Information thread about the show, its creators and their lives after JFC ———————————————————————————————————————- ———————————————————————————————————————-
TV this week Oct 21-27
Barry – Boston Legal Cass- ER Palaka – Entourage Butchie – The Ex-List
Any I missed?
"7 Days with Nathan Fletcher", Surfing Mag, August 2008 (Nathan is Greyson's uncle, and references his how he did not endorse JFC)
"This I Beleive", Surfing Mag, July 2008 (One page shot and profile with Keala)
"~Bali, 10 years later", Surfer Mag, Collectors issue, August 2008 (Update on Christian Fletcher's [Greyson's dad and the rough characterization of Butchie] adventures in Bali and mention of Greyson. Also a great shot of Christian.
You can always check into IB on Surfline.com.
Go under Cams&Reports, Southern Cali, San Diego,Imperial Beach Pier NS or SS. You get a free 20 second clip of live wave conditions with a corner of surf hedge.
Under Women tab and Travel archieves, keep an eye out for the photo/article series "According to KK:" (keala)
"West of Jesus- Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief", Steven Kotler
"Surf is Where You Find It" Jerry Lopez (Great essay on the Fletchers)
Please keep posting other reading/video of interest.
John Hawkes (Sol Star in Deadwood) speaks about Milch and Deadwood.
JH: I think that was the best job I’ve ever had. Amazing group of actors, and [creator] David Milch is a genius. I don’t know how else to put it. He’s by turns intimidating and altruistic; it’s all a bundle of contradictions. He’s never mean or anything, but he’s just such a smart, confident man. It was great. It felt like he really knew how to tell a story. He really oversaw all the writing on the show, I would say. Although a lot of people’s names are on scripts, I think every line of dialogue on that show went through his filter. All the story points and things like that.
He would come on the set and—I guess he’s legendary for this from other shows he’s been on—he would “Milch it.” He would come on the set and watch a scene, and then he’d quote Blake, or tell a story of trying to wrongfully sue a casino, or a joke about a drug buy, or he’d recite a piece of a Shakespeare sonnet. You just never knew what it was going to be. I know every actor on that show has the experience of getting the scene they’re about to do the next day, making some decisions, figuring out what they were going to do, and then having David come in and just by telling an anecdote that seemingly had nothing to do with the scene, everything would change. The dialogue wouldn’t change, but suddenly the scene would mean something totally different to you that you never ever could have imagined. It’s kind of thrilling, the way he works. And then he would leave, once the scene was in a place he wanted it to be. At first it was like, “Well, we’ve got one director, and now this guy’s coming on the set and messing with things.” Then later, we’d be freaking out if he wasn’t showing up right before the camera was rolling. We wanted him there.
AVC: Between the sets, the cast, and the writing on Deadwood, it probably wasn’t so hard to get into character.
JH: You could just put on the wardrobe! It was so amazingly done by Jane Bryant, who does Mad Men now. She’s one of the most amazing wardrobe designers I’ve ever met. You’d get your stuff on, and if you were lucky, you had an early call. I think it was Molly Parker who said that if you walked out on that street before anyone was there, and the sun was just rising, there was a strange, palpable sense of transportation to another time. I know that myself, sometimes I’d shoot for 14 or 15 hours, and then I’d go back to my home in the armpit of Hollywood and walk to the 7-Eleven with cars screaming by on Sunset, and even at 35 miles per hour, it felt like they were going 90. It felt loud and crazy. [Laughs.] I’m not a Method guy, but sometimes I’d come home from work and feel like I’d been displaced and dropped from an old time to a new time.
It was just an unbelievably great job. I don’t have anything but positive things to say about that cast and that whole experience. Great cast and great stories and great crew. The Perfect Storm was an impressive set—and I’ve worked on a lot of Hollywood movies with bloated budgets and big sets—but Deadwood was a set unto its own. It was several blocks of deer carcasses hanging and bleeding, and horseshit everywhere. People would come to the set to visit, and if they wanted to watch a scene, they had to walk through mud and urine. [Laughs.] A lot of people made short visits. It was just fantastic. We shot, I think, 25 miles north of L.A. on the old Gene Autry Melody Ranch, and I never once drove onto that set without a smile on my face.
AVC: It’s too bad the show ended so soon.
JH: Yeah, man. I agree. That one would have been a lovely feature film, I think. It’s too bad they didn’t make one of those. Wrap it all up in two hours. But I don’t think that’s happening. The sets are all gone. [Laughs.] Even though not a week goes that someone doesn’t ask about it still, years later, wondering if it will come back.
