Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Predators Who Prey on Authors

Occasionally I'll get a call from an author predator. It begins like this. Yeah hey this Mike from Doowop Press and we really love your work and want to talk to you. Mike will then precede to tell me how much he loves my books and they would love to publish my work...for a  small fee. Usually 5 grand is where it starts. I don't return these calls but they stay on you. I haven't heard from you...are you ok? Eventually I block the number.

But many authors fall prey to these predators. Unpublished authors are looking for validation and unfortunately these companies know this. And they make their money off of authors who are desperate to get their work out there and then five or ten grand later the book dies a silent death but they are already on to their next victim. It gets even worse with the movie predators.

Hey William we read your novel and think it would make a great movie. Usually two people work in tandem. One is a person who initially contacts you and then they bring in the big gun agent who is not an agent at all. We can get your book in front of top line producers and they will make it into a movie...for a fee. Again it is in the thousands. The word Hollywood is Christmas for most authors and so this is a strong play and unfortunately many authors get fleeced finding out too late they have no contacts at all and worse they never read your book.

Publishers are supposed to pay authors not the other way around, Movie producers are supposed to pay authors. Agents are supposed to work on commission. But just hearing that someone loves your book is a tonic to the gin of years of struggle and it is that drunkenness of perceived success these predators bank on. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Parasite is the Great Gatsby of our Era

I said to my wife in the car after seeing  Parasite that it was Gatsby. I hadn't thought about it since but the more that film resonates and now after getting Best Picture I really do believe it is a modern parable much in the same vein of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. Both stories involve class stratification and ultimately class warfare. Parasite and Gatsby may be culturally worlds apart but they both tell the story of the American Dream or the World Dream gone bad.
Gatsby's telling of Tom Buchannan's world of privilege that Gatsby has bought his way into by being a bootlegger is much the same as the Kim's world of buying their way into the one percent  by posing as servants to the upper class. Deception is key in both stories. Gatsby fakes his lineage and the source of his money while the Kim's fake their pedigrees of education and serving the rich. The protagonists of both parables are doomed by their efforts to move up and ultimately destroyed by the forces that hold them down.

While Gatsby is but a 1920s singular comment on the American Dream as it existed in early twentieth century America, Parasite spreads out and gives the world view that the dream of having a family and living a life of satisfying work, leisure, with a comfortable home and a better world for our children transcends the boundaries of America and reaches into the corners of the world as a modern comment on the ongoing struggle between the haves and have nots. In both cases, Gatsby being shot by Myrtle Wilsons deranged husband and the Kim's destruction at the hand of the deranged husband of the housekeeper are eerily similar in that the rich use the very people they oppress to murder those who dare to break out of their class. Ninety five years separate these two stories, but the world that is painted is much the same.

william hazelgrove

Thursday, December 26, 2019

When Christmas Is Finally Over

You are left with a hollow feeling after all that relief that you pulled it off. You fight the desire to watch A Christmas Story one more time or Bing in Holiday Inn or White Christmas. The tree is beginning to lose its needles and your bank account has been hollowed out...and still you just cant quite believe its all over. And there is some loss there. A door closing on some distant past that you as an adult can only get a glimpse of a few times. Sometimes, almost never.

And it is like being a kid again. Christmas is one big look back to when you were young, Your own children experience it as a first time but for all the adults it is a well trod road that ends on December 26th and then finally when all the ornaments and decorations are packed away for the next year. And maybe it is all the old Christmas movies that does it or it is as simple as putting the brakes on our very important lives for just a day and that's when those memories move in and you remember getting a first bike or loved ones who have passed or just the simple pleasure of being in your home and feeling for once this is enough.

But it ends. And like that incredible lookback at simpler times that is most Christmas Movies it is a nostalgia trip into your own simpler, younger self that lurks behind that adult trying to get all done all the time. So you cant help but feel wistful that it all went by once again too fast and that maybe next year you can slow it down and enjoy it more, but Christmas has its own timetable and it is but once a year and so the best we can do as we leave the attic or the basement and turn off the light on all those memories is know that in twelve months we can do it all over again. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Dont Let America Age You

The irony of our hope I did before I get old culture is that it makes people old before their time. Our marketing colossus the United States of Mass Media pushes out pictures of the young while relegating the old to the drug commercials that are mystifying in their names and what ailments they cure. But we are typed very quickly. You are either young or old in America and if you doubt this then wait for the AARP flyer to descend even as you slip through your forties. But it is more insidious than that.

American culture demands everyone remain young. Just watch the digitally altered faces of Robert Deiniro and Al Pacino on the Irishman. Old actors who are extremely famous nead not apply unless they can be turned into twenty or thirty somethings.The frustrating view that everyone is young until they are old is that everyone ages at different rates and different ways. People do not magically turn grey and appear in commericals of retirement homes or 55 plus active living communities playing tennis or sitting on a porch swing in octogenarian bliss. Moreover people go about their lives, some showing their age and many who seem blissfully unaware they have crossed the cultural boundary dividing the vibrant young from the parked and decrepit old.

