I should talk, I guess, but I still have my responsibilities

17 02 2009

Trying to find someplace to replace my beloved ‘Fazione, I sat for about four hours this afternoon in the Cafe Collage with my laptop and nursed large coffee while trying to figure out what’s going on with the economy, my online journals, and my laptop. It’s smoking like an oil burning rod.

As the faithful readers here know (and I mean FAITHFUL, if you’re a reader here, as there hasn’t been anything in A-while to read!) my day job is as editor for The Moss Problem. Things have not been going well there, so today I drafted a letter to the writers– meaning to be both fear inspiring and inspirational. I’m going to wait a day or two, however, before I present them with it. I’d like to reread it with a fresh perspective before publishing it there. So here it is. Tell me what you think!

Open letter from Anthony Franciosa to Moss Problem writers.

I had my accountant look over the books for The Moss Problem and he tells me we are in serious financial trouble. As many of you know, it has long been my preference to let people motivate and govern themselves while I simply fulfill my roll as sage, guidance counselor, and small town traffic cop. But with the recent upheavals in the economy, I, and indeed WE, no longer have the luxury to lackadaisically lollygag, loaf, and fuck around, and get paid for it. I realize that your writers’ salary isn’t much, but take a look around you! Many fine, longstanding journalists at publications more formidable and with a greater advertising base than this one have been shown the door and are now working as baristas and bike messengers. Maybe I let you people slide for too long, and you haven’t had the benefit of fear or hunger to motivate you. Well, sorry to say, things are gonna change, baby.

Some of you haven’t written a single article IN THE PAST YEAR. We cannot allow this kind of sloth to continue if we’re going to compete with the big boys. You people are cashing your paychecks—for what? To grace our contributor list? Readers aren’t stupid; when they see no new articles appearing in our pages, it means only one thing to them: no new articles. Soon, they will look elsewhere for news and intellectual stimulation. I really don’t want to have to let any of you go, but if things don’t change I will soon be forced to make cuts. I will be forced to trim, and even, though I hate to say it, perform surgery without anesthetic. And finally, I will be forced, though against my aesthetic judgment and warmer feelings, to separate the wheat from the chaff.

From today on we must have changes. Big changes. If you writers aren’t going to come up with articles, I will have no choice but to cease calling you writers. I will call you deadbeats. Unless one of your brilliant postings is titled: “An open letter to Anthony Franciosa: Why I Should Continue To Get Paid Even Though I Make No Contributions To The Moss Problem. Well, here it is. I well just cease to pay you, that’s all. You can go off and write for Yelp, for all I care. And it has come to my attention that some of you already do. Please explain THAT to me.

From this day forth, writers, don’t even bother coming into the office unless you plan to leave copy on my desk. And you’re going to have to spell-check it yourself, because the first ones to go are our copy editors and fact checkers. That is, after the accountant, who I really didn’t need to tell me we’re in deep financial shit. At any rate, hear me out: If you aren’t coming to the office with an idea and some inspiration, don’t bother to come in at all. If you aren’t coming into the office operating at 110%, don’t bother to come in at all. We must look at every day like it is the Superbowl, but even more than that, the Superbowl of The Future, where the losing team gets euthanized, carved up, and barbequed at post-game tailgate parties. In short, if you are not coming into the office to PERFORM, stay at home and do whatever the hell it is that writers do when they’re at home. Procrastinating is my best guess.


432nd Academy Oscars

24 02 2008


  • Supporting actress – Ruby Dee
  • Supporting actor – Javier Bardem
  • Actress – Julie Christie
  • Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Adapted Screenplay – No Country For Old Men
  • Original Screenplay – Juno
  • Cinematography – No Country for Old Men
  • Original Score – Michael Clayton
  • Director – Coen Bros.
  • Picture – No Country For Old Men
  • Documentary – No End In Sight
  • The rest of them – how the hell should I know?

WHO should WIN

  • Supporting actress – Tilda Swinton
  • Supporting actor – Tom Wilkinson
  • Actress – Laura Linney
  • Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Adapted Screenplay – Atonement
  • Original Screenplay – Michael Clayton
  • Cinematography – Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Original Score – Atonement
  • Director – Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Picture – There Will Be Blood
  • Documentary – Sicko
  • The rest of them – who cares?


  • Norm’s on La Cienega

Here We Grow Again!

6 02 2008

There’s probably nothing I hate more than when people say that!

So I’m saying it just because I hate it so much.

Anyway, it’s been a LONG TIME, so a new look seems appropriate.

As Elvis said, “I’d like that bacon extra crispy, mam.”

No… I mean, he did say that, but what I was getting at is: “It’s been a long time, Jack… A-while.”

But then, do the young kids even know who Elvis is?

Anyway, I’ve just returned from an extended stay at The Grass Is Always Greener… which if you don’t know is kind of a combination diet spa, rehab, feng shui center, and adult education facility. We like our hybrids here in California.

But I’m glad to be back at Norm’s. Sitting in my regular booth. Oh, look! There’s Will Smith… Bill Smith. No, Kevin Smith. Costner. No… Smith. Brad. Brock… no… Bill Smith. Bill Smith?

I’m still here!

26 06 2007

It’s been awhile. Found a new coffee place. Decent place to live is another question.

As we speak, I’m editing the new issue of The Sweet Ride, #23. It promises to be the best issue yet! It should be done in two weeks.

