Concluding chapter reflecting on all that has taken place in the book, and what perhaps lies ahead. Outro music: Edit of the track "Winning" from Artie Q's album "One Step Away From Falling Apart" to be found here < https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/one-step-away-from-falling/id1070867516 >
Robin Thomas Quinn © 2005
Conclusions ... What Conclusions!
The persistent flapping of the patio table umbrella has ceased; the Santa Anas are no longer whipping up the water in the pool. It’s 4 a.m. and all is now calm: outside and inside. The wine, the view, the memory of Tommy ... Dude, how could you let your music be in dis piece of trash? Humor—Hah! If anything can take the edge off, a touch of whimsy can. Undoubtedly, a glass or two of red helps, as well.
Over the last ten years, things have really changed for me. Right up until say, '95, I’d only ever been focused on creating music. It was the most important thing in my life. It edged out everything: relationships, career ... At the end of Rage & Silence, my creative life took a divergent path. Yes, Dear Listener, time to fess up—I am the ex-songwriting partner of Flamenco Boy; I felt his story was better told without me in the musical picture. I must add that I would have bailed a lot sooner had music not been the glue that held us together ... I kept hoping it would pull us through. Yeah, right.
My songs were not reaping a commercial success; I’d been at it far too long and simply ran out of steam. So, I turned away. Somehow, I fell into a theater production, and one play referred another and so on. I never considered myself a professional, though the producers seemed to like my performances. I felt like a phony in front of other actors, as if someone would stand up at the back and cry: He’s not a real actor. He’s no thespian! And they would have been right. I was not trained. I believed I could learn by doing, rather than studying at school. For acting? You’re either a show off or you’re not, Surely? However, I felt self conscious at rehearsals but live performance is a very different animal. I was free to be exactly what I wanted and reveled in the experience. After all, I was a performer; the years of playing live music had sharpened those skills. I learned my lines at home, made them “my own,” then had fun playing on stage.
“I love your work, Artie.”
Actually, No. As one director told me: Work is at home—memorizing text. Being on stage is fun, not work.
It was a wonderfully stimulating phase of my life. As the productions rolled on, I realized that I was digging deep into emotions to use as ammunition for performance. One song I was given to sing was about saying good-bye to my girlfriend in the play. To gain some depth/some authenticity, I projected feelings I had for my Mother into the song. “The girlfriend,” myself, director, and music director were the only people at rehearsal. I was not sure exactly how it would come out. By the second verse I was hit by a wave of emotion and don’t know how, but came-to sobbing in the arms of director, Philip Littell.
“I don’t know how you got to what you’re experiencing, but this is the greatest compliment you can pay our song.” he said I was saying good-bye to my folks and the feeling overtook me. Plus the fact that Philip and Eliot Douglass wrote beautiful songs together. I don’t care much for the genre of musicals, but theirs was out of the genre. It was simply classic—a piano, a voice, and tens of descending and ascending harmony vocals—timeless. So, in this raw condition I performed, four nights a week for eight weeks and sang that song. It affected me deeply every time. By the end of the play I was tapping into a whole new world of feeling. I met a woman as the play wrapped (look at me, with the thespian terms!); she was best friends with the directors' boyfriend and sat in on performances most nights and we had a three month affair together.
At last, a woman from the same planet as me. Eminently sensible but with an eccentric streak.
I had finally fallen in love. Time for a mature relationship, I thought; it never occurred to me that she didn’t feel the same. Well, she got bored and dumped me, but I was still connected. And when tragic things happen in life, we humans tend to look for logic, sense: reasons why. Maybe I was a playful diversion? Could she have been attracted to the character in the play she saw night after night and not the real me? Perhaps I didn’t earn enough money? Who knows? Who cares? Well. I, very obviously, did.
I started evaluating myself in my highly critical and wounded state. At least with a theater production, a penniless male performer can create an alternative forum on which to be assessed by the opposite sex. I was an artiste who cared naught for possession, but the play was now over and my Forties were on the horizon. I was realizing how most of the female population would view me—an illegal, bohemian mover.
I’d come to America to conquer the world and look at me now, Ma—What a loser! If I could just get back to the happy-go-lucky fellow I’d been before ... but he was gone. There was no going back, no snapping out of this one. What if the happy-go-lucky fellow didn’t really exist anyway? What if he’d been distracted all those years—distracted from feeling? What if I, too, was another Mister Oblivious? Yikes! After all, it was not the music, but the “process of creating” that was my rush—music, theater, and now, writing. Perhaps it all kept me deflected ... deflected from having to feel.
I've always lived in my head but the experience in theater taught me to react more in the body—instinctively, rather than trying to figure things through (directing myself, as I'd always done). When one is picked-on as a kid, one tends to retreat into the head: I’ll show them, they don’t understand; I belong to the stars, was my mantra from childhood. As ResearchMan observed, the act of separating.
I'd learned to open up and had now fallen apart. I completely lost my way. I teared up in public for no apparent reason. I was sobbing in the shower stall instead of washing off the grime of life. I went for midnight runs, then took an ice cold bath. After ten hour work days I’d engage in marathon work-out sessions and then run the five miles to my ex-girlfriend’s house, so I could watch her turn out the bedroom light, just to be—What? Close to her again? I’m stalking my ex—Wait a minute that’s not me, I’m not a stalker, I’m not the bad guy ... I think. What am I doing?
I was behaving like a neurotic teenager, but twenty years plus further on. I was a lunatic. Five minutes without her, felt like five fuckin days! This is crazy. What is happening to me ...?
