Archive for November, 2003

New York Rudeness

Tuesday, November 18th, 2003

Ian posted a blog a few days back about Times Square and the Subway and although I couldn’t disagree more about the content, the writing was fantastic and his rants are basically what we pay him for, so I’m not going to try to pick apart his loathing of Manahattan. He once said to me “you can’t go to a whorehouse and expect to be loved” and if he said it to me, I’m sure he’s also said it to himself at some point.

Anyway, there is an aspect to New York that I hate. Everyone here, your neighbors, your friends and people you don’t know at all, feel free to discuss their opinions of your behavior in the rudest terms. Ian complained about the group silence in the subway terminals, and I have to say, I enjoy this a thousand times more than the casual observation.

If you are walking in to your house with an overflowing armload of groceries, someone you don’t know will feel free to holler, “Yo! You ought to make two trips, you’re gonna drop something!”

They feel okay about pointing out what you’re doing wrong, they go so far as to postulate a way you could be doing it better and yell it, but an ice age could come and go before they held the door open for you.

I spent some time yesterday making business calls. Only one person did I have to leave a message on her answering machine. She called me back, we spoke for ten seconds while I gave her the information she already had on her answering machine, and as she was getting off the phone she said, “I wanted to call and check because some of us didn’t get the message.”

I mean, a) we changed the time by half and hour to help the people I called, not me, b) all of them got the message from me and c) if none of them got the message from me, *you just got it*. I *just* told you. What improvement on anyone’s life is it for you to try and make it seem as if I am doing it wrong?

I just popped into a CVS to pick up some bridal magazines for Jordana. A guy? Leafing through bridal magazines? Hey, what do I care, I love my girl, I’m helping her out. I picked out two magazines and my eyes began to linger on the heavily aerobicized young ladies on the cover of the Men’s Magazines. “Attractive ladies”, I thought to myself. “Seductively attractive, I would go so far as to say.”

A 180 year old woman was suddenly standing next to me. “Would your bride want you looking at that?” she said. I was holding bridal magazines in my hands, but she had a gnarled witch finger pointing to Maxim.

“Oh, right,” I said, laughing. “Um, yeah, no, yeah…”

“If you’re looking at these magazines,” she said, completely straight faced, “maybe you shouldn’t be buying these magazines” pointing at the ones in my hands.

“Ah,” I said. “Well.” She stared at me. Forcing me to say, “ha ha!” then she walked away.

I am, in fact, marrying a *woman* for chrissakes. Is there some alternate reality where you find only *one* woman attractive? Seriously, I could see if I had “Nuns Weekly” under my arm, or “I Like Boys” or something, but I am marrying an attractive woman. Through some failure on my part, I’m not so attracted to her that I am unable to notice any other beautiful woman in the world, that’s what I did wrong.

Sure, I went out of my way to try to help my confused bride find some kind of way of making this wedding okay, the wedding that I asked her to have with me, but this frickin’ New Yorker found a way to make me wrong.

Man, I don’t know. You want good writing and coherent ideas, go read Ian’s blog.

You need schoolin’

Thursday, November 13th, 2003

I have been working with a group of 11-13 year olds over the last week, teaching them music that they are going to then turn around and record for me in the studio, starting this Friday. I’ve been driving down to their school in order to work with them.

My relationship to “school” isn’t terribly complicated. I’m not one of those kids who did poorly and suffered because of it, I didn’t realize one day that my grades were slipping or tearfully admit that I never learned to read or anything. I have hated school since montessori. Apparently, I sat in the driveway, arms and legs folded, a normally rational and quiet kid now screaming his head off, and my mom would lift me in to the front seat, drive me to school, carry me out of the car and leave me on the front step and drive away. She would circle the block and wait for me to finally get nervous and go in.

My ADHD was profoundly misdiagnosed as anything from Epilepsy (because I would be lost in daydreams to the point of not responding to my own name) to OCD (being unable to stop blurting out unrelated information several times in a row) to bipolarism (the manic phase looks like ADHD). But all of these were casual uninterested diagnoses, I was the kid each teacher had to put up with every day, any day I wasn’t there was easier for them, and most of them probably advanced me because I could *always* do *everything*, reading-math-everything, on a high school or college level, and they just didn’t want me in their class anymore.

So, I have a really clean hostile reaction to showing up at a school. I look at the hallowed halls and I see cockroaches and hostile bitter adults cornered into a lifetime of medicority. No-one decides to teach school. In California, the teachers were paid worse than the garbage collectors, but it takes a certain chutzpah to get up at 3 in the morning and drive around picking up trash, so the teachers were even lazier, shittier people than the trashmen.

