A submission from Heidi, http://twitter.com/heidiho202
LIFE WITH CLIFF
By Heidi Jacobsen
The year was 1987. MTV sponsors a contest for Madonna’s “Make My Video” Contest. Two young local Miami filmmakers team up, Cliff Guest and Angel Gracia. They make a video, “True Blue” for less than $1000.00. They enter the contest and win!
Cliff an Angel are interviewed at Cliff’s apartment on the local news and then are flown to New York to appear on “Good Morning America” with Madonna and anchor David Hartman. They are given $25,000.00 cash and they land a deal with Geffen Records in Los Angeles. Life is sweet for Cliff, these are the heydays…..The rest is history.
They say that today is the first day of the rest of your life. It is for me, because every day I wake up is the first day of the rest of my life with Cliff. This short book is about the man I love, Clifford Lee Guest Jr. He is the funniest, most talented, sensitive, musical, loyal, stubborn and all around best film director that I have ever met. He is also the only film director I have ever known. This book is just a little piece of what life is like with Cliff Guest The Best. To really understand Cliff you just have to spend a day with him or maybe a lifetime. His many talents never cease to amaze me and he always makes me laugh.
I met Cliff eight years ago. We met online, I was posting some messages on a message board under Films. I didn’t really know anything about films or making films, but masqueraded as a screenwriter anyway. Why not?
Cliff called me as I had posted a phone number and invited me to meet him to talk about scripts. He told me he was a filmmaker. We picked a familiar restaurant to meet at, in Mizner Park, Boca Raton. As it turns out, we waited in different locations for each other and I almost gave up but had a stubborn feeling that he was there somewhere waiting for me. I turned a corner and he said, “Are you Heidi?” and that was the fateful beginning of our relationship.
We chatted inside the restaurant for hours and then went for a walk on the beach. He kissed me and we have not parted since that first night.
Now, you might think that living with a film director is easy, but I am here to tell you it’s not. It’s difficult. Cliff is a quirky guy, he has many habits and idiosyncracies that you just can’t imagine. For example, the number 202 mysteriously appears in his life…What does this mean?Is it an omen? Cliff is a collector….He owns fifty guitars, has forty ampfliers and three drum sets.
Cliff has many issues.
First and foremost, he is a collector. He loves to collect things and also loves the boxes and wrapping that they came in. This means guitar boxes, amp boxes, electronic boxes, envelopes and papers. Cliff owns forty guitars and forty amplifiers.
Secondly, Cliff is sentimental. He loves to store all his old memories, photos, school records, Valentines day cards, pictures, baby boots, trophies and old junk. He cannot part with anything because…..He may need it someday?
Sometimes he can’t find his hat, his sunglasses or his gun in our messy house. These times are a red alert. His blood pressure gets high, he starts to yell and he tears things apart until the object he needs is found.
But l love Cliff very much and hate to see him part with his beloved stuff though lately I have been dreaming of living a minimalist life with few possessions. It would be a more spiritual existence, less material. Now our life is cluttered with stuff everywhere.
Let’s start “Life With Cliff” today since today is the first day of the rest of our lives…..Let’s see what the universe has in store for us.
Today was the hangover from yesterday. Yesterday was a bad day. It was a bad day because when we woke up our power was out. Cliff goes berserk when the power goes out, a demon comes out in him and he freaks. No racing on TV, no internet access and no Ebay. A shitty day for the Cliffster.
I called the power company and they said they were dispatching someone to our location. A man did show up and tried to fix the problem. But he couldn’t. He said he would have to send out a tree trimming crew. We waited a few more hours for the crew and they did show up, the guy said he would have it fixed in ten minutes. He was wrong. Then finally two crews showed up around nine pm and they did fix the problem, we had power again! It was a miracle!!!
Cliff managed to save his auction on Ebay, watch the game and all was well in our kingdom. Cliff even managed to save the meat in the refrigerator by barbequing it. Yes!!! Good one for Cliff!
Later on in the evening Cliff spilled 7-Up on his computer keyboard and ruined it. He was so upset. I told him I would buy him another one but he was inconsolable, literally sobbing.
So that was yesterday…
Today I called home a lot, the tree trimming crews were supposed to come back. I figured that this would be a trama filled day for Cliff because he hates it when someone cuts our trees. But it rained all day and they didn’t show. He calls them the tree monkeys.
I got home and cooked us pasta. Cliff doesn’t like too much sauce so I made it just how he likes it, plain. We are both now allergic to cheese so Italian cooking is a thing of the past. He has a stomach condition, lactose intolerent and I am allergic to garlic. Too bad because we used to love Italian food. Now we have to watch what we eat. We had plans of going to Italy some day but I can’t eat garlic and he can’t eat cheese so what’s the point?
