Flight and Denzel Washington

11169193_800In my formative years, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were “STARS”. Cool, funny, commercially successful but able to create projects with meaning while involved in service that makes a measurable difference in this world. They were the model of *STAR* at that time.

I want to recommend an addiction-recovery movie of real power, Flight, with Denzel Washington. First, motivated by the Ferguson, Missouri eruptions, and a lifetime of witnessing such shootings I would like to digress into the topic of racism and ways we are socially manipulated. For me, the awareness was triggered by Michael Jackson’s fairly odd action, back in the day, when he legally demanded MTV begin to brand him The King of Pop. He eventually commented, in a European interview, that if he was white he would be as big as Frank Sinatra but with his race will never be “allowed” to rise that high in the firmament. And that felt deeply unfair to him and that is why he began to approach his own promotion in such a way.

Odd as it might sound, I knew he was right. My experience in the music biz, in the press world and my studies of culture and public relations/media control all added up to my understanding that he had a legitimate gripe. My Father was in advertising his whole life, working his way up to vice-president of a global ad company, and was a major part of my instruction in this. Space and time limitations do not allow for a full dissection of this idea. A disturbing implication, is that we humans out here are so thoroughly affected by think tank/Media/Govt. manipulation that our thinking can be controlled enough that how we perceive someone is not solely up to us. That’s galling to think of, but hey, put that way, is patently evident. We are not in control (totally) of what/how we think in America! Hhhmmm…

So, you say, what the heck does that have to do with Denzel? If you add up his career, which is huge, he should be our current top STAR. You have: cool, funny, commercially successful but able to create projects with meaning while involved in much service to make a difference. He is our Paul Newman today, but I would say is not ultimately seen that way. He has made epic movies, including as a director (Antwone Fisher, The Great Debaters, Remember the Titans, Malcolm X), with great social significance. He has starred in very successful movies of both a commercial and critical nature. He is a *STAR* in the fullest sense of the world, and yet……

This is not to lament for him, as if stardom is important. He’s probably quite wealthy, happy, etc. and yet…..he is a “victim”, if you will, of the same racism. That’s important to keep in mind, for we need to liberate our thinking if we are to find the light. And that includes our societal thinking of addiction & recovery, which leads us back to our movie review for this week. Flight starts out a little rough with some drug usage, etc. and turned me off a bit. A related topic, is the irresponsible, effective glamorization of drug usage by Hollywood. But that is also for another day.

In Flight your patience will be rewarded. It is a powerful walk through the life of an addict and recovery in all its painful beauty. A masterful job created by a skilled artist at his finest. For those who enjoy a fuller movie experience, and care about the rampant addiction issues plaguing our great land, Flight is a blast of truthful wind.

Page One: Inside the New York Times

This week’s Finer Things in Life pick is a documentary, Page One: Inside the New York Times.

photo_05I began my first real job at 16, as a gofer for one of the TV news shows in my hometown of Detroit (at that time the industrial center of the world). A gofer goes-for this and goes-for that, mainly meet the film crews and schlep the film back for processing. Hustle food and coffee for everyone, occasionally do sound on a story for the guy who called in sick. What an education, literally walking the halls of power, with an inside view. Lee Iacocca/Walter Reuther/UAW press conferences, crime scenes, movie premiers! Heady stuff. It began my love affair with all things journalistic especially investigative. Later, I worked in the music business in Michigan, and was at times a Press Agent which afforded me a different view. Recently, I renewed regular contact with the Fourth Estate, drumming up press for RCNC and the September Recovery Rally. This has really driven home, to me, all the changes, mostly due to economics, that our press has been through and the shifting sands of what we call the Media today.

This documentary, revolving around a respected NY Times journalist, David Carr (and man in long-term recovery) does a great job of painting a picture of all that I have seen in the last 44 years. What it was, what it is, what it may shall be.

It’s been said that the conscience of an informed group is God’s Will on Earth. A key word in this concept is informed. We need our journalists.

BTW, it’s on Netflix Instant (as is The Anonymous People) which is one of the 10 best inventions of the last twenty years. Let me know what you think is the best invention of the last twenty years. The best of the best idea will win lunch!

Slaying the Dragon – New Edition

bill_white_keelyA leading historian of the treatment, recovery and Recovery Oriented Systems of Care movement, William White, has published a new edition of his classic, “Slaying the Dragon”. Let him tell you in his own words.

SlayingTheDragon_2ndEd_coverI want to let you know that the new edition of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America has just been published.  This second edition contains 31 chapters, 580 pages, and more than 100 photographs of addiction treatment and recovery pioneers. The Table of Contents and a Sample Chapter have been posted at www.williamwhitepapers.com.

I don’t know much about promoting books so have always relied on my friends to help get the word out on my new publications.  Please let anyone you think would be interested know that this book can be ordered by going online or calling toll free 1-888-547-8271.

RecoveryNC needs to point out that RCNC’s own Chairman Chris Budnick was co-author of Mr. White’s updated chapter on the history of Narcotics Anonymous. It has been said that a people without their history are a lost people. Many thanks to Bill and Chris for the dedication and the hard work it takes to unearth our history.

The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford

maria_bamfordFor this issue’s The Finer Things in Life, we are mining the schools of comedy, because in a mad, mad, mad world we know we must not lose our sense of humor. We here at RecoveryNC deeply appreciate the professionals who keep our funny bone limber. Today’s pick brings a heartfelt, at times painful and amazing story of recovery and triumph. Maria Bamford is a successful comedienne with a stand-up, Netflix special and voice-over career. Maria is a really funny original with a hell of a back story. Her challenges include Type-II Bipolar, anxiety and O.C.D.

The New York Times recently featured her in their Sunday Magazine story, “The Weird, Scary and Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford

And her website links to the special and other videos.

I say be compelled by the article first and then enjoy the stand-up.

The Finer Things in Life

allislost1We here at RecoveryNC see that the Creative Principle, like Love itself, flows at all times, available for us to utilize in our work to create a just and harmonious world. Yet we truly appreciate those who labor among us to create the art that is joyous and beautiful. From Renaissance times through today, many talented souls have brought us pleasure, wonder, awe and laughter to brighten our days and lift our loads. Painting, literature, music, film, dance, sculpture you-name-it, we appreciate it. Thus this begins an Art appreciation corner to trumpet that which creates art that actually sings truth, illuminating in a more Holographic/Holistic way.

We kick this series off with the Robert Redford vehicle All is Lost. Redford is an accomplished director (Ordinary People, The Horse Whisperer) but in this he works with writer/director J. C. Chandor to play a man literally lost at sea. An audacious conceit, a movie with only one (unnamed) character, it is a superb achievement. I will leave it at that, minimizing words as I admit that one of the many beauties of art is it allows us each our own “take-away” message.

I’m giving it 5 stars.