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[TRENCHES] Failure

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Hello, children. I’d like to tell you a story.

Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin.

This is a story about failure. This is a story about well-meaning people who have committed their lives to doing spectacular things, only to fall horribly short in the critical moment of execution. This is a story about how trying is more important than success.

THE BEGINNING

Once upon a time, someone had an awesome idea. It was a lovely, pure thought. It made sense and everybody got decently excited about it. It was revolutionary. It captured a flavor of life that was dangerously unappreciated, like some sort of lychee chocolate, only not horrible.

It was the very thing this time and age needed.

THE PROCESS

So off to the races we went. People did stuff to make a thing. Talented people. People near enough to the top of their game to bother with unfamiliar territory. Big risks, big pictures and blue skies. The thing really looked to be shaping up to be A Thing. It may even be worthy of the definite article. Careers are built on definite articles. Signpost moments of spectacular convergence, where all mortars fire in glorious harmony and collide in a shower of brilliance.

THE REALIZATION

But it wasn’t.

The first clues that The Thing would never deliver on the promise it made for itself lay in the first few meetings. What was written off as exuberance is revealed to be naivete. What was forgiven as passion is recognized as a furtive desire to accomplish that which has not yet been accomplished. What was mistaken for moxie is exposed as a tissue of breathless half-lies. We all wanted the best, but we were incapable of facing the impossible reality of the situation we found ourselves in.

THE RALLY

The blinding realization well-heeded, we doubled down. Sacrificing sleep and good health for the sake of making a loose collection of stuff into A Thing, The Thing that Deserved To Be, a motley crew of tactful, clever folks attempted to elevate the work from an arduous trial to be survived to the transcendental experienced we had promised ourselves. By the sheer will of our bloody-mindedness, we would force into being this essential Thing. All due attention was paid and all due wisdom applied, not to mention the carnival of favors called to cover the shortfall.

THE FALLING SHORT

And short it indeed fell. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a collection of rad people hoping to accomplish something that should be, by all rights, impossible, will be in want of an unknown quantity of resources to accomplish the increasingly impossible Thing. However little known the feelings or views of such a group of creative individuals may be on their first entering a project, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding players, that they are considered as the rightful property of some one or other of those dependent upon their brilliance. Such a classical view, endemic to the pathological dreamers amongst us, causes the truly brave to redouble their efforts when up against the wall. Which, in nearly all cases, results in a group of people meandering at the back of the room, looking at the fruit of the horrors we have wrought.

This in-depth example of the process of crafting new work is painstakingly sourced from years of experience. Let it be a guide to you through your darkest hours; many have walked this path before. It is your sworn duty, against all odds, to succeed.

What are some of your experiences with failure? Please share in the comments.

[TRENCHES] Ten Reasons to Fail at Writing

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I’ve been yelled at for going “meta” before – which is an insider term for self-awareness in fictional scenes – but it runs in my veins like blood (or, more likely, Wild Turkey). In a desperate effort to stem the deafening roar of dead air, I’ll throw this together. This is the season of excuses!

10. Writing is hard.

What? It is. You have to be incredibly clever and try to capture a little piece of thing that other people have assuredly done already. They probably phrased it better. Their gags were tighter. They even found a way of communicating something in the subtext that you wish you could. They make you mad with how good they are, in comparison to how good you aren’t. It’s not even worth trying anymore. Just sit in the back and shout swear words at inopportune moments as punishment for them exploring their brilliance.

9. Writing is not easy.

First off, you have to find something that skewers some semblance of truth while also capturing a unique voice or perspective on the matter. That’s a tall order before you even start! You’re so busy self-selecting and editing the possible future output, you haven’t even made it more than a paragraph after five hours of intellectual anguish. I think I know why people prefer typewriters; they are less troubled by liters of sweat. Why are my fingertips salt faucets? Doesn’t modern medicine have a solution for me?
Don’t you dare say gloves; no pair I’ve ever met can maintain their structural integrity when faced with the frigid perspiration of my panicked creative process.

8. It is difficult to write.

Seriously though! You start maybe four articles, lay them out in outline form, try to dial in some bullet-points based around signpost zingers. Before you know it, you’re looking at the cascade of destruction and thinking, man, what a better world this would be if I just got a little distracted by something on the internet. Oh, look! A video of a cat trying to be awesome, but totally falling off a thing. That’ll teach it to be so self-satisfied. Oh, look again! A video of somebody jumping off of a roof onto a trampoline, only to discover that such things were never accounted for in the original design process. You learned a valuable lesson today, junior birdman! Oh, look a third time! A witty, scathing take-down of a cherished piece of pop culture! Yes, that will teach you to love things painstakingly created for your enjoyment! Be more socially conscious, you guilty son of a bitch! Yeah, that felt good.
Oh, look, it’s 3:48 am and you haven’t finished your article. Well, you wrote a good outline; have some more nachos. You earned it, buddy.

7. The process of writing offers unexpected challenges.

The arduous composure of a pithy sign-off is finally over. You made a thing! You raged against the intransigent entropy of the universe and participated in creation. You exerted your influence on the world around you and nearly released to the world this perfect capsule of wit and insight about…shit. A cursory glance reveals the damning mediocrity of your sentiment. What you thought was a clever parable was unconsciously lifted – word-for-word – from an episode of Big Bang Theory you don’t even remember watching. Half of your jokes are from podcasts you don’t even recall listening to. The closing zinger is from a well-known internet meme, which, well, you knew, because you have a very specific set of audience. How do you even begin to reclaim this wreck from the clutches of plagiarism? Answer: you don’t. You shit-can it and start from scratch. But you’re already past deadline, so let’s go see what those cat trampoline article people are up to right now. Sick! Now I have a socially responsible reason to hate Space Jam!

6. Sometimes, you will face adversity when attempting to write.

Even when inspired and fully capable of recording your thoughts in a digestible format, you’ll hit those colloquialisms or inside jokes like IEDs on the road to Fallujah. Then you’ll look at the sentence you just tossed off and think, “seriously? I’m calling that up? I don’t have a right to engage that. I don’t even deserve to speculate about that whole experience that is entirely foreign to my own. Who cares what my thoughts or feelings are about that, no matter how carefully crafted they are from a lifetime of sharing experiences with a myriad of knowledgable people. You suck and you should shut up forever. You are a hack. Somehow, you found a way to put a collection of words together that recalls the specific burst of hydrocarbons that registers in the nostrils of the reader as a freshly-coiled turd from a sickly elder dog, carelessly squirted on the basement floor when left alone for an hour too long. You suck.”
And then, there are BAD days.

5. You might have too many jobs.

But what’s a 70-something hour work week between friends?

