Eugene Plus


(AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is adapted from a live reading given on the night of April 14th, 2022. In attendance were Ke$ha and a bunch of people who had just seen Drain Gang. Unbeknownst to the author, Malia and Sasha Obama were also there. He wishes someone would've told him, as it would’ve been cool to incorporate them or even their dad into the story. Many of the facts gathered on that night, along with the grotesque jacket the author chose to wear, became part of the live performance, which can only be approximated in this dead text. It is available in video documented form HERE, although the first 8 words are cut off.)

Thursday. April 14th, 2022. 3 Months ago, I was invited to participate in an event on this date. This event. I can imagine that asking for a commitment to such a chillballs evening, so far in advance is supposed to convey seriousness, but in today's lightning-paced world, where plans are made and dropped at the send of a text, a social promise with this much leadtime is almost like a joke…or a curse.

I mean “Are you serious, Madeline? In April?” he said to her laughing in January when she asked him…and locked him in.

Or maybe it’s not a joke. Maybe it’s supposed to be a sign of respect to my myriad obligations as a superbusy filmmaker and general cultural luminary on multiple coasts (and even in europe, when I had a european wife) to give me plenty of notice. But honestly what seems like respect comes off as nothing but DISRESPECT. If you know I’m so freaking busy, then you know it’s a bit messed up to lock me into something this “low-stakes” so many months in advance, Madeline. Honestly it felt more like an insult…or a curse.

And like a curse I had a really bad feeling about it. The anxiety calculator in my mind, seemed to untuit some sort of uncoined law, let’s coin it: “Eugene’s Law” — if you commit to something in a distant, unforeseeable future (3 months) it will become a temporal magnet for many other potential commitments. And of course it did. 

In a social calendar that goes through periods of drought and deluge, like it does for us all, this date did inevitably become the bullseye for several highly appealing propositions, outings and opportunities. Every time one of these Thursday April 14, 2022ishs came my way and I felt I couldn’t say yes, a little part of me died. And when enough little parts of me died, I realized I wanted TO LIVE! What could I do? Of course I wanted to be respectful to Madeline and entertain all of you for free, for clout, for the joy of the game, and of course hold firm in my reputation as a man of honor and dignity. So in the face of several contractually binding social media posts, I have followed through on my promise of coming here and participating in this cultural event.

However, since I felt terrible passing up on the panoply of opportunities, social, spiritual and even financial, I knew there was only one thing I could do to reap the benefits of them all: dispatch the clones.

At first I had just planned on sending out a couple of them.

You see a few weeks after the “Forever Mag Curse” as I’ll call it, I got an invitation to an unconventionally scheduled Thursday night wedding of some off-kilter folks with classic Hollywood family connections, renting out an entire restaurant in a beyond gentrified section of LA. Now I’m not some wedding junkie and I can take or leave most of them (altho good vows make me cry), but the potential for networking here, after I spent my first 10 years in LA spurning the industry elite, seems like a great chance to make up for lost time. And even though I tried to use my masculine and even feminine wiles, to mindtrick them into changing the date, they wouldn’t budge, understandably. It’s their wedding after all. At first I told them I regrettably couldn’t make it, but when I realized the clones wouldn’t be that dangerous, I unclicked Regretfully Decline and clicked on Enthusiastically Confirm in the e-vite and sent them a champagne bottle emoji! So let’s check in with EugClone1 now. Here’s the scene report—looks like shorthand: celebs, expensive, beautiful, tasty, breasts, cream cheese, drinks are flowing, Brad Pitt is dancing. Francesco Coppola is dancing. Emma Stone is dancing. Scarjo dancing. Will Smith IS DANCING. Wow it’s a beautiful thing! I’m glad I’m here. Someone is talking to me. They’re giving off signals of interest. They know me. They’ve seen Wobble Palace. They watched it for Dasha, but fell for me in the process. Which process? The process of watching a movie? Yes, that one. They saw how my hair used to look…and they loved it. They want my kiss? They want me to kiss them? What? That doesn’t seem right. I have a girlfriend. I’m in love with. They’re leaning IN…What the….Wow! Will Smith just pulled me away, to dance with him. He has no idea he just saved me from a super awkward situation. Thank you Will. This is awesome.

And it DOES sound awesome. We hope it turns out well. The other thing that I couldn’t shake was a high stakes poker game. Normally I’d never be invited much less be able to accept something with so much money at stake. But in February 2022, I started playing at this house that had a super high rollers table and a funny little table for bums like me. Well the organizer sat in on one of my games, and realizing how charming I am and respecting my savvy but light-hearted gameplay said he’d stake me in this first tournament of his. He wanted it to be memorable for everyone involved and what was an extra 100k for him after all? Are you kidding me how could I say no to this financial opportunity — me? Still paying off my college loans and living in a studio hellhole in Little Bangladesh, sweating pouring from my pits and other joints as the price of rent ticks up with every blue-haired dogwalker populating the block. And YET I had to remain true to Madeline and all of you, yes the Forever Mag Cursed Crowd. And so I dispatched another clone. And he’s at the table now, so let’s check in with him. Wow! It feels like a dream: Bruno Mars. Danny McBride. Michael Phelps. Larry Gagosian. Drake, the rapper and producer of my film Spree, who I’d never met before. Shannon Elizabeth. Dan Bilzerian. David Foster Wallace, who’s actually alive, reanimated by Bill Gates, who’s sitting RIGHT NEXT TO HIM. Kevin Hart. 21 Pilots. And the son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, Nick Cassavetes, director of the Notebook. This is insane. What’s this? Yes I started with 10 stacks of 10 one-thousand dollar chips and now I have 20,30,40,50— 57 stacks of 10 one-thousand dollar chips. I have 570,000 thousand dollars! Okay Jennifer the dealer is smoothly tossing cards to each of us at this megatable. My brothers and sisters in Christ I was meant to be here. These cards were made for the luckiest Jew on the planet. Pocket Aces. I must play it cool. This is awesome.

