2/14/21: Cracked Up — the Darrell Hammond Story, The World is a Trauma Center #poetry

2/14/21: Cracked Up — the Darrell Hammond Story, The World is a Trauma Center #poetry

When I heard that John Mullaney was taking a job on the writing staff of the Seth Meyers TV show, I wondered why

Mullaney started as an SNL writer, but had moved on to an independent career as a stand-up, actor and writer with a distinctive personal style

Why write for someone else?

Then I saw that Darrell Hammond was a victim of childhood trauma and I got it

Oh that’s why Darrell Hammond is the studio announcer for SNL after many years of starring on the show

Mullaney checked into a rehab center shortly after the Seth Meyers job was announced

and that is the first lesson of life in the worldwide trauma center


Lorne Michaels, the producer of SNL had seen too may premature deaths on his show

John Belushi, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman … there must be others — meteors fragmenting on the way to earth

Michaels decided that there was two things that he could give “his” people when they were in trouble:


and a kind of protective support —

Good doctors

Money and other resources

and time

Time, we all need time … we the people of trauma, need time to process what has happened TO us

So those are the first two lessons of life in the worldwide trauma center

Kindness and time.

Darrell Hammond’s experience is the world’s experience

The documentary about Darrell Hammond provides answers for the world

Atoms look like solar systems

Lesson 3 — forgiveness

People get abused and fucked up

Darrell Hammond’s mother cut his tongue with a steak knife when he was a little kid

He remembered the blood all over the kitchen floor

And then she kept it up

fingers jammed in electrical outlets

Cold and distant stares …

Consistent abuse

An unnatural relationship

an absence of maternal love

Hammond dreamed about a little girl

a little girl who unnaturally had the eyes of his mother

a little girl being abused

and when Hammond woke up

after several years,

he forgave his mother

He saw that she had suffered in the very same way that she made him suffer


after several years,

Hammond forgave himself

he didn’t suffer from mental illness

he suffered from “mental injury”


So all of his anger and inability to maintain intimate relationships

his drinking and drugs

and his habit of cutting himself

all of his self- destructiveness

is forgiven

Hammond is not ashamed of himself

Our personal problems are nothing to be ashamed of

we all do the best we can …

even the most feckless

and the worst of us …

competence and morality are the tools with which we repair the world

and that repair job is a collective project …

evil is something outside of us …

people aren’t evil …

people get captured in evil’s sway

and have to be rescued

we are all called to save the world …

Darrell Hammond has a kind of sad, detachment now

and a paradoxical twinkle and joy

What an unlikely heir to Francis of Assisi

A nightclub impressionist

from a lower middle class neighborhood in Florida

We can only love the world to the extent that we understand the world

and none of us understand that much

but Darrell Hammond has done a nice job

He is sad about what he has lost

but he doesn’t blame himself

He doesn’t blame


Lesson 4 — therapy

If you are injured, you have to rehabilitate yourself, and you can’t do it alone —- as in all things, there are people who know more about how to deal with the health concerns of trauma, mental and physical, than other people — and you have to be open to their help

Lesson 5 — storytelling, we the people of trauma, the human race have to tell our stories

Our secrets have to be released

We are in a conspiracy with our abusers against ourselves

Covering up their crimes

until we break away

It’s a brave thing to do

and it hurts

but the clearer we get about what happened

the better we feel

To heal the wound, you must address the wound

and treat it tenderly

The truth really does set you free

Our stories save us and save others like us

free us from our pain

That’s why we tell them and listen to them

Good stories are


and miracles are commonplace

They are told every day

Lesson 6 — art

Some people make art

Some people consume art

Ultimately the experience is the same

The transformations for the artist and audience

are identical

Art goes beyond therapy

Therapy heals us

tends to our wounds

Art transcends the necessary psychological and biological

and addresses the existential

First I was happy

Then I was injured

Then I got angry

Then I failed for years

Alienated from the world

Then I went to work

I met some good people along the way

Then I stopped being ashamed

I understood that something happened to me

and that I hadn’t done anything wrong

Then I started telling my story

and elevated it beyond therapy

though I appreciated all who cared for me when I wasn’t fully capable

The story spoke honestly about who had injured me

and what had injured me

and my journalling became art when I realized that what happened and happens to me happens to the world

To everybody

Darrell Hammond is a perfect storm

Abused more horribly than most

Blessed with a talent that allows him to powerfully communicate

Positioned in a privilege world where he was allowed elite level care

Good doctors, good jobs, good friends

But those superlative conditions are beside the point

We all are called to do what Darrell Hammond did

Be born in inoocence



Figure it out

Tell our stories



and our abusers

and save each others lives.

You have to go through it

There are no quick answers

Only the people in the greatest pain

like Darrell Hammond

like me

like you?

Finish the job

If we don’t process our pain

we are self-destructive

and hurt other people


we have to break the cycle

How can we not be compassionate?

Everyone is living on a ring of hell

victims of trauma attack new victims of trauma

The best are the drunks, the sad sacks, the failures

the ones who cut themselves

as opposed to the bullies

I don’t know what brings a bully redemption

oh yeah, I do

they have to be brought low

for their own good

Brought low by our true stories

and forgiven.

I wrote a piece awhile ago about feeling sorry for Donald Trump

The piece disappointed several of my readers

but it was a good impulse

The samurai defends himself without anger

I hated Trump when I started writing the Rick Blog

I hated him because he personifies the personal qualities of many of the abusers in my personal life

Fascist business people

Persecutors of my peculiar poetic type

I have pages and pages and pages about how they are

But the world has turned in my direction

at the same pace that my soul has turned in the right direction

The world is not putting up with my oppressors’ shit anymore

and demanding something new

The trauma has ended and the treatment has begun

and ultimately

after precautions are taken to be sure that they can’t hurt us anymore

and the truth is fully told

and they are held accountable

we have to understand what happened

to them

We have to have Darrell Hammond’s dream

see the fascist bullies as little girls with Hammond’s mother’s eyes

and forgive them

and ourselves, again

Then we can just see that bad things happened to us

because bad things happen

Instead of wishing revenge on our enemies



Instead we can simply solve problems

and get on with our lives

Last lesson from this movie

The need for good partners

Creative collaborators

Darrell Hammond took his pain

and with the help of doctors and friends got better

still maimed — that never goes away

but better

and then with the help of a good editor made a book

and with the help of a good director and other theater artists made a stage show

and with the help of a good documentarian and her crew made a movie

and in concert with all of these friends and co-workers

and audiences

and with an understanding of past hells that he doesn’t have to live in

Created a life

I think America and the world is doing the same thing

America and the world are getting better

not from optimism

or escape

but by simply



with the


of our collective trauma.

Copyright 2021 Richard Thomas

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