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Friday, May 29, 2015

Uber, Staying Connected, Listen, Love and Angels as Allah's Babies

I know it's a crazy title for an entry.  The Uber ride I had the other night was one of the most real connections I have had with another human being.  Working with the public and taking on all kinds of frenetic energy, for a living, can numb you to a heart and soul opening conversation.  Of course my guard was up, especially when the subject of religion came up.  I broke the rule of never talking about religion when alcohol is involved, be it at a social gathering, bar, or on your Uber ride home.  As soon as I requested my ride, confirmed it, and all that; Uber sent me the picture of my driver with the model and make of his car. Mohammed will be picking me up in a grey, Honda Odyssey.  I had a few IPA's in me already, and I was feeling nice.  I thought to myself, "Mohammed. Cool! I'll ask him about his faith in Islam."  Yes, I was kind of stereotyping.  But seriously....How many Mohammeds do you know that are Mormon or Jehova's Witness?  Anyone? Anyone?  Exactly!  There are probably a few out there, but none that I know in this lifetime.  Mohammed arrives and he opens the van door, for me to get in.  These new, fancy vans with the automatic, sliding doors are like spaceships!  They are so confusing.  I was about to jump in the front seat like I always do with my Uber or Lyft driver, but homeboy was like, "No. No."  He actually didn't say that, but when I went to get into the passenger's seat, he opened the van door for me.  Okay!  I get it.  Once I gave him the address to my destination, I immediately asked him where he was from.  He had a pretty thick accent, which (to be honest), I find accents from the Middle East to be really cool.  I just sense like a real love for conversation when there is a slight struggle to find the right word.  Mohammed told me that he was from Egypt, which I had a feeling after listening to him speak.  I've known a few Egyptians in my time, and he sounded a lot like this bus boy I worked with back in New York City.  Ayman was his name.  He used to always say to me "Baba! No. That is big Haram! Big Haram!"  I would always share stories about my vices and nights out on the town.  I never felt like I was being judged, but reprimanded in a way that came from genuine concern.  As I told this story to Mohammed, he nodded his head in agreement about doing things that are "Haram", which means sin in Arabic.  I asked him if he was Muslim, and he said that he was.  He began to share with me the reason for his faith.  It was this really cool, history lesson, and yet an open heart revelation.  There was talk of Noah, Abraham, Ismael, Jesus, Mohammed.  Talks of prophets, and Jesus as a prophet.  God being all powerful and the only one, hence the prayer "Allahu Akbar", which translates into "God is Great."  The whole idea of an all powerful God, that created us for the sole reason of worshiping him is the kind of shit that makes me roll my eyes and reaffirm why this concept is not possible.  The all powerful creator of the universe having human emotions like jealousy and envy?  Doesn't make sense.  Anyways, I wasn't there to try to change his way of thinking or deter him from his faith, but I did say "If God is that powerful, then he doesn't need us to worship him."  He took a moment.  He then agreed with me.  Mohammed's faith in Islam, gave him a purpose in life.  He talked of peace, and that it is a religion of peace.  I haven't read the Quran.  Many of my Christian friends like to take the excerpts from the Quran that order the followers of Islam to commit acts of violence in the name of Allah, therefore justifying what the world wants us to believe- That Muslims are dangerous and secretly trying to undermine American freedom, liberty, and justice for all.  Shit! The Old Testament in the Bible is filled with stories of the Hebrews following orders from God, plundering towns, even killing women and children.  Mohammed, had a child, like care and love when talking about his faith.  When I told him that my name is "Angel" and that the Arabic word is Malaik, he began to talk about Angels in the Islamic faith.  He described them like babies.  A baby cannot support itself, walk, feed itself, bathe, change its clothes.  A baby needs nurturing and constant care.  Yet, Angels are supposed to guide and watch over humans, but Allah instructs and nurtures Angels so that they can guide, an independent, proud, and stubborn human.  There was a beauty to that description.  In a nutshell, we are to learn from children, because they are peaceful and innocent.  So, at the root of Mohammed's faith, was that we need to be peaceful.  I'll take it!  Stay connected, and listen to others my friends.  Alaikum Salam!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Core Value Number Three: Stay Connected

I'm cheating here.  I wrote this as a Facebook status.  I need to blog more than post on Facebook.  That's for sure!  Let's get away from our phones for a minute and talk to people.

