Spoiled Children of Divorce


Exemplary Children of Divorce – David Blaine

What kind of a childhood makes a child want to grow up and perfect his disappearing act?

The answer is obvious. Just watch Mommy or Daddy disappear.  Easiest Show on Earth to copy.

Magician David Blaine just performed another stunt.  This time he hung upside down for I don’t know how long.  Basically the guy was hurting himself.  His acts always involve hurting himself.  With the economy taking a nosedive I don’t think this will be what people want to see anymore.

Although the stories of Blaine’s childhood are probably “embellished” it’s quite obvious there was pain there. He’s managed to turn this into a great career.

Here’s an older description of Blaine’s upbringing from The Guardian in an article called “Illusional Grandeur” by Lawrence Donegan.  The story sounds exagerrated but the elements of abandonment, desperation, poverty are all there.  Interesting how a Child of D who gets ahead has to have an “obsessive compulsive disorder” in order to become successful.  The life is probably too distracting for a merely hard working, ambitious person to get ahead.:  (www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2003/ang/24/theatre.

The embellishment of one’s life story is a tradition among magicians and for once David Blaine has stuck with tradition. ‘You should never be accurate, you should be entertaining. Houdini, Chaplin; they always told conflicting stories,’ he once said. Certainly, the Blaine story has the quality of a fable. His mother, described in some of his publicity as a gypsy, was a Russian Jew; his father, who fought in Vietnam, is Italian and Puerto Rican. His father left home when the child was four years old, shortly after allegedly making David crawl across a plank of wood laid between the roofs of two 10-storey buildings; thus began a love affair with danger.

‘My father left me and my mother in the ghetto, begging for money,’ Blaine says. His mother, who died when he was 19, took three jobs in order have enough money to put him through a progressive New Jersey school. She was also responsible for introducing him to magic, according to one account – buying him a cheap magic trick when he was child. In another version, he was inspired by a tarot-obsessed grandmother. Take your pick. What is undeniably true is that, by his teens, Blaine was spending more time honing his magic skills than doing his homework. ‘It was like an addiction, an obsessive compulsive disorder.’



“The Depressed Person” by David Foster Wallace
September 22, 2008, 5:46 am
Filed under: Books, Possible Personality Traits of Children of D., therapy

Today while rummaging through the Library Book Sale I picked up a copy of The O. Henry Awards Prize Stories from 1999 and turned immediately to a story called “The Depressed Person” which starts out:

The Depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.

Despairing, then of describing the emotional pain or expressing its utterness to those around her, the depressed person instead described circumstance, both past and ongoing, which were somehow related to the pain, to its etiology and cause, hoping at least to be able to express to others eomthing of the pain’s context, its–as it were–shape and texture. The depressed person’s parents, for example, who had divorced when she was a child, had used her as a pawn in the sick games they played…”

I had to buy the book and read the rest. Turns out the story is a very bitter black humor description of going through psychotherapy. Of course, the character has to be described as a Child of D and female in order to make people accept her as an emotional sponge. Er, I was angry. Since Wallace’s descriptions of growing up in Divorce were very outsiderish I didn’t think he was talking from personal experience. Men from Divorce in particular tend to be wise to other people’s feelings. This guy wasn’t. Or, at least, I’m angry that he misused this particular cliche.  But the observation was right on and the story telling was great. And the sentences are really weird and well crafted.

I have to admit Wallace’s voice in the story was really strong. He seemed a lot like a loser ex boyfriend who was getting even with an old girlfriend, so I started googling his situation and found out that tragically Wallace has very recently committed Suicide. The story was about mental illness and the futility of going through therapy and the divorce just made the depression sound more reasonable. I was angry with the editor and the O.Henry Awards and everyone who has to pick on Children of D for their own private pathos. (I will add here that if you go to a Therapist and mention anything about your parent’s divorce you are immediately considered depressed. Children of D. are reacting to a real life event, whether their chemicals are nuts is a completely different thing.)

It’s a really awful coincidence that I find this story right now. Wallace passed away on September 12. May he Rest in Peace. His obituary is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/books/15wallace.html



Girls Causing Divorce?
September 22, 2008, 5:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s a link to a Salon.com article from 2003 which discusses the reasons why parents who have Daughters are more likely to divorce. Couples who have Sons are 5 percent less likely to divorce down the road.

“Maybe Parents Don’t Like Boys Better.” by Steven E. Landsburg (Oct. 14, 2003)

http://www.slate.com/id/2089756/



Napolean Dynamite and Thirteen
September 9, 2008, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Movies About Growing Up in Divorce, Uncategorized

Remembered two more Movies to link to that are about Children of D. As usual it’s difficult to tell whether or not the Writer/Directors are Children of D themselves just by reading their biographies. It seems that they find the extra added stress of entering teenage years while having the extra burden of dysfunctional parents is great for story telling.  There is no mention of balancing complex relationships between two distinct sets of parents or of living in double families so I tend to think that there is no personal experience expressed here.  That part of the Child of D experience seems to be really challenging for story telling.  The Boy Character represented is the typical Nerdy Child of D.  The Girl Character is rebellious and out of control.

