The Dialectic (Part Four)

This is it, guys.  It’s the final post in the four-part series known as “The Dialectic.”  It is what it is.  I’m moving on now.   I’ve done my part, as best I can.  The rest is up to God.  

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. At this point, you’ve basically been reduced to a literary device that makes it easier to get my point across.

Q. From superego to literary device in one blog alone?  I’m crushed.

A. Join the club.  I’ve been crushed for thirteen years.

Q. So what’s your point?

A. My point is that $50,000 is not a whole lot of money to somebody.   Maybe not you, and certainly not me — but somebody.  Maybe not one person.  Maybe a group of people.  Maybe someone wants to invest?  Fine.  We’ll start talking about a return.   Maybe someone’s a patron of the Arts, and would simply like to be a donor.  Or maybe somebody just likes me — believes in me — and would like to see me succeed.  One way or the other, the $50,000 is obtainable, as long as we draw the right people to the cause.

Q. And what is the cause?

A. The cause is to produce the musical Eden in Babylon, which deals with the effects of homelessness on the youth of today.  I have placed within this piece a persistent suggestion that the solution to homelessness lies in better communication between those who are sheltered and those who are not — between those who have not yet seen the streets, and those who are forced to live there.   I know it’s sounds like I’m dreaming, so let me ask you this: why not?  What do we have to lose?   It just might be that if we embrace our common humanity, whether we be rich or poor, sheltered or homeless, we will bridge the Class Gap while it still glares, before it tears us apart.

Q. Why Musical Theatre?  Why did you choose that genre?

A. Largely, because that’s where my proficiency lies.  But also, the classic view of the traditional musical is that it is intended to present life, not as it is, but as it ought to be.  Man of La Mancha.  Carousel.  Camelot.  See a show like that — a show like mine – and you don’t leave for home in despair.

Q. Well then surely there must be patrons of the Arts somewhere who will resonate with such a cause.  But who will be these people be?

A. Well, they certainly won’t be poor people.

Q. But isn’t Eden in Babylon an exposé on classism?

A. It is.  So what?

Q. Well, don’t you think that the people who might have the kind of money to back you are the very people whom you have often antagonized?

A. They are.  But fences can be mended.  In fact – they must be mended.  It’s what the play is all about.

Q. But won’t you run the risk of antagonizing them again?  Or antagonizing people like them?   The kinds of people who tend to piss you off?

A. There are always risks involved in an enterprise of this scope.  Take no risks, and you get nowhere.  Besides, they no longer piss me off.

Q. They don’t?

A. Not often.  Not for the reasons that earlier got my goat.  You see, I am not in the state of demoralization in which I often found myself when I was destitute and frustrated, earlier in life.  In those days, I actually lived in all the indignity and insanity displayed in this show.  Today, on the other hand, all of my personal needs are met.  I’m in a decent living situation, in a secluded setting, with solitude — the kind of environment a Writer dreams of attaining.   I enjoy a fixed income, payable rent, eatable food, and lots of nice running trails, where I work out, and work things out, and sometimes let off steam.  I’m in a good place in life today, on a day that — though beautiful — cannot promise to last forever.   Best to strike while the iron’s still hot.   

Q. But what about the way that the wealthy are portrayed in the story itself?  Are they not the antagonists?

A. Wherever did you get that idea?  None of the three main antagonists are wealthy.  Two of them are only what you might call “mainstream” – those who are hired to serve the needs of the wealthy, to promote their interests.  I used to do that myself back in the 90’s with in a studio apartment with a Toyota Corolla, driving from one large home to another, giving piano lessons to children, cracking jokes with the parents, and sitting behind a baby grand piano at night in a three piece suit at a five star restaurant.  Did that mean I was wealthy?  Heavens, no!  I made about $33,000 a year before taxes.  There’s a big difference between having money to hire, and being hired by those who have it.

Q. What about the third antagonist?  The really, really bad guy whose name is Johnny James?

A. You’ve got his number already, buddy boy.  J.J.’s a homeless drug dealer — my own antagonist, as it were, on the streets.

Q. So the wealthy side with the protagonist?  With Winston Greene?

A. They appear to oppose him, but at the same time, they love him.  They are only misguided as to how best he might be loved.  For they are those of his birth family, and his original community.  They have sheltered him his whole life long, in an effort to shield him from that which they fear.  Naturally he rebels, and in so doing, learns that what they thought was so fearful, need not be feared at all.

