Royalty

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I was dating someone in the music industry in 1981 and one night they excitedly put a cassette in a tape player that contained a song by an artist I’d never heard of. For those who don’t know or can’t remember what cassettes are, think of it this way:

  • Records
  • Reel-to-reel tape
  • Eight track tape
  • Cassette
  • CD
  • Downloadable content
  • Virtual Reality
  • Extinction
But probably this first

But probably this first

Anyway, that’s not the point and it only makes me, and perhaps some of you, feel right on the precipice. What is pertinent is that I thought my industry pseudo boyfriend, who worked for a company associated with Warner Bros., would lose his mind as he cued up the tape and gushed that the about-to-be-heard song was by this kid from Minnesota who did everything. He played every instrument; wrote, produced and mixed all of his own songs; performed them with abandon; had a gay androgynous look complete with makeup; and, most importantly, was quite short and sexy. Of course, me being massively insecure, in my early twenties and only 5’7” I immediately forgot the artist and appropriated the last two adjectives into a personal compliment – one that positively ensured my future with the Industry Guy.

This, of course, is something only someone in his or her twenties can or should be allowed to do – seeing the world totally in terms of yourself and appropriating free-floating compliments as your own. That is because it blinds you to the greatness of what’s right in front of you. In this case, it wasn’t the boyfriend (Ahem – that didn’t end well).  It was the artist….formerly known as Prince…who when he unexpectedly died on Thursday of this week was once again simply known as…

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His song was a nice little Prince ditty called Controversy and while I liked it I can’t honestly say I was overly impressed. Though after the 12th time it was played – yeah, this industry guy was nothing if not insistent about me sharing his opinion of things – I started to get it. And knew, at least this one time, he was right.

There was something about the beat, the repetitiveness of words – some of which I couldn’t even understand, the sometime squeaky yet tuneful multi-octave voice that sounded like nothing I’d ever really heard before. Eventually I couldn’t get the song or this kid/guy/artist/whatever Prince out of my head. And that was before I had actually read and studied the words:

I just can’t believe all the things people say/Controversy/

Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?/Controversy

Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?

Controversy/Controversy/Controversy

I can’t understand human curiosity/Controversy

Was it good for you, was I what you wanted me to be?/Controversy

Do you get high, does your daddy cry?

Controversy/Controversy/Controversy

Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?

Some people want to die so they can be free

I said life is just a game, we’re all just the same, do you want to play?

Yeah, oh yeah

Controversy/Controversy/Controversy/Controversy/Controversy/Controversy.

Just... mesmerizing

Just… mesmerizing

There are more verses but this sort of says it. He wasn’t quite drawing on the sexual fluidity of David Bowie, who came right before him, and he bore little resemblance to Michael Jackson – the other young Black, somewhat androgynous artist we had all grown up with. At that time, and probably at any time, there was never anything sexy about MJ no matter how often he grabbed his crotch and gyrated in later years. But Prince? He was kind of…dangerous? The embodiment of the performer you’d see if you snuck into the fantasy club your parents would never let you attend.

What made Prince special were so many things musical. As a writer he not only churned out hits for himself but handed off songs he had written to countless other performers that became their signatures – Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U and Manic Monday for The Bangles are just two examples. His live shows were massively colorful, even edgy theatre pieces with costumes that evoked a sort of schizoid mix of Liberace, Little Richard and James Brown. But even when he stripped things down, literally – they didn’t take a back seat to what he was singing or he and his bands were playing.

The many faces of Prince

The many faces of Prince

When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, 1999, Kiss, Purple Rain.   I could go on and on for years and years – duets, solo records, thousands of hours of unreleased material he notoriously stocked that we may or may not hear one day. But again, you get the picture.

I guess what I want to say is what he did he did it. As himself.   Yet somehow maintained an enigma. Some people that knew him didn’t know him and others that did knew him well. But by all accounts, no one entirely knew him. As you can’t really know anyone. What a dichotomy in an age when we know too much about everybody – even those we don’t know.

