Monday

Thinking Outside the Box

"It's all about the box."

A bunch of boxes at Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris


Some years ago, when directing my first feature film "You Can't Hurry Love," I was basing the film on my short film "Video Valentino."  And in that story, I had the character working on the beach at a skate shop not far from my apartment in the Sea Castle. I even kept the sign "Skate City" after the place was demolished - too bad it was filled with termites.



But "Skate City" had an unusual cat working there.  He lived in a box next to the shop.  I mean it was a long crate, made out of wood, the kind of crate one might ship bicycles in - about four feet high and ten feet long.  He had furnished it with books, a mattress, even had a TV in there with him.  I remember Tony showing me his box, and he said "Everyone lives in a box."  

He was slightly off kilter - and when I turned the short film "Video Valentino" into the feature length "You Can't Hurry Love" I included a Tony character in the story, played by household name and soap star Anthony Geary.  He played the role of the Greek chorus, who was advising young Eddie on how to live his life - and how to keep it "100%" while everyone else was lying.

The premise of the film - Eddie comes out from Ohio and is told by his cousin "In LA everyone makes up who they are, they pretend to be someone, and then that's their reality."  So he goes into a video dating service and lies about who he is to go on dates with women - but of course "everyone" including the women he dates - are lying about who they are as well.  The moral of the story "You don't have to be someone else in order to be liked."

Charles Grodin is in "You Can't Hurry Love"
Studio said "We'll make it if you can get celebs
to cameo. Charles did it as a favor. Thanks.

Oddly enough, a woman came up to me at a party some years later and said "You directed "You Can't Hurry Love?"  It changed my life."  I looked around to see what smartass had sent her over to talk to me.  I said "I think you're thinking of "You Can't Buy Me Love" - much more successful."  She said "No. I saw your movie six times. I really needed to hear the message that I didn't have to be someone else in order to be liked.  It was an key moment in my life where everyone was trying to get me to be somebody else. Thank you."

I laughed.  It's like I made the movie for this one person to see, and they got it!  No review, no comment, no critic came as close to telling me why I made that film.  And here at a party, I met the one person on the planet who understood it.

But back to Tony.

"Everybody lives in a box, man."

It's true.  We tend to think of our apartments, our houses, our estates, our mansions as "property" or something we "own."  Something we aspire to own. Something that we design, work hard on and inhabit.  It's still a box.  Just a big elaborate box.

A box of ashes of my friend Paul Tracey.

Cars are just moving boxes.  I mean, yes, there are Italian boxes, German boxes, Japanese and Chinese boxes (not too common, but I've been in them.)  Indian boxes too (Tatas rule!)  There are boxes from Detroit, boxes from Tokyo, boxes from "across the border."  But make no mistake - no matter how much money has been spent on the box; it's a box on wheels.

A royal box in the UK

There are two wheeled boxes - but that's another illusion as well.  Cars - if they were built out of glass - would be hilarious to see driving down the street. People sitting down, hands in front of them - eating chips, listening to tunes - driving glass boxes.

Then we have the stories of people in car accidents who at the moment of death suddenly say to the EMT; "I can't die now. I just one a million dollars. I just signed a contract. I have a new life to lead." (as Sam Kinison reportedly did just prior to death - argued with the guides who showed up to take him.)  "It's not my time!"
A big box in Rome

And then what happens?  

They go into a box.

Some call it a coffin. But it's just another box.

We enter the world coming from dark to light - from mom to world - from womb to birth... a metaphoric box perhaps, but eventually we all go back to the box.

Unless you're cremated. Or blown to pieces in a bomb blast.  Maybe not so much of a box, but you get the idea.  It's all temporary. 

We spend so much time trying to get into our giant box, our giant car, our expensive plane, our giant moving boxes - our floating box, put up a wall to protect our box, put concertina wire around the box - and then when we're "outside the box" - we go back home.

No boxes there. No boxes on the Flipside. 

Standing in front of one of the most famous boxes:
the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal

I mean, we can create one with our mind - we can imagine ourselves in some kind of construct where we exist in a home, or a place - even a car I imagine - but it's just a construct as well.  "living in a box."

So the next time someone says "Think outside the box" - imagine they're saying "Don't think about the things that you think you can acquire, own, or put yourself into - the box of the false sense of reality.  Put yourself outside that box, and see the nature of reality for what it really is."

Sad to say, I was on Santa Fe and Los Angeles streets  in downtown LA yesterday.  Rows and rows and rows of homeless people living in tents. Living in cardboard boxes.
A box at Alcatraz

And there are people on the planet living in giant homes. Gigantic fortresses.  Living in homes where they need cellphones just to find or reach their children.  Giant boxes.  They spend all day driving in their box, then going home to their box.  And they can't see the people who don't even have boxes to sleep in. Just tents.

What kind of screwed up planet is this?

Never mind.  

The box that you seek you will find. Even if it's only one to be put six feet under the ground. My two cents.

Outside the box in Muir Woods looking at ... a mysterious box.


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