mr. Hammersmith (we were only supposed to be able to take it twice, but he always let me
in), I wrote a story of a modern Faust who tries his hand at conjuring a devil, with the result that the demon takes possession of his wife (I was a fan of
THE EXORCIST, one of the few films that managed to scare me).
I also took the television class for a second time (my best friend Nicholas and I had been writing sketch comedy since 6th grade, first performing
live for class, then at assemblies, and finally utilizing the high school television capabilities) - there was a local station, which generally had various
weather monitors, but we got to broadcast various class productions for a couple of hours on Tuesday evenings. I proposed an adaptation of the Faustbuch (as
found in Palmer & Pattison's book), to done as a mini-series; but due to my poor grades overall (I was generally inattentive in subjects I found boring,
which were mostly required) was not allowed to fulfill it. So I wrote several short stories based on it instead; and made plans for taking the characters
thro' more, passing thro' the centuries.
At a birthday party I threw for Nicholas came my unrequited love Meg, head flautist in the high school band, and her twin sister, Peg. I had been
friendly with Peg, but this time we ended up making out. We started dating. And fell in love. We talked of marriage, and children, and a life together (tho'
she showed signs of not being keen on my dream to be an actor).
And then she got pregnant. Which sped up our plans. Except she then decided not to marry me, but stay with her parents. Then she dumped me. I
spiraled down into a deep depression, an abyss of the soul. I dropped out of school; I became a pothead, and tho' didn't drink every day, when I did, it was
to excess; I lost my faith; I lost my dreams. I did also finally put a stop to my molester, pressing him to deal with his sexuality in an adult way (which he
did, sort of, still being clandestine, but consensually). After a fight with my Mom, I moved out; was going to live with my Dad, but he was not keen, so
moved in with Nicholas and his family; but as I had no money, not being able to keep a job, I ended up moving in with my maternal grandmother, which was
good. She and I would spend hours talking, after she'd had a few drinks, and I was stoned.
Then my Mom arranged a tour of Europe for me.
It changed my life.
[more on the tour - or reminisce on it later]
“HOW DOCTOR FAUSTUS BEGAN TO PRACTISE IN HIS DIUELISH ARTE, AND HOW HE CONIURED THE DIUEL, MAKING
HIM TO APPEARE AND MEETE HIM ON THE MORROW AT HIS OWNE HOUSE.” Chap. 2
I first dropped acid in the Summer of 1982. My friend Kester and I had each scored a tab, and we headed into a large wooded park, with my roommate Harry, who
had done acid before, as our "baby sitter". It was an amazing experience. The colours, textures, odors, all was fresh, as if I was seeing all anew. We had
gone out as the Sun was setting, and so wandered the woods in the semi-darkness - the sky was clear, the Moon shown bright, and the occasional incandescent
lamp lent extra illumination. I had always been fascinated looking at the stars (my step-father had bought me a telescope for my 10th birthday), and this
night was especially grand. At one point we sat on a hill, and I lay back and contemplated the spread of the Universe before me. I wondered how much life was
out there, as surely there must be. What forms did it take? Were there any like us? I had been into UFO phenomena as a teen, and believed we had been
visited, having followed a U.F.O. with my telescope when I was 12, tho' I'd grown skeptical of the so-called encounters; I wanted to believe that advanced
alien beings would visit us, but knowing humanity's long history of nightly visitations by this, that, or the other, usually representing current fears, I
ended up doubtful. (As Carl Sagan eloquently pointed out in his "COSMOS" it was highly unlikely due to our placement in the galaxy). I then started
envisioning myself as Faust, who instead of conjuring a devil, makes contact with an alien being (thinking back, too, to an excellent episode of "THE OUTER
LIMITS" in which a scientist makes contact across the galaxy via a suped-up television he's invented, which accidentally brings the alien to Earth).
The next day I wrote out a stage scenario using the same female Faust I'd had my former love, Lily (who also co-wrote), play the year before (in a
production which unfortunately fell thro'), this time as a journalist who goes to interview a rock band whose image is that they're extra-terrestrials; which
they turn out to be, the trio of "Aelita", "Klaatu", and "Gort" physically being life-like humanoid robots inside which the aliens - small, multi-armed,
slug-like creatures - are housed with their atmosphere and controls; their mission to see if their kind, and other visitors they communicate with, need to
leave the Earth due to the possibility of nuclear war. Harry read it, liked it, and decided he wanted to produce it. I worked on it more, coming up with a
one-act play, set in the green room of a music venue.
