Truth or Consequences


Truth or Consequences

“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.” Albert Camus

I’ve been wondering about the incalculable distance between truth and that which we wish to believe.

One idea is about truth telling.

the cell staff was exploring this topic the other day when it became evident that we all have very different ideas about the value and limits of honesty.

We all agree that honesty is the best policy. But the definition of honesty itself was called into question. Can honesty be measured by degrees? Is truth a relative value?

We wonder, do you deliver a truth to others in the way you’d like to hear it, or in the way you believe they’d like to hear it? When the truth can be hurtful, do you deliver it by softening the blow with a half-truth or a lie of omission? Is it kinder or better, or even okay to tell a lie of omission to save someone’s feelings or to deliver a truth that might hurt, yet actually benefit the other? Maybe every situation is so unique that it requires a rabbinical council to determine the answer!

Another idea is about absolute Truth (with a capital ‘T’). The discovery that one is attached to ideas, which may or may not have anything to with reality, can throw us off balance. To explore this territory is not for everyone! It means leaving your safety zone and entering an area of deep instability where everything is questionable. Like Alice through the Looking Glass we may try to find objectivity, but we see through a lens of relativity, which invariably distorts our perception. It might be fun to think about but it can leave the inquisitor in a state of existential crisis. I think Camus and Beckett lived there.

Still, honestly, when it comes to the question of absolute truth, though I have to agree with Albert (the Darth Vader of philosophy) I prefer Sam’s brighter outlook. He, at least, had a sense of humor.

Of course, these are mind games that cannot be solved in a short blog or by a quorum of scholars over a millennium. But we love the discussion and welcome your comments. Your participation is our reason for being - our reason for being a salon.

Posted on May 27, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

Reading Rimbaud (a poem)

Reading Rimbaud (a poem)
Some seek freedom Some find freedom on earth but truth be told freedom is fleeting I can only speak from My skin A prison as dark as a solitary cell An apparition of security from without Impermeable walls like the stone surrounding my garden From within an endless stream of consciousness

I seek release through insufficient words The prison guard is you Today is judgement day Grant leniency, your honor I will love you for it if only for a moment.

Posted on May 19, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

Just Kids

Just Kids 5/10

Diehard rock n roll fan that I am, I’ve been reading Patty Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, and I wanna say it is rockin’. She is a shameless namedropper, (I’ve never heard of half the names she mentions), but her experience with Robert Mapplethorpe is a gem of a portrait of the artist as a young man…and of herself.

I grew up on the heels of her time, and like Patty, with great awareness and curiosity about Andy Warhol’s Factory, Max’s Kansas City, the Beats, and an era of music that changed the world; the era that shaped Patty and Robert. I wonder if that which was can ever happen again. It seems as if the blossoming of art in the seventies mimicked the beats of the fifties, which followed the pattern of the art boom of the impressionists of the turn of another century.

All of these movements were inventing something new in a time when something new could be invented. I am not so naïve to believe nothing new will come along, it is just that in a world as crowded as this one, it seems more and more impossible to be both original and visible as it was in those times. What I see is more stuff and less substance. And let us not dismiss the power of advertising.

Patty and Robert yearned for accomplishment. They were willing to starve for art, Patty by choice, Robert by necessity. To each the calling was powerful, like a call to prayer. Despite uncertainty and with conviction they paid penance for the possibility of future reward. Both became something, fulfilling the mysterious human urge to succeed. Just Kids takes us on their uniquely magical journey in a mystical time.

Posted on May 13, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

In Living Color

In Living Color 5/3

Last year a project walked into the cell which seemed to be right up our alley. Though the ladies of the cell assured me it was a worthy project, I was hesitant to support something I didn’t sample. However, because I read the script and already knew and loved the work (and the person) of director-producer-singer-actor Charlotte Cohn, we decided to support the bare-bones production of Baltimore in Black and White by providing space. I am thrilled to report that the ladies were right!

Monday was the opening of this wild and hilariously irreverent look at relationships through the lens of racism. The writer, Jason Odell Williams, admittedly drew upon his own experience of interfaith marriage (southern gentile man married to above-mentioned Israeli-Jewish Charlotte Cohn), adding the twisted inner-voice we all have but are loath to admit in mixed company. It is the guiltiest pee-in-your-pants comedy I’ve seen since Urinetown.

If you’ve never been to the cell, now is a great time to come and see what we’re all about. If you have been here, you’ll want to come back for this impressive little show. You know it’ll be a big blast! Baltimore in Black and White in living color @ the cell.

Posted on May 6, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

Personalized Sarcophagi …

"Personalized Sarcophagi for the Ashes of the Environmentally Conscious"

So, these are the sarcophagi I loved in Israel. Since I wish for a green alternative to burial or cremation, I got to thinking…

The cremations by the Ganges are extraordinary, but that’s a little far and not as “green” as I thought. In India, they use an inordinate amount of wood to get the job done and the Ganges is quite polluted. The idea of returning to the river of life is beautiful, but I also love the idea of becoming one with the earth. The clay sarcophagus seems like a great solution.

Naturally I researched and discovered alkaline hydrolysis, an environmentally responsible alternative to burial and cremation,

I'd like to make a small sarcophagus for my own ashes (in my likeness, of course). I even bought the clay,and am planning to start on it sometime soon. Though I hope not to use it for a while, I think it'd be great on my mantelpiece.

Posted on April 28, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

Ever hear of the Druze?

