Alter Nation And The Rise Of The Fractured Self

>So it must have been sometime last week when I was driving down the freeway and heard Christian Slaters familiar pipes telling me how great it was to buy a used car online. I’d heard this commercial hundreds of times before, but this time, I thought more about Slater in the context of Hollywood stars as compromised selves, split personalities that do the mytho-poetice bidding of meme agents with little resistance.

The compartmentalizing of self is actually one of the unique qualities that many actors share, to be able set one personality aside in the corner oftheir mind and then occupy some other created self. There was no better example than Peter Sellers, who in his autobiography would often claim that he as a personality didn’t even exist and that his characters allowed him to live his life through them.

This type of sectionalizing the self is one of the cornerstone techniques of mind control and allows certain people to carry on two or more separate realities at the same time. There are some examples of this that slip through the surface cracks of Hollyweird. Chuck Barris was adamant that he was an assasin as well as a game show host. Stephen Stills would often brag that he was an elite soldier in Vietnam and Phil Ochs, in the depth of his break from reality exclaimed that he was an agent that was a killer for hire as well as a voice of protest. These schisms in the psyche are not uncommon in the entertainment industry as I will illustrate shortly. Not only is the condition more common than what one might think, but the entertainment industry as an arm of the espionage world goes back to the 30’s and perhaps beyond. It recently came to light that Julia Child and Harry Houdini were a spies during WWII. It is also fairly common knowledge that Errol Flynn was also a spy hanging out the like of Ian Flemming (purported to be a MI 6 asset) and of all people, L. Ron Hubbard, who used Scientology and the auditing processs to extort info from well connected and often highly placed government officials.

As I began to think about the connection between the intelligence agencies and Hoillywood, triggered by Slater’s voice on the commercial, I wondered where Slater was in all of this? I wondered if the sociopath that he seemed very comfortable to portraying Clarence “I see dead Elvis” Worley in True Romance. Ironically Presley once approached Nixon about becoming a member of The DEA. He was also the psycho-boyfriend of Winona Ryder in Heathers, cold bloodedly executing the deaths of snotty clique chicks. Lastly, he even played the little brother of an arms dealer in Kuffs, who forcefully takes over the family business. So it seems as though Slater’s cinematic resume has all of the crucial components that has led him to his latest and perhaps most revealing role as he stars in a new series on NBC titled “My Own Worst Enemy.” Now get this; He plays a Edward/Henry a character who is a loving and well adjusted father by day and a stone cold killer for hire by night and, they aren’t even aware of one another. So in the span of roughly 24 hours, from my hearing his commercial, ruminating on his past, the whole concept of actor/asset/spy and how Slater might fit into this twisted paradigm, voila, he deilvers.

The concept of these various selves shut off from one another is nothing new in Hollywood, The Manchurian Candidate, Fight Club, Bourne Conspiracy are all films that have protagonists with dual and disconnected personalities. The Matrix and Usual Suspects have characters that also have dual personalities however, they are in rapport with another. I could go on and on, but let’s just say that dressed up schizophrenia is good for characters and plot devices, perhaps even better as a model for the new social self.

Let’s move onto the next character in this Janus-like deconstruction

Continue reading “Alter Nation And The Rise Of The Fractured Self”

The Joys Of Roller Girls, Community & Saturday Nights

Lest you all think that I am merely a crypto-crumudgeon, hell bent on going deeper into the rabbit hole with each passing day.  It will shock and amaze you to know that I actually have a lighter side, one that seeks out and experiences new joys and old past times.  And so it was, just two weeks ago when my son and I hoofed it down to Santa Cruz to hang with The Captain and take in The Santa Cruz Roller Girls.

The “SCRG” as they are known by their fans are a team of valkyries on wheels–part of a women’s roller derby league in The Bay Area.  I found out about them when I was hanging with Lex from Survivor at The Thievery show.  His wife skates for them.

So we met The Capt for burgers at the legendary Jacks, just around the corner from The Santa Cruz Civic.

Fueled up on beefy carbs, we hit the arena.  I was struck by how un-slick everything was.  There was no banked track, just a marked off oval with a center, filled with chairs for both teams to sit.  The place was filled to the ceiling with friends, family and just plain derby nuts.  There were no corporate sponsors and snacks were all priced under five dollars.

This was a throwback night in more ways than one.

The Civic Center roared and bellowed as the likes of “Heather Headlocklear” and “Candy Darling” buzzed and crashed into heaps of elbows and hair, bodies sliding across the slippery gym floor into the grandstand walls.