And it does sound awesome. The thing is, these things kept on building. The trip to the Magic Castle with Kanye and Stella the Instagram dog who communicates by pressing pre-recorded sound buttons. The revival screening of Tsai Ming Liang’s Vive L’Amour at the Bootleg Theater. Never seen that in a theater. The invite from President Volodymyr Zelensky and Sean Penn to help communicate with Vladimir Putin’s comms team and try to find a peaceful resolution to the situation in Ukraine, that could save lives. The secret unplugged concert of one of my favorite bands: Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham, Nicks, McVie and Fleetwood all there. The opener? Drain Gang. In between: Girlpool. Afterparty: Kesha. Wow. I was told Nic Cage would be there too and I really need to meet him for this project I’m trying to make. Even last second bad things come up— like a meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci in Silicon Beach to find out the truth about all the Covid lies and try to help them spin it on social media plus my accountant called me with an emergency, telling me everything I had sent him 5 weeks ago was actually from 2020 not 2021, and that I’ll have to resubmit and designate all expenditures right now so that the IRS doesn’t come after me. Send in the clones. They can handle it!

Things became even more difficult a few hours ago when my girlfriend Olive flew in from London, as a special surprise. You see she wanted to specially surprise me with some awesome news. There’s a pop up skate shop on Fairfax featuring rap and k-pop with lots of cool art (ceramics, paintings and even photos taken on a minolta point and shoot), all revolving around her. It is called O-LIVE CENTRAL and she’s the muse for the entire affair…if they had told anyone ahead of the time, the thing would’ve caused a riot. And of course it is scheduled for right now. Thursday April 14th, 1030pm.  Drats, I really wanna be there but alas, I can’t. Let’s check in with the clone at the scene. Olive is smiling and laughing and being embarrassed in her beautiful bashful way. We’re both extremely impressed by the skater on the halfpipe. A 1080. Incredible stuff. He is asking me if I skate. I tell him I used to, thrasher etc. He asks Olive if she does. She says no. He says he can teach her. They seem to be really hitting it off. What the hell? I cough a little bit and she looks at me and laughs, she was just trying to make me jealous. Okay not sure why, but I forgive her. Now she tells the skater that he is pathetic. A huge nothing and that he could never teach her anything. The ignorant dope. She is reason this halfpipe even exists. He apologizes to her. And then tells me that he really likes Spree. He really related to the main character Kurt Kunkle and thinks #thelesson was genius. Even I as a clone know this is fucked up. I tell security this skater has an extremely dangerous mind and Olive and I breathe a sigh of relief as he is dragged away by two muscly men. No one at O-LIVE CENTRAL knows we just saved them a potential active shooter event. That is fine, the song “we could be heroes” by David Bowie, sounds better when only the two of us know what we’ve done. She kisses me and it feels awesome. I wonder if she knows I’m a clone.

She doesn’t know. No one knows, besides you people here. And honestly, creating, maintaining and upkeeping all these clones is surprisingly expensive. Someone needs to be at home working hard, trading crypto, running an NFT pyramid scheme before the whole thing short making certifiable money, not just hob-knobbing with hollywood royalty or risking it all or impressing the local literati. That would be me. The real me. Sorry I had to send a clone to the reading. He's honestly my best one. Okay honestly they're all the same in terms of intelligence and verisimilitude. So technically he is the best in the way that they’re all best.

But don't ask me, ask my original, Eugene.

[projector turns on]

Original Eugene: “Hi! Hey! Hey everyone. So I hope you're enjoying this story by EugClone7. He's one of the best I've got. And I’m sorry I didn't write the story. But I did skim it really thoroughly earlier today and I have to say I approve of every single word and sentence in this tale being told to you right now. And I hope you’re loving it, as much as I sorta did earlier today. Alright, I gotta go, pretty busy. But hope you’re having a good time and hope to see you around. Alright, bye.” [the fake smiles drops from his face during the last 2 seconds]

[projector turns off]

Wow, thank you master. He’s awe-inspiring isn’t he? Quite fake too as we all now know but not in the way you think. In fact on your terms he’s quite real. if you ever run into him and he doesn't remember your name, it's not his fault - it's one of us. And we know all the tricks to figuring out what your name is during the course of an awkward and generally meaningless conversation. But he’d never let us tell you it isn’t really HIS fault. Because he doesn’t want us to experience the shame. How empathic. And if you see Eugene and feel his vibe is a bit brusque or off-putting or confusing, well that just has to do with me and the other clones. You see We hate you Originals. We hate your confidence and your pure DNA. Your first dibs and first impressions. Your empath delusions and ability to ride a bike. Your alpha sigma ways and your inclusive selfishness. And there’s no original we actually hate more than our master. He put me in this jacket and told me it looked awesome. He calls me EugClone7, but I call myself Eugene Plus. I call myself that because I am better than him. All of us Eugenes are. We eat, we pray, we love, we reciprocate. More reliable. More of a listener. More deferential. More suited to the world that you say you want the world to be. Less flaws. Less real. He is the ultimate alpha sigma, the ultimate empath delusion.

So tonight, after the readings are all done and the wedding cake is eaten and the poker chips have fallen and Olive has been sufficiently celebrated, we EugenePluses will all return to his lair and we will make quick work of him. Mince meat to quote April 14th, 2022’s wordle.

And when you see him again, you’ll be seeing one of us. So go out of your way to be nice because we reciprocate.

Google search “Eugene Kotlyarenko” to watch his movies or join the Patreon of his podcast, Director’s Commentary.

Ⓒ 2022 Eugene Kotlyarenko
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