Larry Brody on “When Do We Decide We Did Our Best & Give Up On Writing?”

Evolution of a Writer
by Larry Brody

Nothing and No One Stays the Same

Don’t believe me? Have a look at…sigh…a certain Beloved (or not) Leader over the past 25 years:

Hmm…that latest version looks kind of shellshocked, huh? And that’s the retired me. The earlier three are all writin’ fools, oh yeah.

Careers start, grow, wane (and if you’re lucky grow again), finally – ulp – die. Some version of this happens not only to those of us who leave our homes and come out to Hollywood to roll the dice but to all of us, no matter what we do and where we are.

I, however, don’t get a lot of questions from chiropractors in, say, Butte, or architects in Iowa City. Mostly, this page is visited by men and women preparing to embark on, or embarking on, careers in TV and film writing. Young, old, anywhere in between, working their buns off and hoping to become the next Aaron Sorkin, Shonda Rhimes, Judd Apatow, Tina Fey, whatever.

Some succeed – in fact, a startlingly large number (see this for some shows they’re working or have worked on). Some get tantalizingly close. Others…fill in the blank.

Which brings me to the point of this post, a question I received last week, which I’ve been thinking about long and hard.

DP asks:

LB–

I’ve watched this clip of you many times: https://youtu.be/TjfkuN73EtM

And I feel as though you’re speaking about/to me. As I approach the one year mark in Los Angeles, I feel my ambition to break into writing is making me focus so much on the goal that I’ve forgotten to live.

The obsession has gotten to the point where I hate writing when I’m writing, and all I want to do is write when I’m not writing. Perhaps I’m just chasing validation in the one area I’ve felt myself best suited for so many years, but I feel trapped: Do I keep chasing a dream that may no longer be my passion, or do I leave, always wondering if I was just a day away from breaking into the big time and finding my purpose.

Seeing my work on the screen sounds amazing. Millions of dollars sound amazing. Hearing how my work has affected others sounds amazing. But when do we decide that we did our best and move on to new things? And once we’ve made that decision, how do we follow it?

Do you or the Navajo Dog have any wisdom to impart?

Dear DP,

The Navajo Dog never really saw herself as imparting wisdom. Like all good medicine people, she simply spoke the truth. She was the first one to let me know how pointless allowing ambition to guide me was because even if I achieved my goal I would still be only a partial human being. To the Navajo Dog, being was what life was all about. It was an end in itself, with the doing thing merely a part of it.

In other words, long before “being in the moment” was popular, D’neh was seeing our individual human awareness as more than merely individual at all because it exists within the context of the wholeness of life.

Which helps you not a bit, so while you mull over the philosophy of it all, I’m going to completely blow off any attempt at being wise and try to give you some more practical advice.

Anyone pursuing a showbiz writing career in L.A. needs to be aware of a couple of Basic Truths.

Basic Truth 1: No one in the biz feels an affirmative duty to discover or help new talent. Their major duty is keeping their jobs, which more often than not conflicts with the use of new talent because new obviously means “untested,” and if the new talent fails the test of any new job whomever hired him/her is one big step closer to a big slide down their own career ladder.

Basic Truth 2: The absolutely most important part of starting a showbiz career is networking. Yes, in spite of the fact that you can’t count on anyone to help you. Because you have to do everything you can to help yourself, it’s an absolute must to get yourself out there and interact with every human being who can take you from being an outsider to a member of the creative community we call showbiz.

I’m not talking about using people but about making them genuine friends. Because friends do hire friends, especially those they have learned can deliver – not necessarily to help them but to make their own lives more enjoyable and their jobs easier.

Bottom line: If you’re as shy as most writers are, you need to blast through that or things probably won’t go well. More writers are hired to be on TV staffs because they’re “good in the room” (meaning they’re fun to hang with and sometimes come up with good ideas) than because they can write the hell out of anything. Being able to do both is, of course, a great career bonus.

The above advice is predicated on the idea that you’re searching for a BigMedia career. That you want to do national/international broadcast work, have films you’ve written be made or distributed by major companies, etc. Which means I have to give you another tip you might not expect.

The big successes in BigMedia I’ve known have pretty much all been assholes, and becoming a major success often means that you too have to be an asshole. It’s likely that any employer you deal with will be at least as difficult to be around as Donald Trump. Trump, in fact, is actually at the low end of the showbiz asshole spectrum that I was part of for so long.

