WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The germ won. I went down for the count yesterday. Inventory: scratchy throat, sore muscles, throbbing headache, general misery.

Also, brittle and prickly on the job; patience wearing thin.

It's amazing how easily the balance can be upended.

I watched a little post-convention analysis: stupid, simple-minded; I believe TV is intended to make us all ignorant.

Must carry on. Rehearsal today. This morning feeling 'in the bubble,' watching myself 'going through the motions.' Here and not here simultaneously.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Political Theater. Watched the Democractic Convention last night. Kerry accepted the nomination.

War hero/war protester; unlike Clinton, the master, 'the Artful Dodger' (he finessed Vietnam and much else) Kerry volunteered to go, served honorably, came home, threw away his ribbons, and spoke out against the war. The man's position evolved over time. He was not afraid to 'change his mind.' To me that seems 'wise.'

Kerry talked about 'complexities' in the world and this seems just right.

'Jokerman' in Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket' wore a helmet with a peace symbol and the words 'born to kill.' The duality of man.

Opening song last night, 'No Surrender' from the Jersey 'Boss,' Bruce Springsteen; closing song, 'Beautiful Day' from the Irish band, U2. Kerry needs two songs to convey his message. Strong and optimistic.

Do we expect too much from these politicos? Are we too smart, too cynical for any kind of hero? There are no perfect people. What about the corrupt, corporate schmooze? Does that transcend all hopes and plans? 'Too much money makes the baby go blind.'

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The hazards of traveling: a slight sore throat this morning. How many germs floating around in N.Y., at LaGuardia, on the plane? An invisible, insidious, enemy. The mind reels.

I'm not down for the count, instead, I feel bright and shiny this morning. A good, dreamless, sleep. It's so good to be back home. Yesterday, I conducted my business from home base. It's the best; my own comfortable hermitage.

One must 'break a routine' to re-fire the brain, and then return to the daily routine renewed. Like in that famous country song, 'How can I miss you, if you won't go away?'

Before my head hit the pillow last night, I came across Merton's concept of 'the book of life.' This is the book that we are all writing. We decide what kind of book it will be. We interpret events: meaningless, random, disconnected; or seamless, continuous, full of meaning and mystery?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Back home. The trip to N.Y. was satisfying, exhausting.

The positive: had a good training session with Block Institute, wandered the streets of Brooklyn Heights (lunched on Montague St., made famous by Bob Dylan), had a long rambling conversation, touching on everything, with Paula and Philip as we drove from Coney Island back to Brooklyn. The three of us are from such different backgrounds and experiences, but we can really relate on a very human level.

The negative: the logisitcs of travel. The trip home was trying. Heavy rain brought La Guardia to a halt, canceled flights, a backup on the tarmac. We got on the plane and waited. A line up of planes in front of us. I read every scrap of the N.Y. Times, I ran through my meditation routine, Paula and I discussed work, politics, books, families, the afterlife. Finally, we took off.

Got home late, let the birds out (they went insane when I came in) snacked on bread and nuts, watched the last of the Democratic Convention and crashed out. This morning, groggy, empty...happy to be home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

On the road. First thing, order a pot of coffee, activate the Internet TV and Blog.

At the Marriot in Brooklyn, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge (the first suspension bridge in the US). It is an amazing, soaring, structure.

Paula (beautiful, brilliant, graceful, blond) and I are doing a training session today for Philip Clark's customer Block Institute.

Philip is a great host. Whenever I come here, he takes time to show me around. We come from such different backgrounds (he was born in Bed-Stey) but we really connect. It is not 'work' to be around him.

This is a whirlwind trip. Back home tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Long days ahead. Meetings in the morning, flight to New York in the afternoon, dinner with a Client tonight, training day tomorrow, and then back to the airport for a flight home tomorrow evening.

I must approach days like these, one step at a time. A cup of coffee, a good meditation, a New York Times, Merton's Journals, a CD player, a handful of stately, meditative musical selections (Sigur Ros, the Donnie Darko Soundtrack).

These are tools to claim 'my space.'

The time is not my own. I must make the time my own.

I always enjoy New York, the city provides a real adrenaline kick. I hope to maintain a 'detached amusement.'

'Every body's talking at me, don't hear a word they're saying, only the echoes of my mind ...'

Sunday, July 25, 2004

A sense of play, of amusement. Pretending to 'be' someone else. Memorizing the text, learning the steps, repeating the moves. Putting on a 'second skin,' letting this become 'unconscious,' 'instinctive.'

