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August 11, 2010


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Fuzzy Bastard

For those of us who work with largely virtual goods, there's something infinitely, spiritually satisfying about labor with visible results. I have a running list of domestic tasks that I can turn to whenever digital projects aren't going well, which does wonders for morale.


Non-payment of invoices really irritates me -my Mum used to work freelance and had this happen numerous times. Not too catastrophic to begin with, but if you're unfortunate enough to work for more than one arsehole in quick succession it can seriously mess up your finances.
Like Fuzzy Bastard, I also find that doing something with visible results is immensely satisfying (and with a sense of completion, even better), especially when I'm stuck or hacked off with my current 'work'.
Anyway, I'm glad you found someone who honours their payments.

Stephen Whitty

Don't want to say too much, Glenn, because I fear it might come off as pat, or patronizing. Those sort of buck-up, this-too-shall-pass speeches almost always do. Except that,

One, you have my honest empathy (and, frankly, for the little it's worth, my admiration, for the reason McCrea sites).

Two, don't things like this REALLY make you want to land a short, sharp jab on the nose of the next fellow who loudly complains about the air-conditioning at Review 1, and how he can not be-LIEVE that damn publicist wouldn't overnight him a screener?

And Three, to any reader who, in the future, wonders why the author of this blog sometimes seems a bit, er, intemperate in his impatience with the ranks of the talentless sinecured -- well...

Pete Apruzzese

Demolition and such is primal work. If you own your own home, taking down an errant wall or door with a sledgehammer and Sawzall can be positively...therapeutic. :)

Let's just hope you don't have to go all Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt on this Barton MacLane "vice president in charge of invoices" to get your money from the other gig.

The Siren

You really can write about anything.

But you knew that. I knew that too, but...wow.

I fucking loved this post.


also bookish and ill-equipped for physical labors, and also forced into them at several impecunious junctures in my life, this resonates deeply for me.

also while i relate to the excitement that completing a task w/o bodily harm engenders and the sudden awakening to new possibilities of future manual labors, the fact that the concept of mis-en-scene arose in your head at all while operating a table saw hopefully will keep you closer the realm of cinema than demolition.


"Incidentally, dear reader, have you ever wondered, say, what would happen if you got in touch with Con Ed, say, and told them you couldn't pay the current electric bill on time, after you've already not paid the prior electric bill, and told Con Ed that you were "sorry if this is inconvenient" but that it's been a "crazy month?"

Scratch "wondered". And they really don't like it. Ditto Sallie Mae. And Bank of America. And you get the point.

As someone who has spend years adding third shift jobs to full time day jobs and jumping through every financial hoop imaginable to keep the wolves from the door, you have my every sympathy. Hope things pick up for you soon.

Steven Santos

As a fellow freelancer, I can certainly relate to the experience of getting clients to pay invoices. My response to their excuses is becoming more like Henry Hill in "Goodfellas": Fuck you, pay me.


Yes, this was a terrific post, Glenn.


Lovely piece, Glenn. I've bounced from cozy offices to grueling sweat mills more times than any competent tradesman should. You've nicely captured that schizoid sense of "what am I doing here"/"hey I could get used to this bullshit-less existence" that always permeated my forays into manual labor.


I started doing the freelance music-critic thing in 1996. At that time, I worked in an auto parts warehouse. I started out picking orders and loading trucks at night so they could go out on pre-dawn delivery runs. Eventually I was promoted to being the sole employee of a small branch warehouse. The best part of that gig was the solitude; the worst part was when fresh stock would arrive (10-foot-wide cardboard boxes of pipes and mufflers). The delivery driver would back his truck up to the bay door, open it and go back to his cab to nap while I unloaded the whole 40-foot trailer with a balky electric lift truck and a hand pallet jack. After a year or two of this, I got a new job - working the counter at an auto parts store. It wasn't until 2000 that I got my first job as an editor, and that was at a porn mag. Now that I'm unemployed again (been out of full-time work since February 2009), I'm applying to pretty much every editorial job out there, but I'm also going after warehouse jobs. And if one of my carpenter uncles needs an extra guy to paint, or lay floor tiles, or do something similarly not-that-craftsmanlike, I'll do that, too.


Glenn, I was just wondering...

Given how lean the work has been as of late, have you ever considered selling some of your DVD or Blu-ray collection? You know, titles that are worth a decent amount (possibly out-of-print) that you have in your collection more for show/historical significance than because you actually love them?

Or is the collection pretty much untouchable, from where you're standing?

Glenn Kenny

@ JC: Been there, etc. All the Kenny libraries get pruned periodically, for reasons of space-saving, for the most part. Some parts are sold, others donated, others given to friends and/or relatives on a whim. But to address your question in a little more depth: No, that Eureka!/Masters of Cinema copy of Ray's "The Savage Innocents" isn't leaving my house any time soon, if I can help it.