4. Writing is still hard.

It used to be so easy! Maybe it was because you didn’t care. Maybe it was because nobody was reading. Maybe even it was that you had so much more to say, but you’ve tapped the well and now you have to come to terms with this. There has to be an upper limit to how much you can output over the course of a life. Perhaps you’ve exhausted it? How does that feel? You’re not more than a third through the entirety of your existence, but you’ve already run out of interesting things to say. How’s that feel in the holiday season? You probably can’t even come up with anything to write on that card to somebody you’re vaguely related to. That is, of course, if you even remember to send holiday cards out this year. E-Cards don’t count. We all know this.

3. Writing is insanely easy.

We’re talking about a job where you create value for the society at large without ever having to lift things. This is a pursuit where you can give back to your community simply by being clever and moving your fingers and hands about quick enough to splat something together. Nobody is watching over you with an opinion about what impossible quality the light you’re focusing is supposed to embody. Nobody is breathing down your neck, desperately upset that you can’t make a low-quality MP3 pirated from an iPhone in some bar sound like a full-bodied studio recording. Nobody is actively cussing you out because the video file they gave you is in the wrong aspect ratio, codec and ends thirty seconds before “it was supposed to.” You don’t have to rig anything. You don’t have to screw anything to another thing. You just have to sit the fuck down and write.
This is the most terrifying thing in the universe.

2. There’s so much other content out there.

Hello! Welcome to the Internet. I will be your guide. Perhaps you would like to read arbitrary lists keyed to your interests? Right this way to the Archipelago of Buzzfeed. Ready for something a little more advanced? Perhaps I may interest you in a saucy jaunt to the Province of Cracked? You seem like a discerning sort. I have the very thing: follow me through the forests and wildlands to the Volcanic Basin of the Onion. The people hired to write for these sites are impossibly brilliant, a legion of self-aware cynics all too happy to snark with laser precision. I myself avail myself of their offerings whenever possible, usually to the detriment of my own output. How could you not? With the rich panoply of e-humanity pathologically contributing to the casual entertainment of the faceless, connected masses, why even bother adding when you can sit back and enjoy? There’s always a chance of delivering the perfect zinger in the comment section. I have a portfolio of my finest work.

1. Writing is fuckettygoddamned hard.

You may not have noticed the basic theme I’m working on here. I’m a ninja of subtext. I’m like the Dali of Jungian iconography. I’m like the Wagner of economically repeated themes. I’m like the O’Reilly of bombastic proclamations.
Writing really isn’t hard; it’s the allowance you make for the process of writing that is hard. The actual process of committing words to page (or screen) is laughably simple, but to foster a headspace that facilitates that output, with a comfortable period of time and laxity of other responsibilities to allow this to occur, that’s the real trick. So here’s my holiday hook: the best gift you can give to yourself is the opportunity to record some aspect of your human experience, no matter how flashy, crafted or erudite. Withdraw from the manic pace of your stupid, ugly life and scribble the thing. If you make that your habit, you will be more of a writer than most awkwardly-bearded, nebulously employed wankers currently orbiting the drinks tables of the orphan christmas parties of Los Angeles.
I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.

[TRENCHES] Calibration

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I just started teaching (and, consequently, stopped writing). I find the process of calibration to be similar to beginning a show with a mostly new array of cast and crew. Please, allow me to elucidate.

The first day of class is a meet-and-greet table read of the script which, in this case, is a syllabus. After delving into the cast of characters and basic setting, everybody gets a solid feeling for their roles, character arcs and expectations. They’re always higher than the encumbrance of reality should allow. This, of course, will change with time.

After a session or two, it’s time to get deep into a core concept. Analyses of various depths will ensue, almost guaranteeing a breakdown in communication at some point. Unfortunately, out of a desire to maintain harmony and progress, every effort will be made to prevent this from being disclosed. The train of further development trundles on, building up steam toward problem track.

Eventually, a common language develops and everybody reaches the first big deadline: the midterm, when all the design drawings and basic paperwork are due. These are always a little shaky, depending on how much everybody paid attention to the details. Pesky things like obvious concepts, subtleties, and specific numbers – like budgets – seem to fly away quickly. Everything seems a little dull and requires some revision.

After some arduous tutoring, everybody winds up back on the same page in time for the major project of the semester: tech week. This is often ambitious at the outset, before the difficulty of assembling what is necessary to complete the task is fully understood. As fevered moments tick onward to the last conceivable moment, every effort is made to cobble together the assignment as best fits the expectations. Without extending more than the minimal effort, of course.

This brings us to Finals Week: opening night. Sometimes, it seems like you’re never going to get there. You might even have assumed as much and forgotten to prepare for all the specific demands. You might stay up all night and power through, but everything eventually comes together.

There’s usually a moment when you look back on the experience and tease out the highs and lows. You may even take a moment to think back about the laughs you had along the way. Hopefully, you’ll keep in touch with the friends you made, and maybe even see them again over many other projects the future.

Whatever the outcome, who cares; you’re probably not going to have to repeat it anyway.

[TRENCHES] Why I’m over previously released material at Fringe.

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Far be it from me to return from a protracted absence with an unctuous vituperation targeted at one of my favorite generative endeavors, but shit is fucked and I have to rail. Come with me to the Fringe, where in the near past I am sitting, despondent yet without words to spit. I’m painting with a broad brush here mostly to embellish otherwise mild impressions for dramatic effect.
I’ve simply had it all of the way up to here with previously published material performed at Fringe.

It’s just not quite the thing it could be.

It’s always a lesser version of a fully-produced effort. It could be because not enough time was spent rehearsing. It could be a lack of close examination of the scenes, beat-by-beat. It could be because design was not adequately realized or even considered. Ultimately, it says to me that we should have been a part of something scrappy and cool, but we landed around here-a-parts, so let’s just play the “It’s just Fringe” card and bail into the warmer waters of casual mediocrity. It’s warmer because somebody peed in the pool.

I’ve probably seen it before, and better.

STOP DOING “THE LAST FIVE YEARS.” I saw the definitive version of this production at UCLA a half-dozen years ago and my heart is still singing from the experience. You’re both very good-looking people, but I would forgive you far more easily for writing your own relationship-melting musical that just didn’t quite get there than I would forgive you for doing an okay version of this particular show. It’s going to sound like I’m picking on just that show – which I simply didn’t see – but that goes for anybody who thinks it’s time to get their hot friends together and do that show they love without respecting the fact that they have a far more important story to tell: something we haven’t seen before.

Try something truly daring and weird.

Unicycle Shakespeare. Tennessee Williams rap pastiche. Do a goddamn Beckett musical. I don’t even care; take advantage of this magical-ass chunk of the year to take your passion project and grind it to the next level in awesomeness. Just don’t cast yourself in True West then expect me to drop everything and go.

Unless you cross-gender cast. I heard Sammy hates that shit, and that tickles me.

Or go further!

Do six simultaneous one-person shows, with full tech. Do a musical scored entirely with plumbing utensils. Do a series of scenes based on Twitter conversations that didn’t even exist before Fringe started. Do a rock opera using only five notes. Do a clandestine “happening” piece at Fringe Central or some other main event that is never fully explained but somehow involved twenty-seven people in pinstripe suits discussing the weather and sipping martinis with a dance break. Do an extended monologue about how your cat is the best cat in the world and provide adequate evidence to support it. Do a dance piece where everyone just stands still for forty-eight minutes (but for the love of baby Jesus, start and finish on time).

Look, homie: we’re not all prototyping new-ass work or using Fringe to raise awareness for our theatre companies. That’s fine. You can totally do a short run of a show that you love and have always wanted to do. In fact, you should! Get your friends together and do something cool. Maybe even dare to knock it out of the park and give people a reason not to listen to me.
Just sell that shit as the passion project that it is, because there are people who are pouring their heart and soul into something raw, something new, something that JUST DOESN’T QUITE WORK YET but shows a glimmer of promise.

The damn thing is, they’re trying to grab hold of the same audience that you’re bogarting with your just-for-funsies bullshit. All of the Facebook pimping you’re doing is burning butts in someone else’s seats. Your meager attendance comprised of friends, well-wishers and people you’re sleeping with are actively burning out on theatre that is truly innovative, unless you step up and collaborate. Help them. Help the brave soldiers on the tragic battlefield of art. Everything you don’t do gets in the way of their development and success.
Share your audience. Walk the streets and tell the people. Go see other people’s shows, for fuck’s sake. Find the weirdest thing you can and find the gold buried deep in the under-rehearsed, half-baked crazy that holds it all together. Give and give, then give a little bit more. You will grow and mature as an artist yourself in this cauldron of concepts, this forge of raw ideas, but only if you look deep into it.

Courage, my friends. We are all Fringe.

[Trenches] Things LA Theatre Does

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I’m not dead, and neither is Theaatahh in Los Angeles. So I’ll hunt it. Because it can take it. Because it’s not our hero. It’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A dark night out in a bad neighborhood with poor parking and no decent nearby restaurants or bars to party at before or after.

Shitty Realism

I have spent more cumulative hours on a Manhattan Apartment set than I have spent in my actual apartment. My actual apartment, which is in the Valley, with a broken fridge and broken air conditioning. I’ve taken to mopping my brow with the cat. He’s not into it.

We keep diving into this trope because, for some reason, it’s not glamorous enough to be sweating balls in the most naturally gorgeous area to live in the continental United States, in barely-affordable lodgings mastered by indifferent slumlords of indiscernible, yet extreme, untempered ethnicity. We all have to pretend that living in a closet for twice as much rent makes your struggle somehow more legitimate, handily discounting the heady privilege that comes with being able to flirt with moving to New York in the first place.

Yes, that bookcase of disused, worryingly-stained Goodwill books, painstakingly chosen to somehow reflect the plot. Yes, that same family of Ikea chair, painstakingly reinforced because actors will persist in using their environs with the verve and aplomb usually afforded to our simian cousins. Yes, 9/11 Iraq war Bush 2 obscure restaurant name-check clever literary reference white people problems, because coming to terms with an America where you simply can’t get ahead just by showing up and working hard anymore is too uncomfortably immediate for drama.

Let’s all rage-watch Girls and drink Popov shots with Sriracha every time we catch the pungent whiff of nepotism or, against our best judgment, feel feelings. What we wouldn’t give to waste away in that concrete jungle that dreams are made of! That aggressively passive-aggressive Xanadu! That Margaritaville of the grudgingly enfranchised pseudo-elite! That Candyland of the gluten-averse, world-weary joyless! Let’s pretend to have hurricanes, frozen rain and sufferable transit, like the glittering capital of human effluence from which all True Art™ flows, just so that our problems are theatrical enough to be considered worth sharing!

Derisory Magnificence

Los Angeles has elevated mediocrity into a commodity. The vast irony looms of hipster enclaves in the sweaty, hilly bits to the east and the sweaty, beachy bits to the west churn twee intimations in a myriad of variety. Woven with mustache-tickled kisses, twelve dozen whispers of casually enjoyed popular pursuits of yesteryear are enjoyed with a new pseudo-fervor. It somehow became noble to just exist and have worryingly prevalent opinions about esoterica. You can write a blog about how your tomatoes are feeling and not get beat up.

LA Theatre is not immune to this. I’ve weathered hours of stirring speeches on the well-trod boards (or weary masonite) of the small houses, only to sally forth into a bold four weeks of near-anonymity. I love a St. Crispin’s day speech as much as the next Shakespeare iconoclast, but my give-a-shit has long been suffering from erectile dysfunction.

Rather than embrace the heart-crippling beauty of our evanescence, we seem desperate to assign meaning and value to the most inane of pursuits, often steeling ourselves against a miasma of mephitic apathy with the affirmation that we few, we happy few will lead the revolution and somehow coax an obligated audience of well-wishers and ex-lovers to revolt and somehow convince everybody that this is important.

The abecedarian, fresh-off-the-bus, pilot season day-tripper is usually the most culpable, but with so little else to believe in, who can forgive them their solipsism? They are, after all, totally for sure and absolutely for-real-reals about to Make It!™ in the most antagonistic climate since the last time somebody whipped out their smartphone to check the temperature. Fuck solar; if we could power America with naivete, Los Angeles would be the energy production capital of the world.

Irascibility

U mad bro?

A real member of the #community would be out of their mind with how up in arms and sheer ability to can’t even they are apoplectic with by now. I haven’t even started listing the accomplishments of so many companies who are trying so hard and totally getting noticed. Everything anyone spends the time to make is worth a look, which you would know, if only you were adequately indoctrinated into the insular world of theatre people. Clearly, you aren’t, and that’s obviously your fault. Why, if you only had access to the wealth of knowledge readily available to all of us firmly entombed within the #community! I could give you a few recommendations, but you probably wouldn’t appreciate them. Derisive sniffing intensifies.

Derivative of Cinema

Oh, is LA a movie town? You wouldn’t know it.

