Bon Iver Sunrise Show


It’s 5:05.  The street lamps spill amber through leaves of trees.  This always reminds me of Jesus freak birthday cards: a sun peaking through clouds over a blindingly sparkly ocean with “God Bless this Day” written inside.  My dad once said that MTV ruined the mind’s ability to associate albums with personal events and instead filled your head with things like Britney Spears dancing around in a red patent leather jumper.  Sometimes I wish Hallmark hadn’t commandeered so many cliches so that they could, in my perception, exist as original beautiful moments and not something I can buy for $2.99 at Wallgreens.

We drive down Santa Monica, passing various crackheads loitering around suspiciously or bounding across streets for some unknown reason although I always suspect either drugs or thievery.  Sometimes I wonder what these people’s lives are like, where they live, who they sleep with.  But then I think that in order to know those things, I’d have to hang out with them and frankly I don’t mind being me and I possess a desire to live past the age of 32.

There are small groups of people walking into the Hollywood Cemetery, people like us who punked out on the previous six hours of DJ sets and a film or two leading up to Bon Iver’s sunrise show.  It never feels like there are a bunch of dead people living here permanently.  The vibe is more so Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, the headstones and mausoleums and nighttime fog merely props in extravagant display of decorating showmanship.

The driveway leads to a lawn of people.  I’ve been here for summertime movies, but those are scheduled ten hours earlier than this.  Everyone is horizontal or sitting cross legged, waiting for this seven hour event to come to a close.  People sleep in sleeping bags, on blowup mattresses, and lie on jackets in the grass.  Girls cover up with grandma blankets that probably have never seen the light of day before this show.  There are beanies and puffy coats and boxes of cereal.  It looks like a refugee camp for Santa Cruz granola hippies.

Above us the sky reflects an orangey pink haze, trapping the 6 am city glow.  A group of Buddhist monks chant a blessing over the crowd.  I sit wondering when I will make it to Tibet while the girl next to us talks in a voice to loud for this morning about being parched and her friend Christopher’s finals.  If I learned one thing during my seven year entrapment at a Catholic school it’s to be respectful of other people’s religions.  Talking over a mantra goes into my list of no-nos, despite the fact that most of these people are probably coming down from whatever drugs they’ve taken over the last few hours and that we are calmly partying on hollowed ground.  It’s not necessarily the time one thinks about appropriate social conduct but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to slap her knuckles with a palm frond and then measure her plaid skirt out of compulsory habit.

As Bon Iver takes the stage, the sky shows an inkling of change and by the end of the second song half of the sky is a dusty periwinkle and the other half mouldy tangerine.  By the fourth song a dense gray fog has obliterated all of the subtle vibrancy of the previous ten minutes.  So quickly it does disappear.  But the band plays on, drums charging them ahead with an almost unstoppable locomotion.  Singer, Justin, howls sweetly and I remember when I first heard this album, dancing in a tree house with friends, watching Liza Minnelli and laughing at her nose and having Matt reprimand me for my harshness.

The crowd stays bundled up in their makeshift beds, some unfortunately appearing to be sleeping through the entire set.  Pot smoke rolls in and out like the fog.  I tap my feet on the grass that isn’t as damp as I thought it would be.  I watch my crimson polished toes dance in my sandals.  Tyler locks his arms around my knees and I lock mine around his.  With each song the dense haze becomes less dim, revealing a sea of people lucky enough to be here.

We leave before the last song, walking past engravings and fake flowers, listening to the crowd sing along with him.  I always do this, voluntarily or begrudgingly, leaving before the crowds pack up their beds and say goodbye to their friends.  It somehow becomes more real.  I see the event as this moment in time in its totality.  How this happened here, in this place, to these people.  How it will never happen again in the exactly the same way with the same air and the same friends.  The irreplicable DNA of a moment.  How time barrels on like the sun across the sky.  Forward.  Forever.  Right as we are about to leave, Justin says, “Thanks for being here, really.  We should do this again.  Maybe.  Or maybe never again.”  And I know just what he means.


Climbing Trees and Christmas Trees


Tommy was my brother’s friend from baseball.  He lived a few blocks away from us with his parents and his sister Kaley.  Both kids had golden skin and white teeth.  I always thought their mother Cathy was beautiful.  She had brown hair and drove a white Isuzu Trooper.  Once we went to the beach and I saw the seven-inch scar from a c-section on her stomach, which didn’t stop her from wearing a blue and white striped bikini.  Her husband was kind of an idiot and I never understood them together.  His way of asking us if we wanted a Pop Tart was, “Would you like a Poop-a-de-tart with butt hair on top?”  It always illicited groans and giggles, but I was secretly glad my dad never said anything like that to my friends.  Nothing quite turned me off of a fake strawberry pastry like that tag line.

They lived on a corner lot with a big circular driveway, something I found to be most luxurious in those days.  Having a driveway that you never had to back out of seemed like a dream scenario for when I got that Volkswagen Rabbit I planned on buying for myself when I turned sixteen.  “You’re not driving that tin can,” my mom would say, “You’ll kill yourself.”  By the time I actually came of driving age my tastes had changed, and lucky enough for my mother I was into Chevy Silverados and other vehicles suited for softball lesbians.

