18 December 2006

A long December and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last....

It was winter 1996/1997 when this song by the Counting Crows off of their release Recovering The Satellites was a huge hit. I was working on my CD Amanda's Floor, living in Somerville, Mass. and preparing to move to LA. It was an odd time in my life feeling as though my number in Boston was 'up' and I was ready to move on. On to what I wasn't sure. All I knew is I had a burning desire to move to a city I swore I'd never live in, but yet found myself oddly attracted to. With the promise of a couple of friends who said they would help me get on my feet and get me some work (neither did, by the way - my first taste of LA flakiness) and the lyrics from this song "...it's one more day up in the canyon and one more night in Hollywood if you think you might come to California, I think you should..." running through my head - the lure of this city had me by the coat tails and had me packing up my old Saab - leaving a life of Theatre, friends, and the comfort of being near my family. I thought it would be a few years, maybe 5 at the most. It's been 9 1/2 years and I'm still not much better off now than when I moved out here. But I have cheap rent and a few people I can count on. Maybe thats all that matters.

This song in so many ways sums up life in LA. It captures a side of it that is real, romantic, enticing, and difficult all at once. "The smell of hospitals in winter and the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters but no pearls, all at once you look across a crowded room to see the way that light attaches to a girl..." The complexity that is expressed in those lines has always struck me, more so after living here. This place is more of a mixed bag than anywhere else I've ever lived. While you never know what will be around the corner, you also don't know who can trust to lead you there. It's freaky and enticing all at once - filling me up with conflicting emotions about here and what 'could be' if I stay. Especially now that it is my favourite time of year; chilly, crisp, great running weather and the air is clean.

"...Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after 2 a.m., and talked a little while about the year, I guess the Winter makes you laugh a little slower, makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her..." and it's been a truly long December; 46 shows of "Annie", of which I worked 35+ (I'm afraid to count the exact number), pulling that heavy set far too many times to even think - though I'm certain my tired muscles would know that answer, and wrangling over 200 chitlins (kids) - getting them dressed, wired for sound, teaching them proper back stage etiquette, and sometimes proper English. We wrapped yesterday and I'm so happy to be done with it, and sad at the same time. It was one hell of an experience. Not only were the shows fun they were rewarding as well. My favourite, most magical moment that typified what Theatre is about, was when we did a dress rehearsal during a blackout, used candles and flash lights while the kids put on a show that knocked everyone's socks off proving that 'the show must go on' in the best way imaginable. They really came together and pulled it off!

In addition, I saw a side to this town I'd never seen - Mothers and their Children en masse. I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favourite actresses, worked with her amazing kids and took comfort in knowing that if my Mom had met them, she too would have liked them as much as I did (for obvious reasons of privacy and protection I cannot say who it was). It showed me that you can be that high up on the ladder, be as normal a Mom as a mom can be, be as sweet as the day is long and have children who are the same. Clearly not everyone who is on this Industry has an ego problem or is wrapped up in the glamour. It was very refreshing to see, and very different from the soccer Moms I grew up with in Connecticut. Many of the Moms were at every performance for each of their kids (6 plus shows) and were so appreciative of the work us adults did that it made a huge difference and sometimes gave me the extra energy I needed to get through the next show (thank you all for your kind words). I have to say most of them were pretty cool as were their children....though I do have my favourites and would like to dedicate this entry to the kids who made it more worthwhile than I ever expected...Gary, Martha, Sophia, Clara, Blake, Izzy - thanks for your help! and last but not least, Ella, you little rascal!!! You will all be in my heart forever and I will never forget you - I hope we meet again! Thanks also to the adults, Kim and Lani, Ally, Heather, Careena and Lindsie - you were all very cool to work with and made a huge difference in your own ways.

There is reason to believe that this year will be better than the last. I never expected to be laid off and go so long without work. I thought the connections I had made would see me through to another job or at least lead me in the direction of one. I never thought I would struggle again so much as I have. A lot happened this past year that I didn't expect. Not all of it was bad - though I would like to see a better year coming. The good things: I never thought I'd go to Alaska, or Vegas, or The Grand Canyon (twice) or even Portland, Oregon. I never thought I'd work on as cool a project as Slipstream, to say nothing of working with Sir Anthony Hopkins. I never thought I'd start a blog. I never thought I'd spend my last few dollars to make a new demo/Ep. I never thought I would again do children's theatre. But I did. It's definitely been a mixed bag.

So what do I see for the coming year? I'm not really sure. I have no idea what is around the corner, or where I will be in coming months. I do know that I cherish those I have met in this past year, those that are still here and my loyal readers for tuning in each week. I'm signing off until the New Year. I'll be on the road and with my dear friends and family for the holidays and also awaiting the return of Boo. When next we meet here it will the first monday in 2007.

Thanks for tuning in and giving me a reason to write this each week.....Until the next Monday.....Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Cheers!!! Or as my family says: NASDROVIA!!!

11 December 2006

Here we go there's nothing left to choose, here we go there's nothing left to loose....

The first time I heard Mat Kearney's "Nothing Left To Loose" I thought I was hearing a new Coldplay song and got very excited. I was even more excited when the DJ announced who it was and I thought - COOL - a new really good artist. The song has a very catchy melody, a chorus that kind of carries you along down the road as if you were on the best road trip on earth. "C'mon and we'll see, like we were free, push the peddle down, watch the world around fly by us, c'mon and we'll try one last time...here we go there's nothing left to choose, here we go there's nothing left to loose...". I have to say, this song was the basis for our soundtrack up the road and back to Seattle on our way to Alaska. It's a very powerful song when you listen to all of it's parts, with the top down, and you don't know where the hell you are in the middle of California....and then you've pulled into a very dark campsite at 11p and it's the edge of the state line on a back road you chose to take that barely made it on the state map....

After that road trip and hearing the song on every radio station on our way I had to get the CD. I found it used in Buffalo a couple of weeks later when I made my friends walk into their local record store. I was absolutely thrilled and couldn't wait to pop it into the nearest CD player. I admit at first I was a little thrown off guard by a few of the other songs. As my friend Laura and I drove down the highway to NYC I made her listen to it a couple of times but it wasn't until I got back to LA that I fully appreciated what this CD is about. It's an awesome mix of pop, folk and rap. Yes, I said rap, he uses it in a number of the songs, mostly on the chorus'. While it's disarming at first, it's really grown on me after repeated listenings and really adds to the material. It's as if he listened to Luka Bloom's The Acoustic Moterbike album and took it a few steps further. But what's cool is that there are other songs that don't have rap in them and are in a purist form in their delivery. With piano, cello and his hard to describe, but maybe he has a cold, voice, the song "Won't Back Down" settles the argument that maybe this cd is hard to take if you don't like the rap influence. Listen further. It's a truly beautiful song. "No Matter what comes crashing down I'm still going to stand my solid ground..." The song, as well as "Nothing Left to Loose", has been featured on Grey's Anatomy, so if you think you haven't heard this guy, think again. He's got a haunting sound despite the fact that he still reminds me of Coldplay. That's not the worst thing on the planet, that's for sure....

If you've been reading the last few week's entries you have heard me mention the new demo/EP I have been working on with my friend and Co-Producer, Rebecca, a classically trained pianist. I have not talked about it much here because it was something I wasn't sure was actually going to happen, or happen well. It started with my birthday dinner at La Boheme here in West Hollywood in September. It was a casual thing, 'hey - I wrote a couple new songs that I want to work on and see how they would sound with more than me and my acoustic.....will you swing by for an afternoon and lay down some tracks?...." She came by right before me and Abby left for Alaska and laid down some tracks...we both loved what we heard, got kind of jazzed and said ' hey - lets do a few more songs'. Suddenly, as a still unemployed person, I was buying recording equipment and putting it on my 'american dream' credit card. Holy Crap, I thought, what the hell did I just do? Can I return this equipment? Can I do this on Garageband and still be proud of it? No. I can't. I kept everything I bought and after some major computer issues we laid down the first scratch tracks on 11 November. In the month since we started fresh on the new software we have, as of last night, nearly completed 2 whole songs of the 5 that we are working on for this project. We have 3 more to go, or rather, once we import from Garageband the 2 songs we've done that still need a few tracks, we will be nearly there. It's an incredible process, I'm very happy with what we're doing, and I feel pushed to my limits as a guitar player, vocalist, and wanna-be bass player. Oh yeah, that. In a city full of musicians I am having a bear of a time finding a bass player to commit an afternoon to lay down the bass tracks for the 5 songs. While me and Rebecca are doing what we can to play the instruments we know how to play, neither of us is a bass player. My goal is to have as many live instrument tracks as possible. So I am putting it out there, in a moment when I feel like I have nothing left to loose, in more ways than can be expressed here, I am asking you, my reader, if you know of anyone who plays bass and would do it for a few beers, or a few shots of vodka (or both), please send them my way. SERIOUSLY. Because at this point..........

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!

04 December 2006

I've never been the one who has my head on straight...

The first song I heard of Shawn Mullins' was a song called "Lullaby" about a daughter of famous parents who grew up in the Hollywood Hills with a tormented soul and the "Lullaby" he sings to her as she's about to cry "....everything's going to be alright, rockabye, rockabye....". Needless to say I wasn't very impressed, though it was a catchy tune, it got significantly over-played, and his talk/singing schtick did very little but to annoy me. I tuned the guy out, even as I got to see him play a live free show (which at the time was unbearable) at Knotts Berry Farm just before Christmas several years ago. In 1999 he had a song called "Shimmer" on the Dawson's Creek Soundtrack which made me turn my head and think...."....true love it is like a rock, smoothed over by a stream, and no ticking of the clock truly measures what that means and this thing we call our time, I heard a brilliant woman say, she said you know it's crazy how I want to try and capture mine, I think I love this woman's way, I think I love this woman the way she shimmers the way she shines the way she radiates..." The song got to me in a way that I didn't expect - it showed a deeper side to him while making you sing along about the world. My mind was slowly being swayed into his fan club. But it wasn't until his 2000 release Beneath The Velvet Sun and a song called "Everywhere I go" that I was fully in his camp. A basic idea, nothing earth shattering, but it grabbed me - it was hopeful, uplifting, a happy tune - this guys got a balance to his songs, at once very hummable, and yet really making a point the way Natalie Merchant is so very capable of doing. The melodies belie the meaning of the words.

