Tag Archives: Catie Faryl

Collapse of the Cuckoo Kingdom

Y2K IN RETROSPECT – THOUGHTS ON THE COLLAPSE OF CUCKOO KINGDOM

THE ACTIONS AND TRENDS AMONG HUMANS ARE OFTEN MYSTERIOUS, YET I HAVE COME TO SEE THAT ALTHOUGH WE CAN’T ALWAYS EXPLAIN OURSELVES, THERE IS A COMMUNAL SENSE THAT STIRS CIVILIZATIONS, AND PERHAPS CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS, TO TUNE IN TO SOME INNER GUIDANCE.

WITHOUT THE FOCUS ON Y2K PRIOR TO THE MILLENNIUM, OUR COUNTRY WOULD HAVE BEEN TOTALLY UNPREPARED FOR THE DEVASTATION WE DID NOT ANTICIPATE BUT EXPERIENCED ON 9/11/2001.  WITHOUT FEAR ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF COMPUTERS AND TECHNOLOGIES CRASHING DUE TO THE PROGRAMMING  QUESTION OF WHETHER THE LEAP FROM “99”  TO “00,” OR 2000 WOULD SHUT DOWN OR DESTROY ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS, THE COMPUTERS OF AMERICA, AND WORLDWIDE, WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN BACKED UP.  THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD TRADE TOWERS AND THE ATTACK ON THE PENTAGON WERE PAINFUL, BUT WE DID NOT LOSE CONTROL OF THE STOCK MARKET, TRANSPORTATION, EMERGENCY RESPONSE OR COMMUNICATIONS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD.

WHEN I SEE TRENDS IN OUR SOCIETY, I TRY TO LOOK DEEPER INTO WHAT THEY MAY ACTUALLY BE ABOUT.  WHAT SUBTLE WARNINGS OR FORESHADOWING OF EVENTS CAN BE DECIPHERED?  ALSO I HAVE BEEN FORCED TO LOOK MORE INTENTLY AT WHAT I AM CREATING/CHANNELING.  WHILE MAKING THE PAINTINGS FOR THIS Y2K SHOW, I ALSO CREATED 70 IMAGES THAT SEEMED INTENSE BUT UNRELATED. I PUT THEM AWAY IN A BOX, AND FRAMED THE PIECES BELOW FOR A DECEMBER 1999 SOLO SHOW IN ASHLAND, OREGON.  IN 2004 I INVENTORIED ALL MY ARTWORK AND FOUND THE 70 INK MONOTYPES, ALL WITH FIRES, DESTROYED BUILDINGS, PLANES AND TWIN TOWERS!  HAVING NEVER FOLLOWED ACTS OF TERRORISM, IT WAS SURPRISING TO FIND THAT SOMEHOW I WAS PICKING UP YET NOT SEEING A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE EVENTS.  THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUS AND THE “EXTENDED ANTENNAE” OF ARTISTS CAN BE A STRONG GUIDE FOR THE FUTURE.

Catie Faryl, January 2013

 

ART STATEMENT FOR “COLLAPSE OF CUCKOO KINGDOM”  DECEMBER 1999

Y2K IS EVERY DAY

AN ALARM HAS BEEN SOUNDED BY THE MILLENNIUM CUCKOO.  WILL OUR ENTRANCE INTO THE 21ST CENTURY BE DEVASTATING OR DELIGHTFUL?  ONLY TIME WILL TELL.  THE WORK IN THIS SHOW IS BASED ON MY IMPRESSIONS FROM RECENT ITEMS IN THE NEWS AND MY EXPRESSIONS OF FEAR AND HOPEFULNESS FOR A BRAVE NEW WORLD.

IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD Y2K IS EVERY DAY; POWER OUTAGES, LACK OF CLEAN WATER AND MEDICAL ATTENTION, FOOD SHORTAGES, POLITICAL UPHEAVAL AND WAR ARE COMMON OCCURRENCES.  WILL OUR TECHNOLOGY BRING US TO OUR KNEES OR DO WE HAVE FAITH, TIME AND COURAGE ENOUGH TO BUILD A WORLD WHERE THE PRIORITIES ARE HEALTH AND WEALTH ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE?  IS THE CHANGE FROM 1999 TO 2000 AS SIGNIFICANT OR DOES IT SYMBOLIZE DEEPER, SLOWER CHANGES IN IDEAS AND BELIEFS ALREADY UNDERWAY?