Repetition until the 'routine' becomes natural, automatic, 'in the moment.'

This is the process of rehearsal.

Today will be the first full cast rehearsal for 'Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath.' Yesterday, Carla, George and I (we've worked together many times now) started the process of 'assuming' our characters. It's a great kick. It's also annoying, frustrating, trying to find your way in; so that words and actions become one.

It is a process of 'breaking down' into mechanics, so that they can be put back together into a new configuration. An actor's tools: voice, body, mind. The trick is to become 'self aware' so that you can forget yourself and in the process, find something new, something unexpected.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Read a short article this morning about 'lucid dreams.' These are dreams in which you are active, able to make choices during the dream.

Waking life feels very much like a lucid dream. Isn't our day to day existence basically a tremendous act of imagination? We imagine both the mundane, boring details, as well as the extraordinary occurances of a life.

'Something happens,' but then in the experience of it, we create an image, bring it in, interpret or discard it. Everything passes through us. Sometimes we feel like the passive observer: the dreamer, sometimes we feel like an active participant: the lucid dreamer.

Whether the dream is filled with meaning, or is just random nonsense is a choice. We imagine a life of no meaning, or a life filled with meaning. It is up to us. We may imagine a god or devil to spread around the responsibility, but it's our dream, these are our imaginings.

We can dream to be the butterfly and the buddha and everything else under the sun and stars.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Yesterday, my second floor apartment was hot, the sweat poured out of me. A good reason to go to a movie.

Met Carla at the Avanti Cafe, and then we went to the Music Box Theater to see 'Bukowski: Born into This.' A great documentary of a great man and writer. Can poetry, can art, transform a man's life? Yes it can. Bukowski is a supreme example.

As a child, he lived in a kind of hell, his father beat him every day from the age of 6 until 12. Bukowski said his father was his first 'literary teacher.' Lesson learned: there is a world of unreasonable, unearned, pain. In response, no pretense, words must not be wasted.

Later, Bukowski wandered, from flophouse to flophouse, from job to job. He was a man with no money, no connections. His one steady job: he worked for the Post Office for 15 years. No matter what or where he was, he wrote, every day, like a man possessed. Poetry, short stories. Hundreds, thousands.

Many years passed, and finally in L.A. he began to be publised. He established himself in a street paper called, Open City and later the L.A. Free Press; his weekly column, 'Notes of a Dirty Old Man.'

Bukowski had all the vices: writing, women, the horse track, drinking. All of these vices had their attractions. Writing was the one that allowed Bukowski to show his humanity, his humour, his hard-boiledness. He won over a generation of readers with novels, short stories and poems. He gained the world, by pouring himself onto little sheets of white paper.

He was a scarred, wounded soul, but ultimately, he wore his wounds, his scars, like emblems of his art. Write a poem, save a life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

My latest favorite author is Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk, who died in 1968. I just ordered from Amazon, 'The Intimate Merton,' selections from his Journals. Merton is an extraordinary writer. I base this on 'The Seven Storey Mountain,' and 'Asian Journals.'

I trace a long crooked path (in no particular order) bringing me to Merton: Robert Louis Stevenson, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Dickens, Joseph Heller, Charles Bukowski, Hunter Thompson, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, John Irving, Herman Melville, Nelson Algren, Thomas McGuane, William Blake, Paul Bowles, Norman Mailer, Robert Pirsig, Ken Kesey, Nick Tosches, Peter Mathiessen, Jean Genet, W.G. Sebald, Vladimir Nabokov, Sam Shepard, Samuel Beckett, Arthur Miller, Robert Coover, Yukio Mishima, William Vollman, Michael Herr.

I would say these authors have been my 'mentors,' I'm sure there are others I've forgotten. I have spent much of my life searching for: experience, knowledge, wisdom.

Some of these authors have lived a life of madness and excess, some have tried in their way to be 'free,' to be 'holy.' They are all unique individuals, but to me, they illustrate the basic 'unity' underlying all human experience.

Merton says a 'man of faith' is one who is unafraid to wrestle with doubt. Sometimes the wisdom is in the 'wrestling.'

Monday, July 19, 2004

The days are galloping by.

Back to earth. I think I have 're-integrated' the golden body into flesh and bone. I have put on my 'fast runners' hoping to catch a glimmer of the sun this morning.

Yesterday gathered the cast to read 'Henry Goodbar.' First, tentative steps. It all still seems unreal, but it was good to hear new voices. We are creating something out of nothing. Lines on paper need to be embodied. It's a magical, alchemical process.

