Songs for the Struggling Artist


Non-Regulation Time Machine Dream
September 27, 2021, 1:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

TW: Death of a Loved One

A day or two after the news, my partner asked me what I needed. I said, “a time machine.”

I’m pretty sure he knew what I wanted to do with it. I’ve watched and read enough time travel fiction to know that this is usually the one thing you’re not allowed to do with a time machine if you get your hands on one. You’re not supposed to use time travel to prevent someone’s death. I know. But grief can make a person reckless and I might not worry too much about the butterfly effect if I could save my brother’s life.

I imagined showing up at the side of the road that night and delaying him long enough for that fatal motorcycle to speed by and then he could go on about his life, none the wiser. Or I could just walk him companionably further down the road to a safer intersection, maybe cross with him, after thoroughly vetting the streets.

For a few days it was just this simple. My little time machine rescue fantasy. A tiny little adjustment to save a life. But then today I thought, “Hey. In this scenario, I have a time machine! I don’t need to keep Will busy by the side of the road. I have a time machine; There’s no way my adventure-loving brother does not want to get in and start exploring.”

Like, there’s no way I turn up by the side of the road in a time machine and he doesn’t get in. I don’t know how I thought I could just turn up and slightly alter events. We’re going somewhere. We’re skipping this whole death scenario and we are off on an adventure. I don’t know where and I don’t know when but we are traveling, no question. I guess maybe I have to tell him why I turned up at the side of the road at some point but we have all of time and space so we’ll get to it. I suppose, depending on the time travel rules of this machine I have, I may have to bring him back and maybe I’d have to lose him all over again but before then, I’d get to hear all the stories he never told me, ask him a million questions and just have a good old adventure with a fellow wanderer. We never really got a lot of time together – with an eighteen year gap between us, and never having lived in the same place at the same time – but in my time machine, we’d have time enough to get sick of each other for a minute, like siblings are supposed to, and then make up. As it was, we were both sort of comets in one another’s lives, always burning brightly for a brief moment. So even if I somehow have to return him, I’m still picking him up. We’re going everywhere he wants to go. We’re seeing everyone he wants to see. No question.

But then I start to think – hey, if time machine technology exists – then maybe lots of people have them and since my brother was so beloved by so many people from all over, I could turn up by the side of the road that night and find it covered in time machines. There’d be Tardises and time turners, maps of time holes from supreme beings, hot tubs, phone booths, sports cars, complicated contraptions, rocket sleds, time jump devices, WABACS, maybe even an alethiometer for world jumping, and dozens we’ve never heard of before. It’d be a time machine festival. We don’t need to tell Will anything because suddenly it’s a party full of hundreds of people who love him who’ve all just turned up out of nowhere. We all have an amazing time and before we know it it’s morning and Will gets in somebody’s time machine (maybe mine!) and either goes on a grand adventure or just gets a ride home. Those of us with the time machines might have to spend the next few years repairing some tears in the space time continuum but it would be worth it. It would be worth it.

Normally on the blog, in this spot, I tell you about my patrons on Patreon. But today, I’d rather direct you to some things my brother cared about. He was very interested in radical mycology, which you can learn about here, here and here. This organization, Kiss the Ground, works on soil regeneration which was very important to him. Also, this is a small scale cause my brother donated to and could be easily fully funded.

 

 



2020 Year in Review
December 13, 2020, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I thought I should sum up this bananas year as I might want to remember what it was like for me, being all historical and everything. So I did a little month by month re-cap to finish out the year.

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Happy New Year! Cheers! It’s 2020! What a nice round number this is! Maybe this’ll be my year!
Twenty Twenty, so exciting.

Oh yeah, January and already things are looking up! I’m back in the rehearsal room, getting back on stage next month. It’s looking good.

Oh, February – the joys of being in a theatre full of people, pressed into a tiny dressing room with way too many actors and some unidentified randos, trying to warm up in small corners, whispering backstage so close to one another.

Oh hey, March – what’s up?
What? You want us to what?
But I can still take the subway to go see a show, right?
And hugging my friend is okay, right?

They wouldn’t shut down Broadway. They’ll never shut down Broadway.
Oh fuck, they shut down Broadway.
They shut us all down. No more theatre. Anywhere. Uhhhhhhhhhhh.