A very strange day for me, but it was capped off by a wonderful experience. I was walking around my old stomping grounds, on my way to Target. I was taking in the beauty of all the architecture, watching people, saying hi. I walked past the site of the Trader Joe's on Santa Monica and Poinsettia; the store I used to shop at. It's a huge ditch in the ground now. After leaving Target, I went to the Starbucks below it at the West Hollywood Gateway. I'm noticing all the pretty girls, thinking "I really miss it here!" And, I got sad thinking that I currently cannot swing rent in the area. I saved a table by putting my bag there. When I got my coffee, a man was sitting at the table. I said to him "Are you okay with sharing?" He said, "Yeah!" He was in his 50's, possibly homeless. He began to tell me about his current health issues and his battle with drug addiction. He had been sober for 8 months. I shared with him my tendency to drink too much at times and the history of alcohol abuse in my family. He asked me to pray for him, because they found a mass in his lungs. I told him I would for sure. He looked at me and said "Yeah! I believe it. You seem like a man of your word. What's your name?" "Angel", I replied. He had this glow to his face when I told him my name. "I'll see you around man," I said to him. He looked at me and said "I'm here every day." It's good to leave your phone at home from time to time. I love connecting with people like this, and wish it would happen more often. I feel so isolated in my suburbia palace. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful, but I'm meant to be where the people are. I'm a city boy! I did pray for the man. Today was a great day!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Catholicism, Pornographic Sounds, and an awkward moment with Mom

This was going to be a post on Facebook, but it would have been way too long. People get sick of reading a bunch of rants.  Which is one of my specialties, but today...I just want to share something to make you giggle a bit.

My Mom is a very, devout, Catholic; not unusual for a Latino household.  My Mom surrounds herself in Catholicism.  It's on the radio.  It's on the television.  It's all over the house.  My old bedroom has been turned into a shrine for the Virgin Mary and La Virgen De Guadalupe.  So much, that I feel kinda guilty looking at "questionable" materials online when I'm in the room....But that passes quickly.

The other day, I was at the house, having some lunch in the kitchen.  The television in the kitchen is always on one of the Catholic networks.  She usually watches the programming while she washes dishes or prepares dinner.  There is a counter with stools, where you can eat.  The screen is facing here, while she's at the sink.  I realized that the television volume was quite loud when I heard very, heavy, intense, breathing.  Then there was moaning.  I caught a glimpse of what was playing.  All I know at there were  nuns, a priest, and one of the priests or some other guy was in agony and suffering.  Hey! That's not original to Catholicism....I realize that the last sentence can be taken the wrong way and used to make many jokes....but I can't go there when priests and nuns are involved.  Even though some priests have done some foul shit.  I just can't.  Moving on!

Anyhow, the moaning and heavy breathing continues.  It was getting really weird. I think my Mom felt the awkwardness, so she walks away from the television and comes over to chat with me.  I don't know who the hell the editor of this film was, but he had to be Catholic.  This scene dragged on, with no dialogue whatsoever!  Just moaning, breathing, the sounds of suffering amplified to express closeness to God, and the occasional sound of a dripping, wet, cloth, that was used to pour over the guy's head.  Wait a minute!  That didn't come out right! Doh!  That didn't either /:(

I know Catholics like to dwell on the suffering of Christ and all, but this was ridiculous.  I couldn't even look my Mom in the eye.  I was so close to saying "What the hell are you watching?"  But, I was on my way out the door anyways.  So, I just said goodbye.  As always, my Mom always blesses me with the sign of the cross before I leave the house.  Awkward....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Being The Candle In A Dark Room

While working, I heard the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" play over the loudspeaker.  I've heard it many times on various occasions.  When you work in restaurants, retail, or any environment that plays "ambient" music; you end up hearing the same songs.  Sadly, great songs get tuned out and leave you with the same feeling that you get when eating a rice cake! 

In fact, this particular song has made its way into many movie soundtracks, commercials for radio and television, and movie trailers.  You listen to it and know that it's a classic Motown jam, but I've been kind of over it.  Somehow it seeps its way into your life when you don't expect it, much like Earth Wind and Fire's "September" and "Celebrate".  What wedding or party have you been to that did "NOT" play those songs?  Again, great musicians and artists, but somehow those songs have been forced upon us in ways that makes you want to hit "next" on your Pandora station every time they come on.  No one listens to the radio anymore, so I can't say "change the dial" or "change the station".   Gotta stay up to date with you all! What's a revolutionary to do :)

Honestly, I didn't even know who sang "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", until very recently.  I always thought that it was Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, maybe Sam Cooke.  I read somewhere that Ashford and Simpson had originally performed the song.  It turns out, they wrote it, along with other hits for Mr. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (born Thomasina Montgomery). There it is! The mystery singers. Except most people, besides me, already knew who the duet behind this classic song was.  

