Archive for January, 2004

The President

Wednesday, January 28th, 2004

Don’t tell me that we can take back the White House. In fact, here’s something specific; don’t say “Together, we can take back the white house.”

Dean is done. I love him, he’d be a good president, but he’s done. Because we let everyone vote, and everyone is convinced he is unelectable, so they won’t vote for him. They believe that other people won’t vote for him, they don’t know why, and so they know they shouldn’t bother. What are his views on Nafta? Abortion? Tax subsidies for first time home buyers? They don’t know, but they know, in their high school, most of the other kids wouldn’t want to have the party at his house, so they’re going along with it.

Don’t argue the point. I’ve heard people say “I’m pro-life, but I respect the fact that pro-choice people might not agree with that and they have the right to do what they want.” If I have to explain to you that this person is actually pro-choice, and that they can’t see it for themselves, then you’re one of those people. You’re too dumb to read this. And I’m no genius, so you’re pretty stupid.

Are there disenfranchised people? Sure. But most of these people are gonna hate Bush no matter what he does. He’s on the other team. He’s a Dookie. He could triple the funding for the NEA and these people would hang on the fact that he lied about WMD.

He didn’t lie. He was lied to, and he’s dumb. He was searching for the information he wanted in order to justify doing what he thought was best. That makes him a bad president, especially since he won’t admit that he made decisions based on bad intel, but it doesn’t exactly make him Hitler. If he was in a company and he misused a massive amount of that company’s funds producing a product that his R&D; people told him would work, but then it turns out to be a giant waste of money, he would get fired from that company, and rightly so.

So, tell me that. Talk to me about the deficit. Talk to me about mortgaging my children’s futures and that Bush is the most fiscally liberal president since Johnson. Sure, you can remind me how out of touch he is with my problems, how he’s basically a boob. You can remind me that he grew up as a child of infinite priviledge. You can remind me that he, personally, doesn’t care at all about my life.

But the Presidency has been ours this entire time, as much as it ever is. We are not taking back the White House, like some kind of South American coup d’etat. We are firing the general manager and coach and we are bringing in a new guy that can inspire our team. Bush has done the best he can, he has not soiled the presidency, and we need to bring in someone who can lead us in a direction that will make us safer and stronger. It’s that simple.

M to tha J

Monday, January 26th, 2004

Here’s the thing about Michael Jackson that you might not remember. He was really cool.

I know that goes without saying, but I mean that he was cool in the way that the things we like now are cool. He wasn’t cool like Justin Timberlake or that hellspawn Ashton Kutcher. He was the youngest brother of the Jackson 5, clearly the most talented and also clearly blown away by the attention. He was just this dork, this kid, like us, like everyone.

You gotta put yourself back in 1983, back before John Hughes stole our childhoods, back when dorks were still totally dorks. You can tell me all you want that punk rock hate entered America, but I can tell you that all I knew back then was that The Right Stuff was the movie, Ronald Reagan was the man, and goofiness was, to use the right phrase, *hurtin’*.

Off The Wall had come out and some of my black friends had it, but MJ was flying way under the radar. He was a flat out dork who seemed to spend all his time practicing how to walk backwards in his room. Man, when Thriller came out, frickin’ Billie Jean… are you kidding me? Suddenly this dork is talking about how girls are trying to claim he’s their baby daddy? And it was like everywhere he walked the ground would glow.

I remember dancing with Nicole Black and whispering the lyrics to Human Nature in her ear and feeling her body shudder under my hands. She made out with me for an hour, and I was 26% zit cream at that point. I remember everyone trying to do the choreography from “Thriller” and I was the only one who could pop and lock. But I also remember the video for “Beat It” and thinking, “uh, he’s wearing a tee shirt with a cartoon on it, right?”

He was cool like a shy Jack Black. He was wearing these retarded clothes and everyone stole the look and made it awesome. He was singing the songs he liked, just doing his thing, but he was also spending hundreds of hours perfecting the sound and making the videos. He hired real directors to direct his shorts, he gave them plots and made them, if you’ll excuse me, thrilling.

You remember if you were a kid then. People don’t understand why there are thousands of normal fans yelling his innocence, but it’s because at one time we thought of him as one of us. I honestly feel that the reason he clutches children when he sleeps, the reason he has demolished his face, the reason he lies and lies and lies about the stuff he does, is because he couldn’t take what happened to him in the exact same way that none of the rest of us could.

Ashton Kutcher is gonna be fine, he’s gonna grow old gracefully, he’s gonna keep making movies that everyone hates and he’ll marry four times. But Michael can’t pretend that the whole world staring at him doesn’t scare him. I couldn’t have handled it, you couldn’t have either.

