Monday, December 24, 2007

Music In the Subway Sounds good to me… or does it?

I had an appointment on the upper west side yesterday, (that’s code for therapy), and I got on the wrong subway. I’m not always paying attention, especially when I’m reading a book and thinking about what parent I can blame for what during my therapy session. 

I accidentally got on the E, instead of the C. It didn’t hit me until 53rd and Fifth Avenue, that if I didn’t get off at the next stop, I’d find myself in Queens. I don’t have anything against Queens, even though my ex-husband lives there, I just wasn’t in the mood for another borough.

It wasn’t the first time I got on the wrong train. And I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last. While I zigzagged through the subway labyrinthine, I came across a couple of subway musicians. 

I saw the first one at the Port Authority station where I boarded the E instead of the C. I see this man every time I’m in that subway station and yesterday it dawned on me that each time I see him, he’s singing the same song. To say that his repertoire is grossly limited is a gross understatement.

But it got me thinking about getting myself out there and performing. I’ve got a guitar and I could sing the only song that I know how to play, which is an original that I wrote called, Tom Cruise’s Braces. Sure it’s a bit dated (Tom had braces in 2002) and most people aren’t even aware of this little factoid but if the 42nd St. troubadour can sing his oldie (I believe it was from the Bob Marley collection), then why couldn’t I? 

I fantasized about the exposure that I would get. There must be a million people passing through the subways on any given day. If I could play and draw a crowd around me, it would certainly be a lot cooler than performing for five drunks at open mic night. Why not do a subway gig? I’ve tried everything else to get some desperately needed attention. 

I spend so much time in the subway getting lost, I might as well make a few bucks while I’m down there. My brother once suggested that I sing in the subway. Of course he also suggested that I bring my picture and resume to the ABC offices and, “Just tell them you want to be on television.”

Then again, not everyone wants to hear subway musicians. People are tired, hot, or frost bitten, cursing the subway delays and just want to get home without getting sneezed on by a homeless woman. Or they want to get to their office without being pushed onto the tracks by the rush hour crowds that slowly edge them over the yellow line. 

But most importantly, the majority of the crowd that would be forming around me wouldn’t be inebriated, like they are in the comedy clubs. (pause) Forget it. I’m sticking to above ground establishments. 

The second musician I encountered was at the B train at Rockefeller Station. I listened to the violinist and frankly I could’ve done a better job, and I’ve never even held a violin. All I’m saying is that a little practice goes a long way. Sure you’re playing on a smelly stage, competing with screeching trains in the bowels of New York City, but that’s no excuse for sounding like you just picked up the violin for the first time. It’s a competitive world, even below street level. 

The subway musician Susan Cagle was discovered at Penn Station, after years of practice, and she recently released an album on Sony BMG. She has a song called, Dear Oprah, which she got to sing to Oprah on Oprah. 

This got me thinking again. Maybe I should take my guitar out of its case and sing Tom Cruise’s Braces in the subway. Who knows, maybe I’ll get discovered and then be asked to serenade Tom, Katie and Suri at a party at the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On Strike: C’mon Everyone’s Doing It!

I hope I don’t get into trouble for writing this. I’m in the Writer’s Guild, and in case you haven’t heard, we’re on strike. I don’t know what the rules are with regards to writing on webzine’s. I haven’t done the research because I’m too busy. Don’t tell anyone, just in case.

I want to be a union gal, I do, but the truth is my last WGA contract was in 2000 when I wrote a feature film for the Ghost Whisperer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, so it feels a bit odd yelling, “Stick it to the man!” 

After the ‘Love’ job, things started to unravel at breakneck speed. I divorced my husband, disbanded my writing partnership, and wrote a movie musical for the high school crowd, to which my agent at the time said no one would buy. I guess no one bought Camp or High School Musical either. I am so tired of always being ahead of my time and dealing with dumb asses.

Unfortunately my days are probably numbered at the Guild. I think I have 7 years to show income from a WGA gig before they hand me my walking papers. I don’t want my walking papers! I want to stay!             

The only reason why I’m still a card-carrying member is because I still pay my annual dues. I may not have the full benefits, unbelievable health insurance and the enviable pension (like I used to) but I still feel like I ‘made it’ every time I look at my card, no matter how delusional that is. And it is delusional.

