Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Interview with Father Michael

Rev. Father Michael McGrath has been involved with The Irish Pilgrimage Trust for many years, as a chaplain in Group 108. He is a priest of the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise and is resident as curate in Carrick on Shannon in Leitrim, Ireland. He is also the diocesan schools advisor. Fr Michael joined the Board in 2007 and is now Trust Chaplain. Each year at Easter, The Trust travels on pilgrimage and on holiday to Lourdes with young people with special needs.The Trust also provides respite care in its purpose built home from home in Kilcuan. Since its opening in 1998 Kilcuan has been the venue of many friendship weeks and has welcomed many organizations. To Learn More about how you can donate , Email: It was an honor to meet with Father who discussed his love of the church and his many charitable causes...

Thank you father for meeting with me today...

You’re very welcome...

When did you decide to become a priest?

There are a lot of layers to that question; it’s something I always dreamt about as a boy, but I suppose the big decision was when I joined the seminary...

What was that experience like?

That’s the college for the decide to embark on the course... the decision is made at the end of every summer. Then the big decision to be ordained is the last one ...

I see...

Well, it was like that couple I was with yesterday... it’s a final commitment and that was a bit hard I have to say....

Really, why?

Um...(pause) wondering was...suppose it was a warped sense of faith, that God has this blueprint and that’s it but it’s not actually like that. And it’s the fear, ‘Would I be able for it?’ and that sort of thing. Not long before I was ordained I went to Clonmacnoise in Offaly ...

I’m sorry, what is that?

Oh, it’s the holiest site in our diocese … There you have the ruins of a very old monastic settlement. I was there and this is when I was at this last stage. There was a bird up in a tower, a crow that was learning how to fly and my friend said, ‘you’re like that, and you just have to trust yourself...’ Just trust! And that was at the beginning of it but I have to say that I have no doubts as to why I stayed, to why I am happy now as a priest ...

And how do you feel about it now?

I love being a priest. You meet people like your grandmother ... coming into access with people like that, having that privilege; that’s where God speaks powerfully now ... that’s what makes it so worthwhile and fulfilling being a priest.

She had such great faith...

...when someone like that would ask for you to pray for them...that’s a huge privilege. To be in the presence of people at all stages of their faith journey—that’s what it’s about.

Then there was the wedding yesterday...I mean there is nothing like that! I suppose there is a theological thing in it too. You know at Mass: we believe in the Eucharist…we believe that Christ is present in the consecrated bread and wine. But that’s not all. We also believe Him present in the proclamation of his word. And more! In the people who gather. That’s what we forget very often: Christ present in the people.

My aunt Phil said she felt that sort of connection; in the people who came and the amount of people and to be able to talk to people and share their experience of losing a loved one. She really felt that she was also giving to them.

In Jesus, God became one of us. He is part of our story. When we all did the rosary it was just extraordinary...when people are all huddled into the same room...praying...that’s when I am convinced I am where I’m supposed to be.

My aunt feels she (my grandmother) had everything she wanted right down to when the coffin was being lowered...

Mary, the mother of Jesus was strong. We allude to that, it comes up an awful lot in the funeral ritual. She didn’t buckle when Jesus died, she was grief stricken but she didn’t crumble. It’s the dignity you all had; it just didn’t fall apart...

It was spiritual...

I mean (laughing) all the apostles ran; the first witnesses of the resurrection were woman...

When we stood up to greet the people, my aunt said it felt like a celebration...

And I believe Mary was present also...I don’t know how to describe that presence but there is something very real...

Would you consider yourself a ‘typical priest?’

People think I have it all together, but I haven’t got it all together, I haven’t got it all, I’m not God, I’m human...the original expectation (and I’m not sure where it came from) was to be this little god....(laughing).

If someone approached you and asked what your job titles are, what would you say to them?

Well, one of my jobs in the diocese for example is to visit schools. I work with a sister...there are a total of 80 schools. Sometimes it’s just to visit and chat with them and say encouraging things...

That’s lovely...

It’s totally unquantifiable, you cannot measure it. Someone once said that a priest is ‘a midwife to mystery.’ What they meant was: you cannot bring them to it...for example I never brought Jesus to your grandmother...I had already acknowledged he was there. The mystery is not in my pocket...and I think that’s the biggest task if you like...Christ is already there. That’s the grace. I just have to name it, tap into it …

I love that....

God is in my work, we do acknowledge it...we had a teacher in college who once said, ‘you can’t pray to God all the time everywhere unless you stop to pray some of the time somewhere’...the point of going to church is not so you can get away from everything else but to go back to the mess and bring about transformation...we’re transformed so that maybe we can discover that the transformation of the mess starts with us...

I’ve heard everything in our lives starts and ends with us...

You know that Michael Jackson’s song, ‘Man in the Mirror?’ Sometimes we see the life of faith as a chore, like earning browning points...we’re checking off, ‘I went to church, I did this... that, etc.’ But no, you bring everything to church and are grateful, it’ll be a bit transformed...somehow! Change starts with the person in the mirror.

I see what you mean now, your title cannot really be described exactly, it’s...

I hope that my preaching would resonate with people, maybe help people discover the beauty within them. Maybe that’s our job; to convince others how beautiful they are but that’s not Michael McGrath. It’s all down to how God works... But what you say at the time of a wake or a wedding … that’s important. People seem more open at these times … they want a word ... I suppose it’s a hunger. Especially at a funeral where it’s just more harrowed, those key times...Christmas or Easter as well. We allow ourselves to be more open to the mystery we call God...

I agree with that...

Certainly more are open to healing maybe and...It’s like doing mass for a first Holy Communion. It might be for the man who just made a new discovery at the First Holy Communion of his grandchild. I mean this happens for me... you hear a piece scripture and then one day you’re in a certain mood and those same words suddenly hit you and they mean something’s a deeper connection...

Your service has revived many of my family members’ faith, is this something that has happened for you in the past?

That’s wonderful, that was God’s grace...

Have you been to Knock?

Yes. And for the most part I like it. However...I have a mixed bag of feelings about it. Not long ago I had a dreadful experience in Confession there. Confession (also known as Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance) is such a beautiful sacrament and we can destroy it. My favourite story is the Ugly Duckling. Experiencing God’s love is like the moment the Ugly Duckling discovers he’s really a swan. Shouldn’t we have that experience in confession when we bring the ugliness of our sin before the Lord? But I am not sure that people meet that loving God always ... in confession. I didn’t have that experience when I went to confession in Knock.

