A Pocketful of Awesome

After graduating from college with a theater degree (I would have been a film major, but it didn’t exist at my school). I worked as an office manager at a theater company. Before that, I had worked as a recruiter. The recruiting job lasted for about four months. Think Boiler Room, but instead of stocks we were trying to find jobs for computer programmers. Also, it was all above board, so we weren’t doing anything illegal. I had an idea of how difficult it was to break into the film business (So, I thought perhaps making documentary films might be an easier way? The internet was still in its infancy; Youtube would be invented around this time, but streaming services had yet to arrive on the scene. However, it was easy to get equipment like a digital camera and microphone). The only thing I needed was the subject. I had been a big fan of boxing back then to the point where I watched Friday Night Fights on ESPN every week. Whenever there had been a major fight lined up, I would join my cousin and a friend of his to take in the undercard and main event. Often, we would discuss the state of the sport. This was when I first learned about Ike Ibeabuchi. He was already incarcerated, but before he stood trial he had been an undefeated professional boxer and considered by most to be the heir apparent for the heavyweight title. The more I learned about him, the more I thought he was a great subject for a film. There were a lot of themes I could examine: The idea of wasted talent. Since he was bipolar, they had wanted to forcibly medicate him, which his defense team had argued might compromise his ability to earn a living as a pugilist; if he got injured in some way for example. So, I wrote a letter to Ibeabuchi at The Lovelock State Correctional Facility in Nevada asking him if he would be interested in participating in a documentary. I received an enthusiastic response, and his then manager called me since I had included my phone number. I took the call on my cell phone and spoke to him for a few minutes while hiding in the supply closet. It would have been frowned upon to be on my cell phone while at the front desk. Ibeabuchi’s manager said they were both thrilled I had reached out, but they were focused on overturning his no-contest plea and would be unable to participate. I thanked them for their time and appreciated even being considered. I would later make a documentary about Iran “The Blade” Barkley which was never released, but that’s a whole other story. I ended up working for the theater company for almost five years. I found a balance between my day to day responsibilities and working on creative projects. I would arrive at the office at 9:30 am and still have about an hour before most of my colleagues arrived. I would check the mainframe back up, distribute faxes, make the coffee, and transfer voicemails. Afterward, I would begin a regimen of checking websites. There was always an order, sort of like PEMDAS in Math. I also ended up writing a few screenplays, and two short films which were made: “Glengarry Bob Ross,” which I co-wrote, a parody of Glengarry Glen Ross but with painters from public access. It played at Hampton’s film festival. The Deerhunter 2, (mentioned in another essay) which I wrote and produced is currently on Youtube. I had also become a fan of the website Homestarrunner, an animated flash website. I thought I could create an animated show, which brings us to A Pocketful of Awesome about a cocktail olive and a malt liquor beer can and their adventures in the big city. Dean, the olive, had successful modeling campaigns, lives off his residual checks, and is attempting to be a playwright. Malt, unsuccessful as a model, became a stockbroker and millionaire. I had assumed this would be my big break. I would make a few episodes, it would go viral, and that would be that. Of course, it didn’t happen. I’m reminded of a conversation between Andre Benjamin and Ric Rubin about expectations as an artist. “You have this hole in you… when (you create) the hole is going to go away. During that time you have hope. The hole is what allows you to have the drive and perspective. You breakthrough and the hole is exactly the same… It’s that same hypersensitivity that makes you a great artist. It’s a balance. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s harder to be in the world, but that’s the gift.”

Andrew Davie received an MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant. In June of 2018, he survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. His other work can be found in links on his website: asdavie.wordpress.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *