Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What I did This Summer

(The Theater at Round Lake which looks a lot like a set piece from "Our Town").

My Summer Begins Now!

I start working on a one-person show (scary! exciting! terrifiying!)this week... Did I mention scary?! Also doing a reading and helping my friends, Barbara and Bondo kick of the inaugural season of their theater, Round Arts in Round Lake, NY.

Mo' Info here: http://www.home.earthlink.net/~roundarts/id4.html

Some Thoughts on the Artist and Money (and what exactly one has to do with the other)

It's been a dramatic year thus far for me: I fell in love (albeit briefly, if truly, madly, deeply). I was dissappointed by love (was it love or just the appearance of it and was I subsequently more in love with the rejection of love? If I went to a shrink - I don't because I think they encourage an obsession with the "self" and tend to just perpetuate one's own narcissicsm and god knows we have enough of that in the culture already - I might explore my love of the unlovable instead I just blog about it to total strangers). But I quickly fell out of love though it's effects have lingered on...

I also had my first glimpse into the mortality of my parents: my father had a brush with his heart and I, in turn, had to deal with the reality of time and the cycle of life (?) in a way that was not just an excersise in abstract thinking about "when" and "what if"... I am getting older, the life experiences are starting to add up: the joys of my life grow as does my gratitude of being alive but so does my horror of just how brutal life is (I've been reading the articles on the Hadatha massacre which give new meaning to the not-so -banality of evil and makes one shudder for the deep wellspring of outright cruelty and savagery human beings are all too capable of that, in extension, I am capable of...right?).

In the past year, I have worked harder and longer and more consistently than I have, probably, since my first year out of college - 2 jobs, 7 days a week type of thing. And, despite a grinding schedule (a grinding schedule of my own choosing so I am not complaining) I have continued to try to nurture my artistic life, like so many of my friends - my peers who have, like me, foregone the lure of the (now dissappearing) middle class American life and decided to pursue an artist's life in the biggest of big cities. We hope that one day we will be able to fondly look back at our days slinging hash just to be able to rehearse in parking garages, begging and stealing and borrowing to make our theater, write our novel, paint, bang on the can, what have you. But, my question is what if we can't? Does creativity stop when it becomes apparent at some point that the money isn't going to come in? And, when did we start believing that artistic legitimacy was qualified by the amount we got paid for it?

In the midst of these life changes (?) or are they life realizations (?) I am more committed now than ever to being an artist, an artist-citizen. Despite my new-found commitment I refuse to buy (and buy is the right word to use for this) into the notion that my artistic life is quantifiable by how much I get paid for it. Would I like to make money eventually and work solely as an artist? Hell yes and I hold out the hope that I will! But I don't think Bruce Willis is a more legitimate artist or Matthew Barney for that matter because their coffers are loaded with greater stock options than mine. The full-time artist is a relatively new phenemeneon in history, and, yes, I am fully aware that the Medeci's sponsored more than their fair share of the greats and that Leonardo didn't do much else but paint but history ( museums and Shakespeare's folios) is litterred with the works of people who toiled and gleaned by day only to create in their spare moments (and remember leisure time is a relatively new development).

Finally, I think you create because you have to, because it's a relief and it's mysterious and, yes, I have to say it, it's transcendent and you do it because it gives you some measure of control over what you see in the world. You'd do it, I do it, for free, I do it because I love it, I do it for reasons that can never be broken down into check-form.

All that being said: I look forward to giving up the day job.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tom Cruise as a Metaphor for America

Tom Cruise has fallen off his perch, the Midas of Motion Pictures, the ace in a fly-boy suit, the original "Top Gun", the Hollywood Jet-Fighter: on-screen and off who always seemed to be able to hit his target especially if it was the box-office has come careening off his celluloid throne. Undone by none other than Tom Cruise, apparently. It would seem that Tom Cruise bought the line that unless your life is being recorded it's not worth living (hence the endless forays to Oprah's white couch, shot after shot of Tom in a crowd, Tom in Germany, Tom in Manhattan, Tom, Tom, Tom at Tom's premiere and yet another one of Tom at Tom's premiere with his zombiefied Katie doll supernaturally glued to his side, legs akimbo, eyes wide and blankly open, the ultimate Stepford wife).

What set off the anti-Tom rebellion? His bizarre promotional blitz of his love affair with a teenage acting Katie Holmes revealed a certain kind of creepiness that everyone suspected was there - the blind allegence to all things Scientology, no sensible person would honestly follow the dicates of L.Ron Hubbard, and the whispers of Tom's homosexuality which are too frequently debated to not believe, on some level, must be true. Once the cracks became visible on Tom's carefully contructed shinier-than-thou persona - there was no going back. Even the audience as it watched yet another preview for Mission Impossible Three, as Tom speedboats, gets blown up, recovers only to get blown up again, and Philip Seymour Hoffman's beady eyes glistened with hambone delight at being a good actor playing the ultimate bad guy, to shots of Tom as he heartily kissed his love interest, a brunette that didn't look entirely dissimiliar from Ms. Holmes, despite the onslaught of images edited around one overriding concept (to make Tom's character, Ethan Hunt, but really just Tom look like the ultimate multi-national hero) you could still sense that the movie-going public didn't buy it - instead the prevailing sentiment of viewers seemed to be "I think that guy's kind of a wierdo now."

Tom seemed all powerful not to long ago like America itself; it seemed as if the man and the nation could do no wrong, bouncing back from every conceivable set-back with a bigger movie (last summer it was a Spielberg flick for which he got paid $100 million dollars) and a better photo-op. The problem is the audience can no longer be convinced to just sit back, in the dark, and escape into his invincible grin, the kilo-watt smile has taken on a faustian quality and it is almost possible to believe Tom signed on the dotted line long ago.

Eventually, the devil comes to claim his debt and to think otherwise is just... a mission impossible.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

An Urbanite's Lament or an Extremely Pretentious Wish List.

1. I wish I had time to read the great books.

2. I wish I had time to read Moby Dick.

3. I wish I had time to read Ulysses.

4. I wish I had time to take a class that explained Ulysses to me.

5. I wish I had the time and money to take a spanish, french, italian and portugeuse class.

6. I wish I had the money and time to travel to spain, france, italy and brazil.

7. I wish I could go to the Frick everyday.

8. I wish New York wasn't turning into an urban mall.

9. I wish money didn't rule and wasn't a deciding factor on how one lives one's life.

10.I wish religion would dissappear.

11.I wish religious fundamentalist would dissappear with it.

12.I wish women were allowed to grow old without feeling the need to turn their faces into frozen t.v. dinners.

13.I wish I didn't feel the need to impress.

14.I wish there was no stock market.

15.I wish we weren't turning the planet into a giant fishkills landfill.

16.I wish "the fairness" doctrine were still in place.

17.I wish the Heritage Institute would crumble.

18.I wish talent were the deciding factor.

19.I wish celebrities would stop using the African continient as a photo-op.

20. I wish I had more time to blog.