Saturday, October 16, 2021

Must Love Beer

With New York in my wake, I have settled at my friend Alicia’s house forty-six miles south of Boston for a short stint. She has a cute, altered cape that sits up on a hill away from the road.  Her home is decorated with plants and art and is perfectly comfortable with numerous extra rooms and a lovely back porch overlooking a garden.  My stay is a far cry from the somewhat isolated existence I was experiencing living in New York in the pandemic.  There is a lot of activity in her household.  Her son, her animals and people who work for her trapse in and out.  Friends that live nearby visit, and many evenings we catch a movie and drink wine. Some days, Alicia and her friend come to the house after work and the three of us put dinner together and enjoy each other’s company.  As divorcees, we relish in the group effort to cook, and unlike being married, there is help in cleaning up.

The nights when Alicia is out, I find various things to do such as getting some writing done, and I also find myself entertaining her dog and her two cats.   The cats come and go, but her dog Socky, short for Socrates, is a different story.  He is a small shnowzer mix with curly black hair and white eyebrows who, at times, barks with anxiety at her absence, to the point where I had to develop a strategy. He has numerous psuedonyms such as Schmoize, Mertz or Chomps, which came about by his incessant chomping at his dry skin.  Since I smoke, I figured I’d take Chomps out to the side stairs while I leisurely puff on a few fags, read, and keep him company. This seems to work.

On our porch smoking excursions, Schnoiuzenheimer or Seamus, has taken to eating grass and what is most likely cat dung in between chewing on himself. The grass eating distracts him from biting off his own limbs, one by one.  At different times of the day, he breaks into a flurry of scratching and biting which is sometimes accompanied by a thudding sound that comes from his foot clanging on the floor.  Alicia thinks it’s psoraisis, but it could be nerves or possibly crabs.  Our evenings spent on the porch have proven somewhat therapuetic for both of us.  It’s helped me burn through some books and he barks less.  There is a ballet of spinning and kicking that accompany our time together, but it’s a small price to pay for reading David Sedaris sans barking.

My time in Plymouth also includes walks on the beach.  A quick drive down the main road that parallels the Atlantic Ocean brings me to the Saint Bonaventure Catholic Church where I park.  Bonaventure sounds more like a water park outside Philly than a place of worship, but apparently he was a saint. I make my treck down a private street to the mouth of a cliff that overlooks a secluded stretch of sand and rock. At the precepice there is an extremely long set of rickety wooden stairs that are almost three stories high.  I descend the weathered, uneven steps for what seems like forever onto the divine beach with its large blue sky and ocean encircling rough, rocky breakwaters like exclamation points in the sand. There is an elegant breeze carrying the aroma of salt water that permeates my senses.  The sound of the waves crashing instantly brings me to a place of serenity and quiet.  I walk toward the water and my problems seem to vanish.  I breathe and take it all in.  Finally I can relax.  I walk past several breakwaters.  Suddenly I’m brought out of my trance.  “Hiya.”  I look over and see a thin man of middle-age with scruffy greying overgrown hair.  He is clad in an over-sized t-shirt with the the arms cut off.  He looks like the guy from Shameless (the American version).

Clutching a beer, William H Macy waves.  I look around to see who he could possibly be motioning to. “I got my eye on you,” he said looking in my direction.  I’ve noticed him on some of my walks with a shoulder bag of what I can only imagine are beer cans.  I suspect his online dating profile pic shows him at the beach with his beer like they’re a couple, along with the caption, “Loves the ocean.  Riveting conversationalist.  Must love beer.”



Thursday, January 7, 2021

Review of Woody Allen’s 2020 film: A Rainy Day in New York

A friend of mine once called me a pedantic New York snob.  I said that was the nicest compliment I ever received.  I think that people who don’t get Woody Allen erroneously view him with this same disdain.  His latest film revisits all of the usual themes: New York, jazz, art, love in unexpected places and of course, social class. 

In the context of art, it has been theorized that every painting is a self-portrait.  I wonder if this could be said for filmmakers as well.  Particularly someone as prolific and era-spanning as Woody Allen, there is no question that his films are revealing.  

How can a painting of trees be a self portrait, one could ask.  Paintings may not be as narrative as film, but paintings do tell a story. 

