Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Cross and The Capitol

Today’s lesson in authenticity for creators folks is about one way the creative process really works from the view of beating the competition out and getting the job, controlling the client, and finally, giving the client what they ought to have instead of just what they want, and last but not least, learning the difference between dreams of fame and authentic fame. 

Without further adieu, I give you a true story entitled:

The Cross and The Capitol

That was going to be the name of the book.  “The Cross and The Capital.”  Written by Walter H. Moeller, former congressman from the 10th district of Ohio, and Lutheran Pastor.  

Ghostwritten by yours truly…

I answered an ad in the Santa Barbara News Press back in the short story phase of my writing career.  The ad was for a ghostwriter, and I was ready for long format work, having had success with my short stories.   

But how to get the job?  Writers are intensely competitive and sneaky – we can be anything that they want to be really, the skill is that powerful.  I thought about it long and hard before making the phone call that Sunday afternoon.

I decided the way to find out how to best get the job was to listen to what the person wanted, then figure out the person by what they said, and run that against what the project formally requires, and finally start asking questions from there until you get an understanding mutually agreeable as a workable framework.

It worked in architectural project management. 

Walter was a nice man, with real kindness flowing from him.  Smart, conversational and articulate like a politician, driving, clear and vibrant like a Lutheran,  He was also getting on in years.

I figured this was going to be his swansong as soon as I heard the age in his tone.  I can never tell a client the truth about swansongs unless there is no other choice.  But what intelligent writer would have gotten themselves into that kind of unappealing (for several reasons from several perspectives) kind of job.  The kind of writer I ain’t – the kind that thinks about money and fame more than story.

But, back then, I was a competitive writer too, and this was Santa Barbara, “A sunny town full of shady people” the old author who wrote the history of Montecito told me once writer-to-writer. 

Half the time getting a writing job is beating the other writers and not offering the client a better product.  Sometimes you do that by not being a better writer, but by being better at people.  Not as tall an order as you would think, at least back in the 80’s.

Being competitive and ready to stop writing free scripts for Brooks master’s theses in film for credits and reel, I figured I could make at least 20-30 thousand for the job if I was productive and high minded.  Having just moved in with the woman who would become my wife, I felt that was just the ticket.

So, I got a little sneaky, for Walter had a gem at the heart of his idea of how the story would go.

It was something significant historically, and he felt it was a book.  It was significant historically, but not a whole book.  But who was I to tell him he didn’t have a book?  You know, people just don’t deal with the truth creativity reveals very well.  The like the predictable, they like what they believe it is supposed to be like.

You know that old human trap, expectations gone wild.

I had my eyes on the money, sure, but more importantly, letting all those pompous Santa Barbara walk on water mentality writers that the new kid in town was to be reckoned with and it was true Jack London really was my bitch. 

I was the new master writer in California, or so I imagined before I became authentic.  It was the reason I came to Hollywood from Key Largo.  The letter from the VP of the Writer’s Guild didn’t hurt either. 

Everyone would know that one day, I told myself, as I read every book on writing in sight and cranked out bad science fiction and detective stories one after another. 

Tolerating contemptuous looks from Jonathan Winters because he recognized the types that were going to put him out to pasture.  Talent knows talent.  Not always on friendly terms, either.  Welcome to show business. 

So after coming to an understanding of sorts with Walter over the phone, I asked him a key question.  I asked him what he felt the most important moment of the recollection he was going to talk about in the series of interviews he’d chosen as the production pipeline.

He told me that was interesting because none of the other writer’s had asked a question like that.  Then he added there were going to be several historical and meaningful things he would be talking about in the interviews – I then interrupted him, asking, “But what is the one thing, the major thing that stands out most in your memory you’ve been reflecting on that comprises the most powerful thing you could offer a reader to keep them turning your pages?” 

He considered that a minute then said, “Well it would have to be the day I went to the Oval Office and met President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  We-“   He began going into the story and I interrupted him again, saying, “Stop right there!  Don’t tell me.  It’s too important to tell over the phone.  Tell me about it when we meet in person.”  He grunted in recognition, and said, “Ok, you got a deal.”

I asked him then how he was going to go about choosing his ghost writer?  He was going to meet all the writer’s after conducting church services next Sunday, and spend a half hour with each one.  Then, he was going to meet again with the top four of them and re-evaluate and then would make his choice from there. 

Why wasn’t I surprised even a man who lived in prestigious La Cumbre Hills was going to conduct a cattle call?

I asked for an appointment.  He told me I might be disappointed but the appointment calendar had filled up pretty quickly, and the earliest appointment he had was two thirty in the afternoon, behind several other writers.  He added though he was looking forward to meeting me and he appreciated my background skills in project management and loved my enthusiasm, the fact was other writers he’d talked to already had quite respectable writing credits I could not match.

I told him I never cared about other writer, and that the only thing to think about was the manuscript.  He was flattered and said what time would I like?  I told him I wanted to be last, the very last.

He said, “My you are confident, aren’t you?”  “Not as much as I am sure after hearing all the other pitches, you’ll hear mine and know I am the right person for the job.”  He told me it was a great answer, laughed and we said goodbye.

*     *     *

The next Sunday, I got up early and made my way to the copy shop across from the Carrows restaurant in Santa Barbara.   I knew the counter person there and explained that even though I would not be making many copies that day, it would take me a few hours to decide which ones to make.  Later on, when he no longer believed me, I confided in him why I was there and he got excited after hearing my plan and was totally on board.  He even went and got us both coffee and said it felt like some kind of police stake out. 

I said, “Yeah, it does.  Except it’s a script out.”

We slowly drank the coffee, and I watched for the man whose physique would match the voice I had gotten to know behind the words.  He would be older, smaller, energetic for his age and alone.  He would have a look of business on his face, which would stand out on a Sunday.  That eliminated most of the older men that went to Carrows for breakfast that day, and when I spotted him I knew immediately and instinctively.

