Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Future is the Black Now

Blacks ppl are the canary in the mine/crystal ball of America. We tell you where things are heading about 2-3 generations before they happen.

Black Person: Drugs are destroying our community because our youth feel helpless and alienated.
Gov: Take responsibility and stop being lazy.
White Person (20 yrs later): Opioid addiction is wiping out towns b/c our youth feel helpless and alienated.
Gov: OMG we need to declare a national emergency and help everyone.

Black Person: Gun violence is crazy and out of control with gangs of angry young men shooting ppl.
Media: I'd like to label these young men 'superpredators' and blame it on your broken homes. Take responsibility for systemic problems you can't control.
White Person (20 yrs later): Gun violence by angry young men is killing our children.
Media: National Emergency! We need to do something about these troubled complex teens.

Black Person: Banks are ripping us off with these loans and destroying the community.
Gov: Well you just need to be smarter. Take responsibility!
White Person (2008): These subprime mortgages and shady loans just destroyed the economy.
Gov: Quick: here's an all hands on deck plan, and $800 billion in a suitcase. National Emergency!

Black person: Police have become an insanely violent military force killing unarmed people.
Gov: Well you need to just follow the rules harder. Absolute obedience and everything should be fine.
White Person: The SWAT team just busted down my door and almost killed me over a parking ticket.
Gov: Maybe handing the cops surface-to-air missiles was a bit too much power.

Black Person: Hey look I just did this thing with my mouth and created this beat. Like I'm beating a box.
Media: Sounds stupid and primitive.
Justin Timberlake (30 damn yrs later): Hey guys: check this out.
Media: Here's all the awards!!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Real Estate

Open house for a 3 bedroom apt...that was really a big one-bedroom chopped up into tiny pods that could barely fit a twin bed. Sigh. The elevator opened up into the apt. You could tell this used to be a gem, but now it is an expensive dorm quad with a shared kitchen. One of the prospective renters quickly left. The rest of us humored the realtor for luring us with not-quite-accurate pictures. Oh well. I walked over to a pub for tacos. The guy who left early was sitting at the bar. He said the apt we just saw made him actively depressed. We started talking while eating.

He's a Turkish computer programmer paying $4k/month. He assured me that it was a nice apt. I laughed. It better be. Programmer said he has seen so many great apts chopped up and turned into joyless pods for maximum occupancy. But he assured me that NYC is not as bad as where he just moved from: San Francisco. He said he was paying the same price for a small room and would step outside onto syringes and bottle shards. Tourist stabbings would happen on his block. The programmer said that the homeless hated him. He was the gentrifier and he hated the area but he needed to live there for work. Neither side was thinking about the fact that they were getting screwed by greedy landlords. He was in this country eeking out a living writing code so he could have his bed in a postage-stamp sized apt while the homeless were the former tenants kicked to the curb. He said NYC was a lot nicer. Williamsburg had more trees and fewer stabbings than other places. I said maybe that should be listed in the amenities section next to exposed brick and central AC.

I gave him the listing of an apt I walked by earlier in the day. The price was too rich for me, but not for the non-stabbing apt budget of a programmer. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Deadline: April 4th
Website: https://halcyonhouse.org/arts-lab/apply

At the intersection of art and social change, this nine-month residential fellowship is designed to provide support and resources to emerging artists working on projects which address issues of social justice, civic engagement, and community building. Arts Lab fellows strive to hone their practices and grow as leaders in their respective fields.

Are you a digital artist interested in exhibiting your art in the 'physical world'? Want to see your art displayed throughout Washington, DC during a major international festival? In partnership with ARTECHOUSE, an innovative art space dedicated to showcasing experiential and tech driven artworks, By the People invites you to submit your digital designs to take part in an augmented reality exhibition 'art' hunt'. Through ARTECHOUSE's uniquely designed app, guests will be emboldened to discover the city searching for artworks with their smart phones on the sides of major landmarks, public spaces, and buildings.

Deadline: April 7th
Website: www.residencyunlimited.org/2020-atelier-mondial-residency-for-new-york-city-artists/

RU is proud to announce its sixth open call for New York City-based artists for a 6 month residency at the Atelier Mondial (formerly International Studio and Exchange Program of the Basel Region - iaab) in Basel, Switzerland. This is an exchange program wherein RU hosts a Swiss-based artist in New York City during the same period. The residency program is generously supported by the Zaeslin-Bustany Scholarship.


