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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Corporate Influence: Engineered Appearance Issues - Soul vs. Body Image Warping

hot body, corporate influenced, fascist image type
The Perfect Hot Body. Do You Want to Look Like This?

Our cultural institutions supported by corporate entities and the interlocking corporate industrial complexes (medical, weight loss, fashion, entertainment, pharmaceutical, food industry, health/wellness, advertising/marketing, chemical) exploit our assumptions and mores about the fat, the thin and the fit. Their brainwashing concepts redirect us from what we should focus on: healing and nurturing our inner selves. The complexes make money from instigating insecurities about our having a completely inadequate outer appearance. The more guilty we feel that we cannot measure up to the images media presents, the more we succumb. Often, we live with discomfort and discomfit others. None of us is exempt from the scourge of the "importance" of outer appearance. The industrial complexes create and feed upon our appearance failures. They promote a homogenization of our looks. They blind us to our immutable soul beauty. They lionize mortal flesh. In their worship of mammon they lure us toward an emotional matrix of images in which we become slaves of our own imagination about how we must look and feel.


Corporations' prodigious investment to capture the minds, souls and bodies of the American people in a consumer matrix in order to make trillions of dollars has been successful. The residual has been that Americans suffer tremendously because they have not focused their attention on inner soul development. A side effect of becoming embedded in materialism to the exclusion of the spiritual has, to one degree or another, resulted in misery. To cope folks spend their lives attempting to throw off throbbing psychic aches with medications for various mental disorders. Or they engage and become active in a continuum of escapist activities involving the sports and entertainment industries. Those who are nearest to confronting intense pain self medicate through alcohol or drugs and often totter on the brink of revelation, destruction or oblivion. The more educated and enlightened are less chained to corporate group think. Some who are journalists, writers, artists, musicians, activists intellectually threaten the complexes with their movement to get "off the grid" of corporate social/cultural control. Others succumb. The flexible, untangled consciousness of the critically thoughtful person is more open to alternate mores and folkways. Their path is less culturally dependent.

This is mostly true on an acute level for women. However, even though one may be a genius, women are still entranced by iconic standards of beauty and youth because the images supporting this are ubiquitous as they filter into the arts and media images. Women continually confront an image bondage about which they may be completely unconscious.
body perfection, image perfection, fascist image, bullying women
How Does Bad Ass Translate to Inner Wellness?
 Despite class, education and intelligence, women are ruled by their looks and the appearance of other women. Whenever females look in the mirror, they are discontent. When they see themselves in photographs, unless they have been handled by make-up artists and hairstylists beforehand, it is even worse. In both instances they often find fault with how they look. "Master-race" images chain mail their feelings about themselves. Mirrors reflect their thoughts back, cautioning against weight gain, wrinkling, puffy-faced sleeplessness, aging, flabbiness, sun damage, double-chins, haggardness and hollow cheeks, in an ever increasing list of flaws. Rarely does their appearance satisfy or bring contentment, though for some, it is an occasion to make fun of themselves and others.

But ultimately, vanity and a sense of attractiveness are gaping holes that must be filled by humor, resignation or cosmetics, enhancers, fillers and/or surgeries to grab and maintain youth and beauty.Self-esteem about appearance is the emotional life-blood of women. In the more enlightened ones, spiritual energy transfusions bring health which supplants and drains the virus that, like formaldehyde, cretinizes and atrophies the soul and psyche. In those captivated by the culture and their own deceptive flesh, old age, weight gain and wrinkles are the devil.
Until one comes to the end of oneself psychically in these matters of appearance, competition rages between and among women. If the issue is weight, it becomes a sliding scale of who is the superior thinnest and inferior fattest in a community of friends or a collegial circle. For fit athletes, the balance tips to favor the most fit and disfavor the most soft fleshed and least able. For the beauteous, celebrity icons are lifted up as examples. Celebrities' bad plastic surgeries become the prod to quell the desire to mutilate oneself into youthfulness. But the incredibly insecure and soul damaged jump and take the consequences sometimes becoming addicted to youth enhancing treatments and surgeries. The sad fact is that the apex of existence should be seeking a lifestyle of health and complete inner and outer wellness. However "spiritual wellness and physical wholeness" seem to be the Medusa in the room that no one acknowledges.

