Sunday, June 26, 2005
i'm sure that i'm a lousy photographer, in spite of this wonderful piece of equipment and all the bells and whistles it has that are supposed to help me take a decent shot. but if i work at it, i can get better and better and better. if you want to see some pics, go to flikr and let me know what you think. you've got to give it a few days, though. it'll take me a minute to gather some cool images. my little friend and i are still getting to know each other.
Friday, June 24, 2005
i have a theory: in the modern day mating ritual called dating, things usually end within the first 15 minutes, the first three dates or the first three months.
this one i'm calling bud dumps me with some pomp and chivalry in a beautiful park on a clear sunny blue sky day, a day which happened to be the first day of summer. and i could not stop laughing. in retrospect, i was laughing in his face. i didn't know why at the time but i think i do now. the reason is, i've changed. not since i met him. i had changed before that but the change had been so profound and so thorough, i hadn't really noticed it. it wasn't just the weight loss (more than 25 pounds), although getting my body back in top form was definitely a sign of something more at work than just diet and excercise, which i'd given up for sensible eating habits and a physically active lifestyle. no, it was more than that. i had come into my own as a person on this whole other level. the therapy i'd had kicked into overdrive when i really needed it and saved me from what could have been a very depressing period in my life. as a result of this, the curmudgeon was gone. in it's place was a very happy, happy-go-lucky, fun-loving gal that looks so good, she still gets carded everywhere she goes (no, i am not lying). she has discovered a lot of love in her life. she has learned the hard way to enjoy every sandwich.
i knew that everything was blooming around me but i didn't know that i was blooming, too. i just kept on with my wonderful nyc life, bewildered that i suddenly had someone to share it with.
and then we hit the three month mark and he pre-empts everything in his unbelievably busy day job life because "we have to talk" -- something that men never say unless they want to dump you. i knew that's what was going to happen, so i braced myself and decided to see how he'd handle things. the last guy i was involved with simply disappeared -- he said oh, everything's fine and then i didn't see him or speak to him for more than two months. so, all things considered, this was pretty cool. i couldn't believe he had the balls to face me. men usually cave in with me very easily. he explained himself very carefully and said things that didn't make any sense. the explanation didn't matter, although to my ears, it was a real doozy. the upshot of it all is, he doesn't want to be with me. why would i want to be with anyone that doesn't want to be with me?
so here i sit, a few days later and i'm kind of amazed because i'm so over it. probably because i know i'm at my healthiest as a person right now and *surprise* i didn't do anything wrong.
maybe i dodged a bullet...
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
as if all of that weren't bad enough, i ate something this past weekend that left my stomach tangled up with cramps and the runs for what seemed like an eternity and left me feeling queasy. i'm still not fully over it. (i didn't take any medicine for it, because usually that stuff makes me feel worse. i just want it to run it's course.) and i'm never sick, so i'm kind of pissy at myself about the whole thing, like, well how did you get here? but if you ran into me on the street, you'd never know any of this because i'm moving so fast with so much that has to get done, i don't have the wherewithal to deal. all i can think is: just. keep. moving. and then i have a psychobilly freakout in the middle of the night and wonder if my body is starting to turn on me as a way of demanding more "me" time. or something.
i need two or three days of nothing to do but lie in bed and drink bottled water and play guitar and watch adult swim on cartoon central. i need to go for a walk in the woods behind my parents' house, all by myself. i need solace. i need to oversleep. i need some kind of a cure-all fast to wring out whatever filth is inside me. i need to talk to God a lot more often. i need a long hot soak.
but how will i get these things? how will i make time for myself? how will i get through the rest of the week? when i'm not gigging, i have to work late at night (because something has to bankroll all this magic), so i sleep until around noon, hit the gym and then rehearse or audition or go to "go sees" and callbacks in the mid to late afternoon. it's like a wierd treadmill that won't slow down. and i can't get off of it. today, rehearsal with the band, work from 7pm - 3am. tomorrow, soundcheck at 5:30pm. the videographer and his crew arrive for the first of what will be three nights of taping. friday, i leave for texas. we'll arrive by 5:30pm, fight traffic to soundcheck by 6:30pm, do the gig at the cactus cafe 8pm. on saturday, i'm doing a liveset taping for kut/austin that they'll air later in july and then i'm going to drive to la grange to do two semi-short sets for what promises to be a sold out night at the bugle boy cafe, a roadhouse in the middle of town.