Yeah, hopefully it never gets so dire for you that it would come to that.

It's been pretty lean for me for the last little while as well. In the meantime, I've been working out four days a week. The good kind of fatigue you get after a hard workout can certainly keep one from falling into the emotional doldrums.

Anyways, good luck finding more writing gigs, as you're so much more interesting to read than 99% of the critics out there.


You can add SALON to the ever-growing list of big-time venues that LOVE THE LEXMAN. My tweet about Sasha Grey's GIANT BUSH on ENTOURAGE the other night made it into an article on pubic hair grooming.


For the record, I am pro-Sasha, but FIRMLY anti-bush.

PLEASE, SASHA, do NOT bring back the bush, aka the worst thing ever.


Lurker delurking...

More posts concerning life in Brooklyn, please. I'm a former resident of Cheever Place, near DeGraw; I left just before Giuliani was elected. Not sure if that is bad or good.

Although, for me, this post is mostly about the benefit of doing things that tend to quiet the mind. Noted your comment about the cut saw. I'm a writerly type and spend eight hours a day looking at a screen. However, spiritually I'm often better off chopping carrots, or ripping up carpet, staples and all, as needed.

Most of all, more posts about anything, be it Armond White or Barry White.

Hope the financial situation evens out soon. Glenn, your presence on the Web is much needed.

Glenn Kenny

@ Lex G: Speaking of outfits that don't fucking pay, Salon has owed me the kingly sum of $150 since MAY. You're lucky I don't delete your comment on those grounds alone.

Owain Wilson

Great post. Loved every word. It seems you spoke for a lot of people who visit this blog, including me.

James Keepnews

Preaching to the freelancer choir, my man, though here I always thought advertising gigs were by far the most strenuously filthy and agonizing of all -- guess they must run a close second.

Our estimable host is surely too proud to insist, but like all good bar patrons, insofar as we all come here for the camaraderie as we drink deep of our chosen poison(s) and for the attendant sage counsel of Management, surely we all wish to demonstrate our gratitude by tossing some filthy PayPal lucre into the TipJar early and often? Surely -- though my case, it's late and first-ies, but better late than never.

On the real, you all, leave the man some ciza$h in that TipJar link below "Archives", won't you? There's a lad/lass. Glenn, that you might get rich off of SCR alone -- or self-supporting enough that all your visits to Brooklyn rooftops are completely elective and, as it were, uncommercial

Chris O.

I'll take rake over crowbar any day. Ditto on many of the above comments. It's also interesting that when you lose weight (and I think we've lost around the same amount), not only do you have the energy to do a good day's work, of course, but you're more psychologically "game" for it on the front end (outside of the financial motivation). I think projects like this are better for mental clarity than jogging, too. Or maybe it's just me... I get to thinking about other stuff and I go too slowly. Anyway, great post, Glenn.

Jeff McMahon

Nice post, and I totally understand the feeling. Freelancing is pretty much the worst thing on Earth, and it drives me crazy when people who have permanent, high-paying jobs complain about, well, pretty much anything.

Mr. Kenny, have you considered writing a new book? I know they take a huge amount of time, but I don't see why you couldn't, especially if it was about the very subject addressed here.


for weeks i assumed you were just being metaphorical when it came to using a power saw.

Anne Thompson

At one point during the two years I freelanced, 2002 and 2004--post-Premiere, pre-Hollywood Reporter--I was doing pretty well, I thought, working my ass off in fact. Until the month arrived when I was owed a total of $14,000. It was a perfect storm situation where everybody wasn't paying me at the same time. I was broke. And had to go into debt and borrow money to pay the rent.

A low point I will never forget.

Claire K.

I think that Glenn sells himself short here, by neglecting to mention that he capped off both days of hard work by *going out and swimming laps*. An ironman, truly.

seth hurley

The worst part of my day was that I had to go to this prissy WASP's place three times to fix his broadband cable.


Solid read.

Right with ya.

Not foo-foo at all.


I'm ashamed to admit that I've paid freelancers late a few times in my current job, due to nothing but my own negligence. Didn't print out the e-mailed invoices, so they never got processed, until the poor writers called to gently question me about the status of those invoices.

Each time it happened, I instituted new procedures to prevent it from happening again. But happen again it did. None of the writers has stopped writing for me, and I'm grateful for their patience with me. I've paid 95% of their invoices on time, but that 5% -- maybe the writers had past-due Con Ed bills staring them in the face.

But simply not paying for work rendered? That's jaw-dropping.


BTW, Kaufman should know that Desson Thomson took a job writing for the Obama Administration.

Glenn Kenny

@ Seth Hurley: Comedy gold, my man. Almost as good as, you know...

Jen Yamato

Glenn, you're my hero.

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