Friday, July 11, 2008
I'm sick a this place. The unrelenting flatness. The unconditioned air. The constant struggling on the lowest echelons of a career which climbs so high that those who work at the top are called stars without intentional hyperbole. Either having an absurdly sweaty back or feeling like I don't have my seat belt on when I bike backpackless. The shrieking drunks, the rictus-grinning old people and the Asians who obviously learned how to run in another culture, all thronging my neighborhood - I tire! I am sick of Chicago like I am sick of bobbing my head while I wait for a song I can dance to. Hootenany already.
Nah nah I'm just foolin. I still like Chicago a lot! But I'm going to North Carolina in less than a week for less than a week and I am absurdly pumped. We arrive, functionally, on the 17th, so the trip is called NC 17. You can't tell me that's not a winner.
Oh yes, for all my bitching, Chicago is a fine place to raise a me. Two weeks ago I was honored to be invited by my friend "Donny" to participate in a cabaret. The event took place on the roof of a building downtown. The owner of the place - an absurd old man who dismissively disavowed ownership of his building to anyone who asked - has tricked the place out real nice. Trees, little gardens, art, built-in bars and a stage - perfect for little benefits like this. (Not that we were really benefiting anyone other than ourselves, I don't think. I never saw any money from it, but in principle I prefer art for personal profit far above art for AIDS and such. Those feel like an apology every time - no, it's not good enough to make money on its own, but it'sfor a good cause so, please. Honestly: enough with the money for AIDS. AIDS owes US.) People sang, my girlfriend most beautifully. Sorry, guy who sang the hilarious original banjo tune "Too Many Women In The House (A Hot Summer Jam)."
For my part, I was told a few hours befre showtime that the professional burlesque act which had committed to "Donny" had bailed, and could I write a sketch or monologue somehow burlesque-themed? Also, keep in mind the theme of the event, "Garden of Earthly Delights." Also, maybe you could use all those clothes you picked up off the streets of Chicago last winter?
So, for six hours I sewed nasty torn clothes together. I made a lace-trim-and-glove-finger bandolier, a discarded-little-girl-panties-and-mittens hat for the brave, and an enormous codpiece of a sweater sleeve and elastic. These and a few other creations, along with most of the unmodified found items, I scattered over the greenery and art and invited visitors to find their own, don them, wear them throughout the evening and, at the climax of the show, perform their own brief striptease. I don't want to say it went great, so I'll just say that I am an amazing genius.
I have been devoting much more of my time and energy to www.digitalfuntown.com. Though our online news show still usually falls short of truly perfect, the level of improvement during our run has been remarkable. (I am only affiliated with DFT News. The rest of the site often, and regrettably, requires apologies.) The process of learning how to be on camera has been gratifying. I am reminded of the revelaion that I must have had many years ago, when first acting in shows - the WORK of performance is the way in which it is an exception to normal life. Talent, then, is involved in the degree to which you can bring that closer to normal life while still fulfilling the requirements of the form. I think that in general I disagree with the sentiment behind my most recent acting class, that every effort should be first directed towards capturing "real" human moments - for what are those? - and denying that what makes acting an art form is the way it, like all art, is dictated by its constraints. There is no frameless art, Daryl "W" Cox!
The rest of this blog devolved into a bitch session about the classes I've taken in Chicago. You can find that below if you're interested. I get amusingly upset, and I use a hilarious number and extent of parentheses, but I imagine it's otherwise pretty lame for anyone who's not also taken the same classes.
When next you hear from me, no doubt I will be glad to return to a city which is relatively parent- and humidity-free, where I spend my time making things and promising others that I will watch them make things and then never do (Sorry, "Sam Booties," for not coming to see you naked after you came and saw me naked). But for now, popsicle stand, meet huge explosion.
And speaking of expensive wastes of time: "i"O enjoys twisting the knife. In level 3 of their 7-level course of study, they told us that there would be an additional level being added because people were graduating without being comfortable with their native longform form "The Harold." First of all, that is because you teach Harold in level 4 and then have three more levels to go through before you're expected to be able to play it very well, so it's a matter of FORGETTING, not not having learned. To fix a problem like that, build in a refresher on Harold near the END of the training program, not immediately after you just learned it. Secondly, I don't care if you define "Harold" as "any longform which succeeds dramatically." It does not take four months to learn a form. If it does, I am retarded or you can't teach.