Oh so it’s a little too strict you mean?

In a way...the gospel is not meant to make people feel small. It’s not about pride either … the gospel is meant to make me realize how loveable I am and how worth it I am. Going to church should be a joyful experience. But people talk about going to church an obligation and feeling bad... the good old ‘catholic guilt.’ We just don’t know how to celebrate sometimes... we use these terms, ‘obligation...’

How would you summarize Traditions?

I think it’s very important. I think there are two kinds: tradition with a lower case and capital. I would use big ‘T’ when it has more to do with being faithful to what’s being handed down. For example if something of your grandmothers’ prayer wasn’t going to spill over into your lives well then something valuable has been lost. Saint Paul said when he talked of the Eucharist that has been handed down to him, it is apostolic. The little‘t’ has to do with the kind of...maybe the stuff that induces a lot of the guilt. I don’t know how to be specific with that. Like not eating meat, it’s important to do. We all stand in the water, we all stand in tradition. I’m Irish, I’m a priest, and that’s been so flawed in the world and that’s where I am and I’m happy to be there...

What about Lourdes?

Love Lourdes, I’m involved with a group IHCPT, the Irish Pilgrimage Trust … we bring a group of special needs children there. What I like about it is the experience of church when I go’s community...we have little groups, we celebrate just as much when we’re in church and when we’re kicking a ball around together. My mother loved it there so it’s a family thing too ...

Has the amount of priests in Ireland being ordained stayed the same throughout the years?

In my first year class in the seminary there were about 70 fellows from all over the country and there were about thirty ordained seven years later. Now the numbers have gone much lower than that...

How do you feel about divorce?

It’s like the old idea that God has this blueprint...I‘ve encouraged people to leave! I mean if you love someone and they love you, you should be blossoming! I don’t think people should ever stay when it’s abusive. To be quite honest people don’t ask advice anymore but I do think in some...if there’s a couple who meet this bump...every life meets a bump and for better or for worse bit. But there are times when it’s just too hard to keep it going....marriage shouldn’t always be a struggle.

I totally agree. If both people are not happy, they shouldn’t be forced to stay. Does this idea go against the no divorce thing in the Catholic Church?

I have good friends in new relationships and it’s tough when there’s a tradition with a capital ‘T.’ I know why it’s taught but it’s ...

How do you feel about unmarried couples living together?

Sometimes couples show all the signs of commitment and most often when they buy a home together they are making some kind of plan for marriage. That’s a lot different than meeting someone in a club and going home for the night. It’s a committed relationship; of course I’d love if they’d get married. If it was my own sister that’s what I’d wish...

Have you ever met the Pope?

I shook John Paul’s hand when I was a student...


It’s no big deal. I suppose you’d be in awe, if I got the opportunity to meet him I would love it but I wouldn’t be screaming now...

How do you feel about the current situation in Rome?

We don’t experience the church as the big Roman Thing. We experience it in our own church, our own parish. We want tradition and we want people who are faithful to attend it. But you can still have issues with the church and still support it and attend. It’s very easy to say, ‘no divorce’ and make it a blanket statement because it’s the ideal. But ‘Joe’ may not be ideal so you want to support this person but at the same time remain faithful to the church. We experience church within our own parish community. The experience of God is not immediate. It’s mediated some way and that’s through people.

What about the issue of birth control?

The big one...Humanae Vitae...I used to think everything was black and white and I don’t think like this anymore, there is much more grey...

You lived in the States?

When I went to study I lived at a parish in Bowie, Maryland. It was a wonderful experience of church. The major thing I learned: I think to be truly honest, it was the first time I got what the Eucharist was about. You know that term, ‘real presence’. Of course I believed but I didn’t get it fully...I didn’t get it wholly. For me getting those three things right: you acknowledge he is present in word, and in people, and in the bread and wine...

How did you embrace all three of these things?

It used to be me became very me centred like I’m the one who’s doing this as a priest at the altar but it’s actually we. You say ‘we.’ To me that was the bit I was missing. Christ is in the assembly, the people who gather to worship. It’s not Father up there giving Christ to these Christ-less folk down there in the pews. Like what I said earlier … it’s not me bringing God in my pocket...

What degrees do you hold?

Bachelors in Arts, Bachelors in Theology and a Masters in Religious Education... I studied for the Maters in Catholic University in Washington. That was by far the best academic experience I had.

What was so great about it?

...I had more to bring to the table, more experience...more experience to bring to the reading. It was more personal...smaller groups, not this huge lecture hall where there are just notes.

Recently I had an amazing conversation with my uncle Sean about the many ways we can all do service...

I have no doubt that probably the most important thing that’s happening in the church is parents rearing children. There’s a mother getting the wind out of the baby and another with a sick child and it’s the mothers and fathers who are praying with their children at night and that’s where it’s happening and that’s where there is love. That’s one of the ways. And sometimes I think the job of the priest is not to play every instrument. I can’t be a parent; I’m not in that place. I can’t bring healing the way a mother will. Part of my privilege is to point out how God is there, like with all those people there for your family, that’s service!

There was a lot of service...I am so grateful for that! Not to change the topic but I hear you have great taste in music and you’re also a fan of Dar Williams!

I went to see Dar Williams in Maryland with my friends from the parish I lived at when I was a student ...

And Willie...

Yeah, I like Willie Nelson. I saw him recently. The concert I’m really looking forward to this year is Sting, in the 02 in Dublin. At our priest retreat this year, one of the guiding questions to the small groups was, ‘What brings you joy?’ We were all being pious in our responses … until one priest said, ‘When I have a concert ticket on the mantle piece!’ (laughing) It’s true and I think that’s good. I guess ... I don’t know where I got this but I think that sometimes we try to over-spiritualize everything and I don’t know a good example of it...try to put a big spiritual meaning onto something that is really very’s not even the church thing. It’s like looking at a flower and saying there’s beauty in it not that it has a magical meaning. It’s like many think being human is not good enough....

Priests should have a life too and enjoy the many aspects...

I mean it was good enough for God … being human! The reality of what helps us become more human ... helps us get closer to God ...

Yesterday brought that out I was a very human experience...

People were hurting and sympathizing from a deep place and we’re not trying to look for, not trying to....God is in all that stuff, not above or below, it’s kind of raw....

Would you agree with those who suggest a confession is needed before receiving Eucharist?