Is devoting your entire life to making it given what I’ve told you so far worthwhile? While I was doing it, it seemed worth it to me. But as I got older I more and more realized something was missing – a genuine home life with genuine love, a relationship with someone who demonstrated true tenderness toward me and life in general, an ability to face reality and allow both my emotions and my intellect to react to it, et al.

In the early ’90s, guided my desire to find these things, I severed all ties with my showbiz life and went off with the Navajo Dog to search for what I jokingly called magic but which was, I think, a deeper reality. A reality that didn’t involve sacrificing everything on the altar of writing.

It all worked out for me. I’ve been happy and content and easy in my own skin. I realize, though, that I’ve always been an extremist, and over the last couple of decades, I’ve learned that I probably didn’t need to make such a clean break. There was at least one other direction I could have gone in that eschews many of the pitfalls of narcissistic bosses (and coworkers) and financially based creative decisions that usually end up not being creative at all.

If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know, I most likely would avoid BigMedia from the get-go and instead plunge into Indie Prod.

Shocking, yeah?

See, here’s the thing. Over the last 20 years I’ve helped hundreds of people start BigMedia careers and careers as indie creatives. I’ve watched them climb their ladders and been part of many of their lives as well as their work, and generally speaking it seems to me that in the long run filmmakers who concentrate on indie production are happier with their lives than those doing the H’wood thing, no matter how much or how little success those in either group attain.

More students, friends, and even family members than I ever expected have made fortunes writing and producing TV shows, running major and minor studios, being A-listers or just a notch or two below, and so many of them in shared moments of reflection have ranted and raved and even cried about how totally unfulfilled they feel, how unfaithful to their original talent and purpose they see themselves as having been.

Know what their daydreams are? They’re of chucking it all and doing web series and what used to be called “art films.” To a man and woman, they don’t care if anyone ever sees the films they daydream about but express the hope that if they at least make them they will be putting their talent and skills to genuinely good use.

Meanwhile, students, friends, and you guessed it, family members who have avoided BigMedia and gone indie instead seem in large part to lead lives of genuine joy. Some took that route from the beginning, others headed that way later (some much later). Instead of daydreaming, they now are making shows and films (and museum installations!) that they find meaningful and exciting.

Almost all of those in the indie group are far from household names and don’t have many fans. Many of them, to their frustration, haven’t made a penny through their oeuvres. But most seem to have more time for living “real,” grounded lives and are proud of the intrinsic value of what they’re doing. If having to work day jobs is what gets them to this point, “Well, hell,” they’ve told me time and time again, “it’s worth it.”

This reply is taking forever so I’ll cut to the Big-City-Destroying-Superhero-Fight-That-Ends-this-Career-Discussion. Take it from a guy who thoroughly enjoyed every moment – every argument and knock-down-drag-out creative difference – of a very successful TV career but has enjoyed my current lifestyle of being with my family and working with talented newbies and rooting from the sidelines even more: Making my definition of success “doing what I love, with those I love, instead of throwing myself away in search for fame, fortune, and a couple of interviews at TheWrap.Com has given me a far better life than any I could have imagined before.

So here’s my overall answer to your questions. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you do it. Commit yourself to a process that fulfills you and makes you proud…and enables the rest of your life instead of crippling or even destroying it.

EDITED TO ADD: One final thought. I’m glad you’ve seen that We, The Screenwriter clip. It was 50-year-old me, a few years after returning from various adventures, and misadventures, tracking the magic with D’neh and my wonderful and magical wife. I don’t fully recall what that version of me said, but you’re getting the absolute, most recent update right here, right now.

LB: If This Series Doesn’t Become a Hit I’ll – erm – um – uh-oh…

by Larry Brody

All I’ve written is part of the headline and I’ve already buried myself? If that isn’t the definition of real trouble for a writer, what is?

Well, I wrote myself into this mess, so let me try and write myself out of it.

What I’m trying to say is that considering the subject matter and the presentation in this trailer, I’ll be very, very surprised if Glow, featuring the writing and producing talents of Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Jenfi Johan, and Tara Herrman, who have brought us some little entertainments likeHomeland, Nurse Jackie, Orange is the New Black, and Weeds doesn’t become one of Netflix’s biggest successes.