He is, like James Blunt, a former Army Sergeant who had gone to High School with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. Thanks to his alliance with them he got his lucky break after leaving the Army and has quietly set the Southern landscape from which he came on fire. Like the Indigo Girls, his songs are often about life in Georgia, with a wordly twist. You get the sense that this guy is well read, thoughtful, sensitive and now that he's actually singing his songs, his voice has a roughness that keeps them from being sleepy, which is also thankful to the more pop-like production values. He walks that line between pop, folk and what could be country if given the right mix down. His latest CD, 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, was released earlier this year and while I have only heard one song, "Beautiful Wreck", it's a great one (a more grown-up version of "Lullaby") and surely a CD worth looking into as it boasts many fine collaborations, including two of my favourites, Pete Droge, and Matthew Sweet. Overall, I think this guy has a lot to offer the world of song writing. He's surprisingly deeper than the average bear, with melodies that grab you, and don't let you forget them. I am reminded of how diverse he is as I listen to him on shuffle while writing this blog. There are moments where I want to get up and dance around, and others where I want to sit in a bar and shed a tear or two. He's that good.

I wasn't sure what to write about for this blog, it's been a busy week, I started a part-time job to get me to the Holidays (working run crew for a kids Theatre company doing Annie) and making significant progress on the new demo/EP. Then this morning I was sleeping, something I enjoy doing in the mornings after working into the night on the demo/EP that has no name, when a car alarm went off. It was a very harsh awakening, I thought an ambulance was driving into my bedroom to save me from my clean laundry I have yet to put away from thursday (the joys of living alone), but I realized it was some useless car alarm that no one pays attention to. If you ask me - I've never called the police whence hearing one of those damn things. I've never tried to stop someone from breaking into a car or even question what the hell they are doing. They are a nuisance that everyone complains about for inevitably disturbing what little oxymoronic silence we have in this city. Matters aren't helped by the fact that I live behind a busy boulevard and below a fat-ass who stomps on my head every chance she gets, to say nothing of her noisy dogs who kept me awake last night. Now as I write this the 'gardeners' are outside blowing shit around with their hand held leaf blowers and yelling at each other in some ungodly tones. Their level of uselessness confounds me - I'll save that for another blog - but I will say this - we don't have a yard in this building that needs gardening. Do the math. At this moment my head is about to explode and it doesn't feel like it's on straight right now.

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!

27 November 2006

You'll be the mule, I'll be the plow, come harvest time we'll work it out....

There was a time, years ago, when you could watch VH1 and actually see videos of new artists you would never have had the chance to otherwise hear of. This is how I discovered Nanci Griffith. It was a video of her song "Its a Hard Life Wherever You Go" from her then new release, Storms, that caught my eyes and ears. What I saw on the screen was a beautiful, lithe woman singing of the harshness of the world and the bigotry that goes with it. From a cafeteria line in Chicago to the back seat of her taxi in Ireland, she viewed that what we teach our children shapes the future of the world. While this in of itself is/was not a new revelation, the song was catchy without being preachy, and I had to know more about her. I ran out, got that CD and found many other tunes that reached deep into my soul, inspired me as a song writer to work harder and look at the world around me just a little bit more closely. Another song from that CD is a tune called "If Wishes Were Changes"....'there'd be no goodbyes....I wish that you loved me the way that I love you, I wish I had angels that sang in my dreams...' It's hard not to pay attention to such desperate and longing lyrics. You'd have to be a completely numb person not to notice. She has a voice that maybe isn't for everyone, and her music walks that fine line between folk and country, though I would argue that it's predominantly folk, but she writes from a place of Texas-sized emptiness that few people are capable of writing from. But don't get me wrong, this is not music to slit your wrists by, because she veils her words in a cloak of catchy melodies and more pop-leaning production values, which can leave you guessing, if you aren't paying attention. The song above, "Trouble In The Fields" about her grandparents struggle in depression-era Texas, I discovered on a CD of live songs called One Fair Summer Evening (also out on DVD). It's a Cd of 'greatest hits' of sorts that I wrote about in a previous blog called "Dig through a record bin..." from October, if you are interested in reading more about it. Needless to say Ms. Griffith and all that she has done is a huge inspiration for the new demo I'm working on.

I went on a road trip last week with Abby. We went through Zion National Park, into Bryce Canyon, and down to the Grand Canyon in a 4 day stretch. We did a lot of hiking down into the canyons, and gazing at the wide open spaces. All this in an effort to see what we can while still living on this side of the world. While of course the Canyons were unspeakably beautiful and awe inspiring, it was the drive between them, and the drive home that also amazed me.

I live in a city that is far too crowded and has gotten even more so in recent years thanks to the City Council that is allowing the destruction of 2 and 3 family houses in favour of 32 unit condos and the like. So being out in the middle of Utah, and northern Arizona where there's more land and wildlife than humans was truly eye opening and a much needed reminder that life exists outside a city. The few houses, or rather dwellings we saw along our 1400 mile trek and the few 'towns' we passed though reminded me of what it must be like to actually need the people around you in order to survive. Unlike LA where people generally only 'need' people to 'get them' higher up the proverbial ladder, these places are vast, harsh and dry and you can't survive in a bubble. You can't tune them out because there aren't enough of you to go around; you don't get in your car to avoid people you get in your car to get near them and visit. I got the sense from those that I spoke to that you can't go it alone, and that where there were communities, a real sense of togetherness and an 'us against the elements' bond existed. It's kind of like being in Boston in a snowstorm, nothing is open but the local diner, there's 3 feet of snow on the ground, and all your neighbours are digging out their cars and helping one another to do it. We don't have that here in LA. We have sunny, warm days all year round except for the occasional rain 'storm' (such as we are having today as I write this), and thusly we have no reason to 'need' each other in order to survive the day. You can go it alone here and live a very comfortable life because there is nothing that brings strangers together, no reason to bond, no reason to reach out, no harsh weather to get through. It is very easy to just be numb. I think that is why so many love it here, and why so many don't. I get it. But I'm glad I was reminded of what it is to need a mule and a plow, and to work it out later.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday.....CHEERS!!!!!

18 November 2006

I want to thank you for giving me the best day of my life....oh, just to be with you...

I first heard Dido's "Thank You" when I went to see the film Sliding Doors in the theatre in 1998. Not only is it one of my favourite films of the last 10 years, the soundtrack caught my ear immediately and I rushed out to buy it practically the next day. It probably is one of the best around and has set a tone for many films that followed. One of the things that makes it so great is that all the music used was relevant and appropriate - not incidental, and distracting so as to create a 'music video' feel in the middle of the film, something many Directors are guilty of doing these days. There is a fine line I realize and it's easy to be indulgent and to cross over into gratuitous song placement - something Director Peter Howitt is never guilty of. Also very cool is that he chose some lesser known Artists (Dido made her mark because of this film) to help tell the story; Space Monkey's, Peach Union, The Brand New Heavies and Abra Moore fill out the rest of the roster that includes Aimee Mann and Elton John. All together it's an amazing collection of diverse and energetic music that compels one to check out these newer artists (I eagerly searched for Dido's album which hadn't even been released in the U.S. at the time of the film) and revisit some old favourites. I urge you not only to see the film, if you haven't already, but to check this batch of tunes out.

As some of you know, the years 2000 and 2001 were the most difficult in my life. I lost my Mother, my Grandmother, my Grandfather, and a close friend of mine was brutally murdered. Since then my life, as can only happen when everything goes wrong, has vastly improved, though the pain of these losses is with me every day - especially felt during the Holiday Season. So I wanted to take this moment, as I get ready to go camping in Bryce Canyon Utah before Turkey Day (hence the early posting) to thank the people who have made a difference in my life during and since those difficult years - aside from my family who already know how awesome they are. These are the folks that are not blood family, but will always be special to me and close to my heart, each of whom inspired me in ways I can never express. While to perfect strangers who might be reading this these names will mean nothing to you, please know they mean everything to me and are the reason I am able to get up in the morning and 'carry on' if you will. In no particular order: My beloved Best Friend, Fritz; my beloved, Boo; my 'Dude' Phineas; Jodi; Joanna; my Bee-Atch, Courtney; Maria; My excellent friend & Co-Producer, Rebecca; My "I'm not your bleeding Aunt" Aunt; and My dearest Suz. There are more, but I think you all get the point. As you sit down thursday, enjoying a delectable feast, take a moment to be especially grateful for those in your life, because you never know when they might save it. I know am.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, be safe, be happy, and be good....

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!

13 November 2006

No matter what you make, all that you can take, it's what you give away...

I'm not a fan of Country music. This, despite many years living in/visiting the south, an ex in Boston who tried to get me to like it, and me having written one of my favourites, coincidentally a Country song, "Jackson Hole", earlier this year. But every once in awhile one really grabs me, inspires me and makes me wish I'd written it. Abby came over to watch The Country Music Awards on tuesday - it's her favourite awards show so I couldn't say no. After sleeping through much of it they announced Vince Gill featuring Sheryl Crow, and Amy Grant on one stage singing "What You Give Away". Less than a minute into it I was in love. The song struck me hard.

"You read the business page, see how you did today, life's just passing by....There's people on the street, aint got enough to eat, you just shake your head, the measure of a man is one who lends a hand, it's what my father said. After you've counted everything you've saved, you ever hit your knees and pray? You know there's going to be a judgement day, so what will you say? No matter what you make, all that you can take, it's what you give away..."

Released on his new album last month entitled These Days, it's part of a 4 disc set of original material featuring Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss, Bonnie Raitt and too many others to mention. But I'm not here to talk about this cd (though you can check it out on itunes). The thing about this song, written by Al Anderson, is that there is something really uplifting and meaningful to it. It's also not what most people would think of as a Country tune per se, except that it's Vince Gill at the helm. It is in so many ways a perfect song; well written, well produced, with a choral buildup at the end that really pulls at your heart. You don't feel bad about yourself listening to this song because it's not preachy, it's simply reminding us of what is really important in the world. As we approach the Holiday Season, the New Year, and, hopefully, take stock in our lives, this song serves as a gentle reminder to look outside of our self importance. It isn't about how much money you earn, it's not about what you take from the world, it's what you give of yourself that matters. It's a life lesson we forget about as we sit in our cars on our way to our jobs and go to lunch, the bank, or buy ourselves a $220 sweater.