This is just a moment. It’s just a moment. We’ll be back to normal lickety split.
Let’s have those margaritas we were going to have in person on-line! So novel! So crazy, virtual drinking via Facetime.

And now it’s April and now the invitations to Zoom shows roll in. And they are all equally terrible, regardless of theatre size or reputation. Zoom is the great equalizer. Theatre on Zoom is not theatre and I should definitely write something about this but I can’t figure out how to because Zoom just fills me with existential despair, like every time, not just for theatre either. Why does every encounter with this app end with me in tears on the floor of the living room?

Tiny apartment. Tiny apartment. Terrifying trips to the grocery store. Walks past the freezer morgue trailers.

It’s May and the only thing keeping me going is my weekly on-line theatre watching “with” my friend via text and jigsaw puzzles. Thank goodness I have a silent scream practice.

June – Argggh! Arggh!

July – Arggh! Arghh! But outdoors. I’m staying at my friend’s place with grass and trees and flowers so it’s nice. But I’m on my own, which is good after being pressed together for so many months but also, I get so desperate for hugs that I start hugging trees.

August – Argh! Argh! It’s my birthday. I saw a friend. It’s my first time in 5 months. Also before I come back to the city, the power goes out for ten days from a Tropical Storm and I go full Laura Ingalls Wilder.

September – Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

October – Arghhhhhhhhhhhhh but colder and with Halloween decorations.

November – A one day celebration in the street on the day the election is called. A day of euphoria and a lot of cars blaring YG & Nipsey Hussle’s “FDT” – which frankly we should have been blaring for the last four years but it was very satisfying to hear everywhere on this day. In fact, it’s how I found out the election had been called. Our downstairs neighbor started playing it at top volume and then I heard some cheers and I knew what all that meant.
Later in the month, a neighbor has dressed his scary chainsaw wielding psycho dummy in a turkey suit and just like that Halloween décor becomes Thanksgiving décor.

December – Time to collect the year’s best into the yearly zine and sum it all up and it’s…argghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

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It’s been a brutal year. And we are the lucky ones, just by virtue of surviving it. May we all have a better year next time around. Thanks for keeping me company through it, lovely readers.

I searched the photo sharing sites for 2020 and it’s all happy new year images from last year. Ah ha ha ha! This one LOOKS like it’s someone hanging the moon up for a delightful two moon New Year’s Eve but I think we all know that the moon has some horrible moon disease and so this person has to take it down ASAP before the other moon catches it.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me survive in 2021?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

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Kittens and Fluffy Clouds
October 21, 2020, 9:03 pm
Filed under: music, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , ,

There’ve been times when I’ve seen people respond to my work with, “You’re just looking for problems.” They want me to look on the bright side. “See the good in the world!” “There are roses and sunshine!” That’s why I decided to write this piece about kittens and fluffy clouds. Who doesn’t love kittens?

The problem is – there’s not much to say about kittens except the fact that they are awfully cute and there’s not much to say about fluffy clouds either, except to say that that one looks a lot like a whale.


That’s why this piece is actually not about kittens or fluffy clouds.

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This piece is actually about my stalker/harasser/troll and since she does tend to lurk and look at my headlines, I felt it would be safer to give this one a title she would be unlikely to click on. I mean, I don’t know, maybe she’s into kittens but she does not tend to actually read so I’m burying this text beyond where’s she’s likely to look. Many a social media post will put out the first few lines of text of something, so to be safe, I went ahead and started with kittens and fluffy clouds.

If the news of this semi-famous troll stalker of mine is news to you, I’d recommend you go back and read this post to catch up. It’s a doozy.

So…that was about 2.5 years ago. After a pretty terrible couple of weeks, after I blocked her on Twitter and she finally stopped calling, I didn’t hear from her again. She continued including me in mad rants for a while where I couldn’t see them, but it stopped eventually, as far as I knew. I thought it was over.

As my phone was dying last month, I made a last push to get at least get her voicemails copied from it so if I ever had to provide evidence of the harassment, I could. I thought the whole thing was probably over – but I felt I couldn’t be too sure. I wanted to be prepared for a reappearance.

