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!!!