With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
Days I let my mind go wild and I get the binge going it is full on sensory overload. Let us say the aural distraction landscape is only after I get home.
Let us say.
I can multitask tasks. I cannot multitask my creativity with my professional empathy. When Deniece Williams is busting out “Free” I cannot hear the conversation in front of me. I’m all in for her. This is a new wrinkle in the woolly world of consultancy. I want to be present for the patient in front of me, let them see they have my attention, but until I wheel them out the room and away from that sweet sweet voice they do not have my attention.
And I cannot always get them away from the noise, which by the way they can barely hear even though it blasts the common area without much effort I am lounging eyes closed at home, holding my bride tight.
It is freedom of thought that exemplifies the Back Room. Selfish freedom so delirious and rich to my soul.
I’m listening to the new Kendrick Lamar album “To Pimp A Butterfly”. The man is hungry, filling every part of you with soundscape kaleidoscope. And wise. He’s the hip hop Ryan Adams, trying everything and not feeling the fall only the next creation. He’s the heir to the open free verse of Miss Erykah Badu. And the sibling to the crazy good and plenty of Janelle Monae. You just close your eyes and catch their flow as it breezes by at 120 mph.
And from the musical mind hoarding comes an even deeper binge in the form of television.
I learned to read from the TV Guide so it comes as no surprise to me but it can be scary for others. Others. Significantly.
No cable but recent acquisition of a Blu-Ray allowing televisual appreciation of Netflix and Amazon have quickly taken over. “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” “Alpha House” “Transparent” and rejuvenation of “New Girl” and “Archer”.
And full seasons pass by in one sitting, several hours taking in bright shiny newness especially stimulating my fever. Character actors from previous beloved shows showing up, 20 years later, older though thrilling as a secret pleasure. And some appearances leaving me speechless.
Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney as politicians in “Alpha House” even in the show having a quick Donna and Josh “West Wing” moment. And later on in “Transparent” Whitford as a transvestite.
Lee Tergeson, always and forever Tobias Beecher from the seminal tv show “Oz”, showing up as a gay military man in “Alpha House”, graying but still with the boyish twinkle.
Alison Sudol, the delicious sound of soft rain falling in her band A Fine Frenzy, suddenly in name passing as the first episodes of “Transparent” credits roll. Kaya. Wait. The chick in bed bravely topless and fierce, later to heart-tugging sadness in musical duet… that was Alison? The 22 year old I saw twice in 2007 in NYC with shimmering red hair and a big smile as we chatted at her CD booth afterwards and she signed her debut album “One Cell in the Sea” with love and bunnies? The same artist who Taylor Swift quite clearly ripped off in Swift’s latest album “1989” with her “I Know Places” song. Listen to “ I Know Places” and then listen to A Fine Frenzy’s “Rangers” and tell me I’m crazy. Swift previously came out as a fan of Sudol’s work so this is no coincidence.
But I digress.
Easy pickings would be main characters from “Alpha House” played by longtime actors Clark Johnson (Meldrick Lewis from beloved show “Homicide”) Matt Malloy (independent actor from fringe delights as “The Unbelievable Truth” and “In the Company of Men”) and John Goodman, a true character journeyman elevating the material even when it is blessed with high-caliber writing.
“Alpha House” is a comedy on Amazon. Light silly fare about four Republicans who live together in a house in Washington D.C. and they have misadventures together. Oh, it is the brainchild of Garry Trudeau as well, so you know it will be intelligent funny.
“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” comes from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and the heavy “30 Rock” influence is there. Wacky crazy nutty only in an alternate universe of NYC can such craziness exist.
I save the final show “Transparent” for last since it was momentous while watching all 10 episodes at once.
Momentous. I drew closer, emotionally invested from episode one, though not entirely sure why. Many reasons I sat affected.
The landscape is Southern California. Sunny, piney, laid-back. If you’re white. The diversity spans the cycle but hardly anyone works for money. Retired or children of retired, housewife, student… so they can spend all their time finding themselves, troubled and seeking more out of life, trying to fuck into happy.
White person problems. Which I am, so the shadow of privilege only exists if you stop and think about it. The children are selfish but are they the product of even more selfish parents? And even in selfishness aren’t we all entitled to the option of being happy?
More couch sinking to my bride’s repeated nose wrinkling until she had enough. As the patriarch, who wants to be a matriarch, enters a camping retreat filled with transvestites, the wide-eyed grateful tearfulness flowed from him(her) through my television into my unforced tearfulness.
In that moment I could relate. My bride did not understand and my obsession scared her. We talked later and I explained the expression of pure joy and belonging. Something about letting the moment inside and wash through you like electric warm fuzzies. For whatever stirs your soul.
And for me it’s my writing. Writing is freedom and exploration. It’s discovery of joy and pain.