Grunt (feat. Blake LaRue)

For the first time I think since I’ve graduated from college, I’ve started to dread looking at job listings.

Maybe it’s because I’ve just gotten back in to some sort of routine.

I’ve got a good video game that I am addicted to (Persona 3 Portable) that I can play when I get out of bed.

I’ve got a good TV show I’ve gotten back into (The Wire) which lets me have something to look forward to when I wake up.

And then there’s the fact that, well, I kinda, sorta have a job:

Perhaps I should explain how this happened.

In the midst of my job desperation, I was trying to fill the void in my self-worth and newly found jobless free-time with whatever was readily available: namely, friends.

I had kept on applying for things that looked promising, exchanged emails, did phone interviews, but mostly I was left with days where I felt like I had accomplished something if I had managed to finish an article in the New Yorker as opposed to spending the whole day split between screens.

Eternal 17 year-old Blake LaRue had been dodging me for a while, it seemed, so I gave him a call up to see what he was doing one fine Wednesday.

Blake had been ditching me and my writing group for weeks for basketball playing in his un-gentrified Brooklyn ‘hood, but today he had a new reason to ditch me:

“There’s a job fair at the Angelika.” He told me.

“Job fair?”

“Yeah, I think I’m going to go.”

“Well,” I considered. “I’m unemployed. I guess I’ll see you there.”

I hung up.

My other plans for the day had included waiting for my girlfriend, Eva, to get off her job babysitting a science/art prodigy with a couple of Zs in her name, and sitting at Starbucks so that I felt like less of an asshole in my underwear at home.

They were plans I had to break.

After all, Blake might be there.

***

Blake wasn’t there.

I heard later that he came at a different time, heard the pay from one of the people he was waiting for, said something along the lines of “fuck it’ audibly and then left.

As for me, I wore a nice button up shirt and was interviewed by a friendly manager named Teresa.

I had actually applied to work at the Angelika and Film Forum and other theaters as part of my cascade of attempts to not be so useless and actually get a job when I was in college, but each time I was rejected or never heard back.

Looking back, I blame it on my hair.

This time my hair was shortish and greasy and nice from lack of showering, which I found the best thing I could possibly do for it.

I was confident in my interview.

I had worked in a movie theater before. I was an actor and a PA. Sometimes I take classes. I live about 5 blocks away.

I didn’t even bring my resume. When I went to write “Post-Production Coordinator” on the application, I scribbled as illegibly as I could (quite illegibly).

They didn’t even ask me about it. Teresa was very nice and told me I sounded like a good fit.

I then went home and spent the next week thinking about how I wasn’t even good enough for the Angelika, as I woke up mornings and applied for more jobs.

Until I got a call to come in on Monday.

And then, I didn’t know what to feel.

***

Working for the Angelika was different than working for the Census.

Working for the Census was temporary. It was highly paid. It was also random and dysfunctional, less a job than a video-game like quest-cum-stimulus package for both disenfranchised youth and the bum-outcasts of society.

I should note that despite eligibility, I was not called to work on the second part of the census operation, which Ro-beardo Malone later told me “consisted mostly of reading books about god-like creatures of the future”.

Working at the Angelika was different. Working at the Angelika was a job.

Which also meant it was something of a career as well. A trap. An endgame.

Not making sense?

Well, to wit, my first day there I ran into one of my old professors from film school, Tom Drysdale, a Grizzly Adams-type who hung in The Factory and walks around everywhere chewing a cigar he’s no longer allowed to smoke.

Our greeting was pretty natural when I saw him, a hello, how are you.

Then a pause.

I looked down at my uniform.

“I’m sorry.” I said.

“Well, you’re near the movies.” He told me.

“And if I jump in that theater over there,” I said,  gesturing past the concession stand. “I’m in one.”

“Well played.” He told me, chomping. And then he settled down with his wife to see the new Swedish movie.

And suddenly, that’s what my life had come to.

I thought about my previous jobs, working for writers, producers, directors. My old bosses.

What would they see when they saw me here?

What could I tell them?

I talked to my coworkers, who were nice, but who were young: 18-19, 20.

Other than the managers and the mid-managers and the ex-pat African by the door, I was the oldest one there.

What’s next? I wondered in terror.

…or didn’t.

Because mostly, I had a great time on my first day.

Which maybe is scarier.

I got to help give people advice about what movie to see, Screwed around with my fellow job-mates. Talked about bit-torrents and cell-phones and the downfall of Apple. The people I was working with seemed largely somewhat happy, if not in a sort of wondering purgatory state of their life.

I didn’t do anything too stupid. Or piss anyone off.

The person who was supposed to be my overseer turned out to be a depressive, cynical Hispanic tech nerd who didn’t seem to even like his job.

I felt like I could like this person.

It feels like there should be a “but”, but there is no “but”.

I had a great time working at the Angelika.

Working a menial job. Learning how to make popcorn. Giving change and doing a little clean-up.

Drinking diet-coke-and-popcorn cocktails out of a courtesy cup.

Made me feel like I was 16. Like I was fresh. Like I was doing something.

Who was I though and what was my identity going to be if I was there?

Was I going to be a film-school failure, the hollowed-out 20-30 somethings I met at my now defunct local video store?

Could I even write anymore, I wondered, as I brought nothing to my last writer’s group, attended by three people?

As I walked around the Angelika though, nametag on, experimenting with turning my visor upside-down, Jamie Kennedy-style, I didn’t think about that, I guess.