Turns out, I was right to be concerned about a reappearance. A few weeks ago, I got notice of a new patron on Patreon at a $10 per blog post level. (Amazing! My second highest pledge! That could be $50 a month!) But it turned out to be her. For a minute I thought it could be a friend playing a not so funny joke on me – the way someone bought her song on my website using her name, even though it wasn’t her. But then I saw the nasty message that came along with the pledge. It banged on the “You stole my songs” drum and several other nonsensical things that signaled her actual presence and I straight up did not know what to do.

It was Yom Kippur. She’s a born again Christian, I think, but maybe she was attempting to make some extremely ass backward atonement? Why is someone who hates me pledging to give me money every month? Aside from a weird attempt at apologizing, what could it be? On one hand, it seemed like a dominance move, a way to say that she has money and I do not. It could have been a way to gain access to me and power over me. It could have been attempt to invade a safe space. It could have been an attempt to target my income. Maybe she was planning to cancel the payment right as it was about to charge to pull a nice financial rug out from under me. I asked around and no one seemed to be able to guess what her game was.

I have no way of knowing what her thinking was (which is hard for me, because I like to understand why people do things) but I have learned that trying to figure that out is a fool’s errand. Since my initial experience with her, people came out of the woodwork to share their horror stories with me about their experiences. Tales of her not paying her musicians, harassing people selling her used CDs, forcing someone to stand in a garbage can, and much much worse (which I have promised not to publicly divulge). No matter how much I could have used the money, I knew I had to block her.

I know from my own experience that there is no rationalizing with this person. The guys at the company who helped me with the licenses tried to explain to her how licensing worked, how this aspect of the business went and found themselves surveilled and vilified, as well.

As I watched well-meaning people try to appeal to her reason or humanity last time around, it started to become clear how impossible that would be. It would be like trying to have a reasonable conversation with a tornado made of jellyfish. Not all of the jellyfish will sting you but you will end up with a jellyfish to the face at some point – and certainly the tornado will never stop to listen to what you have to say. A lot of people who tried to reach out to her with kindness ended up with a face full of jellyfish.

You might have seen a similar example of this sort of behavior in another context recently. It is not really possible to debate a jellyfish tornado.

I blocked my jellyfish tornado on Patreon, which triggered an automated email notifying my jellyfish tornado of her blocking, which, given the clicks from admin.Patreon on my blog, fairly likely triggered a retaliating accusation of some sort. In this moment, I do not know what the tornado is going to do next. But I do know that it will be neither reasonable or rational. Hopefully, it’s just moving on. But I can never be sure when she’ll be in the mood to dredge this all up again, for no particular reason.

That’s the thing that is the hardest to understand – that not everyone is reasonable – that even if the jellyfish tornado can use words and form sentences, that does not mean it is reasonable. I did not know that at first. I think I half hoped she’d read my blog, realize it was all a misunderstanding, call me up to apologize and then invite me to come sing duets with her in her studio. (I don’t think I truly believed this but my inner teen fan from 1988 might have.) But instead, she tweeted out something nasty in response and outed herself as the redacted troll mentioned within. It was an extraordinary self-own.

But see, I know she’s a jellyfish tornado now. I’m still scared of her but mostly I try to stay clear of her path. If I have to go inside and lock the door until the tornado has passed, I can do that – and I’d rather do that than go outside and end up with a face full of jellyfish. I can often tell who has run into some kind of jellyfish tornado before. They are the first people to tell you, “I can see why you think that reasonable appeal will help. But you might want to just skip ahead to locking your door because it probably won’t work. And definitely don’t invite that tornado in your house.” Once you’ve been in one jellyfish tornado, you get a feel for these things. I’m one of those people now.

I don’t know what we’re to do with all these tornados. Are they inevitable? Is there no way to neutralize them? Or stop them showing up in your neighborhood? If there are answers to that, I would like to know – because this is not the only jellyfish tornado in the world. The only thing I’ve figured out how to do is call a jellyfish tornado a jellyfish tornado when I see one and do my best to not get caught up in it. I may be tempting fate by telling you about all this. Maybe I’ll draw the tornado back in my direction by writing about it. But I’ve also learned to reach out to friends and ask for cute animal photos when the tornado appears for whatever mercurial reasons tornados have. Hopefully, I won’t need more photos of kittens anytime soon. Or fluffy clouds.

