Tuesday, September 30, 2008

John McCain Hates Me ... and You ... and Especially You

If you pay attention long enough, people eventually reveal their true selves. Senator John McCain did just that — beyond any shadow of a doubt — yesterday.

McCain derisively asks Sarah Palin if her exchange outside Tony Luke's in Philadelphia with Temple Phd candidate Michael Rovito happened at a "pizza place." As if that were utterly beneath her ... and himself.

No matter how hard McCain tries to tell us that he is a man of the people, that he is a maverick, that he is different ... he just isn't. He is a privileged, cynical, mean-spirited rich guy who clearly has no respect for:

a) the intelligence of those who may frequent or work at a beloved family-owned institution that offers great food at affordable prices and goes out of its way to support the troops McCain pays lip service to at every opportunity.

b) Michael Rovito — a tax-paying serious-minded voter who would like to know what the hell is going on in Sarah Palin's head.

(Oh yeah — Rovito is involved in researching ethnic studies, minority health disparities, immigration, and implementing Geographic Information Systems to the field of epidemiology and public health — what a selfish, grandstanding prick he is.)

There was no "gotcha journalism" as McCain alleged. Nor was anything taken out of context. Sarah Palin was asked questions at a close range and in a reasonable tone of voice and she gave her answers.

I feel sorry for Sarah Palin now. She is so completely overwhelmed that you can actually see her aging over the course of an interview. She has quickly become a punchline and there appears to be no way out for her.

She is in for the most humiliating month of her life.

But back to Senator McCain — who evidently is a borderline compulsive gambler and classic backroom casino wheeler-dealer as well as a dick.

I mean — do we really need another condescending, vindictive president who has lost all touch with the day-to-day reality of the people he wants to lead? McCain is an angry old man with no real regard for you and me. He seems to be losing the ability to tell the truth with each passing day. And in the process — he must have gone to the Senate Appropriations committee and secured first dibs on George Bush's smirk.

I used to like John McCain. When you get snippets here and there of him, you can be fooled. He can come across like a tough, honest customer.

But — in the end — who is he?

A man who has ridden the war hero horse a long, long way, who ditched his first wife after she was disfigured in a car accident, who is as slick a dealmaker as any other Washington insider and now arrives on history's doorstep a damaged, arrogant, angry jackass.

Don't we deserve better?

Also — a word about debates. I believe that the candidates should not debate each other. I think the truth will be revealed only if John McCain debates a regular old registered Democrat and Barack Obama debates an everyday registered Republican.

Rather than sparring, pouting and making grand empty pronouncements, they would have to give real answers and talk to someone who lives in the real world.

I volunteer to debate McCain. I think it should take place at Tony Luke's.

Now all I have to do is open a casino and maybe he'll return my call.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


There are always people in your life who — somehow — make you want to be better.

On a daily basis, my wife and daughter inspire me to want to be more than I am.

In all aspects of my life.

And then there are artists — creative tsunamis — who humble and inspire ... who make you want to ... to ... just do. And do whatever it is you have to do better than you did it before.

Jeff Parise is one such force of nature.

And if you don't know who the hell he is ... well, that is about to change.

And not a minute too soon.

In the seven and half years I've known him, Jeff has revealed, refined and expanded his talents as an actor, a painter, a writer, a director, a musician.

Jeff Parise is creativity distilled.

And he does it all in a way that does not make you want to kick his ass for being so gifted.

Jeff and I met doing a film together — and despite the fact that he is from Indiana and couldn't give a shit about basketball — we became friends.

Along the way, I (and my wife Lisa) turned him on to Egon Schiele. He turned me onto
Wim Wenders. He's asked me for advice. I've seeked out his counsel.

In theory, actors and artists must support one another — because that support only makes all of us stronger, better, more alive. Because, the theory goes, there is not a finite amount of talent in the world. Your talent makes my talent more vital.

In practice, it's often a world of jealousy, duplicity and warped competition.

Jeff Parise proves the theory in his practice of it. He's an artist who genuinely supports artists.

If you are in Los Angeles between now and next Friday go see Callback: The Unmaking of 'Bloodstain

Support real independent film ... and a guy who truly deserves it.

Congrats, JVP.

P.S. Jeff — as you travel along your path to world entertainment domination, I feel compelled to remind you that I am currently available for acting work — especially since my daughter wants to go to private school ... and Yale.