The Atelier Mondial offers a 850 square foot working and living space from January 1 to June 30, 2020, an allowance of $1,200 per month while in Switzerland to cover day to day living costs and a roundtrip flight Switzerland <-> New York. The artist will also receive a 'reduced tarif' public transport card for all public transportation in Switzerland.


In 2014 the Atelier Mondial facilities were been relocated to a newly constructed building complex at Freilager-Platz at Dreispitz, an emerging art zone just behind the Swiss railway station. Located very close to the Schaulager and the Helsinki building – by the architects Herzog & de Meuron – and directly vis-à-vis the new Academy of Art and Design Basel (HGK FHNW ), the Atelier Mondial studios, along with a number of new ‘off’ or alternative spaces and galleries, are now part of the growing Campus of the Arts. The House of Electronic Arts Basel (HeK) is located on the ground floor of the new Atelier Mondial complex at Freilager-Platz 10, where guest artists from around the world will be staying on the first floor.

Basel is a major Swiss cultural and industrial city in the tri-border area where Switzerland, Germany and France meet. It has a rich cultural heritage (e.g., such famous inhabitants include Erasmus, Holbein, Böcklin, Burckhardt, Nietzsche, etc.), ongoing traditions and vital and diverse range of cultural activities (e.g., theater, music, dance, film, etc.) Many of its museums (e.g., Kunstmuseum Basel /Museum of Contemporary Art, Schaulager, Kunsthalle Basel , Fondation Beyeler, Museum der Kulturen, Tinguely Museum, Antikenmuseum Basel and Sammlung Ludwig, etc.), as well as its contemporary architecture , are renowned worldwide. A lively alternative cultural scene complements the prominent public and private institutions.

Deadline: April 10th
website: https://alpinefellowship.com/apply

The Alpine Fellowship is a group of writers, thinkers and artists who are passionate about learning and communicating with a view to better understanding themselves and others. We value a capacity for openness - being engaged in critically reflecting on firmly held beliefs; the courage to be vulnerable - speaking from a place of lived experience; the drive for curiosity - being truly able to receive and listen to others.

We think it important to support young people today who may have become somewhat disillusioned by the reality of modern day education. We care about discovering what an alternative model of education might look like. Hence the spirit of the enterprise is necessarily open ended, and we welcome and seek the support, contribution and presence of anyone who relates to what we care about.

Aimed at encouraging theatre writers at the start of their careers to explore and challenge philosophical ideas using the dramatic form. The prize will be £3000 plus a rehearsed reading at the Fellowship’s annual Symposium.

Rules: A dialogue sample of at least 10 pages (a previous play is fine) and a brief proposal of the writer’s intended treatment of the year’s theme of ‘Identity’ (2 pages max, a single paragraph is fine). The Prize is open to anyone above 18 years of age.

The Winner will be expected to deliver a completed script by May 31st, allowing for casting and rehearsals prior to the reading in Sweden.
 Shortlisted entries will be notified by email. Young playwright Jessica Swale will judge the submissions and direct the winning entry’s reading.

Deadline: April 10th (normal deadline), May 1st (late deadline with larger fee)
Website: http://www.oscars.org/nicholl/about

Each year, the Academy Nicholl screenwriting competition awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters. To enter, submit a feature-length screenplay and entry fee via the online application when the competition is open for submissions. Fellowship winners are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars and expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the Fellowship year.

Screenwriters who have not earned more than $25,000 writing fictional work for film or television.

Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who collaborated equally, and must be written originally in English. Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.

NEW FOR 2017: Full-time students at an accredited college/university are eligible for a discount on their entry fee in 2017. Indicate your status in the demographic section of your online application. The discount will be offered in the payment section.

Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year to promising new screenwriters. From the program’s inception in 1986, $4.090 million has been awarded to 160 writers.

Up to five fellows in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition will be invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars in November.

Fellowship recipients will be expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the fellowship year.

Fellowship payments will be made quarterly subject to satisfactory progress of the recipient’s work, as judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee.