As it turns out, they are tacitly admitting the latter is true. Jason Chin, with whom I took level 4 and who I liked well enough as a teacher (a little too prohibition- rather than exploration-based, but I didn't have strong objections) is being forced out of the teaching process at "i"O after more than a decade. Level 4B, meanwhile, feels much more like remedial Harold rather than "continuing" Harold. Things we were told in 4 are consistently specifically contradicted, and though the teacher, Bill, is a skilled diplomat and never steps over the line of overt criticism, it's clear that the real issue being addressed here is that they realized they were teaching improv poorly at "i"O and slapped a bandage over the wound.
Third (yes, I had established a first and second, though it was a while ago - simply scroll up the page if you don't believe me!) it's terrible to accept a class of new students into a program and then, when they are a little less than halfway through, allow word to circle around that two more mandatory months would be added to their curriculum. Not through official channels, oh no - in fact, let most teachers believe that they would never be so required. Just let some people have heard, and then, when they're ready to sign up for the next level, reveal that there is no such level being offered, just a better rehashing of the shit you just did.
I resent being made to pay for a bad class and then another, better class to reeducate me. And I don't even pay, I intern. So I'm really getting indignant on behalf of others. Should I take a deep breath? Only if, upon exhalation, I scream at horrible profiteers who benefit by identifying my demographic (confused, young, ambitious, overwhelmed and without a clear understanding of how to make our way) as overburdened with exploitable intentions and possessed of disposable income who can be made to drop a few hundred in exchange for a brush with slightly-closer-to-greatness and the incessant repetition of famous names. It is so much like church that if I had faith in my eventual salvation it might be worth it.
Aww yeah it's a Fuck You Friday.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Please note: my defining my girlfriend as an empty space is an insult that borders on the Shakespearean.
So, those things are maybe most of my life. In terms of the actual particle-waves which bound and determine the limits of my Sitch, however - the answers I give when asked what I'm doing - they are composed of:
1. I'm an understudy at Navy Pier. So far this has consisted of a very lucrative rehearsal process, followed by ten hours of work total over the month of June. My job is engaging children in games which are in some way pirate-themed. I play three characters - the smart one, the huge dumb one, and the handsome one. Typecasting is not an issue at Navy Pier unless the costume is small. This job pays the most per hour, so it's my answer when people ask what I'm doing and what they mean is how I'm eating.
2. I just got a job writing for a comedy web site. I'm the co-writer and -anchor for a humorous weekly newscast. We have one episode up on the site (www.digitalfuntown.com) with another due to arrive within 24 hours.
My friend, who I will call "Me&," has worked for this place for a while now. If that weren't the case, I would be expecting every morning to arrive for a shoot only to find the place a vacant lot, with a sign reading "Artists are Suckers" scrawled over an eviction notice. They pay me, which is absurd. Admittedly, they haven't payed me yet.
(a brief nod to an old established joke - isn't is great when something like this happens?
"'Scuse me, but oI'm lookin' fer DFT Studios, oI am. 'Ave you 'eard of that? oI was hoired there yestiddy! They was 'unna pay me t' wroit on-loin comedy, they was!"
"DFT Studios? Why, young sir, you couldn't know about them! DFT Studios burned down... thirty YEARS ago...")
3. I'm starting a new improv group! It's called "Very Special Episode," and the idea is that every show we will recreate the classic joy of the concussed sitcom dream sequence.
4. Oh yeah, the blood pressure thing - I got a job doing "standardized patient work" at Northwestern medical school. If you're familiar with the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer and his dwarf friend... well anyway, either you've seen it or you haven't. I thought I would be faking trauma or illness, but instead my first session consisted ONLY of having my blood pressure taken by terrified med students. Oh, it was endearing watching ruddy Damien stutter and drip as he repeatedly put the cuff on inside out and tried to inflate it, only to watch it tear itself off over... and over. And as you watch, you repeat to yourself the SP Code: "I am not giving him the little suggestion he needs to pass because it is important that he be evaluated fairly. I am not not giving him the little suggestion he needs because very soon he will make more money
in four minutes than I will ever make in all my years on this Earth and this is my last, petty chance to lord power over someone far more gifted and driven than I."
