Wednesday, January 09, 2019

On Death

Let me say at the beginning, this narrative is not for everyone.  It was pointed out to me yesterday that one should write as if writing to one person. I have taken this to heart and here it is.  The personal audience for this missive will know who they are and why I am writing it.  To anyone else who is squeamish reading about death, dying and religion; maybe you should check out another blog.  I suggest  Chip Martins - Chip off the block  and you can thank The Dale Brown for making it available.
That said, you have been notified and metaphorically clicked the box that agrees with TWIAS “terms of agreement”. 

Rather than watch television speeches last night I went to Happy Hour at Larsens (my favorited neighborhood hang) with some dear friends.  The conversation wandered around every topic except politics. It eventually settled on “Death and Dying”.  One of my friends admitted to being afraid of the process and ultimate results of their own death.   In an effort to belay the fears of my friend I found myself expressing my own inner thoughts about the subject. The one thing that I am NOT afraid of is my own death. I wanted to re-express my feelings in “hard copy” to remind not only my friend but myself.  
It is hard to even mention death without touching on religion.  It is, however, the third rail in any discussion.  Death has been around a lot longer than any religion. People have been dying and seeing things die around them much longer than there have been savior surrogates.  Death has been a reality long before there were philosophies to even attempt an explanation.  To my thinking religion was created mainly to deal with the idea and result of death.  
My friend was raised Catholic.  I was raised Methodist, so most of what we know about the “afterlife” is a concept embraced and drilled into us  by the practitioners of these philosophies. And none of the people telling us how to get to heaven have ever experienced it before.  So what we have been taught about life after death is no more valid than what we know about Santa’s North Pole headquarters.  For my thinking, none of the Judo-Christian stories about heaven, hell and how you get there, make any logical sense. If there is only one thing I believe regarding Omniscience, it would be this: it operates absolutely.
To contemplate what happens after death you have to think about what we are when we’re alive. I do not believe like the “right to life people”  that life is created at conception.  If life is created when a human sperm and a human egg come together... then we should worship the sperm and the egg since they are capable of creating a human soul that lives forever.    Logic and science tell us that energy can  be neither created nor destroyed it simply changes form. I believe that is absolutely true of human life as well.  We “were” before this body and we “are” after this body has worn out.  The body is a vehicle used by our consciousness to explore the a physical universe.  It is the same as driving a car we use to get around.  A car is controlled by a human, but it is not the human.  Same idea with a physical body.  
Rather than a soul, I like to think of my identity as “consciousness”.  I believe my consciousness was around before I took over this body, and it will be around after this body wears out.  When my consciousness no longer embraces a physical body or relative universe it exists in a state of Absolute constant. In the state of Absolute, consciousness (man) and Omniscience (God) are codependent.  One can not exist without the other.  Omniscience is all knowledge (God) and consciousness (man) is the acknowledgement of all knowledge.  Knowledge can not exist without the “knowing” of its own existence.  Therefore God is always knowing and Man is always acknowledging, eternally. 
Why we need to be here on this level of human existence will not be dealt with in this blog.  I have my own theory but I have only a short time on this soap box.  With this writing I am only trying to explain to a friend that death is neither the beginning nor end of  life. As a caterpillar changes (dies) in one form the Butterfly appears (is born) in another form.  They are the same and they are completely different they are one but unrecognizable to each other.  I do not believe that a caterpillar can only change into a butterfly because a butterfly who lived 2000 years ago died “for” all other caterpillars.  
That is “mystory” you may feel differently... someday we will all know the truth. 
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Looking Back

