Archive | September, 2010

Voice

In the last few days, I’ve spent countless hours watching people, seeing how they interact and speak with other, the gesticulations and turns of phrase that lead to familiarity.  I’ve been quiet, almost uncomfortably so, just to listen and watch, to experiment and experience something akin to the present moment.

And in what can only be described as a metaphysical nightmare, I’ve found myself watching others, then watching myself, floating hazily along the surface of perception, then diving into the murkiness of turmoil.  I’ve always dreamed in third person, resolving my acts and thoughts, to the point that doubt crept in and camped furtively – and now the master of a small community.  Whose life am I leading, I wonder, as it certainly can’t be my own.  My life is dull, muted, unattached, yet this person I watch, she’s charming and smiling and at ease in her own skin as though nothing horrible or awful has touched her, yet approaches others with a friendly grace only learned from experience.  Where I haven’t heard anything in seemingly years, she sees everything, eyes wide open, the shapes an and sights with delicately curved edges and vivid hues.  For her, danger is far away because it does not exist; for me, danger is far away because I hide behind locked doors.  For me, I equivocate anything, everything to avoid disappointment; for her, she fights the necessary battles yet avoids bloodshed.  She is my hero whereas I’m just one in the crowd of people who never thought to believe.

And so it is my birthday, an auspicious occasion full of celebration and condolences, and I approach with such an unsoiled voice that it is my cross to bear.

So You Say You Want a Manifesto…

Fine then.

In the midst (and dark depths) of a plethora of projects, I’ve come to a belated and overdue realization: I’ve got it all wrong.

True story.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone.  You’ve got it all wrong also.  But at least we’re companions.  Comrades, if you will.

Since day one, we’ve been told that if we work hard, we will be successful.  Frankly, that’s not true – we’ve known that long enough now, but continue to go along with it, much like we appease our elders while quietly rolling our eyes, wondering whether the sedating medications are potent enough for such rambling.  Hate to break it to those who have sucked away their livelihoods simply working hard, hoping your children will have the knowledge to get out of your ruts and achieve the American dream of success.  Your children aren’t motivated.  Your children have unprecedented knowledge at their fingertips and have no idea what to do with it or how to use it.  Your children make contests out of ruining their brains and physiology through their college years, hoping to catch up on missed skills and abilities in the farce of professional graduate degrees.  Then your children are surprised to find themselves struggling, just like you did, but with the stain and stench of  professional pride rendering them incapable of anything less than a fantasized job, position, and requisite salary – despite a complete lack of experience.  We were told we could do anything if we worked hard – but we got the letters on the wall by just skating through.

Consider this my eyeroll if not a ruder gesture toward an entire generation who have made all the wrong choices under the pandering guise of right ones.  If X, then Y.  If Y, do Z.  Simplified flow charts to devise an entire existence marked by little else but blinded optimism in the hopes of avoiding rejection and failure.  Scared of not finding a job after college?  Follow the Walrus and Carpenter, little oyster, to graduate school.  Scared you’ll be rejected from graduate school?  They’re accepting people – and their eternal wallets – in record numbers.  It’s easier to go to school than to push paper around, right?  It’s easier to put your head in the inconsequential desert surrounding the ivory tower, than to take a chance or risk, easier to write one decent essay and prove you can pay (with assistance) than deviate from the lifelong plan set out for you.  It’s okay, we know, you always wanted to be a doctor/lawyer/business professional.  Really though, we nod and accept without question that you’d really rather be God/a nerdy bully/insulated by your buddies for the rest of your life – or not hear it from your parents and instead keep some outward peace in return for inner turmoil.

Those who elected George W. Bush and his lackadaisical ways for eight years of blatant mismanagement are precisely those who have created this generation governed by fear.  Those who elected Barack Obama and his hopeful, changing ways are precisely those who reject this fear of failure.

So now I have to ask: what the fuck have we done?  Suddenly this great experience is no longer a experiment as our false expertise drowns in existentialism.

It’s time for things to be different.

It’s time for things to change.

It’s time for the next generation to step to the helm, to take the reins, to get into the batter’s box to take a few pitches from history.  As the early Gen Y’ers turn 30, it’s time to quit bitching about our differences and embrace them, harnessing the strengths of each person or experience into something larger, a woven fabric to smother the fire raging out of control through our land and through our hearts.  No longer is it about “I” – but about “you and I.”

It’s time.

Draft – Deep Ellum Introduction

Working on emptying my brain to the page – and started with the introductory letter for the Deep Ellum vision.  Everything included is open for discussion and I’d love any/all feedback as well.

To the eyes, hearts, and minds reading this document,

Allow me a moment of your time, a brief moment for a story full of politics, tribes, friendship, betrayal, change, death, rebirth, romance – all leading up to today, this very moment, set in these very words.

This story takes place in downtown Dallas, Texas in a small quirky neighborhood known colloquially as Deep Ellum.  Five streets wide, running east/west, and twelve blocks long, has housed workers, creators, and visionaries of all stripes and varieties since World War I.  It’s the home of the original black country jazz and blues, pushed out of the propriety and snootiness of what would eventually be a glamorous city.  The hired help, sharecroppers, carbetbaggers, and others called it home.  Henry Ford’s auto workers assembled the Model T here.  And as the sun went down each afternoon, the neighborhood hopped into action.  Men walked home from work and fed their families on a few hard-earned dollars everyday.  Women took in laundry, sowed, and roosted over the children of the neighborhood.  It was urban sustenance living.