In between the street and their property was a line of pine trees with branches easy enough to climb.  We’d jump up two feet, five feet, teen feet.  Legs dangling and with views of nothing except the grass front yard.  I’d usually sing songs.  One I was particularly fond of for those moments was “The Sign” by Ace of Base.  It was the first CD I ever owned: I went to Target with my dad, bought it, came back home and put it immediately into my 3 Disc CD Changer with two tape decks and a radio tuner.  My brother’s fondest memory of the tree was the time he fell off from the third branch up and landed on his back right on a basketball.  Knocked the wind clean out of him, lucky bastard.

Tommy was the class trouble maker but he was cute so he got away with a lot.  His grandma lived down the street in a big country house with a swimming pool and tennis court.  During the summer we’d swim there because it was too hot to be indoors or outdoors.  The only solution was full submersion in cold, blue water.  Tommy told us dirty jokes and if I hadn’t know already, he would surely have been the one to ruin what’s special about Christmas.  That honor was left to my friend Julie, whose house was later burned down (ironically) when Christmas lights set fire to her family’s tree.  My mom was convinced it was insurance fraud.



Screen shot 2009-09-26 at 2.43.19 PMI am standing in shoes that are too small for my feet, pondering where to get those socks my dad is supposed to wear for his bad circulation and if I should start wearing them myself.  I stare into the mirror, not blankly yet because it’s the beginning of fitting season and I am not yet taxed by it yet and my feet feel similarly perky.  It’s hour two of the impending fifty-one that will commence.  I am still happy.  These are moments that I relish in because I reaquaint myself with being a positive person; the positive person that will eventually bow out to a more negative, frustrated, drowning one towards the end of October.

Janet Jackson comes on the stereo.  It’s from the 80s and it’s the album before the sepia covered self-titled Janet album.  That one was mine.  That album was the summer of ’94, when we moved into the Summit apartment complex while our house got remodeled.  I remember black feet and plumbing and lots of swimming pools.  I remember chocolate Jello and my brother digging through boxes of trash and taking books about war.  My second grade boyfriend, Joey, moved there with his family at the same time.  He walked on the tippy toes of his sneakers and had a downy blonde unintentional mullet.  He’s married now and is a successful banker.  But back then we used to run around behind the tennis courts on giant tufts of grass, picking up stray neon balls and getting stung by bumble bees.

The carpet was the cheap apartment kind that my mother hates: gradients of flecked gray nubs.  The drywall was cheap and thin and you could hear the plumbing running through the walls when someone used the shower.  And this was an expensive place.  FEMA was paying for it.  We moved out of the Summit within the year once our real house was finished.  This is the same house my dad would move out of in 1996 when my parents divorced and that the rest of us would move out of permanently in 1999 when my mom married Tom.  When they divorced a year later we wished we had kept that house and all of its memories, all of its stained glass and crown moulding my mom painted by hand while listening to the OJ Simpson trials on a shitty radio.  But a couple had moved in there when we sold it to them and then they had kids and then it was their house and not our house.


Do I Look Like a Prostitute?

It’s still dark when I pull up to the outside of the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset.  I’m here for a job.  The call time is 4:30 AM and it’s about 4:18 AM currently.  The valet takes my car even though I hate valet and I hate getting into my car with the smell of cheap cologne and a sweaty palmed steering wheel.  But they’re paying for it and I’m going to be here all day so I can’t help but subject myself to this foul invention of convenience.

My eyes are red and squinty; the schedule has afforded me less than five hours of sleep and I am not ready for this day to begin.  I walk into the lobby.  It is empty and white.  No production crew, no photographer, just super late nighters milling around still vaguely intoxicated.  House music that pumps loudly through ceiling speakers during the party hours hangs lightly in the hair, remnants of full fledged debauchery that was going on until about two hours ago.

Before I have the chance to mosey on over to the front desk to ask where the shoot is going to take place today, two women walk through the front door.  They are immediately friendly and the three of us exchange knowing glances: the look that means we’re all a part of the club, the fashion job club.  This is the same thing that happens when you pass fellow models on the streets in New York, except it’s less of a tip-of-the-hat variety of acknowledgement and more so the unturned nose, competitive kind.

In my professional estimation, these two ladies aren’t models though; they’re too old and too rough around the edges to be models.  They look like makeup artists or hair stylists or something, I don’t know.  All I know is I’m exhausted and I am happy to have found some comrades.

We greet each other with the common “Hey” and “Hellos” that are appropriate when you first meet other humans.  I ask if they know what we’re doing or where we’re going.  The ladies are as clueless as I am.  The shorter of the two asks what agency I am with.  I tell her.  She tells me who she is with, which is strange because usually it’s an irrelevant discussion as the beauties and the beautifiers are represented by different people.  But hey, I’m all for being friendly.

I begin to notice that neither girl has a makeup kit or anything to roll their supplies around in.  I’m used to these types coming in with at least two giant suitcases filled with a smorgasbord of torturously girly things: curlers, combs, eye shadow, glitter, tweezers, pencils, straightening irons, bobby pins.  The only makeup they have brought is what’s currently on their face: an interesting palate mélange of early 90s pastels and cakey foundation.  Makeup artists never look this trashy, I think to myself.