Thanks for tuning it...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!

06 November 2006

Maybe it was to learn how to choose, maybe it was to learn how to loose....

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Shawn Colvin's "Cover Girl" album and it got me thinking about another such recording. k.d. lang's 2004 release "Songs of The 49th Parallel" (Produced by Ben Mink and k.d. lang) reinvents and covets some famous and not-so-famous songs from other Canadian Artists - including this week's title track "Love Is Everything" by the amazing and underrated Jane Siberry. This first song on the CD is a sweet, pining tune that sets the tone for the whole album hinting as to where we will be taken over the course of our 47 minute visit up north.

As we meander our way through our trip you can't help but be struck by the oft - covered Leonard Cohen tune "Hallelujah". What makes this version different than the rest is not only the piano work that resonates throughout the whole CD - reminding me of a George Winston work of art - but there's a happiness to this version that's not apparent on either the Jeff Buckley or J.J. Cale versions. What Ms. lang shows us is a less pained side of the tune that gets illuminated by her heavenly voice and a string accompaniment that elevate her ever higher into the Canadian night sky. She also covers Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You", a delicate tune, and one of her finest, that I think can really be soiled by lesser artists. No worries here though.....you can almost picture Ms. lang sitting at her feet while she records this as Joni nods in approval. Probably the finest cover on this CD blew me away the first time I heard it - the opening cello notes of Neil Young's "Helpless" grabbed me and never let go. Building from the cello, we are carried upward like a hymn and gently brought back down to those first haunting notes. It's a very cool version of a song you've heard 1000 times - but you've never heard it like this.

One of the greatest things about this CD is that it all fits together. There is a vibe, if you will, a feel to it that carries throughout each tune. You have travelled up north on a chilly November night, it's snowing outside and inside you are kept warm by a fire and this CD. It's almost as if someone took a cue from Gary Jules' cover of the Tears For Fears song "Mad World" and ran with it. Again, to say nothing of the piano, cello, and other fine musical work, it's Ms. lang's most amazing and talented voice that make these songs more than covers...they are recreated and given a life they never knew they had. I'll admit, I am not a huge fan of hers but this CD has given me a new perspective on her and Ben Mink.

If you've been paying attention to Entertainment news of late you may have noticed a sudden rash of guys coming out of the closet and professing their gayness practically turning the last few weeks into "National Gay Boy Coming Out Month". It started with some guy from a boy band declaring his undying love for some dude thusly putting to rest any rumours. Two weeks ago T.R. Knight, from "Grey's Anatomy", who was shamelessly outed by his coworker, that idiot Isaiah Washington, made it official - to put any rumours to rest. Then this past friday that guy from "Doogie Hauser" & "How I Met Your Mother" Neil Patrick Harris did the same - to put any unseemly rumours to rest. Must be the line of the month.

All I can say is: IT'S ABOUT TIME GUYS!!! Why aren't more of you coming out? Are Elton and George the only Gay Guys around? Why are Americans, when they think of Gay People, having to think of "Ellen and Portia", "Rosie and Kelli" and "Melissa and Tammy Faye"...or whatever her name is? WHY?!?!? C'mon - there must be more dudes out there hanging with other dudes - this is nearly 2007 - what's the problem? If Anne Heche can come out, then get married to a dude, and barely skip a beat (I love her show "Men In Trees" by the way) than obviously it doesn't ruin a career! Does Hollywood think that Americans are still so homophobic that guys feel that they can't be truthful and just be themselves? Why are people still wearing 'beards' in this day and age? I mean, really, who cares?!?! Enough of the fake marriages, enough with the rumours, just DO IT!! If nothing else than to shut people up, because maybe if more dudes came out, people would care less.

Thanks for tuning in.....Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!

30 October 2006

My Mama and Daddy told me love was a 2 way street...

When one thinks of Mark Knopfler you most often think of his band Dire Straits and their brand of new wave rock that was propelled by his deep, solid voice and catchy lyrics (who can forget Sting singing 'I want my MTV'?). When you think of Emmylou Harris, if you think of her at all, which you should, by the way, you think of her country/folk sound and her lilting, yet strong presence. With 32 albums to her credit and countless collaborations with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Roseanne Cash one wouldn't think that working with Mark Knopfler (who wrote 10 of the 12 tracks, "Belle Starr" from above having been written by Emmylou) and making the disc All The Roadrunning over the course of the last 7 years would work, but it does! This recording, despite their obvious musical differences and stylings may very well be one of the best of the year. If you have remotely paid attention to his previous work, you would have noticed his twangy guitar playing, putting the country into new wave rock, and Emmylou, well, she's about as good, as real and as true as it gets. When you put them together it does make sense after all. If you are looking for a CD that walks the line between rock, folk, and country and blends them all into one fine home cooked stew, than look no further and go buy this CD!

I had 4 interviews this past week for part time jobs, and needless to say not all of them were 'love on a 2 way street'. For the first time in my 9 year tenure in this town I came face to face with a species I had heard of but not yet witnessed in the wild streets of this town. It's know as "Speciealous Just Barely out of Collegeous" - they are "producers" who have caught a lucky break, are in a position of power but have never actually done anything on a real set, or ever even worked as PA's. It's a strange phenomenon, sitting in a room, being interviewed by 1 very intelligent creature and one very dumb one who had a big idea and suddenly got all this money to produce a show (what one was doing with the other I will never understand). When I inquired about what the "big idea" was the answer I got was so insidious that I wasn't sure if I wanted to take them over my knee and spank them, or send them to a corner for a time out. I'm soo glad I worked in that day care center years ago! But I digress...

Needless to say they were so inexperienced that they didn't know that what they were asking their 'assistant' to do was actually Associate Producer work, not "Assistant to a Producer" work. Something must have gotten confused in that little brain of the little 'producer'. Or lost in her big tits. Either way, I'm scared, scared that this is the future of television and scared that they are being handed all this money and don't know what the hell they are doing. Glad it's not my money!! What are people thinking? One idea does not make for experience, and a college degree from bump-butt state does not make a producer. I pity the crew that gets hired by this species and has to work far harder than necessary!!!

Thanks for tuning in.....Until next Monday............CHEERS!!!!!

23 October 2006

Do you believe in a lover or just the curve of the word?

I was pissing drunk the first time I met Shawn Colvin, or really waved, shouted hello and kept going because I was too embarrassed to meet her face to face in that state. It was a first date with my soon-to-be-boyfriend and I had been told by Shawn's friend and fellow singer/songwriter Christine Lavin to check her out. So we went to this show at the now defunct Speakeasy (it was next to Panchito's on Macdougal Street in NYC) had a little too much fun (it was an amazing show) and decided we'd go back to see her again a few weeks later. I still have the tape I soberly bought from Shawn which, when she got signed the next year, turned into her first CD "Steady On". Since then she has released 8 albums, including Cover Girl - one of my favourite collections of cover songs you'll ever hear (including "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" a David Byrne tune that Shawn turns into the song of longing that one doesn't get from the original recording). But you shouldn't stop there because her lyrics demonstrate an emotional awareness that few songwriters are willing to expose. "I love you so much it's so bizarre" is one line that expresses a wonderment and simultaneous acceptance of the fear and feelings of love that we have all had at one time or another. I can easily say that her music became the soundtrack to my life in Boston and no doubt with her new release "These Four Walls" (her first non holiday or kids c.d. since she had her baby) I can see the same happening to my life here in LA. As I face an uncertain future and try to figure out my next move I take comfort in knowing there is a soul out there who is writing what I may sometimes be afraid to write; something Shawn is very good at - facing the truth inside of her and saying what we all want to say but sometimes push aside. "Would I be saved if I were brave and had a baby..." Damn that line gets me! It's hard not to quote every song that plays while I write this. By the way, if you live in LA she's playing at The House of Blues on Sunset Strip this thursday night. www.shawncolvin.com

I got a very sweet and poetic email over the weekend from my friend Jodi who lives in Brooklyn. We met out here at a coffee shop 6 years ago - I damn near stepped on her Rottweiler during my morning run. It turned out to be 3 weeks before my mother died and so it was a weird turning point in my life but she stayed my friend through it all. She was out here in the summer on '05 - staying with her brother, taking a leave of absence from her NYC life and trying to figure out what to do next and where to be. Her email spoke of a longing to be in two places at once; my patio at happy hour having a 'california' type beverage (cosmo or margarita) on a friday night with Abby and Rebecca, and her Brooklyn apartment with the chilly fall breeze blowing through it. It's a tough call and I know all too well how she feels.

I spent a week back home as many of you know and as usual when I got back to LA I spent the first few days in this lost haze of sleep deprivation and emotional turmoil. The turmoil that maybe is trying to work itself out through this blog. It's very hard to know what to do right now. I have no job, no income, and no clue as to what will happen or where I will be after the New Year settles in. I am very torn. There is much to be said for being in LA (rainy cool decembers, my awesome neighbourhood and of course cheap rent to note a few), and much to be had for being back east - four seasons, family, old friends, New England, to name a few. There is much to be had on either coast and I certainly don't know where my head should be. You'd think with all this time to think that I would have a better clue. But I don't. So I'll leave you with this verse from Shawn's "Round Of Blues" off of her second CD, Fat City: "Here we go again, another round of blues, several miles ago I set down my angel shoes, on a lost highway, for a better view....".

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday.....CHEERS!!!!

16 October 2006

"I want to run through the halls of my high school...

...I want to scream at the top of my lungs!!..." Unless you've been living in a cave or only listening to talk radio the last few years you've heard this song, "No Such Thing" from the album Room For Squares. It's about a guy who has very mixed feelings about where he grew up and what it was all about. That guy is John Mayer. He's a very talented blues-influenced singer/songwriter who made his way around the scene as a teenager in Connecticut only a stone wall's throw from where I grew up. With 5 disks out over the last 7 years there is a wide range of material to choose from and with each album he tries something new. While he maintains his basic form, the music he writes for each new album is more aware and a little deeper than the previous one. Here is a guy who wants to grow up, age with us, and is very happy to do it.