Medusa by Carvaggio


The fit, the thin and the fat need to exchange places in an imaginary exercise. They need to walk in each others' shoes. The intolerant, arrogant and self-hating (the fat, the thin, the fit), need to recognize that they have a soul. They need to confront the pain of their own inner misery and darkness. They must be free to forgive their need to hate themselves and their looks by despising and demeaning others or by changing their outer appearance to the point of obsession. We need to grow from within before we reconcile our outward appearance. We need to recognize we are much more than our bodies. Only then can we begin to confront and overthrow the industrial complexes that would keep us enslaved to their profit making, lying, predatory enterprises. And then our thinness and wellness will empower and raise us to a Power of Oneness.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I was never Obese level II, I was Obese level I. But I understand what it is to exceed one's body's scope, chained to overweening appetite, oblivion of self, dualities, depression, abandonment of identity.

Living with lies bloated by adipose, the heavy, I cringe at the words "fat" or "obese." The labels peal a truth too painful to see. To quell the growing inner panic of my fatness, I prevent any view of the rising reflections of my naked grotesque in full length mirrors. I can only bear viewing my face in delicate rounded powder compacts or truncated shoulder length mirrors. In these I can smile back my prettiest expressions. I have banned the other scolding mirrors to the garage of my mind and have chucked them out on the sidewalk to be picked up by NYC sanitation. Of shiny, reflective elements like store windows or polished, flat surfaces? I toss my head and stare at another scene. I never acknowledge the excessive pouches of flab around my butt and hips. And if anyone ever discusses their diet successes or "fabulous" weight loss achievement, I outwardly smile and plaster warm "interest" on my face while I shudder and weep inside. I am alone. I am the other. I cannot feel my body. I pass through life like a mist.

The mind's genius is ever creative. Like me, I imagine other obese folks adopt oblivion, embrace blindness. Fat is the target the heavy must destroy at will obliterating the 5 senses' notification of it. All this must be done so that in the imagination a thin body emerges from the refuse heap.

This transformation that evolves as my girth grows damns my movement toward wholeness. Like all walking-dead-obese, I shield myself from the truth by fabricating a double person-hood. Though the fat is ever-present and presides, the intellect denies. For example I become a fantastic duality of the thin inner, the obese outer. I am a phantasmagoria who responds and interacts as if there is a screen or window separating myself from all aspects of my being. Candid open relationships with others through this barrier are difficult. The fat is too dense for the light to penetrate.

The fantasy is maintained but always shattered if another objectifies my fat to me; it is a tearful humiliation. But I am clever; I choose perceptive, instinctual friends who do not dare to cross the line. They, like me, are the other. I cling to friendships with the ridiculed, the insecure, the obese, the alienated, the damaged, the unloved. We give each other strength. We intuitively know that only the weak who are dualities themselves, ridicule and objectify in a feeble attempt to  rid themselves of their own destructive fantasies. I watch these vapid brutes and respond to their "witty" humor as an expressionless cipher. They are unaware of my canniness as I allow them to project upon my blank scrim with ignorant roughness. Inwardly, I smile at the irony of their pretentious "superiority." Their aggression projected outward never vanishes; it intensifies and eventually, when there is no target like me to hurl against, they will turn against themselves. It is a horrific woe for the arrogant to self-destruct. I pity them. I yield to karma and allow them to spin rapidly the cycle of their own misery within the lie layers.

But my knowledge of their weakness is leaden. And I am in excruciating psychic pain because their pristine barbs prick the blimpy bulls eye. Their penetrating, taunting reminders of my elephantine condition poison my creative imagination and set the dial to defense. The monstrous and fantastic creature that is gaining fat and thinning inwardly grows in the direction I have programmed. The dual beings increase independent of me, their own creator. As the outer bins of flesh increase, the soul  withers.

I use a technique to calm this panic and tension between the two persons of duality. I deny the fat flattened truth. I switch off awareness of feeling my body's needs. I eat. Then I overeat. Whatever food is most beloved, I become a covert operator: I search and consume. The food industry has made it facile to float the phantasmagoria by supplying the toxic allurements to add weight quickly. The gambit continues. I, like many obese, become alienated from others who view my appearance and miss the "big" picture of my failing humanity. I become disassociated from self, not suborning the protections I have crafted in defense. Losing weight becomes impossible. All the tools and evocations which encourage health and weight loss, my soldier walls obstruct like the battlements of a fortress. The only way to secure access is a siege. But that would mean I have to starve the other who lies in wait, like a princess praying for rescue.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fat Warp Essays #3 Part I

Recently, in Cootehill, Ireland. (2015) BMI normal.