Diminished ...

(ORIGINALLY POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 8, 2008 ON www.brothersmcc.blogspot.com)

Is it possible to run for the highest office in the land and be a statesman/stateswoman? To do it with dignity?

It seems the answer is a resounding "No."

The bruising primary season quickly turned candidates into (or magnified their propensity toward) triple-talking, back-stabbing, soul-selling hucksters before the campaign buses even cleared the New Hampshire state line.

And when the smoke cleared and the wreckage had been shoved to the shoulder — the ultimate prize nearly in sight — the two survivors released their hounds ... er ... vice-presidential picks.

And now the VP hopefuls have stepped into the ring like Chris Jericho and Beth Phoenix, ready to rip each other and their respective bosses apart all over again.

(ed. — googling the above names of the current WWE champions constitutes an all-time high in BrothersMcC research)

I used to not give a shit.

You may currently not give a shit.

But this election has the feel of "pivotal" all over it.

You may say "All presidential elections are pivotal, halfwit."

And you'd be right ... especially the halfwit part.

But, for some reason, this one has the air of tragedy about it. And the tragedy is that — in the face of such staggering history being made with Barack Obama and Sarah Palin involved — we insist on making those who would become the leaders of the free world diminish themselves as human beings.

We force them to lie, exaggerate, attack, slander, hurl petty insults over and over again, air fifth-grade-level commercials and generally behave like total assholes.

Then we ask them to lead us.

"Well there, Kevin, that's the name of the game in high-stakes politics. It's dog-eat-dog. If you don't like it — move to Iceland, you big pussy."

Yeah but as we demand that these people humiliate themselves on a global stage (and then expect them to inspire us and unite us?) — we diminish ourselves.

It was sad to see Joe Biden follow his son's moving introduction with an overwrought, frothing barkfest at the Democratic National Convention. It should have been the crowning moment for a guy who has overcome more adversity than those poor bastards on Prison Break. Instead, he was borderline nutty. His speech had a hint of violence to it. And he was talking about John McCain, a long-time friend.

And as historic and genuinely exciting as Sarah Palin's appearance was at the Republican National Convention — and it was, you can't deny it — her speech was condescending and nasty. She was poised, she was tough, she was spoiling for a fight.

She was really fucking annoying.

Just like every other politician.

And the saddest --- and most diminishing --- part of it all is that it means nothing.

What these four people say and promise in the next 60 days will bear little, if any, resemblance to their actions.



Really, who are we kidding?

Couldn't we have used the money for these dorkfests ... um I mean ... conventions for something like, say, people in New Orleans still waiting for a bed to sleep in or the 750 homeless veterans wandering lost in the wilds of Columbus, Ohio.

Of course not.

Because this is the way things are done.

And with politicians, we expect them — deep down — to be scumbags. As long as they're our scumbags.

We will put up with — and even cheer — all the bullshit campaign promises and flip-floppery that all politicians shovel at us. We know its part of the deal. Politicians must lie, cheat and betray to get shit done.

And we're cool with that.

As long as they keep up their end of the unspoken bargain:

Keep us safe, housed and fed.

Keep our sons and daughters in the military from eating any unnecessary bullets and shrapnel. And when they go and do our fighting for us, take care of them when they come back.

Keep everyone — and goddammit, we mean everyone! — equal.

That's the government's job.

That's the president's job.

Everything else is gravy — or pork.

Consider Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, gas prices, food prices, the current housing situation, corruption, cronyism, scrap-heaped veterans, rising unemployment, appalling public schools and the prospect (from both sides of the aisle) of religious ideology splashing over the sides of the reflecting pool, across the lawn and into the halls of Congress.

Then ask yourself ...

Who's the best lying, exaggerating, scheming, borderline criminal gladhander for the job?

See ya at the polls!

Oh yeah! Almost forgot — BrothersMcC has its first scoop!! Below is a sneak preview of the Vice-Presidential debate, courtesy of a somewhat lesser-known Palin.

The Spiritual Arms Race

(ORIGINALLY POSTED ON AUGUST 9, 2008 ON www.brothersmcc.blogspot.com)

There is a spiritual arms race afoot.

A knock-down-drag-out steel cage match for the title of Most Religious.

Whoever wins ... becomes president.


John McCain is so desperate that he's claimed to be a Baptist while stumping in Baptist country. For the record, the dude's an Episcopalian.

