about mark flanigan
Cincinnati native Mark Flanigan has been writing and performing for over 14 years....Works from his collections Wrong-Way Poems For One-Way Streets, Not Necessarily God Stories and Next to Nothing have appeared in a variety of independent publications and, along with his performances, have garnered critical acclaim. He has also co-written a screenplay (“Midway,” with Brian Keizer), edited a literary publication (omnibscure) and worked to develop, produce and curate various gallery shows and performance readings -- notably, VOLK/c.s.p.i. and Intermedia Series readings at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Weston art gallery. Flanigan’s monthly column, “Exiled on Main Street,” appeared for over three years, first in x-ray, and upon his resignation there, at semantikon.com. Performances of his can be found on “the Volk/c.s.p.i. spoken word series CD (2001),” which he co-produced, and on the CD “One Night Only" (2002).   To learn more about his work, read his blog, review some of the works mentioned above, and listen to additional audio tracks:

For More Visit markflanigan.com
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mark flanigan exiled from archives

Dec. 2007: And Sometimes It Just Happens

Nov. 2007: Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Happen
October 2007: The Dance
June 2007: Cake
May 2007: Special Edition "Light Travel" mark Flanigan and Steve Proctor
April 2007: Zero Hour
March 2007: Prelude to a Kiss-Off
Jan 2006: State Of The Disunion Address 
Nov 2006: Youngblood
Oct 2006: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
exiled on main street archives

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January 2008: A Greater Force


  
1.

     Bud Greensleeve sat in a stereotypical Hollywood shit-hole hotel and marveled at his surroundings. Measuring a mere 12 feet by 10 feet, the bed that he lay propped up on took up most of that space. While the only thing with any character in the entire room happened to be the children’s curtains that shaded it. Curtains that, when he looked past the bad Star Wars knock-off pattern, he could see faint but very real bloodstains in.
     Bud knew enough to guess where they had come from. Probably an earlier tenant cleaning syringes into the air. Splotches of blood on the ceiling seemingly supported this thesis.
     Sure, the place was depressing. He had to share a bathroom with eleven other occupants. Nevertheless, he also knew such digs were temporary.
     His cell phone rang. He looked at it as he rolled his eyes: Henderson, his agent
     “Hello, Lou” he said.
     “Jesus, Bud, does the number 200 mean anything to you?”
     “Is that how many prostitutes you’re sending my way tonight?”
     “Hardly, you fool. That’s the amount you took in as a working artist in 2007, and from what I heard from Jennings at The Tonight Show you’re on track to make even less this year.”
     “That freak can blow me,” Bud replied while lighting a cigarette.
     “So let me get this straight. I find a way to get you in the door with Leno and at the first meeting you tell them that they should ‘do something different, something downright revolutionary’, that right?”
     “Yeah.”
     “And when they ask what you have in mind, you say ‘I don’t know, how about we do something that’s actually funny?’”
     “It would have been revolutionary, Lou.”
     “Listen, Bud, we’re running out of options here. And time. The strike may end any day and we got to get a toehold somewhere before then.”
     “I know, my friend. It’s just that I wasn’t comfortable there; it’s like I was ghostwriting for them, I couldn’t even show my face as a writer.”
     Henderson sighed from what sounded like thousands of miles away. “Alright, look, things aren’t dire, not yet, I got another lead. The Sci-fi channel has a program that they had penciled in for a possible mid-season replacement, but now they are contracting for a complete season, they need some episodes quick. Real quick.”
     “What show?” Bud asked.
     “Carry Me Home.”
     “Shit, is that the Van Damme vehicle?”
     “You mean Steven Seagal, and yes it is. And yes you’re going to show up.”
     Bud Greensleeve dutifully reached over to what passed for a nightstand and found a pad of paper, wrote down the where and the when if not the how or why.
     “Now listen Bud, you go there and show them what you can do, I mean it. We need this. You need it, if you don’t want to end up writing for some goddamn reality show.”
     With that, the line went dead. Bud sat there with the phone by his ear and the pad in his lap. It was early yet, so he decided to go get some breakfast. He knew a place where he could get two eggs and a side of hash for less than two bucks. He put on his shoes and ventured out through the lobby past a slender, black transvestite that was talking loudly into the receiver of a pay phone.

