John Nelson

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John Nelson

I’m a guy who once thought he was King Shit and had a lot of growing up to do. While all of my friends were applying to colleges and working their way into the film industry here in L.A., I was busy making sure everyone knew I had all the answers. One spring, I overheard a conversation I wish I hadn’t. It reminded me of a robbery I’d been told about years before. A larcenous idea formed in my head and I began an obsessive intellectualization about the roles we play in consumer retail society. I ran with it. Big time. With no previous criminal background, I robbed a string of bookstores with a fake gun before moving onto pharmacy chains and finally banks. That fifth and final bank was my undoing, after approximately 44 robberies. Nobody knew a thing until I confessed to my father, from a pay-phone on the wall of a holding cell in the old LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division. It was a King Shit I’d taken on my own young life, and Where Excuses Go to Die is the story of what it took for me to renounce the crown. I started writing in prison and never looked back, and I’m grateful for the diverse list of professional credits I started building shortly after my release. From developing radio spots, videos, and other promotional material for bands, music promoters, record labels, and indie film companies to print and online magazine work, I’ve been hired for everything from software marketing to helping write what Mattel dolls say when you pull their strings (the looks on friends’ faces when they heard was priceless). Each opportunity was a reminder of where I’d begun the journey – a cell block. When one bizarre circumstance morphed into another, I discovered a talent for penning “voice-of-the-theater” and teleprompter dialogue as well. For the first annual gala awards shows for U.S. VETS, I crafted intros and stage banter for a handful of politicians, one astronaut, a host of A-, B-, and C-list celebrities, and four of the surviving members of Easy Company, the 506th Parachute Regiment depicted in the HBO series Band of Brothers. After two shows with the vets, I was invited to write for law enforcement bigwigs at the 2nd Annual California Gold Star Awards. Many of those honorees have since been indicted, whereas I was rewarded with a giant bear hug from LA County Sheriff Lee Baca. I refrained from thanking him for his department’s hospitality.
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