A Strange Loop (Tonight at Feinstein’s/54 Below) – A Long Read

In Uncategorized by MikeJack / April 26, 2016 / 0 Comments

strangeloopfacebookevent17 copyTonight at Feinstein’s/54 Below at 7pm and 9:30pm New Musicals at 54 is presenting a concert version of my musical A Strange Loop (tickets can be purchased here–use discount code LOOP35 to get 35% off the cover charge in the main dining room only).

A Strange Loop is a piece I have been working on in some form or another since about 2003, when I graduated from college and found myself living in Jamaica, Queens in an old lady’s bungalow on the 2nd floor for $400 a month. I was 22 years old and it was an odd and challenging time for me because I had fled Detroit to get away from my black upbringing and all of the baggage that I felt came with that–things like having to go to church every Sunday and being a part of the drama and intrigue of a small Baptist church, or waking up with headaches and dents in my forehead from the doo-rags and skull caps that were worn to ensure I maintained “brush waves,” or very poorly (and very barely) hiding that I was gay from the world while at the same time not even having a clear or confident assertion of what being gay meant for me specifically.

It’s hard for me to track where my self-hatred began. Did it start in middle school, when it was clear that I was “different” but had no ground in which to plant my feet in order to thrive in the truth of who I truly was? Was it in high school in the circle of other black gay boy teens I met and wanted to fit in with and who I sought brotherhood and camaraderie with and whose identities and marginalization were so similar to mine but whose points-of-view on the world and themselves couldn’t be more different? Was it within the confines of my family who had no idea how to support me emotionally at that particular time or in fact, that I was desperately in need of a particular kind of emotional support at all? I don’t blame them really because I gave them absolutely no clues about any of this and that was because I didn’t even recognize the need in myself. The self-hatred was totally normal to me.

Particularly after coming out to myself and then to this community of black boys which then opened up the possibility of exploring sexuality, which I felt nothing but apprehension and even more self-hatred about. Because suddenly, with the closet door starting to open, I realized that I had nothing to wear. I felt completely ill-equipped to come into my own power sexually, socially, emotionally, or politically. All I saw was a fat, black/not-black-enough, gay, effeminate, nerdy, lisping wet dingleberry of a person dragging from one room to the next. I imagined that every gay boy (and in particular, every black gay boy) who saw me was laughing behind my back or shrinking away in revulsion at the thought of me as a sexual person. I taught myself very early on to turn off any kind of signal that I was interested in anyone in anyway for fear of not only their rejection, which in my mind, was a given, but it was even deeper than that–I almost felt like these boys were royalty and I was a subject and if I did not properly prostrate myself before them, I would be in violation of the law and tossed into a dungeon set for subsequent execution.

Again: my self-hatred game was STRONG.

And so at 22 years old, I was living in New York, the supposed mecca of gay liberation and I was anything but liberated. Wherever I went, there I was. Because I had nothing else, I started writing about it. But not about it as much as from within it. The piece was a monologue entitled Why I Can’t Get Work, which was at the time, a very real problem. I was living in old Ms. Ruby’s house in Jamaica, Queens with her very loud, rambunctious autistic nephew Donovan, broke, saddled with student loan debt, no marketable skills and a fucking playwriting degree. Why I Can’t Get Work detailed the isolation of what it felt like to be me at that time (and also embarrasingly, the infatuation I had then with Craig Lucas, John Patrick Shanley, Tony Kushner, and Rufus Wainwright, all white men I now hold in low-to-no regard in my more militant black old age but I digress). At that time, I was calling the protagonist, Darryl:

DARRYL

So uh, I’m doing all this temp work ‘cause “the market’s bad.” Which is this expression that’s sort of driving me outta my head lately. ‘Cause it sounds like all those people you ever hear rambling in the all-knowing-New-York- Times-Reader-voice when they say

(imitates)

“Now uh, I don’t wanna talk partisan politics … uh ‘cause uh, you know, the ‘market’s bad’ … and uh, the problem with America really is we need to stop supporting Israel … and uh, I was gonna sell my house but not uh … since nine-eleven, you know the market’s bad.’” Or whatever. So in the meanwhile, I’m temping. Whatever they’ll give me. Mostly administrative stuff, mail room, reception. But then my mother’s calling me on the phone with that Southern Sunday sadness in her long distance voice, wants to know, “Darryl, what you gonna do with a BFA degree?” Well, a war’s on now, so I guess nothing. Anyway given the current circumstances, in my head, I made up an image of this old Russian woman who wanders around New York with a mouth full of bloody piano keys instead of teeth. ‘Cause that’s how I feel sometimes. She walks around New York, turns down 14th Street at Union Square with her lips in a singing circle ready to sing alto for me in my own personal choir; maybe a song from Three Penny Opera. And sometimes when things get really bad, I say, “she’s my New York agent” because of course, I wanna move to LA by 2005 and have either a sitcom or a first-look deal with Scott Rudin even though I’ve heard all the rumors about him and then it hits me that I’m fresh outta undergrad writing all these plays about DL black men, or a mother and daughter talking about abortion or Jesus as a hostage victim like I know or anybody cares. Which I guess all goes to show why I can’t get work.

(a pause)

And then my Dad’s calling me on the phone. With that delayed reaction flashback love as bright as Vietnam burning in voice. And I’m glad to hear from him but I say,

(bored)

“I’m okay.” ‘Cause his love is too ripe for me to take unconditionally. Oh, and he’s a drunk too. Then he says,

(imitates)

“heyyyy, son. I just called to check up on you.” And oddly enough with no malice, I say, “I ‘preciate that.” And we hang up on each other. Then five minutes later, we actually hang up the phone.

(pause)

But in the space of that five minutes, it all comes bubbling to the surface; how I felt. How the little boy felt. How Detroit felt. What it looked like. ‘Cause every Sunday in Detroit was lying across the orange not even shag carpet after church with Mom in the kitchen making brown, white, and green and Dad reading the newspaper; me lying on the orange not even shag carpet trying not to focus on how much I hated the way light came in the living room with my Calvin and Hobbes comics spread before me as gray as the eye could see and it was in that precise moment that I realized I was a puppet in search of a blue fairy. Which is probably the worse metaphor I’ve come up with to date and yet another reason why I can’t get work; writing or otherwise. So I go shopping to forget about it all, but still thinking about last night, last night being relative to every night of my life. Watched “The View.” Plotted Star Jones’ death. Watched Diane Sawyer talk about the connection between hardcore porn and General Motors–go figure. Watched Paris Hilton. Train wreck. Watched R Kelly. I hate that nigga. Watched the Whitney Houston interview; goddamn. Watched Peter Jennings and Ted Koeppel talk about the next fiscal year, nuclear arms, racism, etcetera, and I thought about that word–etcetera. I often use it to describe myself on Yahoo Personals or Gay dot com because it describes everything. Including the feeling you have before you’ve moved on but after you’ve accepted that your pain is your own despite who may have caused it; which, at least I was really glad when they said they wouldn’t reinstate the draft. And it’s really great I’m not suicidal ‘cause if I were, I’d be dead.

