The Trident: a Movie Treatment 2018

The “T” 

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DAYTIME ON THE BIG SUR COAST IN CALIFORNIA

Seen from high above, a van slowly makes its way up the Big Sur Coast. The date: “Spring 1974″ is superimposed over the left corner of the screen. As the tiny van snakes along, the narrator’s voice is heard, ” This is the story of a special time and a very special place, and the many people that inhabited it. It was a wild and disparate community, from every corner of America and from more than a few corners of Europe as well. They were energetic and creative, some were predatory, others were lost. There were people looking for work. There were rock stars, drug dealers, horny businessmen, groupies, and wannabe rock stars. Today those same people are doctors, lawyers, artist, therapists, and business people: some are still lost, and quite a few are dead. They came because this is where it happened. It was the first of it’s kind.

It’s a perfect day along the coast, just as you would imagine they’d be if you ever thought of California. As the road continues to unwind in a series of shots, music slowly fades up.

Narrator: “Chelo had never heard of the Kingston Trio: all she knew was that she wanted to get out of L.A. Her older sister dated this guy named Terry who worked as a bartender in a waterfront restaurant named the Trident, just north of San Francisco, in Marin County. The Trident was owned by the Trio, but like I said, she had never heard of the Kingston Trio, or Marin County, for that matter. Terry was in L.A. at the time visiting another old girlfriend and was getting ready to head back up to the Bay Area. Tired of sharing space in her sister’s small apartment, Chelo knew it was time to go. She walked to the corner deli where there was a pay phone and gave Terry a call. Against her parent’s advice and her sister’s continual lecturing, Chelo decided to see if she could catch a ride up the coast to Sausalito.”

San Francisco spreads out below, the Golden Gate Bridge seen just beyond the green fringe of Golden Gate Park. Looking down on the bridge, there’s the van again, safely hugging the right lane between the orange towers.

The van crosses the Golden Gate Bridge and takes the Alexander Avenue exit towards Sausalito. One last turn above the bay reveals the small bayside town of Sausalito, starting at the water’s edge and hugging the steep hills that rise up from behind. Reaching the edge of the bay, the van makes one final turn and the profile of a two story, blue gray building comes into view.  The van heads down Bridgeway and into the parking lot of the Trident. The driver waves to one of the parking attendants. Narrator: “But that was then; our story really begins here.” The date “2010” is super imposed over the left hand corner of the screen.

A doctor’s office; it is immaculate, yet warm and welcoming. The doctor, seated behind the desk, is an African American woman, elegant both in how she carries herself and how she dresses. She is in her mid fifties, but anyone who didn’t know her would have thought she was in her early forties at most. Josie had a couple of minutes to kill before her next patient so she pulled out her new iPad and saw that she had a friend request from someone she’d not seen or spoken to in 30 years. The friend request was from Chelo. Her face sparkles, her eyes widen, and a big beautiful smile crosses her face. She spins around in her chair with the same delight a child might have and looks out the window at the distant blue of the San Francisco bay.

A rail thin black woman stands by the side of the road, her tight curls tied back behind her ears. It’s clear from her features that she’s the same woman from the Doctor’s office, although in her early twenties. “Spring 1974”  is super imposed on the screen. Two bags are on the pavement beside her. She taps her foot expectantly, craning her neck to see through the oncoming traffic. Her eyes widen, the same way the doctor’s had as she recognizes an approaching vehicle.  When the van pulls alongside, the window is already down. Chelo, a deliciously beautiful statuesque blonde leans her head out and says, “You’ve got to be Josie!” Before she can say another word, a shaggy head squeezes itself outside the window alongside Chelo’s. Brown shoulder length hair, a droopy mustache and a mischievous, elfish grin, Terry says, ” All aboard!”

The van is light and fun, the time filled with funny stories and amusing vignettes. Terry is charming, the girls somewhat giddy. They cute, they’re fun, you like them, but they have yet to show much of who they are.

The van again is seen from the sky, snaking up that same Big Sur coastline, but only for a moment. Inside the van, the 3 travelers are laughing at a joke Terry has just told them. He’s a character, a charmer and an entertainer. In an instant you realize he’s one of those people with an unquenchable love for life. When Terry turns his attention back to the road, Chelo turns around in the passenger’s seat, rest her arms on the seats back, and addresses Josie. This is really the first chance the women get to speak to each other, and it’s the beginning of the friendship to come. Chelo and Josie use the road time to lay out their own stories. Chelo asks Josie for hers. Josie shrugs, rolls her eyes and says something short and to the point about an ex boyfriend, family, and L.A.  Chelo prods her a bit, and Josie slowly opens up. She is the product of the working class, she and her sister raised by a single, tough, loving mother, no father in sight.  Mom worked two jobs to keep the kids in line and in school. Unfortunately, the area they grew up in was less than ideal for young children. Despite her mother’s good intentions, Josie’s brother got messed up on drugs and alcohol. Over the years the storyline her mother preached had worn thin and Josie was ready to break out into something new. She steers clear of any trouble for the longest of time, even enrolls in a JC, does quite well, has ideas, that is until she falls in with a guy she meets at the JC (go figure) who leads her down the wrong path. She falls off the rails for a bit, but not entirely. She is aware she has an addictive personality, but gets back on her feet and realizes it’s time to move on. Her story over, there’s a long silence, and she turns away.

A short, medium distance shot from outside the van; a bit of time has passed. Terry tries to spark up a conversation with some of his legendary charm. But before he can go further, Josie wakes from her moment of reflection, looks squarely at Chelo, and says, ” Not so fast. Now it’s your turn.”