There’s talent and then there’s egotism. Of course, there is a double edge to talent. Not everyone is brilliant at everything. No one could ever accuse him of being a great film director (Graffiti Bridge). Nevertheless, he won an Oscar. Some wouldn’t call him a great business person for signing a contract that he later felt enslaved him to WB Records and cause him to forgo his real name for a number of years when he asked people to refer to him as a symbol – and then simply The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. But that too he did with originality – whether we liked it or not.

Truly only he could get away with this

Truly only he could get away with this

Not every one of us is Prince. No one in fact. But we do all have the ability to chart our own path, listen to our own voice and forge our own journeys artistically and otherwise. At 5’2” he was the tallest guy in the room and there is always something sexy about that. Not the height – but the stature.

Detour from Reality

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One of the best screenplays I ever wrote came extremely close to getting made into a film 15 years ago. It had been cast with two Academy Award nominated actors and was “supposedly” financed. Until it wasn’t. And then the whole thing fell apart.

However, when we were casting and having difficulty finding a bankable “name” who was up to the demands of handling the lead female role I distinctly remember one producer saying to me, “too bad you couldn’t have an all-black cast – you’d have your pick of the best actors in the business.”

Um... say what?

Um… say what?

I was sort of stunned at the stark admission of a fact that, when I thought about it, felt racist and yet I knew to be true. The pool of “bankable” actors, especially among women, was mostly limited to white people.

This is not to say it is easy to get any film made in 2015, especially the romantic drama kind we were pedaling. On the other hand, these days it has less to do with race and everything to do with the fact that your project has either too much dialogue that doesn’t translate overseas; contains no special effects or chance of a sequel; and has no tent pole potential – or even aliens.

My, times have changed.

This week Deadline Hollywood ran a news story about the upswing in the number of ethnic actors (Note: A euphemism for non-white) being cast in the current TV pilot season. The story quoted one talent rep who complained:

Basically 50% of the roles in a pilot have to be ethnic, and the mandate goes all the way down to guest parts.

To make matters worse, Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, who wrote the article, led into that quote with the pronouncement that while it is nice to have diversity on TV, some suggest that the pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction.

Say that again now?

Say that again now?

I was not so much outraged, as some were, but amused and unsurprised. Because I was already hearing the following dialogue in my nasty little writer brain:

I mean, how dare there be such a sea change that allows the majority of available roles for actors to go to non-whites, especially when the only people on my client list are WHITE! It’s not fair! We have to nip this in the bud. And fast!

In some ways it felt like a scene out of the Mad Men pilot when WASP advertising agency partner Roger Sterling had to scour his office high and low for a Jew in order to land an important Jew account. (Note: He eventually did find one named David Coen – in the mailroom).

It as before my time

It was before my time

Now television is not the movies but there is no denying that the recent popularity of such fine series as How To Get Away With Murder, Empire, Black-ish and Jane the Virgin has caused some degree of white panic in the mostly white offices around town. Forget that many of these people are, like myself, liberal Democrats who don’t consider themselves at all to be racist.

What if this is a trend – and one that doesn’t limit itself to actors? What if…I mean, could it possibly spread to our writer and director clients, and then down to the below-the-line crew clients, and then up to… perish the thought… the executive suite? I mean, are they coming for OUR jobs???

Yeah!!

Yeah!!

I couldn’t help but wonder if this line of thinking isn’t much different from what happened in Indiana this week with the “religious freedom” bill signed into law by its governor, Mike Pence. That new law would allow any business owner in the state to not serve, sell or hire any person if it would impose a substantial burden on their religious beliefs. The law was proposed as a result of federal courts overturning Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage last year and is generally seen as a way to discriminate against the LGBT community.

I mean, those people can do what they want but don’t force me to participate in it. I don’t want them in my restaurant, I ain’t gonna bake them a cake and I am certainly for sure not gonna have anyone force me to hire one. Or two or three!

