On The Chopping Block

October 19, 2011

I found this outside my house the other night and just felt like climbing it.

A stacked pile of sheet-metal, probably once covering the road repair work taking place on perpendicular Prince St, built-up into what would have made a really awesome ramp for some skateboarding (longboarding?) kids in an attempt to jump both a motor-scooter and a car, or maybe just a good excuse to skateboard on top of some cars.

I just walked up it and jumped off in a nice display of something to do on a walk home.

If Matt Chao had been around, he would have referred to it as a display of “ninja-ing”.

But it was just me, so it was just walking up some shit.

Did I say I was feeling happy with my life?

I guess I have some excuses.

Nice things have been happening for me.

A funny sketch (more on this later) that a friend  from my improv team, Charles Rogers, directed went up and I was pretty proud of my performance and how it turned out.

I got put on a mini-sort of sketch team at the Magnet Theater which is actually kind of a big deal to me.

The Magnet Theater is a place I respect that has become sort of a home base for me, a place I go when I’m depressed or have nothing todo, or just to sit or use the bathroom. The little mini-sort-of team I got on is one of the first times I’ve been recognized as somebody sort of “cool” there (other than the generally supportive atmosphere) and it means that I get to put up sketches, I get to write them, have a deadline. The other people on my team are really talented performers most of whom I know and respect. It seems daunting but was fun and Armando Diaz, my teacher, is there directing everything and my sketches I was trying to kill before reading, even got some laughs.

Of course, I can’t feel good about myself without killing it for me and, the way I see it, unlike the other guys who were all invited because they were funny, I kind of emailed Armando on a tip from my friend Teddy (who had been on a team before) and just said kind of :

“Hey need anyone to write sketches? Because, uh, I’ve done that before. Yup.”

And I’m guessing the thought process was something like:

“Sure, I guess. Why not just invite him to this thing I invited everyone else to?”

But it felt good to sit in that room, to know I was on my first sketch team, that somehow I snuck in to this weird pseudo-thing.

I felt back to the place in my life where I was doing things and gaining pleasure from that.

It was nice to feel.

But then again, my romantic life continues to go nowhere.

I tried throwing myself back into online dating, OKCupid or whatever, but it just seems too weird to me still, too much of an emotional commitment. My therapist put it that I lacked the “emotional stamina” for it and that seems about right.

I asked a girl out the other night and she took about 3 minutes before saying no and somehow that period of contemplation still rests on me, somehow seeing that someone actually took the time to think about it before coming to the decision that this (read: me) was probably a bad idea.

I’m seeing my dermatologist tomorrow and I’m going to tell him that I want acutane, the strange, synthetic form of Vitamin A that apparently cures acne forever though there unsure why.

Part of the reason is easy, I’m cursed with acne on my back and shoulders, making it hard to sit in a chair sometimes (you wonder why I don’t get dates) and occasionally I get those big gross pimples (“cystic acne”) on my face and neck and they don’t go away and can’t be easily squeezed as I used to my teenage-brand.

But the other part seems more self-destructive or self-illuminating (self-clarifying?).

Now that I’ve lost a bunch of weight, now that I feel again like I’m doing something with my life, performing and learning (as opposed to just learning), I’ve got a job (still, for now) and a witty disposition, I guess I want to strip away all those venal things that could turn away people until I just get a solid judgement for me.

The acne on my back is invisible (except when I talk about on these blog pages) to everyday people, but the acne on my face sucks. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a real jawline, to be able to shave? Wouldn’t I look nice?

I want to reach that point again where I can look in the mirror and find myself attractive without too many qualifiers, where I can find and appreciate the distance between my perception of myself and how others perceive me. It’s an informational tool, but also some sort of self-destructive request.

That is, I just want to see someone look at me and reject me for all the progress I’ve made. Or accept me.

A reminder: Of course all of this is silly. As I’ve said before, my mantra is there is “No Honor, No Shame” in attraction. Some people like to fuck in Elmo suits. Some people like super-models. Some people have elderly fetishes or role-play. Attraction is a relative thing and you feeling attraction or receiving attraction (or the inverse) has neither honor nor shame to it.

But just as I’ve said before, when you choose to change your appearance, you lose the strength and happiness that comes with not giving a shit and it cannot be regained.

As my friends Jon Bander and Matt B. Weir and I discussed as I distracted them from writing for their new show (“What To Get”), it’s just like learning about movies:

A child or an uneducated adult appreciates a film as an act of magic, feats which they cannot possibly reproduce given unto them.

Someone however who learns about narrative or filmmaking or even just reads a lot, soon loses that magic as they see the craft, the seams, the tricks being played on them, the audience. They can never again experience that same ignorant or innocent magic of filmmaking. But they can see a movie they love and get close, they can see something that takes them away.

An adult’s appreciation vs. a child’s.

I want to get to that place where I can respect myself again. Where I can see myself and think I’m attractive, that there’s nothing wrong with me. That what I have is acceptable.

It’s a difficult place to find or to be.

My doctor’s appointment is tomorrow.

***

So as I said earlier, more on the funny sketch later: My dad didn’t find it funny.

“That was really intense.” My dad said on the phone about my performance. “But it wasn’t supposed to be funny, right?”

“Ok, Dad, I’ll talk to you later.” I replied.

“Why?” He asked. “Wait was it supposed to be funny?”

“It’s fine, talk to to you later Dad.” I replied.

I hung up and then again he called me and eventually I just did have to flat out explain to him that yes, it was supposed to be funny and that no, he did not find it funny, and that it’s okay, it doesn’t make me feel great, but that I’d rather not talk about it or go through the inevitable series of reconsiderations or “Well…” statements that accompany parental recriminations.

Of course this later came in the form of my mother calling me and saying:

“Nick, I just wanted to call to let you know, I saw that video of you and it was REALLY FUNNY. Catch that? I thought it was REALLY FUNNY. I just wanted to make sure you understood that.

“Yes, Mom.” I replied. “I’m actually about to go to class.”

And the point was taken.

Later on that night, I did pretty well in a potentially stressful return to UCB classes, a place where I have a problem feeling judged and saw a fun show with my old teacher (the wonderful Cheslea Clarke) and my new teacher (Brandon Gardner, who seems like a pretty nice guy), where my friend Jeff got to get up and play somehow with Ben Schwartz and Neil Casey, both a pleasure, and I had to stand outside explaining to people I knew from high school the etiquette of OKCupid in front of (but not to) my old high school crush.

“Look, the way it works,” I explained. “Is that you can’t just go and tell someone that you’re not interested that you want to be friends with them. If they just put themselves out there and had that expectation and you rejected them, fine no problem, but to say oh let’s hang out, is to say ‘I’m so awesome that even though I just rejected you and you are probably crushed you want to hang out with me despite that.”

That last part the crowd’s talk just seemed to part so my old crush from high school could hear.

But that’s good, fuck her.

I mean I’m sure she’s a nice person so I’m sorry, world, but really, I’m sick of people acting emotionally oblivious in dating situations.

Just not feeling it any more.

Yeah.

***

Sometimes, I just want to do something nice for myself.

There are those days, you know?

I was up early, I trapsed all the way to NYU, hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours in preparation for a fasted blood test, was wandering the streets woozy having only eaten a post-blood test banana I had been carrying around for an hour.

And I saw Les Halles right there on Park on my way to the train.

And just decided screw it, I’m going.

I don’t care if everything comes with “frites”.