(a pause)

And on his birthday, I watch clips of Martin Luther King Jr. on Oprah and I keep thinking: why couldn’t he have just been a homosexual? ‘Cause of course, I want everything to be gay and awful ‘cause I can’t hold onto the meat of things. But also, sometimes it seems so embarrassing that Martin was ever here given how it’s all fucked up now, Race, racism, nonviolent protest in a violent world, etc. It’s embarrassing. As embarrassing as a bad yo-Mama joke. As embarrassing as this revolution they keep talking about in spoken word poems on HBO DEF Poetry Jam. But hey, all I know is what I wish and what I think. And my mind seeks to destroy things: people’s ideals, American complacency, and meanwhile I’m going all white girl on everybody saying, “where is my happiness? Where is my happiness? Where is my happiness” … which I got from “The Hours”— a movie that I’m ashamed to admit moved me a little but thank God it didn’t win an Oscar and thank God nobody black won that year so I could know for myself that blacks winning Oscars isn’t a thing anymore. It’s been checked off the like, you know, collective unconsciousness’ you know, “to-do” list. So that must be why I can’t get work. ‘Cause I’m so cynical. But yeah, hey, I’ve been seriously thinking about freedom these days too; I really have.

(a conscientious pause)

‘Cause here’s the deal with me. I didn’t come out to myself until I was 16 years old and later in college they tell me in “coming out discussion group” that it’s a lifelong process but that’s not what I told myself in the mirror that night with the lights off for a dramatic flair after sitting up all day getting hard reading a passage describing a naked man’s body in a Clive Barker Novel–Clive Barker who I later find out has a black husband which for whatever reason seems like “WHAT THE FUCK?,” but meanwhile I’m in the dark convincing myself that I’m gay–but what about all those fags I used to run with in high school? I thought I’d crossed that finish line a loooong time ago; I mean, c’mon, a lifelong process? I mean, fuckin’ A, man! See, I didn’t come out to myself until I was 16 years old and I felt 16 like a prison sentence, especially in light of all those guys from the “black gay teenage story line” of my student film of a life who ran around with their dicks in each others’ mouths and assholes, I mean, even if Shysuanne did just die from AIDS, I just wanted to run like a wolf with them from bar to bar to Palmer Park and fag-skating on Mondays at Northland Roller Rink after choir rehearsal. But all I got was a 6-month thing with a boyfriend who refused to blow me ‘cause I pre-cum a lot and a procession of old men trying to fuck me in various and sundry bathrooms but then Shysuanne did just die from AIDS so maybe I was right. And there’s nothing I love more than being right. It’s just like the other day this guy tries to pick me up while I’m waiting for the 6 on my way to rehearsal for this play I wrote and my first thought is, “what if he’s got AIDS? Condoms are bullshit, what if he’s a gift giver who’s trying to lure you somewhere to infect you on purpose?” And this is all me in my glorious gay 20s when I should be laughing AIDS in the face and daring it to come after me. But this is not what they taught me in high school health.

This is not what Dad taught me about his cousin Melvin who apparently ran around on his wife for years smoking crack and fucking men on the DL and got AIDS; something the Taylors hold against him in that patient, Christian way black families are so renowned for. So even though in that moment waiting for the 6 I think, “maybe he’s just into you,” I think right after that, “he probably just wants to gay bash you.” So that’s where I’m at; a bitter custody battle: thought versus thought and thought wins.

(a pause)

And I say this knowing very well that I can manufacture attraction towards any man I see, like when he comes to tell my writing class that life is shit and we’re all probably gonna die of cancer (which is all you have to say to make me fall in love with you) and a little voice goes, “hmm … would Craig Lucas fuck me?” Or the next class with all his sweet sixty eight dollar words and long standing problems of virtue and happiness and Democratic Socialist bullshit that I sort of love and don’t understand, I’m like, “would Tony Kushner fuck me?” Or John Patrick Shanley, God Shanley, who has the last of the truly great laughs and who in my imaginary world would be a homosexual and not just any homosexual, but a really aggressive top. Well, if only for my sake, I guess. And I think, would any of these men see something in me I don’t see in myself? Could they give me some of that fire? But it doesn’t even have to be them. It could be some old Indian cab driver or the sales guy at Radio shack. It’s any man. Go figure. It must be my Daddy complex. It must be my fuck-me-harder-complex. But who cares, right? I mean I can’t even go after guys. Why? Well, I don’t go after guys if for no other reason than I don’t want to get my heart broken ‘cause no thank you; heartbreak? Gotta box full of that shit. Little shards like old broken Christmas ornaments. And even more importantly, I’m one of those people who wants some thing out of it. I don’t accept that musical theater song that says “the choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not.” ‘Cause I’ve been there. Case in point; I recently made a pass at a good friend of mine ‘cause I was convinced that he was playing hard-to-get and needless to say, Darryl got the smack down. It was the nicety-nice smack down but you could definitely feel the sting. And so I shook that ornament box to hear the jangling of my one-way love. ‘Cause it’s like … like everything else in my life, like with my parents; oh, there’s a story. Jesus Christ. When I was 17 I came out to my parents; which, kids, don’t try this at home; but dumbly enough, what was most devastating in my mind was not that I was now exposed as a fag but that I was no longer the more favored child. Look, I don’t know if I was the more favored child but I always thought I was better than him. He was better looking, I was smarter. He was blacker, I could sing. He had the big dick, I had been to France, Luxembourg, and Israel. But as I sat there in my Nautica bathrobe and broke everybody’s heart, Jake was the only one in that room crying. I mean I know Mom and Dad were upset or whatever, but Jake is the only one I remember crying. Oh and it killed me totally! But I laughed at him crying. In my head. Laughed while his grown ass, this loser college dropout ran into the dining room fucking sobbing and banging his head against the wall while Dad rocked him in his arms like a newborn saying

(imitates)

