Point of View: The Collaborator, Artist, and Individuality

First off, don’t read this if you want to regain your own point of view, because you may actually become happy from it!

There are a few things that can be peculiar about Hollywood and its ways, and that is of two things: Admiration and a solid personality.

Hollywood is a business, a machine that moves with expediency based on numbers, trends and products.

Personality… let’s explore this. There are several “gentlemen” that frequent the gym that I go to. They are all in their 80’s and seem to be enjoying their lives. Of these gentlemen, Red, seems to be the patriarch of this cabal as I used to call it. He used to be a front man, a hotelier, for the Mob in Vegas in the early 60’s and of all the stories he tells me, none of which are concerning their Italian counterparts.

However, he doesn’t disappoint, as he tells me these great stories of the past. And frankly, they all could be B.S., but I’m thoroughly entertained. When I haven’t seen Red for a couple of weeks I make it a point to find him and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is “I wanted to make sure you were still alive”. He always replies with a smile and says “Oren” from Lawrence of Arabia.

The next in this motley lot is…well; we’ll call him Ruby. Ruby IS the quintessential dirty old man, indeed. He is also ex-Hitler youth that escaped Germany and landed in Wisconsin of all places and who became wealthy from patents.

Barry, ex-Red Beret, and is about subtle as a butcher about to take care of business in the back. For people not in the know, Red Beret was an elite military branch for their toughness and getting the job done back in the day. Personally, I think this guy lives in a Kirk Douglas, John Wayne movie, and is equally entertaining.

Lately, Barry has been vying for the top dog…in vulgarity and it’s a pretty seasoned group.

This is where I begin…

Over the decades these band of retired pirates went through a depression, a couple of wars, the 60’s and a few costly wives. Life told them to behave a certain way. They are so old that they are relics and as far as I’m concerned are national treasures!

Red’s family was poor, some went to school, some didn’t; and if I recall correctly a brother died due to unfortunate circumstances in the Depression. He tells me about hitch-hiking on mail carrier(s) planes to the Alaska (it wasn’t even a state yet), and to school and to the Santa Monica pier… by way of Crenshaw, as most of the roads were dirt back then. The first house incidentally, south of the pier; was owned by Cary Grant. Red would hop over the fence to swim in his pool. One day he was just about to jump over, and low and behold, there was Cary Grant kissing another man.

Ruby was in Germany during the late 30’s where Hitler’s war machine was picking up speed. I’m sure he saw the horrors to the point where he left what was remaining of his family.

The other fellow, Barry, since he was Special Forces, I’m willing to bet he saw some action.

They have seen a lot of life, and death, as a result. When we engage in conversation there are no subtleties, but we do communicate with each other without really worrying about hurting each other’s feelings, but in such a fashion that we understand each other. At least I think so.

A highlight for them is going to the local nail salon, so they can get their toenails cut. They are far from being dangerous anymore…

Speaking of dangerous, each year the APA (American Psychiatry Association) “discovers” new diseases. They total now to 374 diseases! Some of which I’ve included here: reading disorder, disruptive behavior disorder, disorder of written expression, caffeine intoxication disorder, nicotine withdrawal disorder, to name a few.

Reading disorder: my 2nd grade teacher told me I couldn’t use a dictionary and this was “reaffirmed” with a meter stick. Damn metric system!

Disruptive Behavior Disorder: Umm. Sugar?

Disorder of written expression: Somebody writes like Hunter S. Thompson while inebriated, but the teacher is a fan of Robert Frost. Bad combo.

Caffeine intoxication disorder: Those are the people waiting at Starbucks every morning. And they are in the millions…

Nicotine withdrawal disorder: Look above, but these people go to Dunkin donuts instead.

My hunch is that these are the people behind political correctness and the media are the perpetuators of it, molding our daily lives with the written word and they’ve gotten us to fight amongst each other. Make no mistake; creating such “disorders” can make lots of profit.

If an athlete or celebrity says an inappropriate comment it’s all over the news. If it’s your work colleague at the local work place…well, he’s an asshole. And that’s that. One is in the public eye, the other is not; and popularity, importance in relation to rank, wealth and society determines his or hers fate.

We are all different. We operate and function differently in generations, educations, locales, countries, ethics/morals, which are cultivated into customs, etc.

And these are the very things that create individuality.

Manners, professionalism, common courtesy, do unto others as you would have them do, etc.…are all modes of operating and are most certainly different from each other.

I have lots of friends of different denominations – Christian’s, Buddhist’s, Scientologist’s, some that follow the Book of Tao and a couple who practice the (1) Vedic Hymns… and a few heathen’s too, as far as I’m concerned, and they all have a viewpoint.

I see their viewpoints in their actions mostly whether it’s a creative medium or their everyday life of interacting with people, which speaks a lot louder than any improper word.

Conversely, for the first few months when I arrived in L.A., I would help people on the side of the road/freeway.

One day a friend of mine was in the car with me and I said that was going to pull over and help this person. He looked at me as if an Alien was coming out of my face! And the language, oh my, those were some cultural nomenclature I hadn’t heard before. Obviously, there were some differences in viewpoints there.

