Monday, March 30, 2015

Adios, Companero

""I am incredibly lucky to have spent my entire radio career doing exactly what I've wanted," says Vin. "The kind of programming autonomy I've enjoyed, on both commercial and public radio over all these years, is unique. I am grateful to all the stations I've worked on for the privilege of being allowed to wander through their airwaves wherever my interests have taken me. I am grateful to my listeners for their support and their indulgence as we shared this journey together. It's hard to let go, of course, but I always promised myself and my audience that when the time was right I would stop. How lucky am I that I get to decide even this!" 

I wanted to be Vin Scelsa before I knew I wanted to be Vin Scelsa, and before I learned that it was impossible. One of the many lessons I learned from Vin (and unfortunately had to relearn over the years) - you can only be you.

Vin seemed to know that right from the beginning, and luckily, he was able to break the rock and roll dj mold at a time when the mold was still warm and malleable.

That was in November of 1967, at a small, independent radio station in New Jersey called WFMU. It was one of those stations that were truly free-form - the host of the show basically made it up as they went along. He later wound up at similar free-form station WBAI, and then went on to a series of ground-breaking commercial rock-and roll stations in the New York area, including WABC-FM, WLIR-FM, WNEW-FM (which is where I found him), K-Rock, back to WNEW-FM and finally to alt music station WFUV with his friend, the late Pete Fornatale, another pioneer with a very different take who died suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago. He has been doing his show, which he renamed Idiot's Delight when back at WNEW-FM, at WFUV for the last 14 years.

After almost 48 years in the business, Vin Scelsa announced *he would be retiring on May 2, 2015 during his weekly two-hour show this past Saturday night. His wiki bio is here.

No bio, however, could define Vin's show, possibly because Vin refused to be defined over the years. When I first was listening to him the first time around on WNEW-FM in the early 1970s, he was doing an overnight show starting at around 1AM or 2AM.

At that time, the overnight slot was even more relaxed than WNEW-FM's regular "progressive" format, simply because fewer people were listening and, unlike the busier day shifts, which were funded by commercials, the overnight had few if any commercials, so the station managers and programmers were less concerned about how the hosts conducted their shows.

This suited Vin perfectly. Over the years, his show has been a mix of music from The Ramones - who included mention of him in one of their songs and who were frequent guests, to discussion on topics like theater (he was an early cheerleader for Hedwig and the Angry Inch when it was originally done Off-Broadway) to books. It was through him that I found one of my favorite contemporary novels, John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany, and a favorite pulp writer, Carl Hiaasen, when he raved about Tourist Season.

Now, when I say he talked about them, I mean, he talked and talked and talked about them. Vin would sometimes play extended sets of music, but when he was on a topic that interested him, he could easily go on about it show after show, and his "raps" would last - well, as long as he wanted them to last.

This drove casual listeners away, but also caused him to attract a large cult following. I remember trying to share my enthusiasm for his show, only to have friends say, 'When is he going to stop talking and go back to the music?'

Still, Vin fascinated me, and many others. His intellectual curiosity knew no bounds, and his openness and candor helped to form a special bond with his listeners. Over the years, he spoke of both his battle with cancer (which he won) as well as his on-going battle with depression. Those of us who listened for years feel like we grew up his daughter Kate, a little girl who is now not only all grown up but a published author of books for young adults. Of course, you could always hear the love in his voice for his devoted wife, Freddie.

When I started working at the radio station at WNYU-FM, there was a time when I thought I would model my show after his, something that was not only a bad idea but impossible. As a young college student, I had infinitely less to say of interest than Vin did, and besides, how to you come up with a model that the creator refuses to follow.

For years, Vin's signature opening was Dorothy's early lines from The Wizard of Oz, leading to "Toto, I think we're not in Kansas anymore," Vin dropped that opening years back. Vin dropped that a number of years back.

More recently, the opening is an imposing voice that would announce:

"Attention listeners. The following program may contain music both familiar and unfamiliar from a wide variety of genres.The following program may contain long musical sets during which not a word is spoken. The following program is not meant to be a representation of any particular theme, music genre or subject matter. It's content is solely a representation of the tastes thoughts concerns and moods of its host. It is, if you will, old-style free form broadcast radio."

Then Vin would set the "ground rules," which he adopted from Rolling Stone's David Fricke.

"Respect the elders. Embrace the new. Encourage the Impractical and Improbable without bias."