It’s also about the free movies. That’s the shit. As a member, DVD screeners are sent to me during award season, which is now upon us. Why just today I got 3 recent movie titles in the mail. It’s like Christmas morning every time I go to my mailbox. 

In addition, during this holy time period I can see most movies in the theaters gratis! Friends start coming out of the woodwork, and I’m extremely popular, unlike high school.

But I had an obligation to wordsmiths everywhere, and joining the picket line was my way of saying thank you for the free movies and for the privilege to play on the WGA softball team. I was also afraid that the WGA police would hunt me down and confiscate my complimentary DVD’s. (Obsessed with the free movies? You bet.) 

I picketed alongside some actor from Law & Order: SVU, Seth Meyers from SNL, and William Mapother, a.k.a Tom Cruise’s cousin, (who curiously enough was in an episode of SVU in 2003). 

I felt like an activist from the 60’s. I was about to burn my bra when I realized that bra burning had nothing to do with fair wages in digital media. But I burned it anyway because I was energized dammit! 

We were sticking it to a mouse named Mickey and his Disney bosses. (Apparently it isn’t the happiest place on earth) My fellow writers and I marched, actually it was more like we stood still and vehemently pumped our signs up and down, because while my fellow protesters in Los Angeles lost weight as they clocked the miles, there wasn’t any room to actually walk on New York City streets. 

Some strikers carried signs that read, “Honk If You’re For Writers”. Buses and trucks laid on their horns as they drove by, but I wasn’t sure if they were honking in solidarity or if they just wanted the car in front of them to get the f’ out of their way.

In an inappropriate way I’m secretly relieved. Now if anyone asks me how the job hunting is going, I can confidently reply, “ Oh, I can’t look for a job, I’m on strike.” Ooh, I just got Knocked Up in the mail.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Less Talk, More Walk: Surviving NYC one lesson at a time

A couple of weekends ago I was feeling very anti New York City. Everything and everyone annoyed me. According to the locals, this was normal. The fact that I live at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, surrounded by the calming sounds of jack hammers and cranes, and that I’m often tripping over hordes of tourists sprinting to secure their place on the Circle Line, does not help my mood. Let’s just say that I do not live in an ideal location. 

I’m several long blocks from the nearest subway station, which happens to be the luxurious and fragrant Port Authority bus terminal on the infamous 42nd Street. Just once I’d like to walk to the subway and not have to step over the man with no right foot, who’s sprawled out in the middle of the sidewalk, or inhale an odoriferous bouquet of urine and roasted peanuts. Is that too much to ask? But you say, “That’s the city. It’s gritty and alive”. No. No, it’s not. It’s gross.

My relentless bemoaning of my decision to move back to the Big Apple during this particular weekend drove me into the arms of my loyal and trusted friend, Ms. Laptop. I decided to go to my off-site office, Starwich, a lovely cafĂ© a couple of blocks from my apartment. They offered free Wi-Fi and everyone knew my name. 

I walked in and saw that every single chair was occupied. It was standing room only. I had never seen it so packed. I threw up my hands and stormed out. Now where? I didn’t know where because there wasn’t anywhere else in my stupid neighborhood to go! I walked around the block and decided on a park along the West Side Highway that had a few tables and a respectable amount of lawn. But as I walked west, the streets became more and more crowded with people (read tourists). I couldn’t deal. I needed real estate that wasn’t occupied by camera toting, Birkenstock wearing (with socks), fanny pack holding, foreigners.

Wait, my building has a sundeck on the third floor that overlooks the Hudson River. That didn’t sound so bad. When I got to the sundeck, I had the whole place to myself. Ahhh. That’s what I wanted, a little piece and quiet away from humanity. I booted up my computer and started creating.

A few minutes later I was interrupted by the sounds of a cheering crowd. I walked over to the edge of the sundeck and saw a sea of pink in the park along the West Side Highway. There must have been hundreds of people wearing pink t-shirts and pink baseball hats. A banner read, “Avon Breast Cancer Walk”. It was the closing ceremonies to the two-day, 39-mile cancer walk. 

