Monday, February 1, 2016

Flying over the date line...

  It poured the last night I spent in Los Angeles. Rained the entire day. 
       The place was awash. Winds came from the ocean and from the mountains, the palm trees dropped their quilled limbs, garbage cans were knocked flat, and dust devils of trash rose above the roofline. The long over-shopped avenues were empty. 
       A Florida gale had come West and by some consent, everyone stayed inside. It was a Sunday without football. The roads not worth clogging. 
      That whole day, weird magic trailed me. 
      At a Venice Starbucks, there was no line. 
      I held the door open for a young couple and... they thanked me. Both of them.
      I went to a bar and everyone said hello and looked me in the eye.
      For over an hour, I left my car at an unpaid beach meter and received no fine. 
  Surely the Gods were for me. 
  Toward sunset and not far from Sunset, I turned onto a Brentwood street and the entire block was covered with pine needles. Long fronds from those expensive cypress trees tonier neighborhoods use to mark their territory. Blown down, end to end, the street was a deep scattered green.
   I drove to Will Rogers Park. The gate was abandoned. The parking was free. I walked up to Inspiration Point, turned my back on the view of the city and the bay, and watched a cyclist descend the green hills 2 miles away. A gold figure floating through the desert brush followed by the bouncing white ball of his dog. Oliver Stone passed me the opposite way with his wife. The horses that always ignore me from their paddock -once they know I have no sweets, no apple, no business telling them to stay- stayed by me and snorted and chewed, and we watched the light go out of the sky. 
    Today, I thought, somebody up there loves me.
    Which was bittersweet, as I’d come to leave. 
    I’d come to quit.
    I'd come back to LA to mail home the last of my stuff. The bike. The Golf clubs. A few suit jackets. Work out clothes. A pile of books. The kindling I’d kept for a life here that I thought might always catch. 
   And now I was done. Left the acting business to take a job in the administration of the City of Pittsburgh. 
    I’d never been to LA not to work. Never been a civilian before. The giant town felt absent. The air wasn’t filled with hope or my potential, it wasn’t filled with the money I might make in the blink of an eye. It was just air. Sweet cool California air the day after a storm.
    Strange. There was no hovering, no practiced waiting, nothing on hold. If I stood on the corner, on the concrete of a random SoCal crossroads, I wasn’t standing there waiting for my agent to call me and say They Loved You. No, I was just standing. I was just me. I was real. 
   Unreal. 
   I got up early the last day to mail out my last box. Crossed thru the park where my gym once was, a patch of grass with chairs stuffed between three office buildings, where I played tennis with a guy from Maine for 10 years, where I could swim in a pool built under the parking structure, under the grass itself and if you stood in a raised corner of the park you could look down thru the heavy glass and watch the swimmers go by. A park which on weekends no one visited, and you could read or write, or watch the inbound jets from Japan or Russia cut across the sharp blue sky their engines powering down. A place that bizarrely for its corporate setting gave me a peace I found nowhere else in LA.
  For the first five years I came here the little park had a resident cat. A small black feral who roamed the landscaping and sometimes hid like a hunter in the trees. A cat even the security guards knew by name and whom the office crowd left food for scattered about the grounds on white plates. 
    I spent five years trying to pet that cat and she never came to me but once. I tried everything, but only once. I was sitting eating a protein bar or some such stupid urban fare and she brushed my arm. I turned, put my hand down and touched her shoulder. Bones like a bird. Hair heavy like a stray’s, a cat that never had her guts out, she didn’t flinch but she didn’t lean into me either and that was it. The gold eyes went back into the grass and she hunkered down. No one I spoke to in all those years ever heard her make a sound. 
  I came back one year after a 6 month stay in New York and her plates were gone. She wasn’t in the book of her favorite tree. I walked in a quiet panic. A security guard who knew me said “Gatto negro, she’s gone now.” I asked “Died? They didn’t move her? Didn’t come capture her for some fucking health thing did they?” He smiled, “No man, she’s just gone.” 
   And now I was going. 
  A woman I know told me not to be sentimental, not to see the process as a loss. I could hear Joe Cotton’s character in the Third Man when they tell him to leave Vienna- “Be sensible Martins and go home.” 
   "I haven’t got a sensible name." he says and tears up the ticket.  
   I wish I had such guts. 
   To get to my friend’s apartment building from the Post office you walk East. I looked up. After a big rain, at the far reach of the avenues of Santa Monica you can see the tops of the Los Angeles mountains 40 miles away. You can see them for a day or two.
    Storm clouds gathered along the peak line of the LA basin. The morning sun turning them into molten gold. The air smelled like the Sierra Nevada. I was 10 blocks from the ocean, smack in the middle of a metropolis with 20 million cars, and inhaling with my eyes closed you coulda told me I was in Yosemite. 
   I love my new job. I love that Pittsburgh owns me. That I belong to a place. I know I was never going to be happy if I didn’t work for some tangible good in the world….lemme rephrase that… I know I'm never really going to be predictably happy no matter what I do so working at something I do know is important makes total sense. 
   But give it all that and still, just walking that distance from a park to an apt in non descript LA , in just those few blocks I could look around me and even in every haggled tree, every overpriced doorway, every narrowed glimpse of the Western sky I could still feel this dreamland’s power all around me. 
  It is astonishing. There’s a city at the end of the road, on the Western shore of a continent, ringed by ragged mountains, on a desert plain without water, with no harbor, a place as motley and mundane as a big box shopping aisle, built by thieves and racists and murderers, who squeezed the American Dream out of every immigrant they could sell a plot of dust to, a City whose history has been tried and convicted more times than not, and still into it pours the dreams and fantasies, the lust and madness, and the incarnate alchemy of the whole fucking human race. No matter how you well see it, no matter how you have it figured out, no matter how clearly you know the game is rigged and the house will win, still you’re gonna feel it in your bones…..anything can happen here…..
   In the end I always reach for Fitzgerald, who reached for something in this town and died trying. That line about the inexhaustible nature of our dreams in the face of all evidence to their contrary. That line about his hero, 
"Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentImentality I was reminded of something--an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago.   For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted....But they made no sound and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever."
   How odd I feel this way not about a man but about a place. LA. Despite it all, I take my hat off, well fucking done Big City Under the Big Black Sun. 
   Everyone should see it.
   If only to see themselves. 
  
