December 2nd and 3rd
8pm (doors at 7:30)
Whitford-Lindley Theatre Center
11006 W Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
contact Mr. Brody directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
December 2nd and 3rd
8pm (doors at 7:30)
Whitford-Lindley Theatre Center
11006 W Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
Some photos from last week's event for the Tanenbaum Foundation at Comic Strip Live in NY. All taken by Sarah Tate.
ENRAGED AT A HECKLER
DEMANDING THE IRRITATING TABLE SPEAK INTO THE MICROPHONE
ME WITH MY FATHER, ALAN BRODY AFTER THE SHOW
Robin Williams died the same month that my self-help satire THE MODERN DEPRESSION GUIDEBOOK (now out of print) was re-released by Autharium. I had written a sketch for the David Feldman Show that Robin performed beautifully and he said that my writing was brilliant, so I started using that as a blurb. The result was that a lot of people did google searches for "Robin Williams and Depression" and came across my name and my book and my website. It led to weird opportunities and a lot of guilt. I donated all the royalties from the spike in sales to mind.org and accepted invitations to talk on the radio and then annoyed the interviewers by talking about the need for mental health services rather than indulging in celebrity worship or gossip.
A byproduct of all of this came in the form of some odd connections in the world of mental health advocacy.
Someone from the mental health world asked if she could provide a guest blog for my site. I said she could. She has. Read it below.
When Addiction Leads To Suicide: How To Spot The Warning Signs
from Chloe Pearson
(of Consumer Health Labs)
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death among Americans across all ages, and while many people associate depression or a mental health disorder with self-harm, the alarming truth is that studies have shown that alcoholism is the biggest predictor for suicide.
Substance abuse can cause many problems, not the least of which is a tendency for impulsive behavior. When paired with access to firearms or other weapons, suicide stops being a risk and becomes an imminent threat. Alcohol can also mask serious mood disorders or can worsen them, making certain conditions difficult to diagnose. This creates a perfect storm in which depression, dark thoughts, and risky behaviors can all manifest.
There are many reasons why people abuse drugs or alcohol; some of them involve individuals looking for a way to numb emotional pain following a stressful life event, while others are looking for a way to cope with pre-existing medical conditions, such as depression or an illness. The problem is that substances only make things worse. Obviously, they can negatively affect the body, but they also take a toll on mental agility, memory, and sleeping/eating habits.
Yet it is when a substance user attempts to get clean that problems can arise. Cleansing their bodies (and minds) of drugs can leave them thinking clearly for the first time in a while, and it can also bring back a slew of negative memories and feelings that were once numbed. The risks for suicide are high during this time, so it’s imperative that friends and family know what the warning signs of self-harm are in order to be able to help or intervene.
Some of the most common warning signs include:
● Talking or writing about dying
● Giving away belongings
● Sleeping too much or too little
● Expressing feelings of hopelessness or despair
● Expressing the opinion that they are a burden to others
● A sudden decline in health or appearance
● A sudden burst of energy or positive behavior after being down
If someone you love is exhibiting these behaviors, it’s important to let them know you’re concerned for their well-being and start a conversation. Often, we are afraid to bring up the word “suicide”, either out of fear that it will put the idea of self-harm into the individual’s head or because there is a stigma associated with the act of death by suicide; many religions have strict beliefs about it. However, opening up and letting someone you care about know that you’re listening can have a positive effect that might just save their life.
Let them know you can help them find resources to feel better or to get counseling. If the threat of suicide is imminent, call 911 immediately and don’t leave your loved one alone unless they are threatening violence against you. Remove any weapons from the area if possible and remember, you may be concerned, but you are not a trained professional. You may not be able to help your loved one right away and that’s okay. It will take time for them to get to a better place.
Image from Unsplash on Pixabay
I don’t usually talk publicly about my dreams as, in general the subconscious codes the dreams so specifically to the psyche of the individual that to anyone else the events contained resonate not at all. Disjointed images and events play out as a story without a plot, boring and confusing simultaneously, like a Donald Trump speech only without the vitriol and bigotry.
