Sunday, June 17, 2018

Above The Law

Preamble: In the third round of the U.S. Open on June 16, 2018, Phil Mickleson willfully broke a rule by hitting a moving ball on a green. Later Mickleson admitted that he knew the ball was headed off the green, and so to avoid a more dire predicament, he chased his moving ball and tapped it back toward the cup. This action ignited a controversy that wound up with Mickleson being assessed a two-shot penalty that he knew he would receive, but that was the extent of his "punishment." Some, if not many, of his professional golfing peers felt Mickleson should be disqualified. What follows is a reaction to that incident.

I'm a big fan of metaphors, particularly those phrases that lead to a greater insight, perhaps a conclusion that I had not yet considered, a reality that had been staring me in the face that I refused to see, a testament that leans toward testimony a la Dragnet's JUST THE FACTS.

That's the thing. We live in a time when the words fact and fake are used as pawns, each holding a grudge. I am over it  because it has become such a dangerous phase. Seeking balm in this deviant Gilead, I have looked to my "usual" outlets for relief ... one of which is the majors for professional golf.

But yesterday's action and antics not only tarnished a game that I cherish, they also reminded me of how our culture and society have devolved, that it is increasingly difficult to ascertain what is true and what is not ... and that the interpretation of any moment can be subjective to the point of bias. This is unacceptable.

No other game, particularly games played for vast amounts of money, allows the participants to call their own fouls. For the most part, professional golfers live up to that ideal ... that no one in the game is above honor and integrity ... the recent amazing example of an amateur who called the foul on himself and it cost him a championship. That's the kind of behavior that honors this unique game. Each time a player, and only that player, sees his ball move in the rough, and calls a penalty on himself ... the meaning of golf stands stall. 

This is a game where what you do matters. And those actions are irrefutable truths.

The honor is not found between the lines in a rule book. It is not subject to interpretation. You either have integrity or you don't. There are no fine lines. No judgment calls. You are either a rat or not.

That's one of the most compelling reasons to play and observe golf. It is a vastly challenging game that is demanding at all levels and in all circumstances. Toss in a USGA championship, where the course is setup to demand precision, and the stress and strain mount to Hitchcockian menace.

As much as I have tried to see Phil's side of yesterday's incident, I have failed. He went nuts, and then in the fashion of what has become a daily event, he tried to spin the reality to his own version of truth. This is unacceptable.

Honor could have been found, if Phil had just given us one of his "Phil grins" and admitted that he screwed up, that he lost his mind for a moment, and that while the rule book, hinging which judge is on the bench, protects him, Phil did far more than break a specific rule ...he tarnished the meaning of all rules when he opted to hit that ball to keep it from going off the green — which amazingly he admitted. As far as I'm concerned, that statement should have sent him home.

But what would have been even better, that after the USGA decided to let Phil slide, that Phil, thinking about what the game means and what it stands for, says, "I was wrong. I am withdrawing from this event. I don't deserve to keep playing."

And he would be a hero today.

Instead, he is just another public figure who, apparently, feels as if he is above the law.

Monday, June 11, 2018

They Say

They say
Dreams come and go
Like the tide
And all you do is ride.

Who are they anyway?

What do they know?
And why are they
Always saying something
In ways 
that bring to mind
The hubris of
Amateur critics
Who inhabit
A snarky realm
Of passive observation.
Fueled with massive envy
For those who dare
Do what we do.

If they loved theatre,
They would feel, 
Rather than dissect 
Each play like a high school frog
While a boom box moans
In the background:
“Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology.”


Theatre needs the help, too.
Not for what it is
Or how it is 
Or what it intends to be ..
But merely that it exists.

And continues … 

In essence a typewriter
Or a phone booth
Still finding purpose
In a laptop, smart device world.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it?
Theatre reminds us
Who we actually are
As much as it does
Who we want to be
And who we've been,
Particularly those 
Who took abrupt turns
Into madness and greed
That led to self-inflicted
Versions of hell.

Of course hell keeps changing
Its goal posts.
Each generation
Has its own definition
While blindly believing
The antidote is close at hand.

(Heaven is just a shot away,
An opioid away,
A bottle away,
A toke away.)

Theatre marches on,
But it also honors its past,
Reviving projects
That once breathed 
With cutting edge/avant garde
Surprise and insight.

The apps of our lives
Will always change,
Sometimes for the better
Mostly just for a fresh diversion.

But human nature?

What was true in the 16thcentury
Is just as valid today
And as keen 
As it will be tomorrow, too.

It’s a question of need, actually.

We yearn to navigate 
A taut wire
Without a net;
To find life in each second
In full view,
As if alcove cloaked.

To be.
That’s the thing.
Some might say the rub
But what do they know?

All of this 
Circles back to
Gauntlets of judgment,
Self-absorbed epistles
That hai ku months of effort
With motives that tear down
Rather than enhance.

It’s widely known
That it is not wise
To let other people
Get their kicks for you.

And it is just as unwise
To allow they the final say.

It’s okay to read the review
But remain skeptical 
As to its intent.

They exist because
WE do, not vice versa.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Notes From The Trail

A production is often
Akin to a cattle drive
That spans 
Months of doubt
and many miles.

Head 'em up,
Move 'em out!

A band of fresh strangers
In the beginning
Discovering the quirks
Of what works
And what doesn't.

Encountering habits 
That get in the way
And those
that provide beacons
To the path that
Defines shared purpose.

Old hands,
New hands,
Young hands …
Each with reasons
Of their own
For taking the journey.