WHY “CUCKOO KINGDOM”?

– A TRUE STORY ABOUT THE TITLE “COLLAPSE OF CUCKOO KINGDOM”:

ONCE THERE WAS A SMALL SHOP CALLED CUCKOO KINGDOM.  A LITTLE OWNER TRIED TO EKE OUT A LIVING SELLING MANY VARIETIES OF CLOCKS.  THE SHOP EPITOMIZED ALL THAT WAS DARLING, QUAINT AND DYING IN THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY IN SMALL TOWN AMERICA.  THE ENDEARING ACCUMULATION OF CUTE, DECORATIVE ITEMS.  THE BELIEF THAT SMALL ENTERPRISE COULD BE GOOD AND PROUD AND SUCCESSFUL.  LIKE THE LOCOMOTIVE, THE TYPEWRITER AND FRAMED PICTURES, THERE REMAINED A CERTAIN NOSTALGIA BUT NO MARKET FOR THE CUCKOO CLOCKS.  HOW COULD THIS SHOP BE SO SAD AND SO CHARMING AT THE SAME TIME, SO PATHETIC YET POIGNANT?  SO MUCH EFFORT FOR SO FEW REWARDS, SHOPKEEPERS, LIKE ARTISTS, MAKE A GIFT TO THE COMMUNITY THAT MIGHT NOT BE MISSED UNTIL IT IS GONE.

THE FORCED IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION MAY  BEEN MADE POSSIBLE BY USING HYPE AND HYSTERIA ABOUT Y2K TO HIDE THE HUGE IMPACT OF THIS JOB-KILLING LEGISLATION.  A NEW ORDER IS UNDERWAY.  TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING.

Catie Faryl Levitt

Review: “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Four Seasons in Four Weeks”

Last night I attended local author Suzanne Mathis McQueen’s talk at Bloomsbury Books about her recently published guide and journal titled “Four Seasons in Four Weeks.”  For those who know her, and when you meet her, you’ll see a vibrant and enthusiastic champion of women’s knowledge, wisdom and vivaciousness.  Her seven years in the creative process has brought forth a unique, informative and beautifully visioned, written and actualized book that sheds light on the importance of feminine cycles.
 

Earlier in the week, with the idea of writing a review, I attended the opening of the much anticipated war/espionage thriller “Zero Dark Thirty” about the search, capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.  After all my viewing and note-taking at the film, besides gleaning an insider’s and/or a Hollywood view of the machinations and mazes of research, bravery or tenacity of individuals, I came away with a huge and strong reminder about just how inadequate our portrayals of and beliefs about females often are!
 

The young heroine of the film “Zero Dark Thirty” is a typical example. If you remove all the heart-pounding drama she’s like many women who have worked at least twice as hard as male counterparts to receive equal recognition or compensation. With discipline, dedication, thorough attention to the details and often deadening homework, she succeeds against many obstacles.  Yet even her final triumph, where her convictions are doubted all along by her male peers and supervisors, is anticlimactic.  She had it right yet in the final scene after all the guts and glory of triumph, capture and shooting, we are left to sit alone and in silence with her as she comes to grips with her personal achievement as well as the ostracism and lack of applause that many successful women know all too well. They incubate and give birth to many achievements only to see the prize embraced and the result applauded while they, the producers, go unacknowledged or are dismissed.
 

“Four Seasons in Four Weeks” uses metaphoric and physical comparisons of the feminine moon cycle to Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer – each week in the 28 day cycle tracing the approximate weekly parallels of mood and body senses corresponding to a resting time, a planning time, an implementing time and a time of basking in accomplishment before the cycle begins again.  It is the lost understanding of women’s natural state and the overlay of masculine value systems which have mislabeled the female cycle as “hysteria” or irrationality. This lack of understanding has contributed to diminishing the role and effectiveness of women since the end of matriarchal times.
 