Each step is plain, simple. Learn the lines. Listen to each other. Make strong choices in voice and movement. Slowly build brick by brick, until all the pieces work as one. Strong, quirky individuals become a seamless, evanesant, unity.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Turns out yesterday was very odd. I definitely 'blew the picture' during my float in the 'sensory deprivation tank,' and I'm still feeling the effects. On one level, it's all very simple: I had this vision of an idealized, golden image of myself, floating in a black, star-filled, immensity. A new picture.

The result: next morning, (yesterday), I was alive, refreshed, but at the same time I felt fragile, weak, sensitive to light, not ready for the world. I ended up laying down mid-afternoon, and I fell asleep unitl dinner time. I had dinner, layed down on the couch, fell asleep until bedtime, went to bed and woke up this morning at 5:30 a.m. with after-images of dreams, of the dead and the living, still in my head.

All so very strange. The new picture in my mind, seems to have had an effect on my body. Something has changed inside. I think this has to do with the 'knowledge' that a part of me, (maybe the most important part) is 'spirit' beyond the mind/body duality. This 'spirit image', the golden body, is free: of fear, hope, desire, wants, needs, plans, dreams.

The 'knowledge' of all this is being formulated in me now. But the power, the magic, resides in the 'picture', the image. This is a 'transformation,' but I am unsure where this transformation leads.
'A man gains his soul, but loses the world.'

Saturday, July 17, 2004

In one of my favorite books, 'Impro' a handbook on comedy and improvisation, there is the concept of 'breaking a routine.' In psychic lingo there's 'blowing the picture.' In both instances, one is releasing energy, which brings laughter or clarity.

Yesterday afternoon, Carla and I went for a massage and a 'float' at the Space/Time Tanks, a perfect way to 'break a routine.' The massage was good; Nadine worked over my body, every joint, bone, muscle. It was both relaxing and refreshing.

The float was extraordinary. This was my third time. Each has been a little different. No sound, no light, your body floats in a tank of warm salt water (so much salt you are buoyant) for over an hour. Time and space dissolve.

This must be what it's like in zero gravity. This must be what it's like in the womb. This must be like...nothing else I can imagine. I went into a deep meditation, fully conscious. I submerged into a state beyond the world, leaving everything behind. I could see myself, in my mind's eye, naked, golden, rising up and out into a star-filled expanse.

Afterwards, a hot shower, got dressed, and headed out into the streets of Chicago. For awhile, both of us were totally silent, like visitors from another planet. There was a faint glow around every shape.

We went to Thai Soukdee, had a great Thai meal, went home, went to sleep early.

This morning up early. Alive, refreshed. The 'picture has been blown.' Wonder what today will bring.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I'm learning my lines for, 'Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath.' Strange and freaky. I'm sometimes amazed by the things that I choose to write. It's best when the subject and form seems to choose me.

Memorizing lines is all about breaking down the text into 'beats' and learning the 'music' of the words. This is slow, step by step, brick by brick, work. It can really clear your head.

In the play, I have set up an opposition between those I admire: Lennon, Harrison, Sean Flynn, 'the creative kids,' against Nixon, Kissinger, Hoover, men of power and arrogance. 'The Dreamer,' Henry Goodbar is a combination of qualities from the two camps. A man with his head in the clouds, but with an illusion of power and money. Kind of based on Howard Hughes, he's so rich and powerful, he never needs to leave his bedroom. He doesn't live in the world like the rest of us.

Then there's Rashid, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. He is another Dreamer, also in isolation, a man with no power, no wealth, who, in effect, lives only in his head.

I've been thinking lately of my influences, my 'precursors.' If I go back to my 'formative years,' I'd have to say that the most profound influences I can trace would be Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island,' and Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughter-house Five.'

Vonnegut was the one who really fired up my imagination, freed me to experiment. I guess I should credit, or blame, Vonnegut for my inability to tell a story straight.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Clouds in my head this morning. The Great Cloud of Unknowing. Waking like rising from the depths of a murky ocean.

Sleep is one of those unexplainable mysteries.

It seems, I was in another realm, but I can't recall the details. Shadows, glancing, skittering, light, nothing of substance to hold onto.

I have the sense that I went somewhere important, discovered something that might be useful, unable to bring it to the surface.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A monk. A cult of one, ready to entertain the universal.