   

65 comments:

  1. I certainly wish you well in your new endeavor. I will miss watching for some new episode or movie where you are in the cast, but will treasure any reruns even more than before. Want to add that there are many health benefits from l-theanine that you may want to check out. And I certainly hope you maintain this blog. Well wishes...

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  2. First blog I've read, very vivid, thank you and congratulations/best of luck in your new career path!

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  3. wish I had read this before this afternoon, so many things to reply to and many questions, but many thanks for making it back for this afternoon.

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  4. I love your blog. It is honest and real. Good luck with the new career. You will be missed on stage and tv but maybe one day it will call you back.

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  5. I wonder if you realize how many people out here, that you have never met, love you. I hope you find someone warm to share your life with through the good times and through the difficult times.
    I think you are a great writer (I just bleep out the curse words). I enjoy your blogs and I hope you continue to write so that your fans will remain a part of your life.

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  7. Thank you for this wonderful piece of writing. I like the way you described LA, the way you felt about leaving the city. It's funny, because I was feeling the exact same way when I left last December. I'm just not as good with words as you are. I admire your decision to give up acting business in order to follow your heart and do what feels right. I wish you good luck with your new day job and hope I’ll be able to visit that beautiful city of yours sometime soon.

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  9. Pittsburgh's gain is our loss. I wish you the very best in your next adventure. May it bring you much happiness, as your exceptional performances have brought happiness to your fans. I have also enjoyed your essays immensely, and hope that you continue the very enjoyable writing.

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  10. California, light of my life, fire of my loins... Winter in Northern California smells like the sea and eucalyptus. Though it's been a few weeks, I can still feel it in my lungs. I've been revisiting California for the past three years, doing research when progress on my project, time and money allows. Have you been to Pinnacle Peak steak house in San Dimas? I remember that place as a kid. They'll cut your tie off there if you wear one. Ties are only severed if you want them to be though.

    www.mrsfranzos.blogspot.com

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  11. Good for you and for Pittsburgh! As you are such a fan of Pittsburgh I would hope you will be doing public relations for them. I live in the neighboring borough of Swissvale - a few blocks from Pittsburgh so I'm obviously interested in what happens there. Good Luck to you!

