Michael Phelan O'Toole

MEDIAted Catharsis From A Multi-Faceted Artist

POEM: “A-Typical Words 2 B Heard (Flow To My Brain”)” – Orig. 9/17/’08

I want to get to know each and every one of you.
My eyes are red and blood is going blue.
What’s in my veins does not always flow to my brain.
Hurting to reach out and stick like glue
with a “Hello” and “How are you?”
Where did I drop it? Abandoned the ship.
Mute from me, and feeling mutiny, until you lost it –
I, trying to run and stop it, but the gun says “go.”
On your mark, understanding died when they shot it.
I listen to you, but who is there left for me to confide in?
I once was the only one you barked to.
Everyone becomes a stranger to me.
Faces I want to know.
A better place to go.
I never wanted to string you along, and now I’m alone.
No matter how I’ve cleaned up, my open arms still stretch too short.
Only allowed to share memories of abscesses,
and the only dates pertain to court.

Sing it, scribe it. Wine and dine it.
Bleeding my heart and baring it only seems to elicit staring.
Walking an old path and feeling the wrath /
of a new future and a theatrical past /
that I can’t ride and fly back
to harmony.
Please just fly me home.

Daze pileing up and taking their toll on my stance.
it’s nice to feel the warmth of lovers to dance with.
Like a tree falling in the woods with no one around, just as good is a
solitary kiss.
I’m still riding the bus, to the stage to swagger and cuss / with an audience.
Either bloodlust or lovelust,
it’s something for the kids to pump their fists.
Seems, you make art for them to read and they’ll think you can part
the Red Sea.
Fine with me that it’s you or me they wanna see cater to a need –
ink penned with a purpose to end pain, starting scrutiny.
You win some and lose some.
The culture seems gruesome.
Shooting for a threesome, I’ll take a twosome
of Free Will pills,
to enter a Matrix that contains some patience.

– written by MIKE PHELAN O’TOOLE

COPYRIGHT 2011 by Michael Phelan O’Toole


PRESS RELEASE: Video Artists Get “Liberated,” Announce “Experimentally ILL 4,” D.I.Y. Indie Film Fest (via Experimentally ILL 4: DIY Film Fest)

PRESS RELEASE: Video Artists Get "Liberated," Announce “Experimentally ILL 4,” D.I.Y. Indie Film Fest "To be great is to go on. To go on is to go far. To go far is to return." -Taoist proverb "I kept waiting for it to happen. But that ol’ Indie spirit, it don’t wait forever. Sooner or later, Indie spirit rolls up the sleeves and says “s’cool – we’ll just do it ourselves.” -Kevin Smith, on DIY/self-distribution "Don't hate the media, become the media." -Jello Biafra (L-R: Experimentally ILL co-founders Mike Phelan O'Toole and Lawrence Hollie, with … Read More

via Experimentally ILL 4: DIY Film Fest

POEM: “Slash The Gist Mash-Up” – 1/1/’11.

A post-mortem abortion of the word
thanks to the creations teenage angst sent me,
but it’s still there and I’m over twenty.
The funk is in the dysfunction, and they send me plenty.
So let’s cut a rug
trip on the construction of a line, like a drug.
Cocaine and slime.
A beer’s condensation and your condescension.
I love the tension in trying not to mention
the truth.
Brain chemicals leak.
Despair over hair, and the spine, exposed with a tear
of the scar, and on-line.
4 years old, and now twenty four.
No car, so can’t jimmy out the door.
Fuck, can we?
The girls stand next to me, drink too much,
hit the floor.
Ambitions shrink to the size of a pour,
acne-riddled future complexion
from the curved direction of a camera whore.

I am a piece of spray-painted wood.
Some arted-up alien boy, talking, walking…
Shocked to find the days turn into the daze
Busting my brain against the edge of a circular phase,
filled with weak catch-phrases.
Patch on the eye, with ear-gauges?
Another original?
Sheep eating undercooked meat,
and cows grazing.
For this, I go to trial, onstage.
I suffer the bile and climb the cage.

Going to slash the gist of my written statement, & literally bleed on
pavement, as a fresh page.
I move like a stoned nomad in a wrecked maze
Keep telling yourself that it’s just a phase
maybe he’s not lazy /
just strange / he /
complains about the pain
how if you cut him off, his heart leaks and bleeds,
and where there’s hunger, there’s a need to feed /
so he’s just like the snake eating his own tale.
Cutting off nose to spite face
to wish ill will,
it’s disgrace.
Brave lwaste.
Don’t panic, eat an Attivan.
Bitch ‘n’ Ramones,
beat on the brat again.