Some art may be as the artist wishes the world could be.  When you look at Van Gogh’s Wheatfield With Cypresses, it seems like the earth is cradling the swirling clouds above.  There are two cypresses off to the right like witnesses to the emotive sky.  There is a sense of homeostasis despite the strange composition because of its idyllic yet unorthodox beauty.  Starry Night is the same composition in reverse, with the taller trees to the left in the foreground like night watchmen overlooking a cooler, dark blue night.  The cerulean swirling sky flirts with the foreground in a sassy, raw swagger reminding the viewer that the night sky can come alive.

Some characters may be as a filmmaker wishes he or she could be i.e. a hustler, albeit a small one, (Small Time Crooks), or a moralist (Broadway Danny Rose).   Others are more literal self portraits, such as the neurotic writer in Deconstructing Harry or the famous director in Stardust Memories.  And of course, there is the exaggerated humorous anecdote of unresolved mother issues on display in New York Stories. 

Allen is known for saying “I’m a low-culture person.  I like watching basketball with a beer and a hot dog.” (which incidentally is the version I remember, however, the IMDB site quotes meatballs and baseball, which I’m almost 100% entirely certain is incorrect, especially considering he is a lifetime season ticket holder of the New York Knicks.  Maybe IMDB is utilizing some desperate out of work Wikipedia contributors. 

The film opens with a shot of the college campus where the two main characters Gadsby and Ashley attend.  Gadsby narrates over the introductory shots and throughout the film.   Bing Crosby is heard crooning “. . when I got lucky in the rain.”  Gadsby and Ashley make a plan to go to Manhattan for an interview that Ashley has booked with a famous director, Roman Pollard.  There are phrases and names throughout the film that serve as subtle jabs, poking fun at directors, himself included.  Mr. Pollard is famous for films such as “Winter Memories” and “Moonglow.”  

Gadsby tells Ashley that they must stay under the radar in Manhattan to avoid his mother’s “apoplectic” need for his attendance at her annual gala.  When a carriage ride is mentioned, Ashley suggests it may not be a good idea because of the weather.  Gadsby argues that it would be rainy, moody and romantic, setting the tone of the film.  Manhattan, as it has been in many past films, is one of the main characters. 

Pollard is seen pouring booze into his coffee during Ashley’s interview.  He suggests he has a “scoop” for her article.  The many tongue and cheek references to Allen’s past films aren’t as literal.  (Allen directed Scoop in 2006).  Pollard is temperamental and over-sensitive.  After screening his film he blurts out “. . you just watched two hours of an existential pile of steaming shit.”  The Ashley character is the quintessential ingénue in a fish-out-of-water story, she begins pandering during her interview out of lack of knowing what to say, “. . you’ve never made one single commercial concession.” 

Ashley soon finds herself among famous directors, winding up completely out of her league at a cocktail party.  She is attractive, slightly nervous and charming like a younger Annie Hall.  

Allen utilizes the storytelling arc of the love triangle.  While Ashley is on her interview, Gadsby is left to his own devices for the day.  He stumbles upon his friend’s film set where he acts in a scene with a former girlfriend’s sister, clad in a raincoat.  If you live in Manhattan long enough, you will run into people in your past.  Still looking to kill time, Gadsby goes to visit a friend in his malady over his botched city plans.  “You’re young, Gadsby, the world if full of tragic little deal breakers,” his friend adds after disclosing he can’t marry his fiancé because of her recalcitrant and intolerable laugh. 

There is another director, Ted Davidoff, played by Jude Law, that Ashley finds herself entangled with on her day of adventure.  When he asks about her boyfriend, she replies that if Gadsby had his way he would be an intellectual bookie gambler.  This statement reveals that Gadsby is Allen.  

Woody Allen has a whimsical ability to reveal the hypocrisy and boorish façade of the upper class.  It’s as if his basketball watching self is untenably bound to a group that he does not want to belong, but gets his revenge in his films.  “Have you ever seen Out of the Past?” Gadsby asks a call girl at a bar.  He makes fun of people who have money but don’t know the social moors of the upper class with characters like the nouveau riche Frenchy who wants to fit in to high society in Small Time Crooks. 