Pounds and pounds of flesh squeezing my heart, liver and kidneys! It has been 1500 pounds I've gained and lost and gained, yo-yoing from obese to overweight and back 15 times, a mundane, round number. My highest weight gain was 240 pounds in 2000. Thankfully, my trip to Paris was an eye-opener. There was not one fat woman in Paris, only me. This made me rethink American processed food, eating to enjoy one's meals, and my health. But still I wasn't convinced
This was in 2011 I was in a normal weight range but curtailing the amounts of food I enjoyed.

After a nightmare scare about my fatty liver, I lost weight without any aids, pills, lap bands or surgical procedures. I found in the past that I could not live on Weight Watchers programs or any other diet systems for very long. Besides, they didn't give much attention to clean, organic, non GMO foods. After a long haul of cutting the amount of food I ate gradually over a two year period, I got down to a normal weight on the BMI scale, and I did it by eating quality, non processed, organic foods and meats and fish that were sustainable and free range. But it was a long, hard process. The problem was not the weight loss it was the maintenance.
My cousin and I in 2012. Here I was approaching my "Hollywood" weight.
These past 5 years, I have been able to achieve a sliding scale of normal weight at 5 feet 5 1/2 inches  on the BMI calculator, moving from my lowest "Hollywood weight of 115 to my highest screaming "stop" weight at 148. I have achieved a sort of remission, but with weight loss of that nature, one never is in complete remission, and weight gain is always imminent. It is a daily struggle with no end in sight until the grave.

If you are overweight or thin, tell me. What is it like to live as a fat women in America? Here are the gritty and ugly details. I know what it is to judge oneself as loathsome, an object worthy of ridicule. I know what it is like to have one's skills and talents underestimated and undervalued by men and especially women who perceive that overweight and fat belies lack of intellectual rigor and ambition. I know all too well the contrition and self deprecation days and binge eating nights on leftovers, wine bread and cheese all together. I know how fat women disintegrate inside. I was one of them and the threat of obesity's past ravages is the ghost in my psyche that I try to exorcize, but will most likely have to live with forever.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fat Warp Essays # 2: The Fat



Contrast the image of THE FIT with its opposite, the fleshly portrait of ooze in the obese individual. Picture soft, dimpled folds, massed into rounded shapes and humps, unbounded, flopping over, easily shaken, rolled, manipulated, plumped. Fat! It mounds in pillows around the waist. It is obtrusive, painfully unsparing even to those who give intentionally forgiving looks at the fatty then turn away. The adipose locker bulks up excess storage for a future winter of starvation that will never come. On the deepest level there is the fat person's gradual organ suffocation, distension and bloat as fat pocks the cells, impairing a once seamless function. The simple acts of walking, stair climbing, cleaning and the most subtle movements are a panting exertion. Heat is a strident enemy: profuse sweat dripping over the fleshly crumplings is a stinking embarrassment. The heavy bins around the waist, the bulbous thighs, the overladen chest folds throw off the body's thermostat. Like a ship's compass demagnetized, the body veers off course. Freezing is comfortable. Humidity with temperatures pleasant to thinner profiles is an agony. The only happy time for the obese is the oblivion of eating.
It is obvious from the pictures which is condemned with the ironic reminder that you choose to be fat. It is being discovered that choice is one of the least factors. Chemicals in our food impact our endocrine system and cause unreasonable weight gain and appetite enhancement, all corporate intentions with the end result profits over people.
The culture has helped to make these images/notions "appear" to be so with its damning assumptions that the fat person is solely his or her fat. To the discriminatory, cruel and weak-minded, fat people, especially women, are non-persons. They are stupid, unthinking, lazy, identity amorphous; they are lacking personality, shape, definition; they are not worthy of love/marriage to attractive, fit, successful men. Like the bloat they are projected to be, it is assumed that their opinions, thoughts, rationality are oppressed by their obsession with food and undisciplined marriage to their lustful hungers. The self-righteous thin exploit the great divide between themselves and the adipose lockers  to elevate their miserable food spartan lifestyles. For them fat folks "live to eat," while they, the beauteous thin "live to look exceptional." The media is the religious judge between the two as it gives a heavenly pass to the often underweight and sculpted physical perfectionists.
Supersizing by restaurants and other restaurants encourage  obesity.

