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Louis Brandis
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December 3, 2008

Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten
BF Skinner

Path To Paradise by Adit
Click images for desktop size: "Path to Paradise" by Adit
Its going to be 39 today.
Unless my elementary physics is all wrong (which is possible if not probable) that means that all the First Men in The Moon snow and slush is going to melt and become mud. Mud.
To make sure there will be plenty of mud there's a 90% chance of rain tonight . . . with temperatures falling to about 29 and a 70% chance of snow on Friday.
What that means is ice. Concealed ice. Ice concealed under a blanket of deceptive snow which means I'll be falling down a lot . . . an awful lot. Some people, especially dogs think me flailing around and windmilling my arms to unsuccessfully try and not fall down is really funny. I don't mind being amusing but all that falling hurts!
My White Christmas
Click image: "My White Christmas" by Unknown
I want crampons for Christmas.
I'm still having an internal debate about the web site. The biggest reason for keeping it is my puppy. As seems to be the norm around Christmas she gets a serious up tick in traffic. She also gets an amazing increase in her email. No one has time to read all that she receives. Yesterday I was changing her auto-responder message to reflect the holidays and saw that she has received over 1,200 emails since Thanksgiving. I scanned a few. They offer her advice on being good and admonish her to not try and fool Santa.
I like the ones that tell her to be nicer to me. My puppy, of course, thinks that all of those are forgeries.
I'm fully prepared for which ever way I eventually turn. Yes. Prepared!
The other pro is hearing from people who otherwise would be totally lost.
Back a long long time ago I had a good friend. He was an actor. A political actor. Those are pretty Jeans World Map by Vlad Gerasimov
Click images for desktop size: "Jeans' World Map" by Vlad Gerasimov
hard to find in Hollywood. The only famous one I can think of off the top of my head is Will Greer, who turned his place in Topanga Canyon into a refuge for artists.
My friend was a part of a "Theater Collective". He claimed that was a fancy word for a bunch of "hippie, commie fags." Back in the day that was about the worst thing a guy could be called. My friend wore it like a badge of honor.
Frank was a tall guy, Ichabod Crane tall. He had straw colored hair and dark blue eyes, dark blue like a baby's. He was attractive in a school teacher kind of way. He was deeply committed to certain things. I met him at an Amanda Foundation function. The Amanda Foundation is a good sized group in LA that rescues dogs from the LA Animal Shelters. They have a few acres of kennels and they keep all of the dogs until they find them a home. Frank was there volunteering as Dracula vs Frankenstein a bartender and as a guy who'd help clean up the joint after the fund raising was over.
Being an actor in a "Theater Collective" doesn't pay much, if it ever pays. He believes in things and believes that you have to fight for the things you believe in. When you don't have money you do what you have to do to see things succeed. That he had a lot of causes he fought for I was moved that he cared about dogs enough to give them of his time. He taught me that money is important in the world, important to win that battles and the wars but there are plenty of things people with no money can do, things that make a difference. He also taught me that it is impossible to demean yourself when you are fighting for something that is right and good.
He was a good friend.
I went to his shows in LA. The group toured a lot. The one I remember the most is when the troupe did a tour of Federal Prisons! There were a dozen actors who doubled up as stage managers, costume designers etc. There was one producer who took care of fund raising and bookings.
I never got the plays. I have no idea if they were good or bad. Shows that involve wearing 12 foot tall paper mache statues and dancing around like that while two guys play congas while another guy plays a guitar while the girls sing Woody Guthrie songs backwards kind of miss me. I mean, I have no idea what its about. But I enjoyed supporting my friend in a small way and I always enjoy sound and motion.The Fountainhead
Frank lived in the ghetto. He had a tiny two room apartment in the barrio. It was all he could afford. He'd always invite us over for his Christmas party. I liked the parties. They were filled with deeply motivated people, a lot of who were stark raving mad. I enjoyed the mad ones. He would have his little two foot tree set up and about 100 people would drift around his tiny ghetto apartment and have conversations with the neighbors. It was fun. I felt badly that he had to live in squalor but his parties were still great festive affairs with a lot of fun with no trimmings.
After about 15 years the theater group broke up. Too many maturing people. Too many members tired of living well below the poverty level. It was hard on them. 15 years is a long time to share each others lives, living in a communal atmosphere, traveling across the country , around Mother V by Blood
Click images for desktop size: "Mother V" by Blood
the world together. Learning to live together, to be tolerant of each other, to love each other. And it just stopped.
Frank decided to keep acting. I saw him do a 90 minute one man show in an artist loft downtown. About 80 people there. It was great. Because of the nature of the other shows I had no idea he had talent. The show was funny, sad and moving. All original and all tight as heck.
It was so well received that we found him an equity waiver house by Gower and Melrose where he could do the show. I helped out by doing lights and sound. That was fun.
The show ran for 3 months. Because he was who he was the tickets had the most bizarre pricing imaginable. From free to the poor, to a a contribution for the food bank to 20 bucks for the rich with about 6 stops in between. I got to meet Lily Tomlin there and a lot of very cool more socially awareThe Giant Leeches Hollywood types. Which led to me doing a lot more free work which led to some good paying jobs.
Frank moved on to TV and a few movies. He still works a lot and I get a rush whenever I discover him in something.
But he's not the one I heard from. The guy I heard from was the producer!
I remember him only because he was one of those instrumental in breaking up the group. He managed to finagle his way into producing a movie. A sci-fi thing that was modestly successful, successful enough for him to start a new career as a Hollywood movie producer! Now he's been doing a string of successful teenage horror flics!
But what I remember about him is that in his first two movies he didn't give work to any of the guys he'd worked with all those years.
You can't say that its because he was new to the movie business and didn't want to screw up. He Evil Dead The Musical give his brother and sister big parts. He gave one of his non-acting buddies a speaking part. Just no one that he'd lived with all those years was good enough for even a day player bit, a 300 buck paycheck . . .
Hey. He didn't even give me any work! And at the time our struggling foley studio was still considered the most talented and best in the business!
About five films into his career guilt made him use all of them. None in a speaking part. Got it all over with in one fell swoop. They never worked for him again.
Considering that I've gotten work because people remembered me being at a party I may or may not have been at, or because they saw me talking to somebody somewhere about they have no idea what. Not giving your friends a job when you finally got the chance is sort of mean. Its the basis for about 80% of the work in the industry.
I would say that the producer and I weren't friends, just people who knew each other and had friends in common.
He's not someone I'd ever expect to hear from.
The email says he'd been thinking about me, tracked me down via google. It was a nice note about remembering the past and how the past impacted our future. He claims he took some inspiration from me and valued the way I perceived the world.
Mystic Wolf
Click images for desktop size: "Mystic Wolf" by Unknown
He doesn't ask me for anything.
I guess he was thinking about those Christmas parties when we were young and poor and happy.
I guess it goes to show that you never know how your impacting people. You can only live and stay true to your own course while trying to love the people you love and not hurting other unnecessarily.
Oh, there's no mention of or any offers of work . . .
My puppies and I have a mission today.
We have to mail a letter!
With proper preparation we can turn anything into an adventure!
Just the least of the reason to love them and to love being alive.

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