I was back at the grind last week, and the song comes on again.  I've probably heard it over 100 times in almost, four years I've been working at this particular establishment.  I found myself singing along, kinda shuffling a bit to it- you can't really get down and boogie in front of customers. They'll give you that awkward laugh like "Hahaha! Funny guy working at my neighborhood grocery store.  It's okay. It fits with the vibe of the place", then run out of there as fast as they can to get away from you.  Believe me, people often ask me if certain co-workers of mine have taken their meds, and I kindly reply, "No, we need him that way."  The look on these folks' face is priceless...

Going on a rant again...Sorry!  Being The Candle In A Dark Room...What does all of this have to do with the title?  On this particular day that I did my shufflin' and singin', I was thinking about a girl.  Yup!  And, she happens to live very far away.  So the lyrics to the song really struck a chord with me.  I began to really appreciate it.  Yes. It's corny! It's a cliche song for the situation! Yeah, yeah, yeah....Don't matter! I came home and added the "Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: Complete Duets" to one of my Spotify lists.  I love how these music sites like Pandora and Spotify give you Biographies on the artists that you play.  I was reading Ms. Terrell's bio.  I was saddened and shocked to learn that she died at the very young age of 24!  Brain cancer took her life.  The bio also mentioned that her passing had a drastic effect on Marvin Gaye, which contributed to the emotional force behind his hit "What's Going On".  24 years young!  In her short life, she had a great singing career: Hit records, touring with the likes of James Brown.  

I started to wonder about our time and place on this planet. What should our contribution should be as individuals? It's amazing how such creative, greatness is showcased to the world, then gone in the blink of an eye. We're not all meant to be hit recording singers or award winning actors.  We may want to achieve that, but it may not happen.  Music, movies, art, and literature, brighten our lives and enrich our souls.  That's how it's supposed to be.  Forget all the commercialism and accolades.  Think about when the last time a piece of art affected you in a way that made you want to shout "I Love You" from the mountain top, or be remind you of the memories of a loved one, or a laugh shared with great friends and family.  Something inside of you shined.  Right?  

Turn on the news or social media and you will get bombarded with war, violence, police brutality, celebrity suicides, religious debates, etc.  None of that makes me want to sing and shuffle, that's for fucken sure!  It's easy to get caught up in the arguing/posting, about who is right and why, and you're an idiot, liberal, Nazi, Racist, Dickhead, I un-friend you, I'm blocking you, I'm taking a break from social media, Your Mama's twerking with cats....Shit!  This is too much.  A la Verga with it all!

But no...Not with it all.  That corny, little moment I had, singing and danc...Shufflin- not dancing- to a song that I had heard over and over again, could have been a moment that someone caught me and laughed for a minute.  Perhaps they'll be in traffic, someone cuts them off, they get crazy, and the song comes on, and they remember that silly dude at the grocery store, bagging groceries, singing along, and shufflin' like a fool.  And then all is okay, and traffic is not so bad.  Did it happen?  Maybe.... 

The media that we are exposed to on a daily basis wants us to believe that we are in dark times and that things are going to get worse.  We don't know that for sure, so why buy into it?  Since I was a kid, my Mom has told me that she refuses to watch the news, because it's too depressing.  It's all bad news!  

It's easy to dwell on the negative. But that's not going to do me or anyone else any good.  If I come into work all pissy and snap at a customer, just because my life sucks....I could lose my job. That would put me in a real bind! No bueno my friends.  Everyone is going through different degrees of hardship, so I'm not expecting someone who lost their child or loved one, to just turn around and start dancing to make other people smile.  That's not what I'm saying. What I'm trying to get at, is that whatever time we have, long or short (we don't know), we have to know deep down that it will all pass.  Hopefully someone will shine for a person that is going though a traumatic time. And, somehow in their own, quiet way, will help them get through the day. All we have is each moment.  Smile at someone.  Go out of your way for someone at work who is having a rough time.  Offer someone a ride or buy them a cup of coffee.  We don't have to try to change the world all at once.  Be the candle for someone. Then let them be the candle for someone, and so on.  I know this may sound a little cliche and corny, but so was my moment with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", and I'm okay with that.  Tammi and Marvin were my candles.  It's all good when your intentions are good! La Paz...