For now.

Barack Obama trumpets his Christianity at every turn. And consistently touts the necessity of spirituality and religious insight for successful governance and the healing of our country.

Both are simply trying to get elected. And sound like teenagers trying to convince Dad to give them the keys to the Buick for the weekend.

The Republican Party has been trading on fire and brimstone for ages, so, ya know, whatever.

But now, the Democratic Party — tired of God-Squad dominance and presidential election defeats at the hands of dolts like our current Prayer-in-Chief — has decided to drink the Jesus juice and roll the ideological dice.

And the newest face of this effort — Leah Daughtry — is a case study in everything that is wrong with over-heated religiosity.

Early on in the recent New York Times Magazine profile of her, Leah Daughtry reveals herself as another in a long line of prominent political frauds, using her ideology to convince us that she -- and those who share her point of view — are Holier Than Thou.

Well ... Holier Than Me at least.

Daughtry is Howard Dean's Chief of Staff and she is in charge of the Democratic National Convention — and she's a Pentecostal minister.

In the article, she is preaching at her father's House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn and celebrating a congregant's triumph over breast cancer.

Daughtry gives credit for this medical victory to the exceptional quality of prayer supplied by the women members of the church, saying:

"The eggheads will say her chemotherapy worked, but everyone who uses chemotherapy isn’t cured.”

First, I'm not sure who the "eggheads" are. I can only assume she's referring to sane people.

Second — my mother died of cancer. She underwent chemotherapy. She prayed for a cure. Her family prayed for a cure. All her friends prayed for a cure.

Does this mean the Catholic prayers in Southeastern Pennsylvania weren't as potent as those in Brooklyn? Did God give the faithful from St. Denis in suburban Philadelphia a big holy raspberry — and decide that my mother was not spiritually committed enough to live?

Leah Daughtry's remark exposes religious ideology for what it is — "Our God is better than your god."

A less sophisticated writer than myself might — at this point — say something inflammatory like "Leah Daughtry can go fuck herself" but I'm cut from a finer cloth.

Instead, I submit that it is time to form a new political party — the "Fuck Ideologies."

Who's with me?

Is it necessary for me to pick on Leah Daughtry?

I think so.


Because she will soon have the ear of Barack Obama. Because everyone is racing to claim the Most Religious crown for their party, their candidate, their government. Because religious ideology is hypocritical at best and murderous at worst.

And because Leah Daughtry says that, for her, "the Bible is history."

Please ...

Let's clear one thing up right now — the Bible is not literal history for anyone. There are no people following the dictates of the Bible word for word. And anyone who says they are is lying. And any political figure who says they are is not only lying but dangerous.

Everyone — and by "everyone" I tend to mean, well, all people currently living — everyone who consults the Bible picks and chooses from the Good Book. They select what serves their needs. A spiritual 7-11 if you will.

Ideology is the proud father of hypocrisy. And when ideology and hypocrisy hook up with ambition — the worst kind of family reunion takes place ... one that ends with guns going off, tanks rolling in, RPGs whizzing by, rights disappearing, tolerance evaporating and young men and women being memoralized in the local newspaper.

President Bush said that he consulted with God about the war in Iraq — and that has sustained him and kept him steadfast.

Talk about covering your ass.

But of course Bush didn't talk with God — he talked with Cheney, who we all know fell from Heaven and now battles God for the souls of mankind.

Okay, yes, spirituality is the centerpiece of many people's lives.

And, yes, that spirituality helps shape one's point of view of the world.

But when you get in a spiritual arms race and you openly compete to prove you are God's favorite — the canary in the coal mine starts to experience shortness of breath.

Leah Daughtry says a bunch of other nutty things in the article — like her experiences speaking in tongues (brilliant actually — its unassailable because its supposed to be gibberish) and that she was a reluctant participant in the public arena (hence the splashy New York Times Magazine article).

I'm sure its not all Leah Daughtry's fault.

I'm sure she's a good friend and a loving daughter.

But do we really need religious ideology to know that we should be decent to one another? Or keep our country's citizens safe? Or have our trash picked up?

Leah Daughtry thinks God prefers the Pentecostal way. A born-again former co-worker of mine believes that Jews and Muslims have no shot at heaven. Many devout Catholic are closet racists.

What does that even mean?

