Monday, August 30, 2010

Going...Going...Gone

One of my first jobs in high school was working in a public library. I loved being surrounded by books. The smell, the feel of them in your hand - and yes, I was a freak and even loved putting them in correct order. Once I moved to NYC, I could get lost strolling through a bookstore - looking for that book that would call to me to read it. But that was years ago before our society was over-run with so many digital choices.  From music to books to games and the internet (blogging, facebook, surfing) - all those things that would surprise us if we added up the hours spent and truly realized how much time was lost from our days.


Another major book store in NYC has announced a closing and I can't help but feel it is an epidemic that is eating away at our country. I'll be the first to admit that I shop online and download digital books, but it's still heart breaking to see these lifelines to words closing down. Do a search (again - online) and just see how many have closed in the past five years all across the country. As someone that is trying to get his own books published, I can't help but wonder if there will be real stores left to make a purchase (let alone do a book signing) by the time I get to that point. It would be pretty hard to sign a kindle. (PS: I didn't blog this weekend as I've started a new novel and it captivated every spare moment I had. Sometimes the creative process can grab you when you least expect it. And now I have to work that much harder and quicker so that I can get myself in to a store. I'm already missing out on Oprah's book club. I don't want to miss out on a real book store. Go buy a book in a store today!)      

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Come Out, Come Out!

Hiding who you are is a terrible, lonely feeling. Think for a moment if you are a secret hoarder, or binger of food – or you have a rare rash that discolors your skin and you walk around with a turtleneck on during summer. It is a miserable existence to live in secret. Worse yet: to live your life as a lie. This is what many homosexuals do that stay hidden in a closet. They know who they are inside, but society dictates it’s just not right so they’d rather get married, raise a family and try as hard as they can to keep those feelings sequestered deep inside. Sometimes they act out on those feelings by searching out for hidden ways to feed the urge that festers inside of them.  “Tap. Tap. Tap.”  “The down low.” Phrases we’ve heard on television or in the media of some secret 'Davinci-Code-type society' that only men who are living some 'perverted' existence have a membership.

I am very happy when someone can own up to who they are and accept themselves and finally live their own truth. But here is where I have a problem.  How did they lead their life prior to the moment they chose to remove the nails and unlock the bolts that have kept them bound inside the closet?  The media and certain gay organizations would have us believe we're supposed to give them a medal for bravery for making that 'choice' to come out. Now: I know how hard it is to open that door and subject yourself to ridicule and if you’re a politician/famous actor/clergy member – you’re opening yourself up to so many attacks. I get that. But if you made a career out of publicly denouncing homosexuals or actually working against them on any given platform – then the hair on my neck is standing up and I'm sorry - but I don't believe you're entitled to a medal from the Wizard. Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman and friend of Ken Mehlman (who just came out of the closet after being Bush’s campaign chief for years and a chairman for the RNC), told The Atlantic Magazine that "it is significant that a former chairman of the Republican National Committee is openly gay and that he is supportive of gay marriage.” Sorry, Mr. Gillespie – I don’t see the significance. You can’t spend your adult career making money by heading an organization that speaks volumes against who you are (and Mr. Mehlman was gay during all those years – it's not as if he just took a pill and decided he was) and expect every gay to jump on a bandwagon now thanking you for finally being courageous and honest about yourself.      

I'm happy that the Mehlman's and the McGreevey's can come out and be who they believe they are. I truly am. But the hypocrisy of what they did leading up to that moment is a lot for me to swallow. I'm not crazy enough to think that if every politician that was in the closet would fling open the door that anything is truly going to change. The fact that a former RNC chairman came out is not going to change that platform in any way shape or form. But while equal rights are such a hot topic in this country and so many people are at odds, standing across the street yelling from both sides (and neither hearing the other), don't expect every gay man to be waiting on the other side of the door with a welcome banner. Not until you show me how you're going to work to undo much of the wrong you helped to propagate for all those years while you hid. Then perhaps this friend of Dorthy's might consider sending a lollipop or some ruby shoes through the mail. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Globalization is a fancy word for Outsourcing


This past weekend, I was watching a movie that was set in India - and again like other famous movies that use that setting - their leads were placed in a call center utilized by the US. It really got me thinking about the past ten years. In the early part of this new century, I was working in the IT department for a well known Financial Services firm when rumblings of potential outsourcing began. We were all making very decent salaries, but petrified about what this would mean for our jobs.  By 2003 - it was in full swing and a reality. Not only the call center, but an entire IT development team was created in India and slowly the work was squeezed out of our offices. By 2004, major publications were reporting that Outsourced IT services was bringing in $12 billion for India and they were leading the world in IT exports.  IT grads in that country were being paid about $5,400 a year to do the work that people in the states were no longer doing.

I know it's nothing new to state that Corporate Greed mixed with our own government's desire to get certain countries to assist in war efforts started our economic decline - but it still boggles my mind to see that those same entities are the ones that cried out the loudest as it all came crumbling down. As this administration continues to try and dig us out - all the while being blamed for more and more - Americans are waiting for some miraculous Savior to create new jobs - when so many jobs were removed from our country. Perhaps that has become the American Way: a place that was once the land of opportunity has become the land of waiting for someone else to 'fix it.'  I think we should all take responsibility for allowing it to have happened in the first place. We weren't loud enough to stand up for ourselves. We can still help make decisions in this country by involvement in our politics, by voting for who speaks out for us, by making a change instead of just using it as a campaign slogan.