I have been writing this blog since 2006.  It was a daily contribution for several of those years. It started out as a memorialization of my adventure with “Jay Johnson: The Two and Only” as it ambled its way to the Helen Hayes Theater. For a while it seemed like so much was happening surrounding me and the show that it was impossible to write about it all.  That New York adventure culminated in a Tony Award and I received positive confirmation on the “writing” of the show book. 
Thirteen years later, after a year  defined by the number of good friends I’ve lost, I have developed a weird kind of writers block.   I realized after almost a life time of introspection that I am at heart a story teller.  In fact we are all story tellers and even describe our past as History (to be gender neutral Thestory). We look around us and take possession of the thoughts, dreams and ambitions with which we want to be aligned.  Some are better at expressing “thestory” than others, but we all have a tale to tell.  I have tried to figure out what is causing the block and I have come to the conclusion that it is not a problem with writing.... it is a problem of inspiration.
Ultimately it is not ones ability to structure a story that causes a writers block it is a failure to see the story unfolding in your life.  Over the past year I have unconsciously overlooked so many things to write about it would fill a blog for the next 13 years.  It is that block.  It’s as if my  grief has calcified into an obstacle that obsures my reason for writing.  I was telling my story to the very people who are now gone.  I still have things to write about but no one to tell the story to. It is like preparing to do a show in a theater that is empty. 
Knowing this does not help.  In fact giving reason to a problem makes the problem real.  I have been told I should just think of those who have departed as still reading the blog. However, since they are no longer on this plain of existence, they already know what I would be saying,  so why go to the trouble? (Note: I have a similar problem with prayer.  How can I presume to tell Omniscience something it does not know, nor can I suggest a solution Eternal Knowledge would not do without coaxing. Who is man that he would attempt to inform Infinite Knowledge of anything?)
A story teller needs a listener, a show needs an audience and an artist needs patrons.  Although art is created for its own sake it  only transcends when it is acknowleged.  I have a garage full of personal journals and old sketch pads which will all be junk to recycle when I leave this plain.  The question of whether any of it is art or just the raw material to make something else is moot. 
This is a new year and my resolution is to get back on the writers horse and try to ride it again.  I have no idea where the ride is taking me nor even if this horse is truly trained.  I’m just tired of being afraid to get out of the barn and see what is out there.
Here is a parable that seems appropriate.  
There is a man who builds a house on a hill  to have a 180 degree view of the ocean.  He loves this view of God’s handy work and finds peace and happiness each time he looks out his window.  One night there is a huge earthquake.  The house is built on a rock and other than some minor breaking of fragile glass items the house remains sound and intact.  As day breaks the man looks out his window to see that a large mountain has pushed its way out of the ground and towers above the standing hills.  It totally obscures the ocean view he once had.  The peaceful and beautiful view of the ocean he once enjoyed standing at that window is now gone. 
The man was religious and looked to his Bible for help.  He finds this verse which seems to be perfect, Mark 11:23 “22“Have faith in God,” Jesus said to them. 23“TrulyI tell you that if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and has no doubtin his heart but believes that it will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
The man begins to pray that this mountain obstruction to his happiness be ‘lifted up and thrown into the sea’.  He prays this way every night and every day when he wakes up the Mountain is still there.  He believes, he asks, he prays but the mountain stays in place but every day the man expects his prayer to be answered.  
One day as he wakes to look out the window he sees that the mountain is still there.  He notices how the sun casts a shadow of ultraviolet blue on the side  which seems to move and make room for the beautiful glow of the morning sun to burst on the lovely green grass. The mountain is so majestic and strong while at the same time soft and engaging.  The man felt happiness and peace in this beautiful view.  It was the answer to his prayer.
As you were,
Jay 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

What is the Truth?


Knowing that we humans only see part of the light spectrum, it is logical that other vibrations bombard us as well. Feelings are sometimes stimulated by frequencies or vibrations that do not register consciously.  I think there must be a frequency for the Truth that humans can feel, vibrating somewhere near their hearts.  I have always assumed this metaphysical  pulse vibrated and stimulated everyone in the same way but that assumption is under scrutiny.

As a matter of clarity and openness I will admit I believe TRUTH is a quality/synonym for God, but I wish to avoid any discussion of  religion.  Religion is the great divider of the Human spirit, especially today.  Although the world could probably come together with a concept of Spirituality, Religion materializes the abstract with human rules that have nothing to do with Spirituality. I have never believed an Omnipotent, Omniscient Being would require anything of a material nature to be acknowledged. But as stated earlier, this is not to be a discussion of Religion. I am just word smithing the absolute Spiritual concept we call Truth.  

