A Story That Needs to be Told, Part 1

I’ve struggled with this.

I have Stories I want to tell, Stories I am able to tell, and Stories I want to tell, but can’t. This one falls into the third category.

But to set the stage, you need to watch this…

Legend has it that John Wayne himself had to be physically restrained from dragging her off the stage

In 1973, at the 45th Academy Awards, Marlon Brando won best performance. Instead of accepting the award, he sent up Sacheen Littlefeather to deny his Oscar. This was far from the beginning, and far from the end. But if I am going to start in the middle, it might as well be from here.

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Why I Stopped Watching “Red Band Society”

I have never found a more perfect example of how misplaced direction and intent can ruin a show.

For those who don’t follow Network Television, Red Band Society premiered this fall with a promising pilot that centered around the inhabitants of a children’s hospital.

I find a small amount of Irony in the fact that these kids with Cancer, Anorexia, Congenital Heart Defects, and Cystic Fibrosis will have a happier ending than their show will. But don’t get me wrong, I’d be very happy with a happy ending. But when you place characters in a position of adversity, especially one as adverse as being a mostly parentless dual-citizen minor without health insurance, then you expect them to be dealing with something more serious than the Love Triangle they found themselves in.

This was the root of the problem. Out of all of the stories that could be told about the state of medicine in the US, or dealing with your own mortality before society legally considers you an adult, they instead chose to have the cheerleader fall for the tooth-pick chewing bad-boy.

It was as if the reality of their situation was superseded by what someone thought kids would find important. You could have taken these same exact plots and moved them to any other location and all you would have had to change  “Cancer” to “I didn’t get the iPhone I wanted for christmas”.

But this is a common theme in most of these “Youth Dramedy” shows, isn’t it? The inability to let children have Adult problems? And when they do, A La ‘Secret Life of the American Teenager’, there is the assumption that someone who is 16 (Who can be tried as an adult in most states), can’t face their own problems.

What is absolutely (and very hyperbolically) killing me about “Red Band Society”, is that every single production element is spot on. The show looks gorgeous, every single one of the actors is great, and the writing, when it is allowed to be, is fun and inventive. This show failed on only one front: It didn’t challenge anyone.

These are children who are fighting for their lives in a healthcare system that is likely bankrupting their parents. An Underweight young woman who is fighting her own Mental Illness surrounded by people fighting very physical illnesses; A Cheerleader with a cocaine addiction; a young man whose cancer has been neglected in favor of folk medicine. You can’t tell me that the show they wrote was the only one they could have written.

We deserve better.


What God, Chapter 5

Another Chapter! Chapter 4 Here

I knew that crime scene. I’d seen it before, spread over a loading dock in an alley in midtown. A scene I left chasing a man who was running from the scene. He was covered in blood. A man who I fired at and accidentally hit a lady further down the alley. She later apologized for getting in my way. The bullet is still in her collarbone, and she baked me a  cake to say sorry.

The worst part was that the body disappeared when I got back to the loading dock.

So I took a squad car back to the precinct and I stopped on the highway to grab a bottle of water out of the trunk. I was getting lightheaded. I’d have to twist some balls to get the blood-work off of the scene by tonight. Its not that I didn’t appreciate what the techs did, I just wanted to have some real evidence to follow before I started chasing ghosts. Ghosts seemed to like long car rides anyways.

“I don’t want you to start looking into this” Misha was right, of course. My only stake in this investigation was supposed to be the murder of Adam Kraden.

“But there is too strong a chance that it could be linked.” She knew I wasn’t wrong.

“Michael, you have a pad of paper that doesn’t say anything and-“

“It says-“

“It doesn’t mean anything!” It didn’t mean much, but it meant something.

“Look at this thing, Misha.” The evidence bag and the pad was between us on her desk. “Kraden was holding this before he died.” I flipped it over, showing her the bloody fingerprints on the back.

“Then tell me what to do about it.”

“Nothing. Not yet.” Misha wasn’t happy. A dead politician and a commissioner who didn’t approve in her choice of detective was enough to make anyone jumpy. For Misha? She was pissed. I didn’t like waiting to drop the worse news on her, but I’d rather she kick me out than spend another hour yelling at me.

