Mike Sacks has written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, The New Yorker, Time, McSweeney’s, Radar, MAD, New York Observer, Premiere, Believer, Maxim, and Salon. What, you think that's a lot? Well, he's also worked at The Washington Post, and is currently on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair. If you don't believe us, why don't you go to mikesacks.com and see all his work for yourself.
The On-Going, Insanely Exciting Adventures of the Apple Valley High Gang!
(Co-Starring Tobi, the Wondrous Sleuth Dog)
Volume 1 (of 36): Free Mumia!
It was Friday afternoon and Cindi was once again in love.
"I'm in love," said Cindi, softly. "I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love."
"Really?" asked Dani sarcastically. She took a bite from a french fry and then continued: "Who is it this time? Johnny? Billy? Or how about Ricky? Take your pick!" She rolled her eyes and then absent-mindedly took a sip from her strawberry milkshake.
Tobi the sleuth dog, who had previously been asleep on the floor, suddenly awoke with a loud bark. He, too, knew Cindi's history with boyfriends and couldn't help but get in his own two cents. He then fell back asleep.
"None of the above!" answered Cindi. "It's a . . . secret."
The Apple Valley Gang, not counting Cindi, gave each other a knowing look, and then went back to their meals. School had just let out for the day, but a lot of things were still on their minds. Like what present to buy for Mr. Charles, Apple Valley High's janitor, for his 30th birthday. Or what yummy dish to prepare for the charity dinner being thrown by the Apple Valley Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association©, a most worthy cause to be sure. But this? Forget it. Like all of Cindi's numerous crushes, this one would most likely fade . . . more quickly than Cindi probably realized.
"Can you spare all of us the suspense?" asked Sylvia, chewing on a piece of grape gum, as usual.
Cindi thought for a short while and then sighed. "I suppose it's no use, as you'll all find out soon enough anyway. So here goes: It's Mumia."
Just one name was all it took. The Apple Valley Gang groaned. Mumia? Why not pick the President of the United States or the Richest Man in the Universe? First of all, Mumia was an absolute perfect dreamboat. Secondly, he was already taken . . . he just had to be. Right?
Cindi pushed her long flowing red hair off her shoulders. Her gorgeous green eyes sparkled, and she let out a shy laugh.
"I . . . just can't get him off my mind," she said, poking at her pile of mashed potatoes with her fork. "What can I really say—"
"That you're acting silly?" interjected Rachelle, between bites of apple pie and vanilla ice cream. "That there's not a chance in Apple Valley that you'll ever meet, let alone date, this gorgeous human being?"
Rachelle was just being honest. Within the group, she was known as the honest one. Sometimes too honest. The previous summer, while on vacation, Rachelle had inadvertently come across a pile of incriminating papers belonging to her father, a fireman. Although it had been an extremely difficult decision, Rachelle had immediately turned the papers over to a judge. Her father was subsequently arrested and three years later was still languishing in a prison somewhere on the Cayman Islands. [Apple Valley High #13: Fire, Fire, Burning Bright.]
"She's right," interjected Dani, smiling. Her smile was warm and large. Over the years, it had melted many a young man's heart, including, but not limited to, Rüdolf Giuseppe, the handsome, eldest son of an Italian count. Dani had fallen madly, head-over-heels in love with Rüdolf, but Rüdolf had died tragically in a Jet-Ski accident a few hours after they had met, thus dashing any hope that Dani might have had for the perfect prom. And that had been that. Until a few hours later when she had met "Magic" Alex Shoumanoff, the gorgeous, brilliant son of a world-famous German opera singer. [Apple Valley High #26: Lè Dreams.]
Cindi, now slightly irritated by her friend's behavior, continued: "I need your help because it seems that Mumia needs our help." She rushed the words out, as if in a great hurry.
"What sort of help?" asked Sylvia, blowing a huge bubble.
"Yeah," asked Rachelle, "what sort of help could Mumia possibly need from us, the Apple Valley High Gang?"
Cindi paused, and then exclaimed: "Why don't we just let Mumia tell us for himself?"
Sylvia let out a small gasp. As did Sara, Rachelle and Dani.
"T-t-t-talk to him?" stuttered Sylvia. "N-n-n-now?"
"Sure," said Cindi. "If not now, when?"
"Um, okay," replied Sylvia, nervously. "If you say so."
"But we have to wait for him to call us," said Cindi. "Which he will. In exactly: five seconds . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one!"