He always stuck to those "rules," such as they were.

There were numerous movie and cultural references win Vin, from the title of the show, also the name of a 1939 Clark Gable musical, to Dorothy, who stuck around for the end of the show with "Oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like home," to his interviews with indie-filmmakers like John Sayles.

As with the saying above, Vin was always discovering young and promoting young artists, while his movie references often came from an era where entertainment and stars were bigger than life.You could still hear in his voice the young boy whose mother listened to soap operas and talk shows and his dad, who listened to WNEW-AM and shows like Milkman's Matinee with Sinatra and Basie.

Respect the elders. Embrace the new.

He made the sequeway between Dinah Washington and an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, or Louie Armstrong into Chris Stamey seem natural, because it was for him.

Although he often talked of his love for going to the movies, he was too young to have gone to movies of Hollywood's Golden Age there, likely learning them, as I did, watching them late at night on local independent TV stations. My friend, and award-winning writer/director Ray De Felitta speaks of this in his informative blog, Movies Til Dawn.

He talked often of his time as kind of a tour manager/keep-him-out-of-trouble guy for legendary Townes Van Zandt, and would always work on original material, such as the "letters" from "T-Shirt and Razoo Kelly."

Whenever a television or radio host we enjoy chooses to call it a day, our first instinct is to ask for more. In the past year, that included David Letterman and Jon Stewart. Think how odd that is. It is like the title of a musical by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts called, I Love You. You're Perfect. Now Change.

We love them for being different, but we don't want them to decide when it is over. Do we really want them to become Johnny Carson, dragging on and on because he didn't know how to end it? Do we want it to be like our favorite TV shows that "jumped the shark?"**

Over the last few years, Vin had cut back his four-hour show to two hours, and began doing more of his shows from "Studio V," a remote studio he set up in his home in New Jersey, although he then went back again to recording two hours live at WFUV's studio, and two hours pre-recorded the week before.  It was clear to anyone who truly appreciated Vin's unique voice that the thrill was going, and he always said that when it was gone, his show would be as well.

He kept his promise.

An archive of some of his recent shows can be found here, and if you go to Youtube, there is more. If you are interested, the only way to have an idea of what a Vin Scelsa show is like is to listen to one.

Of course, there was one defining moment for Vin during his commercial radio days, though it was one that was neither intended nor sought. Vin was on-air when John Lennon was shot, and he got many people through that night.

Understand that this was before the days of social media, where all news is brought to our every device instantaneously. I was at a bar that night, a more than a little tipsy, when someone said to me that John Lennon had been shot.

I didn't pay it much mind. How could it be true? Who would want to shoot John Lennon? I put it out of my mind until I got home, turned on my favorite, Vin, and heard Imagine.

It was like a cold bucket of ice had slapped my face. I knew it must be true. And like many other listeners, it was Vin that took me through that night.

Inspiration is not imitation, and while I failed miserably at the latter in my college radio days, I realized somewhere during the life of this blog that Vin's willingness to stray from the straight and narrow path helped me to feel confident often drifting off-topic in this blog. This time it was not by design, but I know it was somewhere, in the back of my mind.

I will miss his shows, but wish him the best of luck with his long-time send-off.

Adios, companero(s).

*The photo of Vin in that blog was taken by David Vanderheyden, who I worked with in my college radio days at WNYU-FM)

**A phrase coined after Happy Days had run out of ideas and had an episode with Fonzie surfing and jumping over a shark.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Recurring Themes

"The one recurring theme in my writing, and in my life, is confusion. The fact that anytime you think you really know something, you're going to find out that you're wrong -  that is the rule. The moments where you think you have something figured out - those are the exceptions."- Conor Oberst, musician

This blog can sometimes be like a bad movie pitch for me, where Bill Murray movies meet other Bill Murray movies. Right about now, it's Groundhog's Day meets What About Bob meets Lost in Translation, only without Scarlett Johansson.

After over twenty years of practicing zazen meditation, it is not surprising that my therapist recently said to me that I had 'introspection down pat,' nor should it be surprising to regular readers of this blog that I have a therapist, something that should be a requirement of anyone who is or, for that matter,  aspires to be, a line producer.

I had found myself on the doorstep of Shooting Gallery after experiencing a dark night of the soul after working with members of my close movie family on Town Diary, a feeling similar to the one I felt more recently after finishing Keep My Brother, where I questioned if this was the right direction for my life.