FOR PRESS: Multi-Media Artists Announce Alliance For Community Media Award Win In Northeast Region Video Festival


“The great work must inevitably be obscure, except to the very few, to those who like the author himself are initiated into the mysteries. Communication then is secondary: it is perpetuation which is important. For this only one good reader is necessary.”
-Henry Miller

My spoken word community television show “Solipsist’s Dispatch” won second place in the professional “Profile Talk Show” category in The Alliance For Community Media’s Northeast Region Video Festival. The ceremoney was on November 13th, 2010!


Manic Schematic PR Firm
Mike Phelan O’Toole


Multi-Media Artists Announce Alliance For
Community Media Award Win In Northeast Region Video Festival For Brookline Cable Show

(Boston, MA, 11/22/10) – Cable access show producer and local video
and spoken word artist Mike Phelan O’Toole, of Needham, with
co-producer Lawrence Hollie, of Waltham, announce the impending
Needham debut of O’Toole’s storytelling and personal confessional
cable TV show “Solipsist’s Dispatch,” after
an award win in the “Profile Talk Show” professional category in the
Alliance for Community Media 2010 Northeast Regional Video Festival.
The experimental television program, which has called Brookline’s BATV
home since last year, features solo speaking performances by O’Toole
in-studio, and competed with more than twenty shows produced in all of
the Northeast region,
which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New
York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The awards ceremony took place
Saturday, November
13th, in Concord, NH, at the Holiday Inn on 172 North Main Street. The
date of the “Solipsist’s Dispatch” Needham premiere is to be
determined, with plans to bring the show to Cambridge, and other parts
of the Boston area.
Post-award notice, the program was recently invited to
expand it’s audience to Stoughton, MA, hitting SMAC (Stoughton Media
Access Center). Episodes continue to air on Brookline Access Television’s
cable channel and the web.

Through work in community media since 2001, O’Toole
has found the technical skills, family-like-circle, and most
importantly, the voice, and vision, to create and co-create several
ongoing media projects. Unlike previous, visually high-concept
projects, the now award-winning “Solipsist’s Dispatch”
show, focuses on O’Toole’s monologue and witty repartee exclusively.
Influenced by the likes of rocker/talker Henry Rollins, filmmaker
Kevin Smith, comedians George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and others, the show
features “Stories, impassioned rants, jokey stuff, diary
entries, poetry, occasional conversations with other artists, and
updates on what’s kicking up in my camp, project-wise,” says O’Toole.

These free-form commentaries include O’Toole sharing the value
of his abstinence from alcohol and drug use. As an advocate of the
“Straight Edge” movement, Mike is part of a mass of countless other
young people, who, through the punk rock
subculture, have found unity in the decision to remain poison free “in
order to be a more effective revolutionary.” With this, O’Toole’s
program is not limited to any fixed topic; from impromptu speeches
on the importance of media literacy – O’Toole has studied communications
and media theory at MassBay Community College – youth activism, and other
pleas of a serious matter, to razor-sharp, caustic stand-up comedy,
Mike Phelan O’Toole’s
half-hour video “Dispatches” deliberately walk the line between “the
profound, and the profane.”

“Whatever medium I’m working in, it’s always been about communicating
to, and with, people; giving my guts, as it were. There is this thing,
and I’ve got to
exorcise it. With the spoken word stuff, either TV or onstage, It’s as
direct as it gets; a
face-off with hungry eyes and waiting
ears. It’s humbling to win for Dispatch, because it is basically just
me in the studio talking to three cameras about whatever strikes me to
fling out into the ether at the time. in terms of production, it is
the most stripped-down
compared to our other works. It’s really a solo, side-project, where
the focus is just on my words, and personality. With that, it’s
amazing to have won something in the Alliance For Community Media
Northeast festival. It’s also strange, because I never thought the
show would become even this public. It started as just an after-hours thing
I was lead to do off-the-cuff, when I needed to get some things off my
chest. People started responding to my enthusiasm and the way I phrased
my thoughts, I think. Like “Hey, there’s truth in that, there’s heart.
It’s not just a young guy on-camera.” I’m trying to do
something different out there. I’m just grabbing a microphone, and
harnessing the communication potential
of the medium; that’s what the mission of the Alliance For
Community Media is all about, so I think that’s probably what the
awards judges got into. By recording myself, I allow my words, and
thusly, my internal self, to reach places that I alone, might not be
able to otherwise.”

While it is the words that drive the show, it is the program’s
production quality that maintains the visual stamp that the
O’Toole/Hollie duo has become known for. While Mike is in the throes
of any number of cutting verbal editorials before the viewer, the
man-behind-the-curtain keeping the boat steady is none other than
technical director and co-producer Lawrence Hollie. Slick graphics,
professional lighting, and funky green screen effects provide an
even-more enhanced multi-media experience, in the vein of spoken word
legend Spalding Grey’s film “Swimming To Cambodia.” A notable episode,
in the reel originally submitted to the Alliance For Community Media
awards judges, featured a floating, three-headed O’Toole waxing poetic
under the bright lights. Being that Mike’s words, and Lawrence’s
visuals remain so in tune, it is no wonder that the
production team, and good friends, regularly explores a variety of
projects together.

