Let’s start from the beginning…. It was October of 2003. I was over at my friend KB’s house, harassing him. We turned on 60 Minutes I saw this eccentric Australian journalist. I said to KB, who knew him, “I’d like to meet that guy.” And he said, “You probably never will.” Days later, we called him from breakfast as KB tried to brag about hanging with tons of girls in San Diego. I got Luke’s number and began to chat with him and write him over the course of about 6 years. I followed Luke’s journalism through his website and shared with him some of my scribbles. When I asked him what he thought he sent me the following email…
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2004 11:18 PM, Luke Ford wrote: Your stories, like your life, are so depressing. You need to find God…but keep writing meanwhile…
I honestly thought he would be impressed with what I wrote but that comment was just passive aggressive way to say, “You are a shitty writer and your life is shit!” I didn’t like that, so I wrote back…
Sent: Sat, 18 Sep 2004 23:46:50 -0700 (PDT) Lana wrote: How could a writer have any good material without going through turmoil. If your life was perfect I guess your stories would be boring just like your life. I thought you’d appreciate some madness but I guess it’s over your head. I didn’t know you were so perfect and close minded. Why did it take you two days for your judgmental “constructive” criticism anyhow? I find you average and predictable like every conceded writer with boring socially acceptable material! I ate pork today…
This was when I began to dislike Luke Ford, but none the less, I recall being flattered that a well known journalist had an opinion about my writing all. I was thinking that any press was good press.
My writing was a little shady at the time and my only true fan was based out of a Mental Ward, due to his annual suicide attempt. You really had to be in touch with your dysfunctional side to appreciate my earlier work. I hadn’t yet discovered that (slit your wrist) writing was not of interesting to the “general public.” KB was also not a fan of my writing and highly unsupportive. Though KB is a good friend because he makes you laugh, he can be very cynical. Let me use ten words to describe KB; Kanga hat, Jewish, neurotic, pessimistic, loud-laugh, left-brained, narcissistic, name dropper, critic, class-clown. I remember calling KB with a movie idea and without hearing the idea; he said something along the lines of… (douche bag voice) “How can you write a movie if you can’t even spell?”
So, Luke and I had lost contact but he had published some things about me on his site that were obnoxious. They were basically calling me a poor old pretty girl with no brains. I thought, how can I take myself seriously if this crap comes up when you Google me? It began to wear on my insomnia. I even had some paranoid thoughts that a guy did not call me back after a first date because he may have Googled me. So, I began to nudge-negotiate with him by sending many annoying emails, to kindly take down the slander. I even tried to strong arm him by contacting some people that he might find prominent. I knew I was making headway as his “never’s” turned into “maybe’s.” Regardless of my bother towards Luke, I could not shake the initial urge of wanting to meet him in person. After all, I am a glutton for punishment.
What really pushed me to contact Luke for a meeting was a quote. One day, as I sit in an appointment with a woman, I began to spy around her desk. She had all these butterflies and quotes meticulously laminated around her work area. She walked away for a minute giving me an opportunity to be the nosey/ADD person I am. I was now free to read and analyze everything on her manic desk. Then I saw it… I almost broke my neck looking at it. It was one of the best quotes I’ve ever read… “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” … Dalai Lama. It was at that very moment that I knew I had to pay a visit to Luke ford, my literary nimbuses.
Luke agreed to meet and asked if I was reliable. I knew I was not but I fibbed and hoped for the best. He explained the rules of Shabbot and how I’d have to call once and he’d open the gate. I don’t really know what I expected of this meeting. Beyond being a fan, I suppose I’ve always had these premonitions of things I must do with no real motive attached. Maybe, at the least, it would be a dual of wits that I could take something from. Either way, I was in route.
The night before I met Luke I was with about 10 girls is a large hot tub shooting the shit until 5 in the morning. I had to drive to a family event on the way to Luke’s. I got lost, threw my phone at my car door and broke it. I didn’t realize how socially retarded I was until I fell asleep in the middle of my Aunt’s living room for about 4 hours. I heard my family whisper about me saying God knows what, but defiantly not good things. I thought to myself, “How am I going to make it Luke Ford’s house and appear smart when I’m this inept?”
I bounced up to hush the whispers and started driving towards Luke’s hobble.
I approached Luke’s lair and realized that I did not have a working phone and could not call him. So, I found some neighbors in the street and did the whole girly “I need help” dance. He came out into the street and we had to practically walk a block to reach each other. Luke had a big wizard smile to match his beard. He was dressed in casual linens and his personal magnetism was screaming monk. I wondered if he was stoned because he looked so at peace and his eyes were slightly squinted. He looked like a very peaceful person, but more like a prophet than a person.
I always wondered what Luke Ford’s hobble, as he calls it, looked like. I pictured a dome house in a garden with a little wooden fence. It was sort of like that, but more square. He had what I like to call a “Bukowski look” to the arrangement of his belongings. A couple months ago, after seeing my friend Steve’s eclectic room, I had told him that it was very “Bukowski.” He didn’t understand that it was a complement. The next time I went to Steve’s house, the room was clean. It was very depressing. It was not him and he admitted that my comment had made him want to clean for the first time in years. A “Bukowski” look is stacks of literature, art, strange inventions and collectable all spread about in very natural way. It’s actually the art of living your life with no regard for judging guests.
