Viewing: Superheroes - View All Posts


When I was young and asking the big questions, I learned most of what I still believe about loyalty, bravery and morality from the Silver Age superheroes in my comic book collection.


For real.


In later years I would travel internationally, study world religions, read classic works of philosophy and ethics, and even pay attention to my father's many lectures. I went to private school, public school, boarding school and the school of hard knocks. I'm an educated cat.


But to this day, when the world tests my mettle or challenges my sense of right and wrong, it's not Spinoza but my inner Green Lantern who shows up for the fight.


I've always been impressionable in this way. 


For example, I'm pretty sure I have a goatee because of the way Spock looked in "Mirror, Mirror." I know I started wearing dashikis in high school because of a picture I saw of Elvin Jones in Downbeat. I sport a beret on stage because Dizzy did.


Today, while watching Highlander for the godzillionth time, I noticed something about Christopher Lambert's home. Like so many characters in films of the 1980s and '90s, The Highlander lived in a loft.


It now occurs to me that my interior design preferences and bone-deep love of warehouse loft spaces and mid-century modern furniture are not based on anywhere I've lived or anything I've seen or studied. They don't reflect some sophisticated notion about the aesthetic requirements of an artist's life. They aren't because I need space to rehearse and create.


Nope. I learned about loft living from the movies. Dig: 


William Sanderson in Blade Runner (1982). Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (83). Lambert in Highlander (86). Barbara Hershey in Hannah and Her Sisters (86). Mickey Rourke in 9-1/2 Weeks (86). Tom Hanks in Big (88). Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (89). Rosanna Arquette in New York Stories (89). Nancy Travis in So I Married An Axe Murderer (93). James Caan in Bottle Rocket (96). Ethan Hawke in Great Expectations (98). Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski (98). Adam Sandler in Big Daddy (99). Christian Bale in American Psycho (00). Owen Wilson in Zoolander (01). Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful (02).


I want their cribs!


Thanks, Hollywood.


(Sure hope this flugelhorn thing works out.)


"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 

To serve your turn long after they are gone, 

And so hold on when there is nothing in you 

Except the will which says to them: hold on..."

—Rudyard Kipling


"Your will turns thought into reality. 

You must learn to focus your will and 

create what you see in your mind. 

The limits are only what you can imagine."



"The man who is to be great is the one who can be 

the most solitary, the most hidden, the most deviant, 

the man beyond good and evil, lord of his virtues, 

a man lavishly endowed with will."

—Friedrich Nietzsche

SECOND LOOK — Batman, the Animated Series 

This week is the 20th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, which aired on American television from September 1992 to '95.

If you've never seen the series, do yourself a solid and check out an episode or two from Netflix.

For fans, this incarnation of Batman achieved what the movies have not: it strikes the right balance between the fanciful, kid-friendly hero of the silver age comics and the brutal vigilante of Frank Miller's dark world.

For everyone else (even those who may have already reached their superhero saturation limit), the series has other virtues. You'll appreciate the vintage radio drama storytelling style, film noir visuals ("dark deco" art direction by Bruce Timm) and Shirley Walker's excellent orchestral score.

One of those rare moments when pop culture is worth a second look.


"A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses;
it is an idea that possesses the mind."
—Robert Oxton Bolt

"For those who believe, no proof is necessary.
For those who don't believe, no proof is possible."
—Stuart Chase

"The world is divided into two classes:
those who believe the incredible,
and those who do the improbable."
—Oscar Wilde


A man with the unique ability to create — out of pure energy — literally anything he thinks of!

Whether he chooses to be creative or destructive, the only limits are his own willpower and imagination.

How to ruin the brilliant concept that made this unconventional hero so great?

Have him carry the most banal, conventional weapon there is.

Give him a gun.


"What really raises one's indignation against suffering
is not suffering intrinsically, but the
senselessness of suffering."
—Friedrich Nietzsche

"A sad soul can kill you quicker,
far quicker, than a germ."
—John Steinbeck

"It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.'
I do not agree.  The wounds remain.
In time, the mind, protecting its sanity,
covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens.
But it is never gone."
—Rose Kennedy

"When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good
must suffer with him."

