Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First paragraph

I've driven this drive before. I am somewhere else, leaving or going to someone warm in bed.  It can be night or morning. I drive through the comfort of the mountains. I wear a red wool turtleneck, with my hand up feeling the cold of the window, stir crazy in the car and ready to get out. I blink my eyes to stay awake, and remember other drives. The snow and trees a dotted swiss blanketing the shallow hills. They never look like proper mountains to me. Tonight it's pines and palm trees, and the hills are even tamer. It's the silence that does it; the silence makes every road any road. I should turn the radio back on.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Hardest Thing

Today was an odd day. Most of it was good, but then came that sinking feeling that I'd hurt someone's feelings unintentionally.

Emotions are a prickly field. I'm unsure how I'm feeling most of the time, but nothing can make me feel worse than when it feels like I've said something wrong, or unintentionally caused someone pain. It's why I'm bad at teasing people. It's why people think I'm earnest most of the time. I am. I was teased a lot as a kid. And by teased I mean made fun of, shunned, and insulted. I think today they would call it bullying, but I'm lucky it was nowhere near what it is for some kids. I'm over it, for the most part, but things come back to you from time to time and you can easily find yourself reacquainted with old feelings and react with old reactions. You can do a few things with childhood experiences like that as an adult: you can become bitter and angry and try to hurt others; you can learn to tease back to be part of the group; you can take things personally, when sometimes they aren't meant that way. I'm sure there are other options, too.

I tend to fall between the second and the last most times. I'm pretty good at taking teasing now. It happens a lot as bonding I realize now, and I try to join in when I can. I try to be light. I do try. I caught myself being sensitive to something a few months ago someone said that stung me for some reason, and I actually responded, "what is it about hurting another person that you find entertaining?"

I guess I have a little work to do.

I still have difficulty divining the difference in intention. So, of course, when I feel I've said something wrong, or stumbled, with someone else, it causes a surprising amount of pain. And I suppose part of not being the bitter and angry person that I've seen people become is being a little over-sensitive to people's feelings at times. Even imaginary ones.  Even ones no one has told you they are having. I'm not being purposefully vague here, I just don't even know if I've hurt anyone's feelings. I'm just concerned. Writing about it gets it off my mind. I do love how that happens.

Did I mention I do go to therapy?  This might be a good time to reveal that.  Really, it's in good hands.

Every time I try some levity, I'm afraid I'm hitting with a brick and not a feather. I can certainly joke. I love to make people laugh.  But laughing and pointing I'm very bad at.  I supposed it's not an awful skill to be bad at, but I'm working on honing it.  Making people laugh is something I like to do, and good spirited teasing can bring people together, when it's done with affection.  I'm trying to figure out how to do that, and receive it.

Feeling bad about it really does no one any good. It's best to just not do it.  Just try to never hurt anyone's feelings ever again. Sounds simple, no?

Here's where I get the cream pie in the face.

Okay, back to levity.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tanya Ward Goodman's Leaving Tinkertown

In my daily blogging, I realize I have not shared this.  This is a trailer I made for my dear friend Tanya Ward Goodman's upcoming memoir "Leaving Tinkertown." which is available for pre-order on Amazon. Some lucky people have even received their copies already.

She is a wonderful writer, but if you don't believe me read the blurbs in the trailer.

Or you can read her gorgeous piece about her daughter and her stuffed rabbit here.

Or you can read her at The Next Family website here.

You will not be disappointed.  She's a beautiful writer, and a beautiful human to boot. And I've known her much, much longer in my life than I haven't, so you can trust me.

I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Blue Jasmine

I saw Woody Allen's incredible Blue Jasmine today, which is anchored by an incredible performance by Cate Blanchett. It's hard for me to get over here being snubbed for Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love for some reason, and this is further confirmation that she is one of the most talented actresses of her generation. She's truly amazing and heart-wrenching to watch.

The story concerns the downfall of a woman married to a Bernie Madoff-like character, with undertones of Streetcar Named Desire - genteel woman goes to live with her sister, whose men she considers beneath her, in a down on her luck neighborhood, etc.  There are many similarities in spirit, not the least of which is Jasmine's contempt at her sister's milieu, and the belief that she will be saved by a rich man.

The performances are great, from some of my favorites - Sally Hawkins, Louis CK, Bobby Canavale, Alec Baldwin.  I can't seem to shake the movie. It's quite upsetting, but to speak more about it would be to ruin some of it, which is not fair.  It's not a spoiler to say she is blind, unable to see herself.  I'd say it's a tragedy, but she does not see what has happened until the end. It's disturbing.