The Academy reserves the right to grant no awards if, in the opinion of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, no entry is of sufficient merit.

Deadline: April 12th
Website: http://www-theatre.ucsd.edu/playwritingcontest/index.htm

The UC San Diego’s Department of Theatre and Dance seeks from all enrolled undergraduate students submissions of previously unproduced, unpublished scripts highlighting the African-American experience in contemporary or historical terms. Adaptations from books and other forms are not allowed.

Click here to download a PDF of the contest flyer

Prize: A $1000 honorarium will be awarded to the winning playwright.

-A staged reading of the winning script  in the Wagner New Play Festival attended by national theatre professionals.

-Travel and housing cost to and from UC San Diego to be present for the performance.


Finalists and the eventual winners will be selected by a team comprised of the faculty and staff of UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance and invited judges from other theatre facilities, the professional theatre, local media or the UCSD student body.

The decision of the team of adjudicators is final. The UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance reserves the right to select no winner.

Deadline: April 14th
website: https://googlecp.prx.org/

The Google Podcasts creator program seeks to increase the diversity of voices in the industry globally and lower barriers to podcasting. Selected teams will receive seed funding and participate in an intensive training program.

The program is run by PRX, a pioneer in podcast training and education.

What are you looking for?
We are looking for creative, engaged producers who:

Represent a range of geographies, backgrounds, views, voices and styles
Either identify as marginalized in the current podcasting landscape – whether due to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, economic background, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities or some other reason – or intend to reach an audience that self-identifies as marginalized in the podcasting landscape
Have a fresh and compelling podcast idea
Have a sense of the audience they are trying to reach
Have a sense of how their show will sound
Are interested in making their podcasts sustainable in terms of growing revenue and audience
What are you not looking for?
While we are fans of many podcast formats, we believe the following types of shows will not benefit from this type of training:

Does the team represent or intend to reach an audience currently marginalized in the podcasting landscape (see “what are you looking for” section)?
Does this podcast idea demonstrate creativity and originality?
Does this podcast offer insight into broader issues or the human condition?
Does the team have a clear sense of the audience it wants to reach with the podcast, including why the audience has a need for the podcast?
Does the team seem curious, authentic, flexible and honest?
Does the team have a particularly interesting expertise or take on this idea?
Is the team able to dedicate the time necessary to complete the 20-week training?
Does the team seem to understand the time commitment necessary beyond the training to make a successful podcast?
Does the team have rights to tell the stories in the podcast or a plan to obtain them?
Regarding intellectual property, are there any strings attached for PRX and Google supporting these podcasts?
PRX and Google do not assume any rights to your intellectual property in this process, even at the application stage. You alone own your idea. PRX will ask each selected team to sign a letter of agreement covering payment terms, services and program expectations.

Can I apply again if I applied the first time?
Yes. Please highlight the work you have done since the first application and let us know about any new developments with your project.

If I applied the first time, is there a way I can edit my original application?
You can log into your Submittable account to view your original application (more info on how to do so here). However, you will need to start a new application for this round.

Can I apply even it's just me?
Yes, you can apply as a solo producer.

How many people should my team plan to send?
Maximum 3 people per team.

Deadline: April 15th
Website: https://www.larktheatre.org/get-involved/submit-play/

The New Voices Fellowship supports playwrights of color under 30 who demonstrate financial need. During a year-long residency, Fellows will work on multiple artistic projects through an individually-tailored program of Lark play development programs, and form relationships with other theater-makers at various career stages from all parts of the world. Fellowship includes a cash award of $15,000, plus an Opportunity Fund of $3,000 for the purposes of travel, research, autonomous workshops, or other work-related expenses, along with access to a wide range of Lark resources, including artistic program participation, office and rehearsal space, and staff support.

Deadline: April 15th
Website: https://www.page73.org/application

The Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship provides a year of comprehensive support to one early-career playwright who has not received a professional production in New York City (please see eligibility requirements below). Through this program, Page 73 provides artistic and financial resources to this writer as they develop one or more new plays of their choosing. The Page 73 Playwriting Fellow receives an unrestricted award of $10,000 and a development budget, managed by Page 73 and the Fellow over the course of the Fellowship year, up to an additional $10,000.