I had been on the fence about going to my High School reunion because of the timing with my trip to Alaska and flying out here only left me a week or so in between. I thought, why go? I'm not sure I care about these people any more than they care about me. I was reminded by my 2 friends I'm in touch with that I had said I would go, and when push came to shove I feared being an LA Flake, so I caved. I'm so glad I did. While I could have done without the hangover I got because of the all the reconnecting friday night at Gates, the local watering hole, I have never been hugged by so many people in such a short time. I'm still somewhat amazed that I cared and still care so much for these people. It wasn't an "easy" place to grow up in some ways. Old money town, Stepford Wives, and the Preppy Handbook made for a very trippy childhood coctail. I'm not complaining, there are far worse places to grow up, and we all know that. Or we do now. Even at the after party, which went past our 3.30a departure, there was more talking, drinking and reconnecting which further reminded me how far we've all come, gone and yet still stayed the same. This idea was confirmed by the 2.30a game of quarters on the kitchen divider. I could swear I'd been there before.

One of the things that struck me was that after growing up an a town where many follow in their parents corporate footsteps, and family businesses (or live off their inheritances) many of us were brave enough not to. Dana, I'd known her since 3rd grade, gave up her corporate life a few years ago and now owns a restaurant in Jersey; Nicole works in Mental Health at Bellevue - something I never figured her to be doing; Bobbie owns a rafting company in New Mexico; Andrea, like myself, is now a singer/songwriter. My old theatre friend (and quite the good actress) Lauren turned into a financial advisor for WGBH in Boston. Another head turner. There were many happy moments of 'who'd a thunk it' as people caught up while their kids played at their feet at the beautiful fall picnic on Saturday.

I couldn't be more proud of the choices we all made, and the openness with which we faced this weekend. It wasn't easy after growing up in that environment to come back and talk about where we've been and where we're going. Heck, some still don't know, but none were judged for it. The sense I got was that once we took those first steps into Gates or we walked into the picnic a warmth and safety of having known these people for many years took over, the High School insecurities slipped away, and as Dana so aptly put it - no one cares about those stupid things, they are just happy to see you. Thanks to you all for the skateboarding when we were kids, the parties in High School, and for a really cool, fun and rewarding reunion weekend! Yep, I'm so glad I went!

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!

PS. As I wrote this I have discoverd that it is John Mayer's birthday...kind of cool huh?

08 October 2006

Dig through a record bin, and find a record for .69 cents that you've always wanted all your life.....

I think Nanci Griffith says it best when, in the opening 2.24 minute long intro to her "Love At The Five And Dime" on her live recording One Fair Summer Evening she captures the essence of childhood innocence, longing, and a simplicity to life that we are all - too- fast loosing. This recording, released in 1988 on MCA, is by far one of my all-time favourite albums, records, CD's, however you call them. While I'm not certain she meant it to be a 'greatest hits' of her early career, it certainly, in retrospect, turned out that way. She indeed sings the songs that are the best of her first 7 albums. From the heartbreaking "More Than a Whisper" to her tale of depression-era life in the Texan dust bowl "Trouble In The Fields" the material she chose speaks in many languages to anyone who has a listen.

The thing I like about this disc is how she took the songs and broke them down into their most basic form. James Hooker plays his electric piano/synthesiser while Ms. Griffith plays her guitar as if she was buttering warm, fresh from the oven bread with soft butter. Minimal backing vocals provided by Denise Franke and Doug Hudson allow the songs to float and not feel weighty or over-produced. What came before that night at Anderson Fair in Austin was more country than what you find on this, one of the finest CD's ever produced. My only regret is that it is missing it's best song, a hidden treasure found only on the DVD, "There's A Light Beyond These Woods (Mary Margaret)". Hearing Ms. Griffith and Ms. Franke sing this song about lost childhood innocence and adulthood as if their hearts were holding one another up is truly a moment to be cherished. Whether you are a fan of hers or not, one can't help but like this CD.

If you were paying attention to the news on saturday it is possible you heard the awful truth. Tower Records, after 46 years in business is closing down. Owing over $200 million to creditors the business was sold to some rather large company that is liquidating assets and selling properties. Tower blames their troubles on digital downloading (why hold a CD in your hand after looking all over a store for it when you can download it in seconds for half the price?), Wal-Mart and their disgusting business practices (my words not theirs) and an overall industry-wide decline in music sales. No matter who you blame (the consumer or the Executives) it is the end of an era. As we Americans loose ourselves in technology (meanwhile getting fatter and lazier as we sit at our computers all day), we are clearly in danger of loosing our history and moving into an era that is cold and emotionally distant. I will never forget going to The Gramaphone Shop as a kid, digging through the bin and finding that Kate Bush CD that had just come out in digital format. I will also never forget being old enough to go into the City, walk down Broadway and wander into, and loose myself in, the aisles of Tower Records. Call it progress or call it Big Business gone bad, call it whatever you want but as we say goodbye to record bins say good bye to your dusty hands finding that record you've always wanted, say goodbye to some good time lost in the aisles of your local record store and say goodbye to the hours spent looking at cover art and reading the liner notes as your new - found favourite music plays in the background. This week I bid a sad farewell to not only Tower Records but CBGB's who will be closing their doors next sunday after loosing their own battle with Big Business. Thank you both for the memories!

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday!......CHEERS!!!

02 October 2006

"I think I'll build a boat for me and sail myself across the sea.....

.......coffee likes to chase the booze, booze it likes to chase the blues..." If you aren't listening to singer/songwriter Jackie Greene you should be. This California native has a depth and soul to his music that belies his 24 years on this planet. His slightly twangy voice, and his simple sounding guitar playing make his music easily accessible and pulls you in quickly. His first album "Sweet Somewhere Bound" is aptly titled and addresses longing, travel, and has a bluesy hint of southern comfort and a dusty, squeaky floored bar on a hot summer night. It's almost like you just walked in, ordered yourself a beer and he's on stage singing to you, and only you this crowded, happy place. His second album, "American Myth" has more of a rock feel than his first release but he maintains his soulful feel and presence. This guy has some good shi* going on!! I hope you check him out! www.myspace.com/jackiegreene

So while I did not build myself a boat for me I did sail across a sea to Alaska over the last 2 weeks (for more details visit Monday's in LA - link to the right). We started the trip with a drive inland up to Seattle through Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake, and Portland. On the way back we drove down the coast through Washington, Oregon and much of California stopping in one of my favourite places, Mendocino. There was sensory overload of the beautiful kind, lots of picture taking and lots of time to think. I'm in a weird place right now as I contemplate my future. The major trip we had been planning for months, and is much of the reason I didn't walk away from LA after loosing my job has come and gone and I am left wondering 'what next?'.

I have diligently looked for a job for most of this year and have come up empty. In addition, I have reached out to 'contacts' who claimed they would help only to have my emails unanswered and obviously ignored. Needless to say I am frustrated, concerned about what will have to happen when unemployment runs out and disappointed in the people who offered their help. But that's LA for you I guess and maybe I should know better by now. She's the married mistress - around, yet shockingly unavailable. Just like many a songwriter in this town, I have written about her, pined for her, and come up empty. Perhaps I'm becoming a cliche. You know - all that stuff you hear about LA before you move here but you do it anyway thinking it won't be you. Then after years of banging your head against a wall and finding a dent here and there, you keep going. You keep hoping.

So here's the rub, as I approached the unknown, happy to stay or go, I approached my musician friend, Rebecca, to help me with a home-grown demo to be made here in my living room. It's turning into more of a production than I initially envisioned, happily so, and now with this time off, which perhaps is meant to be, I am embarking on a new project. Who knows what will come of it, but I do know that if a day job doesn't come along soon, my credit card will get very full, a truck will be in front of my building and this blog will have to be renamed "life in......."

Thanks for tuning in...Until next monday.....CHEERS!!

11 September 2006

And they thank the lord for the land that they live in....

I was there. I wasn't supposed to be but my Grandmother was dying in a hospital in the upper east side. I had changed my flight so as not to leave that morning. I was alone. The last thing I needed with everything that had been happening was to be alone. Thank god for my friend Courtney. She knew what had been going on and why I was still in NY. When she could she would try the phone and became my lifeline that day. Finally around 2p she knocked on the door. Fritz got home at 4p. We all hugged, grateful for each other and for the world not having ended until we were all together. We had no idea what was going to happen, if there would be a systematic decimation of our city or if the worst was over. So we bought beer. I was in a bit of an overloaded state and begged them to go to the park to play football. If you know me - it makes sense. I'm in perpetual motion, even when I'm tired, and I've always dealt with stress by being physical. As the smoke rose over our city and the jet fighters did their thing, the 3 of us did our best to keep sane.

To this day the sound of a low flying plane freaks me out a little, I have dreams I don't wish to repeat, and I knew people who were in those towers. Thankfully, no one close to me. While this might sound weird, I am glad I was there. With the city I love, had grown up around and lived in, and the people who make it what it is. In the following weeks I saw NYC as I'd never seen before. Everyone came together. Everyone was glad to be alive. And yes, as Nanci Griffith said above, maybe we ALL thanked the lord for the land that we live in. I may not like where it's headed and all that has been lost in the last 5 years, but I am thankful to be here.

Thanks for tuning in.....Until 'next' monday.............CHEERS!!

04 September 2006

You say it's your birthday, well it's my birthday too, yeah!!!

For 2 generations of my family Labour Day has meant something more than what we Americans typically celebrate on this, the last weekend of the summer. For my Grandmother it meant going INTO labour. For it was on a chilly, Illinois, 6 September many years ago that my father was born. While I'm not sure of the actual day, it was sometime around this weekend that it happened. Thus began a new tradition that no one could have predicted.