The scene at the museum cascades with rhythmic guitar music echoing Sweet and Lowdown, the ode to Django Reinhardt, where Gadsby is meandering through the King Tut exhibit.  “The Egyptians put all their money in an afterlife,” Gadsby exclaims while dodging his aunt and uncle, a scene that is reminiscent of the characters on the lamb running through a warehouse of Macy’s Parade floats in Broadway Danny Rose. 

Then the film cuts to a poker game with “Misty” playing over it.  This is what I love about his films.  Guys smoking and playing poker with a backdrop of one of the most eloquently written love songs in the American songbook.  “Real life is fine for people who can’t do any better,” the kid-sister character played by Selena Gomez adds.  Perhaps Allen likes to construct these films from the viewpoint of a character within the play that is playing life itself, like a heightened version of real life complete with jazz, cocktails and pert dialogue.  Sunflowers and Starry Night may be devoid of a musical score but they too, are a vision, an impression of a heightened existence beyond what we can perceive with the naked eye.

I am romanced as the viewer, getting misty by the jazz and dialogue and shots of Manhattan.  I am lured in by the chaos and comedy and I stay for the conclusion of the characters’ hopeless circumstances.  Towards the end there is a mother and son talk that shows that in movies, you can make it right.

It could be argued Allen keeps revisiting the same themes, but he skillfully manages to make every attempt new.  His theories point to the same quandaries of living in hyper intellectual New York with all its neurosis, peppered with some of the greatest music ever recorded, reminding us that Manhattan in the rain is, come to think of it, beautiful, nostalgic and romantic, once again.

A Rainy Day in New York was released in 2019 and 2020.  Annie Hall is the only comedy to ever win the Oscar for best picture.   Allen has an unprecedented 16 nominations for writing..  All of them are in the Written Directly for the Screen category.


Friday, July 3, 2020

Nature Abhors An App Date

I'm not sure this blog is creative, but I'm exercising my right to type on this $15 Logitech keyboard. That's what rewrites are for.  I used to GAF so much.  I just don't anymore.  (This is a big problem).

I sleep till noon and wake up, make coffee, and sit up in bed and read or look at my phone with the coffee (still in bed).  I feel like the Gods are punishing me by keeping men away from me.  (it's probably self-inflicted but God(s) is/are so easy to blame.

Other people get up on their day off and crush the gym.  They probably also do things with beings that have evacuated their subterranean private parts, and possibly go shopping. I don't know what people do.  I'm glad nothing ever fell out of my octopus and then ran around (and asked me for things).

Even if I got a book deal right now, I wouldn't care.  Who cares ?  What does it all mean ?  Is this all happening because my body creates less estrogen now ?

I will hopefully be going on an app-date soon.  But most of the guys seem like they suffer from mental illness.  One guy who asked me on a date looks like a gay tennis player from the 70s.  It's so ridiculous.  And then he proceeded to be abusive by text.  I blocked him.  The trying dating thing is just a hapless effort to avoid the stark reality that we all die alone. I re-joined three dating apps that I had previously deleted then uploaded, then deleted again from my phone. (or is it downloaded?)  If you were born under a rock or are just lucky in life and never saw a dating app, what happens is, divorce and a lackluster attitude compel you into some kind of action. You get to the point where you are completely demoralized by the whole universe, you throw your hands in the air and join one of these ludicrous matchmaking asylum "apps" and swipe through the inmates.

You swipe this way and that, and eventually you match with people whose craniums are of whopping proportion, and then you send texts back and forth like you're in middle school.  Some are serious questioners.  Everything is a question.  I don't write much in the profile, such as the fact that I'm an artist, because inevitably, it will provoke yet ANOTHER question, "what kind of art do you do ?" (insert gunshot noise).

I know it's hard to come up with something to talk about, when in fact, you're not talking, you're typing electronically with a stranger.  Young people don't even realize how odd this is because they've been texting since they were in utero. 

I don't particularly enjoy being interrogated by a complete stranger.  I grew up in the third layer from the sun and my art is about your mother's asshole.  Why the immediacy ?  If I tell you what kind of job I have, will that make the world any less likely to incinerate within the next decade by a meteor or an unhinged oligarch ?  Will starving mothers and children in third world countries suddenly be fed ? I don't think so Riddler.  Even if I answer all of your questions, you will still be lame (and probably bald).  We may all be charred embers existing in another dimension after the earth implodes, but by all means.. as we're floating out there in the atmosphere approaching Saturn, please, gift me with another one of your dire, acrimonious motherfucking inquests.

