August 31 st
I watched the news on August 28th, with my Mom who was visiting from New Hampshire, praying that our family and friends were safe from Hurricane Irene. Thanks to social networks, especially Facebook, Mom and I could keep up with the going on’s, almost obsessively, as they were happening.
What a time we live in, where we can share feelings, emotions and history across the country or the world instantly.
I grew up in the Upper Valley in New Hampshire and couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched the images pop up, one after another on Facebook. Refreshing the page, only to receive, no less than at least twenty new photo’s, video links and flood updates. Places I played at as a child, roads I drove on daily and businesses I frequented often, all under water.
It made me sad.
Luckily, none of my family or friends were harmed or got hurt. Only wet. Very wet.
I’m currently home recovering from a Cervical Spine operation and there is very little my Dr. has allowed me to do. No lifting, bending, twisting, driving as well as a bunch of other stuff. I can, however work on my computer. Hmmmmm? This gave me an idea.
Years ago in the mid 80’s my parents bought a VHS video camera. Home Video camera’s were new and exciting and not everyone had them living in their pockets disguised as phones. Wanting to be a film maker, I used the VHS Video camera and taped everything. This included my friends and I jumping from a covered bridge in Quechee Vermont in the summer of 1988, weeks before I started my freshman year at Franklin Pierce College as a… you guessed it, a Mass Communication (Film/TV) Major. I brought the footage to College with me and edited it together.
Cut to… August 28th 2011, almost 23 years to the day of when we filmed us jumping off the Quechee Covered Bridge, I watched as Hurricane Irene was trying to wash the bridge away. Today, as I write this, the bridge is still standing but barely. I’m sure the community will do it’s best to save it along with the many other bridges that were beaten on during the Hurricane.
Here, after 23 years, I pulled out the footage, of me and the boys jumping off the bridge, edited it together with a video I found on YouTube and created my own little hommage to the Quechee Covered Bridge. She will always live on, regardless of her fate after Hurricane Irene, in the hearts of many of us who grew up in the Upper Valley!
I AM The Hollywood Clown
May 7 th
“You’re such a nice and handsome young man.”
“Thank you very much. That’s very kind of you.”
“I have a grand daughter that’s available. Tell me sweetie, are you Jewish?”
“No, I’m not.”
The elderly woman took my hand, caressed it and said, “We can’t all be perfect.”
And this is how it went every year when I did the Mother’s Day event at an elderly home here in Los Angeles. The day usually began with another clown and I starting the day at 8am being escorted by a volunteer, that was always a cute girl in her early 20’s, and handing out corsages to all the elderly ladies.
“They ALL try to set me up with their grandsons all the time. At least you only have to hear it on Mother’s Day. I hear it everyday I volunteer. I had to stop telling them I was Jewish because once they got that little nugget of info they never let up. But they’re sweet,” a young hottie volunteer once told me.
It was a really fun gig to work. I have experience working with the elderly; I worked at a hospital that had a retirement home wing for six years in my youth. Some days when I would go to work I would bring my guitar with me and play and sing for them. It never mattered what I played, what was important to them was the fact that I was spending time with them.
I think that even if I didn’t hand out flowers to all these woman they would just been happy to have someone, anyone, come in and wish them a happy mother’s day. So coming in dressed as a clown and bearing gifts made it all that more special. I loved seeing the women’s eyes light up when I strolled into their room with a flower for them. Unfortunately, it can also be very sad. Some of the women were comatose, had Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Still, EVERY woman, patient or not, at the elderly home got a flower.
“That’s so nice of you, young man, but I’m an old maid. I never had any children.”
“I used to be a man.”
It didn’t matter to me what the excuse was… They all got a flower.
It was also not uncommon to do this event and not see the same faces as the year before.
“It’s really tough when one of them passes away,” a twenty-year-old female volunteer named Danielle, who was assigned to escort me one year, told me. “It’s sad. Really sad.”
We pass out flowers from 8am to 10am (we are always there until 10:30 or a little longer) then we drive to the main complex where the real party starts at 11am. From 11am to 2pm the families of the residents are all invited to show up for a free lunch, singing, dancing, face painting, balloon animals, and more flowers. It was (and still is from what I hear) a big event and the local news cameras show up and cover the event. It’s so big that four more clowns show up for the 11am to 2pm shift. In total, there are six clowns running around entertaining everyone. The event crescendos with a great big sing-and-dance-along lead by a live band that even the elderly in wheelchairs join in on.
Sadly, some families don’t show up.