I felt like it was 1970 all over again–but with a decidedly modern twist as a DJ spun old school punk before and during half time. The announcers were pretty PC and were more invested in educating the crowd than whipping them into a frenzy. If there’s one thing this smart little event missed, it was the theatrics from the good old days. They could invest in a little more drama next year.

The entire production was an affirmation of what we like about community, high-level amateur athletics, and hot chicks in spandex shorts getting physical. Oh yeah, The SCRG got pantsed by The Oakland Outlaws in a rout. But who cares? At the end of the night it was high camp theater and feel good vibes at it’s finest.

Is Tibet A Red Herring?

hello dalai

Three years ago I had the great privilege of getting a behind-the-scenes look at The Dalai Lama’s visit to Stanford.  My good friend and occasional client, Stephen Kent was playing at Stanford, opening for The Dalai Lama at two events; the large gathering for mostly students at Maples Pavillion and the other at a church on campus.  Stephen was in great form as he wowed the Maples crowd of 10,000 with subtle and meditative drones, setting the tone for the dharma talk of The Dalai Lama.  The “DL” was funny, insightful and clear, all of the things that one would expect from such an enlightened presence.

Later at the church, for a much smaller crowd, he did the same thing, however, the “DL” was more into giving a talk on geo-politics rather than the state of the soul.  He openly supported the “spread of democracy” in The Middle East, which I thought was a little strange, given that what was happening in Iraq was in many ways what had taken place in Tibet with his own people.  Sovereignty and culture was being compromised and ultimately obliterated in Iraq,  just as it had been in Tibet, so I was very surprised and slightly taken aback by his comments.

Then I began to look around and saw how much money and security follows the “DL.”  There were enough secret service agents and state department officials there for a president.  I have long since wondered, what is the true intent behind the “DL” and our relationship with him.

Fast forward to 2008, Summer Olympics, Beijing and the political back drop of course is all about Tibet and the crime of human rights being waged against The Tibetans in an occupied territory, and yet, very little gets mentioned about how the Chinese treat their own people, dissidents who don’t follow the system, wind up in forced labor camps, where their organs are harvested for sale on the open market.  These are fresh organs, from healthy hosts.  I won’t go into great detail here, but keep in mind that the use of anesthetics compromises the function of organs and does not allow them to be extracted and transported in an ideal state.  Do you get the picture? Continue reading “Is Tibet A Red Herring?”

Hi I’m WALL-E And I’m A Depopulation Meme


About three weeks ago, my son and I set out for a afternoon matinee of WALL-E and our expectations were undoubdtedly high. We love Pixar, well let’s just say we love Pixar up to Cars. I’m not sure what the target audience for Ratatoulie was–maybe foodies with rodent fetishes? I’m just not quite sure. Anyway, I was hoping that WALL-E was going to bring more charm and less smarm than “Rat Stew.” We also live near Pixar so the signs for WALL-E were up here months prior to the release. When it was released, the reviews were glowing, heaping praise upon it’s wit and charm, a sweet satire, love story and loving cautionary tale. Sounded good.Once we settled in, I kept waiting for the movie to take off and display some of the intelligence and verve that has always been a Pixar stock in trade. Now that’s not to say that there weren’t in-jokes and subtle asides like the fact that WALL-E has a cokcroach for a pet and that he and the cockroach are kind of like a cross between I Am Legend and trash compactor on wheels, you see they’re the only ones left on a planet abandoned by humans who had turned it into a trash heap. The humans (probably because there was way too many) had run out of places to dump their garbage, so off to the stars they went and LEFT BEHIND were trash compacting droids that looked suspiciously like R2D2 meets the Huey/Dewey/Louie droids from Silent Running another film about the missuse of resources and eco crisis.

WALL-E dutifully collects and compacts trash and somewhere along the way develops emotions, likes to watch old musicals and longs for companionship. There’s an ominous and dark presence that inhabits the film despite WALL-E’s sweetness and the little in-jokes. Hard questions have no answers like, “how could humans let it get this bad?” and “did the entire planet, the whole 3 bills take to the stars?” None of these questions are answered. Instead, a sleek and deadly fembot named “Eva” lands in search of some elusive object. WALL-E and the roach befriend her, even though WALL-E is basically the Maytag repairman to Eva’s Le Femme Nikita. The two strike up a little robot romance (after Eva puts WALL-E through the paces–of course) and then “Eva” finds what she’s looking for–a small plant that WALL-E has already found and is keeping alive in a dirt filled boot. This is the first and only vegetation that is seen throughout the entire film, until the very end. Continue reading “Hi I’m WALL-E And I’m A Depopulation Meme”