The culture has fostered the lies. The fat, the thin and the fit have accepted them. The lies over the decades have burgeoned promoted by the industrial complexes. The obese have been targeted with the intolerant's oppressive projections of self hate. The tragedy is that many of the obese have internalized the mores as truth and have relaxed into their own self-hatred and the self-hating projections of the moralistic thin and fit. Greater numbers of the obese have embraced the medical arguments against them. Many have bought into expensive surgeries, diets, weight-loss programs to little avail. Such programs despite their heavy marketing have little sustained and prolonged efficacy. Fat extends beyond a metabolic understanding of the body. It extends to the mind, the soul and the being of an individual. As a result diets don't work long term; surgeries (with the exception of the dangerous gastric by-pass), have a 50% fail rate. The weight comes back and the yo-yo effect begins. One must deal with the whole being of the person and most critically their psychology, psyche, mind, emotions and soul to get to the heart of the issue of, "why fat?" Until this is done, the weight will come back. I have yet to meet an obese person who has undergone dramatic weight loss and kept it off for more than three decades, myself included.
We cannot thrive and prosper in our whole being if we daily bathe ourselves in such pools of self-reproach or flimsy self aggrandizement lifting up our "greatness" on a shaky foundation of untruths that appearance is crucial to inner and outer joy. We must sink deeper wells that are overflowing with health, love and self-acceptance for our whole beings. We must cleanse from within to achieve the balance within and without. We must throw off image and shadow to make ourselves a solid and sanctified whole as the inner and outer enhance into homeostasis. Until we recognize these truisms, we cannot abide in productive, life-giving relationships, especially with ourselves. We cannot relax without tension, nor can we be open with others. Truth flattened into two-dimensionality becomes the lie from which we flee. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fat Warp Essays # I: The Fit

Photo courtesy of this site.
Lean, rippling muscle. Sharp outlines edged and refined. Creases, distillation of intent, chiseled, precise, powerful. Fitness is a lovely bitch. She punishes those who would be fit and torments those who lack the determination to smash down lifestyle obstacles to arrive on the bulls eye of a normal weight and size. In male or female the essence of fitness is anti-nonsense: it speaks of a coherent strength and vitality. If human wholeness' potential for perfection is obtained, it is because of synchronicity: a oneness of mind, body, spirit. The mind's will and determination cuts the flesh into a physical fortress. Using the discipline of weight training and intense cardio exercise laced with austere abstinence, there is the loyalty to this recognition: all luxurious indulgence of the flesh and being is unclean. It pollutes the spirit, body and soul. All toxicity including lack of confidence, anxiety and self-sabotage must be jettisoned for health and wellness in every aspect of one's being.
Photo courtesy of this site:
People who are synchronized have reached the apex of control over their own human weaknesses. This is not the realm of Olympic athletes who only adhere to physical attainment. It is the realm of human poetic artistry: the divinity of perfection. It is the fullness of life manifested in peace. In every cell there is completeness, an attainment of the whole, a unified homeostasis (balance) on every level: physical, emotional, social, mental, psychic, sexual, psychological, spiritual. This condition is dense health, vibrancy, oneness of being. Light fills every cell and the black hole of depression, sadness, infirmity, sickness and debility is blocked from entering. The immune system functions at optimum levels. Achieving this state becomes a lifelong process and requires a holistic, present lifestyle which brings abundance and prosperity.
Photo courtesy of this site.

It also doesn't exist anywhere for anyone for any length of time, unless one lives a cloistered life. Granted, it may be, perhaps for a season, until the aging process takes hold and the health force is curtained. Show me that unique individual who has achieved maturity, physical wellness, wisdom, soul peace and spiritual grace in the present, extending into the ever-present present and into perpetuity? I have yet to meet him or her. Short of that wholeness of being, many fit and/ or thin are mentally and psychically oppressed about staying thin and fit. This oppression may subject them to various states of stress that weaken and further subject them to dis-ease or addictions to maintain a steady state of "thinness" or "fitness." For some the oppression about appearance may eventually turn into an obsession. The obsession becomes self-enslavement: God forbid they gain weight and become fat or are thrown off their exercise routine. This has given rise to extreme disorders: bulimia, laxative dependence, binging and purging, and fitness crazes that jeopardize life in the long run (i.e. steroid use, after menopause for women excessive exercising to counteract weight gain via hormone changes). If the obsession becomes extreme, some choose death over weight gain; the anorexic periodically do. And the ages of anorexia are extending from tweens to those older Americans in their 70s. This not only includes women but the numbers are increasing among men as well.
Photo take from this site.
Let's face it. We believe we ARE our appearance. IF...we have a few bad hair days, we wake up with a new crease or dark circles under our eyes, our partners check us out nude and raise that eyebrow that is instigating we have put on a few pounds, we can't get into our 00 size jeans...THEN our emotional well being is wrecked. For guys the equivalent is less egregious; you overhear the female executive assistants refer to you as fat blossom. For females, and maybe less so for males, the recognition that our appearance is less than what we want it to be is a devastation. We run to the ubiquitous exercise gurus, "state of the art" gyms, and yoga instructors and body trainers for help. We canvass the lowest calorie/carb sports drinks, protein bars and shakes for our sustenance twice a day with a salad and no dressing for dinner. We select the wheat grass fast and stay on it for two weeks. We drink plenty of water and go on #thinsporation sites "for the hell of it." We skulk around the scale for repeated and frequent weigh-ins, willing the pounds off.