With the O’Toole/Hollie artistic powerhouse in toe, freelance video
work with the Boston/Ireland band Midatlantic (formerly The Bleedin’
Bleedins) has proved beneficial for both creative troupes. The music
video created for the band’s song “Shine” saw major TV play in Ireland
at the end of ‘09. While releasing their album “The Longest Silence,”
O’Toole and Hollie shot and cut the band’s stop in at WAAF radio’s Bay
State Rock program, to both fan and show crew acclaim. Another
highlight from this collaboration has been the duo’s production of
live performance videos from Midatlantic opening for famed
Boston-originating band Letters To Cleo’s 2008 hometown reunion show
at The Paradise Rock Club. Former Midatlantic drummer and producer
Dave Franz calls the duo “A video-making hurricane.”

Hollie and O’Toole have also lent their support to fellow “multi-media
misfit” Allston filmmaker, graphic artist and author D.L. Polonsky, in
booking and publicizing his “Nonviolent Anarchy Film Festival.” Last
year, the “career retrospective” featured films made from childhood,
to the
present, including work featuring O’Toole’s turn as an actor. The fest
toured from The Coolidge, to Providence, RI’s Cable Car Cinema, and
finally, on Mike Phelan O’Toole’s 23rd birthday, to Provincetown, MA’s
Art House Theatre.

“It’s all a love letter to small artists with big visions, and voices.
This has become a lineage; we are different folks, finding each other
through all this art,” says O’Toole.

“Persist and resist and you too can get a paper with your name on it. We rule!,”
concludes Lawrence Hollie, in reference to the certificate the two received.

For more information on the ACM award-winning “Solipsist’s Dispatch,”
and other news, contact Mike Phelan O’Toole for interviews, and visit (

Michael Phelan O’Toole is a videographer, actor, writer, and spoken
word artist, who performs
at Cambridge’s ImprovBoston theatre, and has been an
advocate of collaborative media, and a purveyor of unique video art,
since 2001. He appears on Lawrence Hollie’s experimental variety show
“Random Acts,” and has lent his talents as an actor on two underground films by
Allston filmmaker D.L. Polonsky, including the latest, “Murder, Money
and A Dog.” In addition, he is noted for having co-founded the
multi-artist alternative film showcase series “Experimentally
ILL,” with Lawrence Hollie, which has been warmly received by Boston
press and audiences alike. For this series, O’Toole is co-emcee with
community TV legend, former WBCN radio personality, and host of
Brookline’s “Golden Sounds” rock concert series, Quincy Brisco.
Most recently, Mike Phelan O’Toole has sat in the director’s chair
for the acclaimed Boston punk rock music TV show “Sonic Lobotomy,”
created and produced by local punk champion T.J. Welch.

Both O’Toole and Hollie have been recipients of
separate awards from The
ACM for their creative productions in the last decade, including “Most
Innovative.” They now share the Second Place Award in the Profile Talk
Show – Professional category, for “Solipsist’s Dispatch.”

According to the Alliance For Community Media Northeast’s official
“The Mission of the Alliance for Community Media is to advance
democratic ideals by ensuring that people have access to electronic
media and by promoting effective communication through community uses
of media.”


Visit the following links for some previous coverage on past
shows and events.

A brief writeup was also in the Boston Phoenix September 11th, 2008
issue – Arts + Music + Events, pg. 3

UPDATE: Thursday, October 28th, 2010

From the mind of Mike Phelan O’Toole…

Hey now. It’s been a bit since I last typed up an internet update, proper. I am going to try and spit some stuff out regarding what’s been up with me; most of the summer of 2010 was comprised of myself and others on-camera, as part of weekly shoots with filmmaker/animator & poet Mick Cusimano. Most of this work involved spitting back the man’s poetry verse, and acting out broad and ridicioulous antics in front of his lense. These pieces are trickling out…
Let’s jump ahead some:
Sunday, October 24th was my 24th birthday. I continued my free DVD binge via the public library, my aunt gave me an external hard drive as a gift, which shall come in quite handy in future editing projects, of which there should be many if I don’t “cheese out.” Peeped out the Luke Wilson movie “Henry Poole Is Here,” before meeting up with my 8+ year pal, co-producer and now co-award winner (on to that later) for a hearty dinner out, wherein we toasted our friendship, projects, and I recount the previous days events, Saturday, wherein I sneaked into BATV to assist a crew of pals via rocking my magic on the control room audio board. I was a bit burnt out, as Friday night comprised my being invited out by a young lady to attend my first official college par-tay. Drinking isn’t my thing, but it t’was fun nonetheless. I realize, to find that balance of good work, social activity and down time is key. This, with some nice workouts coming back into the fold, lets me know that I am feelin’ healthy again. My wants and needs are not as much on hold. There is surely still work to be done, though – I don’t kid myself. Anxiety is there, but instead of freaking myself out by thinking of the bad things that could happen, I amped myself up by getting off on the thrill of overcoming such obstacles.
My time last year at ImprovBoston has served me well, as since then, I have had several lunchs with old friends, and hit several art parties in Boston at night.