Such cute kittens. Probably looking up at some fluffy clouds, don’t you think?

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help counter act the bad vibes from this situation?

Or give me some kitten and fluffy cloud vibes?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis

 





Anger Is My Superpower
January 16, 2019, 1:54 am
Filed under: feminism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Up until my mid 20s, I would have sworn to you that I did not feel anger. And I didn’t. I didn’t experience what I felt as anger. Mostly I cried. There were tears, lots and lots of tears and since I thought tears meant sadness, what I felt was sad, not mad. Anger was so foreign to me during my prime acting years that I worried about playing parts that required me to be angry. I could play anything but anger. My, how times have changed. Now, anger is my super power.

All my life, I’d been trying to avoid it. I’d pushed aside any hint of it, suppressed it, repressed it. Then – through this very blog, I began to express some of the things I was “frustrated” by, injuries that made me “upset.” And then I reached a breaking point and I wrote a very angry blog post. That anger led to the most views I have ever gotten.

Again and again, I find that when I let loose my anger, the world responds positively. Some folks appreciate the quiet, considered, intellectual type analysis of things – but the angry posts are the hits. The angry posts have fire in them.

Anger fueled my return to the theatre after a year’s absence. Anger writes me songs. Anger gets me moving. In their recent books on anger, Rebecca Traister and Soraya Chemaly both discuss the stigma against anger – how everyone has always said that anger is bad for you – when it is, in fact, the reverse. Anger can be very very good. Soraya Chemaly talks about her search for anger management for women and how all those classes are really for men. The anger classes women need are how to access our anger, how to feel it, how to direct it, how to use it.

There is a profound release in expressing anger – whether it be on the page or in person. Simply acknowledging its existence is powerful. For a lot of women, the simple act of declaring our anger is profound. Traister pointed out that almost every woman she talked to for her book would at some point declare that her anger had passed – that she WAS angry (past tense) and then she channeled it into action and she wasn’t angry any more.

I will tell you right now that this is not true for me. I am angry. I was angry. I am still angry. My anger moves in waves and some days I am angrier than others but this is all current. And I am not about to push my anger down again. It is fuel for me. It makes things happen.

Sure – it may make me seem like a stereotype of a feminist – the kind we have all been declaring we’re not like, the kind so many women would like not to be. But I really don’t give a damn. Those bad-ass angry ladies were (and are!) fierce warriors and they were fighting for rights that I have benefitted from. I should be so lucky to be seen in their ranks.

I may still look nice and approachable and accommodating to the outside eye. I still smile broadly. I still look friendly. But I tell you what, I don’t mind walking down dark streets anymore. Part of me is waiting for some asshole to try me – just so I can unleash all my fury on him. I learned a nice trick involving a key to the eye recently and my fingers itch to use it.

I mean – not really – of course. I don’t really want to be attacked. But anger is getting me through my days (and nights!) unmolested. It is getting me out of bed in the morning instead of sinking into hopeless despair. It’s getting me fans on the internet. I wouldn’t go back to my earlier life “without” anger for anything. Life with anger is immensely more powerful and rich than life without.

Is this possible for everyone? Nope. Getting to feel and express anger is a privilege. Both Chemaly and Traister point out how this kind of expression is not possible for the vast majority of women. Women of color especially are prevented from expressing their anger from multiple sides.

So…since it is my privilege to be angry, I feel it is my obligation to use my righteous anger on others’ behalf and to express it every way I can to at least be a vicarious channel for others who are not permitted the space to be angry. For those who don’t feel like they can be angry? I can be angry for them. I am angry for all of us.

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous one on Anchor, click here.

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Become my patron on Patreon.

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Generation X: Stuck in the Middle With You

While visiting a small town, I found myself at a local restaurant, where a band was playing their Saturday night gig. The band’s leader sang about being a kid in 1992 which helped me place him as a member of the Millennial generation. The audience was mostly represented by the Baby Boomer Generation, with a handful of the band’s Millennial friends in the mix. When the band played a cover of a hit song from the Baby Boomer’s youth, they filled the room with exuberant dance. And the Millennial men in the audience turned red from containing their laughter.

