Thursday, December 31, 2009

Done with Decade one of Century 21
The fiscal year end of my corporation is also the calendar year. So it is rare that I come to a New Year's Eve in a happy mood. I hold my breath hoping that we have withheld enough to pay the cover charge for living in Los Angeles, California, USA. It is the hope that next year will be better than the year before that weighs on my mind tonight.

Show business in never going to be a stable job. You are up and you are down and the perception is never the reality. People see your name in the paper and assume that publicity is comparable to income. Popularity and prosperity are not the same thing.

I can never remember a time when I came into a new year knowing exactly how much I would make, where I would be or when I could plan a vacation. There was one year I thought I knew, there was enough work on the books that I didn't have to be concerned about the monthly nut. However, by March of that year my entire calendar had changed and the tour I thought was a certain, cancelled. It was a year to punt and scramble.

The Broadway opening of my show was postponed three times, triggering a fire drill to make up for the jobs I turned down in anticipation. There was no way to make them up, I just hoped that there would be others.

During the SOAP days we were always 13 weeks from cancellation. After the fourth year of uncertainty we all began to settle in and made plans to return in the fall, that May they canceled the show.

But at the end of each year I realize that some how we made it. Somehow the jobs were there and it didn't matter if they were not booked so far ahead. But economic memory is very short and the lesson that prosperity is a state of mind not a balance sheet is hard to hold onto.

The last time the drain backed up I remember calling the plumber and thinking, "here is a job that wasn't on his calendar this morning." Doesn't he sit around and hope that there will be enough leaks and clogs to make his mortgage. Rarely to people schedule a pipe break. In that way I feel rather like a plumber, with one huge exception. The prospects of a pipe leaking or a drain clogging are greater than someone waking up saying, "We need a show, call a ventriloquist and see if you can get him out here this morning."

I hope that 2010 is better than 2009, as I hoped 2009 was better than 2008, etc. etc.... and I am sure I am not alone. Maybe there is something we can all do to make it so, and if you figure out what that is... let me know.

Happy New Years Eve,

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another View
A view from the balcony the day we left New Jersey. I am told it continued to get colder.

This balcony became a ring side view of Captain Sully's plane landing in the Hudson river. It landed just to the right of the tall building. The regular occupant of this apartment said he had a coffee and watched history unfold.

As you were,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Picture's Worth 1000 words...

This was the view of Manhattan out the windows Christmas Eve day. Pretty spectacular. Of course by Christmas Day it was raining and continued through the week end. Even with this view I am glad to be back home in So.Cal. I have promised myself never to drive in the State of New Jersey again. The freeway system was obviously designed by monkeys without rulers.

Today I officially ran out of things to write. I have reached the end of my blogging abilities.

As you were,

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Two and Only in New York

Having just returned from New York I am planning a trip back. Here are the details that appeared in the blurb producer Dan Whitten sent around over the Holidays.

Personally I have never liked this poster, but it seems the New York producers love it. I don't think you can judge The Two and Only by a poster anyway, but I hope it doesn't turn people off from attending. This will be a great space to see the show.

I get letters all the time from people asking when the show is in, Chicago, Atlanta, Florida etc. Not sure when we will be in those places yet. However, if you are in New York the weekend of Jan 8-10 come on by.

New York, NY (December 7, 2009) – Jay Johnson: The Two and Only!, winner of the 2007 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, will return to New York, producer Dan Whitten of TIGER Theatricals announced today. The one-weekend only event will play from January 8-10, 2010, at Theatre at Saint Peters (54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue).

Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! had its Broadway premiere at the Helen Hayes’ Theater in September 2006, following an extended run Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre in 2004. The acclaimed show also played London’s West End, and cities across America (and is at Los Angeles’ Colony Theatre from December 3- 15). During the Broadway season, Jay’s famed puppet ‘Bob’ was inducted into the Smithsonian Institution where he resides today.

Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! is written and performed by Jay Johnson; Created by Jay Johnson, Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel and directed by Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel Produced by Dan Whitten and TIGER Theatricals

Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! will play the following performance schedule: Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are $45 and are available online 24/7 or by calling (212) 935-5820 Monday-Friday from 12-6PM. Student rush tickets will be $25.00 and available (cash only) at the box office; limit 2 per valid student ID, and they may be purchased any time on the day of performance. see for more information on the show

As you were,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Jersey

Just a quick thumb typed note to say that driving in New Jersey is a challenge even for a Los Angelian. The Jersey philosophy being why build another lane of traffic when a "merge" sign is so cheap? And the maximum protected space between merging cars is no greater than the average coat of paint or rust depending on the age of the vehicle.

Seems that we are staying a great distance away from all the family we need to see, although our temporary abode is beautiful. A 14th floor view of Manhattan with the Hudson in the fore ground.

Happy holidays to all.
As you were,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday -
I am doing a show I wrote for the Performing Arts Center called "The Gift" today and tonight. It is their dance show for the holidays. I wrote it last year and performed the role as narrator, they asked me to reprise the role this year. I'm glad I can do it.

It really is great to see how the older students at the Performing Arts Center School have grown and watch the new students start their dancing career. I am always amazed by the talent and dedication of dancers. This will be my swan song for the year. No more shows until I go back to New York on Jan. 7th to do "The Two and Only". Everyone I have talked to is looking forward to a better year in 2010. '09 and '08 were really not the vanguard years of the past for anyone I know.

I have started hearing everyone refer to the new year as "twenty-ten" not "two thousand and ten" which is a change. I suppose we have finally graduated from the "aught" years. The old timers used to refer to the early 1900's as "nineteen aught six". I think it would correctly be "nineteen naught six". The definition of "aught" is "anything at all", while "naught" is a synonym for zero.

This brief bit of semantic correctness is brought to you by the letter "J" and the number "0".
Cue the music :
Fade Out

As you were,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gary Larson
Sometimes when people ask me what I would want to be if I was not doing what I am, I tell them I would like to be a cartoonist like Gary Larson. Funny and irreverent and a job that only requires a pen, paper and imagination. Someone told me that between his books, his cartoon strip, calendars, cups, postcards and greeting cards each one of his drawings was licensed about eleven times.

On this holiday season I am reminded of one of his cartoons. There is a reindeer with a large red nose sitting in the leather chair of his macho den. Around him is a gun rack and the mounted heads of several reindeer with the names Donner, Cupid and Blitzen. The caption is simply:
"All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names."

Sort of fits my bipolar thoughts of the day.
As you were,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday and ....
That is as far as I got writing my blog this morning as my fingers stumbled on the keyboard and published the entry. I did not know that I could publish and entry with a key stroke. I doubt that I could recreate that sequence of events again.

The Colony run is over and I really miss it. There is a phenomenon that I can never get used to, but it occurs every time I do the show in town. Only days after I close there are some who say, "I missed your show. The next time you are in town, let me know. I would love to come." Since it has been 3 years since my show was in town, I tried my best to let everyone know it was here. It was booked a year in advance. At times I thought I was being a little too pushy, and some people got multiple notices just because I didn't want to miss anyone who might want to come. I sent emails and FaceBooked initiations. Well, we closed on Sunday and those same people, people I know I sent invitations to are now saying to me, " I missed your show. The next time you are in town, let me know. I would love to come." Bull shit. I don't believe it. People who want to come, will come. To the rest... this is the official notice that you are on your own.

I am trying to get excited about the run at the York Theatre in New York. For some reason it just doesn't seem real to me yet. I can't find that excitement that New York has always held. I'm sure it will come it just hasn't found it's time yet. We have to get through the holidays and all.

I do mean "get through" the holidays. For me that is sometimes an effort. I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world and have been for a long time. She is the original Christmas Elf and sets her joy clock each year with the Christmas Holidays. Now you might think that this joy and happiness of the season would rub off on me, but I am the original Grinch. I have to look for ways to turn my depression of the season into a positive. And, for some reason my psychosis is such that it is not important just to be depressed, it is necessary for me to make sure everyone to knows that I am depressed. That makes my attitude take a very toxic turn for the next few weeks. After years of being around me, this Anti-Christmas feeling is nothing new to my family. Each year I think "this is the year I will be able to keep it to myself," and each year I can never find the lid shut it off.