This Saturday is the first day of shooting on the latest D.L. Polonsky production. This time, I’ll be mostly behind the scenes, but will have a small part to rock your faaace.

My best, until later.


POEM: “Vampin’ poem (draft)”

Flight of ideas. Night of nothing.

What was my beginning, will be my end. Alpha, omega: mania.
I was born a mistake. I hope to die a diliberate. Her medication
flowed through me. What treated her, mistreated me. What served to
curb the malforming of her mind, deformed my body. I got the chemical
in me, and a hoard of bad memories. Good thing I no longer hold on – I
take the free ride down the broken track. It’s as bad as you choose to
make it – you can manifest the “depressed” and sink in the “wishing
well.” Yeah, I wish you well. Harnassing the energy keeps me fit.
There is mundanity and mediocrity, and anarchy. I live in the gap,
though zombies try to pull me in their pit. They try and define the
walk I take on the line, with morbid curiousity. You can’t qountify an
endless flow, or qualify the abstract. I don’t “bore” the art, I
excite the reaction.

Others will attempt to pry apart the words with their jaws of life. As
something of an adult now, I continually search for the solitude to
numb their attitude. I believe silence and primal urge to be an
unyielding truth. If you cut yourself, see the blood leave you, bring
the violence. If you cut the silence in half, more silence. Youthful
exuberance injected with misfiring seratonin levels; I want to fuck
and “fuck shit up,” after I lecture you on Platonic ideals. The price
of higher intellect is just that – we intellectualize until my
intestines want to fall out of your eyes.

I am Bruce Banner, then The Hulk. Think of the mania as your personal
super-power. With that, it can be used for good, or evil as easily. I
would not think of this mania as an illness, but rather a catalyst; a
worked-out body to be embalmed with lithium and a host of non-descript
pharmapuiticals to keep the beast at bay and make you sweat? How fun
is that? Her kidneys failed and her teeth fell out.

My muscle comes from the strengh it takes to navigate through years of
face-plants taken upon crashing down to the terra firma of melancholy
reality, juxtaposed with assesions toward greatness and immortality.
You need a little bit of insanity to do yourself and the lucid dreams
justice. It’s your favorite song, place, and person on repeat. It’s
where not only the ends, but potential begginings, meet. It’s where
Brody Dalle and Bettie Paige makeout, where they play the music so
loud, and your aunt wears makeup like a clown, where your uncle kicks
your door down to say this call is for you, where your mom goes to the
Monroeville Mall to set her credit score on fire, it’s where all the
boys and girls want to score, and you mumble some nonsense about a
spoken word tour. It’s the “shit is on fire” show, and anything goes.

The weaker ones will use the adrenaline to attack, and throw you under
the bus, LIKE A frothing-at-the-mouth animal. The better of us will
give you a good show and send you home with a smile. Henry Rollins
smeared his prefrontal cortex accross the stage for decades, and the
people cry for more. Spalding Grey painted with words until he was the
story. Then Burton made a film, and gave him permission to end the
mission. Off the mortal coil he went. And I’m still manic, and hot
with my blood a boil.

Picture a woman made of clay, suddenly caught in the rain. With each
step, she is made wet – she hardens, but she also falls apart. She
endures, but her parts crack as they dry. She never forms properly
again. A genetic predisposition lead her down the path, but a trigger
shot off the bullet that blew away her ambitions and exuberance. They
once traveled hand in hand, but that’s hard to do once you’ve slashed
the wrists that bind the cells you’re locked in. I keep going on the
manic trip because I was given a free ticket on the brain train. You
put the medication into your blood, and kept my lungs stunted, so they
had to shoot me up with steroids. I don’t know where I’m going with
this, but I know that I have known far too many people who have been
bitten and infected; the moon goes down, and they feel the change like
that were-wolf creature. I know that if the mania monster kicks up
inside me, the worse I will do is get jacked up on caffeine and walk
the slick streets. I will write it out, rather than fight it out. How
is it a surprise to anyone that they attacked me, threatened me, and
dissected every word, that now, I keep my mouth shut and move out of
the way. I am not cowardly, rather smart. Why waste the time, and
excert energy, absorbing their weakness. They do not speak to me,
which allows them to infer and assume all they like. There is a better
culture out there, filled with better people, and I’m one of them.
I am still young, and already I know that trite conversation, and
forced confrontation is of no interest to me.

