Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'd Like To Report A Missing Person...

In honor of the memory of what was, a blast from BrooWaha past.  Firewalk with me down memory lane to a time when authors gave a crap, and their voice was heard.

It was Tuesday, September 4th. I drove north on Wilcox, my destination now in sight. I found a space in front of the building and parked. It was the only space left on the street. Was it fate, or just dumb luck?

For this job, I could use a little of both.

5:45 p.m. After a hard day at work the A/C inside was cool and inviting. Outside, the air was hot and wet, a lot like the pavement in a Whitesnake video featuring Tawney Kitaen. 100 degrees every day for... days, but that was another story.

1358 N. Wilcox. Hollywood Division. LAPD's Precinct of Broken Dreams. I stepped inside. A pale-legged tourist with black socks and an Iowa drivers' license sat next to a self-employed, freelance “actress" with six-inch heels and no permanent address. I noticed that, even in the late-summer heat, both of them were wearing wigs.

And just like the curls in their nylon hair, nothing about either of them seemed out of place.

At least not here.

I asked the one in the heels if this was where you go to file a report. She nodded like a regular. As I made my way to the window, a fat cop, dressed all in blue, sat on a stool behind bullet-proof glass, staring at me. Suddenly, I felt dirty. He was looking me up and down like I was a... or maybe he was looking at the "actress". From where I stood, it was hard to tell.

Before I reach the counter, the fat cop spoke.

"How can I help you?"

I'd like to report a missing person." I paused. "Make that… well, there’s a lot of them."

I reached into the manila folder I carried under one arm, and pulled out a list. As I slid the list under the glass, I saw the box. Pink cardboard with white paper sticking out of it. The box looked like it had been worked over good.

And the cop looked full.

"What's this?"

"They're all missing," I said.

The cop wiped his hands on a near-by napkin, then grabbed the list.

"These are... names? What kind of names are these?" He picked up a pair of reading glasses from on top of the pink box, and hung them on the end of his nose. He read the names out loud.

"V? What does that stand for? El G? Mora Uman?  Steven Lane? You mean that Steven Lane?  Tumerica?  Joseph M?  Merijoe?"

"Oh, sorry... I'm pretty sure that's not really her in the picture." Suddenly, I felt foolish, but I pressed on. "Next to the names are the dates anybody last heard from them." I must have looked anxious. The cop looked at me as much as he did the list. He finished reading the names and looked at me over the top of his glasses, as if to make sure I meant business.

"Crowbar? Vundula? Savage Lettuce... Are these for real?"

"Of course they're for real!"

"What are you, some kind of private detective?

"I'm a writer."

"Figures." He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "And these are friends of yours?"

"Kinda. They're other writers."

"And they're missing?"

The cop looked at his watch. As he did, I noticed the clock on the wall behind him. It was five minutes to six. I guessed that Officer Pink Box was almost done with his shift.

"You got anything else?"

I reached into the folder once more. I pulled out five sheets and shoved them all under the glass. Each one had the writer's profile printed on it.

"Those are the last-know whereabouts for each of them. Plus some personal information. I thought it might help."

He flipped through the pages, randomly reading from each one.

"... common-law wife named Oksana... formerly homeless with three AKAs... a bicycle named Mathilda?" He picked up the napkin again. He wiped the corners of his mouth, then tossed the napkin into a distant trash can. Probably the only exercise he ever got. Then he leaned forward... closer... as close as he could get without touching his nose on the window. As he did, he stifled a silent burp.

I thanked God for bullet-proof glass.

"This is everything?"

"Yeah." Instinctively, I pulled back. As if the smell of coffee and donuts might make it's way to my side of the window.

In one motion the cop shoved all the papers back under the glass in my direction. As he did, the clock on the wall behind him struck six.

Then I'm afraid you're on your own."

"But they're..."

"Missing. Yeah, I got that. You seem like a bright guy Mr... uh,"

"Friday," he laughed to himself. I thought I heard him muttered the words, "Like that's your real name."