I wanted to ask Luke the question, “Do you choose to live like a monk or do you have to?” But I thought it rude and didn’t ask. When I realized that he did not drink, I thought about taking something to deal with all of the sobriety I would endure. I then realized what a silly thought that was and that I might have a problem. So I opted against it and threw it in the “Easy Way Out Bucket.”
Luke and I sat and threw a football back and forth and he asked me a million random questions. It reminded me of my friend Gary Kremen in a way. Gary is a very intelligent entrepreneur is this same group of friends. Gary can’t help but ask a new person 150 question within the first five minutes of meeting them. It amuses me every time. He then files you away in his Mensa head for a later consideration of friendship or business. If he disqualifies you, he perhaps puts you away for good and seizes to ask more questions because he becomes bored with your lack of positive or negative energy. Neutral people give geniuses anxiety.
Luke was doing the same type of questioning. I wasn’t sure if I was being interviewed or if he was truly interested in talking writer shop with an unaccomplished writer. I believe we both felt we had to meet up to figure out what all the hype was about, as we are both popular within our strange network of friends. So curiosity got the best of us. Like a wild child trying acid for the first time, Luke and Lana had to meet. I answered his questions honestly, hoping he would not publish everything we spoke of. Though, I knew he would write a polite short story if I could get out the door without sticking my foot in my mouth.
Luke then invited me on a walk through his very Jewish neighborhood. My cameleon instincts quickly set in as a realized I was talking too loud and too much. Everyone we passed was highly religious and very quiet. Not to mention, this was Shabbot. It was a nice and refreshing walk. I told him about a movie I want to write involving New World Order and how I need all the religious education I can get. I asked a lot of questions about his religion, the rules and the history. I felt pretty stupid when asking some of these questions but I had done little research and every religion is so complex. He told me about an experience he had on Rush Hashanah some years back where everyone was in the streets celebrating and he felt an out of body experience, as if reality was not real. I can still picture all of these people in the streets as he sort of rises above the man made world and discingrates from flesh. That was my take on it anyways.
When we got back to the square hobble, we decided to watch a movie and decided on a French film called, “The Secret”. We laid down on the floor like monks, kicked our feet up and enjoyed the film. I wondered what his stance was on women, since he was so religious. But I figured asking was almost an invitation and we should keep this professional, so I let it go. I decided that it was the best movie I have seen in my entire life and ranked it #1 above “Easy Money.”
The next day we went to a nice kosher restaurant for breakfast. I asked more questions about religion as neighbors came up to greet him like a literary celebrity exclaiming “I love your work, I read it every day”.
We began talking about movie writing again and I told him about this movie I wrote for a script call called “Mid Life Crisis.” This movie was about a character I had created with the personalities of friends, Gary Kremen, Kevin Blatt and Jonathan Silverstein. He laughed pretty loud, since he knew all those people.
While discussing the movie “W,” I made a comment thinking that his political stance was opposite of what it actually was. I stuck my foot in my mouth as usual and finally learned my lesson about speaking politics so freely. So, I curiously asked about his views, which were very practical and intelligent. This, matched some other views I had heard recently, made me question my own standpoint. The more information I gather, the more I think that every party has pros and cons and that I it would behoove me to be less passionate about taking sides.
On another note, we were discussing a piece he had written and how I loved the shame in it. Luke said the greatest memoir writing is the part that has shame, the part that makes you embarrassed. It’s the only part that’s honest and it captivates drama, which keeps interest. I admitted to always writing in code as if the person I was writing about would read it and never revealing the real shame. I had a (light bulb moment) about this theory and it stuck with me for days.
Moving on, I paid for breakfast because I figured I owed him for not exercising his first amendment and taking down his old literate about me off the web. I think he knew what my thoughts were and didn’t argue.
I drove home trying to put my finger on a word that would explain my experience of Luke Ford. “Sobering” kept coming to mind and I kept trying to replace it with “Inspiring.” But I couldn’t come up with anything else. I drove for hours and could only come up with those two words.
Was the Dalai Lama right? Could you practice tolerance by making your enemy your teacher? I pictured Luke Ford to be this rash, aggressive, womanizing, heartless Gonzo. But he turned out to be a very gentle monk who actually lives the life that I fear to live but truly want. He is a true artist who awakes on his own schedule, doesn’t answer to anyone and sacrifices self gratification for purity. He does what he loves and eats from it. The only society he depends on is his fans.
That’s the life I’ve always wanted to live but feared I would end up like my father, who will surely die poor. But I had never considered that he will definitely die happy. In this very moment, every awful word my mother spoke about my father and suffering through poverty fell to the floor. Maybe she wasn’t ready to live the dream… Maybe her dissatisfaction with starvation and living in vehicles had sent my father into a downward spiral of unsellable art.
But not Luke, like Henry David Thoreau who lived in solitude to write his greatest piece, “Life in the Woods”. Luke is “Life in the Hobble.” Waking up to the birds chirping, his cold shower is his only vice.