I have decided to bail on "MySpace".....It is, apparently, the most popular web/networking thingie in the history of the Universe, so you don't have to be a whiz at statistics to figure out that there are a HUGE amount of creeps there. Looooooooong story. So I have had to save my blog and run out of the burning building. I'm copying it here and then the theory is that I will continue to blog here. Enjoy.
My Psychic Thing With Sir Walter Scott...
As revealed in my last blog; I am a direct descendant of Sir Walter Scott. I am not saying this because I think I'm bigger than you, but just as a statement of fact. And also because you need to know that if you're going to read the story of my wierd psychic thingy with him.
The last of the Scott line in my family was my paternal grandmother, Helen Scott. She married a guy with the last name Steele so boom - that's the Scott name gone.
Anyhoo...At family reunions, between the drunken brawls and my Aunt Edna falling face first into the potato salad, we were regaled with stories of how we were the proud descendants of Sir Walter Scott. I highly doubt that anyone in my family would have known whether Ivanhoe was a book or a state in the mid-west, but they were proud of the connection all the same.
There was one uncle who kept getting the name wrong and consequently I spent the first 10 years of my life bragging that I was a descendant of Sir Walter Raleigh (although I didn't know who he was, either).
So fast forward to bazillions of years later; 2002 to be precise. I was doing a gig at a club called "The Stand" in Edinburgh, Scotland. I took the train up from London, and emerged from Waverly station on Princes street with explicit direction to the club. But I found I didn't need them. I realized I must have been there before because I knew right where that street was. So I walked right to the correct street, got to the club and called my agent. I asked her when I had been here before and she said never. And it was weird, I knew she was right; and Scotland is far away enough from England that you don't end up there from a wrong turn, but still I felt certain I'd been there. Because I knew my way around completely. Someone at the club suggested I take a walk the next day to "The Royal Mile" and started to give me directions, but before she could say anything I said, "Oh yeah, I know where that is. I just cross over the water and it's on the other side.."
"What water?" She asked.
"The water, the water." I said, having never been much good with explanations, "Right along Princes Street."
"There's no water there." She said.
"Well, there was water there a long time ago." said a guy at another desk.
"Ah! That must have been it! I must have been here when I was a kid." I said. I made a mental note to call my mother and ask if we'd ever visited Edinburgh when I was a child.
"No, no." He corrected, "I mean a really long time ago. Like 200 or 300 years ago.
I stared at him thinking that perhaps I just didn't "get" the Scottish sense of humor.
But the next day when I was out walking about, sure enough they were right, the water wasn't where it was supposed to be. Instead there was a big crater with a park in it. I walked over the North Bridge, and all over town, not needing a map, and I kept being strangely drawn to this odd-looking tower.
Everywhere I went I kept seeing it and it kept nagging at me. I thought I'd get to it maybe the next day.
So later on, I was walking along Princes Street and I passed this structure and there was this statue and I looked at it and here is what I thought: Wow, that guy looks like me and has a similar shaped head to me....And yes, I know that's a really strange thing to think, and yes I also know that the only person reading my blog who will believe me is John Sharappa, but I swear it's true.
So anyway, I look at the sign and it's Sir Walter Scott. And I had one of those I-think-I-just-peed-a-little moments, because A) Being the product of a Southern California Education (and a family of freaks) I never knew Sir Walter Scott was Scottish (You would have thought the name would have been a tip-off)...and B) Well, how would you feel if you'd randomly related to a statue's head and then found out it was your Great x8 Grand-Daddy?...I don't mind telling you, it's a little odd.
So anyway, I looked up, and realized the structure above was the same tower I'd been freaking out about all day.
So I went to the kiosk and paid to climb the tower......2 pounds to climb a tower! (That's about 4 bucks for those of you in Yank Ville) What a rip off! I mean they've got a lot of nerve charging like that! It's a hard climb, too! Steep never-ending stone stairs!
OK - so here's where it gets a bit freaky, kids. I climbed to the top of the tower, and there's this (rather lame) little tribute room, and they had a little blurb about the guy who built the monument back in 18-something or other and his Surname was: Steele. Yes, the same as yours truly. I would have seriously freaked out if I wasn't already having an asthma attack from climbing the idiotically narrow spiral staircase that went on forever. (Would it kill Edinburgh Council to put in a lift?)
Now at this point, I would love to insert something really cool, like the ghost of Walt appearing to me and telling me I was destined to be a great writer or something similar, but it didn't happen. (Which, I considered, was highly rude, as I took a third hit off my Ventolin inhaler).
Later on, I called my mother and it turned out that no, we had never been to Scotland......So of course, I drew the only natural conclusion that someone born in California could come to and that was that I must be the reincarnation of Sir Walter Scott, I mean what with remembering that ancient water and all. But alas, as cool as that would be, I found out that the water would have been gone already by the time he was around, too. Damn. Still, I've got his jaw, and that's nice.
OK - One more weird Sir Walter thingy.
About 1 1/2 years ago, I was visiting Stratford-on-Avon with a friend. We went to Anne Hathaway’s cottage (Shakespeare's gal).....In one room, there was a window that had been preserved because lots of people had etched their names in it years and years ago. As I was walking up to take a closer look, I started think about Walt like crazy. Why am I thinking about Great x8 Granddaddy Walt when I'm at Shakespeare's girlfriend's house??? Then boom, it turned out the bit of windowpane I was standing in front of had been signed by Walt. Well, that DNA has some kind of a magnetic force, that's all I can say.
......I still haven't read Ivanhoe.
In my Dutch class there are 16 students. There are 11 nationalities; Polish, French, Iranian, Afghani, Chinese, French-speaking Belgian, Camaroonian (sp?), Norwegian, German, Turkish, and little old American me. There are 4 Polish students, and they’ve adopted me as one of their own, so collectively us Poles (or Nouveau Pole in my case) are a rather impressive (and perhaps rather frightening) clique. I was never in a clique in high school, so this is all new to me. As far as I can tell, it consists of laughing amongst yourselves and swearing in Polish ("kurwa!"). Im liking it. .....Although I must admit small part of me wonders if I've been embraced due to Racial Profiling; we do make a rather blonde little cluster, sitting together, but I turn my mind away from this. I am too desparate for friendship for such concerns.
So heres the one hitch: All of the other Polish kids are in their 20s. Infact, almost everyone in the class is in their 20s. Now that wouldnt matter to me at all; I'm not ageist, nor do I have a hang up - infact everything would be just fine and dandy if it weren't for the fact that a few weeks ago My Posse were having a discussion about how old they thought our new teacher might be.
"She looks very old, I think." Said Magda.
"Yes," Said Gregor, "I think maybe she is very old. Like my mother. About 40."
"B-but 40 isn’t old..." I said, sweating slightly.
This provoked a huge round of laughter. "Yowanka, you say such funny things sometimes."
And that is when I began to consider lying about my age.
The thing is, I'm really morally against lying about my age. I associate lying about my age with Everything That Is Ugly About Los Angeles, and I vowed to myself to never do it again, when I left there 6 years ago at the age of 21........ (Ha ha ha, thank you people, be sure to tip your bar staff...)
..........And lying was a hard thing to give up, believe me. I've given up smoking, dairy products and television, but suddenly going cold turkey into telling the truth about your age takes the cake. The words "Forty-Two" do NOT come rolling trippingly off the tongue, Ill tell you that much for free.
It's easy enough to kid yourself that you aren’t lying about your age at all when you live in LA, because since everyone else is lying about their age, no one asks you yours. (Lest you should reciprocate.) I actually have one friend in LA who NEVER told me her age. The only hint she ever dropped was once when she expressed outrage at being sent to an audition for a character who was in her mid-thirties. "Do I fucking LOOK like I’m in my mid-thirties??" she screamed while examining her reflection in the mirror with her skin stretched back at the cheekbones, "I mean COME ON, they better have a damned good make-up artist! What are they gonna do? Use a spackling brush to paint ON wrinkles?"...
A few nights later when she was in a drunken depression because shed been cast in the role, I had a rummage through her handbag to look at her drivers license and, um, lets put it this way: Girlfriend had a good 10 years experience to draw on in playing someone in their mid-thirties....
But anyway, when I left LA, I vowed I wouldn’t do this. And I didn’t. I never lied once about my age unless someone, you know, asked me about it....But at least I didn’t lie to my friends. And that’s all that really matters, right?
So anyway, there I was in class, and I found out that my gang, my peeps, were all young enough to have been spawned by me. Maybe I just wont mention it at all, I thought. Maybe they’ll forget all about the issue or they wont understand the words forty-two in English or in Dutch and Ill be off the hook. I mean I could always change the subject on them, right? I’m pretty deft that way.....Because I don’t feel any older than them!
But I do remember that at their age I thought people MY age were incomprehensibly ancient. "Why do they bother leaving the house at that age?" I would think. And when I saw some forty-something lady hanging out and laughing and acting young I'd think, "What a sad old whore". And now, indeed, I am that self-same Sad Old Whore. I just didn’t want my cool Polish friends to know. I wanted to stave off that inevitable moment of discovery when I would have to crawl, cajoled and humiliated into a corner, a scarlet "W" emblazoned on my lapel.
And then fate played a cruel trick.
"Today", Announced the teacher, "We learn the comparative."
She went on to explain that we would go around the class, asking questions of each pupil to determine who was tallest, who was shortest, who was youngest, who was old, older, oldest (oud, ouder, oudste).