My one concession to my diet was asking for whole-wheat bread for my sandwich, since it tastes great and that isn’t the fun part anyway.

My waiter somehow found it (despite it not being on the menu) and brought out my simple chicken sandwich, deliciously prepared.

As I sat on that Park Avenue sidewalk, my ‘wich was the envy of businessmen, passersby.

I relished my frites dipping them each individually, crunchilly into the waiting ketchup,

The herb mayo even complimented the sweetness of the whole grain bread.

I polished everything off with gusto.

And damnit.

I still weigh the same.

***

BRASSERIE LES HALLES

Sandwich de poulet, Frites: quatorze euros

À Avenue Parc entre les rue vingt-huit et vingt-neuf (28th et 29th)

Prenez le metro sixième (6) à la rue vingt-huit (28th St)

 

 

 

 

 

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Bag.

June 23, 2011

 

It should come as no surprise to my friends that I have a new backpack, but still, I thought I should just share it with the world.

The saga of my bags goes something like this:

Since last summer, when I worked as an over-paid but sadly honest worker for the U.S. Census, I had been using their cool messenger bags as a way to finally not wear a hoodie with pockets full of useless shit.

Literally, I was a man who didn’t know how to wear a bag. Napkins, cell-phones, gaming devices, umbrellas, you name it; I would try to fit it into my pockets.

Things that were too big, like my New Yorker, I’d carry sweat-soaked under my arm or butt-sweat-soaked in my back jeans-pocket.

But that came to an end with the era of the census bags, two because I snagged an extra one at a meeting at the World Financial Center where they asked if anyone wanted another.

They both ended up ripping in the same places, diagonally through the dyed nylon that said “U.S. Census Bureau” and then horizontally right next to the zipper.

Oddly though, I still kept using them for a really long time.

A New Yorker could be placed along the side of my bag to internally cover the widening gash and the bag didn’t ever really need to close as long as I didn’t tip it or anything.

All in all those census bags were useful, they had a pouch for water bottles and they were relatively capacious and good and not bending pieces of paper, which is why they attracted so many errant sketches, script pages, other writing bric-a-brac from errant projects and classes that I never cleaned out, filled them to bursting, until, well, they did.

I carried the bag around all through winter, getting snow on my stuff when the “snowpocalypse” happened, finally capitualting and returning to the man who carried his stuff around crammed inside his jacket.

But then spring came, but then summer and it was too hot again and I couldn’t wear a jacket, it’d exacerbate my already profuse sweating condition.

So I carried my stuff around in errant plastic bags left in my apartment by me and my then quasi-roommate (now moved-out for good) John Beamer. The problems with that were:

1. John would throw stuff out in my carry-things plastic bag, because we also used plastic bags for trash and he’d get confused

and

2. My parents kept thinking I looked like a hobo, which I guess I somewhat did with my non-changing pants, broken-buttoned shirts and plastic bag full of slightly trashed-on crap.

So finally, my dad just said “order some bag on Amazon and I’ll pay for it” and there it was.

The Voltaic Off The Grid Solar Backpack.

It slices, it dices, it charges my phone or my PSP or my 3DS or friends’ phones or appliances as I walk around the city.

It’s capacious and can fit my big-bootied laptop, my various rechargeable batteries and hard drives, my New Yorkers, a brownie sometimes if I want one.

It’s powered by the sun and can charge anything fully even if there aren’t any power sources around.

I don’t have to go to strange Starbucks-es any more quibbling for that table nearest to the outlet, or begging someone I don’t know to let me plug in to their computer, like some weird sexual-innuendo’d joke.

Nope, I’m a self-sufficient man, with my water-bottle on one pouch and my small umbrella in the other, my devices, my panel.

Maybe the best part is, now, when people stop me on the street, it’s not always about a TV show, but sometimes about how fucking cool my backpack is.

Maybe this is just some vain transition out of pseudo-fame, maybe it’s compensating.

Either way, that long-haired nerd in me, once skulking around high-school. He’s nodding inside. He’s proud.

Not to say that the regular me isn’t also there, carrying my bag.

Coming home, plugging in batteries.

And looking at my broken census bags and missing the memories and the times that came with them.

Not that I’d want to use them again.

It’s bag nostalgia, if you will, not nostalgia for a bag.

***

Matt Chao got a splint last week, but he actually broke his foot the week before.

“Yeah there’s like a part that’s black.” Matt said over G-Chat as I asked him about it.

“What the fuck,Matt, go to the hospital.” I told him, with certainly worse punctuation.

“Yeah I was going to but my parents just said to rest it.” Matt replied.

“The fuck?” I asked.

“Asian Parents.” Matt said in about that punctuation.

“What?”

“If you had them, you’d understand.”

I didn’t. I had Jewish parents and Jews believe in (and largely are) doctors. If you got the sniffles you go to one, if you got cramps or rashes or allergies or anything, you don’t sleep it off, you make an appointment with your internist.

But Matt Chao, who had had a 15-20 pound stage fall on his foot on the set of a commercial was such a fucking–I don’t want to say “good” but–good PA that he didn’t opt to go to the hospital, nor did he the next few days.

“Just go Matt.” I told him still. “I’ll go with you. Just call me. We’ll hit up Beth Israel. I’m good with the Jews. It’ll be cool.”

Matt had never been to a hospital before as a patient, he told me proudly after he “proudly” opted to take the subway, hopping up stairs to the hospital. He had been born in front of the intake-doors to the emergency room and delivered there, according to his lore, which he followed with a signature staccato Matt Chao laugh.

When the Physician’s Assistant, a nice seeming Orthodox Jewish dude saw Matt he seemed pissed that Matt had walked on his foot for 5 days before seeking a doctor, stating that he had broken foot not in one but 3 places in fractures and prescribing him Codeine for if he needed it.

“Nope.” Matt Chao said blithely, proudly, though the PA insisted he take the prescription.

“That stuff can be useful to have around.” I told Matt, but he seemed unconcerned.

I spent the next while trying to convince him to stay at my parents’ house while he got a splint for his legs that the doctor told him would last 4-6 weeks, not terrible.

He was back to doing intern (read: slave) labor for PBS in a lull between gigs and the commute into the city from Jersey on the trains left him without money for cabs.

I kept arguing with him, even getting my mom on the phone to convince him, trying to tell him he’d be better off in the city living my ‘rents. But not even my mom, who’s always right, could convince him to get in there.

I think, honestly, he enjoyed the challenge, the game of swinging around on crutches through people, around people, to take them up on the offer.

“I’m going to jacked.” He told me on the way out of the hospital, swinging. “But fuck, I might not be ready in time for Christine’s paintball birthday.”

“23rd, 24th, 25th… Should be at the end of the fourth week.” Matt counted to himself.

“I don’t think you should be playing paintball for a while after you get out of that thing.” I told him.

“Nick, it’s paintball.” He said, as if that was all the explanation needed.

We hopped in a cab up to PBS, for this time at least.

He was supposed to stay with my ‘rents tonight, one night, for an early orthopedists appointment but missed that by accident.

“Oh well.” He said after I g-chatted him reminding him, too late, he’d gone home. “Your parents are really nice.”

“Obv.” I replied thinking how much fun Matt Chao and only Matt Chao would have tomorrow at 6am, navigating Penn Station rush hour on crutches.

***

I feel like it’s weird to do this, but I really liked this iced tea.