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  12. So glad that you'll be here full time. The acting worlds loss is our gain. Good luck in your new job. I know you'll be great. Keep us all posted on your new adventure. Again good luck.

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  13. Yea! Another blog! I lived in Santa Clarita, I can still smell the air. Loved it, but left after my stepson was killed in Long Beach. Special memories I California for sure. Your love for Pittsburgh wants me to visit so bad!! It sounds like such a exciting unique city! Best of luck in your new journey. I Still can watch GW and enjoy Jim and Sam. Huggs

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  14. A plethora of people will miss you on our screens, however, ultimately every person who reads your blogs can clearly understand your first love is Pittsburgh. I'm sure you will visit L.A and many other wonderful places when you feel the need to visit and hopefully have a happier; more fulfilling life. Please don't stop the blogs though, you are a very interesting writer. "Two roads divurge into a yellow wood"; I hope you enjoy your road.

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  15. David, Good Luck in your new endeavor and Welcome Home. Pittsburgh is lucky to have you. I hope to see you around.

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  16. Always enjoy reading ur blogs, hope u keep writing. Like all the other fans, will miss seeing u on tv, but aleast have the reruns to watch. Good luck with ur new career path, I know that u love being back home in pittsburgh.

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  17. Rights of passage, now is the time to put away childish things, stop chasing monsters, "We've been given another case Mulder, it has a monster in it" What is predictable happiness? My favorite moments thus far have been completely unpredictable. Thank god for serendipity! My dad was a wonderful story teller, he could tell a tale taller than any mountain and laugh the whole time, it never had to be true and never mattered if it was or not, it was always enough to be a wonderful story. It was one of things that I love most about him, and one of the things that will always be with me. But what made me respect him as a man and my hero is that he worked for the labor department he investigated the mistreatment of undocumented workers and made big business pay and responsible for their actions. We didn't have much money and he worked a lot but what we had was ours and what he did really meant something. I love the magic of stories, but actors can only play the part of real heroes. The men (and women) who make the real difference do the real jobs and deserve the real respect.

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  19. 2016 seems to be a year of big change. At least a lot of people around are taking a deep breath and sail for the new horizons now and in the next few months including myself.
    I spent the day today with throwing away stuff. I am moving in less than two months and my goal is to move out with less belongings than I had when I moved in 12 years ago. I am leaving the city I lived at for 15 years, I am even leaving the country I was born at. It is weird how a place changes its character once all expectations for a future in that place are gone, once you know there is no next summer or next Christmas there, once you take away your habits of walking just your usual ways. I find my old city now more beautiful than ever. I now see the mountains at the horizons and the pretty and clean boulevards. It is a great place just not mine anymore. Time for a new chapter ...

    Good luck with the new job!

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  20. David I made the move from Redondo Beach to Pittsburgh in 1994. Not a moment of regret. Welcome home.

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  22. I don't know what your expectations were, but I have to say...Your kindling caught just like that big flame outside your window.

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  23. The many times I've been to LA have always been for work. The way you describe it makes me want to explore more of what I'm able to see from the fourth floor of the four story building I work in. Although only four floors up, it's amazing how much of LA can be seen. The energy seems to never cease. The rolling hills are beautiful. And when the sun peaks through the clouds after it rains the place twinkles that much more. It is quite the sight. No wonder you cherish that big city so much. Even though you're going a different direction, no doubt that LA is always a part of you. Congratulations and best wishes with the new job. With the passion you have for Pittsburgh, you will do wonders.

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  25. Hi David! Sad to hear you are leaving the acting world, you are a gifted actor, but you are also a very talented writer! Glad to hear you are going home to do something you love. Life is too short not to live your dreams! Best wishes on your new career!

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  26. Whatever makes you happy! Good luck!!!