Chelo is from a  well to do upper middle class family, a recent graduate from USC.  Her family are respectable people, even interesting,  not the cliche boring blockheads from the suburbs. No, in fact Chelo’s father is a professor of English Literature at USC, the mother plays 3rd chair viola with the symphony. They’re smart, caring, intelligent, and liberal. Chelo however, is disillusioned by the university grind and the growing campus apathy in the wake of the wind down of the Viet Nam war.  Her parents are good people, but they’re always hovering, never leaving her alone, unable to let go. She’s beautiful and she knows it, but she’s no dummy, either. She is a fuse waiting for a match.

(January 1, 2018)

Chelo turns to Terry and nudges him in the arm, “So what about you?” Terry simply smiles and arches his eyebrows. He replies, “Sorry. Top Secret.” Laughing, the two girls protest and goad him on. He feigns an angry look, says, “Hush.” and then reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a joint, waving it around slowly like a little magic wand. The girls look at each other, give a “why not” kind of look. The van is filled with smoke, the three of them are in hysterics, who knows why, it doesn’t matter.

A bit further into their trip, Chelo and Josie have settled in and seem to be developing a bond, judging by the knowing expressions and raised eyebrows they exchange after one of Terry’s leading questions. It’s as if Terry is sizing them up; will they cut it, and where will they cut it? Still they like him for his unquenchable energy, not to mention his stories about the Trident. As it turns out, Josie didn’t know Terry before, either.  Like a fisherman, he’s hauling in the catch to replenish the Trident’s most valuable asset: it’s gorgeous women. Hovering over their stories and occasionally making witty comments is Terry, and tales of the Trident, a place they can only imagine. If only half of what Terry tells them is true, it would be like nothing they had ever seen before.

The north end of the Golden Gate Bridge again. The highway sign beckons: “Alexander Avenue/ Sausalito.” The van veers off the highway and dives down between the sharp red cut in the hills. The narrator begins a brief commentary on Sausalito, it’s unique history from the times of Jack London, the grand summer homes, and the dingy waterfront, the beatniks to the transformation of an old bait house’s upper floor into Oindine, a grand but stuffy French restaurant. Afterwards came the gay arrival, brief and flamboyant, and in their wake the flower children and the beginning of the Trident in it’s many phases.

Driving down the last straightaway on Bridgeway, the bay sparkling out the windows to the right, Terry downshifts, slows the van down and turns into the wood planked parking lot.

The initial Trident interior shoot: Terry, Josie, and Chelo arrive and Josie and Chelo are introduced to its unique beauty, location, and unforgettable scene. Some gorgeous wild looking woman comes up to Terry, and pulls him towards her so she can whisper in his ear; she asks if he can help out at the outside bar because the person covering the bar just called in sick. She pinches him in the ass. Terry smiles, says “Be right there.”, and introduces Chelo and Josie.

The restaurant and many of its characters are introduced in a swirling, fast moving hand held through the restaurant. With a Robert Altman type of feel (with a small, edgy dose of Guy Ritchie), simultaneous conversations overlap, but unlike Altman, the conversations are easier to understand and isolate. As the two young women weave through the swirl of customers and employees, feeding off the energy and its unorthodox nod or word, it’s clear this is where they want to be and are wondering “what do we have to do to get hired?” They make their way down the stairs and out onto the deck outside.  As they pass some of the other Trident characters, the camera lingers on them just long enough for their own departure story to be told.  Narrator: “The Trident drew people like a magnet; first they’d show up in San Francisco, looking for something and fleeing something. Then they’d need a job, and if they happened to talk to the right person, they’d head across the bridge to Sausalito and the Trident.”

Cut to a young man/busboy you’ve just seen, leaving Indiana, talking on the phone with parents, “Mom, Dad, I’m going out west to California…don’t know when I’ll be back…but I will write.” Cut to his father, shakes his head, ” I guess that means you won’t be cutting that long hair anytime soon.” He pauses, then chokes up a bit, and says something like, “You may be a screw up , but take care of yourself.”  Next we see a petite, cute as a button, waitress leaving Mississippi. “Mamma I do love you dearly, but I want to see a bit more of this world, and I’m going to start in San Francisco.” Then another busboy types, one of the comic sad sacks we meet later, at the door of his parent’s house, camera to his right so he is seen in profile. The house is somewhat rundown, a small place in a pretty plain neighborhood. He opens the door, saying, ” I’m going to…” Before he can finish, the door slams in his face, then simultaneously, as though his bags have been ready for years, a bag and guitar is tossed out the open window to the side. And finally, another waitress, this time in N.Y.City, perhaps from a nice, wealthy, caring family; it’s a short, no words are spoken, they are accepting and caring. Tears, hugs, and a sad goodbye. Poignant.

The camera changes focus, sort of a “tag, your it” , leaving Chelo and Josie for the moment to follow another waitress into the kitchen, passing the steps up to the bar where a cook with a mangy head of hair is giving the bartender a wink, holding out for his after hour work drink. The bartender looks quickly around and then tops it off with another ounce or two on top. The cook smiles appreciatively and squeezes into the employee table. The camera continues into the kitchen; it’s “controlled chaos.” Noise, sweat, and a little busboy bounces a roll, rock hard, off the stainless counter, shakes his head. “Fuckin’ shit…” he mumbles to himself. The French Chef leans his head around the far end, scowls and growls and scares everyone shitless. He shakes his head in disbelief as another scantily-clad waitress waltzes in for her order and some shaggy headed busboy waits for a carryout. The camera takes us through the kitchen to where one of the cooks is on the phone. We listen to the conversation; a party is being created for later that evening in a reclusive coastal town called Muir Beach.

