Saturday, June 26, 2010


I was having a conversation last week with a good friend who is in the life that I write about.  We were talking about the danger of impulsive behavior on the street (a theme we often deal with on the show).  In the heat of the moment, it's difficult to distinguish between bravery and bravado.  One is lead by an innate sense of strength and righteousness (higher-self), the other by a childish need for attention (ire-self).  The first leads to growth and influence, the latter, jail and death. 

The conversation struck me.  It's very relevant at this time in my career and life.  I'm not dodging bullets on Ventura (not yet anyhow), but I do struggle with my higher and ire-self.  My default in most fear-inducing circumstances is rage.  It rarely manifests into anything physical these days, but the anger is right there, under the skin, crawling, looking for an open wound to bleed out of.  

The psychological stems of my discontent are very transparent.  I was a morbidly obese kid, with parents who were too checked out and ashamed to assuage my compulsivity.  I had two defenses, my wit and my fists.  When I couldn't make them laugh, I'd make them bleed.  That tactic worked -- until it didn't.  As a result, I've developed some deep-rooted "injustice buttons".  The ones in my face lately -- duplicitous behavior.  Whenever I sense someone is insincere or driven by hidden motives, I have a very visceral response.  Deep.  Like, rip-your-fucking-heart-out, deep.  Which means my default with most human beings is not to trust anyone until they prove themselves loyal.  Ah, loyalty, the other well-oiled button.  It seems once I let people in, I take them hostage.  I treat them well, sort of like the Somali pirates, but ultimately, I own them.  I expect undying devotion to the cause (the cause is usually my well-being).  And if, or rather when, someone jumps ship, they are completely, utterly and totally dead to me.  I have a very small Rolodex.

I look back at my time on The Shield.  My peers, the writers, most of them are not really friends.  At best they are polite acquaintances, and few view me with complete disdain.  Some of that is on them, jealousy perhaps, but most of it is on me.  My behavior scorched a lot of Farmington.  For the record, I do consider Shawn Ryan a mentor and a friend and I love Skeeter Rosenbaum.  The rest, well, quite honestly, I don't blame them for their distance.  I was a motherfucker.  Unfortunately, I didn't know it at the time.  I LOVED going to work on The Shield.  I loved the world, loved the characters and I took a deep sense of ownership in that show.  I gave it 125% and fucking hated it when other people treated it like it was just a job (which of course, it was).  I didn't have the self-awareness or maturity to separate myself from my process.  I couldn't take in other people's point of view.  If it wasn't what I KNEW to be best, it wasn't worth hearing.  Thank God, I wasn't running that show.  It would have sucked.

But I am running this one.  And on Sons of Anarchy, I am challenged every day to rise above my self-destructive defaults.  I will say, that the last three years has been a series of professional and personal life lessons.  I've grown a lot as a writer/producer and as a man.  I'm not the same person I was five or even two years ago.  I'm growing up, but clearly I've got a fuckload of growing left to do.  

What's becoming painfully aware to me this season is that my behavior is no longer confined to a writers room, set or office.  Because of the notoriety of the show, my blog, my social sites, my opinions are being consumed on a public level.  So when I lead with my ire, I suffer the consequences.  This became very apparent to me last week at at the Promax conference.  Prior to my panel, some THR hack told my media person she wanted to discuss "showrunner twittering" with me.  She rolled her video camera and immediately launched in with inflammatory questions about the pending lawsuit against FX.  Yes, I know it's pathetic that our legitimate trade papers are now employing paparazzi tactics to get blog hits (thank god for DHD), but afterwards, I had to look at my part in that scenario.  Clearly, in my blog against the lawsuit, I lead with self-righteous anger.  Lots of it.  And the blog was picked up everywhere.  So that's what people expect and I guess, in the case of the little twat with the Flip camera, that's what her readers desired.  

So who's really the twat?

