Sunday, October 29, 2006

keep em doped on Old Navy, The Gap and MYSPACE

I'm really pissed off this week because Rush Limbaugh accused Michael J. Fox of faking his Parkinson's disease and because these assholes are against stemcell research and would rather throw away unused blastocysts than allow them to be used to help save lives. I'm also pissed off at the death toll in Iraq, at the rhetoric around the midterm election and at the fact that if some people in my hometown have their way, our beautiful public land and art park will transform into a casino and a mall. A friend of mine told me that she was canvassing against this nightmare scenario and was told by one woman "but we really need a closer Nordstroms." Nordstroms, by the way, is a 20 minute drive away.

Consumerism is our new drug and we jones for our new video ipod the way Rush Limbaugh jones for oxycotin.

Remember John Lennon's Working Class Hero?

Keep you doped on religion and sex and tv
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see.
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero then just follow me.

Follow him indeed. Is that why we're all so afraid to stand up and publicly renounce what has happened to this country? Are we afraid that heros are all killed? I've already heard people say "Barak Obama would be a great president...if they don't kill him." I certainly hope that they didn't mean he would be killed for his ultra left politics because this is a guy that wouldn't appear with Gavin Newsome a couple of years back because he wanted to distance himself from the gay marriage issue. Hardly a lefty crusader. Don't get me wrong. I'd support him. I like him. He's as left as we're going to get in this country. Hell, the republicans went after Bill -Welfare- Reform-Clinton like he was frickin' Fidel Castro so why wouldn't they go after Barak.

Like I said, I like Barak. He talks pretty. I'm in a wait and see place however because I remember another guy who talked pretty by the name of Mario Cuomo. Everyone wanted him to run for president. I remember one of his most inspired speeches about allocation of public funds " I would rather have my children walk to school than drive to nowhere." Then he cut funding for schools and roads. Hmmm. As he himself said "You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose."

Why are we so fixated on leaders to answer all our problems? It's no different than being doped on John Lennon's religion, sex and TV. We infantilize ourselves by appointing ersatz mommies and daddies to make our decisions for us. We freely give our power away in virtually every aspect of our lives. We do it in the political arena, in the cultural arena and on the home front. How many times have you heard: "My husband is going to kill me when he sees how much I spent on this" or "I'd like to go out but my wife won't let me." From the micro to the macro none of us (including me) want to take responsibility for our own lives. We've all been raised to seek protection in the cloak of plausible deniability but honestly, aren't we all complicit in so much of what is going on in our country? Is a change in party leadership going to fundamentally change the World Bank? The lack of comprehensive health care? The corporate concentration of the media? Sure maybe a little, but not NEARLY as much as we can change it if we stop being great big babies complaining about all the monster shit piling up in our backyard and then going out there and feeding the beast. If you feed it, it's going to shit.

Take the Walmart phenomenon for example. If we all stopped shopping at chains - problem solved. No legislation needed, no trade limitations, nothing. Don't even think about saying you need to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond, The Gap, Banana Republic, Walmart, KMart, Target, Barnes and Nobles, Petco, etc, etc, etc. If the well being of the world and all it's inhabitants is not worth paying a couple of dollars more or driving a few miles further or god forbid not buying yet another thing you don't need then stop complaining about the state of the world. You're feeding the beast.

Start by considering with every purchase the following questions: is this something I want or something I need? If it's something I want, do I want it because I will derive pleasure from it or because I have been convinced by external sources that i want it? If you determine that it's something you want because damn it, you just want it - a cd of great music or a warm and attractive sweater - consider if you can buy it elsewhere to support the independent business person. You might find that if you load up on less stuff you don't need, you'll have more time. Less stuff means less to maintain, pick up, clean. You save on cleaning and on shopping time. You save gas money that you would have spent going to pick up the stuff. How many people wake up one day and realize that buying stuff has become their avocation?

How about FOX news. So many people I know get worked up about that one. I stopped watching TV in 1997 and I have sooo much more free time than people who have to get back home for Dancing with the Stars. Fox news doesn't bother me because I don't watch it. What bothers me is that fact that lots of other people are watching it. What about the fact that I am missing Stephen Colbert and John Stewart? That is truly sad, but when I miss them to the point that I feel a void, I go to the internet and watch some clips. The added benefit is that if you don't watch TV or look at glossy magazines, you aren't bombarded with images of stuff you're supposed to think you need when in reality you wouldn't have even wanted them if they weren't artfully packaged.

