Friday, January 20, 2017

How Artists and Persistent Creative Expression Can Light The Way Forward

Personally, as an artist and an activist, in between bouts of despair and anger, I spent inauguration day  2017 reflecting on what I can do in my own way to tangibly engage in creating a brighter future. I've never felt a greater sense of urgency, or a greater need for hope, empowerment. And we can create both of those things, and pass them along like gifts, using whatever time we have available. Please give me feedback on this post, just a note to say what you are already doing for change, and if you are in NYC, if you'd like to chat, collaborate, work together for creative actions.

 Rallies, marches, giving money to nonprofits are great, but they are a drop in the bucket of what is needed. All artists and creative professionals can impact society for the better. Films, TV, music and theater have already proven that for generations. From poster art to viral videos, theater, dance, music, we all have ways to reach out, and prove to young voters that engagement is the key to a thriving democracy. To me, it feels like we are on life-support. We are all held hostage to the destructive politics of greed and vengeance. For now.

I am ready to work w my creative pals, NOW. REACH OUT! Lets talk! Meet for coffee! Having ideas won't be enough. Tangible results are needed, immediately. Who else is ready now to take part in a long campaign of professional slick, super creative, positive, engaging (even funny) viral videos, music, written essays, performance messaging to get Americans involved in the democratic process? Feeling helpless and resigned has lowered our voting turnout and political engagement over and over again. This goes for local as well as national politics. And here we are, facing a crisis that the entire civilized world is watching in horror. We can do something about that! And it can be fun. New friendships will be formed. Will we rise to the task, or just let humanity descend into the abyss w greed, fear, hate, and jealousy? Put aside your support of Hillary, Bernie, Stein or anyone else. The 2016 election is long, long gone, and we are living with the results of division. A new, dark reality.

Writers, actors, comics, singers, all musicians, film makers, videographers, playwrights, choreographers, publicists all can make powerful contributions to opening minds and stirring hearts that might otherwise remain passive. Marches and protests are a tiny fraction of what needs to be done. And activists expect a crackdown on public demonstrations w the new administration. Getting in line to vote once every few years is the smallest of our obligations to preserve our democracy and shape our government so it serves all. Recent generations have forgotten that. Everyone can contribute. Even simple things like calling politicians, visiting local offices have been brushed aside by the majority of citizens.

It seems inconceivable that we have to rise up to safeguard things as BASIC as science and facts in 2017. The coarsening of culture, the suppression, even elimination of ideas dishonors every American value every soldier went to war to protect for all of us. Fire is racing toward the national powder-keg of ignorance and intolerance. Millions have died to preserve freedom, inclusion and truth. Activism is extremely empowering, and if ever Americans needed empowerment, it is now. Every race, religion and demographic has a stake in what is happening.
Every hostile, ignorant, greedy, destructive, non-inclusive statement made by the new administration must be called out, overwhelmingly challenged and crushed. The world is watching, and the world is terrified. The wind is behind our backs in 2017. We can't allow ourselves to sit back in despair while the foundations of decency, fairness, civility and discourse are demolished. The harm done could be irreparable.

Now, like never before, creative people have a responsibility to use their creativity in a positive, but serious light. Artists alive in 2017 have a moral obligation to create visions of a hopeful future that will be inspiring, and not depressing, to our youth. We can do it. Yes we can.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace. Your Voice Is Needed Now.

Never been more disgusted, or humiliated. If you want to defend Trump or voting for him, I won't listen, will delete the comment without reading it. You are free to not read this or anything else I post. It's not mocking or dismissiveness, but this is my platform and I own it. I've seen enough anger in my timeline without commenting. Life is as hard for me in New York (more now w my injury) as it is for anyone in rural areas, and I am sick and tired of the "elite, fancy city folk vs poor country folk" narrative people use to justify anger, racism, fear of diversity, political divides. There are different motivations within country folk and city folk. It's not one or the other. We're all humans with the same needs and wants, all are citizens, each as patriotic as the other. He's a humiliating, degrading representative of the United States, and the entire world can see it. Except Russia.