People seem to think they’re going to live forever. I keep hearing
“you have time,” but the only thing a young person is gauranteed to do
is grow old – that is if they do not die, by their own hand, or
someone else’s. On the upswing now – I’m like a morphine drip without
the itch; flying with the angels, nagging with the bitch. Ragging to
the rich.

To realize the strength;
the soliditty of solitude is such an asset.
Love too often breeds paranoia. Seems sick.
I want to be with you, and here we are,
but I believe I have felt the deepest lonliness in being with a women
for nothing but
shallow affection. After the longing – when she is gone, I feel mostly
regret over what I gave away; the experience is just not chathartic
like i wanted it to be.
Nothing more painfully frustrating than being with someome, and
feeling like you’re speaking a completely different language. My
nervous system wants the touch, but my nerves can’t take the build-up.

Good strong mania breeds an invincability,
like being onstage and sweating out anxiety – playing with clay until
an unidentifiable shape comes to look like something exciting.
May as well live out the days. May as well bleach out the grays.

Tracing a line of time, waiting out the night. Writing a love letter
to the moon; an illuminated woman. Sometimes the sun need not come up.



ESSAY: “Interview a P.R. Specialist” (Fundamentals of Public Relations)

Michael Phelan O’Toole

CO 201 : Fundamentals of Public Relations

Project : Interview a PR Specialist


For this assignment, I interviewed Christine Ernest, head of the press department at The Planetary Group, a Boston-stationed PR firm which specializes in music artist promotion. Originally setting out for a career in journalism, Christine attended Cabrini College. Armed with a love of music, in addition to writing, while still pursuing journalism, she began working at the school’s radio station, WYBF, ultimately becoming music director. This position lead to travel to many music related conferences and trade events, such as The College Music Journal’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York, and the famed South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. As if out of a movie, it was on a plane ride back from South By Southwest that Christine was approached by someone working for the radio and music industry trade magazine FMQB. While The College Music Journal is responsible for compiling statistical chart information and publishes promotional information and reviews of up and coming artists playing on college radio stations, FMQB, or “Friday Morning Quarterback,” can be described as its larger, commercial industry counterpart. In working with FMQB, Christine initially helped compile their commercial radio chart listings, later getting the opportunity to merge her two major interests in a professional setting, in covering music news for the magazine. With her passion for the industry and impressive writing skills evident, she was soon


given part of a weekly column focusing on commercial specialty radio, which she would use to champion the college radio artists she was being exposed to through WYBF and other
college stations that she felt would be most successful on commercial radio. It is this type of passion-put-to-words in support of up and coming artists that would serve her in promotional writing for artists, and advocacy of their worth to journalists in her PR work today at Planetary. Despite where her path has lead her, she is quick to declare that her focus was always on journalistic writing itself, taking no specific PR course in college. Fearing her music-related endeavors would lead her away from writing itself, with a course load filled with journalism-geared classes, as well as English curriculum, she dove into working on her school’s newspaper; first as assistant editor and then main editor for the Arts and Entertainment section. Then it was a series of internships that cemented her print media infatuation, first in working with the daily Press of Atlantic City, then, going to school just outside of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Business Journal. Christine stressed that some background in journalism and solid hands-on experience in the field in the form of an internship would be helpful to someone pursuing a PR position. For Christine, after an early graduation from college, while looking for work, it was a contact from her College Music Journal conference visits, impressed by her resume, that hired her at The Planetary Group. This had satisfied her desires for a dream job, placing her writing skills and experience and enthusiasm in the music realm to good use, in a team-oriented, nontraditional


environment, with like-minded people.
The Planetary Group’s press department holds a focus on getting consistent publicity for a wide-variety of music artists, both local and national, from new, unknown artists to Dave Mason of the band Traffic, who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with artists who are signed to a record label, or self-releasing material. As head
publicist, Christine’s daily tasks at Planetary include work on crafting the promotional biography write-ups for the artist as well as the one-sheet information pertaining to their latest album, meeting with clients to make sure both she and they are updated on the current information pertaining to them, or if there are any new angles that can be approached in order to get journalists writing about them. With that, much of the time is spent writing press releases and sending them out to relevant media outlets, in addition to directly calling journalists and pitching clients and article angles or soliciting album reviews. If clients do not have a new record coming out, regardless they are encouraged to tour, as with an upcoming live performance date, it is easiest to get exposure, both in media coverage, and exposure to audiences and potential fans who will support further press. Christine emphasized that it is important for a local band to grow a foundation audience, and accrue even small, local press accolades before tackling larger forums. Planetary provides targeted campaigns for their clients, with a vast keyword-searchable electronic database to match-up artist genre with the proper media outlet. Having had working relationships with many of these press outlets allows her clients greater networking capacity, with the Planetary name holding weight in representing their efforts. Planetary embraces the PR team structure; heading up the


