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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Choose the Right Fight

Some feel justice was served. Others feel it failed. Some believe it stood true. Others believe it was manipulated by ghosts of the past, haunting the system once more.

A jury found a man not guilty. At best, a possibly innocent man was not jailed. I have my beliefs, but did not see the events. None of us did. I do know that none of us — individually or as a nation that strives to be one out of many — won. The big winner was fear. It has been winning as of late and it's on a big global winning streak with its pal ignorance.

Fear is being used to divide us on multiple fronts on multiple issues. Fear of being wrong. Fear of being thought weak. Fear of loss. Fear of hurt. Fear of not enough. Fear of having what's yours taken from you. Fear of the Other. Fear of compromise. Fear that a differing opinion might have value. Fear of change from without and within. Fear of challenge. Fear of growth. Fear of compassion. Fear of the unknown.

Fear caused these events. Fear is what allows those abusing power to manipulate the rest of us into fighting for scraps and protecting their power. We are ALL acting like sheeple in the face of our fears and it is not making things any better. It is not making us more secure.

I invite all fellow humans to think, examine themselves, identify their fears, and find a way to work against them. Live from courage, not fear. It's not always easy, but the benefits for ourselves, our communities, and our loved ones are great and far-reaching. Strength gained through fear is a lie. Strength cultivated through courage in the face of the fears within is the greater, more lasting strength.

No matter who you are, no matter what you believe, no matter how you tend to vote, face fear. Acknowledge fear. Challenge fear. And when we do, we will be better able to address a larger and more dangerous fear: the fear of our collective ruin.

Fight fear.

Please.


— Gregory Parks, 14 July 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Morning Post Workout Haiku

Morning light streams in
through portals, doorways, and flaps –
man-made lights still sleep

Thursday, March 21, 2013

WAMA: Awards Shows and Art

I have not seen the most recent Oscar Awards. I only saw friends' posts and live tweets and the video of Shirley Bassey singing "Goldfinger" (a must-see event in my book). Although I was inspired to make a tongue-in-cheek comment about the "saving white people movie" (Argo) beating out the "saving black people movie" (Lincoln, but I also was unaware that Django Unchained was nominated), I wasn't really inspired to chime in on anything until a comment thread on a Twin Cities arts community associate's page evolved into one commenter going into full Angry Black Person mode. Not only was this individual 1) not really listening to anyone else [understandable, given the strength of emotions] and 2) calling the academy racist [hyperbole] and out of touch and not very diverse [as if we didn't already know that], but in the slashing and burning and flailing of rage-arms 3) essentially suggested that because the Oscars are the domain of the powerful, monied, famous crowd who cares only about accolades, what they do is insignificant as art [an insultingly reductionist and childishly simplistic statement that qualifies more as a tantrum than as an actual argument].

The stream of comments by that person eventually led me to type this comment that I feel proud of and falls perfectly in the realm of "who asked me, anyway?". I treasure my point of view because it is one that I grew into believing and I feel it helps me maintain perspective as I pursue my own goals while hoping to encourage and inspire others to do the same. It is something I often ponder these days.

"Later parts of this thread also bring up the long-standing question of why do we equate poverty in artists with artistic integrity? Why do we feel like we must ignorantly and arrogantly enforce that limitation of creative slavery? Why, if someone has been working for years and decades to be recognized and to maybe reach a broader audience, are they suddenly a sellout when their efforts bear the fruit they were seeking? Not only is art subjective, but to subject artistic media to the limitations of "obscurity = excellence" or "breadth of audience = lack of so-called artistic integrity" is gatekeeping, exclusionary trash. Yes, awards shows are just another big prom, but sometimes art is thought-provoking and maybe a bit fuzzy and other times it's eye-candy drawn in broad strokes and primary colors."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meeting Miho

Since my return to Kinoshita Circus here in Japan, I have been learning about Japanese circus fandom. One fan in particular is an artist who I would swear is a professional illustrator, but she's not — not as far as I know, anyway. She's just an artist who loves drawing pictures of the circus performers in addition to her other work. Thanks to Facebook, many of my clown associates have become aware of her work and she has drawn clown portraits of them as well. It's been very flattering to be the subject of someone's art and it's been a warm feeling passing knowledge of her labor of love on to others.