I was meeting up for a rehearsal (for a show this weekend) in mid-Brooklyn at Blue Marble Ice Cream, where a friend’s ex used to work and where I still feel jittery.

I had to sit there though, it was the meeting place for a rehearsal in a weird mid 90s-style church basement where we’d go after meeting up.

And I had to get something, well, because.

I had discovered in the last few months my somewhat lactose-intolerance and I knew that if I ate ice-cream I would feel like crud when trying to be the weird magician character I was to play.

So I asked if they had any iced tea and they said yes.

And I asked as I often do if the mid-20s hippy lady behind the counter had a suggestion for which kind I should guess and she said yes.

“I defer to your experience then.” I said and let her pour me some.

It was an herbal Hibiscus iced tea, slightly sweetened with Stevia, which I discovered after asking.

It was just really, really good and refreshing and didn’t need anything.

I find myself getting Arnold Palmers (half tea/half lemonade) when I’d be in the mood for tea, just because it’s a less artificial way to add that necessary bit of sweetness to iced tea, that is usually just over-killed with shots of syrup at Starbucks.

Here, on the other hand, the Stevia wasn’t sugar or a syrup, just a slightly sweet tasting thing.

I remembered it once from going to a weird coffee shop across from the McKibben Lofts and pouring in my coffee and thinking it distinctly tasted like soap.

But this time it was just right and it didn’t feel heavy and it just felt light and a little bit sweet.

I drank it and was happy and commented so to my theater director.

Who thought it was weird that I was talking about how much I liked my iced tea in character.

And noted me on it after the rehearsal was done.

***

BLUE MARBLE ICE CREAM

Hibiscus Iced Tea w/a touch of Stevia- $2.35

Underhill Avenue between St. John and Sterling, Brooklyn

23 to Grand Army Plaza, BQ to 7th Avenue-Brooklyn

***

P.S.- Happy Birthday to “goob” Blake LaRue and honorary “goob” Simon Robinson, who will soon be embarking for Japan to go wife-hunting/teach English or something.

Blake just sells coffee-infused frozen yogurt out of a truck and refs lo-rent B-ball games between comedians.

Actually that’s not bad.

Happy berfsdays.

Luff,

Nic


Offers

March 4, 2011

“Naughty massage?”

“What?”

“Do you want a naughty massage?”

“Uh-”

“Blow job.”

This was the exchange I was both part and party too coming home near round 2:25 by Broome St off the Canal stop of the A.

As I walked down Thompson, on the convenient straight shoot from the A train exit, a woman pulled up to me driving a black Ford minivan saying those words and talking to me out a rolled-down window.

As I stood there for the second participating in this unexpected situation, half of me was glad that even in a semi-drunken state on an only-okay weekend, my reaction to this was still a pretty obvious “no thanks, thanks though.”

The other half of me felt depressed that I seemed a such a target for such efforts.

“Oh well.” The woman said and handed me a card, which I took a picture of, just to be sure that the situation was still happening, of course, once she’d driven away.

I got some sleep that night, but it wasn’t too much.

I’ve had a few conversations this week all touching upon how sex, if it ever was the motivator in my life, no longer is.

Though I thought it weird and perhaps, in a twisted way, a little flattering to be targeted as a john, I was never even a part of the conversation of my outcast Magic-card playing buddies who would talk about “going down to AC and running the hooks”. I wasn’t even down for going to the strip club, perhaps out of the same stubbornness that leads me not to cut my hair, or to slouch everywhere, or to sometimes be kind of smelly: I want people to around me because of who I am, bad or good, and not for anything I’m putting on.

Practical applications of this include a nice almost (possibly?) date with a girl who I sat with drinking brown-bag beers on a park and talking about how creepy guys who put their hands on your knees get a bad reputation, and the online date I met who after 15 minutes of me giving her a tour of Chinatown, retreated to the A train, having looked me in the face a total of maybe 3 times.

Both of these were probably not successful (the latter far more clearly than the former), though it’s possible that after a night of fun, semi-drunken discussion of what the proper way is to show that you’re interested in somebody in a not-just “let’s fuck right now” kind of way, I should have been better at expressing those very thoughts.

But the point I am trying to make is that if you’re going to insist so stringently on being yourself with people, you’re going to have to wait a while to find someone who digs you back.

Or as Dan Pleck would say: “Dude, you just have to find someone who’s weirder than you.”

Maybe, but after that last date, I’ve started seriously considering just ending this online “experiment” and condemning myself to some loneliness for a while.

Which maybe some people would call “moving on”.

***

Or not.

I spent Monday, the premiere day of the television show “Bethenny Ever After”, sending emails trying to figure out if my five or six segments had been cut out of it, including one where (yep) I talk about my break-up on national television.

Who knows if they used that or if they used anything of me, but when my emails to assistants and line producers went un-noticed, I started to despair.

My relationship with that sort of reality notoriety (I still get noticed for the 2-3 minutes I was on the first season) is complicated, but the only thing I can offer is when you work at a dead-end job scooping popcorn and your date ditches you without looking you in the face, you pray for something, anything, to take you out of it.

For what seems like months now, I had been wondering what would happen when the show aired, when I’d be back on television for… what? Dan Pleck thought it was just my “zany character”, but I still didn’t know. Whatever it was, it’d make me something, not a person on television because of some talent or skill like an actor or a stand-up, but someone maybe awash in the glow of something, like a kid crowding an old school TV.

And like that kid, it was tempting to think my problems could be mutated away by a sketch show.

In the mean time though, I had been practicing comedy.

Not enough, not often enough, not good enough.

But I felt good when I did it.

I felt at least, like I was back in a community, of people, or friends.

The improv practice group I had joined and had become the strange interim leader of continued to go well, attracting more people and getting better each week. This week I even had someone message me when I got home saying “wasn’t that awesome!” which would seem normal but for the inherent exuberance of the word. It feels good to build something people care about.

And even though they were tired and occasionally flakey when I tried to hang out with them (read: they have their own lives), Blake and Rob Malone came out for a rehearsal for  sketch show we’re doing together on Monday.

As we hung out and acted and tried to make funny out of things in the hushed-tone lobby of the Magnet Theater, it struck me how nice and generous people were. How everyone I was with just honestly seemed to be trying to have fun with their lives and willing to help people out.

This was not just exemplified by Rob and Blake, but by Jon Bander from my Sketch class who had agreed to act in my sketch and even provide a costume and show up for a rehearsal, a guy a few years my senior who performed regularly at the theater. As Rob and Blake and Bander and I hung around that lobby, tried to find jokes, ate food from the surrounding area and borrowed pens, I knew that if I wasn’t finding a girl, at least I had a place to be.

Bander said good-bye and I thanked him for his generosity, declaring past his face and to Rob and Blake, that “I am attempting to adopt him as a friend”, to which he replied “Well, I’m hear ain’t I?” and they all were.

On the subway platform on the way home, I showed Blake and Rob the email I had gotten delineating the episodes I’d be on, with a guarantee of some online deleted scenes and they reassured my obsessive/self-loathing relationship with being on reality TV.

“I think this is really important and exciting.” Rob said, with a big beardy smile, in the sort of way I could never tell what percentage of his statement he was kidding for. “It’s a new age and you’re a part of it.”

“Hold on.” Blake said, taking out a marker to a blank subway ad-spot. He drew a little caricature of my face with poofy hair and one word: FEIT.

“There.” He said, after some work. “Just like the Obama Hope ads. Now I just need to do that across the city and it’ll start catching on.”