Not sure where this post is going.  It's just one of those public inventories I tend to do.  Yes, they are self-indulgent, but along with my rants, it's important for me to claim some accountability and to cop to the flaws behind the claws.  My goal is to be a creator not a destroyer.  But it's challenging when I open my arms to embrace the world and feel the shotgun strapped across my chest.


Nikki said...

Growth is always a great thing -- the fact that you get to share that with everyone is an even greater thing. Keep it up !

Audrey said...

This is a profoundly personal and insightful post. I recognize a lot of myself in what you say. You glossed over something that I have often wondered about, something I know to be true about myself: why is it that writers rarely tackle the issue of weight and how much of an impact it has on individuals? I know so many people who are overweight by 30-50 lbs or more, myself included, and it consumes their lives with anger, depression, isolation and embarrassment. It's everywhere. But I never see it on television. Even many of those who have somehow managed to lose the weight and keep it off still harbor those same painful feelings today that they did when they were fat. I think a plot-line that deals with weight-related issues would resonate with millions. Not necessarily on SOA but definitely on a show where it wasn't expected to be featured ...

Hummingbird said...

Thanks for your honesty and frankly for putting your honesty out there at the risk of those psycho media-maniacs-gone-National-Enquirer turning it into something its not. I remember when reporters used to report news, not crap that some poor celebrity was caught on camera doing or saying. You have your writing Kurt and that is your outlet and you have clearly learned to channel your passions quite well. I loved the Sheild but not like I love Sons of Anarchy. Keep doin' your magic Kurt. We love you for it. - Tomi Lyn Bowling

Nihil said...

I do really love your thoughts Kurt.

Unknown said...

Spoken like the real person you are and what translates to your work so well.
Honest assessment is not a weakness-in fact millions lead their entire life escaping it and dying unfulfilled never knowing why life was always a question mark.
If anyone else created SOA, I doubt it would have had the success it does.
Thanks again for reaffirming my choice in a series, cast, and most of all-it's creator!
Enjoy the Ride~

Rick Ellis said...

Anger is a tough thing to work through. It's something I've certainly wrestled with all my life and if I have any advice it's that developing a willingness to change is a positive move in the right direction.

I spent about ten years as a stand-up and it was frustrating to slowly realize that I'm not much of an actor and I'm much more skilled at non-fiction writing than pounding out a script. I was a dick to people who wanted to help because I just couldn't get past the things that made angry. I'm such a competitive person that it's easy to focus on my failings or the things that weren't working rather than the many things that were okay. It wasn't until I got away from the people and situations that brought out the worst in me that I found some sort of creative peace.

I only mention all of this because reading your post, I see a lot of my old self in your story. Well, if I were a better known, more successful me.

The point is that I think the public interaction is good for you. Yes, there are times when you should probably walk away from the keyboard for awhile and take a deep breath. But at least from the outside, it appears to me that this public interaction helps center you and give you a different perspective on your life.

Kane said...

I can totally empathize with you, man. I think that is why your work clicks with me (and others) so well. You are not just the common Hollywood type and that comes across in everything you do whether its your shows or your blog. Sometimes you lead with your balls instead of your brain. Happens to everyone. Takes guts to admit when that has happened. Keep on keepin' on, Kurt!

tim said...

Keeping it in the rear view helps me to NOT repeat mistakes and regrets. I've simplified the 12 steps I choose to live by. If I can't tell my daughters about it then I shouldn't be doing it. Learning from the past and moving the fuck on is how I stay comfy in my own skin. Moving into a miserable rut and decorating is my fast track to misery. Once I become miserable I want to use. Quick pick me up right. Kurt, your blog is inspiring. I love the public inventory, balls big brass ones!!! Your as open with your faults as your assets. I strive daily to stay that open. Recognizing my faults rather than acting on them, hmmmmm sounds like growth to me!!! Thanks kurt

Jess said...