I was exhausted. I tried reasoning with myself. At that time I didn't fully appreciate the benefits of a Good Guy/Mirror Man dialogue. I just had to plain ol’ talk to myself. If I sincerely want her to be happy and her happiness does not include me, I must bow out.
Seemed to make sense. I calmed down. A bit. She had said good-bye and I was still entangled.
She is gone and I must accept it, otherwise I’ll turn into someone, some “thing” I despise.
I retreated for the next four months. All I did was rent videos. I was all cried out and felt nothing. I moved furniture and watched movies. There were days when all I did was sit in the dark with the blinds drawn, keeping out daylight, so I could lose myself in film. I was empty. I watched anything and everything. In time, I went to the other extreme. I laughed and cried hysterically and started to feel, but the road back to “normalcy” (or should that be “heavily defended control ...?”) was a long haul. Music came knocking, again one day, and with it the opportunity of other creative endeavors. Tommy K re-entered my life. I built a recording studio with a business partner, released dance tracks, embarked in the voice over world, and became an uncle twice over. I had a companionable two year relationship with a lovely woman. I was engaging in life, again. Slowly. Feelings that had been deeply buried for many years, were now bubbling just below the surface, within arms reach: The theater experience, the fall out that ensued, my reaction to Bossman were all clear evidence of this.
Seventeen years ago I arrived in LA, in the few short months the Jacaranda trees are in their glorious purple bloom. Unlike anything I’d seen before, the daytime sun was dazzling; I was seeing Los Angeles through a new born baby’s eyes. It was as if a hand from above had lifted the blinders off and left me in a blinking daze, and I loved it all—from the majestic sweep of the Santa Monica/PCH Coastline to the seedy and tacky of Hollywood, and everything in between. I’d come from a place where I felt creatively and emotionally constrained to feeling like anything was possible. Imagination, or rather the lack of it, is the only thing that holds any of us back. I am thankful for the chance to stay in this wonderful city that is open to new possibilities. A city that gave me a second chance.
Though I love LA, it seems it can be a terribly alienating place for some (especially single folk) and my perverse nature would half-like to believe it’s something in the air, something so rarefied that only a select group are allowed to drink from the cup, and the rest of us get sick when attempting to sip it down.
Well, of course I don’t really believe that. There are major reasons why people lose their way here (or anywhere really), but that's for another to figure out. Suffice to say that some fall through the cracks and are not always caught by the safety net of society’s compassion. They are doomed to walk the earth, or choose to—several of them are in this book. As I said earlier, most of their wacky behavior was a frantic yearning for attention; but what now is clear: that no amount they received as adults ever seemed to be enough to placate the wounded child of yesteryear. At best, it (attention) was merely a distraction from their pain.
Some would say suck it up and move on. Oh-kay, but it’s presence is still there. Is this then, the only solution to all our pain ... to deflect—with therapy, medication, drugs, drink, love, life, family, religion, career, whatever ...? There are those (Research Man) who believe that revisiting the scene of the crime/the source of “old” pain, and reliving and feeling it (as was not done/could not be done in the early years) is the only real way out … Hmm ...
No matter the mileage I gained at the expense of my moving brothers (I did not spare myself, by the way; certainly my behavior at times was up there with the wackiest of the C types), I am grateful to them and moving itself—for at least once, The Boys/Ma Boys literally saved my life, and the business afforded me an opportunity to stay and pursue artistic and personal dreams. I’ve had ups and downs and made it so far, with help from close friends, Mum n Dad, and detractors. Yeah, them too. Along with Cargo Pants Man, they provided me with a little extra oomph, an added F-U bonus, to prove them unsound in judgment.
Fleeing a nation of Dream Stealers was the reason I came to America, and here I am, 17 years and 6,000 miles later, once again doing battle. Maybe Research is right: recreating my past in the present. I used to feel the Dream Stealers were only to be found in the old country, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong. They’re everywhere. They’re not solely a product of any one country but of a disenfranchised human spirit. Like a crushed seed that has not been nurtured, their aim is to make sure others do not dare to dream, do not reach for the stars ... because they just may get left behind. So be vigilant, Dear Listener. Beware.
Suddenly, I’m batting back the light. Five o’clock—Ding! The outside lighting. From darkness to stark bright. As if to illuminate the thought in my head and be witness to a pledge: To the old man that I’ll be at the end of the day, I owe him my very best to stay the course. Even if goals are not immediately forthcoming, something interesting will present itself. I’ll pursue my dreams all right, even if I have to fight all the Bossmans of this world. I just need stamina for the long haul ...
Super Ant’s Theme
Shall I forge my own way, regardless of life's insecurities and subtle pressures others bring to bear?
Will I be strong enough to meet their disapproval—A Cancer in the Unmet Dreams of Others.
And more, do I press onward when there is no guarantee of outcome?
I cannot be a 100%, but I know one thing—I'm not afraid of failure; my fear is one of not trying
Brave words ... I hear people say, but will it be enough that I tried, gave it my best and still fell short of the mark, at the end of my days? If I don't try, I'll never know. The journey of a lifetime begins with the first step, some folk say. And I say that, too.
For I am an Ant—Super Ant, out to climb “my Everest.” Don't look at the big picture; just take it easy, little by little, and things will fall ... and I'll watch that mountain melt away.
Artie Q aka Artie Q MD/Techno Man/The World’s Least Spiritual Soul/A Good Guy/Chelsea Boy/Super Ant/Mirror Man