Yes! We live in the 21st century. Until we're dead (except for those whose families want an open casket at the funeral home), what we look like is a daily emotional crucible. We're stuck with ourselves and the mortality of our flesh. How our mind, emotions, psyche, soul and spirit deal with it makes all the difference in the world.

Test Yourself About the Fitness Craze
Trampoline Fitness Craze
Voga: London's Latest Fitness Craze
Over 50 eating disorders
Geriatric Eating Disorders? Yes.
Anorexia in Men

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Fat Warp Essays Introduction

Picture of Angelina Jolie taken from this site.
Our culture's "appropriate" appearance images have been with us since the invention of reflection: painting, the mirror, the camera, the moving image. The current accepted "look" evolved from "Hollywood" beauty and glamor which molded the body image to its current distortions of thinness and fitness. We have allowed images in the media to oppress us. Corporations have kept us unsettled in guilt so we need their products and they make money. Our attempt to look "thin and young and beautiful" has been a national sickness for decades. Our obsession with the perfect face and body has actually fostered rebellious obesity, sexism and elitist, classist arrogance amongst men and women. Such images have proven dire, exacerbating anorexia, bulimia, and monstrous body and face distortions from excessive surgeries and use of cosmetic fillers to (dare we say it), gender-bending confusions. Indeed, what is wrong is within. The masks of our appearance hide the psychological and emotional ills that fester inside. Despite our attempts to mold our bodies and faces to the fascist "master race beauty" sex ethos to feel "better," we still hurt and are never satisfied. We have become toxic. We have moved farther from our own true selves and have corrupted our interactions with others.  How can we free ourselves from cultural appearance images and create our own style that moves beyond all this and allows us to see an individual's soul or know our own? Is it possible?

See these related articles:
 Body Image Fears: Girls as Young as Seven Go On a Diet
I'm Very Insecure About My Looks After Receiving Abuse on Social Media
Thinspiration example...there are many
Experts: Weight Loss Surgery; Not an Easy Way Out

Photo taken from this site
In the interest of mining for truth from the fictions that surround us, I've decided to write a series of essays which are in no apparent order, just designed in the moment, for the moment. The series of posts entitled "The Fat Warp Essays" demonstrate skewed cultural notions about health, obesity, wellness and sexuality. Some posts reflect the damaging attitudes internalized from the fascist cultural appearance concepts. Other discuss how individuals try to escape the pain and fear of not "fitting in" through rebellion or self-hating acceptance. The essays gradually highlight how the damage of these cultural images impacts the young and old, males and females. The essays get behind the sick overarching need to be excessively thin, forever young, fit, surgically perfect. The posts also peer under the rebellion against "perfection:" fat folks have unconsciously moved into obesity out of rebellion. Others rebel with an "I don't care," slob look (an example for guys is to be unshaven and redolent... "disgusting chic"). Such rebellion indicates anger, frustration and annoyance at the false, the condemnatory and the superficial obsession with appearance. Such rebellion cries out "LOOK AT ME, I'M DIFFERENT." The rebellion is also a cry that "enough is enough."

The rebellious select a path to cope that is as self-damaging as those who internalize appearance images in self-hating, skinny acceptance. Since when is loving oneself and one's heritage demonstrated by cutting, poking, prodding or starving every part of one's body to "look good" by another's standards? It is no wonder that those who have had excessive surgeries and fillers look weird and malformed. The fat and the skinny-fit of our culture are in misery about being fat, fit or skinny. They are continually obsessing about it. This is their story. Is it yours?