The language of cinema is pervasive. We are all sensitive to the tropes of the Movies – ask a theatrical video designer why he doesn’t just produce short films for a living. We’re all so dialed-in that it leaks out in weird ways. Daycare providers are expected to have craft services. Fast food workers carry themselves like assistant directors on the day of shooting the big battle sequence. Everybody calls Clothespins C47s, which pisses me off because what even is that?

It seems people are uniquely bothered by entertainment that doesn’t somehow indulge obsession with our hometown industry. Low-budget musical comedy parodies of movies soar (with unfair vanity) while powerful deconstructions of a film’s message and social context languish in obscurity. We don’t want to think about or be challenged by our perception of the popular product of our neighboring community, we want to indulge in tearing it down to our level, that of the lowest common denominator.

Perhaps that’s what you get when a town is mostly populated with the dream-shattered erstwhile-naive from earlier in this article. I guess film had it coming for not casting all of us within the first six months of stepping off the Greyhound/American Idol finals/shitty Mazda crammed full of our meager possessions.

Not Really Minimalism

We only have fifty bucks, but we’re going to try and re-create a restoration comedy with full costumes and dozens of consumable props. Why? Because it’s important to us, so logically, it has to be important to someone else! And there’s a lot of them! And because we’ve done such a good job miming all of the accoutrements we’re too poor to afford, but we have incredibly convincing teacups full of tepid water, they will come in droves! Droves, I say!

I’ve seen dozens of performances with two set pieces or a complete prop list that even the most harried stage manager could easily ferry between performance venues in a stately hatchback. The sad truth is that most productions will invoke the privilege of minimalism precisely when it suits them, but happily ignore it for the most arbitrary of reasons.

Excellent costume rental hookup? Awesome! A few shabby end-tables that can be anachronistically re-appropriated to stand in for their specific counterparts? Let’s do it! Can we solve our problems with more fabric and curtains? Watch me! O, what a delight it is to live in this world of iambic kings and nobles!

I think it’s mostly futile to attempt to capture the halcyon days of the Globe in a forty-seat theatre in the outskirts of North Hollywood with a single semi-functional bathroom you have to cross the stage to use. Most of the time, the insistence of quality in the absence of resources or utility is a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Worse, after Game of Thrones, nobody wants to see the Scottish play if Lady M doesn’t get her tits out.

Expressionism

I love theatre in LA. I honestly mean it. The rest of this article is a cunning diversion to keep you from getting to this point, because if you really, truly need to say something, you’re going to have to fight to say it. That’s what the theatre of this town is trying to do. It’s alive and things are happening here that are incredibly exciting.

People are telling stories because they have to. They gather in meeting halls, off-duty churches and parking lots to spin wild yarns with puppets and crazy musical numbers. If you’re still reading at this point, after that slag-fest, you’re one of those people I actually want to talk to. We make the most exciting, immediate and lively art in the world, on a scale that cannot be rivaled and at a rate that cannot be matched. We are hungry and we absolutely have to express ourselves.

Bright colors. Wild characters. Way not enough tech time. This baby is coming RIGHT NOW, so get ready.

Naked people shouting poetry and covering themselves in paint. Failed rock stars mumbling into half-busted microphones while an octogenarian ballerina creaks her way through a beautiful swan-dance of hauntingly beautiful fragility. Improv people. It’s happening here, and it’s happening because it has to, because we have no choice but to do what we do as loud as we can. We don’t have the luxury of being quiet. We don’t have the privilege of being refined. We have to run out into a room full of strangers who hate us because they didn’t get cast and deliver the good time we promised every waking moment of every day leading up to this night, because it will never happen again.

Nobody is filming us. Everything that happens tonight will be forgotten. A truly great show in Los Angeles will destroy your expectations and spoil you forever.

Essentialism

We do what we must not because we can; we do what we can because we must.

Nobody cares. Our tiny community of die-hards is routinely ignored by the elite, because old insults die hard. LA’s theatre scene is the screen door on capital-T-Theatre’s Polish submarine, and while the world has moved on to consider such humor in bad taste, it would seem the world left Theatre behind. Our tiny industry’s greatest aspiration has been stymied by desperate attempts to attract ticket sales, while the savvy rising stars contribute their brilliance to the occasional movie musical. Is “Let It Go” not ubiquitous?

They may not realize it yet, but everyone putting in real work in the trenches of Los Angeles Theatre at this point in history is learning vital lessons about what is truly essential in performance, from the improv theatres to the big-money comedy cabarets, from the 99-seaters to the depressingly few mid-sized venues, from the karaoke bars to the latest pop music reality show. While television ungracefully dies in the cauldron of web production and the cinema is buried by meticulously planned, long-form storytelling, there will be a swing of the pendulum back to well-crafted live performance. The generation of amateurs today slaving for the love of the art will one day be the professionals helming a new renaissance of work that acknowledges the enduring vitality of vibrant storytelling.

Nothing we do is important, and yet everything we attempt will one day very important indeed.

So go see something. It’s not all shit, and even if it is, you yourself may just learn an important lesson that will bring you one step closer to elevating your art. Do not be a passive audience. Take it upon yourself to declare “I am not dead.” Neither is theatre in Los Angeles.

[TRENCHES] 18 Ugly Mistruths (response)

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I prefer to do most of my writing in the world of wacky theatrical commentary, but this article by Christopher Hudspeth caught my interest all over my friendtwittergramspace and it bummed me way out. I felt it my new and unofficial responsibility to have a loud and mostly ignored problem with it all up in here. So we’re doing a DATING TRENCHES THING! I’m going to pick the original apart point-by-point (his article in italics). Please enjoy.

1. The person who cares less has all the power. Nobody wants to be the one who’s more interested.

The person who cares less is the most manipulative. You are not the slave of another person’s whims. If they don’t show any active interest in making time for you, there is no earthly reason for you to make so much time for them. You’re going to anyway, but you should probably double-book that slot so you can have something awesome to do when they inevitably flake.

2. Because we want to show how cavalier and blasé we can be to the other person, little psychological games like ‘Intentionally Take Hours Or Days To Text Back’ will happen. They aren’t fun.

If someone doesn’t text you back within hours, you are within your rights to consider severe personal incapacitation, outlandish misfortune or the worst of all contingencies, the flat battery. If it takes them more than a day to get back to you, they are not worth your attention. They got your text. They then texted no fewer than three other buddies or family members about incidental things. It’s not like their thumbs were cut off, and if they were, that motherfucker would call.

3. A person being carefree because they have zero interest in you looks exactly like a person being carefree because they think you’re amazing [. . .]