I meditate every morning. I run through my standard visualizations, freeing up energy by creating and destroying 'roses,' clearing out my 'chakras,' running 'gold energy' through the layers of 'my aura,' reviewing 'mockups' of what I want to actualize. A simple, clean, practice. No doctrine, no dogma. Be the buddha, kill the buddha.

A vegetarian diet. Live on: bread, fruit, pasta, vegetables, frozen yogurt, mineral water, coffee.

Coffee is a kick of adrenaline.

The main guideposts : Be here now. Stay open to a detached clarity.

My purpose: a spiritual journey; be awake, be alive to a higher vibration, a higher energy.

A simple practice of becoming.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Sometimes it feels like one long day, with a million little variations. Variations on a theme: The Life of Sunny Jimmy.

Hot and sticky this morning. Already, as I sip coffee, I'm sweating.

So much to do: day-job calls and e-mails, memorize lines for 'Henry Goodbar,' create video images to be projected during the performance. Need to find pictures of Elvis, George Harrison, John Lennon, Johnny Rotten, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon. Archetypal Figures.

My life, my work: a mad, over-blown, opus? Who knows? Only the Shadow knows.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Some days everything just 'clicks.' Yesterday was perfect. I was 'Zen Surfer,' riding waves of positive energy all day.

'Abbie Fest,' is always an inspiration. The motto: creative cooperation. No bullshit, it is all about the work. Mary Archie Theater's Rich Cotovsky is a rumpled, grizzled, Buddha. A Laughing Buddha. He embodies Chicago's no nonsense work ethic. Chicago Theater is not about the money, instead, it's an example of 'work is prayer.' Looking forward to the event in August. The 'Woodstock Spirit' lives.

The call-backs at Peter Jones (this is our second home) were excellent: so much talent, so many good choices. The text began to come alive. Kind of like watching your little baby take it's first tentative steps. It's up to Carla now. I trust her instincts in building the group dynamic.

Finished the day at a back yard barbecue on the North side of Chicago. The Art Director crowd. Spent my time talking to a couple of musicians. We discussed all the great bands we've seen over the years. My list included: The Ramones, Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Kinks, New York Dolls, Mott the Hoople. Music has been such a big part of my life.

Listened to Neil Young's 'Greendale' in the car. Quirky, funny, the best. The now deceased singer/songwriter Townes Van Zant supposedly had the ability to read auras; he said of Neil Young, 'Neil's aura was Pure Gold.' Gold equals 'Havingness.' You can't ask for more.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

No day of rest. Off to Mary Archie Theater for an "Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Fest' meeting, then to 'call-backs' for "Henry Goodbar." Hoping to solidify the cast. Need a dynamic, committed team.

Carla and I reviewed the script yesterday. The challenge is to make the text come alive. So many choices, so many directions.

Finished Merton's 'Asian Journals.' Merton faced with huge Buddhas in Ceylon: silent, smiling, all knowing, non-judging. Merton comes to a key insight: must empty oneself (meditation, contemplation) to be filled with compassion for all sentient beings.

Merton died in Bangkok in 1968; a freak accident, electrocuted by a faulty fan. So strange. In the Journals he is so inspiring, so alive, so full of plans. We know, but he doesn't, that he will not leave Bangkok alive.

Any of us can step out at any moment. Merton's last public words: 'So I will disappear.'

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Revived this morning. Head swimming with ideas. Don't want to settle on one, let them all flash by.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Brando on acting: "In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King." Remember, Brando was the 'One Eyed Jack.'

Long, fitful sleep. Weather today: cloudy. Might use clouds as an 'excuse' not to run today. My body: depleted, stiff, slow moving.

My 'prison' haircut, ala Steve McQueen in 'The Getaway,' reminds me that I am imprisoned in a body. This is good.

More from Asian Journals --- Merton: spirit and material are not opposed, but intertwined. Merton on Hinduism: 'everything is the divine dance and play of Shiva.'

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Up early, heading to Chicago this morning. Chasing down the 'big deal.' Moving forward, but trying to stay detached from the 'needing, wanting, grasping...'

Yesterday got a 'bad haircut,' from Nina, I sat down in the barber chair and said, "give me a 'Nina,' Nina!".

Every haircut is bad, that's why I love my David Letterman 'Late Show' hat. "The difference between a good haircut and bad one? About 5 days."

This morning, in the mirror, it appears my ears are getting bigger, my face is getting longer, I'm becoming a seriously funny character. This bodes well for my acting career.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

A little 'off the beam' this morning. Not sure if I'm Dumps or Sunny. Kind of in an in-between state.