press department, Christine is joined by two other publicists, one working with her on national publicity, generally geared toward an artist’s album getting the most and widest spread reviews and coverage, and another publicist who focuses on tour publicity, centered on promotions of when and where a client is performing live. This is in addition to, and in conjunction with the radio promotions department, marketing department and others.
When asked what she enjoys most about her work, Christine underlined the fortunate opportunity she has in being able to appease her writing addiction in support of something she loves, in music. The most rewarding part of her work lives in being able to share in the successful meeting of her clients’ goals, and the objectives of the particular campaign. Pouring effort into providing a support system for a client’s art, and serving to help a journalist realize the value in investing the time to scribe their own piece about it, and subsequently getting the public interested, is a great joy. “The most rewarding part is just really helping clients. When I have a client, and they say
“This is what we want to achieve… This is my dream thing; I wish I could be in Spin (magazine).” We can’t do that for every artist, but if we can do it for a few, and it makes sense, it feels really great.”

Contrastly, the worst thing about her work rears its head, when the occasion comes when dedicated publicity efforts seem to hit a wall, in being ignored by journalists. Not only is it frustrating getting “white noise” in the communication channel when initial e-mails and phone calls are put out to no response, but on occasion messages will cease to be returned in mid-pitch discussions of a band or story angle, with no follow-up


explanation given. Still working as a freelance writer on the side, she knows the importance of a publicist’s pitch, and the rigors of a journalist’s deadline; having played on both sides, miscommunication or lack of follow-up stings greater. She talks of lazy journalists, and the importance of a PR person having their information together, ready to present things properly, noting that in a competitive, crowded industry like music, this appears even more essential to ensuring the likelihood of good coverage.

In focusing on what the future of music PR might be, she points out Planetary’s web-focused New Media department, which reaches out to “five hundred or more websites…From to pitch work to a one-man blog.” with a campaign, while her goal remains in getting what is primarily print publication. According to her, the state of print media is in a bad way right now, with many people being
laid off from work. This is one of the reasons why she decided to no longer pursue full-time journalism. We talk about the possibility of the internet’s open forum, while positive in opening up the floor in expressing opinion and discussion, downgrading journalistic integrity and standards. While Christine agrees that music blogs may contribute to this, she is also quick to point out that if it is positive in getting the music heard, with people seeing it, then it can ultimately be helpful. With this, she offers up this held-onto quote from author and music critic Chuck klosterman, “There are a lot of smart people writing about music, but not a lot of people who are interested in journalism writing about music.” In her work as a publicist, Ms. Ernest aims to help see this change.


In continuing our discussion, I followed up with asking if she has seen the traditionally antagonistic relationship between journalists and publicists in her own work.. “I’ll agree with that. I’ve worked in news rooms, and I’ve seen writers just hang up (the phone) on publicists.” In defense of this, she notes the possibility of that publicist pitching something that did not make sense for the journalist to cover, however, she drives home the frustrations of, working as journalist, publicists wanting a client covered in a certain way, and yet not getting back to her to help meet their needs. If, as a publicist she sees incorrect information published, citing either miscommunication or writer’s laze as a factor, she’ll speak with the journalists and ask them to run a printed correction. “A lot of writers in the music industry, especially web-type people are kind of lazy, to be honest.”

Though she has never experienced the responsibility of having to run a “damage control” campaign due to an artist’s behavior. “If (our clients) did (do something that called for a damage control campaign), I think (we’d) just come up with a plan of action that makes sense, and act on it quickly.” What she has experienced more often, has to do with Planetary campaigns so tailored to particular album release and live show dates setup in advance, on the occasion dates are switched around, it is a fast-paced media blitz in recontacting journalists and other media outlets with the updated information.

In closing, we touched worked for her on her path to PR. “I went to a liberal arts school, English and Communications was my major… In mind, I just really liked music and I really liked writing, and I just tried out as many things as possible. I had some gigs


in the music industry and I was writing some. It was great to find this job, because it was like a marriage with both of them.”

