So the Bird was out for First Friday recently when it ran into Andrea Beesley-Brown, a.k.a. the Midnite Movie Mamacita, known for hosting splatter and grindhouse flicks at Chandler Cinemas, where she doubles as the operations manager. The perky New Zealander told this tweeter a wacky tale of Crispin Glover's visit to Sand Land to showcase his deeply weird art film What Is It?, which features actors afflicted with Down syndrome, naked chicks, swastikas, and a butt-load of dead snails.
Glover brought his surreal celluloid romp to Chandler for a three-day run at the beginning of May. And for fans of the quirky character actor, who's given memorable performances in movies ranging from Back to the Future and Charlie's Angels to Willard and River's Edge, to name a few, it must've been a Gloverama dream come true.
Before the flick's screening, Glover narrated a long slideshow drawn in part from self-published scrapbooks such as Rat Catching and Oak Mott. Afterward, Glover engaged the audience in a protracted Q & A and wound up signing autographs, taking pics, and chatting with long lines of slavish Glover-lovers.
"For $18, it's a very long night," Beesley-Brown admitted to this avian. "You get your money's worth of Crispin. You get to meet him and get your freaky photo with him. He'll sign stuff. It's a good value for the patron."
But for those promoting and hosting the event, not so much, according to Beesley-Brown. The lion's share of the take went to Glover — $14 out of the $18 ticket price, and Glover's food, in-town travel, and sundry expenses were covered by the event's promoters. Glover required a regular diet of sushi, and had the promoters man his merchandise booth and police the crowd for possible bootleggers filming his surreal, Luis Buñuel-esque film with smuggled-in camcorders. There is but one 35mm print of the film, as Glover has opted not to release it on DVD. So piracy issues are a constant concern to the bizarre star.
The turd in the proverbial punch bowl wasn't so much the financial arrangements, but having to deal with Glover's sometimes prickly, demanding persona. A couple of incidents in particular left a bitter aftertaste, insisted co-promoters Amy Young of Perihelion Arts gallery on Grand Avenue, Stephanie Carrico of the Phoenix performance-art venue Trunk Space, and Matt Yenkala, proprietor of Chandler Cinemas, a struggling indie multiplex offering $2 second-runs and revival fare such as Monty Python double features and screenings of bone-tinglers from Italian horror master Dario Argento.
In other words, Yenkala's Chandler Cinemas ain't making no big money, and neither are scrappy art-fart types like Young and Carrico. Perhaps that's why Glover's demand for his split in cash each night of the showing socked it to their collective pocketbook.
"We're a struggling business," Yenkala related to this yardbird. "We're doing our very best, but we weren't in a cash-ready position. So we had to scramble as bit."
Another problem was that many of the tickets had been sold online through a service that paid the promoters only after the fact. So when Glover demanded to be paid up-front for that first-night ticket sales — or he wouldn't go onstage — the promoters freaked out.
"I was furious!" recalled Beesley-Brown. "It's very difficult for us to come up with all that because we have to pull money from the safe, from the box office, from wherever we can. So finally Matt managed to get all that money and give it to Crispin."
Later, while the film was being shown, Glover was in the Chandler Cinema offices, meticulously counting his newly acquired wads of moolah, Beesley-Brown recalled.
"He wanted it in all the nice, new bills because he takes his money to the Czech Republic, where he has land or a castle or something," Beesley-Brown claimed he told her. "Apparently, he has to take all the nice bills over there because the Czechs won't take ripped bills."
Glover's personal take for the three nights was close to six grand, plus whatever he made off his merchandise, which seems like fairly measly pickings by Hollywood standards. True, Glover ain't no Brad Pitt, but he did appear in the recent box-office winner Beowulf as the monster Grendel, along with co-stars Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, and John Malkovich.
Glover also scored the promise of another $610 from Yenkala after an alleged meltdown in which Glover accused the theater's young projectionist of messing up a small portion of his film, reducing her to tears, according to Yenkala and others present.
"He built himself up into this very stressed state of mind, pacing and gradually raising his voice, not really letting anyone have a word in edgewise," stated Yenkala. "He made it clear that he felt we had damaged his film and wasn't going to be satisfied until we agreed that we were going to pay for the replacement."