Too many questions is tacky, like a poof with a thin mustache. (reference to previous blog you can get here ).

Atlas/Mustache/Nature Abhors a Twink

If you've never heard Teddy Atlas talk boxing, you should.  He's trained some of the best.  And he's passionate.

I love him.  He is so riveting.  He has the vernacular of an every man, with the wisdom of a sage and the eye of an artist for the fight game. He is to boxing commentary what Liebling was to writing about boxing.

I envy that because I feel so out of touch with what used to light me up.  Too many disappointments either make you work harder or they shut you down.  I did both, in that order.

I complain a lot.  I'm tired.  I resent the fact that my office job wears me down and drives me to drink.  You need time to nurture a creative career.  And as I get older, I don’t have the energy, even if I do have the time.  The problem also, is that I don't have a manager, and I haven't had a boyfriend in a decade. (it's longer than that but who's counting).  I think I need anti-depressants.

I know I am a creative soul and I know I have a lot to say/express.  But all of the disappointments have compounded and made my outlook sour.  After my divorce, I found what felt like a soul mate, but it was stopped in its tracks.  He had a heart attack at forty-four.  And then two years later, my father died.  All this while I’m trying to uphold a circuitous comedy career.

I do attend the pity party often because I just do.  This thin-mustached gay felt compelled and had the lack of taste to point it out to me one evening at a friend's cocktail party in Manhattan.  Everyone was swaying around the piano taking turns singing showtunes.  Someone had asked me why I don’t sing.... I felt a pang of resentment about the size of the Grand Canyon.  I responded, “just what I need, another endeavor that doesn’t go anywhere,” and without missing a beat, moustache blurted out, “bitter party of one.”  OK Mr. lanky twink with your ballsy retort.  First of all, you didn’t sing either, so GFY.  Second, you admonished me and a friend for catching up in the kitchen (he said, “um, the party’s out here”) like a strict housemaster in a reformatory school.  Um, who deputized you to be the kitchen traffic-controller. Third, go back to the South.  But then I thought, he’s probably talking about himself.  Most people are harboring self-loathing, unproductive thoughts, while others don’t even try to follow their passion outside of the 9-5.

Maybe his snark covers up the fact that he’s always a side piece and never the main dish.  He looks like a muppet with his glasses and big nose.  That, and he probably hasn't ever landed an audition.  I digress.  I am bitter, but I don’t need a bisexual lamp post to tell me in front of a whole room full of people.

Monday, June 1, 2020

It Ruins the Cocktail Party

There were some audience members at my show tonight that had been at an open mike earlier in the evening.  My advice to them was to quit now.  The audience laughed at the abruptness, thinking I was being coy, but I meant it. 

I assume people think it is glamorous to do standup.  The first thing I always get asked is, "how do you get up there?"  They get it wrong.  We love to perform.  We're broken people.  That might be the first indication of why we get up there.

The hard part is literally everything else. Trying to win over bookers, trying to make enough money, driving to Rochester for $200, for example, and then it gets deeper the longer you are in.  You begin to feel a psychic tear in the fabric of the universe if you are not on a sitcom.  Only a select few get the silver chalice and the rest of us hate those few.  We smile while the resentment poisons our soul.  THAT is the beginning of why it's hard.  And a sitcom isn’t the holy grail necessarily, but it kind of is.

It is probably not widely known that Phyllis Diller was a concert pianist.  She had given a show for the queen of England that was comprised of a 20- minute set of standup and a 20-minute set of playing a piano concerto.  When asked which was the more difficult of the two, she stated that it was the standup because when people watch the piano performance, they think, "wow, I could never do that." 

Somehow people secretly think that they would make a good comedian.  Generally some people deem themselves as pretty clever.  Comedy does not come from wit, it comes from pain.  These dabblers in writing and performing standup probably got a taste for the rush of performing, but may not be aware of just how slanted the business is, or how nobody calls you back.  Nor are they aware of how judgy it all is.  Which brings me to gender.

Women in comedy is a whole other issue.  The things I've heard many comics (male) state about female comics would surprise you.  The Golden Girls are funny because they are no longer viewed as sexual objects.  This paradox has got to be God's sense of humor.  Or it represents the small mindedness of people.