There was an atmosphere of these two generations trying to communicate with one another and find some kind of balance between them. There were pleading songs of a young man to an older one. A white haired man came up onstage while the band played to adjust their levels. These two generations were simultaneously at odds and in cahoots. And, as far as I know, I was the lone representative of my generation, Generation X. In fact, I realized then that I had spent my entire week in this small town as the lone Gen X representative. Where was the rest of Gen X in this town? Were they all home with their kids or had the town been vacated by Gen X years ago? If this party was for Boomers and Millennials, where was the Gen X party? And nationwide, maybe even worldwide, where IS the Gen X party? Where is Gen X hanging out? And why wasn’t I invited?

Until this moment in the restaurant/bar, I had not given my generation much thought. In fact, like 59% of Gen X, I didn’t really identify with the category at the time. But that has changed in recent years, ever since I started to read articles like “Why Generation X Are Just the Coolest“, “Generation X: America’s Neglected Middle Child”and excerpts of a book called X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking and I found myself suddenly feeling an incredible kinship with my Generation. I’d read these things and think, “Yeah! I AM like that! Yes we WILL save the world! Why DO people underestimate us?!”

Like the atmosphere in the small town bar, the big generational stories in the press tend to be about the more populous generations – the Boomers and the Millennials. The thrust of the Gen X narrative boils down to “What about us?” The underlying soundtrack to every Gen X article is the Simple Minds’ song from The Breakfast Club soundtrack “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

Simultaneously, the comments on all of these stories tended to boil down to decrying making generational distinctions as bullshit. Gen X-ers would appear to call bullshit the most. But Gen X calling bullshit may be the epitome of Gen X-ness. (Contradiction? Yes. But wrestling with contradictions is apparently also a Gen X trait.) Generations (generally) are probably bullshit. But they are somehow meaningful bullshit.

When we were kids, magazines used to write about us too. We were pretty fascinating when we were the subjects of teen movies and post college romances. The older generations worried about us and the lyrics of our music. (What was this new rap music all about? You call it hip hop? What is this stuff? Grunge? What is wrong with these kids today?) We were worried over, got called slackers and malcontents. Time magazine’s cover story in 1990 wondered if we were “Laid back, Late Blooming or Just Lost?”

But decades later, as a generation, the press don’t much talk about us anymore. We have to talk about ourselves.  And while we may not have embraced the label of Gen X at the time (it was 1991 before we had a label, coined by a guy who was born in ’61 and therefore not even Gen X by most measurements) but in this moment it is a convenience. Would we be more recognized if some of our other names had stuck? What if we were still called The Baby Busters? Or The Latchkey Generation? Or the Video Generation? Gen X is pretty neutral as nicknames go and accepting our Gen X identity seems to make us more visible.

But we are technically middle aged now. Perhaps middle-aged people are always invisible? Maybe the Silent Generation turned forty and thought, “Hey what about us?”

The other sticky bit is that “middle-aged” is generally used as a pejorative. Say “middle-aged” and I picture a paunchy guy in clashing plaids sitting on a couch. It strikes me that maybe we don’t really know what 40 and 50 looks like. I saw a comment about the amazing Michaela Watkins (Gen X) in Casual. The comment said something like, “This character is turning 40? She looks like she’s 60!” And I realized how few 40 year old women this person has probably seen. The commenter had no sense of what 40 might look like, or, for that matter, what 60 might look like. Some Gen X-ers look like the generation behind us and some look like the generation ahead. I was recently mistaken for a college student. At the gig that kicked off this whole Gen X exploration, I got carded. A couple of years ago, I was asked for my hall pass at a high school. Meanwhile, Michaela Watkins who is 2 years older than me somehow looks like she’s twenty years older? We stand in this very odd middle space.

I now feel about Gen X the way David Rackoff discusses being Canadian in that This American Life story – you know the one – where whenever someone mentions a famous Canadian, a Canadian feels compelled to chime in to say, “You know they’re Canadian.” I feel like I do that for Gen X now. Tina Fey? She’s Gen X. Amy Poehler? Gen X. Ava Duvernay? Gen X. Tupac Shakur? Gen X. Melissa McCarthy? Gen X. Samantha Bee? Gen X. Jennifer Lopez? Gen X. Kurt Cobain, David Foster Wallace and the Brat Pack are maybe more closely identified with Gen X but Gen X is everywhere. Ever since I started researching Gen X, I have found myself compulsively looking up people’s birthdays to check their Gen X status.