This is a bullshit exercise and nothing at all more than a waste of your time. If somebody pulls this kind of play-it-cool bullshit on you, you let them know you have a garden party with the Queen and that if they want to reach you, they can send a telegram to Buckingham Palace. Tell them you have a beer summit on Mount Olympus with Dionysus, Buddha and the Spectre of Ronald Reagan (you didn’t send the invites, you just showed up because IMPORTANT BULLSHIT IS HAPPENING). Tell them you have to go ride robot unicorns to Saturn’s moon of Titan. Best of all, don’t tell them a damn thing and put your energy into following up with someone who isn’t wishing when they should be washing.

4. Making phone calls is a dying art. Chances are, most of your relationship’s communication will happen via text, which is the most detached, impersonal form of interaction. [. . .]

Making phone calls is a fucking inconvenience. In the immediate history of telecommunications, the increasingly slim bricks of plastic and polymers we carry so close to our cancer-prone flesh have evolved away from the relatively simple task of communicating via voice between people. Human beings do not make phone calls anymore, so if you get a ring-a-ding from a sweet honey, you’ve caught a fairy by the filthy slipper.

If you don’t get a phone call, be cool about it for a hot second. Some of us have grown up jobs that preclude stepping outside on a whim for vocal rendezvous. We’re locked away in towers of ill reception or dank holes of quasi-employment, desperately hoping to touch base but denied all but the most transient of communique. Forward an instagram of your fucking lunch if you think it’s so important, but for fuck’s sake, be cool. You’d rather talk face-to-face than try to come up with bullshit conversation over the talkbox anyway, right? RIGHT, ASSHOLE?

5. Set plans are dead. People have options [. . .]

Truly awesome people have a spectrum of commitments every day/night of their lives. To even be considered is an honor. You may not fully appreciate the depth to which a Person of Interest has programmed their waking moments, nor will you ever until you get a little closer to them. Truth of the matter is, would you rather spend your time with Johnny-I-Don’t-Do-Shit or Benjamin-I-Have-A-Fucking-Life-But-I’ll-Make-Room-For-You-When-I-Can? Hint: The more interesting person is the one you can’t see every waking hour. Deal with it.

However, if you get to three strikes of someone giving you a soft yes and canceling at the last minute, bail. You’re obviously too available and that means you are not living an interesting enough life. Go wrestle bears or wander the desert for an immortal shaman for a hot second, nerd.

6. Someone who hurt you isn’t automatically going to have bad karma. [. . .]

Someone who hurt you may never meet their just desserts. They will always seem to be invulnerable to the ravages of their own asshole machinations. The simple fact that true assholes never show when they’re bleeding insures that you will never have the satisfaction of knowing when they got their comeuppance. Your mistake is entrusting your satisfaction to the inevitable acknowledgement of the universe of the weight of their cumulative malfeasance. You are free from their petty indiscretions now and that means that you will forever and always be winning.
Somewhere deep inside, they know how much of an indefatigable fucksplatter they are. Their whole life is lived at odds with this fundamental self-knowledge. You used to find that cute. Rise above.

7. The only difference between your actions being romantic and creepy is how attractive the other person finds you. That’s it, that’s all.

This one is, unfortunately, super fucking true. So take some time to look at how bangin’ you are. In the quest to be the person you are, you undoubtedly let some shit slip. Identify the most easily correctible things and fix them. Get awesome. Hunker down, examine yourself and then get more awesome. No time spent improving yourself is time wasted. Don’t be surprised if, thirty pounds lighter, two marketable skills and one new language later, you’re suddenly attractive to your crush. Now it’s your turn to spurn, and spurn with sick joy.

8. “Let’s chill” & “Wanna hang out?” are vague phrases that likely mean “let’s hookup”  [. . .]

Sex is a good and natural thing that happens between consenting adults. It sucks that we (as an American population, at least) are seemingly incapable of asking someone to participate in it or be receptive to an earnest request to engage in the same. All told, the delicate game of inference and suggestion helps to weed out awkward fumbling with socially incompetent fuckwits, which is a benefit. Don’t hate the players, hate the game. If you really want to change the world, call someone on their coy bullshit, but for Christ’s sake, let them know you’re down too. The sex will be better when everybody knows how enthusiastically interested they are.

9. Some people just want to hookup and if you’re seeking more than sex, they won’t tell you that they’re the wrong person for you. [. . .]

Sometimes, people have a sexual relationship that lasts for months before they develop romantic feelings toward one another. Sometimes, that doesn’t happen at all, but you both had a hell of a ride getting there. There will be a perfectly obvious point where you will have to have a conversation about what you are feeling and what you are hoping that interaction could develop into, which you will know by analyzing the amount of time you spend talking in bars to your friends about said relationship.
Once you pull the trigger and discuss these terms of engagement with your sweet honey of who-knows-how-long, you are officially trading away your enjoyment of a couple dozen nights of good times for a possible deeper connection. Your sweet honey is under no obligation to double down and engage the deeper connection you have offered, at which point it is your duty to yourself and your long-suffering, dear friends to end the arrangement in the interest of pursuing a different person. It sucks. I agree. I feel for you. Now grow the fuck up and get back on the horse, there’s even better things waiting for you out there.
Oh, I’m sorry, were you still the person who was hanging out, trying to decide if you were going to spend the night with someone that didn’t want a relationship? Let me help you. Do you want to? Do they want to? If the answer is clearly yes, do that. Then do that until it gets old. Then read this section again. You’re goddamn welcome.

10. The text message you sent went through. [ . . .]

Once in a while, text messages do not, in fact, send. This has happened and it shall happen again. With that said, you are permitted a grace period of twenty-four before sending a followup text. It should be apologetic, claiming that your device has been malfunctioning and NOT AT ALL enquiring as to whether or not your targeted recipient received your first communication. Simply inquire in less pressuring tones as to their availability or interest. If no response is received, move on. There are seven billion people in the world, or something. Who has time.

11. So many people are scared of commitment and being official that they’ll remain in a label-free relationship [. . .]

You are a lion. Roar for me. Look in the mirror. Repeat this phrase: “Hey, sorry but I have to ask: what are we?” This will be your Excalibur. Slay the worthy and unrighteous with it. If that gorgeous motherfucker is stringing you along, they will shrink under the light of your holy aegis. Leave them and their chiseled form behind; they are comfortable existing in the nebulous realm of stasis that defined all of your prior dalliances. Hit the gym to up your endorphin count and go on with your bad self, clad in the finest armor of Camelot. If your knight will not swear fealty to you, then he is clearly not worthy of the Round Table. Which is what you may now call your booty. You have my permission.