Just remember, the fact that he has trashed his life and his face beyond recognition doesn’t mean he is guilty of abusing a child. If he has lost his moral center, if he no longer understands that being strange and freakish is wrong, you can’t blame him. Every other fucked up (and every other normal) thing he did from 81 to about 93 was embraced, by all of us.

They had better *prove* he did something wrong, because with all he’s given us, and all he has done for children’s charities around the world, this is one guy that definitely gets the benefit of the doubt from me.

Take it like a man…

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

The last time I was punched in the face was early 1999 in Los Angeles. I was going in to an AM/PM to buy cigarettes and the guy coming out was trying to steal cigarettes and the smaller employees had the door blocked. I distracted the whole group when I got to the outside of the door and the thief slammed into the door to get out. I tried to jump in his way and he punched me in the jaw. Without thinking, I swung and hit him as hard as I could over his left eye, tearing his eyebrow and ripping up my hand. He ran away, but dropped his shopping bag, which, I shit you not, was fully of syringes.

My hand hurt, and in return for my bravery, the AM/PM gave me a pack of cigarettes for free. Which is also what the guy stole. It’s a rich ironic world.

My point is this; it doesn’t hurt that much getting punched in the face. My jaw hurt a little bit, but my hand was banged up for about two weeks. If I hadn’t hit the guy, we would all be much better off.

I got in a fair number of fights in junior high and high school. I was angry all the time, just pissed off and fearless all the time. Maybe I was angry because I was pretending to be fearless. Maybe I wasn’t all that angry, it seems, in retrospect, that Michelle and I had a lot of fun. But man, any person over the age of about 17 sent me into a rage. Most guys my age did the same thing.

I can tell you what I learned from those fights. Guys who want to hit you in the face are trying to insult you, they aren’t trying to put you in pain. First of all, the punch is going towards your eyes, you can see it coming and you can brace yourself or, if you’re fast, move out of the way. Second of all, your face is pretty tough, it’s fatty, it’s used to the abuse of wind and exposure and, y’know, shaving, the nerves aren’t nearly as sensitive. Third, your skull is designed as a defensive machine. the reason I hurt my hand so bad on that guy’s head is because I hit him in the eyebrow, right where his skull is designed to defray the most damage. In movies, they use that part of the head as an offensive weapon, it’s so tough.

If you want to hurt someone, me for example, then hit them in the ribs or the lower back when they don’t expect it. The nose is bad, sure. But there is something about getting punched really hard in the kidneys that makes you wish you were dead.

Our bodies still retain the monkey design, our ribs all slope downward and our organs are designed to hang from the spine and ribcage. Everything is aimed downward. When you punch up into someone, you are going against the grain, it hurts so much more.

So, all you husbands preparing for Superbowl Sunday, remember; if you hit your wives in the face, it’s mostly just humiliating them. If you turn them around and hold them around the shoulders or neck and punch with an upward thrust into their lower back or ribs, you could actually make them pass out from the pain. If you’re gonna do it, you may as well do it right.


Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

People update their blogs exactly as often as they want to, or more. I always get the sense, when reading people’s blogs, that they either have something to say that day or they don’t, and they’re writing because they felt they had to.

Bud’s page and Ian’s page are always exciting, but every once in a while I can tell they are writing because they know they should. I’m sure mine has seemed like that at times.

My problem is, when I don’t have something to say that I am pretty passionate about, there really isn’t any point. I don’t know if it’s too much “method” training as an actor, but it’s really hard for me to write about stuff I don’t care about.

So, here are some excuses.

My acting class: I can’t really write about because there are enough slightly famous, really savvy people in it who wouldn’t appreciate what I have to say. This is one of those instances where there is so much grey area, so much ambivalence, that to write about it publicly would be a mistake. To be clear, I love my class and I love the teacher and some of the other actors, but that is one tenth of the story, and the rest just isn’t for a public blog.

The Wedding: Truthfully, I have spent the last few months desperately trying to find a way to deserve to marry this woman who is willing, and I find that stuff self-referential and navel gazing tripe. I haven’t spent enough time trying to get the damn event organized because of my paralyzing fears of inadequacy that will set in the day after it all happens.

Job Search: What can I tell you? I have always been under the impression that a) I fail because I am lazy and b) all a person has to do is try their hardest and things will work out for them. I have overcome my laziness, what my sister Tessa reminds me is simply fear, and I am trying, daily, to change my fiscal situation, and I have been trying not just since October, or since May, but since last New Year’s when I decided that I wanted to marry Jordana, and it just isn’t working out for me right now.

