Sunday, April 30, 2017

Can your socioeconomic status influence how much of a creative life you lead?

Recently, I posted an article about the creative rut or funk or however you like to call those periods of real heavy UN-creativity.

By the end of the article it got me to thinking. Can our own personal AGI or GDP, or, to simplify my attempts at sounding complex, that bottom line on your paycheck on Friday, affect how artistic we are as individuals?


If tomatoes, eggs or rocks aren't thrown at me on the street for this post, I'm certain my wife will have something to say about my balls insanity. Speaking of. If you know any awesome therapists in the Philly area shoot me an email along with death threats at

Point is, some may view the following words as a political view but let's nip that in the bud right from jump street. No way, no how am I ever attempting to ever be political in any way. It's just bad for business. Everyone's a potential client and publicly leaning one way or another quickly eliminates half of the potential leads. Shit. Having said that, Isn't that what makes for great politicians? Hmmm.

In this big thing that's been going on under the brand of Michael Anthony Murphy :: Productions, be it still or motion photography and/or literary works in blog or other forms, being transparent is, for lack of a better terminology, a moral trait that I hold close to my heart.

While being transparent with a sprinkling of cocky opinion, I'm sure without knowing, some of my works may leak into the kitchen of political rhetoric without such intentions.

Call that a disclaimer if you will. Or don't and call me what you like. Just don't call me Shirley.

How Many Starving Artists Are There Really?

An old friend of mine Tom DellaPenna was, to me, the real starving artist of our social circles. When not painting along side of his partner in crime, Perry Milou, in Rittenhouse Square, Tommy would come down to Roosevelt's Pub, where I spent over a decade tending bar.

He was a chill as they come. Now if that was the pints of Yuengling or the one hitter that he coughed on before walking in, Dellapenna was always a pleasure to hang out and shoot the breeze with.

With his unfreshly shaven skull, Tommy would come in every day, yes, everyday, with the same outfit on; paint spattered black tee and equally splashed and smeared denim.

His day job, besides chillin' of course, was hustling in the park. His work is brilliantly colorful and psychedelic. Imagine Salvador Dali's and Norman Rockwell's brains pureed on high into one wild mass. Gross. I know.

Now, as fantastic as his works were (still are), I didn't think he was selling them 7 days a week.

Times had to be tough for that brilliant mind, right? Fuck no.

Yo, my homey lived in an awesome Rittenhouse Square apartment with big time family means at his back in case that brush hit the cement.

That means that Tommy had a bit of cushion to allow for him to sit back and follow his heart; create. And you know what? Back then I may have been a hater as I was schlepping behind the bar for 16 hours at a pop but today my hat's off to him.

But a starving artist? No Fucking way.

There's Got To Be Some True Starving Artists Out There Somewhere, Right? 

The geniuses that ended up addicted to the needle won't apply to this stuff. So, well, theres' that.

[Last Post] getting lost in my own words as per usual (a good thing), I ended up writing about how healthy eating and living, while obviously making you feel alert and energetic, also helps stir up those creative juices.

Also mention was how appalling it is to see families at the grocery store with carts overflowing in cookies and potato chips. That same family that just left Taco Bell of course.

Let's Examine That For A Moment

While there are some people that are just purely sloven with their diets and typically their health, no matter which rung on that socioeconomic ladder they stand, there are many that may be, in some ways, forced into this type of lifestyle.

The Impoverished

Lemme begin this section by stating that my no means is this a way for the underprivileged to make excuses for their situation. No no no. Quite the opposite. Call it a wake up call. A take a look in the mirror moment. A your shit is broke, go fix it moment.

I suppose we'd call it the lower or middle working class? Who knows. So many divisions and subdivisions. Doesn't matter. Let's just call it the class that requires some sorts of government assistance to survive.

Besides the food addict that just can't live without their Oreos, you know what all of those processed and junk foods have in common? They're cheap. When the Benjamins are scarce, a mother has got to fill her childrens' bellies one way or another.

McDonald's is cheap. Spaghetti-Os are cheap. Tastykakes are cheap. I get it. Sort of.

True story. Back in the early Fidel Castro days of Cuba, people did what they could to keep their bellies full. Couldn't afford cheese to put on a pizza? How about melting old condoms as a replacement? True story.

Like I said, to some degree I get it. There must be some degree of ignorance mixed in here with pure desperation.

