Day of thanks to the forgotten ones

Thanksgiving Day, 2015. A day that we give thanks for all our blessings, if you believe in such religious paradigms; certainly a day of warmth, togetherness and, yes, gratitude practiced by all in this great country.

There are, however, those broken souls that are lost, bereaved and empty where this day only adds a significant amount of misery. Whether they are disenfranchised from their families, incarcerated, or seeking shelter from their troubled lives from any available dumpster. These individuals don’t live but sub-exist on the undercarriage of our good fortune.

Today, Thanksgiving, 2015, is going to be their day. I salute you for getting through the nightmare and onto another dry sidewalk so the sun of good fortune can warm your face. It will. We all have our day in court, as they say, and your day is just around the corner.

A family will be reunited, and it will be yours. An order of release will be issued from a court and you will be free from custody. A safe, clean furnished living domicile will be provided and you will move in. This will all occur. The only requirement is for you to get to the next dry sidewalk, where the rain will not drench and the wind will not chill. You will make it.

I know this because I, too, was on that wet road littered with dishonest promises, grand gestures of a better tomorrow while seeking another person to use and abuse. I know because I felt the drench of anguish; the sharp attack of disappointment, and the lash of prison. I know because I am you and you are me.

I no longer embrace misery, make the occasional grand gesture of dishonesty or find another victim to dissolve. A community lifted me up and placed me on that portion of dry sidewalk that allowed me to find the “sunny side of the street.” For that I am eternally grateful. And it’s there for you, too.

This is a giving of thanks to you not for what you take from us but what you give to us. You make us a better nation. It is imprinted in our DNA to help those that cannot help themselves. For those weakest among us must be provided the strength from the rest of us to move forward. A timely tradition that still stumbles forward.

Yes, the numbers are growing, the streets are more crowded than ever before with the tents, tarps and strange mutterings from inside the makeshift cottages. It’s enough to turn our heads away in despair, to turn our gaze skyward, hoping against hope that divine intervention will make good what we cannot; to prevent us from feeling the whiplash of failure.

We must continue and we will continue until every man, woman and child is off the streets and into a life to be cherished, not just survived. A pipe dream, perhaps, but it will be a reality. Our collective might cannot be overlooked or overshadowed by the enormity of the problem. We are all of us.

Today, Thanksgiving, 2015, my heroes are those forgotten souls striving for a their place in the sun. It’s right around the next bend. Absolutely. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Where is the humor in all of this

Broken heart screams, begs for something to pass the time when the ache subsides to a dull roar.
Where is the humor in all of this I wonder as I set cross-legged by the roadside inn serving me
up more tortured food – really can’t call it that but the neon sign promises it’s the best
in the valley where dolls roll over in dust of cream as a cheap frying pan is exhibited by the pest

Pest, I say! But no one listens to the mumbling of a dancing idiot with aging brown hair pulled back on the top
like a ragamuffin…now there’s a word or words not used often by men of character pretending to stand
for the rest of us lost souls chaffing against the corduroy of sweats with painful glee causing weeping
trees to bend over touching the ground as if the only stability promised is the soil from where it came

And came it went and came it did and came it said yes over and over again hoping against hope that the cloak
was not wrong; that the cloak was real and not just another graveyard prose of ‘I love you..I really do” because
the heart is fragile; long past due a giving gentle man or gentle woman with a smile because the other produces
a genuine lift, a genuine sense of being only resulting in a spontaneous desire to touch inside and out. To touch.

