Category: Other

What’s Up with “Johnny J. Jones”?

“Where have you been?”, they ask me. And I reply, “Writing, of course.”

Poster artwork by David Law

Yes, the last couple of months this screenwriter has been busy finishing a screenplay. One that he is particular proud of and he would like to share it with you. It’s a story about the criminal activities of Death Row Records and its C.E.O., Marion “Suge” Knight, as well as the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur.

The story is based on factual events, but is primarily fiction. My main character is Johnny J. Jones, a man that I created and threw into the inner workings of Death Row Records in late 1995. Johnny is recently paroled from prison and is hired by Suge to be his personal bodyguard. But what Johnny learns is that the role of “bodyguard” is actually that of an enforcer. You see, Death Row Records and Suge Knight was notorious for using strong-arm tactics and methods of intimidation in order to conduct business and Suge hires Johnny with the expectation that he will further apply those methods. Not a bad gig for a man whose well on his way to becoming a career criminal, but a terrible occupation for Johnny, whose trying hard to hold on to his crumbling marriage and prove to his wife that he’s a devoted father to their newborn son. That’s gotta be tough for anyone to do while they’re working for Death Row.

Oh yeah, by the way, Johnny J. Jones killed Tupac. Okay, so he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger, but he indirectly helped organize the hit on Tupac with a Los Angeles police officer named Nino Perez, who’s assigned by the D.A. to topple the Death Row empire. It’s all in the screenplay and it’s a fascinating read. My best so far (I think).

I’m calling it, Johnny J. Jones.

Fantastic Finds at Wondercon 2012

Each year I head north, back to the San Francisco Bay Area, to attend the Wondercon Comic Book Convention, but this year I headed south, to Anaheim, where I had the opportunity of spending two days shopping and scouring the tables of pop culture and comic books for those unique and rare finds. I spent an enormous amount of time strolling between the tables that is Artists Alley, and visiting with the next wave of talented publishers, writers, and illustrators. It’s a fantastic way for a writer to network and meet other aspiring artists. Here’s some of the rare goodies that I picked up.

All Crime Comics #1: Tucked away between the animation studios in Burbank, California is a well-respected comic book store called, “House of Secrets”, and inside this store of serialized stories is a publishing company calling itself, “Art of Fiction”. The guys and girls from A of F have released a number of sketchbooks profiling the artwork of comic book and animation illustrators and are now extremely proud to release the first issue of “All Crime Comics”, a story that tells the exploits of Dodger and his crew of thugs as they plan to over-throw the kingpin of Chicago in the year 1989. It’s a savage and bloody tale of crime, one in which friendships are busted wide open like a head that’s been clubbed with a baseball bat, and where nothing ever goes as planned.

Ashcan Press: These two former record label owners and punk rockers based out of New York City are now creating and writing comic books and I give them two thumbs up for their hard work. After stopping by the Ashcan Press table and meeting Patrick Klindon and Matthew Rosenberg, I walked away with a copy of the first issue of “The Urn”, a limited series that tells the story of an ex-motorcycle gang member on a vengeance induced trip across the country. In addition, I was gratefully given a copy of “We Can Never Go Home”, the story of a teenage boy and girl learning of their newly acquired super-powers and having to run from their ordinary lives after an accidental murder. The boys from Ashcan Press have a spirit and drive for creating and writing comics that I admire and I hope to hear and see more from them very soon.

Monica Richard’s Naiades: She was the frontwoman of numerous bands in the HarDCore scene out of Washington D.C. and her most recent release is not only an album, but also an illustrated book filled with lyrics and poems and artwork by Bernie Wrightson, James O’Barr, and Kelley Jones (among many others). I’d describe her sound as a blend of the Cocteau Twins and Fugazi, with the Celtic ambiance of Enya. It’s unique, engaging, and most importantly of all…interesting. How did I find this rare gem? Well, Monica is engaged to comic book writer and screenwriter Steve Niles, who handles bass guitar duties on the album. So rad, yeah!

Hello Mom, How’re You Doing?

Mom photographing San Francisco

It happens about once a week, sometimes more often, that I’m struck by a sudden re-occurrence of Mom.  It happened earlier today as I was walking down the street in a residential area of some nicely built, cottage-like homes.  I was forced to stop and say to myself, “Mom would really like these homes and this neighborhood.  She’d think it was cute”.  She would probably want to stop to take a picture and I’d groan and say, “C’mon Mom, let’s go.”  And she’d say, “Well just a minute, I want to get a picture”, and then five minutes and fourteen photographs later we’d be back on our way.  That’s the way it worked with Mom.  She’d love to stop and admire those things that she thought were pretty and walk away only after having the best and most rewarding experience possible.

I’d often wonder if Mom ever wished that she had a daughter, someone else that she could share the same joy for mundane things.  I think I asked her about it once, but I don’t remember what she said.  She probably said, “Having boys is just fine. Besides, I’ve got nieces”.  I remember when I was younger we used to take road trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s house near San Luis Obispo and we would make special stops at some of our favorite stores.  Of course, poor Mom always had to shop alone because none of us ever wanted to go into the stores that she would shop at.  I remember that my father, brothers, and I would sit in the van, reading magazines and listening to mix tapes while waiting for Mom.  Finally, after a couple hours she’d return with her hands full and we’d be on our way.  Now, I wish I had gone in with her to those stores and spent time with her looking at all those little crafty things that she liked to peruse for hours at a time.

Mom & Kevin (Brother) on Haight St., San Francisco c.2005

When I see those stores, restaurants, or cottage-like homes I make an effort to stop and admire them and look for Mom.  Sometimes I even feel a sensation, like an electrical pulse, and I look over my shoulder or into the next aisle or at the table next to me and say, “Hello Mom, how’re you doing?”  And she would smile that warm smile and wave back at me and say, “Hi honey, thanks for thinking of me, but I gotta go.”  And I’d smile and understand and say, “Alright Mom, see you around”.  And then she would leave and I’d go on with the rest of my day, knowing that she’s doing just fine.

Mom, Kathy Calzia, passed away July 1, 2009.  Two years ago.  I miss her.