This movie is somewhat cynical, too. Sometimes in serious mode, Allen's worldview can come across as cynical and harsh. I'm sure it is.  In the comedies, it tends to be lighter, and through the lightness he is able to explore themes that become heavy-handed in his more serious films. He's dealing with the same questions in both, but in the serious films the characters can border on the distasteful. I'm still not sure if Allen is judging Hawkin's character of Jasmine's lower class sister and her men, but there is a slight sense of the pretension that Jasmine has in his films. He is, after all, an Upper East Sider. Though he may poke fun at that world, it still seemingly is the one in which he is most comfortable. There's more on that, but I think it's up to the individual. It's not an easy film. It's a real drama.

That said, it's mostly quibbling. I read that Allen did not see Blanchett's portrayal of Blanch in Streetcar (which was supposedly incredible), but I feel like he has given us enough of an analog to guess at how brilliant that performance was.  I really hope this film is remembered at Oscar time, especially Cate Blanchett.  Wow.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


My boyfriend and I are watching Mike Birbiglia's excellent movie "Sleepwalk with me", that he produced with Ira Glass. It's on Netflix streaming. I really enjoyed this movie when I saw it the first time, so we're watching it again. It concerns his sleeping disorder and how he started doing standup comedy.  They seem to have grown together.  I'm making it sound much more dry than it is.  Great cast, really funny and touching, and almost as much about becoming a stand-up comic and the difficulty in that as about the relationships.

Before that we watched "The Fall", also on Netflix, a serial killer drama starring Gillian Anderson from  the UK.  I don't love suspense shows. I realized the other day that I basically see independent movies, animated films, and musicals.  Apparently, I'm a very precocious child in my movie watching tastes.

My watching the Conjuring a few weeks ago made me aware once again that horror movies are something I need to avoid.  Scary. 

As I'm writing this my bathroom window slammed shut and I jumped out my skin. Seriously, not a scary movie person.

The point, though, is that streaming is great. I cancelled my television about a month ago, after wanting to for a year or so since I don't watch it all that much.  Now I love how targeted streaming can get, providing more interesting movies and shows without having to subscribe.  I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but more it's just appreciation. I've been finding a lot of things that I wouldn't otherwise, like Sleepwalk with Me, which came up as a suggestion. That's a bad example since I've already seen it, but there are a lot of titles I've meant to and missed in the theater, or ones I didn't know about.

My suggestions are currently things like "romantic comedies with strong female needs" and "cerebral foreign dramas with strong emotional components.". There are gay movies, too, though they don't come out and say that, they just say "because you watched Taxi Zum Klo" (which is a landmark German gay film from the early 80s I wanted to watch since I'd never seen it, or was probably terrorized by it when I was 9).  Incredible how much content there is.  Actually, the first two might as well be based on the same assumption. They have me figured out.

Luckily, my boyfriend comes over and watches suspense movies, inappropriate comedies, and action movies.  I get some suggestions from that, too.  It's a nice balance.

Okay, back to the movie.

Friday, July 26, 2013


I've been seeing more and more about Putin's restrictive laws in Russia. He is outlawing homosexuality, the discussion of it, any mention in education, any activity, as well as working to pass laws outlawing adoption by gay couples, and attempting to take children (including biological children) away from gay parents who have children.

I've seen in the news more beatings of gay people reported, as well as a recent rape and murder. There is also a neo-Nazi group who has been posting ads on line to lure gay teenagers to meet them, who are then beaten.

This is terrifying and disturbing. There have been calls for boycotting the Olympics (where gay athletes would be threatened, as Putin has promised to detain any gay foreign nationals), and Stolichnaya vodka.  The former is probably more of a statement than the latter.

I do not know what action I can take. It's a scary time. But with a president who wants to get favor with his people when the nation is rife with corruption and economic hardship, a scapegoat is an easy out.
I cannot help but draw parallels to the Holocaust, and hope that one won't happen in Russia.  It's hard not to look at what's going on, especially as these are being passed as laws, that a genocide is far behind.  Very scary stuff.

I know what I can do is work to make sure our country maintains its laws and freedom of speech, thought and action. I'm grateful I can write this.  There are those in our country who would welcome such restrictive laws, and probably even the violence. There are those who perpetrate those acts here.  It's important that we fight for what we have gained, and continue to make our voice heard.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


It's been a while since I've written a list, though I have been keeping one of topics to write about. It's just been a surprisingly emotional day, and I'm a little wrung out to do much that feels thoughtful, so a list is always a good thing. Maybe a list of things to do, and things I want to see.