Chelo and Josie take in the sights of the bay and San Francisco: the multi-million dollar view, the water, the boats sailing by, the people, the outrageous and bizarre outfits of the waitresses, the kidding between busboy, waitress, and hostess, and occasionally a customer. They can hardly believe what they’re seeing. “Check that out.” “Did you see…?” They make more than  a few comments, exchange some giggles, pop-eyes, and some humor: however, beyond the comments that express total surprise, their observations are astute. This is an opportunity to show they are indeed thinking, thoughtful women. These observations are short and to the point, and a further basis for the foundation of their friendship. The second half of their observations come further on.

The camera pulls away and begins to wander, catching more quintessentially Trident images; the sauce dripping off a metal skillet onto a woman’s dress; coffee spilled, some drunks throwing down shooters on the deck, more beautiful women, some preening, and good looking guys…

The Ninja Busboy: A busboy is taking silverware from the bus station, and is about to set a table behind him. As Asian busboy passes by, long black braided ponytail, small funny glasses, when the first busboy turns to the table, it’s already set? The busboy scratches his head, looks around, a befuddled look on his face.  No comment made at this time: it is left for the later of Roger (the Ninja Busboy).

(January 2, 2018)

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The narrator’s voiced fades in over the noise: a commentary on the times, what they meant to those that lived them, what they mean to us now. The camera keeps jumping from one quintessentially Trident scene to another:

“While we may have thought we were the center of the world, and the rest of humanity would follow inevitably in our footsteps, in fact, only a small percentage of the ‘real world’ paid us any heed, other than to trash us with a constant stream of invective and criticism.  When the blurring of the lines between the 1960s and 70s was ushered in, some saw it all as a continuum, one happy party of rock, good drugs, liberated sex, and the dawning awareness of the corrupt nature of our society as a whole, but was it, really? In many ways it was the beginning of a weird and unexplainable transition; the country woke up from the good vibe hangover of the 60s. The 60s ended with the Beatles, the Dead, Hendrix, psychedelics and lots of weed. The 70s were rounded out with Disco, Punk, Heavy Metal, and a lot of coke. While that may be an oversimplification, there is an interesting distinction to be made if one simply follows the musical evolution. The 60s were pure innocence in many ways, peace and love:  the 70s had a more hedonistic ‘I’m cool and your not’ reality. The innocence was gone. ”

The narrator’s rant is made more effective as it’s laid over a transitioning musical track. Regarding the Trident, the story we’re following is really in the 70s; the narrator clarifies: “That was then, this (the 70s) is now.”

Cut back to Chelo and Josie. The deck conversation between the two continues; this second opportunity shows the viewer the first glimpse of the girls as women; astute observers, they make key observations about the customers and the help, seeing the world through their own respective lenses, and in the process reveal a bit more about themselves, enough for viewers to want to know more. They make casual references to their past, reminded by something/someone they see on the deck looking across the bay to San Francisco, enjoying the outside until the sun dips behind the roof. Terry wraps up his shift at the outside bar and finds the two women curled up in one of the leather banquettes; he gathers them up and hustles them out and into the van. Rambling down Bridgeway, Terry alerts them to the party in Muir Beach. Driving north on Highway 101, Terry takes the Mill Valley/ Highway 1 exit and heads into Mill Valley. He turns at the 2AM club, makes a comment about it’s iconic stature, and then winds his way up Mt. Tamalpais to a house where the girls can crash, a “nice little place” to get situated before their “big adventure” begins.

The house is more than they ever expected. Terry grins again; the magician has performed another miracle. The home occupies a knoll top above Mill Valley. There’s a view north, and then East to the bay. The houses big on lush beautiful grounds, pool, a 70s architecture modern beauty; warm wood walls and floors. Persian rugs, big windows, and lots of light – and of course – the proverbial “Marin Hot Tub.” The girls can’t believe it, or their luck. They give Terry a look that says, “How do you know these people?” ” “Just some friends” Terry answers with a bit of mystery and a smile. “Only one person lives in the house – Ricky the owner’s son.”  (The owner is forever out of town, possibly out of the country). The girls are welcomed by Ricky (they’re too gorgeous not to be). He’s more than happy to let them stay for a while. Terry says he’s got to run but will be back in a couple of hours to pick up the girls to head off to the party at Muir Beach.

Ricky tells the girls to make themselves at home, then heads off to do a few errands. The girls shower and clean up. After Chelo finishes her shower and is dressed, she walks out onto the patio, still drying her hair with a towel. The sunlight streams into the house as she emerges into a beautiful, sunny afternoon.  Josie is sitting on a big comfy patio chair with a tall glass of juice in her hand. Chelo sits and joins her, and they pick up the conversations where they left off..

It’s a spring board into ruminating on the issues of the day, the first glimpse of the depth of these two individuals, but this time with personal stories of their past, their hopes and dreams, and about the times. Stories of hardship (more Josie’s) or privilege (more Chelo’s), but both have both good and bad stories to tell. Funny snippets, sad bits, inspiring bits; the audience learns to like them; they’re real people, full of optimism. They unwind and loosen up, a glass of wine or gin and tonics replacing the glass of juice, and the conversation follows up on a few things hinted at in their conversation on the Trident’s deck. At the end of the scene the stage is set for the rest of the story.

