Today I’m featuring a guest post from William Dickerson, the author of NO ALTERNATIVE. Here’s a little info on William…
William Dickerson graduated from The College of The Holy Cross with a degree in English and received his Masters of Fine Arts in Directing from The American Film Institute. He is an award-winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by film festivals across the country. He recently published his first novel, “No Alternative,” and completed his debut feature film, DETOUR, which hits Theaters and Video On Demand (VOD) this year. He is currently finishing up his second feature, THE MIRROR.
He is hard at work on several new feature films and is writing another novel. In his spare time, he creates music for his band 9068dash39.
He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Rachel, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Duet.
In support of his novel, NO ALTERNATIVE William is touring around the internet, leaving little golden nuggets of the things he loves best and talking about his book. We are lucky enough to have a guest post about music, more specifically the band Weezer. So sit right back and you’ll hear a tale… Oh and stay tuned for the excerpt at the end!!
Photo Provided by the Author
One of the more amusing videos on YouTube lately is one that is probably not meant to be funny at all. It’s from the rock band Weezer, and if you haven’t heard about it yet, they have a cruise:
It’s a promotion for a 4 -day cruise to the Bahamas, on which Weezer will play atop the veranda deck to emo sunbathers. This entire notion stands in contrast to the long-held belief that alt-rockers, grunge-folk, and emo-mopers hold the hue of their pale skin in high regard. The Bahamian sun will no doubt throw a wrench into this ethos. The video also begs the question: was Weezer being held hostage while making this video? There have been more willing subjects in front of a lens in some of Al Qaeda’s best viral videos.
For the sake of full disclosure, I love Weezer. I sprained my back crowd surfing at a concert of theirs at Roseland Ballroom in 1995. I don’t hold the injury against them, in fact that sprain lead me to quit the tennis team and spend more time learning to play the drums, so I have Weezer to thank for that. I saw the group again at Roseland last year, a show in which they played their “Pinkerton” record – their masterpiece – from beginning to end. It was as close to live musical perfection as I’ve ever seen. Part of that perfection was imbued by the lore that surrounds the album, how Rolling Stone declared it the worst album of 1996 and how front-man Rivers Cuomo refused to play any songs from this deeply personal record for many years. It was like this huge cathartic explosion on stage and I witnessed it. From what I recall, Rivers was dealing with a significant break-up during the writing process, and his lyrics overtly reflect bad relationships, sexual disappointment and issues with personal and professional identity.
If I were to buy a ticket and take the cruise with Weezer, I’m not sure what I would experience, but I can’t imagine it approaching the magnificence of the Pinkerton concert in any way. Cruises have been in the news lately, specifically the cruise line that happens to be hosting Weezer on this island excursion. They’ve been heralded for their exciting midnight breakdowns, food shortages and feces-filled hallways. Imagine enduring those indignities to the soundtrack of “If You Want To Destroy My Sweater…Woo, Woo, Wo-Woooo.” Don’t let your sweater come undone and drag its threads along the muck on the starboard side of the ship.
Rivers famously quit the music business to study music at Harvard and then lived in a garage for a number of years as a protest against his rock’n’roll stardom and its requisite riches. The cruise gig seems like miles and miles from that artistic monkdom. Has Rivers and his band sold out? Or are they just planning to play “Island in the Sun” in some demented loop for four full days? I have to think there’s some hidden agenda of performance art in this. Rivers is not like other rock stars; he’s an aesthetic soul. I’m betting on performance art. I mean, it has to be, right?
NO ALTERNATIVE is a coming-of-age drama that drills a hole into the world of suburban American teenagers in the early 90’s.
Thomas Harrison is determined to start his own alternative band, an obsession that blinds him to what’s either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his little sister, Bridget. Bridget boldly rejects her brother’s music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers, by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta’ rapper named “Bri Da B.”
NO ALTERNATIVE probes the lives of rebellious kids who transition into adulthood via the distortion pedals of their lives in an era when the “Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll” ethos was amended to include “Suicide” in its phrase.
Bridget is parked in art class, surrounded by her classmates at their individual easels. Ms. Sheehan, her skinny, exceedingly longhaired, Earth-mother of a teacher, makes her rounds from student to student. She stops behind Bridget, eyeballing her canvas. While others concentrate on drawing bowls of luscious fruit, glistening and ripe, Bridget touches up an image of fruit, apples and such, impaled on several razor-sharp meat hooks. Ms. Sheehan surveys the depiction with interest, “Do you think you’ll ever actually follow the assignment, Bridget?” Bridget adds some luster to those metallic hooks, “Not likely.”
