Monthly Archives: August 2011

driving in your car, i never ever want to go home


I’m going to let my wife take over today’s entry with her wonderful blog over at the Huffington Post. You’ve seen my three missives on the subject, so I’m excited she gets to tell – albeit in far less words – her side of the tale. Please, if you leave a comment here, please also leave one on her blog… I want her to get a million page hits and have lots of comments for the editors to wade through, if possible.

Eight years ago this evening, we stood on a hill and got married in front of many of you, and things get better every day I wake up next to her. I always expected, somehow, that I would get married and have children, but never knew how on earth that was going to be remotely possible. She answered that question with a look, and a wave of her hand.


i stole behind her in the frozen foods


Okay, another massive motherboard failure, just a week after the last one was replaced. All signs (and kernel panics) point to the graphics card, which has always been a pain in the ass on all computers. Graphics cards are the timing belts of the digital age: a dealbreaker when they fail, monumentally labor-intensive, and jaw-droppingly expensive.

So I must rely on a code word question today. You know I’ve oft waxed idyllic about the internet allowing me to re-meet some archetypically awesome people from my past, so I’d like to know: have you been reintroduced to a hugely important element of your life through Facebook or other social media? Who was it, and how was it?

(bad experiences also accepted, and so is anonymity!)

she drink tea, sea lion


On Friday afternoon, I was three steps away from my flight to Napa Valley when my dad called and said to abort the mission. He’s on his fourth round of antibiotics for long-term Lyme Disease, and the Herxheimer Effect is so bad on this one that he could barely lift his head up to talk on the phone. The “Herx” occurs when your body can’t deal with the amount of toxins and bacteria leaving your body, and it manifests as Whole-Creature Pain Flu Brain Fog Misery.

My dad has always been the paragon of health (for what other paragons, besides virtue, are there?) so to hear him that enfeebled truly threw me for a loop. So with a suddenly-vacated weekend and the possibility of a turgid blues onset, my smart wife got a cheap hotel room on Catalina Island. The boat leaves 5 minutes away from our li’l Venice house, so here I find myself 26 miles into the Pacific Ocean.

I had been feeling a bit convoluted, “skeewampus” as my Grandma used to say, at loose ends and asking the big questions that oughta remain unresolved: the usual feeling upon finishing a large script and having no end zone upon which to spike the football. Our job is bizarre; closest, really, to farming, where you plant a million seeds and hope you have something to eat in five months.

Then I was in a sea kayak with Lucy, and she was becoming fearful of the waves that were roiling around us, sending the little craft pitching and listing. A quarter mile off shore, the world looks vast and uncontrollable to me, let alone my brave litte 6-year-old. Suddenly a sea lion popped out of the water in front of us, arcing over the water like a dolphin, smiling that, you know, sea lion smile with wet whiskers. He flopped over the water a few times and we freaked out with joy.

She and I watch a lot of Discovery and Science Channel, multitudes of shows where the cameras defy gravity, logic and the food chain by following animals to perches and depths made spectacular in high definition. Yet this little guy trumped them all. Unexpected, uncurated and caught not on film.

He turned the vastness of the ocean into a playground, and Lucy was no longer concerned with the waves. On a day like this, with so much awful news, it’s a blessing to be cajoled out of our habits and, for hours at a time, forget about the waves.

giving way to my worst impulses since 2002


I always feel blessed to be in the peer group of amazing people, especially when they send me stuff that accidentally becomes a harmonic convergence. To wit: the always-essential Tammy sent a link to the 7 Billionth Person Project – a multimedia cultural tool that asks:

The 7 billionth person will be born on October 31, 2011… What would YOU like to tell this person about the world?

After sitting on the question all day, I noticed I was getting more and more negative. The world doesn’t seem more hopeless than ever, it just seems, um, vaguely shittier. I suppose I always believed that things necessarily had to get better for humanity, that we might experience a few hiccups, but the overall trajectory was positive.

I don’t really believe that anymore, or if I do, the trajectory – or the “moral arc” referenced by MLK – bends so barely that you’ll never see it in three lifetimes. That’s fine, I guess. The world doesn’t owe us anything, and humans are animals. But I don’t think that’s what the 7th billion person wants to hear.

Oddly enough, it was another email – from my brilliant brother Kent – that tweaked my mind back. His most recent blog mentioned the Oblique Strategies card deck created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. These “oracle cards” each had little phrases meant to free your creative process whenever it had foundered.