sunday, of course, is juneteenth. thank God i'll be in texas when it happens so i can really enjoy it.
and now i'm making a list of all the stuff i need before i go: suntan lotion. a pair of shades. some wedges. a pedicure, a little cash. (i can do my hands later. they never get it right. i want extremely short nails on the left hand and a regular length on the right.) it's going to be hotter 'n hell!!! what am i going to wear? will my stomach stop flipping out long enough to hold down a decent sized pulled pork sandwich by sunday? don't forget to charge that palm pilot -- and put the city of austin on my vindigo so we can get around, if we want to (even though, as former austinites, we pretty much already know how to do that). don't forget to bring a huge bottle of water on the plane, so your throat doesn't dry out. don't forget to call everyone in texas, like big al gilhausen and tinez and roach and linda wetherbee and everyone at esther's follies. don't forget to take the cellphone charger. don't forget to get a map of texas when we get to the airport. and whatever you do -- don't forget the vitamins.
oh, yeah. this is going to be easy...
Sunday, June 12, 2005
- a full and complete head to toe physical, wherein my lovely upper west side gynocologist tells me i've lowered my cholesterol drastically since my last test and, as usual, gives me a clean bill of health.
- a digital camera with all the accessories, to capture more of these kodak moments that won't stop happening to me.
- an ipod, for crying out loud. a freakin' ipod.
- a membership to the Whitney Museum and a renewed membership to MoMA.
- the usual bi-monthly must-do beauty treatments: manicure, pedicure, eyebrow wax at jeniette as usual but this time the monthly facial at Bliss instead of mario badescu -- preferrably in soho (because it's the original location), and probably with my soon-to-be sister-in-law, emmett's fiance melinda. why? so we can lounge in and out of the steam room and graze at the mini-buffet while we wait. where could she possibly do that in atlanta?
- a stupidly super-cheap string bikini i found for sale online at victoria's secret.
- a subscription to BUST magazine. and last but not least:
- three enid collins handbags.
- three diane von furstenburg vintage wrap dresses. (is it possible for anyone to look bad in those dresses?)
- three watches: one for sports/working out, one for everyday and one to commemorate my birthday.
Friday, June 10, 2005
just when i'm trying to figure out how the month is going to end, i get confirmation that my brother emmett's fiance is coming to visit me. she's going to arrive on my birthday, no less, and she'll probably stay through the july 4th holiday. that means i'm not going home for july 4th but as it stands, i may spend just about every weekend of july down south somewhere. i have to go to atlanta to see my parents. and a trip to charleston to see my grandmother and my uncles is mandatory. job sent me a handmade pops staples postcard and on it he stated rather forlornly that it was more than five years since he'd seen my face. so i've got to get to memphis. i'm glad that i'm going to texas next weekend, so i can see all my erstwhile friends and loved ones. looks like the summer is shaping up to be a real tour of the south.
but what am i going to do to celebrate my birthday all month? what am i going to give myself?
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
i suppose the real reason why i'm doing this is because i'm getting tired of seeing people i know on commercials everytime i turn on my television. once i knew how much money they were probably making, i balked. the bottom line is, i'm only working in one particular area as an actor. that's like living in a sprawling mansion with manservants and ladies-in-waiting running around all over the place, and never leaving your room. it happens to be a very comfortable room, though. i really love theater. but that's not all there is for me. there are commercials, tv shows of every ilk, voiceovers, you name it. and there is music. but you can't win if you don't enter. i figured that if i got organized and sent out postcards and followed up, there wouldn't be any reason why i couldn't find myself wandering in and out of other rooms of the sprawling mansion, with lots of work that takes me in other directions. "getting organized" involved more than making a list and checking it twice. it meant doing a lot of preparation and quite a bit of homework. revamping my wardrobe became a constant. i had to figure out my "type" (which wasn't easy, let me tell you) and then i had to get my body back, which took months. then came the photo shoot: deciding what looks to use and why, sifting through the shots for what looks best, making a comp card, sending out mailings regularly to commercial agents. when they'd respond with an interview appointment, i'd raid my friend's closets if i had to, and usually i did.