It was 3 December, many years ago, my parents were getting ready for a dinner party and had some extra time before the guests arrived. My mom knew that night that she was pregnant, as she had known with my sister. Dad couldn't believe it, but I'm hoping he was excited. Mom went to the doctors and they predicted my arrival to be 11 August. Little did they know that I would be in no mood to make my appearance in such a timely manner. As my mother flopped around the pool, oh so very pregnant, that day came and went as more would follow. Too many more for their liking - 27 days, to be exact. Then, sometime in the middle of the night/early morning of 6 September I made the final push to join my Mom, Dad, and sister in this world. Talk about the birthday present that keeps giving.....and giving. Needless to say, my Mom was glad to finally have her body back (tho disappointed that her homemade flotation device had left her), and my Dad was happy that I was at last here. I hope he wasn't disappointed.

It's a cool thing sharing a birthday with a parent. Not to state the obvious but I think it has created a special bond between us. I appreciate that I share that day with someone, especially my Dad. While at times, because we are so much alike, we didn't always get along, as I've become an adult I have seen him as an adult and not so much as a parent. More than the guy who took us camping (in fact, we spent a couple of birthdays doing just that on Lake Norman in Charlotte) and hiking and all the cool things I'm grateful to do now, he is a man who travelled the states as an actor, train hopping, working with Paul Newman in his early years, and living out many adventures I can only dream about. He's a writer, a director, an athlete, a man who fell in love with my devastatingly gorgeous mother, loved her well, and us, and has done the best he can along the way. He's a very special guy and I'm glad I know that now while he is around to hear me say it. Thank you Dad, for all you do, for the pieces you picked up after Mom died, and for letting me share this special day with you. Happy Birthday, Dad, I love you!

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!

PS. A special shout out to Maria, my 7th. grade Biology classmate who I am one day older than and who still is one of my dearest friends....In sickness and in Martinis...thanks for all our years of friendship!! Happy Birthday!!!

28 August 2006

Before this evening can end....

It's after 10p. Sunday night and the helicopters are still buzzing around. I can barely hear myself think and even if I wanted to sleep I couldn't. It's Emmy night (or rather ANY awards night) in L.A. and god forbid you want some peace and quiet. After having a couple of drinks at The Abbey - the local watering hole - with Abby and our friend Rebecca - I admit I've got the munchies so I indulge and allow the chips to soak up a food - less dinner while I rest my tired dogs. But I digress. Really the point of this is to say that it's very strange living so close to all this Emmy action and not actually being a part of any of it. Or am I?

As the 3 of us discussed politics, our respective places in this world, my upcoming birthday and world peas [intentional misspelling] we people watched and for a few hours forgot that it was Emmy night. But then we walked up Santa Monica Boulevard towards our respective homes and it was very clear - as limos flew by and helicopters hovered we walked around the neighbourhood going about our business while secretly hoping we weren't the ones walking. You see, we all live behind 'restaurant row' and this is one of the areas where 'stars' and their people come to party.

Rebecca headed home and as the helicopters continued (the Emmy's were actually over by this time since everyone sees it live but us) Abby and I walked down to Melrose Place hoping to catch some bit of the Entertainment Weekly party. We had seen them setting up for the shindig, noting that the place we wanted to go for lunch on Saturday had been turned into a press runway. Our hopes, however, were quickly dashed as everything had been struck - it must have been a pre party we mused, not knowing since we aren't in the Know.

After we strolled through the 'hood, watched more limos and listened to more helicopters, we headed back to my place and watched the Tivo'd Emmy's. Which, if you really think about it is double taped because, as I said before, they don't air live here, and I've got that 30 minute 'live' delay going...and I've still got the munchies, I'm a little buzzed and for some reason I'm writing this blog. But why not, right? It's not like I have a party to go to, right? All I can do is sit here, watch the TV, feel disappointed because Peter Krause lost the best actor award, and listen to the damned helicopters as they stalk the famous winners and losers of the night. Huh.....just like everyone else.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!

21 August 2006

Before I leave you again, before the light of the dawn...

I took Suz to the airport very early on tuesday morning, way too early, in fact. My traveling companion, fellow adventurer, and very dearest of friend is now in NY on her way back to Scotland. I feel a little empty as I write this, not knowing what lays ahead, and hoping only for the best for us both. It's funny, she's spent the last 10 1/2 months traversing the oceans and lands of this world yet still we find ourselves in the same place. Both of us unsure of our respective futures, both of us not knowing what adventures are yet to be had. It's a cool thing, though, what my Dad has told me since I was a wee kid. As we packed the canoe for our week long camping trips to some unknown island in the middle of Lake Ouachita, or paddled the Mississippi at midnight, he always said 'whatever happens, for good or bad, it's still an adventure and if you remember that you'll always be okay.'

So here I am sad for her departure, grateful for my most amazing friend, and for a bucketful of memories we made these last 2 weeks. She's not only amazing because she reached out to me and really got me through those 2 years after my mom and my last grandparents died, but because she did what we all should do. Go see the world, go sleep on a cot in Thailand, or simply visit the friends you haven't seen in far too many years. You'll be glad you did. Life is too short not to make every day an adventure. Thanks Suz for reminding me of that, and thanks Dad for giving me the tools to recognize what every day can be!

So before I leave you again, before the light of the dawn, as Billy Joel wrote too many years ago....go ahead....book that flight or pack the car and get the hell out of dodge!!!!

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!

PS. On another note: This past week LA bid adieu to it's one and only Country station, KZLA, which was turned into some kind of noisy commercial - laden dreck. While I'm not a fan, Abby is, and for her I'll shed a tear as we are faced with one more less interesting spot on the dial. R.I.P. KZLA.....

14 August 2006

I'm Leaving Las Vegas, Ohhh Ohhh Ohhh.....

Over the last few months via email Suz informed me that while she was on this side of the world she had every intention of going to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. She asked if I wanted to join her and I told her in so many words that I'd never go to Vegas in the middle of August, or ever, for that matter. It's not my kind of place and I can think of so many other ways to spend my time. So I'm not sure how this happened but one day last week after much discussion I found myself agreeing to go with her and packing up Abby's wee VW that Suz and I had dubbed "Hamish" on our way back from Santa Barbara. I figured, what the hell? I should at least experience this place once in my life.

We hit the dusty road early avoiding traffic and driving the 6 hours (with stops) through desert to get to Vegas around 12.30p. OY. What a place! I shook my head in wonderment thinking "how could my friend Joanna have lived in this god forsaken city for 2 years?". I still don't have an answer to that question, but I will tell you, at night it's quite a different sight! The sky was lit up like 11 Burning Man festivals and there wasn't a star in sight. In some ways I found it really cool, and interesting, but in other ways the crowds were far too much for me. In addition, at midnight for it to still be near 100 degrees was not pleasant. I hate the desert. Okay, maybe that's too strong a feeling, but lets just say the green of New England and other places that are wet is much more to my liking and understanding. By the way, I've never heard that many southern accents north of the Mason Dixon Line in my life. Maybe there was a convention.

The highlight of last week's adventure was for me, in all honesty, the Grand Canyon. Despite the very long bus ride and the worlds' most amazingly annoying nails on a chalkboard tour guide, it was quite a trip. We chose this tour company because it was the only one that allowed you to get off the bus and actually walk along the rim of the canyon for 2 1/2 very short hours. No words can properly describe what we saw and felt, so I will just leave it at that. But needless to say I do want to go back, raft down the river and spend at least a week or so there, because only then will I feel like I've really experienced the canyon the way I want to. No strangers jamming their elbows in my ribs, and no fighting to get to the rail to see down 1 mile into the earth.

Thankfully the tour bus driver shut his freakin' mouth for the ride back and drove us through parts of Arizona I never thought existed. Wow! It was so beautiful and amazing that it made me want to spend more time there as well, standing in the rain, watching the lightening, feeling wet, and cool. It was a welcome reprieve from the dry, dusty, burning feeling of Vegas. While I could never live that far from an ocean, I could easily spend more time there amongst the trees and rolling hills.

Overall it was a very great 3 days and I'm glad to have gone to and left Las Vegas. It truly is something, like most everything, one should experience at least once in their life.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!!!

07 August 2006

There's a Dylan song on from 'Highway 61'

My dear friend Suzanne is on a year-long round the world trip and one of her stops is here in LA LA Land. She started off in Scotland and made her way east from there, thusly landing here as she nears the end of her trip. We haven't seen each other in 6 years we figured (we met as camp councelors in Maine one summer long ago) and knowing how much she 'loves' LA I decided getting OUT of LA was the best way to spend our time together. I needed to get out of town, and she thinks this place is a waste of space. So this past thursday we hopped in Abby's wee VW (cheaper to drive than the Jeep) and headed north to Santa Barbara with the top down and the tunes on. Suz had never been in a convertible so this was a real treat for her as we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway/Route 1 and she got to see Malibu and everything else in between.

We arrived in time for a quick walk around town and a late lunch at one of my favourite SB spots - Brophy's. With a small wait we got a table on the deck overlooking the Marina. It was so nice to be there on the water, to feel the cool air as I ate a bowl of chowder, and to be with an old friend. We hadn't been sure when we left LA how we would stay over - it was a possibility that we might just grab a hotel, but I packed some camping gear just in case. By the time we ate lunch it seemed to be too perfect NOT to camp. After a walk along the beach we decided it was time to set out and find a place for a night or two. I had asked the folks in Santa Barbara Outfitters if they could recommend a campground not too far out of town so they suggested a place called Paradise Road off the 154. Off we went, but when we got there it felt too hot and too far inland so we headed back up the 101 to El Capitan State Beach. We were promptly turned away by a snooty park ranger who stated 'oh we're booked up 7 months in advance and so is every place along the coast - but good luck!'. I was thinking 'how could this be? It's a thursday!'. So I left feeling discouraged, and we drove back into town, went to a movie leaving it up to fate as to where we would sleep for the night. That's the cool thing about traveling with some people, they roll with it and don't stress figuring 'hey, worst case we sleep in the car and find something tomorrow night or head home'.

After the movie it was about 8.30p and we headed back to Paradise Road. We lucked out. Boy did we luck out. They too, we found out, were booked months in advance but had 3 'first come first serve' sights. We grabbed one and set up camp. Apparently this being the 'fiesta weekend' didn't help matters. Everywhere we went in that area was crowded with visitors, rodeo people and parade goers. I have to say - one of the things that is getting to me about this area is the fact that everywhere you go to get out of the city is nearly as crowded as the neighbourhood in which I live - which has also become more crowded in the last 5 years. It's getting harder and harder to escape from people, get some peace, and just hear the crickets.