They’re not just two starry eyed kids led astray by the lure of the San Francisco “scene,” they’re intelligent women just coming into their own. This is an honest, real, initial “soul search,” and a beginning of their deeper friendship (after all , you really don’t want a relationship that has real meaning to be based upon a van ride up the coast smoking dope). Whatever ends up in this scene, it is an amalgam of our own recollections, what we saw in the times (after all, it’s not reserved to the female gender). This being the third time they talk, it is a critical scene to set their characters in stone.

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(January 3, 2018)

MUIR BEACH, THE PARTY

Tooling down the Muir Beach Road, the afternoon sun warming the colors, the ocean off in the distance. The girls are jacked; they love the house, love the T, and are all questions regarding the party. Terry tells them a little bit of what to expect, and who to expect; money, music, and dope. “And watch out for the sharks.”  Cut to Muir Beach a half hour before a gorgeous sunset. They walk into the house; it’s another beautiful home, integrated into the landscape, an outdoor area perched above the ocean. The Tribes have arrived. There are about 40 people there, and more keep coming. The house shakes slightly with the pounding music. Beautiful bohemian types drink wine in elegant wine glasses or sip icy fruit drinks like margaritas or may this being blended or mixed by an accommodating fellow in the kitchen. He’s one of the other Trident bartenders volunteering his skills. Waving a finger at Terry and raising his eyebrows upon seeing Josie and Chelo, Terry wags his finger in return. Like the entrance into the Trident, the two women swirl from group to group as Terry does his duty and introduces them to the throng. At some point a joint is passed around. It’s not a big deal, it’s just there and not being hidden, then another, then a little cocaine in the corner, more discreetly, as was and is typical, partially hidden, treasured by its elevated status, which eventually raises a few greedy eyebrows as some of the more beautiful women gravitate over to the guys spooning it out. Josie meets an attractive long haired man, and as the party steams up and Josie loosens up, by any means, just slick and high polished. Josie’s not a shallow woman, she just likes men, our first glimpse of this.  Later on in the party they drop acid.

The guys not a dealer, he’s just rich. His name is Jamie. The women are scantily clad, dressed in everything from totally wild and exhibitionist to very casual in jeans to just beautifully, classically dressed, and stunning. The men are a mix of 60s and 70s attire, longer straight hair, droopy mustaches, curly mini afros, and a few jolly beards. The sun sets. The party slows down a bit, retires to a neighboring house, and softer acoustical music begins indoors. Chelo has been absorbing it all, part starry eyed wonder, part detached observer, and part cautious distance, despite the number of guys who are hitting on her. Her conversations are brief and polite, and she moves from group to another.

Once Josie has taken the acid, this is the first time Chelo gets an inkling as to the other side of Josie’s character. Chelo is offered the acid but chooses not to take it, not sure what to make of it all. Questions and emotions dance across her face as she gets ready to leave and looks over her shoulder at the party still going strong. Does she want this? Or not? Eventually she gets Terry to drive her home, Josie disappeared during the party but told Chelo nothing; she comments to Terry about this; he says don’t let it bother, that’s what happens when you’re tripping on acid. Terry leaves with another woman he met at the party and drops Chelo off at “the house.” She enters the house alone, wondering what happened to Josie? She looks in Josie’s room; no Josie. She wanders out to the deck which has a view out towards the bay and the twinkling lights. Dreamy. She shivers a moment, then goes inside. Camera fades out.

(January 8, 2018)

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THE MORNING AFTER

Chelo wakes up slowly, then pops out of bed. What happened to Josie? Is she lying dead in a ditch is written across her face. She quickly peeks into Josie’s room; empty. As she turns to go, the phone rings. It’s Josie. She’s still together enough to give Chelo a call at the house. Chelo thanks her but is unsure what to think…at least she called.

Monday morning at the Trident: The job interview. The camera opens inside a relatively quiet Trident. (The Restaurant is divided into sections, which begins with what’s referred to as the 20s, working their way inside and up the stairs. (Throughout the treatment there are references to these sections, not to be confused with the decades of the 60s, 70, etc.) In the upper section is a “cocktail area referred to as the 90s, and an interview with an semi attractive potential waitress is taking place. Chelo is sitting in another area waiting for her interview when Josie, who she’s seen in two days walks in and joins her. Josie is in a great mood and wants to share everything with Chelo right then and there, but Chelo suggests they focus on the interview and then they’ll go to “the house” and she can share everything!

THE INTERVIEWS

We quickly get an inside into the mindset of the Trident and its managers. A philosophy of sorts. Peace, love, and happiness, gorgeous women, charisma, karma, and a very loose but deliberate dress code (there isn’t one), expectations of you as an employee (it’s hard work) and so on …  Among those who interview the girls are Lou (General Manager) and Dagny (Manager); there is a snippet of conversation with each girl; In the brief sentences Dagny speaks with each girl it’s clear she’s an intelligent, mature woman, older, sensitive, etc. She asks the right questions to get the women to reveal something about themselves. Like cards in a deck, we see a lineup of 20 beautiful young women, humorous and revealing, cutting from one girl to the next, the question and then the answer. There is something unique about every one of them; clothes, makeup, commentary, or all three. It’s important that all the girls are 8-10s. Why? Because even though it wasn’t 100% correct, everyone you asked about the Trident will say that that they were. That’s all that some people can remember.