The Fellow is encouraged to think creatively about using Fellowship resources to meet concrete goals that might not otherwise be possible. These goals may include, but are not limited to, development of one or more new plays, assistance in building relationships within the New York City theater community, research, and/or travel. Please note that funds from the Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship do not cover full-scale productions, nor does Page 73 commit to producing the work of the Fellow. The Fellowship incorporates at least one public presentation by the Fellow. Page 73 also helps the Fellow identify and connect with collaborators, including directors, designers, actors and dramaturgs, for Fellowship projects.

The Fellow is associated with Page 73 for the calendar year, from January 1 to December 31. After being selected, they work with Page 73’s staff to develop a plan for the year and establish a timeline for the development work to be done on the new play or plays. The Fellow may also be invited to participate in the Page 73 Summer Residency and, if eligible, Interstate 73 (described below) during the Fellowship year.

If the Fellow is not a New York City resident, they must be prepared to travel to New York during the Fellowship year in order to fully engage in the opportunities that the Fellowship provides.

INTERSTATE: Interstate 73 is Page 73’s yearlong writers group. Consisting of six to eight playwrights and led by Page 73’s Producing Artistic Director and Artistic Associate, Interstate 73 meets twice monthly on weeknight evenings at our office in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Each playwright receives a stipend for participating. Participants bring in pages that are read aloud and discussed by the group. Each participating playwright is also given an opportunity for a reading of a completed work, which can be public or private, depending on the playwright’s interests and needs. Page 73's staff works with each playwright to craft the reading to be as useful as possible for the writer.

Interstate 73 begins each year in January, and meetings run through December; sessions are typically suspended for a period in the summer. Please consult the eligibility requirements below. Page 73 selects participants from individuals we meet through this application process as well as from individuals who have become known to the company through other means.

Deadline: April 15th
Website: ttp://www.bfny.org

The Bogliasco Foundation is pleased to announce a new residential Fellowship for an American scholar in European art history. The five-week Fellowship, which will take place at the Foundation’s Study Center near Genoa during the Spring 2020 semester, includes full room and board and a travel stipend of $1000. The Fellowship is open to American art historians of all ages who are working on pre-modern projects (antiquity to early 19th century), and who are not currently in a degree-granting program.

For complete instructions and eligibility details, kindly consult the Foundation’s online application site at http://www.bfny.org/en/apply. The deadline to apply is April 15th.

Deadline: April 22nd
Website: http://www.astudiointhewoods.org/apply-for-adaptations-living-with-change/

New Orleans and the region are frequently invoked as one of the areas most vulnerable to the effects of environmental change. Our highly manipulated landscape can be seen as a microcosm of the global environment, manifesting both the challenges and possibilities inherent in the ways humans interact with urban and natural ecosystems. With nearly half of the world’s population living within 40 miles of a coastline with rising seas, the concerns of Southern Louisiana resonate globally. Adaptations Residencies invite artists to examine how climate-driven adaptations – large and small, historic and contemporary, cultural and scientific – shape our future. Adaptations Residencies will provide artists with time, space, scholarship and staff support to foster critical thinking and creation of new works. The call is open to artists of all disciplines who have demonstrated an established dialogue with environmental and culturally related issues and a commitment to seeking and plumbing new depths. We ask artists to describe in detail how the region will affect their work, to propose a public component to their residency and to suggest ways in which they will engage with the local community. Direct questions to Cammie Hill-Prewitt at info@astudiointhewoods.org

Proposals are due April 22nd and residencies will be awarded by June 14th, 2019.

Residencies are 6 weeks and will take place between September 2019 and May 2020. Flexibility in your dates is appreciated as we try to accommodate everyone’s schedules.

Visual, musician/composing, performance, literary, new media, and interdisciplinary artists are eligible to apply. Both established and emerging artists may apply, but a rigorous work ethic and demonstrated commitment to public engagement are expected.  Artists of color are encouraged to apply and we are particularly interested in receiving applications from indigenous artists. Students are not eligible. Collaborative teams of up to two artists can be in residence, please contact info@astudiointhewoods.org for instructions on how to apply as a collaborative team.