Yenkala reluctantly agreed to the demand to placate the persnickety character actor, even though Yenkala doesn't believe the film was damaged on his premises.
This mockingbird e-mailed Glover about the whole episode, and the agitated B-lister immediately called Yenkala and accused the cinema owner of trying to ruin Glover's career by talking to the press. Glover eventually e-mailed The Bird back, giving his side of the kerfuffle.
"I did not yell at or even have a conversation with the projectionist other than getting the details of how my print was handled," wrote Glover. "My entire conversation after the show on Sunday was with Matthew M. Yenkala about the technical aspects and procedure that led to damaging reel five of my film."
Glover went on to explain, in detail, his basis for concluding the film was damaged by the projectionist, and his theory about why the promoters are unfairly criticizing him. (You can read Glover's e-mails and the promoter's e-mails on the Feathered Bastard blog.)
Glover also asserted he was nothing but professional during his sojourn in Sand Land, and that getting paid in cash up-front was part of his e-mailed requirements to the promoters before the event. (Apparently, there was no formal contract.) Yenkala provided The Bird with a copy of Glover's technical "rider" for the appearance, which didn't include a demand upfront for the loot. When e-mailed this rider by The Bird, Glover responded with his own version, which included a demand for payment in cash.
Yenkala responded that Glover's version wasn't what he received from the actor, and Carrico forwarded a copy of an e-mail from Glover to the promoters containing the version of the rider sans the cash request. All the promoters say Glover's insistence on a cash payment was new to them on the first night of his Chandler presentation.
This isn't the first time Glover's pitched a fit over the showing of his art-house masterpiece. In 2005, the Tucson Weekly detailed how Glover "flipped his lid" at Tucson's Loft Theater "after he learned that his directorial debut, What Is It?, was going to be shown in the smaller upstairs theater rather than in the cavernous main auditorium for the last two days of its week-long engagement."
And Glover's known (and in some quarters beloved) for his eccentric behavior, like the infamous 1987 incident in which he kicked his platform shoes perilously close to David Letterman's head during an appearance on Late Night, exclaiming, "I'm strong . . . I can kick."
Glover's also had his beefs with Hollywood big shots like Steven Spielberg, who executive-produced Back to the Future, wherein Glover played milquetoast dad George McFly, father of Michael J. Fox's character, Marty McFly.
According to the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDb.com), when Glover turned down the offer to reprise the role in Back to the Future, Part II, the producers, who again included Spielberg, "brought the character back to life by splicing together archived footage and new scenes (using an actor in prosthetic makeup)." Glover successfully sued Spielberg over the issue. IMDb.com notes, "The case prompted the Screen Actors Guild to devise new regulations about the use of actors' images."
Glover maintained the grudge, it seems. In a compendium of outré articles edited by Adam Parfrey, titled Apocalypse Culture II, Glover has one that poses several outlandish questions concerning his cinematic bête noire, including, "Could anal rape of Steven Spielberg be simply the manifestation of a cultural mandate?" And, "Would the culture benefit from Steven Spielberg's murder, or would it be lessened by making him a martyr?"
Yet Robert Zemeckis, director of the Back to the Future films, was willing to work with Glover again in Beowulf, which Zemeckis also directed. But some who've dealt with him here in Arizona feel differently.
"If he's all about the indie spirit and stuff, like he says, I really think he should be a little more generous toward the venues where he shows his film," offered Beesley-Brown. "Especially for putting up with him."
That Bob Dylan line "the pettiness that plays so rough" is what comes to this beaker's mind regarding attacks on Guadalupe Mayor Rebecca Jimenez following her defiance of Sheriff Joe Arpaio on April 3 during the anti-immigrant sweep detailed in the New Times cover story "Brown Out" (May 29).
Hispanic-hatin' nativists are out to dig up anything they can on the 36-year-old ASU student and mother of four who receives a $300-a-month stipend for her mayoral work, on which she estimates she spends anywhere from 30 to 50 hours a week. (Regular Guadalupe council members receive $200 a month.)