“he dunno what he’s doing.” I thought to myself–briefly a villain–“I know exactly what I’m doing”–all while sitting there laughing at them all. In my head. And the laugher went on like this for months until I summoned up the courage to lie to them that I wanted to change and be straight. But never mind that. ‘Cause this is all after a thousand dollars worth of therapy and running into my therapist and her white husband and their biracial daughter at the opera with my mother and her nosy friend we don’t speak to anymore during the intermission of “Porgy and Bess.” And me talking to Dr. Kliger about “what a marvelous coloratura the actress is!” while my black mother is right across the room with her nosy friend we don’t speak to anymore. Such a scene. My black mother and her black son at the opera in the mezzanine in the rich white folks’ box seats because my black mother was willing to pay the extra money for she and her black son to sit with the white folks so they’d know they weren’t better than us. And me loving my black mother for this while I shake Dr. Kliger’s white husband’s hand and tell him that it’s nice to meet his white self and hating my black mother for this two weeks later when we’re at our last family therapy session and she asks me like it’s some sort of social pleasantry “why ain’t you tell me you saw Dr. Kliger at the opera?” As if I would’ve been like “oh, hello, Mom! Hello, Friend-We-Don’t-Talk-To-Anymore! This is the woman who has been hired under the pretense that she will shrink the fag away until he’s this big even though everybody knows deep down that it’s all shit and lies! Isn’t Bess a marvelous coloratura?”

(a pause)

But whatever. ‘Cause ultimately, the bug up my ass is that I thought once I came out with it, this gay shit with my parents, it was over; I thought once I came out with it, this love shit with my friend, it was over. That there would be freedom in the truth and in being so emotionally open and that I’d be all ennobled and that like, Nordic gods with winged feet would come down and whisk me off to some majestic mountain peak. But again, I just shook that box of broken ornaments full of my heartbreak.

(a pause)

But I didn’t get sad. What I got was that anger that disguises itself as sadness and refuses to let you cry no matter how much you want to. And it usually grows into this feeling of “oh well, no one cares;” which, aggravating as that is, there’s a violin loveliness in it to have to say yourself “you are on your own!” Hmm. Maybe that’s why I can’t get work. ‘Cause I refuse to be a man about that?

(a pause)

And oh, look, the World Trade Center is falling down.

(sighs)

So a little overwhelmed by this point, I’m done shopping, a seesaw of bags down 14th Street when I realize I don’t live in Manhattan anymore. So I turn back, headed toward 8th Ave to the E-train, back home to Jamaica, Queens where I live in this little upstairs apartment of a little house owned by this hunched over little old lady who always wears a headwrap and jogging pants that cling to her little legs and who always tells me how sad life is and how it didn’t turn out the way she thought it would every time I come down to pay the rent. And the thing is, I never used to feel black before I moved out here. And I bet according to Bell Hooks or Toni Morrison or Amiri Baraka or whoever else probably hates me, this is even more so because I’d take Rufus Wainwright over Alicia Keys any day of the week. ‘Cause I’m an assimilationist, I guess. But being from Detroit will do that to a nigga.

(a pause; beat boxes)

“You run from things that you think are gonna weigh you down.” Certain cultural baggage. And this realization kills me inside as I get off the train and warily don’t smile past the Army Reserve guards waiting at the exit turnstile at the Jamaica station on my way to the Q83 bus stop. ‘Cause I used to think I was person. I used to peel [sic] BLACK the layers of my skin until I found the dirt and the agony like … like … like … a harmonica versus an accordion; that was the war I was searching for inside myself. ‘Cause I was angry or THOUGHT I was angry and I’m not blaming anybody but my life was this ridiculous hurting for a boy who had tried but could not find the difference between himself and a Tori Amos song. So I tried instead, to find all these ways to deny my experience; to say “I am not in pain.” Over and over like an incantation. French, German, even conversational Spanish, which to my knowledge, is not conversational.

(whips out his “resume”)

Or more importantly, resume language with bullets and subheadings¾

(a la Rod Serling)

DARRYL TAYLOR

666 Shithead Way

Bumblefuck Queens, NY

Email: walkingwounded@hotmail.com

WORK HISTORY

ADMINISTRATIVE SCREW UP                                           1981¾Present

(mimes shooting a pistol)

  • Bullet one. Did not cry at the front desk/reception area of a busy college residence hall during senior year because student loans would soon be due and friend had just canceled dinner plans.

(mimes a rifle)

  • Bullet two! Did not think father’s coworker was about to give him a hug when he was actually just reaching for a stapler.

(mimes a rocket launcher)

  • BULLET THREE! Did not abruptly leave a friend at movies with guy she met during the movie once it ended because it seemed easier to make transition smooth than to stay and figure out if I was about to get dumped by the friend which of course, I was, because the friend of course, ended up leaving with said guy to go eat at some East Village Indian restaurant which was understandable because the guy, of course, ended up being heir to some sort of multi-million dollar inheritance and who, of course, tried to, of course, get into her panties all night, while I, of course …

(overwhelmed but continues)

… walked past past Dojo, past Tower Records, past K-Mart on my way home to my dorm room where Billy, my of course annoyingly faggy Jewish musical theater loving roommate would invariably be crying on the phone to his mother about how “emotionally blocked” he was. And that whole journey home I was just … sadness, sadness, sadness thinking about it, thinking about it, thinking about it, thinking about these things, thinking about how I ended up alone once again even when all I’d wanted to do that night was go to the Angelika with my friend to see this stupid movie about Jeffrey Dahmer while my friend, ultimately I hear, kept her panties on and left the guy with blue balls and purposely never called him back even though he was richer than God but–BUT, punch line; he was white.

(a pause)

And this is us laughing ha-ha-ha, hee-hee-hee about the whole thing over fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread at the Pink Tea Cup on Grove Street because we, of course, know exactly what kind of niggers we are.

(snap-queen/Cindy Adams)

Only in New York, kids! Laughing at the absurdity of a whole night!

(a pause)

SKILLS.

(dee-jays it on the turntable)

Sk-sk-sk-skills. Microsoft Word, Excel–kind of, Outlook Express, changing the subject, and stealing all the free condoms from the RAs in my dorm before graduation from undergrad so that I could always jack off without making a mess on the sheets or my needlessly hairy stomach so that I could always justify not taking a shower before job interviews tomorrow, “tomorrow” and “job interviews” being relative to every tomorrow and interview of my life; which, I need to remind myself not to eat in the morning so that when some handsome man in a surprisingly boring suit asks me, “so what brings you here to us today? Or, why do you want this job?,” I don’t throw up or fart.