In preparing this post, recurring themes in my life presented themselves. How similar the challenges and questions of one film is to the next. The feeling of being pulled back in to a world that often did not serve me well. Wondering if this was the right path. Returning to my movie family like the grown kid who keeps going back for that nightmare, Home For the Holidays, Thanksgiving get-together.

The Oberst quote above has more truth for those of us who work in any of the arts than it seems at first glance.  We are constantly chasing after the truth, and scared that we might actually catch up to it. What would we do then? How empty our lives would be if we ever found all the answers.

Likely,  I could have been happy at Shooting Gallery for years, had it not hit that damn iceberg.  For sure, there was a period of time after Shooting Gallery had it's doors closed (that request came from an eviction marshall) where I found myself adrift in a lifeboat,  which was, in my case, funded by that small inheritance I'd received from an aunt.

That time was filled with pursuits both artistic,  where I pursued my writing,  and wanton, which included stays in Atlantic City playing poker. Indeed, there had been times in between shoots where I had made quite a good living after the movie Rounders and amateur  Chris Moneymaker's World Series of Poker victory had driven a number of would-be poker players to the table. It was a time when the quote from Rounders, "if you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, you are the sucker" rang true.  Those of us who had played for a while could make a tidy living.

All good things must eventually come to an end. Poker players started getting better about the same time that the dotcom bubble burst, stock prices tanked, and it seemed a good time to get back to work.

There is a great story about actor  Omar Sharif. The dashing co-star of Lawrence of Arabia and star of Dr. Zhivago and Funny Girl was a world -renowned contract bridge player, good enough that he had a Chicago Tribune syndicated column on bridge that was distributed worldwide.

Sharif did not simply engage in cards as an academic endeavor,  and he enjoyed all forms of gambling.  As the story goes, he had lost most of his money while in Monte Carlo, something that seems to have happened to him more than once. *

Legend has it that after a particularly rough night,Sharif ordered a large breakfast,  asked for a house phone,  called his agent and said, "It looks like it's time to go back to work.  Get me a movie."

My Sharif moment was less exotic with troublesome annoyances such as paying rent and utilities getting in the way.

It was about that time that Phil and Donna from Paper Blood were actually getting close to finally getting funding for their second feature, a script we will call The Holoflux

Years from now, it's possible that a film historian will analyze my career by the fact that two of the films I line produced had names involving the fire of the unattainable and the holoflux universe.  No one will ever accuse me of chasing commercial scripts.

I was back working with close members of my film family,  two people who were closer to me than blood relatives. I would bring in people I knew and trusted. 

Famous last words . What could go wrong?

* Sharif Quote from IMDB "I stopped making movies because for the last twenty five years I've been making a lot of rubbish because I was in debt all the time. You know I used to gamble quite a bit and then I was always broke. I was always one film behind my debts and so at some point you know I had to work all the time to support my family and myself and all my expensive tastes and then I decided that it became ridiculous at some point. "

Saturday, March 14, 2015

This Gun For Hire - Part 4 - And the Band Played On

"Dance Band on the Titanic
Play "Nearer My God To Thee'
The Iceberg's on the Starboard Bow
Won't You Dance With me"
-Harry Chapin, "Dance Band on the Titanic"

Wow, that certainly would have made me feel better.
"Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea."*
We did not have a band as we hit not an iceberg, but the proverbial fan, but, we did have a meeting that quickly turned into a party, whose purpose, I imagine, was similar: Keep those who are about to go overboard calm.

At this point, all sorts of rumors were flying. Larry Meistrich, the head of Shooting Gallery,  held a large meeting with all employees. Yes, there were financial problems,  he admitted, but not to fear, a Canadian company named Itemus was going to supply a much needed spark.

Itemus ** was a true dotcom - a shell of a company that once actually did something  (ironically, gold mining) but now produced nothing except as a shell to buy up dotcoms.

Larry was very positive about the takeover by Itemus , and though there would likely be cutbacks,  we would survive.

"There is no danger Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers." - Phillip Franklin, White Star Line Vice-President***

If Larry's optimism seems almost as foolhardy at this point, one must put it in context. From its inception, Shooting Gallery's success was unlikely, as was its rapid growth.  Indie film producers face certain financial death squarely in the eyes all the time. Why should this be any different?***

Except that it was.