We, Harry and Kester and I, went to Smitty, whom Kester had introduced me to the year before, owner of the Deja Vu Coffeehouse, which also did live
theatre. Smitty read the piece, liked it, but said it needed work. Harry suggested we do an in-house performance - that is, in our apt. So I set to casting;
I first asked Marta, despite our difficult history (we had immediately connected, but she got engaged to a "safe", and I was still tenderized by the
heartbreak over Lily) to play Faust; tho' we tried her out for it, she decided to back out (for fear of risking her marriage?). I had further difficulties
with casting, as all the actors I knew were at the school, and they preferred to try out for the plays there (at least they got credits there, and I did not
have a good rep, tho' most liked me). Also, Harry was not able to raise the money he'd hoped to, so everything fell thro'. I became frustrated, not wanting
to only do college plays (especially as one of the teachers, a complete pompous ass, had taken some unexplained dislike to me, and tried blocking me at every
opportunity). So I decided to move North, where I found another college which had an excellent film program.
While performing in a couple of friends' plays as part of a one-act festival hosted by the school, I made my plans of escape. The festival ended 11
days before my move. My cousin had already moved into Harry and my apartment to take my place.
At the after party I met The One. She was the older sister of one of my directors, and we immediately connected. The following night Ralph invited me
to join he, his sister Ilona, and their mother to go see a film. For the next several days I spent time with her, going to films, hanging out in her house
(shared with her mother), going to dinner.
I agonized over whether to stick to the plan to move, or stay, to see what would come of our burgeoning relationship.
The momentum was for the move, the need to leave for the sake of my Art. And so I left.
"THE CONFERENCE OF DOCTOR FAUSTUS WITH THE SPIRIT MEPHOSTOPHILES THE MORNING FOLLOWING AT HIS OWNE
HOUSE.” Chap. 3
After returning from Europe I spent some time wandering through several cities checking out colleges to attend. I finally settled in Van Nuys, CA, as I was able to stay with one of my Mom's ex-beau's, with whom I'd remained friends. G___ was an interesting man. In his early 50's at this point, he was a successful corporate headhunter, chain smoker, smart, funny, and also extremely cynical, if not a bit misanthropic. We often went to dinner, on his tab; he turned me on to B&B (brandy & benedictine), and we tended to get rather drunk. I liked him very much, and he liked me as well; but what I also got from him was a view of my future self if I did not lighten up on the cynicism.
I got a job; then another; then another (focusing on bland routine mundanity always made my brain itch).
I also enrolled in a college there, for Theatre Arts, and Psychology. I was determined to, tho' ill-equipped for, exorcise my demons, and pursue acting.
Getting a bit part (because I could sort of play piano) in one of the college plays, directed by one of the teachers, with a large cast, really opened up my socializing; tho' I really needed to develop social skills; especially with women. I did meet a girl, from the television department, who at first mistook me for a Spanish exchange student, which I thought was funny, and we dated for a few months. She was sweet, but very dumb. Through her I met a lesbian couple who were amateur filmmakers, and I acted in a film with them, based on my scenario, taken from Poe.
A number of us from the T.A. dept. were also recruited as extras for a big budget movie, THOSE LIPS, THOSE EYES, starring Frank Langella, Tom Hulce, Glynnis O'Conner, and Joseph Maher, which was fun.
I spent much time in the dept., making friends, but also running afoul (tho' never explained how) of one of the teachers, who was not very good at his job, being a frustrated actor, anyway (I got on well with the others). Briefly dated another girl, from the T.A., but her religious beliefs broke it off.
In Psych, I ended up diagnosing myself with Simple Schizophrenia (which I found out later was the diagnosis Dr. Heiden had given me). I also became disillusioned with the subject, feeling it was more about labeling than getting in deep (ah, the impatience of youth - or was this just an internal excuse to focus more on theatre?).
I worked on other shows put on, the main stage ones being directed by teachers, and student plays in the lab theatre, as actor, but mostly in stagecraft (wisely it was emphasized that acting students learn how it all worked).
Then I was struck by the directing bug. Not only had I been seeing as many of the school plays as possible, but also going to major plays, and started frequenting the art film theatres around the city, where I was introduced to masters like Bergman, Kurosawa, Herzog, Fassbinder, Ichikawa, Mizoguchi, which ignited the notion of being the auteur of a production (tho' I first intended to do this with the stage). So I shifted focus more towards directing, also, to this end, putting more time into all aspects of stagecraft (feeling a director needs to know more than an actor). I also tried a couple of film classes there, but the main teacher was a sexist jerk I felt I could not really learn from.