Both “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Four Seasons in Four Weeks” can be viewed as powerful reclamation tools and messengers of the resurgence of the Feminine Principle, long overdue in modern history. In our present state, rape and mistreatment, degradation and making women targets of violence or abuse correspond exactly with the continuing rape of the planet. This attitude of disrespect can be heard quite clearly when listening to arguments about the economy; how often do humans forget that all sources of wealth are direct gifts from the natural resources of Mother Nature, Mother Earth.
 

Women are holding the social safety network but that grasp is becoming more tenuous. With our hands so full of immediate needs of children, the elderly, the poor, disabled, ill and hungry we can hardly get a handhold on how to stop the downward spiral.  It is time for everyone to re-engage with the Sacred Feminine and begin giving due honor and acting in ways that give back to the planet.  We cannot continue to support our civilization if we ignore the fundamental basis of our prosperity.  That means women must either take or be given far greater voices and roles in curbing the trajectory of technology and expedience over time-tested practices of natural and whole systems, the original tenets of mother wisdom.
 

Suzanne’s book gives support and information for women to reclaim, honor and champion their nature, and she has included a Man Guide in every chapter to help partners, sons, brothers and fathers understand Her Journey. Helping men understand the continuous female cycle of building and taking apart that is the nest of nature, birth and nurture to our species may temper the old and untrue story of women as weak or inferior.  On a different front, the heroine of “Zero Dark Thirty” embodies the truth of Woman as Warrior, using intelligence, beauty, determination, guile, deep studiousness, finesse and creativity instead of brawn, muscle and force, to accomplish her most idealistic goals. She is truly a magnificent unsung hero!
 

Better stories and better understanding are paths to healing and recapturing our respect for women, and thereby for reverence, respect and replenishment of Mother Earth. To restore peace and balance to our world we need both male and female energy, not one or the other but both equal and true.  I hope you will read “Four Seasons in Four Weeks” and look beyond the obvious story to the positive message of feminine power in “Zero Dark Thirty.”  Please add your thoughts to the discussion of these ideas.

Catie Faryl
January 15, 2013
catiefaryl@hotmail.com
www.catiefaryl.net

Balance Art Card Deck

72-card Balance Deck

Balance Art Card Deck

The Balance Deck is 72 cards of artwork and writing that can be used for fun, sharing, or introspection. Each card has an image on one side and the corresponding description on the other side. Simply fan the deck, pick a card that interests you, and read about the deeper meanings of that image. All artwork is subject to interpretation by the viewer, and will be a source of amusement, insight, and inspiration for you and your friends.

The cards have been popular with women’s groups, therapists, and as conversation starters. While not designed as a divination deck, random card choices can be surprisingly synchronistic with the situation of the person selecting the card.

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Greeting Cards and Color Prints are available of every image in the Balance Art Card Deck:

4 1/2 ” x 5 1/2 ” greeting cards in cellophane sleeves
$3 per card plus $1.00 shipping and handling for up to 10 cards, with $1 extra for
every additional 10 cards

8 ” x 10 ” color reproductions, unmatted
$10 and $1.00 shipping and handling, add .50 cents for every additional print

8 ” x 10 ” color reproductions, matted
$15 and 1.25 shipping and handling, add .65 cents for every additional matted print

Some original artwork is also available, please inquire about prices.

Purchase your own Balance Art Card Deck at my Etsy shop!

 

Through a Glass, Greenly

Polaris, watercolor by Catie Faryl, 2009

Polaris, watercolor by Catie Faryl, 2009

Art Statement

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  And now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known . . . . . . . .”
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
1 Corinthians 13, verse 11 and 13

This quotation returned to my attention in July 2009 while pondering my years of work with environmental, social and political issues.  I was questioning the human ability to see what is actually real and how often we think we know the right paths to take, but are often disoriented and become lost or disillusioned.  It seemed to me, that summer of 2009, we were at a crossroad or in a precarious balance – at the tipping point of seeing what could be done to stave off and heal the consequences of human-caused damage to the planet.