And I feel so much less pressure since I got rid of my DVR.  I'm even watching more TV streaming now, so I'm seeing more TV paradoxically.  Just bringing that up since it makes my to-do list smaller.

Now that I think about it, I'll just make a list  of things that feel possible and impossible right now. You can figure out which is which

Beginner's Mind - cultivate one
Saving money
Figuring out why bees are dying
Figuring out what's really in my food
Not adding to my reading list
Reading what's on my reading list
Writing those three films I have ideas for
Learning how to write a film
Knowing perfection isn't possible
Not believing everything I read
Believing what I read when there's a reason to believe it
Make peace
Not taking things personally
Knowing if I do take things personally it's okay - most people don't notice
Eat less sugar
Cut out the ice cream, who wants to buy new pants?
Brush up on my French
Learn Spanish
Find out what they put in that "New Mexico" green chile here; it's not from New Mexico
Sing a little more

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Normal

It’s hard not to notice all the studies, statistics and stories published that ask us to judge ourselves on a scale of “normalcy.”  We’re barraged with information about what’s normal, what’s in the normal range, and how to be normal.  Yet, the stories we tell ourselves, the protagonists we follow, the heroes we have, are all about being different.  We rejoice when someone’s difference is discovered, cherished, when they beat the odds. In the end, everyone congratulates the person for their difference, their difference is what saves the day, what makes them, in the end, loveable. They are special, exalted.

In the real world, difference carries a high price. Along with the measurements of normalcy come the stories of prices paid for difference: homelessness, job loss, brutal death.  It’s not all bad news, but it’s certainly not a walk in the park. I’ve been reading Andrew Solomon’s exhaustive, incredible “Far From the Tree” about children with what he calls “horizontal identities”: deaf,  little people, gay, mentally challenged, prodigies, schizophrenic, even children of rape. Interestingly, each group is put off by being included in a group with the others, but each share a common characteristic – their difference causes challenges for the parents, and for themselves.

I don’t mean to get into a discourse about how challenging it is to be other – as Solomon points out, there are rewards as well, including increased compassion, generosity, and a discovery of community among many others.  I’ve always been interested in the disconnect between the stories we tell ourselves and how we live our lives.

Perhaps stories are told by others, people who feel different or left out for whatever reason, and they cast themselves as hero.  Perhaps it is that the heroes journey is always one in which he finds his true self, and some kind of difference or feeling apart from is necessary for the journey to begin.

I’ve always thought that one of the reasons its hard for me to grasp on to any religion or mode of thought begins with my sexuality; that being forced outside of the norm by my very being I’ve had no choice but to question.  But I know many gay people who find comfort in religions, finding ways to exist within the structures even though some of the structures are built to exclude them.  Some feel the exclusion but spend their lives trying to get back in.  I suppose that’s not it then.

I took a Meyers Briggs personality test once, and I am pretty clear on the first three metrics – ENF (Extrovert, Feeling, Intuitive), but the last metric (Judging/Perceiving) I am neck and neck.  This last one is the predictor of what kind of life you like to live; how you are in the world.  Do you like schedules or freedom? Do you like habit or variety?  Would you rather be normal, or make your own way? At least that’s partly how I understand it, thought it’s also a predictor of whether you are feeling or thinking, depending on your level of extraversion.  And it’s really important I know this so I know how normal I am. And I am very much oversimplifying, but I'm mostly going off the questions I answered in that section. It all felt like whether I wanted security or freedom.

I’m joking, to a point, but I wonder sometimes. Would things be easier if I had some clear sense of how I wanted things, an assuredness that I have the right answer and the right answer for everyone? Or would that just make me boring and possibly dangerous?  When I look at some of our recent politicians I can’t help but think that’s true. I think difference makes that kind of surety impossible.  Compassion does somewhat, too.  More becomes gray area.  Maybe those stories we tell ourselves are because we all feel slightly unsure, even in our most secure moments, since we don’t know what will happen. The idea that our inside feeling of aloneness and difference will be embraced, cherished, celebrated, resonates deep within every one of us. For a lot us that’s part of what drives our search for religion, for purpose, for meaning. We are looking to be less alone, to feel a part of something, or accepted as ourselves. No wonder so many people believe what they find will work for everyone else.  But we’re back to Meyers Briggs – there is no one size fits all.

Or maybe, we’d like to believe that we’d find someone else’s difference charming and amazing if confronted with it, rather than terrifying and off-putting, or at least come to that, perhaps after a struggle. The world says most of us don’t.  Our stories say its possible.  Which are we to believe?  Are any of us normal?  How would we even know if we were?