12. Social media creates new temptations and opportunities to cheat. [ . . .]

You do not ever want to be caught in the position of obviously mistrusting your sweet honey to the point that you are suspecting their idle chitter-chatter on the webbernets. I’ll say again: if you don’t trust someone to be into you enough to close the phone/tablet/laptop/desktop/phablet/augmented internet device long enough to have a conversation with you, you are well in your right to take up the Excalibur of #11 and slice through your meager non-committal semi-relationship. Chances are, they were too insecure to offer you the best version of their self anyway.

13. Social media can also create the illusion of having options [. . .]

Every goddamn person will scope hotties on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/Linkedin/Soundcloud/Myspace/Reddit/Imgur NEED I GO ON. If they have an OkCupid or Tindr account hot and live, you can take umbrage, but sometimes people will scope hotties. It doesn’t mean they like you any less, it just means they’re on vacation. Prepare something special to catch them off-guard and remind them why you’re so damn into them. Chances are, as a human being living in the complicated world of working all of the time for poor compensation, you were doing a shitty job of letting them know how much of exactly why you’re stuck on their groove. The world would be a wonderful place if we regularly took more time to let the Most Important People In The World To Us exactly why they earned their title.

14. You aren’t likely to see much of someone’s genuine, unfiltered self until you’re in an actual relationship with him or her. [. . .]

You’ll get to a point after the Wild, Reckless Boning phase where you start to see what an impossible asshole the person you’re with actually is. It’s up to you to identify exactly how much of this you can handle, and what lazy aspects of this personality are not permissible. You will never completely change a person, but you are well within your rights to identify the boundaries of an undesirable relationship and articulate these to your partner.
It is not your partner’s responsibility to agree to these terms, and if they don’t, it’s your God-given job to deal the fuck with it and bail. If they’re on board, it becomes their job to follow through. It’s still on you to decide if they haven’t followed through enough.

15. Any person you get romantically involved with you’ll either wind up staying with forever or breaking up with them at some point. [. . .]

There is no forever or forever-broken-up-with. Don’t be surprised if you have a wild night of passion with an ex or catch yourself signing divorce papers with the absolute love of your life. People change. Worse, people change along every axis, leaving the philosophers among us to wonder just how compatibility could ever occur between two wildly mercurial entities in the first place.
(Pro tip: the answer is relish the journey.)

16. [. . .] a person is more likely to post a Facebook status [. . . ] while it may not mention your name, it’s blatantly directed at you.

Ain’t nobody got time for vaguebooking. Rise above and ignore anything not explicitly directed toward you. YOU ARE A LION, GODDAMMIT.

17. There are plenty of people who’ll have zero respect for your relationship and if they want the person you’re with, they’ll [. . .] get to ‘em.

If you are with someone who can be easily drawn astray by a smooth-talking fuckbastard, you are, by the Commutative Property, yourself with a fuckbastard. Allow them to be drawn astray if need be. If you did your due diligence letting them know how amazing you believe they are, it’s on them for having a broken commitment bone. Know inside your heart that nothing so easily lost is so easily kept and it is only a matter of time before they stray again. Take solace in your luck for being liberated before shit got worse.

18. If you get dumped, it’s probably going to be pretty brutal. […]

I’ve had plenty of phone breakups and a couple text breakups. I’ve doled out plenty more of both. If you’re on the receiving end, it’s not your fault. Think about it for a hot second, asshole: somebody who thinks you’re pretty damn cool doesn’t want to deal with the full-force trauma of watching you crumple into a snotty mess when they tell you that you’re just not what they want to whatever with. It sucks big style, but have a little compassion. That was a hard thing to do, and it was brave of them to even communicate clearly with you. Thank them for their candor, cut all communications and meet at the support group. They’re called “Ben and Jerry’s” and you may find them in the freezer section of your local supermarket.

If you’re the person calling/texting a breakup, fuck your fat face, you classless bitchbiscuit. This was worth so much more to you. Worth more to both of us. I thought you had class. You couldn’t even just meet in a park somewhere? You hayfucking chickendick donkeyslut. No, don’t send an e-mail “clarifying” your position. Your position is located directly between your buttcheeks, and you can feel right at home hunkering down right in there. Why not passionately make out with your own asshole and then live your life knowing everything you ever say to the people you most want to impress is colored by the taste of your own shit? Die in obscurity.

 

If you’d like to hear more of my dating advice, OH GOD WHY?

[TRENCHES] Theater Clichés

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Every profession has a few quirky things that “go with the job,” which insider language for “this pisses me off but I’m raking cash moneys so screw.” The parade of human misery in Legal Professions. The endless font of body fluids for Doctors. The parade of human misery through endless fonts of body fluids for Educators. Theatre is hardly immune.
Although I tend to think we pull this shit because we’re bound and determined to enjoy ourselves. If you pulled Doctor/Lawyer hours for Substitute Teacher cash, you’d have jokes too.

Needless to say, these piss me all kinds of off but I grudgingly adore them.

• “Blinded by the light!”
If you have the modest blood alcohol level and boastful proprioception of a ladder-monkey, you might get roped into hanging lights and slinging cable for a pathologically lazy lighting designer. If you show up with your own crescent wrench and pair of gloves, you’re instantly a caste above the helpful company members that rescheduled their shift to hang out, farm hours and grow ass.
Once the fixtures start getting locked down and the juice starts flowing, you’re bound to be treated to a spontaneous rendition of the haltingly relevant Bruce Springsteen (and later Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) tune. Everyone honestly believes it’s the first time this joke has ever been made. Everyone does it. I wish you the necessary strength of sphincter not to rain liquid-hot halogen lamp hate from above on the struggling showcase production you got roped into supporting. I suggest pumping the brakes on personal hygiene, rolling up your sleeves and showing some burly arms; sparkies always get first crack at the ladies.

• “I want the soundtrack to this show!”
Be a sound guy. You’re trying to score that juicy musical theatre show that you know will line your purse and slay the Rent Demon for a couple months. You may even stoop to working on a production of RENT. In the meantime, you’re going to have spend a lot of time on iTunes listening to soundtracks from movies from which your director has cherry-picked their two-minute-transition tunes.
Invariably, two-thirds of the way through tech, someone is going to get all up in your business about getting the soundtrack from the show. Someone else will hear this and then someone else will have the brilliant and totally unique idea that “they should sell the soundtrack in the lobby!” You have one out: claim your macbook doesn’t have a CD drive and don’t even bother trying to explain the complicated nuances of copyright. You’re already well aware of the fact that nobody understands the concept anyway. If you can tolerate the smell of stale Cheetos and palpable misery over outsourcing of VFX jobs, you can commiserate with the video guy.