2.

     Production of Carry Me Home was a strange affair. For one, each episode was pasted together so hastily that the quality of the show seemed to hinge solely on how fast they could wrap. This fact necessitating that a writer be on duty during filming which, as Bud Greensleeve understood it, was rare.
     As a result, each morning began with him literally crossing a picket line. This caused him of course to think of his fellow writers, for Bud wasn’t exactly without conscience. He felt for them deeply, as deeply as he could afford to. However, the fact remained that he had yet to find a break of any sort—not through poetry, short stories, performances, screenwriting, or songwriting—in two decades of trying.
     So, when he found himself feeling particularly bad, he simply concentrated on the fact that there was another war being waged, however silent, this one between the have and the have-not’s.
     In addition, it allowed him a bird’s eye view of the inner-workings of television production, which could pay further dividends someday. And Steven Seagal, surprisingly, wasn’t that bad of a guy, a bit goofy, but affable all the same.
     The only problem Bud Greensleeve saw concerning Seagal was the character he played. Namely, the fact that he was an alcoholic wheelchair-bound detective. The latter, it seemed to the writer, handicapped the star unnecessarily and made him rely too much on his acting, which wasn’t exactly Steven Seagal’s strong suit and resulted in making his own job that much harder.
     Said challenge being nothing when compared to his most pressing problem, his boss: Sean Hanuman happened to be almost half his age, impossibly hip, and a short-tempered pain in the ass. The two of them were at loggerheads from the start, but the bad feelings only escalated once Sean Hanuman made his disdain for Bud Greensleeve known by constantly referring to him as ‘The Scab.’
     A fact that at one point caused Bud Greensleeve to question angrily, “If you’re such a friend to the writers, why the hell are you still here?”
     Hanuman puckered his lips and answered slowly. “Well, genius, if you really want to know, I can’t strike. My job title here is ‘show-runner,’ and my contract prohibits me from doing so. I have to find other, more creative ways to show my support.”
     That he did. So much that Bud considered quitting on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, he muscled through every snide remark, every unfair critique of his dialogue, each slight thrown in his direction. After all, he had just come back from looking at a new place, a modest but presentable apartment in West Hollywood. Henderson had been right all along, now that he was finally getting somewhere, he couldn’t just quit.
     Bud Greensleeve watched with some true interest the premier of Carry Me Home. His contribution only being a few re-writes, he felt somewhat objective in his view that—despite the need for some heavy suspension of disbelief—the show had some promise. Unfortunately, the Nielson ratings had Bud Greensleeve virtually watching alone.
     The next day on the set, morale was low. Steven Seagal attempted to rally the troops, telling them to stay the course. The show must go on; it did.
     Preparations were made for the next scene. The director lined up his actors; lights and boom mics were put in their place. “Action!” was called as Bud watched from the sideline, as he listened to his words come to life.
     Then, from the corner of his eye, he saw a courier walk in and deliver a letter to his boss. Hanuman read it silently with something approaching relief and a smile. He nodded his thanks to the courier and yelled, “That’s a wrap!” mid-scene.
     Everyone turned to look at the show-runner. “Everybody, we’ve been cancelled!” he shouted.
     Steven Seagal was the first to protest. “Cancelled? How? We have a contract!”
     “Well,” Sean Hanuman explained, “The network says they’re invoking the force majeure clause.”
     The faces of the actors and the director immediately deflated.
     “Force majur?” Bud asked the room. “What the hell is that?”
     “Unfortunately, Mr. Greensleeve—that is your name, right?” his boss asked before continuing. “Yeah, unfortunately, I think it’s the turd you’re going to be choking on the rest of your life.”
     To which most of the onlookers chuckled before slowly filing out of the room, heads-down.

If interested in discovering what the 2007-2008 writer's strike is truly about, you will find this short film informative and, perhaps, somewhat sickening.