One of the best couple of hours we spent was when I convinced Suz that her life wouldn't be complete unless we went ocean kayaking. I assured her I had done a lot of paddling in various forms and that she was in good hands. Convincing her that her life wouldn't be complete unless we paddled under the ginourmous pier dodging the supports was another story, but she caved (or I may not have given her much of a choice since I was steering) and we made it out alive. It was awesome!!! No one was around and it was one of the coolest things I've done in a long time! I may have just discovered the trick to escaping humans in Southern California - get out on the water in any way, shape or form you can...just get out there! Hop in your car, put on a Dylan tune, and head to the ocean!

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!!

31 July 2006

Play us a slow song

If you've ever spent time in LA and turned on the radio in your rental you know what I mean when I say that radio in this town SUCKS!! For a land that is full of record companies and too many wanna be signed musicians (myself included) one would think that LA would be on the front lines of good radio. Not true. We had some cool stations - but they went mexican - as if they have a lot of disposable income to spend.

What we have on the airwaves here is mostly dreck. We're talking too much dance/hip hop and too much top 40 repeating crap! For example, we have a station a 'Mix' if you want to call it, that plays "No Doubt" every hour on the miserable hour. I get it, they're from Orange County and therefor are the 'pride' of the land for making it big, but c'mon, enough already! Though I will say when we were in Hawaii last year they did the same thing to Jack Johnson. Somehow I find him easier to stomach than Gwen Stefani's 'pardon me for sounding like crap i have a cold' voice. I think you get the point.

How do I solve this dearth of good vibes on the airwaves? Simple. I listen to the internet. Yep. I was heartbroken when I moved out here and couldn't listen to my beloved WXRV out of Boston. Years passed and as the internet became more accessible I discovered that many stations were simulcasting on the 'net. This has saved my ears! To go at once from playing The Clash to Joni Mitchell to Jamie Cullum is a godsend! I need to hear a diverse mix of music to keep my A.D.D. brain from turning the channel, and tuning out. Some call this kind of mix 'eclectic radio'. I call it refreshing, mind awakening, and downright good! It's almost better than putting my ipod on because these stations will play the newest track from Dar Williams, or Dashboard Confessional, all in one fell swoop. So as Joe Jackson says: 'Play us a slow song....' or at least every once in awhile.

Here is a list of some of my favourite radio stations that can be found on the 'net or on itunes: www.wxrv.com; www.wehm.com; www.wmvy.com; www.wfuv.org; www.wbos.com. There are so many great stations out there, too many to list, so if you have some time have a look around on the 'net or itunes.

Thanks for tuning in....Until next monday...CHEERS!!

24 July 2006

Every day is a winding road

3 teaspoons make up a tablespoon; pins always go to power; Sir Anthony Hopkins is every bit the gentle man I've heard him to be; Camryn Manheim has a wicked sense of humour. These are just a few of the things I learned since last Monday's entry. It started off as just another week in the life if this unknown singer songwriter/ unemployed 'industry' worker but by 7 am yesterday as I rolled into bed my head was spinning with knowledge and the week was sinking in. I'm exhausted, achy, dumbfounded and I have a silly smile on my face. But every moment was worth the physical pain and the tiredness I feel.

Tuesday - again - just another day until I decided that despite the heat I would bike my sweaty ass down to "Bed Bath and Beyond" at The Beverly Center. After a few minutes of poking around as is hard not to do at that place (I'm a kid in a Pepperidge Farm Goldfish factory) I found myself looking for what I actually went there to buy - a dish thingy that has soap coming out it - exciting, I know. But then this guy looked me in the eye from a few aisles away - clearly looking for the nearest female in sight . As I was thinking he's about to comment on my wicked cool Cubs hat he asks: do you know how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? Damned if I know - but I tried to help him nonetheless. I took my best educated guesses as he summoned yet another unknowing customer - an older lady who by the looks of her I would have thought knew the answer to this obscure question. Nope. After a minute or two I realized who was doing the asking. It was, for you "Bev 9'r" fans ("Beverly Hills 90210") non other than Ian Ziering acting like a hapless bachelor. I felt so bad for this guy wandering around looking for domestic items forgetting anything he's learned in home ec. Yea, me too. He was very sweet, funny and after I'd given up trying to help him he walked up to me in another aisle as I looked for a wooden fork, high fived me and showed me the answer on his cell phone. Apparently if you text message 'google' (46645) on your phone and hit send they will reply and you can ask them a question. Who knew? This is what I get for shopping for a dish thingy and a wooden fork.

Thursday - again - just another day - I decided that despite the blazing heat I would force my sweaty ass to paint the bathroom I'd painted green a few years ago in an attempt to recreate the living room where I used to watch (and poke fun of) "Bev 9'r" with my roommates in Boston. I was never able to recreate that shade of green but I lived with this because I was too tired and too busy to care. So I put on a coat of white and as I waited for it to dry so I could do another coat the phone rang. It was my friend Bill, he was finishing up a film and the electric crew needed a hand. While I'd done lighting and electrics in Theatre, film is a whole other ball game. There's a tone more equipment and it weighs a ton! He said 'now is your chance- if you're thinking about making a career switch this is a good place to start - it's up to you!'. I thought about it and despite my fears I took the job. Well, I took it after I asked who was doing the film. The minute he said Sir Anthony Hopkins and his directorial film debut "Slipstream" (to be released in 2007) it was a no brainer. I wrapped my wet brush, threw it in the fridge and left for the set.

The work is brutal, I'll be honest. It was near 100 degrees during my 2 days and one overnight on set (we were working outside mostly), the equipment was heavy, there was ALOT to think about and learn and yes, pins always go to power. Think about it, look at your lamp, pull it out of the wall and look at the cord. There are pins that go into the wall where the power is. Why I thought it would be different with this equipment as opposed to theatre I'll never know. But the basics do ring true even if there are more pieces and the voltage is considerably higher.

You may at this point be wondering about Sir Anthony Hopkins and Camryn Manheim. I am truly amazed by how nice they both were to me. You might ask - how much contact could I possibly have had? Plenty. I was in line at lunch when I officially met Mr. Hopkins. He introduced himself to me as Tony, I called him sir (a few minutes later wondering if that was ok to call a Sir, sir, but I was being polite not formal as I always addressed him as such). He was very humble and warm with incredibly beautiful blue sparkly eyes. The rest I'll save for telling my friends and my sister's grandchildren but suffice it to say I am truly honoured to have met and worked with him.

Camryn, what can I say? We had a wonderful and for me much needed 'lunch' together with her and her two friends (it was 11p and our cast/crew meal for the night's shoot). After 2 days of working, and eating with 5 of the coolest, most helpful, and patient guys in the business, I was happy when Camryn's table had an empty spot. While we had interacted earlier in the night, lunch was another story. I was needing some chick energy and they provided the cure, and the laughs. While I can't really go into specifics (too long a story to be saved for you know who) lets just say Camryn and her friends did not spare me any of their biting and colourful humour. I had a blast. If I ever run into her again I will thank her for infusing me with the energy to get thru the rest of the night's/morning's work and for her awesome hug when she left. Thanks, girl! I owe you one!

When I think about it it seems you never know what can happen. One minute you are wondering what to do with your time, so you paint a bathroom, then the next minute you are hopping in your Jeep and driving into the unknown. I will take with me from this past week the knowledge that when I was an Assistant Director I really had no clue how hard the guys who lit our sets worked. I had no idea what a beefy baby stand looked like, nor that pins ALWAYS go to power. I also had no idea how cool Tony and Camryn were. I'm still in a fog. My muscles hurt, but my smile stays where it is. Now it's time to pick my sweaty ass off the couch, rescue my cold paint brush, and go finish the bathroom.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday....CHEERS!

17 July 2006

Hello Stranger, Hello Friend....

If you are a music fan, and 'up' on your lyrics of pop and not so pop music, you may have noticed that nearly each week the title of the week's entry is always a befitting song lyric. When I feel inspired to write about something I can easily find one in my brain to fit. This week I chose to use a lyric of my own. I am, after all, a songwriter and this lyric inspires this week's story, or vice a verse.

After I wrote last week's blog about the Indigo Girls I got to thinking - what happened to my old friend Xandra? We had, as you gathered, known each other for a better part of our lives. We had been through boyfriends, girlfriends, weddings, family deaths, and just about anything life had thrown at us. While I'm not entirely certain, I believe the last contact we had was around 9/11 or shortly thereafter. When I look back I don't know why we lost contact. All I know is one day I sent her an email at her job and it got sent back to me as a non existent address.

In the midst of all life has brought to me since that time, more death, birth, relationships, divorces, every once in awhile I have asked myself - how did I loose this person from my life? Did I do something wrong? Did I offend her in some way? Was I a jerk? These are all possibilities since I am not a perfect human being - though not for lack of trying ;).

This past thursday something came over me. I got on the internet and looked for her. I had thought about doing it before but I figured - 'Hey! If anyone wants to find me - they can - I have my own web sight, I have been in the trades, and if she or anyone else hasn't looked for me - than they don't want to be in touch'. So I left it alone as I have done with so many other long lost friends. But still, I overcame my insecurities about why we would have lost touch and called her mother, got her new number and gave it a shot.

It's a tough thing to do - call someone out of the blue like that unsure as to the reception you'll get. Is this going to be a well received call or a tolerated, polite exchange? After 9 years in LA I'm just never sure anymore if anyone means what they say and putting myself out on the line has become less desirable because of that. But I did and I'm glad. While I'm not sure what will come of our 1 1/2 hour chat and the emails that followed, I am sure that I did the right thing. I put myself out there - the phone didn't slam down, the world didn't end and hopefully my old friend and me will stay in touch. Will we ever again sing Eddie Brickell songs together in the middle of a drunken night in The East Village? I don't know. But at the very least, I know she is well, happy, and she's still Xandra.

Thanks for tuning in....Until next Monday....Cheers!!

10 July 2006

Closer I am to fine....