Creating art is a shamanistic duty and tradition that our culture must reclaim.  An artist guide’s role is to visit the spirit world and the future to bring back positive messages, symbols, dreams and goals, remedies and “cures” for the tribe.  In the summer of 2009, I observed the apathy, cynicism and inaction reflected in some people’s cavalier statements that “huge population die-offs were meant to be” or that “our human civilization either can’t pass or is undeserving of passing this evolutionary hurdle” and I could not let those beliefs go unchallenged.

Human beings, in my view, are noble creatures.  We can embrace our role as Stewards of the Planet and look deep into our collective conscious to find answers to uphold the best future for all sentient beings and Mother Earth.  We can think and act locally and sow seeds not of our differences but cultivate gardens where all can grow in peace and prosperity.  Like nature’s bounty, love needs little tending in hearts that are willing and in minds that dare to imagine, not despair.  Our energy can be gathered to see clearly and do the work that must be done.

“So let abide these three: faith, hope and charity.”  We have seen things through a green but cloudy glass – confusing, disturbing, inconclusive – and now we are ready to move forward with courage in illuminated passages through these interesting times.

Catie Faryl
January 2012

Global Weirding, Global Warning

Art Statement

In 2006 I had this “epiphany”: People needed to stop arguing about whether Climate Change was real.

Instead of arguing about “Global Warming,” we could suspend our disbelief or zealous defense of the cause and simply call these weather and climate phenomena a more descriptive and encompassing name: GLOBAL WEIRDING!

GLOBAL WEIRDING cannot be refuted! You don’t need to believe anything, just observe what is right in front of your eyes. SEEING IS BELIEVING and the acceleration of disasters is the clearest message we have that Nature is not up for business as usual. The stakes have changed and reading our new situation is imperative.

The real challenge is to move in ways that are effective in restoring balance. Granted, it is difficult to convince people to change their habits or mitigate carbon releases into the atmosphere if they see no connection and, in effect, feel no personal power to impact or control their fate. Preaching to the choir, I showed this work to the Scientific Summit on Climate Change held at Southern Oregon University in 2007.

It was interesting to attend that conference and use the artwork for a colorful conversation starter during breaks and conversations with the scientific community. A key point of the conference was what could be done about the “gag order” that had been imposed by the Bush Administration, which had threatened to pull all grant funding from scientific studies who viewed climate change as real. Another was the problem of mainstream media, where the issue was rarely mentioned.

It’s interesting to write a current statement about my artwork. What I painted in 2006 was a forward look at what was about to happen. Truth makes a believer out of everyone, given enough time, and I feel proud to have done a small service in telescoping what I saw then in order to be just a tiny drop added to a raging torrent of publicity and activity directed at solving the problems of Global Weirding.

Catie Faryl
January 2012
Note: Beneath the image gallery is a reproduction of my original comments to this exhibition.

Hype, Holocaust, Hoax or Happening

Review: “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

If there’s one film to see this year, Beasts of the Southern Wild could be it. Playing at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland, it is a must see, particularly at this time while Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac, and the Republican National Convention pass over us like a harbinger of more destruction to come in the first case, and glossy delivery of deceit, stormy news coverage and question-raising extravagance in the second.
 

It is amazing to watch the child actor who stars in this film about life and death in a severely stressed outpost on the Louisiana delta. She holds our rapt attention and I marvel at her strength, resilience, fortitude and beauty, her inner spirit as well as her charming appearance. Narrated in her voice and words, a creative look at a disturbing world through the eyes of a six year old is both hopeful and heart-rendering. “Hushpuppy” has a father who is terminally ill and drinking to hide it. The neighbors on the bayou live a hard life of freedom at all costs. When an impending storm again threatens their existence, we witness an array of coping skills as Hushpuppy and other “Beasts of the Southern Wild” rise in bravery and pure survival instincts to outlive an ongoing catastrophe.
 