Reminds me ... of Knock. I don’t think its right; it’s not what Jesus said in the Bible. Remember that famous scene when Princess Diana went to that AIDS patient and hugged her? I think it’s crazy when people go to church and don’t take the Eucharist... I don’t think Religion is supposed to be a worthiness contest!

Like in the story of the Good Samaritan ... if the priest or the Levite passing by were to touch this guy they would be rendered impure...and it would cause a scandal …

So if you’re not in church for a few months, and return by God’s grace because that’s the only way, I don’t think God is saying you can look but you can’t touch...

Has anyone ever approached you for assistance in an exorcism?

(laughing) There is evil. But I’ve never been in such a presence of evil that I had know what I’m saying. I do believe in the church’s sacramentals; holy water, they are all....I don’t doubt... I believe there is one that would do this within the diocese but I don’t know who it is. I believe in the power of blessings, like when people come to get their car and home blessed. And laying hands on sick people. I do believe in the power of the touch and all that kind of thing ... I guess that’s the human thing again … flesh and blood needs flesh and blood!

How have things stayed the same?

Same has to be with that God is present with us...

What does the future hold?

The future has to be ... I love that thing I mentioned before of my American experience in the church, you know the teaching on the bread and wine...when we grow to believe that Christ is with us in the mess....and everything...

Have you ever visited the North?

Don’t know what I’d say because I’m not living there...But I’m obviously glad there is some kind of resolution there.

I see you stay in shape...

Well, that’s also an important part of my day. I kind of had a conversation experience...that was in 1997. I went into a shop to buy a pair of pants and when my friend in the shop advised that there was more room to be let out at the already 38 inch waist, I secretly made the decision that that would never ever happen to me again!! So, I started walking ... and with time jogging. Healthy mind and healthy body and all that …

I totally agree with that. Well Father, this has been really insightful for me. I learned so really helped my family. You are a blessing to this community...

Thank you...I love what I do.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Real Life Cowboy John Whitney

Leitrim, Ireland (Back in the day). Where John was born...

John in his element...doing what he loves to do. Living the life 'on the ranch...'

John Whitney from Lovely Leitrim, Ireland is the quintessential real life cowboy. His sense of adventure and determination has led him to leave his home at a very young age and travel extensively and make other places his home. His latest stop is New Mexico, USA. I was fascinated to learn why he preferred California to New York and why he left it all recently to make the move to New Mexico, the very opposite of the sunny state...a place where outhouses, bartering and 'the great outdoors' is the norm...

Hey John! How’s it going? Thanks for chatting with me today.
You’re very welcome.
I wanted to ask you about your life experiences. You have had a rather exciting life and I wanted to learn more. First off, I’ve noticed Irish people like yourself do tend to travel a lot. What are some destinations you’ve ventured?
In the past few years I’ve checked out several states in America; Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Ohio…as far as countries, USA obviously, um, Australia, France, Germany, Luxembourg…
Italy, Croatia, Greece.
You’re so lucky! I’ve only been to England and Ireland. I’m so unworldly! I guess one of the reasons Irish people get to do so much traveling in Ireland is the close proximity to other European countries.
Exactly! And with an EU Irish passport you can go to any EU country in Europe with ease. It’s probably tougher for Americans…
I don’t know if that’s it. I just think in general Americans seem to travel less because of the distance but that’s only my observation. So, you had a brief stint in college?
I finished High School in June 99, worked in Massachusetts for a year, returned to Ireland for college but I flunked out after one year… where I studied Construction Studies.
Oh no!
I failed a repeat exam and that meant I failed the entire course…so I moved to Dublin and worked Construction/Engineering for the next four years.
Where were you on 9/11? Were you in Ireland or the states?
I was up on a Roof in Leitrim with Declan O’Brien fixing tile when the homeowner came up the ladder with a small portable radio telling us that he had just heard about a plane crashing into the twin towers. Declan and I immediately figured that it was a freak accident - a sad day.
Yes it was. Okay, so you were in Dublin working as a construction worker for four years which to a traveler like you…must have seemed like an eternity….
Yes, then, I went to California, The pull - I grew up watching Baywatch. I have family there also.
My friend Sharon lives in California! I want to go there! What was it like?
Brilliant place. It’s just like the songs say…so, for the first three months, I worked on a Water Tunnel project in Berkeley. Then, for the next 1.5 years I worked for a Land Surveyor out of San Francisco.
That’s a lot. You sure do get around Johnny!
….then I worked for a Pipeline company for the next two years, one year for a small Engineering firm out of Oakland and THEN I moved to New Mexico in September 2009.
That’s incredible. You’re so well-rounded. I guess there’s nothing you can’t do.
I'll give most things a go.
I suck at construction and I don’t even know what a land surveyor is….but anyway, what I really want to know is why you left California.
There were several reasons.
The economy - California is near broke.
The Cost of Living.
City Life.
I Wanted a new challenge.
I Wanted to move back towards Country life...
I thought the economy was really bad everywhere?
Yeah, I think California could be worse off than most states because of the real high standard of life.
I just picture California as the land of hot people. I would never leave.
I wanted to move, live and learn about the South West, the history and the geography. I had seen and learned bits about New Mexico from previous road trips.
I see...
There is a lot of History to NM, going right back to the Dinosaurs. The landscape is really cool and diverse, it’s not just desert and sand as many may think…
It’s a lot more than that, you know?
Did you go there with anyone?
No, there was only one ticket available. I had previously road tripped with friends alright.
That’s very brave of you. I’ve been living in New York for way too long now that even if I went to live somewhere safe like a retirement section of Florida I’d still be scared. I give you a lot of credit to just pack up and move by yourself to an unfamiliar land. I’m not saying New Mexico isn’t safe but it’s like I wouldn’t know…
Well, I had a job to go to when I moved out as well.
Yeah, work on a ranch as a ranch hand so that was enticing. I wanted to kind of get back to the ranch life.
The ranch? Are you using that term metaphorically?
Yeah… I wanted to learn a little…a little bit about self sustainability, using the natural elements to get by. I wanted get back to that sort of outdoorsy, ‘the greater outdoors’ if you like…
And being born and bred in the old country, I’m sure “the ranch” helps you feel like you’re closer to your roots?
Yeah it definitely brings me closer to the roots.
How so?
The people here are real friendly. The way of life. Close Community spirit.
What are some prime spots?
Locally, They have a sink hole lake here that’s considered one of the Natural Wonders of the World, it’s always 61 degrees, all year…it’s called the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I have yet to go there myself yet. (laughing)
When do you plan on checking it out?
Maybe in April or in March, when the weather warms up a bit.
So, what’s the economy like over there?
It’s surprisingly doing good.
I didn’t know that! I thought…
There's a few Construction projects coming to the locality, Natural Gas Plant, County Hospital and a huge Solar Farm.
There’s a lot of tourists.
Yup. A lot of tourists stop by to swim and dive in the Sink Holes/Lakes.
So, what’s it like?
It’s about 90 % Spanish here. Although nearly everyone speaks English, a lot speak Spanish in their homes.
You said the people were a lot like the Irish…
There are many characteristics similar to the Irish back home. People wave/shake at each other when they’re driving by. They always pay visits to one another. They like a bit of gossip. It’s very agricultural here; everyone and their mother owns horses…it’s a big farming community.
I like the sound of that!
I40 routes through the town - a very busy interstate, running right across the USA. Approximately 3,000 people live within the city limits which I believe was founded in 1865. They call it a city but it’s more like a town.
Do drivers have to pay any meters?
No, nothing like that. Parking is easy.
Oh wow! What about if you’re leaving a bar late at night…would it be easy to get a cab?
Yeah a cab would be easy got or someone sober would drive you home.
Really? Like who? What if your friends have been drinking?
The bartender once off duty. There are two bars in town.
You’re living the outdoorsy life now. That’s so cool. What other work has to get done?
Well, first of all, where I live, there’s no running water...
No way! How do you survive? You should be on ‘The Survivor’ show, you’d win automatically. How can you live with no running water? Even my parents had…oh, no, never mind, they didn’t, but still, it’s 2010! Oh my god, I don’t know what I’d do! I guess I’d have to invest in some really effective deodorant.
It’s not that bad. You get used to it. I’m just basically living in one room in an Adobe home; it’s actually on Route 66: three foot thick walls…
Adobe what? How did you find it? It’s like out of a Clint Eastwood movie or something. You’re a real life cowboy.
Well, I renovated a room here so the guy who owns it just lets me stay in the room for free. I was sleeping in my Dodge Van for the first 2 months.
You bartered for a room? There’s a huge thing now with that and the recession. Everyone’s going back to the old ways of bartering. I love it. I’d do that in a heartbeat but the no running water thing…
I try to help him out with work. Pay him back in that way also.
Wow, he must be a good guy.
He is…he knows everyone. He’s just a really sound guy.
Nice…now, getting back to the water thing. I’m sorry. I just, I mean, how do you shower?
I shower down at the local public park facilities. I have a water jug and cooker for heating water to wash dishes, etc.
Wow…when do you think you’ll be trying another adventure?
Who knows!? I hope to stay putt here a while longer - much more to do and see.
That’s right, you said that.
And now especially since the summer’s coming…
True, true, it’s going be beautiful and all the tourists and by then you’ll know everyone.
That’s right. I've gotten to know a lot of people here but still a lot more to meet.
You’re right. You have to assimilate. So, what has their culture taught you?
The Culture has taught me that Community, Family and friends are real important.
Well, here people like things the way they are. They don’t like people coming in here making big splashes with their big ideas. They basically just want to protect what they have for their kids and their future.
Sounds fascinating. What about the education system?
I think a lot of the kids go to college. If they stick around it'd be tough to find work.
Do they marry young?
Some do, I'd say it’s the same as anywhere else.
Wow, John, I’m sold. I like the sound of New Mexico. I want to check it out. Maybe just for a week though. I’m too in love with my morning showers. My conversation with you has been very humbling. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, you my friend, are a true Pioneer!
Thank you very much. I’ll take that. (laughing)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thom Gencarelli, Ph.D, Communications Chair at Manhattan College