With that, Cindi's pink cell phone rang. "Hello?" Cindy answered excitedly. "Is that you, Mumia? I'm going to put you on the special speaker-phone." Cindi pressed the lime-green "speaker-phone" button and Mumia could now be heard, his voice ringing loud and clear throughout the Banana Hut:
"Am I talking to the Apple Valley Gang? Are you all there?"
"Yes!" said the Apple Valley Gang in unison. "We're all here!"
"Dynamite," said Mumia, confidently. "Ladies, my name is Mumia and I am in a hint of trouble. Unfortunately, I am in no position to explain. But please, Apple Valley Gang, you must trust me on this one. Do you think that you can trust me?"
Cindi looked over to Sylvia, who looked over to Sarah, who looked over Dani, who then looked over to Rachelle. All five nodded their heads in unison. Tobi the sleuth dog, feeling slightly left out, awoke with a start and began to bark, loudly and with force. He had never met Mumia, but if he had, he would have most definitely taken an instant liking to him.
"Yes!" they all proclaimed. "We can trust you!"
"Super," replied Mumia, his voice full and husky. "I need the Apple Valley Gang to do a bit of sleuthing."
"Sleuthing?" asked Dani, intrigued. "Tell us more."
"Look for the Whitey," replied Mumia. "The Blue-Eyed Peckerwood with that look in his eye that says, You are going down. You are going away for good. Look for the Hay Eater. The Georgia Cracker who stole my life and left me here to rot. The Frosted Devil who holds the pristine bullet that was stolen from the side of the road. The Bloated Marshmallow who took that bullet and shot me right through the heart. And the Pink-Faced Charlie who laughs heartily at my misfortune. I need them all found. Apple Valley Gang, do you think that you can do that for Mumia?" ["My Thoughts," by Mumia Abu-Jamal, S.C.I. Greene Prison Press, Volume 14]
"The Peckerwood?" asked Dani, inquisitively.
"Yes," said Mumia.
"The Bloated Marshmallow?" asked Cindi, curiously.
"That's correct," said Mumia.
"The Georgia Cracker?" asked Rachelle, perplexed.
"Bingo. And the Frosted Devil," said Mumia. "Find them all. Do it for Mumia. It's glorious to have you all on my side!"
Sylvia blushed. She imagined Mumia's handsome African-American face lighting up as he said this. Perhaps Cindi wasn't so crazy after all, she thought. Perhaps not so crazy in the least. And, in fact, perhaps she, too, was beginning to come down with a slight crush on this sexy, mysterious man. What was it about him? His wondrous smile? His charming phone manners? Sylvia did not know for sure, and yet she also did not much care. She and the rest of the Gang had their work cut out for them. And it was high-time they got busy . . .
"And we're happy to have you on our side," said Cindy. "We think you're amazing!"
"So let's plan on meeting up later," Mumia continued. "Perhaps in time for the dinner being thrown by the Apple Valley Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association©, a most worthy cause to be sure!"
"That sounds fantastic, Mumia! Talk to you later!" exclaimed Cindi. She pressed the "off" button on her pink cell phone and smiled.
"Now do you understand?" Cindi asked, positively glowing. "Isn't he just the most?"
"Is he ever!" exclaimed Sara, standing up from the table. "Let's get sleuthing. For Mumia!"
The rest of the Apple Valley High Gang stood up from the table. Tobi, the wondrous sleuth dog, also stood up. He knew it was time to go and he was growing very happy. Sylvia placed a miniature baseball cap onto his head, and he barked joyfully. This was all very exciting!
"To us!" screamed the gang in unison, as they joined their hands together and then lifted them high into the air. "And to Mumia!"
Let the sleuthing begin!
Volume 2 (of 36): "Creating the Facebook Page . . ."
My Family Home Movie: The 10th Anniversary
(Co-Starring Janeane Garofalo)
Ten years ago, I invited Janeane Garofalo to appear in my family's home movie. Although offered very little money, she accepted readily, save for three conditions: That we were to call her by her real name; that we were to receive no outside funding from a major studio; and that she was to be allowed to dress however she wished. Easy. Done.
August 2nd, 1998
Mike Sacks (as himself, home from the big city for the weekend)
Mrs. Martha Sacks (as herself, the mother)
Mr. Robert Sacks (as himself, the father)
Janeane Garofalo (only sister, ironic, world-bent, deliciously cunning, never left home, everybody's favorite, except for the men, who unfortunately tend to overlook her in favor of her best friend, the beautiful, exotic Noelle. This is unfair, but little can be done about it, other than putting them all in their well-deserved places with an impeccably-timed quip. She is sporting (in an arduously casual manner) a mocha tank top, olive drab shorts, four thin, leather bracelets, two on each arm, and a leather cuff (right arm). She is also sporting a pair of steel-toed black chukka boots. Her tattoos are many. She is different. She is wonderful. She is, for this afternoon, our wise-cracking older sister/eldest daughter. We love her dearly.)