• Upstage Background Crowd Scene Mugging
We’ve all played “Spear Carrier Number Two.” We’ve all served time as the non-canonical superfluous army of innumerable Other Wise Men/Shepherds/Sheep. We’ve all been in crowd scenes with the requisite given circumstances to fully inhabit our unnamed character with a verisimilitude befitting the mise-en-scène.
This has not kept certain people from acting their dick off in the incredibly funny conversation they’re not really having with the cute girl that’s been directed to look at them during the extended soliloquy. You may even be this girl. I think the only thing you can do in the arms race of background one-upsmanship is play dirty. No bra. Tight slacks. Boys or girls, you’ve got goods to show. If you’re going to break out of the cyclorama Siberia of marginalized photogenicity, you’re going to have to prove that you’re more interesting to look at even while some guy is busy chewing the scenery. If all else fails, you can also chew the scenery.

• Tits out.
I know I just said above that you should showcase the goods. Ignore that. The only reason anyone should ever have to bare their genitalia or secondary sex characteristics – no matter how gifted they may be – is that they damn well feel like everyone they ever took a class with should enjoy it. It hasn’t been the seventies for a mathematically embarrassing age; we no longer have anything to gain artistically from self-exposure. It is purely an exercise for the exhibitionist that unscrupulous directors will take advantage of. If it’s what you want, get down with your bad self. If you harbor any concerns about revealing your body to a meager paying audience, don’t let anybody talk you into doing it. You are in control of your own body, you are the ultimate arbiter of your comfort in the expression of your art and too talented to stoop to what has become nothing more than a hack shock tactic.
Unless you really don’t care and aren’t talented. Then do porn. It pays and you get treated way better.

• GOING BLACK! (not going back!)
After dimmer check or at various points in tech, it may be necessary for the lighting board op to call out “Going black” to avoid plunging a room full of people unaccustomed to the jagged scrap metal set into the costly liability of blessed darkness. This is a safety concern (and occasionally a nifty check to see what half-busted dimmers are still ghosting). Only an indefatigable phallus would tack a lazy joke onto this.
Actually I do it all the time so it’s totally cool and you get a total pass.

• The Food Order
At a certain level, you may rely on the fact that someone always asks for the vegan, gluten-free, hypoallergenic, fair-trade, locally-sourced meal. Curiously, this person is also pathologically incapable of planning ahead and attending to their fringe dietary needs. This is an attention stunt and worsens with the financial compensation of those involved with the production.
You can out these people by placing the crafty standard Red Vines on a table in the break room/green room/communal toilet/dressing lobby. If they make a go for it, liberally bacon their privately catered meal and watch the lie dissolve. They all use cosmetics colored with insect- and seafood-derived additives anyway. Oh, did you not know that was a thing? It’s totally a thing. Read a label sometime.

• “Video guy! We should TOTALLY WATCH A MOVIE ON THIS SOMETIME!”
Only if you bring beer, popcorn, fried chicken, pizza, the DVD and don’t talk to me. But that’s cool.

• Spontaneous Cue To Cue Ballet
Cue to Cue is one of the biggest bummers for a performer. You’re up there struggling to remember lines out of sequence while sweaty dudes that haven’t slept in days blast way-too-loud sound cues, way-too-bright lights and way-too-complicated-to-program video at you. Sometimes, you’ll be standing there for an hour and a half while some half-drunk dude with his shirt sleeves rolled up makes eyes at you from the top of a ladder, occasionally pawing at a chunk of metal you’re half-convinced will later crash on your head.
Sometimes, all a girl can do is dance.
Reach down deep inside, to the time when the future was ahead of you and it seemed like everything you did was important and worth the effort. The commitment instilled through years of ballet classes barked by long-retired, stout professional dancers with a lengthy resume of Broadway choral roles – BROADWAY! – resonates with this endless moment of physical strain. An invisible force pulls the dance from inside your patched-yet-broken heart and you feel yourself moving in place, feeling the vibe of the stage.
Someone shouts at you. “Please don’t move; we’re focusing lights right now.”
It’s hard to believe that you’re the one at fault here. Nobody wanted to shout at you. You’re still pretty and your hair smells like strawberries. We just have to get through this one sequence so everyone can get back to the bar. In moments like these, anything that interrupts that is tantamount to setting fire to the painstakingly rented scrim walls of your stock Manhattan apartment set. Keep the dance inside…for now.

• “Is it really gonna be like that?”
We all know what you’re asking. Whether you’re the director, actor, designer, producer, playwright, theatre owner, publicist, child of parents too poor to afford rudimentary daycare or treasured pet of any of the above. You’re not happy. We feel for you.
Unfortunately, it’s not our job to make you feel happy. It’s our job to deliver as much radness as feasibly possible with the meager resources of no time, no money and a rapidly diminishing give-a-shit. If this truly will end your life and unravel the gossamer web of theatre magic we have so painstakingly sought to conceive, you are welcome to have that conversation in private, but only after the first time it is attempted. You are most likely not alone in your taste, but coming in hot and shouting that in front of everybody achieves the secondary goal of saying somebody is a failure. You’re not that mean.
Or if you are and don’t realize it, this might be why people don’t work with you more than once.

You can believe I have way more of these quibbles, hastily-scribbled in the dim light of a dozen low karaoke bars across this and other cities. I’ll be back with more.

[Trenches] How to Not Improv!

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I’ve been studying the fine art of Improvisation. As such, I’m inspired by the easy out for an article deep tradition of improvisational theatre. As such, allow me to advise you against the breaking of critical rules.

Straight-up denying premises.
This is a cardinal sin of improv. The rule “Yes, And” is simple enough; eschew the “no” and refrain from “but.” In the heat of the moment, the blood rushes and the senses blur. One can be forgiven for any multitude of offenses, but leaving your scene partner desperately trying to justify why a cupcake baker would be hanging out on the moon? There’s so much going on. Throw a bone, dude. Don’t be a hater and give them room to be a normal person trying to make shit happen.

Physical intimidation.
You’re just damn bigger than your scene partner. Stronger. Perhaps faster. You have powers. You clearly call the shots. You should be king of the mountain, and you swell with all the swagger due the nascent emperor walking amongst the people. The problem is, your buddy is out there trying to make an awesome moment between a dad and his son. Give it to him. You get to be Wacky Dad and you will be crowned with the glory of The Weird One for all time.
Or at least until the end of the scene.

Don’t burn the scene doing a medical, dental, transactional or quasi-informational procedure.
You had this great idea to be a dental hygienist or phlebotomist. In worryingly little time, you exhausted your knowledge of such procedures. Where do we go now? We have no idea what the scene was even about. Everyone is mildly terrified. You’re going to have to reach deep and find something to make this world worth seeing more about.
It was better to just pull Wacky Dentist or Vampire Blood Guy out of your ass two minutes ago than suffer through this debacle. Be a person in the world. Envelope the awkward sense of why-isn’t-this-my-Obamacare-dollars-at-work. Make a strong choice and live in a world between two people in an unusual situation trying somehow to be people instead of languishing in the lukewarm waters of “kind-of a thing where an official person is sort-of not all about a relatively routine thing.” Save the children.

