Friday Free-for-All #57: Reality, inanimate, huge tracts, best and worst

Do you like reality TV shows? Why or why not? If so, which ones?

Oh, hell no. There’s nothing I find more boring than watching other people drama. On top of that, I worked for a reality show star for ten years, so I’m very aware that there really isn’t a single bit of “reality” going on. Everything you see on every one of those shows has been planned, scripted, carefully edited, and reshot when necessary.

The only possible exceptions are shows like Punk’d or other prank shows, but even then, they still have to get permission to film the “victim,” either before the fact, or get clearance to use what they shot afterwards.

In short, there are so many rules and openings for liability that nothing you see on TV other than live news coverage is “reality.” So, no, I don’t like reality shows because they aren’t, and I find most of the people who star in them to be self-centered and vapid wastes of oxygen.

If you had to become an inanimate object for a year, what object would you choose to be?

This is one of those questions that really needs the rules well-defined. That is, by definition, if I’m inanimate, then I’m not conscious and have no senses, right? In that case, the only real requirement is that I’m something very durable that’s going to be around for at least that year so that I can come back to human form intact.

So, in that case… I’d go for something really durable, like a mountain, or maybe a beloved local landmark with historical protections in place.

Now, on the other hand, if this were a Beauty and the Beast situation, and I had all or most of my senses and was aware of what was going on, then I’d want to be a patio umbrella, awning, or inflatable at one of the many small gay-male nudist resorts in Palm Springs — preferably one with a twinkier crowd.

What? If I’m going to be stuck in inanimate form, I might as well get some enjoyment out of it.

If you were given one thousand acres of land that you didn’t need to pay taxes on but couldn’t sell, what would you do with it?

Okay, here’s the math for perspective. A thousand acres is 43,560,000 square feet, which means a square that’s 6,600 feet on a side, or a mile and a quarter. That covers a pretty decent chunk of neighborhood, and so I’d turn it into an art village.

Yes, I would be greedy and grab maybe four acres for my private enclave which would actually be the brain center for the place. But a lot of the rest of the acreage would go toward single family homes or bungalows on either a quarter or half acre

Qualification for residency: a demonstrated proficiency in one or more the seven lively arts, or similar in a related tech skill. Note: not “a ton of professional experience.” Just “are you good it?” Bring receipts or talent.

So if you’re a writer, director, actor, singer, dancer, musician, composer, painter, sculptor, visual artist, designer of sets, costumes, or lights, make-up artist, producer, electrician, grip, PA, stage manager, best boy, gaffer, caterer, PR or marketer, accountant…

Well, fuck it. Tell us what you do and how you’d like to do it for the arts. I’m setting aside 750 acres of this place to create half and full acre lots that will either house families (on the acre) or individuals or roommate groups on half acres, which would allow for about a thousand units.

That’s following the ideal of each residence being free-standing, with its own private yard and outside space. Now, if interest got really big, it might be worth setting some of that acreage aside for multi-family housing, but not too much of it, And there’d probably need to be at least one hotel-like facility for visiting artists.

Okay, so that leaves the other couple hundred acres, and that would basically be the arts “campus.” That’s where the theatres, studios, classrooms, galleries, and whatnot would go in order for everyone to have space to do what they came here to do.

Now, again, I cannot sell the land, but I can make it self-sustaining without making it ridiculous, so the basic deal would be that residents would only be required to cover their utilities, and some minimal housing charge that would go into a co-op to support the art campus and maintenance of the village itself.

Of course, any profits that came from productions and public exhibitions on that campus would go back to reducing the resident fees. Any kind of HOA would be prohibited. Yes, I know that technically we’d be charging an HOA fee, but screw the idea of a bunch of busybodies making stupid rules. This is an art colony. There are no rules!

Oh yeah — although sort of renting and despite my not being able to sell of the land, each resident would still get a deed giving them ownership of their place as a $0 value land-grant.

Damn. Okay. Now who wants to give me a thousand acres free of property taxes?

What’s the best and worst thing about the country you are from?

Talk about two sides of the same coin. I’m from the United States, and the absolute best thing about this country is that it was built by immigrants. I’ve seen the meme online, and it’s something like this: “If you’re an American, then you’re either an immigrant, a refugee, a slave, or a Native. There is no other option.”

And that is absolutely true. In my case, I come from a combination of immigrants and refugees — although I do find it weird that “invader” isn’t included on the list.

But… I live in a city with a lot of people who fall into at least three if not four of those categories, and I love it. That is the beauty of the USA. Go to any big city, you can find any culture in the world represented, and hear any language, and it is awesome.

Sure, for the last year or so, I haven’t been as free to travel around L.A., but one of my joys before the Dark Times was to hop on the Metro, ride to an unknown neighborhood, and then just take in the community.

Los Angeles is not alone in this, but it is a really good example of a truly international city. Name an ethnic food you want to eat tonight, and I will find you a place that serves it within a mile of my front door in two minutes.

Ask me where we can go to see art or performance of a particular culture within a half-hour drive, again, boom. Done.

Los Angeles has everything. So does San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and a whole lot more.

And… surprise, surprise… it’s not just the Big Blue Liberal Cities that are such melting pots. Okay, the key word is probably “cities,” so that blue dots in red lagoons, like Austin, Texas, stand out.

But the point is this: The best thing about my country is that we are a mosaic of every other country, and our diversity is what makes us so special and so strong.

And the worst thing about my country? The white racist assholes who just don’t get this part. They have this really warped fantasy that America was founded by a boatload of Puritan WASPS who landed on Plymouth Rock, and that was it.

But the joke is really on them, because chances are that their ancestors are really more likely to be German, Irish, Italian, or Eastern European and, at various points in time, each one of those “white” groups of immigrants was considered to be less-than, and shunned and ridiculed.

And the shunning and ridiculing was done by those stuck-up WASPS from whom none of the later immigrants were descended.

They also like to ignore the fact that for a lot of its early history, ‘Murica only consisted of a narrow band on the east coast, especially after the Founders kicked out the Brits, during which time Ohio was considered to be the far west frontier — q.v. Case Western Reserve University, located all the way over in… Cleveland.

Otherwise, the rest of the continent was owned by Spain, France, and England and, if you did go far enough west, Russia.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that we managed to either buy a ton of shit from France so that Napoleon could attempt to take over Europe, then kill off enough Natives to sweep west screaming “Manifest Destiny!” and then finally curb stomp Mexico (after they’d kicked France’s ass) in order to steal the bottom third of the western two thirds of the country back form Aztlán.

So… let’s recap. Best thing about my native country: It was created as a place for all, and as far as I’m concerned, all are welcome here. Worst thing: We still are plagued by a pack of assholes who just don’t get that part.


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