(a pause)

REFERENCES. Available on request. So. There’s my resume. Would you hire me for your boyfriend? Your son? Your assistant?

(a pause)

Anyway, I’m home now. It’s two or three months after I’ve moved in and I still haven’t put all my shit away but that’s okay I guess. So I put the groceries up and prepare a bowl of Ramen noodle spaghetti, home just in time for “All My Children,” just in time to have the thrill of watching Erica Kane walk into a room.

(a long searching pause)

So I guess I am in pain. There, I said it out loud. Finally. Harmonica versus accordion. That’s the war I’ve been searching for inside myself and I think I’ve found it. I am the protagonist here. The protagonist. The agony. The agon. Agon. Agon. Agon; what a word. Apparently it means “the struggle” in Greek or Latin. They taught me that at school and all I heard from this frighteningly beautiful word was … scores and scores of choirs of Christmas angels telling me how normal this all is and that I should relax because I’m only 20-something and that everything would eventually be all right and

(gentle but thorough mocking)

“you’ll get a job/ you’ll get a boyfriend/you’ll get your parents’ approval/your friends’ll appreciate you … someday; c’mon, Darryl; just think about someday all the time; think about Liz Phair and what her journey was like out of the underground indie rock scene in Chicago into so much fame and other bullshit that she eventually had to quote-unqote sell out/practice interviewing yourself for Time Out or American Theater Magazine/pretend that Alice Walker dedicated a novel to you and called you like a sweet spirit or something ridiculous like that/pretend that Bill Cosby went on Larry King Live and called you a disgrace to the race/think about things like that and then someday you’ll be a success.” So okay. I guess that’s enough.

(a long pause; not quite satisfied)

And I might be able to accept all that in theory, but then there’s this jealousy in me like a silk red scarf blowing in the wind. A jealousy that Franciso de Goya painted Don Manuel Orsorio instead of me, me, a far more suitable subject at 3 months old and even now in my glorious gay 20s, looking up into my mother and father’s eyes wanting to have my picture taken.

(Someone takes a picture. Fade to black.)

FIN.

And that was that. That monologue was performed at a youth theatre festival I used to be a part of at the old Center Stage NY as part of Rebel Verses. I cast an actual underwear model (who really wanted to get into acting) as Darryl, which tells you again just how deep the river of my self-hatred was but c’est la vie.

Along the way, music began to enter the piece, the piece began to change, I began to change, the piece began to change again and again and again and as I look back on that piece, I am surprised by how much empathy I have for “Darryl.” I am also surprised by how, for as much as I’ve changed and let so much of the self-hatred go, I am still him. And he is still/now me. Someone once told me “we contain a multitude of forces.” And I think that’s right. Without giving too much (more) away, tonight at Feinstein’s/54 Below, 15 black gay men are going to take to the stage to refract a feedback loop of one facet of what it can look like to walk inside a black, gay man’s skin with intelligence humor, vulnerability, and rage. I’ve previously talked about “diversity” in musical theatre and how important it is for theatre makers to decenter whiteness. Well, here we are being the change we want to see (and have always been) in the world.  This is only the beginning. Join us at 7pm and/or 9:30pm and prepare to get your wig knocked back.

 

Diversity in Musical Theater!

sm04About a year ago I got drunk while live tweeting the Tonys and did a joke video with the catchphrase “Black Lives Matter but not in the theater!”

A few months ago, I was invited by musical theater writing team Michael Walker and Kyle Ewalt to be on a panel that would be discussing the lack of diversity or more urgently, the ever present whiteness of musical theater.

A little over a week ago, I awoke to a Facebook message from a black friend alerting me to the fact that I’d gotten a shout out and link to my website in a blog written by white actor and writer Brett Ryback about, among other things, the increasing lack of diversity in musical theater or more urgently, the ever present whiteness of musical theater. You can read it here:

http://brettryback.com/2015/08/03/race-and-the-new-generation-of-musical-theatre-writers/

My first reaction to Brett’s shout out was panic because I haven’t updated my website in over a year and I worried briefly that his linking to my site would drive people here and further expose the extent to which I am not exactly the world’s greatest musical theater business person. For me, the business of being a musical theater writer is an extremely taxing and soul sucking one. There’s so much about this business that seems to be about relentlessly promoting one’s “brand”, saying “ameezing,” and “theenk yo” a lot, and pretending that you are famous–all things I fail at miserably because I have to work a day job and am thus, less available to participate in the business part of this business which is one of the reasons I have to work a day job instead of more doggedly pursuing my art, blah, blah, shampoo, rinse, and repeat with sour grapes.

But it was also flattering to be shouted out by Brett in the context of so many salient points about an important set of issues that the musical theatre community is only very slowly waking up to–and in the same breath as Lin Manuel Miranda who, from what I understand, is changing the musical theater game like a true gangsta with “Hamilton” which I will likely never see because I’m the brokest nigga ever, I can’t with lotteries and that shit is EXPENSIVE AS FUUUUCK! WHY DO MUSICALS HAVE TO BE SO FUCKING EXPENSIVE?!?!? DON’T THEY ACTUALLY WANT PEOPLE TO SEE THEM?!?!? DO WE NEED TO ASK RUMPLESTILTSKIN TO SPIN STRAW INTO GOLD SO WE CAN GO TO THESE SHOWS?!?!?

But I digress.

I met Brett last January as a weeklong participant of the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at the Goodspeed Opera House where I had been invited to develop my piece “A Strange Loop.” Like Brett’s shout out on his website, I felt a 30/70 combination of flattery and panic. On one hand, it felt great to actually be selected to participate in this respected writer’s colony because of the quality of my writing. It gave me a small sense of professional legitimacy in an industry that can often feel so exclusive and cliquey when you’re trying to climb your way up. On the other hand, it felt unnerving to be walking into such a respected community to share an essentially autobiographical piece that is very explicitly about a black gay man who is in conflict with his own experience of himself–a piece that is explicitly from his own unique point of view–a piece that endeavors to force the hegemonic white gaze of the audience to lie dormant and see things as he sees things as a black, gay man. It was unnerving because like most things, I was going to be revealing some uncomfortable aspect of myself in front of a bunch of white people. The same white people who were and are, to my eyes, usually the exclusive recipients and administrators of these kinds of residencies, commissions, and musical theater awards, But gasp, those same white people were into it. And if my spidey sense was accurate, not in an even remotely racially patronizing way. They were legitimately into it. And on some level, I’m still unpacking that.