I may have resisted the blanket identification before but as I watch my generation ignored, treated like the “middle child” and generally dismissed – I feel a responsibility, particularly as a woman (at an age when women start to become invisible) to be vocal and highly visible and to be unapologetically Gen X.

This is Part One of an eight part series. Each part is titled with a song title. I recorded each of those songs for the podcast. You can listen to Stuck in the Middle on Spotify or most digital music platforms..
Listen to the Podcast version of Part One.
Read or listen to Part 2 – We Belong ,
Read or listen to Part 3 – Islands in the Stream,
Read or listen to Part 4 – I’m the Only One,
Read or listen to Part 5 – It’s the End of the World as We Know It,
Read or listen to Part 6 – Selling the Drama,
Read or listen to Part 7 – Born at the Right Time,
Read or listen to Part 8 – We’re Not Gonna Take It

 

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



A Tale of Two Coffee Shops

When I go home for holidays, occasionally I get a chance to visit my old hometown’s local coffee shops. There weren’t any, really, when I was growing up – but there are several to choose from now. Usually I end up at the one closest to my mom’s house but sometimes I end up Downtown and I have to find a place to write down there. My first choice is generally a place that’s been around for a long while – all my old friends go there. I’ve had friends work there. It’s the cool coffee shop. I always run into people I know there. And it is always crowded.

This is why I don’t go there when I need a place to write. Crowdedness makes the hip coffee shop impossible for my purposes. Instead, I end up at a coffee shop that is remarkably un-cool. They play “relaxing” New Age music (with bird sounds.) The walls are painted with a color palate that suggests a beach house in North Carolina. There’s a fireplace.  Like the cool coffee shop, it has original artwork for sale. The paintings though, are very conservative. They are barns and cows done in a technique I can only describe as Grandma Style. There’s just something about this place that says who it is for. And most of the customers in the shop seem to know. I heard, while I was there, conversations about the old Christian Bookstore and stories on Fox News. All told, the place feels like it’s the Republican coffee shop in town.

In my home town – I clearly BELONG at the cool coffee shop and clearly do NOT belong at the Republican coffee shop. And yet I choose to write where I do not belong. Mostly because it’s less crowded but also because it’s an interesting anthropological opportunity. It leads me to interesting questions. How did this cafe culture develop? Are they marketing themselves on Republican listservs? And how conscious are the people who create these businesses of the culture they are creating around their business? Is the un-cool coffee shop trying to be cool?

These two coffee shops in the same town draw two very different crowds. And I’m fascinated by it. I now live in New York City and I frequent many different coffee shops. None of them have this sense of a unified personality. The people who go to them vary dramatically. In a world with so much diversity, coffee shops don’t seem to create so much culture around themselves. I don’t belong in any one of them – and I belong in all of them. City living creates a kind of contradiction in belonging/not-belonging. That is, I think, part of the appeal of city life. You never belong and always do. All at once.

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This is stock footage of a coffee shop and represents none of the coffee shops mentioned in this blog post.

Become my patron on Patreon and, for as little as a dollar a post, you can make a big difference in this artist’s life.

Also – this blog is now a podcast that (at the moment) only my patrons will be able to hear. If you’d like to hear a podcast version, become a patron!

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Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat.  https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



The Most Important Thing in Theatre You’re Not Talking About
December 3, 2014, 8:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This isn’t mine. This is from Bitter Gertrude. (Subscribe/Follow – she’s great!) But I stand behind it 100%. Read it. And take action if you’re so moved.

Bitter Gertrude

There’s a massive disconnect between theatre intelligentsia– bloggers like me– and what’s actually happening on the ground.

Theatre writers have been doing an excellent job drawing attention to issues of inclusion and diversity, issues of copyright and contract law and copyright/contract violation, issues of audience demographics, issues of access to arts education, issues of season selection, issues of censorship, especially in schools. Those are crucial, vital, important issues about which we need to continue to write. I have no plans to stop writing about any of those, nor do I expect (or want) anyone else to stop.