Today though, as I woke from a nap, I experienced the closest thing I ever have to a religious experience and as I am an atheist (I’ve often said I am so thoroughly atheist that when other people tell me they believe in god, I don’t believe them) this seemed significant.
In the last moments of a dream, as the world I had inhabited with all its dream urgencies began to dissolve, I felt a sad awareness that in moments the whole, internal, experiential construct would be entirely forgotten; indeed, what the dream had been to that point completely eludes me now as it had already begun to do then. In that moment, I felt a warm hand on mine, soft, reassuring. A female voice said quite clearly into my ear, “I’m sorry the human experience is so painful.”
Then, by way of apologetic explanation, she filled my mind with the understanding that this same unraveling of a complete reality would occur again at death, the larger world construct of the waking life would dissolve into a clarity of collapsing disarray and then be gone into silence and forgetting. Just as soon as I grasped that idea, she showed me a wider vision of a world, a planet without mankind, the cities consumed in a time-lapsed display of entropy. All the solid constructs and memories of man dissolved by salt seas and sweeping sands in the same cosmic-relative time it takes for an individual to awaken from a dream or pass from a life. All the constructs, real, perceived and imagined equally meaningless, transient, evanescent.
I said, grumbling in my fading dream voice, “You’re not helping.”
And the female voice replied, “I never do.”
At the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles tonight, a vast array of humans gathered for a memorial for Garry Shandling. The evening was put together by Judd Apatow. There were a great many people of power and influence there, iconic performers, legendary producers and executive producers and – well – it was a huge-ass Hollywood shindig of a memorial in a big theater and it was followed by a cocktail party. My purpose is not to turn this into an exercise in name-droppery.
I seek here to live up to the example Garry set, the example of which I was reminded so movingly – and so hilariously – tonight. I seek to express authentically and honestly a subjective experience through my craft and to do it in as generous a spirit as possible.
Garry’s recalled words about his meditative practice and his attitude toward his exploration of Buddhism as well as the words of others at the memorial about Garry’s practice and attitude struck me as tremendously important. The quest for egolessness, and the struggle to remain present and open were his two-fold path to self-improvement. For all his prickliness, his neurosis, his difficult humanity, he tried to come from a place of love and acceptance.
My reasons for going to the memorial were complex. I did not know Garry well. I should say that up front. I recently commented to a comedic friend in a Facebook message exchange that I felt more affected by his death than I felt by him as a person when he was alive. The extent to which his death threw me emotionally came as something of a surprise.
I only met Shandling a couple of times. We met at an event at The Actor’s Gang once and had a light cocktail party conversation. I don’t think that really counts. Then, a year or two later, he sent me a private message through twitter when I was spewing out jokes at an alarming rate. He typed at me, “I hope you don’t mind me saying that you are on fire tonight.” I did not mind.
I asked him if we could have a lunch sometime and he said yes, but it kept not getting scheduled. We stayed twitter-acquaintances, exchanging jokes and topping one-another’s lines in public back-and-forth intermittently. He began referring to himself as Uncle Garry, so I took it up as well. He gave me his e-mail address. I pushed for the lunch from time to time. At long last he said we should do it. We set a date and a place and a time. I was giddy.
In the morning, after I put on all my clothes – well, not ALL my clothes. That would just be uncomfortably binding. As I got ready to leave, I tweeted off-handedly, “Meeting at Universal and then lunch with @GarryShandling. Some days it doesn’t suck to be me.” My then social media manager (whom I later realized was an alcoholic with all the erratic behavior and poor judgement that comes along with that disease when it is active) saw that e-mail and, thinking it a good way of helping to promote an upcoming show, posted on my timeline the time and date of the show and followed it with “How about a RT, @GarryShandling?” I did not know about that one until a bit later.
When I got out of my car for lunch, I received a private message from Garry. It said, “I’m on my way now. Get your shit together before I get there, Brody.”
I sent back a note saying that I did not know what that meant. He told me to look at my twitter feed. That’s when I saw the promotional tweet and realized that it must have felt as though on my way to meet with him properly for the first time, I had decided to trade on his name. I felt awful.