Eventually it gets around to Josie and Chelo. Something clicks with Dagny and the girls, and we the audience realize there is going to be a relationship that develops. Both Chelo and Josie are hired on the spot. The interviews reveal they’ve both had little or no waitressing experience, and they’re basically hired for their looks and upbeat personalities. Following their acceptance , out comes the legendary Polaroid; pictures for the famous Trident Scrapbook of babes. When this scene initially opened the prospective waitress being considered is overqualified, but not that attractive, and she’s not hired. The narrator fades in with a commentary on the latest sexist spin of the times, to be expanded later in the film in a conversation with the three women. The gist of it is simple: women have indeed come a long way, beginning with the “Sexual Revolution” of the mid seventies. While “women are real people” they still have a long way to go; their still being hired for their looks, as they continue to be today. The narrator chimes in over a silent parade of beauties with a commentary on women struggling to be independent but still being objects. “Has anything really changed? You be the judge.”

(January 10, 2018)

Chelo and Josie catch a ride back to “the house” by another Trident waitress. After being dropped off Josie shares her wild adventures, telling Chelo about Jamie. He’s rich, has a great apartment, a nice car, and is a gentleman. He has great drugs and what she thinks is decent champagne.  “Who is he?” asks Chelo? Josie speculates: “I don’t really know. He’s so mysterious. I thought he might be a dealer, but I don’t think so. I think he just likes pretending to be a ‘man of mystery.’ Chelo not sure what to think. Chelo is experiencing two contradictory feelings; loves Josie’s energy, happy to see her so happy and optimistic, and is equally intrigued by the wild and exciting times she herself has been through, do different from anything she’s experienced. On the other hand she’s also concerned about Josie’s tendency for recklessness and, being a more pragmatic person. Immediately seeing the downside, the dangers and distractions. Drug dealers she thinks? She asks Josie if she knows what she’s doing, after all, where she grew up drug dealers are thought to be pretty scary guys. Josie picks up the slack. “Well, yes and no. There are all kinds of drug dealers out there. The horses got let out of the stables. Everyone’s a dealer. The guy in the black Mercedes, possibly, but it could also be your next door neighbor’s kid, the A average high school senior with all the zits on his face. I’m willing to bet half the busboys, cooks, and dishwashers at work are dealing on the side, not to mention a few waitresses and managers. It’s an odd scene. But the flashy guys with the money? They took some chances early on, and made some quick, easy cash. But that’s not to say that all these dealers are pussycats. And yes, there are some real scary dudes out there. You’ll find them in my neighborhood for sure, but you’ll also find them in fancy offices with $250 an hour lawyers, or hiding behind a little sign that says MD.”

Chelo looks up at Josie wide eyed as she lays it all down. Every now and then Chelo offers her two cents worth; sharp commentary from the good side of the tracks.  As the voices of the two women dies down, the narrator fades up. “Dealers…they were everywhere. It was the times…What did it mean to be on the wrong side of the law? Well, in those days it often meant that you were one very cool dude. Was it because we always attach a certain mystique to the rebel, the outlaw, the Robin Hood? In the 1960s and 70s those lines got blurred. There were dealers who were serious businessmen, and seriously bad guys; on the other hand, there were others who liked the risk, the money, and the  outlaw status, flaunting their trade and drugs. Then there were the small neighborhood dealers, just the guys who sold dope just to get high for free or make a little on the side. Yes, just like today, there are people out there would just as soon deal dope as sell children into slavery, but back then, it was just as likely to be your own son…or daughter. While some of them might have slid down a long slippery slope never to return, most of them didn’t die; the more enterprising of those young businesspeople are all grown up and long past middle age. If you look for them, you might see them duking it out in the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies. And if you asked them what they did during the 1960s and 70s, many of them will pretend it never happened… ” I was around, but I didn’t inhale.”

(January 11, 2018)

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Woody Allen “Play it again Sam” on deck at the Trident

Camera fades in on a beautiful weekend day. The scene starts before the Trident opens, so we get to see a bit of the set up. Chelo and Josie are trained by Dagny on a busy sunny Saturday on the deck. We are also re-introduced to the general manager – Lou Ganapoler; the father figure, the man of wise advice. He observes, he tolerates, but only up to a point.  When the two girls are introduced, Chelo comments about how can you even call it work on such a beautiful day. Lou growls and makes a comment about how he liked the Trident more as a Jazz Club? “Jazz Club” asks Chelo. Bill Evans, Yusef Later, Gary Burton, answers Lou as a question. Chelo looks at him and draws a complete blank. Lou shakes his head, mutters something about the absence of musical appreciation…

As the girls troop from one area to the next, we introduce the different functioning areas: the bar, the different waitress sections, the busboy stations, ect. The bartenders and the drinks: long lineup of Trident Fizzes, Boozy Smoothies, Tequila Sunrises (which the Eagles play on the soundtrack to this film?) and Cappuccino Sausalito’s, to name a few. Move from the inside bar to the outside bar. Narrator: “The outside Bartender had the best view (of the women), but hidden out of sight, they ofter got the most drama. Autonomous, kings of their castle, the got hammered by the crowds, merciless, non-stop, were they fish in a fishbowl, or were they actually on the outside, looking at the world in it’s own fishbowl!?”

The camera pans to a group of busboys as they stock the stations. A couple of the guys are listening to the story of Roger, the Asian “ninja” busboy, who discourses about the Zen of Bussing, etc. They laugh. What a load of horseshoe, the say. “Poor grasshoppers,” answers Rodger. He smiles and disappears in search of a table.