We got off at different places, but we all took the same train home.

***

As I’ve mentioned several times, having a 15-minute first-date where the person you’re with doesn’t look you in the face is not a fun thing to happen.

But at least in the time I had to kill between work and the date, I found a pretty good cheap waffle.

I had had a green-tea waffle before, about 2-3 years back, so I knew they existed somewhere in Chinatown and that they were about a dollar.

Of course, there was always the Hong Kong Egg Cake cart over by Canal and Mulberry which offered dollar waffle-life treats.

But I remembered the waffle and took time to seek it out.

This time, unlike last I had an iPhone, but it almost led me the wrong way; after all the waffle I was seeking turned out not to be 99-cents (as I googled) but a square dollar.

It resided at Paris Sandwich, a popular Bahn Mi joint with multiple locations, this one right off of Canal.

It also came with some cool toppings for some extra cash, but I wasn’t interested beyond the dollar.

The waffle was fairly huge and floppy, sweet, with only the nice hint of Green Tea, like the eponymous ice cream at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (which I’m sure would make a good combo).

It was obviously not 100% fresh (as the small Hong Kong Egg Cakes) are. But it was a good treat and felt warm, sitting in my belly.

It would have been nice to have had after, for some comfort.

😦

***

PARIS SANDWICH

Green-Tea Waffle- $1.00

Mott St bet. Hester and Canal Sts.

NQRJZ6 to Canal St. BD to Grand St. F to East Broadway.

***

So plugs:

SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read): I’ll be on Bethenny Ever After this Monday. March 7th on Bravo at 10/9 central. Haven’t seen the episode so don’t know what I do on it, but presume it’s something funny.

And of course, I’m still doing that sketch show I was rehearsing with Blake, Rob and Bander for over at the Magnet on Monday, March 7th at 7pm. You can find the link for that here.

Thanks dudes, for reading. And everything.


Subways and Other Ways

February 23, 2011

A strange thing happened to me between bars.

I ended up buying a beer for an NYU kid, the first time a “minor” had ever asked me to purchase liquor for them.

I had to say, I was amused.

“Is this adulthood?”, I thought “Moving from being afraid of getting ID’ed and caught to being solicited by others to buy beer at multi-ethnic groceries?”

Perhaps.

What led me there anyway was trying to maintain a solid buzz after a day of physically-easy, but soul-taxing work at the movie theater and a brief stop-over at bar to see Najia Dar and her cadre of post-test-partying aspiring doctors.

Najia, who had found new drive in the throes of med-school post-college  graduation, had been recently so busy that she couldn’t come out to see me and a fully bearded Rob Malone when we were in her neighborhood, at the Trader Joe’s downstairs.

So, when she invited me out, I came to say hi and because it was billed as some sort of recompense for her hermit-ude.

We met up, with her Texan friends already present, and everyone started dancing. 6 beers deeper than me, as I just sat at the bar, trying to figure out why the blond, British bartender had bought me a drink.

“You just smile and nod and leave a big tip.” One of Najia’s friends offered and it was a cue for a nice conversation with a member of the opposite sex, until she started to talk about her impending marriage.

I never did find out why that bartender bought me a drink, but I did leave a 10-dollar tip (“Good job,” the same friend told me.)

Soon the bar filled up with Najia’s doctor-mates, who I saw to my displeasure both were more educated and more attractive than me and wore on their faces the promise of a certainty of a profession and a life.

2 beers and a free drink in, I went walking, up past Washington Square Park and my old college, up University Place and to that old bodega.

Later that night, I would meet up with Jonny-Jon-Jon, who would later have a stranger start making out with him after he pinky-swore he was straight and then getting some late-night french-fries off the L train.

Right then, near Union Square, I was just trying to maintain my buzz, beat the day, beat my profession, beat my uncertainty about my future, just wanting to avoid the semi-hangover that comes on the subway ride to Brooklyn, between beers.

Looking through the fridge, I tried to find a tall-boy, a 24oz can, but they didn’t sell ’em except for a can of the newly neutered Four Loko, which I had learned from malt-liquor experience, was not a good deal.

“Where are all the tall-boys?” I wondered out loud in the bodega and the tall, skinny fellow next to me echoed the same sentiment.

As I reached down for my can of Coors Light, he asked me to pick him up two Buds and I did, handing them to him.

“No, actually, I mean, I thought… I forgot my ID back home.” He stumbled.

“Oh.” I replied. “Ha.”

Then.

“Yeah, sure.”

Outside the deli, the kid gave me five bucks, when the beers cost four.

“Keep it.” He said.

I drank my sole beer on the L platform, waiting there to go out to see Jonny-Jon-Jon.

I finished it, in its brown paper bag, and tossed before I got on the train and had an extra buck to tip with when I got out to the bar in Brooklyn.

And that was who I was, right then.

***

On a packed Saturday, a crowd materialized around the Landmark Sunshine, a whole row just filled with my friends and friends of friends.

We all converged to see Jurassic Park on the big screen which, I was too embarrassed to admit, was my first time seeing it at all.

Andy and Matt Chao and I all met up before the show to hang out and find some source of food between conversations about Aubrey Plaza’s attractiveness and Matt Chao’s continuing/alternating insistences that he would either make a movie or buy a piece of property or both (“Or just get rich!”).

Rob Ma-Bro-Ne, for his part, brought a large contingent to the show including Ben Oviatt, Jason Chan and the Pennsylvania-imported Dickerson Bros, Malone’s fabled filmmaking brothers who feel like they could be Mario and Luigi in non-Halloween situations.

We all got kinda fucked-up for the occasion, as would befit a midnight screening of Jurassic Park, but Rob was in full form, yelling out not just lines from the movie at the screen, but observations including one about Laura Dern (“She’s so great! I can’t believe they ended up together.”) and conversations re: Michael Crichton vs. Stephen King (“Michael Crichton, much greater than sign Stephen King” Rob replied.)

Disaster was narrowly avoided when Rob began going off about the superiority of “The Lost World” (the book sequel, not the movie) and a good time was had by all.

I even tried to sneak in some flirting with the hippie-ish manager at the theater, who appreciated my comment at the box office that I wouldn’t call her by her name since I think it’s inappropriate when customers do that (which was actually an observation lifted from my stand-up). It got a smile, but eventually I was drawn too much into the film and the aftermath.

Matt and Andy and I all snuck sandwiches into the theater from Katz’s and rejoiced at samples and the combination of piles of meat and dinosaurs.

At one point, Rob started singing the theme song to the “Dinosaurs” TV show, in an impromptu karaoke-balladry rendition.

It got laughs from the audience and when a woman complained about the noise, she was booed into submission.

Justice, by crowd.

***

Monday was almost a disaster, for the pressure I put on it.

My life had been winding down recently, with classes ending and no auditions still and my attempts to invite a broad swath of my former associates and classmates to invigorate my writing group.

Instead, I ended up with a familiar string of text message excuses, sitting at Sophie’s alone, 12 minutes in to when everyone should have shown up.

What saved me that night, looking into my beer, were two things, well, two-two things.

The first two things being Alex Hilhorst and Keith Haskel, who had never met, showing up to the bar soon after willing to fuck around and talk and read a 1.5 page sketch-rewrite I had to show them ad they bonded slightly and we discussed The X-Files and even more of Hilhorst’s short career as Pee-Wee Herman’s assistant, as well as Keith’s MTV-Adult Swim comedy background.