Unfortunately, the pompous ass of a failed actor was the directing "teacher" (not only the worst teacher in the dept., but not a good director to boot); and he jerked me around at times.
I was not to be deterred.
”THE SECOND TIME OF THE SPIRIT APPEARING TO FAUSTUS IN HIS HOUSE, AND OF THEIR PARLEY.” Chap. 4
My Dad's family, very working class in their worldview, harped on me about giving up "this dreamy shit" as my grandfather called it. It became especially noisome when my Dad convinced me (along with Mom - tho' as G___'s son had also moved into his apt. it did seem like the right thing to do) to move in to my widowered grandfather's house. Grandfather would be annoyed with my late to bed, late to rise routine, my watching the TV news in the morning (not that he even realized what I was watching), my only having a part-time job (as security around this time); my oldest uncle, whom I'd mistakenly worked for one Summer, would come over, drink a bottle of wine, and plug in his useless two cents.
The bed I had to sleep on, a couch bed, was truly horrid, so sleep was minimal anyway.
And yet my intense insecurities, which had developed into an Inferiority Complex (another bit I learned in Psych.), kept me from lashing back at their ignorance. It also fed into my cynicism regarding humanity, and my increased doubt in some divine being.
After some time with too much of this nonsense I managed through my close friend Janice's cousin to move into an apartment closer to school; and I cut ties to most of Dad's side of the family.
"THE THIRD PARLEY BETWEEN DOCTOR FAUSTUS AND MEPHOSTOPHILES ABOUT A CONCLUSION." Chap. 5
I continued to drink far too much, and smoke a lot of pot, and experiment with other drugs. I would go to any T.A. party I could, as I was still rather neurotic in my loneliness, but, also, I would get totally hammered, as it was the only way for me to be able to socialize.
The Devil of Doubt was constantly whispering in my mind's ear.
Sex was another problem. After the heartbreak over Peg and her pregnancy, I had been somewhat afraid to have sex again, and tho' I tried dating a few times, it was about a year before I did, while in Europe. Part of the struggle was that I did not want to fall in love again, but was not carnal enough to be satisfied with merely fucking. Even with someone who (apparently) was interested in sex with me, I held back from "going all the way." Of course, part of this was uncertainty, as I quite often didn't even realize till later what could have happened. And then those few times I would have sex, I found myself unsatisfied and depressed afterwards.
I did also begin writing again, after having not for some time (other than jotting down ideas); including a one-act play in which a modern female Faust having been disappointed in love, had a breakdown, confined to a mental hospital, dream-hallucinates Don Juan as her lover, who comes in the form of a fellow inmate, for a playwriting class, taught by Paul Perkins, mostly known as our tech teacher, but also a good playwright and director in his own right.
Mind you, the writing was not very good. It would be years before I got better at playwriting.
“HOW DOCTOR FAUSTUS SET HIS BLOOD IN A SAUCER ON WARME ASHES, AND WRIT AS FOLLOWETH” Chap. 6
"HOW MEPHOSTOPHILES CAME FOR HIS WRITING, AND IN WHAT MANER HEE APPEARED, AND HIS SIGHTS HE SHEWED
HIM: AND HOW HE CAUSED HIM TO KEEP A COPIE OF HIS OWNE WRITING." Chap. 7
For my directing class, which was helmed by a pompous failed actor, who was no better at teaching, I did a bit of the "DON JUAN IN HELL" from Shaw's MAN AND SUPERMAN. Mr. Rawley had taken a dislike to me in my first semester, tho' I never knew why; and since he was an idiot, I really didn't care, tho' he did keep interfering with my studies.
So, of course, he hated my piece. My friend Kester squirmed beside me as Rawley belittled all my choices, except for the actors, headed by Lily as Lucifer, Arle as Don Juan, and ____ as Donna Anna. I sat silently through this, trying to glean any useful information I could; it was in short supply. Rawley also directed 1 or 2 main stage plays a year, and he was equally incompetent at that (in fact, during one of his rehearsal periods I ended up secretly directing several of his performers who came to me for help); eventually my mind just wandered away.
After class, Kester took me out to our regular bar, the Dug Out, and we got drunk.
The following weekend Kester scored magic mushrooms, which neither of us had done, and we made a night of it, even stopping by ____'s birthday party, small, but attended by more of the interesting classmates. We didn't tell anyone there that we were on 'shrooms, and no one seemed to notice, since they were all high and/or drunk.
