Hella Questions with Rammy, Rammy, Rammy and Rammy

‘a triptych of drawings my friends did of me one night, each drawing by a different buddy. They were drawn without looking down at the paper. I love that though there are three drawings there are actually four me’s.’

 

Rammy Park is a filmmaker, writer, sculptor, pianist, jewelry designer, dinosaur cape dreamer and human being living in Hollywood, California. Rammy is the ladyfriend of Rogin Kim, a stand-up comedian and friend i have known since whenever.

Rammy and my ladyfriend Yael are into the same type of stuff: taking care of business, being successful, sandwiches and figuring out a way to make dinosaur capes.

Rammy was kind enough to talk to me about what she makes, what she eats, what she sees, two of the four Rammy’s she hears in her head and how much she loves the novels of Phillip Roth.

 

Who are you?

I am Rammy. 

Why did you say it like that?

It’s the most complete answer.

What do you do?

I write. I dream. I read. I draw and paint and make pottery. I watch a lot of movies and TV. I look out for my man, my fam, my dog. 

What do you not do?

I do not drink milk.

I do not suffer fools. 

What is the most money you have ever had?

I’m not sure. Money’s never stuck to me—and won’t, not until I’ve paid off my student loans. But one time I really FELT like I had a lot of money was when I won $1900 playing video poker on the first hand. One dollar in, nine hundred out, five seconds of work. That’s good math.

Do you have a code you live by?

Yes. 

“Let them know I am of a different kind; dangerous to my enemies, loyal to my friends. To such a life glory belongs.” 

It was my high school yearbook quote—ha!—but it stands to this day. Like I said, I don’t suffer fools but if I love you I love the shit out of you. Do you know who said it? 

What is a day you deserved to die?

I have thought about death every single day for as long as I can remember. The things I obsess about regularly since childhood: death, time, outer space. I’m pretty sure they are all related somehow. I wrote a diary entry as a kid, a poem about the death of a crocodile. He hung onto a balloon that floated into the sky and that was that. He also had a coke problem. 

But I have never thought I deserved to die.

When have you come the closest to creating something and having what you saw in your head match what you created? 

When making a sandwich.

What do you like about plants?

They communicate. And they’re honest. 

Who did you copy when you were young?

Michael Jackson. I would only wear one glove, and twirl around while ripping open my jacket with a flourish. 

Who was nice to you when you were young and didnt have to be?​ 

I’d just moved from Denver to Los Angeles—first grade at First Lutheran—and I was bullied a lot. Beat up once. Not badly but enough to permanently bruise my sense of people. I fought back but it was fucking exhausting, and those were the days I began burying myself in books. I’d always loved reading but by first grade it was truly an escape.

One day the school had a book fair, and the entire gym was filled with books and jesus christ I’d never seen so many, except at the library. The entire school was invited, including parents, and people were buying books by the armful, their baskets just stacked. I was probably staring. We didn’t have much money back then and there was no chance I was walking out of there with anything.

There was a kid in my class, Kenneth Yang, whose mother must’ve seen me wandering around alone pretending not to want anything. She came up behind me and slid a brand new boxed set into my arms— the first four books of The Babysitter’s Club. I remember freezing—the perfectly taut, shiny vacuum-wrap around the set, Claudia Kishi’s smiling face on the cover—then bursting into tears. The books were a bit advanced for me but all the better, because they took me longer, and I read them to tatters. 

What do you hear in your head?

A running conversation among four different mes. 

What do you hear in your head when you are happy?

Happy me. 

What do you hear in your head when you are negative?

Negative me. 

What are you terrified of?

People I love dying. Abysses. Milk.

What do you know that I dont know but should?

I have no idea what you don’t know. What do you wish you knew but don’t?

What is the longest you have stayed awake?

36 hours. One summer in college, I experimented once with a 36 hours on, 12 hours off schedule. It did not work. I did not work. 

What made you go to film school?