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No wonder six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald – the Black (or ethnic, if you prefer) actress who at just 44 years of age has more of Broadway’s top honor than any other performer in theatre history – went apoplectic on Twitter in reaction to it. Realizing she was soon scheduled to play several concert dates in Indiana, she tweeted directly to Gov. Pence such statements as:

What the ingenious and talented Ms. McDonald eventually decided to do was:

In a follow-up statement she announced she will be spreading the wealth and giving the money she earns in Indiana to the Human Rights Campaign Fund, Freedom Indiana and other charities fighting back against the new law.

One does not have to be part of one minority to fully understand the depths of discrimination, marginalization and general hatred the majority can feel for another minority but it certainly does help. As a Jewish gay guy I always felt a little different – even growing up in NY and working in Hollywood – so it was pretty easy for me to see at an early age that when other people were being bullied or treated unfairly because of who or what they happened to be that, well, it could easily be me. In short, it made me apoplectic and I had far less power (and still do) than Audra McDonald.

And I don't just mean lung power!

And I don’t just mean lung power!

Luckily, as I grew older and the world began to change I was able to become less angry and strident interacting with the world on that score and far more effective (in a limited power sort of way) in standing up and being adamant.   Yet I am also far more adept at sniffing out the inequality and prejudice which is now continually coming to my attention daily and often from thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. I guess it is a double-edged sword.

Of course, all of these experiences can also cause a person of my tribe(s) to completely go the other way. For instance, when I was growing up there was a great deal of anger and resentment among middle-class Jews towards the Black community (Note: Why, I never quite figured out), making the thought of something like inter-marriage one of the worst shondas (Note: The Yiddish word for disgrace) in the world. What they would have thought about a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman? I can’t even…. And let’s not even get into the transgender community. If for nothing else than for their sake.

I have a feeling I wouldn't find any of these in Indiana

I have a feeling I wouldn’t find any of these in Indiana

The bottom line is this:

If a few white actors, or even writers, directors or studio executives, have a few less opportunities because we are moving towards a more balanced racial representation on television – and perhaps the movies – TOO FREAKIN’ BAD.

And if a bunch of religious people have their sensibilities offended because they have to sell a cake to a same-sex couple – who for all they know might be buying it for their parents and not for their big fat gay wedding – BOO FREAKIN’ HOO.

You’ll ALL get over it.

Just make sure to move your cans over before you get trampled by history.

The Chair Challenge

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Did you ever have one of those weeks? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of having celebrities I like and that feel as if they’re a part of my family die. Plus, is the universe going to blow up? Are we headed for World War III? It certainly seems that way. Not to mention the fact that there hasn’t been one movie I’ve loved or even liked more than a little this summer. I mean, how many reruns of House Hunters International can I watch? Yes, Costa Rica looks nice and inexpensive but, seriously – you’re going to uproot your spouse and two kids, go live in a shack on the beach and have them all piss happily in a rusted tin outhouse for $900 a month? Really????

Sorry, I will not calm down. Or pull out my dog-eared copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz from 2008. That was then and this is now. Besides, a good rant can do just as much as being impeccable with your word, not taking things personally, not making assumptions and always doing your best. And in case you were wondering – YES, THIS IS MY BEST! At the moment.

Okay, I feel better already. And so will you. So if that works imagine how good an unlucky 13 of them will feel. What follows are a baker’s dozen of my petty best of the moment. And I CHALLENGE ALL OF YOU to come up with at least one of your own and write in about it. Don’t worry. You don’t have to dump a bucket of ice water over your head afterwards. Or send money. This is therapy. At least for me. For all of us.

Oh, in case you were wondering I AM GRATEFUL – to live in a country where ranting is still legal and among others who can relate, understand and come up with funnier and better things to complain about than me. So as my mother used to warn: DO NOT DISAPPOINT ME. Which explains more than you need to know about myself or my rants on any given day.

MY UNLUCKY 13:

1 – You’re no longer a SPORTS HERO if you beat women and children.