I wanted to go to the mall. We went to Dillard’s…Cliff loves to look at watches, so we checked out the watch counter where he saw a giant faced watch in black leather. It was nice and only $95.00. I would have bought it for him but I only had $50.00 on me. We looked around the store and I didn’t really like any of the ladies clothes, they all looked kind of old and fuddy duddy. We left so Cliff could watch the game on TV. When we got home I went to Publix and bought him some peanuts and pretzels….Room service. Hey, at least the peanuts were two for the price of one. I saved $2.68 at Publix.
As I type this Cliff is in the other room with the cat on his lap sleeping. It is peaceful here and all is quiet. Cliff has had an interesting life. His father was a Police officer for the Miami Police Department and he worked in homicide. Cliff is the splitting image of his Dad, right down to his toenails. They are identical.
Cliff was very close to his Dad, they did everything together. Cliff has two sisters, Sharon and Dottie, who are both older than him. He is the baby in the family and of course, the only boy. Cliff’s mother died when he was only nineteen years old and it really was very hard on the family. His older sister Dottie had to take care of the kids and help her Dad, Mr. Clifford Guest Sr.
Cliff and his Dad did everything together, they fished, played tennis, raised pigeons and honey bees, went hunting, you name it. They were close. Sometimes Cliff Sr. would take Cliff Jr out hunting at 4 in the morning and Cliff was cold and hungry. They would catch ducks and take them home where his mother would cook it up, they were great hunters. Cliff has all kinds of stories about him and his Dad.
Back to reality…. Yesterday Cliff got stung by a wasp and today his wrist is all swollen and is painful. He keeps feeling it for fever but I don’t think there is any. He called the doctor but our doctor was in Las Vegas and told him to take some Benedryl. Good advice.
Cliff is sitting on the couch playing guitar. He is an excellent guitar player. Back in our early days I told him that I wanted to sing so he took up guitar to accompany me. He turned into a monster guitar player, now a great funk player. He’s so talented. He does well at everything he puts his mind to. He really works at stuff, unlike me who just coasts along. His team, the New England Patriots is winning so he is happy now.
So far, it’s been a quiet night here compared to last night. Thank God.
Today I left for work as usual at 8:15 am. It was pouring rain and I took our large umbrella that we keep in the breezeway. At 10:30 Cliff called me to tell me that the power is out again. I called FPL and they said there was a problem with the main line, 286 homes down. That sucks, it’s going to be a bad day for cliffy again with no power. Then Cliff called back. The power is being restored but it is flickering on and off again.
Cliff used to work with a lot of celebrities, one of them being Nikki Taylor, the supermodel. He knew her sister Krissy, who died at seventeen. We were discussing them and once upon a time he was going to do a calendar of the two beautiful sisters but it never happened. His brush with riches had once again eluded him.
Today Cliff said is going to buy a snare drum on Ebay. He used to be a drummer and has gotten back into it again. He is always buying stuff on Ebay. It is a constant source of entertainment for Cliffy.
My bosses at work marvel how every time I leave the office, Cliff calls. I might be gone a minute or an hour and he will call, sure enough. They think that he has a camera watching the building. Cliff called me and said he’s going over to Billy’s to cut down a tree. That makes him a tree monkey. He wanted to know if you wear shorts do you wear the kneesocks up or down. I said up. What the hell, live a little.
Billy is our friend and is the keyboard player in our band. Right now he is suffering from depression. We have all been there and are being supportive friends. We hope that he gets better soon.
I came home with chicken from Pollo tropical. Cliff typically likes white meat with rice and corn. I like dark meat. When I got home three Comcast trucks were outside our house. Cliff was inside on the phone. I informed him of the crews and he rushed outside to see what they were doing. The crews were okay and we settled in to have our chicken dinner. The news was on and was droning on about Britney Spears and what a bad mother she is, etc etc.
After dinner we went outside. Cliff likes to fly his pigeons in the evening and then he feeds them and waters them. He opened up the trap and some birds flew out, some landed on the roof of their coop. Just then a giant hawk, a male, swooped down into them and they all got scared and flew away. Cliff threw his hat up in the air and yelled at the hawk, scaring it away. Cliff loves his pigeons. He is like a big protective Mother around those birds.
We drive all the way up to Jupiter to buy special pigeon food for them. Ever since Bob at Brenda’s Birds put moth balls on the feed. Cliff bought a bag of it and had to clean it with water before he could feed it to his birds. Then he had a big arguement with Bob about it and Bob banished us from his store, and we were good customers too!
Cliff has built three separate pigeon coops, one for the males, one for the females and one for general flying birds. He feeds them twice a day and knows each bird by sight. He knows their band number and family lineage. He’ll say, “Oh that’s the daughter of 614 and 633”. He knows them, he watches them and cultivates them.