And the oldest one will get this laminated card that says, De Oudste Student(e)!!
Kurwa, kurwa, kurwa!!!!
And the terror began. Hoe oud ben jij? (How old are you?) said student to student to student. I could feel a knot in my stomach that was ulcerating at the speed of light. This would NEVER happen at a language school in Los Angeles. Never! Never! Never!......I mean out of all the comparatives, why this one? I glared with all my might at the teacher. Get off the age thing!!! Why, why, why? WHY are you doing this to me? Are you trying to make my life a living hell, you sadistic Flemish Minion of Satan?
Hoe oud ben jij? Hoe oud ben jij? Hoe oud ben jij? It was getting closer and closer. And in-between the answers seemed to be getting younger and younger; Ik ben 23 jaar....21 jaar....19 jaar..... I could feel myself beginning to choke. What do I do? What do I do?? Finally, it came to me: Hou oud ben jij?
"Ik ben Tweendertig" ("thirty-two"), I heard myself answer, without skipping a beat. Aaah. What a cool liar I am. It’s positively chilling.
The witch hunt went through the whole class, finally settling on the Chinese student, Emma, who looked rather non-plussed as she was handed her Oudste Studente laminate after admitting she was 40. She looked lost and bewildered. I should have felt guilty that she had taken the fall for me, but I didn’t. I am just that evil, sister.
"You are 32?" Said Magda, eyeing me suspiciously, "You do not look this age."
There was a horrible moment where I really thought I might be incontinent.
"I did not realize you were so old." Said Magda.
Bear in mind, that in Poland, people tend to show their age a lot more severely than us fluffy Americans. I suppose it's all that aftermath-of-communism poverty and the hopelessness. Still, I silently thanked myself for those years spent doing comedy in darkened bars, never seeing the damaging rays of the sun (or being too hung over to go out in them). Being cloistered away in the dark so many years had played havoc on my social life, but my recompense had been the lineless, if somewhat spooky visage of a Prison Veteran. Being slightly chubby helps fill it all out a bit, too. Cool. So I’ve lied successfully. But now Ive got all the details to take care of, all the dates to remember, all the impromptu mathematical equations to formulate. I’ve been through it before and its hell. Why do I put myself through this?
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Ironically, it was Sir Walter Scott who said this, and he was my great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather....So apparently this shit runs in the family.
Achieve Inner Peace Now, Dammit!
When I was 8 years old, it was 1971. I had just got my first pair of bell-bottoms. They were bright green with flowers on them. I had a Malibu Barbie. Life was good. Occasionally, I dressed my cat up in baby-doll clothes and pushed him around the neighborhood in a stroller, but that was about the worst you could say about me.
My mother, however, was a freak. She was studying Anthropology at UCLA and had "found herself" (never a good idea in my family) and was now exploring Transcendental Meditation. Transcendental Meditation, or "T.M." (to the Birkenstock set) was started by a guy called Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He probably had good intentions to begin with, but then the Beatles found out about him and it was all over with. He moved to the US and became a materialistic twat. Now he lives in a fortress somewhere in a forest in Holland. My question for him if I ever meet him? If you're so holy, why do you have to live in a fortress? Complete Bollocks. After the Beatles got turned on to TM, the band broke up, John made music with Yoko, and Ringo made the movie "Caveman". I rest my case.
But at 8, I wasn't aware of any of this. All TM meant to me was that at certain times, my mother would sit on a mat in the living room with her eyes closed and you weren't supposed to make any noise of she would yell at you.
"Mom? The cat is stuck on the neighbor's roof."
"But he won't come down and he's getting his dress all dirty."
"But I'm afraid he'll lose one of his booties."
"GOD DAMMIT!! I'M MEDITATING!!"
So soon, I figured out how to tiptoe around her during these times. I had to be very quiet, which was hard for me, but there were advantages too. I could get anything I wanted out of the fridge and I could go play with the hippies upstairs without asking for permission - I had had to hide my association with them ever since my mother had seen a bunch of them hanging around my lemonade stand. She didn't like the looks of them, with their long hair and flower-painted faces. She took everything they had touched and boiled it, lest drugs should seep from them, ready to infect us with hallucinations by mutual contact with a Flintstone glass. But I liked my hippy friends. They gave me vegetarian food and had sing-a-longs. I tried to be like them as much as I could. I would knock on their door and say, "I could really dig another hit of carrot juice, man, that would be groovy."....Sometimes they would give me a frisbee or a “superball” and they would watch me playing with it, every once in a while saying, "Little kids are so beautiful, man...."...........I couldn't understand what my mother didn't like about them. But when my mother was med-i-tat-ing, I could visit them as much as I liked. Afterwards I could just tell her, "I didn't want to disturb you."....Children can be very resourceful.
So everything was going along fine until my mother decided that it would be a good idea for me to learn TM, too. She asked me if I was interested in meditating. I said "No". I would have said, "Fuck, no", if I had had the vocabulary. My mother knew I had a strong will, so she did the only thing she could: she tricked me.
On a Sunday morning, she woke me up, overly cheerful.
"Time to get up, honey, and wear something pretty! We're going somewhere special!"
I knew her well enough to be suspicious, but every time I tried to glean more information, she would just answer with a sing-songy, "It's a surprise!"
Her boyfriend Chris came to pick us up. That's when I knew something was wrong. Chris was tall and Germanic and had a fang. He went "bom bom bom bom bom bom bom" when he listened to Classical music, and he drove a Mercedes that smelled of leather and gin.
We all got in the smelly Mercedes and drove to a flower shop. That's when my mother decided to break the news.
"You're going to be initiated into TM! So pick out any flowers that you like as an offering!"
When we got to the TM place, we parked several blocks away, I think because Chris didn't want to risk parking his Mercedes in the neighborhood. We ended up walking down what seemed like an endless expanse of Santa Monica Boulevard. I held my flowers in front of my face, hoping that everyone driving by would assume we were on our way to church. I envied everyone on their way to a Real Church at that moment. Why couldn't we go to church? Why did we have to be on our way to a House Of Freaks where I would be sacrificed at the altar?
The TM place was every bit as freaky as I had imagined it would be, but, once inside, I was relieved to be out of the view of the public.
I had to go alone with some zombie-eyed freak bitch into the initiation room. There was a big statue of an evil-looking elephant, and lots of brightly-colored foreign-looking things. The whole place smelled like the incense sticks that the hippies upstairs would burn to cover the smell of the other smoke that was always around. I wondered what they would say about that place. Somehow, I didn't think they would like it.
The Zombie-Eyed Freak Bitch said some Indian words that were supposed to impress me. They didn't. I just wanted it to all be over with. I had never experienced such a prolonged embarrassment. Finally, the Zombie-Eyed Freak Bitch spoke to me.
"And now, I'm going to give you your Mantra." She made a big deal out of telling me that I should never tell my Mantra to anyone.
"Just don't. Ever." It was never explained further.
So she told me my Mantra, which was "Im". She said that it was My Mantra and Only My Mantra and that No One Else had this mantra and stressed again that I was to tell No One My Mantra. I immediately surmised that they told you this because this way they could use the same mantra for everyone. It saved them having to think up new ones. She said that I would have to sit in a quiet place, 20 minutes a day, and repeat this mantra over and over again. Big Fun. I felt as if I had just been sentenced to prison. Have you ever been 8? How long could YOU sit still?
On the way home in the smelly Mercedes, my mother wanted to know all about my initiation. Everything, that was, except for my mantra. When I tried to tell it to her, she turned 4.
"La la la la la laLALALALALA!!!!!" She screamed, holding her hands over her ears. I wondered what she thought would happen to her if she accidentally heard it.
Then, the Nag Fest began. She "casually" said, "Have you meditated yet today?" with a big conspiritorial smile on her face, as if she knew I just couldn't wait to do it.
"Uh, no." I said. "I'm busy." I guess I just hoped she'd forget about it all.
Half an hour later she "happened" to walk by again. "How about meditating now?"
"Still busy!" I mumbled, painstakingly using a blue crayon to color in the details on a picture of a very troubled-looking rabbit.
Half an hour after that, she stood behind me until I sensed her annoyance and turned around. "It's already twelve o'clock. Shouldn't you be meditating now?"
When I told her I was going to go outside and play, she said, "You are not going to go outside and play until you have finished meditating."
Under the circumstances, the only option left to me was to throw a tantrum. This went on for an hour, as I kicked and screamed and threw stuffed animals across my room, finally exhausting myself and falling asleep. When I woke up, she was at the door, waiting for me to sense her anger.
"You are only prolonging things." She said. "If you would just med-i-tate, you could be outside in 20 minutes."
"But I don't want to meditate!"
"I don't care whether you want to or not!! You are going to med-i-tate, young lady!"
"No I'm not!" I screamed back at her. "You can't make me!"
And with that, she grabbed me by my arm and marched me to the meditation mat. "You will meditate!"
"No, I won't!"
"Yes you will!"
"I'm going to tell you my mantra!" I screamed.
"I'll sit here, but you can't make me meditate!"
"I have had it with you! You are going to sit here quietly and you are going to repeat your mantra silently to yourself and you are going to med-i-tate for 20 minutes. Do you understand?"
"Yes." I replied feebly.
So I sat there. Hating her. And I rebelled in the only way I could. In my head, I said my mantra backwards. "Me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me........"
At the end of the 20 minutes (which seemed like hours to me), I heard the egg-timer go off and she came walking over, a huge grin on her face.