Meanwhile the taller girl chats on her cell phone, trying to figure out where we are all supposed to be.  The lobby is still largely empty and it’s nearly 4:30.  Finally she comes back with an answer.  “We’re shooting in the penthouse,” she says and motions for us to head up the elevators on our own.

We’re almost to the 12th floor when the shorter girl hums into the air, “I wonder if this is a cash or credit job?”  Huh?  Cash or credit?  I’m confused.  And all of a sudden, as the elevator doors open up to a dark door-lined hallway, my sleep deprived fog lifts like an opaque veil over my brain and good sense.  Holy shit, these girls are hookers.  These girls are hookers!

They’re getting off of the lift when they look back at me and in a panic I lie and say I forgot something downstairs and I’ll be right back up.  They don’t seem to care either way.  When they walk away I hear the one say to the other, “Is it film or video?”  What?!  What kind of place is this?!

I take the elevator ride back to the lobby, imagining what would have happened if I had followed them down the hallway and into the penthouse brothel.  Surely, I would have figured out what was going on before I dropped trough and asked where they wanted me, but it would have been pretty damn awkward.  I envision something similar to a scene in The Departed, walking in on Jack Nicholson chopping someone’s fingers off and I’m at the door asking if they sold puppies here.  Naturally, I’d be killed.  As I am not hip enough to the seedy ways of the underworld, I am inquisitive as to the nature of the whore world.  Is it like the mafia?

The doors open onto a scene that had materialized in the minute I had been away: the photographer is unloading equipment with boys in black, the production assistant is walking around with a clipboard, there is the buzzing about of work getting done.  The photographer looks up at me and says good morning with an energetic lilt and I feel like I have been hallucinating for the last thirteen minutes.  I figure that I escaped being in my first porno to be a good start to an absurdly early morning, or in their case a very late evening.



All Tomorrow’s Parties: Part II


Off of the main highway and down a dark two lane road is a small sliver of a sign for the Kutsher’s Country Club.  I drive past it.  I make a U-turn.  I make a right.  The Envoy’s temperature gauge reads 67 degrees.  Shit.  I am wearing long shorts and a wimpy sweater.  This is one of the downsides of spontaneity: unpreparedness and in this case, discomfort.  I am surprised that there are no other cars on this road the size of a large residential driveway.  Trees envelope the vista, eventually opening up to reveal the venue, a relic from the 1960s corporate retreat circuit.

It is hard to tell from the outside what awaits us for the next 5 hours.  The facade brings to mind Dirty Dancing and summering with the family, swatting mosquitos off of bare arms and barbquing with seasonal friends.  We drive past the glowing building and into production parking, which will be our start off point for sneaking into the venue which we quickly discover is actually held inside of Kutsher’s and not outdoors.  This seems strange to me, as I have become used to the arid outdoorsiness of Coachella but am all too thankful nonetheless.

The path is as dark walking as the road was driving.  A stagnant body of water that seems too small to be a lake but too large to be a pond reflects light from the windows of the Country Club.  Bodies move in the distance.  The bass line of otherwise indecipherable music thuds out from somewhere within the massive building.  I feel like I am ten years old again.

Large glass doors open and close and kids come in and out freely, most carrying a cup of brown noodles or some other form of concert food.  It takes me awhile to realize how strange the place is.  And when I say strange, I mean disgusting.  Over the course of the next few hours, the obvious rot of the place will become ever the more apparent.

At first glance, however, it just strikes me as an odd place to host a concert for 2000 people.  It is one part casino, one part airport terminal, one part summer camp.  Hallways wind around for what seems like an eternity, leading us to various lobbies, a bar or two, a heavily chlorinated swimming pool, and what have been described as terrifyingly filthy bathrooms.  I do not know when this was an operating hotel.  It is unclear when the carpets were ever clean, the sofas untorn, the ceilings unmarred by water damage.  The building brings to memory my ex-stepdad’s fifteen year old golden retriever, Mel, during its last few months.  The poor thing dragged it’s hindlegs behind useless, arthritic hips.  It’s skin was covered in sores, continence was no longer an issue, and hey layed all day next to the TV because the vibrations from the lower speakers were the only way in which he was able to register sound.  Mom would speak for the dog, woofing, “PutMEtoSLEEP!  PUTmetoSLeep!”  Ex-stepdad didn’t think this was very funny.

Like Mel, the Kutshers Country Club has an owner that just won’t give up the ghost.  There is someone on this planet that looks at this disintegrating piece of shit and wistfully thinks, “Wow, I remember the good old days…”  Despite the fact that some of the tour goers are actually sleeping in this place (shudder), the Country Club is not a Country Cash Cow by any stretch of the imagination.  If they were netting a profit of any sorts they could at least hire a dump truck to haul out the broken furniture or plug up some of the bigger holes in the walls.  And if these owners were someone even existing in this plane of reality, they would find it in their hearts to research a more appropriate name, perhaps one less outrageously ironic.

