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||Jan 10, 2004
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What causes America's mainstream media to fear and try to destroy a group of artists and their work? What happens when such a creative movement grows in strength and threatens media's bottom line? Why would extremists find it necessary to take action against such a colony of artists?
Transcending the headlines today that suggest political and military solutions to world problems, ECHOSIS, working with the premise that “everyone is creative,” presents an eclectic group of characters exercising artistic expression that proves to be a potent weapon against a world populace wishing to function with independence, but feeling impotent in a growing terrorist world.
As such, ECHOSIS questions the value of unbridled imagination and the consequences of its loss.
The story is set in New York City, a remote island off the coast of Maine, the isle of Jamaica, and European locations of Mikonos, Greece and Lisbon, Portugal. Renowned sculptor, thirty-five-year old Derek Turrel, looks at himself and other artists around him, and finds the proliferation of mediocrity in the arts and entertainment world is more than can be ignored any longer.
He sets out to create Echo Life, an independent organization of artists whose primary goal is to empower. He convinces an initial group of artists to join him on an island off the coast of Maine. There, a new paradigm for coping with the world’s chaos is initiated. Realized as an alternative to mainstream media’s offerings, Echo Life’s collective approach and compelling message is realized by millions through satellite TV, radio, streaming video and interactive networking on the Internet. Millions of everyday people as well as professional actors, poets, composers, et al, evolve from being skeptics, to staunch believers in Derek’s philosophy…and themselves.
Seeing Echo Life as a major threat to his bottom line, Stoppard Denning, the founder and CEO of OST, the world's largest media conglomerate, sets out to destroy their existence. Even with a defiant Stoppard Denning beginning to see Echo Life’s merits as an arbiter in a war torn world, freedom of expression once again meets seemingly insurmountable tragic consequences at the hands of extremists.
It was a typical day in Manhattan. Fast, focused, paranoid.
Like any other day, no New Yorker worth his or her weight in hand-cart-hot-dogs was going to let anything obstruct the goals, the interview, the job, the date, the sale, messages, phone calls and the mail. Mail—the kind that gets delivered on foot by a man or a woman—has lost a lot of its edge over the years. If there’s urgency, communicating by e-mail, IM, or cell phone works much better. A letter? That’s to announce something like a death in the family, or a dear-John, or invitations.
But, as if propelled by the urgency of a dying time, another era, post office employees worked habitually, feverishly sorting the heavy bags of letters and packages streaming into the main depot. Occasional brightly colored wrappings suggested the early mailers for the holiday season were out in full force.
Trucks backed in and pulled out of the main loading docks, their bright red, white and blue markings highlighting the “MAIL EARLY—avoid the Christmas Rush!” banners.
Of the fourteen million pieces of mail delivered that day by post, Fed Ex, UPS and an assortment of minor carriers, only twelve were invitations from a remote island off the coast of Maine.
Postmen, some behind the wheels of their mini-trucks, others laboring on their feet in the traditional manner, moved to and from buildings with the precision and swiftness of professionals well conditioned to the fast lane expectations of city dwellers.
One such New Yorker, Simon Greco—a Bogosian-like personality and host of WOZ’s fastest growing Liberal talk show—fingered the envelope with suspicion as he waited out a commercial break. Middle America, as well as both coasts, had embraced his radical approach to “freedom of expression” with unprecedented support, generating unheard of controversy in the process. For two years, he had prophesied the precipitous downward spiral of meaningful and constructive expression in journalism and the arts. The impact of his widely syndicated show was to Broadway, Hollywood, the Art, and Publishing worlds, what Rush Limbaugh’s show was to the apathetic and subservient populace of America. To many in the entertainment, and so-called “business of the arts,” Greco was their worst enemy. His reputation was nothing short of a reversal of Brave New World—“Down with mediocrity, up with selectivity…” was an oft-heard cry from his microphone.
If it was material recently created for a screen—wide or small—or anything other than straight news reports in newspapers, magazines or books, Simon was saying—as he did this night coming off a commercial—“AVOID IT! Boycott this trash! Demand journalism that is unbiased. Demand more music be played and sold which addresses a standard that has some empowering value, not just the usual in-one-ear and out-the-other degrading, life-mocking crap which is becoming the daily diet.
“Where the hell is any preference, now days. We are wallowing in a dusty drought of expression void of any depth because we refuse to support the passionate thinking writers, poets and humorists; the passionate thinking painters, composers and filmmakers. Instead, we run to the nearest quick-fix substitute/escape to pacify our deplorable inability to address and solve the complexities of societal demands. Hollywood! Why aren’t you cultivating a new Fellini, Goddard, or Antonoini? Where’s even your 21st Century Woody? And Christie’s! Why do you gloat over the obscene prices your auctioning of fine art to private collectors brings into your coffers? You just had your half-billion dollar record-breaking auction. A dozen or so people will hoard those works of art away and only an additional dozen or so dinner guests will ever see them again. Are you proud of taking that accessibility away from the people? It’s bleep bleep shameful. Hey, Christie’s, have you heard of Janus Films? Mister Hulot’s Holiday? Wild Strawberries? They recently took the last century’s greatest fifty films, packaged them in DVD and made them available to anyone. Who has a right to the artistic creations of the world? The world, of course. Artists don’t create for one collector! I’m sorry. No… I’m not.