"How was that?"
"Just great.", I lied. She bought it. "Can I go outside and play now?"
"Sure, honey. See how wonderful meditation is?"
"Oh, I sure do!" I said, making my escape out the front door.
I ran straight upstairs to the hippie's apartment and told them all about it.
"That is such a heavy trip to lay on a young kid!" They said.
They proceeded to tell me how the Maharishi had sold out to "The Man", and that any organization forcing any kind of "ism" on a kid was all about The Almighty Dollar. They didn't understand why my mother was in with these people or how she could have laid something so Un Cool upon my head. They said there were a lot of Dark Forces around and some people were getting caught up in it and going crazy.
"These TM people have turned Spirituality into an industry" Said Heidi, who had blonde hair down to her knees. "They tell people if they get with TM they'll levitate."
"Yeah," Said Flower, who had a big red afro that she kept cigarettes tucked in. "I know a guy who injured his tailbone jumping in the lotus position at the TM center."
"Listen" Said a hippy guy called Blue. He looked like a dark-haired tie-dyed version of Santa Claus. I listened. "What your mother is doing is wrong, man."
He took my face in his hands. "Your mother is crazy. Don't ever forget this."
And I never have.
Years ago, I used to study acting at this school in San Francisco. The method of acting being taught at this particular school was relatively mild as crazy acting methods go. Having said that, all acting tends to walk that fine line between Art and Lunacy; some of the methods only occasionally dipping their toes in to the "Art" pool.
At this particular school, they would have you do an "emotional prep" right before performing your monologue or scene. You'd have to stand up in front of the class, imagine your emotional substitutions were up on the back wall, (it was almost always supposed to be your parents) and start yelling at them. Then just when you were at the height of your frenzy, the teacher would say "start the scene" and off you'd go. The teacher had all sorts of exercises for you to do to get in touch with your base emotions. I had never had a problem yelling at my parents, so I had no need for these exercises, but they varied between pointing at the wall and saying "You are not in control!" and a very freaky thing which I will call "Aaaaaaw, BOOM!"
The "Aaaaw BOOM" exercise was designed to focus your sexual energy and anger. The actor would stand there and swivel their hips around saying, "Aaaaaaaaaaa" and then with a strong thrust forward they would yell, "Boom!". It was intensely stupid-looking and embarrassing, but hey, you want fame? This is where you start paying: in sweat.
Some actors (mostly the guys) seemed very fond of this particular exercise and you'd have to sit there watching them perform it over and over again right before they went into their completely unrelated monologue. Kind of a mind-fuck to see some red-faced guy thrusting his hips forward then going into Noel Coward.
So at one point, I got a job as the assistant to Susan, who ran "Actors seminars". Basically this was an organization that flew in casting directors who cast for soap operas and such in LA, then charged aspiring actors $300 a pop to do "weekend intensive workshops" with them to "learn about soaps" (or in other words try like hell to impress the casting director). As much as Susan was willing to take anyone's money, she did have to hold auditions just to make sure the participants could master the basics, and also, I suppose, to give the illusion that one had to be "good enough" to fork over $300.
So, I'm sitting there with Susan on a Saturday afternoon in an audition room. It was hours and hours of watching actor after actor come in and do their monologues; taking us on an emotional journey that left me positively seasick. So after like, the 12th or 13th actor screaming, "Rain, goddamit, Rain!" (I think it's from a play called "The Rainmaker" but I refuse to ever see the play because I've never seen anything so fucking overused), in walks Dial.
Dial (I know. It's a weird name) was in my acting class and was a big fan of all the embarrassing exercises. He seemed to take the outlook that so many actors take, that the more freaky you're willing to be, the better your acting will be. One time, upon returning from an acting workshop in LA (which had cost a couple thousand dollars and was run by an acting guru called Eric Morris - look him up. He's a freak.), Dial rented out a warehouse on Thursday nights to teach some of us from the class this new "amazing" system. What it entailed was "really getting to your truth, man."....You were supposed to be honest. Honester than honest. You were supposed to Have No Secrets.
So I went to one of Dial's workshops. The warehouse it was in was in a rather sketchy part of San Francisco, and right off an alleyway. At one point, Dial had everyone sit on the stage, and we were supposed to just start talking about everything we were observing.....in our heads, in the room, whatever. So there was everybody, sitting on this stage, saying things like "I'm feeling uncomfortable about doing this exercise, I'm feeling a cold draught, I'm wondering if the girl next to me is wearing underwear....". At this point, I decided that my own personal freak threshold had been crossed, and I left the stage to go sit this one out on a nearby couch. "Jovanka is getting up and walking away. I don't know where she's going. I think she looks angry. I'm feeling judged by her......"
So I'm sitting there watching them, and just then the door to the alleyway opens. "The door has just opened. Someone is coming in. This doesn't feel right." A disheveled-looking guy walks in and starts surveying the scene, looking at all the backpacks and handbags on a couch near him. "he's looking at our bags. I'm wondering if he's going to try to steal them. I'm feeling threatened." I saw him look at all the freaky people sitting cross-legged on the stage. "he's looking this way. What does he want from us? What if he has a gun?..."
Suddenly the Street Guy got a knowing look on his face that said, "Ah. Method Actors" and made a decisive step toward one of the backpacks. "...He's actually stealing something now. Is that my backpack? My car keys are in there. How will I get home?..." I snapped out of the crazy fog that was hanging over the room and ran over to the Street Guy. "....She's going over to that guy. I wonder if he'll hurt her...."
I asked him what he was doing. He stared at me. He stared at the people on stage. "...He's going to kill her....He's going to kill her and take our bags...."
"You got a dollar?" He asked me, more out of a need to say something rather than an actual need for a dollar.
I gave him two dollars, and politely asked him to move on. Right before he went out the door he turned around and gave me a look of concern. He looked at the freaky people on stage, "...she gave him money and now he's going to kill her!....Maybe he'll kill us all!..."
"You Okay?" He asked. I assured him that I was. And with one more glance at the stage, he shook his head in exasperation and left.
But I digress.
So anyway, there I was at the audition and Dial walked in. He announced his name, then he turned around to get into character. Lots of actors do this, but he had his back to us what I would consider an inordinate amount of time. Just when it was getting uncomfortable, he turned around to face us, a fierce constipated look of anger on his face. He slowly began to swivel his hips.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaah, BOOM!" Oh Dear God. But seemingly, that wasn't enough.
"Aaaaaaaah, BOOM!" He did it again and again. I slowly started to sink into my chair. Susan turned to me white-faced, then scribbled a question mark on my notebook.
"Aaaaaaa, BOOM!" I could tell that Susan was considering running off to get security.
"I'll explain this to you later" I whispered in her ear. It seemed to calm her down somewhat. Finally, Dial seemed satisfied that he had found his emotional/sexual center, and started to speak. I thought he might be beginning his monologue but no, he was yelling at his parents.
"Why can't you support me? Fuck you! Why can't you support me??"
I could tell Susan was trying to figure out what play this was from.
"You fucking cunt! You bitch! Why won't you let me be me??!!"
Then as quick as a storm cloud passing over Wichita, Dial stopped shouting and went into his monologue. By now I had tears of suppressed laughter streaming down my face. Later, Susan would tell me that she had thought I was terrified. Either way, we were both quite relieved when Dial finished his performance.
"Rain, goddamit, Rain!!"
There was an awkward pause.
"Thank you." Susan said, "That was from 'The Rainmaker', right?"
This is my friend John Sharappa. This isn't what he actually looks like, but close enough. It just so happens that right now he is going through a mosaic phase. He discovered some sort of programme that converts photos and now he sends me mosaic versions of everything; Me, Bottles Behind a Bar; but mostly he sends me mosaics of himself, which is fine by me. I'm not sure whether he's perhaps hinting at something, though, like maybe he wants me to use one of these photos as a grid to tile my kitchen - the thing is, I very well might do it. (I'm sure he realizes this).
Mr. Sharappa is a work of art unto himself and a work of art that is perpetually in progress. Sharappa is at his best and most fruitful when interpreting himself - for us. He is a bit of a modern day Frida Kahlo, if you will. (Will you?). I am expecting a series of Oil paintings soon; Sharappa With Monkey; Two Sharappas; Sharappa's Dress Hangs There...
I met Sharappa years ago in San Francisco when it was always nighttime and everyone was always laughing. He told me he loved me on the first date but has always insisted he really meant it. He was the first guy I had ever met who was messier than me. (If you've ever been to my house, your eyebrows are raising right off your head about now.) We were both young and to large degrees unstable (which is interpreted as "interesting" now in our slightly mellower years) so we broke up and then there was an earthquake and then we hated each other in a way that you only can when really you love each other, and have remained friends who periodically torture each other ever since. Try as I might, I just can't get the guy out of my life.
One time, Sharappa found the metal skeleton of a mattress on the street and hung it on his wall and stuck garbage in it. I couldn't tell if it was Art or just Extreme Laziness.
One time Sharappa babysat my cats while I was on a month-long gig in Texas, read all my journals, then gave one of them to someone I'd written some bad things about. He said he did it for my own good. I shouted down the phone that I was saving money to have him killed, and I meant it. But somehow I forgot about it and spent the money on clothes, I think.