Its the Trident on a busy 4th of July weekend day. As Dagny takes the girls around from station to station, we get to meet some of the secondary characters. The hostesses, Gary behind the Espresso Bar, etc. When the women go to the Espresso Bar, his kindly bearded face invites confidentiality; he hears their stories and in a few short words answers with the perfect observation or word of advice; no always heeded, though. Kind of reminds you of Mr. Natural. (later on we learn that Gary died of AIDS). As Dagny and the girls continue to wander, in the background we see a Streaker go by, down the steps, out onto the deck, up onto the railing, and into the Bay; while his appearance does raise a few eyebrows, it’s not a game stopper. Kind of funny commentary on how “anything” can happen. The girls see it. Dagny takes no notice. A few seconds later another Streaker goes by, this one a woman.

Meanwhile, Dagny explains the layout of the tables, introduces the bartenders at both bars, and finally the kitchen, where the dishwashers only look, but don’t talk; the cooks have a good look at the newbies and they get put through the paces.  They each get assigned to a busboy when they’re ready to start. Chelo meets John for the first time. They hit it off right away;  Chelo is drawn to his more quiet side, sensitive side, not so brash like all the flashy people. He will eventually fall for Chelo, and even though he does end up having a relationship with her, it is brief; but by the end, they are drawn back together, and it seems like they’re meant to be together. Still, he is “only a busboy.”  It’s an interesting twist in their relationship; John doesn’t have the money, he can’t lavish Chelo with the attention that she eventually gets from so many other guys. So while she gets closer to John as a friend and confidant, she is simultaneously drawn to another guy, who isn’t a bad guy, just a spoiled rich kid.

John explains the stations in rapid fire staccato, ie. “Silverware here, coffee cups, water glasses, napkins, bus tubs. ” It’s a funny little exchange, a bit of Trident trivia. Right in the middle of it, by the station between the 40’s and 50s (waitress  assigned tables areas)), a table opens up and it’s a mess; as John talks to Chelo, Roger the Ninja glides by, doesn’t stop, but as John takes a second look at the table it’s perfectly clean. He does a double take.  “Did you see…? Never mind.” As John continues to talk to Chelo, one of the sad sack busboys comes over and offers to set the table; as he’s reaching in for the place settings, Rodger glides by again; when the sad sack looks, the table is magically set. “What the fuck?”

Cut to later in the shift. As the day goes on and the  women are trained, the sad sack busboy tells his other two spaced out comrades to keep an eye on Roger; some weird shit is going on. The day progresses; no one catches anything, but glasses are magically filled, tables bused, etc.

Cut to Chelo and Josie cornering Terry outside the bar. “So what’s with the house?” So now we’re making money and not paying rent? How good is that? Terry tells the two women that the son is more than happy to have them there indefinitely. Evidently having two such beautiful women on the premises has given him a boost in stature. The two women look at each other, smile in disbelief and say, ” Sounds good to me.”

18TridentSharlee

NIGHT SHIFT

Our exposure to what the Trident is like at night takes place on the 4th of July. The Trident at night? Controlled chaos and what appears to be a lot of fun under the thin veneer of work! The crowd is wild and varied, the energy is pumping, the music loud. The Trident is seen from above and outside. Fireworks go off in the background and out in the Bay.  Small rockets are launched from the dozen of boats moored in the Bay. The camera swoops in and weaves through the energized crowd; people eating, laughing, downing drinks, guys checking out the girls, girls checking out the guys. Cut to the kitchen, the steam, the noise, Big John’s awesome presence presiding over it all; he reaches down for his tall drink (what did he drink?), takes a big slug, then bellows, “Ooooooo! We hot tonight!” The cry is echoes along the line, from cold side to dishwasher: “Hot!” “Hot!” Back to Big John. “E’s and A’s!”

Cut to shot from inside looking out through the doors to the Bay.  With the fireworks blasting away, framed in the arch of the door, the Narrator’s voice fades in: “The Trident could be quite an adventure on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but it became an altogether different kind of beast on a weekend night. And, a 4th of July? Well… you’d just have to be there. Everyone showed up: Movie Stars, Rock Stars, wannabe hanger ons, drug dealers, and some very very very sexy women…  See and be seen, gotta look your best. And, just so you don’t get the false impression that the Trident was exclusively reserved for the rich and famous, in fact it was mostly populated by regular people, people who came to see what the fuss was all about, to stare, and stare some more.  Did those  girls really wear those revealing clothes? You bet they did: see – through, bra-less,low cut, lower cut, feathers, bangles, leather, more leather, and tight fitting. And for those who worked there? It was controlled chaos, hard work, and quite often a lot of fun!”

While the narrator speaks, the camera weaves around the room; everything he talks about is seen through the camera’s eye; the waitresses, busboys, customers and stars. Someone is seen discreetly snorting a spoonful at one of the tables. Elsewhere someone is getting fondled under the table.

Josie and Chelo are working, and it’s their first night. Being the 4th of July, it’s a doozy! They are hit on by a parade of strutting lotharios who sit up at the bar where they alternately exchange war stories with the bartenders or schmooze the hostesses and waitresses near the cashier.  Some seem too cartoony; others are just healthy young males doing what healthy young males do. They corner the girls as they come up to order. The bartender introduces them, after they have asked him to do so. Everyone seems to be into Josie, who quite literally beams with all the attention and she responds in kind. Chelo, as is her way, is more restrained, observant of course, but is taken in by one particularly charming guy, Nick. Seems like he might actually be a real person. She tucks that away in the back of her mind.