Our group mills through the halls looking for the first ballroom, which turns out to be a low ceilinged, floral-pattern rugged, plastic stalagtyte chandeliered fiasco of a place.  A band is on already.  The acoustics in the room are muffled.  The crowd doesn’t move.  The stagnation is similar to what’s festing in the “lake” outside.  This is weird.  There are maybe 115 people in a space that fits nine times that for the bar mitzvahs that probably went down here in 1979.  In high school I used to go to a spot called the Cobalt Room next to an Italian sandwich shop and watch my friends bang around on their guitars, dreaming about when one of them would actually think I was attractive.  I’d sit on the soda soaked carpet and sway to the music coming out of a crap PA system.  Tonight is kind of like that.  But this time around I am too consumed with germs and other contagions to even care what I look like.

The first band plays a song I recognize and I look over at Danny’s sister and yell, “Oh my God!  I know these guys!  I love them!”  The song ends and is subsequently followed by a steady stream of garbage and then I remember that I only have one of their songs, the only good one that they played.  I want to yell over at her again, denouncing my now ownership of this band and resurrecting myself as one with exemplar taste but I refrain.  The damage has been done.

Hunger nips at us simultaneously and we head for the outdoors once more.  The cafeteria is a large wooden lean-to that would be more appropriately decorated with sawdust on the floor and a mechanical bull in the center.  I survey my options: pizza, falafel, asian noodles, old cake.  I forfeit $8 of hard earned money for a chicken pita with white sauce that I suppose is meant to taste like tzatziki sauce.  Danny describes his falafel pita as the most undercooked ball of chickpea mush he’s ever tasted, and not in a good way.  His sauce is brown and we are confused as to what it is supposed to be.

No one gets sick and Danny and Matt and I walk back towards the innards of Hell.  I pull down my striped sweater like I did the time before, hold a half eaten plate of food in one hand and my blackberry in the other.  This is supposed to be an “I look like I belong here” diversion for the security guards who are supposed to be looking for yellow wristbands.  The first attempt went badly for 2 out of the 7 of us: a security guard chased down Mike and Sarah and I ducked through the crowd like a first class self-preservational pussy, a strategy that was quite successful.  The con works again and I walk towards the new band, a Japanese psych rock group.

They are on stage doing sound check when Danny and I realize that ear plugs might be a sensible choice for this act, whose audio is already grating against my eardrums allowing me to assume that long term damage is looming.  For just one dollar I am ensuring that I might be able to hear my grandchildren ask me what being born in the 80s was like.  I lodge the orange foam into my ears and feel it expand, sluggishly drowning out most everything except the sound of my own voice, which insists on echoing around in my skull.  This is punishment for my incessant need to chatter.

Whatever psych rock is, it’s grinding against my earplugs and through synthetic materials deep into my sense of what is right and wrong in this world and it is decided that a 12 minute song consisting solely of reverb and feedback is not in my repertoire of the former.  A man who looks like John Lennon in a pink and purple button up shirt offers us “special brownies.”  We decline.  Danny contemplates entrapment and pot busts.  I sit on the floor, unwilling to support this band enough to stand.  I am saved by three other friends who feel the same way.

Matt states that he is heading up to the “Executive Card Room” with the Executive Wrist Band he finagled from Danny’s hookup.  I volunteer to follow him to what turns out to be just another crappy, if not crappier, wing of Kutsher’s.  Despite the overzealous use of kindergarten room violet paint and emerald carpet, the hallways on this side look decidedly “REDRUM” and I imagine crows flying overhead, pecking their way through half demolished walls and removing my eyeballs.  Still, the “Executives” seem to be quite possessive over their territory and stare at us Non-Execs who dared to follow the 8×11 signs leading us this way.

The rest of the night slowly hurls towards the main event, the reason we came here…The Flaming Lips.  The previous four hours have leaved me a little befuddled.  I am more than happy to see them perform in what is essentially a banquet hall for old people, but what would they want to perform there?  Do they have bad self-esteem?  A bad tour manager?

Midnight comes upon us.  I am led down yet another hallway, accompanied by throngs of boys and girls.  The hallway ends at a set of swinging doors.  And when they swing open I see a blinding half moon of neon blue lights shining down on orchestra seating and hundreds of heads.  This room and this room alone is the only reason why Kutsher’s Country Club exists.  It is like the Coca Cabana in the Catskills.  It’s so out-of-place that it doesn’t seem real.  The band tests their instruments, girls dressed as sexy sherpas flank the stage, and they’re off.  Giant balloons appear from no where, confetti sprays into the air, sherpas dance, music plays, we bounce up and down, the same three people crowd surf in front, and then…it’s over.

We walk into the night.  The stars glare above us and I am convinced I can see the Milky Way.  The crew piles into the car for the two hour ride back.  By 4:30 in the morning, just twelve hours after the inception of this harebrained idea, we are back in the city, back at another Avis, armed with the hope that days like this will be remembered forever and that work that morning won’t kill any of us.

All in the name of a Party.


All Tomorrow’s Parties: Travelogue Part I


“Care for an adventure?”  I get the text at 3 PM while walking out of Starbucks with my second latte of the day in hand, green straw in my mouth.  Opportunity does not knock so much these days as much as it dings and buzzes obnoxiously in my pant pocket.  The “adventure” in question is the tail end of the ATP festival, New York’s answer to Coachella.  The arbiter of fun is my friend Danny and some Brooklyn cohorts.  The Flaming Lips are closing the show.  My interest is piqued, and like the start of all good stories, my response is, “Why not?”