I got super lucky because he took a window seat and was easily visible, as were the string of writers he met and conversed with.  I scrutinized the interaction: facial expressions, pauses between sentences, the solemnity, and the joy, the nervous shoulders and what we call in comedy ‘the tell’. 

Questions raced through my mind.  Were they telling him what he wanted to hear?  Were they telling him what he should understand?  Were they trying to sell him the job, or were they trying to determine he had what it took to get through the job?  Writing is not for he weak or faint of heart unless it is your last will and testament or a Dear John letter.  At least anything beyond a hundred pages, for sure. 

Writing a book is not like writing a piece of legislation.  May you all find that out firsthand in your journey to authenticity as a creator.  I’ll set the creative specifications out for this part of the creator path in another publication. 

There were all kinds of interactions, but only two of the fifteen writers I watched meeting with him over the next seven and a half hours really had him in a state of undivided attention.  I knew they were the ones I had to beat, and the length of time he was attentive told me how good they were at this part of the job.  The selling-yourself-before-selling-the-idea part of the creator job.

The longer of the two went seventeen minutes, and the other one went eight.  I knew who was giving him the most to think about, but my job was to sell him on what he had the most desire for. 

In my piece about the Dalai Llama, you will understand what he taught me about false and true desire, but that will have to wait, but nonetheless, it is useful to recognize desire in all its forms in all your work and play in life.

At last, my appointment came.  I crossed the street, entered the restaurant and walked up to his table, introducing myself.  He bade me to sit down, excusing himself for not rising as he had been there all day.  I was aware that he was exhausted, and had bit off more than he could do, even for his considerable abilities, for one day.

So, my first job was to put him at ease and to get to know me some.  He recollected I had been enthusiastic and very productivity oriented.  I asked him how things had gone with the other writers, and he was a little withholding because he wanted to get through them all and then make up his mind, and with that could we get started.  I told him I wasn’t fishing, just trying to get some perspective on what his expectations were as opposed to what he had discovered. 

He smiled a politicians smile, and understood I was fishing.  He liked that.  A veteran of local politics for years myself in that town, I’ll spare you what you won’t easily understand, but let’s just say in any conversation, two conversations are occurring. 

So, I told him plain. 

I said, “I know you are tired, Mr. Moeller.  I recognized this is an important project for you both personally and reflectively.  That is why I am going to make this short and sweet for you.”

He smiled with some relief and I knew I’d hit the bull’s-eye because the first thing that the body language of every interview he’d had so far validated they had all talked about themselves extensively, which meant I was going to talk about him.  Uh, by way of talking about them first.

I paused and said to him, “Walter, you barely know me, just like you barely know many of the writers who came here today.  But even if I don’t get the job, there is one thing that has to be said you have yet to hear from a single professional writer you’ve spoken with so far?”

“And what is that?”, he inquired. 

“Anybody who has told you they know how to write this book for you today is a liar,” I replied.

He looked at me with shock.  I told him, “Please, let me explain.”  He bade me to continue.  “As a former politician, you know the famous words the great Aristotle he used to keep over his doorway.”

“Know thyself,” he replied, locking into me comfortably.  “Know thyself.  And I do, Walter.  I know myself.  I know that in spite of the fact that several professional, highly qualified writers have been here at this table today selling you their services, the truth is, the writer that sits across from you now is a passionate, literary artist with no greater desire in life than to become the best writer he can be.”

“I believe you.  That’s very admirable,” Walter replied. 

“And you also know, as a politician and quite likely a philosopher too, as the two fields are never very far apart-“  “An astute observation, young man,” he shot back.

“Then you also know,” I continued, “that if you really, truly know yourself, then you know others pretty well also.”

“Agreed,” he replied. 

“So, the reason those other people, no matter their qualification and representative integrity are liars, is because nobody knows how to write a book in advance unless it is a manual or a cookbook or a formula genre like romance or detective – which this book is not.  The writing itself is an organic, malleable process, and is by definition a process of discovery, experimentation, redefinition, reinterpretation and rewriting.  Emphasis on the rewriting,” I said.

A look of slight astonishment and recognition came across his face and he said, “That’s just how you write a piece of legislation!” 

“Interesting,” I replied.

Then he went off on a tangent about the legislation he’d authored or co-authored in his years in Congress and I let him run, as conversations, like creativity, often grows like a vine runs. 

As an aside, in a cultural context, this was the 80’s.  The word organic eventually replaced the word malleable in terms of popular usage not long after Walter’s and my conversation.  It was when the word appropriate appeared not long after, replacing organic in the popular usage sense that things started going south in the movie business, but that’s another story.

I told Walter that while he was telling me the story he wanted to tell, his life story, that all his other stories including stories he didn’t want to tell would come pouring out of him like rain, and if I wanted to capture the essence of Walter Moeller and his true voice, all that had to be noted.  It speaks to tone, and tone is more important that pace in your story.

I told him another writer would have worked him over intellectually for two weeks hammering out an outline.  Then they would have cranked out a couple crisp, clean drafts for you to review.  While you were reviewing it they would be preparing their bill for services rendered. 

This sobered him, and he was a little uncertain, as all people can be when faced with an actual totally creative task.  They have to leave their comfort zone or they will for the most part never catch originality or align their authentic voice and message of meaning. 

If you can’t do that, you are a commercially oriented writer, and don’t belong in the fine arts. 

“But that’s the beauty of this process Walter,” I said, throwing him the only rope that counts in the creativity business.  “You have to go through that, there’s no escaping it.  But on the other side of that process is a thing of beauty and a marvelous quality (marvelous was a big word back in the 80’s and you hardly hear it anymore either.  It was replaced by the iconic and everlasting awesome) production from your essence which does the job this kind of book is intended to do.”

“And what is this kind of book meant to do?” he asked me, as open and accessible as a child recognizing they are being taught something adults do.

‘Time to roll the dice and hit the bull’s-eye or strike out’, my inner voice said. 

“It’s meant to be your legacy, Walter.  You need a writer at your side to help you along this path, and that writer has to take every single step beside you or they are not validly in the co-creative development process.  They are there just for the paycheck and that is not the person you want to hire.  You want someone there who is going to respect and reflect alongside you.  