Anorexia Blogs Nearly Killed Me
Thinspiration on Instagram: Pro-Anorexia Community Persists
Obesity Society website
Obesity in the US Adult Rates, 2014
Plastic Surgery procedures in 2013

Saturday, December 6, 2014

'One Night,' Charles Fuller's Play Holds Truisms About PTSD That Relate to Fergurson and NYC

Corporal Horace Lloyd (Grantham Coleman) and Sargent Alicia G. (Rutina Wesley) in Charles Fuller’s One Night at the Cherry Lane Theatre until December 15th, 2013. Photo courtesy of Broadway

I am revisiting the issue of PTSD as revealed in an important play which dealt with it on a powerful level in Charles Fuller's One Night. I am sorry to say that this magnificent production was forced to close early because of the lack of support for it. When I went to Paris earlier this year, a retired French official who worked as a liason for the arts in Louisiana discussed an interesting point about French playwrights and audiences. He said that they enjoyed plays with a message, plays that had powerful themes, plays that established advocacy. The French preferred not to watch frivolous entertainment and especially did not want to pay excessive prices for it. If Fuller's play had been produced in France, most probably it would have had a longer run. It never found its fans in New York and it should have because the protests now are indirectly related to returning vets, the culture of war, PTSD, racism and stresses which cause brutality instead of peace.

It is well known that are veterans are returning home, in record numbers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Though they may be physically whole and appear well on the outside, they may be emotionally and mentally ravaged by the killing zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. What happens even after they’ve received treatment and drug interventions? Will they ever be able to deal or heal? And do any of these Vets ever go onto our police forces in the nation?

The stresses of PTSD for returning Vets highlighted the basic theme of One Night, Charles Fuller’s searing and solidly crafted drama about the impact of the emotional wounds of war which continually upend our veterans’ abilities to live peaceful, regular lives outside war zones. Fuller’s powerful character portrayals of vets, Corporal Horace Lloyd (in a sterling performance by Grantham Coleman), and Sargent Alicia G. (a powerful, engaging and emotionally driven Rutina Wesley) riveted the audience, building complexity throughout the play to the stark conclusion. Fuller’s brilliant writing with each stroke and in each scene strengthened the basic premise and pounded out a theme of even greater relevance: women’s service in the military and their treatment by their fellow soldiers.

 Fuller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of A Soldier’s Play, created immediate tension at the outset. Vets Horace and Alicia burst through the door of a seedy motel room without clothing or any belongings, save Horace’s manila envelop holding a few documents. We learn they’ve barely escaped from a fire in a shelter where they had been living. They were given this room to spend the night until they receive better accommodations. The motel keeper is a predatory type (a beautifully realized performance by Cortez Nance Jr.) whom, we note, is salivating at the presence of disheveled, discomposed Alicia.

We understand that they have landed in one of “those” motels and we understand that Horace is going to have to protect Alicia in this untenable situation from the leering Meny and any others. Alicia is vulnerable and emotionally debilitated; PTSD has backed her into a corner and she can barely make it to the next minute without cringing at the hallucinations of the Sandbox (jargon for the Iraq desert) with visits from an intrusive medic and others. Though Horace also suffers PTSD and has the shakes, he appears to be stronger and is in the lead. He controls their relationship. She is completely dependent upon him for her care, her understanding of their current reality, the situation they find themselves in, and how they are going to get through this one night in this menacing motel.

As they try to settle in and get some rest, the conflicts abound; we come to understand the depth of the trauma they’ve suffered and will continue to suffer, manifested by the content of the flashbacks, hallucinations and their anxiety. Aggression and the potential for violence flares up from their unconscious. The hellish incidents are triggered by seemingly mundane and benign factors. They try to deal; they are on meds. However, their, relationship, the nature of which remains opaque, does little to diffuse the tremulous, strained emotional impact they have on each other.