Ever hear of the Druze?They are the Unitarians of Syria, Lebanon and Israel. A distinct ethnic community, the Druze are believed to be descended from Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. In Israel, they speak both Arabic and Hebrew and, highly loyal to the country in which they reside, voluntarily serve in the Israeli army. The Jews consider them Arabs, so I don’t quite understand how this works.

Many things about Israel baffle me. For instance, I can’t quite grasp the distinctions between Zionism, Nationalism and Judaism. As a New York Jew, I have to admit I feel pretty safe from anti-Semitism. As a traveler, I certainly am aware of the hatred that exists against my people, and have even felt the sting of such hatred. However, I can’t help but wonder why Jews who choose to relocate to Israel feel safer in a place where suicide bombs are an actuality.

I asked our guide in Israel to help me understand the distinction between Zionism and Judaism. He said, “I am a Zionist, but not a religious Jew.” I rebutted, “So? Take away your Judaism, are you still a Zionist? All the Zionists I know are Jewish." Is this Nationalism, and not Judaism?

We agreed on one thing. The problem lies with extremists on both sides of the Wall.

Still I wonder, if the Druze can peacefully and neutrally exist in Israel, why can’t everyone else?

Posted on April 21, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

To the East: A Poem.

To the East: A Poem. Husband

We sit on a flight to Amman,

Amanoman and me.

How is it, Mr. Mystery, you manage to keep faith?

I marvel at the sight of you,

You who've stuck by me for more than a half-life,  a quarter century plus. I still can't guess what keeps you, feet glued to the ground.

I fly around with fearful images, too dreadful to share, while you never blink,

Even as I think, dear god keep us from crashes and bombs.

I must rely on your strength because

My weakness is for drama.

Keep me, god, from going to the dark place.

My faith is only a word.


My fear is something else.

You, husband, mystery beyond words,

must be my reason.

Posted on April 15, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

Life Unlimited

Ever hear of Brian Weiss? He's a psychiatrist who found many of his patients revealed past lives while under hypnosis. His book, "Many Lives, Many Masters" presented some pretty strong evidence to support the idea that reincarnation is not just for Hindus.

Did you ever wish for more than one life? Some of us wish we could be in multiple places simultaneously.     Many people ask us, and you may wonder, how and why it is that we have such a wide array of programing. There are 2 answers. The first is because we have many interests. Since we can only be in one place at a time we must satisfy our curiosity by living our dreams in succession. There are so many things we wish we had time to explore. Thus, we serve a diverse community primarily to satisfy our passions. We carry on in the hope that others enjoy variety in the arts as we do.

The second is because there is a great surge of cross-fertilization taking place in the art world. Economics is partially responsible, but I believe new ideas are being generated through the mixing and matching of various creative energies.    Discipline in the arts came late to me. I wish I had multiple lives, and perhaps we do return many times. But since it is presumably impossible to know and equally impossible to split oneself into many people, we will continue to provide a place for the kind of programming we've been offering. Diversity is our specialty!

Posted on April 8, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

Product Placement

Doing what we do is a little like getting your kid into college these days. It doesn't seem to matter how much your kid has to offer in terms of intelligence, talent and perseverance. You apply your wonderful teenager to a bunch of schools in the hope that the school will recognize a good thing when they see it.  A good thing with promise, in fact, with the potential to be a great success in the world at large, if only given the opportunity.  Here at the cell, we invest in the intelligence, talent and perseverance of artists. But just as there are deluge of kids with great stuff competing for coveted placement, our artists invest their lives only to get shut out of a world for which they've prepared over many years. Is it the numbers that don't add up? We know that there is an abundance of product, but we exist in the hope that we are providing a home where exceptional artists can deliver their goods to people who appreciate solid work for a very affordable price.

This month we are presenting two exceptional artists who have created shows that demonstrate their intensely reflective spirits. Both shows were created from the words of great masters of theater. Both Samuel Beckett and Tennessee Williams estates have given permission for the presentation of these extraordinary works, which I can assure you is harder to get than passing any admissions board!

Posted on April 1, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.

Music to mine the mind, pierce the heart and awaken the soul

Music to mine the mind, pierce the heart and awaken the soul…

You know how you can see or hear something countless times and then one day you actually experience it?

It’s funny how some things come to one’s attention. Sometimes it takes another to point something out.

Sometimes it takes a parrot.

I have to admit that the revolutionary music of the 60’s and 70’s pretty much obscured other music for me. It is true that I played violin in my school orchestra and felt a puppy love for the classical music we played, but my true love has always been “classic rock.” Okay. There I’ve said it. So I can now tell you that some great music I have taken for granted and has remained in the periphery of my consciousness. Like Beethoven. It’s always been there in the background, like elevator music, droning away - pretty sounds and chords plucking at the head, but not quite at the heartstrings.

Not as an aside, I was reading “Great House” by Nicole Krauss (as an aside, I totally fell in love with her quirky characters and affecting prose in “The History of Love”), where she mentions the third movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132. I depend on the authority of seriously deep thinkers, like Nicole, for tips like this. I consulted my computer in the room where Pee Jay (my parrot) often waits for me to quell his temperamental outbursts. Usually I fail.

I was hopeful. Together we listened. Of course, as many of you undoubtedly know and would agree, the movement, in Nicole’s words “…charred the landscape of all human feeling.”

Well, evidently it works on animals, too. Pee Jay happily chirped along while I was treated to the kind of emotion only certain masters, like Beethoven and Krauss, can evoke. It has become number one on our Classical Hit Parade. Who can argue with an ornery parrot? He’s a tough bird to please.

Posted on March 25, 2011 and filed under Un-Blog Me!.