Thom Gencarelli, Ph.D. (NYU, 1993), is the Chair of the Communication Department at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY. Thom was hired by Manhattan to create its Communication department after spending 14 years on the full-time faculty at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, four years at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, and seven years on the part-time faculty of the M.A. program in Media Studies at The New School in NYC. Thom is currently the Vice President of the Media Ecology Association, a Past President of the New York State Communication Association, and a two-time Past President of the New Jersey Communication Association.
In addition, Thom is a songwriter and musician, and his debut CD with his ensemble bluerace was released in June 2009. (The group is presently at work on their follow up release.) Thom lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, with his wife Alison, and their two sons Miles and Griffin.

What is your title?

I am the Chair of the Communication Department at Manhattan College and I am an Associate Professor.

What degrees do you hold?

I have a BFA degree in Communication Arts, an MA in Media Studies and Ph.D. in Media Ecology.

What is Media Ecology?

Ah, the great question… Media ecology is the study of media as part of the environment in which we live…it’s the study of how we use these means of information, these sources of information in daily life and how the media we use matter as much as the messages we get from them and send through them…and the ecology part is the same as what the term means when we talk about the natural ecology…it’s about balance… We need to strike a balance in our use of media. I mean, if we lose print, we’re doomed. If 75% of people in the United States get most, if not all their news from television…that’s a problem.

What inspired you to do this?

Inspired me to do what? To become an academic? How did I end up…I’m wondering what the question is…

Umm....a professor…

Interesting question… (pause) Well, I’ll tell it as a story: When I got out of undergraduate school I hacked around as a songwriter/musician. And the most honest way to say it is that making a living in that way started to seem a little…dicey. I chickened out. So I applied to law school. And thank god…divine intervention permitted me from becoming an attorney…
I decided to return to school, though. And I wanted to stay with and study about music. But not like musicians and musicologists study it…I was interested in music as communication. And I’ve always been interested in questions about how things happen in the popular culture…how they make a splash and catch on. And so the real interesting question is…well, here you and I are talking. And language is the default medium when we think about communication and what meaning is. But with respect to music and all art…well, what is meaning in music for people who aren’t schooled as musicians? How is music meaningful to them? This is the kind of thinking that got me started.

What’s your teaching schedule?

As a chair, I teach during the academic school year, and during the summer I do administrative stuff… But you know, prior to September of 2008, this program did not exist. I was brought in to build it, which has been a great opportunity…it’s been a great ride (smiling).

What are some projects you like to give to your students?

Probably the most important thing we are dealing with right now in this program is this place we’re in between what we call the traditional media and the mainstream media, or “msm,” and the digital future that we’re heading head long into…there’s a lot of change happening, it’s vast, it’s rapid change and, uh, even those of us who are supposedly “experts” in the field, we’re not sure where we’re going. So the best projects are the ones where we engage with our students to inquire into where are things going… I mean, they live in a world where there’s a lot of sales in marketing talk about digital media and technology in general….and the trick becomes to separate out the sales pitch to figure out where things really might be headed.