That’s why I am the right man for this job, Walter, not because I am the better writer here today, but because I am the right kind of person who writes.”

He looked at me a long time, and realized I had found the truth of the matter for him he had not articulated to himself or the others writers had led him to discover. 

How could he or they, it was very close to the bone, so to speak, and most people shun knowing themselves, despite their intellectual validation of Plato’s maxim.

Yet, this is how one often leads another through the creative act commitment phase, by showing them surgery does where hacking cannot.

Then, the old savvy gentleman who had been to Washington D.C. and came, saw and conquered emerged in front of me, and I, having held power myself before, cowed before the authority coming out of the man three times older than I sitting across from me.

“You’re right,” he said with judicial conclusion in his tone.  I felt validated.                        

“Well, I’m glad you now understand how to mentally win this game of writing, a game often far removed from the technical or process related aspects of writing,”  I said with relief.

On the inside, I was dancing in that I felt I had just given the best pitch of my life.

“Not me,” he said, “We.”  “Huh?”, I replied. 

He smiled at me and repeated, “We.  We understand.”

“Oh, yeah. Good,”  I said.  He smiled again, and said, “No, I mean, we understand, as in, ‘we have an understanding.’” 

“Oh, great!”, I chirped.  He laughed and said, “You really are a writer, aren’t you?”  “I often think so,” I replied.

He laughed and said, “Well, you may be a great writer, but you need to work on your business skills.  What I meant to say, we have arrived at an understanding, and the job is yours.  You are the right man for the job.”

“Fantastic, I get it!”  I replied and laughed nervously to which he was suddenly patient and serene.  Then he said, “Where do we go from here?”

I shifted mode out of dufus into literary project manager and said, “Well, I recommend we go into the building up steam mode, as I call it, and begin to focus our powers of concentration on the job ahead, think about how the story can tell itself before we go through a conversation that allows us to discover how the story should tell itself, and then we can revise it until we find how the story must be told.”

“Sounds great,” Walter replied.  “When do you want to begin?”

“Let me get back to your in two weeks, as it will take me that long to start charting out and planning things that must go in contextually and those which might and could, and then meet with you to eliminate those things that are not logical or inconsistent with what you want to say.”

“Wonderful,” he replied, “call me in two weeks on Sunday afternoon.”

“Done deal.” 

He smiled again almost angelically and said, “Wouldn’t you uh, like to know how much this job pays?” 

“Well to tell you the truth Walter, I suspect you have done well for yourself financially and as I am still in Theatre Arts school and am working at a convenience store part time, just about anything you say will do the job.  Besides, If I didn’t think I could do the job right, I never would have applied, whatever the rate, because I can’t work on something I don’t truly love.”

He really warmed up and said, “Well, Arthur, you are too honest to be a politician, and your business skills could use some brushing up, but I’ll tell you what I told all the other writers.  The job pays 20 dollars an hour up to a maximum of 20,000 dollars in billable hours.”

That’s quite fair.  Anybody could do this in half a year.  “You’re not bad at math, I see.”  “Not bad, but wait till you read the poetry.” 

“Poetry!?!” he said surprised, “This is a book about Washington D.C.!” 

“I know, I meant metaphorically, the words will resonate off the page like poetry,” I replied, calming him.

“Oh, I see.  Guess I’m going to have to learn how to be a little looser in my interpretation of words that you use.” 

“Yeah, well I promise to be less alliterate and metaphorical.”

He nodded.  “Is there anything else we should cover before the next meeting?”

“Just one thing,” I said. 

“What is that?” he replied, “when does the first check come?”

“Oh no, Walter,” I replied, “I trust you on that, for goodness sakes, you’re a pastor.  What I want to know is the JFK story?”

“Oh yes, I nearly forgot, thanks for reminding me.”

“Remind you?  I’ve been wondering if I was worthy of hearing it from someone who knew such a great man.”

“Hmm.  Interesting.  Well, it’s rather simple really.  I was the first Lutheran pastor to be invited into the Kennedy White House.  As I was a congressman, I suppose it could be viewed as a political meeting, but I felt there might be some other things to the meeting, as I was called alone.”

I nodded and kept listening.  I’ve heard historic things from historic personalities before, as you’ll see.  My big rule is ‘STFU and listen closely cause you might learn something.’

Since then I have amended that rule to add, ‘and feel fortunate you are there to listen to such a rare thing.’

“So I went into the Oval Office and stood before the desk of the Commander in Chief.  He was not in the office, they always let him in through a side door – protocol, you understand.”

“Of course,” I replied.

“John Kennedy came in as I was looking at the carpet - it really is a fantastic carpet you know.”

“Wow,” I said.

“The President came over and introduced himself and we shook hands.  He asked me to please sit down and I made myself comfortable and he took his seat at his desk. 

We looked at each other and the first thing he said to me was, “So, you’re a Lutheran pastor.”  I of course, paused and replied, “Mr. President, are we going to have a religious conversation?”

“He smiled that famous soft smile of his,” Walter said, adding, “and then he said, ‘I don’t see why; we’re both Democrats.’”

I laughed with him and felt a great liking growing for this elder statesman and spiritual guide.  He saw it on my face and remarked, “Well, it’s been a long day.  Thanks for your hard work and I expect to see more of it for my money.  I think we are off to a great start.”

“Me too, Mr. Moeller, thank you for your generous time and patience” I replied.  He nodded appreciatively, and we got up, and he walked off a little tired.  But he deserved to be because  he’d served his country so long and well for so long.

I felt amazingly lucky.  I ran home and told Vickie the good news.

She was so happy.  I guess she understood the writer’s struggle better than I did.  I came up with the title above and gave it too him the first meeting.  He loved it, it was the perfect context, he had said. 

But the first meeting was challenged.  I was prepared, and he was not.  Mentally prepared, I mean.  He cut the meeting short, and postponed the next one saying he realized he needed more time to prep.