Kurt, again, bravo ! I enjoy reading your blog, it's always something interesting/instructive and something bringing questions (for myself in fact)
I have the ssme reactions with others about trust, loyalty and rage too ... ohhh and this injustice button !! the stronger, can makes me do crazy things !!! I often questionned myself, tried to understand ... impulsive behavior on the street, the danger or this, but the danger, we never think of it before ... and we act for a "cause" a good reason, why staying away and not following your feelings ?? well ok I know it's not always good, can bring biiig shit and not always necessary, I tried to do this famous step back before acting sometimes, but not sure it's better. Well I calmed myself with age but it's still here and will always be I guess.
Thanks for putting words on this, can sounds weird but some words or sentences you wrote here sound like an evidence to me, I never came close to this stage of understanding before .... And I know Im not alone !!! ;-)

Anonymous said...

You're not kidding about the seething rage, sir. I watched the THR vid. You looked like you could snap at any moment.

Daniel said...

Love the show Kurt and so does my entire unit from my CO to the every day Joe. I can totally relate to this post it feels like every year I get older I am an entirely different person a better more enlightened person. Hell i am only 23 and I consistently look back and go why the hell did i do that crap a few years ago.

Katie said...

One of the hardest things to do is face up to past behavior the things you're not proud of. Too many people are happy to rewrite the past in their own minds and shift the blame off of themselves.

I have some of the same issues with going straight to rage. It's not easy to see your own behavior when you're in that moment. But it takes guts to be willing to look back and assess. This is the reason you're one of my favorite people: you're not afraid to own it.

Cindy said...

Can't the shotgun not be for destruction, but for self-preservation as one embraces the world? I can't imagine not having back-up if the world doesn't hug back. Or worse. I'm not taking it literally, I get what you mean (I think so, anyway), and trusting the world not to hurt me as I walk through it, even if I'm not fucking with people or being an asshole, takes much more bravery and openness than I can imagine having.'re maybe saying the world is going to hurt you, but you don't have to shoot back? Sorry to sound like a moron--the whole post is good but that last sentence really struck me. Definitely need to examine my reaction to it. I just want to write, in all caps--HOW DO YOU NOT CARRY THE SHOTGUN?

Stuart said...

Yeah, the anger thing has to be funnelled in the right direction doesn't it? It's an eruption without consideration and it always has consquenses. Nothings worse than a punch you cant take back or a posted comment irretrievable from cyberspace.
It's good to see that struggle going on in SOA. It's the old way verses the new in many ways. But it's good to see violence (or the threat of it) is there to be used if all else fails. I often wish it were an option for me (like when trying to get what's owed from my pension scheme) but it's not. That's what's great about SOA, I can identify with some situations and can only wish I could unleash that anger physically like the guys do. Nothing better than seeing sharp suited thieves behind computers thinking they've got away with it only for the bikers to turn up and show them some old fashioned business practices!
Keep up the good work, man.

Lady R (Di) said...

This is why I love reading your blog. You bring us the raw truth, whether it's pretty or not.

I truly feel for ya Kurt. My attitude is much like yours as far as loyalty and friendship. Once your in my heart, your mine! I'll stand by you, through thick or thin, and nothing will deter my protection of you. But... I expect the same in return, and it doesn't always work that way.

For you...(having reached a recognizable level of notoriety) you have the added burden of wondering WHY they like you and do they have your best interest at heart. This in itself can drive you insane!

Just keep doing what you do... it's working. I'm glad to hear your embracing the positive and self improving affects of that crazy and abnormal place they call Hollywood.

We little people can escape our mundane lives through your work and others like you, I'm just sorry you have to pay the price of vulnerability to bring it to us.

Thanks again for helping us understand what's going on in your world. And remember... don't get angry... GET MAD!!! ;D

Unknown said...

Human interaction: Just like bowling or playing chess or wielding pickup lines at the bar, we gotta learn from our mistakes or they'll drag us down. It's tougher these days as people seem to get harder to deal with. This is one of my favorite posts you've layed down, questioning yourself is a sign of true wisdom that trumps the mere creation of great television. Phil Irwin

Susan said...