5. Improv classes and internships at the "i"O theatre! The fact that they spell their name "iO" tells you all "u" need "2" "no!"
Seriously though, I'm getting pretty "off" that particular institution. They just slapped another class in between me and graduation, taking the total amount of time required to complete all the sessions from 1 year to 1 year 2 months. I would complain, but no one ever pretended they weren't a money-making institution dedicated to squeezing the maximum possible amount of cash from those stupid enpough to swallow their path-to success pablum. Registration is tomorrow. I don't know what I'll do, really.
6. Another improv group called "Mixtape." I auditioned for it. I like the gal in charge, but because of Durango (which closed and was a great experience, thanks for asking, fuck-os) I've had to miss the first three rehearsals. First one is tonight. Hope it doesn't really suck! Because that would be a shame! If I were obligated to play for an indeterminate amount of time in lame ways with lame people! Shit!
7. I'm making plans to move to Montana in two and a half months. From mid-Septenmer to mid-December, I am dedicated to the Montana Shakespeare Company. They tour schools presenting an abbreviated version of a classic Shakespeare play (in my case Much Ado About Nothing) and teaching classes to the kiddies in the afternoon. 5 shows a week, back in Bozeman for the weekends. Sounds fucking awesome. I'll miss Chicago - though not as much as I will miss fall, as it snows on the Bozeman slopes even as we speak - but it's a dynamite opportunity, really spiffy and zowie, I'm rarin' to go. Once I finish the above five items and find someone to live where I live.
And may I say, where I live is all dressed up in her finest tramperies these days? The sun is shining in Chicago. It's beautiful today, it was beautiful the past two days, and the most likely complaint on the horizon is "it's cloudy" or "it's too hot." Thank you, inclination of the Earth on its axis relative to the Sun. Thank you.
an Austin grateful
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Right now I have one of those regrettable pimples which straddles the line between philtrum and lip. It could not possibly give more of an impression of herpes. My skin has been relatively clear since my sophomore year of high school, when a reaction to the antibiotic I was taking for my acne gave me 105 degree nightly fevers for two weeks, along with migratory arthritis pain and other lupus-like symptoms. I lost 20 pounds, and my own body heat apparently burned the puss-filled little nodules right off my face.
Before that, I think it's safe to say that my acne, and my baseline lack of awareness of how young people communicate with each other, were a continual death for me. The memories are thankfully dimming, but I was not a happy young person. The casual cruelties of adolescence were keenly felt, and the persona I've since cobbled together (ha ha, lookit me! jokesy jokes and articulation! get it, fuckers?) is doubtless a direct offshoot of this misery. I find people who remember childhood as an idyllic time intolerable. You cried more then, did you not? I cry much less now than I did back then. Case closed.
Anyway, this is all by way of saying that I act the way I do - in which I'm including, you know, acting - because I was really uncool and fairly unpleasant to look at as a kid. At least, I felt very unattractive, and when I first received indication that there might be pleasing things about my personality, I latched on to them like a lamprey. I guess everyone does this. I'm just letting you know, me too.
So, two things. One, I'm taking this weirdly intense acting class now. It's very explicitly and exclusively geared towards contemporary, high-emotion, Meisner-type naturalistic acting. The teacher, "Daryl," indicates clearly that the issues he'll be exploring do not relate to musicals, Shakespeare ("performed in a large space"), or anything performed in a 'style.' Surely he recognizes the problematic linguistic challenges such a view raises, but. Whatever. I guess we all know what he means. Acting like you're not acting, feeling stuff for realsies.
In this class, "Daryl" makes a case for maintaining a keen awareness of all the things that we as people throw up in front of ourselves in order to avoid confronting ourselves as we really are and the ubiquitous proximity of death. These distractions can include many tiny satisfactions or large compulsions, but boil down (in his view) to self-love. He asked us to take note of how many times during a week we finish an interaction with someone congratulating ourselves on what a good impression we left on that person, or reveling in how much the person loves us; how many times we go offstage feeling good because we 'nailed it,' though the character we played was in misery.
I'd like to state explicitly that I don't see anything "wrong" with these kinds of minor deceptions. We are all of us a pack of neuroses. There is no ideal "real me" under all my defense mechanisms and self-destructive patterns. What you see is what you get.
