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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good Shit From the Vaults 1: This post I wrote but never published about this crappy Esquire Heath Ledger short story

Note: I was looking back at some of the posts sitting in my drafts folder and I was surprised that I had a few that I finished, but for some reason or other never published. For instance, the below. I have no clue why I never published it. Perhaps I just forgot to hit the publish button. For others there is a clear reason why they are sitting there all unpublified. This one is dated 6/25/08. I remember being highly annoyed by Esquire's "reported fiction" piece about Heath Ledger's last days. Not only was it bad fiction, a forgivable sin, but it was morally icky. So, I made fun of it. Enjoy.

In the Annals (Anals?) of shitty short stories, perhaps the sloppiest deuce from deep in the loose bowels of the imagination was dropped by Esquire magazine. Not only is this story, "The Last Days of Heath Ledger" a piece of shit, but it makes you feel all dirty when you finish reading it. Like when you forget to wash your hands after leaving the bathroom.

I read the shit so you don't have to (OK, I'm done with the crap motif). This is how Esquire describes it:

To write a conceivable chronicle of Heath Ledger's final days, writer Lisa Taddeo visited the actor's neighborhood, talked to the store owners and bartenders who may have seen him during his last week, and read as many accounts and rumors about the events surrounding his death as possible. She filled in the rest with her imagination. The result is what we call reported fiction. Some of the elements are true. (Ledger was in London. He was a regular at the Beatrice Inn and the Mirö Cafe. And he was infatuated with Nick Drake.) Others are not.

So the story finds the dead actor narrating his story postmortem. How that works, I'm not sure. Then he meets with Jack Nicholson and they discuss life playing the Joker. Apparently Jack Nicholson's real personality is a parody of the characters he plays in the movies. Let's listen in:

See, that's the thing about Jack, you don't want to fucking listen, you're annoyed by the way he delivers his agonizingly self-masturbatory Chekhov-in-Jerry-Garcia-suspenders diatribe, but when Jack gets to the point, the point is brave.

And here's the point: I heard you kept that gay little journal for the Joker, and in this latest one you finished shooting, Gilliam told me you were talking all the usual overanxious peripatetic bullshit, like, I wanna direct, I wanna make art, not just be art. Blah, blah, blah. Forget it, kid. Jack flicks his paw in the air like he's dismissing the world.

A waiter in Moroccan garb jumps back like he's been slapped.

Jack puts down his glass, drops a clean lamb bone onto his plate. Tink. Jack cleans his plate. Always proving it. All night.

What I mean is, live your goddamn life. Fall in love again. Hell, fall in love five more times and fuck a coliseum of college chicks in between. Don't be so goddamn concerned with how you're gonna be remembered. All work and no play and all that garbage.

At that, he grabs the wine bottle like a king. I swear, there was something of royalty to him, his purple scarf, his leaning back in that velvet Moroccan settee and spreading his legs like he's got seven cocks

See what I mean? The story keeps going downhill until you're staring at a page or a screen and you're wondering if there is any point at all to existence.

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