So... I am trying to recall good memories of the times, and there are many. It is a matter of what you dwell on.

I remember the time my youngest son said, "Is Santa Claus real, Dad?" Of course I tried to tell him that the Santa was the spirit of Christmas, the symbol of selfless giving and the icon of the season. He was having none of it. After listening to my esoteric explanation he said, "Is there a really a man with a white beard and a red suit that comes down the Chimney?" He wanted as simple answer which in that case was "No." He was satisfied. Not disappointed except in my first answer.

I may not post every day, like I have been doing for awhile. My new rule is: If you can't find something funny or humorous to say then shut up.
As you were,

Monday, December 14, 2009

On to New York
The Colony was a total success. Great audiences, great shows, full houses and I even sold a couple of paintings. Today I will have to go over and close the gallery and clean out my dressing room. Not my favorite part of the show... the closing. I would rather just be taking a couple days off and going back there.

Now it is on to New York for a four day run at the York Theatre Jan 8 through the 10th. It will be great fun to be back in New York for a while, although I understand it is as cold as the proverbial witch's... well you know. But for those of you on the East coast who have climitized yourselves to the elements, see you there.

Rant of the day goes to a case reported in the LA Times yesterday. A girl was suspended from her High School for two days for posting a video of herself and other girls "name calling" and maligning one of their class mates in a very vicious way. The victim was humiliated and told the councilor that she could not come to school to face all the people who had watched it.

The suspended bully sued the school and won a judgement based on the principle of "free speech". It seems the court ruled the school did not have the right to punish the bully since the posting did not create substantial disruption to classes. But here is the kicker.

Her father was her attorney. In a statement he said the "school did not have the right to act as 'super parent' " I think she needed a super parent since there is obviously no parenting from her Lawyer father now. Not only did he not teach her that bullying and hurting some one's feeling is wrong, he rewarded her behavior by making it a "freedom of speech" case. How many wrong signals did he send his teen age daughter.

I am wondering what he would have done if it had been his daughter on the receiving end of the bullying? Perhaps his idea of freedom of speech and punishment would have been altered. Not all lawyers are scum, but there are enough to taint the profession. There are modern legal nerds who care more about the letter of the law than the spirit or feelings of intent; those who want their pound of legal flesh even though it kills the host.

Can we not teach kids that the cyber world of instant communication has its consequences? If they are going to have the right to use this technology, they also have the responsibility to use it humanely and politely. I don't think calling cyber bullying freedom of speech is any more reasonable than calling it a loan when the bully beats you up and steals your lunch money.

As you were,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Closing the Two and Only
We close Sunday night. This has been one of the best runs for this show since we began at the WhiteFire on Ventura Blvd. We still have three shows to do and I am trying to make time stand still to relish them. No pressure, nothing riding on it except to do the best show we can night to night. I really hate to see it come to an end, but every run must. When I first started on the road to Broadway, one of my most enlightened friends said, "This show is sort of a spiritual journey for you, isn't it?" I had never thought of it that way, but it is certainly what the show has become for me.

Barbara Beckley said before we opened that it would all go too fast and she is absolutely right. The days have streaked by and there has not been a down audience yet. I still think that this is the perfect marriage between theatre and show. I just works so well here. Every seat is good and every seat has been mostly filled.

Thursday night we had to stop to show when someone in the audience became ill. That is something that I never had to deal with before. It happened during my story about meeting Art which is one of the more heartfelt moments. It suddenly became obvious that we needed to turn up the house lights and get someone help. After a brief bit of unrehearsed excitement we were back into it. As the paramedics were helping the man from the audience he turned to me and said, "Very nice show".

I truly wish that I could do this show every night in a theatre like the Colony for audiences like we have been experiencing. I will try to curb my manic depression and not see it as the closing night, but a start to the next run where ever that might be. And for now that will be in New York at the York Theatre opening for a four day run Jan. 8th. Heads up to my New York friends.
As you were,

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Best Thank You
This is a "Thank you" or actually "Thak" you letter I got from Ruben who was at the matinee last Sunday. He is the 10 year old son of a friend.