A multidisciplinary jury will judge proposals on the following criteria:

The creativeness and integrity of the proposal
Demonstrated ability to collaborate with colleagues and wider audiences
The proposal’s public component and its depth of engagement with the community

Recipients will be provided $2500 as a stipend and $2000 towards materials. Artists will also have the opportunity to work with an external evaluator/ally. Depending on the needs of the project, we may be able to assist artists in accessing Tulane University faculty consultants or research collections. ASITW provides full room and board including food, utilities for living and studio space to selected residents. Residents are expected to cover personal living expenses, additional materials and supplies, and any other expenses relating to the cost of producing work incurred while in the program. Travel and shipping expenses to and from ASITW for the residency are also the responsibility of the artist.

deadline: April 22nd
website: http://www.geffenplayhouse.org/thewritersroom

A group for Los Angeles-based playwrights, The Writers’ Room is a product of the Geffen’s deep commitment to supporting new plays and specifically to fostering bold, relevant work by the vibrant artistic community of this city. During a one-year residency, playwright members gather monthly at the Geffen to share their work and receive feedback from their peers in a forum facilitated by Rachel Wiegardt-Egel, the Geffen’s Manager of New Play Development. With applications that are open to all Los Angeles-based playwrights, this program is ideal for those who would benefit from a structured and supportive environment in which to work on a new play. In addition to the feedback of their fellow writers, members receive dramaturgical support from the theater’s artistic staff, a ticket to all Gil Cates Theater shows at the Geffen for the season in which their residency takes place, and the opportunity to further develop their work with a director and actors in a culminating reading that may be open to the public.

We invite local playwrights to apply with ambitious new projects. In order to apply, please send a one-page project proposal and a 20 page writing sample (from a previous full-length play) to thewritersroom@geffenplayhouse.org. The project proposal should include: your name, your email address, your phone number, your permanent address (including zip code), and the title of your writing sample, as well as a description of the plot and style of the play you’d like to work on during this one-year residency and why you would benefit from taking part in The Writers’ Room program. Please send both the proposal and writing sample as PDFs.

The Writers’ Room group will meet once a month on Monday nights from September 2019 through July 2020. (There will also be two months over the course of the year when the group will meet twice, for a total of 13 meetings.) Readings of each play will take place in summer 2020. While we understand that conflicts can be unpredictable, please do not apply if you know you will be unavailable on Mondays generally or will be out of town for an extended period of time that will cause you to miss more than two of the monthly meetings. If you are unsure whether your conflicts will prohibit you from participating, please note this in your proposal. Once the group has been selected, conflicts will be taken into consideration to pick dates that work for everyone.

The Writers’ Room is made possible through the generous support of Patricia Kiernan Applegate.

Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. PST on Monday, April 22, 2019
Interviews of finalist applicants: mid-late July 2019
Notification of program acceptance: mid-late July 2019
Program start date: September 2019
Program end date: end of August 2020

Deadline: April 30th
Website: http://premiocarloannoni.eu

The Carlo Annoni Award is for theatre plays on gay themes and on diversity in love. The plays can be written in Italian or in English. The prize is € 1000 for texts for each language (Italian and English).

Plays must be sent by April 30, 2019 to: info@premiocarloannoni.eu

Participation is free of charge. Texts already represented in the previous two years will also be taken into consideration.

The award ceremony will take place in September 2019 with an event in Milan.

A “library” of plays received is being created on this site to make them available to theater companies: those who want their text to become part of the virtual library must express their consent at the time of submitting the play, provided that the Author has all rights.

Deadline: May 1st
Website: https://www.cbscorporation.com/diversity/diversity-institute/writers-mentoring-program/

The focus of this eight month program is on opening doors: providing opportunities to build relationships with network executives and show runners; to support new and emerging writers in their efforts to improve their craft; and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to break in and succeed. The Writers Mentoring Program is not employment and there is no monetary compensation. It is, instead, a structured program of career development, support, and personal access to executives and the decision-making processes, with the goal of preparing aspiring writers for later employment opportunities in television. Each participant will be teamed with an executive mentor.

A CBS network or studio executive with whom they will meet on a regular basis, to discuss their work, get creative feedback on their material and get advice and support in furthering their career.