“It’s gotta change people. Repeating the old as if it was new is out. Plowing fields is out. Pounding steel is out. Unionizing the masses for dues and pension kick-backs to line the pockets of union bosses is out because letting someone else run your lives, making your decisions, and taking away your choice… is out! Anarchy is just waiting to pounce on us, and why you ask? Because the system of so-called free enterprise is controlled by the greedy, obsessed with controlling the minds of all those who make their profits possible. The broken system obsesses on bringing you to your knees where better control of you is possible. And what you are told to read, watch and hear lacks fundamental stimulation for your mind so you have the fodder to think for yourself! Do you hear me America and the rest of you all around the world? Have you all but forgotten Paddy’s historical message… ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?’ Well, that’s good for starters.”
He took a sip of tea and continued. “But what can we yell, what can we throw out there that will be how we really feel, not just sound like we feel? C’mon, people. Limits? That’s what we're workin’ through here. Take out your hammers and your bats. Break up the logjam. Let something flow which has no limits. Let the establishment of safety nets know you’re out to free the captured, to let the risks of passion and reason forever find an open sea, an open sky, ‘cause if we don’t, who will? It sure as hell isn’t gonna be the control mongers. They want to see you forever shackled to their galleon bowels of rowers. And don’t think I’m bashing any one party. Plenty of greed-blame to go around. Uh-huh. But, hell…”
He took another sip of his tea. “You know, all you people with your mouths open and your ears perked up like bobcats, you’re not hearing anything you haven’t already thought about, or you wouldn’t be tuned into this rabble rousing platform for action and discontent. But thinking isn’t enough. Discontent isn’t enough. In fact, discontent with the media’s agenda to foster glad-handing of any power as long as it has advertising dollars is cliché today. It’s cliché because we sit back and just listen to the complaint, the reality, while we chug another beer and jam another handful of butter-laden popcorn down our gullets. It’s time you used your mouths for something besides an overused trash receptacle, folks. Jesus, I’m seein’ the edge of Niagara right now, but there’s more than one falls were gonna challenge tonight. I’m just getting started. I’ll be back after we satisfy the brave bleep advertisers who pay for this. Don’t go away. But if you do, please go away mad.”
Simon took a deep breath, grumbled to the engineer behind the glass, “Preachin’ too much?”
The engineer shrugged, smiled and gave a thumbs-up.
“Yeah, thanks a lot, God Dimmit!” He gulped down some of his favorite tea, and picked up the envelope again. He wasn’t used to getting letters from a place he’d never heard of. Grey Cliff, Maine was not on his list of “frequent” call-ins. Turrel? Why do I know the name? Do they even have a radio station there? He turned back toward the engineer. “Hey, you know…?” He caught himself, and shook his head as he slid his thumb through the overlap and pulled out the letter. His assistant handed him some fresh tea. “Thanks, Ellen. How come this was on my desk?”
She shrugged. “I put it there, but I don’t have a clue why the mail boy slipped it under the door this late. Must have thought it important.”
He stared at the return address again. “Why do I know the name Turrel?”
“Turrel? There’s a giant mobile hanging in the lobby by a guy named Turrel,” she said.
“Oh, yeah. What’s he writing me for?”
Dear Simon, You don’t know me yet, but I’m very aware of what you stand for. I’m writing you because we both see the problem in the world, in the United States in particular. It can’t be solved with you remaining JUST the talk-show host the country knows and listens too. As you read these several pages of reasons for our mutual discontent, I hope you will consider joining us and helping us design an approach to lift the masses out of their diet of—one of your favorite words—mediocrity.
There is no greater influence in the world today than that wielded by the manipulators of public opinion and taste in America. You are one of them, but one of the few who subscribes to a higher standard, a standard of preference and need. That is why I‘m asking you to join us.
No ruler or military general or crowned prince ever wielded power even remotely approaching that of the few corporations controlling America’s mass media of news, opinion, entertainment and art.
With TV as the primary delivering platform, their power and message is not remote. It reaches into every home in America, and it works its will during nearly every waking hour. It is the power that shapes and molds the mind of virtually every citizen, young or old, rich or poor, simple or sophisticated, and, it promotes mediocrity and ignorance for the sole purpose of controlling us. Because it robs the minds of the innocent—rendering them sheep without ability to think, feel and act as individuals—journalism, entertainment and art is rapidly turning into an insidious form of viral infection to undermine the very survival of the planet.