I don't pretend to come to any conclusion, I just think it's an interesting question.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Late again

Sister Act the musical tonight at the Pantages. It was fun. Surprisingly fun.  Smart choice to make it set in 1977 to get the retro feel and still write new songs.  Fun cast.  Great time. I need a black sequined habit.  Truly.

More tomorrow.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fascinating midpoint

Aside from the joyous and seemingly inescapable news that the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to an heir to the British throne, I heard this fascinating story about microbes and the role they play in our lives.  Apparently, though probably disturbing to think about, we have many more microbiomes living on and in us than our own cells.  For every cell we have on our face, we have 10 microbiomes.  They are finding more about how they may actually keep us healthy. Probiotics have been popular for sometime to restore the good bacteria in our stomachs, but these bacteria may actually control how we think from our stomachs, sending messages to our brains.  It's fascinating stuff.

I've been thinking for a while, in trying to comprehend the vastness of an infinite universe (which is beyond me), that we are a fascinating midpoint.  We are living in a vast universe, but each of us is made up of probably as many cells and systems ourselves as there are stars and planets. Innumerable. Now, knowing just how much we are host, too, I'm convinced of it. I think we are a midpoint between the small and the large. It can't be proven. It may just be hubris, but I think it may be so. We are walking solar systems, galaxies, universes. Each one of us.

With the birth of "superbaby", as I heard him called on the radio this morning, it's easy to wonder at the structures we put in place. What makes this particular child one that will live in an elevated place for the rest of his life? He will more than likely never know need, and will be treated like a divine. In return, he will somewhat lose any privacy or sense of personhood, and his service to his country will be the first claim on him. He is as born to service as the servant class. After all, for many centuries, royalty was that midpoint. Divine right of Kings assured that royalty meant that you were chosen by God, you were the one between the vast unknown that is divine, and the common laborer. You had a direct connection and were chosen.  Mostly now, people probably do not deep down believe that, though I'm sure there are some people on Earth who do.  For most, he will be a super celebrity, in the truest sense of the world. He will be celebrated.

My wonder now is at all of us. It's incredible what we are. We are all the midpoint.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Closing night at Outfest was GBF this year.  They couldn't have found a funnier, smarter audience pleaser than this one.  You can watch the trailer here.

The movie focuses on a high schooler inadvertently coming out at his school and becoming the most prize possession of the popular girls in school, the GBF, gay best friend. It's sharp, and deals with one of the most annoying trends of tv, film and media: gay as accessory.  I won't spoil how it does this, but it takes all of the great high school movie tropes (especially Mean Girls), and deconstructs them while relishing and paying tribute to them. I'm not the only, one - you can read great reviews on imdb.  And while it's deconstructing the high school movie and commenting on gay as accessory, it allows everyone to figure out who they really are, which is the theme of all great high school movies.

The writing is terrific and smart.  Darren Stein, who directed Jawbreaker, another cult high school favorite, does a great job here.  Michael J. Willett plays Tanner the lead, and is charming. I haven't seen him before, but he holds the movie together with his portrayal of the boy just figuring out how to be himself.  Xosha Roquemore, who I didn't know was the standout girl with the glasses in Precious, was hysterical. She needs to be seen more.  The performances were great all around, and I hope we see the cast a lot more.  There are some great cameos, including Megan Mullally, who is hysterical as always. This movie should be seen. I hope it gets a wide audience, and a high school audience, too.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I saw Sandra Bernhard on Broadway years ago. She worked with a music stand near her stool, covered in notes.  I figured she'd put material in to the show each night to see what she could add, or how things played.  One night she read a list of nail salons names in New York.  This felt apropos, not only because of her personal history of being a manicurist, but New York at that time was feeling overtaken by nail salons. My favorite diner in Chelsea, Bendix, had recently been converted to a nail salon. (The trend has continued - the last time I visited New York it was overrun by nail salons, Duane Reades, and Wachovias. Apparently New Yorkers get money from ATMs to buy prescriptions, sundries, and get their nails done).

I've always remembered the chutzpah it took to do that, and how funny she is that she can read a list of nail salons and make it entertaining.

This daily writing is feeling to me a little like that list of nail salons. I don't have anything interesting at the moment, and I'm grabbing whatever's closest.

A nail salon just opened by where I work, following a travel bookstore and some sort of production office. I guess nail salons are a sure hit.

Friday, July 19, 2013

This is just to see

Long day. Just worked an event from 9 am to 11 pm. I am now eating a much deserved after meal. Because I'm hungry. I am at House of Pies and about to eat some eggs.

