This Is Us

The truth of your life is always there — and the more you hide from it, the worse it haunts you

Blue-colored illustration of a person looking out froma prison cell.
Blue-colored illustration of a person looking out froma prison cell.
Illustration: lupashchenkoiryna/Getty Images

The cops swarmed toward us.

Have you ever been in a riot?

There were screams, but there was also silence. Enough silence to hear bones crack.

Out of that memory grows a profound connection.

In my life, I’ve wandered into some wild places. I’ve taken long drives in the night across bridges and thought to stop and just end it. But I found help—a doctor who spent a lot of time with me and talked me through the rough bits. It was a relationship I treasured, but it also reached a place where I needed to move on.

At our…

Scarce doses in NYC means Grandma’s in a death match.

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On a snowy day I put on my boots and head to the Ford Foundation on 42nd. For the past month I’ve been online hunting for a vaccine spot.

The NYC vaccine site means I have to answers the same questions again and again. Only to be told no appointments available. The NYS site has its own set of questions. Every time to look for appointments you answer the questions again.

Vaccine slots are elusive. They come and they go. Thousands of people are playing a weird game. Sometimes I’m online at 3am.

There’s a Twitter account feeding information. You…

Trump ignored Golf 101 when he took his eye off white supremacists.

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A spring awakening found people taking to the streets in 2020 in search of racial justice. The video of the gruesome slow murder of George Floyd sent shockwaves across the nation. Trump’s Justice Department began moving federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents from investigations into violent white supremacists to focus on cases involving rioters and Antifa.

Trump’s campaign was in trouble. He needed a new energizing theme. And marching across Layfayette Square, Bible in hand, he believed he found one.

Meanwhile, right-wing extremists continued to prepare for the Storm, the day when a Trump-led coup would seize the reins of power…

Pandemic data gives us hope.

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In the last three weeks, the rate of new COVID-19 cases has plunged 35%. With millions of Americans infected and recovered, and millions of Americans vaccinated, add those two numbers together and it appears we’re at the very least heading toward herd immunity.

Also, add to it a cultural acceptance of the simple but essential preventative measures reasonable people have adopted, wearing masks, social distance, and you have a brighter light at the end of long dark tunnel.

I’m grateful. I live in Manhattan. We had rough days. But I haven’t seen an unmasked person in months. Without the help…

The great boogeyman of the right-wing is hard to pin down.

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Something can be real and a myth. The Trojan War is considered a fact based on archeological finds. Homer’s Iliad about the Trojan War is a myth.

Antifa as an idea originated in the 1920’s in Germany. In the last twenty years fascism was redefined by American left-wing activist and the anti-fascist movement became revitalized. That’s a fact. Fox News and right-wing media then created the great Antifa myth — a violent movement determined to destroy our way of life.

One of the oldest American Antifa groups is the Rose City Antifa, founded in Portland, Oregon, in 2007. According to…

Formatting can set your words and imagination free.

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I’ve written hundreds of radio ads. I can tell you 75 words is all you have for thirty seconds. 138 for sixty. It’s a highly restrictive writing environment and within that restriction lays inspiration.

Writing radio ads is where I began to understand form. I spent quite a lot of time experimenting with different radio script forms. I wanted one that expresses visually the ‘radio ear’ — a form that reflects the medium.

In Hollywood, format is king. The wrong font gets your script tossed. When I was a young writer those bridles chaffed. …

Biden won an extraordinary number of votes.

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News cycle after news cycle is gobbled up with lies, distortions, distractions, threats, rants, and acrobatic apologitics. But Americans turned another way on November 3rd.

It’s a fact obscured by dozens of frivolous lawsuits, outright lies, and raw calls for insurrections.

Americans looked at the divisive strains of political rhetoric, the overwhelmed leadership of the coronavirus crisis, the inadequate response, the shockingly spiraling debt, the lack of infrastructure planning, the healthcare crisis, the willful denial of science, the abrogation of responsibility, the growing unattended climate crisis and said no more in record-breaking numbers.

The country is more unified on issues…

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Nancy Pelosi led to the steps of the Capitol and executed. Kamala Harris lynched from the scaffolding erected for her Inauguration. Mike Pence dragged into the Rotunda, pronounced guilty of a betrayal of Trump, and shot.

We came close. So close.

Betrayal in the ranks of the police. The National Guard ordered to stay in their barracks. Members of Congress in secret meetings to plan an assault on the Capitol.

The president’s sons inciting riots. The former mayor of New York calling for combat. The president telling a crowd he’ll lead them north to the Capitol.

Senators fist-pumping, encouraging a…

January 6, 2021 was a bad, bad day for America.

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I was raised an American overseas. It imbued me with an unshakable patriotism. From a long line of battling liberals, I engaged politically on every level. I took to the streets. I wrote protest songs. I posted and blocked. But I always believed I was working from a set of strong American principles. Despite Viet Nam. Despite racism. Despite the Iraq invasion. Despite predatory capitalism. I believed.

Yesterday, I began to doubt. And this morning I’m still seeing 138 Republican congressmen and six Republican Senators flirting with sedition, ripping apart federalism, and ignoring the Constitution. I’m seeing pictures of a…

We’re in a golden age of songwriting, a silver lining in a dark time.

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It’s 3 a.m. I wake with a song in my head.

Not a wisp, not an idea, an entire song. The melody, the lyric, and a voice saying to me, ‘Perform the song exactly the way you’re hearing it.’

Half asleep, I stumbled out of bed.

We’re in the middle of Manhattan. The last several months are lockdowns, empty avenues, a fear of touch, breath, crowds, neighbors.

The lights of Broadway theaters are off. The opera is dark. There’s no work. Manhattan without work is a city without purpose.

But there are gifts given by the pandemic. One is time…

Christopher McHale

Writer | Composer | Producer | Human | Christopher lives and works in New York City.

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