My one grand, silly extravagence: running shoes.

Dark blue Adidas for those days when I need support, stability. They are sturdy 'plodders,' like running in mud. Dumps.

Pure white Asics for those days when I need to fly. These shoes are sleek, fast; when I run, I'm chasing after my shoes. Sunny.

Guess I'll go with Blue Dumps today, try to plod my way to the sun. Yes, today's motto: to the plodder goes the spoils.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Holiday is over. Must fortify myself with coffee and dreams. Ready to seize, or maybe just gently carress, the day.

Finished Godard's 'In Praise of Love,' last night. A beautiful, difficult, intelligent, haunting movie. So out of step, so out of time. Godard is an old man now. He has not lost his brittle edge, his quirkiness; he is oh so French, so sublimely maddening.

Memory, youth, old age...Godard's movie is sad, transcendant. Love is held in opposition to the State, to the strum and drang of History.

If life has become a movie, (now a TV show) Godard suggests that it's better that it be a tragedy (simple, clean, death inevitable, acceptable) as opposed to a melodrama (overwrought, too many reversals, death an accident).

Monday, July 05, 2004

First thought this morning: no longer 'refreshed' after a good sleep, I'm only weary, or less weary. After a cup of coffee or two, I start to come around and think, 'not so weary.'

Reading Merton's "Asian Journals," yesteray I came across a discussion of Buddhist dialectic. Man says the world is 'this,' or 'that,' which entraps us in the web of mind. Buddha says, world is beyond differention. Instead of taking sides in an argument, one must 'explode the argument' with paradox, with silly, baffling, koans.

The unity of all things is beyond mind; meditation, contemplation brings one back into the body, which frees us.

Watched the first hour of Jean Luc Godard's 'In Praise of Love,' last night, (we paused the DVD, and walked to the beach to see fireworks exploding over the dark, calm water). Two lines from the movie still with me: 'the question is not whether humans will survive, but whether they deserve to survive.' Also, 'what if the truth turns out to be sad?'

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The calm after the storm. A flurry of activity: set building all week and a casting call yesterday. A new play: starting from ground zero.

The process is daunting; the play is a difficult child; we need to find talented, committed actors willing to 'let it rip.' Casting is a leap into the unknown.

The process is so all-consuming; there's nothing like the kick of a tight group dedicated to the same vision.

The group dynamic is everything. We need to create a space of 'trust and play.' Can we take it to another level? A full, complete, commitment to create a sublime, shimmering mirage.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Buddhism filtered through the Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton... 'the goal of a life is to go from innocence to experience, and back to innocence once again.'

Experience means: sin, diappointment, failure. Innocence means: no bitterness, no regret, no guilt.

Marlon Brando has died. Strangely, no emotion when I heard the news. He was 80 years old, he made 'old bones,' one can't ask for more.

I did not know the man, only the work --- one role, one movie changed my perception of the world --- Paul in 'Last Tango in Paris.' Paul was an ex-boxer, ex-bongo player, the role seemed the closest to the man: intelligent, funny, full of life, smouldering, in pain, fully human, all the flaws close to the surface.

The movie: stylish, beautiful, primal -- exploring sex, lonliness, death. Strangely exhilarating, liberating, tragic. I think it was the last time (1973) Brando totally exposed himself for his art.

In his later years, Brando became a reclusive, fat, Buddha Baby. Graceful, silly. He seemed to give up his sexuality and in the process he became an impossibly large, dainty old woman; strangely beautiful and sad.

When death came knocking at his door, did Brando send an Indian in his place to collect his statuette?

Friday, July 02, 2004

Lennon's line in my head this morning: 'living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.'

And what do you see with eyes wide open?

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Today: American spacecraft 'probes' the Rings of Saturn.

Yesterday: Riding a wave of exhaustion, coming home on the Purple Line (Purple is creative energy). City throbbing with heat and activity; Cub fans with their little blue caps (Blue is Certainty), commuters in their business garb, young men and women, in their uniforms of summer (I wish they were all California Girls).

So tired (long hard run in the morning, painting walls all day, juggling phone calls in between), so empty, waves of energy wash over me. Physical exhaustion is better than the mental kind; a clean, peaceful, detachment.

Get home, let the birds out from their cage, give them some bread and lettuce, I take a long, hot soak in the bathtub, wash away the dirt, the sweat, the paint-drops on my arms and hands. Sit on the back porch and watch the big, red sun slowly sink into darkness.

Blog Archive