Hollywood is full of people who cannot look at themselves in the mirror and see a happy person, so many broken souls.

You are not one of those persons.

You are a fabulously creative being, and even with all your're right, the learning never stops. That's how we keep getting better!

Don't let that life chip away at you...keep to who you are, especially with that beautiful woman by your side!

A good book I have read it called 'The Four Agreements', and helps to find strength within one's self.

Chris said...

Always love your honesty.

michele said...

Unfortnately when we are angry we say things and do things that can not be taken back.

And unfortnately the only person that is hurt in moment of anger is ourselves.

As an adult who was filled with anger and rage until about the age of 40 I know exactley where you are coming from. When I realized what a horrible person I was I got myself into therapy to find out why I was so filled with anger and why I lash out at people.

It is hard to control our hanger at times. And it took me a long time to get my under control. I now either write in my journal or my blog. And believe it or not I've learned to blow a lot of stuff off. I think we get to a point in our lives and we say to ourselves:"it is just not worth the effort of getting mad or upset and waisting all you engery".

Once again thank's for being so honest with your followers and I completely understand where you are coming from.

Becky said...

As Pink Floyd said, "I opened my door to my enemies and I asked could we wipe the slate clean, but they tell me to please go fuck myself. You know, you just can't win."

Unknown said...

Man, I really dig that you talk about your anger management issues openly, I suffer from the whole "Hulk Smash" attitude as well when something either gets in my way, defies me, or screws up my plans. But please remember, sometimes you get angry because you should. The Zito thing has a bunch of legal bullshit surrounding it, but you should be full on pissed this braggart made an attempt to usurp something you made, and more importantly, profiting off of. That greaser steroid ape has a lot of balls doing it, but hey, it's not like he has a lot on his plate anyway. I know people around you try to keep you held back from destructive tendencies, but some times, they need to be unleashed. I know it ruffled Chuckys feathers a bit to see you not do everything through Lawyer-speak.

Lance said...

Kurt, your willingness to expose your emmotions, to invite friend, foe, or fool, to share the strength and insecurities you struggle with as a human being are an endearing vulnerability few people are willing to risk.

Ironically, your self-indulgent exposure of yourself, I believe, not only provides a comfort for you, but exponentially gives others a vicarious, comforting sense of support.

I believe that TRUE STRENGTH in a man, is the ability to inspire strength in others, or facilitate others to recognize the strength within themselves.

Regardless of whether the origin of your blog is self serving, cathartic, and an outlet for you to find your own inner-peace through a confessional introspection. Or an intentional marketing hoax, to simply jack up Hollow Wood Buzz . . .

I commend you for what I perceive as helping those you reach, more than I think you possibly realize or intended.

Your a good man Kurt, not necessarily for your actions, but for your intentions.

Lance Ruffe
Miami, FL

Lance said...

That being said, I can't be accused of screwing you without kissing you first.

Be true to thine self.

And do not abandon the purpose, motivation, and mission with which you started this blog. If you allow Fox, or Tensions and conflict within a group of dudes that are in a MC club, or Heaven help us, because LAWYERS told you to shut your mouth, muzzle you, aren't you in simply falling victim to everything you have alleged to despise?

If so my friend, you have failed yourself.

Silence is the opposite of truth.

And a man that stands silent and idly by, while injustice stares him in the face, is no better than the evil that he turns a blind eye to.

Lance Ruffe

Rachael @ The Little Birdie said...

I really enjoyed reading this one. Nobody is perfect, but the man who can look at himself and acknowledge and address his "shortcomings" is by far more likely to grow in himself than one who does not. That's a huge step. I do find it refreshing however to see a man with such strong personal convictions- even if they tend to get you a little hot water now and again. :) Just because of the nature of the business you are in and all the bullshit that goes along with it, there will always be people who come after you... but on the other side of that coin, you'll also always have supporters and fans, and people who appreciate your honesty and raw emotion. That being said, thanks for being you- bravado or bravery- you are who you are and we love you and what you bring into our lives and homes anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Kurt,
Living in the moment has it's own balance and we are the only ones that control or direct it. We can knee jerk reaction (thinking only from the heart) we can over analyze and make cold detached reactions. Or we work to blend the two and make for a more balanced world, but no matter what at some point our heart or our head will get the better and tip that balance and we look like assholes. (shrug) Guess what man...we are fricken happens. As you and I talked about our pasts help make who are and once we get a better fix on them we have a better perspective, but we still have to deal with others and there baggage as well. And ain't that a pisser. LOL

Anonymous said...