Napolean Dynamite, a really funny comedy, was written by a Husband/Wife team. The lead character, Napolean, is a Nerd who lives in a fantasy world. His much older brother is unemployed and searches for Babes on the Internet. There are no parents and no mention of parents. The two brothers live with their Grandmother and the story starts when she leaves to visit a friend.

Thirteen about a girl going through adolescent rage when she finds drugs and sex with a friend, also a Child of D. The girl lives with her Mother, a recovering alcoholic/addict/can’t remember which who is in and out of relationships. The Father shows up occassionally and doesn’t really have much interaction with his kids. The movie was written in 6 days by writer/director Catherine Hardwicke who worked with her ex-boyfriend’s daughter on the project. The daughter stars in the movie as the trouble making friend.  Then we could watch real life.  Hardwicke talks about it here: http://www.tribute.ca/people/Catherine+Hardwicke/11108

She became inspired to write a screenplay after dating a man with a young daughter. Although she stopped seeing the man, she continued to hang out with his daughter, Nikki Reed. When the girl turned 13, Hardwicke saw her go through a dramatic change, becoming angry, secretive and uncommunicative. When Reed showed a passion for acting and film, Hardwick decided to bring Reed in on one of her dreams â?? to write and direct a film. In six days, the two wrote the first draft of a screenplay based on Reedâ??s true life experiences. Determined to get the screenplay produced while Reed was still young enough to play a part in the film, Hardwicke brought the project to the attention of two producers, who were drawn to the story. Thirteen (2003) was filmed when Reed was just 14, playing not the character based on herself but the secondary lead, with experienced 14-year-old actress Even Rachel Wood in the lead role.



“Frozen River”

Frozen River, a Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize Winner, is an incredible movie about two women who come together as single mothers during the Hellish week after one is left by her gambler husband who has left his family in dire straights.  They meet as Ray (abandonned wife) is trying to locate her husband at the local Casino.  Lila is the other woman, a Mohawk who is wondering around pretty much an empty grief stricken shell because her husband died and her baby was taken away by his Grandmother (allowed in Mohawk society).  The women meet as Lila steals Ray’s husbands’ car which is hardly a typical introduction for friendship but manages to transform into that. Lila has been working with smugglers to transport illegal aliens across the Canadian/New York border.  She tricks Ray into working with her.

The story is mostly about the two Women and is set into a social back drop of poverty, addiction, racism, conflicting cultures, smuggling, illegal immigration. That’s a full load already and pretty amazing since the story centers mostly around the characters’ personal problems.

Ray’s two children, a 15 year old son and a 5 year old are very sensitivitely portrayed.  The oldest son is given huge amounts of responsibility for someone his age, typical of Children of D, as he takes care of his younger brother and rather woefully tries to come up with the money lost by his Father.  His brother is too young to pay much attention.  You don’t see these boys out with their buddies.  They hang out together and with the TV.  If you live constantly with the anxiety and threat of loss of a parent or your house you are less likely to be able to go out and play.

Repression of Rage and Desperation are constantly seething below the surface of this movie and toward the end dissolve into a really wonderful redemption for all characters.  I’m no movie critic but the acting seems to be awesome all around and I suspect that the Direction is stunning.

Really great movie.

Link to LA Times review:

http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/reviews/cl-et-river1-2008aug01,0,2791629.story

rozen River, a Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize Winner, is an incredible movie about two women who come together as single mothers during the Hellish week after one is left by her gambler husband who has left his family in dire straights.  They meet as Ray (abandonned wife) is trying to locate her husband at the local Casino.  Lila is the other woman, a Mohawk who is wondering around pretty much an empty grief stricken shell because her husband died and her baby was taken away by his Grandmother (allowed in Mohawk society).  The women meet as Lila steals Ray’s husbands’ car which is hardly a typical introduction for friendship but manages to transform into that. Lila has been working with smugglers to transport illegal aliens across the Canadian/New York border.  She tricks Ray into working with her.

The story is mostly about the two Women and is set into a social back drop of poverty, addiction, racism, conflicting cultures, smuggling, illegal immigration. That’s a full load already and pretty amazing since the story centers mostly around the characters’ personal problems.

Ray’s two children, a 15 year old son and a 5 year old are very sensitivitely portrayed.  The oldest son is given huge amounts of responsibility for someone his age, typical of Children of D, as he takes care of his younger brother and rather woefully tries to come up with the money lost by his Father.  His brother is too young to pay much attention.  You don’t see these boys out with their buddies.  They hang out together and with the TV.  If you live constantly with the anxiety and threat of loss of a parent or your house you are less likely to be able to go out and play.

Repression of Rage and Desperation are constantly seething below the surface of this movie and toward the end dissolve into a really wonderful redemption for all characters.  I’m no movie critic but the acting seems to be awesome all around and I suspect that the Direction is stunning.

Really great movie.

Link to LA Times review:

http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/reviews/cl-et-river1-2008aug01,0,2791629.story