At first the task
Seems almost overwhelming.
Step by step
Affirms the value of patience,
And gradually
A sense of community emerges.
That and the old saw about 
All for one
And one for all.

But there’s a reason
That old saw
Still cuts wood.
The biggest picture
Turns individuals
Into members of the ensemble
That moves 
And thinks 
As a unit.

And why?

Simply to share the story.

Each production has this lofty goal,
Whether it be a dog-eared classic
Or something fresh from a printer,
The story is king.

One of the challenges
Is staying present
While trusting others
Will do the same.

Reality whispers
That it takes time
To get everyone on the same page.
A lot of time.

But it does happen.

Often it
Is the residue of design,
But sometimes
It is magic that
Can’t be explained.

Perhaps a shade of cloud
That the wind beckoned
Just in the nick of time —
At the brink of the abyss,
With so much in doubt,
And yet as if Prospero
Winked and waved his wand,
Clarity takes command,
And eludes certain peril.

The collective sigh.
The “it’s all good” of all goods.

As you wander
Off the stage
Eager and relieved —
Heart and mind
In happy tandem —
You hope everyone else
Is as keen 
As you are 
To return.

Not to repeat.

But to discover.


And again.

And again.

Whether it be
Eager child 
Or savvy adult:
Process is the reason
As well as the result.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

We're In This Together

From the locomotive
to the caboose
Everyone’s looking
for a decent excuse.

But in fact,
Y’all about simple:
Splitting the hair
between a freckle
and a dimple.

isn’t a color;
it’s an attitude ...

An assumption
that’s equal parts
wrong and crude.

We’re in this together.
or should be.
That’s the ideal
that hunts reality.

One sky above
the human race
Staring at the stars
In essence, one smile
from one present face.

We’re in this together.

Each of us seeking
actions that share our love,
that we do for others
Without motive or guile.
The giving is all that matters.

Everyone craves purpose
As much as they need acceptance
To belong. And we do.
In the family of woman and man.
The kicker is that no matter our age
We remain children, or try to.

We’re in this together.
And we can be.
it starts right now
With you and me.

We’re in this together.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Passive Honesty

Aggressive silence
Can become a passive honesty:

Nothing good to say?

Yet the absence of sound
Still speaks — a reluctant town crier
With a cloak pulled tight,
Sharing the news.

Your latest ode,
Perhaps a landscape,
Maybe a haunting tune
Or a frenzied enactment
Of something almost real.

Everyone yearns
For universal appeal.

Some tell you
What you need to hear
And hopefully that’s the truth.

Others say nothing,
And you ponder
If it is you — or perhaps
The muted response
Stems from other issues
That clogged their witness artery.

What matters
Is that you clean the brush
And begin the next canvas.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Blood Done Sign My Name

Will finish the third week of its one month run today.

What a journey.

Many, many things to share about this experience after the show closes a week from today.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Phialasophy Live (An Outline)


There are 18 scenes, the number of holes on golf course, or the average playlist,

Want the piece to be no longer than 79 minutes, the amount of time that is on a CD for music.

The arc is simply the search for oneself. Time and time again I’ve been a dumbass, but I’ve also been lucky. The goal of Phialasophy Live is to create a performance piece that mixes elements of theatre and storytelling that serves to entertain as well as warn, and perhaps help, others with their journey.

This is where things stand now, but as one might expect, it is fluid.

A Warmup
"What you are about to see ...."

Scene 1 —  Gym Rat
The days of running to 15 in Woolen Gym on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. (Running to 15 is the way pickup games were played. First team to score 15 baskets and win by 2.

Scene 2 — Verse & Music
Sonnets, lyrics, and their influence.

Scene 3 —  First & Last Beers
High school graduation and a J.J. Cale concert in Charlotte form two bookends.

Scene 4 —  Poison Ivy
A lengthy saga in West Virginia where  one summer I was the basketball and golf counselor at Camp Mini Ha Ha (its actual name)  I drove a convertible mustang off a cliff into a dense patch of evil leaves and what transpired after that.

Scene 5 —  The Chief
First role in theatre, Chief Bromden in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST

Scene 6 — Point To The Passer
In my view basketball and theatre are closely entwined ...   this scene will demonste how focus on stage, and passing a basketball to a teammate are the same energy.

Scene 7 — Hindenburg Hits The Titanic
Summer Stock craziness that led to one of my life's biggest disasters.

Scene 8 — Urban renewal
How i managed to get to NYC and survive there in spite of myself.

Scene 9 — Life’s Good Friends
A retrospective of humans and animals.

Scene 10 — Hindenburg Hits Titanic Again
How I flunked out of NYC and destroyed so many things.

Scene 11 — Heart Like A Radial
The journey from confusion to clarity, or a least toward clarity as to what I wanted to do ... a search that has no sign of ending.

Scene 12 — Never A Borrower Or A Vendor
Dynasty Soccer Gear, the business i owned and ran for a decade.

Scene 13 — On The Road
Reflections of two memorable road trips during the DSG phase.

Scene 14 — Trent Jones (John D & Maverick)
Trent Jones is the lead role in my novel, WHO KILLED 20G?  And the concept stemmed from John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series, as well as the easy-going humor of Maverick, a TV series.

Scene 15 — Mulligan
How i got a second chance in many things ... marriage and theatre, for instance.

Scene 16 — Polonius
What it meant to do a production of Hamlet in this role.

Scene 17 — Musings from the blog
Selected readings from Phialasophy, the blog.

Scene 18 — Vertical
 My work with Amira Glaser, an Alexander Technique teacher, and how this pursuit has reshaped me mentally and physically.