It occurred to me I have not blogged today and I wondered if I could do it from my phone.

Guess what?

Apparently I can.

I'm going to eat now. Good night.

Keeping the practice

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Daily Practice

Some of this will be drek, or a lot of it, if I'm writing every day.   I just got back from a screening of a movie called Test, set in 1985.  I don't get the comparison to Parting Glances at all, which for my money (and a lot of other people) one of the best gay films made by a gay filmmaker about gay characters.  Great movie.  Still holds up.

Anyhow, I did like the movie, and it brought back that time. This was set in the modern dance world. The music - Laurie Anderson, Romeo Void, Bronski Beat - recalled what a dark time the 80s was in a lot of ways.  There was a lot of grit and darkness. A lot of the music reflected that - not Madonna obviously - but others.  Missing Persons was playing on the radio on the way home. There's a lot more I could write about the 80s, and hopefully will.  Right now, though, I'm very tired and I have a big, day long event tomorrow so need to get some sleep.

Just for fun, though, also playing on the radio was Hotel California. I was wondering what would rhyme with that, forgetting momentarily "it never rains in California/but boy, don't they warn ya" or whatever those lyrics were.  I came up with

If you were jeans, we would've worn ya.
If you die, we will mourn ya
If you're the christ child, we'll adorn ya.

Of course, there's no need to rhyme it in that song since "such a lovely place" comes up, but still an interesting question. And the ya makes them all kind of informal.

I must be tired. I don't even know that this warrants internet space, but I guess there have been worse.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Outfest thoughts

Outfest is always a great experience.  Every year, whether all the films are good or not, it’s a great community to be a part of.  Every year I meet more people who are involved, and it’s great to see people putting work out there.

One of the particular joys of Outfest are seeing new filmmakers finding their voices, and seeing imperfect films.  I don’t know why it is with film, but I have a little more patience for an imperfect film than a bad play.  Perhaps because film is what it is, whereas you can see a great script ruined by a bad production of a play.  I suppose you can see that with film as well - maybe it’s more apparent to me in a theater.  Either way, imperfection doesn’t bother me as much in film, and a film festival is a great place to see some risky, challenging, and sometimes imperfect work. Also, some great, affecting, beautiful stuff you don't get to see anywhere else. AND you get to hear the filmmakers talk.

One of the ways I keep myself involved in theater that I’m not enjoying is to redirect it in my head.  I mean, if I’m going to be there and it’s not good, I might as well figure out what’s going wrong to keep myself engaged. People sometimes see this as being too critical, but I see it as a way to keep engaged with a work even if I’m not enjoying it.  Or particularly if I’m not enjoying it.  I’ve started doing the same thing with films, though, as I said, it’s a different experience than stage. There are so many moving parts to a film that are seamless until you see the seams.

That said, here are some random thoughts of things I’ve started to notice this year, without mentioning any particular titles (and, by the way, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen, and I’m hoping to not be specific enough to point anything out)

You can really tell when someone has money or not.  I saw two documentaries with interesting subjects, but one seemed to have a lot more money. I say “seemed”, because I don’t know.  Coincidentally, the one with more money also kept on track to the story it was telling.  The other, less spendy doc had some fascinating digressions, but those digressions made the subject feel thinner than it was, which would not have been a result I would have predicted. They also had less material to work with, and that became apparent as well.  I know more about rights issues now, and can see what a challenge it is to get rights to things, which can hamstring a documentary about popular culture. I still lean toward the docs, though.  I always see great docs at Outfest.

Sound mixing is so important.  I never really got why editors play cuts so loudly, but I did when I was in a theater and it was apparent the movie wasn’t mixed well. Again, money. Sigh.  Not a cheap business.   When the levels are off in a large theater, you can really hear it.

This one goes for theater and for film – think about us. I’m really glad you as an actor or filmmaker are getting something out of this, but folks, think about us. We’re the ones sitting in the audience. I don’t care if you have a catharsis, I care if I do. I’m glad you’re working it out, but remember that we’re watching you do this, hopefully as more a witness or participant than a bystander.

Step outside and ask if it makes sense. If you say, “no one will notice that”, guess what? You’re probably saying it to someone who already has. They mentioned it to you, which means more than likely your audience will, too.  If someone is doing an emotional scene, the last thing you want your audience to be thinking is “how did he get across town without his clothes on?”