It means that — ultimately — organized, ambitious religious ideology will divide us.

Our common humanity is what will unite us.

Swear to God.

The True Meaning of Love ...

(ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 20, 2008 ON www.brothersmcc.blogspot.com)

... is taking your kid to American Idols Live 2008.

Holy Money Grab.

Most Disturbing (yet hilariously true) Moment: While runner-up Idol David Archuleta was warbling along, he was bathed in a light that was blatantly phallic.

There was a circular outcropping at the front of the stage and it was awash in white light that extended past the little fellah in a ramrod straight line and ended with a bulbous flourish just beyond.

And if that wasn't enough — and, again, I am crapping you negative — swirling around the circular ball-sac-ish outcropping were dozens of very sperm-ish-looking lights. Lisa and I nearly choked on our Cracker Jacks and bargain-basement $7 flat Bud Lights. Never in my life have I seen so many parents looking around for independent confirmation of what they were witnessing.

Then ... then! ... at the end of Archuleta's song, the sperm lights exited in unison — as if the music gods had just climaxed (a wet dream, no doubt, since they surely were asleep by that point.)

It was a bizarre sedative of a concert — complete with a gigantic Pop-Tart mascot, a desultory Guitar Hero video game contest, all the female performers mechanically shaking booty (except piano-bound Brooke White) as if the audience were full of drunk out-of-town businessmen armed with a stack of singles, and all 10 performers each imploring the crowd to make more noise — where only that Aussie dude Michael Johns seemed to inject any real fun or emotion into the proceedings.

In the end ...

Our daughter had the time of her life.

Upon reflection ... Greatest Concert Ever.

A Love Letter ...

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON JULY 14, 2008 ON www.brothersmcc.blogspot.com

"The real job of any actor is to retain an urgent need to become a better actor."

The renowned acting teacher Larry Moss said something like that ... as far as I know. And, as is our custom at BrothersMcC, I didn't bother to look up the exact quote. I liked this one just fine. It struck me as truthful.

And difficult to fulfill.

When I first moved to New York to pursue acting — shortly after FDR left office — I had seen exactly zero plays.

Actually, that's not true — my high school buddies and I went to Archbishop Carroll's production of Inherit The Wind. We snuck beers in and, being the assholes we were, laughed out loud during all the dramatic moments.

Talk about denial ...

Anyway ....

The first play I ever witnessed — sober — was the original production of Burn This by Lanford Wilson at the Plymouth Theater.

I had been in New York just a few months and had done little but tend bar, drink with an angry focus and expand my working knowledge of recreational drugs. I could not have been further from being an actor. I was beginning to think I had made the worst mistake of my life.

Then John Malkovich made his entrance in Burn This and two and a half hours later, all doubt had been scorched away. If ever I could do to someone else what Malkovich did to me that night, it would be worth any humiliation, hardship or hangover. I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

In the intervening years, I've been able to scrape together work as an actor.

But I also drifted about as far as one could from that night at the Plymouth Theater. I effectively gave up the theater — not that the theater was knocking my door down or anything but ... I became that dude — the one waiting for the phone to ring, dying for that next chance to be "Cop #2" on CSI — which, coincidentally, I am currently available for, if Carol Kritzer is reading this blog — and I think we all know she is.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time doing — and pursuing — work of dubious artistic worth. But that's the gig for 96% of us and that is cool (surprisingly — health insurance, mortgage payments and food aren't included with your SAG card) — as long as there is something else. I mean, after a while, the question has to be revisited — "Why the fuck did you become an actor in the first place ... and, more to the point, why are you still at it?"

Well, I was lucky enough to be reminded of both "why's" over and over again during the past two months — working on the play Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones.

It was — by turns — frustrating, exhilarating, terrifying and joyful.

It was theater.

I felt like an actor.

And no amount of gratitude can convey how thankful I am to still have my hat in the ring.

Secure in the knowledge that I will never be nominated for any award any time soon (okay — maybe I have an outside shot at, say, "Creepiest Villain Who Bears An Uncanny Resemblance To Kevin Bacon") I will now thank the people who have instilled, nurtured and resurrected the 2nd greatest love affair in my life.

Whether you all share in my thanks and/or resurrection is another story entirely.

But screw it — why wait till they're all dead:

To Greg Zittel — A teacher of blinding intensity and fierce dedication to the creative spirit. Any seriousness of purpose I may have acquired as an actor came from him.