But here’s the thing: commercial theatre is a business like any other. Producers and theaters decide the appropriate ratio of art/entertainment to commerce in order get butts in the seats when investing their dollars in putting on shows they hope will be successful. Theatergoers then decide with their dollars where their butts will be sitting in theaters all over the country. As much as we might wish it were otherwise, at this point, the majority of those butts are white. And how open are those white butts to spending two and a half hours with characters, songs, and stories that have little to nothing to do with them? How open are those white butts to spending two and a half hours having to empathize with that which is unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable to them? How open are those white butts? It’s hard to say because those white butts are so rarely asked to do any heavy lifting in that regard. Those white butts are so catered to, powdered, diapered, and put to bed with the theatre that is presented to them for mass consumption. There is a strong and consistent supply and demand for whiteness on stage. I repeat: commercial theatre is a business like any other.

I recognize that every play is not going to be to my taste. As a consumer of media–theatre in particular, my only requirement is that whatever is happening on the stage make me think and/or feel. The great gift of theater is that it allows you the space and time to test your empathy. As a person of color, I am asked to extend my empathy to white people of all stripes in every piece of media I consume every day of my life. I can’t tell you what it is like to repeatedly sit through movies like “Juno” with its spunky pregnant white teen heroine or plays like “The Way We Get By” by Neil LaBute with its awkward white step-brother and step-sister who comedically fall in love and have sex with each other in a plot that would have been laughed out of even my very white intro-to-playwriting colloquium at NYU where I once had the comic misfortune of having the whitest actors read the blackest playwriting scene ever in a Kenneth Lonergan master class again IN A ROOM FULL OF WHITE PEOPLE.

So strike that: yes, I actually can tell you what it’s like. It’s boring as shit. It’s boring because it’s usually the same recognizable or interchangeable white actors spouting the same brisk, hip or hipster white dialogue on the same white American Naturalism set, written by the same popular white American author in the same white artistically directed theater in front of the same white audience. Another way of saying this is that it’s boring because it’s usually pretty clear that these plays are consciously or subconsciously for and about white people which is another way of saying that most of the plays I have seen in New York City over the last 16 years I have lived here are dependent upon white supremacy. And I believe that white supremacy is super boring–artistically speaking at least. But white supremacy is also super profitable. Remember those butts I alluded to earlier?

But let me be clear: just because I think the white supremacy of the American theater is boring doesn’t mean that I don’t think there aren’t some great white writers out there whose work deserves all of the attention and support it can get. To this day I still lose sleep over a David Adjmi play that I saw a staged reading of in 2000 or 2001 called “Strange Attractors” as part of the Cherry Lane Mentor Project. While there were ZERO people of color in it, the depth of thinking and feeling in that play successfully tested my empathy. My response to that play was basically “this nigga knows what’s up!” Another person of color may have felt differently–I wouldn’t know of course, because I was the only person of color in that particular audience (more on that later).

Everything I feel about plays goes double for musicals because musicals are harder to write, harder to direct, and harder to produce as they are dependent upon even whiter butts demanding their money’s worth for their white supremacy as well as the whitest critics writing for the whitest critical establishments–critics whose credentials were very likely earned in the whitest academic and/or theatrical communities where anything non-white can only be evaluated in terms of the cold white gaze. That’s a lotta damn white supremacy, right?

In his blog post, Brett discussed his perception that today’s wide swath of young musical theater writers are writing shows that seem bogged down by white supremacy. He strongly encouraged these writers to be more inclusive in their work–to paint their fictive worlds with more color–to strive to make the theater look more like the world we actually live in. I applaud his passion but I feel of two minds about his call to action. On one hand, I encourage white writers to embrace the diversity of today’s world in their work because yes, it is ridiculous that audiences should be subjected to play after play or musical after musical telling stories that offer seemingly universal insights into the human condition and yet somehow exclude the existence or any aspect of the experience of people of color. But I’m also wary of the knee-jerk, inartistic liberalism that can sometimes manifest in well-intentioned theatre pieces that are slavishly inclusive of people of color but traffic in emotional and/or intellectual dishonesty with their characters and stories.

Writing for theatre is fucking hard. It requires single-mindedness, perspective, craft, and determination. When you add music to the mix, it gets even more complicated because of the pluralistic ways music can function in storytelling. And when you add people of color to that, talk about intersectionality!

Brett also mentioned the dearth of musical theatre writers of color in places like www.newmusicaltheatre.com, a site that is “dedicated to the distribution and promotion of a new generation of musical theater writers.” On that we agree. There needs to be more of a consistent spotlight shone on musical theater writers of color–particularly black women in my view. While we have heard the belting and “screlting” of countless black women on the stage, we have not heard from black women musical theater writers (or black women musical theater directors or hello–black women musical theater producers!) nearly enough. Kirsten Childs is one name. Sukari Jones is another. There must be others. Repeat after me: we need to hear from more black women writers!

But whether you are a white musical theater writer or a musical theater writer of color, I would advocate for something that is maybe a little less politically correct but definitely on the side of art in terms of what makes it onto the stage:

JUST TELL THE FUCKING TRUTH.

That’s the only edict I would issue at this point. If your cast is all white, is that the fucking truth? It may be! But you need to ask yourself the question each and every time and not only when you’re casting it but also as you’re writing it. Race is a construct, so in that regard, it is arbitrary, but racism is a practice–and one that is often subconscious or defacto. And it’s a practice that affects all people of color everywhere. It’s a practice that affects white people as well and I would argue (with help from Toni Morrison) that it may even affect them worse.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S7zGgL6Suw]

All of this is to say that unless your play or musical is set on Mars (and even then …), your story is absolutely going to be in inhabited by characters who have lived in a world where racism and white supremacy have impacted them in some way. Even if it’s not the subject of the play, it should be as much a given circumstance as the weather, or what happened yesterday in the world of the characters or the dramatic question of what makes today different, i.e., the breaking of the ritual that starts every story ever told. So I would challenge any musical theater writer to factor the given circumstance of racism and white supremacy into at least their thinking about their shows just as much as their BMI charm songs or their “bro characters” or their JRB inspired ostinatos. Doing that work is not easy. It will force you to move out of your comfort zone as a writer but it’s worth it if you are truly interested in creating complex, dramatic pieces of art and entertainment. In that same vein, I would encourage creative teams to tell the fucking truth by thinking more deeply about who we will be seeing on the stage in terms of casting. Are you making an offer to the same waifish blonde white actress you saw in a Juilliard showcase years ago to cast as “an ingenue” in a musical about falling in love in New York? What would happen if you cast the darkest, thickest black actress you could find? Are the consequences really so dire for the storytelling? Do you even think (or know) about colorism? Can you move beyond the outdated notion of “types”? Do you have to go to the surly Adam Driver clone who is just perfect for that gritty Adam Rapp play? What would happen if you broadened the scope of your theatrical nepotism? So much of theatre seems to have to do with who is friends with whom or who is sleeping with or has slept with or is friends with someone who has slept with someone who has money and/or access. If that has to be the case, then sleep with somebody black, brown, Latino, Asian and also broke as hell if that’s what it takes for your paradigm to shift.