I insist that my friends never tell anyone that I do standup if we are among other people, because it, as I explain to said friends, ruins the cocktail party.  What happens is that people can't stop asking you questions once they hear that this is your career.  Any working comedian on the planet will concur that what follows is the Spanish Inquisition, and it's always the same questions.  Almost in the same order. 

how do you get up there (and) what got you started? (compete for first place)
where do you perform?
do you have an agent?
what's your comedy about?
do you have writers?

I'm all, "woh, man.  I'm just trying to have a glass of wine at this New Jersey backyard shindig."  (you’re killing my buzz bruh).

Then they get defensive, "oh well, ya, I mean, I'm just so curious.  I have a curious mind is all.  So ..."  (and then that is followed by more questions).

The need at this point for a sedative is powerful.  You want to talk about show business?  I can't think of anything that I would like to do less.  People who are so fascinated don't know about the history of having an act.  Sometimes after a show, comics will share amazingly funny stories.  Numerous late evenings I have hung out in an empty showroom well after the show had finished, listening to older comics telling the funniest stories.  Woody Allen depicted this tableau in his masterpiece Broadway Danny Rose. The average person is not aware specifically of vaudeville or the history of the solo performer.   A magician isn't performing supernatural metaphysical procedures.  It's called misdirection.  It could be said that these question-riddled curious people have no manners, or at best are uncultured.  There is no other creative endeavor that creates such an annoying response.

What got you started in the mandolin?" 
"Do you have an agent for your gardening?"
"Where do you do your glass-blowing?"
"Do you write your oboe pieces?"

I suppose the fascination with standup is that people's biggest fear is being embarrassed, hence that thing about public speaking.  They're so terrified of that notion that you could be on stage and people aren't laughing, I guess.  They can't believe we take the risk.  Maybe that's it.  I guess they think we bomb regularly not realizing we are artists.  We're performers, this is what we love to do, now leave us alone.

You also, incidentally, can't tell people you're vegetarian

Monday, May 25, 2020

Wood Paneling

I ate at an upscale place tonight, but I would have preferred the place with wood paneling and an old bar that looks like it came out of the movie Goodfellas.

I love writing I just decided.  It can definitely be tedious, but I'm not married, and nobody fell out of my octopus, so I really have nothing better to do other than obsess about the trivialities of life that peck at my soul, particularly the drive to murder people who are boundary-less and the absurdity of life.  Might as well take that and put it in writing. Actually, that's probably a really bad idea, but here we are.

I'd rather be compulsive with writing than with murder, although murder would be more satisfying.  At least I can turn the aggravation of the pot-smoking housemate and the loud mouths on the block into possibly something funny or I could murder them, and it would be funny to me (only).  If I'm gonna be weird and on the fringe of regular people, I might as well write.  Some people are compelled to do a lot of things like have sex or shop too much.  Since coronavirus there are even more douchebags making YouTube videos.  I'm sure the list of compulsions goes beyond some simple indulgence at the mall.  There's a whole virtual world stimuli to get all wound up about.  But I don't particularly like being on the laptop and I don't care to participate in consumerism. 

I often think of taking everybody out.  My blogs have been about icing various landlords and other people who truly have it coming to them.  Think Kill Bill, Astoria New York.  My new thing is I make iMovies about killing other people’s ex-husbands.  A friend asked “are you ok?”  Idiot.
It seems like it’s not worth it to be in New York if you’re not coupled off.  The cost of living in NYC is too high.  The nature of roommates is hell.  Landlords are pieces of shit.  I need a husband.  Those women with soccer mom bowl hairdos have husbands.  I wonder if the prerequisite of Gen-X nuptials is weird hair.  This also is true for North Jersey.  I also wonder if the prerequisite to live in North Jersey requires one to have a wardrobe of garments that look like you raided Ru Paul's anal cavity.

No one reads this blog so I can write whatever I want. 

I'm obsessed with retro.