When I arrived in the States, I tutored kids in Compton for six months. They had their own language and customs that I wasn’t really aware of. However, I was treated with respect, referred to as sir, people opened the door for me etc.…and I’m sure these are not the things you think about when you think about Compton.

A friend of mine said that they were nice to you because they thought you were packing! I didn’t even know what that meant. Different environments have experiences attached to them.

I grew up in a little small blue-collar town where Hockey and Chevys reigned. However, my parents were immigrants and my father was a rally driver, frogman (2), and inventor and was instrumental in bringing robotic arms to GM back in the late 80’s. The smartest man I never knew. My mother was a lover of all art forms, Caruso, Edith Piaf, Flamenco/Bolero, and Antiques etc. And since they came from a tropical place there were always plants and flowers around the house.

These constant interactions eventually have an impact and influence you, one way or another. And your surroundings will influence you too.

If I was to bring these things up at school, well, I would get my head kicked in as they said…that was the nomenclature for beat the shit out of someone or the proverbial and ubiquitous Canadian saying “ You wanna go, eh?” When I left home…we had the 2nd highest murder rate in Canada.

I was very fortunate though as I had traveled extensively and saw that there are a lot of different things and people and what they had to offer in terms of ideas, personalities, and points of views.

Nowadays, in this current scheme of “living” where branding, marketing and social media reign supreme dictate how we think, breathe and sleep.

In the early 60’s the average American saw or experienced 300 pieces of advertising. Now, were in the range 3,000-4,000 advertisements per day!

Do you think that would have an accumulative affect on you… over the years? It seems that if it doesn’t have an “I” on it or a “like” …you are pretty much fucked!

Let’s take a look at this thing more closely…a point of view.

The Beatles at the pinnacle of their career and musical prowess took on a persona by creating these characters, as an alter ego, so as to create the music for Sergeant Pepper’s lonely heart club band.

David Bowie did a similar thing with Ziggy Stardust. A quote from Wikipedia: “Ziggy is the human manifestation of an alien being who is attempting to present humanity with a message of hope.” Deep shit.

David Bowie has been considered by some as the most influential artist of all time.

Essentially, they created a character(s) to allow the character to create the music. Their alter ego was instrumental and the source of creating the music. I thought this was fascinating.

Woody Allen was able to write from the women’s point of view and created a new genre: The romantic comedy. He essentially created and mastered this genre.

Woody is a huge Clarinet player and I suspect his understanding of beats and rhythm have given him the tools for comedic timing, story telling and editing.

I came across this body of research some years ago. This fellow was researching the effects of LSD by studying Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, if I recall correctly, on it’s affects on the mind. As acid changed music in the 60’s…what do you think is currently affecting the Arts or Society?

There are certain things that can influence you and some of the books that did such for me, were:

-Huck Finn – Mark Twain (This is Bourne circa 1884, but with kids, in the South and very low budget)

-Last of the breed – Louis L’Amour (Tom Cruise was considered, but the movie never got made)

-The ten who dared – Desmond Wilcox (These are Bourne from different time periods, International settings, and wore funny clothes)

-Animal Farm – George Orwell (Disney PG-13 meets the Matrix, old school)

-Art of War – Sun Tsu (I never lost playing the game of Risk afterwards. Chess is another story.)

John Huston’s “The Man who would be King” should be a requisite for any young person and part of any school curriculum. Starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer in which they were all on top of their game.

At the very least, hopefully, you will see the idea of the spirit of play with regard to life. In all my studies, I am quite convinced that Mr. Huston understood life.

Here’s an interview he did in 1965. I thought it was profound:

http://cinearchive.org/post/50595407615/how-i-make-films-interview-with-john-huston-film

The last time I was in Northern California I came across another place where Mark Twain resided and it dawned on me that Twain, Steinbeck, Adams and Kerouac, held these places that I frequent, very dear. These places are truly little slices of heaven.

Back in the day, before this thing called the TV existed, they would frequent establishments in town usually not far away and where men were coming from the mountains or ocean, the wild/elements, and in my eyes, were the cinema of life…and they wrote about it.

The stories whether real or not, I’m sure, were entertaining, as reality seems to be wilder than fiction.

Another influence: the local museums, which I frequent various art pieces for their qualities. The shimmering lights of Monet’s work, Van Gogh in his exemplary work with depth, Modigliani with simplicity, Pollack in his ways, Rembrandt developing texture on his later works, Degas, essentially throwing out the rule of thirds (3) and who was a major influence on Sergio Leone/Spaghetti westerns and turning a cowboy to a gun slinger in an ultimate fashion, just with some compositional and framing changes.

The artist that I’m still working on is Picasso. He too went through many decades, art periods, and as a result created unique work

I always let the piece speak for itself, since if it is good enough, its soul will speak to you. However, it wasn’t until I had studied his background more intently, that it started to make more sense.

