Grayson Capps [Interview]

Grayson Capps by Chad Edwards 8
Way back in the summer of 2006, I found myself sweating day and night under the desert sun and/or blackened sky listening to some absolutely beautiful music.  Specifically I was listening to the original motion picture soundtrack for the highly underrated film, A Love Song For Bobby Long.  There were obvious highlights like works from acclaimed groups like Nada Surf and Los Lobos, which were phenomenal.  There was also the inclusion of the absolutely stunning Trespassers William track “Different Stars”, which we have lauded here time and time again.  But, what struck me the finest was one man in particular.  A man with a rusty voice and a powerful sentiment.  The one and only Grayson Capps, who at that point I had never heard of, and who since has become a staple in my musical musings.
Grayson Capps contributed three of the most beautiful songs to the soundtrack, and is actually the largest influence to the book in which the film was based upon (originally titled Off Magazine Street)with his stunning tale of a saddened yet righteous man by the same title of the film.  He lent his scratchy and soulful lyrics the contrasting wholesomely beautiful voice of Theresa Andersson on “Lorraine’s Song”, and absolutely killed it on his own original track “Washboard Lisa”, which still remains as one of the greatest examples of modern Southern blues released to date.  And I have continued to be a fan even up to his latest release, 2011’s The Lost Cause Ministrels, a terrific album that proves that Grayson can stand the test of time.  But, I wanted to learn a little bit more about Mr. Capps, so it was great to have him agree to share a few words with Trainwreck’d and you the fine readers.  Enjoy!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a singer/songwriter for a living? Was music a big part of your upbringing?
I still haven’t realized that yet, it’s just what’s happening.  I don’t have time for much else, but I love what I do.  Music has always been a part of my life.  My old man, had a wide spectrum of vinyl always playing, always available. That was a big influence from an early age.
Your father is the man behind the pen of Off Magazine Street, in which the film A Love Song For Bobby Long is based upon. You have three tracks featured in the film, and you actually appear in the film, as well. Did you develop these songs for the film, or where they inspired by your father’s writing? Either way, what was it like developing tracks for your father’s work?
These songs existed before the film, separate from the book, but talking about the same people and the same subjects. They were key in giving the movie an identity. The movie was named after my song “A Love Song For Bobby Long.”
What was your final opinion of the film adaptation of Off Magazine Street, as well as, what I consider, one of the last great film soundtracks to come out in a very long time?
The film adaptation of the book was very Hollywoodized.  Romance had nothing to do with the original story.  It was rather disappointing watching what goes on with soulless, rich, entertainment folks. But in the end I enjoyed the final film.
 Grayson Capps3
Your fifth release, The Lost Cause Minstrels, is absolutely something special. I can’t truly put my finger on it, so I shall ask, what is the major difference between this album and your works past?
Different songs, different subjects, different movement through time and space. The album was started while I was still living up in Nashville, but completed after I moved back down to South Alabama close to where I was raised. It was also the first record with my current band, also called The Lost Cause Minstrels. They all brought a big part of themselves to the songs, as well.
For those of us who would have absolutely no damn clue whatsoever, can you tell us the difference between New Orleans Mardi Gras and Mobile Mardi Gras, a theme seen displayed in your latest album? 
Mobile’s Baptist; New Orleans is Catholic ….makes all the difference in the world.
What sort of impact has your surroundings in the Southern States had on your work?
Being from the south is what I know, so I guess it’s had a huge impact.  Where you’re from is where you’re from, but finding yourself is the road home.
I spent sometime in the Southern Mississippi area a while ago, and I spent a whole lot of time at the legendary BBQ joint The Shed, in which you have written a track about a strange character who inhibited the joint. Where did you come up with this story? Or at the very least, what inspired you to write a song about The Shed?
The song is about Mr. Jim who you will find down at The Shed. it’s a simple story about a real charming man. I felt he needed to be immortalized in a song.
I noticed you will be doing a few spots in the Netherlands and Germany in 2013. How receptive do you feel audiences are to Southern inspired bluesmanship in other countries, and throughout other regions of the United States?
Grayson Capps2People respond to the truth, no matter what kind of music it is….whether it’s southern, northern, polka-western, raga-eastern.
While The Lost Cause Minstrels is probably still fresh in many listener’s mind, can we expect something new in 2013. I can only imagine you have a plethera of tracks in your songbook. If we will hear something new, what can we expect? 
It’s always something new for me, but I suppose that will determined by the ears of the beholder ultimately. But I’m writing, though no hard plans to record just yet.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
My son this morning, very excited about going to school.

Lady .38 Premiere [Film]

Lady .38Portland independent film company, Sound Skript Entertainment is proud to announce their first public premiere of the short film, Lady .38, on March 26th, 2013 at Curious Comedy Theater. A 1940s film noir filmed entirely in Portland and Vancouver is an ambitious endeavor for young filmmakers Philip Delorenzo and Alyssa Roehrenbeck. The Lady .38 premiere will also include other local film talent, with pre­show screenings of several Portland short films including the teaser trailer for Tess The Inventor, The Funny Thing Is.