I left it up to the Universe. I applied to two different programs at the same school: one in journalism, which is what I’d been doing for a few years… and the other in film, the life I wanted desperately but thought jesus christ how does that life even work? (Sometimes I still feel this way…)

But the Universe doesn’t like when you play games with It so when I got into both I had to be a fucking grownup and make my own decision. I chose want. 

Why did you move from New York to Los Angeles?

For some goddamn peace and quiet! No, but seriously. I wanted a change. A big change. 

How do you experience books you read?

I inhale them. It’s simultaneously a full-body, out-of-body experience. It’s like “excuse me, I’m living inside of this book now.” Total transport. Gone. BYEEEEEE!

What movie haven’t you seen that you know you have to see that everyone else is like why havent you seen it? 

Braveheart? But I don’t feel that much pressure to see it.

What do you write about?

I write about real people experiencing a​ paradigm shift—some kind of internal or external things-are-never-gonna-be-the-same moment. I like exploring how different people act under intense pressure, how they reveal themselves most in these moments…pressure cooker moments. I think about people watching my movies or reading my stories, and I think about them leaning forward, fists clenched. That’s what I want to give them… a full body experience. And most of my stories take place in the near future, or an imagined, slightly off, present. As a writer I’m not huge into realism… I love magic realism, fantasy, sci-fi, the surreal.

How is Consideration going?

Okay. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever written. It’s my first full-length play, so I feel like I learned a lot about playwriting period just from going through the many different drafts…seven now in five years, all totally different except for the characters, generally, and the ending. Beyond that, I feel like I was really punching beyond my weight with the concept behind the story, and I’m still not sure I’ve cracked it. In a fit of frustration, I started writing it as a screenplay and it started to work better. I don’t know. I’m playing with it. 

What do you dream about? 

Snatches of scenes. Space. Water. Sometimes it’s just washes of color and a mood or feeling, other times it’s incredibly and specifically mundane, like me sitting at my desk filling out my rent check, down to the pen I’m using. 

Do you have recurring dreams? 

More when I was younger, less so now. The two most common from my childhood and adolescence were one where I was attending my own funeral but I could see it from a birds-eye view. The other is variations of my teeth falling out. I think a lot of people have teeth-falling-out dreams. My mom is super into dream symbolism. She always wants to know if I’ve dreamt of a turtle, because that’s supposed to be a good luck dream. She’ll be like, was it swimming? What color was the water? Did it seem happy? Was there more than one? 

Can you suggest a topic for a dream to yourself and then it happens? 

Not exactly. If I’m reading a book or thinking of something I’m working on before I fall asleep, I’ll sometimes get little bits. Like I’ve dreamt of Pidge and Stone, both from Consideration, and the ending I’m trying to earn comes from a dream. Quite a few scenes from that play come from dreams. 

What do you draw? 

Gestural stuff, abstractions. Stars and moons and flowers distilled down to geometry. Actually quite similar to a lot of the jewelry I designed for Wanderluster… start in a natural place, distill it all the down to the elements, a line or a shape or a color.

When did you start painting?

In grad school. I’d taken a lot of art classes my whole life but got more into it in later. 

Where were you when you won the $1900 playing video poker? who were you with? what did you do with the money?

I was at the Golden Gates casino in Black Hawk, CO, with my gramma. I bought us a lobster dinner.

“Let them know I am of a different kind; dangerous to my enemies, loyal to my friends. To such a life glory belongs.” 

I was going to say Kermit the Frog and then Ulysses S. Grant and then i remembered it is you, so of course it is George Washington?

It isn’t! It’s Medea. 

Although I do have a favorite George Washington quote, which I really feel applies presently: “And shall we at last become the victims of our own abominable lust of gain?” Good question, George. I think yes, many times yes. Personally I think he’d beat the shit out of the current president without blinking. 

I know I have asked this of you before, but what is it about George Washington that has captured your heart and imagination for so long?