Ruben wins the prize for best Thank you note of the run and perhaps the season.

Thanks for the thoughtful note and the big laugh, Ruben.
As you were,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The New Rancher
Tired of the confines of the city and wanting some solitude a guy builds his dream house in the middle of a Nevada desert. After the house is completed he sits on his new porch, alone, enjoying the endless view. On the horizon he sees a dust cloud. The longer he looks, he realizes that the cloud is getting closer and closer. Finally the cloud is close enough for the man to see that it is a horse and rider far off in the distance riding toward him.

Hours later the rider and horse arrive at the porch of the mans house. "Howdy, " the rider says, "My name is Anderson... I am your closest neighbor. I live about three quarters of a day's ride due east of you here. I just wanted to ride by and say welcome to the neighborhood."
"Well thank you" said the new home owner.
"As a matter of fact," says Anderson, "I am throwing a party in your honor, sort of a welcome to the neighborhood party at my house tomorrow night. I hope you like drinkin', gambling, eatin', fightin', and having sex cause there is going to be plenty of that. Just allow enough time to get there by 8:00pm."
"That sounds great... is there anything I can bring?"
"Naw, I got it covered, " says Anderson "....just gonna to be the two of us."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I Blame Phil Donahue
If you don't know Phil Donahue or the Phil Donahue Show then you probably don't remember a time when you had to find a pay phone to call home. The Phil Donahue Show still holds the record for the longest continuous run of any syndicated talk show in U.S. television history. (Deal with that Oprah). His was the first talk show to have "controversial" guests on. There would be the cross dresser or the atheist or the occasional sex addict, tame by the guest list on the Jerry Springer Show today, but pushing it in the 70's and 80's. Phil is intelligent and could take a neutral position as host that was provocative, but not aggressive or insulting to his guests. But because of his success and innovations he may have ushered in an era of opinionated rudeness that thrives today.

After his interview he would take a microphone out into the crowd and let the audience ask questions of the guest. That was something new. Usually an audience was just there as a passive observer, the object of the discourse not a participant. It was a brilliant segment of the show at the time, but it was of a different time. More than a decade after his show ended and as that idea has been repeated by less able hosts it has degraded into an insult-fest of mudslinging and uncivilized rudeness.

The bastard seed of that brilliance gave birth to the Jerry Springer Show and Bill O'Reiley insult journalism. Audiences now feel they have the right and the misguided duty to comment on anything and everything they see and hear. Phil allowed the audience to ask questions. The narcissism of the crowd soon turned those questions into opinion and insults.

We have now become a society of commentors. We comment on anything and everything. Nothing is too complicated, too sensitive nor too personal that perfect strangers don't feel free to express their opinion about it. Every FaceBook action has a "comment" button, every editorial an email address and every radio station a call in number. And these comments are not for the most part researched, informed, intelligent opinions just a knee jerk ( I use the word jerk in all its contexts) reaction of "OMG WTF are you stupid?" I have written about this before in a previous blog on rudeness, but this rudeness has been born out of misguided sense of entitlement.

Maybe it is wrong to totally blame Phil. He may have invented the idea but others exploited it. He was smart and his audiences were smart back then. The IQ of the average Jerry Springer audience today is equivalent to pond algae. And Phil did, after all, have the good sense to go off the air in 1996 long before the Bush years when everyone knew they were smarter than the President.

I doubt we can get the genie back in the bottle, its sort of a free speech issue and everyone is entitled to an opinion. You can even have an opinion about an opinion, you can comment on a comment. Soon perhaps nothing will be taken as knowledge or truth just a stupid idea by some cloistered thinker with too much time on his hands...... WTF Mr. Plato?
As you were,

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

More Strange Happenings
Sunday night was the end of a really great week at the Colony Theatre. The shows are going well and the crowds have been fabulous. Spaulding (seen here) has always had a mind of his own. During the Broadway run he would more often than not miss the mark of his entrance and roll into the audience. However, until Sunday he has been performing excellently during this run.