Dead in the water but not forgotten, old commentary, posted on August 15, 2007. Still sounds true.
“HBO has pulled the plug on John From Cincinnati, the existential surf noir from David Milch (creator of the brilliant Deadwood). While it can’t be called a surprise, it saddens me greatly because I grew to be quite fond of the head-scratching series, and the whole Yost clan — the dysfunctional family of surfers. Not to mention the weird alien boy John, and the cast of misfits at the motel. I especially liked seeing denizens of Deadwood pop up from time to time in this show. Milch definitely made the show difficult to embrace, each episode grew maddeningly weirder. But that’s what I grew to love about the it. Dead in the water but not forgotten.”
That’s a longest ever conversation on some blog or whatever, I will edit it eventually, I just didn’t want to lose it.
“Let me just say: it seemed to me that John from Cincinnati was vastly underrated. Deadwood was good, but it was weighted down by its gimmick, which frankly Milch’s writing transcended nearly from the beginning; the entire old west think seemed pretty lame to me before long. John from Cincinnati didn’t have the same problem, and ended up pretty transcendental. –koeselitz
I love JFC but disagree that Deadwood was gimmicky. Deadwood is easily my favorite television show eer and is also among my favorite stories in any medium. I would love to see his Johns Hopkins thing get done–he speaks about it more extensively here, which is also where I took the title of the post from.
Recently, Milch’s personal assistant gave me some transcripts of a series of lectures he gave–which are mentioned in this article, and which I haven’t found online. If Milch permits it, I’ll post them on my site. I find his speeches and talks fascinating and inspirational on many levels. –dobbs
David Milch writes in formula and uses game theory predictably. And it’s nearly perfect every time somehow. I’ve been watching his work for years and years and I think I know a bit of how he keeps his boilerplate shiny. –Junie Lowry-Johnson.
John from Cincinnati was vastly underrated. Amen. What an amazing, challenging, fascinating show; my roommate and I were so pissed when HBO didn’t renew it for a 2nd season; I gave up HBO and haven’t gone back since. I’ll never forgive mainstream TV critics for panning it (I remember the New Yorker was particularly savage right at the start). I mean, here’s this odd, new style of TV storytelling, really taking some chances and giving jaded watchers something unusual to chew on, and the only thing critics can think of is to slam it for not being straightforward enough. Jesus. We were so pissed. –mediareport
Milch has been working on Luck in one form or another for a long time, and I’m so glad to see he’s found a way to work it final form. I read the pilot script a while back and it’s both (1) very Milch and (2) not Deadwood, so the usual complaints will apply from the usual folks.
John from Cincinnati was an astonishing piece of work but hard to categorize, predict, or map onto other contemporary TV shows. For one thing, it’s an extremely optimistic show; its plot is ‘God figures 9/11 is just the beginning of these idiots destroying themselves, so he sends an autistic Jesus to visit some junkies and washouts in a surfing town to give them helpful don’t-destroy-yourself advice.’ Its story, meanwhile, involves said washouts and junkies accommodating divine experience and discovering their own interdependence and inseparability. It’s a generational story, closely observed in interpersonal terms, yet (this is the hardest part) its strategies of representation are in no small part iconic and evocative.
Which is to say the entire show has the hallucinatory intensity and spiritual focus of the Season One Deadwood finale – in which Cochran prays for God’s pity and forgiveness and (for reasons both biographical and metaphorical) Swearengen bestows it – but without the generic reassurances and archaism-tolerance settings of that earlier show. It helps to see JfromC as a companion piece to Deadwood, clarifying and expanding on its ‘metaphysical’ themes. It’s a Gospel, more John(!) than Mark, but it’s also a Revelation story – and (here’s the tough bit) the symbolic and (let’s say) ‘characterological’ or realistic dimensions of the show exist in unfamiliar proportions. Without the assortment of conditioning signals and prefatory gestures that Westerns and cop shows provide, you’ve gotta take everything about the show on faith.
Which is (surprise!) one of the main points of the show itself anyhow.
If you’re interested in Milch, you should unquestionably listen to his Writers Guild lectures from a couple of years back – during the writers’ strike – found here. Scroll down to the PODCAST entries and the videos below them. After a couple of listens you start to get a sense for how comprehensive and serious the man’s thought is – in six hours of lectures he doesn’t say anything, not a word, by accident. They’re fucking great. –waxbanks (see the next post below)
I can’t agree with much here beyond that first sentence, which I absolutely agree with — though JFC had the stumbling block of often seeming aimless and unfocused. I think it would have resolved into a hell of a show once Milch finished sifting through his many, many ideas and found the ones he cared about enough to develop. As it stands, I found JFC to be a really great show now and then — how great was that scene where John stopped time? how good was, amazingly enough, Ed O’Neill? or really, most of the cast, some of whom were not professional actors at all but you’d never know? — but a frustrating one, as some storylines veered into anticlimax and other storylines were given screentime they didn’t really deserve and…writing-wise, it was all kind of brilliant-first-draft.