Q. And he succeeds in getting this revelation across to them?

A. In the end, he does.  And then, those whom they feared, they at last embrace.  Those from whom they hid their eyes, they now see with eyes opened wide with clear vision.  So they let them in, to share in their privilege, and never be homeless again.

Q. So there is a happy ending!

A. Of course.  Why would there not be?

Q. But don’t they sing an elegy to Winston Greene?  At a jailhouse memorial, in Act Two, Scene Two?

A. Let’s just say, as Mark Twain once put it, that the reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated.

Q. And what about that horribly demonic, death metal Opening, the song Intervention, which depicts psychiatric intervention followed by techno-torture, in the song The Age of Nevermore, in the terrifying second scene?

A. It has been adjusted accordingly.  In the Opening, it still depicts psychiatric intervention.  As the Finale, it now shows divine intervention.  

Q. A pleasant twist! How did you arrive at it?

A. In a flash, as though given by an Artist Greater Than Myself.

Q. An Artist Greater Than Yourself?

A. Yes.  For I have made a decision to turn my will and my life over to an Artist Greater Than Myself.  

Q. And this Greater Artist is — on your side?

A. God’s not on my side.  He’s on our side.   Together, we’re going to win.

Q. Andy, let me ask you one more question.

A. Be my guest.

Q. What will it take, besides money, to get this show off the ground?

A. Divine Intervention – and Love.

can-do

LET’S PUT AN END TO CLASSISM.
LET’S PUT AN END TO HOMELESSNESS.
LET’S ALL SPEAK THE TRUTH
IN LOVE

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

The Dialectic (Part Three)

I know I’ve delayed on posting the conclusive part of the Dialectic for a long time.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and you’re curious, you can flip back to Parts One & Two, respectively.  Still, I’ve got so much left to say, I’m going to have to split it further – into two or more parts.   I’ll do my best to have it ready very soon — hopefully by sometime tomorrow.   

Q. Do you know who I am yet?

A. Ah, so the guessing game goes on!   In the previous post I figured you for some kind of interviewer.  In the post before that, you were more like my Inner Critic.

Q. Oh really?

A. Really.  It’s hard to say who you actually are.  You are who you want to be.  Ever-changing, elusive, deceptive.

Q. The Devil, perhaps?

A. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that.  A minor demon, maybe.

Q. I see.  Now what brings us here today?

A. I’m here to make my plea, to explain exactly what’s happening to those who may be confused, and state my case as to why the $50,000 in question will not be very hard to come up with.

Q. Go on.

A. First off, first and foremost, the money will not go to me.

Q. Why is that important?

A. Because rumor has it that I do not handle money very well.  This rumor, though it is disputable, can either be contested or acquiesced.

Q. What is your choice, between the two?

A. I acquiesce.  As you know, I have been poor throughout my entire life, save for a few rare occasions when my talent got the better of my alleged inability to handle my finances.  On one such occasion, I had $13,000, in addition to a market rate savings account and an IRA.  I was making more in those days than I knew what to do with.  

Q. And what did you do with that money?

A. Like I said, I didn’t know what to do with it.  So I spent it frantically, which the psychiatrists in my life at the time told me was a function of a first-time manic episode.

Q. But were you not 51 years old at the time?  Isn’t a first time manic episode supposed to take place when one is much younger?   

A. Theoretically, yes.  It even baffled my psychiatrists.   Then later on, I was told that it might have been an instance of a new diagnosis, called Bipolar Four, whereby the manic episode, involving the spending spree, is induced by a psychiatric medication.

Q. Fascinating.  So you feel the same psychiatrists who diagnosed you with the disorder provided the very medication that induced the disorder in the first place?

A. Exactly.  And in the process, I lost everything I had.  The $13,000. the savings, the IRA, a car, a house, and all my professional accounts.

Q. Why didn’t you sue?

A. Because I’m not the suing type.  I’ve experienced my fair share of resentments around it.  But in my heart of hearts, I’m the type who wants to move on and get the most out of life while I’m here.  Besides, once I did lose everything, and I found myself out on the streets, I had the bizarre and totally unexpected sense that I was happier than I was before.