Even once I failed out of high school and lied my way into college, I found incredible disdain for my friends who talked about their schoolwork. One of my best friends has been close to me since the beginning of his freshman year, and he is now a doctor. I did my damnedest to get him to not go to class, and he found a way to rise to the top. He has the highest board scores of anyone I know, and when he was a freshman I *mocked* him every day for paying any attention to his work. I hated that he went to class, I still hate the idea that doing that work will help anyone.

So, I’m at this junior high school working with these kids and laughing at all the teachers. Fucking teachers, looking beaten down, hardly raising their heads enough to be confused by my smiling face. I walk through these halls knowing a) none of these teachers is good enough to smell my farts and b) I could kick every single punk’s ass in that school. It’s like I’m returning to school, only this time I get to have this 220 pound body, I get to be a handsome man, terrifying the other teachers and students with my devil-may-care attitude.

I sat down and started singing with the wonderful kids. So talented. These little burgeoning fountains of possibility, discovering the same thing I discovered at their age, that music was a passion of mine, that creating phrases and circumstance out of thin air, out of nothing, gave me a chance to feel whole for a moment.

The songs are for meant for younger children, 6 through 9 year olds. I explained to them that we use kids slightly older to give younger kids someone to emulate. “We’re trying to make little kids fall in love with singing at a very young age” I say, and the kids laugh. One of the girls says, “did you record songs when you were young?”

“Yeah, I did,” I said, remembering a recording my mom through me on when I was in 7th grade. “I sang songs for younger kids to learn, and then I started working with kids your age in ’89 or ’90. They have grown up now and a lot of them are working in the industry or on stage.”

“So, you got them to sing, and now they’re performing and then kids like us go see them and want to sing and now we’re singing these songs for kids, and they’ll want to sing…” her face lights up. “That’s awesome!”

I mean, what can I tell you. Kids, especially choir geeks, are into the larger meanings really early, they want what they are doing to have deep mystical meanings. But it seems silly at this point to wonder how I was failed by the system, when in fact the system seems to be working for so many other kids, and I get to be a part of that system. Sure, I was failed by every single teacher I ever had, but I currently have a life that is pretty close to what I always dreamed it would be, so maybe they actually did it right.

Two thoughts

Monday, November 10th, 2003

I really do want to get back on the wagon here in a number of ways. I keep setting myself deadlines for getting a personal trainer and getting back to the gym, and yet I haven’t done it. Even after seeing the videotape of Lucretia where I look, in a word, tremendous.

Two things. One, my freinds Anthony and Scott have created a show called “Gutenberg: The Musical” that is as original and entertaining as anything I have seen in years. A double bill of that show and Lucretia would be a hell of an entertaining night.

Second, I was watching the cast of The Simpsons on Inside The Actor’s Studio. The host was doing his usual last set of questions, and asking the actors to answer in character which is just insufferable (these people are the *actors* not the *writers*. They just read what they are given, for fuck’s sake…) but for the last question, “If Heaven exists, what would you like God to say to you at the gates?”, he had each person answer as themselves. Each said something lovely, it’s the kind of question that inspires lovely answers, and finally they got to Harry Shearer. His answer; “Show starts in half an hour.”

You just never hear someone describe the experience of half-hour call as heavenly, especially someone who is famous as a film and voice over artist, but that’s how you know the real deal. That would be great, to always have that feeling of the Stage Manager leaning in while you put on make-up and calling “Half-hour to places!” and hollering back, “Thank you, half-hour”.

Ah, so much is made of the theater-family, the whole joining the circus, smell of the greasepaint bullshit. People are so full of crap they get “I can’t, I have rehearsal” bumper stickers and have star2b@hotmail email addresses. So the less the said, the better, maybe. But to hear a multi-millionaire, who is part of The Simpsons and Spinal Tap, say that heaven is the moment before the show starts… it just really touched me.


Sunday, November 9th, 2003

All right, I’ve been trying really hard to be civil. Jordana and I have spent the last two months making a great play and then the last two weeks watching bad ones. That’s unfair, some were quite good, especially the fantastic “Gutenberg: The Musical”, which I would option and try to mount myself if I had any idea how to do that.

But man, I had no idea how off the curve we are. And so, I can’t really say anything. It’s all gonna be in code, but eventually, I hope to talk about the theater I’ve seen in the last week. I just can’t right now.