I sat back down and as I listened to the President of the organization thank the walkers for their hard work, and tireless efforts, I thought about the bitching session that I had partaken in over the weekend. Bitching! I should’ve been walking! I could’ve bitched while I walked, and then at least I would’ve been doing something productive.

I felt ashamed especially after listening to a few breast cancer survivors tell the throngs of people uplifting and inspirational stories. It felt as if they were speaking directly to me. “Thank you for taking action and not wallowing in self pity like that Dani girl. If we had to wait until she stopped complaining about icky New York City, we might never have walked today, and as a result, wouldn’t have raised enough money to find a cure.” 

The event was over but I wanted to support the women in pink. I wanted to do something in deference to their struggles, so I lay back on my chaise, slipped my hand under my shirt, and gave myself a breast exam on my sundeck. 

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ghosts of Blogging Past

I am linking up with Mommy 2 Cents and Chosen Chaos for a Ghosts of Blogging Past party. All the cool kids will be attending, and they’ll be linking up one of their earliest posts.

Here's mine:

Before anyone reads the title of this article and thinks that I’m refusing sex, let me explain. 

I love sex. I mean I really love sex, and as much as I’d like to write about the sex that I love, I’m actually talking about Sex and the City, the movie, that’s currently filming on the streets of Danitown. Someone apparently asked for this movie because Sex is back.

Sweet baby Jesus people, I do not need nor want to see Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, now in their 40’s, and do I dare say it out loud, 50’s, still kvetching about their high class problems, and glorifying women as materialistic, Martini chugging, bed-hopping sex addicts, in Manolo Blahniks. And my feelings have nothing to do with the fact that I don’t know a Blahnik from a Choo. Unless you’re talking about the Beatles song, I am The Walrus, coo coo ca choo.

We had eight seasons, 94 episodes, a jump in Cosmo sales at bars throughout the world, and Kim Catrall’s books, educating novices about sexual intelligence, and the female orgasm. Isn’t that enough? I’m not sure that I see the point in a SATC movie. Then again, I don’t see the point in showering everyday either. 

The movie was supposed to begin filming right after the series ended in 1998, but since the money wasn’t talking, some of the ladies went walking. And I’m embarrassed that I know that.

According to the website I found chronicling the New York City shoot, fans have been chomping at the bit for a SATC movie. Really, because when I logged on, there were only three different postings expressing dire love and devotion for Carrie and the crew. 

There are some set photos of the ladies on the website as well, and from what I can see, the Annie Hall look just might be coming back to haunt us, complete with vest, loose tie and button down shirts.

And the shoe on those bitches? Let me tell you something, I can’t walk outside my building and to the bus stop, a hundred feet away, in anything higher than sneakers, let alone traipsing along Fifth avenue in stilettos. Who does that? It’s not like I wouldn’t want the sexy high end fuck me pumps, but with my bunions, it’s a nice Merrell walking sandal for me. I marvel at the SATC gals and those like them, who are able to clickity clack around New York City without falling and breaking something.

It’s been three years since last we saw our ladies and according to reports, the movie will not be picking up where the series left off in 2004 because of the slight aging of the actresses. Slight aging? I’ll tell you what slight aging has meant to me in the last three years. 

That pesky little thing called gravity is a f’in she-bitch. It attacked me from above and from behind. And just when I thought I’d be able to get away with five simple Botox injections twice a year, my nasolabial fold now needs filling. Note to self: make an appointment with Dr. Gottlieb. But that’s just me. I’m curious to see what slight aging has meant to the gals.

So, do these characters now or have they ever represented a cross section of contemporary women? No. Although in the movie version Jennifer Hudson, a woman of color, will be playing Carrie’s assistant. I hope that she’ll be a singing assistant, because that sista’s got pipes.

The SATC way of life was never my way of life- mainly because the last time I lived in NYC I was in my 20’s. But now that I’ve moved back and I’m in my early 40’s, which is the new 30’s, and in a relationship, maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally be able to relate to the SATC ladies. 

And maybe, just maybe, I will get myself a pair of wood Flaminia brown strap pumps, a black Filth Mart floral print dress, a black Club Monaco saddle bag, and sashay my ass over to the bus stop. A girl can dream.