Posts for for October, 2010

Hello friends and neighbors…

Hello friends and neighbors, I am pushing out the banks of my day to let the river of thought well up and twirl a little before spilling into dreamland, assuming sleep is down river. It’s funny what I’m thinking of writing about, considering I could be writing about the first reading of our musical with Kristin Chenoweth, Doug Sills, Kathleen Marshall, Gigi Gaston, Thomas Meehan, Mary Mitchell Campbell and a marvelous cast of seventeen well known and beyond talented Broadway performers. That was the most thrilling five days of my creative life as a songwriter and lover of musicians, theatre and performing artists. Although perhaps I don’t want to sully up the vibrations still humming inside of me, it was by all accounts a great success for a first reading, but we are still at the beginning of a long journey, and I don’t want to jinx it.

I could talk about standing in the rain for hours in Central Park, thanking God and my mamma New York, listening to the sounds of my childhood, the lamp light throwing itself on drops of soft, cool water, making leaves drip with gold, and running like mercury into the gutters after something too fleeting to behold. But then deep gratitude, like love, does not always come to the surface, rather it curls loyally around it’s roots. I could write about Provincetown, being stood up by the “nanny” at the airport at five a.m. with three dogs, a child and many instruments, not to mention two shows a night for four nights in a row…and it was a great time, not necessarily in spite of her, but because of the revelation that false support keeps one from opening up to real support. Had the entitled sabotager suffered her commitment, the heroic Erin Duncan, uber nanny turned star medical student, would not have called out a flavor from a no nonsense Italian from Providence, who took Dash to the Lobster Pot every night where we met him in between shows for clam chowder. He has a fan club there now.

I could really go on about Ptown and Dash in the ocean, the Province lands and playing with just Ed and I, but that’s not what’s really on my mind. My friend Richard Grenell, the longest serving American spokesman in U.N. history, a true environmental activist (he’s the guy we went to the Gulf with), and important public relations person, invited me to sing the National Anthem at a lunch for Mattie Fein. I didn’t know a thing about her but I always learn from Richard, and I love the challenge of painting a picture with that profoundly relevant song. I walked in with my guitar and saw Ambassador John Bolton in the diverse crowd, including a soldier from Iraq and business people from Syria and many other countries.

It was a very soulful group; they listened intently as I set up the song in 1814 from the point of view of Francis Scott Key looking at Fort McHenry, as Washington burned. They joined in singing with their hands over their hearts, and I felt rather humbled by the moment. My first impression of Mattie Fein was that she was unconventional, and she is. A pro choice, pro Gay republican, focused on keeping business in her district of California, and she’s running against multi millionaire career politician Jane Harman, who can’t be doing much right ‘cause Cali’s in the pits.

John Bolton was as far from what I thought he’d be as I might have been to him. He was measured, humorous, poetic, insightful, unpredictable and at the core, a true humanitarian. I asked him his view on immigration and he said we need to return to the Melting Pot philosophy, meaning to let everyone in as long as everyone can be Americanized. He said we need more people from all over the globe to keep this country great, to keep our edge, but immigrants need to be 100% American AND 100% whatever their heritage is. He said make legalized immigration easier, and focus on integration so we have generations and generations of diverse people who love this country. He is in every sense worldly and he expresses his appreciation of global relationships in every sentence, yet he believes America, the place in the heart, the mind and the soil, is still worth protecting. He talked about mistakes made during the Bush era, not defensively, because he is looking ahead, and he does believe a nuclear Iran is the greatest threat to destabilizing world safety.

I used to cringe at the Ambassador because I was so angry at our pre-emptive attack on Iraq, and before that I protested Clinton and Gore about the WTO. Now I express opposition to the Obama administration over legislation and his do nothing approach to the Gulf. I guess I’m just not a party girl. I like the individual. My nickname in high school was WW for wild woman, I’d come to an apartment full of stoned teen-agers, dance in the strobe light and leave. My favorite part was walking home alone on the granite sidewalks. I don’t want to be liked, (of course I want to be loved madly), but most of all I can’t stand feeling controlled. Having to be a Democrat or a Republican is giving up my freedom of thought. I appreciate being able to meet politicians and ask them questions, like when I met Hillary and was inspired to work like heck for her, and then when I met Bill and “got it”. I loved being open to Ambassador John Bolton and feeling how much he wants to give not just to Americans but to all people, and Mattie Fein, I like how out of the box she is. I like walking away feeling connected but not indebted.