Once a week, participants will be invited to attend a small workshop-style meeting with various CBS show runners and other industry professionals. Speakers include executive producers, agents, managers, development and current executives and show runners. The purpose of these gatherings is for participants to gain a better understanding of how the business works from many different perspectives as well as creating the opportunity to make critical networking connections. Another important part of the program is the opportunity for each participant to spend time observing in a writers room, as well as in the CBS current and/or development departments. Each participant will have help in creating a rigorous career action plan and there will be on-going support in evaluating and achieving those goals. Another important benefit of the program is the development of a close-knit peer support group that will sustain participants through the program and beyond. The CBS Writers Mentoring Program helps aspiring writers to understand the unwritten rules of breaking in and moving up. It is a combination of mentoring and networking opportunities. Program opportunities such as mentoring, workshops, and observing can be scheduled around participants’ existing work commitments. In order for a participant to get the most out of the Program a meaningful commitment of time and effort are required. It has been found that in order to derive the greatest benefit from the program, participants should be available to 1) attend a once a week (evening) workshop and 2) attend meetings or observe in various situations for a minimum of five full days (not necessarily in sequence) over the course of the eight-month program.

The primary focus of the CBS Writers Mentoring Program is to provide access and opportunities for talented and motivated diverse writers. Aspiring diverse writers with a strong desire to write for CBS television series are encouraged to apply. You must be 21 or older to be eligible. All completed application materials must be received between March 1, 2019 and May 1, 2019. Any submissions received before March 1st or after May 1st, 2019 will not be considered. No hand delivered submissions will be accepted. Finalists will be notified in mid September 2019 (or such later date as may be determined by CBS). The program is scheduled to begin in October 2019 and continues through April 2020. CBS reserves the right to make adjustments to program schedule as necessary.

deadline: May 1st
website: https://www.nationalblacktheatre.org/

Launched in 2012, I AM SOUL - Playwright Residency Program is the only program in the country that is dedicated to Black playwrights, whose work demonstrates exceptional artistic merit and excellence in the theatrical field, with a commitment to a production. Coined as a dream MFA program, this residency also seeks to unleash the soul of a playwright on the page so that they can develop, hone and explore new ways of artistic expression in a safe, supported and transformative environment. 

Alongside NBT’s Artistic  Director, the selected playwright (s) will develop a new play during the eighteen (18) month residency. The program provides the playwright with a stipend, administrative and dramaturgical support, in-house readings, and two 29-hour workshops. This process culminates with a Workshop Production in NBT’s following season.

With I AM SOUL, NBT seeks to deepen the artistic relationship between Black theatrical institutions and Black playwrights in order to re-establish Black theatrical institutions as the foremost supporters and producers of new works created by Black playwrights. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


- beg someone to run in 2020
- wait until person announces they are running and then...
- talk shit about them running.
- get them to quit running.
- then ask 'why you quitting?'
- fix candidate a plate to take home (no mac n' cheese. Mac n' cheese is for closers.)

THEM: Elizabeth Warren was the one who should've run 2016. She speaks truth to power.
WARREN: Okay, I'm in.
THEM: Are you 'in' a time machine, heifer? It's 2019. I said 2016. I'm done wicchu.

THEM: God, imagine how great it would be if Beto ran.
BETO: Okay, I'm gonna run.
THEM: Fake ass motherfucker. He think he cute. Ugh, why you standing on ppl's tables like you ain't got no sense?

THEM: If only someone was strong and moderate like Kamala Harris?
KAMALA: Okay, I'm gonna do it.
THEM: Are you gonna do it like you did your white husband?!? How about all 'dem black kids you put in prison? You gonna do it like that, you traitor?

THEM: It would be great if we had someone relatable and unpolished like Sherrod Brown.
SHERROD: All right ppl, I'm ready.
THEM: You ready to apply for a QUEER EYE makeover? Wiccha dusty ass jackets.

THEM: I wish there were more Latinos running.
JULIAN CASTRO: Okay, here I am.
THEM: Who? Wait, what just happened? No, I didn't mean you. I meant a fictional Latino. Why are you still here?

