Monday, January 15, 2007

Raphie Frank: Self Portrait of a Poet of the Possible

The Kiss :: (aka

The Kiss (Theatrical Publicity for the World Premiere of Adam Rapp'sBlackbird at London's Bush Theatre) by Raphie Frank

Let me tell ya'll a bit about what I am doing here because I get a little all over the place over on my blog Snipes, Logomancy and So So Psychosis [blog no longer online], sister blog to Raphie Frank: Business Artivist. SLSSP is largely an art and social and political issues oriented blog, with a little Bukowski and jaded optimist badass boojum cynical humour thrown in along with a little hippy, dippy, peace, love and happiness inanity to boot or embrace, because, well, you see, that's who am I am, ALL OF IT, and unfortunately I GIVE A DAMN, and, truth be told, it kind of sucks because I'm one of 'em mixed breeds.

Half Zen, Half-Christian and half-Jew  by birth -- meaning Jew enough for Hitler even though I am baptized and confirmed  as an Episcopalean of the Jefferson, not Jesus, toting kind --  and, yes, .5 + .5 + .5 adds up to one in my quantum notebook, I'm a little bit Midwestern family-revering Piitsburgh Pennsylvania, a little bit ornery Texan, a little bit foofy France and a whole lot Washington D.C, New York and Czech Republic Havel-loving YAP; respectively where I grew up, have lived for about 17 years, and where I spent 3 years back in the  '90's as a Young American in Prague, with the extraordinarily loving spirit that goes by the name Erica Soehngen, my ex-girlfriend-not-quite-wife now happily married to the talented photographer, producer and filmmaker, Robert Palumbo,  watching and literally taking part in history.

Work-wise I'm a union film lighting technician who has had dirt beneath his fingernails and been flat broke, busking bridges for spare change to buy cabbage and eggs, but I've also been a lighting designer and lit the National Theater stages in Prague and Warsaw, not to mention the self-same stage Havel walked and Petr Lebl -- famed theater director -- hung himself over in, I believe, disappointment at where he saw the world going. And  for four years plus I had the privilege of working with  Mr. Brian Reisinger, my mentor, as Senior Producer and Junior Partner at swandivedigital, where I had the honor of working with the likes of The Markle & Shubert Foundations, non-profits that have made a serious difference in the world in art, foreign policy and matters of health and national security; along with such talented artists as Robert Margolis an indie filmmaker you will hear from in the future, mark my words, and Elan McAlliser, producer of the Metamorposes on Broadway.

Artistically, in addition to lighting design, I am an interviewer, writer, singer and songwriter, photographer, graphic designer and sometimes videographer, but I believe my real art is thinking thoughts nobody else has thought and using that knowledge to try to bring people together because I learned long ago, thanks to all my various experiences, that, when you get right down to it, we're all far more alike than we are different. Barack Obama was right. There's red in the blue and blue in the red, but there's also a whole lot of black and white and yellow and turban too and I've got a bit of an obligation, near as I can figure it, to let other people know. because, you see, when everybody gets to thinking they're right, that's when you know they've all just gotta be wrong. It's just common sense, or else it's all crazy, meaning not just the other guy, but all of us too.

Now, any way, you may ask yourself, in my 39 years, how did I get to do all that? The fact of the matter, and you all need to know this, because transparency is a big part of  what I'm after, is that I am a child of privilege. My mother was a hell of a lawyer, Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Michigan and pioneering groundbreaker as part of the freshman class of women Graduates at Princeton (Sociology) in 1962, and my Dad... well my Dad has been an Ivy League professor at Yale and Princeton, a foreign policy planner, a banker and now he's a semi-retired gadfly about Europe, helping Eastern Europeans fend for themselves in a capitalistic vein forty years after he went down to Africa to teach in pre-Idi Amin Uganda with my Mom who dubiously has the distinction of first woman ever to drop out of Princeton (to marry my father), which kind of makes sense because about 25 years later she flew the coop to Texas from D.C., leaving a law practice where she was a partner to follow her heart and find herself a fairytale Prince, which she found about ten years after my father found himself a Princess.