Later, Sharappa was living in an apartment in the Haight with his then girlfriend (who turned out to be far crazier than me and in a bad way) and they had a haunted room and everytime they had a roomate in that room, the roomate would DIE. (Literally) It had nothing to do with Sharappa or his (apparently deranged) girlfriend; it was just sheer coincidence. That was the beauty of it. I came to visit for the weekend once and the most recent roomate had just died so they had a bed free, but I opted to sleep on the lumpy couch instead.
Mr. Sharappa is the number one funniest human being I've ever been in the same room with. And bear in mind, I've been in the same room with a lot of freaks.
Someone has finally had the good sense to feature Sharappa in a strange underground music video which you can see here:
The saga continues.
I know 4 LA based "writers". The reason I have placed the word "writers" in quotation marks, is that although this is their title, and what it says on their rather hefty tax returns, I would hardly call them Writers.
To be a writer in Los Angeles you do not have to be good at writing at all. What you do have to be good at is Networking and Hanging Around With The "Right" People. Ever wondered why so much of what you see on American television is shit? It's because it was written by bitter failed comedians who’s one talent in life is that they do parties Awfully Well. They did well in calculating which people they should make friends with, and when those people were staffing shows, they had an "in".
I also know lots of Writers. (No quotation marks, none needed). They are young, old, rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight. They are unique and varied as snowflakes. None is like the other and therein lies their strength. The one characteristic that they do share, the singular thing they have in common is this: They Write. You cannot shut them up. I have one writer friend who sends beautifully written emails; Poetic, a pleasure to read, wherein he describes a sunset with such accuracy that you feel its' warmth on your cheek; and you're like: "Dude, I just asked for your new phone number."
Another thing that Writers do is read. We are a nerdy breed, always with the proverbial book-under-our-nose; desperate to fill our minds over and over again, like a crack-head Jonesing for a fix. I will read anything; books, magazines, blogs. I have a few favorite blogs that I visit again and again, basking in the creativity that abounds outside my silly little head. I like reading other people's writing that is so funny that I burn with jealousy. It lights a creative fire under my arse. I dig it. Reading is my food. Writing is the stuff I spew out at the other end. (But hopefully in a good way).
Unfortunately, the one thing that the LA based "writers" I know have in common is that They Don't Write. Ask them for a writing sample, yeah, they've got fancy-looking spec scripts with their agent's logo on the front, but oddly, even the ones that I know on "My Space" don't even have a blog. To them the feeling is, "If I can’t make money on it, why bother doing it"
I recently contacted someone I had known years ago in Los Angeles and who I suddenly saw on My Space. She had been a somewhat frustrated comedienne, a lovely and funny girl who just hadn't quite found her angle yet, but I was delighted to hear that she was now "a writer". She asked me about what I was doing and I sent a descriptive account, attempting to paint a picture of what my life is like, and I pushed the "send" button eagerly anticipating the same from her in return. What I got instead was, (I'm paraphrasing to make it sound more interesting):
"Everything fine here. See people we used to know sometimes. Keep in touch."
And I can write about her here, safe in the knowledge that being a "writer", she will not be reading my blog.
Another LA "writer" I know, when I do hear from her (by phone - she doesn't like to write), is always telling me how stressful her writing job is. She hates it. "You can't imagine the pressure", she says. Well I can't help but feel sorry for the girl; it must be great pressure indeed to have to write when YOU ARE NOT A WRITER.
One time, she actually said to me, "It's so awful. They always want me to come up with story ideas."
She was writing on a sitcom at the time so I suggested, "Well perhaps your strength is dialogue, rather than story line..."
"Ugh, dialogue!" She practically spat. "I fucking hate writing dialogue."
For anyone not versed in the ugliness that is Hollywood and who (quite rightly) wonders how a person can keep getting re-employed as a writer if one can not, in fact, write, here is how it works: Once you have A Show on your resume, you are in. The next person hiring you, who lives in the same it's-not-what-you-know-but-who-you-know town as you, will be looking at The Show that you wrote for. Chances are they won't even read your spec script. The sole purpose of the Spec Script is to make a loud thudding noise on their desk as you drop names of famous friends they are trying to get in with. After you've got a few Shows listed, you can just go from one to the other. As long as you conceal any signs of aging, you're obviously a hip happening young writer that they would be a Fool Not To Hire. The Craft, therefore, lies in the acquisition of that first job. This can be achieved through going to The Right Parties, Sleeping With The Right People, or, if you're very clever; Making The Right People Believe That You Know The Other Right People. Only in very rare circumstances is it necessary to write something.
There are a few good writers in Hollywood, (or are they urban legends?) but they aren't very good looking and they sure as hell don't write for television.
Something I found very refreshing at my first """""production meeting""""" (Sea of quotation marks intentional) for the British Radio show I write for, was that the other writers were these awkward, sort of dandruffy misfits. (And yes, I realize this probably means I fit in with this group) The """""production meeting""""" was in a pub, which is where most British business happens, and they drank like hell to mask the fact that they were debilitating-ly shy. Not only were they Not Good At Parties; they probably would never have found themselves invited to one in the first place. But the stuff they wrote? Pure Gold.
Here is a true story from Hollywood that beautifully illustrates the Style Over Content zeitgeist: About 9 years ago, Buena Vista (a less evil word for Disney), read the script of a talented young writer. The script was amazing and she was only -gasp- 19 years old! They immediately gave her lots of money and an office so that she would write things for them. They were going to produce the movie that she wrote. And wow, her stuff was really great! It was really amazing! She really had a gift this literary Wunderkind....that was until they found out she was really 33. Whoops! Then it was Game Over, Put On The Brakes, and talk of lawsuits. She was unceremoniously kicked out of her plush corner office and To The Curb.
When I read it in Variety (yes, fuck me, this is the kind of Cretin I once was), I was appalled. I commented to a friend of mine, a studio executive 7 years my junior, (sigh) that it shouldn't matter at all. I mean a good script is a good script, right? Surely the goal is good material, I mean it shouldn't really matter if she's 19 or 91, right?
To which he replied, "Well I read that script that she wrote. It was really good for a 19-year-old, but not for a 33-year-old".
Because let's face it - who wants to party with a 33-year-old?
My friend Magda is from a place I can't pronounce in Poland. I met her in my Dutch class which I take Tuesday and Thursday evenings, (or, if you like, Dinsdag en Donderdag avond). She looks like old pictures of Doris Day, a fact which runs in complete contrast to her rather deep-set voice. Magda has a mannerism which makes it seem as if she is shining a spotlight in your face and you are being interrogated at gunpoint when she asks you a question.
The first time I met Magda it was during a break at class. I was sitting innocently at my desk trying to master "Soduko" when she came up to me and said, "Why you here?", (Blinding light, machine gun, the works.)
"I'm sorry? I'm not sure what you mean?" I said, feeling a bit guilty without quite knowing why.
"America is good country," she answered, eyeing me, suspiciously,"So why you come here?"
Once I'd convinced her that my reasons had to do with a man and a career rather than being a member of the Gestapo, we struck up a nice friendship.
Striking up a friendship with a Polish person means that at some point you will be required to drink Vodka. Yeah, I know it's a stereotype, but it happens to be a true one. When hanging out with Magda and running through "What Should We Do Now", inevitably the suggestion, "Why not have some Vodka?" will come up. I've yet to find a viable argument as to "why not", so the Vodka always seems to win out in the end. Once, coincidentally after some Vodka, Magda asked me if I wanted to hear a Polish joke.
"Sure" I said, thinking, with embarrassment of all the "Pollack" jokes one hears in the tackier parts of the United States.
"What is definition of 'nothing'" Magda asked with a grin.
"Um, I don't know?"
"Two Poles and one bottle of vodka!!!" Magda said, laughing so loudly the bartender woke up.
I laughed too, partially out of politeness and partially out of respect for the fact that it must have lost something major in the translation.
As the evening wore on, at one point Magda stared me down with a long look of suspicion. Imagine Doris Day the first time she saw Rock Hudson rifling through her Judy Garland records.
"Why you have so many tenses?" She asked, finally.
"I-what? I'm not tense."
"No," She said, getting impatient, "English. There are 16 tenses in English. Polish has only three. Why you have so many tenses?"
I stared at her with my wide-eyed Californian-educated eyes as she explained that in English we have complex tenses in our speech that other languages simply do not bother with. Things that we take for granted like, "I will have been". In Polish they have Past, Present and Future, apparently. Boom. That's it. But in English we have Sixteen. But who knew? Did you know? I didn't know. Not only did I not know, I think I can state with certainty that I never even gave it much thought.
"Why?" She demanded again. She had that rabid-dog focus that only a drunk person can have.
But I had no answer for her.
"Sixteen tenses" She said again, a look of disgust on her face. "This many you don't need."
"I'll write a letter." I said.
We ordered another round of Vodka shots then she started staring at the adjacent wall with that look on her face and I just knew she was thinking about it again. She turned her gaze to her vodka glass.
"It's just fucking stupid." She mumbled, sadly.
I'm not blogging today, at least not in the traditional sense. I just wanted to post a Pope John Paul II appreciation blog. The man was great. And, for my money, the best looking Pope we've had in over 500 years.
What other Pope can YOU name with as much smoldering intensity?
Plus he was a great guy; he helped save Jews during the Nazi Occupation of Poland, and if you know me, you'll know that I find very few things sexier than anyone who worked for The Resistance in WWII.
