Don’t Blame Trump, Blame MTV

Don’t Blame Trump, Blame MTV

There is a lot of bad behavior in this country. People seem to feel entitled to say anything. Derogatory comments about females?? Ok. Racist rants? Why not? Threats of violence against strangers and celebrities and the media? For sure. It seems a great many people have lost any filter they may have ever had and thoughts that used to remain locked inside of primitive, hateful minds now seem to spill out openly. This behavior is splashed all over the web on a daily basis. Now a lot of people want to blame our President for this trend, but it’s really not his fault. He’s not the cause. He’s the effect. Don’t blame Trump. Blame MTV. That’s right, the cesspool of hate-filled rhetoric that this county has sunken to can be traced back to May 21, 1992. That’s when MTV decided to bring seven young, attractive people from different backgrounds together and film their every move. Oh yeah, I’m talking about The Real World: New York, season one.
At this point you might be asking: what does The Real World have to do with any of this? Looking back on it, those seven are very tame by today’s standards. But that’s where it started. Much to the chagrin of the critics, The Real World, season one, became a hit. So season two was born, which led to 25 more seasons.
Now follow me here.
Reality TV exploded in the 90’s, rolling right in to the new century. Survivor begat American Idol which begat Big Brother which begat countless other competition shows (oh yeah, I’m begatting more than the Bible here). Bad behavior was rewarded. People started becoming famous just for being famous, which led to a Hilton heir leaking a sex tape and getting her own reality show, which led to a Kardashian (a what?) leaking a sex tape and that led to an empire. Which led to more bad behavior. People had to be rude and outlandish to even get noticed. Being horrible for the entire world to see was everyone’s goal. People wanted to be famous and they would do anything to get there! And people who were already famous? They wanted to be more famous. Which led to The Apprentice which led to millions of Twitter followers which led to false statements and thinly vailed racism against President Obama in the form of tweets, which led to a following among racists and hate groups which led to a following among the Alt right (oh wait, I’m being redundant) and that led to a presidential bid which led to Trump actually getting the Republican nomination which led to the rest of Republican party selling out which led to him getting elected the 45th president of The United States, which brings us to where we’re at now.
So you see, that’s why we can’t blame Trump. He’s not the cause. He’s the result. He’s not the two packs a day. He’s the lung cancer. He’s not the climate change. He’s the melting of the polar caps. It’s not his fault. lt all started with “the true story of seven strangers living in a loft” and it spread from there. This world of online comments, and fringe hate groups given legitimacy, and racism being expressed out loud at every turn and “trumping that bitch” and “grabbing them by their…” well, you get the idea. This is the world we live in now. In 2018, this is the real world.

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Don’t Blame Trump, Blame MTV

Don’t Blame Trump, Blame MTV

There is a lot of bad behavior in this country. People seem to feel entitled to say anything. Derogatory comments about females?? Ok. Racist rants? Why not? Threats of violence against strangers and celebrities and the media? For sure. It seems a great many people have lost any filter they may have ever had and thoughts that used to remain locked inside of primitive, hateful minds now seem to spill out openly. This behavior is splashed all over the web on a daily basis. Now a lot of people want to blame our President for this trend, but it’s really not his fault. He’s not the cause. He’s the effect. Don’t blame Trump. Blame MTV. That’s right, the cesspool of hate-filled rhetoric that this county has sunken to can be traced back to May 21, 1992. That’s when MTV decided to bring seven young, attractive people from different backgrounds together and film their every move. Oh yeah, I’m talking about The Real World: New York, season one.
At this point you might be asking: what does The Real World have to do with any of this? Looking back on it, those seven are very tame by today’s standards. But that’s where it started. Much to the chagrin of the critics, The Real World, season one, became a hit. So season two was born, which led to 25 more seasons.
Now follow me here.
Reality TV exploded in the 90’s, rolling right in to the new century. Survivor begat American Idol which begat Big Brother which begat countless other competition shows (oh yeah, I’m begatting more than the Bible here). Bad behavior was rewarded. People started becoming famous just for being famous, which led to a Hilton heir leaking a sex tape and getting her own reality show, which led to a Kardashian (a what?) leaking a sex tape and that led to an empire. Which led to more bad behavior. People had to be rude and outlandish to even get noticed. Being horrible for the entire world to see was everyone’s goal. People wanted to be famous and they would do anything to get there! And people who were already famous? They wanted to be more famous. Which led to The Apprentice which led to millions of Twitter followers which led to false statements and thinly vailed racism against President Obama in the form of tweets, which led to a following among racists and hate groups which led to a following among the Alt right (oh wait, I’m being redundant) and that led to a presidential bid which led to Trump actually getting the Republican nomination which led to the rest of Republican party selling out which led to him getting elected the 45th president of The United States, which brings us to where we’re at now.
So you see, that’s why we can’t blame Trump. He’s not the cause. He’s the result. He’s not the two packs a day. He’s the lung cancer. He’s not the climate change. He’s the melting of the polar caps. It’s not his fault. lt all started with “the true story of seven strangers living in a loft” and it spread from there. This world of online comments, and fringe hate groups given legitimacy, and racism being expressed out loud at every turn and “trumping that bitch” and “grabbing them by their…” well, you get the idea. This is the world we live in now. In 2018, this is the real world.