Q. Happier?  On the streets?

A. Well – when we say the “streets,” we speak a bit euphemistically.  I lived outdoors.  Sometimes this involved camping out in nature.  At other times, I was on the fringes, the outskirts of an urban homeless community.   At times, I was flushed enough to get a hotel room, sometimes even for an extended stay.  Not to mention the series of temporary shared rentals, none of which really worked out.  Nor could they have been expected to.  For by that time, I was driven.  And my drive — the essence and the source of it — necessitated that I spend large amounts of time in solitude.  

solitudeQ. So you have two problems.  You cannot handle money, and you cannot co-inhabit with others.  

A. Not cannot.  Will not.   The essence of my drive is that I need all the psychic wherewithal I can get in order to focus on the manifestation of my calling.

Q. That sounds a bit New Agey.

A. You’re supposed to be asking questions.

Q. I’m letting my guard down.  Let’s go on.

A. I did my best to get along with my roommates, and to shy away from senseless quarrels over my inability to clean the microwave the way that Billy was taught to do so by his grandmother in Arkansas, so to speak.   But when you see a train coming, you gotta get off the tracks.  I would be so hassled in some of those situations, I couldn’t get anything done anymore.  At that point, I’d fly the coop.

Q. Where would you go?

A. To the nearest power outlet where I could plug in my laptop and not be bothered.

Q. And you didn’t mind this being an outdoor power outlet?

A. To be honest with you, not really.  My focus was so intent upon what I was seeking to create, I barely noticed my external environment at all.  Let’s put it this way – the external environment was irrelevant, as long as it did not interfere with my work.

Q. But what about when it rained?  

A. There were awnings.  A laptop has a battery.  I could usually get through the night.

Q. I begin to see where the rumor that you cannot handle your finances has come into being.  So – backing a bit, if you are not to receive the needed $50,000, then just who will?

A. Hopefully, Danielle.

Q. Danielle?

A. Danielle.  At least at first.  If the money were to arrive, say, tonight — by say, midnight PST, it will be 9 pm on the East Coast, Danielle will still be up (and in fact expecting my call), and whether she accepts my ultimate proposal or not, at least the money would temporarily be placed in the hands of someone who meets three needed criteria.

Q. And what are the three criteria?

A. Number One: Danielle can handle money.

Q. And Number Two?

A. Danielle can be trusted with money.

Q. What about Number Three?

(Pause for dramatic effect.)

A. Danielle can handle me.  

(Another poignant pause.)

A. I assure you, not many people meet all three of those particular prerequisites.  But Danielle may not be able to be the ultimate Business Manager on this project.  She’s extremely busy, she has to talk to her husband about it, and she doesn’t have specific experience in musical theatre.   But she can handle money and be fully trusted with it, and as my best female friend of many years, I’m sure she can handle me.

Q. But on something this huge, would you want your friend to have to be involved with you on a business basis?

A. Not really.  I don’t want to push her past her limits here.  Knowing her, she’d probably say “yes,” just out of wanting to help out a friend — and then she’d get overloaded, and I’d wind up feeling lousy.  But I just can’t think of anyone else off-hand whom *I* would trust to hang on to the money until the True Business Manager appears.  I’d lose sleep if it were anyone else.

Q. But why does there have to be a middle man?   Why does the money have to come so soon?   Why can’t we just wait until the True Business Manager emerges?

A. Ask a silly question, get a silly answer.

Q. What??

A. Obviously, I need to have capital on hand while in the process of trying to schmooze the best Theatre Artists I know to get on board with me on this damn thing.  And that includes the Business Manager, as well as the House Manager, Stage Manager, Director, on down.  I’ll probably be the Musical Director myself, and I certainly don’t need any money for it.  But decent Artists on a par with my specific level of expertise need to be paid.  If the money doesn’t exist, why should they be swayed?  

Q. Spoken like a man who can’t handle money!

A. My point exactly.   Not to mention, as Musical Director, I’ll have my hands full as it is.   I shouldn’t *have* to handle the money — like I’ve been saying.  But get the crux of this dilemma — it’s not enough for the money to simply exist.  It needs both to exist, and to be placed in solid hands for safekeeping.  My hands are anything but solid.  In fact, they’re fluid.

Q. Fluid?

A. All over the map.  Just like you, my friend.

(Pause.  The Questioner muses.)

A. Listen buddy boy.  We’re gonna get this show and the road, and soon.  

Q. How?

A. I’ll tell you how.  Be patient.  The O.G.’s gotta eat.

STAY TUNED.

Help End Classism in America.
Help End Homelessness in America.
United We Stand. Divided We Fall.
Let’s Get Eden in Babylon Happening.
NOW.

 

The Dialectic (Part One)

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. To be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure.

