Politics & Smudge

June 10th, Thursday; Ray Charles died this morning at 73. I listened to WBAI, and NPR and WNYC radio, mostly getting tidbits about the ceremonies for Ronald Reagan, but also other interesting tidbits about what’s going on behind the scenes in government, and I actually took notes. There was a whole lot of news on what was going on with the World Trade Center “Freedom Center” and 9-11 Memorial. A man named Tom Bernstein (a founder of the Freedom Center) was talking about how “all the scholars were consulted” and I knew he was lying because I was one of the main scholars he was supposed to consult, and he never called me. (Most of the people involved are great, especially the architect Dr. Stanley Moses) It also seems that the Signature Theater got the contract to do theater arts at the WTC, a group which only does American classics. Then I heard Pataki say that “everything we do here must in some way honor the heroes we lost on 9-11.” If he’s talking about the 9-11 memorial that’s bad enough, (NY Times called it a “political sham”) but if he’s talking about the Freedom Center, its absolutely absurd, and designed to cut out all the rich native American history which is so relevant and needed. (And the responsibility for which has been placed on my shoulders by New York Algonquins!) I have yet to find out which speech that was, but it was trick wording to avoid any agendas that don’t serve the support the narrow and teetering Republican base! Someone called in and complained about undue attention placed on the families of those heroes at the growing expense of the other 7 million New Yorkers. I don’t know about that, but everything is so politically motivated in this case, its become annoying.

I mixed the tobacco from the workshop with sage and burned it in the window sill, the smoke playing in the breeze. At noon I shook the turtle shaker over it and played the water drum (which I did not bring out during the workshop). The purification of the fears went exceedingly well. I buried the ashes amid the happy, brightly colored flowers out on the street, in midtown Manhattan.

I looked in my suitcase and found my assistant had taken a copy of my book that belonged to the Open Center bookstore and placed it in there. So what would Abe Lincoln do? I had to walk all the way back to Spring Street to return it. Then I went on a wild expedition to find an old man in a butcher shop on the east side who could give my screenplay to an actress (Linda from last night) who could give it to Audrey Tautou, (my favorite actress, from Amelie) who is ideal for the part of the kooky co-star who is supposed to be amazingly beautiful. I got there, but there was no copy place near there, so I had to walk a half mile back westward to make a copy then a half mile back east to find the old man in the butcher shop, and then a mad dash mile to the cabin in the city and then take a taxi to the ferry for Hoboken. I was supposed to sing my Cats Don’t Care song at a banquet for the fourth anniversary of the Institute for Staged Recovery, but getting there was very elaborate. I raced for the boat and then waited on the other side. There I found therapists wandering around lost, looking for a way to get a ride to the banquet site, which was several miles inland. I said, “Good thing none of us have any abandonment issues!” which got a laugh. Someone got Jim on the cell phone and he eventually came and picked us up. We were saved. It was a great party; a lot of therapists, dynamic people on the cutting edge of their field. There were over fifty people there, surrounded by banquet tables lit only by candle light, groaning at the boards from all the food.

I had help from Susan who held the mike and the words so I could sing Cats Don’t Care, and it came out well for a first time. Dr. Michael Picucci, the founder of the institute, said I was the closest thing he’d ever met to a real Renaissance Man. He always knows what to say, knowing I was a little rattled at the difficultly in getting to the banquet. He said it was his honor to have me as the editor of his book Journey To Complete Recovery, for which he won Man of the Year from NIH for 2000. And he asked me to help edit his next book. It was a huggy moment. He was also the one who inspired and encouraged me to write Cats Don’t Care, (write it and they will come, he said) which is about how cats love you based on your heart not on how much money you have, it’s a satirical song which closes with a poke at VP Cheney, and what I’d do if I were his cat, (which is to give him thirteen stripes, a very patriotic song) but it is very loving overall, with lots of references to ideas from APT (Authentic Process Therapy, a term I coined for him, although Michael now uses APH (Authentic Process Healing). For those who don’t know his work, Michael has worked for two decades with those suffering from AIDS, and has used spirituality/psychology to help them be amazingly healthy and productive. To my knowledge only one has died in all that time. Staged Recovery is based on the idea that there is a whole lot more recovery needed after 12 step programs, and he starts where they leave off. The other singer was quite amazing, Chris, who recently won the distinction of Worlds’ Greatest Tango Singer, Male. He sang several tango songs, very stirring and authentic. By the way, I took home lots of left-overs. My friends in the car were talking down Reagan. I realized that this group is very dedicated to AIDS prevention, one of the most successful, and that Reagan “hid” the AIDS crisis for years, or neglected it as a “homo’s disease.” That kind of us-versus-them attitude generally creates anger, and our friends had a dose of it for the dearly departed.

Today I got an email announcement from singer Danielle Woerner for her “Arts for Peace” concert coming up. A line up of great performers, making a statement for peace that is pleasant and fun and spiritually uplifting. My busy schedule (sitting here typing) didn’t allow me to drop in, but I’m sure it was great.