There is much to recommend this movie, beyond a wonderful story with intriguing characters. Hushpuppy’s teacher at the jerry-rigged floating school minces no words when educating her ragged pupils about the harsh realities of rising oceans and the impact on their way of life. How this rough information is taken to heart and used in the imagination of Hushpuppy and her friends is a cautionary tale for us all.
 

During the recent Republican Convention, not one of the well-groomed speakers mentioned climate change. The impotence of the political party in place and the disbelieve or callousness of the other is very disturbing in light of the reality that hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens in America and millions all over the world are barely coping with rising seas and unprecedented destructive weather events. Up on dry land aspiring politicians and those in power spew words like “believe, hope and jobs” but these ideals and conceptual jargon are not life rafts for the jobless, the homeless or displaced and they have floated the middle class into a puddle of confusion. Both parties, in my opinion, have failed and the spirit of people like Hushpuppy may be our best means to face the extremes barreling down on all of us in the form of flood, fully melted ice caps, drought and chemical poisoning of the air, food, land and water, sexism , prejudice and elitism.
 

The film is a riveting tribute to a terrible truth: we live in the time of the Sixth Extinction, which through profligate use of polluting resources, irresponsible actions and, the greed-motivated pushing of products, ideology, false promises and lies by corporations, the mainstream media and government, manmade environmental devastation in a short 200 years has accelerated the Sixth Extinction by millions of years. And let’s not let ourselves off the hook; we are daily consumers of the products, pacifications, entertainments, excuses, delusions and comforts we hold dear. We all are prisoners and contributors to what could be our own demise.
 

As messaged in the film, it is time to be brave, face our demons and survive. As humans we must stare down the “Aurochs” of our fate as symbolized by the four huge mutated ancient killer bovines that march across and terrorized Hushpuppy’s landscape. These, like the Four Horses of the Apocalypse in biblical times, give a face to many 21st century threats like abuse of power, rising oceans, genetic engineering, dependence on chemicals and pharmaceuticals and mixing our food sources with cross-species experiments. As politicians turn their backs in willful disregard for environmental tragedies man-made in this and the past century, and “save” us (as when rescue workers remove island disaster victims by force), I can only think in wonderment and resentment about how tax dollars are thrown away on us as an after- the-fact gesture – like an apology for not facing and addressing the real problems head on.
 

I’ve often expressed my belief that “every problem carries within itself its solutions.” If we want to address the problem of jobs then a full scale effort could be mobilized around reversing the environmental hazards we have been causing. Romney should be ashamed of his closing statement in his acceptance speech to the Republican Convention; to say Obama “promised to lower the rising oceans and heal the planet” (giving the mean-spirited implication that Obama saw himself as omnipotent or that real environmental problems don’t exist) and that he, Romney, only promises to help “you and your families”. Romney means exactly that: he will help HIS own, but you can bet the rest of us, living on or very close to a real, metaphorical or financial “bayou” about to be flooded by the actions or inactions of either major party make it way past time to get tough and get real and find our power and bravery, confront and change our monsters and champion the children and the planet.
Hushpuppy for President!

Wayne’s Bane: A Review of “The Dark Knight Rises”

After three days of watching the emergency response and hearing talk about the theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I felt it necessary and appropriate to check in to a theatre and see the movie which was playing when the massacre by a lone gunman took place.  As an artist and observer I keep a somewhat closer eye on pop culture, the media and cinema of our times. In this case, the question of whether art imitates life, or vice versa, is foremost in my mind.  Will watching The Dark Knight Rises enlighten me on why the recent horrific madness occurred or is this film just the pleasant getaway – an innocent fantasy which all world-weary are entitled to a brief escape?