Politics: You really want to read what I have to say about politics? Even my close friends get tired of hearing me talk about stuff that I actually understand, why the hell would I talk about politics? Here’s all you could possible want to know about me; I believe Bush is a dim-witted decent man who has a job he doesn’t understand the first thing about. He is a mean-as-hell trust fund kid who’s belief in his own greatness, created by his parents, makes him unable to understand what he’s doing, to the great advantage of the brilliant and bad men who surround him. I want someone else running the country.

Art: I have been spending more and more time writing music the last few days, and reading scripts for both the show I’m in and the class I’m taking, so this part is pretty nice. Jordana made me a deal that if I wrote music, she would work on finishing her novel, which she is about 4/7s done with.

So, really, don’t get mad at me for not writing. I don’t have a whole lot I feel I can say on this page right now.

No Right

Saturday, January 17th, 2004

I haven’t written in a while because sometimes I just get sick of the sound of my own voice. We grew up on B. Kliban and Boothe cartoons, and I don’t know which artist came up with it, but there was a recurring character of a guy sitting in a bathtub while his wife stood in the living room ironing from a plug in the ceiling light and the guy would announce stuff from his bathtub like “This is the year when things start to happen!”

I feel like that guy. Sometimes it’s funny. It’s not right now.

Mostly, I don’t like being the guy who does my thing, my rant. I could tell you about my acting class, about the fact that I have gone from being a guy who does plays he doesn’t care about with actors he hates for very little money, to a guy who does it for free, to, finally, a guy who pays for it, but this tilting is sometimes funny for me and right now it just isn’t.

Here is one small thought from a conversation that a group of friends and I are having. If I don’t believe in God, then to whom am I speaking when, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and I am tossing in the salad dressing of my own sweat and anxiety and I scratch my oily hair and check the time and sigh only to hear the tiny voice next to me giggle at a dream and mutter “it’s a hat-trick, that’s all I know, it’s a hat-trick”… to whom am I speaking when I say out loud “thank you, thank you.”


Friday, January 9th, 2004

It’s unfair to claim that fat people want to be fat. But it isn’t totally untrue. Believe me, I know. The saddest day of my life was when I lost the weight I had aimed to lose and I looked at myself and realized that, even thin, I was no different, no happier. And I was somehow less significant, smaller. I couldn’t feel my own weight, my frame was an indication of all the celebrations I had avoided, was a sign of how I had bought into the beauty myth and come out the other side merely thin, not beautiful.

But you can’t really describe this to people who don’t understand it on a cellular level. It’s what made real punks punks back in the day. Sure, tons of kids had mohawks, even today there are more green haired kids than there were in the 80s, but the hair and the chains and all that isn’t what made you punk. Being ugly, that was punk. Sleeping on the floor of your classroom during a final, that was punk. Being bisexual, spreading rumors about your friends worshipping satan, playing in a band that sucked and didn’t want to get better, that was all punk.

And there is a way that being punk makes you feel. Strong. Stronger than anyone. There is playing by the rules and there is winning within the rules, but winning because you mock the game is just pure power. It’s smart-ass power, sure, but the more people who shook their heads at you, the further outside the power structure you could find yourself, the more in control of your own life you are.

Anyway, that smart-ass thing is something I have in large doses. But lately, it has been occurring to me just how immature it is. I can still offend with the best of them, I can still be snarky and humiliating when the occassion demands it, but it has become apparent to me that it’s a useless road to go down.

My failures as a professional are the punkest thing about my existence now, and it isn’t right. I do two things very well. I am an excellent studio musician and an excellent actor. It has only dawned on me recently how actually good I am at these two things. And in both cases, I could be making money.

When did I get all punk about it? I don’t remember. I don’t remember when I started punking auditions, going in and telling the casting people they should use someone else, not preparing purposefully, mocking powerful people every time I got the chance. But I did it. For years. In LA, I hated every moment of everything I did.

Now, failure just feels like failure. Punks don’t get to have homes and raise kids. They just don’t. The recordings I begged for and was promised back in September are not going to happen. I haven’t put together the Lucretia packet to get the possible tour together. Some of this is my fault, some isn’t, but the pain reaches back and colors every missed opportunity over the past 15 years, since the day I found out I wasn’t going to graduate and I thought it was funny.

So now, I have to succeed. I have to. I have to leave my bleach stained jean jacket at the house and make work happen for me. I will not ever find myself having lucked into money, and I want jordana’s children and our home to *exist*.

She finally turned to me yesterday and said, as nicely as she could, “I just can’t talk about it anymore. If you’re gonna do it, then do it. Just do it, or don’t, but don’t talk about it anymore.” Man, hearing her say that, I want to grab that punk by the throat and drown him.