The search for “TRUTH” in the name of Truth itself is the only thing that separates man from animal. The journey for Truth is a spiritual quest to find that constant, recognizable, accepted frequency felt by consciousness that is True (Absolute).  Our language is filled with images connecting frequency and  Truth. Metaphors like “felt right” or it “rings true”  and “clear as a bell” suggest a vibration or frequency for Truth. Unfortunately we have only words to explain the Truth and words, at best, are inadequate. 

I think the average person can distinguish Truth from Falsehood if they feel rather than think.  The problem is these feelings are subtle and can not be felt when bombarded with stronger negative vibrations.  It is akin to trying to hear someone talk in a loud room,  the mass of negative vibrations drowns out the tempo of Truth. Today more than ever ideas that pose as the Truth circulate the globe with electronic wireless speed.  It is easy to miss that frequency of the Truth in the pollution of erroneous vibrations.  It would be like trying to hear Brahms Lullaby played at the same moment and volume as gangster rap. Loud and threatening always trumps quiet and safe. (Symbolic verb choice acknowledged) 

No one is trying to feel the Truth nor are we even listening.  We engage in dialogue only to state our own opinion,  prove ourselves right or just to counter punch.  There is no way to distinguish the Truth if you see the messenger as Liberal or Right Wing, Black or White, Rich or Poor or just see them as “other”.  Truth is quiet and strong, Lies are loud, big and empty.  Truth is absolute, Lies are temporary.  I am continually baffled by people who, for the most part, are dedicated to living the Truth but support a leader who can be proven over and over again to be a liar.  

Thanksgiving is in two days.  The Truth is, I am benefactor of so many wonderful blessings I will forget to be thankful for the simple things I take for granted, even the freedom to write this essay. If the continuing fearful rhetoric has drowned out our ability to “feel” the Truth then we need to change our receiver to find the frequency of Truth.   
Happy Thanksgiving.
As you were,
Jay








Thursday, October 11, 2018

Life is NOT like the Movies


There was a behaviorial experiment that involved mice.  An ordinary group of mice that were getting along very well together,  were bombarded with constant irritating stimuli.  Select frequencies of sound, unpleasant to rodents, played loudly in the lab. The bottom of the cage where the mice lived was electrified and the mice would receive a non lethal shock at various times.  There was no change in their feeding schedules, they were well nourished in a common cage.
The constant irritation and unpleasant stimulation took a toll on the mice over time. They became aggressive and fought with each other but not over territory nor food which was plentiful and accessible.  With constant agitation and no let-up  the mice were driven to kill each other.  Think about that for a moment. 

Because most of our culture and mor├ęs come from the mythology of our stories, we are accustomed to having problems solved in a reasonable time. Not real problems... story problems.  A half hour comedy is about the average time we will stay focused to resolve a story.   We want to see Heroes redeemed and villains punished quickly.  It’s a happy feeling when the universe balances itself even though the universe is imaginary. That’s what a happy ending IS.

But life is not like the movies. Or is it.  Unfortunately today that line is being blurred as our modern day life is being covered like it was a movie.  Technology is everywhere. Everyone has a camera with sound and video filming life happening and it is being broadcast to millions instantly. Most of our day is spent being recorded either privately or publicly    Today Sheakspear would probably write, “The world is a MOVIE and all are mere players.”   

So we have a reality show star as a President.  It would appear that his sole purpose is to create drama with himself at the center.  There are villains and heroes in his drama but there is no end.  The 24/7 wall to wall political coverage is unrelenting. It is constant irritation with no hope of slowing down or stopping.  Like the mice in the experiment, this constant state of stress causes chemical and psychological changes in our physiology as well.