"My goal is to be a creator not a destroyer."

Then let's talk about what you are creating, instead of who and what are trying to destroy you, and your reactions to them...

SOA is always a better topic of conversation than the twits and twats of the 'real' world

John said...

This was a well written post, Kurt. Just like everything else you write. I appreciate the honest insight into your self. Not many people can open up like that, but we should all try to do it more.
SOA really resonates- and I'm not a biker or an outlaw in any way. The writing is just so amazing that I've been addicted from the beginning. (Also, every actor involved does a fantastic job of bringing the characters and writing to life.)
As far as the idiotic lawsuit goes, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are all behind you! It's stupid and hopefully the lawyers make him shut up and go away. Sons is clearly yours and nobody else's.

Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

i just read your post. your comments are amazing because i have known so many people like you because i seem to be friends with them. I see the hurt they carry instead of the assholeyness (not a word.. i understand this!lol) they show to the outside world. i understand what that was like for you when you were a child. it carries over to adult hood. My daughter has the same feelings in life and she received those feelings from her father and peers at school for always being different. So she made sure they felt the pain she felt.
So, for what you said, I commend you for showing everyone who you are trying to be. If they are smart, and had insight, they would only have to watch the show just one time to see what is going on inside you.
you are an awesome person and i love your series.. and those twats.. sweetie. they are everywhere.. unfortunatly.. but you have a very loyal and faithful fan. always..

Indianacat aka Lowecat said...

What a great way to start a new week, a new blog from The Man! The more I read of your words and thoughts, the more respect I have for you.

As you know, Mr. Sutter, I am also creatively inclined and protective of my work, even though it's not my paying profession. What you don't know is that we share another affliction, overcoming morbid obesity. Mine followed me well into adult life until a life changing surgery gave me the tools to overcome it.

Unfortunately, the slings and arrows that were slung from childhood on over my weight and eyesight (one-two punch) left me scarred emotionally. Therefore, learning to control the anger those slings and arrows generated is an ongoing lesson in life. I'd like to think it's gotten better, but there's still a long road ahead. I don't think it helps having a heritage where two of the most firey tempers combine (Scots-Irish). It's a work in progress.

I'm sorry that the muckracker from THR lied to your media person about the reason for her interview request. Course, she probably knew that if she gave the REAL reason for her request, she'd have been refused. Then again, maybe not. Unfortunately, she decided to LIE, and that kind of bullshit behavior is what makes work for the nearly extinct honest journalist difficult. Actually, THR's readership didn't want it, her editors and the moneybags that support the bloody rag wanted it. Maybe she even wanted it. She sure as Hell didn't want to discuss what she said she wanted to discuss. That, in my estimation, makes her worse than a twat.

That's why I left the business years ago. It became very apparent to me that in order to be 'successful', I'd have to leave my morals by the wayside. That was not an exchange that was acceptible and it's not been regretted.

This latest interaction you've had with the electronic media (which the world wide web is now a part), could easily cause you to choose to slam and bar the door from the world at large, including the fanbase.

Frankly, most people with a grain of sense in between their ears wouldn't blame you for doin' so. Apparently, this will not be the case since you're still writing your blog and letting the fans see the warts as well as the beauty.

The most difficult thing to do as a human being is to continue to trust when you've opened up and gotten your face slapped (or your nuts kicked, depending on the metaphor you like best). The fact that you have embraced the fanbase, like myself, gives me a feeling like Wayne and Garth in front of Alice Cooper "I'm not worthy!" while bowing in supplication.