I take the subway to Prince Street and walk toward the agreed upon meeting place.  Danny is wearing a cream fedora and shorts, which he claims are the first he’s purchased in years and I believe him until I remember a picture I have of him from Coachella two years ago wearing a pair in red.  He argues that those were swimming trunks, a weak but valid point.  We move on in the conversation, turning our attention to snacks for the road instead.  We both get Cliff Bars: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie for him, Peanut Butter Crunch for myself.  I get a giant bottle of water, which I lose before we even get out of the city.

Our gang of four is in a holding pattern, waiting to confirm which additional adventurers will be making the trek out to the Catskills with us.  Thus far we have Danny, myself, Mike, and an Estonian.  Danny’s twin sister is en route to our meeting place.  A girl named Sarah might be in the cards, as is a fellow by the name of Matt with his girlfriend in tow.  At this point our numbers are sloppy and we only realize that we have too many people for the 7 seater SUV after we’ve rented it.

Danny’s sister arrives, Mike and the Estonian pack some booze, we get outside and try to hail a cab for five.  The first thing that pulls up is a minivan.  Eureka, serendipity!  A few blocks later and we’re at Avis, located on a street I used to have to avoid when I was at NYU because of the copious amounts of dog shit that always seemed litter its sidewalks.  We walk past a car with a window sticker for “Catskills Elementary.”  Wah, serendipity?!  If I were stoned this would really be blowing my mind, but I’ve been designated the designated driver so that’s out of the question for this three hour tour.

The boys have been drinking since brunch, something that wasn’t necessarily intentional but appears to be an oh happy accident.  I am told this Sunday was supposed to be booze free, followed by yoga and some other nancy pants activity like bike riding.  But the best intentions sometimes only turn out to be just that.  How this day turned into a drink-out-of-a-flask-drive-to-upstate-New-York type of day beats the hell out of me.

The woman at Avis is about as patient as a person could be.  She is hefty and fills out ever inch of her burgundy coat and white collared button up shirt.  Danny and I prattle on loudly about something I can’t remember.  We all laugh at a decibel that seems to me pretty loud for the lobby’s small space.  Mike hands over his credit card and driver’s license.  I hand over my own.  For an extra $3 I am added as an additional registered driver.  What a bargain.

The car is already out front.  It is a white Envoy with gray leather interior.  We are instructed to inspect the outside for any signs of damage so that we will not be held responsible.  Danny’s sister is a lawyer and she is meticulous and judicious when pointing out our findings, most of which the short Avis man laughs at and says, “Oh, no no das nutheeng.”  Still, I take pictures.  Mike has decided that he will drive us out of the city and then I can take the wheel after that.  He puts the car in reverse and bumps into the car behind us.  Whoops.

The final number when we hit the road is seven; Matt’s girlfriend either backed out or was never coming to begin with.  I missed the conversation when I was out buying another bottle of water and a dinner roll.  I sit up front, watching barges and clouds pass by as we drive down the FDR.  Danny is in the middle row and says, “This is the point where we’re actually doing this.”

It’s 5 PM and traffic is stuck.  Everyone’s iphone has a different opinion and apparently our first directions are incorrect.  We drive through a bit of New Jersey, a place I’ve always thought was actually quite luscious and appealing.  But I rarely tell anyone that…ever.  We pull off the side of the road at a gas station next to something that looks like a river but is probably just an average wash; the difference being that I am used to the Los Angeles River which looks less like a wash and more like a barren concrete tunnel that each Fast and the Furious sequel shoots in, Paul Walker screeching past empty shopping carts and homeless people in a black rice rocket.

Everyone pees that needs to pee.  I take the keys and hop in the driver’s side, Danny now taking shotgun and the DJ duty that accompanies the position.  Three trouble makers smoke pot and laugh in the back.  I can’t hear a thing which is great because otherwise I would have the anxiety that usually accompanies me knowing I have the life of six other people in my hands.  This is something that kicks in a few hours later, driving down the same road in pitch black darkness, yellow signs announcing “Deer Xing Next 25 Miles.”

We fly past trees and cars and the sun sets over the hills.  Danny plays 80s New Wave.  We all sing.  I think to myself that out of all of the drives I will make in my life, this will be one of my top ten.  These are the moments that I will long for when I die, the songs that will play in my head when that time comes, the things that gave everything else meaning.  And at that moment I am both sad and terribly alive, because I realize what I have and I realize that eventually it will all be taken away and I am helpless to stop it.  What a gift, I think, to just be here, on my way to the Catskills with one friend and five strangers becoming less strange and more intoxicated with every mile.

To be continued…


A Rockstar’s Girlfriend


“Hot girls who would hang out with rockstar musician.”

That’s the breakdown.  Easy enough.  Numerous friends of mine have had relations with rockstars and my wardrobe has ample amounts of miniskirts.  A no brainer.  In fact, the description hit so close to home that I put on the same thing from last night, keeping the smudged makeup on that didn’t come off with my Cetaphil face wash.  Tre rock and roll.