The other thing that saved me were a couple of secret tacos.

I discovered the place on an artificial side street, tucked at the end of an alley, invisible to those not looking. “Oaxaca Taqueria” read a sign draped at a dead end. I walked in and was in luck.

It was Taco Happy Hour.

The tacos I got were Stewed Chicken, though there was a Mole special (which I later tried) and a Potato/Poblano enchilada I would have liked to get my hand on. The tacos were unusually large and full of unusual flavors for NYC-Mex, from the sour pickled onions to the salty salsa-verde which contrasted to the red-sauce the chicken was stewed with. For 4 bucks, they were well worth the price.

Leaving Sophie’s, I brought Alex and Keith back there for an encore and they were duely impressed.

“How did you even find this place? How would anyone?” Alex asked.

“You just go lookin.” I replied as we luxuriated in the half-lit grunge-splendor of the taco bar.

Later, I walked Keith home asking him for tips on online dating, which spilled over into the sort of ex-girlfriend-y sadness it seems like I can’t write a blog post without nowadays.

Suffice it to say, when you’re together with someone, in some way, you’re never alone.

I’m not sure when I’ll feel that again.

But I’m glad Monday, I didn’t feel that, alone with my beer.

***

OAXACA TAQUERIA

2 Stewed Chicken Tacos w/fixins- $4.00 (during Taco Happy Hour, 3-7 and 10-12)

16 Extra Place (off 1st St bet Bowery and 2nd Aves)

F to 2nd Avenue.

***

One more thing:

I’ve got a couple sketches in a sketch show over at the Magnet Theater on Monday, March 7th. Normally, I don’t invite a lot of people to these types of things, but I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made and I’ve received some really great support/feedback/laughs on these sketches. More than that, I’m working with really great performers who are super-funny and really sell the material, as well as some old friends who might make their sketch debut.

If you have some free time, it’s free, and I bet it’ll be pretty funny. I would certainly appreciate anyone who would want to come.

The link to the facebook event is here.

Love,

Nick


Inappropriate Jokes/Inappropriate Times

January 30, 2011

It took me dying two times in front of two different audiences to let me realize, I wasn’t naturally good at stand-up.

Not that I was supposed to be, or expected to be.

Still, it hurts when you stand up there in front of everyone, having received some praise and hear silence and smiles, followed by polite claps following you back to your seat.

Matt Chao and Dave Broad came with me to one of them, where I promised them a set full of untested material mostly referring to online dating and delivered just that, to no promise.

“Well, I still taped that if you wanted it.” Dave said, Canon 5D camera in hand.

I considered putting my dying on stage up here, but decided against it.

It’s good in a way, I know, just like with the sketch comedy. There needs to be pain for growth, struggle for learning.

“It’s like being a prize fighter.” My teacher Armando told me, while lifting beverage boxes in the break in our class, “You just have to go out there and get beat up a lot.”

I think it’s motivated me to do so, or at least try. For now, I’m bothering all my friends who do stand-up, trying to cajole them into mentoring me.

The second open-mic I went to was with a nice dude from my SNL writing class, where hubris and a small room led me to get up.

When I apologize to the M.C. afterwards, he told me to “come back with some punchlines”.

Another comedian, Dave Greek (a swell dude) told me about stand-up after I had died at the first open-mic, “What’s important is that you wake up tomorrow and keep doing this.”

“Don’t worry I’ll wake up tomorrow and still want to do stand-up.”

“Oh.” He replied. “I meant not killing yourself, but that’s good too.”

The next night at McDonalds, I went out with a consortium of friends (Ro-bearded Malone, Simon Robinson, Sean Dunn and Zach Weintraub–pictured above) after a showing of the documentary Strong Man at IFC.

“I know I’m not funny enough yet.” I told Zach. “But I’m glad at least I know a lot of people who are doing this sort of thing, or at least trying, you know, to do something with their lives.”

“Oh, sorry bro.” Zach said contritely. “I wasn’t listening, I was too busy putting pre-chopped peanuts onto my Mickey D Sundae.”

“Thanks.” I replied.

Zach was off soon to Argentina to go shoot his crowd-sourced movie, “The International Sign For Choking” and Simon, whose Japan-o-philia included frequently recommending a semi-pornographic Japanese version of the Powerpuff Girls called “Panty+Stocking” to me, was off to teach English in Nippon, where I only assumed he would meet/marry his Japanese wife.

Recently, I had been wondering too if I should take a break, head to Europe or Japan or somewhere and see what was out there for me.

Now, newly girlfriend-less, I felt less reason not to leave New York, at least for a little while, to see somewhere else. Love is like a magnet, or gravity, in that way; good at drawing you back to where you’re coming from.

Still, I felt good about being out in the city, using my time, taking classes and electives and free practices and open-mikes. I was proud I had died trying stand-up, proud I had put myself out there enough to know that I had to learn.

Even if there still weren’t commercials to audition for, my life felt like it was moving and writing, terrifying/gratifying, was happening more than ever for me, with my classes spurning me on with deadlines and timelines and high expectations for material.

I finally met one of those expectations in my sketch-comedy writing class, where I just last week reported that same experience of learning/dying in front a crowd of people I could only assume didn’t respect me.

On that non-hungover Saturday morning before my class, I watched half an episode of “Mr. Show with Bob and David”, analyzed what each sketch was about, its reality and its jokes, thought about something in my life I knew the reality of it and wrote it.

It was a sketch about someone going up at an open mike, saying too many awkward rage-filled things and alienating people.

When they called for notes in the class after reading it, someone raised their hand and said: “I loved it”.

And it was only one sketch.

But it was one sketch to feel good about.

***

I ran into Eli Rousso, the other day at the movie theater, taking tickets by the door.

Eli was my red-headed doppelganger from Poly Prep, a web designer and man on the hand of cool, who was a good video editor back when I was afraid to even touch the computer than Final Cut Pro was on.

When I saw him, we talked for a couple minutes, just about what he was seeing, who this new girlfriend was he was with and some comments about my blog. Eli’s the sorta guy who says he’s your friend but who doesn’t pick up his phone and who you don’t see for a long time. It’s a good way of preserving that image, that many of have, of people from their high school eternally cooler than themselves.

What Eli said to me once though, upon reading my blog was something to this effect:

“Nick. You talking about girls on your blog, that’s like the pussy. Everyone wants to get to it.”

So yeah, after a year or so of relative domestic happiness and then a couple months of awkward rebound attempts/self-immolation, here I go.

When I talked to Schuyler, my co-worker at the movie theater, about being single and out there, he’d mock my attempts to meet someone on the internet.

“Why don’t you just go out to the bar or the club?” He’d ask. “Plenty of ladies there.”

“Going out to one of those places I won’t meet people that I like.”

“How do you know?” He replied.

“Because I don’t go out to bars or clubs, I don’t enjoy over-priced drinks or rubbing butts on people, so why would I enjoy the people who enjoy those things?”

“Well, alright then, where?” He asked.

“I don’t know. Online, maybe. Or at a party with friends. Or maybe an improv class.” I said and mulled on that last one for a while.

Given that my last attempt to meet someone at an improv class ended with Rob calling me “kinda sad” and the girl telling me she was “busy till [next] November”, I should have been hesitant, but also given that my old Nick Feitel self-embarrassing instincts were beginning to regenerate, I felt darn invulnerable. Felt that way, at least.

