Thursday, April 21, 2005

Yoga Man

Yoga Man is a supervillain whose lair is the Crunch Gym in New York's Financial District.

He endangers and annoys the public by using the entire stretch area jumping into poses and standing on his head.

Yoga Man's power is his flexibility, which he uses to serve his pretentious activities.

Yoga Man doesn't need shoes. He works out in his bare feet flaunting the rules of the gym and creeping out other members.

Yoga Man is a lone wolf. He doesn't go to yoga class to have some yogi tell him which poses to perform, he comes to a place unsuitable for yoga and gets his feet-stink on all of the stretching mats.

Yoga Man's only nemises are liberal lesbians, half black half Jewish people, or anyone who has more hippie street cred than he.

Yoga Man leaves the gym and resumes his secret identity. He could be working in your office right now.

Beware.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Where the Freak is my Stapler?

Seriously, where the hell did my stapler go?

I NEED IT RIGHT NOW!!!

I have to staple my W-2 to my 1040 before I can send it in, if I don't find my stapler immediately my taxes will be late!! LATE!!!

O.K. Calm down. It can't be that far from my desk. There's no reason it went to any other part of the apartment, most of my stapling is done right here at my desk. I've not stapled on the couch, nor the bed, nor near my closet...

Holy crap I can't send my forms in unattached!! I'll be in violation of the tax code! They'll audit me!!!

Maybe it's under that pile of 1099's.

SHIT!!

I try so hard during the year, keeping track of all my records, logging all of my road gig mileage, setting aside depreciable items for the section 179 deduction, I even write down with whom I had business dinners should any of my meal receipts come into question. And now all of this hard work is foiled, FOILED I TELL YOU, because I don't have a stapler!

It's a teal green stapler which matches my scissors, I've had it for years. I don't use it that much, the need for a stapler doesn't often arise, but when I have needed it it's done an admirable job.

MOTHER FUDGE!! The FEDS are gonna come down on me so fudging hard!

This is it man, I'm going to join the Amish or something. Make furniture and grow a beard, fudge all of this modern society crap.

MY ENTIRE LIFE IS A HOUSE OF CARDS THAT CAN BE TOPPLED BY ONE MISSING STAPLER!!!!!

Hey Quicken 2004, what good are you to me now!? You've kept track of every cent I made and spent last year but do you know where my stapler is? It's bad enough you couldn't tell me how to calculate that reverse 5-for-1 stock split and subsequent spinoff of AT&T. I had to do that myself, and I DID IT too, all beacuse I wanted the satisfaction of doing my taxes correctly and on time.

AND NOW I'M RUINED!!! RUINED because I don't have my stapler.

Oh wait, there it is.

What a delicate dance our modern world is.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"Comedy Sucks"

“Comedy Sucks”

So said a patron at the bar last night where I do my Sunday night show. The strangest thing about his outburst was that it occurred a half hour before the show started. And it was odd not only because it was the first time I can recall a show getting heckled well before it even began, but because it wasn’t generally directed at anyone. He didn’t say “you suck” or “this show sucks,” he said “comedy sucks.”

The context was this: I got there early to set up and the happy hour regulars were still lingering when I was talking with Claire, the evening bartender. She asked me about setting up the room for the show and the regular, a 40ish man with a few drinks under his belt, upon hearing that a comedy show was to take place at some point in the night simply said to the room, “comedy sucks.”

Claire, who’s been wonderfully supportive of the show since we started there at Sin Sin, made light of the situation by awkwardly stage whispering, “the comedian’s right there.” I simply said, “it doesn’t bother me, I’m not the one who’s dead inside.”

And I was only slightly joking, because how miserable do you have to be to declare hatred for an entire genre? And he didn’t even say “stand up sucks” he said “comedy sucks,” which apparently means any form of communication or art in which the goal is to make others laugh sucks.

I actually kind of feel sorry for the guy. By making sweeping, declarative statements such as “comedy sucks” as opposed to simply stating a preference like “I don’t like stand up” he leaves the listener two choices: ignore him or argue with him. Either way he can’t be happy interacting with people like that.

I bet he could really use a laugh.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Rob P., R&B Guitarist to the (future) Stars

It was weird to lug my amp and guitar to the neighborhood of Bowery and 2nd street and not be heading to CBGB's or CB's Gallery to play what the kids like to call Rock and Roll. Instead I was heading to Remote Lounge to play guitar in an R&B group for Candace Jones' show.

Soundcheck was a little chaotic as it seemed the guys in the both were trying to pummell us into submission with blasts of feedback through the system, but for a band that only had a couple of rehearsals it worked out reasonable well. My only glaring mistake was not wearing enough Roca Street Wear, as the evening was sponsored by The Source Magazine, your one stop destination for hip hop music and culture. We actually followed a hip hip group called Rap vs Hip Hop, and the vocals were pretty distorted so I'd be at a loss to tell you who won (might have been a draw), but the crowd was into it and their set definitely got the night going.

Then Candace went up and blew the roof off the joint with her amazing voice, and it was fun to be a part of. As a stand up comic, I'm used to being on stage and having all of the responsibility for the show rest on me, so it was really cool to just sit back and play and watch someone really talented command the stage and the audience.