Both shows, matinee and evening, Spaulding decided to change his part a little. The first show he bounced off a set piece and rolled into the audience after his performance. After the show he was no where to be found, and we assumed that an audience member had taken him either as hostage or as a souvenir.

Not so, actually a kindly person turned him into the lost and found at the box office. He was quickly returned to his position for the next show. During the evening performance he hit a trunk on his entrance and never made it fully on stage.

At the end of the night I went out to dinner with Sandi and the crew to the closest restaurant. We left our car parked at the Colony, and by the time we returned the parking lot was totally empty. Just as I was pulling out of my parking place, across from the entrance to the theatre, I noticed something rolling to a stop in front of me. I questioned whether I was seeing things or not, but indeed it was a tennis ball.

I stopped the car and retrieved it. It was not new but it was not abused. Just used enough that the fuzz had worn off, exactly what I look for when casting a new Spaulding. It was, for my ventriloquial purposes, perfect. The audition was good and this new actor will become a "stand by" for the real Spaulding.

I'm not sure why there was a tennis ball rolling across my path at just that moment in the evening. There are no sporting good stores, tennis courts or any other retail establishments other than the theatre near and ours was the only car in the lot at that hour. I have no logical explanation for the ball being there. I also don't know why it was the same day Spaulding decided to change his part.

As in all "strange things" and like yesterday's story with the latch, taken as just a random event it is nothing of note. But when the timing of the random event happens at a precise moment it becomes note worthy.

For me, I am always looking for signs, some sort of physical reminder that I am on the right road. I don't know why I need concrete signals but I find them comforting and so they seem to manifest around me. Since I am having such a good time at the Colony I take things like the latch and the tennis ball as markers that I am on the right trail. And if they continue to happen I will most probably follow where their lead.

As you were,

Monday, December 07, 2009

More Ghost Stories
This is a picture of the traveling set for "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" which is a simplified version of the set we had on Broadway. (Seen here in work lights. The lighting is a integral part of my show. The cases literally glow and cast beautiful shadows on cue). These cases have been part of the show since the original Atlantic Theatre run. They know their part very well by now.

At the Colony Theatre in Burbank we duplicated the set with different trunks and that is where my story begins. For three days of rehearsal and tech I walked on and around these trunks, as we prepared the show for its opening last week. Every theatre is different so there is always an adjustment to that particular space. The difference in the trunks was negligible in the total process. Everything was proceeding as it should, and then came the dress rehearsal the night before opening.

For those who have not seen the show, at one point I describe a time when my mentor Art Sieving opens up a carrying case revealing his wooden partner Harry. It is a poignant moment and I can easily take myself back to that time very clearly in my mind. Not only during this show but on other occasions in my career I have felt the unseen presence of my friend Art. This dress rehearsal was one of those times.

It was a particularly emotional rehearsal for me that evening. I was having trouble keeping my feelings in check to get through the script. My director Murphy mentioned there was a full moon and with no other reason for this night to be different, we accepted that fact as an explanation. I was sitting on a trunk stage right delivering Art's story. I said, "And he opened up that suitcase," and one of the latches on a case, stage left, sprang open. It was loud enough for the crew and the few people in the audience to hear it clearly.

I was stopped mid sentence, startled initially by the sound but then blind sided by the emotion. It was impossible for me to see this as merely a coincidence. The cases are old and the coupling of the latches are worn. It would not be so extraordinary that one would suddenly fail and spring open. However, I had been bounding all over the stage for a couple of days and the latch had not given way with my movement. It chose a time when there was no movement, I was sitting down on the other side of the stage and the exact moment I mentioned that Art opened his case, to spring open. The timing could not have been any more perfect.

I suppose you can see this incident in any way you choose, and call the phenomenon by any name you wish. To me it is just a reminder of life continuing to express itself and find a way to be known, individually. I have another week to tell the tale of Art and Harry at the Colony, I'm pretty sure they are going to be around watching.

As you were,

Sunday, December 06, 2009

One week left at the Colony. This could be one of the best combination of show and theatre there could be. The Colony is such and intimate space which compliments the connection of the story and story teller. Amazing place to do this show.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Athlete's believe that they are famous enough to command millions of dollars from being known, but not famous enough to get caught fooling around with cocktail waitresses.