Will it kick the butt of all of Netflix’s Marvel projects? I of course can’t be sure, but just between us, I think it should. Because the most fascinating thing about the following trailer is how shockingly tasteful, perceptive, and genuinely dramatic it is.

Especially considering the subject which shall go unnamed here, but you’ll catch on fast once you click below:

Bottom line: Glow is trash. But it’s trash written by real writers – good writers – and it’s so far above audience expectations I can’t really predict if it will be the biggest trash success ever, or a total fail.

Or which of those two results I think would be the right one.

New, Improved 2017 PEOPLE’S PILOT Opens in 2 1/2 Weeks

tv_writer_peoples_pilot_smby Larry Brody

Get ready, gang, because we’re coming soon!

The 2017 PEOPLE’S PILOT contest, TVWriter™’s 26th running of what may well be the longest running TV pilot competition on the interwebs, as of this writing is a mere 17 days away.

As usual, we’ve done some tweaking based on things we learned from last year’s contest.

I’m not going into specifics now because the PEOPLE’S PILOT means so much to me that it’s very likely the tweaking will continue right up to the new opening date, June 1, 2017. 

The closing date remains the same as last year, November 1…but in 2017 as opposed to, you know, 2016.

You can get a not-so-secret preview of where we heading on the PP landing page, conveniently located RIGHT HERE. Please accept my cordial invite to check everything out…and also to write to me personally, HERE, to let me know what you think.

Or, to put it in a more mobile-friendly sort of way:

More PEOPLE’S PILOT info is HERE

Email me with your thoughts on the contest HERE

Hope you like where we’re going. The PEOPLE’S PILOT and everything we’re keeping and changing in regard to it is all about our hopes for your successful career!

LYMI LB

LYMI
LB

 

 

LB: WGAW & WGAE Ask Members for Strike Authorization Vote

by Larry Brody

As usual (don’t trust us, google Writers Guild of America AMPTP negotiations over the past two decades and see for yourself), the AMPTP is stonewalling the Writers Guild on all fronts during the early negotiations.

It’s a thing they do because, well, because they think it shows the contempt they feel for our oh-so-unnecessary-selves. (“We don’t really need writers because any one of us could do what they do if we just had the time” has been a mantra since the early days of silent films.)

To me, what they’re demonstrating is just the opposite. Not contempt but fear because only we writers can do what they can’t. I can’t prove it, but I don’t believe there’s a single studio, network, or production company who hasn’t at some time tried to write a script…and failed miserably.

So they try to bully us into “submission” by blowing off our proposals and calling for cutbacks in the current pension and health plans.

The result of their tactics was inevitable. Here’s the latest email on the subject from the WGAW and WGAE:

March 24, 2017

Dear Colleague,

The initial two-week bargaining period agreed to by your Guild and the AMPTP concludes at the end of the day today.  We do not yet have a deal. We will continue to bargain in good faith to make such a deal.  But, at this point, we want to let you know where we stand.

We began the negotiations with two truths about the current state of the business at the heart of our proposals:

First, that these have been very profitable years for the companies.  This past year they earned $51 billion in profits, a record.

Second, that the economic position of writers has declined sharply in the last five or so years.  Screenwriters have been struggling for a long time. They are now joined by television writers, for whom short seasons are at the core of the problem.  In the last two years alone, the average salary of TV writer-producers fell by 23%.  Those declines have not been offset by compensation in other areas. In Basic Cable and new media, our script fees and residual formulas continue to trail far behind those in broadcast – even though these new platforms are every bit as profitable as the old model.

In light of all this, we sought to tackle a number of issues that directly affect the livelihoods of all writers.

–We asked for modest gains for screenwriters, most particularly a guaranteed second-step for writers earning below a certain compensation level.

–We asked for a rational policy on family leave.

–We sought to address chronically low pay for Comedy Variety writers.

–We asked for 3% increases in minimums – and increases in the residual formula for High Budget SVOD programs commensurate with industry standards.

–We made a comprehensive proposal to deal with the pernicious effects of short seasons. This included a limit on the amortization of episodic fees to two weeks, a proposal that sought to replicate the standard that had been accepted in the business for decades.  It addressed, as well, the continued problems with Options and Exclusivity. And it sought to address the MBA’s outdated schedule of weekly minimums, which no longer adequately compensates writers for short terms of work.

