TELL ME STORIES ABOUT OUR LIFE

Tell me stories about our life
Did we have fun?
Were you truly happy when you told me you were?
Because, you see, I was happy when I thought that to be so
And if you take that back now my life suddenly means nothing
And the doctors have nothing to give you to treat wasted years
And it breaks so many
To fall so far
So, let us just sit in the sun
On our favourite bench
Surrounded by the trees we named
And chat
Like we used to
When we held hands
Like each other was the most precious thing in the world
And it was
Or so I thought
Please tell me now
Was it true for you?
Or were you just being kind
When you said you were mine?
Were you settling for less
Than you believed the world owed you?
Do you feel that you threw away your life
And beauty
So I could live?
Because if you did
You have killed us both
And our life was just a one-sided
Delusional dream
Perhaps I worry too much
In these September years
But you’re all I have
My only constant
In a world that has lied about everything we’ve been told
For the last 50 years
A governmental plan to confuse us But enough about lies
I surrender
To whatever it was that got us through
Let us take some time out
And sit in this park
And you do the talking
Hold my hand
And tell me stories about our life

(C) Frank Howson 2018

 

painting by Frank Howson

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THAT LONG TRAIN RIDE

I was right
About all the little things that didn’t matter.
I was wrong about all the big things that did.
But youth is for foolishness and mistakes.
The concept being that you will eventually learn from mistakes and your heart will grow a harder layer of protection. This can be a lifelong education of regrowth if you don’t pay enough attention to details.
One theory is that we keep falling in love with the same person, over and over, like some weird drunkard’s dance in a Groundhog Day scenario. Even if that person was all wrong for us in the first place. So is it familiarity that attracts? The devil we know is better than the saviour we don’t? Perhaps we just tire from the waiting and settle for what we know. Attracted to those who remind us of ourselves? Or marry for money and security even though that brings in its train a lifetime of boredom and unrequited dreams and hopes? But surely that is not a living, but a dying? For money proves to be a cold companion and takes more than it gives. Doomed to buy all the toys and trinkets to impress others whilst your subsequent depression stemming from your inner knowledge that nothing purchased brings any lasting pleasure. You are a compromised person and although you can lie to your conscience your sub-conscious knows the truth, and forces you to spend most of your days sleeping. Hiding from life. Avoiding waking to the horror of who you really are. A prisoner trapped in a cell of your own making. Spending all your approved allowance on the best drugs to dull yourself to the harsh reality that you are already dead.
I took myself to Disneyland today.
Why?
I wanted to return to a simpler, safer time when I believed in dreams and heroes.
All around me was the sound of the laughter of children and the look of wonderment in their eyes.
They are years from cynicism and reducing the world to something they can understand.
I had a photo taken with Mickey but my idol Donald Duck was nowhere to be seen.
Disneyland was conceived and built by a sad and lonely man who acted childish at times. Because the truth is he was still a child and needed to build a romanticised version of his childhood town – a place where it was always clean, and wholesome and safe. And contained no tyrannical father. Ironic huh? Was he insane? In most people’s terms, yes. But at least his dreams were safer than those of young Adolf Hitler, a failed painter from Austria. Y’know, if young Adolf had’ve sold three or four landscape paintings the whole Second World War may have been avoided. I always say, “Be careful about pissing off creative people. That creative light force once turned back on itself can become very dark and destructive.”
On the other hand, all of the world’s great accepted visionaries were a little looney tunes. Some, very much so. Fortunately their insanities were focused towards something more publicly palatable than the Third Reich or the NWO. They risked everything thinking outside the box. Their own lives became secondary to their dream. And many died in their footsteps upon that lonely highway. They sacrificed romantic relationships, friendships, their dignity (as many were publicly ridiculed), their personal happiness, and a comfortable safe life. Why? And what for? A higher calling? Immortality? If there is no God and no afterlife why do people do this to themselves? If we’re just here marking time until the long darkness, why not just put the tools down and embrace the fairly interesting train ride to nowhere?
It’s the same with love. If it’s not a God-given gift to share then what exactly is it? Why care so much about it? Or anyone else?
I pondered all these things as I sat in my chair looking out the window that was shaped like Mickey’s head on the Disneyland Express on my train ride back to somewhere.

(C) Frank Howson 2018

THE PEOPLE OF DARKNESS

The living are always under attack from the dead. As night follows day so do those of darkness target those of light and stalk them with words of hero worship when,  the truth is, the mere existence of those with a spark irritates them and they consciously or, in some cases, subconsciously,  work toward the extinguishment of that flame. Wilhelm Reich writes about this condition in detail in his book The Murder of Christ.