Monday, March 25, 2019

Taking the Mueller Bait (and losing the focus)

I think the turning point for me was the end of 2017. I went home for the holidays and I saw that cable news (particularly MSNBC) had been overtaken by the Russia-Russia-Russia question. My inbox started to fill with emails from Dem groups seeking donations by using the Mueller investigation as an outrage point. Any Mueller insult Trump tweeted not only reverberated with his fans, but it vibrated in the Dem echo chamber. A limited-scope investigation was now bait for not only the media but fundraising. Mueller speculations caused this endless glee in both GOP and Dem speakers and it made me feel like I was being played. Mueller was our hope and savior. Mueller was the devil incarnate. Mueller was going to save democracy. Mueller was going to hand the White House to the Dems on a silver platter. It seemed like Dems were surrendering tons of valid anti-Trump arguments and focusing in on just one thing. I still followed the news and was intrigued by Mueller, but it didn't deserve all of my time and energy. House Dem candidates showed that when they just forgot about Mueller and ran on progressive ideas they trounced the Republican party. But progressive ideas are not really what mainstream Dems want to talk about b/c many of the party leaders are bought by corporations. And corporate media doesn't want to talk about progressives ideas b/c its antithetical to its business model. So the Russian probe served as a point of mutual agreement: they had no control over it, it was a silent investigation so endless speculation could abound, and they could fundraise on any Trump tweet.

Don't get me wrong: I think the investigation was important and I followed verified indictments. The process led to over 30 Trump officials being indicted and/or found guilty. It also helped launched dozens of investigations at the federal and state level that will continue. I still want to see the full report and I think AG Barr is shady as hell. But Mueller IS NOT the answer. It was a legal investigation. it wasn't a witch hunt, nor was it the left-wing salvation. I want a Dem party and MSNBC that is not held hostage by this narrow issue. Dems can and do beat the GOP when they talk about issues in clear thematic tones. No middle American voters are being swayed by Russian interference (which they did). They are being swayed by healthcare, unions, gun violence. Yes, the Russian gov and mafia support Trump b/c they have deep financial ties. But guess what: deep financial ties are not collusion. Is it corruption? Hell yes, but it is 100% legal corruption. Our system is compromised by dark money and lobbyist, but it is legal. A prosecutor can't put someone in jail for being a scumbag when American politics rewards the behavior. As AOC said, 90% of the heinous and corrupt stuff in US politics is legal. So maybe run on changing that. But if you do run on cleaning up the system, that means that Dems have to be clean too. In 2020 they have to be a better party than the one that currently exists. They have to embrace progressive issues, talk about campaign corruption, and have leadership (Pelosi and Schumer) willing to change or get out of the way.

2020 is around the corner. I hope everyone gets prosecuted through the SDNY and DC courts...AND I hope Dems run on being the change they want to see.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Death Star: WGA v. ATA

WGA/ATA Negotiations: The major talent agencies are victims of their own success. No one REALLY needs an agent to create work or get a job. 99% of that happens through human relations. Managers and lawyers can make introductions too. In the 1960s and 1970s agents had to be seen as the indispensable 'the middle man' in the creation process b/c they didn't really participate in the making of anything. The top agents in town became powerbrokers on their ability to network, talk, schmooze, and deal. Outsized egos and legends formed. Organizations formed around these 'larger than life' figures. Assistants, junior agents, lawyers, and layers of bureaucracy were added. The agencies became enamored with their own brand and how to market themselves. Bigger buildings, Oscar and Emmy extravaganzas, Babylonian largesse, and excessive displays of power/wealth in order to keep the aura of importance around them. There is a reason why the CAA building is referred to as THE DEATH STAR with a mixture of ridicule and envy by others: it is a gilded citadel to flaunt its brand of power, fear, and ego like the scary Evil Empire in Star Wars. Their concern with branding meant that they didn't have time for the details of a) the overall well-being of their clients' career and b) the minutiae of contracts. Artists started hiring the people in the agency backrooms: managers to look after their career and entertainment lawyers who knew the actual law and contract negotiations. Now you have agents, managers, entertainment lawyers: all middlemen in the process to do a very simple thing: connect ppl and negotiate contracts. You only need one middle man...if even that. Some people get by on just having an entertainment lawyer to negotiate contracts, while the rare few artists broker deal themselves.