"Excuse me?"

"Mr. Friday..." He stood up to leave. "They'll turn up. They always do."

They always do... They always do...

"So what kind of story is that?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"What genre?"


The thirteen-year-old boy looked up from the computer screen. He shook his head. The words "gimme a break" were written all over his face.

"It's stupid."


"Because they're not really missing."

"It's a metaphor," I argued. Never argue with a thirteen-year-old.

"A metaphor for for what?"

I hesitated. A metaphor for what? "Well, they haven't written in a long time."

"Neither have you."

I thought before I spoke... this time. He had me.

"Okay. Then it's... a metaphor for my own futility as a writer?"

"So you're the one who's really missing?" Brown eyes stared back at me. My son wasn't buying any of it.

"You're right," I said. "It is stupid."

"And the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem."

"Don't you have homework to do?"

"Why? It's stupid."

He turned and headed up the stairs.

"And don't forget to say good night when you're done." And he was gone.

"I suppose I could just email them," I said to no one.

A voice answered from the other room.

"Are you talking to yourself, again?"


Copyright © 2010 Bill Friday


  1. Every March, as I inevitably watch my NCAA Men's brackets turn to so much dust... I am reminded of an innocent time when an innocuous suggestion became a miniature opus - and perhaps the greatest tribute to what BrooWaha was back then. I sometimes wax poetic about writing it again, and then realize that it just wouldn't be the same... and in that, perhaps it's gone forever.

    I've tried to go back... but it just ends up feeling like an old retired athlete stepping back onto the pitch with a younger generation - I think I can still play, but then notice that the game has changed immensely - though it did so in ever-so-slight steps - and that it's passed me by nonetheless.

    I expect that the greatest thing Broo will have ever accomplished is to introduce us to one another - and that periodically catching up, keeping track and reminiscing with like-minded and talented souls, is really what it's all about anyways.

    Hope you find these folks, Friday. They sound like an interesting lot.

  2. So when may Morgana expect Bill Friday for washing her car ;-)

    They are all characters worth reporting missing. I miss Reno Broo and the Old Broo. It was a moment in time that I thought was special. Special as there were actually organic and dynamically alive moments where these various personalities would actually read what another said, commented intelligently on it, and continued a civil discourse. And there is a record to refer back to.

    Writer Ursula K. LeGuinn had a workshop and she was pleasantly surprised at how many people were at it who were writing and wanting to improve their writing, even see their craft improved with critiques of their writing and others' writing. Unless we rise above the lowest common denominator, giving a crap is not on ones mind though, is it?

    The veracity of the Internet to me is no different than reading or listening to any other type of media. Everyone's (yes, that's a weasel word) got a story, everyone's got a bias, and some people lie, misrepresent some of the time. They lie and misrepresent for their own reasons. 99.9% of the time the lies, misrepresents are all completely harmless in their outcome.

    Personal home pages are online multi-media texts which address the question, ‘Who Am I to This World?’ Since the Web is, amongst other things, a global publishing system, such pages make public the personal if chosen or the made up avatar or the mash up avatar. At the same time they can be seen as making for example personal the public, since home page authors engage in bricolage, adopting and adapting borrowed material from the public domain of the Web in the process of fashioning personal and public identities. In such sites, what are visibly ‘under construction’ are not only the pages but the authors themselves. Such as this interesting site.

  3. Next -- another pov is James Madison’s. In the Federalist Papers, he successfully argued the United States Constitution creates a protective balance of power among factions that rise in any society – including a virtual one. Morgana’s POV and the one who created her cherish freedom. Free speech, even insipid free speech over a minor character such as Morgana’s POV, is okay by Morgana’s POV and the one who created her. Got that? It’s okay.

