On Tony Scott

In the mid 1980’s, how I’m not exactly sure, my parents began befriending the film maker Tony Scott. During that era it was no surprise really as they were on the A list of the Hollywood Social Elite. But Tony was different – he was into fast cars and fast women, was fresh off the heels of the uber blockbuster Top Gun and had an overall tough guy demeanor that at first made him an odd fit to be friends with my parents. Stranger things have happened I guess. At that time, Tony lived on Angelo Dr about one mile up from our house in Benedict Canyon. Thus began a neighborly and family based friendship that lasted many many years.

As the years went on it became really noticeable that Tony’s tough guy englishman bulldog exterior was really an act. It was a device he used to craft a persona that allowed him to direct movies that has his unique stamp of action, intrigue and thrills. But that wasn’t really him on the inside. Once you got to know him he was a soft, sweet and gentle as any man you’d ever know. He also was the hardest worker you’d ever seen. No matter how late the night went he’d always get up at 6 am for his morning jog and then to the office or studio to either plan his next film or to make his current one.

In 1988 my parents clearly (and wisely) noticed that I could use a stable person in my life to be there no matter what happened so they made Tony and his then girlfriend Tania my godparents. It was incredibly sweet. Upon the night of the celebration of that event Tony gave me a VHS camcorder in hopes of my one day becoming a film maker. That didn’t happen obviously but I’ll never forget it. And on my sixteenth birthday Tony gave me the money to buy my first car – the beloved ’72 VW Bus. By the time I was seventeen the bus was such a disaster of a lemon that he went out and got me a super cool ’81 Jeep CJ7. It wasn’t so much about material things as it was about him doing things that my parents could not do and about unsurpassed generosity. Looking back on it, the car thing was funny. He knew my VW Bus was going to be a disaster, the Jeep was his tongue in cheek way of saying “i told you so.”

When I was about sixteen I took an interest in Tony’s films and became mesmerized that my godfather was this gigantic Hollywood movie director. Over the years I was so thrilled to get to visit the sets of The Last Boy Scout, Crimson Tide and others. It was such a thrill to see how it all worked. While I eventually became pretty far away from Hollywood in my adult life those days left an indelible mark on me that reinforced how great Hollywood could be when someone focussed on their craft and not trying to be famous. Tony was a craftsman through and through. His attention to detail was impeccable. So much so that he even did his own story boards for his films. Unheard of.

In the middle of all of this Tony and Tania really became our family. During Tony’s morning runs, he would venture a mile down to our house and drop off his dog “Little T” to play with our dog “Bo” for the day. This was a regular routine that went on for years until Tony moved from Angelo Drive. Eventually, Tony and Tania split and Tony met his soon to be wife Donna. Donna was a sizzling hot blonde hair blue eyed Southern Girl from North Carolina who pretty much became my teenage friends wet dream. She was sweet, down home, funny and did I mention hot? As close as we were with Tania the transition into Tony and Donna was rather seamless. The family continued. For years my parents and I hung out with them in Benedict Canyon and also down at the Scott’s beach house in Malibu. As I got older, I took notice that Tony wasn’t a counter-culture guy and Timmy wasn’t an action film guy. It was an odd couple relationship. Yet the friendship between them was genuine and pure.

In the summer of 1992 my mom and my dad split which left me in shock and my dad to fend for himself. I don’t think many people are aware of how much Tony Scott actually helped Timmy. From ’93 to ’96 Tony and Donna really became our go to friends that could help take care of Timmy as he was getting sicker. To make a long story short – Timmy’s death would have been a very very different situation if it weren’t for the kindness and generosity that Tony gave to us. He allowed Timmy to die at home with grace and dignity.

Additionally the bond between the Scott’s and Leary’s was so strong that to this day the executors of the Timothy Leary trust are Donna Scott and Denis Berry, a beautiful soul who came to us also through Tony’s kindness.

I could go on and on with endless stories about Tony’s laughter, dinners at Mr. Chows, Hollywood mischief, his generosity, and his friendship. Early on his guidance to me was so strong and palatable. Perhaps I wasn’t the best godson but I’ll never forget Tony. While we weren’t part of each other’s day to day lives in recent years the Scott’s will always be part of my family. I really wanted to write this post to let the world know the impact that this beautiful man had on my families life. Opposites perhaps, but good souls to the end.

He leaves behind his beautiful wife Donna and their two sons Frank and Max. Tony’s legacy will be one of legend. They don’t make them like that too often. I love you Tony and godspeed. Thank you for everything you did. You changed my life for the better.

Honoring your incarnation

Recently I was visiting a friend who is a pretty spiritual guy and we got into a very interesting conversation about his homosexuality. After some back and forth on the topic we both landed with a sense of mutual agreement that the most natural and pure way to relate with that is to honor it. Obviously. We continued talking about “labels” or supposed “conditions” that society says makes us different from the norm. For me, my label is being an “addict.”