You see these kinds of phrases everywhere, now that industrial design has embraced detached idealism, but back in 1975, I’m sure it was a revelation. The cards said things like “Remember Quiet Evenings”, “Mechanicalize Something Idiosyncratic” and “Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them”.


Kent, of course, created his own oracle, the Obtuse Strategies Deck, cards “informed by my jaundiced world view, and in no small part, my own failings as a human being.”

A few samples:

• Leave out the important part

• Flatter the deluded

• Subvert while appearing to cooperate

• Niggle, always

• Curse the virtuous

• Laugh hardest at the unfunny

The whole list is brilliant, and it made me think of my own (and no doubt y’all can think of more). After really delving deep into the little sentences that sum up the worst parts of myself… suddenly, they all seemed like viable things to tell the 7 Billionth Person.

Or, at the very least, consider telling them, but really keeping them to yourself. Because privately accepting your most damaged self frees the rest of you to make the magnanimous pronouncements the world so clearly craves.

little douche coupe



At least three people wanted me to make this a code word question: WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE?

I will add

• the mgmt. makes no judgments on people who drive shitty cars, as the mgmt. has owned and operated some of the worst cars in the world

• we also don’t automatically assume people with super nice cars are douchebags



my awesome Volvo, mid-1992

no crusts, it’s in my contract


We are represented in Hollywood by two amazing fellows at (arguably) the most powerful agency in the world. This agency does a lot of things for us, but the basic job is this: we trust them to represent our feelings on a particular issue, they make decisions on our behalf, and we let them “be the bad guys” and indulge in the sausage-making that would keep us from sleeping at night.

They give us one other hidden gift, something you desperately need in this town to function: they allow us to relax, and not take the rest of the business too seriously. When something particularly shit-pants crazy happens, we can laugh – because it’s not our problem. We are advocated for.

When I started reading some of the responses to yesterday’s blog, it hit me: why can’t we see politics in the same light? My epiphany may not win the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, but I have been looking for a way not to be so fucking angry all the time. There are some Republicans and Tea Party asswits that I actually want to hurt, and that’s not good for a person’s psyche.

So I’ve come upon a solution. I will choose a person in government to be my agent. I am going to max out my contribution to them every cycle, and I will consider them to be doing the same job as our Hollywood agent: representing my interest, making decisions, and involving themselves in sausage-making I ought not be seeing.

We will have three such agents: national, state, and super-local. In our case, that will be Kirsten, probably Cuomo, and whomever runs in NY-20. And that’s it. We will trust them to do what should be done, and then we can look at the rest of politics with detached humor – again, the by-product of being advocated for.


Kirsten, Henry, Theo and David Gillibrand vote in Columbia County last year

Two things:

• I know this might be “how we act anyway”, just dressed up in a metaphor. That’s fine with me, as long as I have a philosophical way of framing politics without resorting to inner, unquenchable rage.

• I also understand this negates any “get involved” initiatives, which traditionally have helped Democrats; I’m sorry, but I know my limitations.

I just want to send someone my money so they can fight the good fight and I can keep my stomach lining and ignore 99.99% of the news. We hire a plumber to fix the septic system, and the Orkin guy to tunnel deep in the bug-infested crawl spaces of our home – is it so wrong to think of our Senator the same way?

riches of embarrassment


Okay, I just finished a script that took me a year TO THE EVENING to rewrite, and thus my code word question is easy. Or maybe it’s hard, I don’t know. Here goes:

Please give me, after the debt ceiling debacle, a good reason to continue following American politics in its current form. Tessa and I have given the maximum $$$ to a number of candidates in our day (and will always do so for Kirsten Gillibrand for personal, local and loyal reasons) but I’m now at a loss for supporting anybody else. Studies have shown that people overwhelmingly approve of Democratic ideas but don’t listen to Democrats, Republicans are a lethal mixture of cruel, stupid and self-righteous -and the President’s preternatural calm is starting to look oddly robotic, as if his team’s long-term play is of the 300-year variety.

Someone, please tell me to just switch it all off – more off than it currently is – or give me a reason to keep caring. And don’t tell me I’m making a difference, or “if everyone gave up, the bad guys would win” or some larger platitude. I need actual answers.

Or maybe it’s mid-summer and none of you give a shit. I can take that too.