Cue-in . . .
A screened-in porch. A table is laid out from end to end with a bounty of delicious food. The sun is setting. It is a typical scene of a typical family. It is dusk in Poolesville, Maryland, and all is well with the world. On a circular dinner table sits a red, green and black candle that is shaped like a watermelon. For now, it is unlit.
Ext . . .
Janeane, enters from the left. She is scowling and holding her stomach.
Janeane: I feel all bright-eyed and mussy-furred, like a mangy dog ridden hard and put away wet. Do I look like a Tijuana rag doll to all of you? (Rolls eyes) The fucker gives me a call this morning, like I'm his cabana-girl bitch that he can just ring up whenever he feels the urge to merge. I pick up the phone and this is what I get. (Low, guttural voice) "Uh, yeah ... like you're friends with Noelle, right? Okay, kind of wondering if you could hook me up with her, because she's like, more beautiful than you're ever going to be, so sorry." (Normal voice) And I'm thinking: "Hey, professor, go out and rut with a saucy wench and leave me the fuck out of it."
Martha: Sweetheart, you want one hot dog or two?
Janeane (picking up a raw hot dog): Looks familiar. Like a lady's lollipop just before the Viagra hits.
Robert: Hon, can we get her a drink?
Martha: Of course—
Janeane (sarcastically): Yeah, I need a drink like I need a hole in both your heads. By the way, what's with that T-shirt, daddy? Looks like something Mr. Disney would have pinched out.
Robert (laughing): You're funny!
Janeane: Funny? No. The only thing that I am is hungry. Where in the fuck is the food already?
Robert: Almost, almost. Anyone up for a game?
Janeane: Let me a tell you a story. It's about a family that's so lame they can think of nothing better to do than to play lousy games. Let me tell you another story: I feel like an Asian princess in a Greek fairy tale, bound and gagged, and then rolled over with my belly exposed. Okay, story done.
Voice of Mike (laughing): That was great!
Martha (laughing): Yeah, fantastic!
Robert (laughing): It's fun having you in our movie. We've never had a daughter. This is nice.
Janeane: What's with this house? Is the family allergic to black? And this watermelon candle? Where in the shit did you find this little gem? The gift shop in Hades?
Martha (laughing): At a garage sale on Windsor View. Isn't it darling? Let me light it.
Janeane: Christ damn. Okay, dig this: You're paying me to be here today, and I can respect that. I'm the older, wise-cracking sibling, that's fine. So I'll give you five more minutes and then I'll take my check and I'll leave.
Robert (laughing): Sounds good.
Martha (laughing): Okay.
Voice of Mike (laughing): Great.
Janeane (in a tight close-up): Okay, so here we go: So Noelle calls me up this afternoon and says: "Uh, did you talk to Geoffrey?" And I'm like: "Talk to him? The man can't even form complete sentences without the help of his wet nurse, how am I going to talk to him?" And she's like: "Do you think that he likes me?" And I'm like: "Who gives a shit? This is a man who performs somersaults for fun." And she says: "Oh, but he's so sensitive." And I'm like, "Why? Because he has a tattoo of a teardrop? On his penis?" Okay, I'm done.
Robert (laughing): Fabulous!
Martha (laughing): Beautiful.
Mike (laughing): Wow.
Janeane: Seriously, I'm done. Money please.
(Dissolve to a musical montage . . . "I Feel Good," by James Brown)
Janeane, in slow motion, scowling.
Janeane, in slow motion, scowling.
Janeane, in slow motion, scowling.
(Musical montage ends)
Robert: We can't thank you enough.
Janeane: Suck my balls.
Out of the house Janeane walks, slowly, and with solid purpose. She is ravishing, in a dark, brooding way. She is a woman alone against the world, her weapons only her acerbic wit and her edgy tendencies. She is off to the Smyths, and to their home movie. They've never had a sarcastic, progressive maid, and yet they've always dreamed of employing one. The Sacks family can only stand back in awe, and wave. The watermelon candle burns to a slow ember, and then out.
If you, too, are interested in having Janeane Garofalo star in your home movie for very little or absolutely no money, you can reach her through the United Talent Agency, 9560 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Or, by phone 310-273-6700. Please tell her that Mike Sacks, her younger brother for one joyful, enchanting afternoon, says "hello."