I build stories in the same way a bird builds a nest. Scraps of truth and fiction are collected in bits and pieces, strung together in haphazardly fashion until something new, and hopefully beautifully functional is formed.
After completing my Master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam in Film Studies in 1999, I had a paper in my hand and no idea of who I was supposed to be. In Amsterdam, I was a would-be Tarantino, an American Goddard. I was now sleeping in my childhood bedroom, staring at my Bar Mitzvah signing board each night that hung over the combination phone/fax machine. I went to where I usually went to figure things out: the library. While scanning the shelves for the free copy of What Color is My Parachute at the Broward Country branch in Fort Lauderdale, I stumbled across a book, Bloodletters and Bad Men I had used for research in 6th grade for an Al Capone report. It was the pictures that drew me in then. It was the pictures that called to me now.
One grabbed me by the nose and slammed my head on the table. It was a photo of Meyer Lansky in Miami Beach, sunglasses strapped to his head, walking his dog Bruiser, looking over his shoulder, the Feds not too far behind. Where was Meyer going? Who was he running from? He was hiding out in Miami Beach, a place I frequently visited my Bubbie and Zeida in the 1980s.
“I was of three minds
like a tree
in which there are three blackbirds”
– Wallace Stevens