Editing is so important, particularly in comedy. I really feel for them. You can’t hear a laugh and come in on the peak like you do on stage, or go on when something misses, you have to figure out what plays.  Then when a large house laughs, you miss some dialogue. Then again, if they don’t, the space is deadly.  What to do?  And in a drama, just as important – scenes can go slack, uninteresting, they can drag on too long or feel to short (thought not as often). 

LA has kind of ruined me for film produced here. If I know a location or a neighborhood, it's jarring when someone is a 30 minute drive away when they turn a corner. I guess that goes for any city, but I can really see it here now that I live here. When someone is sitting in front of a building in Culver City and then they go up to their office overlooking downtown, it's like watching Science Fiction.

I’m excited by Outfest every year. I’m seeing how challenging it is to make a film, but how rewarding for the filmmakers and the audience. Most of these films will not get theatrical distribution, so this might be the only chance to see them in a theater with an audience.  That’s the best part. Even though we’re in an age of sitting at home and seeing most of these smaller films on our television, nothing replaces seeing them with an audience.  I’m even seeing a couple this year outdoor at the Ford, which is a great venue, and an audience of over 1,000 under the stars.  It’s on the of the things I look forward to.

I salute the organizers and the filmmakers. This is a gargantuan year long labor of love.  Every year I like it more.  They all deserve great congratulations for putting this on.

And, who knows, hopefully sometime I can get my feet wet and try to make one myself.  Then I’ll get to really see what a challenge it is.  Fun!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Instagram (#)

I joined Instagram last week. My boyfriend is on it, and I thought I'd see what the youth, and apparently everyone else I know, is up to.  A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and sometimes they're right. I like seeing what people are up to, what they're seeing, who they're with, and even what they're eating.

I've always loved to take photographs. I took the one above about 10 years ago at Mardi Gras. I think it might have been a disposable camera.  Remember those? They probably still sell them, but like morse code, answering services, and address books, they are probably being quickly eclipsed by phones. Whoever had the idea to put a camera on a phone, s/he is brilliant. It was a foreign concept that is quickly a necessity. I love the space in this one, and the river. And I've always loved pictures of people taking pictures, subjects who are subjecting someone else.

I took a walk tonight, and snapped a pic of some roses in front of my apartment, the fading daylight coming through the bushes and the light on the shades of my windows making them look golden and warm within. It reminded me of a Magritte painting of a house on a street at twilight that I've always loved.  I could describe it, but here it is instead

I know he's a surrealist, and it's probably supposed to look surreal. To me, it looks like that time day that can be both light and dark, the best time of day.  I took a picture that reminded me of it. Armchair artist.  I walked to the store, and noticed how beautiful the sky was above my favorite hill in the park. I think it's on the other side of the freeway, but it looks closer.  I took a picture and posted it to Instagram.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  It's a bright star shining against the fading light, which in turn outlines the hill. I couldn't get the exact blue of the sky. I've never found that you can get the exact colors you're looking for on the camera phone, or probably even on most cameras. You can never capture the depth, either, it looks so much closer always in person, that light in the night like the white rind on a wateremelon, but descending into dark instead of that deep sweet fruit. Maybe a picture is only worth a few words about some things.

I've always loved the sky. I grew up in Nebraska and New Mexico, places where you could see for miles. In Nebraska the flat and corn went on forever, but you can look up and there's nothing but sky, sometimes high, blue, and cloudless, sometimes as close as your ceiling. In New Mexico, you can see even further.  If you are ever depressed by your surroundings, you can look up and feel nothing but freedom, and see only beauty. The southwest sky is dramatic, inconceivable if you haven't experienced it. When I lived in New York I tried to explain the idea of Western space to people who hadn't seen it.  It's not really possible, even with a picture.  People would come back and say, "wow, the sky really is big out there."  Yes, it really is. I had to come back, it's what I missed.

A simple walk tonight.  Thank you instagram for reminding me the distance between what I see and what I'm communicating, and for giving us another tool to get a little closer to it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

That thing I don't want to write about today

I want to write about other things, but I feel like it would be weirdly irresponsible to not write something about Treyvon Martin, considering how much it’s in the news today, and all over social media, and how unsettling it is.

I can’t, of course, come to any real conclusion of guilt or innocence; I wasn’t there. I do believe it’s a travesty of justice, in my personal opinion, but I was not there on the jury. I was not there being asked if I believed without doubt that I could convict someone of the charges raised.  I don’t know that I believe in a life for a life. It’s a tragedy this young man was shot, and that speaks to a much larger conversation. I don't think shooting an unarmed person can be warranted. 

