Update: Allan has promised a free Zen and Zero DVD to anyone who forwards this interview to twenty friends – just CC firstname.lastname@example.org on the emails and add your mailing address (US only – sorry foreigners).
This is part one of my interview with Allan Weisbecker – surfer, author, screenwriter, and former drug smuggler – a man who physically threatened John Cusack and to whom Sean Penn once wrote “I encourage you to stay (in Central America) until something that resembles death.”
He’s the author of Cosmic Banditos, perhaps soon to be a major motion picture starring John Cusack; In Search of Captain Zero, perhaps soon to be a major motion picture starring Sean Penn; and Can’t You Get Along With Anyone: Writer’s Memoir and a Tale of a Lost Surfer’s Paradise, of which I’ll be publishing excerpts here. He’s got plenty to say, much of it supporting FilmDrunk’s suspicions about Hollywood producers vís a vís their intelligence level. Here’s a snip:
“One assignment I turned down was based on a studio executive’s idea that a great white shark befriends a young boy. The great white is severely misunderstood; in the end the boy saves his buddy from the evil shark hunters. Sort of a cold-blooded Free Willy. The exec’s solution to the problem of how to make this believable was the following: ‘We just have to make the shark… you know… fuzzy…'”
To put it in Hollywood shorthand, Allan Weisbecker’s life story is like The Endless Summer meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas meets Blow meets The Player. The best part about it is that he’s survived to tell the tale (barely), and tell a tale he can.
It took years of working in Hollywood and a critically acclaimed novel (a hilarious farce about the intersection of outlaws, quantum physics, and tequila), Cosmic Banditos, before Weisbecker wised up and realized that, even without making anything up, he was his own best character. Ten years ago, he sold everything he owned to drive to Central America (surfing along the way, of course) in search of an old friend who’d disappeared years earlier, his last correspondence a cryptic postcard signed, “Captain Zero.” What followed was a harrowing journey into the heart of darkness, a memoir full of swashbuckling tales of drug-running and thumbing his nose at polite society (and the consequences thereof) called In Search of Captain Zero.
In 2006, he wrote another another memoir (after its first run in the U.K. was suspended due to legal troubles, Weisbecker created his own publishing company and re-released it in August 2007), Can’t You Get Along With Anyone: Writer’s Memoir and a Tale of a Lost Surfer’s Paradise. In it, he relates the characters he deals with in the film and publishing business (who turn out to be more duplicitous than any in the drug world), the real-life thugs and murderers that have invaded his piece of paradise past the end of the road in Costa Rica, his own love problems, and the sorry state of dishonesty and denial in the world today that ties them all together. His pain is our gain when he’s pursued on all sides by lawyers, Hollywood morons, sociopaths and assorted snakes before finally writing the book that almost killed him thrice.
I emailed him out of the blue one day, and aside from proving how accessible he is to fans, the conversation that followed provided further insight into a man who’s always chasing what Hunter S. Thompson called “that maddening delusion that a man can lead a decent life without hiring himself out as a Judas Goat.”