Lady .38 follows Veronica Dupree on her quest to find her place as a female detective in the 1940s. After spending years in an unnamed position for the U.S. military during World War II, Veronica Dupree returns home to start a new life as the only female detective in Grand Harbor City. Down to her last dollar, tonight’s the night Veronica puts it all on black. Ghosts from the

Day They Ran Out of Bullets, Bad Cop Bad Cop, an

past, muggers, and an enchanting heiress open and close doors as Veronica seeks to find a life outside the military.

Veronica stands her ground when she unexpectedly faces off with the two muggers in an alley on the way to meet her ex­beau, Eddie. The tension rises when underlying love, fear, and sadness takes over as Eddie chooses to side with Veronica’s family on the matter of lending her a helping hand. Almost defeated, a late­night incident at the office opens a can­of­worms never expected as the beautiful Angela Wickfield arrives just in time to save the day.

In a stunning new look at film noir, Sound Skript Entertainment reminds today’s viewers to take a step back to when even the most complicated situations seemed just a bit simpler. Even when you are a female detective in the 1940s.

Some girls get by on their looks…others don’t have to.

Lady .38 2
Photo Stills, Synopsis, and more on http://www.facebook.com/ladythirtyeight

To reserve tickets for the show, email alyssa@soundskript.com. All tickets will be held and paid for on the day of the show. Programming is expected to be one hour and tickets are $5 each. Reservations are recommended, limited seating is available.

About Sound Skript Entertainment
Founded by Philip De Lorenzo and Alyssa Roehrenbeck, Sound Skript Entertainment functions as both a content creation company servicing worldwide clients with SEO, blogging, music composition, and video content as well as a creative team, tackling narrative film scripts with local script writers and collaborative filmmakers. Lady .38 is written by Portland actor, John Branch, and Sound Skript Entertainment is excited to bring to life a script from a first­time writer. Other projects in the works for Sound Skript Entertainment include Mock Trials and Mad House. Mock Trials is a full length comedy feature film written by the witty and talented Nate Dern. Mad House is a comedy web series currently in pre­production. Mad House is put together with the collaborative efforts of Philip De Lorenzo, Alyssa Roehrenbeck, Zach Persson, and Peter De Lorenzo.

How Much Should We Tax Wealth? by Mike Phillips [Guest Wreckers]

Mike PhillipsThis is my problem with wealth.

Essentially, it’s easier for people who already have money to make more money, because when you have a lot of money, it makes more money for you without you having to do much of anything.

Here is an example I DON’T necessarily have a problem with.

Someone with a modest $500,000 sitting aside could presumably make $35,000 in “capital gains” during a decent year of investing.  The $35,000 would be taxed at 15%, ensuring $29,750 in pure profit.  Enough for many people to live off of.  It’s also more than most people make in a year who are showing up to work every day, punching a time clock, working overtime and working their asses off to make ends meet.

Is that 15% tax rate fair?  Maybe?  It’s an honest question to ask, and I wish people would discuss this as opposed to taking sides and having uninformed or poorly thought out opinions.

Now, when you imagine someone like Mitt Romney (or picture George Soros if you’re a republican) having capital gains of $42,000,000 during the past two years and paying 15% on that $42,000,000 – all generated through capital gains, ie, wealth creating wealth – you really have to wonder if that is fair.

15% of $42,000,000 is $6.3 million dollars.

That means “Mitt Soros” still has $35.7 million of pure profit after taxes.  That pure profit will be added to whatever heaping amount he already has, and next year it will make even more wealth, and more wealth the following year, and more wealth the year after that …. on and on and on.  Does $6.3 million in taxes even show up as a blip on his radar screen?  Doubtful.  So why are we pretending like 15% is a lot of money to pay for someone of his caliber, and why are poor/middle class people, many of whom are the very same suckling off Uncle Sams tentacle-like teets via food stamps, reduced rent, medicare, medicaid or other government programs – rushing to the defense of these ultra rich???  Seriously, what is your answer?  I honestly don’t get it.  Do the Mitt Romney and George Soros types need you to rush to their defense?

The surprising reality is that 15% hasn’t always been the capital gains tax rate.  Towards the end of WWI, for example, capital gains for top earners were taxed at a 73%.  Presumably this incredibly high rate was due to the fact that our country was at war and needed to pay for it somehow.  Conversely, we’ve been in two wars for much of the past ten years and have receivedtax cuts as opposed to tax increases.

Maybe shipping a bunch of horses and bayonets to France was more expensive than operating apache helicopters, nuclear subs, predator drones, aircraft carriers, jets, etc etc etc

Interestingly, Ronald Reagan thought these capital gains should be taxed at 28% for the top earners of our society.  Before his reform act in 1986 it was 50%.  I agree with Reagan though, 28% is not a bad idea for the ultra wealthy during peacetime.  But it isn’t peacetime in our country and we forget that because we’re so far removed from reality.

For anyone not paying attention, the Bush tax cuts are the real reason our country is F’d right now.  It has nothing to do with Obama and his policies.  It’s simply because we didn’t pay for two wars by raising taxes like we should have.  We sacrificed by going shopping and driving Hummers instead of tightening our belts.  By blaming Obama for the so-called fiscal nightmare (which has led to hundreds of thousands of government job cuts, which has f’d our economy even further) is just ignorant.  I know republicans want to be on the other side and oppose everything Obama does.  Fair enough.  But at a certain point it is your responsibility as a citizen of this country to take a look at the facts, instead of grandstanding with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.