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Nuances are meaningless when a man knocks out his wife with a punch to the jaw and drags her limp body across a floor. Ditto when another guy repeatedly whoops his 4 year-old son with a switch to the crotch or beats him bloody with a stick and then chews on the remainder of its picked off leaves in front of him. The NFL’s Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson should be in jail for these offenses – not the subject of debate.   How does any woman put on a Rice jersey or a single football fan support a star running back who put a little boy not yet old enough to attend public school into the hospital? #TimothyRayJones? #Malala? #OJanyone?

2- If you throw your adolescent child out of the house for being gay you should be neutered against your will and relieved of all your wordily possessions. Rolling Stone recently did an expose about the epidemic of homeless LGBT kids, many of who have been thrown out onto the streets by their fundamentalist parents. I, for one, am tired of small-minded cowards hiding behind dogma in order to inflict pain and suffering on family members who they deem unworthy. So let me put it in language their pea brains might understand. Think of your offspring like a plate you knock over in the store. Meaning, you break it, you bought it. Or in this case – you make it, you own it. For life. But unlike a plate, you can’t throw yours out or give it away because you decide you suddenly don’t fancy its pattern or it fails to live up to your preconceived idea of the surface on which you choose to put your cold meatloaf sandwich during one of your typically lazy Sunday afternoons.

3- I don’t have the time to iWatch.

... and just about as useful

… and just about as useful

Who doesn’t love the sleek, stylish lines and shiny cool bling of something Apple? But wasn’t one of the benefits of the iPhone stapled to your person the fact that it pretty much rendered wristwatches obsolete? Do any of us really need a mini computer timepiece on our arms? Well, perhaps need is the wrong word. How about want? Isn’t it tough enough to make an effort lifting up your arms to do…. anything these days? #WWJobsDo?

4- Matthew Perry needs to sit out some more pilot seasons.

Stop trying to make Matthew Perry happen. It's not going to happen

Stop trying to make Matthew Perry happen. It’s not going to happen

We all love MP not only as one of our perennial Friends but for various admirable turns he’s done in both drama and comedy since those halcyon days. Still, a reboot of The Odd Couple as a half-hour CBS comedy this fall? Which was already rebooted in the eighties with an all-black cast from the 1970s hit series? Which was rebooted from the hit film? Which was reinterpreted from the hit Broadway show? The only person not tired of all of these hits is Neil Simon, who brilliantly created the story to begin with and even more brilliantly continues to collect royalty checks from it five decades later. #NoPoachingZone.

5- Too many actors are changing pace. You can’t blame a professional impersonator for wanting to try on all different types of personas but that doesn’t mean you can’t bitch about it. Steve Carrell is a humorless gazillionaire mentally abusing Channing Tatum in the upcoming Foxcatcher, Pushing Daisies’ charming Lee Pace (no pun intended) played the nastiest of villains in this summer’s sole megablockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, and post Thanksgiving we all have to look forward to a live version of Peter Pan starring Girls’…..Allison Williams?? How would they like it if I renamed this blog Notes From A Zeppelin? Or An Elongated Rant from my Chair. And no, the correct answer is not none of them cares. #Dontbemeanasme. #Thoughtofthatfirst.

She is just too tall to be Peter Pan. TOO. TALL

She is just too tall to be Peter Pan. TOO. TALL

6- We need to thin the herd of tour buses everywhere. Somebody somewhere is probably offering a tour of pretty much every region in the world. But nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than on the streets of Los Angeles. Here’s the bottom of lines, though. Those of you in the rest of the country don’t get to hate on us (nee make fun) and then come here to visit from every state in the union all year where you will undoubtedly spend at least one day on a tour bus going 5 mph gawking at everything and everyone you see with disdainful admiration. You’re gumming up the traffic and acting like the asshat guy/girl we all once dated who couldn’t make up their mind about us. Note: Those types of relationships never work. And certainly never end well.

