Tag Archives: Gnarls Barkley

“You See: Everybody — Is Somebody. But Nobody Wants To Be Themselves.”

“What you’re thinking… you are becoming,” he said, holding too lengthy of a pause for an effect.

What he wasn’t realizing was that the habit of breaking-up his thoughts with these loaded silences shot down any effect he was aiming for:  It deflated the importance of his statements, and any urgency in his inspirational speech — to a room full of actors — was going out of the windows.

Although, come to think of it, there weren’t any windows in the joint at all:  We were packed into a black-box theatre of a classroom, like an army of revolutionaries planning a revolt in a basement, somewhere in the jungles of South America.  Everyone was an artist of sorts; quite a few writers — and even a spoken word poetess (she was rad!).

There was a handful of newbies in the room:  You could tell by the way they surveyed everyone with their impressionable and somehow petrified glances.  (Oh, to be new to the chaos of LA!  I wouldn’t want to relive that joy.)  The rest of us — were seasoned residents of the city, not yet veterans of the industry.  But we had all been around the block by now — around several blocks, actually, in search of casting spaces and parking spots.

Some seemed jaded, and they sized-up all the previous speakers while never uncrossing their arms for the entirety of a 2-hour lecture.  There were some that loved to hear the sound of their voice; so, every question of theirs turned into a tiny, brooding monologue.  An older actress from Chicago, a bit tipsy from the free wine, had been hollering from the front row as if she were listening to gospel:  Such humanity!  (She was rad!)

Pretty girls — of those, there was plenty.  That’s the one thing guaranteed in LA-LA:  Perpetual beauty that either humbles and inspires — or saddens with its dispensability.

Anyway, he was saying:

“What you’re thinking… you are becoming.” 

The guy was quite tall, slightly on the stocky side.  His non-immaculately white shirt was untucked, with its top half unbuttoned down to his undershirt, also non-white.  He wore jeans and insecurities galore.

Half way through the evening, he took over the job of announcing the speakers from the evening’s MC.

“Who IS this guy?” I caught myself thinking every time he got up, lingered by the director’s chair in the middle of the stage and hogged our time with his prolonged, miserable pauses.

Standing in the corner of a packed room, I had been studying the audience for nearly two hours.  There were a couple of faces I recognized.  A few seemed quite familiar; but then again, as a seasoned resident of LA-LA, you begin to lose track of origins.  And you catch yourself thinking:

“Do I know you?”

“Have we met in a constellation of classes and workshops happening at every minute and in every neighborhood of this city?”

“Have I seen you in a commercial, or in a waiting room for that commercial’s audition?”

“Or, have I simply bumped into you while we both circled around the blocks, in search of casting spaces and parking spots?”

A man with Jeremy Irons’ face caught my attention, in a corner of the classroom.  You don’t forget a face like that.  (He was rad!)  But then again, I’d been around the block too many times by now — around many blocks, actually — and I had long begun losing track of origins.

“So… you just gotta…” the man in a non-immaculately white shirt was hanging onto his silences, on stage.

He made some sort of a peculiar gesture with his hand.

The speakers who had preceded him — not necessarily seasoned residents of LA-LA, but definitely veterans of the industry — were quite inspiring.  Passionate, eccentric and honest, they had spoken of their love for the art — and their advocacy of the artists.  They — were rad!

It’s an unusual thing here, in this city.  Back in New York, packed into black-box theaters, one comes to expect talks about the art of it all.  Because there, we prefer to be think of ourselves as craftsmen — artists of sorts — not businesspeople.

But in LA-LA — it’s all about the business!  And in a constellation of classes and workshops happening at every minute and in every neighborhood of this city, we agree to collect the crumbs of information qualified as networking.

“Because you never know!” they tell us.

So, you learn to surrender.  You better!

You better surrender to the unexplainable chaos of the industry.  You better learn to accept yourself as a seasoned resident of this city.  You better let go of all expectations and stop counting the favors and the debts other people owe you:  No one owes you jack shit!

It takes time and an open mind — to survive here.

It takes a passionate heart to keep bringing the craft into the rooms full of businesspeople; and that heart has got to keep at it, despite having been around several blocks, in search of casting spaces and parking spots.

It takes discipline and humility to become a working artist — a veteran of the industry — not just a seasoned, bitter resident.

It takes a love — for the art!

And my own happiest discovery about the business is that thankfully, it still takes GRATITUDE — to persevere.

And Dah-ling, Dah-ling: Stand By ME!