Wealthy people, led by Paul Ryan types (like Mitt, also born into wealth), continue to declare that they are overtaxed.  Are they?  Paul Ryan even goes so far to say that capital gains taxes should be eliminated altogether.  Under the Ryan plan “Mitt Soros” would pay $0 in taxes on the $42,000,000 he earned for DOING NOTHING.

Here is another question worth considering, and I don’t have the answer.  Does this minimal tax on the wealthy make it harder for the rest of us to accumulate wealth when the rich are essentially shuffling money between themselves?

In America, liberals and conservatives, progressives and tea partiers, Greens and libertarians can all appreciate and respect hard work.  I am as liberal and progressive as the sky is blue.  However, when I left my job at Watershed last year, I made the conscious decision not to go on food stamps or collect unemployment because I felt that if I worked hard enough, I could scrape enough dollars together to get by.  I didn’t want taxpayers to give me a break when I didn’t need one.  Weird, huh?  Most conservatives don’t think liberals are capable of thinking like that.  But, I don’t think everyone has to go the route I did and I think food stamps and unemployment benefits should be available for everyone.

But my point is, conservatives don’t own the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality.  With their support of this ridiculous tax rate for the wealthy, they are demonstrating they’ve completely abandoned anything resembling this notion.

Why do so many conservatives believe that rich people should get a pass on hard work, just because they are already rich?  It’s insanity, and make no mistake, a 15% tax rate on wealth, especially during a time of war, is a pass on hard work and a pass on the responsibility that comes with being wealthy.  It’s welfare for the rich.  It’s unnecessary.  During previous wars the wealthy have stepped up, and it sure as sh*t didn’t cripple them.  If you think 15% is fair for millionaires, then you’re a huge proponent for the most f***ed up welfare program that I have ever heard of, and I am going to fight this, figuratively speaking of course.

The story that inspired this diatribe:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/08/19/159153144/ryans-taxes-show-gap-between-romney-and-the-not-so-rich?sc=fb&cc=fp

“A major — although, perhaps not widely understood — result of the 2003 tax cuts was to lower the maximum tax rate on capital gains and qualified dividends to 15 percent. This category makes up the lion’s share of income for the richest Americans.”

Tax Reform Acts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_Reform_Act

More:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/business/investment-income-hasnt-always-had-tax-advantages.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1

 

Mike Phillips is a mad genius and entrepeneur living in Portland, Oregon.  Once the bass player for the pop-punk phenomenon of a band known as The Young Immortals, he has evolved into the lead singer of the Portland Music Award nominated band The Fenbi International Superstars.  He is also the CEO of The Neo Com Group, a literary and performance arts marketing firm that represents the likes of Bill Carter, Todd Grimson, and more.  In 2011, Mike contributed an essay to the charity based book Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music.  You can enlist his services right here at The Neo Com Group.

I Was Jody by George Evanson [Guest Wreckers]

George EvansonI remember once being a very gentle and special little boy. That boy appeared long before my fifth birthday.  My family nickname was Jody. The story was that my brother could not say George and what he did say came out sounding like “Jody”.

The name Jody means more to me than just a nickname. Jody was a being distinct from George.  He was a light being who saw a good light shining out of everyone.  He loved and handed his heart to everyone fearlessly.

I had an aunt and uncle who took me for a ride one day and talked to me about the dangers of being “too nice”.  How really kindly, heart sharing souls often got tread on like that famous snake on the flag.  I can recall being confused as if I were being chastised for misbehavior.  I could not see what I had done wrong.

Jody had love for everyone. He had the “gift of cheerful heart”. I saw a good soul inside of everyone whatever their exterior.

I remember at about 8 or so reading a bunch about Hitler. My parents thought this weird but I wanted to find his light because at first glance it was quite dim.   In my reading I found out two things that gave a little glimmer.  He despised people who abused animals and he was vegetarian.  I felt a bit better. A totally dark soul was a challenge to Jody’s cellular belief system; no one was all dark or all evil. There was a good light shining out somewhere.

Jody had his own form of Namaste (The God/Goddess Spirit within me recognizes and honors the God/Goddess Spirit within you.) greeting. His less developed Namaste was “all our hearts are one”.

Fairly I can say that Jody was just born that way and that for years, life and my own doubts hacked at the Jody persona and told him to toughen up, get smart, let go of this naïve faith in the universal goodness and start being tough and cagy.

This set up an inner war that has played out over decades but I can truly say that living in my Jody self has brought me more satisfaction and more love connection than any other persona I’ve tried to manufacture.

When I did the second level attunement for Reiki some years ago I had a dream the same night that confirmed what Jody’s true gift was and is.

In a dream a rather ominous shrouded figure came to me and said he had a special Reiki symbol just for me.  He blew dark smoke in his hand and pressed it to my chest just to the left of my heart.  A deep orange circle appeared on my skin with a strange symbol inside.  It glowed and pulsed. I felt magic energy surge through me. It was terribly electrifying!