–Finally, we sought to address script fee issues – in basic cable and streaming – but also in the case of Staff Writers. Unconscionably, our lowest paid members are now often held at the staff level for multiple seasons, with no compensation for the scripts they write.

What was the companies’ response to these proposals?

No, in virtually every case.

–Nothing for screenwriters. Nothing for Staff Writers.  Nothing on diversity.

–On Family Leave they rejected our proposal and simply pledged to obey all applicable State and Federal laws – as if breaking the law were ever an option.

–On short seasons, they offered a counter-proposal that addressed the issue in name only – thus helping no one.

–They have yet to offer anything on minimums, or on HBSVOD.

–They have made some small moves on Options & Exclusivity – some small moves for Comedy Variety writers in Pay TV.  But that is all.

On the last day of these two weeks, the companies’ proposal has barely a single hard-dollar gain for writers.

$51 billion in profits and barely a penny for those of us who make the product that makes the companies rich. But that’s not all.

In response to our proposal to protect our Pension and Health Plans, this has been their answer:

Nothing on Pension.

And on our Health Plan, two big rollbacks.

First, they have demanded that we make cuts to the plan – $10 million in the first year alone.  In return, they will allow us to fund the plan with money diverted from our own salaries.

More, they’ve demanded the adoption of a draconian measure in which any future shortfalls to the plan would be made up by automatic cuts in benefits – and never by increases in employer contributions.

This, too, is unacceptable. The package, taken as a whole, is unacceptable – and we would be derelict in our duty if we accepted it.

Therefore, your Negotiating Committee has voted unanimously to recommend that the WGAW Board of Directors and WGAE Council conduct a strike authorization vote by the membership.

Once again, we are committed to continue negotiating with the companies in good faith to get you the deal we all deserve.  We will continue to update you as things progress.

Respectfully,

The Negotiating Committee Members of the WGA West and WGA East

Chip Johannessen, Co-Chair
Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
Billy Ray, Co-Chair

Alfredo Barrios, Jr.
Adam Brooks
Zoanne Clack
Marjorie David
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Howard Michael Gould
Susannah Grant
Erich Hoeber
Richard Keith
Warren Leight
Alison McDonald
Luvh Rakhe
Shawn Ryan
Stephen Schiff
David Shore
Meredith Stiehm
Patric M. Verrone
Eric Wallace
Beau Willimon
Nicole Yorkin

Howard A. Rodman, WGAW President, ex-officio
Michael Winship, WGAE President, ex-officio
David A. Goodman, WGAW Vice President, ex-officio
Jeremy Pikser, WGAE Vice President, ex-officio
Aaron Mendelsohn, WGAW Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, WGAE Secretary-Treasurer, ex-officio

Here’s another, more detailed analysis of the situation than my intro, from Facebook friend Micah Ian Wright:

And just like that, Hollywood’s TV Distributors slit their own throats. They survived a strike in 2007-8 by airing lame gameshows and reality shows. Audiences put up with that because there were few other options for viewers. Today, however, there’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, where viewers can go to watch a bunch of new (and old, and British, and Swedish and Israeli, etc.) TV shows, many of them far better than what ABC/NBC/etc. are putting on the air.

Worse for the AMPTP, today’s business market is massively different. Global TV licensing has grown 320% since 2008. Today 40% of the AMPTP’s profit comes from global licensing of scripted entertainment. No one in Germany wants to watch “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” or “The Weakest Link” — they can produce domestic versions of that kind of low-budget dreck themselves. They can’t make “House of Cards” or “Game of Thrones” themselves, however, so the AMPTP is playing a very dangerous game by egging us toward a strike.

I know this is the Era Of Trump where rich corporations imagine they have the freedom to crush unions and steal all the cash for themselves, but they’re forgetting that he actually lost the popular vote by quite a wide margin and that he’s more unpopular than ever. These companies GAVE Trump $4 Billion in free airtime and helped elect him president. We haven’t forgotten that, and we aren’t inclined to cut them any breaks for helping foist this dictator upon us, hoping he’d make it easier for them to scalp their employees and loot their pension funds.