Oh...and me? I no longer work at that company. I walked away in 2006 to follow my passion of the arts and manage an arts center now. Walked away from a very high paying job, but it was well worth it to follow my happiness. Besides: I'm sure I would have been one of the casualties had I stayed. It was just a matter of time and my job would have been outsourced as well. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is this relevant?

As a writer who is trying to get his work published, I can’t help but always have my eye looking towards what makes it to the bookshelves.  We’re told it’s about what is hot right now, applicable, topical. (Is there a Vampire in your story?) But besides that – I can’t help but notice that gimmicks/notoriety/fame can play a huge part in what makes it to our local bookstore or amazon.com.   

An actor or singer that has something to share. A stage play that was such a hit – a book needed to be written about it. 
 

A well known children’s story told by a different perspective. 

Or one of my favorites: a cable television show about a writer – so you just KNOW that all viewers would want to see what this fictional person would write. (And it’s sold well.)

No, I’m not a jealous wanna-be that’s crying “when is it my turn?” I completely see one form of art leading to another. After all, I’ve been an actor, singer, director, playwright, composer, producer, and yes- even an author. So why wouldn’t I believe that others would do the exact same thing? 

No, not bitter. Instead I’m thinking “what brilliant gimmick/stunt/tie-in could I come up with that would make the world feel they couldn’t live without my words too."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Through the Eyes of Others

The media landscape is peppered with hot-button topics lately to try and force Americans to make a stand on as many issues as possible. Perhaps it's because elections will be coming up in the fall. Or maybe it's simply that the 24 hour 'news channels' need to create as much hype as possible to keep us tuning in each day. 


 If you go to your favorite social networking site, you can see 'friends' turning on each other as discussions become heated over any given topic. Everyone has an opinion: and naturally - their opinion must be right.


There are times I try to stay quiet, put away the soap box and chose to bite my tongue. (And of course, there are other times I can't stay quiet.) Like everyone, I too have my own views on each of these - but I don't think it's something that needs to tear at the fabric of our country. Unfortunately: I think it ultimately may be doing just that.

It must be one of the reasons I enjoy writing fiction so much. I get the chance to get into the heads of characters (who may not believe as I do) and write what they feel. It's truly liberating to be able to do this...and for just a moment, see the world through someone else's eyes.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

Obsession: Good or Bad?

You say the word and people think of something wrong. Fatal Attraction. Compulsion with drinking/drugging/gambling/eating. Driving oneself to the brink of destruction.  But I know it was my obsession with theatre - Broadway - that brought an 18 year old kid to New York City to study the arts. Substitute the word 'passion' and it's not such a bad thing. Perhaps I didn't end up performing on the Great White Way, but I've had a wonderful life and have enjoyed the ride. And now at 41 years old, my obsession with theatre continues in my day job, years of acting and directing and most recently: Next To Normal.   


This Broadway musical came out in 2009, won the Pulitzer Prize - and yes, I'm a year behind everyone else, but I can't stop listening to it on my iPod. I'm not one to go for the 'happy go-lucky musicals' - I want pain, angst - intense feeling. This musical has it all. A modern story about a family trying to cope with real issues - all with a pulsating rock score.  Check it out if you're in NYC

So yes, I become obsessed and listen to things over and over and replay  how it appeared when I saw it. I suppose that is a metaphor for my life as I know I've often done that with real-life situations too.  If only I had done "X" - perhaps I could have changed the outcome. Maybe reliving it, something will change this time. (But we all know, that doesn't happen.)

As I do the mental inventory about my life I can see where obsession (let's substitute 'passion' again) has dictated so many choices I've made. I fervently worked hard at becoming an actor...making my way on to television and tours. I wanted to write the Great American Musical and found myself in the BMI Musical Theatre workshop striving for that goal. I grew tired of my Corporate America job and walked away to end back up in the creative arts. And the past few years, it has all gone back to writing. Only this time, the musical score stays in my brain and short stories come out on the paper. And then I explore the internet searching for places that will take those stories and sometimes publish them (after many rejections.) And now, I've moved on to writing novels. Two of which are out 'in the world' trying to find that one publisher that will love them as passionately as I do. A third is still sitting on the files of the computer while a 4th is trudging through my mind trying to make something of itself. 

Obsession? I suppose you could say that.  

I like to think I'm just as normal as the next guy - or at least living as close to normal as I can get.



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Traveling

I love to travel. Only I never really knew it growing up because as a child living in Texas - traveling meant getting in the car and taking a road trip to yet another town in the same state or worse - Oklahoma. We also took a family trip to Colorado (which I greatly enjoyed), but once I moved to NYC to become a famous Broadway actor (didn't happen) - I finally began to truly see the country.  All thanks to a little something called "The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." That's right. I was one of those green things way back in the late 80s/early 90s and got to travel North America - and even Guam!  All wearing a huge smelly costume.



I played state fairs, theme parks, malls, tractor pulls, car shows...you name it - in their heyday - the turtles were there. 

In one of those mindless exercises, I went through and counted the amount of states I visited. 

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, and Washington, DC.





Since then, I've discovered the joy of getting out of the country (preferably on a cruise ship) and have visited several as well.  It's amazing to see other places - how people live and what people call home.  As a writer, I used my travels across our great country in one of my novels - a road trip of friends traveling from New Mexico to Maine. Write what you know - isn't that writers are told? And I definitely got to know our countryside through the eyes of a mask wearing turtle. 


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Getting Published

Every time something I have written is accepted for publication, it's like Christmas morning - with a really great gift! I've been able to see my work in print, online and live on stage - each is exciting in their own different way. My poem "Now I'm Up!" is being published in "Off The Rocks" with a kick-off party in Chicago later this month.

Copies available here