I don’t want any country to be sold out by it’s leaders, and you know where it starts? When the people sell out to a party, mind, body and soul, and then the party sells out to the elite. I believe that’s happened for the last twenty years, at least. Again, I’m not a party girl and I’ve certainly never been a sell out, and I have a feeling the time is getting ripe for, dare I say it, Mr. and Mrs. Smith to go to Washington.

Haloo my friends…

Halooo my friends, let me thank you once again, generous souls, for donating to Operation Smile. Having spent time with 3 special children who have had operations to gain the use of their facial muscles, I can say truthfully, if you save someone’s heart, you save their life. Lord it’s gorgeous in Tucson, and we met a man on the plane named Blaise (Anthony) who was quite brilliant about why people are losing their connection with authentic feelings, with individuality, with true expression, with each other. I asked him, “what do think could create jobs, independent of government, what could be the next wave, like what Bill Gates gave to the world?” “Take hand-helds out of the hands of children.” He’s an expert on rhetoric. Rhetoric, he had told me earlier, is stirring someone to action, it is not, as I had thought, a statement that begs no answer. Anthony was describing the atmosphere of working with young people at a successful marketing company of clothes and sound. The kids go to the lunch counter and, instead of taking the food in sensorily, making a decision about what they want to eat and sitting with friends, they text, abstractly, distractedly, superficial reviews.

The first reaction to anything is to text in fragments. We talked about why when a child develops his sense of self on the internet it is so easy to have that fragile construct destroyed. When I was bullied as a child, teased, mocked, as so many children are, I had to deal with my feelings and create a world that strengthened me internally. I sought my path not only to get away from insensitive people, but to go toward creative, productive people. I had to work hard on my weaknesses for years and years to earn the right to be around people of “my ilk”. I still do. If I had been seeking in cyberspace I would have gotten more and more lost. Every person needs a mentor, an imperfect teacher, an illadvised advisor to push them off the perch of isolation. To walk through life texting is like giving away pieces of your soul as you go, cutting off chunks and slices of your spiritual body and bleeding your creative wealth, your presence, as you drift toward your destination. No wonder kids are killing themselves.

Anthony said that although he is the music and visual designer for this huge clothing company, what they are really marketing are emotions. Young people have always been targets, no doubt, but there is no defense against manipulation if “your world”, “your generation” is a manipulated netherspace with no eyes to look back at yours, no facial expressions to try and hide, no heart beating to listen to. Anthony, a rather liberal eccentric grounded by Brooklyn Italian roots who prays every morning and parties at night with rock stars, (on the job), said, “that’s why this country is becoming socialist”. Because in order to be or even appreciate a “rugged individualist” or “pioneer spirit”, you have to struggle physically and emotionally, not just intellectually, against your own void, not just cast your potential into a collective void. He said the lack of critical thinking allows people, especially young people, to accept lies, a collage of life as someone wants you to see it, rather than how you view it. There aren’t qualifications that matter, in any job, just about. The bar is so low that competition has been replaced with self promotion, or worse, an attitude of, “so go ahead and fire me, I’ll sue you.”

When I stood outside the club in Austin friday night wishing on a star before my show, I listened to the wall of sound of the most popular show of the moment. I earnestly picked out the strains of melody or anti melody to follow, as one does, to grasp the memorable lines, to find the form in the mist, but I could only predict when the audience would roar. I knew nothing of the band, but I could say of the crowd, “they’ll hoot here, and now again, and …, hooting now” as if I were conducting the cheers from a block away. Eerily, I wondered if the cheering were programmed into the sound design, formerly known as music. And I know that’s to come. Because they are packaging emotions, not songs.

We have to be aware, like never before, of who we are allowing ourselves to become. I’m hoping this mind time suck of texting, cell phones and computer appendages is a phase, a time in our human history when we exclaim, “how could we have lived that way!” When we call the twittering for what it is, not social “cred” building, but social crud. I’m reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s the Beautiful and the Damned, it’s allot better than tweeting. But we are damned, if we don’t come back to our senses. See you soon,
Sophie B.