For a hot off the presses copy, send one dollar to:

c/o Russell

PO BOX 1748

Milwaukee WI 53201-1748

I Can’t Believe It

29 04 2007

I am really happy to finally be back in Los Angeles, well I’ve been back for awhile, but I’m far from settled!

Except for one thing. The first thing I did was go to visit my old hangout, my neighborhood Torrefazione, and guess what, it’s closed! It turns out that STARBUCKS bought the whole company and closed all the cafes! I guess they didn’t like having quality coffee and people who actually know how to make a cappuccino as competition for their black plague swill factory.

Oh, well, I suppose if someone would have warned me, I still would have moved back. But now, there is no reason to move to the old neighborhood, or the old old neighborhood, so I’ve been kind of at a loss for WHERE to move. I’m staying with friends for the time being, but I could move anywhere, as long as it’s in the greater LA area, which, as you know, is pretty great. Any suggestions?

Also, any suggestions for new hangouts, preferably cafes? For now you can find me, of course, at Norm’s.

Colder than a ticket-taker’s smile at the Ivar Theatre

23 02 2007

I was walking into town to my small editorial office this morning, as usual, and suddenly I was shocked to see a lovely young woman riding down the street on a bicycle– smiling! It wasn’t so odd to see a lovely young woman, or someone riding a bicycle (okay– both of those are all too rare in Milwaukee)– but SMILING, that was what really caught me off guard. No one ever smiles in Milwaukee– I mean, I presume they do at home, or at bars while drunk– but in public, you never see anyone smiling– not men, and especially not women. Now, I didn’t think this woman was smiling AT ME or anything– she looked like maybe she was in her own world at that moment– but the point is, the shock I received from such a sight made me realize how all too rare such an occurrence is in Milwaukee.

And that was what pushed me over to the other side of the fence, finally. See, I’ve been considering, weighing, pouring and pondering lately my decision to move here, and my general unhappiness with the place. People keep saying to me, “Wait until it gets warm! Summer is right around the corner!” But, well, I WAS HERE last summer, remember?– and I found Milwaukee to be equally as cold a town in the hot summer months as in the harsh winter– maybe more so. The festivals here are atrocious, with the downtown filling with dullards from the suburbs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stared at aggressively by groups of young jock/frat-boy types, or yelled “faggot” at out of pickup truck windows– why? Because I’m WALKING? Because of my propensity for bright colors or silk ascots? I feel like I’m in high school here– the pressure to fit in– as if you’re not wearing the Packer’s yellow and green you could be attacked by a mob of drunken idiots. I walk down the street and nod to people and say “hi,” and I’m met by blank stares, complete indifference at best, and hostile glares or disparaging comments, on occasion.

So when I saw this smiling woman today, I thought, that reminds me of LA. Sure, if it was LA you might assume she was on drugs or in a cult, but is the new cult of hardcore, unyielding Christian extremists that have taken over much of the Midwest– and certainly all of the state of Wisconsin, save for some pockets of sanity around Madison– any better? Indeed it may be worse. I was then trying to think of a suitable metaphor to use in describing the coldness of my human interactions with purported human beings in this town. That “witch’s tit” one is really kind of moldy. I thought of the Tom Waits quote, “Colder than a ticket-taker’s smile at the Ivar Theatre on a Saturday night” and I thought, is that all Tom could come up with?– (the funny part is that he was AT the Ivar Theatre at the time). In LA they think they know cold, but they do not. Try living in Wisconsin for awhile. And I’m not talking about the weather– I love the snow– it’s been a lovely winter. But the people here would give Antarctica a run for its money.

So, that’s it, I finally decided. I’m moving back to LA. I can still run The Sweet Ride from there– after all, it’s not a very demanding job. I can keep the PO Box here and have my assistant forward me the mail. At this point, that would cost about 39¢ a week! Not much mail to the editorial department. Maybe once in LA I’ll be able to work more efficiently and get the magazine out more frequently. At least the coffee situation will be improved. There are nearly as many cafes as bars in this town (and THAT’S saying something) but not ONE of them has a decent cup of coffee. I’ll really look forward to being back in the old neighborhood, sitting at the Torrefazione with a real cappuccino, and the beautiful women not afraid to smile, not afraid that I might suddenly turn into a stalker just because they decided to interact like a human being.

Park City

31 01 2007

Skipped the usual 10 best lists this year, new years resolutions, all that in favor of actually reading some books and catching up on the HBO shows on DVD that I’ve missed. I’m not even going to mention what, and which, why should anyone give a damn!

Spent a couple of days at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, not to see the famous people (none) or the films (saw a couple of crappy ones) but to hang out with friends who where out there from Los Angeles. (Actually did see one good movie, The Pool, made by friend of a friend — and, oh, this Brazilian documentary, Accidente, really good, so there is my film report!). Ran into Eric Lezotte from LA, he had broken his wrist snowboarding! We talked about our favorite family restaurnts in the city of angles, including the Astro Family Restaurant on Glendale and Fletcher (a favortie of silver lakers) and of course, NORM’S. It was nice to see him, oh, and we both suspected that that condos were were staying at had dead bodies hidden in the walls, due to strange, foul, elusive smell. You’ve got to wonder what goes on in those rental places year after year. I got in the hot tub once and came down with a very unwelcome rash.