So what does this have to do with Republicans and the big bowl of wrong they've been serving us? It's just one step at a time folks. We can't necessarily beat the voting machines this time, but if we start to change our own lives we can create a ripple that will spread and it will eventually dawn on these guys that their supreme power over us requires our complicity. If we start living our lives in a mindful way we might discover that we don't have to be complicit.

Let's imagine for a moment that thanks to a new war's say Iran.... George Bush and crew call off the election in 2008. Will we go out into the streets? Will we go on a general strike? If we did this and took other steps, we could force an election; force an end to the war; force use of alternative fuel sources; force government support of stem cell research; force stricter environmental regulations and diversification of media ownership; force stores like Walmart either die on the vine or move to a Costco model of paying union wages; we could force out the multi-million dollar "healthcare" industry through boycotts and through using alternative healthcare source in order to force our government to implement socialized medicine; our witholding of consumer dollars can force other countries to pay their workers a living wage; our walk to the independent movie house or trip to the library can force TV networks to program semi-intelligent shows with adequate actors, etc, etc, etc. I could go on. Trust me on that.

What a terrifying and exhilarating moment. The moment that we realize that we are not helpless. The moment we realize that everthing we do has an impact - has importance. My son was telling me about a scene in the film BEYOND RANGOON in which several Burmese are confronted by a soldier with a gun who is most likely going to kill them. One of the Burmese men approaches the soldier- whose gun is cocked and ready - and goes right up to him. He hugs the soldier. The soldier breaks down, throws off his helmet and gun and joins them. We all have that power, it's just a matter of how we choose to use it.

Last quote of the blog is from POGO: We have seen the enemy and it is us. I lied. That's too negative. I end with one from Mr. Shakespeare instead: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I was reading my dear friend Alison Luterman's blog. Alison is a wonderful poet and a radiant soul. She had some kind things to say about my show and expressed her sadness that the night she came the audience was microscopic. Sadly, this was not a first. Worse, it's probably not a last. My producers are from Superman's Bizarro world ( remember - where everything is the opposite of what you expect?) so they are supportive and seem more concerned with the show getting seen than with the bottom line. I'm really lucky to have a lot of great human beings in my life. Even so I've been running around like crazy lately with despair nipping at my heels until I realized that I'm going about this whole show biz thing wrong... It's so easy to get hung up on results and then what?.. If your best case scenario works out just as planned you're famous which means you're pretty much fucked, eh?.. Does anyone remember Joni Mitchell's tune, For the Roses?.. She writes:

In some office sits a poet
And he trembles as he sings
And he asks some guy
To circulate his soul around

I love that passage... (That's me saying that, not Joni).

It's a fine gossamer line between chasing a dream and chasing success - whatever that is... Frankly, I'm starting to wonder if I'm even supposed to chase a dream... It doesn't feel right, does it?.. Maybe a dream needs to be invited to come to you - like a deer or a bird - approached softly with stillness and humility and an offering like..a piece of bread or a sunflower seed... Like my homegirl Joni says:

Remember the days when you used to sit
And make up your tunes for love
And pour your simple sorrow
To the soundhole and your knee
And now you're seen
On giant screens
And at parties for the press
And for people who have slices of you
From the company
They toss around your latest golden egg
Speculation-well, who's to know
If the next one in the nest
Will glitter for them so

I'm addicted to the idea of arriving somewhere, as if making it is a destination... "Oh, here we are - we've made it.".. So easy, right?..

By now you might have figured out that it's been a trying couple of weeks in Wedding Singer Blues Land... I have been driving back and forth between the Bay Area and Los Angeles so much that somewhere along Interstate 5, I lost my perspective... It's probably in some rest stop bathroom named for a dead CHP cop.

You see, I get attached to these possible future opportunities as if they are a done deal, then when they don't happen, I forget that weeks earlier, I was perfectly happy just doing what I was doing... Delirious to be down in LA, doing the show, making people laugh and cry... Then someone dangles a glittery possibility at eye level and I lose all perspective...

This is the point where someone needs to slap me and say "Carla, no one is interested in a self-pitying dialectic on the vagaries of fame and the importance of being in the present moment.


Here's Joni again:

I guess I seem..ungrateful
With my teeth sunk in the hand
That brings me things
I really can't give up just yet
Now I sit up here
The critic!
And they introduce some band
But they seem so much confetti
Looking at them on my TV set
Oh the power and the glory
Just when you're getting a taste for worship
They start bringing out the hammers
And the boards
And the nails

Now that's a gloomy chick...

That's all for now.