Is there anything about technology that stumps you?

No, there are things about the culture in which we live that stump me.

So, you’re saying that you can program and figure out any form of technology?

Oh, you mean using technology? I’m not a technophile or a technophobe… I don’t spend my days immersed in a world of machines and toys and gadgets. But it’s certainly a part of what we do here…I helped design a television studio.


It was finished in August of 2008.

What was the studio created for?

One of the things the college set out to do when they created this program was that they knew they needed to build a TV production, and build it from scratch. They put their money where their mouth is, and they asked me to create it… It’s pretty state of the art.

Any shows been aired?

Not yet… There will be, that’s part of our mission.

Is this your first college teaching position?

It is my third…the other jobs prepared me to do this.

With a communication major, what are some jobs that students can attain?

We’re the largest major at this college. And there are 4100 colleges in the U.S. that, with the exception maybe of the Ivy League, have programs like this…it’s amazing how many students want to study this stuff. And your question is a great one because we have a program that has a traditional orientation: advertising, broadcasting and telecommunications, journalism, and public relations. But you know, as I said before things are changing. And are our mainstream media where these folks are going to end up? You know…journalism…they don’t come to study the role of newspapers in a democratic society and the critical importance of newspapers to citizens. I mean, we get a lot of women who want to work for fashion magazines… And so what? Aren’t newspapers dying anyway? Or maybe they’ll just migrate to the web. But then you can’t call it a newspaper, it’s not paper anymore… And so while it’s fascinating to think about these kinds of changes going on…it’s hard to counsel students on what to do… And the point is: What’s going on when all of these people are coming into this field and it’s changing…in 5-10 years from now it’s going to be vastly different…but we don’t know how it will be different or how much different it will be.

What types of classes do you teach?

I teach in the broadcasting and telecommunications concentration, mostly about television and video…well, also about radio… I also teach ethics.

Would that be considered ethics and media?

Yes. And I teach the introductory course and the senior thesis course…so they get me coming in and I’m the exit interview on the way out.

Do you have an exit project?

They have to do a senior thesis.

What’s an example of a senior thesis?

An example…I had a student last year who wrote about traditional television moving to the web and companies like HULU…

Which is?

Um, which is a …what do I call it? It’s a property owned by the News Corporation and NBC Universal as they’re both trying to figure out and control the migration of the television screen to that screen (pointing to the computer). So her thesis was about what this is going to mean for the TV industry and what it’s going to mean with respect to how people watch.

Any surprises?

Most of the students, who all think they’re so savvy…they think they’re so cool and we’re so uncool…they didn’t know it was owned by the same players who are already in control of the industry…they thought it was a continuation of everything that’s been happening since Napster… They thought it was some subversive way they could watch television whenever they wanted to, commercial free.

What do you prefer, radio or television?

Well, it’s apples and oranges… And not to evade your question, but here’s a more interesting one. Here we are doing an interview that’s going to be on your blog… Well, it wasn’t until 2004 that “weblogs” suddenly appeared on the cultural radar, and suddenly people started blogging and it became wildly popular and people started talking about things like citizen journalism replacing the whole journalistic enterprise, or at least becoming as important as professional journalism. And then you have practices like my student who is in Florence right now who’s keeping track of and reporting on her Italian experience via a blog…I mean, how many millions of blogs are there NOW and what’s up with that?


I think that’s a fascinating question…I don’t have an answer but I do think it’s important to think about and talk about this as we all blog away… Think of it this way: What you and I are doing right now is point-to-point communication…back and forth from me to you. But in the past when I’ve been interviewed like this it was for some medium of mass communication, some point-to multipoint means of communication, you interview me for a magazine and that gets distributed to a mass audience… Now, you’re interviewing me for a blog and in a way the blog is point-to multipoint. But when there are literally millions of blogs you have a media world that is multipoint to multipoint, all these millions of blogs competing for the attentions of all Internet users and surfers… Wow! What a world!

Is there a required tool for this program?

I used to say this (holding up a pen). Now I would say it’s simply the ability to type words. Literacy is the basis for it all…writing is the basis for it all. And of course you can’t write if you don’t read.

Are there books out there that can improve this for students?

Well, my great mentor and teacher was a fellow named Neil Postman, and he wrote a whole series of books on the subject…um, but one of his influences was a Canadian named Harold Innis…Innis wrote two important books about communication, Empire and Communication and the other one is called The Bias of Communication. And to bring this all full circle, I think those are the two books that are the root texts in the study of media ecology.

Wow, this was inspiring and very informative, thank you!

You’re welcome.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gal, the international student

I was strolling the city streets one day, soaking up the final sun rays when I heard this girl speaking. She had a unique accent that I couldn't place. I asked her where she was from. She told me she was from Israel. I had never interviewed an international student before and asked her would she mind answering some questions about her life here in New York. Below is a synopsis of what took place.

What is your occupation?

I am a student at Hunter College (68/Lex.) in the city...just started!

You said you were an international student?

Yes, Israel.

Were you also a student there?

I am twenty-six! Over there...I was in the Army for two years, Switzerland for three years, here for three years, I just started college over here, my life is already a great was fun, beautiful. I learned some German...


In Switzerland.

Why? They're German there?

They speak Swiss German, it's divided, by three different...areas? There's the French part-French, South, Italian, middle-they speak Swiss-German, but everybody speaks German...and in school they teach it. But if you go to the French part, they make you speak French.

You were in the Military?

Yes, two years. I became a commander, but everybody had to do that.


Everyone had to join the's required, if you live there, you have to.

I didn't know that.

It's an ongoing conflict, I am trying to be optimistic about it...I mean there are some people who put kids on roofs so (that) house does not get bombed.

Upon obtaining your degree from Hunter, what do you hope to achieve?

It's so wide, that's why I want to do PR stuff, journalism, I think I want to do something with publicity, produce my own television show...

What's the red string bracelet signify?

It when you donate to the poor, you get one. It's like good luck, spiritual. The Kabala, Madonna wears one.

Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?

I'm more spirit of believing than acting on it. As long as one believes whether that be believing, what you want...that's what belief is. (Sipping her coffee)

So, it seems like you have a plan after college, but it's not definite?

There are so many people that go to college and there's a huge difference between what actually happens, that's why I'm here and I am going on six internships!

Sampling your identity?