I was very excited. Perhaps I could cure cancer or heal the mentally ill? I asked this figure what the symbol was and he said, “It’s the gift of a cheerful heart”.  At that moment I was rather annoyed. I wanted a great power and I was getting “the gift of a cheerful heart”?

So little I know. This was the affirmation of my Jody nature and its true validity.  It was my great gift to my world for my whole life.

What are the components of transmitting a cheerful heart?  First your own heart has to be open and receptive without fear or concern. You need to believe in the essential heart oneness of everyone and fearlessly offer warmth and love to those you meet.

This requires understanding that heart energy/love is not a diminishing resource. The true essence of heart energy/love is that the more you offer the more you generate. So each time you give it out it comes back tenfold.  It’s a gift to others that become a gift to self.

It’s the plan that spirit programmed into our cells to bring us happiness and connection. When we cut ourselves off from this natural way of relating we feel lost and alone.

I have a reoccurring image of being in a very high tree house with the latter pulled up where no one can reach me and I can’t reach anyone.  Alone like that is unnatural and soul stifling.

It’s a reality for many souls and I have had a sad awareness of it since I was quite young. The old Brewer and Shipley tune that goes, “Your lost inside your houses, No time to find you now” really touched my heart place which seeks heart connection.

The second component that was given to me to transmit the gift of a cheerful heart is a quirky and irony-appreciative sense of humor. Virtually nothing happens to me or around me that does no evoke my humor maker.

When I had my left kidney removed because of cancer the nurse in the recovery room told me that in 25 years of this work  I was the first patient she’d had who woke up after five hours of  surgery and started make goofy jokes.  I explained it was my way of coping with life’s hard moments.

So here’s to all those hard situations and painful dramas that have haunted my life for you have been my humor teacher. The pain humor relationship is well known as is the tendency for fat people to have powerful humor skills usually of the self-deprecating variety.  So here’s to my big enamel buddy, the refrigerator which helped hone my comedic skills.

Spoke to a work friend of 30 years last night and she was telling me how many friends and coworkers I rescued from total despair with my ability to make the drama of day to day work insanity a funny parity that allowed us to laugh and take it a lot less seriously.

That is the primary mission of the humor gift God gave me; to take everything as it comes and see the ultimate unimportance of any of it when compared to our God given birthright of joy and loving connection.  It is a real blessing and a gift to see the funny in stupid and bureaucratic.

Struggling against stupidity is like a Chinese finger puzzle: the more you struggle the more you are stuck. But with ironic and sometimes black humor you can just laugh and laugh at the absurdity of it all and get over it without struggle.

In the Hindu tradition the middle point of life for most is the role of “householder”. This is the time where primary focus is home and family. After this period many Hindu’s leave the worldly life to seek a more spiritual path.

My spiritual path is back to an unencumbered Jody, without fear or cynicism. Just a loving heart greeting other hearts and inviting connection: this will be a good way to do my later years.

 

***

Who is George Evanson?

I was born in 1945 in Boston MA and grew up in Allentown PA. I moved to CT when I was 17 and lived their for 35 years. I have lived for the past 15 years in one of the most eccentric towns in America, Truth or Consequences NM. I made my living for many years working for the Labor Department in CT paying unemployment claims, finding people jobs and later teaching employees how to use computers. For the past 20 years I have had my own computer support business. I am married to Wendy Sager-Evanson who is an RN, LMT and a Certified Yoga Instructor. We are polar opposites. She is active and physical. I prefer smoke filled rooms. I am a avid music fan and love almost everything but opera. My dad sang opera and would throw out my Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis records. He called it “jungle music”….I dabble in Slam Poetry and am writing a meandering memoir of an ordinary life that shows we all have extraordinary moments….At Wendy’s Yoga studio I host a free form dance party every Monday night….I make a wildly different music mix each week and we dance until we drop. Dancing is probably an over statement but I like the Mohawk expression, “A bad dance cannot hurt the earth”….so we jump around, sweat and laugh our asses off…I have people in their 20’s and people in their 70’s….With music, laughter and dance their is no fucking generation gap….the older folks didn’t like my Maclkemore so much or Blue Scholars very much but they were game to move with it….The youngsters stayed right with me when I played Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and Fats Domino. The “kids” didn’t know who Rickie Lee Jones is but seems to like the music o.k.

The “Them” Wall by John Whipple [Guest Wreckers]

John WhippleWe take those we have no use for… those we have no tolerance for… and toss them over the wall that separates them from our hearts and minds. We call this wall “Them”. Behind the wall we can no longer see who They are and that is just how we like it.

“Them” is the pronoun of tragedy. After all, it’s us versus them.

A soldier does not aim his rifle at a father, husband or son. He aims at one of them. The gay soldier that appeared at that Republican debate was booed for being one of them: gay. Forget that he is a soldier and a mother’s son and so much more. He is one of them. The undocumented worker is not a poor woman trying to feed her family. She is one of them.  The occupier is a leftist hippie: One of them. The Tea Partier is a bigot: One of them. The politician is corrupt: One of them. The rich man is greedy: One of them. The poor man is lazy: One of them. Obama is a Muslim Kenyan Socialist:

Them Them Them.

