the human equivalent of two drugs

Sander Hicks sander at
Fri Feb 28 10:20:45 MST 2003

[ converted from html ]

Friends, Comrades, Lovers of Truth-

I am in a film about hype, cant, media spin and Presidential politics.

It is reviewed in tomorrow's New York Times, and it opens this
weekend at Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th Street. Please go see it this
weekend. We kind of need your support, badly, now, here, this
weekend, if the film is going to be shown anywhere else, ever again.

Show times are: 1:15 3:05 7:20 and 9:25 PM
You can get tickets in advance at

Here's an advance copy of the Times review-

A Tale of Politics and Publishing

n 1998 J. H. Hatfield, an author of quickie biographies of show
business subjects like the actors Patrick Stewart and Ewan McGregor,
landed a contract that seemed a bit out of his league: he was to
write a study of George W. Bush, then one of several contenders for
the Republican nomination for president, for St. Martin's Press.

Mr. Hatfield's project drew more and more attention as Mr. Bush's
prospects grew, but shortly after St. Martin's announced an increase
in the press run for "Fortunate Son," as Mr. Hatfield's biography was
called, the publisher withdrew the book from distribution. An
afterword including unsourced allegations that Mr. Bush had been
arrested for cocaine possession in 1972, suddenly looked like libel
suit material. Rather than take their chances in court, St. Martin's
decided to remove the book from the marketplace. It didn't help that
a reporter for The Dallas Morning News had discovered an unsavory
detail in Mr. Hatfield's own past: that he had been convicted of
attempted murder in 1978 and served time in prison.

Directed by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky, the absorbing
documentary "Horns and Halos" follows the attempts of Sander Hicks, a
self-styled punk rock publisher, to put "Fortunate Son" on bookstore
shelves in time for the 2000 election. As the founder and director of
a small imprint called Soft Skull Press, whose cramped offices were
in the basement of the Lower East Side tenement building where he was
a superintendent, Mr. Sander was prankishly, punkishly determined to
make sure the public could see Mr. Hatfield's version of Mr. Bush's
checkered career as a student, businessman and politician.

"Horns and Halos," whose title refers to Mr. Hatfield's avowed
determination to include both Mr. Bush's positive and negative
qualities in his portrait, evolves as surprisingly suspenseful in the
risks and rewards of publishing. Having bought the book from St.
Martin's, Mr. Hicks works furiously to reclaim his author's
credibility and to make "Fortunate Son" a scandalous best seller. His
motto is: "Soft Skull Press — publishing books that other people want
to burn."

Adapting the fly-on-the-wall techniques made possible by the new
generation of relatively inconspicuous video cameras (well exploited
by films like "The War Room" in 1993), the co-directors eavesdrop on
the complex and ultimately destructive relationship that develops
between their two main characters. Mr. Hicks, who finds an additional
outlet for his bouncing nervous energy as the lead singer in a punk
band, and Mr. Hatfield, a prickly depressive whose Southern charm
suddenly explodes into raging paranoia in e-mail that Mr. Hicks reads
on camera, make an odd couple at the best of times. Yoked together on
the promotional trail (the film opens and closes at the 2001 Book
Expo of America in Chicago, a make-or-break sales opportunity), they
become the human equivalent of two drugs that should definitely not
be taken in combination.

If it were a fiction film, "Horns and Halos," which opens today in
Manhattan, would end with the triumph of the feisty little guys over
the system. But this is reality — or at least, the reality defined by
the Bush administration — and so the ending of "Horns and Halos" is
both shocking and sad. Here is a rich tale of our times, very well
told with an appropriate minimum of means.

Directed by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky

Sander Hicks
631 424 1291

Coordinator, UPSERJ
United People for Social, Economic and Racial Justice

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