I have Polish friends here in Gent, and if you bring up Pope JPII when they've had a few drinks, they'll go all misty-eyed and tell you their own personal Pope Stories. All of them saw him live ("in concert"?) many times. My friend Magda downed her vodka with Purpose and told me that Pope John Paul II was the reason Russia wasn't able to invade again. "He say to them, you try invade Poland, I will leave Vatican and come and fight you myself.".....Like Rambo Pope.
I feel sorry for the new pope. JPII is a tough act to follow, especially since the New Pope is a former Hitler Youth who took the name "Benedict".
Magda says she accepts him because JPII chose him, but I doubt she'll be rushing to see him on his Pope Tour.
Pneumonia - All the Glamour of Consumption without the mess.
So for anyone wondering why they haven't heard from me recently, here's why: Because I've got pneumonia. Yep, that's what happens when you ignore the fact that you've got the flu and insist on a month riding trains in America. Add 3 or 4 buckets of stress, stir occasionally, and serve whilst very hot.
Everyone's got their weak bit; Superman had his Kryptonite allergy, Achilles had the heel thing, and with me it's the lungs. My stomach is iron-clad. I NEVER get stomach flues. I can eat more hot peppers than any other human I've yet met, and not even a slight twinge. But if there's a respiratory thing going around I am fucked, plain and simple. I've heard the Avian Flu is a respitory thing, and I've already begun revising my will.
When I first started feeling ultra-poorly a few weeks ago, I was still in the states and at my mother's place. She took me to this doctor who she knows from her Shamanic drumming circle (yes.). He played some pre-recorded chant music then handed me some low-grade tetracycline. "We don't want to go crazy with this stuff.", he said. Oh don't we???!! I'm sorry, but when it comes to my lungs slowly drowning me in my own fluids, I most certainly DO want to go crazy with this stuff! I don't want to politely nudge the bacteria away, I want to blast it with cannon fire and a resounding "Fuck Off"! .............. For crying out loud! Low grade antibiotics! I put 100 milligrams on my fucking ice cream.
So when I got back to Belgium and still wasn't better (surprise), I went to a Belgian doctor who looked at my sorry little empty tetracycline bottle from America, said, "We give stronger things here." and proceeded to see my 100 miligrams and raise it another 900 with ampycillian, ......the beautiful bitch. Aw, I coulda kissed her. Then she handed me a thermometer and told me to put it under my arm. (????!!) When I showed surprise she said, "Oh, don't they do that in America?" And gave me a look which clearly said, "What other cute little things do they do in the land of yours which is run by monkeys?". I love the Belgians. Sure, they're snobs, but they can actually back it up with something.
So this past week I've just been laying in bed waiting to die. If you want to know what pneumonia feels like; it feels like you're not getting enough air, which I suppose is what you might expect. You feel weak and slightly delirious - it's sort of got all the glamour of consumption without all the mess. Every once in a while I cry for no reason, like last night, when Martha, my blind dwarf cat, peed a bit on my feet. It just felt like the end of the world. I felt that I had been betrayed. "How could you do this?" I screamed at her, to which she stared in my general direction, then promptly turned and walked into a wall.
The worst part is, it's looking like I'm going to have to cancel about 10 days worth of gigs in the UK. My agent is going to kill me, but to be honest, I hardly think I'd be able to get myself there, let alone stand in one place for 30 minutes - kind of takes the "stand up" out of "stand up comedy", really. And besides all that, when I'm feeling sick like this, the very last thing I want is people staring at me. People with "normal" jobs don't have to contend with that. They don't have to sit at their desk, feeling less-than-100-percent with an audience scrutinizing their every move and applauding or jeering. Aw fuck. Why didn't I get a sensible job when I was young. I could have been a CEO or something by now. Life is so unfair.
OK. I have to go wallow in self-pity again. I'm actually feeling dizzy from typing too much.
Remember me in your prayers.
There's so much to say. I took a boat from Southampton in England to NYC.....It broke down in the Atlantic for a few hours about where the Titanic went down...there was a talent show on board which was the worst (and therefore the best) thing I have ever seen....then I got onto a train headed across the US and met....THE AMISH.
Real Amish! Honest-to-God "Plain" Amish! The old ones look like everything you want them to be - jolly and Santa-Claus-Like with their hats and suspenders and stern-yet-kind wives....and the young ones are these sort of unkempt sex-starved cavemen in ill-fitting hats....that's the single ones...the married ones look dutiful and are focused on their shy little mouse-like wives who are tending their impossibly small bonnet-clad children. CUTE BEYOND COMPARE! But possibly the strangest moment for me was whilst observing this one young Amish family - every time I saw one of them sit down in the observation car, I'd go and sit near them to try to pick up what Amish people talk about. Perhaps they noticed me at times wondering what this crazy-looking blonde woman was doing with her notebook, but they were too polite to say
WELL....This one afternoon, this young family was seated near me (Ok, they were there first)....The wife was full-on Amish looking; complete with Laura Ingalls dress and stiff white bonnet - but the husband was sort of closet Amish....he had on a black satin "Members Only" jacket, and while that is certainly out of date, it hardly qualifies one as "Amish"....but then when he would lean over I would notice he was wearing suspenders. Was he ashamed of the Amish thing? Was he an undercover Amish spy? had he just married into the Amish and was breaking in to it all slowly? Who knows? But then, the weirdest thing: There were some toys on one of the tables that the kids were playing with: Farm implements; a toy barn, an old fashioned plow, a mule...all made of PLASTIC (???).....and then a HELICOPTER. But THAT was made of wood. An Amish helicopter. I sat around for a while desperate to hear what sound effect the kids would use when playing with the Amish helicopter but they didn't seem to employ any sound effects at all. Apparently when an Amish helicopter flies over a Pennsylvania farm, it glides with all the grace of a hawk
1. THE PERSONALIZED CAR HORN
This is a car horn that can be personalized with various incident-appropriate sounds. No longer will you be stuck with one obnoxious honking noise that must communicate everything from a gentle warning to alarmed anger! With the personalized car horn, just select a button, and the appropriate sound will happen!
**(In CALM ELDERLY ENGLISH WOMAN'S VOICE) : "Excuse me, I'm just backing out of this garage! Just wanted to let you know!"
** (In GOOFY DISNEY-TYPE VOICE) "Hey! Look out!"
**(In ITALIAN MAN'S VOICE) "Hey! Looka where you goin'!"
**(In DEEP MALE NEW-YORKER VOICE) "You Fucking Muthafucker! I catch you and I'm gonna teach you a fucking lesson! Yeah, that's right, you better get away from me you piece of shit cock-sucking muthafucker! I catch you and I'm gonna kick your balls so hard it's gonna look like you got cheek implants!"
2. THE FRAGRANCED FART WHISTLE
This is a small, bugle shaped aperatus which fits neatly and comfortable into the wearer's anus. Inside, is a fragrance sachet filter. Whenever "air" is passed through the aperatus, it becomes infused with the fragrance, releasing a pleasant smell to all those around. Optionally, an air-propelled whistle can be added to alert those around you; "Hey! Great smell coming up!" Imagine how popular you'll be in crowded elevators when after farting, people smile at you and say, "Aaaah. Freshly baked cookies...."
*Freshly baked cookies/bread
*Halston Cologne for men
This is a service whereby you will be able to monitor your cat's wherabouts 24/7 via a small, inobtrusive camera surgically implanted into your cat's forhead. The information can then be fed directly fed into your home computer where you can log on to see what your cat is up to whenever you want. Options include a homing device to help you find your cat should he/she become lost, and a small electrical charge to give your cat a shock if he/she is doing something you do not approve of. Available in 4 colours; Black, White, Brown and Chartreuse.
4. THE ON-FIELD SPECTATOR SPEAKER.
Hey, are you one of those guys who yells instructions at your favourite sports team while watching the game on television?? It can be frustrating that no matter how loud you yell, they just don't seem to hear you. Well your days of frustration are over, my friend! For a small annual subscription fee, you will now have a live feed to a court or field-side speaker at the arena of your choice. Now, when you are at home yelling, "Get the ball! Ge the ball!", members of your favourite team will be able to hear your suggestion and benefit from it's wisdom.
Keep watching this space. More of my inventions will be added as I procrastinate from my work.
This is a true story that I was telling to a friend the other night so I thought I'd post it here for all the people not reading my blog....
When I was 16 years old, I was living in Virginia but going to a boarding school in upstate NY. After a holiday, I was heading back up to school by train. I was sitting on my own when the train stopped in Pennsylvania. A tall good-looking black man came and sat down next to me.
He was one of those people you meet on public transport in America who will sit down and jump right in to conversation with a total stranger. It can be a nightmare or refreshing, but in this case it was refreshing. He was really cool and fun and he bought me a vodka drink and at 16 that can qualify you as the Messiah. He asked me my name, I asked his. When he told me his name was "Chubby" I said "'Chubby'? You mean like Chubby Checker?" and he said yes. Then he proceeded to sing some Chubby Checker songs with me. You know those songs. Like "The twist" and then "Let's twist again". A whole genre of songs dedicated to a dance craze. It was great fun, especially as I was getting drunk. I asked him why he was going to NY and he said "To rehearse with my band"....It took me a few moments then I said, "You're not saying you're THE Chubby Checker, are you?"
"Yes, I am."
I stared at him for a bit then informed him: "No, you're not. Chubby Checker is a fat white guy."
He laughed so loudly other people on the train turned around to look. Then he told me how the name was sort of a tribute to Fats Domino. Mustering patience I asked him, "Who's 'Fats Domino'??"
