Doing Good

April 16, 2018

Note: A few months ago, I fully intended to learn what I needed to learn so I could create a brand spanking new and beautiful website. But, as my Grandma Butler used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And so the new website went straight to hell. Things may change soon. I’ll keep you two updated. And I’ll be better about posting. I promise. For example, check this out.

Last week I had the honor of “adjudicating” young improv troupes at this year’s ISAS Festival, held at the Hockaday School. I’m not going to lie, some of the performances were pretty rough. But there’s was something they all had in common: this resilient optimism. They were all so gung ho about being there and doing the work.

I have no clue what an “adjudicator” does, so I shot straight with them. I told them, “You have boundless energy. You have quick wits and smarts and talent.”

But I did not tell them, “Hold on tight to that and don’t let this shit planet bring you down.”

I did not tell them that because I probably would have been escorted from the campus and also because they need to ride the high before they learn for themselves (really the only way to learn anything) about how shit this world is.

Instead of telling them that stuff, I thought it might be better if I tried to be the change I want to see in the world. But how do you do that? Act like I’m 17 again? No. No one wants that.

I’m a recent convert and current rabid fan of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. He recently interviewed Mark Oliver Everett (a.k.a. “E,” “Eels”) who said, as grownups, maybe we should act more like Mr. Rogers and less like Donald Trump.

So true.

This morning I got an email from a friend I haven’t seen or spoken to in probably 20 years. I like to brag about my friend, David. When I first met him, he was a theatre nerd wearing a “Cats” t-shirt. We started hanging out and I got him to watch some movies. Some weird movies. Bergman, Fellini, Jarmusch, Kurosawa, you name it.

He got hooked on film and, now, he’s an experimental filmmaker. His work is part of the permanent collection at the Whitney Museum, he’s the past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he’s hung out with Yoko Ono. He’s a little bit of a big deal.

Sadly, David lost his father in February. I met his father once, but the memory is hazy. David said his father remembered me. “(H)e remembered you – and remembered you as the person you are, particularly in relation to me: the man who set me on my life’s path.”

I don’t say this to boast. Okay, maybe I say it a little to boast. But mostly to say it that this is one way to be the change we want to see in the world[note: I understand this is a recurring theme with me. I’m okay with that. I hope you are, too.]: that we share with others the things that we love. Partly because they maybe they will get something out of it and partly because maybe they find in it a passion they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I hope in my talks with some of the students at the art festival last week, they grabbed hold of something. Maybe they’ll check out long-form. Maybe they’ll read about Del Close. Maybe they’ll look into the Compass.

And maybe I did some good.