Because white supremacy is the order of the day in commercial theatre, I always do a count at every play or musical I see. I stand up before the show is starting and I count the people of color. It’s usually less than 5 and that’s truly depressing. But I think we are primed to change that. And so to producers, artistic directors, and development associates, I would encourage you to tell the fucking truth by looking beyond the white women of a certain age and economic background for your subscriber base. A few seasons ago, I went to Playwrights Horizons to see Robert O’Hara’s play “Bootycandy,” which to this day, is the only time I have ever felt truly seen as a black, gay man on stage. When I walked into the theater with the white person who got me a comp, I saw more black people in Playwrights Horizons than I had ever seen in any New York theater in my entire life. The person I was with said “we’ve never seen this many black people in our theater ever.” Misquoting “Field of Dreams” I said, “if you build it we will come.” And so it is. People of color are hungry for media that acknowledges and/or explores our existence. And we are increasingly going to be the audience you are left with after the blue haired old white ladies of Manhattan (and Manhattan Theater Club) die. So why not start cultivating us now and in perpetuity?

I am in the unique and blessed position of being both a creator and consumer of theatre. In everything I write, I want audience members to think and feel deeply regardless of the color of their skin or their station in life. I want them to empathize even if I am presenting a world that is wholly unfamiliar to them. In everything I see, I expect the same. For that reason, I believe that white creators and producers of theatre have got to get their arms around the fact that snobby, eye-rolling black gay intersectional bastards like me (and others) will be sitting in their audiences in larger and larger numbers with both open hearts and high standards and expectations.

 

Help MJ Finish The Dirty Laundry Good Clean Music Album!

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For the past two years I’ve been working with an astoundingly talented group of people on recording my debut album Dirty Laundry Good Clean Music. It’s an eclectic mix of “dirty” and “clean” songs that tell the story of where I am artistically at this moment. They’re catchy, they’re deep, they’re pop, they’re soul. And they are desperate to be heard. I have raised enough funds to record 18 tracks but I need a little extra help to finish everything up (background vocals, mixing, mastering, pressing, etc.) and do a proper album release concert by the end of summer. So to indiegogo I go! Please check out my project details here and consider throwing a few bucks my way. Long live Dirty Laundry Good Clean Music!

 

Black His’try Monf

In negrothangs by MikeJack / February 17, 2014 / 0 Comments

I did this last year and didn’t get a lot of love for it but I’m still pretty proud of it. For this Black History Month, I re-celebrate negroes with a photo gallery of what we used to look like via screenshots from 1990s talk shows. Don’t you miss that kind of rainbow colored, un-nuanced, empty headed militance we used to parade around on Donahue and Sally Jessy with at the drop of a mudcloth hat or Kinte cloth scarf? I sure as hell do.

Click here: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/michaellivingjackson

Fucking Valentine’s Day

In blog,lovesexdatinggross by MikeJack / February 14, 2014 / 1 Comment

sm03So the guy I was dating–or thought I was dating has vanished into thin air. Have you seen him? Well, I’m sure he’s not vanished–he’s likely snug in his bed in Morningside Heights right now as I type these words. He’ll wake soon, wipe the sand from his dreamy eyes, have a morning fart, check his Facebook, and realize it’s Valentine’s Day. When he realizes that, will he have a fleeting memory of me–the man he met on OKCupid, got off to a great start with, had great conversation, googly eyes over coffee, laughter, flirty texts, a hot and heavy make out session with, and then radio silence? Will he have a twinge of longing for me and consider picking up his mobile device to type “hi”? Or, has he already pushed me out of his mental sphincter and down the toilet where most modern love goes?

I kind of hope it’s the latter. Flush, asshole! Flush, flush, flush! 

This is not bitterness. Because it’s been a year of incredible personal growth for me and I am now in a place where I recognize that when things don’t go my way, it’s not because there is something wrong with me. I credit this partially to The White Woman whose couch I sit on every other Thursday but mostly to me who has worked his heart, ass, and brain off to arrive at the truly living Michael Jackson. I jokingly call myself The Realest Nigga on OkCupid because the thing I have learned is that for all of my dating inexperience, I have only gotten more and more real and honest about what I need and what I will give. I will put myself out there, like friends always advise, but when I do it I put the emphasis on MYSELF. And so if you’re a man who is too chickenshit to tell me to my face (or fine, via email) that you are not interested in me because it’s 2014 and you don’t know how you feel or you’re having issues or you’re afraid you’re going to hurt my feelings, or you think it’s easier to disappear after you’ve asked me if I was a top or a bottom and told me how handsome I was and how you wanted to date me and how I was so handsome not knowing how many buttons this would press in me who grew up ugly and pathetic and insecure and closeted in his arrested adolescent mind then you are not a man who I want to be involved with and I have truly dodged a bullet. 

This is not bitterness. Well, maybe there’s a germ of it in there, but nothing more than that because yesterday I took a long walk through the truly horrid puddles, ice, snow, and cold of New York City. It was just me, Dionne Warwick, and Burt Bacharach sotto voce. I leapt from street corner glacier to street corner glacier singing hits like “Always Something There To Remind Me” and “Are You There With Another Girl?” pretending like I was a mod heroine in a romantic 70s drama–someone like Raquel Welsh (but like with Annie Potts rising)–someone flawed but really classy and genuine–someone for whom love has always been elusive but who still holds candle flame of hope for it in the dark, dark, darkness.

I don’t know where I will end up. I’m writing a lot of good songs about my perpetual lovelessness which is good. I’m writing my black gay self into existence in this super duper Caucasian world. I’m looking and feeling better and better each day as I follow the diet and exercise regimen that has been so successful for me. I am not particularly pressed to be with anyone as I am particularly enjoying being with myself right now but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to remember those kisses with my now invisible man for a long, long time.

Fucking Valentine’s Day. Man.