Sometimes his pigeons are out flying and they come back hurt, they hit wires or something gets them. One bird was split open from hitting a wire and Cliff called our doctor Jack Zelter who is an orthopedic surgeon to sew him up. Cliff took the pigeon to the doctor’s office and all the nurses there said, “Oh, is this the patient?” Cliff couldn’t watch Jack sew him up, he said it made him queasy. Pretty kooky stuff eh?
Tonight I was restless so we made our pilgrimage to the bookstore, Barnes & Nobles. Cliff was clad in classic Cliff gear, Beatles T-Shirt, jeans, green suede boots and hat. He recently found his Dad’s old dog tags so he was sporting those as well. A nice accessory to the outfit.
We bought the mandatory apple crumb cake and coffee for me, root beer for Cliff and bought a bunch of filmmaking magazines. Cliff loves magazines, he is addicted to them. He also bought a book on independent film distribution to help him get inspired to distribute his indie film.
Cliff’s latest film is called Two Thirties And A Fifteen. It’s a comedy about making commercials. A film by the industry about the industry. He’s been shooting it for about six months now, little snippets here and there. Its almost complete save for a few key scenes, one of them being a date with a porn star scene.
Cliff was having a hard time finding the key actor. The guy he wanted to cast as the lead role suddenly got popular and moved to LA to be a star. I told him to play the role of the director by himself. So he did. The results have been pretty hilarious.
In the film, Cliff plays himself as a low budget commercial director who has trouble with women or at least, trouble on dates. His first date leaves him sitting by himself in a restaurant, the second date turns out to be married with a husband who is a midget that wants to tape Cliff and his wife having sex and the third date turns out to be a porn star who he gets lucky with only to find out she is a porn star and not a nice girl after all. That is just part of the movie, the rest is about making low budget commercials. An insiders look at sleazy producers, bad actors and difficult clients. Welcome to the world of commercial filmmaking.
Home again, another day, another dollar. Life continues at work. Cliff didn’t call me too much today, a friend of his came in town and they had lunch. Guy is an old friend of Cliff’s from way back, they were kids together. Cliff always tell me stories of how Guys’ father was a judge and that he was adopted.
Then it was time for me to make dinner. I brought home chicken. Cliff always has to wash the chicken himself because he doesn’t trust me washing it. He believes that I intentionally leave bacteria on his food and that’s why he is sick. So he washed it and I cooked it in white wine sauce. He then complained that it wasn’t cooked enough but it was. Paranoia. I ate it, it was fine……We watched The Break-Up during dinner and that almost always get you in an arguing mood. Nothing like watching Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn battle it out. She is right, anyway…..
Right now Cliff is playing drums. Ta ta ta ta….ta ta ta ta…. He’s got good timing. He was playing guitar before a lot, got really good at funk. Then he slowly started gravitating towards the drums again. He used to be a drummer in the 70’s and 80’s. He played all the clubs around Fort Lauderdale and Miami and has all kinds of stories of all his adventures. The guys in the band called him the Preacher because he would lecture them about drinking and womanizing. Cliff also had a paper route back then to make money and keep out of trouble. I don’t know when he would have time for a paper route but that’s what he tells me. I believe it, it’s something he would do.
So now he’s into drums again. Geez! It’s noisy man!! We go up to Guitar Center and he will spend hours in the drum department picking out stands, sticks, snare drums and looking at other drum sets. We already have three drum sets in the house and he wants to buy more. Its a disease……Tonight we are going to the Back Room to jam. I will sing and Cliff will play drums. We go every Wednesday night, its kind of our routine. It’s mostly a blues club and there are alot of great players that come to the club. We’ve been playing the Back Room for about seven years now. We started there when we were new to the music scene and they would always put us on last because we were so terrible. It was an electric jam back then and Cliff wanted to play acoustic so they never took us seriously until now. Now we play electric and play right up there with everyone else. It’s a good jam, run by the owner John. He bought the most recent building and fixed it up, painted the interior all red like a New Orleans Brothel and hung up naked pictures of pin-up girls everywhere. Its cool.
Did the open mic night gig tonight. We got there early and then the crowd showed up. There’s alot of regulars that come every week to the jam, some really good players show up. Lots of big egos. Cliff played drums the first set and I sang. We had our fans and supporters there who clapped and yelled for us. Then later on Cliff played guitar and soloed alot. He was good. He always says that he sucked but he was good as usual. Cliff is a perfectionist and is always hard on himself.
Got home today and Cliff was in the yard with his pigeons. He was watering them and feeding them, cleaning the food. It never ends. I brought him Burger King. Burger King is the only fast food he can eat. Mc Donalds kills him, Arby’s is no good, Taco Bell is iffy, etc etc…. He is very picky. Thank God it is cheap. $2.44 for a hamburger meal.