I thought he must be a bit crazy, but hey, the guy was fun and he was buying me vodka. And even at that age, I already had a fine appreciation for the bizarre. He told me I looked just like a young Patty Duke
and I suppose I did at that age, but I didn't know who she was. Later when I saw a photo of her I was really offended, though.
When we got to NYC he helped me get to the other train station so I could get to Poughkeepsie. He gave me a big bear hug and he gave me his address and told me to keep in touch.
A few nights later, I was telling a friend about how I had met this crazy guy on the train who thought he was Chubby Checker. As if in response to this, on a television in the corner, suddenly there he was. The crazy guy from the train. On an interview show.
I never wrote to him because I really didn't know what to say. But to this day, every time I hear "The Twist", I think fondly of my first vodka
Sorry Dat Ik Naar U Penis Heb Gekeken.....PART TWO
OK. So this last Monday I did the taping at "The Comedy Casino" here in Gent (not sure what the actual show is going to be called when it airs in January).....As planned, I did the "Penis" joke. Well, not so much of a joke, really as it is hard-hitting fact.
SO, the next day, I go along to the local shop, and there HE is again, and he smiles and says, "Goedemiddag" LIKE NOTHING EVER HAPPENED! It's like the whole incident has been forgotten! And not the slightest hint of "I'm Forgiving You For Looking At My Penis"....Just business as usual. So I bought my vegetables, my kitty-litter, my vanilla fromage frois, whistling a self-conscious little tune as I tried to play along and act non-chalant. All the while realizing, of course, that NOW I'VE GONE AND FUCKED IT ALL UP AGAIN!
What if he sees this stupid comedy show when it airs? And right when he's comfortable at home, there's me, that lady who's always asking if they can order vegetarian cat food, talking about his penis ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. So I've been pacing the floor, wondering what to do. I sent an email to one of the producers of the show asking if we could please please please just edit that bit out. But no, he seems to think it's funny. IT'S NOT FUNNY, IT'S CRAP AND IT'S GOING TO RUIN MY LIFE!!
So now, the only resource left to me is to somehow figure out a way of distracting the shopkeeper on the day it airs so there's no way he's able to go home and watch it. I don't know what I am going to have to do. I only pray that it is within the bounds of legality.
This has been a landmark week for me embarrassing myself - if it wasn't this, it was me making angry postings on the "Over 40 And Fine" MySpace Group when I was PMS-ing. I've actualy managed to turn an entire generation (mine!) against me. And now this.
Everyone over 40 on MySpace and everyone with a penis in Belgium who runs a shop is going to hate me.
Thank GOD there's really good beer here. That's all I can say.
SO I get this last minute call from my agent last week asking if I would like to go to Rotterdam to do a spot on the sort of Dutch "Letterman" a show called "Raymann is Laat". Being the lazy, bad-tempered comic that I am I at first said "Nooooo. What's the point?" - but she knows by now how to deal with my self-destructive Artist Savant thing, she broke down my defenses and I agreed to go.
So when you first arrive by train to Rotterdam, the first thought you are stricken with is "Hitler was SUCH an asshole!". At least that was my first thought. Missing is the charming onslaught of gothic buildings that are a feature of most European cities. Adolf bombed the living hell out of Rotterdam so now it sort of looks like downtown Chicago, but with more hookers.
A guy called Marcel came to bring me to the gig. He said, "The schow isch only 5 minutsch away scho we're going to walk".....I'm attempting to convey the Dutch accent here which has got to be one of the goofiest accents ever. I've been learning Flemish Dutch, so I wasn't quite prepared for the way everyone sounds like a character on Sesame Street. Marcel told me how the name of the show, "Raymann is Laat" (Raymann is Late) is a play on the stereotype that black people are always late. "Jorgen Raymann isch from Suriname, scho we think thisch isch a very funny joke!" He went on to explain, laughing, "Thisch would be conschidered very bad in America, but schince we aren't raschischt here, we can make jokesch about raschischm." Good point!
The gig was a dream. A great set - ideal for comedy where you are sort of surrounded by the audience. And everyone working on the production was cool. I mean EVERYONE. And when I say "cool", I mean Dutch cool which is cooler than cool. You think you're cool? You ain't nothing, baby. These people know how to do it. And they've all got this laid-back air that sort of gives you the impression that they've all slept with each other and it meant absolutely nothing. But they were so cool they didn't have to act cool. They were so cool that they were NICE. I don't know if you've ever experienced any kind of production in LA. I have. The people are fuckwits, each trying to posture themselves in some hierarchy of cool. Even parties in LA are Hard Work, with everyone sizing each other up to ascertain which rung of the ladder they are on. I fucking hate LA. But I digress....Anyway, this Rotterdam set wasn't like that at all. It was like being at the best party in the world. Smiles all around, INTERESTING conversations, and just when I thought things couldn't get cooler, I'm sitting in the chair having my makeup done, and the musical guest, "Ms. Dynamite" is sitting next to me, with her back-up singers sitting all around. She shyly asks in a think London accent, "Do you mind if we warm up a bit?" MIND? Oh My God.
They started singing all around me. It was magical. Definitely not a studio-engineered voice on this girl. Her songs are socially aware and she's absolutely beautiful. Quite a moment.
Anyway, I did my set; 10 minutes which seemed like 3 (which is always a good sign!), Marcel gave me a big hug afterwards, "That wasch fantaschtic!" then proceeded to pelt me with beer (figuratively).
Later I went back to my hotel and watched "Dr. Phil" whilst eating a Room Service Mozarella salad. Altogether a terrific night.
The next night when it aired, I watched 30 seconds of my set, decided I looked fat, then ran upstairs pouting furiously, and proceeded to take out my frustrations by making abusive comments to Conservatives on MySpace. So everything's back to normal now.
How many people remember Jeanine Deckers? Anyone? How about "Soeur Sourire" (Sister Smile) and her hit recording "Dominique"??
Most of you probably remember the song if I say the words "Singing Nun" and were to hum-sing it like this: "La la nikka nikka nikka la la la la la la...." Come on, you know. That Singing Nun Song. HUGE hit in 1963.
This is the story of a Nun who got completely fucked over by showbiz.
Jeanine Decker was just a mild mannered nun, minding her own business in a convent in Belgium. She was known by the name "Sister Luc-Gabrielle" because The Catholic Church, being the forerunner to Old Hollywood, knows the importance of a good stage name. Sometimes Sister Luc-Gabrielle would sing songs accompanying herself with her guitar. One day, someone at the convent said, "Hey, your songs are good!" and the idea was put forward to make a recording of them to give as presents to friends of the church. Fun project! So with 4 back-up nuns, Sister Luc-Gabrielle recorded the songs, which included "Dominique", a delightful tune glorifying Saint Dominic.
The story should have ended there, with a happy little party after Sunday Mass where 100 or so little records were handed out. But this happy ending was not to be. Some evil Record Executive had heard a rumour that there was some musical talent that was not being exploited. And before you could say three" Hail Mary"s, Sister Luc-Gabrielle's song was glitzed-up, re-packaged, and released to the public. Sister Luc-Gabrielle was given a new stage name, Soeur Sourire, because the Native French Speakers have no concept of how hard everyone else finds their language to pronounce.
Within months, Sister Luc-Gabrielle was a star. The song was HUGE. She was bigger than Elvis. She would have been dating Elvis if she wasn't a nun. And Gay. (More on this, later). The song sold millions and she was touring and having the time of her life.
Meanwhile, back at home in Belgium where a fortune should have been amassing for Sister Luc-Gabrielle, instead the Catholic Church was busy making sure they got every penny earned by the nun. They've been doing this sort of thing for 2000 years. It was really just force of habit, if you'll excuse my expression.
When all the glamour was dying down, Jeanine, thinking she recognized her true calling, decided to quit the church and become a Lesbian folk-singer. I suppose it was really just a natural progression. But without the Habit gimmick, her sales were lacking. Among her pieces was a song thanking God for the Birth Control Pill which was, as one might imagine, not too popular with her old Church friends.
Finally, even though she had never seen a penny of the royalties for her original song "Dominique", the Tax Man came after the huge amounts of tax she "owed". Miserable, misunderstood, and unsuccessful, she and her Lesbian lover committed suicide together in 1985. I'm not sure who eventually had to pay the taxes, but do you care? I don't.
It's just sad. Lesbian nuns always seem to get a rough break
Sorry Dat Ik Naar U Penis Heb Gekeken
Just for anyone who is following my ever-more-bizarre career, I will be taping my first Belgian TV Comedy spot a week from Monday. As the Comedy Gods sometimes do; they handed me down a freaky experience which will constitute the bulk of my 10-minute spot:
THIS IS ALL TRUE.
Every few days, I go around the corner to my local shop to buy essentials such as bread, kitty litter and vanilla fromage frais. The guy who owns the shop is a very chatty man in his fifties (most shop owners are pretty chatty in Gent, I have found) and once he found out I was in the process of learning Dutch he would always go out of his way to speak slowly like you would hear on a cheesy language tape. I appreciated the effort, though as it was all very friendly. ANYWAY, about 2 weeks ago, I go into the shop as usual. "Goedemiddag" he says. "Goedemiddag," I reply. He rings up my purchases. "Zes euro vijfentwintig" he says and I pay said amount with a cool "astjeblief". So when the transaction is overwith, he says "Dag", I say "Dag", and as I do so, my eyes are accidentaly drawn to his penis. Like a split-second. A nanosecond. Hardly registerable on an atomic clock, and, more importantly I DIDN'T MEAN TO DO IT and YET in that almost inconceivable short span of time he sees me look at his penis (which wasn't out in the open - he had trousers on - it was just the general direction) and shoots me a look that clearly says, "I've just caught you looking at my penis you indecent whore." And again, I must stress that this all took place in UNDER a second.