Longing is an action of immobility driven by empty desperation, but the sun streams a warmth that’s real like a
baby’s breath where the world is embraced by the smell of fresh, clean purity. Purity has long ago taken a ride
to wayside; a prison of sorts for it’s a belief it will be forever and forever is temporary accompanied by pain
and sorrow. Where is the humor in all of this I say with a knowing smile of survival; a key to open the floodgates

Where is the humor in all of this? I exclaim with conviction just to get me through to where the pain subsides and the
smile returns with yet another beginning, middle and end. It’s the endings that are a bitch but what a way to go. The
roadside inn will always be there serving up the gruel it calls food and charging a reasonable price…maybe that’s where
we find the humor in all of this; the roadside inn serving up gruel at a reasonable price with a neon sign promising the best

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Always the same…always the same

The alley is dark,
damp and cold

Confused with a
limp, I stumble
toward a dimly lit
slightly ajar door

I’m sad, shivering
against the night
frozen rain, slide inside

I’m sure my
terrible angst will
never subside but
cling like a bad
dream; a horrible dream

Inside, I lean
against the dirty
wall covered with
a smell reserved
for leftovers

I’m so tired,
scared, sure this is
the end; maybe thankfully

Then a smile
breaks the chill;
you are there, dark
brown hair falling
around your
shoulders like a
soft, tropical rain

A warmth
surrounds me;
I see for the first
time in forever the
promise of you; the promise
of an infinite now

I shake off the
bark of the street
with all its failures
and endless loss

I muster the strength
to say ‘yes’ to you;
take your outstretched hand
and smile with joy; a joy
lost now regained and it
is enough

It is more than enough

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Suck the dry out of you

Distant shadow, lurching in my direction like a desperate Leprechaun
grabbing at all that is holy while yelling about your state of being

As if that is anybody’s business other than one’s own marrow of discontent
produced by mirrors of expectations placed on you again and again

Then it crumbles into dust and rubble of leverage used against you
with harsh sentimentality of seemingly sincerity producing angst

It isn’t you or them or the other one; it isn’t me or what lies underneath
the pools of missed opportunities or poor planning behind clouds hovering

It becomes clear the vacuum cleaner is the heart and soul of those wanting
you to be them, echoing their every move and thought like a tumbling of vice

And yet there is a muffled cry of “please, let me be,” unheard and ignored
to be aloft in a perfect vehicle while running around with confused necklaces

Choking off all air of independence; originality is a sin, not a blessing
but the idea is strong, persistent, reclusive and dependable it lingers

Blood flows into the main membrane keeping intact theories bombarding internal
workings of my small ideals swirling fast and heavy like flood waters unleashed

It is not enough to be free. It is not enough to be me. It is just not enough.
Watch the words because they have a high cost of explanation

Be forewarned: They do not rest until they suck the dry right out of you
and then they look around for another. It is not enough for them. Never is.

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I have fallen

Into an abyss
I have fallen
I can’t get out
Never happened before
not true; happened many times
I have fallen but not this way
into a quicksand of
water that’s robbing
me of breath, stealing
my soul into a lock box
of riddles, strapped to the side
of a fast-moving truck
without help; without help, crashing
into a limestone wall where faces are smashed
into unrecognizable receipts of unrequited obsession
Oh my dear God, I have fallen, so deep, so dark
I pray there is no hope but to keep falling
I have fallen and I don’t want
to stop, I have fallen and I don’t
want to stop. I want to die in
your arms of denial and smile of lust
where your fingertips glide over
this naked ancient body just one more time
I have fallen so fucking deep
so ever-fucking deep
and I don’t want to stop
I have fallen
Thank God. I have fallen

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Exercise as Escape into Movies

