The Real Thing

ur080121The_Real_Thing480x172By Marc Porter Zasada
Listen to the podcast version here.
(Originally appeared on KCRW-FM, Los Angeles)

Every day it may get harder to separate the real from the dramatic, the genuine from the theatrical, the costumes and lights from the heartfelt McCoy. But even here in L.A., we crave authenticity. We don’t want knock-offs, we want Diors; not just directors, but auteurs; not mere relationships, but sometimes, by G-d, marriage.

This may be a tough place to pull off the real thing, but that just means we have to work a little harder.

Today, for example, eight of us find ourselves standing around an impressive local backyard waiting for a wedding to begin. The call came just three days ago, and all has been arranged in haste…for reasons which have become obvious. In fact, though we are all close to the bride, none of us has ever met the groom, who seems to have parachuted in with a rented tux, and now stands here nervous, young, and apparently without local friends.

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The God of Trial & Error

Evolution_of_manBy Marc Porter Zasada

Maybe we can agree on this much: Maybe we can agree that God proceeds by trial and error. He tries a flock of birds here, sends a prophet there, lets loose a flood, then a famine…well, just because.  He creates species and civilizations with uncountable and curious attributes and then He shoves them out the door to pretty much succeed or fail on their own, through ice ages and bad decisions, triumph and torpidity. Continue reading

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Never to Be Owned


Jack Kerouac.

Today, when the Urban Man says to people that he is a child of the 1960s, he means that he does not believe in things, but in experiences. The truest legacy of those years was not drugs or rock-and-roll or freedom or sex or youth-worship or the “counterculture,” but the idea of life being a kind of live theatre, organized for one’s personal benefit: be it food, spirituality, relationships, work, or music.

This is a hard but important truth about the world I have known for my entire existence.

The great dream of our generation was to pass among and to sample all things without belonging to any one thing in particular. To live in a moment of beauty and then pass to the next without any consequence or harm to ourselves or others. Continue reading

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Please Be My Host

biohazardmanBy Marc Porter Zasada

Dear “Friend:”

The goal of this blog, like your blog, is to go viral. Its purpose in life is beautifully simple: to propagate. It is like a tree that wishes to spread into a forest, a shrub that wishes to populate a hillside, or a mouse that wishes to become many mice, overrunning a building.

The simplest form of life is a virus, which does not eat or secrete or move, but infects a legitimate cell with its own information, its own DNA, causing the host to create many more viruses before it destroys itself.

This blog is similar. Continue reading

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The Man Who Hated Art

Henry McBride, Art Critic,  1922, by Florine Stettheimer. American, 1871–1944

Henry McBride, Art Critic, 1922, by Florine Stettheimer. American, 1871–1944

By Marc Porter Zasada

It’s moving toward evening on the back porch of the Urban Man, where I and my friend John sip beers, discuss art, and watch the sun send a few final orange flashes across the pool. When I say “discuss art,” I do not mean a joyful exercise. John is not an art lover. Indeed, John will tell you firmly that he “does not like art.” That’s right, he says. He doesn’t like art at all.

It seems an absurdity to say such a thing, of course – and your first reaction will be that John’s words must be untrue, as if he claimed to dislike air or water. Still, I’m pretty sure that John is being honest, and his words will probably make more sense when you learn that he is the son of an artist. Continue reading

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The Necessary Story

By Marc Porter Zasada

Tonight the Urban Man is sitting on a beach just north of L.A. with a can of beer, watching the lights of ships and trying to construct his personal story. “It began in the ‘burbs, then…” No, that doesn’t quite work. “He dreamed big dreams, but…” No again, forget it. “Over the decades he learned that, ‘you can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you get what you need.’ ”

That last bit is promising. Even though it’s a quote from Jagger, it’s both self-effacing and upbeat. And I think, “Okay, let’s start there. It’s a good spin.” Continue reading

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Trying Everything

By Marc Porter Zasada
The Urban Man Commentaries 

Here where we can do anything, we can never do enough. If we go to the play, we’re missing the concert; if we’re out gardening, we’re not out sailboarding; if we’re performing, we’re not relating; if we’re washing the dishes, we’re not outlining our next screenplay. Surely, if we were to devote ourselves to the beautiful X, we’d miss the delights of the wonderful Y; and Lord knows that when we’re working on our abs we’re not working on our children.

Like most people I know in this remarkable time and place, I want to try everything. I want to lose my soul on a dance floor. Make love in an elevator. Base jump from the Eiffel tower. Photograph Machu Picchu by night. Surf Hanalei by day. Write. Paint. Direct.

Then, of course, collaborate. Contemplate. Meditate. Pray. Connect. Design. Develop. Dabble not just in marketing but in engineering. Not just in music, but in activism. Continue reading

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