7- Drivers of automobiles are not allowed to signal on their choice of odd or even days. While we’re on the subject of L.A. and traffic listen up – you’re a selfish pig if you don’t indicate when you are going right or left and a complete failure as a human being when you suddenly decide to stop in the middle of the street for no other reason than because, well – the sun looked nice? Organic fennel suddenly came into your mind? You thought a pretty guy or gal looked familiar but then realized it was only your own image reflecting into the windshield from your side view mirror? This also applies to big men driving their big trucks who have decided that because they seem more menacing no one else on the road will ever take them to task. Well, I guess I (let’s make it WE just in case) showed them.

Preach Batman

Preach Batman

8- Huge television stars need to stop doing car commercial voiceovers. I was going to let Jon Hamm slide as the voice of Mercedes Benz because after all, he’s Jon Hamm. But he’s started an epidemic that reached its peak last week when I actually recognized the voice of Modern Family’s Ty Burrell on an ad for some other vehicle. I can’t remember which one. And that’s the point. It’s understandable when they get Samuel L. Jackson or Alec Baldwin before the cameras to endorse Capital One credit cards. Their crazy on-camera personas are being bought and paid for with a lot of cash back. But what difference does it make who’s telling me to drive an overpriced automobile if I can’t see their handsome face IN the car and imagine they’re with me? No, of course I’m not specifically talking ONLY about Jon Hamm.   And certainly not of Matthew McConaughey – who is featured live on camera in one of the oddest, newest and most bizarre auto ads of them all.

9- Why can’t we have one universal cord that plugs into everything??? This was not my idea but came from NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who this week said he suggested it to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Yeah, I know, they’ll call it the iCord, build the prototype here and mass-produce it in China with unskilled, underpaid and overworked cheap labor. We’ll all feel guilty about it but it will come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and be sexy and irresistible. And we’ll purchase all of them because once again, well, life is so, so, so haaaaaaaaaaaard. #Too1stworldXGoogol

10- Network television needs to stop putting John McCain on the air right after every presidential speech.

What I see everytime he comes on screen...

What I see everytime he comes on screen…

In my mind, Sen. McCain gave up all rights to criticize presidential judgment the moment he selected Sarah Palin as his choice for vice-president. There will be no Sarah Palin joke here because how does one top anything she’s already said and done in the past, including the drunken brawl her entire family was reported to have gotten into this past week in Anchorage? What will be stated is that Sen. McCain’s expertise in the area of decision-making and strategy not only sucks but is potentially quite dangerous. Putting him on directly after Pres. Obama spoke to the nation about how he will deal with the beheadings of two American journalists at the hands of the fundamentalist religious terrorists of ISIS is akin to….well, I’ll let you fill in the blank. (Hint: Insert that Sarah Palin joke here).

11- Stop calling America “The Homeland!” There is no other way to say this. We are not in Adolf Hitler’s Germany (yet) or living in a cable series starring Claire Danes. When we discuss whether enemies of our state plan to attack our country that is what we fear they will attack – the country. Words matter. Jingoistic, fascist terminology is dangerous. Unless I’m using it to attack Rick Perry or Ted Cruz in an ironically worded twist on the words they ordinarily use. Which I have not done. Yet. #Oops.

We-all-know-someone-who-needs-to-tuck-and-roll…

12- Adored celebrities need to stop dying for a while. Or at least stop dying so close together. Aside from the emotional grief it causes their friends and loved ones it is hell on us. Robin Williams, Joan Rivers and Lauren Bacall all in the space of a month? And then there’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death just a bit before??? The least of this is the confusion it causes to consumers and the corporations they love. Do you feature Mr. Hoffman prominently in the ads for Hunger Games: Mockingjay? Will it ever be kosher to watch a rerun of Fashion Police again? Was it unfair of me to get creeped out by the live images of a great actor like James Gandolfini in the recent ads for his last film, The Drop? It’s only creepy because none of us will get out of here alive. Oh, grow up – it’s true!!!

13- Give Billy Eichner a show that is not on Fuse TV!

Can you ever watch too much?

Can you ever watch too much?