The mice had no way to control the stimulation that made them aggressive.  We humans do have the control and we are intelligent enough to understand that the stimulation is adversely affecting us in the same way as the helpless experimental mice.  Science has informed us that we must cut down on the consumption of irritating stimuli. However, the same group that denies humans play a part in climate change will also deny the viability of any science they disagree with including this one. 

Here is what I propose.  A DAY WITHOUT POLITICS...especially any story, punchline or outrage that involves the ringmaster of incompetence, Donald J. Trump.  Admittedly a single day will not do much.  A week, a month or, please God, a year would be enough to show a definite correlation between Trumps manic desire for attention, and violence.  Let’s shun and ignore Trump.  As a classic narcissist Trump, does not care about being President, he only craves the attention he gets as President.  Not giving him any publicity much less the attention he lives for will upset him “biggly”, and while we are accomplishing that good deed we will absolutely be healthier for it.  

It is a pipe dream that the US press would or could ever ignore Trump and members of his Reich for a day much less any longer.  But I can ignore him for as long as I want to.  The television also has an off switch, and I can set my iPhone to ignore “notifications”.  I can forego Facebook for at least a day, and recover a portion of my sanity. 

I choose November 22, as the “DAY WITH OUT TRUMP”.  That happens to be the anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy.  Nothing symbolic about the day, it is just a date that I will never forget.  I can think of no day in my lifetime that changed politics more than that single day in history, so it is relevant. 

I am not starting a #daywithoutTrump and have no real desire to go viral with this idea. Trump has become, to those who hate him and love him, an addictive habit as hard to quit as any drug.  There is no way the country will go cold turkey to quit him.  As for me, I’m going to give it a try.  I might lose some of my manufactured hate and be able to think of good things for a change. 
As you were, 
Jay

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Halloween ZEN



It is officially Halloween season, although I saw Christmas decorations for sale at Macy’s today,  can we please celebrate my favorite holiday before we have to think about Christmas.  Halloween is exactly one month away.  Perhaps with all the division in our country right now, we can forget our differences and all come together for Halloween.  

Halloween is a great holiday.  Perhaps it is not so much an official holiday as it is more of a custom or cultural tradition.  Whatever Halloween is, it always occurs at my favorited time of year.  I have done more than my share of thinking about Halloween.  Ventriloquism and Halloween are forever linked in my mind and life as a performer. (If you own a Theremin , you should play it now. It would fit the mood. ) 

With a lot of study and several decades of Halloweens in my past, I have come to a steadfast principle for humanity.  

There are only two kinds of people in the world, Those people who love Halloween, and those people you shouldn’t associate with.   

Who doesn’t like some aspect of Halloween?  They hook you as a child.  You dress up... and strangers  give you candy just for repeating a simple chant. My traditions for Halloween are particular and well ingrained in my habits.  

Halloween (for me) is gothic horror and dark magic,  not Casper the Friendly Ghost- Halmark card-cute. My apologies to all you who like to dress up like fairies and princesses. I prefer sensual vampires and mystic sorcerers.  But this darker slant on Halloween does not mean that everyone must celebrate the season my way. That is the best thing about Halloween, every person is free to celebrate in any way as much or as little as they wish.  There are no religious requirements nor family togetherings required. Just candy.


There have been some ugly things going around all media's particularly social, lately.  But it seems we can’t agree on what is ugly and inappropriate. It depends which side you are on.  I have contributed to this cesspool of negativity, so here is a picture to celebrate Halloween season.  



As you were,
Jay

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Judgement of Kavanaugh


I don’t know why the rush is on to confirm Kavanaugh.  He has obviously not been vetted enough, and if confirmed will be a Supreme Court judge for life.  If we are stuck with him for life it might be a good idea to take a few months to get to know who he is.  
At this point all we know is that he was Ken Starr’s attack dog during the Clinton investigation. As part of the George W. Bush whitehouse he was part of the lie that dragged us into the Iraq war. More recently during his tenure as a Washington District judge he  stalled decisions so that an incarcerated young woman would have to give birth to a child rather than have the abortion she wanted.  AND we now know that he has been accused of attempted rape when he was a senior in high school.  