That said, the sense of satisfaction I get when I think I've said something perfectly and been heard and appreciated - yeah, that's something of which I can't get enough. And that may be one of the things that sucks about me. I guess it depends on how accurately I am able to judge my own wit.
The second thing - Jesus Christ, I do go on - is that I'm naked in the show I'm in right now, and I say very little. The reviews (which have been very positive, I really encourage you to see it),
when they mention me, mention only my body.
Physical attractiveness is not what I'm "going for," really. My face is fine, you know, nothing to make you compose a poem which you would then send to your mother. I'm not going to be an action movie star - or, fuck, any kind of movie star - and that's cool with me. (Be advised: yes, these are the constant considerations of the professionally observed.) But between the reviews, and my peachy girlfriend, I get a lot of praise for my physical loveliness. And I, really, I don't know what to do with it. Tell me I'm smart or funny and that goes right in my Ego Bank for repeated reflection at later dates, but tell me I'm good looking and, what, good, glad I've done a lot of pushups. It's nice, you know. Rather have praise than ridicule, surely, it's a step up since middle school, but it doesn't feed me in the way "Daryl" encourages us to be aware of.
I am a terrible man.
Friday, May 9, 2008
It has been an extremely exhausting couple weeks, gentle readers. Pray accept this missive softly and with delicate care into your eyeballs.
A friend died. A friend of long and emotional significance. His name, which I will not be changing out of respect, was James Karpinos. He was the youngest of three brothers. He and my sister were friends in preschool; his mother and mine became close friends then, and have remained so. I have spent every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween with their family since I can remember. I was in perhaps the first acting role of my life with James Karpinos: a very silly Culbreth Middle School production in which we sat in a mime'd car and lip-synched to motown classics (he lead “Blueberry Hill,” I shimmied and snapped in the background). I can remember vividly jumping excitedly around his living room concocting our curtain speech, which we were allowed to write ourselves; feeling terribly clever for thanking the lighting guy “without whom we could not be seen;” fearing I was monopolizing the director's chair and getting nothing but supportive encouragement from James.
I remember he and his mother came over to my house when I was very young. I ran repeatedly to the top of the stairs, yelling that he was saying swears. I have no memory of the words he was using. His mother spoke to him very firmly about being rude in someone else's home; my mother, to me, about being a tattletail.
I remember when I was back from, I think, my first year of college. I still had many friends in high school and was at one of their houses, drinking and talking outside in the liminal new-growth forest/sprawling suburbia which comprises the setting for almost all of my memories of a maturation in North Carolina. We went upstairs and into my friend's room, where we found the closet closed and reeking. Opening the door, who should I find but James, on his way now towards being the towering figure of Appalachian strength at which he was arrested. His eyes, red from the anonymous herbs he'd been smoking, went wide and terrified at seeing me. I fell immediately into the social... thing, and didn't address the expression until later in the night. By then, I had smoked with him, and he felt at liberty to tell me that the sight of me, a figure he associated only with our mothers and pleasant family conversation, in that debauched closet nearly gave him a heart attack. After that, we always intended to get together and drop ourselves-as-family in favor of ourselves-as-friends. It never happened. Some relationships are one thing, and to twist them risks breaking.
We were friends, and family. It is worth stressing that I consider the concurrence of my sainted mother and his, in one town, finding each other, an event of such serendipity that it reaffirms my faith in some natural tendency of existence towards symmetry. More on that later perhaps.
The Karpinoses, despite a fondness for Duke Basketball which in my youth I confused for Republicanism (those representing the opposing sides in the two major divisions between humanity in my household) are the greatest family I know. They are, all, the nicest, kindest, most self-sacrificing and gifted human beings I have ever known well enough to judge. Their goodness outshines my mediocrity as the sun one of those keychain flashlights. An apt metaphor, as the good industry of the Karpinoses seems to come natural as breathing and mine has to be continually squeezed from me, like masses of coal grudgingly producing the occasional diamond. I love the Karpinoses; I strive to be like the Karpinoses.
James had, of late, become a strapping pillar of a young man. He fought forest fires. He climbed mountains and jumped off. He made, I imagine, girlfriends by lifting them off the ground. While out rock-sliding he slipped and fell into the river. His girlfriend didn't see him fall. She saw him come to the surface, once, but that was probably the caprice of the river. The search and rescue crews found him less than a day later – a small blessing in this, that no one had to wonder for long. He hadn't drowned. He died from head trauma.