So what was I to do in the situation? I was completely without defense. It wasn't as if I could suddenly apologise for it because that would be certainly acknowledging that it had happened. I just had to get out of there, fast.
So I went home and I told Wim all about it and we discussed how I should handle the situation over several glasses of wine (does anyone else have these kinds of discussions?) And we both agreed that the best course of action was no action at all. Just leave things as they are and chances are this would all blow over in a few days. The only alternative Wim came up with was, to me, unthinkable, and that was a full-on confrontation in the form of the sentence: "Sorry dat ik naar U penis heb gekeken" (Sorry that I looked at your penis) which I argued would do the exact opposite of Clearing The Air.
So I went back to the shop a few days later, thinking I would just act as if nothing had happened. But I noticed that I was making a rather concerted effort NOT to look at his penis and he could tell that I was Trying Not To Look At His Penis, then rather than being better, things took a turn for the worst. He practically threw my change at me and I all but ran from the shop.
So back home to Wim for another discussion of What To Do Next, over a bottle of wine. (I took care to buy the wine at a different shop, where they have the decency to work behind high counters so their customers are never put in such a position.) I said, "He was acting so WIERD!" And Wim countered with "Well, you looked at the man's PENIS!". I went into a rage and started knocking cat toys off the table. " But I DIDN'T MEAN TO LOOK AT IT!" I screamed in desperation.
So now I'm going to talk about the incident on National Television, hoping - Hoping against hope - that the shopkeeper will see it and realize I meant no harm.
Why do these kinds of things ALWAYS happen to me?
Loving the Amish: This Lady's Going Plain...
I love the Amish. I am absolutely crazy about them. THEY are the true rebels in this world! While we go through our Beat/Rockabilly/punk/Gangsta Rap phases to try to prove how unconventional we are, THEY are living completely "outside the box" and have done for 200 years! Can you GET any cooler than that? I don't think so.
As most of my friends are aware, I am not happy with "progress" of any sort. I like things the way they were. And when I say "they way they were", I mean pre-WWII, and preferably hundreds of years earlier. All I see around me is things getting progressively worse and worse and worse. 20 years from now, the world will be a loud, polluted, brightly-coloured plastic place run by teenagers. In other words, it will be like America. I, for one, am going to avoid all this rubbish by becoming Amish.
I think you have to phase in this sort of thing. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be able to just show up in Pennsylvania, knock on a barn door and say "I'd like to sign up!" while they stare at your Electric Pink Juicy Couture Tracksuit. Like with anything worth doing, you have to ease yourself into it. Which is why I've decided to become Amish for Right Now. I have simply decided not to progress beyond October 2005. I will make a concerted effort to ignore any new inventions, and I will refuse to wear clothing that was designed after this date. At first, I'm sure no-one will notice. Then perhaps in 4 or 5 years I'll start getting derisive comments like; "Those boots went out a few years ago, you know"....Then 10 or 15 years on from that, I will experience an oasis of cool as people start considering me "Retro". I mean the original Amish had to go through that. I'm sure around 1835 no-one realized what they were doing. Around 1890 people may have begun to think of them as conservative...but it probably was about 1920 before anyone really caught on just how kinky they were. And by then it was too late for anyone to interfere.
Anyway, Phase II of my Amish Plan, is that I will approach The Original Amish when I am about 78. At that point I will have an extensive portfolio to show them, and I'm sure they will be impressed with my level of commitment. My Golden Years will be lived out on a porch front sitting in a handcrafted wooden rocking chair, stitching a quilt whilst watching young blonde men erect a barn. The rest of the world will be jostling for space and listening to increasingly bad music, but I won't even give them a thought.
Who's with me?
First of all, I must say that when I first got this blog thing I thought I would blog all the time but I never seem to get it together! Lots of stuff has happened and I haven't written a thing and now it all seems sort of outdated. Oh well.
So here's my latest: I have noticed that I am forever getting into celebrities WAY after everyone else has. Case in point: Pope John Paul II. I never gave him one thought at all and then he died and I read all these things about him and I got really into him. I immediately ran out and bought a Pope JP2 fridge magnet (my form of a tribute) and now I wish I had gone to see him when he was around. He seems like he was SUCH a cool guy. Sort of born to be the Pope, you know? I mean the guy even looked like a Pope when he was a teenager! But I digress.....
So tonight I'm watching this documentary on Elvis and now I am really into him. He was really good-looking and charismatic and sang good! He died 29 years ago and I've only just now "got" him. I love his sideburns, I love Priscilla, I want to visit Graceland. What the hell is wrong with me?
A very good friend of mine once said that I was someone who has no clue what is going on now but could give detailed accounts of anything that happened 100 years ago. All true. I am TRAGICLY Un-hip. I know it. And I do truly hate almost all things modern. I hate modern buildings, (I refuse to live in anything built after 1930), I hate airplanes, I hate cars that go over 15 MPH. Basically, I am of the belief that The Industrial Revolution was a very bad idea. If it were up to me, (and quite obviously, it is not), We would get everywhere by buggies pulled by horses and oxen (who would be unionized and treated well, including pension plans), and airplanes and helicopters would only be used in emergency situations such as rescues at sea. If you wanted to take a trip to America (or to Europe if you already live in America), you would have to take a ship. And you know what? You'd be the better for it. No jet lag, lots of fresh sea air, and all your on-board entertainment would be included.
The Internet, I would keep. Because I think ebay is a Very Good Idea and something I cannot live without due to an addiction to handbags, which I struggle with.
All presidential candidates would only be allowed to publicize themselves through pamphlets detailing all their ideas. No photos would be allowed on the front so you wouldn't know what color or gender the candidate was, and all pamphlets would be equally distributed to everyone. That would mean that even if you had lots of friends in the Oil business, you wouldn't look any glitzier in your campaign than your opponent who was a shoe-salesman (or woman).
Everyone would be vegetarians and leather goods could only be manufactured out of cattle who had died happily of natural causes. Luis Vuitton handbags would ALL be made from canvas with synthetic trim. And they would look just as fabulous.
All things would be good if it were all my way. You KNOW I'm right. If there are any Amish readers out there I know you're all high-fiving each other right now.
Right. Here's the thing. I haven't blogged for a while. That sounds rude and like something you should only mention to your doctor, but facts are facts. I've been on the road and here and there (mostly there) and now as I write this I'm "there" again because I have this taping thing to do tomorrow and I have to write 5 minutes of material to perform on it and what am I doing? I'm checking out "MySpace" and buying handbags on ebay. When I procrastinate it costs. But let me tell you about the handbag: Beautiful. A Prada replica (Yes they're illegal but AS IF I would pay $6000 for a handbag!!!), dusky pink, fall collection. How much did I pay?? 29 pounds. That's right, people. Yes. A bargain. And I would feel guilty paying that much but I'm making a bit of cash tomorrow so I'll justify it that way.
You can't get replica designer handbags in Belgium, even on Belgian ebay (although they could crossover easily if they were willing to pay the extra postage, but no one does) so when I walk around Gent with my fake Louis Vuittons, Guccis, Pradas and Christian Diors, everyone thinks I'm a huge asshole which is exactly the effect the bags were designed to have.
By the way, if you're reading this, (but I'm willing to bet that you're not), the thing I'm taping tomorrow is a pilot for a show to be aired on the Discovery Channel in the US and it's called "15 Films". they're having me and a few other comics do a "show" at a club in London (the audience will all be production people) with material on these three different topics which will be interspersed throughout. But at this rate what you will see is them cutting to me saying, "Um, sorry but I didn't get anything written. But I do have this fabulous handbag......."
In other news, I completed my 5 day juice fast and now I'm taking all this colon cleanse stuff. I'm not embarrassed about mentioning this as I know no one is reading this. Any way, during the fast I had just juice and lost 14 pounds. Yesterday and today I've hardly eaten anything and had tons of "Colon Cleanse" and gained ALL the weight back because, well, I haven't blogged yet.
It's insane. What if it happens while I'm on stage tomorrow? Aw, fuck
There is lots to write about it seems today. First of all, the attacks in London. Everyone kind of knew it was going to happen for a while - London transport is an obvious target. The Brits are good with things of this sort, though. As I write this they are already getting back up and getting on with things. They've been through the Blitz and hundreds of years of being invaded by Romans and sundry others. They put this sort of thing on their ice cream.
