Right now, at 38, I’m on top of the world and at the bottom of the barrel at the same time. I hold that I am not bipolar, a narcissist or crazy, I am just me, but that the entire system is so messed up that people like me go crazy, and our only option to survive is to medicate, eat, or distract ourselves.
Many of us work in advertising. Robin Williams’ last project was ‘The Crazy Ones’ about family relationships and working in advertising. My father worked in advertising, and so do I, and we are definitely “Crazy Ones.”
Past a certain threshold, outsiders snap, and the majority kill themselves, but some lash out violently at others especially when they’ve been taught to.
Today, a white boy went into a black church to kill black Christians — and did. And it’s a story we’ve seen remixed far too many times, just change the races, the location, the number and ages of the bodies. I’ve seen this particular story first hand, and I’m putting the finishing touches on a longer piece on Christianity, sexuality, and violence, so it’s fresh on my mind, and today I needed to speak.
It seems to me most people have constructed a worldview that lets them feel “ok enough” about themselves, and blame others (or “sin”) for all the problems.
Even writing this gets me stuck in a recursive loop like that old logical Star Trek bit. I know I’m guilty of the thing I’m accusing everyone else of, but that’s the trick to surfing this crazy reality, I think.
You must always be willing to admit you’re wrong about anything, and that’s difficult if not impossible for most people to do.
I’m so terribly outside of the mainstream because of the events of my upbringing. I have serious authority on this front. I don’t have a PhD, but I will go toe to toe with anybody who studies the overlap of race, religion, sexuality and violence.
I’ve lived it, and I’ve studied it. I’ve learned to write, and I can argue most people under the table. Let’s go.
My earliest memories are of television. I chose my internet handle long ago — CoryTV. You can google all of my snarky awful conversations going back to the beginning of the internet. You can see me being a giant asshole to the extent that I’m afraid to even do this google search myself, for fear of what I’d find.
I “outed” myself online a while back. My facebook is open to the world for all but the most private matters. I post my reddit ID on my twitter. Some people say it’s narcissistic, but I think people who think I’m narcissistic don’t understand me at all.
What I want, more than anything else is for EVERYBODY to be happy and fulfilled, and be nice to each other. It’s just that everybody is so damned illogical about the whole thing, I want to blow my brains out most days, and I think most people find their happiness at the expense of others.
I feel like I’m one of those NFL players who kill themselves by shooting themselves in the chest, so as to preserve the brain, only without the actual suicide part. I want people to see how this was created — perversely so I don’t end up doing exactly that.
Their brain trauma was physical. My trauma was mental and emotional.
A violent event in my childhood caused me to question everything about the world, because I couldn’t understand what happened within the construct I was given, and I’ve been off kilter ever since.
My family, my tribe, is of the dysfunctional southern fundamentalist Christian variety, and it’s a mess. As a bonus, my father is a full blown Woody Allen neurotic Jew, so it’s like I was raised doubly dysfunctional.
As if that weren’t enough, I went to grade school in Harlem the first 10 years of my life, where I was in a precisely inverse proportion racially as was represented in America for blacks. I spent my summers in Birmingham Alabama, where the rumor was that one of my distant relatives was a grand wizard of the KKK.
Methinks my mother was overcompensating a bit. I felt like (and was told I was) a genius when I was little. I wonder how much of it was just that I had parents who fed my insatiable curiosity and answered my questions, and the kids from the projects I went to school with had no such luck.
When I was 10, my Dad, who had converted to Christianity around the time he fell in love with my mother, moved to Virginia Beach to work for Pat Robertson, right as he was gearing up to run for president in 1988.
I saw the creation of the Christian/Republican Fox News machine from the inside. I know what it’s all about, and I hate it — they are the worst Christians imaginable, because they can’t see their own sins on a global level — they are all caught in a cult of hypocricy, denial and shame.
So I went to the left. I went to art school. I moved from Christian theater to secular theater. I married a liberal minded feminist(ish) english teacher who fights hard to teach honors and AP english to inner city kids. I had an amazing child of my own that I’ve never spent enough time with. I climbed the entrepreneurial ladder enough to afford a McMansion which I subsequently lost during the financial collapse.