And a vibrant culture blossomed among neighbors caught between prissy Dallas proper dwellers and the wide-eyed feats available at the county fair grounds.  The food was local, ingredients brought home from work and supplemented by small gardens, cooked to soul-filled perfection among the close citizenry.  Granaries and warehouses flanked the neighborhood, readily accessible to the rail lines.  Music and art were local, based on travels and exploits in, out, and around Deep Ellum.  Low arts, low culture, created for and by those living their lives, unable to fully express themselves anywhere other than home.

Then things changed, as things do.

Black music gave way to black gold, Dallas at the epicenter.  A national highway system was constructed, moving people and their goods faster, better, more efficiently through Dallas out toward the resource-rich countrysides.  Intolerance uprooted the neighborhood as its inhabitants pushed southeast further from the view of the downtown boom.  Oh, the days of Neiman Marcus, political vigilantes, and social upheaval of the 1960s as incomes in Dallas boomed, property values soaring, buildings constructed to scrape the sky.  Deep Ellum sat culturally fallow many years as auto mechanics and other light industrialists took advantage of location, location, location, disappearing with the sun.  Additional warehouses stored building materials for the rushing influx of residents hoping to strike it rich – and maintain the appearances of such position.

And then things changed, as they always do.

A basic principle: what goes up must come down.  The velocity may be fixed, but the acceleration surprised many now caught in shady practices, designed for inequitable results.  Dallas County shuddered.  Yet as shutters slammed downtown, cultural seeds sprouted in Deep Ellum, attracting passionately subversive creative-types willing to mark their territory fiercely and with plenty of color and disillusioned angst.  No squares allowed in their neighborhood, a vibe cultivated first by graffiti, then by performance art, then by punk music.  The culture blossomed into mythological status: Deep Ellum was the symbol of bravado among city and suburb dwellers.  Only those unfazed by the signs and stories on the tongues of many could venture into this neighborhood and remain unscathed.  But once there, the glories rivaled those of Greenwich Village, Ashbury Heights, Santa Monica Avenue, South Central Los Angeles.  Rock bands launched their careers in the tiny performance spaces provided by sympathetic owners charging dollar covers from a card table as one garage band after another took the stage.  Street artists gathered to repaint in the colors and symbols of the times, sharing their work to every driver, walker, and dweller.  Body artists proffered their skills with pins and needles, creating lifelong commissioned masterpieces.  Underground writers published their first works based in the freakish and delightful street scenes of Deep Ellum. Jazz musicians revived the scene long pushed out.  Performers danced dirty, filled with the soul of new vibrant music made by the streets.  The buildings, originally constructed for the heydays of industrial revolution, rallied with new ballads, updated for the modern clientele.

And then things changed, as they tend to do.

A mythological story must face cold realities before too long.  A rampant drug scene stole souls.  With drugs came erratic crime.  With erratic crime came fear as mere teenagers died at the hands of something so much more than they could comprehend.  With fear came a government crackdown on any subversive activity.  The roots poisoned, inhabitants cleared out, again moving south for greener, more temperate pastures. The neighborhood fell fallow yet again.

And yet again, concurrent bubbling booms exploded, dooming another cycle of investments.  Another recession, another depression, mayhem and ruin cut across the land.  And so Deep Ellum sat, unused, underutilized, struck down by bloodied balance sheets.

To see Deep Ellum by sunlight today is to see the hundred year oak trees lining Elm, Main, and Commerce Streets.  It’s to see a sparse yet motley mix of inhabitants get creative and eek out an existence in couture live/work spaces sprinkled through the neighborhood.  It’s to see a handful of legendary music venues struggling for breath as they face the inevitable change in surroundings.  It’s to see green grass growing despite the lack of care, to see countless buildings boarded up and bursting with potential for the next great Dallas chef, the next famous Dallas band, the next nationwide trend to take hold in Dallas and blossom on the streets of Deep Ellum.

And what of the future inhabitants?

A generation reared on the principles of collaboration.  A community desiring evangelism for something larger than themselves– potential, promise, praise – who provide significant political weight and economic support for principles they believe in.  An individual who preaches to the entire world that Deep Ellum is the enlightened place for every one and every thing who believes in creative collaboration to solve any problem, fix any mess, and achieve any dream.  We live here, we work here, we play here.  We are the new generation of artists, musicians, writers, performers documenting the riches of our culture.  We are the collaborative scientists and researchers solving the ills of the world.  We are the innovative entrepreneurs, attorneys, and doctors providing new solutions to problems current and old.  Together we are the strong hands and active voice of the new political and economic engine.

Join us in this project to revive Deep Ellum.  Make your voice heard.  Lend a hand to the group.  Be part of the ambition constructed specially for you, part of a larger, textured history – and create your promising future.

Cuttin’ It

I really like dance movies, dance scenes, musicals complete with dancing, yadda yadda – and this movie brightened the rainy day:

I’ve often imagined my life story told in dance and music scenes, told with sudden flash mob-style dance routines.  It’s weird and strange and quirky, yes I know.  Problem is – I have no idea how it ends.  Which is probably a good problem to have.

In other news, things have stalled somewhat on Travels with Molly, but that’s attributed to into the deep end of other moneymaking projects.  More than five thousand words written today…on the principles of Texas personal injury law.  Coulda been more; coulda been a contender.  But moving in the forward direction back toward financial independence.