Now he is on EBAY trying to relist some amp he didn’t sell. It is not working and he is freaking out. He is saying, “Please let me relist my stuff” over and over again, like a broken record. What a whack job he is sometimes, I’ll tell you never a dull **&^^& moment at our house. This is a classic Cliff stress-out moment,the kind of moment that makes me want to move to Alaska and live in a treehouse somewhere. Now Cliff is saying that he wants to sell all his possessions and move somewhere, I can come or not. Let’s see now…..
Went to the VFW tonight, Cliff was supposed to practice with a band there. He is friends with some guys that have something to do with the VFW. Its an old place in West Palm Beach, located by the railroad tracks. Inside it’s all old, with pictures and plaques of Vets and days gone by. We met our friend Richard there who is just retiring from Sears. He’s not actually retired, just tired of working for Sears. We talked awhile and drank soda. There was a meeting in progress and we never did get to practice.
On the drive home Cliff was telling me about a movie idea he has, it’s about the dramatic version about the cast of Deep Throat, and all the corruption and what happened to the actors in that film. He has some very interesting ideas and I like listening to him. I know that he probably won’t make the film but it’s good to hear concepts. Whenever Cliff gets a new idea he is very passionate about it and you can feel the wheels spinning inside his head.I try to nurture these ideas and hope that they will develop into films one day.
For years now, Cliff has been talking about doing a documentary on Jaco Pastorious the world famous bass player. Seems that ole Cliffy and Jaco kicked around Miami around the same time and Cliff bumped into him a few times playing out.The first time he saw him was at the University of Miami, then at Tony Romas and then at Boston’s, that was the last time he saw him alive. According to Cliff he was really stoned or drunk that night and was banging on the drums and being beligerent. Cliff knows Ingrid, Jaco’s second wife and goes over to her house to see her and the kids. The kids are remarkably talented, like their Dad and both play music. So Cliff wants to do a documentary called “Stories Of Jaco” where people that knew him tell their stories about him. It’s a great idea. He’s going to pitch it to HBO.
We stopped by Barnes & Nobles on the way home. Cliff got a blueberry scone and root beer, which he always gets and I had some coffee, tall. That’s the new small size. Tall. Why do they call it tall when it’s small? I guess I should ask the coffee makers. We were so broke we didn’t even look at the magazines tonight. Can’t buy anything until payday. Man, it sucks to be so broke. I keep hoping that these are just the bad times and one day we’ll look back and laugh. Maybe look back and cry.
Cliff works hard paying all our bills. He keeps our house afloat. If it weren’t for him I would have no house. He thinks that I don’t appreciate all that he does but I do. I know how he hates to sell his precious instruments to make the mortgage. I feel bad. But somehow each month we scrape by and keep working for the next month. But that’s enough money talk because it is too depressing.
Today was payday, a very joyous day around our house. Cliff was busy on the computer today fielding emails from Craiglist about an editing work. We also posted that he was a drummer looking for gigs so hopefully some of those emails will work out and translate into dollars.
It’s rough being an artist. It would be easier to be married to a dentist or something. But artists are important, they have their place in society, they make us think. They make us look at the ordinary world in a new way, look at Picasso.
Cliff fed the birds tonight. We also posted the pigeons on Craigslist and some 14 year old kid called us and wants some pigeons. So we’re taking them up tommorrow. Poor pigeons…Going from Cliff’s loft with food and water to God knows what. That’s their fate I guess. We’ll see what the youngster is like tommorrow, I doubt Cliff would leave any pigeons with someone he doesn’t trust to take care of them. He said he has to meet with the kid’s mother and talk to her about the kid raising pigeons.
We went out to get a scone tonight. Went to Panera Bread but it was closed. Our only option after that was the bookstore because we live in a small town, not too many pastry shops around here. Went to the bookstore and three cops were clumped around the pastry counter. They had no scones. We were discussing Cliff’s lactose intolerence with the girl behind the counter but she could offer no solutions. We ended up going to Publix for the scones and actually found some blueberry scones and Sprite. Cliff has a thing about odd numbers so I had to get the 4th Sprite in on the shelf otherwise it would be unlucky or some voodoo shit like that. Cliff is very superstitious.
Now home, Cliff on YOUTUBE checking out his videos. He posted a bunch for his Cliff Guest for President campaign. I told him he should run for President because he goes on such great tirades about politics and about George Bush and about the war in Iraq and about Muslims and about pregnant woman and about women that breast feed on planes and women that wear miniskirts on airlines and sue them, etc etc etc. He’s got something to say about everything. I think Cliff would make a fine President. I think that America needs Cliff.