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This too, shall pass

This too shall pass, is an ancient saying I’m sure many of you are familiar with. It’s a philosophy I’ve long embraced, and I’ve used it as a mantra to get through many tough times. But it’s not just for tough times, it’s for all times. It took me a long time to realize that. We have our highs and lows in life, but I think it’s important to stay as even keeled as possible. Good times, bad times, mediocre times: this too shall pass.

Lately, things have been good, but it’s all coming to a crashing halt. What am I going to do? My play, Love Is Strange (Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company) comes to a close this weekend. It ends what has been a pretty remarkable two month period for me. When an experience you are enjoying comes to a halt, of course it’s going to affect you. But I’ll try not to get too “low”when this play closes, just like I tried not get too “high” during this recent run. I will try not to make my happiness contingent upon “successes” or “failure” because this too shall pass.

Now that I’m done trying to baffle you with my bullshit, I’m going to give one last plug to Love Is Strange. This weekend is your last chance to see four remarkable performances by four amazing actors(Chris Jakob, Allison Megroet, Joel Mitchell and Katie Terpstra). Every time I watch them, I’m left in awe, and as a playwright I couldn’t be happier with them, or with the direction they’ve received from Frannie Shepherd-Bates. The last two performances are this Friday and Saturday at The Abreact Performance space. Details below and If you come join us, you may never listen to Elvis the same way again.

http://www.magentagiraffe.org/

This picture pretty much sums up exactly what this play is about.

elvis

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My Life Sucks?

 

My life sucks. Not a day goes by where I can’t climb up on my pity-pot and feel sorry for myself. I mean, let’s examine the facts…

I don’t have any money and basically my retirement plan consists of purchasing a weekly lottery ticket. I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in, in several years, and I’m not getting any younger. And let’s not get started on my love life (or lack thereof). As an actor, it seems like I used to work a lot more. As a playwright, I’ve had a nice run lately, but only locally. So to sum it up: I’m broke, out of shape, old, lonely, and artistically unfulfilled. My life sucks.

Now, let’s look at it through a different perspective…

I’ve never truly been cold or hungry in my life. I’ve always had everything I’ve needed. If you stacked up all the people who live and have lived on this planet, I probably have it better than 95 percent of them. And yes, lottery tickets might not be the best retirement plan, but who knows? I do have an unchecked ticket in my wallet.

Sure, I’m not in the greatest shape right now, but I’m not in horrible shape either. I’m approaching my late forties, and I’ve never had a major health issue or spent a day of my life in the hospital.  As far as getting back in shape, I know what needs to be done and I have a bunch of crazy running friends who will help me do it. Which brings me to my next point…

Friends. I’m blessed with an abundance of them. There are a lot of people in my life who I know will be there for me when I need them. People I care about and people who truly care about me. People who will pick up the phone when I call and talk to me (and not just text). If I’m lonely, it’s because I choose to be. And If I’m still single at my advanced age, it’s because someone spectacular is coming my way.

Now let’s look at my life artistically. This past weekend, I shot a TV commercial. I attended three of my own plays, I saw a scene cut of a play I’m assistant-directing, I had an audition, and I attended an Improv workout at Comedy Sportz. Am I rich from any of these endeavors? No. But could I have scripted a better Weekend? No.  Granted, this is far from a typical weekend, but I get to see my plays performed, I get to work occasionally as an actor, and I get to do improv on a regular basis.  For most of my life, none of these activities were even considered a distant possibilities.

So, next time I’m bummed because I don’t have to winning numbers, or I’m depressed because I didn’t get the part, or I’m feeling inadequate because I can’t get my work produced (or even read) at  certain theatres, I just have to remember how much my life sucks.

 

PS. If you want to help me feel sorry for myself, come on down this weekend and see Magenta Giraffe’s production of Love Is Strange with me at The Abreact Performance Space.

http://www.magentagiraffe.org/

 

 

 

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Art and Ego.

I stopped in at The Detroit Institute of Art last week, for the first time in a long time. As you know, the DIA has been in the news a lot lately, and not for good reasons. Are we going to lose it because of Detroit’s bankruptcy? Are they actually going to auction of some or all of these works of art? There is a new story in the newspaper on virtually a daily basis.

This painting is entitled, “The First State Election In Detroit, Michigan 1837“. I’d like to think things have gotten better but…

first state election

Now, I know very little about art. I can barely tell the difference between a Van Gogh and a Van Halen. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate art, though. At least some of it. Quite honestly, some of the works at the DIA I did not get. They left me bewildered and scratching my head. I passed by a modern sculpture that made me wonder what the artist was thinking and what the museum was thinking to display this piece. This is art? People pay for this?  I quickly rushed by it.