To Wynn Handman — Easily the most influential — and the best — acting teacher the country has seen in the last fifty years. If you don't believe me — just ask Alec Baldwin, James Caan, Kathleen Chalfant, Chris Cooper, Michael Douglas, Allison Janney, Frank Langella, John Leguizamo, Mira Sorvino, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington, and Joanne Woodward.

To my students — As flaky and kooky as they are, they have no idea how much they have taught me. I'm in their debt ... not monetarily, of course (just so there's no confusion on the first Tuesday of the month)

To Jimmy Bohr — Improbably, we've both ended up in Columbus, OH. Not so improbably, he is the best director I've ever worked with. His patience and insight made Stones In His Pockets an experience that will be difficult to top. And, Jesus Christ Almighty, does he make unreal German potato salad.

To Jon Osbeck — Who knew a Swedish half-Jew could pull off six Irish characters, a Scottish bodyguard and a chick ... and be a better Irish step dancer than I am? And the fucker built our deck. And he plays piano. And he can sing.
On second thought, let's beat the shit out of him.

To Lisa — I don't know ... I assume every actor has a spouse who says "Hey, I have an idea — let's form a company and do Irish theater. And if you drag your feet, I'll keep after you because — you moody, thick bastard — I know a great idea when I have one even if you don't. So we're doing this play and I know you'll take all the credit afterward but that's cool because I'll know the truth and that's good enough for me."

Well, Lisa, now everyone (or at least the eight people who read this blog) knows the truth. You are extraordinary.


ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MAY 25, 2008 at www.brothersmcc.blogspot.com

Take a look at that face.

See it.

Study it.

Imagine what kind of life led up to that photo.

Imagine the countless people touched by that face.

Please look at it one more time.

That's Sgt. John "Kyle" Daggett, 22, Airborne Army Ranger from Phoenix, AZ.

He died earlier this month from injuries sustained when an airburst mortar exploded over the armored vehicle he was traveling in.

Daggett was in the rear gun hatch, exposed, along with another soldier when the explosion occurred in Baghdad.

Sgt. Daggett's injuries were overwhelming yet he made it from Baghdad to Germany to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he finally succumbed.

I know absolutely nothing about Sgt. Daggett's life, except that he died a hero. And that, after the mortar exploded, the driver of the vehicle who recovered enough to drive "like a bat out of hell to the evac site, taking out vehicles, utility poles and anything else in his way" was my nephew James McCarthy.

Jimmy is still there. In harm's way. And now he is a veteran — he is still on active duty, of course, but he is a veteran. For our sake — he now knows what most of us will never know and has seen what most of us will never see.

For our sake.

I can imagine, but I cannot comprehend, what that reality is like.

It seems the only way to be a truly concerned and engaged citizen, not only of this country but of the world is to make it personal. Make it specific.

Look at that picture of Sgt. Daggett once again.

See what was sacrificed.

That is specific.

Imagining my nephew in the chaos of battle.

That is specific.

The burden of the unknown carried by his mother — my sister — every day.

That is specific.

The injuries sustained by SPC Shane Stuard — who was riding alongside Sgt. Daggett — are specific.

Shane, a father of three, is recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

We hear he digs mail — especially from kids.
Take a minute, remember and send it to:

SPC Shane Stuard
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Ward 57
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington DC 20307

I'm anti-war. I think any sane person is.

But I am pro-soldier ... because war is the worst thing on this earth and soldiers know it and they choose to do it anyway — so the rest of us don't have to.

I once was in a room with four Vietnam veterans and a Desert Storm veteran. The conversation centered on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the realities of being a soldier. At one point, the Desert Storm vet looked me in the eye and asked, "How come you never served your country?" There was no malice in the asking, but all conversation stopped and everyone waited for an answer.

I had no answer that seemed adequate so I told the truth, "I made the choice to avail myself of the freedoms that you have fought to provide me ... Thank you."

And one of the Vietnam vets stuck out a hand and said, "Fair enough. You're welcome."

I shook his hand and remembered my old man talking about fighting in the South Pacific in World War II. And what that cost him.

Now I remember my nephew Jimmy in Baghdad and his buddy Shane at Walter Reed.

Most of all, though, I think I'll remember that face in the picture.

And I'll try to remember the cost of my freedom.