First Blog

Hello out there in the blogosphere. Or is it blogisphere? I have trouble spelling made up words. And Hebrew words. What is worse, I actually have no intention of spell checking this blog because…well… it's a blog. If you have some kind of grammatical OCD, I strongly suggest that you read no further! I'll just upset you with my utter indifference to punctuation and my unwillingness to figure out how to spell check from the blog.

This is my first blog. I’m writing it in an effort to create a cyber community – something which I have no time to do in real life because I’m on the computer. That’s a lie. I just said that to make you like me.

So I'm a mom (reform, not conservative or orthodox) a singer and an actor and a playwright and a director and I travel with and perform my own solo musical. This is ironic because as a rule, I don't like musicals. My musical is a theatre piece in which the songs emerge organically from the narrative which is how I like it for now. I may change opinions about that at some point - in fact I hope I do since it will give me a broader range of what I can write about while still getting to sing. I'm a really good singer but my curse has been that I like to sing in a bunch of styles and I'm good at all of them so it was a question of "where's my voice?" Writing this piece helped me sort that out. I realized that my voice is to channel all the characters and singers that I've met and heard, to tell stories and to try to make sense of the struggles we all endure through the aforementioned activities. I'm particularly interested in how much weight we put on individual choices when no matter which direction we go on our brief journey on this planet, we are bound to face great disappointments and if we're lucky, irrepressible joy.

So right now, I lead a double life. I was told recently that I'm "intra-coastal" I like that. It sounds like a cross between a medical procedure and a sexual proclivity. What it means is, I travel between the Bay area and Los Angeles in my pursuit of the Canadian Dream...which is to attain the American Dream but with a smaller car and fewer calories. I am doing my solo show (wedding singer blues) at the Hayworth Theatre at 2509 Wilshire BLVD. THe Hayworth is run by Danna Hyams and Gary Blumsack and they are awesome people. They need a website and/or a myspace so more people can know about their beautiful space. It's truly lovely and they have their hearts and minds in the right place - great offerings - intelligent and entertaining theatre.

I am hoping to get my show to NYC (isn't everyone?) and I'm working on a screenplay version as well as a couple of cable-only TV pilots. I'm also working with a booking agent to do some one-night stands around the country. It's fun. Every night I hear my own message about pursuing one's dreams. It's a powerful experience.

I love theatre and it saddens me that it appears to be a dying art form. That's too bad since there's nothing like live performance. To be sitting in the darkness with a bunch of strangers, sharing an experience that can never be replicated - that's something! It's not the same just to go see a film. You still have the synergy with the other audience members but no connection with the performers (the one exception being Purple Rose of Cairo where the character walks off of the screen and becomes three dimensional because he's so captivated with Mia Farrow....apparently he hadn't spoken with any of her ex-lovers....). I love to have performers so close to me that I can smell them, make eye contact with them, be spit upon by them. I know that probably sounds kinky, but hey we all gotta get our kicks somehow.

Some theater that I have really enjoyed: a) anything by Culture Clash. They are insightful and painfully funny. They use their humor like a scalpel to dissect our not-so-benign racist assumptions, the history of this country and the way we all can turn our marginalizing eye inward on ourselves. They are also really fucking funny. Can I say fuck on this site? I guess I'll find out b) anything by Mary Zimmerman, especially Metamorphosis. Mary Zimmerman creates lush, visual feasts. Lyrical theatre custom-fitted for the actors in the piece. She makes them all look like geniuses. I love someone who makes my hairs stand on end c) anything by Tony Kushner. I am about to commit theater heresy right here and now and say that Tony is suffering from Eugene O'Neil-itis. He is smarter than anyone around so no one has the balls to say "dude, your play is too long, cut it." I mean this is the guy who wrote Angels in America so who are any of us to say.... I love him, he's brilliant AND Homebody/Kabul was two plays. Yeah, I said it. d) Charlie Varon is brilliant. He is my favorite solo performer right now. Check out his website for more info: Charlie marries keen satire with impish fun with a bluntly honest look at the demons that haunt us. He is one of the unsung heroes of the theatre world.

By the way, I am Canadian so you can't accuse me of being pretentious if I spell theatre with an re instead of an er. It's just how I was raised. I pronounce words funny and apologize a lot too. I’ve lived in the US for a very long time now so sometimes I will spell theater with an “er.” If this inconsistency infuriates you, I humbly refer you to paragraph one of this blog.

I haven’t figured out why I’m doing this blog. Boredom? Narcissism? Loneliness? A writing outlet for a hopelessly goal-oriented person? Peer pressure? I guess I’ll find out as the days progress.

Why do you blog?