 

fear itself

In blog,personal by MikeJack / January 28, 2014 / 0 Comments

Maybe I will come across as one of those charlatan motivational speakers but basically I’ve decided that you shouldn’t even fear fear itself. Just let it wash over you and swim through it. When you worry about the future, you don’t live in the present. My new thing for 2014 is not worrying about the outcome because the outcome will be the outcome regardless of my attempt to control it. Yes, I have crazy credit card and student loan debt. Yes, my government is spying on me. Yes, commercial musical theater is the most foolish path to run down trying to make money (especially if you’re actually trying to push the form with your content or vice versa) but if I thought too hard about that, I’d be paralyzed. And that just doesn’t work for me anymore. So my new thing for 2014 is to just do it and move on. It’s fine if you don’t agree. 

Let it Go by The Bangles

One thing or another
Your head is filled with questions
sights and sounds
Distractions always gets you down
Turn around
Trying to remember
Where you were the day before
North and south and east and west
Where to go
When it’s over, when it’s done
Let it go
Frightened by the numbers
All the possibilities
Changing minds you hope to find
one more dream to remind you
What is lost can always be regained
When it’s over, when it’s done
Let it go

 

Otherwise Unsung – tonight at 8:30pm – Cornelia Street Cafe

In gigs,shows by MikeJack / January 27, 2014 / 0 Comments

I’ve got 2 songs that I’ll be performing in this concert series curated by friend, collaborator, and spectacular composer/lyricist Rachel Peters. Come on down to the Cornelia Street Cafe tonight at 8:30 and hear some great music by great writers and an awesome lineup of performers. See below for details.

OTHERWISE UNSUNG is a new series of original music theatre concerts at Cornelia Street Cafe curated by Rachel Peters.

No fake rock. No adorable twenty-somethings finding love in the big city. No meta-musicals that make fun of musicals. No style without substance. Just fresh, original work from honest, fearless, accomplished music theatre writers giving you their best. Come hear what you’re missing uptown.

We kick off our series with The Otherwise Unsung Sampler, a wildly eclectic evening of songs by Michelle Elliott and Danny Larsen, Michael R. Jackson and Anna K. Jacobs, Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter, Erin Markey, Robert Paterson, and Ronnie Reshef. Featuring Raja Burrows, Shannon Conley, Daniel Ihasz, Michael R. Jackson, Erin Markey, and Lori Wilner. Musical direction by Matt Castle.

$10 cover plus $10 minimum.
Call 212-989-9319 to make your reservation.
http://www.corneliastreetcafe.com/downstairs/Performances.asp?sdate=1%2F27%2F2014&from_cal=0

33 Thoughts: A Birthday Meditation

In blog,personal,Uncategorized by MikeJack / January 27, 2014 / 0 Comments

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday and I’m really into it.

The biggest reason for that is because in the past couple of months, I’ve turned a corner and gotten to a place where I can really acknowledge and appreciate the things I do well without equivocation. And I’m learning how to acknowledge and appreciate the things I do well without getting too attached to the idea of a self. And that balance feels really important. So happy birthday to me!

And since one of the things I do really well is run my mouth, I’m kicking off my Jesus year minus a crucifixion and cutting straight to the ascension with 33 thoughts that represent where I am today.

1. Justin Bieber is such bullshit. When I think about the hotness of the spotlights we shine on that imitation crab, I could just fly into a Hulk rage.

2.  We throw around “ist”, “ism”, and “phobia” so much that they have been rendered virtually meaningless. The comfort we feel from our ability to identify and call others out allows us to ignore the pain of just how little we actually do to fight racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.

3. I am a musical theater writer you should know. More on this in days to come.

4. I adore Kenya Moore even when she’s completely out of order.

5. It doesn’t matter how crazy someone is acting on the train; they always know which stop is theirs.

6. Black gay men need to step it up. Step one: stop reading and start writing.  #yaaaaassssssss

7. I smoked weed for the first time Friday night. And … it’s not for me.

8. By smoking weed for the first time, I believe crossed the divide of being the good little black boy that I always imagined my mother and father raised and I am still grappling with how fragile identity actually is.

9. I have finally accepted that my penis is the size that it is. That’s huge. My acceptance, not my penis.

10. I do not live for the applause plause as much as the royalty checks checks. Time to get a move on, I guess.

11. I have this new thing with my 8 year old niece where I try to make her “eat her vegetables”. She doesn’t like “New Attitude” but she does like “I Will Always Love You.” So we’re getting there.

12. I recently had a realization that because our lives are finite; bound by two points, there are times when you can feel change happening at a rapid and sometimes frightening pace. I am in the midst of one of those reality storms trying to keep balance on my surfboard with as much grace as I can muster.

13. I may never vote again.

14. The second wave feminist in me is at war with the dick sucking black gay man. But there may be peace talks soon.

15. So far I don’t have a problem with the show “Looking” but watching it does reinforce the fact that I have to write myself into existence. No one else is going to do it, which is pretty damn exciting.

16. As of this posting, Zsa Zsa Gabor is still hanging on. Let that be a lesson to all of us.

17. When I was growing up and I would casually refer to someone as a friend, in an almost accusing tone, my mother would ask “what’s a friend?” I used to think she was just being ridiculous and mean. Now I wonder.

18. Single camera documentary style sitcoms are what’s wrong with America.

19. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is not a feminist. It’s cool that she’s not but she’s really not. And if she tells you that she is, tell her that you’re pretty sure she really means that she is a CAPITALIST.

20. Molly Hager, Molly Hager, Molly Hager: muse.

21. I’ve lost almost 70 pounds this year and I’m still too fat for anonymous sex with most of the men on Grindr and Scruff. That rather puts it all in perspective I’d say. Equality does not extend to the bedroom.

22. I’m not mad about it though.

23. I still hold that Joni Mitchell is the mother, Liz Phair is the daughter, and Tori Amos is the holy spirit.

24. But where does that leave Stevie Nicks and Suzanne Vega? I may need to come up a different kind of ranking system.

25.  I’ve always wanted to start a club called FOR BLACK GAY MEN WHO FEEL WEIRD ABOUT THEMSELVES AND NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT OVER RED WINE (FBGMWFWATANTTAIORW). Not only am I the president, I’m also a member.

26. Because I have other things to say than #yaaaaassssssss

27. I still lie to my parents about my writing. I’m still afraid they wouldn’t understand.

28. Even though I recognize it as self-defense mechanism, I still look at it as a personal failing.

29. I finally bought a pair of those sexy brightly colored briefs that white gay boy model types wear and it wasn’t nearly as humiliating as I thought it would be.