“So, teach. That cute coach have a boyfriend?” I asked Armando in between classes. I had been attending an “Improv Coaching Workshop” on Saturdays that was free, where Armando would teach seasoned improvisers how to teach students improv. I/we were the guinea pigs and “the cute coach” had told me a few times I was “real funny”.

“Oh. Her.” Armando recognized after I whispered her name for clarification. “Yes. Yes she does.”

“Well, I mean you met him? Nice guy? Cool guy?” I asked.

“You’ve met him too.” Armando said. “He’s another coach in the class.”

Strike one.

“Oh.” I replied.

“Yeah, but there’s nothing wrong, you know, with having an affinity for someone.” Armando said, in an airy, comforting tone.

“Yeah, I feel ashamed. See you guys in 5 minutes. And went to get some Bubble Tea.

When I came back, the “volunteer” portion of the coaching class still hadn’t begun and so I sat down and played video games on my DSi. A curly-haired young lady, who’d also told me I was funny when I left class last week, in the sort of the way that someone empowers another, sat down next to me and tried to talk to me about video games.

Mmrow.

We talked a bit about them, though she was no afficianado, about her job and our college time.

“What did you major in?” I asked, after she told me a fun story about learning improv on a cruise.

“Psychology. But that was 20 years ago.” She said.

Not a deal-breaker.

“Well, uh, sorry if this is like weird.” I replied. “But you don’t look it at all?”

“No, not too weird.” She replied, but then we were ushered in.

I spent some of the class looking over at her, trying to catch a glance or two, noticing her sweater, or her jeans, looking for age or lack thereof, or if she was looking at me.

After class, I went up to her and asked “What’s your last name?” my iPhone out, ready to friend her instantaneously.

“My maiden or my married name?” She asked with a smile and if she was looking for something in my face, I thought I did a decent job of freezing it, before saying “Either one!” and adding her as a friend, just a friend, indeed.

Strike two.

Then there was the girl who came in the first week with leg-warmers, a skirt and a t-shirt that had an ironic description of caves written on it.

Love at first sight.

When she didn’t come back to the second class and someone mentioned he had come in her stead, I let loose one of my weird truthful-isms, saying to him: “Well that’s pretty lame, I was trying to get her number.”

When she came back this week, I wondered as she laughed at some of my creepy “hitting-on-crying-girl improv” scenes, whether word had gotten back.

When I tried talking to her after, waiting on line for the bathroom, she started talking to me about acting and classes and whether I was interested in that.

“Yes.” I told her, without much other context. “Then let me get your email.” she said, followed closely by. “Gotta go, bye.”

I still don’t know what it was for, but I guess if it’s some sort of recruitment for “The Landmark Forum”, I’ll feel bad later.

Strike three?

I left then and headed to Last Pictures’ TOMORROWLAND, a screening of my Feitel-Friend Chadd Harbold’s film BLOCK, as well as others by the good ol’ LP crew. When I stood at the bar by myself for a while, sneaking Whiskey-Ginger-Ales, I took the above blurry picture of Gavin McInnes trying to corrupt Chadd’s parents through conversation, which sounded the alarm with his crew of flunkies and caused me to flee, or retreat, at least.

“Where are you?” I texted Chadd, with the picture. “Your parents are going to grow moustaches and start experimenting with Mescaline.”

Of course, Chadd did some soon; it was his party. I hung out, mostly with Andy Roehm and Brennan McVicar and his lovely girlfriend Vanessa.

I got to see all my friend there, including Rob, shaking thighs like he’d never have to go home, and Zach again, who showed up with Michigonian girlfriend Jenny.

As for me, I found myself stuck at the bar again, with a young lady, a friend of a friend, who kept on talking to me, wanting to hear about improv classes and our respective lives. I snuck her a couple drinks from the open bar, as she wasn’t there to partake due to early morning work (with children no less!) and I even asked for her number at the end of it all and she gave it to me, even though I just kept expecting her to walk away.

“Oh yeah, she does that all the time. Very nice, friendly type.” Brennan told me later on, when we walked down the block to get tacos, but super-funny man Ron Phippen told me, when I admitted to him I had forgotten her name when I first saw her:

“Dude, if a girl knows your name and you don’t know hers, it means she wants to fuck you.”

And like being called funny, I don’t take it as the truth.

But it’s nice to feel that opinion sometimes, true or not.

Was that four strikes? No one’s watching baseball now anyway.

How about four downs, for football.

Or maybe a hit?

Or a concussion?

Or something else.

***

When I told Matt Chao that we were going to dinner at Grand Central, despite not having any real reason to do that other than a promise of home-made doughnuts, he kinda shrugged and said whatever.

“Better than going home to Jersey.” He replied.

Matt had been getting a lot of ribbing from me, for the fact that I had made fun of him for years for his corporate slavedom working un-paid for PBS a their longest running intern and now here he was, with his first feature-film assistant editing gig, credited as a “shooter” and a “PA” as well on set, getting paid, reportedly, 4 times as much as me and getting a short-short he made for them on the web.

But there he was still, after work, with nothing to do but go home to Jersey.

Which means, he’d call me up a lot.

It was Matt who went with me to the Diamond Lion show, where we laughed our asses off watching people improvise a musical about child abduction and Lord of the Rings copyright infringement. It was Matt who came with me to see Billy the Mime do a show that included a sketch called “The African-American Experience” and “Thomas and Sally: A Night in Monticello”. It was Matt who sat with me in Grand Central, before my Writing for SNL class and was down for getting the prix-fixe menu when all the doughnuts we’d gone all the way uptown for turned out to have sold out at 3pm.

The prix-fixe was at Caffe Pepe Rosso, an outpost of the Italian place by my house, but it was notable for both the portions (a huge soup or smaller salad and a main course) and the price (under 11 bucks) which was less than ordering even any of the entrees on their own, at the location by my house.

The Chicken Parmigiana was great, an unexpected surprise at the uptown locations, which mostly serves Paninis, with a good deal of Italian espresso.

I lapped it up with a salad, but Matt got the soup with some gnocchi for his main and the soup seemed bigger than my entree.

After finishing up, in between biting and Matt reading, I found the check already paid for in classy fashion.

“Don’t worry about it.” Matt said cooly.

“Fuck you, Matt, I didn’t ask for that.” I said full of spite.

“Fine, pay me, bitch.” He said staring down at his book.

“Yeah, whatever, thanks.” I mumbled. “Only cause you make four times more than me.”

Today my best friend Frank called me, after texting me all weekend dealing with his existential lady crisises. Frank lives in Brooklyn, but he’s too busy between the gym and mostly unemployment to ever come by the theater to say hi.

“That’s like, 2.50 there and 2.50 back, bro.” He said.

“2.25.” I commented.

“Anyway, I’m broke.” He said. “And almost to the gym.”

People have their lives, I guess. But it’s nice sometimes, when someone’s down like that Matt.

All, I’m saying.

***

CAFFE PEPE ROSSO

Chicken Parmigiana with Penne and Lemon/Garlic Arugala Salad- $10.95 (free w/Matt Chao)

Grand Central Terminal Dining Concourse (specials change daily)

4567S to Grand Central-42nd St


What Jews Do Round Christmas Time

December 25, 2010

I went to see “Colin Quinn: Long Story Short” on a Thursday night I had off from work and nothing to do.