The people of darkness use many tools to bring down the envied. Negative rumours, stories that are unfounded in fact, and a whole range of politically acceptable words to discredit their target i.e., Narcissist (this applies to anyone who is successful in showbiz who uses social media to promote their latest ventures) because the fact that someone may actually be getting off their fat ass and doing something reminds the person of darkness how meaningless and unfocused their own life is; Nazi (it is acceptable in today’s politically correct world to call anyone with an opposing opinion this and get away with it. This is disgustingly outrageous and unfair to their target whose only crime may be to have an original thought, as well as, obviously, making light of what the real Nazis did). But let me not bring logic into this lest I be called names. Anti-Semitic is a good one too in some cases. I have even witnessed Jewish people being called anti-Semitic because they dared to have an opinion that didn’t sit comfortably with the party line. Such is the out of control world we live in where the militant wheel gets oiled first and the logical debate is not only not considered it is condemned. Here we have a perfect storm for the people of darkness to not only hide within, but thrive.

Bob Dylan has predicted for some time now that we have entered the end game. Anyone who has studied theology and the predictions of the old prophets would have to concur. In my opinion we are currently engaged in the final war between good and evil, darkness and light, and the shadow people are only going to get more and more hysterical as things don’t go their way. They are currently very confused as to why things aren’t going the way of the Polls. Could it be divine intervention?

It is difficult to untangle yourself from a person of darkness because they are cling ons – spiritual vampires sucking your energy. And the more you give them the more resentful they will become towards you. For even your kindness is an irritation. A reminder of what they are not. They will insult you by praising strangers and even abusing and opportunistic ex-partners above your efforts to help, give and support. This is to make you crazy and so confused you will cease to be able to function and end up zombie like staring out a window into the light that was once your source. Do not under any circumstances feed them. Let well enough alone. Danger and madness this way comes.

(C) Frank Howson 2017

CAREER

For any young person out there dreaming of being in showbiz – do it! Follow your dream. But remember, you don’t get discovered sitting in your living room. Get out there and make it happen. Put on your own shows if you have to, or make your own small budget films; be seen. Learn from your mistakes so that next time you’ll be better, and the time after, well, maybe even great.

Be prepared to be praised and savaged – it’s all a rite of passage – no one gets out unscathed. And, most importantly, don’t take no for an answer. If all the people sitting behind desks had all the answers, then everything they’d do would be a success and it quite plainly isn’t.  Remember that the Beatles got turned down by 16 record companies – but got signed by the 17th.

Make sure you want to succeed for the right reasons. You have to love what you do, and also the business. If you don’t, then success could be your worst nightmare. And to some, it is. If you’re only in it for the money think about this: if you devoted as much time, study, work, blood, sweat and tears to any other profession you’d probably make far more dough than you ever will out of showbiz.  Unless you’re one of the very lucky ones. So, by loving it, at least that gets you through the long cold nights of rejection, self-doubts, criticism and loneliness it can bring.

There’s an old movie that I think sums it up pretty well. It’s called “Career” and stars Anthony Franciosa, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine and Carolyn Jones – it was written by the blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo.

The story follows the young actor Sam Lawson who’s bent on breaking into the big time at any cost. As he continually strives to establish himself as an actor, suffering the slings of rejection, it costs him his marriage. Then he gets drafted into World War Two, then just as he’s getting ahead, the Korean War comes along, then, just as a big break comes, he ends up being blacklisted because some of his friends, unbeknown to him, just happened to have been communists in their youth. He then ends up working as a waiter. Then winds up on the skids and totally humiliated. Finally, now an old man, he gets an offer from an old friend to star in an off-Broadway play. Not only does it become a hit but so does he. And in the final scene, just as he is about to walk onstage, someone says to Lawson, “Was it worth it?” To which Lawson replies, defiantly – almost incredulous at the question, “Yes. It was worth it.”

I’ve been blessed in many ways and have had my share of successes as well as a few disasters in both life and work – but I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Although I have worked damn hard for any luck that came along.

There have been many I’ve seen along the way who possessed genius talent – only to have their hearts broken, their dreams smashed, the loss of their families and friends, their health damaged as well as their reputations, their ideas stolen; winding up bitter, drunk, hooked on drugs to numb their pain, or just plain despairing.

This dream is not for the faint-hearted.

But if you need it as much as you need to breathe, follow your passion. Life is a long time to live with regret. In the words of Nike, “Just do it!” And maybe one day we’ll get to work together. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

There’s no other more fitting closing lyric than the song “The Curtain Falls” made famous by the great Bobby Darin, and written by Sol Weinstein.