I arrive in Santa Monica for my 10:30 call time.  Fifty cents in the meter, Marni knockoff high heels in hand, and I’m on my way.  When I step into the lobby there are only two others waiting, a lady and a gentleman.  The boy is covered in tattoos.  I’m fairly certain the ratio of virgin skin to inked is largely in favor of the latter.  His hair is black and uber styled in the fashion of those hair books I used to flip through while my mom got her legs waxed at the salon back in 1993.  Lots of product, quasi mullet type vibe.  The girl wears a tight red dress and bodacious blonde hair a la the days of “Cherry Pie” music videos.  For a moment I think I might look too much like an actual rockstars girlfriend and less like the cliche the client might be going for.  Damn it, fashion sense!

We wait and wait and I go put more quarters in my meter.  We wait and wait.  Forty five minutes pass by and a casting director with gray hair comes in, pulling four of us out with him.  In the room will be Jason, Rosalie, Tattoo boy, and myself.  Jason has come in for the roll of “body guard” and he is size appropriate.  He reminds me of a villain from Aladdin or some guerilla rebel who kills tigers in his off time.  Mister Clean with a tan.  No more than five minutes into standing in the room while the casting director fiddles with the camera, saying “What the fuck is wrong with this thing?” and Jason is off on some tangent about his Waterfall Action Company, a conversation that was somehow misdirected when he was asked about the absurdly large wallet chain dangling from his hip to his knee.

Casting Director: Whoa, that’s an interesting chain you’ve got there.

Jason:  Thanks, man.  Yeah, it’s actually the only one in the world.  I had someone custom make it out of medieval chainmail.  It’s the only one in the world, man.  I got one around my neck, too.

Casting Director:  Huh, I thought it was some kind of fiber.

Jason.  No, man.  Yeah, I’ve got this company called [blah blah blah] and we do waterfall action tours.

Casting Director:  What are waterfall action tours?

Jason:  We service about 183 hotels in the Los Angeles area, taking people out that will pay like $600 dollars a day to check out local waterfalls.  You know there are [some inane number] within [?] miles of Los Angeles county?  I can take you out there and we can dive off of a 30 foot cliff sometime.

Here is where I interject, hoping to somehow throw this train wreck off course and into the land of “Shut the hell up” when I offer, “Sure, if he’s so inclined.”

The topic changes.  Success.  The casting director continues to swear profanities and fiddle with the camera.  He leaves, telling us to have a seat for a minute.  The four of us are left with chatty McJason over here and Tattoo Boy is an obvious target because, well, he is covered in tattoos.

Jason:  So man, where do you get all of those things?

Tattoo Boy: Umm, this place in Redondo Beach.

Jason:  Are you sponsored or something, man?

Tattoo Boy: Uh, you could say that.

Jason:  Cool man.  Cool.  How many hours you invest into that?

Tattoo Boy:  Like a hundred.

Jason:  Wow, man.  That’s like $100…$200 an hour, right?

Tattoo Boy:  $150

The conversation continues for another ten minutes.  Early in, I realize this guy’s going to really make my blood boil if I keep listening to his version of amiable interactions which really just equate to a soft interrogation involving a never-ending barrage of questions, each one prefaced or ended with ample abuse of the word “man.”  I feel sorry for Tattoo Boy because he must get people asking about them all of the time, like my friend Whitney with a tea cup Yorkshire terrier who cannot walk down the street without strangers squealing like kids at Christmas and asking “Oh my god!  She’s so tiny!” accompanied by “Can I hold her?” or “How much does she weigh?” and followed by more “Oh my God!”s.  But at least Whitney can make sure that her next dog is uglier and weighs at least 40 pounds; this guy can’t ever take these puppies off his biceps, neck, torso, stomach, and fingers.  I see the rest of his life spurring into an eternity of interactions with people like Jason.  At which point I also vow to never get a tattoo in an exposed area.

Because we are the first group to audition for this commercial, the casting director has admitted that he has “No idea what [he’s] doing.”  Comforting.  By the time lunch comes around, the direction could change completely and my chances of booking this damn thing diminish considerably.  I can just hear the client say, “I thought she was supposed to pretend to be drowning in a jacuzzi and the rockstar saves her…” and my tape is just me swigging liquor out of a bottle and giggling like an idiot.

I stand in between TB and Jason while we slate our names.  The CD asks us to get really close together, which I don’t want to do because the closer I am to Jason, the more distinctly I can smell his breath.  His arms stick out from his body because his trapazoids push them out at 25 degree angles.  His right one refused to not touch my left and I feel the course hair on his arm brush against my own.  I adjust my body so that I can successfully avoid vomiting.

It takes a considerable amount of “hmm’ing” and “haw’ing” on the part of the casting director to figure out what the hell we are going to improvise about in this audition.  The idea is that the chicks are groupies, Tattoo boy is the rockstar, and Jason is serving triple duty as the chauffeur, the bartender, and the bodyguard.  When told that this was going to happen to his role, Jason’s response was a chipper, “Cool, man.”  Yeah, super cool, man.