I’m obsessed with beginnings, and I was always so intrigued by the beginnings of America—as a country, as an idea, as an ideal—as well as the inherent irony behind the story of a persecuted people leaving one place only to arrive and very quickly become persecutors themselves. I also think its super interesting that he is the only American President to neither want nor actively pursue that office. I don’t think desiring to be president translates to a great presidential quality, so he’s singular in that way. Every person who came after him really fucking wanted it or really thought they deserved it, which immediately puts them in a less trustworthy place as far as I’m concerned. 

Who do you hate as much as you love George Washington? 

I wouldn’t say that I love George Washington. It’s complicated. He fascinates me. Besides, it takes a lot of energy to hate something… but I can definitely say I despise the current president, and, perhaps even more so because of her potential, his daughter. I don’t respect loyalty in the service of ignorance and malice. 

Do you remember the first time you realized you were going to die?

I always knew. 

How old were you or do you remember when your triple obsessions of death time and outer space coming to be?

Can’t place it exactly but it was before we moved to LA for the first time so I couldn’t have been older than six. 

Were there events or books that introduced them to you that you remember?

The Challenger explosion. Also Carl Sagan’s COSMOS.

Do you remember the stanzas to the poem about the death of the crocodile? Haha, how did you know about cocaine?

I have it somewhere. The only bit I can remember is the beginning, which went: 

Crocodile, crocodile, what is up? 

Why, crocodile, crocodile, YOU are up! 

Why are you up there, crocodile croc?
Please come down so we can talk. 

He doesn’t come down, there’s white powder all around… something, something… hahaha I have NO idea how I knew about cocaine. I found that diary a few years back and read it for the first time and was shocked at myself. Maybe I meant snow? No… in the reading of it, the crocodile clearly has a drug problem.

What is a perfect sandwich for you?

Good baguette, good butter, good cheese, good tomato. 

Ham on fluffy white with dollops of mayo and a little lettuce for crisp. 

Roast beef, sharp cheddar, avo, red onion, mustard, pretzel bun. 

I alslo love japanese style sandwiches, like crustless potato-salad sandwiches. 

I could go on and on. 

How do plants communicate with you?

How plump and happy their leaves, stems and petals feel. They lean one way or another. They flop over when they’re thirsty. They burn when they’re hot or fed something weird. They say good morning and good night. 

Would you ever perform as Michael Jackson with your brother? 

No. I was not much for “performance.” I liked to play around but as soon as I feel eyes on me I’m not as excited about it. I am at heart a very private person. 

Who beat you up? What the fuck?

A group of girls. I don’t remember how many but it was a real gaggle. It was parochial school and we were all in uniform—peter plan blouses, kilts, knee socks. The whole bit. They had me up against the wall and I remember dropping to the ground and covering my face and neck and just seeing black loafers and mary janes kicking, green-blue tartan flashing. It’s actually a really cinematic memory. I don’t remember physical pain as much as thinking, is this actually even happening right now????

How sweet of Kenneth Yang’s mom! What was Kenneth’s deal?

I have no idea. I have very little memory of Kenneth… which means he wasn’t mean to me but other than that I don’t know. I was only at that school for a year before we moved. 

I just looked up Claudia Kishi. Since you mentioned her on the cover of the set, what was Claudia Kishi’s impact on your style and imagination as a kid?

I’m so happy you looked her up. I know Yael loves her too. Her impact was HUGE, especially in hindsight. Fashion as an expression of individuality, rather than trend. She was always wearing something super colorful and different that stood out. Like, her whole attitude seemed to be that standing out and being different was the point. Big earrings, bright colors, jet black hair for days. She was everything. 

If there is happy you and negative you, who are the other two yous in your head? 

I feel like that is… just for me to know. That question was actually a LOT for me. 

What happened with you and milk? Anything in particular or just you two are into different shit?

Nothing specific. Chocolate milk is occasionally okay… but white milk, strawberry milk, banana milk… even typing those words makes me furious. 

In regards to your question of my question of what do I wish I knew…I wish I knew what it smelled like in the motel when you were a kid. What art was on the walls in the rooms?