“Why,” She pinched the bridge of her nose and measured her words carefully, “The Hell. Are. You. Here.”

“I wanted to let you know that this might be more complicated than the murder,” I heard her mumble a small ‘fantastic’ before I continued, “And also that I am adding the midtown files to this case. The body I witnessed is concurrent with the way Kraden was killed.” I was scared for a second that she was going to lunge over the desk and kill me with a paperweight. She didn’t. I would later wish she did.

“This is my career on the line too. If you fuck up, I fucked up”

“Do you trust me?”

“No, but I believe you.” This wasn’t the response I expected.

Being witness to something like Midtown and then having no evidence to back it up and having no one believe you- It’s an awful thing. You start to become obsessed with proving it. The midtown file was nothing more than my report and some nearby security camera footage.

What I wanted to do was to dig back into it, to link it somehow to Kraden or to find any lead at all. I wanted to make it real. And the worst part about this was that just in the early dark hours of this morning I was driving around trying to make myself finally let go of it. I wanted so bad to let it go. But then I see the parts of Kraden laid around his living room. Now I can’t.

I was back at my desk sipping a cup of coffee for twenty minutes before I even realized I had gotten the file. It was open on my desk. I forced myself to close it.


Devil’s House: For You To Listen To.

Well I guess I’ve strayed into multimedia.

My friend and housemate Scott Key helped me out by throwing a little voice acting onto Devil’s House. I’m pretty damn pleased with the product, and this may be the mode of distribution from here on out.

The first two chapters are currently being hosted on SoundCloud. I encourage you to give a listen. They aren’t yet available for download- but they will be at a later date.

Please listen! Enjoy!

 


Poop, Abridged

I am going to say something that is not said enough in the world.

Holy SHIT… thats cool.

Genuinely. Shit is cool.

Wait… even SHIT is cool. Digested food is damn cool, and by god, its poop. Poop is awesome!

And why is poop awesome? Because not only is it the product of billions of years of digestive evolution, it spawns ecosystems in and of itself. Dung beetles aren’t just a punchline, they are a species of beetle that thrives on the digested grasses and plants of the savannah. They gather up their stash in a ball, hop on their front legs, and roll their ball of dung hundreds and hundreds of feet back to their burrow. How in the hell did this behavior evolve? is this behavior learned, or has it been so repeated that it is coded into DNA?

What about our relation to poop? Look at how it has evolved into our culture. Toilets became a mainstay as early as Sumer. We separated our waste disposal from the rest of society. Put it in the corner or behind walls, following the behavior of most other mammals. Its funny that as Cities and Communities grew, the propensity to separate our waste from our streets decreased. We went from Rome, and their advanced system of toilets and baths, to the renaissance, where chamber pots were emptied into streets and baths were practically prohibited by the church. Then we made thrones for our pooping, books surrounding it. Our waste eventually became a joke, a psychological symptom or precursor to disorder, something people laughed at or were ashamed of. There are vast segments of our culture that have developed around this one single subject. Not only are there papers, articles, and novels written around the subject, It is a common and unifying factor for all cultures in the world. Each and every culture has a way they deal with their waste, and Each one has its own vast history and hugely complicated social norms.

And that is just the abridged version of Poop.

Take any subject on earth has Infinite Academic Resolution. You can continue choosing any part of any subject and pull up a wealth of information. If someone hasn’t already written something on it already, then someone will, eventually.

So, Tell Me. Why in the hell are you bored. Oh, I see you, sitting at home, surfing the internet, looking for something new. I see through your charade. You think there is nothing interesting?

Here is a Challenge: Send me some subject, any subject, and I will attempt to pull out something fascinating within it. Really. Send me ANYTHING, and I will find some small seed of inspiration in it. Even better, I will inspire some seed of interest in you. Try Me.