Believe it Why Not?

Friday, December 04, 2009

We opened "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" last night at the Colony Theatre, in Burbank. I love this theatre. The raked and curving seats create an intimate relationship between the audience and the performer. It just seems like you can reach out and touch every person in the crowd. That connection is an integral part of "The Two and Only". It could be one of the best marriages of theatre and show possible.

I remember the last time we were at the Colony we were on track to Broadway. Our run at the Helen Hayes had just been pushed back due to the extension of their current show "Bridge and Tunnel". Things were confused about when we would open on Broadway and how much longer we had to "stay out". I couldn't really enjoy the present moment in anticipation of the coming lights of Broadway.

This time is different. We have the Tony and the goal is not to "get somewhere" with the show, now the goal is just to do the show. There is a great feeling to being in that place, and space of the moment.

That feeling of being in the "Now" has been my theme motif lately. I had gotten so far off that track, either being burdened by what I thought were past injustices, or fearful of what events were to come. There is such great fresh air in finding the current moment, even for a few seconds.

Years ago I was a brief student of a new thought teacher named Alpha Grisso. What a great name, and great lady. I really didn't know what metaphysics was at the time or anything about what she was teaching. I met her because she "turned cards" in sort of a Gypsy fortune-telling act. She was good at it because she was such a clear thinker and could read people so well.

My first "reading" with her was interesting. She spread some cards on the table, and made a couple of stock reading remarks. Then she looked directly at me for a moment and said, "You think on a different level than most around you, yes." I was to shy to agree, but at the time I did think I was a little bit of a freak, and very different from my peers. She pushed the cards aside and said, "These cards are just a focal point for the distracted mind, let's just talk a few minutes." She told me things about my own feelings that I had never expressed. Before the session was up she invited me to a class she was teaching, free of charge. It was similar to a Unity, Science of Mind or even Religious Science class. I remember she said in one of the classes, "Watch your mental mumbling." It was an admonishment to be aware of the thoughts, negative or other wise, that loop continuously through your mind.

I am trying to be more acutely aware of that mumbling as I try to stay in the now. The mumbling will lead you into the past or future if you're not watchful. I'm having a great time doing the show but a negative mumble nags with the idea that each performance brings me closer to the closing. Why is it that the human mind tries so desperately to crash the party?

"The next message you need is always right where you are"- Ram Dass, author of "Be Here Now".

As you were,

Thursday, December 03, 2009

One of Shakespeare's quotes most often repeated by existential thinkers is "There is nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so." It leads me to a concept of Joel Goldsmith which is complicated and sometimes threatening to religious concepts that are chiseled in stone.

There is a danger in quoting a philosopher or trying to paraphrase his teaching in a sentence or two. If it was that easy the philosopher would NOT have have been compelled to write volumes on the subject. Goldsmith published almost a hundred books explaining his concepts. Ultimately it is impossible to express complicated feelings of spirituality in words of any kind. The highest feelings we have toward life exists outside the vibrational frequency of sound or the symbolic scrawl of language.

Goldsmith says that we miss the true meaning of the allegory of the Garden of Eden and the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" if we do not read it very carefully. It is assumed that Eden was a world of good and eating the apple from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was the introduction of evil into that world. If this were the case it would need only to be called "the tree of the knowledge of evil". But if words are specific it definitely states knowledge of good as well.

Eating the apple was a symbol of the introduction of duality into our thinking. It was the introduction of division when there had been only one before. Eden was one, the apple was the introduction of two different concepts, good and evil. It would be easier to think of it as the "tree of the knowledge of judgement." After symbolically eating the apple, Adam and Eve knew they were naked. They judged that covering certain parts of their body were good and not doing that was evil. The tree introduced the concept of good and evil but more importantly it introduced the idea of judgment to label.

The concept of good can be as dangerous as the concept of evil if it creates a division of the one. If we are good and "they" are evil then we are right in eliminating "them". The only way to avoid the pit falls of good and evil is to stop thinking in terms of duality. What is, is. What is not, is not, and any other label you add, good, evil, helpful, harmful, religious or sinful creates a duality. Duality is a threat to the One no matter what form it takes.