And me? Me? Divorce and all, a real 21st century family we are, I still got sent to good schools all along the way, the best schools in fact, and I learned how to learn, maybe a bit too much, at free-thinking, mind delimiting Vassar College under the tutelage of the likes of Professors James Steerman, Mark Burrell and Andy Bush, the Spanish teacher who taught me that teachers have feelings too, but that's another story for another time... Suffice it to say, though, that even then my genetic, historical and social background, and personal experiences had me thinking a bit different, because you don't get to be captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team AND the Ski team if you're not prepared to reconcile a few contradictions related to class structure, life outlook and political, not to mention sexual, orientation.

Any way, point is, I know as John Edwards knows, that a lot of other people don't have the same back-up I have had or the same opportunities, and I feel a responsibility to try to do my darndest to give other folks the same chances I was lucky enough to have, because we're ALL a  family, and in a globalized world family ALL really means ALL. It includes the other guy no matter what shape his hat or what cloth his clothes.

Truth be told, I've got to tell you, my folks haven't much agreed with the way I've gone about things -- they are from a different day and age after all, a day before the quantum Internet Age and they haven't quite keyed in -- in fact I don't think just about anybody has, to this little notion I've got that the culture wars of the Sixties have returned, but silently this time, and they are being played out in bars like Hank's and The Levee in Brooklyn and on social software sites like My Space and Flickr. Just call it Generation XY, a two in one proposition coupling all those Gen-exers trapped between idealism and despair, and all those socially conscious Gen Y types who came just a bit after us.

But my parents are good people and I love them to death and until death and I know they love me and see me working my ass off and are just worried about me sometimes, thinking I'm reaching for something a bit too big, worldwide Velvet Revolution of a collective nature. And that's why I'll be doggoned if anyone but me gets to say a cross word against them because I kind of think they did something right, teaching me to make my own way, but for all of us, and I'll hand it to them, they are both trying to understand this whole business artivist / boojummy notion and that means a lot to me, a heck of a lot, because, you see, we're a family, folks, even if a divided one, and that's what matters; and families work it out in the end, because the truth is, we're all much better together than apart and I figure that if that applies to our nuclear family, then maybe we can just expand the notion a bit to include familes of nations and families of heart.

Call me an impractical idealist, a real poet of the possible with an annoying persistent dedication to a better world , a streak that has coursed through these Raphael IV veins perhaps all the way back through Hermes, Mercury and Bacchus to my name-forebearer, Thoth, the Egyptian Trickster of Thought/Time, so I'm just going to have to blame my parents and their parents and their parents before them for that because they taught me to try my hardest and to do my darndest to make a difference in the world.

At 39, I am often late to the party, but I always get there no less so than Americans, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, always do the right thing... after they've exhausted all the alternatives.

Think about that and maybe you will understand why I'm here blogging on Friendster -- which really ought to open the comment section to outsiders so that our FRIENDS can come here and have their say. Just a thought and if you agree, let them know -- and not My Space, and why I'm not writing for Interview Magazine or The Nation or the New York Times, which, if one might forgive my hubris -- I believe I could do. And why is that? Well it's easy folks. Friendster is about TOGETHERNESS and COMMUNITY and FRIENDS and that's what Zightlight, Boojummy, Worldzight, FotoLocket, Applesnipe and many other pilot projects I am working on are all about... even if I've had to get all self-absorbed writer-like to do it.

Bottom line? Just call me a freedom frog, trying to take the Boojummy scary jump of courage, hope, care, thimbles and forks to the heights our forebearers envisioned when they saw that shining beacon upon a hill so very long ago.  I have been emulating our forebearers in a forceful attempt to protect the Great American tradition of life, liberty and equality I love so very much, a notion our Revolutionary War allies over way south London Way call liberte, fraternite and egalite. After all, last I checked, Lady Liberty was looking a little green.

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