The Conversation While Writing

A man puts down his pen. A man picks up his pen. Indeterminable moments pass and his pen is back down. Perhaps, Man thinks, he needs a drink. Man picks up pen, gets up, and goes to get drink, realizes he cannot pour drink with pen in hand. Man sets down pen. Man realizes, via his behavior and the large number of empty tumblers on his desk, that he may have had enough to drink. Man sits down.

Maybe this isn’t how I want this story to start. Maybe I need to learn to shut up and let myself talk.

The Man, of course, isn’t just a Man, his name is…

Indetermineable moments pass and a name is still not found

Well his name isn’t important. What is important is that he is trying to write a book

How very self referential

And he is having trouble…

Not making it any better for yourself, are-

The man is in a room

Aren’t we all

Sitting at his desk

Who else would be sitting there

And he-

I think we know it’s a guy

And he very much hates his writer.

Hey, be careful there, I made you

Yes, I don’t think he cares very much about that

But I Created him

Was that capital C really necessary?

Well is is something of importance, isn’t it

No, it isn’t. you are just trying to grant what you do some false importance. As if creating a world and creating people in it makes you a God (capital G intended)

Well… Doesn’t it?

Oh don’t go down that road. They don’t exist. All this is, just so happens to be you sitting in a comfy armchair with a glass of watered brandy trying to escape into a world of your own making

But it has importance!

What, the Importance of the Artist? All False, I assure you. An artist creates things that people merely like or despise with all their hearts. Do they make foreign policy? Do they lobby for new laws concerning corporate regulation? No, they sit and whine and bitch and do nothing. How does that matter a whit?

It doesn’t

Exactly

Not to you, at least

Not to anyone.

Not true. Someone’s acting once inspired a man to try and kill Ronald Reagan.

A lunatic

A Human

A Crazy one

How does that matter? Every single one of us is at least a bit crazy, and we can sit and not be able to do anything about foreign policy, but every one of us can create. Every one of us can show someone something beautiful or interesting or horrifying.

But that doesn’t mean that what you create means anything to the world

The World? Screw the world. It doesn’t have to mean shit-all to the world. For all we know, the world isn’t sentient. You know who is? Us. We experience, we create, and we feel. We are the only reason we know we exist. Because like it or not, there is more than one of us. And I don’t know about the world, but if I can influence one person, if I can change then, then I have changed a world. Theirs at the very least. What you don’t realize is that this world isn’t one coherent mass, it is just a landmass inhabited by billions of people who see things differently, and billions of people who have their own worlds. So I’ll tell you this, you don’t have the dominion over worlds that I do. By just going on stage and speaking I can change a hundred, by writing I can change a thousand. That’s the thing. I don’t control or create reality, I add to it.


While stranded in Albuquerque

I thought it would end up being a uniquely odd experience, flying from coast to coast on THIS day. I expected the airport to be empty, I expected people to make a scene, to be outspoken, scared, angry, and sad. I expected something a bit different than what I got, which was the everyday pedestrian hustle-bustle. If I didn’t know what day it was today, I wouldn’t even know it was important.

I used to be rather pissed that there weren’t any riots. Its not that I want people to be angry, that I want people to take to the streets in their rage, its just that I wanted them to care, I wanted them to fight for the people of this country. I looked at England and France and saw a youth that was willing to lay down its life for its country, I looked to this country and I saw a youth stagnant, a youth silent. I saw an entire generation dead on their feet, struggling for nothing more than a stable wage and a liveable life.

I was wrong.

I didn’t quite see it until today, that ineffable quality that America breeds into its youth, that stalwart determination in the face of everything. This is a day that, in all experience, should shut everything down, a day where people try not to leave their houses or do any work out of both respect, fear, or grief. This should be the kind of day that halts a country. But it didn’t stop this one.

No, this country is not lazy. No, America is not scared. No, America is not angry. We are determined. Given all that flies in our face, all that seems to conspire against us, we keep working. Given all who keep on dying over seas, we keep going. Given all of the fear, the terror, and the pure unmasked and irrational news we keep getting, we still go to work. Deep down, I think we know better than anyone else in the world: we keep moving and we keep working even if the sun itself threatens to swallow us. That way, no one can keep us down.