My Untold Short History With Oliver Stone Second Draft
Your friends are dangerous
"A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts."
~ Alexander Pope ~ An Essay on Criticism, composed in 1709.
Bangkok, Thailand ~ 1997
Oliver Stone lit up a joint and passed it to me. I was sandwiched between the Director and his close friend Richard Rutowski, inside a Bangkok taxi, when the Thai driver (who was an undercover cop), spoke to me in Thai and told me that my "friends were dangerous."
I passed the joint to Rutowski, without taking a hit and told them that they needed to stop smoking the joint. Stone laughed, not concerned in the least bit that smoking pot in Thailand was against the law.
In all my years of living in Thailand, none of my friends have ever dared to smoke pot openly in a taxi and I was quite shocked and concerned when Stone lit up the doobie. Certainly he knew it was against the law, but he obviously didn't care.
I apologized to the cop and was relieved when he merely dropped us off at The Regent Hotel, (where Stone and Rutowski were staying), with only the warning, but his stern words of caution: Your friends are dangerous hung in my mind like a neon sign.
As we entered the empty grand marble lobby, I wondered for a moment if I should just leave and grab a taxi home. It was already well past midnight and when Stone said something offensive about how I could give them both blow jobs, my internal dialogue began running at full speed. While Rutowski and Stone continued to walk toward the elevator, with me walking a few steps behind them, my inner voice asked me: Why not just leave? What do you want from them?
That truly was the question. What did I want from Richard and Stone? I certainly did not want to give Stone a blow job. I didn't even want an interview, which was how I had first met Stone in 1992, when he was filming Heaven and Earth in Phuket and I was working as a freelance journalist.
So what did I want? I suppose I wanted more time with Richard alone. We had not seen each other in the past few years and I still had fond feelings for him from our on and off again affair which had started in 1992.
But if I stayed and had sex with Richard, my marriage would be thrown back into the web of lies, which I had been trying so hard to break free from.
It had been a rough few months. I was caught up in the Asian financial crisis and had gambled all of our liquid cash on an investment that I knew was risky. My gamble had failed and every baht I owned was now frozen by the Thai government.
July 4, 1997, was when my CD would have been in the clear. July 1, 1997, was when Thailand's financial world collapsed, leaving me with a worthless piece of paper and an uncertain future. My investment wasn't insured and I was informed that no one knew whether I would get any of my money back. All I could do was wait.
And so I waited. And then, a few days after Richard's call, I got a call from my finance company telling me that I needed to fly up to Bangkok to sign a few documents. It felt as if the Universe was conspiring to make my meeting with Richard and Stone, an easy one. How convenient that I coincidentally had to be in Bangkok, the same week that they would also be there.
I sat in the chair near Richard's bed and watched the two friends, laughing and engaged in some conversation about the stuff that Richard had bought in China. Richard pulled something out of his nightstand and lit it. He asked me if I had ever tried opium. I had smoked Thai stick that was laced with opium, once on my fifteenth birthday and got violently ill. Since that experience, I had zero desire to ever try it again and surprisingly, had never even seen it in Thailand, where I had been living since 1990.
The white smoke swirled around the hotel room, like a ghostly veil ~ an entity dancing between Rutowski, Stone and I. The room became quieter and all I could hear was Stone's voice asking me questions. And the questions he was asking, were the most dangerous ones to ask in Thailand.
The tables had indeed turned - dramatically. Instead of me interviewing Stone, the Director was interviewing me.
Why? What could I possibly know about the future of Thailand that the esteemed Director didn't already know? Why did he care what I thought? It wasn't until early 2016, a few days after I saw Stone again in Colorado, that I finally realized why my opinion might have mattered to him.
The cop was right. My friends were truly dangerous. Not so much Richard, but that night I realized Stone was perhaps one of the most intelligent souls that I had ever ran across in my life. He was teaching me how to filter out the truth, from a sea of miscommunication and lies, and as a journalist, I deeply appreciated his knowledge.
But you know that famous saying: "A little knowledge, is a dangerous thing?" While Richard confessed to "Knowing Nothing," what made Stone dangerous, wasn't what he knew, but what he wanted to know.
"Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along."
~ Alexander Pope ~
Too be continued...
Landmine sweepers in Cambodia
© 2016 Prisana Nuechterlein