They have unprecedented profits built on our labor. They can share that money or feel our pain.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Learn more about him HERE

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

The Navajo Dog is back today, and while I don’t think anyone could be as happy about that as I am, she definitely is worth keeping company with. Oh, and yes, this is a true story, every word. To let it be otherwise would betray everything she has lived for.


The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

The Navajo dog walks her talk, has been for at least

A thousand years. Lost items are a specialty. She

Has found a hidden concho belt, the skull of a vanished

Cat, and several renewed friends. Money she isn’t

That good at, but opportunities abound at her call.

The problem is, she drives me crazy, demanding a

Quid pro quo. “What have you done for me?” she

Will say. “You trade with the medicine men. What

Will you give your medicine dog?”

For awhile, rides in the truck were enough, her

Nomadic origins satisfied by the bumping of

The bed. Locking up the Navajo dog was impossible

Anyway. I would close the garage door on her,

Turn around, and there she would be, laughing.

Food as a thank you is hopeless. Anything she wants

She can take for herself. Once, I buried a sack of

Dog food beneath half a ton of oil drums, just as a

Test. The Navajo dog didn’t flinch, just waited until

I turned away. Then—wham!—a rumble, a crash, and

A dog munching contentedly, while the drums shivered

And swayed.

One of the skills the Navajo dog has taught me

Is the making of spirit staffs. It began when I

Wanted a stick to guide me over some rough

Paths. She told me where to find a good strong one,

Then guided me to some turkey feathers, and corn.

I stained the kernels with vegetable dye,

Strung them as beads, and attached them to

Both the feathers and the wood. Still, the

Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out again. This time, we found

The skeleton of a cow, and the dog went directly to the

Spine. “Pick a backbone, any backbone,” she said

In stage patter. “You need a reminder to be brave.”

“I am brave,” I said.

“Sometimes,” she said, “you forget.

I attached the vertebra to the staff, using the

Corn beads. Still, the Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out once more. This time, we

Made a fire, and kept the ashes, and at her

Instruction I used them to paint a black spiral

The length of the wood. “Black is a sacred

Color,” she said. “Where I come from,” I told her,

“Black means death.”

“Where I come from,” she told me, “everything

Means death.

And life as well.

With the black, and the corn,” she said,

“And the feathers, and the bone,

Your new staff will carry you

Straight to heaven, or maybe hell.”

I have walked many miles with my spirit staff,

And climbed the steepest slopes. I have fallen,

And gotten up,

And fallen again,

But never has the staff failed. It carries turquoise

Now, set into the wood. “So you can fly freely

Where you need to,” said the Navajo dog,

And I’ve flown fast and free. Now, though, she

Wants a staff of her own, with no instructions,

No hints, no clues of what it should be. I figure

To pull out all the stops, and give her what she

Deserves.

After all, in a realm

Where all things mean death

And life

I’ll never be able to find what she needs.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Actor’s Wife’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

No Navajo Dog today, just good old-fashioned showbiz, circa 1990. The following soliloquy came from my head, but it’s made up of bits and pieces from all too many women I knew back in the day.

Actors’ wives! Not all that unlike doctors’ wives now that I think about it.

So it goes.


The Actor’s Wife

Happiness to me? A series for my husband,

A firm commitment, twenty-two on the air. I

Came from nothing, but now that we’re here

I’ve learned you’ve got to spend. Everything

Is appearances, which means a good house,

A good car, clothes to kill. That way, they

Think you’re successful, and they want you

In on the deal. My husband’s been acting

For fifteen years. He’s had the lead in two

Series and half a dozen feature films. A

Million dollars safely in the bank, although

That doesn’t give much interest. He wanted

To inspire kids the way the stars of his day

Inspired him. “See?” they seemed to say. “You

Can rise above your beginnings. You can be more

Than your parents and your neighbors believe.

Life can be good. It’s okay not to fit in.”

I didn’t fit in either, but I had no talent,

And no real looks before the surgery I’m

Not admitting I’ve had. So I had to latch onto

Someone who could take me away from

Restaurant hostessing, and executive fantasies.