 
I had to admit to a bit of trepidation as I entered the theatre. Briefly I interviewed the young lady at the concession stand by asking if security precautions had been added.  She said things had been calm and normal; they were asking people to leave backpacks and large bags at the counter.
Finally settling in with about fifty other viewers, I appreciated the cool air after the scalding sun outdoors.  A matinee is a lovely diversion, or so I thought until the previews started. This was just a precursor to what was to come in the main feature, kind of a violence warm-up:

 
Black Ops? or something like that : “Their Hero Becomes their Killer”; Jason Bourne is “just the tip of the iceberg” – more trained killers in The Bourne Legacy filled with killing and violence;  Bilbo Baggins – The Hobbit, tucked away in Middle Earth, between more violent previews; “ Taken” with Liam Neeson, more violence  set in Istanbul; More Killing in Kung Fu movie with Lucy Lu – “ Puts the F-U in Kung Fu!!!”; and  “The Campaign” – Politicians acting stupidly – one punches a lady and a baby!

 
The Dark Knight Rises opens at Harvey Dent’s funeral 8 years prior. The audience is swiftly taken hostage in a flashback where 3 hand-cuffed, hooded prisoners are threatened with being thrown from a military plane if they don’t answer the interrogation of the captors.  One of the prisoners is a muzzled man; the plan is “No Survivors.” Then the crew is overtaken and the hero is forced into a blood transfusion which, as an infrequent viewer of the Batman series, I must assume was the cause of Batman’s turning to the “dark side” in the previous movie, “The Dark Knight.”  (Fans – please correct me if I’m wrong!)

 
Back at the funeral, we are schooled on the importance of The Dent Act, which gave major sharp teeth to law enforcement.  In the belief system of the Powers that Be, Harvey Dent was a hero and his work has been honored and celebrated as a holiday. Explanation is offered that due to the Dent Act’s success in addressing crime, over 100,000 criminals are imprisoned in Gotham City.
We’re then introduced to the recluse Bruce Wayne, who has not recovered from past incidents, and has taken the blame for Harvey Dent’s murder.  Wayne’s butler is worried and conveys his wishes to see his employer (and friend) take more interest in life.

 
We come to understand that Wayne has funded Boys’ Homes in Gotham City, but his Board of Directors, during his self-imposed isolation and lack of participation in the management of the vast Wayne fortune, has discontinued funding for boys once they turn sixteen.  Huge numbers of homeless boys and young men are living in the tunnels below Gotham since they’ve “aged out” of the Wayne Trust Boys Homes.

 
The action then heads to a society fundraiser where meet a wealthy woman who is engaged in what Wayne dubs “a save the world vanity project.” Also, the disguised Cat Woman is working at the mansion as a server for the gala event.  In a rare moment of comic relief, she catches the eye of the corrupt police chief and as he pulls her back in order to grab two hors d’oeuvres, she says “Shrimp Balls” and keeps walking.

 
She looks like the perfect  waitress,  so she’s sent to take a tray food upstairs to the ill recluse, Bruce Wayne. But once she’s in Wayne’s room, she cracks the safe and steals his mother’s necklace AND his fingerprints by dusting the safe.  She cruelly trips him by kicking out his crutch then escapes as he lies helpless on the well-polished floor.

 
Wayne pulls himself together, asks for the remaining Bat Mobile to be taken out of mothballs and tries to regain his strength.  From there we rapidly move ahead through a convoluted  plot where dialogue is offered as a frayed clue of continuity to harness us in for the intense action and violence to come.  Recollecting my main reason for seeing this film, I acknowledge the repeating motif of disguise and weaponry in the film, quite reminiscent and parallel to the lone shooter’s M.O. in Aurora.  The Joker, a major villain in previous Batman comics and films, is not included in this episode, but we are soon to be re-introduced to Bane, Batman’s current nemesis who was born and raised in the harsh tunnel prisons, and is the only known escapee from that hell.

 
Bane, we soon see, is one and the same who wore the huge muzzled breathing apparatus in the opening scenes of mid-air torture and mayhem.  His Darth Vader mouthpiece is an encumbrance, both for him in his personal pain and affliction and for the audience in their strained effort to hear him.  The lower half of his face is contained in the black device, which contrasts interestingly with Batman’s exposed mouth and hidden eyes, nose, and hooded head.  The motifs of good vs. evil, shadow and light, repeat and repeat, as does the violent gunfire and showcasing of the extremely powerful  WMD technologies that have been developed by evil forces who’ve infiltrate Wayne Enterprises.  The only counter-balance to the violence is offered by the young detective who has ultimate faith in Batman and a shared secret history with Wayne of being an orphan, and the flirtation between Batman and Cat Woman, and her jealous flairs directed at Bruce Wayne’s society lady admirer. Those three offered some  pretty  hot and sweet eye candy when we become bored of barrage.  ( Barrage and Carnage vs. Visage and Cleavage, as it were!)