And I got to play a Rufus and Chaka Khan cover, which as it turns out is something I enjoy quite a bit.

Tonight, it's back to stand-up.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

R&B, airbrushing and boobs

That's what Tuesday brought my way. Maybe Spring in NYC ain't so bad.

During the day I've been freelancing at a catalog company, photoshopping wrinkles out of clothes and models for the fashion industry. Yes, after ten years in the music and comedy worlds my one marketable skill comes from my ability to make cool flyers.

It's a pretty good setup though, I get to make some money in town when I don't feel like going on the road and it feels very "New York" to go to work in a loft building in the Flatiron district.

After a day of looking at cuff links and dress shirts (Father's Day catalogs) I headed over to Ultrasound for a rehearsal for the R&B singer who's showcasing on Friday. Ultrasound is also a very New York experience. It's a set of rehearsal studios in a building full of studios and music services. If you've ever wondered how bands in New York find places to practice when everyone lives in tiny apartments with no garages or basements, well, this is how. We have to rent out space by the hour. Cool thing is they have amps, drums, and p.a.'s there so you only have to lug in your guitars and drumsticks. Pretty cool.

Outside of Ultrasound you can always find a gaggle of musicians milling about smoking and b.s.ing. It looks like a soup line should an economic depression ever hit Guitar Center.

The rehearsal went well, the other musicians were cool, and Candace sounded great as always. And my anxiety about not fitting in was unfounded as I had all the songs down pretty well and didn't make an ass out of myself.

Then I jumped in a cab to head over to the Bowery Poetry Club for Surf Burlesque on the Bowery, which is where the boobs come in. SBotB is a burlesque show produced by Robert Pritchard, proprietor of the legendary Surf Reality theater on the lower east side, and Sara Delphine, and it mixes musicians and artists in with some really cool burlesque performers.

And if that weren't enough, whom should I find behind the bar? None other than Shappy, a poet/performer I've known since back in Chicago. PBR's were flowing, scantily clad women were getting more scantily clad by the second, and for a moment all seemed right with the world.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Constantly out of my element

As a guitar playing comedian or a funny-song-singing-songwriter I kind of always feel a little out of place. And then I go and do things to make me feel completely out of place, like try to play my cello in a quartet of music teachers and Juliard Grads (see earlier post), or, what I’ll be doing this week.

This week I’ll be playing guitar in a 4-piece combo backing up the amazing R&B singer Candace Jones. You haven’t heard of her yet because this is her New York debut, but trust me, she has an amazing voice. And I’m sure the other musicians in the band will be amazing musicians, session guys or graduates of the Berklee School of Music. And then there will be me. Guitar Boy. Funny Man. Professional Idiot.

It’s not that I haven’t been in bands before, I’ve played in bands for years. And I can play the music too, it’s just, you know, out of my comfort zone. I’ve never played in an R&B combo, and I do believe that none of the bands I’ve been in has covered Rufus & Chaka Khan.

But music is music, and I love playing guitar, and sometimes you need to step out of your element to evolve. So if I make an ass out of myself I’ll recite the mantra one recites after every humiliating event that transpires: It was a learning experience.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A popular uprising on the 2 train

A popular uprising on the 2 train

In the past month the New York subways have been a mess. There’s a fire, the trains stop. Someone drops a backpack, the trains stop. It rains too much, the trains stop. That’s right people reading outside of NYC, here in the Big Apple it rains underground apparently.

Last night was a trackwork-related diversion. The Q train stopped at Pacific street which means you have to high-tail it through the station to the Atlantic Street platforms in hopes of catching a train that continues into Brooklyn. I was one of the first people up the stairs and on my way to the 2 platform when I saw a train pulling in.

Now most people would think that at 1:30 in the morning when there are several hundred people heading for a train, the train would wait at the station until everyone got on board. It’s not rush hour and there isn’t another train coming for a while so there would be absolutely no harm in holding the train for three minutes. Most people would be wrong. Just last week I had a similar situation at Franklin Street, trying to catch a Manhattan-bound train back to my station that had been skipped. The Manhattan-bound train held at the station long enough for people to start coming down the stairs from the other platform and then it closed its doors and took off, stranding several hundred people.

This is why I had to break into an all out sprint to catch the 2 last night. If the train held in the station I would look like an idiot running my ass off, but I couldn’t let my fate depend on the good graces of the MTA, I’ve been burned too many times.

My skepticism was validated when the doors closed on me just as I was getting through them. There were hundreds of people behind me hoping to catch the train so I did what I’ve always hated teenagers for doing: I held the doors.

The conductor opened and shut the doors a few times and other door holders gave up. I kept my big ass steel-toed boot in the door as people continued to pile in.

“Don’t hold the doors in the back!” The conductor screamed over the P.A. That’s right, he’s angry. He’s about to strand a legion of riders and he acts like he’s the one being inconvenienced

I guess if I worked for an agency that constantly cried poor my only joy would be to get drunk on the power of angering so many faceless New Yorkers. It would make me feel important, like I was someone not to be trifled with.

But then again, if I were that person it would pain me to have to realize that all of my efforts could be thwarted by a steel-toed boot.