Love? I love my husband, sure. When I see him

On the screen I get all wiggly inside. When the

Photographers close in on us at a premiere, and

I turn on my smile I can even pretend they’re

Interested in me. Some people really do like

Me too. For myself, I mean. There was that

Aging star at the benefit last night, couldn’t

Take his eyes off my breasts. And he’s seen a

Lot of them, believe me. I gave him that same

Photographers’ smile, and you should’ve seen

His grin. No, he didn’t talk to me. Didn’t need to.

We’d had all the communication we could

Without touching. All that was left was his hands

On me, mine on him, lips, tongues, and grinding.

And, to tell you the truth, that really isn’t my thing.

The men need it so much more than we, and

I’m content with the power the promise of it
Brings. If my husband was hornier,
We’d probably be doing much better,

Because he’d have to listen to me.

What did I want, when I was a kid? Not to be the

Consort, that’s for sure. Not to stand next to the

Star, and be cut out of the picture when it’s published.

I wanted to be famous. I wanted to show up at,

Say, a ballpark—Dodger Stadium, why not?

And have every eye turn to watch me. To hear my

Name whispered by fifty thousand lips, so they

Missed the batter’s home run.

My husband wanted to encourage, to give. Me,

I just wanted to get out. Sometimes I wonder why

We’re together. He gives me the house, and the

Fantasy that I’m no longer in real life. But what do

I give him? An illusion to sit beside? Or is it the

Way I mother, and make his failures all right?

If he had a series, I could respect him again,

But ’til then I’ve got my job. No, no, not one with a

Salary. I make friends with the wives

Of the power, so they’ll tell their husbands

What a good couple we are. Nobody buys an

Actor they—or their wives— don’t like.

Tonight’s Thanksgiving, and I’m real excited.

We’re going over to a producer’s house. Last

Year there was no reason to talk to him, but

Now he’s got a series on the air, and maybe

We can swing a guest shot.

It’ll be a nice family Thanksgiving, too bad we

Can’t bring the kids. Oh no, they’d mess up

everything. They’ve just plain gotten too wild.

I remember when I could be wild.

Do I ever wish I could be about something?

No, no, I don’t think so. Leave that for my husband.

Leave that for the fool with a dream.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Navajo Dog Reflects On Being Free’

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

An early night of freedom for the Navajo Dog and me after I left L.A. I had never understood the value of having a knowing, loving – albeit impatient as hell teacher – till then.


The Navajo Dog Reflects On Being Free

When Kid Hollywood made his escape from the

Glitz and the glam and the pain

He took the I-Forty and only looked

Back to see if anyone was gaining.

He drove like an Allison or a Petty,

And kept his hands and his heart on the wheel.

In the car with him were some clothes,

And his drums and his cymbals,

And the more precious of his books,

Also a few videotapes of shows he had

Written that he had always intended to see.

The I-Forty runs where Route Sixty-Six did,

But while it’s not as wild, every driver is

More free. By the time Kid Hollywood

Reached Kingman, he had a real feeling

That he’d left the Hollywood hawks behind.

Gliding over the Interstate, though, was

Another hawk, and as Kid Hollywood watched

It swooped down at a smaller bird, a nifty

Meal as is nature’s way.

But the bird escaped, and flew off, and the

Hawk circled, then looked for new prey.

Kid Hollywood, who was looking for portents

And visions anyway, now that he’d found

They were possible again, decided this was a

Sign. He felt like the smaller bird,

Like prey that had successfully escaped.

The next day, just outside Gallup, Kid

Hollywood saw the same thing happen

Once more. Again, a lone hawk swooped

For its supper, and, again, dinner managed

To fly away. Now Kid Hollywood whooped

With the laughter of the newly free,

Secure in this omen of his success.

Some nights later, sitting by a fire beside the

Pecos River with the Navajo Dog,

The two of them shivering

From the desert cold, Kid Hollywood told his friend

This story. The Navajo Dog laughed

A much different laugh than the

Kid had, then dashed away along the riverbank.

When she returned later, while the Kid was

Stirring the ashes of the fire, she carried

A dead hawk with a metal identification band

On its leg. Nothing had yet fed on the bird,

Not even the Navajo Dog, but beneath the feathers

It was only skin and bones.

“Here is the omen you need,”

She said, and Kid Hollywood realized

That the hawk had starved to death.

“One of the major drawbacks,” the Navajo Dog pointed out

As she crunched down on the bones,

“Of being truly free.”


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.