"Although the world is full of suffering,
it is also full of overcoming it."
—Helen Keller

"The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create,
to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and
to be greater than our suffering."
—Ben Okri

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars."
—Kahlil Gibran


When I begin to feel frustrated by encroaching banality and mediocrity,
it often helps to contemplate those heroic figures who inspire.
Here are some of them:

William Adama
Douglas Adams
Josef Albers
Muhammad Ali
Louis Armstrong
Paul Atreides
Johann Sebastian Bach
Burt Bacharach
Chet Baker
Maria Bamford
The Batman
Ludwig van Beethoven
Bill Bell
Irving Berlin
Leonard Bernstein

Wendell Berry
Brian Blade
Eubie Blake
James Bond
Anthony Bourdain
Lester Bowie
Ray Bradbury
Johannes Brahms
Clifford Brown
James Brown
Joseph Campbell
George Carlin
Hoagy Carmichael
Carmine Caruso
Johnny Cash
Tony Cennamo
Marc Chagall
Raymond Chandler
Don Cheadle
Doc Cheatham
Louis CK
Patsy Cline
Jimmy Cobb
Leonard Cohen
Ornette Coleman
John Coltrane
Frank Columbo
Sarah Connor
Paolo Conte
Silvio Dante
Dave the Philosopher
Miles Davis
Philip K. Dick
Emily Dickinson
Eihei Dogen
Nick Drake
Tyler Durden
Lawrence Durrell
Clint Eastwood
Harry "Sweets" Edison
T. S. Eliot
Duke Ellington
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bill Evans
Art Farmer
Felix the Cat
Boba Fett
Atticus Finch
Ella Fitzgerald
Aretha Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Lester Freamon
Morgan Freeman
Robert Frost
Hal Galper
Mohandas Gandhi
Paul Gauguin
Marvin Gaye
Theodor Seuss Geisel
Stan Getz
Kahlil Gibran
Raylan Givens
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Darrell Grant
Green Lantern
Christopher Guest
Charlie Haden
Herbie Hancock
Harold (& The Purple Crayon)
Tom Harrell
Robert A. Heinlein
Ernest Hemingway
Joe Henderson
Jimi Hendrix
Bernard Herrmann
Bill Hicks
Alfred Hitchcock
Hit Girl
Billie Holiday
Lena Horne
Aldous Huxley
William James
Keith Jarrett
Quincy Jones
James Joyce
Will Kane
Orrin Keepnews
John F. Kennedy
Jack Kerouac
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Evel Knievel
Ray Kurzweil
Tyrion Lannister
Bruce Lee
Stan Lee
John Lennon
Abbey Lincoln
Booker Little
David Lynch
Joseph Maddy
Gustav Mahler
Louis Malle
Nelson Mandela
Thomas Mann
Frank Marocco
Marc Maron
Abraham Maslow
Bill Matheny
Henri Matisse
Carson McCullers
Mr. McFeely
Marian McPartland
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Arthur Miller
Henry Miller
Bryan Mills
Joni Mitchell
Thelonious Monk
James Moody
Eddie Muller
Gerry Mulligan
Will Munny
Anne-Sophie Mutter
Willie Nelson
Pablo Neruda
Mary Oliver
Charlie Parker
Sam Pate
Nicholas Payton
Astor Piazolla
Pablo Picasso
Herb Pomeroy
Alexander Pushkin
Samuel Ramey
Christopher Reeve
Rainer Maria Rilke
James Rockford
Gene Roddenberry
Will Rogers
Sonny Rollins
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Mark Rothko
Bertrand Russell
Lisbeth Salander

May Sarton
Lalo Schifrin
Maurice Sendak
Rod Serling
Woody Shaw
Jack Sheldon
Wayne Shorter
Frank Sinatra
Derek Sivers
Allen Smith
Mr. Spock
Mary Stallings
Wallace Stevens
Detective Mike Stone
Igor Stravinsky
Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III
Shunryu Suzuki
Andrei Tarkovsky
Donna Tartt
Clark Terry
Henry David Thoreau
J. R. R. Tolkien
Leo Tolstoy
Desmond Tutu
Mark Twain
Lao Tzu
Morihei Ueshiba
John Updike
Vincent Van Gogh
Ack Van Rooyen
Kurt Vonnegut
Tom Waits
Ben Webster
Simone Weil
Orson Welles
Kenny Werner
Kenny Wheeler
Walt Whitman
Oscar Wilde
Nancy Wilson
Stevie Wonder
Lester Young


Happy 50th Anniversary to the Incredible Hulk, the Amazing Spider-Man,
the Mighty Thor and the Invincible Iron Man, all created in 1962
by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers,
Don Heck and Larry Lieber.

You four were among my favorite babysitters when I was a kid.
I never dreamed you'd all become movie stars in my adulthood!

Good for you.