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I watch movies – a ton of them. I watch them as I exercise after work or on my day off. I do the elliptical every day. That’s right: Every day. I do not miss a day, if I can help it. And every time I get on the elliptical, I watch a movie.
Let’s recap the movie agenda for this past week. Exciting, isn’t it? I told you, I would bore the snot out of you with this movie crap.
Here’s a partial list that covers the last seven days.
A Clint Eastwood binge:
“Pink Cadillac
Dirty Harry 1
Dirty Harry 2
Gran Torino”
Then others:
“The Flim-Flam Man
The Boys From Brazil
Hemingway & Gillhorn
Devil in the Blue Dress”
And that most likely is just a partial list. I watch movies all the time. I love them. I watch the same movies over and over again.
The movies on the above list, I have seen several times. Oh, I forgot another one I watched in this past week and that was “Mulholland Falls.” (Great movie)
As mentioned, all these movies I’ve seen several times. I always notice new things in each movie, like Eastwood’s constant use of the word “babe.” Meaningless, I know, but I notice these insignificant things all the time. They mean nothing, except in the scheme of movies. As in, Eastwood, the filmmaker, uses the same people over and over again. No news in that. Most filmmakers find people they can trust and work with and use them over and over again from crew to actors. Makes for a good team.
A small anecdote about Mr. Eastwood – whom I believe has become one of the great American filmmakers of all time: My late father, actor James Whitmore, was doing a segment of a television show starring Eastwood, “Rawhide.” Eastwood was playing a character, Rowdy Yates. My dad was a guest star on the program and asked Eastwood to rehearse a scene and Eastwood declined saying, “It’s fine,” according to my father. Dismissed him outright.
“I didn’t like him,” Dad said. “He was arrogant,” or words to that effect, again, according to my dad.
In all fairness, Pop wasn’t the easiest person to work with either. As another example of that, and then I will mercifully let you go, my brother, Jim, was doing a play with dad and during a promotional interview was asked what was it like to work with his father?
Jim’s comic response: “It’s like working with Idi Amin.” If you don’t know who Idi Amin was, look it up.
Anyway, now onto the next movie.

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Movies, movies and more movies

I am going to be boring you guys to tears with movie reviews for a while from here on out.

I watch movies all the time, just like everybody else. The difference here is I have made movies back in the day of Super 8 and 16 millimeter. In fact, I shot a movie once on Super 8 entirely edited in the camera; I shot it the way it would’ve been edited, thus removing the need for editing after the fact. It was great.

Also, I grew up in a household of movies. My dad was an actor, James Whitmore. We lived in Rustic Canyon, near the Pacific Palisades in sunny Southern California. Our neighbors were Lee Marvin, James Arness,among many others.

When I have time today I watch movies in the theater or on my flat screen with surround sound at home. The sound is great; five Bose speakers situated perfectly around my living room. When I turn it up, the walls shake. It’s great. Sound is vital for movies. Without it, it just sucks.

I made a movie once broadcast on Public Television, KCET, Ch. 28, here in the Southern California area, and the sound was awful. Actually, the whole movie was pretty bad, but the sound was the worst. It sits hidden in my attic, where it belongs. It was called “Choices” and was part of KCET’s Independent Eye program, lo’ these many years ago. I shot it on 16 mm over a long weekend for $7,000. Jeez! That was something. A seasoned pro once screened the movie and said I should rethink my entire career. Sound advice that I promptly ignored.

I have been known to watch movies over and over again, whether it’s “Open Range,” “The Company You Keep,” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” – what a great movie that was. I just like certain styles, Michael Mann, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford, and, of course, Marvel.

Marvel certainly has carved out the immediate future of film-making. I know there are those who poo-poo those movies. Screw ’em. I say. If a movie is good, it’s good. There is just no way getting around that. And Marvel is making good movies.

Last night, My wife, Eileen, me, and my son, Brennan, watched “Big Hero 6.” And it was terrific. I cried. Course, I’ve been known to cry during American Express commercials, so what the hell!

I was somewhat embarrassed because I was completely immersed in this cartoon, I guess nowadays “cartoon” can be construed as disparaging because the animation is so beyond anything I saw as a kid. I loved this movie. As mentioned, I even cried near the end. Couldn’t believe it. But my family also was moved by the film. It is not a cartoon for kids and yet kids can watch.

What a great movie. The characters, the story, and the relationships as well as the action, it was all good. I found nothing wrong with the movie, and now can see why it won the Academy Award for best animated feature.

Next on the agenda is a film made in 1967 called “The Flim-Flam Man” starring George C. Scott. This was the first movie I saw as a 17-year-old kid that spawned the desire to take off “on the road” so-to-speak. The scenery is to die for and the story is simple and sweet. It made bumming around the country an ideal pastime. And I did just that.

So, now it’s off to the moves.

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