In the old days, before Cedar Point and professional wrestling and crack cocaine, we had our gods. We had our Greek gods and our Roman gods and our Scandinavian gods. They animated lustful tales of murder and revenge and trickery. They were tales of forewarning, tales of instruction. They told us where water came from, why mountains are bumpy, why you should never date a gal with snakes coming out of her head. They told us that if you fuck with the powerful, you wind up chained to a rock with an eagle picking at your liver.
Prometheus got into trouble when he gave man some tools. Fire. Woodworking. Brickmaking. The Clapper. Zeus, exhausted from a full day of accepting gift bags of oxen fat, taught old Prommy who the boss was. Enter rock. Enter eagle. Enter intense stomachache.
Bret Boulter knows all about that rock. He knows all about swatting at eagles. He feels the talons grabbing his gut, the feathers smacking him in the face. Bret Boulter’s crime? There are many, for which he will be punished eternally.
Boulter wonders if there is meat in the egg roll he just ordered. We’re at Thai Garden, a cozy little jewel on Nine Mile in Ferndale. It sits, uncomfortably, next to a Hawaiian Tropic tanning salon in a strip mall. The “Thai” is excellent, the “Garden” is not. Silk flowers in baskets do not evoke any kind of Asiatic botanical paradise. But who cares when the pad Thai hits the table? The food has me sweating. I stop staring at the fake flowers and concentrate on relieving my tongue of the euphoric tortures of “medium.” “Medium,” my ass.
“Yes” our delicate waitress answers, “Egg roll have pork.”
“Can I exchange these for spring rolls, then?” Boulter responds politely.
“Yes. Yes. Yes. No problem. Spring roll have no pork.” The waitress dashes to the kitchen.
Boulter is a polite anarchist. The man who despises the political-economical-social system is the same guy who would never make a waitress uncomfortable with snappy demands.
Crime No. 1 against the gods: a fervent rejection of modernism, its institutions, its laws, its misuse of technology and science.
“When everyone was preparing for the whole Y2K transition, I was really hoping it was going to be the end of civilization as we know it. I really did. I also had a pretty big credit card bill I was hoping would be wiped out.”
And you thought anarchists were humorless.
“We’re going to be completely outstripped by our own technology. We don’t even understand how some of these technological systems are being created, because we are relying on the technology to design itself. If something goes wrong, we won’t know how to fix it. We can’t fix our own cars anymore, we can’t fix anything on our own anymore,” he explains.
Punishment for such heresy? Technophilia. He owns a whole roomful of computers.
“I get physically ill when one of them goes down. I get morose, almost catatonic,” he confesses.
Chained to the rock. An eagle pecking at his hard drive.
The man who hates materialism and consumerism and all other kinds of ism’s helps create those Mister Alan’s television commercials you love to hate. He and a buddy do the graphics.
Chained to a rock. An eagle tearing your designer leather coat.
Boulter wants to make movies. Wants to make important, thoughtful creations. He loves Lynch and Welles and Soderbergh and Kubrick.
“I want to watch movies that step out of the conventional structure, the accepted language of film. We have this ‘syntax’ of film going back to D.W Griffith. It’s ‘art’ when that syntax is challenged. When I was a child, my father took me to films that were called ‘art’ films. But I didn’t call them ‘art’ films because these were the only films I got to see. I found out later these were ‘art’ films. Well, we need more ‘art’ films, that’s for sure.”
Boulter’s made films. A documentary, a couple things in college. But his first major production sits on his desk, the first draft of his first real film. It needs some work, he says. He has to get a cast, has to get a crew.
“I don’t know if I can do what it takes to be a real full-time director. I don’t think I have those qualities you seem to need in that business. Yelling at people. Being a taskmaster. Telling people what to do all day long,” he explains ruefully.
Chained to a rock. The eagle exposing what used to be hidden.
The working title of Bret Boulter’s first film? The Prometheus Project.
It’s a horror flick.Dan Demaggio dines with interesting people for Metro Times. E-mail him at [email protected]