The last on-board,  the dotcoms that were living rent-and-everything-else free off Shooting Gallery were the first to be asked to leave. Some other clients decided this was a good time to go on their own.  It seemed to me that the company started looking to shore-up more reliable clients, like the new-but-securely financed NYT Television,  the Old Gray Lady's**** way of dipping here toes into the internet world.

Next, the offices in other cities were closed.

Dave was still thinking. We looked into an ATM for the lobby downstairs, as an extra source of income.

"Wonderful thing wireless, isn't it?"***** - The Lure of Technology

About a year earlier,  I had joined the world of investment, having inherited a tidy but not insignificant sum from a generous aunt. She and my uncle had grown it the old-fashioned way, investing in tried-and-true ExxonMobil. I had just started dabbling in what a gambler uncle of mine used to call "speculating," and had invested a good portion of it out of that silly outdated oil company to two tech companies,  ironically both with ties in Canada.  One of them was JDS Uniphase******, a company I liked from my research,  and one that a longtime investment specialist I knew assured me was a "rising star." Indeed,  less than a few months later, I would find our what that meant, and the inevitable fate of burning stars.

At this point, I checked the market every day, so imagine my terror when I noticed that Itemus had gone from $5 a share to a few pennies a share. It was a feeling I would have, with much greater sickness,  with my own stock soon.

"Do you think the ship is seriously damaged," White Star Chairman J. Bruce Ismay asked Captain Smith. "I'm afraid she is."

The next news from on high was not good. They could guarantee only our next paycheck, and beyond that, nothing could be guaranteed.

It was an odd time for me. I had already agreed to help Jack do the re-shoot for a few days on Town Diary. Since we did not have an office, and I did't actually have somewhere else to go, I stayed on and used the office as my office for the Town Diary re-shoot, while still helping Dave do what we needed to keep the doors open.

Dave saw what might come, and had me get a security guard. We found a company and actually agreed to have them start, which I think they did for a few days, before we realized we had no way to pay them.

"If this is discipline, what would have been disorder?"
-Senator Smith on the evacuation process

Dave was, as usual, correct. While some people took small things, I can remember seeing people from the other building rolling out computers and other large items. Dave stayed even longer than I did - I think he was there when they padlocked the door - and because of his presence, and the respect people had for him, you did not see that outright plundering of supplies from our building. To be fair, I don't know how much of that stuff actually might have belonged to people, and with impending eviction, anything left behind would have been in the hands of the landlord and other creditors.

No sinking is ever pretty. Ours surely was not. I had finally qualified for health insurance a few weeks earlier, and I soon learned the meaning of COBRA.

Shooting Gallery and Gun for Hire were no more, and I was back in the icy waters of freelance indie filmmaking.

*Very good British documentary about the band called "Titanic: The Band Played On." See it if you can.

**Some of these facts about Itemus from Village Voice article linked below.

***To be clear,  I have never had a conversation with Larry about these events. What I offer here is speculation as to his thoughts and motives based on what I do know. 

****An old moniker for The New York Times from when newspapers were in black-and-white only.

*****Captain Arthur Rostron after telling his second officer of the latest known positions of the icebergs

***** *From Wiki. "During the 1990s, JDS Uniphase stock was a high-flyer tech stock investor favorite. Its stock price doubled three times and three stock splits of 2:1 occurred roughly every 90 days during the last half of 1999 through early 2000, making millionaires of many employees who were stock option holders, and further enabling JDS Uniphase to go on an acquisition and merger binge. After the telecom downturn, JDS Uniphase announced in late July 2001 the largest (up to then) write-down of goodwill. Employment soon dropped as part of the Global Realignment Program from nearly 29,000 to approximately 5,300, many of its factories and facilities were closed around the world, and the stock price dropped from $153 per share to less than $2 per share."

DISCLAIMER:The Village Voice did a great article with a lot of research, as did a documentary. All of my articles on this are based from my perspective which, while from the inside, did not include access to interviews or conversations with key ;players like Larry Meistrich, nor was I in on meetings where key financial decisions were made.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Pound of Flesh

"Tarrya little, there is something else.
This bond doth give thee no jot of blood.
The words expressly are 'a pound of flesh'"
-Portia, Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare=
The quote from The Merchant of Venice above may be among the most sanguine on the nature of justice.