Casting Director: [Having an imaginary conversation on his cell phone]  I won’t do it for less than $5,000 dollars.  Fuck Prague.  Fucking Prague.  I hate Prague.  [To Tattoo Boy]  Like that, okay?  And actually, let’s make it $100 grand.  That works.  And you guys are on your way to Argentina.  Talk about a restaurant you love there.  Say, “They’ve got the most amazing Argentinian beef.  Grass fed, even!  Like beef sushi.  Beef tartar.”  And then you girls.  Talk about his tattoos, talk about his piercings.  Where’d you guys meet?  Hmmm…New York.  Yes, New York.  At a party.  Perfect.

All of these directions fall on deaf ears because Tattoo Boy is also a nervous wreck and a pretty abysmal actor.  When we roll tape and he starts talking I hear the insecurity pouring out of his shaking sentences.  You’re a rockstar?  No freaking way.  He sounds like a librarian that got a bunch of henna done, went to the bar, roofied two hookers, and was now figuring out what to do with them.

Knowing that TB is drowning, the CD offers multiple olive branches in the form of spoon-fed improv.  When he mentions that the spot is based off of Russel Brand, I know this guy is doomed to failure.  Brand is enigmatic, boisterous, ridiculous, brash.  This kid whimpers and I can’t wait to get out of the room.  My female compatriot doesn’t offer much Meryll Streep chops either, leaving me to fend for myself in a room full of people who should just move back to Iowa and keep waitressing in a diner somewhere.

Our scene ends up as follows: Jason walks into the room, “casing the joint.”  TB follows, flanked on either side by us two hot babes, while talking on the phone to his agent about “Fucking Prague.”  TB puts his sweaty armpit on my shoulder and mumbles something about Argentina and a beef restaurant.  I giggle and protest that I am a vegan.  Rosalee puts her leg on his leg and asks about his tattoos.  I yell at Jason that I need liquor to put up with these two.  Jason comes around with a cold bottle of Chardonnay and proceeds to fake fill our plastic cups.  TB and Rosalie continue awkwardly.  I mention how classy wine is.  Jason gets out of frame.  And SCENE.

The CD thinks that it’d be a swell idea if we improv a dancing scene, although he is a little distraught he doesn’t have any music.  The problem is solved, however, when he realizes that he can just clap a beat and Jason will offer up his beat boxing skills.  The menage toi I’ve found myself in jumps and laughs and then I slam my head into TB’s head and I slam it hard, laughing.  We cut the scene and I rub my throbbing temple and hope I didn’t give myself a concussion.  We slate again and I run out of the room to my car with an expired meter, praying that I didn’t get a ticket because of our hour long audition guinea pig session.

I peel my heels off, turn on the car, pull out of the spot.  Out the window I see Jason and Tattoo Boy talking again, surely about his body art or waterfalls.  Further down the street I catch the back of Rosalie’s giant mane of golden hair, running towards her car, her tits and ass fully exposed to any excessive bouncing.




The sun sets over Manhattan.  I am in the AirTrain, fresh off of the Howard Beach Station.  No matter how many times I take that train to and from the city, my heart thuds loudly in my chest and my brain whirls with the “what ifs” of missing my stop, being on the wrong train, heading needlessly into New Jersey, etc.  And despite checking the map above the head of some poor sod obsessively, my anxiety and directional self-doubt runs high.  All in the name of saving fifty bucks, which I am sure will come out of my pocket eventually when I am inevitably prescribed Lorazepam for chronic neuroses.

But, of course, like all of the times before, I make it off of the train and onto the AirTrain.  My anxiety abates for about a minute and then kicks in again when I wonder how long the security line will be or if I’m absolutely sure I am supposed to be flying today.  This is what goes on in the head of a crazy person.

Sanity comes in waves, though, and the sun glares softly through smudged and dirty glass making my pulse slow slow slow until I am actually here on this plane of existence and existing peacefully.  And here I watch.

An older mother of two braids one daughter’s hair while the other sits, already finished, playing with the turquoise bow in between her scalp and her pony tail.  She has bangs and pig tails.  Her skin is tanned.  She is too old for this look, I think, and neither of these girls are terribly beautiful.  Rough hewn, masculine, with ridiculous bows and an overattendant mother.

A man in the car ahead of me leans on a rail while talking to his friend, his mouth opening wide with laughter.  His blue uniform draping around his shoulders and chest.  I cannot hear what they are talking about but I imagine he is happy.

The air conditioner rings above me like a fire alarm….a mosquito in my ear…the after-a-loud-concert buzz of your ears dying a painful death.  I block it out.  The sun sits in my lap.

A pair of teenagers, nineteen at most, hold hands and kiss.  The boy wears a black and white “Los Angeles” tee shirt and the girl has blonde hair.  He is leaving.  The train jerks and they stumble, knocking their mouths apart.  They laugh.  I feel intrusive and change my line of sight.  Youth can  be so quietly lovely.

Seagulls swoop in the blue sky marred with the occasional cloud.  Manhattan sits on the horizon, departing from me at an  agonizingly slow rate.  Seeing it from this perspective makes me painful aware that I am not in it and I look away.