 
In order not to spoil “the plot”, let me say there are many turns in this twisted production and all is set right in the end, although we are left with blazing ears and thundering hearts having witnessed at least 10,000 bullet shots and innumerable acts of destruction and hate.  The movie is a vehicle for showcasing force and I longed for the days of “da-da-da-da-da-da, Batman!” or “Get to the Bat Mobile, Robin!!!”

 
The montage, a complicated variety of ideas and images, if we look at it through the lens of what’s in the news, in society and culture these days, becomes a kaleidoscope of ever-changing issues raised, then dropped from high cliffs without explanation.  Sure, this is comic book balloons of dialogue and comic-book butt-kicking (Pow! Pow! Wham!) yet  it’s taken to such a high level of graphic and auditory abuse that we are both mesmerized and repulsed (and a bit embarrassed to be sitting through this spectacle which delivers up over two hours of bad actions, bone-crushing breakage and bullet-battered bombasity, while parents shush their antsy five year olds and fussing infants).

 
Fragments, like shrapnel, lodge in our consciousness, if we are thinking adults. For example, the growing animosity as rival “gangs” of released and escaped prisoners face off with the “men in blue” is a direct reference (and could in fact fan real fires of rebellion) to the huge prison population in America.  The fact that Gotham City is so loose a disguise for New York City and the contrast of rich and poor,  the plight of the homeless and disenfranchised, and the potential for class war is portrayed yet never commented upon.  It is as if Hollywood uses imagery to foreshadow or instigate, and this forces me to again consider whether art imitates life, or if life imitates art.

 
Perhaps in my boredom with this film, I’ve overthought a mindless piece of entertainment, but when  people are constantly exposed to this level of violence in films, video games and on television, I wonder how strong a filter and how much self-control is being developed or eroded. With special effects growing ever more real, will the future hold more cases where reality and fantasy become indistinguishable,  and acting out in deep anger or disillusionment become standard results?  There are no movies good enough “to die for” so I hope Hollywood, the media, on line regulators, and U.S. policy, will direct energy away from the display, acquisition, and emulation of weapons and violence in favor of more meaningful, less violent and escapist fare.

Review: Party People at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2012

Interesting and ironic that Evan Wilson of the new Rogue Valley Messenger should give me a ticket and ask me to write a review. I sat with a young friend of his, who seemed entertained but confused with the actions on stage. He loved the music, which was compelling and the female Latina vocalists were excellent, though I did wish for a libretto or a copy of the lyrics.

 

The premise of the story centers around two young filmmakers who create a theatre piece through orchestrating the reunion of older friends, acquaintances and family members who led, forty years prior, the militant actions of the Black Panther Party for black power and the Young Lords, for fair treatment of Puerto Ricans in America, mainly in Chicago and New York. Unlike my fellow play-goer, I had lots of context for the history lessons that surface as the cast of characters relive their triumphs, miseries and betrayals; in 1968 I attended a junior college in Oakland, then moved to Puerto Rico and live there and in Manhattan in the early 1970s. In those communities in those times, it would have been impossible not to be aware of the intense shift in society where minds were being changed and blown simultaneously! Shift Happens!

 
The play is like a rock opera, or in this case a Rap Opera, with much of the story being told through song and exciting, provocative dance numbers. The technical aspects include strong use of black and white video footage projected onto the back wall as huge repeat images of the actors. A fully lit cabaret sign in bold capital letters spells out REVOLUTION above a set of stadium seating risers which are well-used in creating street dance and prison scenes.

