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november 2002


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~ 11/21/06

i heard that mister altman recently said, "it's not a tragedy when an old man dies." still, a youthful, timeless spirit such as his always leaves a void when it passes out of this world.

altman's legacy of dark realism and absurd humor will be addressed and examined by people more qualified than me, for as long as people love film. for me, there is a personal memory which i'd like to share.

i was a year out of high school when my dad told me he'd gone to work for robert altman, as his accountant. altman's office was in a quaint courtyard in westwood. i loved having the privelege of seeing his new work, "three women," as well as the films he was producing then for his protegee alan rudolph, in screening rooms with the director present.

i began working as a 'gopher' (errand boy) in his office, running between the sound editing rooms at goldwyn studios and the labs of technicolor in hollywood, back to westwood, and occasionally to his home in malibu, catching glimpses of his stars (geraldine chaplin, mia farrow, paul newman, to name a few.)

when altman's prodigious output became too much for those small offices, my dad found a great abandoned warehouse in west l.a., where lion's gate films was born. there, the sound editor richard portman, my immediate boss bill sawyer and the rest of altman's company worked out the details of the many projects which were happening at once. the atmosphere was bohemian: loose, free thinking and creative, but also very serious about the work.

i started each day by popping in to ask altman if he needed me for anything. sometimes, he would have a personal errand for me. once, after winning a "golden bear" (canada's oscar equivalent) for his director's cut of "buffalo bill and the indians," i was sent to the office of producer dino dalaurentiis, who had ended up with the statuette. bob, as we called him, had not not thought it fair that the producer who made him edit his film down, causing it to lose it's power and, in his mind at least, making it a box-office flop, had the award which was really for his work.

i drove to delaurentiis' office in beverly hills, told his secretary that i was there to pick up the award and, before she could call her boss to confirm, i had whisked it back to bob. when i arrived with the statuette, bob was beaming devilishly, as delaurentiis called frantically from italy, shouting across the atlantic. that was a proud moment for me, to have pulled off a heist for my boss, the artist, while pissing off the less deserving bankroller.

i became friends with his eldest son, michael, who had written lyrics ("suicide is painless") for the m*a*s*h theme song, as a teenager. michael was somewhat of an influence, as i was an aspiring songwriter who was writing lyrics and just starting my first band.

my sister, diane, and i drove to chicago's lake forrest neighborhood, to deliver our parent's car to them on the set of "a wedding."

arriving in time for dailies, i was pleasantly shocked when actress lauren hutton gave me a welcoming hug and kiss. later, i found out that my dad had told her i had a crush on her and she decided to give me something to always remember.

once, i had been assigned to pick up the finished cut of "a wedding" from the editors, to deliver to the airport, for a flight to new york city where bob was preparing to screen the film for his investors. it was around four in the morning when i left the studio with the film, and with two hours to spare before going to the airport, i decided to wake up a friend and spend an hour at his house before going to l.a.x.

i fell asleep, missed the flight and didn't wake up until a few hours later. when i called my father, he told me i needed to call altman in new york and tell him the film wouldn't be there in time for the screening.

nervously, i dialed the phone and bob answered. he was already aware that i'd overslept and had gotten whatever anger he may have had out of his system by the time time i called.

he breathed a deep sigh and gently gave me this advice: "next time, just cover your ass."

later that day, michael, who could hardly believe i made that phone call, asked me how it went. he laughed. i didn't until much later.

bob, i'm sorry i missed that flight. even sorrier i didn't take the offers made to me to apprentice film editing in your great laboratory. i was bound for rock and roll stardom, i thought at the time.

thank you for "short cuts," "the player," "nashville," "mccabe and mrs, miller" and all the other great films you made, before and after our brief time together. and for showing grace and restraint when you could have easily, justifiably, chewed my ass out.

ted quinn
joshua tree, california

p.s. i left out the part about rolling joints for him on those morning visits. then i read a chicago tribune story where they said he enjoyed his joint at the end of the day, until the end of his days. lovely.
~ 11/20/06