From speaking with Christine, I have gained a personal insight into Public Relations work, with an assertion to the fact that a love of writing, a journalism background, passion for your clients, a willingness to communicate, and the ability to operate in a fast-paced environment are all prime components for success in PR. It is evident in Christine’s voice that she enjoys what she does, and her thoroughness in answering my questions illustrates a level of flexibility as well as professionalism. This assignment has helped me put a voice and clear perspective on a field that, I feel is generally vaguely defined. Overall, it was a lot of fun getting inside Christine Ernest’s head a bit, and checking out the interesting world of music publicity. Her words leave me with encouragement, as we share majors in Communication, an inclination toward English course work, and a love of writing, not to mention an interest in music.

ESSAY: “Human Values, Personal Freedom, & The Arts” Final

Michael Phelan O’Toole

Human Values

Prof. Tarutis


Human Values, Personal Freedom, and The Arts

Take-Home Final

Question 1 :
The humanities explore what it means to be human. As such, they are a progressive study which looks at our past historical, artistic and intellectual pursuits. In a concrete sense, they represent the most significant stretching of the boundaries of the human condition. Within the recognized canon of our civilization, study of the humanities help us to consciously, whether symbolic or
literal, observe the trials and triumph of humanity. This semester, I have learned that the humanities as a form of knowledge endorses an unrestricted approach to how we view ourselves and what we have done and have the potential to do. It is a revolutionary for m of knowledge that is unafraid to grapple with the established guard. Whether through magnifying our society’s flaws and projecting a possible future like 1984, examining “The shock of the new” of modern industrial, and subsequently artistic revolution, or holding a microscope up to the behemoth of religious faith as does Sam Harris, the humanities are conscious, constructively critical, and daring amidst mainstream complacency. As such, to say that these texts singularly and wholly represent the span of knowledge of the humanities would be false. The humanities, even amidst an established canon of fodder, continually evolve.


They represent our great self-awareness despite the dance of the daily routine.
I have learned that for every established historical string of concrete events or established theory, there is school of thought which counters or juxtaposes with the current states of things. This is not done for its own sake, but to challenge purpose as we define it, and to break down what may be holding us back from exploring fresh and more epic things. Looking at “The Saturated Self” or “Habits of The Heart,” shows us that “self” and the nature of being in itself is
worthy of much reflection. I have learned that, evidently, the humanities as a form of knowledge, is then the most important and consistently relevant form of
knowledge, in that it explores the individual, and the scope of the world in which, as many individuals, have constructed.
Question 2 :

Modern art and literature reflects an ever growing consciousness of the human condition. Physically, it illustrates creation as a reaction to the state of society. Because of this, reviewing a culture’s art and literature is often most indicative of the broad spectrum of its ideas. In the midst of modernity, our literature and art represents that life is in a constant state of flux, though initially weighted in the past, and that, however advanced we are as a civilization, it is easier for us to observe our flaws and overall presence in hindsight. While we are able to reflect upon and dissect the nature of our society, it is a gradual process to abolish the overgrown missteps made prior. Our art and literature is no longer simply about representing our existence at face value. It becomes a free forum


for symbolic expression and open commentary on where we were, are, and could be headed. It either stands for a particular conclusion, or explores often overlooked aspects of how we interpret life, and what it means to be alive.

The human condition comes with it certain questions and issues inherent to existence, I feel. We will always be in search of something greater than ourselves, either through religious study, existential reflection, or general pursuit of knowledge through achievement. We are always looking for a broad connection of concepts in order to define our world, and more so, how we fit into the scope of it. Modernity, or post modernity does offer new challenges, however, in that we are confronted with not only organic issues of the “Why are we here?” variety, but now faced with coping with the state of our own expansion, in both order and thinking. Thanks to our own technological and scientific advancements, we are left with an entirely new set of questions. While we as humans are driven to create and problem solve, what happens when it appears we have diffused our surface issues? We are still faced with strong opposition from our fellow man when new ideas are introduced. In medical science, stem
cell research, artificial insemination, and cloning are possibilities which garner friction, and while immediately helpful to some, raise many philosophical and moral issues. In modern technology, from the industrial revolution, to the proliferation of computers with artificial intelligence, there is good and bad. While technology helps us in speed and efficiency, it has led to the building of motorized weapons which we have used to kill one another. More recently, the


use of robotics has assisted in surgical precision, but, in the case of artificial intelligence, what does it say about us if we are able to build an android with comparable intelligence to that of a human? While it is impressive and may assist us in tasks, does it truly add to our experience, or rather devalue us?

These are just a few examples of why I feel in the post modern age, we are increasingly faced with more complex issues. We are left not only consciously thinking about what it means to be human and how we can get the most out of experience, but contending with ages of advancement, as well as the documentation of past catastrophe previously unknown. We must remain aware that, in base desires we are not vastly different than those in the past.