Wing-nutty Linda Bentley, reporter for the far-right Sonoran News in lily-white Cave Creek, recently penned a hit piece against the mayor, wherein Bentley dug up old citations for loose dogs the Jimenez had and, therefore, characterized the small-town official as having "a criminal record that spans about a decade."
(Bentley neglected to follow up on a tip that a really bad hangnail Jimenez had two years ago caused her to snap at the mailman.)
According to Bentley's twisted logic, the dog incidents make Jimenez as evil as Ma Barker and Hannibal Lecter combined. Obviously, Bentley pulled most of her info from online sources. Even the photo she used of Jimenez was clipped from another publication without the photographer's knowledge.
Bentley also accused of Mayor Jimenez of being convicted of disorderly conduct. A call by this quacker to Marilyn Trujillo, court administrator for the Guadalupe Municipal Court, uncovered the fact that Jimenez was actually the victim in that case. Nice work, Bent-ley.
As Cave Creek's a world away from Guadalupe, Bentley didn't bother to get off her ass and traipse to the Hispanic locale. When asked if she'd actually physically done any research in the town, which's practically across the street from Tempe's Arizona Mills, Bentley whimpered: "No . . . Why would I?"
Good point, Linda. If you're already down on the brown and plan to bash anyone who defends Arizona's Hispanic population, then there's no reason to venture past your desk. Bentley's done similar hit pieces on Salvador Reza, operator of the Macehualli Work Center, and composed crazy screeds for her rag on immigrant-rights firebrand Isabel Garcia in Tucson and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.
Once upon a time, the Sonoran News did critical pieces on Arpaio. But now that Joe's taken up the cudgel against the undocumented, the weekly's gone all kissy-face with the county's corrupt top constable. These days, the Sonoran News delivers only stories about injured Gila monsters, dust ordinances, and why Hispanics are to be loathed and feared.
Opposition to Mayor Jimenez from the Sonoran News is to be expected, but Jimenez is also getting pummeled by Guadalupe's loony left in the person of longtime community activist Socorro Bernasconi, whose husband, Santino Bernasconi, is the deacon of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Both Bernasconis want Arpaio out of their community, but their dislike of Jimenez seems even greater, though they've never proffered a rational explanation behind it.
In persistent, sometimes hysterical e-mails to members of the Guadalupe Town Council, Socorro Bernasconi has compared Jimenez to a "miniature Arpaio" with near-dictatorial powers. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Jimenez currently leads a small 4-to-3 majority on the council. Her fellow council members are free to make remarks criticizing her during the council sessions and can call council meetings with three signatures. Citizens speaking for or against anything the mayor does can speak at public meetings. And all measures of the council must be voted on.
Still, Socorro Bernasconi's helping gather signatures for a recall of Jimenez. That's not a difficult thing to accomplish in a town where not enough people vote regularly. Bernasconi has already been successful in getting the sigs to recall council member Patricia Jimenez, the mayor's cousin, mostly over personality issues. The vote's set for this September, even though Patricia Jimenez's term is up early next year.
If Patricia Jimenez is successfully recalled, her cousin will quickly face a vote of no confidence and may be stripped of her mayor-ship, as the mayor's elected from and by the seven-member council.
Asked why she was working so diligently to topple the mayor — one of the few elected officials to defy Sheriff Arpaio — Socorro Bernasconi would reply only via e-mail with the following non sequitur.
"My only comment is that New Times (like Arpaio) is only using Guadalupe — to get back at Arpaio!"
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Huh? Arpaio's using Guadalupe to get back at himself? As for the part about New Times "using" Guadalupe, Arpaio made Guadalupe ground zero in the immigration debate, not New Times.
Do we care about the abuses perpetuated on Guadalupe citizens by Arpaio? Absolutely. Which's why New Times has extensively reported on Arpaio's April sweep there and why it will continue to do so.
If Socorro Bernasconi cares about her town as much as she says she does, and if she wants Arpaio vamoosed, then she should focus her energies on building coalitions instead of tearing them down. Otherwise, Socorro Bernasconi might as well be an adviser to the sheriff or a regular contributor to the Sonoran News.