My real world started a long time ago...there's an age thing (difference). A typical college student goes because their parents made them and/or paid for it. Things were not like that for me when I was eighteen,,,I'm not trying to sound dramatic, I mean it's a beautiful place, now they did a survey that said 80% of the people there are happy!

That's seems stressful.

I'd like to go back there in like four what I was saying is there's a huge difference, we grew up faster...

Has that made you less frivolous?


You could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

New York!


Well, first of all, New York; say no more. I mean seriously! I lived in Switzerland, it is so beautiful over there, but if you read the newspaper, it's like nothing happens! It's just too peaceful! I got bored and I moved to New York.

Here, it's a happy medium?

Yes, there is a certain VIBE that I didn't get anywhere else, well except for San Diego.

Ever been to L.A?


How would you compare NY to LA?

Yeah, I just wanted to grab people and shake them up...they're too laid back!

You're saying people are not laid back here?

Here people are just...well, sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't...sometimes everyone is
just walking and I am walking and I feel myself walking faster even if I'm not in a rush and have no real destination, all of a sudden, I'm in a big rush to get there.

You start charging with them, that's happens to me too!

Yeah, and one time I was walking really fast with the usual traffic and I just stopped for a second and some lady on her cell phone who was rushing to get somewhere was like "What the HELL are you doing?" She had space to go right or left, there was plenty of room for her just to go around me!

You seem very upbeat and positive, what is your secret?

70% of life is work, so I'd better have fun! I try to do everything.

Best experience here?

I think you can be wherever you want, you can choose to be whoever you want, you can go, anywhere!

Do you consider this country the Land of Opportunity?

Yes, there's no limits to what you can do, it depends on the definition of success.

Been to the Statue of Liberty?

Yes, like six times...always whenever I have a family member come out, we go there, it's fun but it's hard when you're a student.


There's money, money, money, all the time, you become more aware of money because you see it.

This is a country of possessions, we measure ourselves by it.

Yes and people are willing to do a lot for it...with their Louie Vouten bags, there's no other country like it, it's very materialistic?

Are you materialistic?

(Hesitation in her voice) I'm trying not to be...I wasn't until I came here.

Is New York changing you?

In New York, you have to...this is a city that has a lot to offer. But I'm trying to be who I am and not be materialistic...trying to focus on my beliefs. I think everyone is searching for happiness.

(Nodding) I agree with that.

And they always question what that is.

What do you despise most?

Not having enough money to be happy. I mean not having money can suck the life out of you. I mean I know that money doesn't give you happiness but I am also aware that money gives you comfort. BUT, you could be a greedy bastard and have a beautiful house and wife and lots of money and still be miserable! There are people that are spoiled like that...I always tell my friends: I don't want to be too rich but I do want enough money to live and be happy...and I want to get paid to do what I love!

Me too, I hope that happens for the both of us one day, soon! Thank you, this was very interesting. I learned so much.

You're welcome!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Silence the Stain...

I saw this guy years ago when he was first starting out. I took a friend of mine to go see him at Comic Strip Live in the Village. Fast forward, 3-4 years: I see him on this funny Superbowl tide commercial. Right away, I started planning an interview in my head even though I didn't have a contact number, nada. The next day, I see him walking down the street. I did not hesitate. I screamed out the window and told him (did not ask) he had no choice but to answer some very important questions. He felt obligated because I supported him when he was beginning as an artist and he wanted to return the favor...ah, he's so nice.

Who told you about your gig?

Commercial agent.

How did you get to know him/her?

Her...from a workshop I did downtown.

Cost of workshop?

Around 3 something (300 dollars+).

Agent cost?

10% of earnings.

She got other clients?

A lot...very big.

Can you have more than one agent?

Not for commercial agent...for other....

So, you can get another agent?

Working on it, takes a lot of money to get money.

So aside from comedy (comic standup), you would do other projects, movies and such?

Yeah, a character type, like Phillip Seymor Hoffman, I like the types of roles he gets.

I do too, like the 'everyman' type of how long did it take you to make the commercial?

Got to NY around 5am, me and crew drove from there to Newark, NJ to a seedy location where there was this closed building office, cuz it was Saturday I think, anyway, we used this guy's vacant office for the shot. The skit was improvised.

Really? I didn't know that.


The both of you? You and the 'interviewer'?

(Nodding). The director was from Sweden, the creative people were pretty high up (successful) and 'the talking stain' was added later. So the guy interviewing me had to pretend there was a stain on my shirt that wasn't really there, and I (the interviewee) had no idea and I'm like confused, not knowing what's going on.


Breakfast, lunch, only worked 8 hours, there were two sides (camera shots) so I only worked for three hours, the rest was waiting time.

First commercial?

No, did three before.

Really, didn't know that either, don't recall seeing them, guess cuz the tide one got big cuz it was a big hit as a Superbowl commercial?

Yeah, first one I did was non union for a Poker Website, the other PSA (Public Service Announcement?)for drunk driving.

Paid hourly service for tide commercial?

No, service fee...$1,800 for actual filming during Superbowl.


$100 everytime it airs on regular t.v, $1,800 yearly for cable and web sites.

The other two commercials air?

The first one late at night, that was a small role with many people. The drunk driving one, I was the really drunk guy who was too drunk to drive so the other guy who was only slightly buzzed drove instead...he of course crashed, the commercial is to get people to see buzzed driving is just as bad as drunk driving.

As the really drunk guy, what were you asked to do?

Appear really intoxicated and make a mess eating.

Eating what?

Sausages. many sausages did you have to consume?

None, every take I spit out the food, it tasted so bad, cold, etc. Whenever you see people (on tv) eating or drinking they're really just pretending, like they go to take a sip of water (holds glass to take a drink) but never really swallow.

Cool. How long did the commercial become?

Standard...30 seconds, the other commercial I didn't mention I played a hick for an 'Urge' MTV commercial, for less than $1,000.

When is your next stand up gig?

Not for a while.

Let me know if you go to Comic Strip Live again, I really enjoyed your show (2 years ago).

Okay, thanks, see ya.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Film Producer (Beautiful Kid) Patrick McCullough

Pat on the movie set of Beautiful Kid. He plays the older brother Jimmy, the only brother not afflicted with a drinking problem. He tries desperately to keep the family from falling apart.

Patrick McCullough is the award-winning film producer of Beautiful Kid. Starring Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes), John Carty (Best Supporting Actor Method Film Fest) and Dan Brennan (winner of best Supporting Actor Method Film Fest). Meeting him was inspirational, his Carpe Diem attitude is infectious.