No, I'm not getting all religious on you folks.....I was just thinking about that summer night in 1988 when my best friend, Xandra, and I drove up to Yale to see this then little known guitar - playing duo called the Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers). It was a gorgeous, clear night on the Yale green - one of my favourite places to see a summer show, and it was a relatively small crowd of about 100/150 or so. As the cool breeze blew off the Atlantic, and we sat on the grass the show was hot . They were simply amazing! When Emily sang about being born a Yankee the crowd went wild. I knew then that these 2 very fine songwriters would be around for a long time!

Flash forward 18 years, I'm feeling old at moments, (I can only imagine how they feel now into their 40's), they've released 8 studio albums with one on the way in the Fall, and its another cool, breezy summer evening. Same band, different coast, and a VERY different and much larger crowd. The show was again amazing, only to be capped off by the unexpected appearance of the most underrated, Vonda Shepard who sang with Emily '"Baby Don't You Break My Heart Slow". Yeah - that song broke my heart slow. OHH WEE!!!

We got to the Santa Monica Pier early, around 6 (the show started at 7.30p) and staked our claim on our space. Unfortunately as expected, though we tried to remain optimistic, we got trampled by the rude f**** that are the LA crowd. We got stepped on, we had lawn chairs put up against backs and had to deal with johnny come lately's standing very tall in front of us. It seems the folks in front of us (who should have just rented out the whole pier) decided to save room for everyone of their freakin' friends from the last 10 years of their lives. It was really rude that minutes before the Indigo Girls went on stage 3 very large people appeared in front of us. Just when I was thinking I had a good spot, they appeared and proceeded to talk throughout the ENTIRE show. They weren't even the only ones. This is very typical LA audience and I'm just sick of it. No wonder performers don't like playing here. The audience doesn't give a shit that they are up there.

While this was a free show I have been to too many shows that I have paid for with my hard earned and not always easy to come by money. When I go to a show I am there to see and hear the person on stage, not the f****** yahoo talking, or singing very loudly behind, next to, or anywhere in the room. Joan Armatrading made a rare showing at The House of Blues and all I heard was this fatass and his girlfriend behind us yammering loudly on and on, AND the annoying chick to our right who sang along to EVERY song. LOUDLY. I didn't pay to hear YOU sing, I paid to hear Joan "I don't play in LA very often, if ever" Armatrading, and Shawn Mullins, and Richard Thompson, Five For Fighting, Jamie Cullum, Julia Fordham, Edwin McCain, Patty Larkin....the list goes on and on. Basically every show I've ever seen in LA I have had to deal with people who don't seem to care that they are at a live show. What is their problem? Are they THAT self important to think that others want to hear what THEY have to say? You can't whisper? Or better yet, wait until the show is over? UNBELIEVABLE. I got news for you - this isn't your living room, and you aren't the only person at this show! Have a little respect, not only for your fellow audience members, but for the performer up on stage who is giving their heart and soul who can, by the way, hear you! (Sound rises people!!).

You may ask...why not move spots? Why not find a better seat? It's not always an option. Usually we have gotten there first and by the time the yahoos come by its too late to move. Also, it's not easy to escape when it's crowded - and usually, this being LA, they are everywhere! Closer to fine? NOT these audiences!!!

Thanks for tuning in...Until next monday...Cheers!!!

03 July 2006

You had a bad day.....

Lets face it, I don’t know about you, but life as we know it ended last week. Yes, the world has collapsed around us and no one will ever be the same. You know what I’m talking about - we all know. It’s true. Star has left The View. Her abrupt announcement of her future departure this last tuesday, despite what the network asked her to do, wait until a well-timed thursday, left the television world in shambles. It not only took Barbara Walters, and ABC by surprise, the rest of us were shocked as well. What happened? What went wrong? Why?!?!?! I lost sleep asking myself these very questions. She tells People Magazine (and anyone who will listen) that she felt as if she was ‘fired’ and that she wasn't respected. So what does she do? She DISSES BABS!!!!! You felt as if you were fired?!?!? Boo F***** HOO!!!!! I got news for you fatty, this shit happens ALL the time! You weren’t fired, your contract simply wasn’t renewed because your numbers were down. BIG DIFFERENCE.

I asked my father, who was in television news for much of his career, what he thought. He told me a story about an old friend and coworker who was fired, yes, really fired, because someone had spread a rumour that he was gay. The truth was, he was happily married with children. This was the early 70’s so shit like this happened, unfortunately. He was called into the General Manager’s office after the local paper published the unfounded story, then shown the door by an armed guard after he cleaned out his desk. THIS is being fired. He told my Dad he was retreating back to his home state of Alaska for awhile to get his head together. Yeah, he got it together, in his car, at the bottom of a cliff with a note left behind saying that he felt he’d let his wife down because his career was now ruined. THAT is a tragedy.

Star having to leave The View, and her cushy paycheck behind, after she spent more on her ‘wedding’ than most of us will make in a lifetime, is just another pothole in the long and winding road of television. It’s life. Plenty of people get ‘fired’ or laid off, or simply don’t have their contracts renewed. Why she thinks this is such a great tragedy and that we are all supposed to shed a tear for her ‘injustice’ is beyond me. My only hope is that whatever offers she had on the table from other networks have been rescinded. If she pulled this crap on ABC, and the venerable Barbara Walters, what do you think she’ll do to you? In the meantime, Star, as my ex used to say in a fake Boston accent, ‘have anotha jelly donut!’.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!

26 June 2006

Shake your head and wonder

Wow. I'm beat. It's been a very busy last 4 days. I won't bore you with all the details but I will say I had a blast! Thursday night I did a very LA thing and went to see my friend's most awesome band - The Teenage Prayers - at The Viper Room. It's a place that is probably more well known for who died there than for the up and coming bands who play there but it was my first show after all these years of living only blocks away and it was very cool! Not the 'I'm too cool for you' cool but the 'you don't feel like you're in a trendy LA bar' cool. I had flashes of feeling like I was in a dive bar in the West Village. The band totally rocked, the sound mix was good, and people were surprisingly unpretentious. It wasn't what I expected.

As I sit here 'shaking my head and wondering' (thanks Shawn Colvin) I realize this last weekend wasn't what I expected either. After driving up with my recently met, very cool, east coast neighbours up to San Francisco, and spending the weekend with many strangers, I am totally beat and pleasantly surprised. It was one of those unplanned, last minute, fly by the seat weekends. Everywhere I turned there were awesome people. It started the minute I walked in from my 8 1/2 hour drive up and into a stranger's house (I stayed with Robert, a friend of Sara's) and felt totally welcomed, comfy, and part of everything. Even the amazing neighbours upstairs and their friends took me in the next morning, bagel'd me up, coffee'd my veins and let me tag along. Maybe it was the special nature of a whole city having a party, maybe it was being in one of my favourite city's that put me in a particularly sociable mood, or maybe people up in San Fran are more my speed. Either way it was a blast and I want to send this week's blog out to my neighbours and all the very cool 'you don't feel like you're in a trendy LA bar' people I met this past weekend! If any of you ever read this I want you to know how much I appreciate our conversations, our long walks and how welcome you made me feel. Thank you all!!!!

Thanks for tuning in.....Until next monday......Cheers!

19 June 2006

Seems like everyone's got a plan

You know you’ve lived in LA too long when someone you used to work with now has a TV show on Bravo. Yep. It’s happened. She was a writer’s assistant, I was a PA and it was my first job in LA (the one where I worked for the late Scott Brazil). I left the job before the show got canceled, not being more than friendly coworkers, we lost in touch. Years later I ran into her at my gym. She was working towards being a Personal Trainer. We chatted, caught up, and I applauded her for getting out of the industry as I do with all that I find out are brave enough to run away from the circus.

Then last week as I sat on the couch catching up on Tivo’d items, and blowing my nose until the cows strolled home (they still haven’t btw) I saw her in an ad for a new show. For some reason it struck me, not just seeing a familiar face on a screen, since this wasn’t the first time, (several of my college friends/acquaintances have gone on to some healthy success) but the idea that I had once lauded her for ‘getting out’. It made me wonder, is everyone here to get a TV deal? She seemed so happy to have ‘escaped’ when I ran into her at the gym. Now here she was in my living room. Did she get lucky? Was it one of those things where it was too good a deal to pass up and thus she was pulled ‘back in’? Or was it her intention all along, though she made it seem as if she earnestly was happy to have run away from the circus. I’ll never know the answers to these questions since until last week I hadn’t seen her in years. But I wonder. I wonder for myself, and for anyone I know who is here. Was Shawn Mullins right when he observed that ‘it seems like everyone’s got a plan’?

Thanks for tuning in.....Until next monday......Cheers!

PS. A special shout-out: My friend’s band - The Teenage Prayers are playing this thurs. 22 June at The Viper Room - 9.30p. www.teenageprayers.com

14 June 2006

You know I’ll miss you and thus it begins

I’ve returned to LA exhausted, sick, and sad. My time back east was very well spent, very busy, and as I spend my first day back resting on the couch and catching up on Tivo’d items, I reflect on the previous days. While I spent both weekends in Massachusetts with friends, the time in between I used to catch up on some long overdue work on my sisters house. This is stuff her, thankfully soon to be ex looser, should have done while he was not working. I built a walkway, 2 gardens, painted her foundation, her porch, and helped her to try and save a stray cat shot by the very evil Dr. Hubbard. I am paying now, though it was worth it, with a head cold, and pains in my body that will take days to recover.

I’m feeling sad that I’ve left, and feeling torn between two worlds. As Phineas sits in his favourite box in the closet I think about this street that I’ve lived on for over 8 1/2 years, and the neighbourhood that helped look for Phin when he got out for the month of October (we think he went to Vegas, though he has yet to fully spill the beans, silly cat!). Then my thoughts wander to my tearful goodbye yesterday at Bradley International Airport. I kissed my niece, wished her happy birthday, and hugged my very awesome sister promising that one day I’ll move back.

As I walked around Newburyport this past sunday my mind went back to my years in Boston, and the trips to various northern towns, and states. The places where I still feel at home. Including the place in Maine where I was a camp councilor and met my dearest Suzanne who, from 1000’s of miles away opened up to me about her late sister upon hearing of my mothers death and thusly became the lifeline that kept me sane those first awful months. My mind weighs heavily on these thoughts as I recover from my flight and the crap in my head.