It's funny b/c once an agency gets you in the door -aka their main job- their power wanes. They lose leverage once you have secured a job, or start to know people in the industry. It is still nice to have them, but they are less and less necessary. I'm not at the level where I can do everything myself and pick up a phone and get a studio exec on the line. But there are plenty of artists who can do that. Steven Spielberg doesn't NEED an agent. Oprah and Leonardo DiCaprio don't need someone to take their 10%. Showrunners already know the executives and have power. If you think about the powerful showrunners and producers in Hollywood that's about 500-600 extremely wealthy writer/producers who could walk away from their agency tomorrow and still keep working. It wouldn't affect their bottom line or their projects, but it would devastate the 'middle man' infrastructure. Not only would agencies be cut off from hundreds of millions of dollars, but the aura of power would also implode...like a Death Star.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Operation Varsity Blue

There was a recent FBI busts for rich parents who were bribing to get their children into Ivy League schools. They were paying college advisors to rig the system. This FBI sting caused a massive backlash against not only the perpetrators but the kids of the aflluent.

I don't think it's fair to go after the kids of these parents arrested in Operation Varsity Blue. I can't judge their intelligence or aptitude. I only know that they come from wealth, which isn't their sin or salvation. In many cases, I have seen overambitious wealthy parents mess up their children's life by trying to nail down a job or college as if they are trying to say to the world 'See! I did it all. Got the perfect partner, job, home, AND my kids got into an Ivy League school. Tied up all the loose ends, I did it.'

I experienced things from the flip side of this reality. I was the one who was FREQUENTLY told that I got into Northwestern because of affirmative action. I heard this while I was in high school. I heard this at NU. The people who would tell me this was always white men from upper-middle-class or wealthy family. Now, these people didn't know that I was captain of the football team, wrestling team, and debate team. They didn't know that I was athlete of the year for my high school and in their Hall of Fame, that I was all-state and lettered, an NFL scholar for civic activism, a two-time wrestling champion for my district in my two years, that I had won almost every debate tournament I entered, that our congressional team won Harvard the year I was captain. These people didn't know that I was a reporter for 3 local newspapers and 2 online publications, that I took the SAT's one time without the aid of any tutors or books and that my score was high enough that a high school advisor said 'do not take it again' and that I fucked around on the ACT and still scored in the top 1%.

My parents warned me that ppl were going to say 'affirmative action' no matter what I did...and by people they meant white guys. My sister told me to never explain my bio to someone like this and that they weren't worth it. So, instead, I would just laugh in their face. This would unsettle them. They wanted me to get upset or justify my existence in their space. I would laugh and mutter 'you are so stupid' and then just walk off. Perhaps not the most mature way of handling things but I was a teenager and usually running off to a job or practice or studying. I didn't have time for haters.

Now I see that these were incredibly insecure. Their feelings are justified. The system was built for them so they have no excuse for not making it. When people of color succeed it is often a triumph of will or a case of overcoming obstacles. When white men succeed, it is often a case of just walking through the door.

I sarcastically told my friends that the scandal undermines the merit-based system of wealthy families paying exorbitant fees to send their children to elite private schools where they do drugs and fuck around for a few yrs until the secondary institutions pipeline them into Ivy League schools with the help of expensive tutors who teach them the tests they need to pass so they can drink and drug for another four years while their rich parents bribe the colleges in the 'correct way' by paying for a new athletic center or putting money into an endowment, or knowing a friend-of-a-friend who goes to the same country club as the college's dean. All of this is the completely legal and standard operating procedure. Why did you need to bribe middlemen when the entire college system was created and designed for the 'long bribe?' You out here looking like Boo-Boo the Fool for nothing. You didn't have to commit any crimes to win. Is this your first day being rich and white?

These parents are incredibly powerful and wealthy...but are also scared, weak, fragile people. They commit crimes, they rig the system, the write the rules. This is the group most likely to lash out if a person of color manages to scale the citadel wall of academia and make it inside. These days the only thing I have for them is compassion. They will never be happy. They are consumed by ego and live in a world without honest reflection. Attacking others is their only way of relating to different people. That is the saddest thing of all: to be wealthy in material and poor in spirit is a hell that many rich people live in every day.