Q. Why do you say that?

A. Because I thought I knew who you were, but I thought wrong.

Q. Who did you think I was?

A. My superego.

Q. Your superego?  Why would you think such a thing?

A. Because you seem to represent my conscience, my higher faculties, always questioning everything, encouraging me to look before I leap — as opposed to my id, who has no conscience, questions nothing, and only seeks immediate gratification with no regard to consequence.

Q. And who are you?

A. I am my Ego.

Q. Why do I find this laughable?

A. Because I was wrong about you.  You have no conscience – no feelings.  You are merely a machine, generating inane questions from deep within the core of my confused and convoluted consciousness.  You are not my superego; you have nothing to do with morality or even with Sigmund Freud, for that matter.  You merely show up every now and then at times of particularly angst along my journey, and occasionally our dialogue is helpful to me.

Q. And this is why, on occasion, you summon me?

A. Yes.

Q. And this is a time of particular angst?

A. Yes.

Q. How so?  Haven’t things suddenly taken a turn for the better?

A. Yes and No.

Q. No?  In what way, “no?”

A. My external enemies having disappeared, my internal enemies have resurfaced.

Q. Can you say that again, please?

A. My external enemies having disappeared, my internal enemies have resurfaced.

Q. And who are your external enemies?

A. All those people who kept knocking on my door, trying to engage me in all kinds of nefarious activities at any time of the day or night, neighbors who were more nosy than neighborly — all of them.   Everybody who lived at Friendship Square.

Q.  Your neighbors were your enemies?

A. “Enemy” might be a strong word, but it sure felt that way.

Q. And you call yourself a Christian!?

A. That would depend upon your definition of the term, I suppose.  But yes, I do identify as a Christian, of a certain type.  So – what are you driving at?

Q. Doesn’t the Lord say: “Love thy neighbor?”

A. But that’s the whole problem!  I loved my neighbors so much I couldn’t get any work done!   Everybody wanted to talk to me, at all times – it was uncanny.   I had to escape – I had to get out of there — but now that those guys are all gone, and I’m alone, I’m faced with my internal enemies.  

Q. Loneliness, perhaps?

A. Ha!  Loneliness is for lesser men.  I’m talking about the Enemies of Art.  They’re like these — inner demons.  They surface whenever I begin to immerse myself in projects about which I am passionate.  The more passionate I am about my project, the more they try to interfere.

Q. Can you give me an example?

A. Well, for that, we need to revisit the Professor.

professor
(So throw a pie in my face.  I couldn’t resist.)

There was a certain professor whose unfavorable reactions to my half-written rough draft of Eden in Babylon kept rushing through my head for three years every time I tried to sit down to work on the script.   Now that I have solitude again, and am away from all the “hard knocks,” so to speak, I’ve naturally taken up the script again, thinking quite innocently that now would be a perfect time to do a second draft, polish up a few rough spots, and so forth. 

So, I sat down the other night to embark upon a very simple scouring of the script in order to return four unnamed characters to the Kids Chorus Line, after I had irrationally removed them from the script at the last minute.  For you see, the Professor had warned me about having too large a cast size – and of course a large cast is a deterrent.  The first version he saw had a cast of 56, according to his count.  I myself was neither counting nor concerned, since at the time I was aiming to submit the show to a specific theatre in the Bay Area that was requesting submissions for “large cast traditional musicals with a full orchestration.”  But this is long past.

I proceeded to whittle down the cast, doubling parts when necessary, and actually feeling quite good about the whittled version.  But at the end, I made the serious mistake of significantly reducing the Kids Chorus Line while not significantly reducing the cast size!  So I sat down this past Saturday night to return the four unnamed Kids to the Chorus line, and thus enhance the experience musically, while only increasing cast size from 23 to 27.

I had presumed this would be a simple matter.  However, it involved a technical nightmare of placing an unformatted, unpaginated copy of a script next to a paginated copy, locating all the places where the Kids had once been involved, and making the appropriate adjustments.  This challenged my dyslexia.  Moreover, as I tired into the wee hours of the night, I became less and less focused, but more and more determined not to let go until I got the job done.   That was when the Professor surfaced.

I would see a line in the show that I thought was particularly exceptional, and I would suddenly remember his scathing critique of my earlier draft.  I would fly into a rage inside my head.  I would shout within myself: “How could he?!  How could he not see how good this is??   How inspired I was!!!  Did he even read the script??”