I, however, have my suspicions. Does "Al Queda" really even exist? If I ask my gut, it feels completely fictional. When the IRA were bombing London, they wanted something specific: they wanted the Brits out of Northern Ireland. But this "Al Queda" bunch. What exactly do they want? Whats the point? People like "Dubya" say they do this because they "hate freedom" but that seems like a bit of a cartoony explaination, if you ask me. Bush is a complete fuckwit and it wouldn't surprise me if......well I don't even want to say it, really. But isn't it odd that now it won't even be an issue that Dubya won't pledge more money to help Africa at the G8 meetings? Hmmmmm. I'm just saying
OK....I wonder if anyone can relate to this: (And in asking this, I fully acknowledge that the only person reading these blogs is John Sharappa, and even then, only if I tell him to):
I've been a performer in one capacity or another for more than half my life. People have often asked me whether I experience "stage fright", and I've always answered, "No! What the hell is it?"...Because honestly, I thought stage fright would be a specific sick dread of all those people looking at you or worrying you were going to do badly or whatever. I don't have stage fright. What I do have is this thing that happens to me right before going on stage, or (depending on the size/importance of a gig) on the day of or day before a gig, where I just think "I fucking DON'T want to go on stage. I hate performing. I hate Comedy. Why did I chose this as what I do in life? Why didn't I become a veterinarian?" And those thoughts persist until the exact moment I'm on stage at which point I usually have a great time. It was a few years ago when I was doing an hour-long solo show at the Edinburgh festival, when someone pointed out to me: "That IS stage fright!". Oh. Hmmm.
Actually, just a few minutes ago, as I write this, I was doing a little bit on BBC radio over the phone - they often have me do a little thingy on whatever topic they're discussing to give the American/Female perspective. And radio should be completely painless, right? Because no-one can see you, and in my case, I'm in the privacy of my home in my pajamas and pink fluffy slippers. I was scheduled to be on at 11:30. they didn't call, didn't call, didn't call....and by 11:45 I was starting to have a bit of hope, "Maybe they won't call at all! Oh, PLEASE God!!". I was hyperventilating, having a mini-anxiety attack and seriously considering calling my agent to tell her I was quitting everything and going to get a waitressing job somewhere. Really. Those were my thoughts. Then finally they did call, I was told "You're on in just a minute", and my heart started kicking in double time and I was thinking, "No! No! I can't do it! Fuck these people! Fuck the BBC! Fuck Radio and whoever invented radio!!"....Then boom, I'm on, it was painless and in fact great fun, and then it was over. There's always this wonderful R-E-L-I-E-F afterwards which is not unlike the feeling that you get on a hot summer's day after jumping into a cool swimming pool. The anticipation of the initial shock was the worst part, and truth be told, once you're in the water, it feels great.
I thought I would come straight to this blog thing and record my feelings while they were still fresh in my head. Stage fright is as personal as the performer experiencing it, I suppose. I've known Actors who cry, singers who throw up, and comedians who need 5 drinks before going onstage. As for me, I just question my career choices.
OK. So here's what happened. Me and my guy were just getting back to town when all this smoke came out of the engine and we had to stop the car at an intersection and get out. I don't know what all that smoke meant, but I'm sure it wasn't supposed to happen. So we were waiting for the roadside services people and I had to PEE like a racehorse. (By the way, why do I use that expression? I don't even know what it means. What is it with racehorses? Do they drink a lot of coffee?)....So my only options were to go right there on the side of the road (actually not an option), or walk down the street to the only place that looked open which was a Chinese restaurant. Now if that Chinese restaurant were in the USA and I asked to use the facilities, it would be no problem. But here's something you should know about Europe: No-one takes their toilets lightly. It's like this unspoken thing, and the worst that might happen is that you'll be guilted to death for Using When Not A Customer, but my God do you feel it. If you go anywhere near the Ladies Room, you will be expected to buy stuff.
So, alright, we were hungry anyway, so i thought I'd order some food. OK. Now I come to the REAL problem: I cannot stand Chinese food. I HATE it, as a matter of fact. Because the Chinese tend not to have any CONCEPT of vegetarianism. And even if you can get vegetarian food, its greasy, at best. I really hate it. But there I was, they'd already clearly seen me walking out of the door with the skirt on it. I was fucked. And the lady behind the counter spoke two languages: Mandarin and Dutch. I speak very small amounts of Dutch and mostly stuff that I've learned from Sesame Street. So there I am sounding like The Cookie Monster saying "Geen Vlees" (no meat) over and over. She kept pointing to certain items, assuring me they had "geen vlees", and then a few seconds later admitting well, yeah, maybe some pork, but only a bit. Oh for crying out loud. Finally, through a few more hastily remembered Dutch words and using my miming skills to demonstrate that I would die if I ate meat, she pointed to this boiled vegetable dish. On a menu with what looked like 300 items, this was the only dish WITHOUT something dead in it. Then I ordered 2 orders of rice, just rice, only rice. (you heard me, right?). Anyway, later when we opened the rice it had eggs in it. Oh for fucks sake. They were very nice at the Chinese Restaurant, though, so I can't fault them there. They let me look at all the weird fish in their fish tank while I was waiting. Poor fuckers will probably be appetizers by next Tuesday.
100-Year-Old Hollywood Fuckwits
In cruising through this whole MySpace thing, I find it amusing (albeit in a sick way) that SO many people In LA are still wrapped up in that Age Shame thing that goes on in Hollywood. I know it very well because, yes, I used to exist in that same shame web. But honestly, any time I see someone's profile and it says they're "100", I can cover the location bit of the screen and yup, sure enough, they live in LA. Its all constructed to be thrown off like a joke in some sort of pseudo-irony like "Ha ha look, I've said I was geriatric", when in reality they are simply (and not very cleverly) avoiding the age issue. They would really disgust me if I didn't feel so sorry for them. Hollywood exalts The Teenager, which is why so much American Television is CRAP. And its really sad what it does to some of the creative people who go there. Grown Men and Women lying and getting surgery and fighting an uphill battle to remain 26. Sad, sad, sad. When I was living there I actually had "friends" who lied to me about their age. I suppose I can see the logic in it if its someone you're trying to get off with in a nightclub but friends??? Ugh. What a pathetic place. You couldn't pay me any amount of money to live there again.
42 and proud of every year.
Does this happen to anyone else? When I'm really tired freaks seem to come out of the woodwork to greet me. I mean it. It happens all the time. Case in point: I am currently EXHAUSTED Because I haven't slept properly since the Glastonbury Festival and I've been walking 10 miles every day. So I'm in too much pain to sleep its all a vicious cycle, blah blah blah. Anyway, today when I'm coming back from the Poezenboot, I'm standing at a bus stop and this old guy goes by on his bicycle, waves at me like crazy then gestures for me to check out the tan line on his arm. Really old. Like 80. Ummmmm....what??? THEN, a few minutes later when I decided to walk instead of the bus, this 3 year-old (or large 2 year old - I can never tell) kid was on his own on the curb staring at me and he had one of those things that babies suck on in his mouth and there were NO ADULTS anywhere to be seen. He looks right at me and starts jumping purposefully, like a monster. So as I get closer he gets in my way and starts jumping in front of me, blocking my way. Really. Like if I tried to step to the right, he jumped in front of me, or left. Whatever. No more than 3, I swear. So this went on for a few seconds until finally, tired as i am, I looked at him and said, "OK, kid. Game over", and he gave a heavy sigh and walked off. Now bear in mind that I am in Belgium and it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that this kid spoke English. And yet the simple words "Game over" were enough to throw him into a shame spiral. Only happens when I'm tired. But it's relentless, I tell ya. Anyone else? Oh I forgot. No ones reading this.
OK Here's my magical weightloss method: WALK EVERYWHERE. Its fabulous. You can eat whatever you want - just walk AT LEAST 2 hours a day. I've been doing it a few weeks now and have lost 5 Kilos. that's about 11 pounds in real weight. Who knew? Its crazy what can happen, too! There's all sorts of people out there just walking places and they ask you for directions and they ask you for cigarettes. I've been riding in cars looking at those people like they were freaks and now I'm one of them!
Well I've been on this My Space thing for a few days now and still only one friend. (John Sharappa). I'm sort of hoping to keep it that way. I like my privacy. I wrote some random messages to vegetarians yesterday. I suppose I'm hoping all the vegetarians unite and one day take over everything.
In other news, my cat Walter has peed on the carpet 3 times today. OK, that's it. I'm not updating this blog again until something interesting happens.
Actualy I doubt anyone is reading this. No one really reads anyone else’s blog, do they? Possibly not, methinks. Well here are some facts about me this past week: I was performing at The Glastonbury Festival which is in Glastonbury, England. For anyone who has never been to this thing here's some advice: don't. The festival is really great if you like walking knee-deep in mud and eating beans with a wooden fork whilst being splashed by people walking in said mud...Or if you like English people pelting you with vodka and pills and cocaine and saying, "Oh let your fucking hair down!"; or if you like performing in a big circus tent while a bald girl from Manchester shouts "Show us your bollocks" repeatedly. (Would have been fine, but as I have no actual bollocks I found myself remiss).
The highlight, for me, was a visit to the Glastonbury Psychic. He's not actually called that, but I see his camper there every year with all these photos outside of the famous people he's counseled. Liza Minelli was one of them, and Lord knows someone’s been giving her good advice. So I went to talk to him. He grabbed my hand and said, "Your going to live a good long life" while writing "87" on the palm of my hand. He also said that I would die in my sleep. So now I am going to have a horrible sleep disorder when I'm 87. Why did he have to do that? I didn't ask him! I wonder if when he was doing Liza's reading he said, "You're going to get married to a wonderful man" while writing the word "gay" on her hand. Who knows. Also he told me that I should bring back Vaudeville and do an old style act because all these newfangled comics are shit really. Had to agree with him there. Still, overall, I thought he was pretty entertaining. And certainly better than the impromptu "reading" I got from a drunk old woman with long white hair who insisted everyone sitting at the fire should wear a flowered hat (she provided them)...she got vibes off of me and then proclaimed that I was going to be successful at 35. I would have been really happy about this if it weren't for the fact that I'm 42.