30. I am not Trayvon.

31. Even though Golden Girls was far superior, I’m Team Designing Women all the way.

32. When the night has come / and the land is dark / and the moon / is the only light we see / no I won’t be afraid / oh I won’t be afraid / just as long / as you stand / stand by me

33. There’s a lot more where this came from. Stay tuned.

A Strange Loop

sm03This morning I woke up to starting writing. As is my habit, I first checked my email. There were two new emails; both from a singer/performer I admire and have been friendly with and worked with once in the past under a rather difficult set of circumstances. The subject line of the first one read “favor.” The subject line of the second read “re: favor.” I thought, “oh, how nice! I haven’t seen [redacted] for like 2 years and now [pronoun redacted] is reaching out to me for something!” Well, actually that was my second thought. My first thought was “I haven’t heard from [redacted] in such a long time so this is probably one of those ‘I’m-in-a-foreign-country-and-need-money” spam scams. Either way, I clicked on it and read this:

Can you please take my name off [song title redacted] video?

I bristled. This is not the first time this has happened.

2 years ago, I put on a concert at the Beechman Theater called Good Clean Music: A Michael R. Jackson Song Thing. It was an evening I put up in response to a certain amount of backlash I encountered as I prepared for a concert I put up 3 years ago at Joe’s Pub called So Fucking Gay: Another Michael R. Jackson Song Thing. In the program for Good Clean Music I explained in a note entitled Why Good Clean Music?:

In terms of why “Good Clean Music” specifically, one would need to understand the number of times I’ve been told that a.) I use so/too much profanity, b.) I write about sex so/too much, c.) my lyrics have no emotional core, or to a lesser extent that d.) I write too much pointedly gay themed material. To that last point, I will say that about a year ago, I presented “So Fucking Gay: A Michael R. Jackson Song Thing” on National Coming Out Day at Joe’s Pub and it was the toughest concert I have ever together. Not because of the administrative difficulty, which I have come to expect, but because it was the first time I encountered actors telling me that their agents didn’t want them to sing my material. Or that even though they had happily sung for me before, their agents wanted me to take their names off a youtube clip of them singing a particular song so they could reposition their brand or that they would sing one “gay” song but not another. And I get it. The ensemble of a non-Equity regional tour of Hairspray is calling. Ooh, burn.

Part of the context for that is that while I was preparing for So Fucking Gay, among the many calamitous things that happened, another singer who I had worked with on Dirty Laundry, my first public New York City concert at Ars Nova in 2008, called me out of the blue, and again, when this happened—and to be fair, this singer couldn’t have known—I was in an extremely emotional fragile state and seeing [possessive pronoun redacted] on the caller ID of my then flip phone filled me with boundles delight. We hadn’t spoken in a number of years and I thought that it was the universe’s way of letting me know that the adversity I was facing with So Fucking Gay was not for naught. Imagine my surprise when it was the singer asking me to please take down a youtube video of a song [pronoun redacted] had sung for me 4 (FOUR) years prior because [possessive pronoun redacted] agents were trying to re-brand [possessive pronoun redacted] for I dunno, superstardom—who the fuck knows? I was devastated and angry but I sweetly agreed over the phone and made the video private and then promptly unfriended this person on Facebook. Up until then, I had operated from the position that I needed to give everyone the benefit of the doubt—that I needed to stand aside and not take these kinds of things so personally because well, you know, it is commercial theater and who am I to ruin the careers of these burgeoning superstars with my confrontational material? But I decided in 2010 to take a stand. I vowed from there forward that I was drawing a line in the sand with performers who do my work. I decided: “I’m gonna be a pimp walkin’ musical theater asshole too!” You cannot have it both ways with me. Either you’re cool with my work or you’re not. And in the end, it’s like Emily Dickinson wrote:

“I’m nobody! Who are you? Are you – Nobody – too?”

I opened the second email:

In fact, I would rather you take it down and repost without my name in the credits. I respect your work and I was happy to participate in the performance but don’t want my name attached to this video online. BTW not singling you out– I make the same request whenever someone posts vids of me doing their work without my permission

Okay, fair. I didn’t ask for permission when I put up this video three years ago. And I haven’t been in the regular practice of doing so because all of the singers I have worked with have been friends who have been happy to be associated with my music. So I guess at this point, I know in a very real way, that that isn’t as universally true as I’d like it to be and I will make it a point to start asking more regularly.

In some ways this specific person asking me to take down the youtube video is random but not totally surprising—[pronoun redacted] had initially balked at [possessive pronoun redacted] name being in any press materials for So Fucking Gay because being associated with something so flagrant and uncompromisingly homosexual might ruin mainstream performance opportunities this performer, (who is, in fact publicly homosexual or more publicly homosexual than not from where I sit) might have in the future. That email came less than 24 hours before the phone call from my other redacted friend. But it worked out. The singer changed [possessive pronoun redacted] mind and agreed to be in the show with [possessive pronoun redacted] name in press materials. The performance happened and the youtube video went up.

I’m currently working on a musical theater piece entitled A Strange Loop. A Strange Loop is about a black gay man who trusts people so little that he’s created an inner world of disappointment that ultimately he controls. He has only himself as a reference for the pain and suffering of life and love and beyond. Like a cactus, he retreats inward for his emotional sustenance. He does not reach out his hand to you assholes for validation. He already knows you won’t give it and even if you do, you’ll just take it back somehow and knowing that fills him with a strange sense of power.

The other night I was with my White Woman and we stumbled back across this aspect of myself. With tears welling in my eyes, I told her about how I rarely acknowledge that I need nurturing beyond myself.

I am tough and I am resilient but I need nurturing beyond myself. I am not a cactus.

Uncharted: Ars Nova Kickoff Concert!

In gigs by MikeJack / February 17, 2013 / 0 Comments

sm04

Hey ya’ll!

On Tuesday night at 8pm, I have the pleasure of participating in a concert at Ars Nova that kicks off my participation in the Uncharted Writer’s Group with composer Anna Jacobs. It’s kind of an official kickoff of our collaboration on a musical adaptation of the 2007 movie “Teeth.”We’ll be presenting a song from that as well as a new standalone song that we’ll be singing together! Helping us on the other songs out are Cortney Wolfson and Brad Greer.  Katya Stanislavskaya on keys.

We’ll also be joined by 5 other awesome writers:

Julia Meinwald, Gordon Leary, James Sasser, Charles Vincent Burwell, and Shaina Taub.

Tickets are $15 and it promises to be an exciting evening!

Click here for tickets.

See you there!