At first glance, Portia is using a technicality, but, in fact, it is far more. It hopes to define the line between justice and vengeance, between addressing a wrong and trying to deal with the frustration that senseless death brings.

I have written before on Sarah, and on the safety responsibilities of the First Assistant Director. As I read the recent deal offered to First Assistant Director Hillary Swartz on Midnight Rider, I found myself tripping over that fine line between responsibility and compassion like a DUI suspect attempting to walk a straight line.

I've written often on the First AD's responsibility for safety on set, and my anger at what happened to Sarah.

When I first read the report of  Sarah's death, my first reaction was "where the hell was the First AD."

Yet, as I read the verdict against the First AD, Hillary Schwartz, I could not help but feel like a ping-pong ball bouncing around with different feelings. A more detailed recap here.

The sentence was a 10 year probation, and a lifetime ban of working as director or assistant director or any capacity where she is involved in the safety of others, as well as a $5000 fine.

My first reaction to the latter was - who would hire her?

Sadly, I know the answer. Without naming names, I worked with a guy who was directly responsible for the death of an NYU student on a film shoot. In fact, this guy now has his own company that does pretty well. In my experience with him - after he had gotten a student killed - he was still willing to risk lives to get the shot.

I am sure there is a director somewhere who would hire Hillary exactly because she would bend the rules. That is why this verdict is so important. I've talked about ADs who have been willing to sacrifice jobs in the interest of safety, as well as my own experience there.

Further down in the article, it did mention two years of prison time for low-life director  Randall Miller. Let's be clear - this is a guy who, in the making-of doc on a previous film CBGB, made light of risking the life of an infant.

"I'd like to take a moment just to emphasize in the film industry the importance of the A.D. They are in charge of safety. That emphasizes that Hillary Schwartz apparently failed in her duty," Jones' father Richard told judge Anthony Harrison before the sentencing. "That being said, this is a very difficult decision for [Sarah's mother] Elizabeth and myself, but considering the situation we are in agreement with the D.A. for this resolution."

There are some who would have preferred the AD received jail time, that it would have sent a stronger message. I can't say they are wrong. However, outside of Sarah, no parties were more aggrieved than her parents, in this case the word aggrieved being painfully fitting. They likely know horrible details that we do not.

If they are good with this resolution, then so am I. Assistant Directors are under enormous pressures from all sides, and Hillary failed the test. Sarah's parents deserve credit for not asking for the pound of flesh to which they were entitled.

As far as I'm concerned, director Miller can't do enough time. However, when I think of him, and of Hillary, the First AD, I can't help but remember this scene from the great writer, Aaron Sorkin.

In A Few Good Men, Sorkin borrows from the classic film Mutiny on the Bounty. In that film, as with A Few Good Men, the failures of the commanding officer are brought to light by bright lawyers.

After they embarrass the commanding officer, though, there are still consequences for those on trial.

At the end of Mutiny on the Bounty, lawyer Barney Greenwald  offers the fact that just because  something Queeg was off, it doesn't mean that Lt. Maryk (played by Van Johnson) was free of blame. Ultimately, though, he felt others were more to blame, which is why he took the case. As Maryk let fellow officers down Hillary let down the entire crew, especially Sarah.

In A Few Good Men, after attorney Kaffee shows the illegal actions of Colonel Jessop, one defendant does not understand why he is still being punished. This scene should ring true to Hillary.

Hillary, it was your job to protect Sarah Jones. Regardless of the recklessness of director Miller , who sadly only got two years in prison, it does not change your responsibility. You were supposed to fight for people who couldn't fight for themselves - like Sarah.

* A very harrowing description from a Deadline article on the details of what happened, as recited by the DA during the sentencing portion of Randall Miller's agreement. Deadline has, IMO, done the best reporting on this story and followed it closely from the beginning.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

This Gun For Hire - Part 3 - Ice, I Suppose

"Shut up! Shut up! Can't you see I'm busy working Cape Race?"
- John Phillips,  in response to final ice warning on the Titanic 

It's often hard to say when you first notice that a person or project is in danger. How and when did the each passenger and officer on the Titanic realize they were in trouble?

John Phillips had received five previous warnings of ice, but was busy relaying a backlog of passenger messages through Cape Race. No time for another of these incessant warnings.  Didn't they know she was unsinkable?

Captain Smith is known to have received the first two warnings of ice bergs and "field ice."  It is also known that many of the last messages did not get to him.