I was more than happy to accommodate him, but I would have like to begin working on it as I’d really gotten prepped well and was ready to produce an excellent manuscript.  Plus, I keep a few other projects on the stove because that is how I creatively tick. 

Time dragged on, and he got sick and had to postpone for a few months, then it went to four.  Then five months passed, and we still hadn’t gotten started.  I began working on other stories to keep my career moving forward.

Then one day Vickie and I went for one of our Sunday drives like we used to do, and we were in the La Cumbre area and I spotted him walking way up La Cumbre Hill Estates; one of the many exclusive residential areas in and around Santa Barbara.

We pulled up on him and he was glad to see us and looking worse for the wear in truth.  I asked him if he was feeling better and he said he was. And then I asked him if he was thinking about getting back to work on his book.

He was silent for a moment, and hemmed and hawed and I realized he was not prepared.  So I decided to cut to the chase.

“Is it the money, Walter?  Are you unsure you want to spend the money on this project, Walter, or on me to write it?” 

He paused briefly and then let the air out of his lungs in a big whoosh, and said, “No, I wish I had that luxury.  The truth is, Arthur, I don’t have the money to pay you.  I’ve had a lot of medical bills recently.”  He trailed off, and it dawned on me he was in much worse health than he’d let on and it would not be polite to inquire further.

“Well,” I replied, “my recommendation then is that you try to write the book yourself as much as you can, and then later on, maybe I or someone else can help you tighten it up.”

“I’ve tried that, Arthur, but it’s – it’s just not coming,” he confessed. 

Suddenly, I realized he didn’t have the memories all there anymore, and it was a much more delicate moment.  We all fear the day our memory begins to fade.  We all hope medicine will change that soon. 

“Well, Walter, when it does, you just call, and I’ll be there for you,” I said confidently.

He smiled at me graciously, and said thanks and he would.  I bid him a good afternoon and we drove off.

I looked at Vickie and said, “Jeez, I thought that would have panned out.”  She looked back and said, “Well, like you always tell me, each writing project is a learning experience if you recognize the lesson.  Just try to understand what you are trying to learn from this.”

I squeezed her hand and thought about it and eventually realized that sometimes the kind of project you pick and the people you work with are more important than the money.

Because a more business oriented approach would perhaps made a writer more money, but they would be less authentic, and authenticity pays bigger in the long run more than productivity on many projects that are not perhaps as exciting or creatively challenging.

I’d rather spend a long time on a masterpiece than crank out drivel for the masses like a short order cook, but that is how I was raised and how I creatively tick.

At least I came up with a great title. 

And I learned the projects I should create are the ones worth creating if you pay yourself off in originality, authenticism and meaningful rewards that aren’t always monetary.

Stop chasing the money and someday somebody will tell you a JFK story too.  And then you will understand riches more precious than gold for the rest of your days.  Like Walter Moeller understood.  And now, so do you.


Friday, August 3, 2012

The Tire Kicker of Fame

When I was in the multimedia business during the dot com boom, we had a saying about customer types that were only checking things out and were not really interested in committing to buying into your product, culturally or financially.  We called them "tire kickers."

Both men and women mostly arrive in show business DOA (Dumb on Arrival).  Little Snoozie (an indication of her state of cognition and also simultaneously designed to protect her identity) was no exception to this rule.

Snoozie and I met one sunny afternoon as I was out getting some road work in and she was walking her dog.  I am not in the habit of interrupting my workouts for lonely women (even if they are currently in a relationship) because I have a career requiring marathon caliber health condition. 

All entertainers should be as fit as they can be if possible.  It helps to avoid the people who trash themselves. 

Snoozie was nice, confident, divorced and a train wreck trying to get back on the tracks, which I respect having been divorced myself.  But it’s how well you do at it that really makes the difference.

She was cute, but not pretty, bright and fast but not intellectually formidable, and listened well like most women will and most men won't. 

I gave her some credit and some food for thought so she would entertain the notion that everything you hear about show business or think you know is less important than what you authentically discover within yourself with the intent of giving your best to your audience.

Read: the days of the ‘old standby’ are not worth standing by anymore in an authentic creator repertoire.  You wanna work the old folks circuit or the borscht belt, go ahead, but even Vegas is smart enough to reinvent itself periodically.  You’d think creators who wanted to become successful in the entertainment business would get this.  Most of the top people do it because it’s a required survival skill.

It’s not lonely at the top, it’s demanding.  And it’s the same way at the bottom too, so get used to it and get over it and get going.  You only live so long and there is a lot to do. 

Snoozie didn’t exactly go into denial about the LC’s authenticism in creativity pitch, which was a good sign for somebody who wanted to take it seriously.  But I didn’t exactly hear commitment in her tone either. 

I’ll take that any day, because it is a country mile past the denial you can hear from otherwise talented and intelligent individuals who think the system is still the ever and only way to go to into show business with. 

These are the people who get off the bus with little prep and only a dream in their pocket and are perfect for the more-meat-for-the-grinder mentality that is the money machine driving all the decisions about what is good and producible what is not.  Hooray!  Create a national holiday for Justin Bieber’s marriage and that sort of mentality.

It’s this curtain-hiding-the-true-face-of-The-Wizard-Of-Oz kind of contrivance that sucks the optimistic, star seeking youth in and spits out embittered, unsuccessful under manifested politically manipulative and angry pseudo-creators at the other end.   

These are the people you see faking it like they've made it, and trying to get their magic talent wand back for the rest of their lives, but they never get over the pain of the first rejection of their self perceived perfection, and cannot regain career traction.

This contrivance is designed to suck you in and use you for what you temporarily have, and after that you convince yourself you have to spend the rest of your life getting back to that magical moment where they got you to believe you had it, but they did it only long enough for you to be profitable and then the phone suddenly no longer rang. 

Sound familiar?  Tens of thousands of you have experienced this. 

That is the inauthentic entertainment machine, and the LC, well, half his job as the defender of entertainment is putting out of business the people who have the “I can make you a star!” machine managing mentality, and the other half is getting into authentic directions those who would believe that Mickey Mouse crap that so innocently steals people’s whole lives, dreams and contributions to culture away.  For a few dollars more.

