Friday, March 16, 2007

"Artistic" Madness Gone Awry?

No matter where you live in the country, I'm sure I am correct in assuming you've heard of the street shooting occurring here in New York City several nights ago. It happened in Greenwich Village on a series of streets (since the gunman was running) that included MacDougal and Bleecker which are bounded by Sullivan and Houston Streets in the heart of Greenwich Village. My first Off-Broadway show played three years at a theatre that was literally down the block from where the shooting first began. We spent many a night in and around the West Village, eating at its restaurants, looking in its stores, sitting in Father Demo Park, and gorging on Marzipan and Canoles at the italian patisserie shop around the corner. We've eaten in DeMarco's Pizzearia (where the murder spree began) and carried pizza out of there several times. Tragically, four people, including the gunman were killed. (An employee of a Pizzeria--probably the initial target, then two Auxiliary and unarmed "civilian" police officers that gave chase and finally the gunman.)

I was reading the newspaper accounts of the killing spree AND the killer. Apparently, the killer was something of a filmmaker--actually probably the wrong phrase--he was an aspiring filmmaker. He had self-financed several different short films and by the account of one of his actresses had almost started a fight during one of his street shoots. Most who knew him well said there was something not right about him--a hidden anger if you will. One of his surreal film scripts involved a US Marine who goes on a shooting spree(???!!!) Interesting since he was asked to leave the Reserves after several years.

Those who knew him in a professional sense, his colleagues from the Wall Street Journal where he worked as a typographer said he was quiet and that there was nothing overtly unusual about him. Besides his short films, he had conceived of a Goth reality series entitled "The Darklys" and was apparently shopping this around. He told people he was a Pulitzer prize winning journalist. Some suggested that while the gunman craved recognition and had some talent as a filmaker and writer, he was unwilling or unable to put in the work to achieve success.

Now, I don't mean to trivialize what has happened. All artists live with frustration, depair, disappointment--but if you truly love what you do--as Picasso said--you cannot be doing it for the money. If you do it for the love--then the money and recognition will come. That's the thinking. Of course this takes a tremendous amount of faith in oneself. The fact that he was unwilling to 'work' for what he wanted suggests to me that he really did not 'love' what he was aspiring to do--rather he wanted fame, notoriety.

A search of his apartment in the Bronx found disguises and more guns including a speed loader and over a hundred rounds of ammo. The night of the shooting spree he carried a backpack that contained another semi-automatic with another 90 rounds of ammo. This was clearly someone who was planning damage . . . lots of it . . . and more of it.

This individual was a landmine . . . sitting . . . sometimes unnoticed . . . just waiting to be detonated. How many more people we see and interact daily are like this? Simmering . . . just waiting for that moment.

You know, its not the large things that send a man over the edge. Rather its the continuing series of small tragedies . . . a shoelace that snaps with no time left . . . a cancelled train when trying to reach an appointment . . . a firing from a job . . . a rejection from a lover . . . that do you in . . ."