Back in the day the director would tell the DP (Director of Photography) to go to the museum to study a specific piece and spend hours looking at it. Studying the source of light, the quality of it, the mood, etc. And that in turn would get into the movie, eventually.

So does that mean the piece’s overall mood, could be the point of the view of the artist who created the piece? … Or it could be the director’s point view, because after all it was he or she that told the DP to look at the piece? What about the DP’s work, as he transferred that mood onto a new medium with HIS choices and viewpoints?

Watch anything with the D.P. Caleb Deschanel did with the sound off and you will know what’s going on the movie/story.

And let’s not forget the producer will always have a say.

Being a producer is no easy feat. I spent the last year around producers, which was great insight into their world as to what is really happening. It’s a whole different animal as you have deal with ALL the personalities up and down the food chain…and they vary greatly. Further, the games that they are playing, at higher levels, is usually not seen or known by different departments or smaller cogs in the wheel, so to speak. Recently, I did a small production myself and producing feels like playing chess while on fire! Unless you are James Cameron and shout at the producers to get the fuck off the set because your movies make a billion dollar a piece! Or maybe, as I was taught, by an old school, originalHollywood man, Larry Parker and that was “you take care of the person above, and the person below, and everything works itself out.” Each has their viewpoints and influences.

Further, from another Hollywood perspective, a friend of mine Rick Pearson who edits for Paul Greengrass. You have seen his work in Bourne Supremacy, Iron Man 2 and Safe House starring Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington and what I saw was something I hadn’t seen before. A car chase where I couldn’t predict what was going to happen! What Pearson had done was to create the car chase from Ryan Reynold’s character, who was a novice in relation to Washington’s character. And as result, all edits were reactionary as he was “trying” to contain Denzel who was always one or two steps ahead of him. Fascinating.

And just like those old farts I spoke of earlier…they have their own point of view and more than likely they are not going to change at this point. Who am I to tell them what to say, think or feel?

Sometimes when I’m talking to someone…in my head, I see two badass cars in a car chase…and they see a unicorn that turns into a transformer!

Perspective differences?

Some years ago, my Grade 6 teacher, Mr. Goodford was anything but good to myself and more so to my classmate, James O’Toole whom would get the “crack” at least twice a week.

Goodford had a particular disciplinary skill, cracking, as he would call it. His technique was a loose fist, and he would protrude his middle finger, so as to have one knuckle sticking out and would hit you right between your eyes and inch or so above on the forehead. It would sting more than it would hurt and make your eyes swell and if you cried he would make fun it, which was inevitable, and he knew it.

I realized years later that Mr. Goodford was part of the Uganda refugees who had escaped Adi Amin’s genocide. There were hundreds that were granted asylum in Canada from the massacres. Obviously, his bad experiences had accumulated for the worse. I’m willing to bet, eventually, he received a good ol’ fashion Scottish handshake by someone who was his height. Prick.

Some years ago the combination of doing Search & Rescue, Heli-logging and studying Native American mythology/tracking gave me the eyes to see and feel the land. The wind, clouds, leaves colors, soil texture/impact, sound of the birds…all tell a story and is much more accurate than most modern devices, as nature has been around a lot a longer. The ability to observe is almost gone.

Books, people and training, attained this viewpoint. However, this diminishes if I don’t continually spend time out in the bush.

I sometimes feel bad using my smartphone as it dulls/weakens my senses as it feels like I’m donning on Darth Vader’s helmet and seeing with synthetic eyes…

Language and the written word is a big part of it too. During the Inquisition time the idea of Alchemy was understood to be a way turning elements into other forms, namely coal into diamonds. It was considered so for many centuries, when in fact, it was a language with symbols to communicate to others so as to not get caught or burned at the stake for being a heretic.

Rupert Murdoch has been challenging the CRTC (Canadian Radio Telecommunication Commission) on the percentage of the truth of what can be aired in Canada. Words, imagery and sensationalism can create a not so good effect on people.

Try not reading or watching the news for two weeks and then get back into it. It’ll be a bit of a rude awakening.

Never underestimate what words can do, for good or evil. Only you can give them power. Admiration can be a very useful tool, a vehicle, if you will, to overcome and engage into interesting worlds.

If you ever come across a strong personality this is a useful approach when the person is a meanie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y9aKqawdUQ

This was done so the little boy wouldn’t feel so bad with the current circumstances.

A favorite quote of mine from Kerouac: “Be in love with life. Every minute of it.”

Unfortunately, Kerouac didn’t take his own advice as he loved the bottle more than life, but certainly you can take a different approach to life by way of other peoples viewpoints, wrong or right.

Viewpoints, in my eyes, are the catalyst to collaboration. Create!

Be the best you can be…and just do it!

Lawrence

1) Vedic Hymns from Wikipedia: The Vedas (Sanskrit véda, “knowledge”) are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.

2) A military branch for conducting missions on water. It later developed to something like the current Navy Seals.

3) Rule of thirds: http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds/

4) A style of modern art in which an object or person is shown as a set of geometric shapes and as if seen from many different angles at the same time.