David Dean Bottrell, the very popular writer/actor/teacher, was pepper-sprayed last night. The kids who pepper-sprayed him didn’t rob him or beat him up. They simply chose him at random, sprayed him, walked away, came back and tried to spray him again. They seemed to determined to make sure he was well doused with the toxic spray, they were malicious with their follow through.
The cruelty of it is staggering to me. The effects of the pepper-spray lasted for several hours, were horribly painful and caused David to have trouble breathing. Why would anyone think that this would be a fun thing to do?
Is it funnier if your victim is screaming with pain or is it more comical if they search blindly for something to wash their eyes out with? Did these miscreants go on to spray other people or did they hang back and watch from across the street the show that was the result of their hideous actions?
The name David Dean Bottrell may not be immediately familiar to you. But if I say the man who played the extremely creepy Lincoln Meyer on Boston Legal, you might. David is a very popular character actor; in fact, he just did a hilarious turn on True Blood this past Sunday night. He's the kind of actor that when you see him you say " Oh that guy! I love that guy!"
He is such a great actor and so generous with his talent that he even teaches. I know a woman who got so much from his class that her entire career was elevated. He is that rare individual who can do and can teach. It was right after his class, that he was accosted with the pepper-spray.
Besides having lot of success with his acting, he’s also an accomplished writer. In fact I believe it was his writing that first got him some notice and started him on his award winning career path.
Mainly this pepper-spray story is his to tell and even the little bit that he posted about it on Facebook was shocking, saddening and truthfully told. But the fact that upon hearing it made me cry compels me to write something about it as well. That something like this could happen to such a wonderful person and artist makes me sick.
I was first blown away by his acting in a production of Streep Tease: An evening of Meryl Streep Monologues Performed by an all Male Cast. David played the part of Karen from “Out of Africa” and he was amazing, in a cast of amazing actors. It was one of those performances that I will never forget. I even saw the show more than once, something that I rarely do.
I also saw his critically acclaimed one man show David Dean Bottrell Makes Love and it was incredible. I laughed, I cried and it seemed to be over way too quickly. David knows his way with an audience, even if the piece hadn’t been brilliantly written (which it was) he could have sold it. Yeah, he’s that good a performer.
I was honored to have him read an essay a couple times in my essay show Piñata. He always raises the bar with his insightful and thought provoking yet still hilarious words. And if you can perform the heck out of a reading, he does that too.
But I don’t know him all that well. What I do know is fear, human cruelty and evil. It doesn’t make it worse that this happened to someone I have met or that it happened to a gifted artist. What makes it so horrible is that these kids did it at all, had no qualms about doing it and will continue to do it. Their indifference to pain is horrifying to me.
How someone could see David returning to his car after teaching, think “he’d be good to spray” and then actually walk over and do it? As David was trying to wash out his eyes with bottled water, they came back and tried to do it again. Luckily they were unsuccessful the second time as he had locked himself in his car.
This wasn’t a crime of passion or even a hate crime. It was a crime of mean and means. They had the spray, he was there and they had no second thoughts about spraying him.
Like the people who were pepper-sprayed during the Occupy Wall Street, David certainly hadn’t done anything to deserve this treatment-- though does anyone ever deserve to be pepper-sprayed? I guess if someone is trying to rape you or in some way brutalize you, pepper-spray is called for as a defensive measure. But pepper-spray should never be used offensively or because you think it would be a good time to watch someone suffer.
I live with fear daily. I’m afraid of driving on the freeway, of steep escalators with no supporting walls, heights, roller coasters and people climbing in my open windows at night murdering me. No matter how hot it is at night, my windows are shut tight. But I've never been afraid of being randomly pepper-sprayed.
My house has been robbed, my car stolen and a crazy homeless man grabbed my breasts on the street but I’ve never been mugged. When I worked at the bank, I there for a bank take-over robbery and held at gun-point but it was never just me solo.
After David was sprayed, he was blinded and by himself on the street. Why didn’t anyone help him? As bad as the cruelty that the perpetrators showed, it’s the indifference of anyone watching and not helping that would have been equally as sadistic. He didn’t mention anyone else being around, so maybe he was truly alone.
When you are an actor, especially a great actor, you have to be vulnerable, you have to overcome fear and put yourself out there, exposed again and again. How do you do this after a crime has been committed against you for no reason other than some sick individuals thought it was fun?
I’m not naïve enough to think that there isn’t crime and evil all around us. That some times people are mean just to be mean and that no what how great and creative we are in our lives, we are not always safe. I know that no matter what, we can never be sure of our own safety.
But I also know is that we have to try to live our lives with kindness even when cruelty randomly strikes us or near to us or to people we hold in high esteem. If I didn’t think that people were mostly nice and that there is still a lot of joy and discovery in living, then I would be too fearful to even leave the house.