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LESSON 31: the Dance of Ed Wood
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I am currently sitting in front of a cool but dirty makeshift computer a friend of ours put together. I'm drinking some chilled coffee (probably a bad thing seeing as it's seven-twenty in the evening time) and eating the ramen that my oldest daughter didn't eat. Her dinner consisted of cocoa puffs and ramen. She's not your typical five year old girl. She enjoys Barbie and animals and Johnny Depp movies. She's seen Ed Wood twice. Her name is Emerald. When she comes home from kindergarden with another certificate saying she passed another test my heart swells up with pride. It's an amazing thing.
As I sit here and try to write this 31st lesson of Wood my 2gig iPod Nano is right next to me playing a pretty excellent mix of music. I've got a lot of Halloween music on my iPod all year. I've got some They Might Be Giants, Pet Cemetary by the Ramones, Dead Man's Party, Jim's Big Ego, some leaked new GnR, Talib Kweli, Hell by Squirrel Nut Zippers, Psycho Killer, some Gnarls Barkley and some MF Doom tracks, Howard Shore's music from the film Ed Wood and just a whole lot more. A lot of Frank Sinatra. A lot of music from Perez Prado, the latin king of mambo. It's a really nice, moody and ecclectic selection of music to go with me and my clashing personas.
Forgive me and all my iPod talk. I'm constantly talking about my iPod recently and that's because it is constantly with me, constantly playing, constantly waiting to play. It's a major part of my life, no matter how geeky that sounds. It's my own little escape hatch that I can use to escape from the world around me into a safe, quiet world without idiocy and anger. I love my iPod. I do. It's important for all of us to have their own special something, their own jewel (and I don't mean the snaggletoothed folk singer who loves horses), their own personal little escape hatch that they can use to escape from the rest of the world.
And if you don't have some means of escape, some way to separate yourself from the rest of the world, then do yourself a favor and get your ass something soon because this world has suddenly become a dark and vicious place, hasn't it?
What the hell happened to all the happiness? Happiness used to be something that people inspired to and now happiness seems to be something that only exists as some crappy Oprah-backed self help book. What happened to people embracing positivity? The world seems to be embracing and romanticizing sadness and anger and negativity. Our entire society is a kid writing poetry at a Denny's all of a sudden. After 9-11, everyone is worried and biting their own psychic nails. I don't want to place the blame all on 9/11 and our horrible president but George Bush is to blame for turning the tragedy of that day into the shield he's now using to shield himself away from criticism. Because of that, our lives here seem constantly threatened, or at least that's what the media is training our minds to believe. Everything's grim and bleak and as a result of that suddenly sadness is the hip, cool, romantic thing to do.
Suddenly everyone everywhere is depressed.
I recently borrowed a dvd from my frield Michael at work. We've been doing this thing recently at my awesomely unprofessional job where we bring something to show on the tv/dvd/vcr in the break room. Michael brought a bootleg of The Pursuit of Happyness which successfully bummed us out during the holidays. Someone else brought a 12+ hour PBS documentary on New York City. I bring in strange crap. Old '50s horror movie trailers, episodes of Cinema Insomnia and Mystery Science Theater 3000, King Kong VS Godzilla. Typical Steve sort of stuff. Pretty much everybody at work knows me as the married guy with two kids and his own religion. Almost everybody's cool with that, too, so I couldn't ask for a better place to work at. Michael, though, raised the bar when it comes to bringing stuff to show with a Disney rarities dvd of World War II propaganda cartoons. Jaw-dropping stuff. I quickly borrowed it and memorized every second.
It was fascinating as hell to me to see the Disney characters and their trademark rich cartoon style being used to showcase nazis in a bad light and make deeply offensive jokes about japanese people. It was incredible. To see the level of propaganda that was around back then, it was just unavoidable. Everywhere you turned you were being told you were in danger and you were told who the emeny was. It's refreshing to think of how easy that war was to swallow. These were the bad guys and we're the good guys. That doesn't happen anymore. It can't. Post-9/11, America wants to be the good guy but we might not be and what's worse is that we're not even sure who we're fighting against. We were fighting against Sadaam but he's dead and our people are still dying.
I haven't written one of these Lessons of Wood in a while. To tell you the truth, I haven't really updated edwood.org in quite some time.