Wednesday, January 7th, 2004

It’s my understanding that alcoholism doesn’t have a foolproof set of criteria, that there are alcoholics who go long stretches without drinking or thinking of drinking, and it has occurred to me that insomnia is much the same way. You can go several days not only sleeping regularly, but sometime voluminously.

But man, when it hits, it’s just indescribable. Insomniacs can’t go without sleep, when you hear about Edison sleeping for three hours at a stretch his whole life, he wasn’t an insomniac. You actually need the sleep, you just simply don’t get it.

And it’s the world that changes. You start wondering how people reach their conclusions, how their minds manages to travel from one reasonable set of assumptions to what seem to be completely foreign conclusions. But then, for a second, you understand, you see clearly what others see, and that’s when you start to get worried. In that second of sharing a common reality with the rest of the world, it begins to be clear just how far afield your mind goes when the deprivation goes this long.

And now, in my fourth day of no more than three or so hours of uninterrupted sleep at a stretch, I’ve started to realize I’m lost in the middle of conversations. Last night I wasn’t quite sure at any point how I had arrived at where I was. But it isn’t a fever, it isn’t incoherence, I can go back and draw the line of my actions that landed me, say, in a deli at Lincoln Center, but I have to bear down and focus, like a movie I haven’t been paying attention to. I have to force my thoughts as if out of a sweaty constipation, grabbing the edge of my seat and holding my breath.

I find myself sweating all the time, when I’m not completely chilled. And I haven’t completed a task in two days that didn’t take three other half completed tasks to marry it to. And now the weather is in collusion, I’m walking around my 80 degree apartment from room to room, knowing it’s 5 degrees outside, like a caged animal in a controlled environment. I feel like the angry snake at the zoo, the one that the handlers don’t want to fuck with because he keeps biting people.


Sunday, January 4th, 2004

My family tree traces in two directions, but with one ideal. On my mom’s side there are stories of massive personalities, money saved over years and years to buy a piano, only to be spent when the crops failed, and men landing in New York with nothing but pluck and determination carrying them to the couches of Arcadia. On my dad’s side there are barn-raisers and fiddle players scrapping their way across the Tennessee valley and broads landing in New Orleans with only their wit and their strong backs lifting them over the Rockies and landing in Compton just in time to flee once black people started moving in.

We’ve allowed for very little weakness in our family. Man, when my first marriage fell apart, it was never more clear. Everyone was really upset that I was so torn apart, but, y’know, after a month or so it just started getting… old. Sure, we know, we know, but, y’know, she’s gone now, she’s got her own place, maybe it’s time to put all this behind you. My ex and I were talking about reconciliations and living arrangements at the beginning of November when I discovered that she wasn’t invited to Thanksgiving.

Which was fine and right, our marriage was over and people from the outside recognized that before either of us did. But no-one wanted to talk about it, no-one wanted to help lick my wounds. Again, that’s fine, that how we’re made, I’m not whining about it. I’m glad. I came out on the other side of that strong as hell.

The only person who was always willing to fight and help and take care of me was Michelle. Because she is already strong, she doesn’t need to be hardened up. I feel like she was dropped into this family like a kitten in a pack of scarred old work dogs. And yet she has always picked up her load, shouldered her burden and tried as hard as she could not to talk about her problems.

So now she’s thirty. She got the least parenting of any of us, my parents split up when she was 13, for chrissakes, leaving her in my retarded hands. She’s had a series of horrible boyfriends, mostly because she probably thought she was supposed to. She chose about five different career paths, all of which have had built in dissapointments.

Her love life has been macabre, tragic. Look, that’s just the way it is. We talk about it and she laughs it off. I try to talk to her about the way’s she’s hurting, first because I love her and second because I owe her a debt. I owe it to her to be there for her when she’s gotten this sad.

You can buck up, you can put on a happy face, you can decide that you’re fine. My brother Ian did this for years and years, harboring secret obsessions and ticks that he never trusted anyone with. Until he finally met a woman who loved him not in spite of these perceived weaknesses, but because of them, in a way.

Sometimes you need to howl. And, what is even more annoying, sometimes you need to howl for a few months. Sometimes for a year or two years. If you’ve always been told to stop howling, to stay quiet, to buck up and be strong, it could take years of tilting your head back and screaming and screaming about how unfair it has all been.

I use this blog so I don’t have to leak all over the people who have been kind enough to put up with my howling all these years. The only reason I have happiness in my life now is because I spent all those years screaming when I needed to, and anyone who needs to scream, including Michelle, should just keep doing it.