A case in point is one of the housemates, an 82 year old chef who wasn’t selected for “America’s Got Talent” because his CD full of ancient crooner tunes frankly wasn’t appropriate, right or contemporary enough material to make it successfully past the judging criterion. 

Rather than admit he has to change his act, he chooses to remain in the ignorant belief and he should have to do nothing but straighten out the I-can-make-you-a-star machine that manages to convince most of milquetoast mediocre audiences their prodco method is the only way to succeed in show business.

So rather than build a real platform, develop and produce authentic material and become expert at delivering unique niche material to available channels he can control, the housemate decides all he has to do is remain his wonderful talented self the industry machine so wrongfully passed over.

His reaction to being passed over is to start a negativity campaign and complain his way to the top by writing angry letter to production companies, agents and send-up stars like Sharon Osbourne (send-up stars are the media machine cultivated personalities as opposed to authentic stars who made it on talent and material and niche control) as if by this method, a magic wand will be waved over his tape that never got sent upstairs and he will be back on the show track.

His talent will then get recognized and he will become famous and fortunate because that is all he really has to do is be his fantastic, wonderful self and change nothing within himself but move heaven and earth to change everything outside his control.

What a waste of time.  Waste for one reason because the industry, even the contrived, controlled corporation club machine that controls the media access to begin with (yes, and they are even trying to do this with the internet, so get busy my authentic creators) runs on love and not negativity, even if it is fake love.  

Whereas an authentic creator understands a painting does not have to be pretty to be good, and art is what it representationally is, not what I wanted to fulfill your expectations with.  Few things are more retrogressive, like self delusion for example.

But he would not listen to me when I told him he has not the time to fight a battle that he cannot win (especially at his age), and why not just produce work that makes you happy, live the rich life that is, and garner the authentic fan base of people who connect with the message and meaning of his original work and share in the genuine fame that kind of process provides.  The fame that the corporately controlled media machine can never hope to contrive, even on its best production value day.

That is not a possible outcome in an inauthentic process like the media machine, yet the owners of the machine will insist it is the only way to fame, through they, the gatekeepers.  This is their revenue strategy, simply put.  Nothing else matters to them.  And if you pay a painful price for the rest of your life, hey, it’s business, nothing personal, right?

That makes about a much sense as saying only through your religion, and not mine, will you enter the kingdom of heaven.  Can you smell the stench of political profiteering at the expense of your authentic consciousness in that kind of logic?

But spring after spring, like salmon swimming upstream, the starry eyed youth who have been programmed by media objectives (for the record, corporate media machine objectives are social control of consumers for profit, and little more) for two decades now get off the bus in Hollywood with the tears of their parents still wet on their James Dean style leather jackets and designer knock off purses to ignorantly wander into the blender and blitzkrieg cattle call machine funnels designed to chew them up mentally, physically and creatively only and ever simply to make more money, and more money, and have more market control by it.

Snoozie was heading for this precipice, and I was not sure she was going to listen to my sage counsel against it.

I only had a year to prep.   

You see, once we got off on the right foot on our first meeting each other out on the trail, I spent a year, yes, one entire calendar year – 365 days – encouraging her to make it to coffee across town at the semi-bohemian cafe in town next to the film center where it gets as counter-cultural as the status quo here locally will permit you to digress from cornflower blue shirts, khaki pants, pinot noir and lamb or duck.  Locally sourced, of course.

But prep I did.  I was going to give Snoozie the best show business career advice she was ever going to get.  She was going to hear it, get it and act on it, and in exchange, I would get a chance to observe somebody succeeding in authentic fame, instead of the movie lines so many believe are true.   

Every time I hear someone utter a line from Sunset Boulevard as if it were written in stone, I instantly understand and recognize I am speaking with a failure who will never understand either show business or creativity.  I then make all attempts to never have to speak to this idiot again.  I have varying degrees of success with that vigilance.

When she finally breezed into pseudo-bohemian au lait, aka failed writers hangout, she was all in her best; lost a lot of weight, dressed for impress, poised, cultured and confident.

I felt I had a chance.  She seemed ready for show business.

Why didn’t I know I was wrong?  I’d already been through that with the musician I’d tried the Authentic Creator’s process with before – the one you read about a couple posts back – you’d think I’d learn to recognize the signs by now.

But I didn’t.  Have I a rescuer’s complex?

Snoozie hadn’t responded but for a couple times in a year, always to put off meeting.  I offered chocolate; I offered to write for her (something I will rarely do for anyone anymore, as I recognize it is important for them to learn how and you will eventually come to know why if you keep tuned).  I offered dinner.  I offered wine. 

Nothing could get her to come to meet with me.  And even when she talked about it, it was with some sort of time constraint escape clause in the social contract.  When I publish the astrologer story, you will know much more poignantly why this is a big loser sign.   

But for now, let’s just say, if you are going to choose to spend time with someone, do it authentically.  If you are pressed for time, your life is poorly managed and you have reordering and re-prioritizing to do, and that is that.

Or, don’t you want to make it authentically?  Entertainment career or not?

I knew a Mill Valley resident once who the second the conversation turned authentic and creatively oriented got nervous and began looking at their watch.  They were deathly afraid of becoming more talented in their own right and couldn’t bear to hear how it worked.  They still sell suits.  And I fucking handed it to them.  Proof positive you can only lead a horse to water, as Snoozie will show us.

So, back to the story. 

I offered her everything except what propriety and society would not permit, and still she delayed.  An excuse here, and excuse there.

Finally, I nudged her on the authentic.  Its where the rubber meets the road in creative relationships.  I flat out asked her if she really intended to meet with me or not, as I was a busy entertainer, with only so many relationships and timelines to authentically handle, and if I was going to get something progressing with her, it would have to be soon.

Suddenly, her free time appeared and when she showed up, I had a lot of hope.  Boy, what a fool I was.  Just like banjo spaz.  Change is off the table.  But enabling, crutching and doing it for them (like that is authentically even possible), that’s welcome with open arms.  Welcome to California, babe.