What was it like working with Tatum O’Neal?

What? That’s the other Patrick McCullough, where did you do your research? (laughing).

Ooops, sorry about that. What about Good Friends Film Productions, that’s your company?

It was. It’s not up and running but I did a bunch of educational film productions back in the day. We made 5-6 films but it ran out of gas…

I also see you wrote, directed and produced A Dream Come True.

Yes, that is actually true. It’s like a doo-wop musical fantasy. You know, the street-corner-singing style back in the fifties…there’s some doo-wop in it…it was a world where dreams are not spoken, but sung…a short film.

How long is a typical short film?

This one was about fifteen minutes. Nowadays, they can be a lot shorter…some as short as two minutes!

I just interviewed an internet movie director, James Huffman and this is his specialty, his films are less then ten minutes and they’re brilliant. He thinks short films are perfect for our society today…we have such short attention spans.

I suppose. Well to summarize the plot, a depressed businessman makes his way onto the subway after a long day and a fight with his wife on the phone about him never seeing his little girl. It’s late at night and this homeless guy is begging for money. The beggar guy looks at this businessman and says, “It’s you, we sing together.” And he’s pestering the guy, “Sing the song we sing together.” There’s a cop in the car observing all this. They almost get in a fight, but he keeps pleading, “Sing for me.” The lights go out and a doo-wop song comes on. The businessman, the beggar and the cop are in purple tuxedosin an old tenement alley singing in this very fifties style, very magical change of scene. It’s kind of trippy I guess…and it’s this beautiful song. And as they finish it they’re back in the subway and the beggar guy is telling the businessman, “ You were great.” The cop who was just watching the guy being pestered in the prior scene loses it and kicks him off. The businessman goes home and for some reason he’s got the song still stuck in his head. From his formally depressed state, he’s feeling good and trying to sing the song. When his wife meets him at the door she’s upset because he’s singing loudly and she doesn’t want him to wake up their kid. She thinks he’s whacked. But she gives in and tries to join in and they have a really nice moment and the little girl is watching all this. Oh, Right before we got to the subway scene, we saw this little girl being put to bed by her mom and we go back into the moving subway. Basically, the watcher doesn’t know whose film it is. Does it belong to the beggar, businessman, the girl?…I like to think it’s the girl’s but it’s open for anyone to interpret.

Sounds beautiful, I like it. I love teaching short stories. I think it would be nice if it was the beggar’s story…that he could be asking for change in one minute and then the next be the business guy’s equal and dance around and not be looked down upon.

That’s a nice way to look at it. It was done so many years ago on film and back then there was no real market to sell your short film, I showed it at some festivals. I actually just showed it again at some art event in Connecticut…I was thinking of putting it on DVD so it will be for sale.

That would be good for kids I think.

It’s good for adults too. You know? It’s a good message for adults. It’s kind of saying don’t bring your attitude home…bring your music…don’t be a depressed businessman when you’re at home.
Wow, it’s deep. I want to see it now. What made you decide to open your own summer camp and what does it offer its students?

I’d been teaching off and on for about 10 years by then and I had worked for other summer programs for a few years and I realized no one was a rocket scientist. I could do it myself, and teach what I wanted how I wanted to. So I started Filmmakers Ink. I had a good first summer and it gave me some freedom to work during the academic year on my own film projects. This is my 5th summer. We teach screen writing, filmmaking, acting, editing and special effects. All the things I wish I was taught as a kid.

What types of artists do you usually hire?

I usually go about hiring people I work with because I know how they work. There are actors I’ve done plays with. Filmmakers I’ve worked with for the production side of things. And with the younger kids, I’ve had some of my former students teach the younger ones. They know what I like to get across to the kids.

They say that’s the best way to learn is when you have to teach it yourself, wow…you also teach at a Magnet school?

Yes, as an artist instructor.

Tell me about Sara’s Diary, the teen suicide prevention film you produced and directed.

It was just this great story. I hadn’t started getting into the documentary-style films yet. So it’s like a short story, a short film. In this one. It’s about a girl who was getting picked on a lot and committed suicide. She left a diary behind and it was picked up by a male student who was one of the ones who had picked on her. He reads it and has to come to grips with what he has contributed to and who she really was. He gets depressed also but he seeks help for it.

The moral of the story is about

It’s about getting help and in each film there is information for students to reach out and get help for themselves or others. The purpose was to get the kids emotionally involved so they would want to talk about it in their classes.

Where did you go to school?

I did not go to school for film (laughing). I went to college in Marist College in Poughkeepsie and I graduated with honors. I majored in communications. It was pretty much advertising, marketing, public relations…I mean I don’t know what I learned that I’m still using but I’m sure I picked up some things….

How did you ever hook up with Colum anyway?

Um…let’s see. We had met going on a bus to the Fleadh, some Irish music festival….and I began to see him around at book readings and the like…I really liked his books and I’d seen him in 2001 and he was doing a reading and I was working on putting together a feature film and I told him what I was doing and a few weeks later, he called and told me about this script that he had been reading. When I heard him say there’s this great script I said I wanted to read it. These guys were revved up and wanted to make the film the next week (laughing). And I was like, “Let me just read the script.” The next day I had only read ten pages and loved it and thought it would be a powerful movie and I went back and I said, “I know you guys want to do this next week but can you give me like, two weeks?” I asked some crew members that I had worked with on a previous film to read it before they agreed to do it for little money. I questioned them when they told me they liked the script to make sure they really bought into it and we didn’t lose one crew person which was very important….except the one we found in our trunk…James Capria, the DP, was cleaning out our production vehicle (my 12 year old Honda hatchback), and he came up to me very urgently and said, “I found Ross.”…that’s a long story.

There was so many awards for this….

Best Actor Award at the Method Fest for Dan Brennan who was the lead. Best Supporting for John Carty who beat out Eric Roberts (Julia Roberts brother). It was also nominated for Best Ensemble at the Method Fest, a Maverick Award, Best Film nomination up against films with budgets of 5-10 million dollars, a Boston Irish Film Best Movie Nomination. That’s incredible, with a budget of $15,000! It cost us a lot more than that.

How long did it take start to finish?

Till our first screening about a year and half.

Terror said, the Woodlawn trip was the best…

I missed that. I lived there and moved to Connecticut after living in NY…I remember we filled up 2 theaters for one screening, we filled up a 500 seat theater in a snap! They rigged it so the film would show on 2 screens at once and that one filled up as well with the overflow.