So, my old enemy, of associating the script revision with the unfavorable response of a previous presumptuous professor of the past, had returned.  And that’s only an example.

Q. A second example?

A. My other friend, seeming to have money, and not wanting to kick it down to help me pay the singers, but dismissing my request for assistance as evidence of a “mental health episode.”   He also appeared in my mind, and I also became enraged at the thought of his classist arrogance.   Rich people are often quick to blame the abject poverty of poor people on some kind of problem the poor person has, as though I’m supposed to spend the rest of my days solving whatever problem they think has resulted in my poverty, in order to become rich like they are, and similarly blame the suffering of those less cozy than they on some random peccadillo in their personality, thus silencing my conscience. 

Q. And just who are we calling “classist?”

A.  Look, buddy.   I had to spend years sleeping in a gutter getting the shit kicked out of me, while one by one, every so-called “friend” I knew from my previous life of opulence dismissed my legitimate need for shelter by telling me to see a psychiatrist.  And so what if I do have a psychological problem or two?   I’m in my damn sixties!   I’m practically fighting Alzheimer’s trying to get this show on the road!   What am I supposed to do?  Spend the rest of my days trying to solve some elusive problem of mine?   Or spend my days trying to figure out a way to use my God-given gifts for the good of humanity? You can’t shovel out the darkness!!  You can only turn on the Light!! 

So – obviously, don’t you think it makes a hell of a lot more sense for me to throw my energies into  looking for singers, musicians, a venue. a crew, a cast, a production staff, and $50,000, than to keep hammering away at trying to keep shit jobs that I always lose?   And wind up feeling demoralized?  And incompetent?   Sure I’m incompetent in every area of my lifelong failure — so why don’t we start focusing on the relatively few but valuable things that I can actually manage to occasionally do well?  I am not incompetent in the areas of my expertise — I know exactly what I am doing!   I am not crazy!  I am a very talented, but spaced out, absent-minded, but ingenious, agitated, but highly determined, totally stressed out man!

Q. Fifty thousand dollars?

A. You heard me!  But this pointless dialectic is nothing but drivel!!  Let’s adjourn until tomorrow.  Your incessant questioning of everything I do or say angers me.  Goodbye.

The Questioner is silent.

A. And don’t you dare ask me if I am in “denial!”  If I want to hear about denial, I’ll go to a frickin’ 12-Step meeting, for God’s sake!! 

The Questioner is still silent.  

A. And I am not lazy, either!!!

The Questioner, quite wisely, remains silent.

TO BE CONTINUED

Make Haste Slowly

Just a brief update to fill you in on my progress as to the new composing project I have undertaken.  (The gist of the project is described in this entry.)

I’ve succeeded in interweaving two of the pertinent themes in such a way as appears to hold promise.  Should you choose to indulge me, you might recognize a few of these strains from my Berkeley Page.  Hopefully, however, you’ll find that they are much evolved since you tuned in last.  In general, the piece is very very jazzy compared to any of its previous components.

I mentioned that this composing project is one of three current projects, along with the writings I’ve been producing for Street Spirit, and the demo and revision of my musical, Eden in Babylon.   As far as Street Spirit is concerned, I turned in four new pieces to the publisher, but have not yet heard back.  Of course, I don’t know if any will be accepted, but I got the feeling earlier we were headed toward a possible monthly thing.   He published the first of my articles in August, and three in September.  So of course, I’m hoping he will publish two or three this month.  The paper will be issued at around the 10th of this month.  So I’ll let you know by then.

On the demo, I found the two male singers I woulds need, in addition to myself.  So, in addition to Erika, the new Director of Music at my church, I only need one more female singer.  So it looks like things are slowly coming together in that area as well.  We’re shooting for the week before Thanksgiving vacation.

Make-haste-slowly.__quotes-by-Polish-Proverb-98The revision itself is another matter.  I lump it in with the demo as part of the same project, which is the ongoing thrust to move Eden in Babylon toward production.  When I rewrote the lyrics to Midnight Screams, I realized that I needed to make other subtle changes — in addition to some fairly major changes – at other spots in the recently completed script.  So I’m moving on that as well.  But in all these things, considering my sometime tendency to push myself a bit too hard, I am evoking the motto of the Emperor Augustus: “Make Haste Slowly.”

Earlier, it seemed I flew just a bit too close to the sun.  So, it seems prudent to take things a little slower —  but steady all the same.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
Anything Helps – God Bless!