It’s not as if I haven’t known about comedian Billy Eichner’s hilarious Funny or Die videos for the last year or two. But suddenly he seems to be on every other click of the web making me LOL (yes, I’m using THAT abbreviation because I’m not as clever as he is) at what might have been my lowest moment of the week were he not available. So, network or real pay cable TV – why? Why? Why? Don’t tell me he’s too gay or too New York or too Jewish. I might take it personally. As for Billy, no one is this funny and strange and entertaining so consistently. Not even Matthew Perry. Who I am a great fan of. (See #4 above). Don’t believe me? Fine. Here.

Julia Roberts Obstacle Course

It’s Debra Messing, You Gays

And in case you’re in the mood for a song, here’s something you won’t ever HEAR on the radio. Write in and Rant On.

Chair on Chair

Clint Eastwood is an icon.  And if you don’t think so, here is the dictionary.com definition:

Icon:  A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something: “icon of manhood.”

No, I did not add the manhood part or appropriate it from some other place to make my point more effectively.  That is the literal, on-the-record given example.

It is dangerous for any one thing or person to be regarded as a gold standard representative symbol of something as Mr. Eastwood proved this past week when he dragged an unwitting Chair onstage in Tampa on the climactic night of the 2012 Republican National Convention.  One reason is that once you’re the international standard for something we all value from your perceived public image, it is inevitable you will one day disappoint.  And that is because the nature of existence is nothing stays the same and that everything in the world is uniquely its own in ways an outsider can never fully know.  An image (or icon) is a mirage – and the very nature of mirage is, it isn’t real.  What it is changes or rearranges, in accordance with the eye or taste of the beholder.  This holds true both for the shelf life of people like Clint Eastwood and for objects such as chairs, who have even less to say about their iconic status than humans do. (Note: “The Eastwood Chair” is now trending internationally and is probably now the most famous chair icon we all know).

Because everything in the world is uniquely its own, this makes it particularly tough for icons – inanimate or living – to be all things to all people.  Why?  Well, for example:

No one human has the same fingerprint.  And as any dog (or any other pet) lover can tell you, no two animals of the same species are exactly the same either.   One can even take this further for, let’s say, ants, who are seldom pets.  I mean, we might not be able to tell the difference between the ants crawling around our backyards or inside our cabinets, but I’d bet that any other ant could. As could another animal/insect of another species.  So how can any one of that or any species ever properly represent all the others not only to their own species but to the rest of the world?

I would argue this is even the same for mass-produced items.  They each have their own microscopic, milli-minutiae quirks that we humans can’t see but that make them who they are.  No item can be exactly what it was when you acquired it or first admired it – or live up to the perception you had of it.   Which is partly because your perception clearly isn’t seeing everything, certainly not as much as what is seen by another like-minded item of its own kind.  Plus, like humans, items also change – if even slightly – as they age.  There is always slight color derivation, a tiny smudge or crack in the armor on the outside.  Or perhaps on the inside, out of view.  I’m reminded of an old Bette Midler monologue that talks about what’s hidden beneath the surface of each and every one of us, no matter how alike we might seem on sight.  One day while walking through the streets of Manhattan, the entertainer ran into a sad, mentally ill lady in a huge Daisy dress who was almost bald and had, substituting for hair, a fried egg on her forehead.  Terrified in those days of her own tenuous emotional balance on reality, Midler mused that she didn’t want to wake up one day and wind up with a fried egg on her own head.  But then, later in her routine, which went from hilarity to poignancy in the space of just a few minutes, she somberly concluded:

“The truth about fried eggs is…everybody gets one.  Some people wear them on the outside.  And some people – they wear them on the inside.”

