Hacking the Afterlife with Jennifer Shaffer, Eddie and Bill Paxton

 Aside from being a film writer/director, I had a fun chance to be a music critic at Variety for a number of years.  My pal Bruce Haring was one of the editors at the time, moving over from Billboard, then leaving for more pristine pastures; he roped me into writing music reviews under the moniker "tini" during the early 90's, then under my own name during the late 90's.

I saw it as an opportunity to turn my 150 words into an experience for people. Filmmaking can take years - writing, casting, directing, putting it into theaters - I enjoyed being able to craft an experience, and have it published the "next day." (Search "Rich Martini Variety" for some examples). I also played in a band full of "rock critics" who played the House of Blues three times and various venues on the strip. 

If anything, I was chastised for not being "critical enough" - because I felt "If people paid this much money to see their favorite act and are standing on their seats" then my job was to translate that experience into words for people who couldn't see the show.  And I saw a lot of shows that people were wild about and I was amused by how much fun they were having. It I could translate that into a phrase, or a sensation, I was happy to do so.

(Plus I hated being reviewed negatively, still stinging from Siskel and Ebert giving me a "thumbs way down" for my film "Limit Up" - so likely I avoided putting my thumbs out there for anyone else's work.)

I can pretty much say out of the dozens of shows I covered, only a handful got the "negativity" from me, and always for technical reasons, or the laziness of the artist who didn't show up at the tech rehearsal, or just lip synching their way through the set.  

I had the privilege to review and meet up with everyone from Sting to Prince, from Paul Simon to an impromptu set at Johnny Depp's club by Eddie Vedder. (Which I was fired over, because "no journalists" were allowed - and they didn't know I was invited as a filmmaker, by a filmmaker - and the agents were in a tizzy over my "sneaking in" to review the show.) That last review in in the "Variety" link above.

Be that as it may - I never had the chance to see or review Van Halen. 

I worked with the actress from "Hot for Teacher" who appeared in the short film "Video Valentino" that started my career - but never had the fortune to see Eddie, a virtuoso, play.

So when he passed this week, I did some due diligence, read up on his life and journey, put it in the context of the flipside research ("Who was there to greet you when you crossed over?") and other questions that people familiar with Jennifer and my sessions will recognize. I ask him the same questions I ask everyone who appears in our classroom (moderated by the person with the VIP clipboard, Luana Anders)

But I'm also a musician, mom was a concert pianist ( and I spent much of my life in and out of concert halls, playing nightclubs with bands, solo (Les Deux Cafe in Hollywood on Saturdays for two years where people like Don Everly would sit in) or sitting in with some awesome acts.  

                                   with Mick and his dad.

I play my own version of "Chicago Blues" in the style of Otis Spann (at least in my imagination) and have played gigs that got me other adventures in my lifetime. (Including a four week gig on a yacht during the Millennium which had a bevy of stars aboard. "The Bob Shaye Millennium Cruise." Another post, another time.)

But music has always been part of my life, so when I dive into my interview with Eddie it's knowing how we communicate through "frequency," how musicians tend to incarnate as musicians (not always, sometimes) that he can speak about music on a deeper level.  I knew that Jennifer was not aware of who I was going to ask to speak with - nor did she know that he was the guitar solos on Michael Jackson's songs "Beat It" and "Thriller."

Jennifer knew he had died of cancer, as it was in all the news - but in particular she didn't know any of the details. Who was with him, how many were with him, what his cancer was about, the idea that he got it from guitar picks - something he floated for years, or that he favored his Gibson over other guitars.

This interview with him is no different than any other interview I do with folks on the flipside, and it is no different than an interview I might have done had I spent an hour with him on the planet.   Questions about music - where does it come from - how did you write music - what are your opinions about music?

He pointedly says (perhaps in jest) that he got "pennies" for working on "Thriller" (only Quincy will know if that's accurate, we interview Ray Charles and he talks about Q in "Backstage Pass to the Flipside") - and that his brother Alex should "focus on music residuals that he is due."  Being a member of BMI  (I've scored two of my 8 feature films), I know how important that is to report and get straight.  So this is a practical interview as well as a musical one.

Bill Paxton shows up because I knew Eddie supplied music for "Twister," and he weighs in on the "frequency" of creativity - how films are similar to music in that they contain the emotions of many - the writer, director, composer, the actors... all conspire to help humanity deal with particular issues. Whether it's fear, overcoming fear, or overcoming fear of death.  It's there as well.

I give you our interview with Eddie 

Here's the Billboard article I cite in the interview (which I had not posted, or referred to. But contains quite a few of the details behind my questions.)

All of these questions are based on the five years I've been doing interviews with folks on the flipside via Jennifer, all of the context is based on the ten years of filming people under hypnosis or not under hypnosis (100 to date, half without) accessing the same information on the flipside. The same information about choosing our incarnations, and why we do so.

Finally, I send sincere condolences to his family and friends, his son, his wife, their dog, his ex wife. All who are suffering immeasurably at the loss of a loved one. I do this work because I can - not to sell books, not to sell myself, not to sell Jennifer - people who need to seek her out can find her, people who need to read the books will do so.  All I am doing is reporting.

I turn the camera on, I ask questions, I turn it off. People say the exact same things about the afterlife even though its contrary to every religious belief system, contrary to every scientific belief system. What they say is consistent and reproducible; two hallmarks of data.

I'm just the reporter here. Don't blame the piano player.



For those who are familiar with the books "Backstage Pass to the Flipside" 1, 2 and 3 (as well as the book "Hacking the Afterlife" and the film "Flipside" - this is more of the same. More verification. 

I have been doing this for so long with her, know that she works with law enforcement agencies nationwide on missing person cases (ask Bill Bratton former NYPD commissioner about her), and two of our class pals stop by. 

Besides Bill Paxton's visit Anthony Bourdain stopped by to give me some health advice that is right on the money.  

No other way to put it.  If one wants to speak directly to loved ones on the flipside, there are three methods I can recommend; hypnotherapy, guided meditation and through a medium like Jennifer. 

My two cents.

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