She was an angel.  She had to be.  Because she treaded by my side, in her suede moccasins, with such gentle awareness to cause the least amount of damage in her world, I thought:  What have we got here?

Beauty and oddity did not escape her attention, but neither earned any judgement, on her part.  There was something very ancient about her physique:  She could’ve been a descendant of Emily Dickinson or an anonymous lover on a canvas of Modigliani or Cezanne:  A brown girl with either melancholy or innocence (I couldn’t tell) powdering her skin with luminosity.  And every time, her humor took me by surprise; because she seemed so in love with truth, I didn’t think her capable of irony.  Or loss.

If ever I witness such an old soul, on the last round of its reincarnation, I drop all of my mundane nonsense.  And it’s surprisingly easy, every time:  Because those types make time lose its relevance.

“I gotta, I gotta” — doesn’t exist in their company.

Instead, it becomes:

“I am.  I am.”

And if I hang with those souls for long enough, I am soon granted an awe — at my own ability to slide through moments of time as if body-surfing:  I certainly know that there is a greater force behind it all, behind ME — stronger, older, much more relevant! — and that the only thing that I can do is:  Take it in, and ride it out.

Because the longer I live and the more I lose, my angels, the more accepting I become of the utter chaos of living.  Sure, there are certain guarantees in my established routines and standards of living; and each day, they give me points of reference, in time.  Because I, too, am often guilty of “I gotta, I gotta”.

Instead of:  “I am.  I am.”

But, oh, how well I know that if I were to pack-up my apartment, cancel my phone, get rid of my debt; cut all ties and torch all the bridges; if I were to walk out of this chaotic town without a single farewell — what would remain of me is mere memories by those whom I’ve accidentally happened to love.  But then, even those would eventually expire.  (I’ve seen it happen before, with lovers who’ve moved on, out of guilt or entitlement.)  I would be no more than a fading memory.

But the angel of the other day begs to differ.  It’s not her fault — but her very mission — to tell me that I have meant more than that; that even in the chaos of living, however organized, each action matters.  Each action, each person has consequences.  She herself needn’t worry about karma any more:  Her goodness is beyond all that shit.  But for the rest of us, karma begs to differ.  And it begs to better.

And so I was surprised the other day when she said, while staring her dusty moccasins:

“I can only meet him halfway, this time.  Otherwise, I’ll lose myself.”

She’s been telling me the story of her love, on the nth round of its reincarnation.  For years, she had loved this man, going out on a limb with her goodness, every single time.  She had been a friend to him, treading gently by his side, through every selfish tragedy and moment of self-doubt.  And when the rest of humanity seemed to forget his relevance, she would be the only one to remember him:  to make him matter.  But then:  He’d dismiss her again.

Recently, he’d come back around, asking for her time and friendship.  BUT ON WHAT TERMS?!  He needed a friend, he said.  He needed — her:  For she was the only one who really loved him, who “understood him” all along.

What a waste, I thought.  What a waste:  of youth, and goodness; and of love!  What selfish audacity, I thought, on behalf of that regular mortal.  What sense of entitlement!..

But then:  I remembered my own recently expired affair.  It had been my lover’s idea to end us.  Not the first time.  I’d survived many before him.  I was going to be alright.  But before I became aware of my mourning, I found myself in the midst of waiting.  Waiting for change:  A change of heart, a change of his mind.  A change of man.  And in the mean time, the man would check back on me:  for some assurances that I still loved him, that I was still on standby, no matter the distance he’d imposed between us.

Not the first time.  I had done that with others:  beholding for them, for years; forgiving them fully at every dismissal, then accepting them unconditionally at every reunion.  I would continue living my life, treading it carefully, while causing the least amount of damage, in my world.  But if an ex couldn’t bear the chaos of his living, he was always welcomed back.

Suddenly, I felt infuriated, for the sake of my kind:  Women with forgiveness and goodness enough to make-up for our men’s lack.  Women with uncompromisable karma, so rare, it makes us irreplaceable.  Old souls who can always change a man, and sometimes, his mind.  Angels who practice unconditional love and forgiveness to make time irrelevant, but lives — matter:  

Isn’t time for each angel to claim her time back?  Surely, there must be better things and worthier causes to give that time to!  Surely, all this waiting around was contradicting the very nature of our being:  holding us back from living our own existences — on the last round of reincarnation — in the moment, while making us behold for the past.  Surely, this had to end!

That evening, it ended for me, my angels.  I finally accepted my lover’s decision to depart.  I got dismissed.  I cut all ties and torched all the bridges.  And I left, treading carefully and causing the least amount of damage — to myself — and settled on being a mere memory, but not a returning one.