But we’re all avoiding the elephant in the room, probably because it’s simple, and boring, and all too painfully obvious.

THEATRES ARE CLOSING.

Nonprofit theatres all over the country are in trouble. While larger theatres are doing better than they were during the recession, a jaw-dropping amount of small, indie theatres and even…

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Scarcity like a Pain in the Shoulder
May 20, 2014, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I woke up with a pain in my shoulder yesterday and as I attempted to manage that pain, it occurred to me that this is what scarcity is like. I finished reading Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir’s book, Scarcity, not long ago, so the concept has been on my mind.

When you’re suffering from a physical pain, a great deal of your attention (or “bandwidth” as the authors of Scarcity would say) is captured by it. You do your best to concentrate on other things but the slightest adjustment in your position brings it quickly and forcefully back into focus.

So it is with scarcity – when your mind is busy working on the problems that having too little money or time brings, it is ever occupied with the issue. You may try to concentrate on writing or other tasks but the slightest suggestion can bring your circumstances back to the forefront. Before you know it, your whole afternoon is derailed by the little twinge, the constant reminder of your difficulties.

Those who have never experienced the panic of having only $15 in the bank when the rent is due might not easily be able to understand how all consuming that worry can be, how it can derail all other plans and intentions. But most people, no matter how blessed with abundance, have experienced the debilitating effects of pain.

They feel almost the same to me. One is physical, one is mental, but both pains capture attention I’d much rather be placing elsewhere. And like a pain the shoulder one can find a way to live with Scarcity long term if one has to. But even if you’re used to it, it never goes away entirely. It severely limits what you can do – your movement, your flexibility.



September 12, 2012, 12:32 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Brilliant. Important. And for us youth-worshipping Americans with our refusal to acknowledge that class even exists, this is even MORE important.

Not Writing But Blogging

There was an interesting discussion yesterday on twitter, on the concept of Ageist Arts (#AgeistArts).
I’m not sure if it was prompted by this announcement from ACE or if it was simply a spontaneous discussion, but I joined in when it was drawn to my attention, because it’s something I am very interested in.

First off, I need to say I care deeply about the needs of youth right now, I appreciate the economic state we’re in has made things very difficult for many young people, I have worked with the NYT on three large-scale projects over four summers, I have worked with many other youth theatres, and often do schools visits (usually as a writer, but not always) … you can tell there’s a ‘but’ coming, right?

But … I truly believe we need to replace the word YOUNG with NEW or EMERGING. It annoys me immensely every year…

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Full Support
April 1, 2011, 11:59 pm
Filed under: art, business, theatre, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I was at a grant orientation meeting a while ago (they make you go to a meeting just to apply!) and listened as the well-meaning program associate read the grant application and guidelines to us. There was nothing extraordinary about it – pretty standard grant application stuff – but I was struck by her reiteration that this organization “Does not fund whole projects.” They want to give you a portion of what you need and want evidence that you’re gathering the rest of it elsewhere. This is identical to almost every grant in the city (and probably the country.) No one wants to fund your entire project. They only want to help you a little bit.
This struck me as absurd all of sudden. Every granting organization wants to know they’re not the only one and they’re all afraid to support something or someone completely.
This means that an artist with a project to make must spend the bulk of his or her time writing multiple grants and soliciting more and more funds for one single project. This means that an artist is never fully supported.
In my company’s nine year history, we’ve received multiple grants in a year maybe once or twice. Otherwise, we struggled forward with a quarter of the funds we needed. We got a grant for $500 a couple of years ago. This wasn’t even enough to help us begin our project – yet we had to do it, without any support, because we had $500 to spend or lose our standing with the granting organization.
I understand, to a degree, why funding bodies want company when they fund something. They want to know the artists are serious, that they really will do the project and make good use of those foundation dollars. I get it. It’s a safety measure.
But I think its cowardly. If you want to support artists, support them. Give them what they need. It’s like, a hungry person comes to your door and you say, “I’m not going to give you a meal – but I will give you this plate and if you can find a fork and a potato from my neighbors, you’ll have a meal!”




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