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…

3am is a time onto itself. It’s spirits and deep vibrations. It’s the silence of the stars. The angels whisper at 3am.

I awake, and I have a song. It’s complete, or at least the chorus, melody and harmony are there.

All creatives go through these experiences. The mind roams free at 3am. But this is different. The song is insistent. It demands attention. It’s gossamer and steel.

I get up. A voice is in my head and another voice telling me to record. This is way beyond scribbling down an idea. I’m being told to sing the song in…

Adam Levine from Maroon 5 says bands are dead. I watched the 2021 Grammys. The only group I recall was BTS, which is not a band. So is Adam right? Does it matter? What is a band?

A band is a collaboration. Being in one is consuming. A real band lives together, drinks together, struggles together, fights, fucks, laughs. It’s intense. And out of the crucible comes music.

Fans of bands buy into a complex storyline. Relationships, breakups, friendships. Watching a band onstage is watching a shifting, moving puzzle, all the parts coming together in rare expression.

When it works…

Please, no more politics. I can’t take anymore.

I’m a political junkie. I’ve always been addicted to the hard stuff. My dinner table when I was a kid was Crossfire with meatloaf.

But the last 4-years have been a fired-up speedball of blowhard politicians. I feel rhetorically raped. I can’t order a sandwich at the deli without seeing partisan baloney on rye.

I’m haunted, I tell you, and so is every other citizen. We’ve got national PTSD and our political parties promise more.

Joe Biden seems like an okay guy, but every speech he makes is like a dud thud in my battered psyche. …

Harry and Meghan share their escape plan with Oprah.

A curve of brick along a busy road. Too high. I can’t get over. But I can imagine the kids on the other side. Charles. Anne. Prince and princess. I’d like to to meet them. We’re neighbors. Neighbors in that I live not so far away. But it’s an unreachable faraway place, on the other side of the wall, Buckingham Palace, guards, state dinners, prime ministers, kids playing, maybe finding secret places like all kids do.

I run my hand along the wall as I walk. Why won’t they come out to play?

Sometimes I think the royal family is…

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. …

Christopher McHale

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

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