So, I went home for 22 hours for his service. Their neighbor conducted the ceremony. It was beautiful. His brothers spoke, one with a few lovely, well-articulated memories of James, one with a passage from the Bible.
I am an atheist. I have faith only in the notion that there is a great deal which we do not know, and in the exceptional potential of human imagination. Though the architecture and fellowship of the church was inspiring, and the words of his older brothers held comfort, I got angry as I listened to the Christian language of remembering a life and dealing with a death. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” “There is balm in Gilead.” The Lord is good, the Lord is in all things, all things are good, and love, and sweet nectar cupped in His perfect hand. There was very little said about the value of companionship in these times, or the need for support, or the virtue of giving yourself over to the strength of a higher power. It was all speeches insisting that, since God is good, all things are good, and aren't we lucky. A boy just died for no reason. My friend, her son, his brother – no, not all things are good. This is not good. God does allow terrible things to happen. We will not make it otherwise through repetition.
Tonight is opening night of my show. It's called Durango, it's in downtown Chicago, the city where I live now.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
May 1 - June 15, 2008
The Chicago Temple Building (oldest church in Chicago. Take THAT, beautiful church across from my new bedroom window.)
77 W Washington St., Chicago
Thursdays - Sundays, check the schedule at:
So, I was cast, literally, as the object of homoerotic gaze. I sometimes wonder at fellow actors about how successful an actor could be if they were very talented, good-looking, and hard-working, but significantly homophobic. The response is always "Not far." For this reason, I am considering suing my former landlords for attempting to sabotage my career (lucky for me, I had already met a nice homosexual before! Hi, "Corey!")
So. I was living with my friends, who we will call "Steevin" and "Juan Tale." When their friend, "Geoff," broke up with his girlfriend, they invited him to stay with us. I was down with that. I like Geoff.
On the very evening when we reached that agreement, we were up late. It was around 4 am when the downstairs gaybors came pounding on our door, telling us to be quiet, no excuses, no explanations, just shut it. We said ok. I sent emails asking for the chance to figure out what we were doing that was making so much noise, as we weren't doing anything which we thought could be described as a "herd of elephants" about to "come through the ceiling."
They refused to meet, discuss, or understand where we were coming from. Key quotes: "In addition, your apartment is not a theatre, a playground, a gymnasium, Animal House or a dormitory" "There isn't any reason to get together to talk about this unless you are having difficulty understanding what we are saying to you." What they were saying was new rules - no loud noise after 11. Totally reasonable, if we knew what was making the loud noise. I wrote this, plus other stuff:
"I think we're completely clear on your requirements. If that's all you need to know, feel free to disregard the rest of this e-mail.
I believe getting together would be helpful, for a couple reasons. First of all, I want you to understand that we are confused by what we were doing on both of the nights you've specifically mentioned that was making such objectionable noise, and further confused by previous nights when we thought we were being much louder, asked you out of concern, and were told you didn't notice... I understand that your dual position as landlords and neighbors is a tense one sometimes, and that you need to do what is best for you in both positions, but (and speaking only for myself) I was surprised by this interaction because we seemed to be behaving as though we didn't have yet a third role we've found for each other - friends. I don't think we've done anything to make you think that we would willfully, consciously keep you up until all hours, that we would ignore a request for quiet if there was a noise problem, or that we had a lack of respect for you...
If, on the other hand, you consider that my first sentence above is sufficient, please be assured that we will honor our agreements with you to the best of our abilities, and I'm sure we'll see you around."
They responded thusly:
"(Barry) and I said what we needed to say. Looking forward to moving forward."
So, obviously, the relationship in the house was somewhat tense from then on. Adding to that was "Steevin"'s concerns about my respect for him and his space.
I am not a 'neatnick.' Never have been. I simply have a higher threshold for 'dirty' than some. I understand and acknowledge that this could be frustrating for someone living with me. "Steevin" felt he needed to speak with me on this issue twice - two different issues, he said what he needed, I agreed to change my behavior, and I believe I did so.
Little did I know, faithful reader of this regrettably overextended blog entry, that "Steevin" was orchestrating a betrayal.