But America for all of its young ethos cannot deal with people aging. They are either performing herculean plastic surgery (see Jane Fonda or Dolly Parton) or they have a walker. The middle group is largely absent from our culture. That would be the youth cultures greatest victim, adults who grew up and no longer look like they are still just ten years our of college. Uh...they are called adults. You know those people in the old movies smoking cigarettes, having drinks, and sex, and everything else that young people have. So you really are as old as you feel. Just turn off the television showing all those drugged up old people and those vibrant young people. And then just live your life. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

What Did they do to Robert Diniro in the Irishman?

Love the gangster flicks. The Untouchables. Once upon a time in America. So I settled in for the Irishman, Scorsese new epic on the Hoffa era of gangsterism. So there is Deniro looking old in a nursing home telling his story. Well, he is old so it fits. Maybe not nursing home old but seventies old. And so he flashes back to his twenties and there is Deniro again. Only he is no longer old. He is digitally young now. He looks like someone inflated his forehead and nailed his eyes down into two slits. But they left his body intact after some padding around the soldiers.

So now Pacino and Deniro can play any role in the world. No longer will actors have to act their age. Just watch Helen Mirren in Catherine the Great. They worked hard on those camera angles there. But back to Deniro who is now driving a truck as a twenty something man and he bumps in Joe Pesci who looks old but that is his real age. So the digital Deniro and flesh and blood Pesci talk and then Joe delivers the line well young fella or young man. How about well, digital man. None of it really works. The suspension of disbelief gets tied up into the android that is digital Deniro

Forget the retread of every Deniro face and action. It is like watching a lot of old Deniro movies played by the new digital Deniro. But he is done in when he has to climb some rocks to toss away a gun and the digital Deniro moves like an old man. He is slow, stiff, and you can almost see him reaching for his back. But you know what, that moment was at least real. 

The Death of the Book that Didnt Happen

Oh it was supposed to go the way of the IPOD. You know the book. It was over. We would all be listening to or reading our books on kindles and those anachronistic tombs would be just hanging around the shelves waiting to start a good bonfire. didn't happen. Wait a minute. You mean the economics behind ripping a .99 cent song or spotify didn't apply to books? Come on. People are driven by economics and convenience and it surely is cheaper and easier to download a book than lugging around a pound and half of books in your backpack. So...RIP book.

But then it didn't happen. Maybe it was the college class of advanced fiction or intro English that tipped me off.   I told the students on the first day. Yes you can download the books if you want. How many people have kindles? Crickets. How many people download books to their computers. Crickets. Wait a minute. The vaunted eighteen year old tech savvy demographic was not behaving. At least not for the pundits and doomsayers of books. Then sales of ebooks flatlined and I started doing back to back book signings in Barnes and Nobles around Chicago. I mean lots of them. Twenty or so around the holidays and then I got my second shock.

My books are not discounted. I am not Tom Clancy and my publishers decline to break the price on my hardcovers. So my books cost around 32.00 or 36.00 out the door. People didn't blink. They didn't even ask the price. They just bought and bought and bought. No sign of the Kindle or Nook anywhere. I sold 24,000 dollars worth of hardcovers last why didn't the damn book die? Well...people who read are different animals than those who rip songs from the Internet. Also, we work on our computers. Yeah that thing we lug around and haunts us in our sleep to the point we have to get stoned or take a drink to calm our jazzed brains does not lend itself to pleasure. And reading is pleasure.
Now there are those who say well virtual reality will replace the book eventually. Yawn. Forget about the research that says when we watch something our brain just about goes to sleep and that words are about the only sparks that conjure up a scene in the tabula rasa of our brain. Virtual reality replace books. Sure it will. Just like we all drink lattes and have tattoos and ear rings and live in urban areas and have sleek new phones and cars. Not. Most people shop at Target. Pay the mortgage. Hope their kids have a better future and if they have a moment for a good story and have a book they will read that over just bout every other delivery device So lets hear it for that old thumbed and yellowed bit of parchment between  the covers. Long live the book...the book....the book. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Finally The Paperback Release of Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair

Al Capone and the 1933 World’s Fair: The End of the Gangster Era in Chicago is a historical look at Chicago during the darkest days of the Great Depression. The story of Chicago fighting the hold that organized crime had on the city to be able to put on The 1933 World's Fair.

William Hazelgrove provides the exciting and sprawling history behind the 1933 World's Fair, the last of the golden age. He reveals the story of the six millionaire businessmen, dubbed The Secret Six, who beat Al Capone at his own game, ending the gangster era as prohibition was repealed. The story of an intriguing woman, Sally Rand, who embodied the World's Fair with her own rags to riches story and brought sex into the open. The story of Rufus and Charles Dawes who gave the fair a theme and then found financing in the worst economic times the country had ever experienced. The story of the most corrupt mayor of Chicago, William Thompson, who owed his election to Al Capone; and the mayor who followed him, Anton Cermak, who was murdered months before the fair opened by an assassin many said was hired by Al Capone.

But most of all it’s the story about a city fighting for survival in the darkest of times; and a shining light of hope called A Century of Progress.

Paperback Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair

Books by William Hazelgrove