I very much doubt that this allegation of rape can ever be determined to the satisfaction of either side.  However, what does the mere revelation of Dr. Ford’s accusation reveal? 

Brett Kavanaugh grew up in an expensive private, catholic, boys school, known for catering to the Washington privileged and wealthy.  Under age drinking and disregard for the law seems to be rampant at Georgetown Prep. Because these “young men” are  the upper orbit of the ultra privileged, their total disregard for the law and school rules went unpunished.   Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate Mike Judge wrote a tell all book about his days as a drunken teenager at that very school.  In his book he tells the story of a person named “Brad Kalahan” who passed out drunk on the campus lawn coming home from a party. It would seem to be a very obvious pseudonym for his classmate Brett Kavanaugh.  Kavanaugh’s accuser Dr. Ford, says Mike Judge was the stumbling drunk friend in the bedroom when she assaulted by Brett “Kalahan” Kavanaugh.  Both men deny even attending this party. Neither man has stated that they “never attended any drunken high school party”. However, Kavanaugh made this statement about those days at his alma mater:  “What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep.”  

Regardless of the outcome of the rape allegation the fact that he was an obvious “party boy” at Georgetown Prep, in my book, disqualifies him.  This is not a generalization that every person who graduates from that school is unqualified, nor do I believe everyone should be punished for their unruly behavior in High School. There are plenty of people who have made excellent citizens after behaving very badly as a teenager. In fact those who have grown up experiencing the effect of their own cause can have a better insight into the difficulty of resisting temptation.  There are also many recovering Alcoholics who have become great contributors to society. BUT,  In every case the person’s value comes from their admission of  bad behavior and repentance.
But we are not talking about just any bad behaving teenager from an expensive Washington prep school: we are talking about THIS graduate from THIS particular school. 
Kavanaugh is “applying” for a life time appointment as the highest  judge in our Nation. He will rule and pass judgement on every person in America. How can he know the impact of his ruling when he is unrepentant and knows nothing of what it means to be punished for bad behavior.  Kavanaugh, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, has never been called out nor punished for breaking the law.  From Georgetown Prep he continued up the legal ladder to become upper crust of the Washington cesspool.  Because of his wealth, Like our President,  Kavanaugh has no idea how the average American lives.  He has never suffered from his own bad behavior.  He has not even acknowledging that he once broke the law and atoned for it.... or do we really know,  based upon a partisan two day judicial committee  hearing? ( And a committee of rich white men of the same ilk as Kavanaugh to boot.)
  
The Supreme Court operated for an entire year with only 8 judges because this fine committee would not even hold hearings for President Obama’s pick.  We will be stuck with Kavanaugh for the rest of his life, surely we can take a few more weeks to discover more about him.  For instance how can he afford his house, life style and his country club dues on his salary as a DC District judge? 

I have met and socialized with Clarence Thomas, who has always had a cloud of sexual inappropriateness over his appointment.  We seem to be heading to yet another appointment with an even darker cloud of sexual assault on his head. Clarence Thomas should have been disqualified, not for his bad behavior toward Anita Hill. Anita Hill became a distraction that obscured the real reason he should not have been appointed. Thomas should not have been appointed because he is not smart enough to be a Supreme Court Judge. He has turned out to be one of the worse Supreme Court judges of modern day but got the votes by accusing the committee of “high tech lynching”.  Yes he played a 1991 race card and it worked.  