I just want to take this time to say that it is in NO WAY because I have lost my faith in Woodism. If anything, I have become a master at making it a part of my everyday life. It's just that my family is getting bigger and with that I hardly find any time to devote to typing anymore. That's what happens when you turn thirty and have a family. I have two amazing daughters and a great wife and I work my little brown ass off to provide for them. But with that burden of providing for a family comes a sacrafice of my own. It leaves me with hardly any time between diaper changings and late nights comforting crying girls to devote to sitting in front of a computer screen typing my thoughts about Ed Wood and Woodism.
And for that I'm sorry. I am really really sorry.
It's my two daughters who help me the most with my Woodism. They don't know it but they do.
I have a good life. I really do. I get angry like everyone else. Nobody in Sacramento knows how to drive. There's is such a massive asshole-to-car ratio here, it's crazy. The city's motto should be "Sacramento: Turning Right In The Left Hand Lane" And my job brings me a lot of anger, too. How can people be so stupid as to go into a bookstore by the mall and get angry that we don't have any books on the life cycle of racoons for four year old girls? We are a mall bookstore, not a library.
So yeah, I get angry.
But I forget how great I have it. I have a good life. To think that six years ago I was a twenty four year old kidliving in Arizona and trapped in a stoned relationship that was going nowhere and spending every night drinking and smoking like I wanted to die. I was drunk and lonely and depressed. Now I'm a mature thirty year old man with a wife and two kids and a house and a bright future.
Plus I get to do story time at work twice a week. I've been doing story time for over three years now and each time I get to read to kids is a life-changing experience ...
I also have an amazing family and two amazing daughters.
Emerald is five years old. She is an angel. She plays on her Nintendo DS, usually her dogs game. She also loves the movie Yellow Submarine and she likes dancing in the kitchen with me. The kitchen is where a lot of our dancing happens. Kitchen dance parties, we call them. It's usually my iPod or its some cd I burned next door. We'll all be dancing in the kitchen, me and my wife and Emerald and even Isabela. Darling Isabela. She was born in 2005. She was sick at first so we spent a week or so in the baby emergency room, the NICU, sweating bullets and getting no sleep. But she pulled out fine and now she's yelling and screaming and dancing up a storm. All of us in the kitchen dancing like there's not a care in the world. It's the most refreshing thing in the world, me and the girls and we're all in our pajamas dancing like crazy monkeys. When we dance in the kitchen, it's like nobody else in the world exists but us. It's the most beautiful thing you can imagine.
There's Woodism there somehow.
Woodism isn't something concrete, something that can be written out into ten commandments or explained in an easy soundbyte. Woodism is a frame of mind. We remember the life and work of director Ed Wood by trying to live a life in a way that he represented. Ed's memory is one of perserverance and strength, of positivity and happiness. It's a life where you realize that existance is short and as such all of us need to live a life that's fun and happy and not weighted down with stress and anger and resentment. Ed Wood was who he was, a man with faults but a man who embcared his faults and through that he was above the rest of the nonconformist world. He was who he was, an absolute original. It's shocking even now to be an alcoholic transvestite filmmaker. Most people, if that was their lot in life, then they would take up that cross with a heaping helping of hatred and self-loathing.
Self-loathing, that's a Catholic thing. Forcing your own belief system down someone else's throat, that's a Christian thing.
Being proud of who you are and living a happy life. That's Woodism.
Woodism isn't concrete or structured. It's in the way you see the world and it's in the way you see yourself. You have to be proud of who you are, even if you're not what society says you need to be. Screw Ken and Barbie. Screw America's Next Top Model. Screw having to change yourself to match the rest of the world. Ed teaches us not to worry about the rest of the world's feelings about you.
It's okay to be an exception. It's okay to live a life that makes you happy. Happiness is okay. Drink. Smoke. Party. Sing. Screw. Dance in your kitchen. Live a happy life and follow whatever's in your heart.
That's Woodism. It's all in your mind. It's a church within yourself. It's using pop culture, using the movies that Ed made and also using tv and music to help you through life. It's making sure you're happy with life and happy with yourself. With these truths inside us, then Ed's films and his visions will never die.
Ed Wood can't be stopped.