Later, Kester and I went back to his house. He passed out, and I spent the next 3-4 hours walking in a circle, examining my life, realizing I needed to hunker down more.
“THE MANNER HOW FAUSTUS PROCEEDED WITH HIS DAMNABLE LIFE, AND OF THE DILIGENT SERUICE THAT
MEPHOSTOPHILES USED TOWARDS HIM.” Chap. 8
One of my first friends at the college was Sean Hand, a bright, energetically creative youth who started there at age 16. His father had bought a house for him to live in, with extra rooms he could rent out, and this became one of the gathering places; another was Paul Perkins' house, as he was a heavy partier as well. But we not only partied at these houses, there was also a lot of creative brainstorming that went on.
Part of that was working out my first one-act play, "FOUR WALLS", which I was writing for Perkins' playwriting class; and making plans for directing one of the lab theatre one-acts. Kester, who was to stage manage for me, helped out, as did Lily, whom I'd recently befriended, helping with the set design, the play I finally chose being a Sherlock Holmes piece.
Another brainstorming session resulted in the founding of a theatre group, as ____ had a connection to the Deja Vu Coffeehouse in _____, which put on plays. We planned to do one of Lily's plays, a romantic comedy, but we soon lost momentum, as most preferred the safety of the school environment (those who did break out, which many did, did so through other avenues completely separate).
“HOW DOCTOR FAUSTUS WOULD HAVE MARRIED, AND HOW THE DIUELL HAD ALMOST KILLED HIM FOR IT.” Chap. 9
The play I directed for advanced directing class did not go over well, mostly due to my over extending myself. Not only that, but I didn't get a grade from Rawley, as he'd dropped me from the class over some convoluted excuse, tho' it was partly my own fault.
Lily and I had grown close throughout, and we started seeing each other. We both agreed that we did not want to fall in love - I had fairly recently not pursued another fabulous woman, Eleanor, an actress who had been a student earlier, whose brother was a current student and friend, and who'd been lovers with Paul, whom I'd met at the school one afternoon, showed some interest in me, but whom I was afraid to date as I knew I'd fall hard for her.
Lily, for her part, was still heartbroken over a messy breakup, which involved a love triangle, her being in love with two boys.
We had a lot of fun. And the sex was great (I believe she found it so also).
But I did fall in love, tho' I did not realize till she decided to platonicize (no, that's not a real word, but it works) our friendship again, and moved on to another lover, whom I actually helped out with. I, too, got another lover, but that did not go well. I try not to be a dick, and am successful most of the time, however I failed this time, both with my new lover, and in my friendship with Lily; which the latter soon broke off as well, as she felt put upon by me (it may have been the poem I wrote about her, which I foolishly gave her - or maybe it was because at a closing night party she threw I got stupid drunk and ended up entangled in her Mother's rose bushes).
After that I had a number of one-night stands, even once with a guy (a real sweetheart, an opera singer from New Orleans, who was quite gentle - I did not feel it, but it was somewhat cathartic in regards to the earlier molestation), a menage-a-trois, a couple of group sex sessions, and, on a trip to Hawaii, a prostitute (a Black goddess who charged low due to being in the wrong location). I also dated one underage girl; and joined the "mile high club" with another (tho' I generally found teenage girls just annoying, they were 2 exceptions).
To work this out (ha! ha!) I made a Super 8mm film in which my female Faust found love, then loss.
The failure of my play directing had convinced me I had no talent for directing. However, it was not long before the bug bit again.
“QUESTIONS PUT FOORTH BY DOCTOR FAUSTUS UNTO HIS SPIRITE MEPHOSTOPHILES.” Chap. 10
Since I'd technically been dropped from Advanced Directing, I took it again (much to Rawley's chagrin), and this time knocked it out, albeit mostly with the casting. Unfortunately, almost none of my friends even saw it.
About the same time I met Harry Connor, who came to work at the 7-11 I did. A shielded character (having had similar humiliations growing up), and rather muscular, he let people assume he was dim, unless they, as I did, looked past the facade. We talked about film, theatre, and literature. We had very similar tastes.
Within a few months Harry became my new roommate; bringing along excellent music and book collections - he turned me on to Philip K. Dick and Michael Moorcock, and I got to hear more of David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath than I'd heard before, as well as being introduced to Wall of Voodoo and The Residents.
He also taught me D&D, which we played one week of my xmas vacation with another friend of his, smoking copious amounts of pot, eating cross-tops, and not sleeping (or answering the door or phone).