I was happy for something to do.

***

I’ve been exhausted lately.

Some of it was from going on to Chadd Harbold’s crazy ghett0-set night shoot where I walked past piles of garbage and watched as we closed down a convenience store in front of some housing projects for some brutal night-shoots.

Some of it was from nights out drunk, Karaokeing, having one-too-many beer or blue-goo, a tradition revived by ace karaoke-host bartender Colin of Planet Rose, who bought me about three of them to get me going one night.

Some of it’s just been the heat.

But I’ve also been wrestling with my medication, which has gotten progressively more difficult to take and has caused me eventual spells of weakness.

The day of the writing group, I walked Eva to the deep-East Village, down in Alphabet City for her job, through the sort of scorching heat and humidity that New Yorkers have become accustomed to in the past months.

“Are you sure you want to keep walking with me?” Eva would ask again. And I would drop shoulders and give my little puppy nod and tell her “Yes, to spend time with you.” and it was nice holding her arm and stealing kisses in the heat, though she didn’t seem to particularly appreciated the added body heat so frequently near her.

She kissed me as I left her to cross the street without me, so she wouldn’t have to introduce me to her boss and I found myself weak, every step not so easy and heaving like I was a double-lunged.

In this heat-and-medicated stupor, I stumbled into Le Da Nang, a Vietnamese joint I had passed down on 2nd while walking, for a special I’d caught a glimpse of through the window.

The place was empty and ornate, with marble everywhere and what looked like a half-unfinished bathroom.

The special advertised at this Vientnamese/pan-Asian neighborhood joint were bahn-mi style sloppy sandwiches, suited up with a side salad, hash browns and a Vietnamese iced coffee for 10 bucks even (or 9.99).

I drank about 5-8 glasses of water, calling over the waiter for refills. I was the only customer there.

The waitress directed me toward the Basil Chicken bahn mi as it was the one featured on the outside of the menu.

I ordered it.

Yum.

There’s some ketchup there in the background and you can’t see the Iced Coffee but you probably get the picture.

The sandwich wasn’t traditional Bahn Mi, but rather a stir-fry of vegetable served soggy-with-sauce, with the normal cilantro-mayo and jalapenos of a more traditional Vietnamese sandwich.

The Hash Browns were crisp golden wedges of potatoes with no breading and little crusts, like golden bombs of carbs waiting to explode.

The side salad looked sketchy with it’s dressing, but ended up being a little tangy and exciting, flavored with ginger and lemongrass.

As the only person there, I was treated like a king.

I took my time.

I took an hour.

I sat there and enjoyed my meal.

And played some Persona 3 Portable, with my headphones in.

And drank more water.

And walked out, a changed man.

***

Before I end this post, a few updates and loose ends.

-My sister ended up back in jail, after being found hiding out with my grandmother. My parents continue their vacation (a tour of rustic New England and eastern Canada) and the cat at their house is alright.

-I went back to Cones, which I talked about in the last post and my old friend the Argentinian pulled up my blog with its silly picture of me and then gave me a free cup. “I guess you can be bought.” Rob told me later. “Only after the fact.” I replied.

-I went back to the pot-sticker cart in Cooper Square (which is called A-Pou’s taste) at around 5pm in a pre-karaoke mood and managed to pick up TWO orders of Hong Kong Chicken dumplings and Chinese spaghetti (a winning combo) AND a vanilla black iced tea (amazing) for SIX DOLLARS. I think they might just like me but congratulations to A-Pou’s Taste, you are now my new favorite cart in New York City. It’s not a weighty distinction and I’m no one famous. But you will be definitely getting some more money out of me.

-I got free ice cream with Rob walking from a Scott Pilgrim screening and got told I look like Seth Rogen (think I must be losing weight/it’s the hair).

and finally, of course, one last note:

So after Blake LaRue ditched me at the job fair, he somehow managed to lose his cell phone, get caught in a thunderstorm and soaked working on Chadd’s set and then got his bag stolen and dumped behind a dumpster while playing street-ball with some lil’ hoodlums from his ‘hood.

And now he’s back in San Diego.

The moral of the story?

I don’t know.

Don’t ditch you friends at a movie theater job fair?

Fair?

***

LE DA NANG

Spicy Basil Chicken Bahn Mi dinner special w/hash browns, side salad and Vietnamese iced coffee- $10 (not including tax/tip)

2nd Ave bet. 3rd and 4th Sts.

F to Lower East Side-2nd Ave. 6 to Astor Pl.

***

A-POU’S TASTE

(At least 1 order of) 5 Hong Kong Chicken potstickers and a heaping helping of Chinese Spaghetti- $6

Cooper Sq bet. Bowery and Lafayette St.

6 to Astor Pl. NR to 8th St.

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3 Responses to Grunt (feat. Blake LaRue)

  1. Lisa says:

    You. are. the. best. blogger. period.
    I love your latest post and am pleased to read that the cat’s all right.
    Canada is remarkably beautiful, elegant and tres francaise. Which in our opinion, is a very good thing.

    Love you. Keep writing. Please.

  2. Amanda says:

    Awesome, just awesome. Also I am glad that Tom Drysdale is still chomping on the old cigar. That’s heartening.

  3. Morgenthaler says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Keep it in mind when you are compiling your “Life & Times of Nick Feitel” memoir. Dare I say I am a little jealous of your movie theater job?

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