A seagull may have a full belly from eating plastic bottles but he will still die from starvation.

Catch my drift?

Taco-Bell may satisfy you here and now but long term, due to garbage ingredients, that struggling family will put themselves in harm's way.

Talk about a wild and crazy celestial digression but while still hanging somewhere in the same solar system. Jeez.

How Does This All Relate To Creative Success?

People live on that shit. Right? Right. But it's about creativity. Look, when you eat an entire pack of Oreo Double Stuff cookies, two sleeve action, you feel soooo happy. And then there's the sugar crash. And then you eat more garbage. Maybe you counter the sweetness with a bag of Cheese Curls. But the bag says "baked" you say? Great. Baked what? Baked used condoms? FML.

Wash it all down with some cola, made of who knows what and who knows where? Mountain Dew? I mean come on?! I would never in a million years put anything in my body that looks like it glows in the dark. And that goes for you too Gatorade. Well, unless I'm hungover.

It's just all gonna make you feel like shit people. And when you feel like shit, you aren't going to want to think or act creatively. And we aren't even talking about the adverse effects that will also come knocking.

Hear that Mr. Softee truck coming down your street right now? Throw a fucking rock at him. ¡Libertad!

So Only The Well Endowed Can Enjoy A Creative Life?

Get your mind out of the gutter people. Well endowed simply means having plenty of a resource.

The answer is no. The answer is education. Those many of meager earnings need to learn that they are doing more harm than good to themselves and their children. More doesn't necessarily mean better. It's like that old saying about (shitty) Chinese food. Something about eating now and being hungry again in an hour. Shitty parenthesized since there is really really good Chinese food out there if you know where to look.

Healthy Foods Cost More But . . . 

Rather than an overflowing shopping cart of Pop-Tarts and Cocoa Pebbles, generic even, try swapping all of that for more natural and healthier products. I bet that cart would be over half full and would keep family satisfied for longer periods of time and most importantly, make everyone feel better and bam, creative juices start flowing. Flowing like cool water over rocks in a stream rather than sludge through a clogged pipe in a shit factory.

The Proof Is In The Pudding (pun totally intended)

Boy oh boy, when I slack off on dieting I feel immediate effects on my creative output. And that's just me being out of town for a couple days and having to have some of that shitty won-ton soup in some restaurant owned by an Chinese American that's more Americanized than me.

I could not even begin to imagine waking up every single day to something like this ::

Breakfast - Pop-Tarts or Fruity Pebbles or Donuts

Lunch - Some nitrate filled processed meat sandwich or Burger King or Taco Bell or Domino's

Dinner - Pizza Hut or McDonald's or frozen dinner or KFC

Snack - Cheese Curls or Ice Cream

Are You Guilty?

We are all human. I understand. Screwing up once in a blue moon is ok. Shhhheeeiiitttt, I love me some Ben and Jerry's. Those dudes have not cost me my creative career.

On the other hand, it's the eating like that "chart" day in and day out that will rob you of our creative soul and eventually your health and wellness. Because when you feel like shit all the time, you're just gonna feel like shit all the time. And who wants to be creative or productive in any way when you don't feel awesome.

Exceptions To The Rule?

Of course. There's certainly both well educated needy individuals that eat like champions and have the healthiest of right brain activity. On the flip, there's certainly someone on their couch right now, powder from their jelly donuts all over their face and shirt, without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, about to knock ours, and the entire world's socks off with the genius that is about to be spilled from between their ears.

On the flip of that flip. 

Are there those that just don't give a rat's ass? Or is the poor diet causing the shitty attitude because they feel so bad all the time?

On the flip cubed? 

If that same person hasn't fallen down that rabbit hole just yet and there's still hope, why not use every tool at their disposal? See what happens. Who knows?

But Enough About Diet

I know. I thought this article would be wrapping by now too. Take a break. Come back tomorrow. You won't hurt my feelings. Just be sure to finish it all at some point. Damn, it may even be better for my stats. So I encourage. coming back. Ten times if you must. lol.

While I believe diet to be a big variable in helping the lower working class to achieve a healthier creative balance in life, I believe there are a couple other factors that may be more difficult to advocate change.

First and foremost is stress. Certainly dietary changes can help alleviate symptoms but I totally think that stressors like job and/or bills can certainly be huge sucks on anyone that thinks or thought they had some artistic talent somewhere in those tired bones.