El Comandante...Out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Social Media, Celebrity Deaths, and Learning words like "Solipsism"

Not the most captivating title....I know.  Pues, ni modo- which translates into "So be it" or "Fuck it"!  I prefer the latter.  I can't speak for everybody.  However, in light of Robin Williams' death, it donned on me that I receive a majority of my news from Facebook.  Be it friends' reactions, shared links, or what have you; I'm always finding things out on the world's, largest, chisme (gossip) platform!

I don't know if that makes me less educated, a simpleton, a follower of the masses, etc.  It just is what it is! We are no longer in the era where we walk out to the end of the driveway in our bathrobe and boxers to pick up the daily newspaper, go inside our home, and read the paper over coffee.  Many of us are working two to three jobs or pursuing creative endeavors, while working 8-12 hours at a job to support ourselves.  It is what it is!  So what's the easiest thing to do when we first wake up?  Grab our phones or tablets and check our Facebook and Instagram profiles to see how many likes we got from our posts!

I don't do that though.  I ain't that needy for validation....Psssshhhhhh! Right! We all are to some degree.  Can't blame us for being this way.  I mean, we are all closed up in our own digital worlds.  We would rather be on the phone while shopping for groceries or ordering food than interacting with the person that is directly in front of us, trying to take our order or ringing up our groceries.  Don't let me get started on the people that criticize you for getting the order wrong or who are giving you specific directions on how to bag their food, while they are on their mo'f'n phones! Putos!  Sorry....Got a little carried away there...

I'm going a bit off topic here.  Since social media has exploded over the last six years, many popular, iconic, artists, athletes, political figures, religious leaders, and personalities, have passed away.  When this happens, you will often see posts with a "RIP" message.  They dominate the conversation, or "trend", as it is called in the social media sphere.

Very rarely do people know the deceased celebrity. Regardless, the outpouring occurs, because the work of the individual has affected each person in some way.   What's wrong with this?  Nothing!  Is it a vain attempt to garner attention for more likes, retweets, shares...I don't know what the hell else...Pokes?  Not that one....

Maybe it is.  If so....Who the fuck cares?  Whatever this little soapbox, channel, feed, or platform that social media has created for each individual, belongs to that person.  We can choose to interact or ignore any person's avatar-esque galaxy.

I caught glimpses of many posts that "We" (meaning everyone on Facebook who posted about Robin Williams' death) were only posting about it to fuel our egos and to gain likes.  Or, that it was some competition or popularity contest to gain more traffic to our pages.  I saw another post from a friend that quoted Bible verses condemning suicide, that ended with a "May God have mercy on your soul."  This! Coming from a fellow actor?  My favorite was a response to a friend's post that stated something, along the lines of "Actors have it tough...Please be kind to actors."  The first response was "I didn't know such a 'Solipsistic' response was possible."  Ouch!  I had to look up that word, because, if I see the letters "s", "o", and "p" so close together; I start thinking about Sopes! Sopes de carne asada or Sopa de res....Going off track again, but if you have not had a sope, you need to!

Think about it.  Isn't social media about advocating solipsism?  It's all about "me"! I did this. I'm doing that. I'm dating so and so. I'm here. I'm eating this. I'm drunk. I'm sad. I'm horny. I'm high. I'm angry, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm....

I wanted to chime in on all these posts and replies that I found completely asinine, but I realized that: 1. I don't want to feed the trolls 2. Everyone has a right to say whatever the fuck they want 3. The most important one...It just is What it Motherfucking Is!