Snoozie, who had the genuine look of someone pulling out of the bottom that divorce can send you crashing down to, was all blathering on about how she had all these creative projects she was interested in doing, but wasn’t committing to.

First bad sign.  Anyone who isn’t actually creatively risking is afraid of taking a stand on their material.  Stand up comics learn this instantly and brutally.  Novelists and below the line talents often never do.  It’s probably why culture suffers.

You have to make it right and best before you risk to put it out there, because what you turn in is who you are in this town. 

Second bad sign, and a big bad sign, “..I think I am going to go to Hollywood for the summer – you know, just to network.”

Big.  Bad.  Move.  How to tell her the only way to go there is if she is already participating in something professional (which does not imply financially compensated, and is only intended to imply material professionally produced, staged and delivered into a distribution channel to content consumers) or if one has individually or intellectual property rights control of collectively developed product and wants to attempt to get it produced.

Snoozie had neither.  But she subliminally licked her lips and the gleam of Tantalus himself was in her eyes as she kept coming back to the topic of going down to LA, even if it was only for the summer.

The secondary layer of sub-lingual language, and the additional body language slowly began to indicate to me that she was responding to what she wanted and what she felt would feel best to her, but only in highly particular ways do those things have anything to do with success in one’s entertainment career.

No matter what talent you have or what artistic discipline you practice, if you can’t distill the DNA of something, you’ve got no chance of having influence in entertainment, whether the corporately controlled, profit obsessed, human collateral damage ignoring media machine kind or authentic kind. 

She wasn’t quite listening to those points, though she was thoroughly attentive to my illustrations about how to develop successful material that would move your entertainment career forward. 

So when my counsel contained meaningful messaging designed to solve her problem, like women and politicians do, she would in-authentically respond by taking what I meant and interpreting it slightly out of context in order to steer it back in the direction of what she wanted because going to LA for the summer ‘just to network’ was what she wanted to believe was the most productive and useful time she could proactively spend on her entertainment career. 

Thus in Snoozie’s interpretation of my message, going to LA for the summer was the most important thing to do for her career.  Not develop the material product to set her apart from the competition making her commercially viable.  Or developing her technical skills so she could get some work then networking would be with professionals working there in the biz, instead of the hundreds of thousands who have no work there but are looking for it.  The un-industry employed ones that stampede to every rumor – to the great delight of the corporately controlled, profit obsessed, human collateral damage ignoring media machine.

Since she wasn’t really listening, and I did not want to crassly look at my watch (though I wanted to) I changed the subject to talk about something I was interested in for a change as we’d spent about an hour and a half getting nowhere with her consciousness change despite my best efforts. 

In particular, the motif of the new design of my new living space.  She then began to listen actively and offer advice about interior design because it was a subject she was expert in, ‘and has taken classes in’. 

She apparently failed to actively listen to me when I mentioned (twice) I had learned design for eight years from the protégé of Hal Pierera -  a man who had one Academy Award and 27 nominations for Set Design and Art Direction. 

Yeah, I’m pretty comfortable and skilled with design development; I don’t really need advice or suggestions.  You should hear the formidable feedback perspectives of the detail I go into from my graphic designers, except for one gem of a designer, who shall remain nameless, whom I will ever and always rely on for my graphics until he does not want to do them for me anymore.  Those smarmy Marin graphic designers who charged ten times more than the LA designer will never work for me again.  

Learn from the LC, peeps.

So after tolerating her technically and theoretically correct sophomoric design tips and thanking her, I ended up summarizing the things I’d wanted her to remember from the meeting, as she was obviously trained to her great disadvantage by the institutional education system and would have a lot of deprogramming to do if she ever wanted to create something significant – which was something I wasn’t going to help her with.  I was focusing on her entertainment career, and by this time, it was apparently to no avail.

You can lead a horse to water.

I polished off the summary in a way where she heard approval for listening to my long winded how-to-not-fail-in-show-business-which-you-are-headed-for-proactively-little-miss-trainwreck speech.  I played it like she got it all.  She left the meeting with her ego intact, and I am sure that she was soon making plans to go to LA for the summer because what she really needed to do was far too much work for her to consciously, meaningfully and authentically undertake to her own entertainment career advantage. 

I’d tacitly agreed to write a little something up for her but made sure she understood it was her job to flesh it out, because she had engaged in the despicable tactic all writers are infected with from the industry wanna-bees, the “Maybe you could type up something for me?” syndrome.

The sad fact is most writers are so pathetic they agree and drive down the value of the written word for those of us who keep the literary artistry business a profession.  

Anybody who believes studio moguls, directors and cameras built Hollywood and not the written word please stop reading this blog here-forth, you are terminally infected with inauthenticism and cannot be helped. 

They would have you believe that drivel just as wanna bees would have a writer believe they are doing the writer a favor by getting them to write something for free for them.  Most of those people will not be skilled enough to find the money deal anyway, even if they did have a decent script in hand. 

So that night I went home, had a creative insight and it blossomed into a twelve page treatment just twelve hours after we had hugged goodbye. 

I emailed her for days right after telling her I had something for her and would she meet me and read it and see if it would help her in case she did decide to go south and then at least she would look the part of a self producing talent even if she did not have the brains and business skill to become it.  I didn’t mention to her delicate temperament that last part.  At least she would save herself the embarrassment, if that thought of what was actually occurring to her ever dawned on her to begin with.

You just can’t tell with the deluded-by-design types.  But it’s a pretty good bet.  You see, dysfunction is consistent, and therefore the odds are on it. 

Oh, and what a beautiful design the corporately controlled, profit obsessed, human collateral damage ignoring media machine spins to the gullible.

I know; I believed it once too.

Ultimately, after months more of her not responding, not recognizing my contribution to her career, not following up on texts, calls, emails and the like, I let it go.  I never sent her the copy, I never do.  You want to read my material?  You show up and make the meeting like a professional does, and you sign my non-disclosure agreement like a trustworthy professional does.