When "Geoff" first moved in, he overheard the other two roomies talking about their effort to get me removed from the lease - they had gone down and talked to the homos, casting aspersions my way and trying to paint the picture that I, and not they, had been responsible for the mysterious objectionable noise.
The next move came a month later. "Steevin" and "Juan Tale" brought "Geoff" down to talk to the flamers. This is "Geoff," they said. He's been living with us for a little while now, and we're trying to figure out whether Yours Truly could be removed from the lease and replaced by our old friend "Geoff!"
What? The fudgepackers inquired. Living where? We don't trust you. By the time I got home on this fateful day, they were printing notices of lease cancellation. On these notices they wrote that this was the second violation of the lease; when handing them to us, one of the fairies let us know that, as much as they regretted this, he believed in a two-strike policy. Not three strikes, because, why?
Impeccable logic, male lover of men.
I sent this email:
"Believe me when I say I'm aware that this makes no difference, and that I send this email without intending any disrespect to you.
For my own peace of mind I have to say: I don't believe being noisier than you liked on that occasion, having no prior way of knowing that noise was a problem and (as you acknowledged) correcting the problem as soon as we were informed, constitutes a violation of the lease. Further, I think our response to your first warning regarding noise demonstrated our mindfulness, with repeated efforts to figure out how we could best limit the noise and smooth over the incident mixed with repeated apologies and honest protestations that we had no idea we were causing you distress.
Of course, being noisy is in the ear of the beholder, which is why the laws of Chicago (according, admittedly, to websites I've perused, not conversations with legal professionals) dictate that lease violations based on excessive noise must be based on complaints from neighbors (that's you) which then go unaddressed. That being the case, I believe our immediate and acknowledged change in late-night behavior after the first warning means that we were not in violation of the lease according to the letter of the law. Our very real and communicated apologies, I think, mean that we were abiding by the spirit you communicated to us regarding mindful awareness of your proximity.
That's all. I just wanted to communicate to you how surprised and disappointed I was by that abrupt turn in our relationship, and let you know that I think it's unfair to present that, in our lease cancellation, as the "first strike" of the two you mentioned when presenting us with the papers."
Their response was to move the date of their initial inspection of our apartment from dwo days hence to immediately. After the inspection, during which I was absent, they sent:
"The apartment is filthy from the bottom of the stairs in the hallway all the way through to the kitchen. You were shown a spotless apartment and we expect to be able to also show a spotless apartment to the next tenants. You are responsible for keeping the apartment clean - so do it and keep it that way through April 5th."
So, what a pair of douchefags, right? This is why only "Corey" has the power to keep me from turning my rage against all homosexuals. Thank you, "Corey."
We had a month to find a new place; during that time, "Geoff" and I bonded through our respective, complimentary tragedies, "Juan Tale" redeemed himself in my eyes, and I had a talk with "Steevin." Then, he went back to Texas. Fuck yeah.
Also, the land(and rectum)lords felt terrorized by us as we stopped taking off our shoes before walking around at night. They called the cops, who I hope let them know how silly it is to call the Chicago Police Department to report two dudes walking around inside after dark. They wrote an email to my MOTHER saying they were frightened of me. They had MY MOM call me and give me a lecture on the Golden Rule. It's a very good thing that I have an excellent relationship with my mother. For a less well-adjusted young man, such a phone call could have been humiliating disaster.
SO. It was a terrific ordeal, but "Juan Tale," "Geoff," and "I" found a new place and moved in. It's just a bit south, just a bit closer to the lake. I really like it, honestly. It's a friendly-feeling place, much more our speed.
Sorry about the length, friends. Which is also what I will say to anyone who goes to see Durango. Uh, not because of the length of the play, I think it'll probably be about a buck fifty. That was a dick joke.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
No, no, but seriously, I have a new girlfriend and she's a peach.
As you will notice, it's been a very long time since I wrote a blog update. Since that time I've been in shows, had my lease canceled, lost one roommate and gained another in the move, worked various little jobs and been looking for others. The other day, the lady and I were brought in on a Microsoft commercial; I slapped a strawberry milkshake out of her hands. It exploded! Then she tried to slap a bowling ball out of my hand, but instead she hurt herself. There were people whose job it was to come up and make sure out clothes were nice. Acting on camera is weird.