Off comes the make-up,

Off comes the clown’s disguise

The curtain’s falling, the music softly dies

But I hope you’re smiling as you’re filing out the door

As they say in this biz, that’s all there is,

There isn’t any more

We’ve shared our moment

And as the moment ends

I’ve got a funny feeling we’re parting now as friends

Your cheers and laughter will linger after they’ve torn down these dusty walls

If I had this to do again

I would spend it with you again…

People say I was made for this

Nothing else would I trade for this and just think I get paid for this…

Good night Ladies and Gentlemen

And God love you.

Lights fade. The curtains falls to end Act One.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and prepare for Act Two. I have a funny feeling – the best is yet to come.

 

(C) Frank Howson 2014

 

THOUGHTS ON ROBIN WILLIAMS

It was always his eyes that got to me. No matter how hard he smiled or how manic his brain was working, machine-gunning out hysterical one-liners, most of which you missed because you were too busy laughing at the last one – his eyes were sad. The sadness of a man who possibly knew that the world was insane and he was just going to go with it.

To me all the great comedians have one thing in common – they see the world from a unique point-of-view. Sometimes it’s not even that the one liners are that funny. What is humorous is their perspective on things. They see the bizarre in the things we take for granted, the mundane actions we mostly do on auto-pilot without even thinking about. But they do.

Another great example of this humour is Ricky Gervais. We identify and laugh at how silly and futile some of the things we do and say really are under the light of scrutiny.

I know a woman who worked for a TV show in Los Angeles for some time and she said one of the many guest stars on the show over the years had been Robin Williams. She told me when he arrived he was rigid with nerves. He was concerned he wouldn’t be funny. He was intimidated by the guest star on the previous week’s show and that he couldn’t top what they’d done, etc., etc., etc. She said he got so worked up he almost walked out before the taping and she had to calm him down and assure him he’d be wonderful. Perhaps that explains his rapid fire delivery of one-liners. They were being propelled at us from the nervousness he felt inside. What a drain that must’ve been on him and how exhausted he must’ve felt after every show, like a champion boxer after every title bout. Ironically, that inner fear that ate him away like a cancer also made him great.

That is the way with many great artists. Their flaws or perceived disabilities are their strengths.

Having spent many years researching the life of Bobby Darin for a new musical I have written, I was struck by a comment from his son, Dodd. He said that the heart problem that had afflicted his father from an early age also propelled him to greatness. Bobby had overheard a doctor say to his mother, “If that kid lives to sixteen it’ll be a miracle.” Now, there are two ways you can go with that knowledge. Either you just give up and think what’s the use of doing anything or you can go the other way and squeeze everything you can into every minute you have left. Dodd Darin has said, “People think that disease killed my father. Oh no, it made my father.”

Robin Williams said he was once advised to go see a shrink. He made the appointment and went to the therapist, laid down on his couch and talked about his life and his problems. At the end of it, the therapist said to him, “I think I can cure you, but you may not be funny anymore.” Robin got up, shook hands with the guy and left never to return. The world thanks him for that decision but damn, what a burden he carried for our pleasure.

Like you I will miss Robin Williams not being in the world. His absence, like that of John Lennon, makes all our lives a little colder. All I know is I’m going to miss him for a long, long time.

Every time I hear Smokey Robinson and the Miracles sing “Tracks of my Tears” I will think of him, “…So take a good look at my face, you’ll see my smile looks out of place, if you look closer it’s easy to trace the tracks of my tears.”

Rest in peace, dear man.

(c) Frank Howson 2014

THE ACTOR

I’ve always been an actor
As a child it was in my blood
Give ’em laughter, give ’em tears
And in return they might give you love

I’ve always been an actor
At school I would play my part
Give ’em answers you don’t believe
And in return they might leave you alone…
So alone…

The real me fights inside to get out
But I don’t let it
I just forget it
I’m the actor
The real me fights inside to get out
But I don’t let it
I live to regret it
I’m the actor…

I’ve always been an actor
When I’d grown I was on my own
I had nothing and was no one
Repeating the same old lines

And even now I’m acting
At night with you in our bed
I am acting and so are you
And in silence we scream in pain
Again

The real me fights inside to get out
But I don’t let it
I just forget it
I’m the actor
The real me fights inside to get out
But I don’t let it
I live to regret it
I’m the actor…

I played a dancer
And I played a thief
I played a priest
One who’d lost his belief
I’ve been in love
Oh how well I played that part
I bet the man who broke your heart
Was an actor…

Recorded by Frank Howson and featured on the “Beyond My Reach” soundtrack album.

(c) Frank Howson 1992