Sculpture entitled “Office  Fetish”

office fetish

 

I like things that, well, look like things. I guess I gravitated towards realism, paintings I could understand, even if I interpreted them differently than the little plaques on the walls do. As I wandered the cavernous rooms of the DIA, I was left awed and stunned by some of the beauty and detail of some of the paintings. There were a couple that left me visibly emotional and there was at least one that made me angry. There truly is something for everybody at the DIA. here are a few of my favorites.

“Moorish Interior”

moorish interior

 

Painting entitled “James Pearle”. I don’t know what the artist was trying to say, but I know what the painting said to me.

James Pearle

Painting entitled ,“Refugees”. I felt for these people.

refugees

As I left The DIA that day, I passed by the modern sculpture that had made no sense to me earlier. There was a mother and her daughter sitting in front of it. The child couldn’t have been more than eight or nine. They were speaking in hush tones and smiling as the mother was pointing at this work of art, sharing a secret I will never be in on. And that’s the thing about art. It’s completely subjective and there’s something for everyone. Just because I don’t appreciate it, that doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t.

Do yourself a favor. Get down to the DIA. And not just because we may lose it. And not just because it’s free. Get down there because these artists, many who have been dead for hundreds of years, have bared a piece of their soul for all the world to see. And a work of art that may have caused me to only move quickly out of the room, may move you in a completely different way.

And finally, I leave you with, “An Ego Is Terrible  Thing.” Not my cup of tea, but I couldn’t agree more.

an ego

 

 

 

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Would I invite my mother to this play?

When discussing my play Love Is Strange recently with somebody, they asked me if it was a play I would invite my mother to. I was taken aback by that question, and I had to give it some thought. Don’t get me wrong. I want everyone to see this play. It’s a work I’m proud off and there is an amazing group of actors and a very gifted director bringing it to life. But it is dark and disturbing and graphic and it’s not for everyone. So, would I invite my mom to it? A little bit about Mom…

My mom passed away a couple of years ago, and to say she was my biggest fan would be a bit of an understatement. To her, I was more talented (and better looking) than George Clooney and Brad Pitt combined. I heard her say so myself, many times. When she was still with us, she would come see everything I did: theatre, standup, improv. You name it. EVERYTHING. I subjected her to all kinds of performances and she was always up for it.

My mom was very artistic herself. She filled our house with art and singing. Our walls were adorned with her paintings. She would walk around, singing constantly, belting out Broadway tunes as she did the housework. My sisters would emerge from their bedroom, kicking in with three-part harmony. As a kid, I often felt like I was stuck in a musical theatre nightmare. I was like the tone-deaf member of the Von Trapp family, wanting nothing more than to escape outside and play sports. Of course, looking back on it, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My mom really instilled a love of theatre, and all things creative, on my sisters and me.

My playwriting is something my mother never got a chance to experience. By the time I started down that path, she was in a nursing home, and she left us soon after. I’m sure she’s caught most of my productions up in heaven though, and she’s probably telling Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare just how much they can learn from me. My mom would enjoy my plays, as much as she enjoyed everything I did. But would I invite my mom to Love Is Strange? A little bit about the play…

Normally I’m sort of fluffy and maybe a bit sentimental in my writing. I usually write the kind of plays mothers would like. Love Is Strange is not fluffy and sentimental. It covers a disturbing subject matter. It has graphic language and violence. It’s not the kind of thing my mother would be naturally drawn to.

So, to answer my original question: Is it a play I would invite my mother to? No, it’s isn’t a play I would invite my mother to. I wouldn’t have to invite her. She’s my mom. She’d be there anyway.

Love Is Strange opens this Friday. Details below.

http://www.magentagiraffe.org/

 Love is Strange

April 4th- 26th

Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company

The Abreact Performance Space

1301 W Lafayette (The Lafayette Lofts) #113

Detroit, MI 48226

 

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I care too much about what other people think of me.

I care too much about what other people think of me. Or should I say, what I think they think about me. Because honestly, most of the time we don’t really know what other people think about us. I just usually assume it’s the worst. With that said, I had major anxieties about my play, Love Is Strange. It’s a dark play. It’s twisted and disturbing and I wondered if people who see it are ever going to view me the same way. Are my friends going to disown me? Is there going to be a sudden rash of restraining orders against me? Will dogs cease to like me?
I never thought about any of this stuff when I was writing this play. Hell, I never thought anyone would even read it, let alone see a production of it. When I got the phone call from Frannie shepherd-Bates and she said Magenta Giraffe was interested in producing it, I thought I was being punked. Surely it must me Aston Kutcher on the line doing his best Frannie impression.
Now, let’s flash forward to less than a year after I first put pen to paper on this project. I’m sitting in a rehearsal and I’m watching four amazing actors, Chris Jacob, Allison Megroet, Joel Mitchell, and Katy Terpstra commit one hundred percent and bring this story to life. I’m watching Frannie direct them and bring things out of them and bring things out of my script that amaze me. I’m moved and I’m awed and I’m inspired and I’m grateful. And at least for that moment, I don’t care what anybody thinks about me. I just sit back and I enjoy.

Love is Strange
Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company
The Abreact Performance Space
1301 W Lafayette (The Lafayette Lofts) #113
Detroit, MI 48226
http://www.magentagiraffe.org

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