This is a snapshot of what my life looks like right now.
This week I got complimented by the (pictured) man in the body suit who told me, ostensibly in literal Greek, that I was a “beautiful man” who he “wish he saw more”.
I only know this because his (also pictured) friend in the sunglasses translated this for me with a smirk.
This is the place that my choices in life have brought me to.
Getting come-on compliments in Greek from a man in a bodysuit after midnight on a Wednesday at a public access television station.
But hey, I guess: beats a nine-to-five.
This past week was actually a pretty great one for me. I went to this crazy-ass show (where all such pictures derivate), which I am apparently part of the crew of now.
I got the opportunity to stand in for one of my heroes, Armando Diaz, at his show “The Armando Diaz Experience”, telling true stories from my life while amazing performers did improvised scenes off of them (pictures, here courtesy of great man/friend M. Woody Fu).
I even had some fun shows and rehearsals with my indie teams.
Which may not sound like much, but consider that six months ago, I think I was pretty much despairing for my life.
Getting to perform regularly, having the freedom to find things and discover opportunities, to learn and to be a party of wacky, fun stuff, like I’ve described: it’s awesome.
This weekend, I sat a while and talked to Louis Kornfeld, in the lobby of the Magnet’s Training Center, the place where I do most of my shows.
I remember almost a year ago now being in the same class as Louis, the performer who I’d most like to be, a sketch-writing class, coming in off a week of auditioning for commercials (which would be among my last) and looking at Louis, who is the same general “type” as me and asking him:
“Hey man, you’re funny. You have a beard. Why don’t you go out for commercials?”
And he told me: “I don’t know. I have no ambition. I’m happy doing what I do.”
I kinda shrugged and continued the class, where I had Louis perform in one of my sketches and had my friends, family and classmates blown away by his abilities as a performer.
Back then, it seemed so important to “start my life”, that everything was building to something or it wasn’t.
Looking back as well, it was (and maybe still is) the same case with my romantic life: either I am getting more attractive and more successful, more prospects, more possibilities or I’m not and that’s reason to sulk or complain.
But sitting on that extended portion of a Sunday morning that branches into the afternoon, Louis and I talked about film school and that culture of want and narrative, the idea that there was a narrative of success, a path or a story you were a part of that justified people treating you poorly and, more importantly, you accepting the inherent shittiness of your life as some sort of part of a grand scheme.
We talked about nostalgically, in contrast to the way I used to speak about “paths” and “the direction of my life”, as if I was in it.
“You know, any time I’m asked about film things, I still feel like I’m made to feel apologetic about my life,” He told me, one lapsed film student to another. “That people expect me to say I’m taking some detour. That I know I’m going to return. There are still people I just can’t deal with from those film days. That I duck and hope they’ll respect the mutuality of our non-acquaintance.”
As readers of this blog know, I am a fan of applying improv principles to life, which I’d guess Louis is as well.
I was reading the other day a post on a comedy website about moving to L.A., composed of comments from UCB performers. Jason Mantzoukas, a very-talented performer had this to say:
” LA, New York, whatever, it’s all an improv show itself, really. The hardest thing is the internal battle between the knowledge that your audience expects you to be hilarious and brilliant and the awareness you have that you have no idea what’s about to happen, and very little real control over it, an inability to control the inherent panic. So what do you do? You be very good at narrowing the scope of what you’re going to do. The first rule is: don’t ask questions, because everyone else is in the same situation and they don’t know anything either.”
And isn’t that something: to realize that no one has the answers, not you or anyone. That life’s story isn’t written, that there are things that can be done or not done, but there is no narrative, no set path or paths. Just trying to be in the moment, to know who you are and what you want to give. To try to get better and hone your craft or what you love.
As we sat in that building lobby talking, in the intervening months between when we had done our sketch class show together, Louis had been hired to work for the same Second City Touring Company that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Jason Sudeikis and others had done. He’d been promoted to co-Artistic Director of the Magnet. His improv teams had been invited all over the country and to Hawaii (recently) to perform.
And here he was, sitting in a building lobby, crouching on his haunches, nervous, hoping he’d be able to give the best he could to his students who were about to mill in.