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  27. Dear David
    I wish all the best for your new job in the administration of the City of Pittsburgh but I still hope you come back to acting, sometime
    I'll miss you
    Susanne Oberwein,germany

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  28. I'm a little late seeing this, but I would like to wish you well. May this change bring you whatever it is you need to be at peace. As said by many others, you will be missed. You're a wonderful actor with a soothing voice, and a face that's not too hard on the eyes either. But you have to do what's right for you. Good luck, much happiness, and thanks for being there, even if it wasn't for as long as I would have liked. I can still crush on you in reruns, that will have to suffice me from now on (don't tell my husband I said that). But I will never say never because life is funny that way, plus hanging onto hope feels good. Very happy to know that you are where you love to be, that will make it easier to cope with when missing seeing you in something new. I do hope you continue writing this blog because reading about your life and the way you see everything is almost as enjoyable as seeing you in a role (okay it's actually better because it's really you and your incredible gift of writing), just wish I could see that amazing smile more. Much love and many thanks.....and above all, be happy.

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  29. Hey Dave, just stopping by to tell you I came across a photo shoot by Douglas Duerring you did last month, very interesting I must say, although details were not listed so it has left me curious as to what they were for, maybe you'll share sometime? :) I plan on making the 4 hour trip from Ohio to PBG this year for leisure with a friend, hope to see you! Take care and good luck on your new career path. Never stop writing though, much talent there.
    Love n light,
    Candie

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  31. Dear David,
    Its clear that Pittsburg area has ahold of your heart.
    I enjoy your writing voice, and the connections you make in your pieces. Perhaps writing will continue to be a passion, an outlet, as you turn the page and begin your new role in PA.
    Hey, you can even shop for a doctor and dentist now that you’ll be more permanent there.
    ~ Enjoy ~
    With Blessings,
    Chrissie

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    1. A couple things happened just now that made me think how you’re now able to fully experience certain things more frequently, since you’re living more permanently in your home community ~

      I was downtown checking out a few things and the librarian handed me a return slip for the items - with a due date of 3 weeks out. Hey, you can do that now. You can borrow books, knowing you can again browse in a few weeks, picking up the next title in a series, searching for something of interest - something new - or something you’re passionate about ~ because you’ll be around. You can simply get lost perusing…Because.Now.You.Can.

      And Ooooooh the farmers market. It was unseasonably warm here today in Maine, and I could see the tops of plants bursting through the snow in my yard reaching to hug the sun. It made me long for strolling the farmers market. David - you can now get those sun gold tomato seedlings. Maybe you never thought of buying them before - because you wouldn't have been home regularly to tend to them (they're delicious and sell like hotcakes - so if they’re none left when you go, you can ask the lady to hold them for you the next week - reserving them- because you know you’re able to go back). And maybe for the same reason you never thought of buying basil, but now you can - and make pesto - and melt with homemade mozzarella & tomatoes that you can buy from the kind older couple a few trucks down. Or pick up a couple dozen fresh eggs. Or a bouquet of sunflowers and an armful of sweet potatoes to roast come fall. Or a fresh quart of honey from the honey guy about midway down through the market (at least thats where my guy sets up his table). Or…, or… Because.Now.You.Can.

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  32. I hope you are happy in whatever the future holds. Pittsburgh will be very lucky to have you home.

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  34. I hope you are happy in whatever the future holds. Pittsburgh will be very lucky to gave you home.

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  37. Wow. It's been a couple months since I read your blog. I know you love Pittsburgh and I hope you find the happiness you deserve. They're lucky to get you home.

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  38. The best of luck to you David Conrad. May you find peace, happiness, love, joy and contentment on your new journey. Enjoy the warmth and comforts of home. "There is no place like home." So hello to the man, and good-bye to the actor. You will be missed. Enjoy life!

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    1. "I write for the same reason o breathe..."
      A beautifully written blog. Best wishes.

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  39. I came across this while doing some research on seizures. Lol. I guess the word kindling.

    Last February I had traveled to California for a conference. I had never been to CA. My family had traveled there on vacation a few times, but I always stayed home with my father. Neither of us were fans of flying, we are water people. Ironic though is that my father can’t swim, and he refuses to wear a life vest. Still I could never imagine any amount of water that could send that man to his grave, even the oceans fear him.

