February 2, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Imbolc
Cloudy and cold

I am so insulted and enraged that the Republican senators call funding for the arts “pork”. It is a direct slap in the face not only to me, but to all artists, writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, dancers, musicians, fiber artists, potters, those who teach the arts (many of whom are working artists) and everyone who works hard to create a better world. We are not self-indulgent celebrities. We work our butts off, usually seven days a week, on weekends, on holidays, to make people experience the world differently and create positive change. Of course, anything that smacks of education or stimulating independent thought is discouraged by the Republican Party. There are plenty of individual Republicans with good ideas who actually have values – unfortunately, none of them are currently in leadership positions.

Some of the best photography, writing, plays, and paintings were created during the WPA days. Look in your local libraries or on the internet if you don’t believe me. It was astonishing. One of the most important historical contributions was sending writers out to talk to people, especially the elderly, about their daily lives growing up – part of which makes it possible for many of us (no matter how we vote) to write historical fiction,. not to mention a way for school children to learn their own country’s history.

It’s appalling to me that the Republicans wholeheartedly voted to let Hank Paulson stand on street corners handing out billions of our dollars to his buddies, 18 BILLION of which went into paying executive bonuses, 10 MILLION of which Bank of America used for its Super Bowl Party last night, NONE of which came back into the economy to stimulate it. And yet artists are considered “pork”.

Oh, yeah, I know that Democrats voted for TARP, too, and believe me, I have made my displeasure known to those who represent me! I don’t care what party they belong to – if I pay their salaries, they are going to know what I think! And if I think what they’ve done is stupid and irresponsible, I let them know!

I’m going to use a Broadway show as an example. Broadway shows are not eligible for funding, although some shows that move to Broadway are developed in the wonderful regional theatres throughout the country. (I am someone who firmly believes there’s good theatre EVERYWHERE, if you give it a chance). It takes 150 people to run a show on an eight-show/week basis, between cast, crew, front of house, etc. That’s 150 jobs. Those paychecks are spent on food, clothing, cars, mortgage payments, sometimes even vacations, gifts for family and friends’ birthdays, etc. In addition, the people working in theatres have to eat and spend some of their paychecks in restaurants, delis, coffee shops, bakeries, etc. in the neighborhoods in which they work. Plus, it’s often easier to do errands on one’s way in to work or between shows — so retail benefits. Add to that the money spent by people coming to see the shows on restaurants, parking, mass transit, souvenirs, nearby stores that have nothing to do with the show — and the whole neighborhood benefits. A single Broadway show affects positively between 750-1000 jobs on any given day.

Many shows are now developed by regional theatres, who are eligible for financing. They might not need 150 people to run a show, but most of the regionals in which I’ve worked had a seasonal staff of between 20-60. That’s 20-60 full time jobs in a small town. Again, these paychecks go back into the economy in groceries, restaurants, retail, cars, gas, mortgage, etc. And the people who come to see the shows (paying significantly less than they would on Broadway) have the same purchase needs in and around the show for food, drink, parking, etc. So every regional theatre probably positively affects between 60-250 jobs on a daily basis.

This is not pork.

Devon’s Random Newsletter went out yesterday. If you didn’t get your copy, please let me know. If you haven’t yet signed up and would like to, you can do so here.

If you haven’t had a chance to wrap up January and list your goals for February, you can do so here.

My online presence will be hit and miss in February. I’ll try to blog as regularly as I can, but if I miss a day here and there, don’t fret. I’m teaching at the Catholic Writers Conference Online this week, and I’m juggling a multitude of site jobs throughout the month. I’m supposed to have internet access during that time, but one never really knows what’s going on until one arrives.

February requires focus and extraordinary time management.

I’ve got two plays on deadline and a third restless in the wings; I have to get back to the Big Project and keep pace on the Billy Root story. And take on some immediate turn around jobs to pay the bills. It will be an adventure.

So, on my “day off”, I updated the Devon Ellington website, the Hex Breaker website, and the Cerridwen’s Cottage website. I started building the Jenny Storm page. I took photos for both the Jenny Storm icon and the Ava Dunne icon (the Ava Dunne name will reactivate this year). I think I got some decent shots for the Jenny one, but I’m not happy with anything for the Ava one. I also followed up on a patch I made a few months ago.

I finished TWICE OVER LIGHTLY. The chapters on Christmas in New York, The UN, the Bronx Zoo, and the Public Theatre were actually quite good. Their tone was far more 30’s and 40’s style than early 1970’s, and many of their anecdotes go back to those days. This book will remain a good reference book for the time – even in its negative aspects.

I started reading Anita Loos’s autobiography KISS HOLLYWOOD GOODBYE about her time as a scenario writer and script writer in Hollywood in the 1930’s. This is great background for when I go back to fix THE FIX IT GIRL.

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl. I think I enjoyed watching it more because I had no emotional connection to either team and could just watch the game. Plus, I always prefer it when it’s a close game.

I thought most of the commercials sucked, though. The Clydesdale emigrating to the US from Scotland had its moments, but come on, that was NOT a Scottish accent. Maybe a fake Irish one, but NOT Scottish. They could spend the millions on the spot but not spend a hundred dollars on a dialect coach? GE had some clever stuff, but most of them were just boring. Definitely nothing as creative as “Herding Cats”!.

Speaking of which, the Puppy Bowl and Kitty Half-Time was pretty funny. They don’t seem to get that the kittens they use are so small that they overwhelm them with the moving lights and confetti and all the moving bits and scare them rather than encourage them to play.

I have to attack my To-Do List for February today. It’s not going to accomplish itself.

Devon