He met me at lunch and scolded me for twenty minutes. “Containment, man! Don’t tweet that you’re having lunch with me. You don’t know who I might’ve lied to and said I couldn’t meet them today ‘cause I’m sick or whatever.” He seemed genuinely angry, but mostly I think there was a deep layer of hurt at work. Other things he said in the course of his scolding included, "We're not going to be friends now." and "So, no more of the Uncle Garry stuff." He had just started to open to me, just enough to meet with me, and I had treated him as an opportunity. I apologized a lot. Eventually he was done scolding me.
Then we talked about comedy and meditation, his boxing, my martial arts. We talked for well over an hour, then he insisted on paying for lunch and we left.
I next saw him at a work-shopping premiere of Kelly Carlin’s solo show, A Carlin Home Companion. He smiled when he saw me and reached to shake my hand, but the smile seemed a bit forced; perhaps I projected that from the depths of my shame over our previous meeting. We chatted for a brief moment and then a photographer friend of mine asked Garry if she could get a photo of us together and he said sure. By the time I left the party she had e-mailed me the photo.
From my car I e-mailed Garry. I said that ordinarily I post such photos on my website, in my blog, on FB and so on, but that I wanted to respect his sensitivity to containment and would not do so if he preferred.
He responded a few minutes later with, “Go ahead and post it. Thanks for checking, pal.” I sent back a quick ‘thank you’ and posted the photo.
photo credit Cat Gwynn
Two days passed and then I received another e-mail from him. It said, “I feel like you should have my phone number.” Then his phone number. Then, “Don’t ever call it.”
I didn’t know quite what to make of that, so I sent a note with my phone number and said, “You are allowed to use that number if you have reason.”
I never used his number. He never used my number. A couple of years passed. Then he died.
I heard about the memorial and wanted to be there. I didn’t realize quite how big an event it would be, how Hollywood, how high-powered. I just knew that his death weighed on me enough to take up an entire therapy session. The fact of it troubled me deeply. I wanted to be in a room with people who might be sharing some version of that experience.
Also, to some degree, I felt a desire to be part of the crowd of people that would be at such an event. I wanted to be an insider or at the very least be perceived as an insider. I didn’t know quite how big and Hollywood and high-powered the event would be, but I knew it would be big and Hollywood and high-powered to some extent.
I showed up with impure motives and layered ambivalence.
By the end of the evening I was reminded of important truths. The quest for fame, for recognition, for image improvement means nothing in the long run. The work that matters is the work on the self. The meditation, the reflection, receptivity and self-examination, these actions aimed at self-improvement not self-advancement are the ones that lead to better art, to a more valuable and valued contribution to the basic cause of human advancement.
A lot of big names gathered in that theater tonight and a lot of lesser-known ones as well. By the time the speakers were finished and the crowd had moved largely out to the lobby, we were all aware that it was a room full of grieving, loving hearts. The names mattered less than the shared sense of loss, the equality of spirit.
Then it turned into a party with catered platters of salmon on cucumber slices and a milling, pressing crowd. People who had been friends for years sniffed at one another for indications of change in status. I greeted some people I knew, hugged some people I knew well enough to feel inordinately close to and then left quickly before I succumbed to my own worst impulses.
I didn’t want to turn it into a networking event. I felt so connected to everyone there, it would have been a betrayal of the highest order had I taken advantage of that moment to turn those human connections into professional contacts.
I strive to be better. I strive to do better.
Hey, guys. Yesterday I did a one-day jaunt to Seattle to appear on New Day Northwest! I had a great time talking to Margaret Larson, the host and enjoyed myself far more than I promoted the book I was there to promote.
I'm having trouble embedding the video, but you can go see it in another frame by clicking HERE.
Go buy a copy in paperback or Kindle format.
Over the past few months I've been bombarded with news of health issues facing friends and relatives and acquaintances. Brain cancers, and Lewy Body Dementia and auto-immune disorders and heart attacks. Hospital stays and depressive episodes, suicide attempts and successes, prognoses and deaths.