Question 3 :

In analyzing my own learning this semester, I found it most helpful to read on my own, analyzing the specific material in the text, while consciously making connections to the greater themes of the course, as were discussed in class. Typically when I read assigned text for a course, it is a struggle to remain attentive, however, given the ever applicable material, I found it ripe for interpretation and therefore was gravitated to it not only to gain a better of understanding of established ideas, but more so to be able to take them in and apply them to my own life, or life as I know it. I felt that classroom discussion was helpful, as others’ opinions and perspectives on things gave new life to what I may have previously thought stagnant. I always find it interesting when I, or


someone else, is able to take something being studied and connect it to their own life or current events. I feel like learning and education should be palpable and “real,” and I found that this semester.

As far as difficulties, I am both in love and at war with language. I enjoy writing, and from a learning perspective, it helped me most accurately express my point of view in relevance to the course. Being that we think in language, the quality of our thoughts and ideas can only be as good as the quality of our language. Expressing a complex and complete thought in simple words is tough. However, at the same time it is easy to get lost in the words, and lose the meaning on the way through occasionally. In this way, I feel that driving home the grander meanings of the texts through class discussion was helpful. After this, it was the writing of essays that made the material feel most personal and relevant. I do think it is more stimulating reading modern works, rather than just dealing with the classics. Although works like The Iliad and The Odyssey provide insight into the structure and meaning of ancient mythology, and the universal themes that we as humans relate to, the active reading of books that critique and analyze the world in which we live allowed gateway to broader understanding of both history, and an active break down of both the psychology and philosophy of the subject. Getting more accustomed to how others think in this way cultivated and encouraged more broad minded reflection in myself. When applied to class discussion, these riveting discourses made me proud to be part of such a


relevant course that encouraged refreshing, controversial exchanges equal to the themes of the books and the goals outlined for the course.

A challenge for me is getting over the notion that it is possible to get too analytical. Getting a chance to immerse myself in “Human Values, Personal Freedom, and the Arts” has helped me embrace a more philosophically minded perspective, and realize how important it is that we remain progressive in our view of the world, understanding our past, while freeing ourselves from restraint, in order to reach personal enlightenment in this age of post modernity.

Letter of Recommendation by Michael Padden-Rubin

January 27, 2007

Massachusetts College of Art

Office of Admissions

621 Huntington Avenue

Boston, MA 02115

Dear Admissions Director:

I am pleased to write a letter of recommendation in support of Mike O’Toole’s application to the Massachusetts College of Art. Since March of 2000, when I first met Mike, he has impressed me with his knowledge, creativity, wit, and flexibility. It has been a pleasure to work with and learn from him.

As both the government and later the education channel coordinator at NewTV, Newton’s community television station, I had the opportunity to work with Mike on several occasions. Early on, he volunteered as a production assistant on the City’s summer concert series – a multi-camera shoot with a large crew. As part of the team, Mike helped with the setup and breakdown of all the equipment and served as one of the principle camera operators. During the shoots, he would suggest camera shots and angles, which might have been overlooked, but which ultimately improved the overall production. As the technical director, I was grateful to have his perspective and initiative. His instincts were right on.

Mike also volunteered on numerous studio productions, including programs for the library, the public schools, the mayor’s office, and Newton’s legislators. He helped in the control room with everything from graphics to audio to teleprompter, always giving input and feedback. It was great having Mike as a crew member, because he was willing to do whatever was needed. His flexibility and sense of humor often came in handy with last-minute changes or mishaps. His ideas for enhancing the program, such as a set design adjustment, made a huge difference.

When Mike asked me about doing an internship in 2004, I agreed without hesitation. One of his first projects was to edit an art exhibition using Final Cut Pro. His choice of shots, transitions, and music brought the various still images to life. The artist was moved by Mike’s fresh and innovative approach, and so were the viewers. Recognizing his editing skills, I asked him to teach and assist other student interns on Final Cut Pro.

During the summer of 2004, Mike volunteered to join other high school and college students in creating and producing All Over The Map, a half-hour magazine show. During pre-production, he brainstormed and collaborated with the other students, sharing many ideas, which were later incorporated into the final program. In addition, Mike participated in several studio shoots, teaching some of the new students how to operate the equipment in the studio and the control room. During post-production, he was one of the principle editors. He also secured the music used in the opening from a local artist. In 2005, the program received the NewTV Red Carpet Award of Excellence for best education channel production overall. That summer, All Over The Map received the First Place Hometown Award for innovative programming from the National Alliance for Community Media. Mike’s contributions, once again, had proven to be invaluable.

As a result of his hard work and dedication, NewTV has hired Mike to teach Final Cut Pro and help members and interns edit their projects. Given his many talents, I think he will do very well at Massachusetts College of Art and later in the communications field. I recommend Mike with the greatest possible enthusiasm. Thank you for your consideration.


Michael Padden-Rubin