And I slept with a lot of prostitutes. And I played underground poker games with people from every walk of life. And I was an awful husband for a long time.
A few years ago, I really tried marijuana for the first time, and began a journey of introspection that resulted in a mental breakdown and I told my wife about everything I’d been hiding. Two and a half years later, we separated.
Six months ago, I met a woman who changed my understanding of what love is, and most days I feel like the luckiest man alive, except for the fact I’m now distanced geographically and emotionally from my 13 year old son, and my industry has changed so dramatically I’ll likely never be as successful in it as I once was, and that’s a hard paradigm shift.
My millennial redditor girlfriend is brilliant, gorgeous, and talented, even if she may be as messed up as I am. We have the most intense fights, too, — life for us is really uncertain right now, but we are living a very real, authentic existence, and I’m tremendously grateful I have the opportunity to even write this piece today.
We were looking at apartments in Baltimore on the day of the riots a few weeks ago, and we’ve been living here for 18 days. Three weeks ago, I was living in the safest major metropolitan area in the country, Virginia Beach.
I can see the sadness on the streets in the eyes of the people around me, not on Cnn, Youtube or Netflix. I think because I’ve reconnected with my early childhood in Harlem in the late 70's and early 80's so much, there’s something weirdly “home” feeling about this community to me.
Baltimore is like Sesame Street on some blocks, and The Wire on others. Both places resonate with my youngest self.
This move has brought everything together for me; I feel like I’m standing on top of the hill, and I can finally make sense of so much, but at the same time, every realization leads to so much pain — both my regrets from my own decisions, and anger at others — especially for not being able to see their own hypocrisies.
And this is the story of every child ever — divorced or unhappy parents? more extreme results. Childhood trauma? Bonus 2X multiplier. Especially stringent application of outdated worldivew? Triple Word Score.
I can’t imagine what the world looks like to a child with no education or world context in the middle east whose father was blown up by a robot in the sky controlled by an American playing a video game back home.
I was listening to the Broadway version of Tommy yesterday and started sobbing uncontrollably at one point. I understood it in a way I never had, because I’m living a version of it. Violent Childhood Trauma? Check. Parents fighting? Check. A system that tells him he should be happy, when everything seems awful? Yep. A religion that is supposed to “fix” the problem but only makes it worse? Yes. A mother that replaced a father with a completely different kind of father, changed who she was and wanted to remain connected? Yep. Bullied mercilessly when young? Yep. Some sexual abuse issues? Uh-huh. Turning off emotional connection to outside world? Yes. Finding something to be amazing at to blow people’s minds, but still in a trance, unable to connect? Yep. Become enlightened.. Well, depends on your perspective, but I’m saying yes, and we’re only at the end of Act I.
If I’m being completely honest, I what I want more than anything else is the repeating refrain..
See Me, Feel Me, Hear Me, Touch Me.
Which really sounds like what Jesus wanted for humans to do for each other, if you really read the words of The Book. Which was the name of Pat Robertson’s own translation of the Bible he had comissioned. One of my father’s first jobs was to help Pat Robertson sell it to the masses.
And yet, year after year he broadcasts hatred on the airwaves. And promotes the Republicans, the unquestionably less charitable, less caring, more warlike, more selfish, more greedy of the two political parties.
It’s really simple guys, they’re using abortion to distract you from all the other ways the GOP is not at all like Jesus, and you are eating your guilt and shame.
Just bang the rocks together, guys.
Not that Democrats are much better. There’s just as much systemized education and labor fundamentalism on the left as there is religious fundamentalism on the right.
But it’s going to take years of research, billions of dollars spent in PhDs and an even more massive educational bubble for liberals to see how pedantic and perfectionist they’ve become, and how much they miss because of it.
Just bang the rocks together, guys.
We all have our blind spots. That’s kind of the point. But some how we have to see that the people we hate know something we don’t know.
But nobody is allowed to “just say it” anymore. Because everybody is afraid of their own, personal antichrist, because that will mean one’s own personal apocalypse.