It is so much easier to toss our enemies over the Them Wall. Then, we don’t have to listen to their arguments. All they do is lie. He is just a “libtard”, “racist” or a “corporate shill”. This is how we talk to each other. Oh wait, I’m sorry. This is how we talk at each other. We don’t talk to each other.

Not anymore.

Try to engage people in a political dialogue online. Unless you are in their preferred bubble, you will be tossed over the Them Wall. Suddenly, they are no longer arguing with you. They are arguing with a person who embodies everything they hate and calling that person “you”. Arguing with you is way too difficult. To do that they would have to respond to what you actually said. It is so much easier to break out that well rehearsed rant against “one of them”. By the end of the rant you will find yourself certain not only that the target of their rage is not you but this person, consisting entirely of a litany of negative stereotypes, does not exist at all.

This lack of genuine engagement is based on fear: a fear to confront the weaknesses in one’s own viewpoint. No one wants to be wrong so opposing arguments are shut out. No amount of evidence can convince a Birther of Obama’s citizenship. Anyone opposed to hardcore Truthers is dismissed as a “brainwashed”. This goes beyond the radical camps though. You will find a large crowd of “against” people but, even if they actually know what they are against (what the current tax policy is or what socialism actually means…) you are hard pressed to find out what they are for. Similarly, you will find staunch defenders completely unwilling to acknowledge any weaknesses (I mean, come on Mitt, bringing up the egregious increases in income equality is “the politics of envy”? Please!).

I do not believe in Them. I have traveled through the country and overseas. I have met thousands of people but I have never met “one of them”. That is not to say I do not have antagonists. There are certainly people I despise. There are some real monsters out there. I just don’t see them as Them.

There is only Us.

Goethe once said “There is no crime of which I deem myself incapable”. In this confession, he admits to his connection with all of mankind… even the worst of us. There are no angels or demons. We are darkness. We are light. We are human and it is in this way we should see each other. To turn an adversary into a cartoon character whether it is the “lazy hippie” protestor on one side or the scheming Mister Burns on the other is to engage with a wall. A protestor is not taking to the street because he doesn’t want to get a job and is “envious”. Neither is a member of the “one percent” scheming in dark rooms to exploit the masses. There are real differences in viewpoints that should be discussed but to assume that a person is driven by the lowest possible motivations is just infantile projection. A protestor is “working” to make the world better. A staunch defender of capitalism likely sees it as the best system for everyone and probably doesn’t relish in its downside.

Engaging each other by hurling insults over the Them Wall only entrenches us further into our very separate camps each holding shallow and impractical positions and makes any real progress in our society impossible. This country is a complicated place and if we are going to move forward we are going to have to learn to benefit from other people’s insights rather than block them out. To do this we are going to have to tear down the Them Wall and treat each other not as one of them but as one of us with whom we just happen to have a disagreement.

Besides making several under the underground hit albums, J.P. Whipple is also a not-famouspainter. He has authored several “too good to be published” works including an epic poem calledThe Toilet about an afterlife where souls are judge by Mother Earth. He has also started his own religion based on a prophet named Joel who preaches to the masses under the I-80 overpass. John does not wear shoes. In these tough times, it is necessary to cut out what is not necessary to save money. Not only does he save hundreds of dollars by not buying shoes but he finds it more difficult to blow money in bars as they usually throw him out for being barefoot before he can get a drink.  Learn more about John Whipple and what he does at his website.

Guns Kill People, But the People Who Have the Guns Matter by Matt Beat [Guest Wreckers]

07 Matt BeatLet me begin by writing that killing is wrong. The ultimate goal, in case you didn’t already know, is to preserve life. Therefore, the only time to kill is to defend life. The goal is to maximize life, and minimize death.

As a normal human being, I was extremely disturbed when I heard about the Connecticut elementary school massacre last Friday. As a teacher, it’s hard for me to imagine something like that happening at my school. When I first heard the news, I didn’t know whether to cry or to be sick. It’s about as evil as evil can get.

That said, 26 people are killed at one time, in one place, by one apparent psychopath, in a gruesome way, and all of sudden we need to debate about gun control. It’s as if children weren’t murdered by guns and bombs everyday already. All of this reactionary and scripted rhetoric always predictably follows mass media tragedy. It’s like gun control proponents have a pile of talking points hidden and waiting to be unleashed the next time a mass shooting taps into the emotions of the masses. (side note: maybe if the mass media didn’t cover such shootings the shootings might happen less?)

It is disturbing to me that people take notice that people are murdered only now that it is mostly young children. This is morally hazardous. Innocent children being murdered is disturbing, of course, but anyone being murdered is disturbing, for goodness sake. Killing of any sort is the most evil action humans are capable of doing. I am equally disturbed that a baby is killed as I am a 110-year-old is killed. Maybe that’s me. I guess I am a weird, normal, human being.

Nearly everyday in this country people of all ages are murdered. Simultaneously our President is dropping bombs everyday on suspected terrorists, though nearly every time they are dropped they are not hitting suspected terrorists, but civilians. Where is the outcry for that?

But anyone, it seems, can get a gun in this country. Sure, there are background checks, but often guns get in the hands of people anyway who haven’t had background checks. In fact, our own government has (accidentally?) given guns to both Mexican drug cartels and Al Qaeda. If people want guns, in a country with 300 million of them, they are usually going to find a way to get them.