In the middle of it all, I'm doing fine. I stay up late to write. I take naps when I want. I spend time at the dog park nearly every day with my beautiful beasts. I train a martial arts student a few times a week on a bright, green lawn where I have befriended the squirrels to such an extent that I've gotten to touch three of them and one frequently settles down to watch our workout.
The presidential primaries seem horrific. As I type this it seems increasingly apparent that my favorite candidate, Bernie Sanders will lose the primary race to Hillary Clinton who I think will be a fine, if somewhat innocuous president, maintaining the foreign and economic policies that have been terrible throughout my adult life while continuing the gentle push toward the left on some key social issues domestically. On the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump seems to be making a real push toward fascism and it seems to me possible -- though not yet probable -- that if he wins the nomination and the Republican Party does not find a way to deliberately split its own vote to prevent the catastrophe a Trump Presidency would surely entail, he might take the White House and with it our decency as a nation.
In the middle of it all, I'm doing fine. A low-level depression nags at me through the comforting effects of my pharmaceutical prescriptions, but it's just enough to keep me aware that there is much to be sad about, not enough to render me paralyzed with melancholy. My career moves along at its usual slow-growth pace and now and then the invisible hand of the marketplace surprises me with a delightfully unexpected reach around.
Here's what dawns on me this evening. As people around me sicken and vanish, as the politics of a failing nation spin out into unraveling darkness, I must cast what light I can. The only way I can meet these newly realized sources of dismay is to open my heart farther than I have to date. I must allow myself to love more easily and more widely. Only by allowing an ever-expanding circle to share what joy and warmth I have can I -- can any of us -- combat the ever-pressing impulse to allow our worlds to shrink with the passing of each pained friend, the impulse to close our doors against the certainty of pain, to harden our spirits against a vast sorrowscape.
For all the loss I might face, for all the rage of the rising right, for all the pain I feel and see and cannot cure, still and simply, I love you all. Doing so is the only path I see toward hope.
Valentine’s day worked out perfectly.
I made reservations at a fancy restaurant. My wife and I took showers and shaved, I my face, she her legs, and we dressed up nicely for a romantic dinner. We timed the showering and dressing so that we would still have time to walk the dogs together before leaving the house so that we would not need to feel rushed at dinner, worried that the beasts were at home, crossing their legs and waiting uncomfortably for our return.
About halfway down the block, my wife noticed a stray beagle with a tag and a collar walking alone. She gave me both of our dogs’ leashes and set about coaxing the stray to come to her. I took our dogs home.
A few minutes later, Nancy joined me along with the very friendly lost beagle who had clearly sought to make himself frightening to any animals that might threaten him in the world of the feral by rolling in excrement and garbage to amplify his olfactory sphere of intimidation. We bathed him as best we could. It did not solve the problem of his horrific smell.
Instead of going to our fancy dinner, we drove to the East Valley Animal Shelter. The dog, whom I had begun calling Bernard, sat in my wife’s lap and occasionally walked over into my lap as I drove. By the time we arrived at the 24-hour intake desk, I had bonded with the horrifically smelly little beast and found myself reluctant to leave him there until we knew for sure that his family could be located.
The guy behind the desk scanned Bernard and found that he had a chip. His family would be called and notified. He would be fine. Also, his name turned out not be Bernard, but McQueen.
We said goodbye to the little guy and went home. Our reservation had long since expired and our dress-up for dinner clothes smelled of feral beagle and loss.
We changed into stay-at-home clothes and watched things we had on the DVR while we ate microwaved nachos with melty jack cheese and canned Trader Joe’s chili and sour cream.
It was the most Brody-appropriate Valentine’s evening ever. Love, people. It’s all about the love.
Dylan Brody shares his favorites from David Sedaris
What is your favorite work by David Sedaris? Dylan Brody, Purveyor of Fine Words and Phrases lets you know his! Join these two for an evening full of humor and wit NOV 21ST. Tickets--> http://goo.gl/HuahuCPosted by Valley Performing Arts Center on Thursday, November 5, 2015