FAT

So…the American Medical Association has decided to regard obesity as a…DISEASE? Yup. I’ve gotta a few thoughts about this. Color me cynical but I generally find validity in the premise: Follow The Money.

One THIRD of Americans are considered obese. Goddamn. I don’t question that statistic…I just question how that came to be. In the entire kingdom of life, obesity is a rarity. Apart from zoos or pets, the vast majority of living beings are NOT obese…primarily (I think) because basic survival demands SO much effort. Even among humanity today, starvation is a reality; MILLIONS of people actually starve to death each year. In the history of man, this is a pretty new phenomenon, such abundance. I attribute it to several factors.

1. Food is grown for quantity yield. Feed The World. Seeds are genetically modified to survive, to resist pesticides and insects.
2. Corporations (fast food) are dedicated (profit-based) to provide substance – not nutrition.
3. Additives make food store-able, visually enticing and acceptable but not nutritious. High fructose corn syrup is subsidized, used universally and is a major contributor to obesity.
4. Households (40% working mothers) have little time today to prepare traditional meals – so they buy fast food or processed frozen foods.
5. Labeling obesity as a disease means the obese now qualify for governmental assistance and health care under Obamacare. Cha ching! More lap band surgery, more diet pills, more pharmaceutical welfare.
6. Follow The Money. There is no profit in curing ANYTHING. But there is always profit in treatment…for a condition that is hardly a disease, any more than greed or self-indulgence is a disease. It’s just endemic.

The vast majority of humanity will be very quickly cured, once our shit breaks down. And it will. It’s just a question of time. And we’ll revert to our historic norm of human survival. But I regard this AMA decision as a canary in the mine shaft. Something toxic is afoot.

AMA, shame on you mercenary dickwads. Yeah, I see the profit motive. Wasn’t your fundamental premise: First do no harm? “Boy oh boy, let’s call obesity “a disease”. Then we can exploit the public tit.”

I love titties. They are sexual play-pretties. But I don’t regard their bounty as bottomless. You can only push a metaphor so far.

LIKE MIKE

I commented recently on my filming experience of LIKE MIKE, noting that I’d been essentially cut out of the film yet made a boat load of money and enjoyed a full screen credit at the films end. Here’s what happened.

LIKE MIKE is a charming fantasy about an orphan in a Dickensian orphanage (Lil Bow Wow…he’s now grown and known just as Bow Wow:) who finds a pair of magical tennis shoes with the initials M.J. And he becomes a phenom, a 14 year old that makes his way to the NBA and gets to compete with his athletic idols. (Bow Wow had serious basketball skills but CGI Special Effects made him a legitimate NBA player. )

The star of the team is played by Morris Chestnut, a talented but troubled young man, estranged from his father (me.) Bow Wow says, “Wow, I’d do anything to have a father. You got one and you don’t even talk to him?” He conspires to bring us together for reconciliation.

The film producers didn’t want to pay my daily quote (then $2500) but said they only needed me for a couple days of shooting and would guarantee me three days at $1250 daily. I was available and thought it might be fun so I agreed. I reported to the set, met everyone, including David Robinson (The Admiral) and a few other NBA stars at that time but I wasn’t used on camera that day…or the next day.

And then the production moved on to Texas…and then Florida…and then New York…and on and on. Understand, once I had begun work, they owed me $1250 a day, five days a week until I completed filming. I was giddy. Weeks passed, they traveled here and there and every single day, for Tucker – cha ching! Yeah, sometimes it be that way in this silly profession.

So eventually they returned to Los Angeles and told me to report to the set, at The Forum as I recall. I’ve done nothing for A MONTH…yet my coffers are chubby.

Now this was a story that involved a young black man (Morris Chestnut) growing up without a relationship with his father. I was mindful that many young black kids have had that misfortune; I thought this was an important social issue that deserved an honest portrayal. So with the directors permission, Morris and I improvised our scenes together; our meeting after some years apart and our ultimate reconciliation. They were good scenes, they were honest and heartfelt. And they were entirely out of step with this lighthearted fantasy about a teenager with magical basketball shoes.

So when the film was finally edited and I attended the screening for cast and crew, I discovered that each time I entered any scene, the scene came to a screeching halt!

Very, very little of our earnest work survived final cut, essentially because our scenes belonged in some other movie. Yet at the films end, there appeared a full screen frozen image of me. The caption: Starring Tucker Smallwood. My billing had been negotiated, I was a film lead, the producers had no choice. But I’m sure an awful lot of viewers came out wondering, “Who in the hell was Tucker Smallwood in this film? I don’t remember him.”

Understandably 🙂 So it goes.

STRIPPERS

Last nite I watched MAGIC MIKE. I think Channing Tatum is at the head of his class of young leads, an amazing dancer and an actor with real range. No bromance here, tho I do enjoy any work from Soderbergh.

I was particularly interested in this film because of my own involvement, back in FOR LADIES ONLY, an NBC MOW back in 1981 that starred Gregory Harrison, a heartthrob from his time -Trapper John. 30 years later, its interesting to observe the relative progression of sexuality in media, tho my project was TV and this is film. There are a few themes that are straight lifts from my past project, like the newbie dancer going out on stage and discovering his appeal to women.

I remember filming in Atlanta, going out to a real strip club there and performing a couple of dances. I’m sure I was the only one to apply Stella’s guidance regarding character preparation. I think I still have a roll of sweaty singles somewhere, $38 earned that night the hard way… The women were so much fun, their vibe so very different from that of a gentlemans club. It was less sleazy, rather lighthearted playfulness rather than the overt lust present at male strip clubs. During that project I pretty much lost all of my bashfulness about public nudity…and the women extras displayed overwhelming approval during those two exhausting weeks of filming.

I visited one strip club in NYC before flying down (pre-Giuliani Times Square) and puzzled one bored stripper when I asked, “When are you going to take your clothes off.” She was naked at the time. “What’s your problem? I’m stripped”. I told her I was pretty familiar with a woman’s body, I just wanted some guidance on the titillation process of disrobing. She shook her head in disbelief.

Mathew McConaughey verged on self-parody but he did succeed in pulling off his character, along with his clothes. Given the drool factor I notice from female FB posters, I imagine this film did quite well at Netflix.