And sitting in that lobby, an intern at that same theater, who hadn’t been on many commercial auditions lately, or looking to “advance himself” in the industry he went to school for, just sitting and waiting to open some doors on a Sunday morning.
That intern felt good.
But he should have finished his rewrites for his damn sketches.
Speaking of kids, I’m pretty sure the guy who sold me my netbook was in 10th grade or younger.
In preparation for going to France, my pops suggested that I get a cheap, crappy netbook instead of taking my (still very nice) 2009 MacBook Pro to the scummy four-person room hostels I’d be staying in and breaking my back like I have been carrying it around, it would be nice to have something both more portable and which I would be less upset about if it got stolen.
But, being me, I didn’t want to have any “crappy” netbook, I didn’t want to crawl back into the vagaries and inconsistencies of Microsoft.
I wanted something that was dependable and real and functional. I wanted a Mac.
Except that Mac laptops start at a thousand bucks and only get more expensive.
So, I turned to what used to be my specialty: turning a certain very specific brand and model of netbook (the Dell Mini 10v) into a 250-dollar Macbook Lite.
It was much harder than the last time I did it (a birthday gift for my ex, while she wasn’t it, to be clear) since the model was older now and more difficult to find.
The place I had the netbook shipped from last time, a factory outlet, no longer had their delightfully “Gak”-soaked Nickolodeon model for kids, the kind I had gotten before.
Places on Amazon even mis-advertised their models in some attempt to put one past people and the “Hackintosh”-able model was the most in-demand.
After a couple of days of looking I turned to Craigslist and started text messaging someone who told me their netbook was quote, “Minty” and “Full-functioned”.
After telling me he lived “way uptown”, we agreed to meet in front of the Central Park Apple Store, appropriately or ironically and tested it out in the lobby of the nearby Plaza Food Hall.
The guy was quite nice and obviously a geek too about computers, but I realized, he wasn’t too careful. His name was still on the computer, first and last, as was, apparently, his homework.
He was a nice kid, looking back on it, and he sent me some tips on how to proceed. He obvious was literate about basic hacking because he had hackintoshed the netbook himself.
He threw in some basic, crappy accessories, which I appreciated even though he tried to jack up the price on me forcing me to haggle.
I haven’t read his assignments or watch his pirated copy of the movie “The Change-Up” he left on my computer.
The netbook runs well, especially with the tweaks I installed on it.
I guess I just wonder about this kid’s life.
And what he spent his 250 dollars on.
He told me that 2006 MacBooks were going for 300 on eBay.
“I’d do that if I were you, man” He told me. “Apples are the best.”
And I guess through all those text messages I wonder what it felt for that kid meeting someone else hack-literate, when you’re in 10th grade.
Who is this kid, Rimu?
My computer won’t remove his name.
Ah the pleasures of being on a diet.
Let me tell you, I amaze myself with how I’m still goddam losing weight eating things like this.
I’m 185 today, down from 188 one or two weeks ago.
And I can still have a goddam Faicco’s sandwich.
My “cheat” is that I go next door to Amy’s Bread and buy their double-seeded whole wheat loaf instead of the delicious Italian bread that Faicco’s usually uses. This allows it to not technically constitute a “break” in my diet.
But the catch is, the sandwich is probably about 1.5x the size of an already huge Faicco’s sandwich.
Smothered in the same Sunday-morning hot-fresh chicken-cutlets, fresh mozzarella, garlic-marinated sun-dried tomatoes and oil+vinegar. With that sesame-seeded bread.
I usually have them cut it in hal but after Emmy-nominee and sometimes teacher Russ Armstrong told me “this is three meals!” when I handed a previous, bifurcated version for him to hold, I got it cut in three at Faicco’s.
I could barely resist after the first third nibbling through the second throughout the day. Today it was my lunch.
Multiple meals of greatness.
And still just bragging to the goddam scale.
FAICCO’S ITALIAN SPECIALTIES (AND AMY’s BREAD)
Half of a Wheat Double-Seeded Baguette- $2.50
Chicken Cutlet Hero w/Fresh Mozz, Marinated Sundried Tomatoes, Oil and Vinegar- $10.00
Bleecker St bet Leroy and Cornelia Sts.
1 to Christopher St. ACEBDFM to West 4th St.