Letter From My Embarrassing Youth

April 14/83

Dear Mom and Dad;

Hi, it’s me. I guess you’re wondering why I’m writing, and I guess you’re wondering what I plan to do this summer. Well, I’m going to answer both of those questions. I’d like to hitchhike across Canada.

Now I’m sure your first reaction to this will be that I should work an (sic) make money and pay my way through university next year, but I don’t feel that way. You see, I have the energy, the spirit and the enthusiasm to try this venture right now. The problem with getting a job is that I feel it would stifle me and my artistic (that is in my writing, etc.) talents.

What I plan for this journey is intended to release my mind and make it easier for me to write creatively. The trip wouldn’t just be me running all over the country, doing nothing but looking for a good time. The whole journey is planned for two reasons: one to give me more to write about by giving me more attitudes and angles on different issues – in essence to broaden be (sic) horizon to help me write more knowledgeably. The second reason is that I, ideally, would like to write a book about the search for the Canadian identity (if there is one). The book, of course, would take a couple of years to compile and edit, but I’d like to try it. Of course if it fails, I’ve still learned a lot, haven’t I? A lot more than I might learn working at some job.

Now I’d need about $1,000 for this trip. As well, I’d again need your full financial support for university. (I guess this whole scheme sounds like I’m just as impossible as ever, but I’d like to challenge that.) All the courses I’ve taken and plan to take at university all deal with the opening of my mind – philosophically; so to get better grasp of it and my understanding and development of these ideas I think this cross-country venture would be very helpful. If I get a job, instead I work at a set amount of hours at some specified (or despecified (sic), depending on how you look at it) job. I feel this would be very stifling and, in fact, harmful to my potential as a writer, film-maker or whatever in that general field.

There is some danger in this idea, but danger is part of life and it makes life more exhilarating, does it now? What I’m trying to do is give myself more to work with creatively – I want to be as artistic and fluent in literature (film) as possible and feel this to (sic) an excellent route to such.


The Awful Writer at My Core

There is nothing so humbling as to read through one’s earliest attempts:

Hasn’t the thought occured (sic) to you that I am just an apparition, just a single brain cell in a network of billions? Of course it has, your’e (sic) only trying to ignore it, aren’t you? (From Vile Illuminations, May 1982)

Beyond the gate, the door, the way in/ Lies the jasmine sea/ Efferescing (sic) the pureness of vanity,/ An offering too great to deny or even fathom/ In the light of a persistent commonology. (sic) (From A Machine-like Collage of the Obscure, Ravenous and Divine, April 1984)imag3785Going into the watery eyes of humanity, the pitiless animal can only turn its scraggled back and wander in the tangled jungle. (From Notes on a Cross Country Journey, July 1983)

The moment as the last/Continually./Provided the cats remain cats,/For there are many other creatures,/ Such as horses that/ Most certainly,/ Would not fit through the window frame. (From Window Sill Sitting Cats, December 1984)

What’s Wrong with Model UN

The Model United Nations is all the rage these days in high schools across the United States. School clubs compete at conferences, most held at universities, in committee sessions modeled after the United Nations. What's Wrong with Model UNEach school team is assigned a specific country and topic and then debate other schools (acting as other countries) to come up with resolutions on world matters. For example, a school might be assigned India and the World Health Organization and be given the topic of International Aid for Syrian Refugees. What's Wrong with Model UNIt looks good on paper – many students use it as a tool for college applications – but it’s not as solid in practice. The problem is that students come from a place of privilege and thus have little genuine understanding of the issues, and more importantly, lack empathy. What's Wrong with Model UNInstead of solving problems, the delegates strive for personal gain, aiming for the title of Best Delegate, and in the end model not the aims of the United Nations, but its practice at its worst.

Anna Deavere Smith’s “Notes from the Field”

The time is now. It isn’t tomorrow. Not yesterday. Today. Anna Deavere Smith delivers a series of remarkable monologues – remarkable for their raw content as well as her impeccable delivery – espousing the immediacy of action in her one-woman show Notes from the Field. annadaevereMs. Smith moves through the most recent canon of youtube videos and news clips, spotlighting the on-going flagrant abuse of human rights meted by the police on our black youth. girl-beatenThe images – horrifying not only for their stark violence but also their all-too-familiar content – offer a window on a society in terrible flux, on the verge of change. freddiegrayprotestsAnd that, Ms. Smith says, is the key. It is a window of change, an opportunity to join forces and effect movement, guide the politicians toward investment in the future, not in law and order, but in chance for the disenfranchised by the decaying system, the off-spring of the psychological damaged society founded on slavery.

Ms. Smith opens and closes the show by citing Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund: “I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard.” sherrilynifill“That is the essence of good citizenship, that bone-deep sense of obligation that you must work to improve our democracy, and to improve it especially for those who are most marginalized and most in need.”

See the show! Playing in New York now: http://2st.com/shows/current-production/notes-from-the-field

Blitzer & Co: Heads Must Go

They talk. And talk. And talk. And they don’t say anything. They just talk. Blitzer & Co: Heads Must GoAnd talk some more. That’s it. They don’t say anything real. They are wrong. They are right. They are in between. They just go one talking. And talking.Blitzer & Co: Heads Must GoCan’t they be removed? Or at least replaced? Maybe Trump could fire them.

Blitzer & Co: Heads Must GoAt least he could get that one thing right.

Ice Friday: Luigi Pirandello’s “Mattia Pascal”

Oh why…I asked myself desperately…does mankind toil so to make the apparatus of its living more and more complicated? Why this clatter of machines? And what will man do when machines do everything for him? Will he then realize that what is called progress has nothing to do with happiness? 20150714_155428Even if we admire all the inventions that science sincerely believes will enrich our lives, what joy do they bring us after all?

Not Okay. Not in the Least.

No, I’m not okay. I’m not. I keep thinking that I am, or that I will be, but I’m not. I’m not.

I’m sitting here, typing these words, thinking that this might help, but it doesn’t. I can’t pretend that this is an alternate universe or that I can find a rewind button. This is where we are. This is it. Not Okay. Not in the Least.This man was elected. 60,000 million people did that. There is no sense to it, no way to frame it, no story to be told, no moral, no aspiration. Justifications and rationalizations are worth shit. It’s only a question of what happens next, who will be targeted, sacrificed, and then the next group after that, until this zeitgeist – or whatever the hell you call the communal will to send us all straight to hell is called – ends. Not Okay. Not in the Least.Until then, I’m not okay. Not in the least.

“Fire at Sea” & “Le Pointe Courte”

Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea documents the parallel worlds of refugees and residents on the South Mediterranean island of Lampedusa; the takes are long, giving the viewer time to meditate on the unfolding refugee disaster. fireatseaLike Agnes Varda’s 1964 film La Pointe Courte, the director employs local residents to be themselves, providing a context for a world beyond our comprehension. lepointecourteFishermen, it seems, understand the fragility of life. And yet, for all its powerful imagery – foil blankets electric at night, a perfectly made bed – there is something missing. 08fireatsea3-master675The images are not what they could be, still and empty perhaps as intended, but also missing the chance to engage and draw the viewer in. That said, it’s still the best film of the year.