I’ve read that people who ruminate over the past have a deep inability to accept the present.  I've always had it; 50’s doo wop music, antiques; shoes from the 40s.  It's a compulsion all by itself.  I own three different kinds of percolators.  All of my furniture is vintage.  I have a 1920's men's dresser that I love.  It's beautiful.  I might need a trauma therapist. I love thrift shops.  My ovaries sing Oh Danny Boy as I let my hand sift through the polyester and faux fur 1940s hats at the local vintage shop.  My new thing is I scroll through eBay on the hunt for a mid-century sideboard, because obviously that will solve all my problems. I also search for china cabinets because my mother had mental illness and left when I was six and subsequently never owned one.  I have a collection of vintage martini glasses from the 50s.  After previewing my collection that I methodically unwrapped when moving into my brownstone, my gay Haitian housemate said with open eyes "okay."  When we became acquainted and he learned I hadn't had a boyfriend in a very VERY long time, he exclaimed, "Now I get the glasses."  The gays concur that it may not be mental illness as much as a deep need within the soul to buy stock in eBay, or perhaps have a sexual experience with a board member.  Can vintage shops serve as self-medication?  Why did that question make me think of Carrie Bradshaw?  I’ve never lived in the village in a brownstone, so Carrie Bradshaw I am not. IA writer of references that are not current, however, I got down pat.  I should write about Tiger King to seem relevant but ah, no.

Friday, September 21, 2018


When you get to the point where you feel you were meant to be with someone, particularly after the devastation of divorce and they feel that way too, and then that doesn’t work out either, you find yourself fluctuating between despondency and being really angry.  Anger is safer than hurt.  It’s easier to feel.  The energy wants to get up and out of you.  It helps if you are a kick boxer.  Sadness is harder to feel.  It threatens to drown you and make you want to leave the earth.  It has been difficult for me on the planet.  I have had so many challenges and I hate that freaking word.  The only way to use anger wisely is to kick something, otherwise you get mad at things like words.

The person I fell for died.  First, you cry for six months.  Your life is suspended in the air while you have to grapple with an event so heavy such as death.  The other thing that happens when the person you love dies, is you have the luxury of pining over what could have been.  That will haunt you for a couple of years.  It’s also that splendid place in your mind where you can idealize how it would be for the two of you, now.  You will never know.  You also never got to see the person at 2AM sick with the flu or completely lose their temper.  You never see them grow listless from too much or too little responsibility, or say, forget the gym altogether or give up on their dreams.  As a result, you can immortalize their persona of how perfect they were as if frozen in time.  But of course, no one is perfect.  Perhaps this is why trying to get with someone post-divorce in your 40’s is difficult.  You have an unrealistic idea of what the perfect man is, to begin with.  It’s warped by time, by how it was when you were young.  Also the gene pool narrows and the only men that age well are gay and there is a statute of limitations for them too. 

Maybe you have a type.  Tall and stalky or tough or athletic.  The kind of guy who has a lot of knowledge about obscure shit with a motorcycle or a Republican who likes to scuba dive or the guy who has a trike who’s into art.  <--- actually I don’t think those last two go together.  You come up with a lot of qualifications that if the person lacks become deal breakers.  “Well, he asks weird questions like how was your weekend? and I won’t live like that,” you think to yourself.  The staggering disappointment of losing something that seemed completely impossible to get in the first place sets you back.  I’ve developed permanent armor as a result.

Friends are not helpful.  They say “well you just really need to get laid.” 

So then you take personal inventory.  I don’t want to be toiling away at my career any more is part of my latest thinking.  I should be in the Hamptons yelling at the help.  “Everyone knows living room curtains go to the floor.”  (idiot).  I want an oblivious workaholic husband who’s never home but has five cars.  I want the house to be so big that I busy myself decorating and preparing for house guests.  I’ll design menus in my fabulous Cole Haan bathing suit, poolside sipping bubbly rose out of crystal flutes with the most gorgeous gay men in New York.  This kind of fantasizing is exquisite if you don’t want to feel.

I was so burned by the real one in the past and not just my marriage.  I mean when your heart is sensitive and shit just goes wrong, you’re left to deal with the fallout.  Growing up there was a suicide attempt, a divorce, a remarriage, moving to an awful suburb with an alcoholic step monster.  But the now is re-traumatizing me.  My parents have passed and I’m divorced.   I’m left on my own with a 49-year-old sibling who is developmentally disabled.  I’m talking death, disease, divorce and disability.  This is going to be the name of my one man show.  Or should I call it the one man show with tits.  Naw, that's too crude.  I'll think a somethin'.