I was also not there in the jury that convicted Marissa Alexander, a woman in Florida sentenced by the same judge who prosecuted the Treyvon Martin case,  given 10 to 20 years in prison for firing warning shots after suffering domestic abuse. That seems a miscarriage of justice to me.  

Another fury is the twitter commenting reminding Kim Kardashian, while showing her support for Treyvon Martin, that her father was OJ Simpson’s defense lawyer and got him off when they believe he should have been convicted. He was acquitted, but he was wealthy.  Is the argument that his wealth got him off, so wealth and celebrity trump everything else? But he was convicted in a civil trial and of a later crime. What about gender? If he had been a woman?  Sexuality?  If he had been gay and it was his partner? Where do those fall on the scale of reasons to acquit or convict? What evil, strange scale would that be? How would you test it? What combinations ensure freedom? What is the winning combination of celebrity, wealthy, sexual preference, gender and race?

I do not wish to be incendiary, I don’t have an answer the conversation. That perhaps, is because the conversation is too big for an answer.  I am not willing to say, “Oh, well, that’s the way it is” and let it go. I’m troubled by it – that’s an understatement. I’m scared, I’m disturbed, I’m outraged.  It does not even feel like we have two justice systems. It feels like we have different justice systems in different states, and ones that can be swayed by race, gender, money, sexuality, personal prejudices. I do not want to live in Florida, that’s for sure. When this happens, core safety feels threatened. My safety feels threatened.

 If this jury was of George Zimmerman’s peers, it’s possible they all think like him. Or it’s possible that they really were confused, and knew they had his life in the balance as well.  They also must have been aware of the media scrutiny – I can’t believe that did not weigh on them as well. I don’t know. I wasn’t in the room. Pull one string and it's connected to a pack of dynamite.

I do not think this verdict is simple. I do not think any of the miscarriages of justice that we’ve had in this country are simple.  Well, that’s not true – some of them are clearly based on bias - race, gender, sexuality, economic. That’s happened in the past, many times.  I'm probably not going out on a limb saying that I am on the side that thinks racial profiling is part of what happened in this case. That’s part of the outrage, if not all of it. That is perhaps why I’m reluctant to write about it: I have no simple solution, no clear idea of action, no uncomplicated feeling. 

I was listening to the radio last week (104.3 fm in LA I believe), and the call-in show had people, well, bragging about the ways the avoided jury duty.  I’ve been talking about this with people all week, during the trial. So many voices that are outraged are probably some of the same voices without time or inclination to serve on a jury. They feel inconvenienced, and figure out ways to get out of it and back to their lives.  How though, can there be a jury of peers, when people do not show up for jury duty? How can we be outraged when there is a travesty of justice is if we don’t show up for our communities, except to express outrage? I want to know who showed up to serve on the jury for Zimmerman, and what jury selection was like.

There are so many disturbing travesties of justice in the history of this country. There are however, reversals as well. And there are many people acquitted of crimes they didn’t commit. People who are exonerated.  I heard a story this weekend about a woman who was 19 and convicted of a drug charge after being told she would be given probation. She was told she would get probation if she pled guilty, but the judge wanted to make an example of her, so she was given 10 – 20 years in prison, with no evidence. She escaped, raised a family, was found, brought back to prison after 23 years, and waited for a year for charges to be dropped, as there weren’t sufficient charges to prosecute in the first place. Our system is broken, confusing, huge, overwhelming.  The only way, though, for people to do anything about it is to get involved.  I hope that people who are upset will report when called for jury duty.

I saw a very disturbing short film at Outfest yesterday. The action was two gay men being hung by men in military looking uniforms. The men looked Middle Eastern. There was no dialogue. It was devastating, disturbing. This is happening now.

Our system isn’t perfect, but I don’t know that I wouldn’t trade it for what I see elsewhere. In fact, other systems have been modeled on ours. I do hope that this spurs people to get involved in fixing it.

Ugh. See why it's the thing I don't want to write about today?  My thoughts are with the families, with that woman serving 10-20 years for shooting a warning shot and convicted under the same law that Zimmerman was acquitted under. So angry. And her case makes me angrier because no one died or was hurt, and she is not with her children but in prison. Sent to prison for wanting to protect them and herself, when she had a restraining order in place that he violated. Her jury took 15 minutes. That makes me sad and angry. I am actually hoping that the noise around that case will cause it to be reviewed, and maybe something good will come out of this.

So is it jury selection? Is it confusing laws? Is it having to uphold a law on a jury you may not believe in or understand, but have to follow the rules of the court?  Will our system, like any system, remain flawed?

