Like any photographer, I carry a visual catalog of shots in my mind. It’s funny that many of us who can’t recall what we had for dinner, can remember past photo shoots in minute detail.
One such shoot occurred on a sunny summer day in 1978, when I found myself on the rooftop of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, California taking photos of my father, Stanley Wagner. He was an actor, bartender, taxi driver, lovable character, and in the best of ways—a schmendrick. As an actor, my dad could turn on the charm, which always led to great shots. For me, the photo that best captured his personality is this photo I shot on that summer day.
In early 2015, two years before the 30th anniversary of my father’s death, I was looking at this photo—and thinking about the times I visited him in Los Angeles.
To honor my father’s memory, I decided to write a novel. It would be set in LA and populated with characters and locations he would have appreciated and found entertaining. My hope was that my ability to tell a story with a photograph would translate to the written word.
SCHMENDRICK unfolds over a one-week period. The novel’s cover blurb gives a glimpse of what’s inside:
Stanley Schmendrick has no idea why big-bosomed Mabel Johnson, the Heavy Chevys Latino gang, and transgender hellions from the Fosse’s Fighters dojo are all after mobster Rocky Organza’s record book-much less why they think he has it. For Stanley, trying to keep his pursuers at bay while going about his daily business of donating sperm, driving a taxi full of tipsy stewardesses, and staying on the right side of the law is a daunting task.
Fortunately, Stanley’s goldfish Jaws XV, sidekick Tony Aqua-Velva, and guardian angel Lieutenant Frank Columbo Jr., are there to help him navigate a week of weirdness. Along the way, the bad guys do all they can to thwart him-even going so far as to outfit Stanley with a transmitting testicle.
But never fear, for armed with a lasso, tabs of LSD, the ability to fly from the top of his head, Frank Sinatra albums, and a lifetime supply of birthday presents his mother never gave him, Stanley has all he needs to fight back-or so he hopes. Surfing legend Laird Hamilton, Olympian Bruce Jenner’s double, and even God lend a hand, but will it be enough for Stanley to survive and emerge a better man?
Schmendrick is available from Amazon or Poliwag Books as a paperback, and in Kindle format with Amazon. My goals for the book are the same as my hopes for my photos—to tell a story, find an audience, and earn enough from my efforts to continue creating. I look forward to receiving feedback from readers—and especially from readers who are photographers. Thank you.
Oh, and I hope everyone gets a laugh from my cosplay author photo.