The mass media forms the images of the world and—
Simon sat down behind his microphone and read the final paragraphs with a sense of—he didn’t know what it was. When he got to the final lines, he realized he had just encountered another side of himself, a side he had never met, the side he never thought of value. “Would you join us for a week-end and express the side of you never expressed?” There was a plane and ferry voucher attached, dated October 24, 2006.
Derek’s letter and vouchers were held this day by many passionate hands which customarily gripped pens, chisels, balance bars, trumpets, scripts, batons, and brushes. But October 24 was about to be remembered as the day all their instruments of creation, all anguished thoughts of failure, all hopes for opportunity, all the elements of an impoverished creative diet were about to change.
The sun dropped behind the stone and glass catacombs of lower Manhattan, bringing shaded cover to the hundreds of gray and white-feathered gulls perched atop the Manhattan Bridge.
Above, a double arrow of flight began to form, North-Northeast.
Pre-Publication readers' reviews
You really tried to take it that one extra, truly enlightened step -- that of accepting ALL circumstances, and even 'taking on the world's sins,' in a christlike way. Man, that's ambitious, and I think you pull it off. But.... it left me, as a reader, again, shocked
There's both sadness and joy. Will the Echo Project live past its founders? As a reader, I so want to know that. As an editor, should that be left up to the imagination? No one really knows, except those who know the purpose of Art. There is no purpose, it's an expression of consciousness, both individual and collective. Art reflects consciousness. At the end, when we 'get there,' where we're supposed to end up, Art is there waiting for us.
You write damn fucking good, man. There's not many books this size that'll hold my attention these days. It's hypnotizing, in a way that elevates consciousness. Bravo sir. I stand, applaud, and wipe a tear of both sadness and joy from my eyes.....
Shocking and all too real.
It would not have been fitting to have a Walton's "goodnight" scene.
But it is a happy ending, of sorts. wherever there is hope, etc.
Taken as a whole, an excellent read. The main premise, that of media providing a catalyst for creativity, is unique and thought provoking. A huge project, and an impossible one for this cynic to embrace—especially when I think of Springer, Falwell, and pro wrestling. Still, nothing else has worked throughout history, so this could be valid. That art could engender a kinder, gentler population is a cool concept, and it was executed with elegance herein.
This took a slew of characters and wove them together into an interesting read, with almost zero violence, no bullets and no chases. The fact I read it and enjoyed it says more about the quality of the theme and execution than I ever could.
A good book. A good read. A good messsage.
And for this realistic portrait of what the future of creative expression may hold, I laud you. Is it worth suffering and dying for? Yes. And would I rather it not be so? Of course. But there it is. And all that came before justifies it. Write on, Odin.
Very well done indeed.
Have seen movies that ended in a shocking way like this and can remember the feeling as I was leaving.. stunned. Now those are the endings I remember so perhaps that is what happened here.
This is a novel that has not only entertained me but has changed me. I listen to the inner voice that gives me the words I put down on paper. I fell in love with Derek, Samara, Echo and all the others. Laughed with Aretha and cried with many.
It has been a wonderful adventure and a novel that I shall not forget.
Wow. This is powerful. Frightening, and not totally out of the realm of possibility.
I admire the fact that you HAVEN'T TAKEN THE EASY, HOLLYWOOD ENDING way out. This isn't a tidy, wrapped in a shiny bow ending. It's REAL, and reality is not often something we see depicted (on screen especially.) it's too... messy. We too often expect a HAPPILY EVER AFTER, preferring to bury our collective heads in the sand. This is often why media and art panders to the base and the lowest common denominator--because it's EASIER to watch DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR rather than tune in to a documentary about Darfur or pedophile priests or the oppressed.
This story is a masterpiece and the finale (the last chapter) does not disappoint. I can see where some readers would be put off, but I can clearly see the intent of the writer, and it is pure in its form.
Phew. Well, thanks for the obsessive ride! It was fun and well-done…
The story should be read by everybody who cares about the world, terrorism and the different way people terrorize others. Thanks for writing, I'll remember your story for a long time. Dan L.
Thank you for sharing this precious work. What a creative soul you are, Odin. Sara B.
Derek represents the spirit of creativity. Stoppard represents wealth and the power wealth can buy; he is an ambivalent figure showing how riches can either foster art or cripple it.
Congratulations on a fine job. Archie H.
Reviews for "ECHOSIS"
|Reviewed by Jansen Estrup
|Quite a rant - nice symbolism at the end, wild geese in Spring ... hopeful ...|
|Reviewed by richard cederberg
|A fine accomplishment.
You've birthed something unique here, Kent, which, by all appearances, may translate well into a dramatic movie. All the best with your new tome.
|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|Heavy stuff. It interests me, but its length is a challenge to this engineering reader of short stories. I was already editing the excerpt. May check back later on this creative piece.
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