Very few in this country want to ban guns from all civilians, but should we increase regulation? Very few in this country also do not want any form of gun control. In fact, even the NRA is even for some gun control.

I would say that psychopaths and sociopaths should not have guns. Again, many of them would still find ways to get guns. People who want to become police officers have extensive background checks that can last over a year before they are trusted to own a semi-automatic gun. It’s reasonable that background checks at least are thorough enough to determine if someone is mentally ill. Psychological evaluations, though longer and more expensive to conduct, would be a great investment to our nation’s security. Many of our country’s mass shooters did not have any criminal record nor an apparent sign they had mental illness. Oftentimes it is after the fact when detectives discover what was inside the shooter’s home that would have been signals to a mass shooting.  So I will be the first to say that background checks must be more thorough.

However, people absolutely must have guns to defend themselves. Have you ever heard of any mass shootings where someone already had a gun at the scene? Of course you haven’t. Have you ever heard of a mass shooting at a gun show? What about a police station? I hope you get the point. If every school had a police office with a gun planted in the front office of the school, school shootings would drop dramatically. Some of the safest neighborhoods in the country are ones where everyone in the neighborhood owns a gun. According to this website, the average number of people killed in mass shootings when stopped by police is 14.29, and the average number of people killed in a mass shooting when stopped by a civilian is 2.33.

Let me conclude with the main message I want to get across in this blog: guns kill people, but the people who have the guns matter. The overwhelming majority of human beings are good people. They are not psychopaths or sociopaths, although some such psychopaths and sociopaths somehow wind up in our government. They generally may be selfish, but, when push comes to shove, the do the right thing, no matter what their religious upbringing. I know it is easy in times like these to forget this. But I believe in humanity. Violence worldwide is going down.  Violent crime in this country is even going down overall.  People tend to forget the big picture.

The bigger issue at hand is the fact that we need to find out a way to treat psychopaths and sociopaths. My wife works with people who have mental illness, and based on her anecdotes I can tell you that a lot of people are sick, and they certainly aren’t born that way. Something in their upbringing, or some kind of trauma they experienced, caused them to get sick. Mental health clinics do not get much government money, and are usually the first things to be cut. My solution to gun violence, or really all violence? Take some of the hundreds of billions spent on our military (whose main purpose is to kill) and allocate it to help more people with mental illness. Take some more of that money and pay it to foster parents willing to take care of kids from broken homes. Do not let a human being own a gun unless they have been undergone a thorough psychological evaluation. Take care of the psychopaths before they ruin life for the rest of us.

Matt Beat is many things.  He is a father.  A middle school history teacher in Overland Park, Kansas.  And indie rokker as one half of the power duo known as Electric Needle Room.  His writing has appeared in the likes of the Kansas City Underground Examiner, and the charity based book about independent music, Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From The World of Independent Music.  Recently Matt has combined his love for american politics and history with his love for music with a collection of songs about all of the Presidents of United States of America, released annually on, you got it, President’s Day.  Vol. 1, 2, and 3 (45 tracks in all, get it?) of said albums are available on Bandcamp.  Matt and Electric Needle Room have also released a great short mockumentary entitled, Electric Needle Room is the 1,536th Best Band in the World, which you can watch HERE.  You can read more insight from Matt at The Beat Matt Blog, where this blog originally appeared on December 18th, 2012.

Patricia Richardson [Interview]

Patricia Richardson

For anyone who spent much of their evenings in the 90’s plopped down (probably on the ground) watching wholesome television sitcoms, the name Jill Taylor is synonymous with the idealisms of a perfect TV mom and wife on the hit sitcom Home Improvement.  It is a role that is still considered viable and extremely important in the world of situational comedy, even after the “boom” of the strong independent working woman (who probably lives in a big city).  But twenty years ago, it was all about Jill Taylor.  The boss woman in charge of the household I always wished actually had four walls, and I lived right next door to one of those walls.

And the power of Jill is owned almost entirely to the brilliant acting chops of the one and only Patricia Richardson.  And while she may be best remembered for being the wife who put up with the dim-witted but loving handyman portrayed by Tim Allen, her skills are undeniable, and she has proven as much even till this day.  But before Home Improvement even saw its last episode, Patricia stunned audiences in her role alongside Peter Fonda in Ulee’s Gold.  And when Home Improvement did indeed see its demise, Patricia jumped into the medical world on the strong running hit show Strong Medicine.  And she is showing no sign of slowing down. This is why we were so honored to get a few (lengthy!) words with the legend herself, Patricia Richardson.  Enjoy!

 

When playing a television mother for so many years, do you develop a sort of motherly attachment to the kids who play your family?