But the truth about antichrists and messiahs is just perspective. They’re all saying the same damned thing for different contexts. But it’s like a magic trick — we can’t ever see each other’s perspective completely, because we only live the lives we’ve lead. The further away we are, the less we can understand.
And we choose to segregate ourselves in groups that make us comfortable.
Everybody is really, really broken right now. Religion is broken. Education is Broken, People are just broken, and you can see it on almost everyone’s faces, if you haven’t forgotten how to really look at people.
Can you even look yourself in the eye in the mirror and see yourself with love and without shame? Try it naked sometime. Talk about getting to the bottom of you insecurities…
Maybe you’ve been taught that your kind of broken is the best kind of broken you could hope for — look how awful it is to be them! Don’t worry, everyone is a sinner, it’s ok to feel bad.
But we don’t have to. We really can improve the whole thing. We have an army of millennial engineers who are ready to get right on the problem! And we’ve got the minecraft generation coming right behind them, ready to hack the world.
But you can’t forget to teach them love, or you end up with violence. That’s what the Hitlers of the world are — broken idealists who just want to be loved and for their worlds to make sense.
That is what evil is- The absence of love. And a lack of true acceptance for others is the very thing that creates evil — within yourself and in those excluded and pushed to the brink — rioters and mass murderers alike.
The world makes sense, though — but you’re going to have to see past the idea of original sin in order to see it. You have to see that people are BORN people, but made good or bad by the “sins” of the parents and their situation.
This is why abortion remains such a hot button issue — it is terrible. We really are killing the most innocent thing imaginable — the possibility of a wonderful human who could change the world in a better way… And we are stuck with the Solomon’s choice to kill that probability because we are more afraid that child will live a life of pain, and it’s very existence will ruin the life of the mother’s and also the fathers emotionally and situationally, and that child will repeat the cycle...
Life is full of hard choices, but this one is one of the toughest.
We all agree that we want fewer abortions. But we are so caught up in our fundamentalisms, we inefficiently have the same rote argument over abortion and over again.
Is it possible that “life” really does begin at conception and we make a choice to kill it for what we perceive to be the greater good? Because that simple but uncomfortable truth sounds like the honest one to me. Can we at least be truthful about this discussion?
We are stuck on fundamentalism as a species right now — economic fundamentalism, political fundamentalism, religious fundamentalism, hell, even science has it’s own fundamentalisms.
For a long time, liberals were stuck in the fundamentalism that abortion was only about a “woman’s body” which is patently absurd. Yes, women’s rights are a huge part of this issue, but the actual terminating the possibility of a human being’s existence part is not.
There are other liberal fundamentalisms, too.
Here’s a recursive spock riddle for you guys — what if the scientific method is wrong, and the very idea of collecting data and finding predictable results is causing you to miss answers? What if the uncertainty principle is a priori concept outside the scientific method? How would you ever get good data and make predictions about the nature of reality, when the scientific method is just a smaller subset of reality?
It’s turtles all the way down, and science has been locking philosophers out of the party for far too long, turning their nose up at “metaphysical philosophy.”
The world is far too broken to see the complexity of these sorts of issues right now.
I believe there’s a tremendous “guru gap” in the middle of everything that nobody can see because of opposing but different fundamentalisms. It’s always easy to see other’s hypocricies.
Many angry atheists would turn their noses at the word “believe.” I think people like Neil Degrasse Tyson and Michu Kaku are trying to middle this one for all the cynics of my generation.
The X-Files sums it up pretty well. I WANT to believe. But first I need to restore my faith in humanity.
I’m tired of the violence — the mass shootings. Today, some kid with a bowl cut went into a church and killed a bunch of people. He will have had a “mental disorder” when all is said and done, but we won’t have any real answers about how this child was raised, what his influences were from the time he was a child, who picked on him, how his parents treated him when he was young — is it possible he was raised by screens instead of interactions with people? Is it possible he learned to hate black people because he didn’t feel loved by his parents, who probably feel guilty about their hating of black people?
We only want to know what the DISORDER is, never what the parents and society could have done differently.
