Archives for posts with tag: Hurricane Katrina

Excuse me for rambling.  This may have something to do with the painkillers.  I don’t usually take pills but a mashed ankle and a severely strained leg…I gave in to the ibuprofen.

The news looks bad.  More unemployment misery, few jobs, double dip, creationism, President takes a vacation, stock market tanks, texting in church…etc.   That’s the news.

Some people are telling me that the only way the USA is going to save itself is when the American people accept third world wages.  The plan: the people will become so desperate they will work any job at any wage anywhere and the corporations will abandon India and China and return to America.

If this is true…and I suspect that it is, we are in for a long and desperate time.

There were journalists in helicopters filming black people lining up for a ‘Jobs Fair’ in Atlanta.  Well presented, educated black people.  The usual people who suffer when the economy slows.  Apparently some employers don’t want to interview the unemployed.  I have no idea why.  Can someone tell me?

The images from the helicopter reminded me of the Hurricane Katrina footage.   Desperate black people.  Waiting in badly organized lines.

“I’m a single mother and I am looking for a job.”

I’m not writing what’s been bugging me..apart from my aching foot.

I want to write about being gay, being a gay film maker/artist.   I have not written enough about my recent brush with the ‘gay community’.  I have been having the same multiple contractions of apprehension that I had years ago.

The same anxiety.  The same question plagues me…even after years of therapy and insight.

What kind of gay am I?

Is this the same question as what kind of man am I?  Is this a question I need answering?  I just don’t know who my tribe is.  The community that has sprung up around me on WordPress is as good as it gets.  I like that you write to me.  Some of you disapprove but you can’t get everybody to love you all the time.

Those of you who wanted the coyote to rip my throat out…well, it didn’t.

I called my friend Zach and I said, what kind of gay are you?  By the time he replied I had lost interest.

I don’t want to know what sort of gay he is.  I want to know who I am.

I tried to make gay films for a gay male audience…specifically, unapologetically.   We need to see ourselves as we really are.  We need to champion the language and locations of our lives as well as be critical of our bad choices, challenge our culture…reveal it, understand our politics..the differences as well as the similarities.

I loved making gay films, I loved travelling the world…meeting you in cinemas on every continent, in every major city.  I like meeting you, eating with you, sleeping with you.

You were very accommodating!

Recently, I have been tempted by the mass market.

I had a meeting with a well-known, important producer about my Surrogacy film.  Even though he was moved by the story he said that the story would be much improved if I could somehow incorporate a straight man’s perspective.  He thought a latino character would complicate the story.

He was part of the problem…not the solution.

His ‘take’ was woefully un-evolved.   Shame based.

At first I was irritated then it nagged at me: the suggestion that a regular audience could only identify with us if we sympathised with them.

I have sympathised with straight characters in movies all my life.  I have gone out of my way to understand their lives and loves.  I have walked in their shoes.

We all do.

I don’t think my producer friend is very interested in me.  He wasn’t interested in the film or the rare books he came to see.  I think he was interested in the twins.  Why shouldn’t he be?  It amuses me that he would have made so much effort to accommodate me when all he had to do was take Robby’s number.

Of course he has more to offer Robby than I ever could.  Robby would be a fool not to capitalize on that friendship.

I felt the same way when ever Jay Jopling visited me.  He would take what ever he felt he wanted..or was valuable from me.  He took a beaver lined Edwardian driving coat, he took books by Aubrey Beardsley and Djuna Barnes and Dorothy Parker.

He wasn’t the only one.

Korda Marshall borrowed and broke the rare and valuable  Venini vase that The Duchess of Argyll had given me.   Now he is rich I wrote to him asking him to replace it.  He did not reply to my email.

Robby is very special, he has a quality that may not get him modeling jobs but…and I rarely say this, may make him a star.

I felt that about Tom Hardy.  He used to be such a brat.  I had a very ‘loud chat’ with Tom in Soho House, London years ago about his excessive drinking.  He heeded my advice and gave up.  Then, a year or so later, he thanked me for telling him the truth.  A truth few dared to tell him.

In actuality I just repeated what Anthony Hopkins told me Lawrence Olivier had said to him about his drinking when he was a young actor at The National Theatre.

It seemed to work.

Pink (Alecia Moore) told me that the hardest thing she ever had to do was ditch her band.  The label wanted her and not the band.  They were her best friends.  She had to tell them as if it were own choice.

We all abandon those who helped us at the beginning.  We have to make hard decisions in life if we are going to get on.  Leaving our best friends behind so that we might succeed.  It is the secret story behind every Hollywood success.  Those that got left behind.

Lastly, from one of my personal heroes British gay activist Peter Tatchell:

“The UK establishment is quick to condemn rioters.  Yet, the police took bribes & failed to investigate phone hacking. No officers jailed. Cash for knighthoods & peerages. No one jailed. MPs abused expenses system. Only a few jailed. Editors bribed police. None jailed. Priests raped kids. No jail for most. Army killed & tortured civilians in Iraq. Soldiers not jailed. British elite = hypocrites. No right to moralize.”