 
The “producers” of this show within a show are Malik, whose estranged father was a Black Panther, and Jimmy, a second generation Hispanic who’s managed to overcome language barriers and poverty to attend college and study drama. These two young men provide the vehicle for both the audience and themselves to become “schooled” on what their aging guests’ “Revolution” was all about. These bright young men, who grew up in the computer and information age, contrast profoundly with flashback actions as the cast of guests reproduces the drama, issues and reactions, complications and intimacies of the past. We are reminded of Andy Warhol’s genius prediction that in the future “everyone will want their fifteen minutes of fame,” as the Revolution, egos and struggles are re-enacted.

 
Long-buried rivalries and heart-felt reminiscences allow us to see how times have changed, what resulted from the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s and the strivings for rights and social justice by minorities in the late 60s and 70s. The play opens with and continues to pump up and out messages that are downright contemporary:

 
The opening musical number “Wound Up, No Job, America” could be right now, and the slogans of “Hey, Hey L.B.J. (then U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson) and references to the fear spreading across America with the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, get-out-of-Vietnam Protests, black power, helter skelter, riots on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley and the sobering event of student shootings at Kent State when the “pigs” got more out of control than anyone, may remind us just a bit of the past. Yet, what has been lost and gained in the interim 40 years? In the seriousness, the certainty, the appeal for justice during the late 1960s and 1970s, much was achieved and some things (like innocence, lack of cynicism and sense of place, security or order) were lost as well. Also we are reminded how so many are presently confined in “the belly of the beast” as America’s prison population exceeds that of any other democracy.

 
There is something cynical about this play within a play, or perhaps that is simply my reflection on the past as seen through my own lens, having lived through it. The extreme craziness of that time must present a a challenging task for the current generation of early adults to make any sense of or make any art from. It reminds me how little history of the 20th Century has been taught in our schools, and renews my commitment to provide curriculum and materials directed to that deficit.

 
“Time Keeps On Slipping……into the Future” is one of the play’s songs used as a successful repeating motif and metaphor, as the Oldsters’ memories blur, egos self-aggrandize and exaggerate, their approaching senility, regrets and doubts rewrite histories, chronologically, factually and personally. At times I longed for a more poignant and heroic treatment to the content – a Howard Zinn “The People Speak” approach – but I must confess that the staging and interpretation as presented was most effective, cryptic, violent, uncertain and wholly fitting in its re-creation of feelings, images and motivations of what went on in the 60s and 70s.

 
Fact is the play is very raw, and the language is as harsh and dark as the injustices and zeitgeist portrayed. “Panther Talk/Agent Talk” is contrasted – with more hate and rage and intent to kill coming from the Establishment’s agencies than the counterculture revolutionaries. The personal suspicions and private affairs of key characters give voice to frustrations, betrayals and volatile barely submerged tensions focused on gender issues. Music/dance pieces “Pussy Killed the Party” and “Here Come the Drugs”) give us a glimpse into the cracks opening up in the societal structure and how all times are rift with drama, war, oppression, deceit, and injustice that must be fought with whatever tools are at hand.

 
Thus we begin to understand the view of the young producers, who see that everything their forefathers and mothers fought for was necessary. Then they tell how and why a new and different kind revolution is brewing within their generation; through amazing powers of belief, love and understand and tools like social networking, information and imagery – the power of collective conscience, independent media, optimism, humor, the breaking down of borders, and the powerful vision, voice and virility of youth they shall overcome.

 
The closing number does a magnificent job of summing up for all ages the key struggle for humans and all sentient beings to co-exist and equitably share resources and maintain a just society. “Give me Justice, Give Me Peace – Life, Home, Land, Bread” they sang in heartfelt unison. The poetry, strength and enduring value of this play has a Shakespearean quality, its bawdiness, truth and the longevity of the universal issues addressed. Taking some of what is played on stage to the streets of Ashland, where other dramas such as Legalize Sleep, and the rights of all citizens to the aforementioned bread and housing would be highly advisable for the present day Establishment. I applaud the energy of youth to reinvent and level the playing field for all actors in this world stage we live in and hope viewers will leave this play with renewed energy to work for the peace, fairness and justice now.

Catie Faryl
July 15, 2012