"There is nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so." - Shakespeare. Sometimes theater can get it right. Support the Arts.... suggestion: "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" opens tonight at the Colony Theatre, Burbank, CA.

As you were,

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Guide for
The Manic Depressive

It's December. There is no turning back now. The juggernaut of capitalism is rolling toward each of us and there is no escape to safety. You can only shore up your defenses and try to minimize the damage.

Christmas is a celebration of useless spending and "spoiled child" desires wrapped in an altruistic and religious package that succeeds in equating the amount of love you have with the dollars you spend. For a manic depressive bipolar like myself it is the perfect storm. Each year I think experience will help me avoid the highs and lows or the year before, but the Christmas capitalistic campaign is well organized and the propaganda is pervasive.

To be clear I am not talking about the religious aspects of Christmas. The birth of Jesus, the star of Bethlehem, the wise men, the shepards in the field, the biblical narrative is a great story. I love to hear it told over and over. But the state of our country and the status of our economy does not depend on the attendance of that yearly church event. And a three foot light up plastic baby Jesus on display in the front yard does not inspire me. Christianity and capitalism make very strange "manger fellows".

As a manic depressive child to be told that some guy in a red suit would give me anything I wanted, and bring it to my house on a specific December night was the highest of highs. There were weeks of anticipation for the toy of my dreams, leading to a miserable Christmas night trying to make myself sleep but too excited to do so. Knowing that Santa would only come when I was asleep, and not being able to sleep because Santa was coming is the definition of a manic depressive.

Of course with all the preparation and all the angst-measured excitement for the day, it is after all only one day, actually only a few hours of a day. It is over about as quickly as it begins and for me the actual ownership of the worlds greatest toy never matched up to my imagination and anticipation. The let down and the lack of sleep from the days before would send me on a resounding crash.

Needless to say the past affects my perspective of Christmas present. I hope for a different outcome but just before Thanksgiving the same songs, the same colors, the same characters, the same push to give (and get) the perfect gift, tend to create the same experience. Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result? Well, there you go..

I love being with my family, but they are spread between, New York, Florida, Dallas, Los Angeles and Berlin. Unlike Santa it is impossible to be everywhere in one night.

And so it begins 23 days until Crashmas.
As you were,

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Who's Talking
One of Echart Tolle's statements had a profound affect on me. Before he wrote the "Power of Now" he was severely depressed and contemplating suicide. He woke up one morning and said, "I just can't live with myself any more." At that moment it struck him, who is this self that he couldn't live with and what self was trying to get away?

It reminds me of the typical Warner Brothers cartoon character in the midst of an ethical or moral dilemma. On one shoulder would be a miniature version of the character in a white gown and halo. On the other would be a miniature version of himself with a red horned devil suit on. The devil would, of course, give all the reasons to do the wrong thing; while the angel would plead the opposite case.

The problem in real life is that those inner characters do not wear costumes and are not so easily identified as good or bad. In fact the voices you listen to are probably an equal mixture of both, or at best have no moral or ethical principles at all. This immediately brings up the question of "who is talking to us to begin with?" which was Tolle's epiphany.

Goldsmith states that all problems stem from the believe in two powers, good and evil. Rather than realizing life as it is, we feel compelled to label it either good or bad. We want to increase the good and minimize the bad. But we use human judgment to determine which is which. Why do we decide that a dandelion is a bad flower and the rose is a good flower? Why do we destroy the dandelion so the rose can live. Aren't they both equal in purpose and life?

I think this is what Echart Tolle is saying in different words. He was saying just look at life as an eternal now, without judgment. Stop listening to the angel and the devil, because both are incorrect. Life is not the black and white, good and evil, us and them, heaven or hell, dead or alive conflict that these inner voices would have us believe.

The struggle to stop listening is difficult for me. After all I make a living by giving physical voice to those inner struggles. But today I will try to see everything as it is, not as good or bad, not as right or wrong, not as me against them. I will try to see it just the way it is.

As you were,