On our way to Paris via New York.  Trips like this will be impossible once the goats and hens arrive so I am cherishing the opportunity.

The young man sitting in front of me reclined his seat with such force I nearly lost my teeth.  When I asked him very politely to recline gently, he refused.  He told me that he could not think of any reason why he should.

Now, had this been Delta I would have expected such rudeness but Virgin America?  No, not here, not on my countryman Richard Branson’s airline.

It is exactly this attitude of entitlement that has turned the great United States into a third world nation run by arrogant, corrupt, entitled politicians/bankers with little consideration for each other or anyone else. The attitude of indifference politicians have for the people percolates throughout the nation.

The man who rammed his seat into me might have said, very simply, “Oh I’m sorry,  I should have considered that.“

All would have been well.

That’s what we would have done.  The British.  We apologize immediately when we know we are wrong.  This young, foolish man decided, at the point of enquiry, to attack me.  A very silly thing to do as I am now jamming my knees into the back of his seat.

There is a notion that any apology, owning up, making amends etc. is a sign of weakness and it pervades American culture.  The stress this self-righteousness  causes and ignorance it generates shortens lives (Americans statistically live less years than anywhere else in the developed world).  It keeps them poor and makes people across the world uniformly hate them.

I moved to the USA for a reason-I believed that one could be truly free.  Sadly, I don’t believe that any more.   What changed my mind?  Hurricane Katrina changed my mind when I heard how folks treated one another-the government ignoring the devastation.  The Bailout changed my mind when I saw that the Wall Street elite would never be punished for their mindless avarice but instead became richer and more entrenched.  Lastly, the attitude of those around me who blame the unemployed for unemployment, the homeless for being homeless, who don’t see the benefits of socialized medicine, who ignore how many children are being killed not only in places like Afghanistan but also in their own country due to poor health care and nutrition.

The young man sitting in the seat in front of me had no idea that he represents to me everything that is bad about this great country.  That he would inspire an essay that will ultimately embrace the socialist thinkers of my youth.

I am proud to come from a country that may (or may not) pay higher taxes yet one can get free healthcare, an education and rely on those about you to give a damn.

What happened to America?  What happened to the America I aspired to?  Did it even ever exist?  Was the Brady Bunch a myth?

It breaks my heart to see that today whole families are now in homeless shelters.  The soup lines of the 1930’s have been replaced with food stamps.  The evidence of extreme poverty is merely disguised.  Even my Russian taxi driver noted just how many homeless people there were on the streets of LA-yet, even here amongst the homeless exists a dumbfounding arrogance.

A friend of mine devoted his holiday to helping the homeless by working a homeless shelter and delivering blankets to those who lived on the streets.  He reported that occasionally the poor would throw back the blankets and demand money, they would say, “We don’t want blankets, we want money.”   The same people would insult and degrade the people who doled out free food.

Poverty and homelessness does not necessarily engender humility.  Why should it?  Perhaps when a man loses everything he only then begins to fight for his life.  I imagined, incorrectly as it turns out, that there was a community of homeless on skid row helping one another to survive.  Just as I naively thought that there would be a community of actors helping each other in Hollywood.

Hasn’t history taught us that when we work together we can overcome adversity?  Ah, history-another American casualty.

I have, of late, started to think of myself as an old fashioned socialist.   Like Michael Foot or Tony Benn.  I have been remembering their rhetoric and rereading what they believed.  I read and I believe Tony Benn.  I trust him.

Five questions Benn insists should be asked of any powerful person:  What power have you got?  Where did you get it?  In whose interests do you use it?  To whom are you accountable?  How do we get rid of you?

I remember when I was 13 years old my stepfather mocking a badge I wore that said solidarity with the miners. He accused me of not knowing what the badge really meant.  He was right, I didn’t really know.  I wanted to know.  All I knew absolutely was that there seemed to be some unfairness in the world and it needed to be addressed. I saw that there were people, unlike my stepfather, who refused to believe in absolutes, who understood the world to be more convoluted, complicated, chaotic than I had been taught.

So, my solar energy investment is just not an investment in me but in the planet.  The goats eating the brush for the well-being of the environment.  Pumping spring water into the vegetable garden to benefit us all.

The psyche of the British has been unmistakably molded by years of thrift after the Second World War.  We have a desire to make do and mend, to bargain hunt, to work an allotment, restraint.  Frugality is still perceived as a virtue.

The people of Great Britain, France and Germany all live with elements of socialism that run hand in hand with capitalism.   I can assure you that the sort of socialism we in Europe live with works.

What in capitalism is ever ‘too big to fail’?  When did it become ‘socialist’ to care about our fellow man?

In a country that routinely says it devotes itself to Jesus where is that Christian teaching evident?

The airplane is getting bumpy and hopefully the silly boy in front of me will have gone to sleep.  I am going to forgive him.  That’s what I do-I forgive.  I can’t imagine him being able to do the same any time soon.