He's a prejudiced, petty, immature and utterly immoral man that brags about intimidating and sexually assaulting women, while married to multiple wives, fathering kids that learn from his worst examples. Now, he is on his way to influence the behavior and personal standards of every man, woman and child of this generation. That's what people in power, in the public eye do. He's the rich, boorish, entitled elite person "average Americans" rail against but voted for anyway. Lately, he focuses more time on Twitter and TV shows that governing, and that is not just a partisan opinion. Even people in his own party, his advisors say this. Much of what's out there now about massive conflicts of interest and suspicious ties is demonstrably true, and out in the open regarding his businesses, Russia, debt he owes there. His defense of Putin is OBSCENE, given the crap Putin's trying to pull influencing elections and waging conflict all over the world, much less that he kills opposition and suppresses free speech. The worst sleaze about Trump w prostitutes may be true or not, but looking at Trump's record, I can't give him ANY benefit of the doubt. All TV pundits or anchors on FOX are simply paid partisan actors expressing opinion constantly to keep people outraged. Thinking Meryl's a Hollywood elite with no right to speak is laughable. FOX anchors, opiners Alex Jones, Limbaugh, Coulter get paid HUGE money, enjoy celebrity status, use hairdressers, makeup, cameras, writers and microphones JUST LIKE ACTORS. These folks get paid alot to speak hostile opinion EVERY DAY all year long, and actors don't. Trump, a media hungry "reality star" (performer) is the last person to condemn performers. He's a carnival barker angry and jealous that Hollywood and musicians are rejecting him. He's used to getting what he wants, and feels he is entitled to adoration and obedience, even from the press. As we can all see, he dwells on "getting even" with people that refuse to fawn over him and parrot his world view.

I'm glad Mery Streep spoke up! Someone has to. She has a platform most citizens will never get. Our voices will never be heard as easily as hers. If you are mad, find a way to use your voice beyond expressing resentment toward people that use theirs. Use yours to effect change. That's up to you. She knows her responsibilities as a citizen, and as someone people look up to. She spoke with more honesty, Christian values, clarity and directness than others regarding our responsibility to fight prejudice, mockery, and growing racial and religious violence nationwide since the election. She's an American, and if she can't speak, then every citizen should be told to shuttup too, do their jobs, and not comment on politics. THE END. And all she did was ask for decency and kindness to each other. The fact that anyone is upset by that IS SICK. I've seen her on set, was in Julie and Julia where she was the star, and I've seen her where she shops. She remembers the humble places she came from, and she is the LEAST affected celebrity I've ever seen, usually avoids limelight. She usually wears no makeup, dresses kinda sloppy, and blends in to the crowd. Many (not all) celebrities are like that. Just people.

All artists are Americans and as patriotic as anyone living in a suburb, on a farm, in a city, working in a factory, or anywhere else. And, last, she earned her money, did not benefit from a huge inheritance, and has not a laundry list of lawsuits against her. Its reported Trump has a total of a couple thousand lawsuits to date, with more to come. He owes $5M to the people that built his brand new hotel in DC and now has 3 liens on the property. Running a business (repeatedly failed) having a TV show and living off the loans of foreigners DOES NOT qualify anyone to run the most powerful country on Earth. A nation is not a business. No one's been able to run any country on earth that way, tho many have tried. There are far more complex needs and obligations to US citizens and to other nations. It's like saying "I have a rowboat, so you should let me captain a massive cruise ship".

I'm proud to live in a globally important city where diverse people from all over the world come together to live, work, create art and share their lives. I was proud to live in a quiet city like Memphis, but it was not for me. Instead of living in a bubble, city folks, artists pop the bubble and become citizens of the world. City people are not inherently rude, just different. Every region in the country, rich or poor, is unique. New Yorkers are happy to share with people of different incomes, nations and religions. I'm sad others fear doing the same. In New York, we all get along by choice. We appreciate our differences, be it ethnicity, religion, nationality or income.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Winter In The Beautiful Dark City

Patches of greenery and lights play on damp, dark streets
Like hopeful eyes peering from
Mile after mile of indifferent stone faces.
The plug will soon be pulled on these
The ritual is ending
Familiar, darker nights return
These happier eyes will close for the year
Our smiles fade into the shadows
The cold concrete sameness returns
Soon we forget about these lights
This glow we still want
But we are trained to wait for these
We cannot keep them forever
We are told
Or we might lose the smiles they bring

Every light is needed now.
Every window, every streetlight stands defiant
In an aching sea of stone and brick
Unending pavement, quiet rush and solitude.
Every window lit above in a mountain of concrete and steel
Says "Remember me! I am still here! This light is human too."
These windows glow, scattered in the dark sky
Not in a mass, but in their own loneliness, their own hope.
We are grateful for the restaurant signs, the lure of shops
People basking in the warmth within
We welcome less gratefully
Glowing plastic monoliths of pizza parlors, liquor stores,
Donut shops and dry cleaner signs.

The days grow longer, the nights have a much deeper darkness
Unique to this urban Winter
A tension, a palpable anxiety flows from the dark
We are bundled against the cold
We step over icy dangers
Even as our frosty breaths hang before us
Reminding us of Winters when we breathe no more

A shaft of dread passes through us this new year
New darkness casts long shadows on us
Even the days ahead seem darker now
For now we become the shadows
Even as we hope our fears wither in daylight
The Holidays are over
The dark city stands over us
No we turn on the lights where we live
Until we overtake the darkness
We must pull our own suns higher and higher