Here’s the portion of my story where I’ll try not to sound to preachy. Spend time with your mom if you can. I live 3000 miles away from my Mom (I moved to L.A. from the East Coast to be a writer and actor) and can’t physically “see” her, but I always send her something and call her on Mother’s Day. If you are geographically close, take your mom out and treat them extra special. If you can’t do that, then spend time with them and let them talk about the “old days.” I noticed that the residents who were actually taken out for a few hours before the big party were always the happiest ones at the party. They loved to tell us clowns how their son or daughter is so wonderful and how they went out for a “special” breakfast.
Moms are human. They will not always be there. Appreciate them while they are, and let them know you love them by giving them a little bit of your time.
And if you can, make them a flower bouquet out of balloons. If you can’t, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a clown around to make one for you.
I AM a Hollywood Clown.
May 2 nd
“Osama Bin Laden Is Dead!”
In light of the current headlines flooding the news as well as social networks, Americans are having a surge of patriotism. Oh wait, not everyone.
Four years ago, some friends of mine started a rock band geared toward kids called, “The Party Animals”. After entertaining the children of Los Angeles for the first few years they were invited to start entertaining the family’s and children of our armed forces. Making very little profit, all involved with “The Party Animals” take time out of their busy lives to travel the globe to put smiles on the children of those protecting this great country of ours. They have been doing it for a few years and have NEVER had a snafu like the one that comes on the heals of our American troops putting an end to one of the most evil master minds of destruction in recent US history.
I was appalled to hear of the recent events that unfolded for them on their return of their most recent tour. They travel with quite the entourage of performers and technical people, this includes having an unbelievable amount of luggage. Which, by the way, was all donated to them by their recent sponsors, the aptly named American Tourister, Samsonite. “The Party Animals” travel with papers from the Department of Defense explaining their situation and why they travel with so much luggage. The unpatriotic Continental Airlines didn’t acknowledge the orders, from the United States of America Department of Defense, and made them pay an extra $1800 to get all of their luggage on board.
You can read the whole story from the blog The Party Animals kept on their recent tour here – http://thepartyanimalslive.com/wordpress/?p=131#comment-44
I don’t know about you, but I will NEVER fly Continental again. Please spread the word of this disgrace and embarrassment to the great men, women, and their families that give up so much for our country.
I AM The Hollywood Clown – Pro America and Anti-Continental
April 23 rd
“Don’t mention Easter, they’re Jewish!!!”
“So it’s just a birthday party?”
“Yes. Remember to do a good job, they’re my cousins.”
“I always do my best.” Duh.
I did very well, as usual, and not once did I mention that it was Easter. At the end of the party, the mom handed me a bag.
“Here you go, ‘Honey Bear.’ Lollypops for the kids…” she said excitedly.
Then her voice turned to a whisper as she finished her sentence.
“The kids or the lollypops?” I whispered back.
She didn’t find it nearly as funny as I did.
I AM The Hollywood Clown.
March 13 th
Red Nose. Check.
Ultimate Cool Man Satchel (named so, because it resembles the bag used by Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark) filled with hundreds of flaccid balloons. Check.
Post on Twitter where and when I was going to be. Check.
So, where the hell was everyone? I walked up and down both sides of the street numerous times eagerly wanting to make someone a balloon animal. I know I only have 128 followers on Twitter but I was hoping that maybe one of them would show up in response to my ongoing Twitter Experiment.
Maybe I would get more of a response if I handed out free goodie bags? Hmmm… something to think about?
What I do know for certain, I need new followers; it’s time to change my game plan. I decided to just start making balloons and not only to hand out but to leave around as well. As I walked by cars along the street I would glance in each and every one of them for any clues that the person who drives the car may have a child who would love a surprise balloon animal awaiting them. The presences of toys or a car seat were my main clues.
Then I came across something different. On the dashboard of one car was a homemade birthday card made from poster board that looked like a gift from a classroom.
This must be a teacher’s car. Excellent! I took out my balloon pump, a yellow balloon, fabricated a doggie and attached it to her side driver side mirror.
I continued on my way. I got to the end of the street, turned around and saw an attractive dark-haired woman with a very serious look on her face approach the car I left the balloon animal on. She put her key in the car door, opened it, put one leg in and then saw the balloon I had left. She reached over the door and grabbed the balloon. She looked up and down the street and then at the balloon. She noticed my Hollywood Clown Card that I attach, for FREE, on every balloon (this is how I hope to get more followers), smiled and got into her car. As she drove by me I could see her still smiling.
And that is what my Twitter Experiment is all about, spreading joy and happiness (as well as awareness about all things Hollywood Clown), one person at a time. Who knows, maybe Harley Davidson, Target and Conwin Carbonic will sponsor a road trip for The Hollywood Clown to come to your neighborhood.
This is America, it could happen.
I AM The Hollywood Clown