Yes you do develop an attachment , although they don’t need parental interference from set parents when they have a parent on the set with them at all times. Tim and I worried about appearing to have a “favorite” , or that interference problem, and we tried to avoid those pitfalls. But we did feel protective of them and enjoyed them tremendously as I think you can tell when you watch the outtakes. We tried to go to bat for them when they were renegotiating, when they needed more teachers or a space to play outside, ( my head got in the way of some thrown footballs a few times ).There was no place for them to burn off all of that boy energy except in the street outside the studio dodging the trucks and cars for a while. I don’t think people understand how hard it is for kids and their families who work on these shows. One parent has to be on the set at all times. That means they can’t have a paying job. That leaves the other parent to earn a living and deal with the other kids, if there is another parent. The family can’t live off the working child’s money. It is protected by law which is a really good thing. I once knew an actress whose parents stole all the money she made and ruined her credit while she worked as a child actress. So those laws are important. Anyway, the kids arrive at work way before everyone else and get into school. They might have to leave a test in the middle of it to come out and work/play with us, turn that on and off constantly and instantaneously all day long, and get right back into the school work on command. On the off weeks we have in sitcom land ,which are at least once a month, they go back to regular school where they are regarded the way all famous people are: as enviable Aliens. Yes, they are fortunate in so many ways, but when negotiating their salaries the studios say why should kids make much as journeymen actors? Well, they are not considering how hard they work, what it is costing them in terms of their young and fragile current and future personal lives, and what they contribute to the show. It is sometimes the same contribution if not more than the sometimes equally inexperienced adult actors they are working beside. The studio is also getting the parent at no pay. Anyway, you can tell by my overly long answer here that I did care about those kids, admired them and their families. I was really busy and hanging in there myself trying to work hard and raise my own three kids so there wasn’t time for much else. But they were amazing, fun, talented, smart boys, and have grown up to be wonderful men.

Patricia Richardson2Between Home and Improvement and Strong Medicine, you spent many years working in the same consistent environment. Is this a rewarding experience in a way? Do you prefer new sets, or consistent sets?

A thousand times yes , being on the same set is better. I’ve done long runs on plays too which can get tedious in a way that series work never becomes. But I believe actors do better, freer work when they feel safe and relaxed. Every set in every medium is a family. The longer the family gets to be together the more comfortable that environment becomes. The more relaxed you feel, the easier it is; everything flows. I have found and observed in other actors on my shows that being a guest on someone else’s show is hard. I’ve seen great actors really nervous working as a guest actor and felt the same way myself. Working on a movie only for a few days or a week can feel the same way. You don’t want to feel like the adopted child. Maybe it was a mistake? You should be sent back to the orphanage?

What was really great about Home Improvement and sometimes on Strong Medicine, also on The West Wing, was having the same directors. That is a super great A+ pay the good ones and keep them as long as you can if I were to produce good idea. The other one is this: at least one original co-creating producer should stay on the series until it ends. Look at most of the successful long running series and see how many still had one co-creator at the end. Only the creators care as much as the actors who are there until the end. Subsequent writers tend to come for the money and stay until they can get their own deals on their own babies. Creators care about their baby. If a creator abandons the baby only the actors are left to fight for the original vision of the creator on a daily basis and the baby they all loved . Very difficult position to put the actor in.

What sort of preparation did you do to perform the controversial role as Marilyn Monroe’s mother, Gladys Barker, in the mini series Blonde? What kind of research was involved?

I lived with a psychologist at the time who supplied me with a lot of material on different maladies. The trouble was it was difficult to assess what the diagnosis would be. In the book it appeared to be one thing, history says something else. History is somewhat unreliable as in those days psychiatry was less sophisticated and everyone sort of fell into a few convenient pools. Also do you pay attention to how it seems in the book or what history says? She seems to be low functioning Borderline or Bipolar in the book. By the time she gets hospitalized she would be heavily medicated. Marilyn was sexually molested , was Gladys? I found out about the job while traveling with my oldest son abroad and didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. I flew from Paris, to LA and on to Australia. I really loved doing that part. I was relieved when my partner’s psychiatrist friends were calling him after it was on the air and telling him that they thought I was really accurate at portraying the disorder I had chosen. That was very cool.

What did you find most interesting about Gladys Barker? What made you want to take on such a role?

All of the above applies to this question and also that I was always interested in Marilyn Monroe and didn’t know about her mother. I also was a fan of Joyce Carol Oates but hadn’t read Blonde. She came to speak at my kid’s school years later, after I did the mini-series. I thought about bringing the book and asking her to sign it. But I chickened out. I felt too shy to approach her.

Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming, and possibly controversy riddled, documentary Acceptable Limits, in which you are an executive producer for? How did you become involved and interested in such a subject?

I was always interested in Nuclear Energy , I have a relative who is a safety consultant in the Industry . So I have heard many stories and we’ve had many discussions about it over the last forty years. I ,in fact , have a charming picture of myself in a hard hat in front of a nuclear containment building being built back in the 70’s . This is clean energy in many respects – cleaner than coal if we can find a place to store it and a safe way to transport it. President Obama’s announcement of billions in federal funds for small, modular nuclear reactors shows us that nuclear- if executed cleanly and safely, can be more than beneficial to our country’s energy source.

