Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Me


The reports of the behaviors and misdeeds of Messers. Weinstein and Spacey, et. Al. have the feel of blaring breaking news that interrupts and catches us all off guard like large plane crashes.  This ought to be troubling to other leaders of movie houses and actors because the public outcry demonstrates that those who ingested their movies and their acting never really found the body of their life work that believable in the first place.  If they had, nobody would be shocked.  Harvey, Kevin, and Justin just were never able to convince their audiences that wayward screen behaviors are normal, or ought to be  In the back of everyone's mind, these would-be titans never really had the credibility and influence they assumed they had.  In other words, the audiences didn't really buy their stories.  And that ought to cause shudders among the marketing firms who offer high profile endorsements to companies wanting to hawk their soap.  

There's another sad outcome.  It illustrates the mournful truth that our most gifted, most creative artists lead actually banal, even boring lives.  There really is no creativity or verve in their vice.  Just the same tired lines, using the same broken props, objectifying everyone around them with their petty, tired arrogance.  So, in the end, their lives have no real artistry.  They are merely hacks playing out roles in tired re-runs of soap operas. 

And then there's me.   Not materially a lot different.  Perhaps apart from the the Old Testament Jeremiah, no one encapsulates our true--to-life dilemma better than Solzhenitzyn when he wrote: 

 “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

"Dustin, could you save me a seat beside you?"

Two Alberts

Al Klein, with his wife Carol, often rode their rickety bikes all the way from their home in downtown Sacramento to whatever middle school or high school our church was meeting in at the time.  Fourteen miles each way.  Not bad for the retired missionary who had spent his life teaching Greek to young seminarians in Taiwan.  

Returning missionaries often don't fit in the best of ways.  They see with different eyes and jostle you with stories and insights that simply sideswipe you if you had no really intention of investing much time listening.  Al did it with a consummate finesse.

He parsed, I think, that I was living with a fierce anxiety to succeed.  To prove myself.  To grow a large monument of people.  Out of the blue after a Sunday service over a cup of coffee and a thick muffin, he told me about the guy he lived next door to in Princeton, NJ, when growing up.  The man wore saggy, gray athletic sweat pants.  Had really unruly hair that rebelled whenever it could.  He carried his dog as his child and walked the streets as a meandering, contemplating, happy man.  Who was it?  Of course...Albert Einstein.  Al didn't know him as a great thinker, but just the kind guy next door.

This week a scribbled note that Einstein gave to a bellhop during a trip in 1922 sold at an auction house in Jerusalem.  Einstein either didn't have change for a tip or the bellhop didn't accept the tip (those were other days!).  So on hotel stationary he penned a note.  Einstein told him that what he had just scrawled might be worth more that some loose change some day.  He was right.  It sold for a cool $1.8 million dollars.

What was written on the note?  "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness."

You can never have enough Alberts in your life.