Then there is this place. LA. A place that I have yet to fully understand as I approach on the 16th the 9 year mark. If it weren't for my ‘hood I would have left years ago. The streets that I walk to the store, the movie theatre, or sushi. The neighbours who helped looked for Phin. The extraordinary friends I’ve made along the way.

I am deeply conflicted and perhaps that is why I write this blog. I never thought I’d be here so long, and I thought much would happen that has yet to come to fruition. At what point do we walk away and try something new, or old?

Abby and I both struggle with this daily as we are both tied to our families on the east coast, and the places that make us feel ok about the world. Maybe that’s the trick, to figure out where we most feel ok, or most happy to be alive. That place that makes us want to get up early because we don’t want to miss anything. We don’t want to miss the dew soaked sunrise, or the sunset that comes after a summer thunderstorm. Perhaps it’s that first snow that falls as you take a sip of your Wicked Winter Ale on the covered back porch while sitting under your sleeping bag. Or maybe you don’t want to miss the hike down to the beach in Malibu, or the weekends in Big Bear. Maybe it’s the Farmers Market on Melrose Place where neighbours gather every sunday and shop for organic food for the week. Maybe...maybe....oy. Too much to think about right now so I’m going to go take another vitamin, and catch some Z’s.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next monday...Cheers!

05 June 2006

Babe, won't you let me stay, you're a beautiful girl

I'm in love. I want to shout it from the roof tops, I want to scream it from the sea. I AM IN LOVE!!! It's been a long time coming, a long, steady, unrequited time. It started about 20 years ago when my dear friend, Hank, took me up to his family's estate in The Berkshires. While the main house had been sold, his family kept, and still has, the guest cottage and the 300 plus acres surrounding the houses. It was a beautiful weekend on every level. We spent afternoons at The "Dead" Lion drinking Bloody Mary's (don't ask me why I wasn't carded...), talking about our dreams for our respective futures, music....and cars. I have been in love with that side of the world ever since. The towns, the people, the history, and of course, Tanglewood. There is very little better in this life than an evening at Tanglewood.

This past weekend I went up there with my other dear friend, Fritz, to see his ex wife, Lauren and her daughter, Catherine. Since I moved out to LA this has become an expected, and needed trip for us both. It's our time together. I have grown very fond of our 'hosts' and the 2 hour drive up Route 7. It's been a couple of years since we have had the time to stay for more than an hour or 2 so this time Lauren made plans for dinner and drinks with some friends of hers at this nice little place called Due (doo eh) in Great Barrington. Aside from the tasty vittles and stimulating conversation I noticed something else. Everyone in the joint was beautiful. Our waiter was a major hottie and if I'd been a Hollywood agent I would have snatched him up. Though I'm guessing he's pre-med and wouldn't care.

I was absolutely struck by the beauty that surrounded me. Not just the natural world of the rolling hills and mountains I so crave when I am away. But the people. Everyone was beautiful in this amazing, natural way. I never once looked at someone and wondered what kind of work they have had done as is so common a thought in LA where most everyone is 'beautiful', 'perfect' and sterile. It numbs my brain to people watch sometimes because people always look so put together, so 'made' and cardboard like. What I witnessed in this restaurant and everywhere we went was this softness, this realism, this tangible and delectable beauty that you can taste when you breathe in the humid air. I was truly amazed.

It was hard to leave. Very hard. I'm wondering why I hadn't noticed all this the last time I was there. Or the time before. I think when I lived on this side of the world it was everywhere I looked and I took it for granted. Time in LA has changed the lenses from which I view this planet. I appreciate it so much more than I did when I was growing up here. There is such a stark contrast living in LA, in so many ways, that to describe it would take a novel, or a weekly blog, to fully comprehend for me or you. Unless you live it. Maybe that's the trick. You have to live it to fully be in love. So yes, I am in love. I can admit it. I'm in love with the rolling hills of The Berkshires, the natural friendly faces, and her Cooper Mini that Lauren finally let me drive!!!

Thanks for tuning in...Until next Monday...CHEERS!!!!

29 May 2006

Wise Men Say......

So everyone is writing about Memorial Day....a day that is hard to ignore considering all that is going on in this world. As someone who is not working I'm not thinking about it as a long weekend. But I am thinking about where we are today. Where this country is and where it is going. I think too often people forget about history, patterns, and the things that got us where we are at this moment. One thing that got us here - in a war that many people (including myself) don't support - is the fact that our President told the U.N. to F*** off when they told him they don't support attacking Iraq. He did it anyway. I wonder if this guy every studied history...you don't have to go that far back to see where our country has gone awry when getting involved in a 'military coup'.

It's a very thin line. You don't want to wallow in your past, but you don't want to forget, either. It is up to each person to decide where that line is, how much to remember, honour, and respect those that have gone before. How many moments in a given day that we spend reflecting is a very individualistic part of our internal process. The past teaches us so much if we allow it to. How else do we know how to move forward in any given situation? I know I can't eat crab because once I spent an entire day loosing many meals, and scratching my arms because I had crab for lunch. I never order crab anymore. I learned my lesson. Quickly.

I live in a city that is an architects wet dream as once told to me by an architect friend. We tear down beautiful old buildings and put up crap at every turn. What we get is overpriced, poorly built dreck (no offense, friend). This city does not respect its past - how else can we tear down the very hotel where RFK was killed? Amazing. This city doesn't view history as something to learn from because it is 'so yesterday'!!!! Who Cares, right?

I care. Deeply. Because no matter what side of that line you are on in any given moment, history has shown us that you can't go forward if you don't know where you've been. If you don't know where you've been, how can you move forward without the lessons learned from the past? I'll say it. I don't like where our country is going. I think it's because some key people have chosen to ignore the great people who have gone before, the wisdom they imparted on us, and the sometimes stupid decisions that have been made by other lesser people who also chose to ignore history.

Thanks for tuning in.....until next monday......Cheers!

22 May 2006

Believe In Me

My mother would have been 62 today. She loved our beach, Agatha Christie, Roberta Flack, Dan Fogelberg, Placido Domingo and so much in between. But perhaps Diane Warren says it best in the song "I Could Not Ask For More". Except time.

Nasdrovia, Mama, Yati Bla lu blu....

15 May 2006

Into The Wild.....

I was about 4 or 5 years old and we were living in Iowa when my Dad took off the training wheels. You should have seen me! This undersized, toe-headed hyperactive kid taking off from my fathers steady hands.....and then........kurplunk! One quick moment and lots of blood later I had had my first bike accident. To this day I still have the scars in my hairline from that life changing day. I was hooked! When we moved to Connecticut, while still in elementary school, I used to bike the 3 miles down the road to my best friends house - who coincidentally lived near a general store where they sold the candy I wasn't allowed to eat....but I digress. Needless to say biking has been a life long passion of mine and through countless miles in 3 major cities, the endless hills of various states, 2 left broken elbows, 1 left broken wrist, and a many-times-over sprained left shoulder I still can’t get enough! I find it exciting, challenging, and I’ll never stop doing it!!

These days it makes economical as well as environmental sense to bike as many places as possible - never mind the obvious health benefits. I bike when I can, nearly every day. In fact until this past weekend I hadn’t driven in a month. But in this city people are in love with their cars, and the aloneness that comes with driving. We just don't make it easy here for most to want to bike. It’s not like Boston where you can bike around The Charles for 27 miles on a bike path - not to mention the countless paths throughout the city that kept me out of harms way of cars, and my favourite that lead out of Davis Square - a former railroad track that was converted to a bike path (go to www.railtrails.org for more info).

L.A. is full of too many cars, too many people on their cell phones and too many near misses. We have very few bike paths - which also doesn't help - the one around the corner from me that runs through West Hollywood is all of 1+ mile long - and we were supposed to kiss the feet of the City Council for that! I’m not surprised at all that more people don’t bike here - the horrendous roads that caused my above mentioned broken bones can deter even the most adventurous. While I do see some cyclists, even a neighbour that I never thought knew how to bike has gotten into it - if only to get to her job 8 blocks away, there are not as many as I would hope considering our lack of weather here. But for every cyclist I see I figure that's 1 less car on the road, 1 less tank to fill and 1 slightly healthier person. Every little bit helps and maybe if more people were biking in this city more motorists would get used to seeing us and would be applauding us, in their heads thank you very much, instead of barely missing us!

Thanks for tuning in.....untill next monday......Cheers!

08 May 2006

Mother's Day

It's been 6 Mother's Day’s since I’ve given a shit. 6 Mother's Days of avoiding the Hallmark Card aisle. If you know me, and are reading this you know why. If you don’t know me I will explain, though I’m sure it's quite obvious; my mother died unexpectedly 6 years ago. While in a linear sense it seems to be a bit of a time ago, emotionally it feels like yesterday. Even though I know this is a day created by a card company, it’s not an easy time, especially since my mothers birthday follows within 2 weeks. But LA is a strange place, which I think makes it easier, if it can be. ‘Holiday’s’ such as St. Patty’s day and Mother's and Father's Day aren’t observed the same way they are back east. St. Patty’s day is hardly noticeable out here, while back east it can last an entire weekend such as I had the pleasure to re-experience in March. I sat in a bar in Canaan, CT. where while no one knew our names, we were invited to join in the St. Patty’s Day celebration. This doesn't happen in LA. People here don’t care about strangers, and they don’t often include the people they do know.

Many people I think come out here to escape their families and therefor days like Mother's Day and Father's Day don’t carry the same weight. It’s truly a shame, even though I’m sure people have their reasons. I was lucky, my mother was my best friend and we never hung up the phone without saying I Love You - those were, in fact, the last words I heard her speak. I cherish those last words, and when she was alive we celebrated Mother's Day - many of them, somehow, some way, and as I got older, nearly every day of her life. Maybe that’s how it should be, families, parents especially, aren't perfect, but still we love them, and feel like dying when they leave us for, I hope, a better place. So whether you buy your mom a card this week, or any week, tell her you love her and be glad you still have her to love, fight with, or even dislike. I’d give anything not to love a ghost and not to hate Mother’s Day.

Thanks for tuning in....until next monday...Cheers!!!