This is so far beyond most wanna bees.  But it’s the way I do business, as do other successful entertainers.

I ended up offering the material to another actress who is considering it.  That other actress does not understand that when something that is right for you comes along, you jump on it with both feet and make the best of it, make it your own, and then nobody can take that away from you.  If it is that good, when they remember the story they remember the player, and that is how that works for your entertainment career. 

Story is king; never forget that.  Whatever is associated with story is also unforgettable. 

Friends embarrassed me by telling me I was losing my youthful edge by allowing myself to be trolled by a young female wanna be.  But I stayed in her corner, hoping she would wise up, like divorce can permit you to do when you have to reinvent yourself as a single person again.  I had her back professionally by creating for her material that would help her career three ways in one production.

Months went by.  Now, I get a text.  “Too long!  Let’s get coffee!!  Catch up!!!”  Yeah, two coffees in 18 months.  That’s a productive and progressive authentic relationship effort on her part.

So I cut her loose, out of Google circles, out of the production consideration, out of my network. 

I reevaluated the Authentic Creators Project entry criteria and decided to place a high vault right at the beginning of the project in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

This is so people who actually wanted to try to obtain fame authentically would put out the effort (not the lip service and tired old, standby schpeil song, or as they say in big country ‘the old saw has dull teeth’) to justify further help from my team.

The only person so far, ironically, who understands the effort it truly takes to become famous authentically, without the corporately controlled, profit obsessed, human collateral damage ignoring media machine in your bed, in your coffee and in the air you breath and the words you speak and believe, is a painter in Berkeley who used the transformative power of creativity in his life to paint his way through cancer survival.  He believes creative painting saved his life and I believe him.  I respect that man, and I will help him all he wants me to.

Let that be a lesson to all you authenticity directed creators seeking fame.  Recognize and accept what you must put on the line and put out in effort and commit to be a real deal in creator driven authentic cultural arts disciplines and not a faker or poser or puppet of the machine (or worse, a prophet or minister or advocate of the corporately controlled, profit obsessed, human collateral damage ignoring media machine).

Because faking it until you make it is the first lie to overcome if you want things to change in both entertainment and culture. 

Or, you can go see The Music Man until the end of time and forget what significance is in the twilight of your cultural years.  To not know significance is to not know culture, and culture is the important aspect of society, and society is the key to the change in civilization we all need.

So, in the hallowed tradition of entertainers, so long, little Snoozie, good luck.  We’ll call you.  Maybe.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I wanted evolution and got revolution.

Greetings Authenticism Seekers;

I joined a meetup group on Art Entrepreneur Start-ups.  It was formed at the beginning of 2012.  I was excited.  I wanted to meet and share my ideas and support for my Authentic Creator Evolution Project.

I waited for an announced meetup time and date.  Then I waited some more, then I waited some more.  Finally, the group had been formed for three months, and no meetups had been scheduled by group leadership.  I emailed them and was promptly, yet discreetly told if I was dissatisfied, I could leave the group.  Not even a response to my simple query of a simple question:  When is there going to be a meetup?

Some of us are motivated.  Some of us are inspired and seek meaning in collaborative arts entreprenurialism.  Some of us are so authentic as creators, there is little else we can do.

The status quo among you may not understand that last fact, but, I am not here to serve you.  Your kinds have only retarded the progress of the humanities, and are to only be regarded as the anchor dragging factor of cultural progress.

So, I wrote the ultimatum post to the group in the forums, and risked being kicked out of the group for telling the truth (you know, that dangerous articulation political creatures fear) about how this was a flat out disservice to membership, and then I offered my own meetup time and place to the first twenty respondents to my email address.

I even decided to break some of the incredible work I am doing in Authenticism and Cultural Opportunity and give a brief forum on

"Criterion for the Creative Corporation in the Authentic Era Ahead."

It's not a thick topic per se, but the intent is.

You see, we are a nation at a standstill, political gridlock, financial lack of inertia, our education system, healthcare system, social system, legal system - all are in limbo.

The only class of society capable of effectiveness right now are the creators.  The artists, writers, painters, dancers, actors and other fine and applied artists who have recognized they cannot live life without being a creator because that is what they are born as - creativity is not something you can switch off, though you can kill it.

We are the ones who manage to produce a body or work while scratching out an existence in the system.  

Or, is nobody aware that ultimately your crayons get taken away from you while quite young so you can be indoctrinated into being a productive member of society even if it costs you the repression and ostracizing of the greater part of yourself?

The creative part of yourself.  Some of us years later, after the indoctrination into the reading, writing and arithmetic most of us for the most part lose for failure to practice or our occupation emphasizes one and no others, and we simply lose the skill -  go back to art to learn the domain after years of repression of the creative in us and gain back only so much.

Then we go to work for the financial objectives as creators, serving up our talent to make somebody else money.

Or, the more courageous of us go the way of the outcast, and pay the price of a life outside the mainstream in exchange for the great voyage of rich discovery only the creative life can offer civilization now.  In fact, I say, the creative path followed even further than we extemporaneously comprehend now is the future of our evolutionary path.

Yeah, I said it, bringing the creative forth in all is the pipeline to allowing the subconscious mind into the relative and practical world permitting the future evolution of the human mind.

That part we repress, yeah, the subconscious - it's actually our future.   Or do you think banks, breeding and rectilinearity in dwelling is the apex of human development?

It will just work synonymously with our conscious mind, so we have the benefit of thinking and awareness with both parts of our consciousness.

But for now, as commerce has been perpetrated as the be-all end-all of civilization by those who advantage that way, the next evolutionary step is jailed due to failure to explore or understand it and benefit from it; even though it is us and you yourself.

But I believe the creator class of society now has an incumbent responsibility to lead society from its stall and backslide.  Creators now are no longer to be satisfied being labeled as misfits, outcasts and misunderstood so that they simply participate as little in society as they are able in order to continue uninterrupted creativity.

I've lived that life, and loved it, because the status quo only stinks of the stagnant and cultural cancer, but I have come to realize we creators can no longer afford that position.