I prefer it to vigilante justice, but that is just what was on trial with Zimmerman. Do we have a fair trial whose purpose is to give assent to vigilantism?

I am lost on this one.

Thanks for reading. I am no clearer than when I started.  Even identifying the questions on this is complicated. A young man lost a life, and that's tragic. Part of a nation feels unsafe, and I'm sure part feels vindicated and given permission to use their guns.

I hope this verdict doesn't result in more fear, but I don't see how it can't. I hope, like I said, it spurs people on to conversation and more action.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meaningful Pause

Today I saw a Dutch movie called It's All Quiet (spoiler: it was. Seriously quiet), a program of International Shorts, a comedy, and a documentary about Divine called "I am Divine".  It was - a wonderful tribute, it played well. Lots of laughs.

I'm making this short again since it's late, and I'm up early tomorrow, but keeping up with the practice.  Today, with the foreign films, I experienced a lot of meaningful pauses, meaningful silences filled with meaningful looks. I'd never noticed them as much as I did today.  I even witnessed part of a short that was at least a full minute if not two of someone unpacking groceries while a cat yowled in the background.  The short was interesting, but taken out of context that idea makes me laugh.

I'll leave you with that, while I take a meaningful pause.

Under the Wire

A late night at my first day at Outfest means I was actually just getting in bed when I remembered this commitment. I didn't want to disappoint myself on my first day, so I've booted up the computer and jotting some notes.  Thank you for the feedback, support and suggestions on the first day. That was heartening. 

I a couple of interesting films -Ass Backwards, which is being billed as an "irreverent female buddy comedy", and Continental, Malcolm Ingram's documentary about Steve Ostrow and the Continental Baths.  

Ass Backwards is broad, to say the least. It reminds me a little of Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion, and my hopes are that it gets the following that that film does.  If nothing else, the talent portion of the pageant they end up in is worth seeing. The audience loved it, and there are some truly hysterical bits.

I enjoyed Continental, though it seemed hamstrung at times from the quality of the footage that survives as well as the lack of it.  The interviews are great, and Steve Ostrow, the owner and operator, has great stories.  The section about Bette Midler felt overly long for a documentary that's not about her, and the portion about the talent almost derailed the film for me, veering away from its central purpose. To that end, it would have been great to see even a little footage inside the Ansonia today, but I'm sure there are reasons, either bureaucratic or financial, making that not possible.  I'm glad I saw it. Documentaries are the things I'm usually most interested in at Outfest.  It's important to remember, as this doc points out, that it was a crime for two men to have sex in New York City a scant 40 years ago.  It's important to be reminded of that.  I'm very glad Ingram made this movie, and I hope people get to see it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Today is the first day

I finished the AIDS ride, with lots of help. I just realized that I haven't posted since I was in the thick of training.  It was beautiful.  It was brutal. I took some beautiful photos. I met some great people, and some cranky others.  Just like life, concentrated in time. I see why people like doing it - it's a struggle, and a metaphor, and a reminder, and frankly it just feels good to work toward a good cause. We raised a lot of money, and it was an incredible accomplishment for all of us.  Truly.

I've been been back over a month, back into the usual grind of trying to get my creative mind to feel a little more like this

And less like this

But I suppose that's just the reality of it.

I cut a trailer for a friend's book, which anyone reading this should buy, it's called  "Leaving Tinkertown", and the writing is beautiful.  You can also watch the trailer here.

I've also had a couple of movie ideas, and still trying to outline those and a pilot. And I have my writing group.  So, it feels a little like the tangle above, just with additional colors, a few layers, and some tire tracks.

I've been getting a bunch of reminders about discipline, about daily practice, especially and most randomly from horoscopes. Oh, I also want to know the future.  Yeah, that's going to happen; please tell me what to do before I do it.

I've been toying with the idea of writing daily, actually wanting to, but I can't seem to do it on my own. I do have a group, but for daily practice, short of taking constant classes, the only thing that comes to mind is this blog. Of course, I'm immediately stopping myself thinking I have nothing to say, it would be navel-gazing, self-indulgent, drivel, who cares, etc.

But really, not even sure how many people read this since I post so infrequently, so what would be the harm?  And, as usual, I've never been met with anything close to what I think will happen when I put anything out there.  Usually, it seems, people enjoy it if they do read, and since I seem to philosophize on a daily basis, it might be nice to get some of that in virtual space.  If nothing else, if I make a promise to thin air I'm more likely to keep it than one I make myself.

There: I've talked myself into it.  Daily practice. Any subject is open.  Getting the mind and the fingers going. See, I've already done the first one!