On the ship itself, it is said that lookout Frederick Fleet told the officer James Moody on deck, "Iceberg, right ahead."**

For me, at Gun for Hire, the moment of impact was crystal clear, although I'm sure that the first hit had come earlier.

It landed on my desk with a thud. It was the Con Ed bill.

A lifelong freelancer, it's not like I had never seen a shut-off notice from a company in the past. I had just never seen one for a company before, and never was it a stack this thick topped by a number this high.

Once again the line producer in me kicked in. If there is bad news, face it honestly, face it clearly, and face it now.

I did not hesitate. Dave was not around, and so I called over to the other building, where our head of accounting worked. I got his assistant on the phone, and when I told her I needed to talk to him, she said he was busy.

Not to be deterred, I put the tome under my arm and headed to our main building. When I got to his office, he was a little surprised to see me. What could be so important I didn't just send it over interoffice.

I took a deep breath, looked at him and said, "I have the Con Ed bill." Still, no reaction. Again, why not interoffice.

"It's a shut-off notice," I said, as I braced for his response. I had given directors and producers bad news, and knew being the messenger could be unpleasant. I was not afraid. Go ahead. Tell me what we do now. I'm ready.

"Oh," he said. "We get those every month.  Just leave it here." He seemed relieved it was not something really bad, and probably realized there was no point in explaining to the new guy not to worry.

He clearly did not realize that I was in full hero mode. I had averted disaster on set, and I could do it again. I asked him if I could call Con Ed and see if I could negotiate some more time.

"Sure," he said. In retrospect, I think he was just glad I was going to leave.

Aboard the Titanic, when notified of the approaching iceberg, First Officer William Murdoch, who was at the helm, attempted a complex "hard a-port" maneuver around the iceberg, which he informed Captain Smith of afterwards. Speculation exists that if he just done a much simpler turn while maintaining speed, he might have missed the iceberg.

When First Officer Murdoch gave that order, I'm sure he thought he was using his incredible skill to avoid disaster.

Um, yeah.

With my marching orders clearly laid out, I would put my negotiating skill to work. I got back to my desk, and got the right guy at Con Ed on the phone. At first, he said there was nothing he could do. I do not remember the exact number, but I know it was more than $12,000, and maybe as high as $15,000.

We spoke for a good twenty minutes or so, and after a lot of maneuvering, I got him to agree to a minimal payment (I think it was $2000 or so) up front, and then payments monthly along with keeping up our regular payment. Even better, I got us a week to ten days to make that first payment.

I hung up the phone relieved, and, yes, a little proud. I have an idea that Officer Murdoch may have had the same feeling when he came up with that "hard a-port" thing. We know how that worked out.

One of the amusing - if mean - horoscopes for Capricorns I once read was, "Capricorns aren't stubborn, they just know they're always right." There is a reason our sign is a goat.

It was that spirit that led me to walk all the way back to the head accountant's office to deliver the news. OK, maybe I wanted to see his face when he saw how a real line producer took things into his hands.

Yes, he was going to be impressed. I couldn't wait to hear what he said.

"Oh, good. We have more time. It's not like we're going to be able to pay that $2000 anyway. Just leave the bill there."

As you might imagine, that was not the response I was expecting. I walked back to my office with just a little less bounce to my step.

After Shooting Gallery went down, I would look back at that moment, and at that thick, heavy envelope with a bill inside.

When Fifth Officer Lowe was asked at the inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic by Senator Smith what he thought icebergs consisted of, he responded...

"Ice, I suppose, sir."

For me, it was a very thick bill.

*The quotes involving officers on the Titanic are almost all second-hand, and subject to the vagaries of memory, as are, for matter, the rest of this blog. 

**Details come from a few sources I researched about the Titanic. People who read this blog regularly know I have also researched black boxes and airplane crashes. I guess the line producer in me is fascinated by disasters.

UPDATE: I did link Dave Tuttle's name to his baking in the past. Since my original post on him,  and my subsequent post about what he did after Hurricane Sandy, he is now a partner in a restaurant - Ralph and Dave's Seafood Restaurant. I don't live in the area, but if I find myself anywhere nearby, I know I'll check it out.

The Village Voice did a great article with a lot of research, as did a documentary. All of my articles on this are based from my perspective which, while from the inside, did not include access to interviews or conversations with key ;players like Larry Meistrich, nor was I in on meetings where key financial decisions were made.