Much as we ourselves and the society that fails to attempt to understand us (because it is fact 3/4 of the people you know right now don't want anything to change) like being left alone, that position has led up away from our ability to transform society.

We are left with the small purview of being allowed to thrive in exclusionary systems like entertainment, but that is as rigged a game as there ever was, or allowed to thrive in exclusionary systems like publishing, or galleries, or whatever patronize driven and objectified publication and public presentation system could organize itself.

Creators themselves have their own status quo, such as not permitting highly transformative creators into their "colonies" and "creative commons" or "creative collectives."  However, if you are a cup and saucer maker, or a painter of landscapes and other 'pretty' art sans any statement of the human condition outside of vanity, the doors open wide and welcome to the craft commerce of the mediocre.

Have we forgotten the risk that Martha Graham took creating modern dance out of the squalor, sloth and self-enchantment that was the Balanchine ballet?  Right down to flat out deception she needed in order to change the status quo.

Creators, hide no more, or you will have to do more than sing and dance for your supper in the future, you will have to capitulate your values and prostitute your ethics, much like people do everyday for a mere dollar more.

I am the Lone Comic, and I am the Defender Of Entertainment, and the Authentic Creator Evolution Project starts now, with me.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sometimes the baggage you cut is op's.

Greetings Travelers of the Road of Life.

I had to let someone go their own way today.  Even removed them from one of my circles.

You could learn from the following true story.

It's hard enough to steer your own ship toward the horizon of fame.  I have a different definition of it than others, and I have the DNA of it.

I met someone who was a great candidate for my fame consultancy, and was willing to work for for free because they had once had some significant stature in their domain in our culture, and I felt it was more important to be of service than about sales.  This was a rare talent in a challenged domain worth preserving in culture.

This individual, an accomplished master of their chosen art, had taken some pretty good hits in life recently, and simply put, had lost a lot.  But not so much they could not put on a comeback, and then some.  In fact, when I did my analysis of the potentials, I saw greater fame the second time around, and, I was sure the prosperity was going to be there also.  You got to be willing to invest in people.

I look for the values in people that are not necessarily measured in materialistic terms, and gave this person my support, good will, energy and strategy for getting back up on the horse and getting back to what we all want to do in the creative culture business, make a living off our creativity.

I saw this in this person more than they saw it in themselves, because that is what the hits in life had done for their self image and personal esteem.

Nonetheless, I spent weeks giving perspective when others were assaulting their integrity, fairness and relationships.  I gave hope when fear crept too frequently into their eyes.  I gave strength when weakness overpowered determination and most of all, I gave them new meaning when there seemed to be none left anymore.

The LC knows how to be in someone's corner.   But you can lead a horse to water.

Just when I thought my hard work had gotten through, and they were not going to lapse into the dysfunctional pattern preventing them from achieving both meaning and fame their whole life so many times before, even when there were millions of reasons why the case would be otherwise, I was made the fool.

I'll admit it, I was played.  I own me.

Feeling we had come around the bend of it all, and they were ready to look at and commit to a creative strategy anew, I took this person out to dinner.  I showed them a good time, listening until they stopped complaining.  I gave (much that it does anybody any good anyway) them food for thought reinforcing weeks of strategic bolstering because one plans their way out of a pickle in life or art, not cry yourself a river to slide downhill on.  That gets you nothing but an audience of hecklers and bad reviews.

I told them my best stories and the peals of laughter coming from them rang out across the throng in the big eatery near the water and other people walked by with approving smiles.  I was making this person's night to vault them over the edge of the black, black days they had been walking through, and I thought I had almost gotten them out of that space.

What a fool I was.  I should have realized this person, like many creators, are in love with dysfunction because it is somehow a justification of failure and legitimizes invalidating success.  I have known many talented people with this affliction on the way up.  It's a fool's view, too, not that I had much room to speak.

Finally, after the check had come, and the vibe was right, this person made a choice to metaphorically throw cold water in the face of all the good I was attempting to do for them, and in addition, acted in crass, callous terms, bringing the evening to a swift and sad and pathetic (for them) ending, making it pretty clear to me they were not interested in being part of art, community and technology, three of the threads of the modern definition of fame.

I realized after I had gotten them safely to their car they never wanted my help.  They were in love with their misery.  No amount of support or strategy was going to help them.  They had given up.  They were going home to die on the inside, the place people go when dying on the outside begins.  I just could not help them anymore, and I wished I'd seen sooner they could not be helped at all.

I realized I'd been wasting my time and energy and commitment to creator care.  This person had just been keeping things going for their own vanity and need to have someone supportive during a transition when they were despised by all who did not make their dreams come true for them, something you know nobody can ever do for you.

I had served my hidden agenda purpose to them.  Now that they had gotten what they wanted, which was just an emotional crutch to get them through a rough patch and they were past it, they had no more use for me.

So they made it public and embarrassing, like the firing scene in Jerry Maguire. 

I'm onstage a lot as a comic, embarrassment is an old friend and often an inspiration.  Water off a duck's back and all that.

But this friend, as they called themselves, they went over the line, they showed they were not a friend, but someone who had been using my positivism as a crutch to make it through all the hell other people representatively had been giving them.

And that's all I was to them.  Nothing more.  I had given them trust, and confidence and all the other things that go along with that, and never one negative.

This is a clear case of falsified authenticity, imo.  

Well, there was only one thing to do, and that was to cut them loose.  They now no longer have the privilege of association with me, and I had to delete them from my google circle.

Because one thing a leader knows they must to if they are truly to be a leader of their tribe, is to know when to make an example of someone who simply refuses to align values because they are hiding an agenda behind deceptive goals.

One does what all of us in Hollywood know what to do, you know when to kiss and when to kick.

It's kick time.

There is a saying from the 36 Rules of Creativity, "Never try to sell a meteor to a dinosaur."

You can't crutch fame, and you gotta cut your baggage.

Learn from the LC so you don't suffer fools yourself.

Next time,

The Lone Comic