I can tell you that the elevator smelled of piss and bleach. That the walls were dark wood paneling, the bathtubs pale pink, the blankets a linty, felted baby-chick yellow with satin trim, the carpets a dark blue and beige pattern. There were Gideon Bibles inside the nightstand drawers in shades of green, blue and red. The boxy TVs had the five regular networks and HBO. Back then, if you didn’t have HBO, you could pretty much guarantee the vacancy sign would stay on and that was no good. I can still hum the old HBO theme song. It was my job to flip the switch to light up the neon “no” part of the sign—so it would read “no vacancy”—which was always a special occasion. 

What would you do while you were up for 36 hours? Was this just you or did something assist you staying up?

I don’t remember. It was just something I tried to see if my body would do it. I took caffeine pills—bright yellow Vivarin—and they made me insane.

What made you decide to apply to film school?

I wanted to make a movie. And I was like, what does that even mean? I had no friends who worked in film. I wanted to meet other filmmakers and find my people. I wanted to be forced to write on a schedule. 

What are some of the major influences on your work?

Master and Margarita is kind of a perfect book, to me, as is 100 Years of Solitude. I’ve read almost all of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books. I’m a huge admirer of Jean Cocteau and Bunuel, their ​respective ​communit​ies, the way they made all kinds of art with their friends. Ursula K Leguin, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood. Lydia Davis and Lucia Berlin and Borges. Frida Kahlo. I’m also a big JK Rowling fan, not just as a storyteller but as a person, which is important to me. 

What was part of your application for film school? I remember Rogin made a short thing of a snake eating a mouse in reverse and it was set to mario brothers music.

I’d like to see that! I pulled a storyline from 100 Years of Solitude—the beginning, when ice comes to Macondo—and adapted it into a screenplay. The book opens with this guy arriving in town dragging a big magnet behind him, making all village houses rumble as it pulled out all the nails, hingles, forks going flying. It’s an incredible image. 

That is fucking wild you got in to both programs. How did you decide? What happened to Rammy who went to journalism school?  

It wasn’t so much a decision… it was like, if this long shot happens I’d be stupid not to go for it. I think I knew I could always go back to journalism in some capacity if I wanted to…whereas film felt completely unaccessible to me. And journalist Rammy? Oh god, that poor creature. Or maybe not. Honestly, who knows. At the time, my biggest turn-off was the proliferation of the 24-hour news cycle—it was just starting to happen—I couldn’t see a place for myself in that. I loved long form and research and documentary grew up loving newsmagazines like World News Tonight, which is where I had my first job. Peter Jennings was my news idol, along with Christiane Amanpour. And while working at NY1 News (a much beloved but scrappy local news channel) I learned that I wasn’t much for sticking a mike in someone’s face, especially if they are having a bad day. But it is where I learned that I love looking at moving life through a camera.

What was the big change you were looking for? 

It wasn’t a specific thing… more a feeling. Sometimes “something else” is enough. You know? 

What is your favorite book?

This is an impossible question. I feel like my brain will short if I even try. ​

 Is there a type of literature you dont care for? 

Philip Roth.

What did you and Rogin do on your first date? 

Went to dinner, talked for hours, collapsed time and space. 

How is Rogin different than you?

He’s a performer at heart. He has an incredibly detailed memory…that man remembers everything! And he can hold forth on any number of subjects. Even though I seem like the more social one, he is much more comfortable with people than I am. 

What are you working on these days?

Some short stories, along with revising Consideration as a screenplay.

What do you do at your desk? What is in the drawers?

I write, mostly. The left side is filled with “writing stuff” and the right side is art supplies. For my consulting work I typically sit in the kitchen. I don’t like mixing the water, so to speak. Space is very important to me. If it were up to me I’d have different rooms and turrets for all my different activities and just circle through them happily, picking everything up exactly where I left it. That would be true personal luxury. 

Do you and Rogin talk while you are both working in the same room? 

This is the first time our desks are in the same room, so I guess we’ll see. Probably, yes. 

Are there any patterns you see in your life?

Not really… I’m sure there are, but I’m a future-facing person. 

Have you read Dianetics?

No. Should I?