I pull out my “school shooting card” too often, I think, but America refuses to learn. Nine years before Columbine, one of my friends at my tiny Christian school killed our typing teacher.
He was the only black student at the school, and was teased for being black and gay (I have no idea whether he was gay or not, but I didn’t know any openly gay people at age 12 in 1988.)
I’ve lived on the crossroads of race, gender, religion and politics in America. I live at ground zero. My neighbors are drug dealers and prostitutes in Baltimore. I’ve been in the theater community since I was small.
I listened religiously to Rush Limbaugh starting at 14, only to finally see him for the blowhard phony that he is. He literally went deaf, all the while not listening to other people, and we put fake ears in him, like Darth fucking Vader. Crazy.
I’ve spent a couple nights in a psychiatric hospital, the worst possible place to try to feel sane — on a rubber mattress, with rubber pillows, disturbed people putting feces on walls and chairs. Worst of all, the primary job of all the nurses was to do paperwork, rather than talk to and be with the humans there who needed human connection most of all.
All night long, they clacked binders open and shut, doing mountains of paperwork. Nobody could sleep without heavy medication to block out the world. THAT was crazy.
The next morning, I finally got to talk to someone, an Indian doctor who didn’t want to talk about my situation at all — his only question was “Would I take the medication, yes or no?” If I took the medication, I got to leave that hellhole earlier. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is still happening — but the lobotomies are chemical, now.
What I needed more than anything else was human connection, but I was isolated and alone.
At the end of my marriage, after a desperate attempt to be heard, my now ex-wife wanted to send me back there rather than look me in the eye and have a conversation — not that I blame her — I was in an awful place.
That’s what I needed, more than anything else — I’d lost connection with everyone around me, because the world made no sense to me. We lash out in pain and anger when we feel frightened and alone.
But I fought my way back by accepting how broken everything is, and now trying my best to bring attention to these issues.
We’ll never fix it until we openly admit how broken the whole game is — religion, politics, economics, culture, you name it. We need a complete revolution in worldview. It’s time again — just like the digital revolution that came alongside the social revolutions of the 60's, just like industrial revolution that came along side the American Revolution and The Enlightenment, just like The Renaissance, just like Muhammad, just like Jesus, just like Moses…
This time, though, we can do it with words instead of bullets — upvotes, likes, favorites, retweets and shares are ammunition in the war for worldview. We don’t need money and campaigns — we need each other — which is I’m pretty sure what Jesus was trying to say more than anything else.
Christians have a huge opportunity for a big turnaround here — to make a real difference — if they can get out of this right wing, Fox News, red state bubble they’re stuck in.
More than anything, I want Christians to be a force for good in the world again, not middle eastern crusaders who refuse to learn from their mistakes.
As we gear up for yet another acrimonious and absurd political season, I am asserting that the problem is not “them.” The problem is US. The problem is one-to-one, especially between parents and children, and rooted in fundamentalist worldviews.
Honor thy father and mother should never be absolute, because thy father and mother are as fucked up as thou is. If thy father and mother have done a good job, they are more fucked up than thou. Sometimes, it is thy job to tell thy parents that they are wrong.
And it’s really hard when thy parents are scared of breaking from their fundamentalist views, but giving up and using the “block” or “ignore” or the nuclear “unfriend” feature is losing.
My messiah was primarily Gene Roddenberry. (Although Robin Williams, Douglas Adams, and Jon Stewart get honorable mentions.) Star Trek is ultimately my faith, and I get along really well with the Jedi Council, too, and for that matter the Fellowship of the Rings. I Don’t Panic, or I try not to, anyway, and I always know where my towel is. More than anything though, I know that all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.
If you can’t see the pattern, you are either looking too hard, or not hard enough. It starts with us. We are each The Antichrist, or The Messiah, and we enjoy the illusion of choosing which one. So, choose better, evangelical Christians, you’re being such Antichrists right now.
As for me? It’s time for me to reverse polarities, spin up the FTL and #engage.
Good Morning, Baltimore. And yes, I did run dancing down the streets of E. Lombard this morning in my black tshirt and jeans, like a crazy person. What else would you expect from your local neighborhood Antichrist?