As much as I love Deadwood, I found that it had the same problems as JFC, but Milch was fortunate enough there to have the spine of documented history to keep the show from straying too far into the weeds. JFC is more like Milch is out there on the bleeding edge of his own imagination, and sometimes what he struck was gold, and other times…less so. I would have liked to have seen more, frankly, but I don’t get the sense of being robbed that I got when HBO killed Deadwood, because Deadwood set up so many situations I wanted to see reach a conclusion, whereas JFC…? I have no idea where that was going, and that’s sort of exciting, but it’s also maybe not a way you should feel about a TV show after it’s had ten hours of your life. I think its ending is kinda elliptical and mystifying and neat, much like the show as a whole, and fitting, even if it wasn’t meant to be the end. –kittens for breakfast
I’m really, really surprised to see all the JFC love here. I thought Deadwood was a brilliant TV show, but JFC was a potentially interesting idea weighed down by TERRIBLE acting (Sorry, but those non-pros were just abysmal, and they sucked the energy out of everything) and a self-indulgent love of its own quirkiness. It wasn’t that it wasn’t straightforward enough, but that its experimental storytelling didn’t have a point. Or maybe it did, but they just threw everything in, trying to hammer you over the head with “this is mystical and important! examine the nature of the universe!” Honestly, I would have liked the show more if they had paced it more slowly, letting things develop more organically instead of trying to fill the plot with as much shit as possible (My same problem with season 2 of Carnivale, which moved too quickly and tried to cram in too much plot vs. the far superior, more bizarre, but more involving season 1). –Saxon Kane
How is having a show take place in a different time period a gimmick? I’m honestly curious. I think Milch has a lot of gimmick’s despite my love for what he does, but I don’t see how working in a genre (and subverting the hell out of it) is one of them. –haveanicesummer
Well, I never saw Deadwood, but I know on the TWoP forums people were excited about JFC because of Milch’s involvement. There was a wide variety of disappointment or love from those TV junkies about “John from Cincinnati”, and the critics didn’t seem to like it, but me personally? I loved that show, and was so sad it got canceled!
I thought the value of HBO is that they could give a show a good long leash (this is the same network that had Arli$$ on for years, right?). JFC had a humanity in its story, and I thought very honest acting even from the non-actors (except Shaun, who was more stiff and wooden than the surfboards they rode on). Some of the scenes and explications of pain and trauma and longing and guilt were just so gutfelt and honest, I was just blown away. And yeah, the symbolism/word play gimmicks, whether the reference to John Frum cargo cults, or the camera work and wording as they turned that old motel into a gathering of misfit apostles, or the supernatural sequences and John’s speeches/videos about 1s and 0s, was all a bit heavy handed, and the finale was a bit unfulfilling… but it still worked in a new and interesting way that most TV does not, and I suspect a lot of its shortcomings were from not having even found their second or third season footing before having to wrap up the series by the 10th episode. –hincandenza
John From Cincinnati was a pretty big disappointment for me. I thought it was ramshackle (and not in the good Waitsian way), inconsistent, over-written but too often not well (yes, I know, relatively speaking) written, populated with characters that seemed less characters than writerly devices, and much of the ‘lookit all this quirky smartness splashing around here’ stuff was clumsily telegraphed and obvious and not nearly as smart or quirky as it thought it was. Still, better than 90% of the crap out there.
Ah well. Maybe it was just the casting choices. Man, what a parade of relentless unlikeability there. –stavrosthewonderchicken
See, this is why I come here for intellectual discourse, as opposed to other parts of the net. JFC is not for everyone, I think we could all admit that – but here, those that didn’t like it will give reason for their opinions rather than saying “it’s garbage and anyone who likes it is a moron.” I, for one, found it (as other said) interesting, challenging, sometimes willfully obtuse, quirky (and not just for the sake of it – however, the fact that it was cut down so quickly and not allowed to give reason for its quirks made a lot of it seem that way) and overall well cast and acted – I even suspect that the amateurs would have eventually found their footing, and not just on the surf. I don’t deny people their opinions on the show, agreeing with me or dis, however, to this day I still can’t hide my disappointment in HBO for giving the show the axe before it had even really shown its direction. –cerulgalactus