Lenny Kravitz is a real rock star!!! As a Renaissance man – musician, actor, man of style, interior designer and photographer – he always pushes the boundaries and delivers with verve and swag. His relationship with daughter Zoe Kravitz (actress and singer) and ex-wife Lisa Bonet are both beautiful and refreshing. But it’s Lenny’s commitment to being authentic – creative, visionary and provocative – at age 51 that is awe inspiring. THIS is how you do it!!!

“I don’t even like to sleep. I feel as if there’s too much to do.”

Even though I know you sometimes fall asleep in class, I also know you spend as much time as you can creating. You act, write, direct, produce, paint, teach, study– there’s nothing you can’t and don’t do. And although you’ll always have a special place in my heart as Freaks and Geeks’ Daniel Desario, you’re far from being on “track three.” I think you’re inspiring because you always are finding new ways to tell stories, value education, and have a sense of humor about yourself. Happy 37th Birthday, James Franco! And frankly, I found your hosting gig at the Oscars to be very entertaining… I feel like not enough people have shared that with you.
#jamesfranco #freaksandgeeks #danieldesario #inspiration #oscars2011 #renaissanceman

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Renaissance Man

When I was a child I lamented that I was a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. I could perform basic math without mistake, but not as fast as required to ace the test. I could draw, but certainly not as well as others in my class. I couldn’t easily draw a straight line! (And to this day rely on a ruler.) But I do remember the time in fifth grade I made a pen and crayon “painting,” mimicking Van Gogh’s style of portraying light. I was exposed to Van Gogh in an Art class. My painting depicted a scene on the American frontier, with a horse and carriage on a dirt road (a family road-trip).  Purple mountains majesty in the background, with waves of light emanating from the bright yellow sun, stretched across the entire sky.  My friend’s mother framed and hung the painting in her home!

I could write, but I assumed it wasn’t as polished as others’ writings. My handwriting was wobbly, and still is!  I could write some damn good poetry, but so could others in my class. I was always comparing myself to everyone else. In sixth grade, one of my best friends read one of my short stories I had started writing. He critiqued it as being a cheap copy of The Outsiders, except I created new characters based on the people we knew. He was so right!! I was humiliated and never finished that story, and in fact didn’t write another story for many many years.

I was never particularly physically active. My father didn’t really teach me more than how to throw and catch a baseball. But as often as we played, my mitt stayed hard and unbroken in.  I sat out during the playground sports. I instead played with my friends – using imagination and horseplay. Later, in high school, I became an avid mountain biker, teaching myself some incredibly technical off-road riding. I was in exceptional physical shape.

I was always small for my age, and I was bullied. I learned some basic martial arts from my step-father and his friend. I put the skills to work in junior high– and using a Tai Chi maneuver, threw a larger adversary to the floor when he tried to put his hands on me. Yet, still I lamented my lack of formal training in self-defense.  

Since being given my first camera I always loved taking photographs. I loved the idea of capturing beauty in your own lens and having it there for posterity… a moment frozen in time. My mother was a photographer, not me. I studied film, and video production in high school and college.  I made films since I had my hands on video cameras, and super 8. I made a Lego movie when I was 13.  And I loved the Lego movie that came out last year!!!  I learned to edit film and video. I taught myself how to build websites – when the web first arrived here.   I built a website in the nineties for a musician who used it for years.  I edited a documentary film for the Woodland Park Zoo.  

I taught myself how to write screenplays. The first one, won an award at a Colorado screenwriting competition. A friend got it read at a studio in Hollywood, but their lawyers wanted me to sign the indefinite rights to them, just for considering the script. I wrote for video games. I taught myself how to be a game designer, from playing games and observing how games were made while working on game teams as a creative writer.

I taught myself how to design curriculum and teach as I began teaching writing and game design courses in Seattle and New York City. I’ve traveled to a variety of countries, learned languages (not fluently), met people I’d never imagined I’d meet.  I moved to New York City three days before turning forty years old, and I’m still here.

The other day, a young woman told me that I was a Renaissance man. She was the second woman to tell me that in a matter of days.  I need to listen when God / the Universe speaks.  I need to pay attention. I need to stop beating myself up about not being the best at this one thing or that one thing. I’ve proven myself to be able to perform across multiple disciplines. As a result I consider myself a Creative Director – with the ability to collaborate across multiple mediums to create cohesive experiences and products.

I was a Comparative History of Ideas major at the University of Washington.  There I learned the importance of critical thinking, critical theory, the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct systems, intellectual history encompassing all the Arts, Sciences, Religions and schools of thought.

Perhaps we should all reach out in the variety of ways we can, across multiple disciplines, just to see how far we can expand ourselves? We are the only ones who put limits up on ourselves. Anything you imagine can be made a reality.  Let’s do it, people. :) — Let’s all aspire to be Renaissance Men and Women! I suggest picking up a pencil, some water colors, doing a drawing, some finger painting, spin some clay on a wheel and make a bowl. Write a story, sing a song, dance! Code a program, write a play, snap a photo, make something! Do all the things we encourage children to do. Never stop pursuing all forms of self-expression. That is what makes us uniquely human.


Probably not the best thing to watch when you’re sleepy, definitely got a shock. Amused me though