I just want this update - which I'm writing offstage during a five-hour Saturday rehearsal for "Durango" by the Silk Road Theatre Project - to just get the ball rolling. If I don't write the first update in months, I can't write any other new ones. So dang much has happened, it's hard to know where to begin, so I shan't decide now. This blog is a fair representation in miniature of my general big problem with the artist-whatever lifestyle. The other day I spent about four hours collecting names of agencies, writing cover letters, and mailing out invitations to my show. It was a necessary next step, and it was easy, but I'd been planning to do it for weeks. Once it was begun, suddenly I was capable of working for hours, all self-directed and shit, full of what is called "passion" - as distinguished from those other essential intangibles, "Talent" and "connections" - but the first step! My God. Auditioning - going to auditions - preparing for auditions - none of them pose as great a challenge to me as looking up the audition in the first place.
So. This first blog back is about how I can't do things like write this blog. My life these days dedicated to summoning up the phlegm to spit in the eye of my own laziness; this missive is another drop.
Next time I'll write about my new place, and about how my former landlords' behavior has caused an accepted renaissance of the humor of homophobia in my friend group.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I've been busy. I had a lovely Christmas and New Years season. My parents and sister were here visiting me from the 27th - 30th. I usually get along well with my family, but this visit was exceptionally pleasant. I think being in Chicago, a brand-new place, eased what could have been a difficult transition: from parents-children into a model more closely resembling lifelong friends. It was a wonderful time.
New Years brought the first of two incidents, the retelling of which led my friend Jason to call me the Forrest Gump of violence. While riding the El at 3 am New Years Day, I was sharing the car with a young couple when a big pack of kids flooded in. They were hollering, blowing noisemakers, grinding up on each other, and generally having a high-spirited New Year. I started singing Auld Lang Syne, all was merry. The big group left the car at the stop just above mine, and as the last young man was stepping off the car, he cracked the dude who had been on with me originally, sitting next to his lady right next to the exit. The aggressor moves out, doors close, train starts moving; I get up, both out of drunken concern and the knowledge that I'll be getting off shortly, to see the girl laughing in surprise and asking whether he's ok and his nose gushing blood, spattering and beading on the moisture-resistant carpet substitute native to the CTA. He nods stoically, so I leave at my stop.
About a week later, I'm fulfilling one of my blessedly concluding commitments as an intern at iO Chicago. I don't remember whether I've mentioned it before, but iO (formerly, and preferably, Improv Olympic - and yes, it is specifically little i, big O, an aesthetic choice which I feel is infected by the neighborhood - read on! for my thoughts on the surrounds!) is the improv club I've chosen to work my way through first. I had been assigned the Saturday 9 pm - 2 am shift, so I finish work at exactly the time when all the Wrigleyville douchebags are expelled from their evening of drinking. Actually, you know what, I'd like to refocus that statement. It would be more descriptive to say that 2 am is the douchebag, the opening bar doors are vaginas, and the hordes of identical pricks with their bellies full of Old Style are the mixture of hygienic brine and lady-juices.
I'm nearing the Addison stop, wading through the attractive women unable to rise from the ice-slurry gutters. Rounding the corner I must have just missed the punch, but I see a dude sprawled against a taxi cab, a woman clinging to the aggressor screaming 'Michael! Michael!' and another young man holding his cameraphone triumphantly aloft shouting "I got the whole thing, man! You're going to jail, dude, you're going to jail, dude, you're going to jail!" Thinking with the alacrity of fourteen beers, the puncher snatches the phone and whips it onto the roof of the 7-11 across the street and strikes a jaunty pose. I move past.
What strikes me about these incidents is that, for some, trying to beat someone up is part of a fun evening. Nothing could be more foreign to me.
What's a fun evening for you? May I recommend watching me in a play? I'm in the Method to Madness festival at Links Hall this weekend. Last night I watched certainly the most insane performance I have ever seen. I'll describe it in my next update, along with more of a discussion of artistic passion in general, and it'll be coming much sooner than this one did, so stay tuned. Have faith in me.
At any rate, there is no way such a perfect collusion of lunacy could happen twice, but the evening is fertile ground for unique experiences, and my piece Hansel and Gretel is sincerely a very tight, fun, interesting show. Check it out.