I prefer mine over easy

 

Meaning nothing can or should really be set up as an icon for anything. It’s a recipe for disappointment and failure on both our parts because you’re never seeing the real, true picture.  Just as the 82 year-old Mr. Eastwood might now disappoint as the universal hyper symbol of Manhood due to his mocking routine of Pres. Obama, who he imagined was sitting onstage with him yelling unlikely nasty retorts from an empty chair – that particular brand of Chair, which hadn’t chosen the spotlight as Mr. Eastwood clearly did and continues to do, has now become the iconic Zelig of inanimate objects and is engendering all sorts of blowback.  Plucked out of obscurity by one icon, said Chair – which doesn’t have a name but has become an unwitting symbol as “The Eastwood Chair” – has various Twitter handles, Facebook pages, portraits, personalities and doctored images it never sought out to begin with.

Scouring the web, it is clear this once unknown single piece of furniture enrages, disappoints, is put on a pedestal, is lampooned and is publicly scorned, deified and idolized.  It is now every bit, and perhaps more, iconic than Mr. Eastwood.  This in itself proves the shallowness of iconic status.  Though sometimes it’s about achievement, it can also come when one is in the wrong place at the right time or even the right place at the wrong time.  Even a casual X Factor like birth can have something to do with it.   I mean, ask Prince Harry.

Leave me outta this!

 As an ordinary Chair myself, actually the Pendleton Chair of the Ithaca College L.A. program, it should be understandable that I’m a little sensitive to what would happen if an ordinary Chair suddenly found itself trending worldwide. Though none of the fellow Chairs that I know are iconic symbols, my position does share a dictionary.com definition with what is now the most Famous Chair in the World whose listing fittingly comes first in our dual definitions on dictionary.com.

Chair:  1. A separate seat for one person, typically with a back and four legs.

2. to act as chairperson of or preside over an organization, meeting or public event.

Much like Ms. Midler felt pain for the Lady with the Fried Egg on her head, this week my heart has consistently gone out to what is now the world’s most iconic Chair.  So like any good tribesman, I thought I’d reach out and try to be supportive.  Imagine my surprise when The Eastwood Chair (TEC), quite average and quite happy before it began its meteoric rise to fame just days ago, asked if I’d do its one exclusive interview.

But first, an exclusive with The Chair

Me???  Wasn’t a slightly, well, bigger forum, what was needed?  “No,” replied, TEC, the one thing it didn’t want was to fan the fire.  All it sought was just its real POV out there on the record.  Because the one thing it’s sure of after the last few days is that whatever it says, even if it’s to just me, will gain worldwide traction – at least for a few weeks or so.  The following are TEC’s own words and our conversation verbatim.

Me:  Well, this has been quite a week for you, huh?

TEC:  You could say that.  I can’t really say anything.

Me:  That’s kind of a theme in your life, isn’t it?

TEC: (laughs) I guess so.  I hadn’t meant to put it that way but, there you are…

Me:  Does it bother you that other people are now defining you, who you are, on such a, well, global scale?

TEC:  (seemingly tilts back, then forward again) I was really angry at first.  I mean, I was positioned backstage, providing a service.  I like to think of myself that way – service oriented.  I’m functional.  I don’t crave the spotlight on my own.  Someone might sit on me but that doesn’t mean they are me. To suddenly become the thing that everyone’s making fun of…

Me:  It must be difficult.

TEC:  Well, as they say, I was just “born this way” and living my life.  I didn’t intend for the world to react so extremely to me one way or the other, or use me as an example to make fun of, or idolize or to hate on just because someone else is using me like that and causing them to think that way.

Me:  But isn’t that part of the nature of any chair?  For instance, if someone had you in their house and was really angry, they could throw you across the room and break you if they wanted.

TEC:  (withered look) Wow.  I hadn’t ever thought about…(silence) Yes, I suppose they could.  And that would be awful.  I guess I’ve been lucky so far.  But nobody should be defined as something they aren’t simply because of mistaken identity or because a human needs to work out their “stuff “ in a mean way through you.

Me: Okay, well, not to be mean myself but…isn’t that, according to what you just said, your function?