On Dem Cool Cats — and Kittens

In the entirety of my life in which I began considering myself an adult — a grown woman, with realized desires and choices to pursue those desires — I proudly admit to being a student of humanity.  It must be why, I think, my sex life has been so adventurous and, for the lack of a better word, democratic.  No, I haven’t tried everything, my curious comrades, but I have tried plenty; and as for the nationalities of my lovers — well, my vagina is like the United Nations symposium.

But besides my studious pursuits in the bedroom, I’ve investigated both genders by delving into Esquire Magazine, for at least a decade.  First of, it worships women.  (Yes, please!)  Then, it deconstructs men while lovingly teasing them for their unmanly behaviors.  (Mmm-hmm.  I always love me some of that!)  As for the staff writers at this nearly a century-old mag — some of them are geniuses, fo’ sho’!  So, say, if for whatever lucky circumstance, my choices one night would be between the penises of Johnny Depp and Tom Chiarella — I’d rather end up moaning Tom’s name between the sheet.

Over a decade ago (Jesus, I am old!  Jesus’s age, to be precise!), my fav mag had a piece on the Advancement Theory:

http://www.esquire.com/features/music/ESQ0704-JULY_AMERICA.

As far as theories go, it is so new, it may as well be considered an embryo.  However, what makes it so brilliant — or may I dare say, “advanced” — is that, in a typically ballsy, unpredictable American way, it was thought up by two buds (Jason Hartley and Britt Bergman) shooting the shit at a Pizza Hut somewhere in South Carolina.  Love it!  ‘Cause you see, my lovelies, my shit-shooting brilliant comrades have invented a gazillion of theories at my hood’s famed spot, The Birds; but I don’t think we are even a millimeter “advanced” enough to change this nation’s academic curricula with our pontifications.

So, what about this Advancement Theory?  It particularly delves into music and the artists who birth it into being.  From what I understand with my intelligent but far from “advanced” pia mater, is that musicians break into two categories:  they are either “advanced” or not at all; and what makes them advanced — is their utter unpredictability. In other words, neither do their cater to their audiences’ expectation, nor do they devote their egos to going against them.  They do whatever comes to their non-convoluted, genius minds; and for that very reason, they are often misunderstood.  Of course, it is a tale as old as humanity itself, but sooner or later — and often, postmortem — a true genius gets the recognition he or she deserves.  But at the very moment of their art’s creation and birth, they leave us scratching our un-“advanced” domes.

Examples?  Liz Phair and (Lord, help me!) Sting can apparently do this “advanced” shit in their sleep.  M.I.A. and Gnarls Barkley?  Definitely cool but not even getting warmer.  Bob Dylan?  Apparently, Bob is still tinkering with his “advancement”…  Oh, I know, I know:  How dare I fuck with Dylan?!  But according to my Bible Esquire — “If something is done ironically, it cannot be advanced”; and ain’t Dylan the god of irony?  this country’s musical Charles Baudelaire himself?  But he did earn himself some extra points by struttin’ around Venice with Adriana Lima.

Lou Reed:  Invented this shit!  (“Shaved her legs and then he was a she”?!  “And the colored girls say, ‘Doo do doo, doo do doo’”?  Honey:  Pah-leeze!)  The Biebs and the Britney:  Will never get there.  Kanyeezy:  C’mon, baby!  I’m rootin’ for ya’!  Tom Waits:  The Advancement Theory’s personal Jesus, especially post his collaboration with Miss Scarlett Johansson (who, by the way, after recently shagging Sean Penn has shot through the roof of V’s personal meter of brilliancy).

So, why this spiel?  And why this morning?  Well, comrades, in my lifetime, I may not enter into the category of a literary genius; but I can certainly aspire to it.  But the one thing I do NOT intend to do in my art — even though I have regretfully committed it in my life — is to allow for my despair to be liked or for my bloody fear to determine my choices. I am looking to grow, to expand — to explode! — to serve my personal calling while worshiping the Shiva that guides me.  And if I happen to blow anyone’s mind on the way, well then, mazel tov!

So you see, my magnificent learners and badass comrades, I am not trying to be the Big Fish who used to be the Small Fish.  I am not even trying to become famous by jumping the ponds.  According to David Lynch’s book on Transcendental Meditation — I’m just tryin’ to do me some fishin’:

“Little fish swim on the surface, but the big ones swim down below.  If you can expand the container you’re fishing in — your consciousness — you can catch bigger fish.”

Now, THAT — is some “advanced” shit right there!