RIP Robin Williams. Only you knew your pain.  Godspeed on this next journey...I still remember wanting to buy the Mork suit for Halloween, but I was only 4.  They didn't make any in my size.  I know you are getting many hugs in the next life and chillin' with your homie Richard Pryor :-)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Digging Deep for an Actor's Values

It's safe to say, that a large majority of the actors hustling to book "the big gig" or "commercial that will change your career, life, and bank account", spend most of their time hustling at another job to make ends meet.  It's also safe to say that a majority of those, "said jobs", don't really stimulate actors' minds.  Restaurants, retail, coffee shops, temp work, catering, marketing promotions (only if you are smoking hot for this last one), etc.  The list goes on.  Basically, you're at the mercy of many numb skulls, who think they are way too entitled, and who somehow can conjure up the courage to berate you or humiliate you publicly, because deep in the back of their puny, puto-head, minds, they know, (unless you are a sociopath) that you can't do an f'n thing about it.  You will lose your job if you talk back or dare to threaten them.  This happens in the temping world too. Instead of a bone headed customer, you have a bone headed manager, that thinks they are way smarter than you.  They will hang over your head that you can be replaced with a phone call, and bye bye $10 an hour job with no health insurance, which includes an hour to hour and a half commute each way...every day.  Yay! I want to be an actor!  Right?  Of course you do!

Lately, my mind has been burning with the same question: "Why do you put yourself through this?" It's been pretty stressful lately.  Jobs and opportunities seem to be few and far between.  Auditions happen at any God-given hour with less notice and time to prepare.  Yeah. Hate that shit!  I've turned down two auditions recently.  I also could not go to one, because I was scheduled to work at the hour they were holding the auditions.  I thought going in early would be cool, but they needed groups to cast a family. The casting director wasn't seeing the groups in my category until later in the evening. I was upset, but what could I do?  It sucks big huevos! Don't get me wrong, I'll give up a shift from time to time to go to an audition, but this can't happen more than a few times a month.  Casting directors aren't going to pay the expensive ass smart phone plan that I need to have to be able to confirm an audition at any given time from anywhere in the world.  They ain't paying my gas that my trusty, old, bucket eats up, so that I can commute to auditions and to the good, ol', J.O.B. 

I think about why we put ourselves through the torture, and try to figure out if there is some formula or cosmic pull in our genes that gravitates us actors to this deep desire to bare our souls for others to watch and be affected emotionally, and be in awe of our talent, and bathe us in rose petals and applause.  Hooray!!!! This pull that brings us to one of life's ultimate paradoxes: You're damned if  you do, and you're damned if you don't!  Why? Why? Why?  I read somewhere online, that for actors it's like breathing air; A NECESSITY (say this with a Shakespearean flair).  Whether or not we are on an actual, film, television, or commercial, set, or a doing theater, shorts, and independent projects for food and credit only; there is something about the craft that we love so much that we are willing to tread through that uphill mudslide, just to get a taste of that sweet water of creativity.  Not gonna lie, the allure of making enough money to make a living so that all you can do is work on your career, be in classes, and produce projects is a big incentive.  What actor doesn't want that?  However, when you get that point, there will be other obstacles to deal with on a whole different level, that will make you wish you were at the level up above you. Once you go up the ladder, the grass is probably always going to be greener.  

So what is the solution?  Corny as this may sound: Love and Joy for the work and the moment you are in.  I spend most of my time at my J.O.B., and the commute is a pain in the Nalgas. But, it pays my bills and I have health insurance.  Very important!  What I'm bringing up with the whole "Love and Joy" is that it's crucial for actors, and artists in general, to have core values about their craft.  It helps us map out where we go in our lives and our growth as artists.  I work for a very popular, "national chain of neighborhood, grocery stores".  They are abundant in Los Angeles.  Everybody says that they "LOOOOOVVVVEEE" shopping at their local location.  The company is hugely successful.  One thing that they emphasize to the crew is for us to know the company's "Core Values" and their "Mission Statement".  Here I am, working for a very successful, company, that keeps growing in locations and sales every year.  This company is always referenced in the top finance and business magazines, praising their business model.  It hit me like a sack of potatoes, the ones I just stocked on the shelf, that if I want to emulate this kind of growth and financial success in my acting career; I should probably consider declaring some core values.  The company I work for has 7.  That seems like a good number, since my birthday falls on a multiple of 7, and if you multiply 7 by the number in the order of the calendar year that my birth month falls in, you get the day of my birth.  Anyways, I'll start with a couple for now: 1.Create for the Love and Joy of the work 2. Live in the present.  I know that I mentioned emulating a company with financial success, and yadda, yadda, yadda.  That's not my ultimate end, but it would be nice to only live off creating work for the love and joy of it.  Happy hustling homies!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967 - February 2, 2014)

In 2004, I was introduced to someone that worked for the Labyrinth Theater Company and brought me in to do some volunteer work for them. It started with doing simple things like office mailings and gradually grew into set building and helping out at some of the VIP, company events. Philip was the Artistic Director at the time. My experience with the LAB was amazing. It was was one of the highlights of my artistic career. I made some lasting friendships with fellow volunteers, Master Class Alumni, and a number of the company members.