Some friends had texted me about maybe helping them out with some Final Cut problems and coming over to my place bringing some beer, but they’d canceled a little after asking, causing no small amount of melancholy to form in me.

With my most frequent quasi-roommate John Beamer back in Palo Alto again for the holidays, I wasn’t relishing going home with nothing to do and no one to talk to there.

Somehow, even when you’re in a relationship, even if you can’t see the person you want, times like those seem more bearable.

Though walking around the movie theater last night, waiting for shows to get out, I thought about all the times Eva never called me back or answered my text messages, when we were together, especially towards the end. Did she not want to talk to me, even then?

Anyway, it was a good idea to see the show, as it would garner me some company for the night.

I even went back, after some absent-mindedness, to my old lunchtime spot, Good N’ Plenty to Go over on 43rd St, where they still remembered me and even where I worked now.

Sometimes, having the illusion of friends like that can be enough when you’re feeling low. It’s probably why I wanted to go to a Chili’s after my last funeral.

The show was good, smart. Mr. Quinn was more energetic and engaged than I had ever seen him previously in his comedy and what’s more, he’d really worked out some funny characters, which was nice to see him expanding, since he was always known for his Brooklyn-y dry wit.

Courtesy of some good timing and an (expired) Student ID, I had a front row-left seat by myself in the theater and at the end of the show when I stood up to applaud, Mr. Quinn called me out from the stage, not by name, but by a double take, pointing to me and saying “Angelika!”.

After the show, I waited by the stage door with my program for him to sign, by myself. It was a slow, cold Thursday night and he seemed to expect me when he came out with his hat.

Our conversation was short, made sillier by his assistant (girlfriend?) who (of course?) instantly recognized me from “that Bethenny show” and wanted to talk about it.

When Mr. Quinn signed my program, it was to “Some guy who’s more famous than me”.

I wrote him an email yesterday, before going in to the movie theater, apologizing for talking about me and not congratulating him enough and thanking him for all the advice he’d given me.

I mentioned that my girlfriend had dumped me, a situation he referenced, in other cases, a couple times in the show.

He answered me a few hours later.

Nice guy, that Colin Quinn.

***

I had needed emergency text interventions by Rob Malone and Chadd Harbold the other night to keep from contacting Eva. I say emergency and maybe it’s fair, because I did want to talk to her, but similar to suicidal thoughts and actions, it’s much different to tell someone you’re thinking about something than to just do it.

Chadd and Rob though were buddies, as many of my friends have been, trying to step up to deal with my sometimes collapses.

Chadd tried to give me some practicals about th ways such things worked, having known as both dumper and dumpee, while Rob just tried to hit at my melancholy and sympathize, just saying that it wouldn’t make things better.

It’s been affecting me still in big ways and small.

I saw “The Illusionist” today, at its first how at the Paris, a wonderful theater, if you’ve never been there and a wonderful movie.

The film is about, for a part, relationships and accepting their decay and living in the sadness of them. I cried a lot at the end, which is appropriate to the film, but I can’t there weren’t some scenes that brought up memories to me.

My work had a holiday party the other day, which was fun, full of presents and sandwiches and drinks.

But the party, in a way, was just like the job: trying to connect with people who aren’t interested in your life.

As I sat, getting slowly drunker. I saw Andy with his easy-going So-Cal charm float freely and happily between people, while I just behind bottles making drinks, trying to feel like I had a purpose, if not a place.

As my co-workers flirted and kissed and bopped each other on the head and recounted stories, I fell deeper and deeper into myself, away from everything and finally, back home.

Alcohol lately has seemed like a trap to me, something that just sends me spiraling backwards towards thinking of her, puzzling out what we had, asking questions, finding unsatisfying answers.

And as for Mr. Quinn’s advice, the implementation seems hard.

As my therapist somewhat predicted, I have been “active” on the dating website I’m on, a feat made easier by the discovery, almost laughably, that it would seem that all my single friends are actually already on there.

It’s a mark of their comfort versus my discomfort that I could text a friend the other night, only to have him tell me he was “OKCupid dating”, a fact he had never revealed to me before, shot so casually in response to a “hey whatsup”.

I guess a positive out of all this is I feel less bad about my pratfalls, when a girl doesn’t respond to a smile in real life, or a message virtually, I don’t feel bad like I once would, judging myself for it. I feel good that I’ve put myself out there, step forward. It’s a numbers game, after all, just like college or jobs or anything else. You just got to find someone who’s looking for and who can give what you have, like a set of gloves or shoes.

I guess there’s some freedom in accepting you’re not the right fit for everyone.

Still, it would be nice if someone tried you on, once in a while.

***

I’d be remiss I guess if I didn’t say “Merry Christmas” to people.

As a Jew, this sort of day fills me with the sort of questioning ennui only made less painful by the sense that there are X million other Jews feeling about the same way right now too.

After I saw the movei with my grandma, we headed down to The Plaza Food Hall, a favorite spot of ours, to eat some lunch.

My grandma has a way about her, with her glamorous natural-red hairdo, more sensible and lighter than my hair, though you could see the resemblance.

Anyway, we skipped past various Omaha-ans and Frenchies to be seated in the crowded Todd English joint.

“Oh, Nicholas!” She exclaimed in her particular way, throwing her hands up on her comically high stool. “You should have last Christmas! I went by the Jewish museum and there was such a line!”

“Weird.” I replied, monosyllabically. “Why’s that?”

“One of the only options, I believe for entertainment for us on Christmas.” She opined. “Ooh and look at these people next to us! Swedish I think!”

The people were sitting but inches from us on a communal table.

“Excuse me,” She asked excitedly. “But are you Swedish?!”

The blond woman in glasses politely replied “Denmark.”

“Oh, but close enough!” Grandma said. I knew somewhere ex-Scandanavian Jonny-Jon-Jon was laughing at what was certainly in insult to the self-considered superiority of the Danish.

“Oh, but Nicholas!” she exclaimed further. “Do you know how the Danish pronounce Copenhagen?”

“Huh?” I replied.

“Kwapin! Kwapenin!” She said excitedly. I spared myself looking over at the people next to us. “The funniest! The funniest language!”

And our meal continued.

In addition to the Spit-Roasted Chicken flatbread pizza that was my usual dish there, I tried the “Risotto Tater-Tots”, tiny rice balls breaded and filled with white truffle cheese and some delicious garlic aioli.

They were delicious, but what more I can say about them, for the break in conversation they elicited, the people next to us seemed relieved.

***

THE PLAZA FOOD HALL

Risotto Tater-Tots w/White Truffle Cheese + Garlic Aioli- $8

Central Park South bet. 5th and 6th Avenues.

NR to 5th Avenue

***

BONUS-

Sometimes I use this area to plug things and I’m happy to do that today for some really funny stuff. Fellow film-schooler and current improv buddy Ben Perry has a pretty “dope” hip-hop group that you might have heard of called “Buckwheat Groats”. These guys are blowing up and they don’t need my help, but since I was the first comment on their new video on YouTube, I feel like I should at least mention it here.

It’s called “(Take U 2 Da) Shopping Mall” and, I should mention, my favorite moment has to be the “Hot Topic girls”.

Enjoy!


Waiting for Telephone Calls With Frankie

June 29, 2010

Meet Frankie.

Chicken Tikka Frankie, that is.

To be fair, Frankie wasn’t my first choice for that blog.

My first choice was a big, yellow Indian truck that was in my neighborhood on Saturday, idling on 6th ave. while I was trying to wait/walk off a hangover.