Through interruptions from Meny (who challenges their identity and purpose at the motel), phone calls from a friend of Horace’s, periodic hallucinations each suffers through, a visit from a bellicose sheriff, and incisive questions from the fire marshal, Horace and Alicia become more unhinged. Fuller’s suspenseful, illuminating writing has constructed a psychological relationship between the two vets which we know is headed toward a violent confrontation.
Cortez Nance Jr. (Meny), Sargent Alicia G. (Rutina Wesley), Corporal Horace Lloyd (Grantham Coleman), (left to right) in Charles Fuller’s One Night at the Cherry Lane Theatre until December 15th. Photo by Bruce Glikas
 When both are forced to confront what happened to Alicia one night back at the forward operating Base Taylor, it is a revelation that one of them cannot endure. It is a revelation that frees the other. For the audience comes an illumination that shines through the darkness of the military’s complacent corruptions which victimize both men and women vets alike. This is an invisible, nascent corruption born of war, nurtured by wartime alienation and encouraged by a disaffected, closed bureaucracy. It is a corruption which breeds cultural disaffection for our vets. It fosters the notion to our vets that they are being thrown on the slag heap of a refuse pile, after their vitality and substance has been mined through and used up by the military.

The production shouted out these themes and many more through Clinton Turner Davis’ tight, logical direction. The clarity was welcome and we were completely present, on edge, watching to see Grantham Coleman and Rutina Wesley deliver the power of Horace’s and Alicia next unscrambling of emotions. What was a reckoning for the ensemble cast were the very real and believable performances, especially for the leads. Their underlying sense of danger, fear, and torment pitted against their hurt and helplessness brought the audience to a place of empathy. On this night the audience never lost sight of suffering humanity, especially at the conclusion.

This was a powerful production thanks to Davis’ direction and the performances of Grantham Coleman, Rutina Wesley, Cortez Nance Jr. with support by Matthew Montelongo (Army Major, State Trooper, Troop 1, Fire Marshall) and K.K. Moggie (Medic, Lieutenant, Troop 2 Captain/Doctor, Interviewer). It was an important production for its vital performances, its potent messages and its cultural currency.

One Night was presented by The Cherry Lane Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater at the Cherry Lane Theatre under the direction of Angelina Fiordellisi. It was forced to close early.

This review first appeared on Blogcritics and can be read HERE. 


As an addendum, individuals who are in war, like individuals in law enforcement undergo tremendous stresses that are little known and that often are not adequately addressed. In Fergurson and in NYC (the Eric Garner chokehold incident), and in many other incidents across this nation (see Stolen Lives Project which enumerates the number of innocents killed at the hands of police nationally since 1990), police have reacted with excessive force. The horror is not only to the families and innocent victims who have been killed. The horror is how the police individually could have effected such bad judgment to kill in the first place. One of the reasons is most likely fear and stress, PTSD of the type and nature that Vets return home with.

Police are supposed to be "strong," "manly" types. At least that is an image that is conveyed to keep a culture "at bay" and afraid. The irony is that no one addresses the tremendous stresses that law enforcement is under. It reminds one of how Vets returning from WWII were supposed to "man up" and not talk about what they saw. How did many "man up?" They abused their wives, their children. They drank and they turned inward and became isolated. Only now we realize they suffered from PTSD. Patrick Stewart, thankfully came out about this in his own life and has worked tirelessly to help those Vets with PTSD and those families and particularly women who have to be sheltered away from an abusive husband or partner.

Police forces across the nation are incredibly stressed. I would maintain many suffer from PTSD. And it is this that has prompted them to kill many innocents in addition to wrong thinking, racist notions, the "US" vs. "THEM" MO, and their forgetting their true mission, that they are PEACE OFFICERS, whose focus should be to "KEEP AND MAINTAIN THE PEACE."  Instead, psychological and emotional pressures and group think in a police culture of "being manly and not caving to womanish emotion," has made once human individuals into brutes who shoot first then cover up their liabilities afterward.

This must stop. The innocents killed are martyred and become saints mourned by families. The police who "get away with killing" are in the horror of an emotional abyss of brutality for the rest of their lives, WHETHER THEY ACKNOWLEDGE IT OR NOT. The PTSD which is supposed to remain hidden so they are not "sissies," goes left untreated and the possibility is that they may kill again.

Governments must acknowledge this great, silent destroyer that is a product of the stresses of being law enforcement. They must do this by instituting programs that deal with proper training, and psychological protocols to deal with on the job psychic damage. The protocols should be ones that heal officers and return them to human feeling and empathy. The "US" vs. "THEM" attitudes must be debunked for what they are, fear tactics to pump up the adrenalin which ultimately are damaging. We are all human. Police officers are sensitive, feeling people (regardless of the fear of appearing like sissies...they must acknowledge their emotions), above all peace officers. If these issues are not addressed, more of the same will occur. And the individuals in law enforcement above all will be internally impaired for their lives on this earth and perhaps forever.