“I do kind of like it.”
“It needs more blood,” Bridget observes.
Sheehan shakes her head, but has to smile, as she continues along to another student. Bridget places her pencils down, closing her eyes, and exhales. Bridget exhales for the therapeutic value of the act.
Bridget has been prescribed anti-depressant medications, many different medications, a bounty of medications, medications as plentiful as Baskin & Robbins ice cream flavors, medications in all shapes and colors, in colors much more numerous than the colors of the rainbow, medications in quantities nearly equal to the many languages of the human race, a tower of Babel of medications and she has been on this laundry list of medications since she was eight years old. What childhood malady could have justified this salad bar of meds being visited on Bridget? Sure, a casual observer with an eye for analysis might have detected her lack of motivation on the soccer field at an early age, like the way she’d shy away from the ball whenever it was kicked anywhere near her, or noticed her brittle temper, like the time she smashed all the windows on the garage door with a hockey stick. An ever-increasing percentage of the medical community views these childhood failures as justification for testing new wonder drugs on innocent children. Bridget suffers much, there’s no doubt about it and most of all from a debilitating anxiety. The bone-chilling anxiety that accompanies her while being forced to give classroom presentations. The gastrointestinal stomach ailments that she swears are there, but no doctor can officially confirm. The anxiety of her compulsive drawing and erasing, drawing and erasing. Bridget suffers.
Just breath. In. And then out.
The phenomenon of syncing one’s breathing with another’s is seldom discussed, but is a considerable fear held among the anxiety-ridden. It’s something Bridget obsesses over: the idea of someone other than herself controlling her breathing. It is simultaneously smothering and freeing. During an anxiety attack, breathing becomes front and center, you can actually convince yourself to stop breathing if you’re anxious enough. Or so you think. But it’s what you think that matters. It matters enough to actually cause you physical pain and discomfort. And that’s a problem. Inevitably, nobody thinks you’re crazier than you think you are.
In an attempt to combat her anxiety while giving a presentation on earthquake preparedness – an endeavor not worth the chalk when you live in the northeastern quadrant of the country, but an assignment is an assignment, and who knows what part of the country one will abscond to when free to abscond – Bridget focused on her classmates around her. She attempted to picture them in their underwear, a ridiculous cliché, but one that had worked for her in the past. It didn’t work this time. She couldn’t picture anything. No boxers, no panties, no edible thongs, no pierced labia or Prince Alberts; just her breathing
And the sound of other people breathing.
Bridget became deaf to her own rhythm as her classmates began breathing in the same tempo. At least that’s what she thought was happening. In actuality, it was Amanda Welsh, and only Amanda Welsh, overweight by acceptable Westchester standards, with dimples the size of pomegranate seeds and the crease of her belly pinching the plaid of her uniform with every exhale. Her breathing eclipsed that of her peers, thunderous sound waves created at a distinctly lower frequency and emitted from the inner depths of her flesh.
She was like a bag of bagpipes squeezing itself.
Bridget could hear nothing but her breathing; in fact, she honed in on it, on the wheeze of air passing through a crowded windpipe.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
Like the equalizing knob on her stereo, Bridget’s brain shut off the treble and turned up the bass, louder, louder, louder; all the way to the max. Every word out of her mouth was garbled, as if she was speaking underwater. The only frequencies allowed into her ear canals were those from the bagpipes. As a result, she adjusted her breathing to mimic those of the bagpipes, because if she didn’t begin and end her breath at the precise moment the bagpipes did, she would cease breathing. And, of course, die. The bagpipes were her assisted breathing machine: at this very moment, standing before her class, every movement, every word, every breath, being judged by her peers, her teacher, the loiterers in the hallway passing by, and her breathing was regulated by a bag of human bagpipes.
She was a stock car stuck in its groove, unable to change lanes. Then she stopped. Breathing.
Either the overweight girl she was listening to stopped breathing, or Bridget mercifully broke free of her often unforgiving burden. Either way, the end result was the same: Bridget’s knees buckled, her legs collapsing underneath her, and the side of her head smashed into the corner of her teacher’s steel desk. She was knocked instantly into blissful unconsciousness.
She likes this moment the best.
Awesomeness huh? Consider purchasing a copy via Amazon! Thanks William for stopping by today! If you would like to connect with William, you can find him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or on his Amazon Author Page.
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Click here for a chance to win cool stuff from William Dickerson