Best Party Ever | Creative Arts as Emotional Therapy

� The best party I ever went to was held up in Los Angeles .. at the home of a professor at USC's School of Cinema. It was billed as a � Valentine's Day Lonely Hearts Party. (Or something like that.) So I admit that my expectations were not very high.

The Famous Hollywood SignI had never heard of such a thing and found the concept more than curious.

But this professor, who was a surprisingly youngish woman, and who had helped the Film school girl get into Film school ..

.. opened her home to her students who might not have anyone special to spend the holiday with.

It became a popular thing. Other professors showed up, too. Yes, you could bring a date .. but you didnt have to. (That was the whole point. And most didnt.)

My point � you could *feel* the creative energy there. There was much outdoor decking in the back.

Lots of trees back there .. and undulating hills. Lovely neighborhood. (I did not know that LA had neighborhoods like that.)

The most striking aspect of this particular home .. was how dramatically the front hid what was out back.

I mean, you felt like you had entered another world soon as you came thru the front door .. but especially as you stepped outside out back.

"That's a good trick," I thought. Almost like an optical illusion. Front � plain, sparse. Back � lush, tropical. Like you were living on a hillside that sloped away from you.

So, right from the git-go I was intrigued. "I may not be totally sure what it is, but I definitely like this place."

Just a nice place to hang out, even without all the cool people. Very inviting. Like the kind of place � you dont want to leave.

I was loving it. I mean, the atmosphere itself there was like drinking nectar.

And I myself have a very different background .. from all these creative-types. So they seemed to find me different, and maybe even interesting.

Drilling Down One On One

I am a one-on-one type of guy. In group settings, I tend to let others talk while I just listen. But one-on-one situations let you steer the conversation into more arcane directions .. where you can � drill down .. into some very interesting topics and subjects. (Which is where I like to go.)

So I was making the rounds, and everybody there looked like they were interesting to talk to .. but I found myself in the kitchen ..

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.. talking to this girl seated at the table there. Turns out she herself was another professor at USC .. who taught art. Sculpture.

"Oh, do you use clay?" I asked.

"Sometimes," she said, "but clay is expensive, so we use other stuff." She used a more precise term here, which I cannot recall .. but basically it means � a variety of less-expensive materials, such as and including plaster of paris.

I was standing over her, seeking her opinion about the teachability-of-creativity-in-art vs the intuitive-gifted artist, who seems to be born with a paintbrush in his hand.

Long story short � she was absolutely convinced that creativity in art is a teachable thing. Yes, she ceded to the genius at the high end of the scale, which, in her view means nothing to 99.9% of people.

I mean, I found myself searching for one small chink in her position .. from multiple angles, and even put to her in cleverly rephrased aspects. Probing here, challenging there .. but she would not budge.

I mean, she would know, right? And I knew that she was comfortable in her position because she did not get offended by my more prying questions.

I have this thing that seems to sniff out bullshit .. on its own. "Do these two positions," I might ask, for example, "not seem inconsistent to you?"

If the person whom you are asking has not confronted themselves with the same conundrum .. they might be embarrassed .. and therefore offended .. and therefore upset.

So you have to proceed down these avenues with tact and sensitivity .. especially at a party where you are talking to someone you never met before.

Anyway, her position was basically � "I can teach you to draw. I can teach you to paint. I can teach you to do sculpture. I can teach anybody how to do these things .. to a high degree of proficiency."

Again, I was looking for any chink in her position .. and she would yield none. Nada.

Perhaps I should note that .. regarding the Cinema professor .. opening up her home to students who might not want to be alone for Valentine's day .. that was very cool. You could tell that she cared for her students. (And in that way .. she reminded me of Warren & Eva, which is a big compliment.)

You shoulda seen when Todd Boyd showed up .. wearing a fur coat with a gansta fedora. (February nights can get downright nippy in southern California.) He came pretty late .. after 10.

I did not get a chance to talk to him. He always had a crowd around him. I see him on TV every now-n-then, discussing this or that.

Yes, I have been to many excellent parties. Speaking of which .. the Oscars are coming up in a few weeks (March 2) and Film school students have the best Oscar parties. You should hear some of their conversations.

[ Remind me to tell you the story about the house-warming party I threw at my condo in Pennsylvania .. where people were coming up to me six months later, saying things like, "That was the best party I've ever been to."

My buddy there had a business where he frequented all the aerobics studios in 3 or 4 surrounding states .. so we had at that party � half (crazy) migrant nuclear guys and � half hard-body aerobics instructors .. from several different states. (Yes, it was wild. But fun. Lots of fun. Lots of dancing.)

I got a whole pig and threw it on a spit. The next morning, nothing but bones remained. And a few ribs seemed missing to me. ]

Oh, we interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast .. to bring you this special bulletin (February 15, 2014) .. from Laura Poitras and James Risen � Spying by NSA Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm.

Laura is the lady who, along with Glen Greenwald, broke the Snowden story. They did such a remarkable job. What a smooth operation. Under less-than-optimal conditions. High risk.

I would not rule out the words � changed the world. Or changed the course of history. (Regarding Big Brother, and it's prophetic implications.) Would you?

So anything Laura does goes to the head of my line. Automatically. I have respect for that woman. Somebody buy that woman a shot of finely-aged anejo tequila for me.

And James Risen guy is not the Fox News guy (named James Rosen) whose phones the Justice dept (Holder et al) illegally tapped.

Anything that comes out with the name Poitras on it feels weighty. Can you feel it?

Speaking of Laura Poitras .. did you hear that Edward Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize? Good for you, Edward Snowden. Congrats.

That puts you in an elite group, the nomination. It would be cool if you and Laura and Glenn all shared in the prize. Cuz the way you guys worked together was truly impressive.

Oh, here is the entire list. I didnt mean to leave out anybody. I had never heard of George Polk, but I like him already.

Maybe they'll get Obama to attend the awards ceremony.

Art as Therapy

Beyond the things you read here, my artistic abilities seem limited. I dont paint, sing or draw .. beyond stick people.

[ This thing by Egan is so good that I just want to thank him for writing it. Together with David's piece it got me thinking.

How the Dog would sing Sting's 'Roxanne' to me .. walking home down the balmy streets of Waikiki late at night.

Well .. he was singing to somebody. Waikiki could get on the edge late at night. But the red-light action was downtown Honolulu.

Sting resonates with the potentially therapeutic effects of returning home after a long absense.

He sang in the Bob Marley tribute. That is very cool.

The name Roxanne is taken from a character in the French play Cyrano de Bergerac. ]

My mom had a set of oil paints .. that I never once saw her use. Ever. "When I had you and your brother, it took a lot out of me. I used to have a lot of energy."

My earliest recollections of 'art' .. came from when I drawing on a sketch pad at my grandparents house after church one Sunday afternoon.

I was just drawing subconsciously. You know, like when you are doing something mindless, but really thinking about something else.

I have not fully expanded my thoughts on this subject. Other things come up. (You know.)

I may return in the future to flesh out my feelings on this topic, or, more likely, begin a new topic as my ideas develop.

I posted this entry because Valentine's day is a week away and I felt now was a good time to share my experience. ?

Update - check out � this entry about Will & Kate and "the use of the arts as therapy and enrichment for kids".

On the subject of creativity and the artistic nature, check out what the sexy Harvard Psychologist Ellen Langer has to say about the subject in her 2006 book titled � On Becoming an Artist.

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on February 7, 2014 2:07 AM.

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