Write on, Kurt, and continue to share. Those of us who have walked the same walk will always have your back. I'm the one with the sharpened cat claws and a baseball bat curled in my tail.

therealzenobia said...

All I can say is that 15 minutes before I read this, I was ENRAGED at an email I got from a college student, saying, "Here's my bibliography. I didn't know whether you wanted it alphabetized or not, so let me know if you want it in alphabetical order." I was (am) furious. No perspective at all - no, "The ocean is poisoned beyond recognition and Dick Cheney's still alive - this is just the alphabet," or anything. And it's so physically draining. I will be up till 3 trying to forget it. My sympathy on your being like me. I always think that I will grow up and stop losing my temper, but....

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps one of the toughest things about life is to face unfairness head on and not be enraged by it. I certainly haven't figured that one out yet, despite plenty of chances. The best I've been able to do is look at those perpetuating the injustice with some pity. Because if that is all they have, that is a sad way to live. And if I can ever get to a place where I can live w/o anger at that, then I know I will find more peace than they ever will.

Terry LaRue said...

Mr. Sutter,

The public inventories (you tend to do) are supreme expressions of bravery and NOT bravado. Obviously, I love your posts or I wouldn't subscribe to them. Your honesty and bravery are the attraction.

I get "writing assignments" all the time and, although I tend to be good at fictional writing, I hate writing about my character defects. Many times, I just read your blog, smile and say to myself, "Yeah, me too!"

A woman scorned said...

Dear Kurt:

Being an overweight individual and literally just seconds ago looking for an online "ex" friend to unleash on him a legion of scorn I now feel towards him -- I too realize anger is the thing we don't learn to manage. Unless, god forbid we are court ordered. Your ability to cut right to the heart of the matter is a rare talent, and something to be shared. Folks that feel deeply down to their core, are in the pardon the hokey reference much like the Velveteen Rabbit, It is this pain, suffering, and abuse that we endured that make us all the more real.

joe one-leg said...


loyalty, trust issues, anger?
sounds a lot like someone else i know.
still battle the demons only these days we deal with it without the jack daniels.
i credit my "growth" to my wfe and my children, add two or three names to that and theres my rolodex.
can't please everyone so these days
i find i focus all my energy on this small group of family and friends and life is good.
take care

tim said...

I too was the fat kid with the horrible complexion. In a small town there's not much to do but fuck with kids like me. So 20 years later I've found myself without the weight and with a pretty stable life. The crazy thing is I still think and feel with the heart and mind of the fat kid from 20 years ago. I think there's something wrong with people that like me with no apparent motives, and strive to please the unpleasable. Ha figure that shit out dr phil!! I have found peace in the 12 step rooms or on my motorcycle. Or of course with my 3 daughters that I strive to protect from the demons that shaped my youth (they're illustrated on my left sleeve). So funny, if the past could be relived with the knowledge gained my fuck the world attitude would have been thought out instead of impulsive. Fuck it here I am clean and sober and with the exception of my overly self critical mind life isn't too bad.

Anonymous said...

Katy's a lucky lady.

therealzenobia said...

It's hard to believe anyone could have watched eps 1-3 of last season and not be prepared to lie down on the tracks for Katey Sagal. Anyone who sees those eps and then votes for Kyra Sedgwick knows he's a whore.

therealzenobia said...

Just ordered WWGD!! Thanks. Sadly, Gemma wouldn't wear it to the office, so I guess I won't do that.

Aaliyah said...

This was a pretty deep yet still entertaining post. No matter at whatever age or stage in life, we all have lessons to learn and room to grow. That was my personal take-away.

One question, What is DHD?

JAM said...


I think Billy Bragg's "Between The Wars" would be worth FX buying for a montage on Season 3. Have you heard it?

Outsider said...

Someone's gotta Retire those terms...Twitter and Tweet(ing).... Twatter and Twat(ing) are better even