I got involved with this film because my friend Cosmo Phiel needed money and I am interested in making more documentary films. I had already produced one with my friend Jodi Long , Long Story Short, which went to many Asian Film Festivals, won awards, is very entertaining and is on Netflix. This one is still a work in progress as time has gone by and the situation is evolving. After 2 years of countless interviews and hours upon hours of research , they have realized that this is a dynamic story that deserves to be told from multiple points of view. That is good storytelling. At this time they don’t feel that they have been able to represent certain key threads that they would like to tell in their story such as : the importance of clean , safe, nuclear for the future of energy production in our country, the role of NFS as the primary employer in Erwin, Tennessee where our story takes place and where a group of residents have been arguing against the 40 year license renewal of this local nuclear plant in operation since the 1960’s , the science of down blending HEU on this line ( It’s recycling basically ), or modern regulation by the NRC; what it is and how it prevents discharge/ contamination/ criticality. There were high levels of illness including cancer, as well as contamination in the food and water supply in Erwin. The activists pointed to tests by a University scientist from Arizona that showed trace amounts of enriched uranium and plutonium. A class action suit ensued and was later dismissed. The plant and its regulatory body point to a clean operating record since major improvements in the 1990’s and 2010. Closer examination shows that Eastern Tennessee has a long record of big industries coming in and releasing dyes and chemicals into the waterways. How can someone point the finger at one single company for releases that poignant if they’re considered to be within acceptable limits? Additional recent testing shows only trace amounts of enriched uranium. What is considered a safe amount of exposure? How are the acceptable limits set by the regulator, and what is the science those decisions are based on? This is what the film is exploring.

If you could star in a remake of any classic film from the golden age of cinema with a strong female lead, what would it be?

This is just a question I can’t answer. First of all , which golden age of cinema? LOL. My oldest son the Film Major and I had a whole discussion about this. He says now? He thinks it’s now. I disagree. I suggested the 70’s . He says oh that’s like 5 films. Then there’s the horror of doing a remake . Ugh. I am not a particularly confident person. Who wants to be compared to some brilliant person from THE GOLDEN AGE OF CINEMA. Whenever that was. And the idea that someone would let me star in any film at this point is so unlikely it makes me want to start whining a little.

CurePSPHow did you become involved with Cure PSP? How important is this organization to you?

My Dad died miserably over a long period of time of PSP, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. No it’s not a video game system. It is what they call an Atypical Parkinsonian Disease, because it looks like Parkinson’s without the tremor. He had that same frozen face with absolutely no expression, staring eyes, because they can’t look up or down, ( that is unique to PSP ), there are balance problems, they fall backwards a lot (another symptom unique to PSP) , their muscles spasm and become increasingly more frozen. I used to say Dad became “mummified” inside his body. We didn’t know how cognizant he was because he lost the ability to speak . He also had a lot of difficulty swallowing. The only way he could communicate was with a thumbs up or down. He had been a Navy Test Pilot , a fighter pilot who landed planes on aircraft carriers which he referred to as ” postage stamps”. That’s where the thumbs up and down came from . But really most of the time we had no idea what he was thinking or feeling. His laughing and crying sounded the same. He was hurt by a nurse at one point in the really nice, expensive nursing home where we had him despite the fact that we had a sitter in the room with him all day every day. They tried to cover it up, hid the injury even from his doctor , didn’t file an injury report which they have to do by law. We discovered after his death and the autopsy , which is the only way to confirm PSP, that he had been very cognitive , trapped inside of there for a few years, unable to move or communicate. He was misdiagnosed, as many PSP patients are, for many years . He probably had the disease for five years before it was identified correctly. The movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly nearly killed me; that was his story . I am unable to express how terrible this time was. My sisters and I didn’t know about CurePSP when we were struggling to take care of him long distance for those years. I wish we had it would have helped us so much. I learned about CurePSP towards the end and they asked me to become their National Spokesperson and then I joined the Board of Directors. The organization has grown a lot over the years , has done ground breaking research and really expanded their patient and caregiver outreach. We funded the research that found the gene that established that PSP is a tau protein disease, a ” taupathy “, like Alzheimer’s and Traumatic Brain Injury. These proteins spread in tangles around the brain killing brain cells. Other brain diseases have other kinds of protein spreading infectiously in similar ways. Many scientists are now calling them all “Prion Diseases”. The figures for how many people in this country alone that are dying of brain disease, the trillions of dollars that it will cost in the coming years around the world, are staggering. There are no cures yet. There are beginning to be some treatments that delay symptoms, but there needs to be more attention and resources paid to this. The baby boomer generation is headed toward these diseases and it will be a heartbreaking disaster. It already is. There are people getting PSP in their 50s, even in their 40’s although that is atypical.

A man named Stanley Prusiner at UCSF discovered and named Prions when he discovered the infectious protein that was causing Mad Cow Disease. He won a Nobel Prize back in the 90’s because it was the first time they realized that disease could spread by something other than bacteria or a virus, through DNA. We are now working on trying to find a way to stop tau- clear it, or stop it from growing in the first place. Do we need it? Is it necessary ? There is really exciting and interesting research going on. CurePSP is unique in that as a small organization we can give our investigators money directly, they don’t have to pay a portion of what they get to the institutions that house them, there is no time lapse. Our Scientific Advisors have been really smart about where to put the research money.

Patricia Richardson3What was the last thing that made you smile?

I recently got back to New York and found the Valentine one of my sons had made for me. That was sweet.

 

 

 

Where you as touched by Patricia’s tales of PSP and her part in the fight to cure it?  Find out how you can help out at the link below:

give.psp.org//LaurenceRichardson