Let's call him Mr. Dobalina, Mr. Bob Dobalina.
Bob wakes up at 4 am each morning. Today, it's February and while waiting for the shower to warm, he wonders if the electric bill has been paid. As he sighs in relief when the temperature begins to rise, Mr. Dobalina skips washing his hair in hopes that he can stretch the shampoo for another week or so. Shaving is down to once a week because blades are just so expensive these days. Warm water will have to suffice as a substitute for shaving cream. After putting on long Johns and tying up those hardened brown work boots with soles that resemble racing slicks, Bob heads down the hall to kiss his sleeping wife and child on their foreheads. For breakfast that he's obviously gonna take for the road is a Tastykake lemon pie. about a 75¢ retail price at the local bodega. He bundles up and heads out into the bitter cold and onto the street where his 1981 f-150 is parked. Sitting on the cold vinyl seats, Bob sees his breath before his eyes. It's cold. He looks over to his front door before closing his eyes and praying the engine doesn't fail, one split second before he reaches to turn the key in the ignition. The car starts. The engine light is on but it's been on for weeks. The gas light is on too but that just popped on last night and it's only a 4 mile ride to the job site and if his calculations are right, he should be able to make it to work and back until this Friday; payday.
It's about 6 pm and Bob has just pulled back onto the street. Daylight has come and gone. He's holding between his cracked fingers his paycheck that he received a few days early; his last. Bob's lip quivers as he gasps for a breath as a tear slowly walks its way down his face. Rent is already over 30 days in the rears. And this gig, strenuous but solid work, had come to an end as the project completed on schedule. The problem is that it may have run out too fast for Bob as he was hired midway through. Unemployment compensation is unknown at the moment. He cuts the engine to reserve gas and stares blankly for what seemed like an eternity before heading up to the front door. Mr. Dobalina kicks off those crusted up and muddy boots before entering the house. The baby's already sleeping in the playpen. Walking lightly past the baby and by the old tube television set, Bob enters the kitchen. Greased stained and curled up linoleum flooring is what their table, her mother's, rests upon. Bob throws his coat over the back of his chair with his eyes unable to connect to his wife's as she sits staring intently at Bob, waiting for him to sit down. Like a boxer at the end of Round 9 onto his corner stool, Bob falls onto his seat. Delightfully it's that leftover meatloaf that he loved so much on Sunday and knew he'd be able to enjoy through half of the week at best. Squirting the last few drops of ketchup from the flatulent bottle, he looks to the left of his plate and sees the words "Notice of Eviction." That reality doesn't set immediately and like the stages of death, he goes through all seven from first bite to lights out; detail to acceptance. 
I just couldn't figure out another way to describe this part while still keeping your attention.

Again, am I making excuses for those in bad situations? Fuck no. This is a user manual to rise above. Always has been, one way or another. BUT, in Bob's case and so so many just like him, I get it.

That's one big creative roadblock.

At what point in his days does he have to be completely stress free? His dreams are probably fucked too. Trust me. Don't laugh.

In this and similar instances, if people like Bob are trying to get creative, if for nothing more than a release or long overdue break from the daily grind, it's gotta be case specific. What may or may not work for Mr. Bob Dobalina may or may not work for Bobby Magee.

Either way, there is a way. Whether someone like Bob wants to write poetry or play piano, be photographer or a tap dancer, there is a way. Baby steps if need be. It's ok. Maybe skip that lunch break to work on what's burning inside of you.

Because maybe better to work on that burning desire with an empty stomach rather than work on the heartburn and bloated belly from that Buffalo fried chicken.

Just saying.

Summarization (Sorta)

 Here's a quick tip if you are just a total fucking dolt when it comes to making healthy choices in the supermarket :: Stay to the outer perimeter of the store, for the most part. Against the first wall you are typically led into is fruits and veggies. The back wall is often fresh proteins. And that far wall is your dairy and such. Along all the aisles is a lot of garbage. That's where you find yourself lost in a wonderland of junk. Stay away. Ok. Maybe that's impossible because you gotta buy TP and rice and stuff but just be conscious of that fact that the feel good creative fuels are along the bricks.

Now who are these to carefree humans on the bikes you may be asking yourself? This couple living in a seemingly Utopian existence? They just might be our examples of the other end of that socioeconomic spectrum.

If you want to learn more about that side and how their right brains function, well, like it or not, it may be a follow up post. Time will tell.

Until next time . . .