SHIFT END

The help is exhausted; some are eating at the large round employee table below the bar just outside the kitchen. Robin (one of the busboys) is there doing his baboon thing, picking invisible lice out of people’s hair as he puffs and wheezes like an old primate. Chelo and Josie are watching this performance, partly amazed and partly thinking “this guy is crazy.” Chelo whispers to one of the other waitresses, “What’s with him?”  “Oh, it all right, that’s just Robin.” Robin is asked by someone else to do a quick stand up. Someone tosses him an object of some sort which he uses as an improvisational prop which assumes a number of guises. Others are clustered around the bar; a few stragglers are lingering as well. Candles are gathered up; the stations are cleaned; chairs are stacked for Squeegee, one of the night clean up duo, a scraggly pair of shaggy heads from New York with accents to prove it. They accost the bartender, get a beer or two, and drag one of the busboys back into the kitchen to ask him something, most likely if he’s holding and needs a break before he heads home.

In the background, one of the sad sack busboys is placing the last of the candles on a tray. He hoist it up, and heads for the step up. Too fast. The candles clink, wiggle, he panics, they fall; a deafening crash of sloshing liquid and broken glass. The result is a huge oil slick. One of his spaced out comrades was right on his heels when it happens; he manages to dodge the cascade of glass, but gets caught in the slick; he slides, slips and goes down on his ass. Everyone at the employee table glances over; the take it with a “ho-hum” and a few raised eyebrows; someone says, “ouch”; then they keep on talking and eating (or not).

The camera turns and follows the night clean up crew knowns as the Popcorn Boys and the busboys into the kitchen where we find Josie and Chelo there, talking about their first night. Josie prying into Chelo’s evening, since she saw her chatting with Nick at the bar. She wants to know everything. What about you? Who did you meet? Which guy was that? Chelo gets pumped up by her attention; she was clearly taken by the guy at the bar but is trying to downplay the exchanges. Some laughter and knowing giggles. Josie edges in a few words about her own current interest, or interests, accompanied by a knowing look that it’s all happening right now. The steam hisses from the dishwasher, the Popcorn Boy’s crew rips the stove apart, making an intolerable loud noise. Pulling up the parts of the stove they hoist them up and cradle them like a pair of saxes. They start blowing, rocking in unison, imitating the sound of the horns with some wild licks. No inhibitions, the rock and sway, dancing down the line with their big black rubber aprons on. Josie and Chelo take one look at these crazy guys, glance at each other, laugh, and quickly scurry back out into the restaurant.

Josie is at the house, putting on finishing touches to an outrageous outfit and accompany makeup. Her eyes sparkle, she hums a tune, she’s getting ready for someone. Doorbell rings, she dashes out; it’s Jamie. She coos seductively, takes his hand and pulls him in. Cut to them doing some coke, Josie getting a bit on the wild side, and loving it. Jamie, Mr. Cool and Collected, is used to this, evidently, smiles and gives her free reign.

(January 14, 2018)

THIS IS THE SET UP FOR THE REST OF THE MOVIE

It’s now a few weeks later. We find Dagny, Chelo, and Josie at “the house” (or if shooting permits, after hours at the Trident). The conversation drifts in many directions: men, the weather, work and a conversation that brings the view up to date on the times – mid 70s – the sexual revolution prior to aids – questions about birth control, condoms, STDs, drugs, would you ever have sex with another woman, the many celebs that frequent the Trident, etc….

Dagny gives Josie a warning about the creeps she’s been hanging out with, couched in the gentlest of words. The two younger women take turns musing over what has transpired for them at the Trident. Josie is off in her world where everything is oh so wonderful, the center of attention, pursued by men with money and time on their hands to show her the good life. Chelo is always more reserved, yet feeling that this is the first step into a new way of looking at and living life that will take her to places she’d never imagined. She’s not sure when, or with whom this might happen, but it will happen.

Dagny playing the watchful big sister, begins asking the tough questions: who are you hanging out with, how much sex are you having and with how many different partners, how much drugs are you doing, do you have any idea what happens after all this is over? “Over?” asks Josie, “why will it ever be over? Hey babe, isn’t it clear these times are here to stay?” “Doubtful.” says Dagny; ” Where have you been?  There’s already been a huge cultural change from the 60s into the 70s. The times they are a changing. Those living in it always seem to think that their world, their generation is the one that will make the difference, leave the lasting impression; just listen to the music of the times, listen to how it changes, and where it’s going. Could you even fathom that the Beatles subtly morphed into C,S,&N, and now we all of a sudden have heavy metal and acid rock.”

The narrator fades in with a musical commentary, a chronology of music in transition. “Acid rock will give way to Disco and the Bee Gees; somehow out of all that will emerge Punk, Grunge, and Rap. The music is not timeless; neither is the culture. Psychedelic rock gives way to polar opposites: soft rock, hard rock, heavy metal, and punk: then came the 80s with Madonna, Michael Jackson,and Bruce. U2, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi, and so on, on into tech, house, hip hope, and rap.  Dagny is there to add perspective; she is old enough and wise enough to know all these realities of the inexorable flow of time. She remembers Elvis, Bobby Darrin, and the Coasters. Dagny continues, drawing parallels to today’s global mess. “Everything seems so fucking important when you’re IN it, it’s only until it’s past that you realized how fleeting it was and how quickly you begin to grow old i.e. “the young live forever,  until they grow old. Dagny tries to offer soft counsel; sound advice for these two women she’s grown fond of.