sage & i had a wild weekend on the town in l.a.. starting with a train ride at griffith park travel town, where sage laughed & laughed - after we rode and he had a minute to think about what we'd just done. next, dinner with my folks, and i left sage with his grandparents to go see elia arce's brilliant 'the fifth commandment' at red cat theatre. great to see elia doing such important, timely work. i was very moved that she sings my song "i dream of sleeping (peacefully)' in her character of a soldier-crazy pin-up girl. other highlights of the piece for me were the mother of the fallen soldier (killed by so-called 'friendly fire,' but told by the military that her son was killed by insurgents) and the karaoke footage of three drunken marines at the beatnik cafe. i remember the night. a brown, a black and a white marine, closely hugging and fondling eachother, singing 'like a virgin.' next day, sage and i had raw food lunch with elia in santa monica, where sage and elia shared some big laughs together. then sage & i went to the pier for a ride on the carousel - sage's first. saturday night, we went to see john pirozzi's film about dengue fever, the l.a. band with a cambodian woman singer, then to elia's post-performance party at red cat. sunday, we spent the day with my sister diane diane and her husband jim - thanks for all the help , diane - before going to ruben & angela martinez' silverlake home for a serenada, in honor of their to-be-born twin daughters. joe city garcia and i offered 'weight of the world on your wings' ( a song we wrote for sinead o'connor in '91 about a young mother getting ridiculed for standing against war) and 'angel baby.' sage had his first nights away from his mom and his first night alone with his quinn grandparents (thanks, mom & dad) . a lot of firsts for us, our first nights seeping together away from mom, train ride, merry-go-round, etc...too much fun. today, we welcomed elia's longtime friend vanya, from costa rica, and joe garcia's wife joanna & her brother darius, visiting from poland, for a hike to barker dam in jtnp, followed by a walk thru noah purifoy's outdoor desert art museum. sage is a lot of fun to hang out with & he loves a good art crowd (feeling's mutual..) - as well as a mellow lounging out by the pool.
~ 11/9/06

a song for sage

i like the way you fall asleep on my shoulder
i like to feel your breath upon my neck
i know you won't do that when you get older
there will come a time when you need to disconnect

but i would carry you forever
over every bridge across time
and we will always be together
forever sweet child divine

for now i want to hold you so close to me
so closely you're a part of myself
so you'll always know you mean the most to me
of anyone that i have ever held

and i would carry you forever
over every bridge across time
and we will always be together
forever sweet child divine

and when you call me daddy
and you lay your pretty face upon my chest
when i feel your little heart beat so gently
that's the time when my own heart can rest

and i would carry you forever
over every bridge across time
and we will always be together
forever sweet child divine


THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY won big last night, and with it, we all won a reprieve from a 6 year long nightmare which saw our country move toward a police state. first, the hanging chads and the supreme court presidential 'selection' of 2000. then, the attacks of 9/11 and the ensuing wars in afganistan and iraq. uncharged detainees, torture, enemy combatants, patriot act, domestic spying, the abuse of presidential power, the fraudulent election of 2004, the alienation of our friends around the world, a lot of arrogant tough talk. america did not let me down last night. until then, i worried that my friends, family, myself and few others (the saint patrick's four, cindy sheehan, michael moore, dylan avery, the dixie chicks, neil young, keith olberman, john murtha, jon stewart, bill maher, stephen colbert, eg) were a minority in this country who could see what was going on but were helpless to stop the insanity. i wondered if our votes would ever be counted again.

today, all that has changed. we were right all along. rumsfeld and the gop-controlled congress are out.

now, will the democratic party return the favor of the trust it's been given and act quickly and decisively to end the war? the democratic party has always been the party of hope and promise, but too often the hope and promise has been unfullfilled. let's make sure we hold the party responsible, to the spirit of america that embraces the hope of eleanor roosevelt, bobby kennedy, paul wellstone, martin luther king. i would like to thank everyone who voted to end the nightmare. and then, i would like to see this country get serious about moving forward, with courage, heart and thoughtfullness.

tonight, we can sleep more soundly than we have in years. but tomorrow, we need to be vigilant so that the party which has given us back our hope and promise doesn't become complacent. complacence is complicity. if the democratic party was really listening to the loud and clear message that we the people sent out yesterday, in good faith, the america we dream of can be a reality, leading the way by example, long after tonight's party is over.

(it was a great celebration, of course. crazy election!!! and the rumsfeld bonus prize! a few people did my songs, too. monet in particular did a lovely 'billions & billions' and travis sang 'only so many heartbeats'. really shoo did 'la porte' and a very racuous '29 palms,' with shari elf sitting in. fun. oh yeah, it was allegedly a birthday party for me at the beatnik, but i was celebrating winning back the country i live in!

the best part was when i arrived. sage was just waking up, sitting with his mom and suzanna on the couch near the stage and the front door. when he first saw me, he didn't seem to acknowledge me, just sort of looked past me. knowing he was still adjusting to waking up, i went to get the microphones and stands. when i got back to where he was, i picked him up and carried him away from the crowd to the back of the building. then, his eyes lit up and he said "HI DA!" and that was the best...)


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