What was it like working with Colum and Mike?

It was a great collaboration. Mike is the best screenwriter I’ve ever worked with, and he and Colum were passionate about the direction of the film.

Do you have a favorite actor?

It was a pleasure…all these young and inexperienced actors walked in the door and it was trial by fire. They had to deliver and they all did and we were very lucky. There was not a weak link in the bunch.

You made this film just after 9/11?

Yes, we were scheduled to start the film on 9/11.We took Gullianni’s words to heart…‘we gotta keep working.’ We waited a few days and began. One of the things that was most important to me as we made this film was the involvement of the police and fire department, not to mention the carpenters and other Ground Zero workers. They wanted to work with us on our film just to escape for a few hours. It was important that we could be that outlet for them.

Haven’t you been featured somewhere, I feel like I‘ve seen you on the screen a lot?

I’ve done some soap stuff and some plays that have been nominated and I was Jimmy as a supporting actor in Beautiful Kid…I was always getting cast as a character actor on soaps as the bad waiter or something, which is a good thing, getting the character roles…I’m actually gearing to head back into the city and do that as well.

Where did you study acting?

Two years at Carnegie Hall…Meisner Technique.

What’s that?

It’s living truthfully within imaginary circumstances….I went to boot camp as an actor. Robert X. Modica was the hardest teacher but a great one…He’s still teaching, still going strong in the city.


I started studying a few years after I graduated.

What was your biggest inspiration to go into acting?

My brother‘s death. At the time I was graduating college and I basically said (I was doing IBM marketing) to hell with this, life is too short. I’m gonna do what makes me happy. And that’s why I decided to pursue acting. I’m still in the Screen Actors Guild. I became a working actor in NY, after that I went to LA….acted in and produced plays on my own. I’ve learned when you want to do something you really love, don’t wait for someone to give you the opportunity. Go out and do it yourself and make it happen!

You were also a well-known singer once upon a time.

I don’t know about well known, I was one of the Founding members of the band Gaelic Storm, they kind of made it big for awhile.


You know the scene in the movie, Titanic? The Irish band in the steerage. That’s them. I had left LA before all that went down. Now there’s only one guy left from the original band, Patrick Murphy. He’s a good entertainer. I always hated the name of the band, so cheesy.

Did you play an instrument?

No, my part was mostly singing the ballads and harmony or the fun stuff like playing the cheesy percussion. I did this in LA… I jumped into it because I always loved Irish music. Two guys asked me and we made it happen…got us our first gig and I was paying the rent with it for a while.

What was it like working with Malachy and Frank McCourt?

I knew both of them before Angela‘s Ashes…

You did?

They were doing a play adapted from the Leon Uris book “Trinity” and I had written Leon to ask for the movie rights and when he wrote back to tell me that that wasn’t going to happen and that even now they were working on the play in New York, I asked for a job. They paid me a stipend to work behind the scenes….I came back from LA at the time and Malachy was working on it…and I met Frank around that time. It was the late 80s. Then the next time I saw them they came to a Gaelic Storm show!

That’s a sign… it seems like you were all meant to do a movie together!

They’ve always been great guys. Shortly after I saw them at the show I went away to Europe for a few years. When I came back I picked up a copy of the Irish Voice and read that Frank had just won the Pulitzer Prize.

That is just incredible. What were you doing in Europe?

I wrote two screenplays and did some teaching of English and acting.

So, you didn’t go to film school.

How did you become a filmmaker? Shortly after that time in Europe, I made about four or five educational films. Made lots of mistakes but learned a lot. After my short film, I was trying to raise money for one of my features but instead I got hired to create a business plan for someone elses film and ended up producing it.

What’s your usual title?

I consider myself what ever each project needs to get it done…I’m a producer if a really good film comes along. I really like to do my own films…Getting Beautiful Kid out there and getting a movie of my own are one and two on my list right now. I made a few movies this past year that were funded by the Department of Justice.

Very cool.

Yeah, it’s nice making films that are fully funded….with this economy. One of the bright spots in this economy for me is I’m getting more time to make my own movies. The problem is all I really want to do is spend my days with my kids.

What is your philosophy on life?

John Patrick Shanley says and I‘ll paraphrase, “Sometimes in life, doing the things that you really want to do requires a little more courage than you currently have. What it takes is a deep breath and a leap.” During the times when I’m present in my life, I think of that quote or whenever I’m facing a wall.

That’s good advice, I’ll take it. Are you from Ireland? You look very Irish.

No, my great grandparents were from Ireland. I’m from one of those Irish American families that was in the Civil War draft riots. My family went on to become train conductors and detectives and newspaper men. My grandfather was the editor of the Stamford Advocate during WW11…

You’ve lived in LA, NY, MA

And Vienna. I also studied in Ireland my junior year, I loved Donegal, Prague at night,…I love Florence, Italy, hung out with some street venders there and played music.

Is LA superficial?

As Louise Lasser said to me once, “LA is like Saturday night without a date.“ I found that in order to have a foundation, you have to actively create. It’s not going to present itself to you. That’s why I had to form a group when I was there.

How ironic, that’s what the producer, James Huffman had to do when he moved to LA from NY.

In NY, you just do your own thing but in LA you have to actively protect that…I saw people go off the deep end.


There’s just no footing….it’s too glossy, you can slide right off,. You have to work hard to keep your footing.

You did really well a few years back with your play “Spittin Image” by Stephen Metcafe, tell me a little bit about it.

It was a long one act, about an hour. A two-character play that I produced and acted in, and we ran it for awhile. We got a “Pick of the Week” in the LA Weekly. I ran it so long, 2 years, that the playwright sent me other plays to do.

Did you travel with it?

Yeah, it went to Ireland, LA, NY (Signature theater), Mexico…

Mexico? You‘re kidding!

No, my friend was getting married over there and we got the US Embassy in Mexico City to sponsor us!

That was smart…I am really getting jealous!

When we went to Ireland and Air Lingus flew us over to do the play there.

No one gave you this hand book you just figured it out? I can’t believe the US Embassy…

My friend’s mom ran a theater in her home, she was very much a theatrical persona and she was the diva. As a gift to the family, we did the play there…just for the family and friends when they were preparing for the wedding.

You are very adventurous.

You only live 3 or 4 times. Once I went hitchhiking from the West to go through East Germany into West Berlin…this is before the Berlin Wall came down. The couple that picked me up even gave me a place to stay…I helped them move their furniture.

Wish times were like that now, there was so much freedom back then to explore!

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