When I went to that big, yellow truck, they had blotted out their sign I had seen previously advertising “Chicken Tikka Masala” with green construction paper.

“Finished,” The man inside the truck told me, teeth-flashingly from the inner-truck gloom. “The boss is coming with rice. I can cook it, but no rice.”

“Deal.” I told him, as I went wandering around the village looking for something to occupy me  in the 20-30 minutes in-between when I ordered my special-construction-paper-dish and when it actually was ready.

When I got it though, finally, it was a big let down.

The curry was greasy and spotty. The chicken was tough and inedible. Worse yet, the white rice I had picked up from King Wok down the street didn’t even compliment it.

It just made me wish I had chinese food.

It even spilled into its own plastic bag, leaking out of its styrofoam container, making it difficult for me to sensibly hang on my door, my go-to “trash-to-be-taken-out” spot.

A failure, I thought.

Later though, I watched “The Fly” and got nauseous and then wonder why David Cronenberg didn’t work more with Jeff Goldblum who was so obviously awesome.

I thought of the botched curry, wondered at the metamorphosis going on in my stomach.

Would Geena Davis have to shoot me too?

“Graargh.” I proclaimed and switched to watching Noah Baumbach’s “Kicking and Screaming” which I found mostly pretentious and awful, except for that guy from all those Whit Stillman movies and the girl at the end who sort of looks like my girlfriend.

Anyway, I ended up with Frankie.

Chicken Tikka Frankie.

He was from the Tabla cart, out on 25th and Madison, that I knew had existed last year, but which I thought might be in season once again.

I was right.

For those wondering, a “Chicken Tikka Frankie” is really like a big Kati Roll/Burrito, filled with tandoor-roasted chicken, chutney, some onions and chiles, all wrapped up in a big egg-and-cilantro-coated flatbread.

It’s 8 bucks and for that, it’s a pretty good value.

Not extraordinary, like the (now disappeared) Dal Cart (a hint for those friends who have been asking about it), but one could do worse when tired of waiting for a burger at the nearby shake shack.

Perhaps a more extraordinary value, I discovered on my way back to the train.

Apparently, it was a national holiday:

That’s right. A medium, good brewed iced-tea for a buck.

They even had simple syrup to put in there, since you know sugar don’t dissolve in no ice-tees.

But I guess, it’s hard to compete with McDonalds.

***

Too many things to talk about this week.

I had a meeting at an agency, I got yelled at for a half-an-hour, I made a movie and got an iPhone 4.

Yeah, that’s right.

An iPhone 4.

Aren’t I cool?

Literally, that’s what you think staring into the screen of your new iPhone 4, especially when you see people waiting in line, or gathering around the office to stare at it in envy.

“Aren’t I cool?” you think, but only after “Wow, this phone is [cool].”

The phone got me in trouble at work though too, as it precipitated a fight with my bosses when they found out I had come in late one day after pre-ordering it. (The aforementioned 30-minuted yelling session.)

It was really about more than that, though. The way I was being treated. The way I was reacting to how I was being treated. How much money they were paying the new guy as opposed to me. And how they kept on accusing me of not doing work, something that only seemed more insane since the more they accused me of it, the more I wondered what the point was.

After all, after weeks of accusing me of not doing any of the work, shouldn’t they just fire me? Otherwise, I’m costing them (little) money and time they could use with some, presumably more competent person.

But instead my dyspeptic bosses accused me both of not working and “doing a great job”.

“I’m not saying you’re not doing a great job.” My boss told me. “Just that you’re not doing it.”

The perils of middle-management, I suppose.

Kind of like teaching summer camp, though, the rub is in the people I work with under me, the interns, who I can joke with and make casual fun of and who really can work effectively.

The other day, stressed out over getting things ready for our new editor, I even gave one of them a hug of thankfulness, after she had completely redone and reorganized a set of index cards.

“Weirdo.” She told me and then went back to playing some game caled Sporcle.

The phone call ended when I gave up arguing with my bosses (“I’m here. I’m hearing you.” I repeated at any pause in the yelling) but at the point the stress was building anyway.

My meeting with the agency (for commercial acting) had gone… well? It would seem from people I talked to that it did, but the agent had decided to freelance with me which seemed like a more positive-isitic version of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”, where they were supposed to send me out on auditions before deciding if they sign me.

“We like to date before we get married.” The agent, a very nice and patient woman, told me.

I was warned it might be a while (“Tomorrow, the next day, the next week”) but that they’d send me out and they’d see what I did.

The day I hugged my intern, I had been trying to find the receptionist at the facility I work out of so I could get swiping-beeping access cards for our new editor taken care of, only to hear repeatedly that he was on audition, without apparently any replacement.

Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark, I thought, thinking what would happen at some of my previous jobs if no one was there to take the phones for several hours.

When the receptionist got back, I half wanted to yell at him, from the crazy stress of the day, but instead I implored him of my situation describing the “bad, yelling things” that would happen to me if the swipe cards were not found.

He seemed sympathetic and promised to take care of it and I relaxed so much that I asked him about the audition.

“It was a stand-up thing.” He told me. “I made it to the next round. I’m back at 4 and if I make it then, I’ll make it to a showcase.”

I wasn’t sure what a showcase was, but it sounded… exciting.

It had been about a week and I hadn’t heard anything from the agents I had talked to and seeing this receptionist going out, it made me feel like maybe a lot of people were trying to do what I had “stupided” my way into.

The day went on, I screwed around with Final Cut, fixed some binders and avoided writing this post.

Finally, the day ended and on my way out, I found myself in the same elevator as the receptionist.

“So howdit go at 4?” I asked.

“Not so well.” He replied.

“Welll, that sucks.” I said, unhelpfully. “But I mean, you got someone sending you on these things right, there’s something else?”

“No.” He said. “Nothing. This was going to do that. Maybe.”

“Oh.” I said and let the elevator continue its downward path.

I haven’t heard anything from the agents yet, an audition date or an excited email. I hear some nice things from time-to-time about the impression I made, but who knows. They’re agents. I mean, I watch Entourage, sometimes.

“No homo”?

But even if I got no callback, I guess I have  a vague promise.

Which is better then just hoping for one.

I told the receptionist my story of making a commercial and getting the call.

And mostly, I just felt like a douche.

***

Finally, to do something I rarely do–

I made a movie this weekend.

A movie is made of pictures.

Here are few, courtesy of one Eva O. Dougherty.

Trailer possibly coming soon.

Enjoy.

The Director/Actor/Bartender at work

Rob, not our Boom Operator, holding a boom pole and looking like "a young George Lucas".

Our real sound mixer/boom operator, So-Cal resident Andy Roehm, totally picking his nose.

The Warhammer figurines a cool-dude John brought on to set, and which Langston and Eva O. Dougherty constructed the background for out of colorful construction paper.

The gelato on a stick I got the next morning-afternoon to try to quell my hangover.

***

TABLA CART

“Chicken Tikka Frankie”- $8

Southeast corner of 25th and Madison outside Mad Sq. Park (summer only)

R to 23rd St, 6 to 23rd St.

BIRCH COFFEE

National Iced Tea Month Iced Tea- $1

27th St bet 5th and Madison.

R to 28th St. 6 to 28th St.

POPBAR

Chocolate-covered cream gelato on a stick (pictured above)- $5

Corner of Carmine and 6th Avenue.

ACEBDFM to West 4th St.