It’s a busy weekend brunch. John and Chelo are out by the station on the deck; it’s a beautiful day. The conversation gets more personal, but in a good way. They are clearly getting closer, but only as friends, as Chelo indicates, or something more, as John would like but won’t say. Chelo asks John what he does outside the Trident. He answers that he’s an artist, a painter. Before he can say more in response to her raised eyebrows and curious smile, a piercing laugh is heard over their shoulders.  One of the waitresses, Judy, is sitting down at a table with some guys; one in particular is all over her., and she him.  Chelo asks John to help with a carry out; they walk off, glancing at Judy while commenting discreetly on Judy and her choice of friends. The guy is a dealer, and not a very nice guy. Judy is a bit whacked out, a bit too far out; her story is the beginning of a cautionary tale to be told later. Judy is seen periodically, getting more and more messed up. Chelo says Judy’s friend tried to hit on her, too. What a creepy guy. She expresses her concern for Josie, that she may be going down a similar road. They weave their way through the crowd, snippets of other people’s conversations teasing us with commentary on the times. Once in the kitchen, John and Chelo begin piling the dishes on trays for the carryout. Meanwhile Dagny is on her way in, visibly steamed up with a waitress trailing at her heels. The waitress, it seems, can’t get her orders out in a timely fashion and Dagny has come into the kitchen to sort things out.  When she asks the cook, David Smith, why the kitchen is so slow he says, “Excuse me Mother Superior, but is that space between the tops of your legs for real?” ( that was the actual quote) Dagny blushes and anger comes over her face but she turns about and leaves the kitchen in a quandary of frustration, insult, and helplessness. Here she is, in charge of one of the most successful restaurants in California, recognized for her intelligence and ability, yet just got the lowest of blows right to the mid section of her femininity. This is not only how the sexes are divided but speaks to the willingness to be feminine, sexy, and attractive, yet strong and independent. The women’s liberation movement was a foot in the door, but has not yet come to full fruition. As Dagny leaves, she mutters a not so sweet curse, along the lines of “And women are supposed to be liberated? Not quite yet! What a fucking asshole!”

Following Dagny back onto the floor, John and Chelo emerge from the kitchen. Out of one corner of the camera’s eye we see a couple of Hell’s Angels seated at a table. They’re messed up and looking surly. It’s a new kind of chaos. The Angels are on a tear, threatening to stop a riot after they think they’re getting bad service from a waitress. They start by throwing an ashtray at the waitress. John grabs Chelo and pulls her out of the way. Meanwhile, as the scene escalates and gets really ugly, in the back of the shot Lou is seen herding the waitresses into the office for their protection. As the situation deteriorates rapidly, another person gets involved when the Angels give his date some shit. The guy just happens to be a lineman for the San Francisco 49ers; he’s huge. A fight ensues, two on one, but somehow, miraculously the Angels are picked up, one in each hand of the lineman, walked outside, and thrown into the the parking lot. The lineman yells, “Don’t come back!” A few scenes later Sonny Barger, head of the Hell’s Angels is seen talking to Lou and paying off all the damages with a wad of cash, and then some. He’d been hanging out at the bar in the evening with Clint Eastwood and afraid of being 86’d from the Trident. (True story)

A day off. The three women go to the beach. They are at the very end of Stinson Beach in an area called Seadrift, across an inlet from the town of Bolinas.  This scene adds further meat to their friendship; more sharing of their thoughts, their feelings, and their doubts. They walk along the beach, tracing shapes in the sand with their toes; we like these women, and see that their friendship is something special, that there is substance and caring and something good.  As they walk along, the magic is broken when Josie looks up at one of the Seadrift houses, and says, “I was in that house just a while ago! It belongs to one of Jamie’s friends, Vince. It was wild…I…blah blah blah…ended up sleeping with Vince. Jamie was pissed. Left me there. But it’s all cool now. ” Chelo is more than disappointed in her friend, a perfect afternoon brought down to a superficial level, highlighting the frays that are a part of their relationship. Without even seeing Chelo’s reaction, Josie catches herself in the inanity of what she’s saying and muses out loud, “What am I doing? Sometimes I don’t even know.” It’s as if she sees into the abyss, know’s it’s there, knows its the wrong thing to do, but steps off the edges anyway. Dagny sees it, too, and while Chelo remains quiet, Dagny lets Josie have it, in no uncertain terms, but still in the gentlest of ways. She follows up on their last chat in the scene above; she builds on her perspective of time and maturity; she tries to steer the women gently, yet still let them be themselves, express themselves. This is fine, except that Josie seems to want to pursue the more dangerous destructive paths; she fools herself into assuming she is always in control, that she can get out of any dangerous corners she gets in. In a polite way, Josie bristles and tells Dagny to mind her own fucking business. Before Dagny can respond, Josie dashes off towards the surf to run along the water’s edge, kicking water like a happy child. Chelo and Dagny give each other knowing glances and each of them expresses their concern for what they see coming down the road for Josie. Chelo fills Dagny in on some dirt Josie has been feeding her, confirming Dagny’s concern. Josie, out of the water, dashes back up the beach, beaming, a beautiful smile on her face. “Talking about me?” “As a matter of fact, yes we were.” “Don’t waste your time. I’m fine, so fine, so happy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIS IS A STORY/MOVIE TREATEMENT THAT REFLECTS WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN GOING ON AT THE TRIDENT  AT A VERY INTERESTING TIME DURING THE MID SEVENTIES.

THREE YOUNG WOMEN COMING OF AGE WHOSE FRIENDSHIP IS CHALLENGED….. A STORY ABOUT FRIENDSHIP, LOYALTY, AND REDEMPTION…..