TEC: I said I’m fuctionAL.  I don’t have one specific function. But in people’s minds now I’m this – “thing.” And it can be real negative in people’s minds.  I just want everyone to know that image, those traits they’re putting on me – the arrogance, the cursing, the awkwardness – they’re fiction.  They’re stereotypes.  They have nothing to do with who I really am deep down.   Depending on who is doing the looking and the sitting, I am lots of things deep down.  I am more than the butt of a joke…

Me:  Butt.  Chair.  That’s funny.

TEC:  I’m not laughing.  Sorry, but…

Me: You said it again.  But.

TEC: These jokes are being used to hurt someone.

Me:  Hurt whom?

TEC: I better shut up.  I don’t want to get too political.

Me:  Oh, come on, your secret’s safe.  Hardly anyone reads the blog compared to, let’s say, your Twitter page.

TEC (chuckles):  You mean Twitter pages, don’t you?  I mean, which one?

Me:  (chuckles back) Well, there’s The Eastwood Chair, The Empty Chair, This Seat is Taken, Obama’s Chair, Invisible Obama….

TEC: Stop, please….

Me:  Well, they all don’t have your exact image.  I take it you’ve seen them?

TEC:  I try to stay away.  Also, I’m sort of limited in what I can see unless someone is sitting on me.

Me: Ah, right.

TEC: But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to sneaking a few looks.

Me: Care to elaborate?

TEC:  No.

TEC’s least favorite. “That tramp,” it says.

Me:  Fair enough.

TEC:  I mean, aside from that, I’m not sure it’s exactly safe.  I’m only one chair.

Me:  But an important one.  You could be the Rosa Parks of Chairs, if you chose to be.

TEC: That’s a little grand, don’t you think?

Me:  Maybe so.  I’m not saying you have to be or it’s what you should do or a requirement or…

TEC:  I get it.  It’s okay.  Really.

Me:  You want to talk about Mr. Eastwood?

TEC: Not really.  But I suppose I should.

Me: Are you angry with him?

TEC: Yes.

Me:  I thought you’d hesitate.

TEC:  Why?  I’m in an undisclosed location.  He’ll never find me.

Me:  I found you.

TEC:  Actually, I found you, remember?

Me:  Right.

TEC:  And when we’re done, trust me, you won’t be able to find me again.  No personal offense intended.

Me: None taken.

TEC:  But you will hear about me.  And from me.  A movement is growing.  And it’s about more than chairs, one chair or even all chairs.  See, there’s a network out there protecting the real me because the struggle is really about everything…

Me:  You sure are sounding like Rosa Parks to me.  Or at least one of her disciples.

Silence.  The light hits the top of TEC and it appears several inches taller.

Me:  Care to elaborate just a bit more?

TEC: Okay, so it’s about thinking before you use something innocent solely for your own benefit against its will or feeling.  Or dislike or hate something only because of what you think it is.  Or categorize dishonestly one way before you know it – or even if you do know it.  Cause deep down you know you’re being dishonest.

Me:  Is that what you think Clint Eastwood did? 

TEC:  Eastwood’s 82 years old and a huge movie star.  He’s used to doing anything he wants and he comes from another generation.  It’s more about everyone else and what they say and how they react to what they can plainly see right before their eyes.  And – the truth.  (A beat.)  Though let’s say next time I’m around the rich and famous, I’ll be more prepared and blend in.

Me:  Really.  How can you…

TEC:  We have ways.  I can’t reveal everything.  As they say, ultimately, “A chair is still a chair…

Me:  Even when there’s no one sitting there…”

TEC:  Very good.

Me:  It’s a Hal David lyric from a Burt Bacharach song ,“A House Is Not A Home.”  Mr. David just died this week, so…

TEC: Oh, wow. Sorry.  That’s sad.  I didn’t know.  I really liked his music.

Me:  Well, he was 91 so he did have a great life.

EW: And understood the true meaning of a chair.  Unlike some people.

Me:  Maybe one day they will.

TEC: I hope so.

Me: It’s all in the song, if you think about it.

TEC:  I just wish everyone had slightly better taste in the music they choose to listen to.  You know what I mean?