Can’t give up your shitty idea.
You’re on the back line. You have the best idea in the entire world and everybody needs to see it. Robot Celine Dion traveling through time to win gold in the Olympic Canadian Curling Tournament? It has gold written all over it – LITERALLY. Well, literally-ish. It doesn’t matter! The people need this. So, no matter what happens, don’t be a part of some active scene between two human beings having a moment of vulnerable connection. You should most definitely drop your genius A-Bomb on the Nagasaki of your scene and end the war on Funny forever.
Or, wait. Not that. Drop the pretense and roll with the easy scene. You’ll find a glorious joke from organically being two people having a problem and working it out. Celine will always be waiting for you, watching hungrily from the wings. Maybe she can rush on stage for the mercy blackout line.

Come in hot with time-traveling Ben Franklin typewriter-tweeting through carrier pigeons
This doesn’t work. I tried it. Fuck it.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO:
Refraining from Mercy Edits

  • Two Men Left Behind
    Don’t let your buddies suffer. They’re out there, trying as hard as they can to be funny people, but they’re out of reasonable things to explore. Save them. Start the next scene and be a hero.
  • Catching Lightning in a Butthole
    There was one zinger. It was glorious. The scene was buttoned-up, ribboned, lovingly packaged and super McOver. Now they’re out there just trying to spin gold into straw, because your friends are out of forward momentum. Save them. SAVE THEM. End the scene and throw Celine out there. It’s her turn to shine.
  • Heaven’s Gate
    It’s a group scene. Everyone is on the stage. Who’s left to stop the madness? Nobody. This scene consisting entirely of saguaro cacti eloquently waxing on their life on the high desert needs a mercy kill, but everybody is way too invested in the highly theatrical shapes they’re making to sell their characters. Somebody needs to put a stop to this. Everyone is a form-of-a-Cactus. Who’s the hero? There are no heroes. Pull the pin and end the madness.

You now know all I do about the ephemeral art of improv. Go with God and, for the holy one’s sake, don’t get stuck in taxidermist or asylum scenes. Life is too short.

[TRENCHES] Getting around in LA

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Hey, buddy! I’m talkin’ at YOU! I see you looking at what I’ve got going on here. You’ve really got your eye on the ball. Finger on the pulse! Wristwatch, you know, co-ordinated to the, uh, thingy. It’s happening! You catch my point.
So for you couple-few in the know who live in Los Angeles yo, let’s dive into the fine art of gettin’ around!
Before we begin: generally speaking, I expect your impulse is to be cool to other people. You’re a good person.  Other people like you. They told me you’re fun to hang out with. You’ve got that one joke about the thing, it always totally kills. Truth is, if you’re going out and possibly about in Los Angeles, you’re going to have to put that somewhere deep and embrace the inner sociopath that comes to light when you slide behind the wheel. Here’s a spicy couple tips to get through it!

Flashing red light means just hang out for a while!
It’s an afternoon on, say, the westside. You’re rolling deep, you and your homies. In my case, my homies consist of three dozen Red Bull cans in my backseat; you KNOW I’ve got a posse. You got no place to be, but you need to get there and you don’t have time to live all of the life on the way. It’s all about point A to point B.
But WAIT. You’re facing a hot and spicy crosswalk with only two colors of lights: flashing yellow and flashing reds. You’ve got a multiplicity of humanity queuing behind you. An office business guy who doesn’t really have anywhere to be anymore. A grandma who misses her relatives who only spend the time with her because they feel obligated to. A severely underpaid, surprisingly good-looking me who smells nice and has remarkable hair.
It’s obvious that you should not treat the electronic stop-sign as the cautionary indicator it is. Survey your immediate surroundings with a blissful lack of rational thought and linger happily. No pedestrians coming? You have nowhere to be. Hold back the dreamers and the hopeful stacked behind you. Deny the multitudes their precious few minutes of street yard coverage and hang all of the hell out precisely where you are. A flashing red means nobody deserves to get shit done.

Drop a fist full of Lincolns on parking, just anywhere.
You’re paying for peace of mind. You’re paying for a place to stick the single most valuable possession you own. You’re paying for the opportunity to shut your door in mental slow-motion, swaggering toward your destination with the impeccable coiffure of a nighttime denizen with an exit strategy.
Perhaps you’re going to a show. You might have dropped some decent coin on your tickets. You’ve brought your sweetie out on the town with a honeyed promise of a good time and no worries. Every couple Hamiltons you let slip paw are a promise that your night will go without a hitch. When it’s finally over, all those dead presidents promise you’ll be home sooner than you ever would be if you deigned to slap your ride on some half-regarded side street.
It’s totally worth it. You’d be a fool to put in the extra wheel-miles finding a juicy, free slab of pavement. After all, you’re saving money on all that rubber for other applications.

Parking in the yellow zones.
You’re running late for a show or a bar. Parking is hell, as we’ve already covered. Why does God hate you? You work hard, you take care of people, you even gave a dude some spare change one time, even without him asking. The only thing in the world that you need right now is a place to shove your car and forget about it for long enough to have a decent night.
The last place you should look is the yellow loading zones.
You’re not very confident. You respect order; you thrive in a world of well-obeyed rules. It would be anathema for you to take something not readily offered to you. If you started taking more than you were given, the universe would fall apart, torn asunder from gossamer seams. You’re ill-equipped to ride the choppy waves of quasi-lawlessness. You can’t even stomach decoding those cryptic parking hieroglyphics without becoming queasy.
This evil is not for you.
Don’t look at your trusty dashboard clock, lovingly calibrated ten minutes ahead of whatever appointment you are pathologically early for. Don’t scan the impeccably clean pavement for obvious signs of long-passed street-sweepers. Don’t log into the Department of Transportation webpage and read up on how totally okay this undeserved liberty you are about to indulge in actually is. Roll on and find a disused street several blocks from your destination and desert your vehicle there, comfortable in the knowledge that your vehicle will be respectably broken into in the privacy of a disused street.
You will live longer knowing that, after 6pm Pacific, you could totally have ditched your whip right in front of the place you eventually hitch-hiked toward without a passing worry.
Leave the risky business for the broken soldiers of the night.

Good luck out there, good buddies. Don’t play it anything other than safe; Daddy needs to get where he’s going and a place to drop four wheels when he gets there.