The congress has no moral high ground on this decision to rush in Kavanaugh because of their decision to stop the Judge Garland nomination. This unethical decision gave us an eight judge court.. for a year.  Now however there is a rush to fill this Kennedy seat so we have a “full” court.   The rush is on to get Kavanaugh on the bench because this congress wants to stack the deck while they deal the cards. It doesn’t matter what his character is as long as he will rule against Roe vs Wade.  Two judges, Thomas and Kavanaugh, who don’t seem to believe that women are equal humans should not be allowed to rule on a woman’s right to choose.  Again, Kavanaugh will have the job for the rest of his life and probably the rest of mine as well, I would personally like a little more time to find out what kind of a man he is.  
That is the way I see it... you may see it differently.  You are welcome to your opinion as well. But if you are expecting to engage me in some sort of challenge to my opinion, that will not be the case here. 
As you were,
Jay


Friday, September 14, 2018

The Pirates of the Congress


I have an analogy that may not be the perfect metaphor but for me it is a cautionary tale.  Currently Congress is trying cut way back on social security benefits including Medicare.  I am neither politician nor economist but I do possess a normal amount of common sense.  Social Security and Medicare are not gifts from a benevolent government.  Every employer takes money out of your pay check and sends that money to the government earmarked for your retirement needs. You don’t pay taxes on the money when it is taken out of your salary, but you do pay the taxes on the money when you start receiving it.  It is not free money but it is definitely your money. In principle that money is held by the government as a quasi-saving account that is used for your personal benefit when you reach retirement.  It is your money and my money...not the governments money.... that is never to be forgotten.
Here is my cautionary tale.  
In the rock and roll days of the 80’s comedy clubs,  there were at least two major comedy clubs in ever town of any size. A comedy club is an easy convert from any type of business.  You just need a bar to serve drinks (sometimes food) a small stage and a microphone on a stand. All a comedy club needed to draw a crowd was a funny comic who people wanted to see.  The “product” of a Comedy club was the presentation of comics. 

At first it was a reciprocal deal. Club says to the comic, “If you perform and draw a crowd I will give you part of my profits for the evening.” With more people there, more drinks and dinners were sold.  Comics did well and their salary was somewhat based on their “drawing power”. 

Pretty soon the club was drawing crowds based upon the fact that they were known to employ funny comics.  They said, “How can we make more money given the fact that we are sharing the bar profits with the comic?”  So.... they decided to make the show a “Two drink minimum” making twice as much from the same number of people.  Comics were fine with this because they shared in the increase. 
But that was not enough for the Club. They wanted to keep all the profit from the increased bar sales. So they said, “Comics will no longer get a percentage of the bar profit, we will charge a “cover” or “door charge” and that will be the comics salary.”   Depending on the size of the club and how well the comic could draw, that deal was okay, if not as profitable as the bar percentage.  

This was the standard for awhile, but as the club saw the amount of money that was being taken in “at the door” they said, “We need to keep some of that money.” So the comic was then offered a “percentage” of the door charge.  (A fee that was set up originally as the comics salary.)  But that was eventually not enough.  The club decided that the percentage would begin only after the Club recouped a certain amount of money.  In my day it was a percentage after $6000.00 profit, at the door.  After some time even these contracts were reserved for comics that were a sure draw.

Comedy Clubs are not the steam roller they once were.  They are still around but paying comics minimal salary or “letting” them do a “showcase” for free.  But they do not exist in the numbers they used to.  The greedy clubs were the ones that disappeared first. 

The point is... the minute money was coming in the club decided it was all theirs.  Once the money started coming in the rules changed. Substitute government for the word club and American worker for the word comic and you will see the connection I do.  In a congressional spread sheet the legislators can, with a mere accounting post, take the money you have paid in away from you to use for themselves.  They are trying to make up for the government money short fall from giving tax breaks to the rich by using YOUR money.   The money that was "set aside" for your future benefit. It is greedy, it is uncaring and it is doomed to failure. How long will the workers be willing to have money taken out of their salary, in addition to the taxes they pay, so that the government can fund the rich.  When you are no longer contributing money, because you retired from the work force, you are useless to the government.  Becoming old and sick is your fault, you should have made more money and put some away for these "emergencies".  But wait wasn't that why the whole social security system was set up for, just that contingency?  

The clubs that did not treat its comics well did not survive.  A capitalistic government that does not treat its workers well will not survive either.  This is not an illegal immigrant taking your job, this is the government taking YOUR money. Vote for people who understand this principle.

As you were,
Jay