(Source: Vice Magazine)
Every tattoo tells a story and has a story—that’s two stories per tat! So every month we stop someone on the street and ask them to “tell us ’bout them tats!” We even say it just like that, with a southern accent. It gets people to open up. This month we stopped Gordon Penniweather in Park Slope, and he filled us in on the story behind a few of his many tats.
Thanks, Gordon—for the great stories and the cool tats!
THE SUSSMAN BACK TAT
“Basically, I was drunk and made a bet on a baseball game with some guy in a bar. Can’t remember his first name, but his last name was Sussman. Funny story—we almost got into a fight because he was talking shit about my beloved White Sox, and in the course of stepping outside to hammer each other, we started laughing because I realized he was talking shit about the Red Sox, who I also hate. There and then we decided to bro down by getting tats and spent the whole night in an all-night tattoo parlor with me getting his face on my back. We were supposed to meet up again the next night to get my face on his back, but… never happened.”
THE “START TODAY” ARM
“These three tats are actually connected. First, the bird happened. I was drunk and won a bet—this was at a poker game held in a tattoo shop. Anyway, some asswipe didn’t have the cash to cover his raise so he used his credit card to reimburse me for my win and let me pick any tattoo I wanted from a certain section. I wanted the Dude from Lebowski, but that cost too much. My girlfriend at the time was kind of cuckoo, so she chose the bird. Below that is the girlfriend—I can’t remember her name. It might have been Birdy or… Bethany? Something. She HAD a name, I know that much. I got it so I’d always remember who had picked out the bird tattoo. The “Start Today” thing on my wrist is a reminder to start saving to have tattoo-removal surgery done on most of my body. Pretty funny, if you think about it. I try not to think about it.”
A while back VICE contributor, hot-shit Breaking Bad star, and cornerstone of modern comedy writing Bob Odenkirk pitched a show to Adult Swim. Its title was Let’s Do This and it followed the storied adventures of North Hollywood film mogul Cal McKenzie Goldberg and the various lunatics who work at his mouse house, Cal-Gold Productions. Adult Swim said, “Sure, Bob, you’re one of the funniest people alive, so why don’t you go film us a pilot and we’ll take it from there.” Then it sat in development purgatory (i.e., not quite development hell) for a bit until the Adult Swim guys came back and said something like, “Sorry, Bob, we love it and all… but it’s just too logical and has too much of a narrative for our viewers. They like stuff filled with non sequiturs and edited by rhesus monkeys inside a gas chamber that pumps meth vapor.” So there it sat again, for some length of time, until today when the righteous dudes over at the Swim released the pilot onto the web for all to see. This first—and as of now only—episode focuses on the challenges Cal faces while trying to complete a docu-fantasy “wizard picture” for a Ugandan warlord that will “knock the plates out of their lips” and stars a man named Harry Podder (that’s right—two Ds). Anyway, please enjoy, and afterward you might also find the short interview I did with Bob about the show and the pitch process and Hollywood pleasurable as well. And if any television executives who are into laffs are out there, get on the fucking train and make this show happen.
VICE: What’s the pitching process like for TV shows? Yours is interesting because it’s about a guy making movies—a comedy about The Industry.
Bob Odenkirk: Nobody likes to do anything about Hollywood. They’ll say that nobody in America cares about how things are done in Hollywood or whatever. Of course, that’s kinda weird, because people keep track of the box office and there’s shows like 30 Rock that are a lot of fun to watch. But it is kinda true that executives get pitched a lot of things about Hollywood. I love Best Worst Movie and American Movie, and I love watching a bunch of people with no money trying to make movies and scheming and getting things done. Because, in some ways, everyone out here is that. Even the biggest mogul is really just a guy putting his money behind a bunch of people who’re all doing a fantasy and play-acting. I’ve gotten to act a little in ways where people are saying, “Oh wow! You’re doing good acting!” I’m like, “You mean, I’m a good pretender?” We’re pretending, you know? Robert DeNiro is just a really good pretender. I like thinking about those people and I always wanted to make something about them.
I think what Adult Swim liked about it was that we do that little trailer every week. Every week there’d be a trailer that could invoke something from pop culture—it could be almost a stand-alone piece. Like in this pilot,Harry Potter and the Lost LeBaron. You could almost just watch that. In fact, one of the reasons I did all this was as part of a benefit show that my wife and I put on at New Year’s. We showed the Harry Potter piece, just the trailer, to a bunch of kids—it was a kids’ show that we put on, called The Not Inappropriate Show. And they loved it so much I thought, “Wow, it’s pretty good! Why don’t we put this on the air?” And that made me call Mike Lazzo and ask him if he would host it or anything. Mike is the coolest TV executive of all. He genuinely is what every artist dreams executives would be like. He’s a very rare kind of person. He goes with his gut and when he says “I trust you” or when he says “You go ahead and make your thing the way you want to,” he means it. So he’s a very rare guy in this business. He even expressed to me like, “It’s about Hollywood. I don’t know if people care,” but he trusted me a lot. He also felt like—I really wanted to make some story happen where my character has an ex-wife who keeps coming around and they have a spark together even though they’ve been married twice. And he’s got this new son who’s kind of a dope… I wanted to get that story going in there. And he’s like, “Story doesn’t really work on our channel. The kids who watch Adult Swim just want to see craziness. But go ahead, if you want to do story go ahead. We’ll see.” Anyways, it is what it is. I think it came out well.