    While in CA I of course did everything a tourist would do which included the Santa Monica pier. I walked the pier, stopped in the arcade to play whack a mole, something I had not done since a small child, but hey no one in CA knew me and I would likely not see any of them again. I walk to the end and looked down at the water. I thought it would be freeing and I would embrace it as I had always embraced water. I didn't. I looked at the water splashing against the pillars and instantly felt a deep sadness of something missing. It was home.....Baltimore.

    Following the conference I sat in LAX waiting for my flight to take me back to Texas. I kept thinking of when I left Baltimore.

    The night I left Baltimore it was not just a dusting of snow, it was a blizzard. I had rented a moving truck and trailer for my jeep to head west. I had to collect my belongings from 3 separate homes. My studio apartment on Fait Ave, my parents’ home out in the country, and a home that had been passed into the family in 1770 which I used for storage. After collecting my piano and small boxes from my studio apartment I went to the historical house. I loaded up what belongings I could. I looked around the home remembering the summers I spent there renovating it with my father. I sat remember the time I spent alone in the home painting singing Edith Piaf at the top of my lungs. The red fox I would feed from the porch. The old swing set where my grandparents met. The row boat "good times" sitting in the front yard. I had told my father I would be back in the summer to cut silhouettes of my uncle and grandfather who had passed years earlier to put in the boat so they could always fish together. I placed my hand on the front door and said goodbye. I drove the truck off the property over the bridge I had built over the stream months earlier.

    Last was my parents’ home in the country to collect items from my childhood. The home they lived in was not the one from my childhood. The truck wouldn’t make it up the steep hill in the snow. I gathered my items, placing them in storage tubs and sliding them down the hill like sleds. I said my goodbyes; ready to start my long drive. My mother looked at me with her steal blue eyes "you don't have to move. There are plenty of medical schools around here. Or you could just settle down". My father was holding back tears "don't forget to check you oil, and change it when it needs it". My father and I were never good at goodbyes, or feelings for that matter, but we understood each other.


    The Baltimore I knew will never be my Baltimore again. Not following the riots and the carnage left in its wake. The city I would jog at 3am to clear my head is gone; I do not recognize what city now lays there. The Baltimore I knew owned me. So enjoy Pittsburg, even if it was my rival, it has not destroyed itself beyond recognition.

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  40. I wish you the very best in your new road of life.

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  41. Congratulations! Your passion for your home town is incredibly tangible in these posts. It seems like a job that allows you such a hand in helping Pittsburgh is made for you. I do hope you'll keep posting. All the best.

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  42. Saw you on ghost whisperer originally, something shined through. glad you're living to a purpose that is meaningful to you. Very much enjoy reading your journey. Full of depth, intelligence and meaning. Thank you.

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  43. Stumbled on your blog tonight,wept about the cat.Your description of the stray is perfect,I'm surrounded by them here and I can feel their coats without touch.Good luck with new job,keep writing

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  44. I hope you don't stop writing, now is a time when the things you have to say may very well affect so many.

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  45. I have always been a curious one. I love watching shows and wondering if the actors are similar to their character. I stumbled upon a very interesting show, which quickly drew my attention and I was instantly intrigued. I tend to believe that actors portray some real part of themselves through their characters on TV. Can you change who you really are? Somehow your true self is shown even for a split second, even if you are representing someone else. I look for that second, in the eyes, in the moves, in the voice. I love to imagine who actors really are, behind the lights, without the cameras, in their true form. Are they humble? Are they nice? Are they for real? Questions, questions, questions only left to imagine. I was drawn to your character in the show. I began to wonder if you are as nice, peaceful, and calm as your character. So I watched the entire show. I tried to distinguish if you ever deviated from your true self or If you was always in character. So I did a little research, Google is my friend. I'm no stalker, just intrigued by the way acting can change a person in the end. I'm just a woman in the sidelines looking at the play. Then I saw your Bio which had little to say. So I looked again and this is what it said, "mother, father, youngest of the siblings." No mention of wife and kids. Then it went on about the roles you've had and it ended with the path you took, away from LA. I swear I'm no stalker, just curious at most. Finally, I came across your blog and I was eager to read. But first I had questions you see. Is he nice, peaceful and calm as he plays to be? I began to read and suddenly I could see what I had thought all along to be. You can't hide who you really are no matter how much acting you do, because your true self always shines through. The word "fucking" threw me off a bit, but no ones perfect and now I see, you are as real as anyone could be. I guess I've always known but eager to see if actors truly change or are they still who they are beneath the face of fantasy. Thank you for making me smile and for letting me know there's more to the screen than what's led to believe. I wish you all the luck in your change of scenery.