In today's second show, I was meeting and greeting audience members as I do, and a slight, smiling woman in a salmon colored sweater said, "Yoroshiku! Watashi wa Miho desu." ("Nice to meet you! I am Miho.")

"Gureggu desu." ("I'm Greg.")

. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

"Miho? Mouri Miho!? OHHHHHHHHHHHHH! MIHO!"

After months of posting pictures on Facebook and sending picture postcards to people on the show via an envoy on the show, I finally had the opportunity to meet her in person. It was an excellent moment and it made the show extra special.

Of course, she brought a gift of drawings for people, made into little cellphone charms.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Complete Me

Valentine's Day is coming, or as fans of Homestarrunner.com's Teen Girl Squad might say, "Vamlumtime's Day". Alongside people buying gifts for their beloveds or desired beloveds, there are people who use this day to be miserable and some might even mope, feeling that another person will make them complete.

I say bullshit. Yes, being single in a sea of married and dating peers can be an emotional trial full of frustration, despair, loneliness, and self-doubt — one that I live — but still, bullshit.

However, a peer of mine put it a lot more eloquently. She is improvisor/instructor/whirlwind Jill Bernard, one of the three founding members of HUGE Theater, which all people in the TwinCities should visit if they don't already. Jill had this to say and a lot of people are quoting it with good reason. Read it, take it to heart, and take it to the bank:

"If you do not have a significant other and you are feeling hurt by Valentine's Day, please give yourself the best Valentines Day on the planet. Please treat yourself to whatever makes you happiest. Be your own significant other, because you are very very significant. You do have someone to share it with, it's you. You are a person and you are more than enough, and it's not that you're not good enough for anyone else, you are, but you're also good enough for you. I thought this before I had a boyfriend and I will continue to think it after he dies from eating too much cheesy rice and sausage.

BESIDES. BESIDES. If it is really your goal to have a significant other, other people like whole people. They don't like half people who only exist as defined by others. So go ahead, be whole, be complete, have a rich interesting life and make yourself a little nest that is perfect for you but could also expand. It took me a long time to figure that out and then I got a boyfriend so now my opinion seems like 'that's easy for you to say' but it wasn't."


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Accidental Excellence

The summer of 2005 I read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole because I had heard countless great reviews. One person I knew and trusted counted it as one of his favorite books ever of any genre. At the time, there was even talk of the book having been optioned for movie rights. A script was being developed! Casting possibilities were being tossed about!

I am someone who believes strongly that the movie never lives up to the book and I try to have read the book prior to seeing the movie. Having recently stopped touring with Ringling Brothers and now having the luxury of using a library card, the time was ripe for me to dive into this classic of American literature. What I experienced was less than heartening. In fact, it enforced my prejudice that any work called "a classic of American literature" tends to be overrated and was judged as such in a way similar to how the Apostle's Creed was constructed and decided upon.

I made my way through the book with dogged determination, intent on finishing the task I set before myself. I was going to give this book every chance I would like someone to give a work of mine, were I an author. Being an improv actor and a clown, I was sure there had to be a payoff. It had to be good because I was earning it, taking to the pages with the work ethic of a miner.

No such luck. I reached the end and there was no payoff. Thus began my personal vendetta against this so-called classic of American literature, this supposed paragon of parody. I did not enjoy one thing about the book.

Fast forward to my introduction to the Goodreads website. I forget which of my friends led me to it, but I fastidiously began to recount any books that I had read in recent years or ever. I am not one to write reviews on such sites, but I made an exception for A Confederacy of Dunces. I dumped my standard attempts to disagree without being disagreeable and just laid into it as briefly and explicitly as I could, letting all who were interested know of my caustic hatred for this book. Little did I know what I was doing when I wrote that simple paragraph.

My extreme dislike for the book expressed itself in an interestingly accurate mimicry of Ignatius Reilly. That wasn't my intent at all and it took a few years and a few comments for me to realize what I had done. My opinion of the book hasn't changed, but now I am amazed by what I wrote and how the book affected me so much that I took enough from it to produce a fleeting bit of parody that is probably better than anything I've ever written.