New York Trend Wrap Up


While discussing the benefits of Manhattan and the pitfalls of living in Los Angeles with a perfect stranger while waiting for my flight at JFK, we stumbled upon obvious epiphanies.  Alex (my new friend having needed my services in the form of a blackberry charger) said that once he arrives in New York he looks around and comes to that glorious, pop culture “Ah ha!  So this is what’s going on in the world.” This is where trends happen and when they happen they happen hard.  Music, art, fashion.  The works.  Los Angeles is isolative, wanting, and notoriously unhip.  Even the “hip” people out here strike me as vomitously unhip in comparison with what’s walking around Williamsburg and the East Village.  And, actually, when I think about it, even the “hip” kids in New York make me cringe because it’s a bit of a uniform at this point.  So maybe, what I’m thinking of is fashion.  Fashion happens in New York.  Hip happens everywhere because it’s accessible and trendy.  But fashion…this is why I love New York.

And so, in my week of glorious, unbridled, uncompromising, awkward, staring, enamored people watching I bequeath to you…The New York Wrap Up.

1.  Exposed ankles…The recession has left many a hipster penniless and mooching, meaning that any way to cut corners is duly  welcome.  Socks, in particular, seem to be high on the list of “wants” and not “needs.”  Boys with dainty ankles and presumably smelly shoes have gone for it in the last few seasons, rolling up their trousers in the event of a Hudson River flood.

2.  The Chanel-Wielding Fashion Bitch…Close yours eyes and imagine Lindsay Lohan with a degree in Public Relations.  Color does not exist and black is the shade of preference.

3.  Agnes Deyn Blondes…BYOB, please.  Bring Your Own Bleach, that is.  I had to do a couple double takes over the last seven days, seeing what I thought was model Aggie Deyn.  At one point I was really confused because one of her dopplegangers spoke with a British accent.

4.  Animal Hoof Heels…This year the fashion set looked distinctively like a heard of ponies from the calf down, legs weighted to Earth by gravity and a pair of two ton clunkers.

5.  Torn Tights…I used to be pissed when my nylons got tears in them.  Now I look at them as high fashion opportunities of gothic grandeur.  The goal is to see more leg and less solid fiber.  You want to look as though you’ve fallen into a black spider web and rolled around for a few.

6.  Madonna Redux…Lady Gaga was on the right track rolling around on the MTV VMA stage looking like a meth’d out sheep who’d got into her mother’s 1980s lingerie stash and a bucket of glitter.  Although I have to say, Madonna’s original version of that performance in “Like a Virgin” was a personal favorite of mine, Lady Gaga did make me think when she started bleeding profusely from her gut whether I just didn’t understand her art or this was really a piece of shit performance.  Thankfully, the kids on the street didn’t next-level it like GagMe and instead opted for Madonna’s more subtle influence: silver chains, lace, big hair, etc.  The afforementioned Torn Tights look fits well into this trend.

7.  Plaid…At one point there were six gentlemen on the corner of Prince and Lafayette wearing varying colors of the same pattern.  I felt like I was in Catholic school all over again.

8.  Not Bathing…Now it would be wrong of me to state that this is actually a new phenomenon, as the last few years have been rife with ripe smelling hipsters.  But it all came to a head whilst at the Tribeca Grand for a Misshapes party.  For the record, rain plus hair that has not been washed in the last week produces an odor that is quite palpable.  In fact, it hung in the air more strongly than the cigarette smoke pouring out of their mouths and was doubly more offensive.  Viva la dirty.  Is this where the green movement is heading?

9.  Have Travel, Will Screw…Oh, boys boys boys.  When will my friends learn that just because the per capita ratio of beautiful girls to mere mortal men has increased ten fold due to fashion week (with the added bonus of a scarcity of proficient English and thus a limited opportunities to speak verbosely), this doesn’t mean that you’re going to get laid.  Stay back in Los Angeles and work on having sex with a 7.  Thank you.

10.  Sequins…My retinas are still recovering.

Damn it, I love New York.


New York 10 AM

Wake up.  Check for rain.  No rain.

Debate if the varying shades of black in  my black shorts, my black shirt, my black tights, and my black blazer are passable.  Then I look at myself in the large round mirror of Jason’s bathroom and wonder if I’m getting Emo.

Walk over to Saturdays on a Saturday, listening to The Avett Brothers sing about Brooklyn.  A girl, not the place.

Morgan is sitting on a wood bench.

We say hello and talk about the subway girl who busted her head open.

We talk about dim sum and I debate about what kind of coffee to have.

I debate.


Whitney comes in.  I see her dog first, not knowing it’s her dog but thinking it looks a lot like her dog.


Little monkey.

It mists outside on Crosby Street.  On cobblestone.  On hair.  Over fire escapes.

Mark talks about dance and donations.

More mist mist mist.

I look outside at the building across the street with slate blue shutters.  I want to live there.  Lenny Kravitz used to live up top, Morgan says.  That doesn’t make me want to live there any less or any more.  I am Kravitz neutral.

I drink my coffee with foamed soy milk.

Everyone weighs in on the newly discovered un-health benefits of soy.

Genetically modified.




I drink up because it tastes good and figure I will probably die because of something else and not this latte.

And we talk and we laugh and we watch dogs go by and Whitney kisses Morgan and I take pictures of Mark and I could live here, in this place, forever for the rest of my life.  Here on Crosby Street with the gray mist engulfing Manhattan.