    From someone who thinks your pretty cool and is talented, not only in acting, but also in writing. :)

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    1. Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anyone.
      Mark Twain.

      You can not know who someone is through a character they portray. Or the choice of words they use.

      Wishing you love,luck and happiness on your path David.

      Namaste.

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  46. David, you are probably aware but NPR did a live piece on Pittsburgh, gentrification, the Liberty district and the future: http://www.npr.org/2016/03/12/470228220/what-is-it-that-keeps-a-city-going-pittsburgh-has-some-answers

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  47. I do hope you will be coming back to this blog spot. Your writing feeds the educationally emaciated.

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  48. David you are a good writer not to mention being a good actor. :) This post feels like reading a sequel to The Great Gatsby that takes place in LA rather than NYC this time. It's like Nick Carraway packing up to move back to his hometown Midwest. Nick is a disillusioned guy. I think you should start writing some fictive story or creative nonfiction and explore the theme of post-American Dream from the perspective of an American who is deeply rooted on the East Coast. We want to read more. :) It occurred to me that the author of Fifty Shades of Gray started writing the novel on her blog and it became viral and sensational. It will be fun.

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    1. What???...He is just writing about his thoughts and feelings.(It helps me to know that someone goes through some of the same things I go through, like feelings of grief in the loss of a loved one. Most people hide that " real stuff" deep down inside and end up with all kinds of problems because of it.)It helps to share with others going through the same things.
      You do not have to act on his opinions. You can agree or disagree.
      I enjoy his blogs because its interesting and its also different in the way that people in life don't usually talk about their feelings. Everything is covered up(for whatever reason)and you never get to really know them or to know who they really are.
      David's writing does pull you in and speak to you. That is what you look for in a good book. He is brave to show his real self and not a false self. I along with many fans would miss this blog if it went away.
      I sincerely feel for you if you feel upset but I
      was wondering what you do about stimulus in life like the news on television.
      You seem to be a very sensitive person. I hope everything turns out alright in your life. much happiness.

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  52. Hi, Dave!

    I love the way you portray the daily life in their approaches. It's like I 'm walking with you through the streets.

    Helena, from São Paulo, Brazil.

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  53. Hi David, I was wondering if you were quitting acting permanently? I ask because I am producing a movie and our casting director has recently communicated with your rep about a nice part in our $53 million dollar action adventure project. If you are interested in the part you can email me at shatteredglassentertainment@gmail.com and I will give you more information about the A list director and A list cast. Thank you and I hope you have an amazing day!

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  54. I'm your fan... I love all that you do...I hope one day I can meet you. I have a huge crush on you!!!
    Take care, precious!

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  55. I'm your fan... I love all that you do...I hope one day I can meet you. I have a huge crush on you!!!
    Take care, precious!

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  56. It was really nice and refreshing to read this... As far as English is not my mother language it won't be easy to express what I need to but I shall try. :-) I have already experienced something similar and I had the urge to put it into words in order to share it with others but I couldn't, I mean I could not to the extend to feel this inner satisfaction, the peace I feel when I read what I wrote and I would not change a single word, everything is there - behind the words, in them, they resonate with your soul, with your being.
    There were parts of the text where I felt myself behind the words as if I was the author... and I just wanted to express that.

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  57. You DO have fans. LA is a very difficult phony place. As a fellow PA person. Going back to roots always helps you find your calling and happiness. The realness of it there. Good luck with your new life. Envious you went home. Someday I hope to leave Scottsdale and head back to the simple straightforward life of Bucks County again. Best of luck to you. Keep blogging. We want to hear of your new success.

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