Making Dutch Schulz


Dutch Schultz, aged 18

I’ve been carrying a copy of William Burroughs’ The Last Words of Dutch Schultz (TLWODS) around for almost thirty years now, wanting to make it as a networked multi-media production. The moment I first saw it I knew it would work very well with the technologies that were just arriving.

In the early nineties I wrote the first ever (as in ever in the world) html based artwork using TLWODS as inspiration. Although this work is long lost, I recreated it a few years ago, using the same images and texts that I still had in analog format.

I’m now working again on a version of TLWODS. Earlier this year while teaching postgrads I met a wonderful woman who had helped Richard Strange do the video for his William Burroughs show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. After I mentioned the html version of TLWODS she suggested that I ask Richard Strange whether he’d ever considered making the film script. So, after a long delay, last week I finally got around to having lunch with the man and a great conversation ensued. None of which means anything will actually happen, but a few great thoughts came out of our discussions, not least of which the idea of cutting up the screenplay.

So I’ve just typed up the actual recorded last words of this dying gangster, removing all the punctuation which, if you think about it, was introduced by the people who recorded what he said, and which adds their interpretation of his words, not his. As Schultz was dying and rambling, it’s hard to believe that he was speaking in neat sentences with punctuation. Anyway, the stream of consciousness version works really well.

Now I have to rewrite the actual play. And think about how to convert it to an event. I have a lot of ideas, but its early days.


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