That Old American Disillusion
Years slide by with reckless abandon. I find another year has dissolved in the smog of fighting the clock in the concrete jungle I now call home. We traveled 3000 miles to be with family for the holidays. It’s the old Planes, Trains, and Automobiles gag (with the exception that we have yet need to jump on a train – but we’re still days to go before the return trip home, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves in expectation). It’s always good to see family especially after such a long stint of being away from the people that helped carve and form the person that you eventually slump into. The annual traditions of over-eating, consuming mass amounts of beer, wrestling matches, and flinging footballs as far as the arm will whip them into the sky reminds me of the cold hard fact of life, You’re Not a Kid Anymore. You make one wrong move throwing a football or too hard of a bump playing Sabotage H-O-R-S-E and you are nursing an injury for a month. However, it is always family that makes you feel young again, like a dog finding his old pack members and running around in reverie of that childhood memory. I suppose we’re all trying to get back to that place… lifetimes ago, different people, different lives. I feel as though I’ve lived so many it’s hard to grasp who I really am anymore. All of the moves, all of the motives, all of the loves and hates, all of the battles, struggles, failures, and triumphs. Going home always reminds you of who you are and where you began. Photos, perhaps horrid home videos of 80s and 90s awkwardness, art work, paintings, items that hold memories and nostalgia. You can never truly go home, for that home was lost in the pages of history, but it’s nice to look at from a child’s eyes. Seeing our daughter slide around on the floors and take it all in really helps put it all in perspective. I’m sure it’s hard and wonderful for our parents and relatives to go through that lighthearted phase for another round. There’s something to be said about having family closer than thousands of miles away.
I’ll make an attempt at not sounding bitter and jaded about my life in the tinsel lined glint of over-priced housing and self-absorbed California bullshit. I realize that most of you don’t live here and if you have visited the vast expanse of purchased Northern-Mexico it has been to visit Walt Disney’s whimsical expanse of painted childhood wonder or to visit the bloated ego of a Hollywood system long lost in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. If you’ve read this far, I’m going to take a wild stab in the ether and say that you and I can agree that the whole “attempt at not sounding bitter and jaded” has failed miserably and that we can continue on amicably through this pandering bullshit we’ll call a blog. Are you still onboard? Okay.
Although I have made a home of this sweltering land of asphalt, facepaint, and glitter otherwise known as Los Angeles I am constantly finding the world devoid of dreams; instead filled with the salt-weighted tears of shattered hopes, disillusion, and the bloated depression of settling for something much less than what we bargained for. Perhaps that last sentiment is not aligned with the others, for it could be the case that the bargain was indeed placed and landed exactly where it’s supposed to… as one or more parties had not (or never intended to) keep up their end of the bargain. At the end of the day it spills out through open window sills – floating on clouds of sad popular music, talent shows spit shined with celebrity opinion, and wafts of garlic infused late night dinners. There is a serenity that soaks through the skin on these late night parades through my Los Angeles neighborhood. These poured concrete trailways leading in corners and roundabouts rumble with enough gasoline powered cacophony and human noise pollution to funnel the mind into a blank plane of Zen. Suddenly the plants clinging to stucco walls come alive, the neons flood the air – bleeding over the sea moisture carried inland from the subtle oceanfront some 12 miles away – and just for a fleeting moment I can clear the mind enough to gain a sliver of clarity and perspective. Of course, some people can get this from ironing their shirt, or taking a hot bath. It would seem I need a heavy dose of chaos and overpowering stimuli to cut through the fog of the modern condition to attain this meditative om.
Here’s a little secret for those of you that are under the impression that there are small numbers of “us” that have it all figured out. We don’t. We don’t know anything. We go about our day fumbling through one misadventure to the next occasionally keeping things interesting through sprinkled moments of success and happiness. My wife and daughter are fantastic. I make a living working in an industry that I have always wanted to find a way into.
This town is build on the broken dreams of those fresh slabs of meat hoping to make a career out of art and love of performance. So many talented individuals come here to have their hearts crushed and noses rubbed in the oily residue left dripping upstage. Who am I to think that my story would be any different from the thousands that have come to pay homage to the god of entertainment? Who am I to think that I may have any kind of talent that would stand out or simply rise slightly above the rest of the hopeful? There are thousands of people that work hard, do their diligence and never make it past the first 100 yards in this race. Who am I to say that my story will be not only different but significantly more fortunate than any of these woeful tales of small town boy/girl comes to the big city to make their big break? Is it opportunity? Is it having a clarity of vision enough to know what is an actual opportunity instead of what is merely a predator circling, circling ever so deftly until there is an opening – a distraction – a wide shot at the pulsing jugular dream; primed and ready to be torn from the flesh of your pale white naïve throat. Sometimes this whole place is a goddamn warzone of fresh faces, barely dressed vagina, fellatio, drugs, and incest – pour me another drink before I start to bust this place up.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Keep dreaming, keep working, keep grasping and making opportunity for yourself. All of these obstacles will beat you down and bruise you, but they must not break you. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to get worse. There are going to be moments that you think you can’t possibly take anymore. That’s not the time to find religion. That’s the time to find your own strength. No one else is going to pick you up and put you back on your feet. You have to do that all on your own. If you see an open door with something you want on the other side you better take the time to walk through it – but you better make damn sure you want what’s on the other side.
If you would like to know the secret to all of this nonsense, it’s never see failure as an option. It can’t be. If you’re fine with failing or falling short, then just quit now. You may find yourself at a different place, a different goal when all is said and done – but you won’t get there if you simply accept that you’re going to fail at it. Those that find success and really create are those that see those mistakes and shortcomings as a method of trial and error – a learned experience that had to happen in order to get further down that road. It’s not easy. It’s not perfect. It’s certainly dirty and painful. When you get out of that personal war you’ll feel clean. You’ll feel new. Play honest. Be good. Live and practice the golden rule. Those that are ruthless are the first to get cut down at the knees, and people remember. They hold grudges like you wouldn’t believe.
You might have to be firm, but don’t be an asshole. We’ve got enough of those already.