I met Philip on a few occasions, serving food and drinks at premiere parties or their famous fundraiser- “Celebrity Charades”. However, there was one particular incident that bonded us.

I was on book for the actors during the previews of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” by Stephen Adly Guirgis , in 2005.

The show was premiering at the Public Theater in New York, where the company had its residence. There were a handful of film and theater stars in attendance. I realized that I was in the big time here. No pressure at all! My task was easy: Follow the script, and feed the actor their line when they called for it. I was given a copy of the script and a flashlight. Once the show began, it was all business. “Follow the lines and don't fuck up,” I said to myself.

The show was great. Everything was running smoothly. I was so mesmerized by the performances of Sam Rockwell, John Ortiz, Eric Bogosian, Liza Colon Zayas, Callie Thorne, Yul Vazquez, and the entire ensemble. Great freaking' cast! Philip was watching. I could hear him laugh throughout many of the play's funny moments.

As amazing as the show was, I was dedicated to my task- following the book in case an actor needed a line. Sure, I was a little scared that someone would slip up. After all, the show was still in previews. Should someone need a line, I was there to deliver it. Thinking that such a moment could occur put me in a slight, state of panic, because suddenly, all eyes (or ears for that matter) would be on an unknown, volunteer who had never done this before. Truth!

The show was going smoothly. It was well into the final act, and I was comforted in seeing that there were only about 15 pages to go before the end of the play. No one needed a line. I don't want to give away the story, but there is a wonderful scene between Judas, played by Sam Rockwell, and Jesus, played by John Ortiz. It was one of those moments in the theater, where you couldn't take your eyes off the stage. Two amazing actors living the beautifully written words on the page. My attention was distracted by a flicker from my flashlight. “Oh no! Dear God No!”, I screamed in my mind. My light kept flickering, becoming dimmer, and dimmer, and dimmer, until....OUT!

No problem. I'm resourceful. I went into MacGyver mode. Where in a dark theater can you find a light source on the fly? Why, on those lights near the aisle that help guide you or the ushers to the row you are sitting in, when you come back from the lobby or the bathroom. Of course! So I'm scrambling on the ground, ass in the air, looking like a fool. I had the script up against the dim light that barely illuminated the letter of the row I was sitting in. Sure enough, as I'm trying to find my place on the page with the dimmest of lights, Sam Rockwell calls “LINE!”

SHIT! NOOOOOOO! I broke out into a crazy sweat. Sam calls for his line again. I couldn't see a thing. I'm smacking the flashlight. I don't recall how long the silence was for, but I was propelled to throw out some improvised lines, hoping that they would help trigger the correct lines. Eventually the stage manager called out the correct lines from the booth and the play proceeded with no further problems.

I did not want to look at anyone once the lights came up, let alone run into Philip. The stage manager came up to me afterward and asked what happened. I explained about the flashlight, and she was really nice about whole thing.

Months later, at the Celebrity Charades event, where Philip's team won again, I walked up to him and introduced myself. He was so generous. I'll never forget what he said when I told him that I've been volunteering for some time and how I loved it. He said “Yeah man! I've seen you around. Thanks so much for your help. Angel. Right?” “Uh, yeah,” I replied. Mind you, I had a few tequila shots in me, so I decided to tell him about the flashlight incident during the preview of “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot”. He just laughed it off, put his arm on my shoulder and said “Really, thanks for all of your work.'' That was last time I had any contact with him.

A year later I moved to L.A. The only way I kept up with the company news, members, and my friends was via the emails and social media.

I replayed that whole experience once the news of his passing was relayed to me. I thought about how my friends who knew him well and worked closely with him must have felt; the pain they were going through. I thought about the family he left behind. I thought about how so many people would begin to judge, without understanding or knowing the pain and disease of addiction.

Philip inspired so many actors by being so bold in creating memorable characters on stage and film. I don't want to go on listing every role, but I think it's safe to say that every character he created was amazing. My cousin and I recently had a conversation about his work. Our favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman character that he portrayed: All of them!

Gone to soon. May you inspire more souls on your new journey.