    Next – Morgana’s POV is a created character – on the Internet in some places her creator placed her but increasingly in others her creator hadn’t. No different that the use of other characters used by people for centuries. People do have reasonable differences. Why? It’s because our ignorance, hubris, naivetes, and selfishness sometimes prompt us into decisions that have conflicting ambitions. Use of a character is a time-honored tradition used to live with differences. Does this mean Morgana’s POV creator is now a fabler because one of their characters has something to attract others to make such banal comment about a minor charactor? That’s also ok by Morgana’s POV and the one who created her . Again, that’s okay.

    Next -- then there’s the pov of chronic cynicism. That’s deadly. World-weary is not what Morgana’s POV and the one who created her ever want to be. It is human nature to be social, to connect. Chronic cynics are lonely, alienated and self-destructive more often then they aren’t. With chronic cynicism as one’s pov a fixation is on character assassination rather that on socialization, and defining and addressing issues. Character assassination of a created character has some really palatable irony to it.

    Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, that to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. Remember, it is we, the people; not we, the white male straight appearing Christian. Moreover, remember always that all of us are descended from immigrants and revolutionists. Morgana’s POV is now due at the pool. She loves the lap swim. What a character.


  4. Looking her usual snappy self, the character Morgana’s POV casually walked into It's Always Friday on the Internet. Her calf length print skirt reveals a figure still kept up. As she takes off her early ‘60’s retro sunglasses, her eyes are that of a mature sophisticated woman with glimpses of the giddy girl still inside. Today she’s dressed in blue and green which further accentuates her green eyes and reflects her continuing blue mood. Billie Holiday’s singing Comes Love She notices another snappy character, Bill Friday, who has identical sunglasses. Friday in 40’s suave chic, light-grey flannel trousers, blue-grey double vented 2-button coat and classic shirt, feels Morgana’s POV then on him. He looks at her for a heartbeat, then a mischievous smirk began to emerge. Although she can’t see his eyes, she’s certain his eyes are twinkling as much as hers as they size each other up with mixed feelings. Friday is e-mailing Morgana’s POV about chat on the Internet and how and what to believe in that chat.

    Morgana’s POV wants a moment to reflect so she leans back in her chair. Being a fidget, she crosses her shapely legs, adjusts her skirt, takes off her blue 50’s sweater, and twiddles her feet in their 2 ½ inch stiletto heels. Morgana’s POV considers. What’s Sir Friday’s pov? What does he know about Reno ? Why does Sir Friday even care about an invented character?

    If when one says these comments one means the devils’ brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the community, creates misery and poverty, or topples the righteous into degradation, hopelessness, shame, despair, and helplessness, than I am certainly against these comments.

    But when you say these comments you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale consumed when good people get together, puts a song into one’s heart and laughter on their lips and in the air, with warm glows of contentment, puts a youthful spring into one’s gait, magnifies joy, happiness and enables forgetting, if only for a little while, than I am certainly for these comments.

    This is the stand of Morgana’s POV on that. She will not retreat from it. She will not compromise.

    Then, there’s the pov of, “Who cares what they’re saying? It’s that they’re talking that matters.” Do I even care someone’s talking bad about this character, Morgana’s POV then thinks. Quickly on the heels of that question came the answer. Nope.

    Next -- then there’s another pov as urbane Bill Friday’s classmate said, “Fuck ‘em if they don’t like me.” That classmate of Bill Friday is the one and only kick-ass screenwriter and director Quentin Tarantino. Morgana’s POV is thinking modified about that though. As in, since I don’t care what they say, fuck ‘em if they don’t like me.

  5. Despite the google translation into Portuguese is not good, tell me if I Understood your article. While it is true or not, fiction or reality, it is always interesting because it is always a clue to his writing. Even if you dont have the avatar, to feel for the impact this article or image That Can Cause Whether the media or the web or literature. Every lie or at least Almost all Have a little truth! Because of fear or not wanting if the spores Can hide behind the web page. If you read one article that will add to their knowledge or their personal development, great. If we will not add anything, simply,delete.