When one is caught in the trap of being a using addict it usually carries with it many selfish and destructive behaviors that wreak havoc upon oneself and the people around him or her. It’s like being caught in an ego driven vortex that convinces ones brain to seek pleasure no matter the cost. It’s a very difficult game to play and a very difficult trap to escape. Because of the way that certain addictions alter the chemical landscape of the brain so then does the consciousness of the individual also begin to get altered. This comes in the form of rationalization and an altered perception that there are valid reasons to continue the damage that you are doing. For me, it was substance abuse. For other it can be things like food, sex or gambling.

So strong is the pull from the material world to seek pleasures that take us outside of the love for God that when combined with ones physiological incarnation that favors these escapes, the result can be deadly. And to make matters even more complex the mind can deceive you and tell you that this road of destruction is actually fun. That’s the perverse part and always the most complex. The mind is a great place to hang out and I’ve always admired it’s capacity but when it deceives you it causes one to take radical notice. Being an intellectual one learns to love the thoughts that are going on in between the ears, as sometimes you can recognize that good things are happening in there. Cognitive capacity and the innate ability to view subtle layers of consciousness is a good thing when in balance with the spiritual world. But when off balance and being fueled by the ego, the mind can play games when it’s in the the throws of something like active addiction.

After some consideration and lots of “work” I feel our incarnations are hard wired to be the way they are. Some say there are karma’s being worked out in this lifetime and that’s what’s going on with us and some say it’s hard wired into our DNA. Either way, it results in some of us being gay and some of being addicts and some of us being depressed. These are not all conditions clearly, but they are all unique manifestations of our roles here on earth at this time. No matter what it is that is happening to you or whatever karmic residue you’ve taken on it’s important to embrace it all – to truly honor your incarnation.

In the world of recovery from addiction I’ve always find it to be such messy business when someone shuns their addiction and refuses to call themselves and an addict or alcoholic if they truly are such. As if it’s a negative endorsement of something rotten. Instead when you fully embrace the hand you are dealt you can be free of it’s negative forces and just look at in the mirror as something beautiful. As Ram Dass would likely say “I’m an addict. Isn’t that far out?” Immediately that frees you from having to play the games associated with it. You bear witness to the label and then proceed on the work that it takes to shed yourself from the behavior that is attached to the negative realms of the label. Until you are in full admission of these samaskaras you can’t alter your consciousness and thus your incarnation. Everything that has happened to you has most likely happened because it’s meant to show you something that you need to work on.

In extreme cases, this is a difficult discussion to have with someone who say has lost a loved one or that has a child with a life long medical condition. It’s so hard to embrace the sudden ebbs and flows of existence when it effects us in such a profound and sad way. Why is this happening to me we might always ask? And that is perfectly valid. However, we might instead consider the realization is that it’s just happening and the “I” happens to have a front row seat. Since the dawn of time there has been disease, death and destruction. In our modern, very hyper-aware, society we have an idea that these things are “bad” because they disrupt the attachment to how we want things to be. Naturally, it feels good to have a love one be around for as long as possible. Spiritual work prepares us for when our projection of how the world should be gets suddenly altered in a way that is not to our liking.

I remember when I was suffering in the bottom depths of my addiction I would often ask myself “how could this be happening to me?” or “what did I do to deserve this?”. At the core of addiction is a self centered basis of thought patterns that create the reality that it’s all about you. The personal pro-noun becomes self centered. It’s about the “me” or the “I”. That’s very different than it being about the “self.” Self inquiry will reveal that addiction is something that lives inside of some people for a variety of reasons. Spiritual people have their views of the spiritual malady that lives inside of an addict while scientific people have the view that addiction is purely bio-chemical in nature. No matter the addiction somewhere, possibly in-between, is where the truth lies. I personally don’t always take the sensitive route that other influences create the addiction. Things like abuse or parental manipulation certainly help open the door ways but they alone are not responsible.

This is where course-correction comes in. With conditions like this I personally feel it’s a great relief to honor my incarnation and shout from the mountain top “I AM AN ADDICT.” When that happens, and only then, can the process of course correction begin. Classic recovery stuff – admission turns into honesty turns into willingness turns into recovery. Merging spiritual discourse into this becomes inseparable and utterly important. It is the will of the divine to make us realize that indeed we are truly whole, complete, healthy and beautiful. It’s all of our thoughts that take us away from this. Even when hard-wired to feel less than and to destroy our lives the ability to recovery and know you are love is still possible. To not honor our incarnation and to deal with the things that are holding us back or our causing pain is not holding up your end of the bargain. The divine is giving us the answers all the time and if we don’t choose to accept them then that’s up to us.

All of this takes work. I certainly am not free of all addictive patterns and behaviors. The work is difficult and painful and often results in taking our will back. Relapse is simply that – it’s taking your will back. Honoring your incarnation will reveal that whatever the situation is it’s far out, it’s a game, it’s a test that is being presented.