my battle cry? there's gold in them thar hills! and as it turns out, i was right.
this particular commercial agent was cooler than i thought he'd be. he'd worked for years as a publicist for the jazz division of a well known record label, so when i told him about the music that i was doing and who i was working with, his ears went up. i made sure to let him know that i do jingles and voiceovers, so it wasn't all about the on-camera stuff. i don't mind doing cigarette ads or ads that feature alcohol or disposable diapers and yes, i look good in my underwear but i don't want to do any nudity. and i won't push skin bleach. he suggested that i take an on-camera class, which i thought was very good advice. i filled out a questionnaire that outlined all of these things and more. he took a polaroid, we chatted a little more and then the next thing i knew, i was on the crosstown bus, reviewing my list of commercial agents to meet and greet in the next few weeks. one down, several dozen more to go. let the games begin.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Keith Beauchamp is a young filmmaker who has dedicated 10 years of his life to telling the story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black boy brutally slain in Mississippi in the summer of 1955. "It's my obligation to tell this story, as a young individual in this country, as a young person from my generation," Beauchamp said. "It's important that we never forget those that pave the way for us to exist in a free society."
Emmett Till was from Chicago. That summer, he had gone to the farmlands of Mississippi to visit family. One afternoon at a local store, Till allegedly whistled at a white woman. Later that night, the teen was dragged from bed and beaten to death. His body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River.
"Emmett Till's murder, Emmett Till's case was the catalyst of the American civil rights movement," said Beauchamp, 33. "It was because of him that young Martin Luther King decided to take on the Montgomery bus boycott. It was because of him that Rosa Parks decided not to get up from her seat that day."
As a child growing up in Baton Rouge, La., Beauchamp was told Emmett Till's story repeatedly.
"It was used as an educational tool in my household to teach me about racism that still lurks in these Americas," he said. "The first thing my parents would often tell me before I left the house at night was, 'Don't let what happened to Emmett Till happen to you.'"
Two men were arrested for Till's murder, but they were acquitted by an all-white jury that deliberated for only an hour. The men later confessed to the murder but were never punished.
At his funeral, Till's mother insisted that the coffin be left open. She wanted the world to see what had been done to her son. Years later while reading a magazine, Beauchamp came across a photo taken of Till in his casket. It changed his life.
"I saw myself in a way," he said. "And that's why that photograph is still so powerful today. Here you had a 14-year-old, innocent child that was murdered for a simple act of whistling."
Beauchamp began work on his film after moving to New York.
"The passion just took over me," he said. "There were times when I didn't have enough money to spend on myself to buy clothes, and I just felt guilty buying those things when I knew it could be going toward the film."
He traveled back and forth to Mississippi interviewing hundreds of people, including eyewitnesses to Till's murder.
"These people are still alive and no had ever talked to them," he said, "so they gave me the full story, and it was just strange at some point to think that you're the one that's holding this information and what are you going to do with it."
Beauchamp turned up evidence that could implicate as many as eight more people in Till's death — five of whom are still living. His documentary, "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till," impressed the Justice Department enough to reopen the case.
Beauchamp said his thoughts are with Emmett Till's late mother.
"She fought for 47 years to see that justice take its rightful course in her son's murder," he said.
This week the Justice Department announced that Till's body would be exhumed and that an autopsy would be performed for the first time. Beauchamp may have helped solve a mystery buried for half a century.
"Justice must prevail in this case," Beauchamp said. "It must prevail to put hope back in the African-American community across this country. We have a long way to go. The civil rights movement still exists in this country. It has never ended."
Friday, June 03, 2005
i honestly wish all of you could have been there.
the story below appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times two days ago. the fact that it took the federal government over 50 years to take this case seriously and do something about it epitomizes what's fundamentally wrong with this country in so many ways, it's dizzying. what's especially disgusting to me is that those racist southern whites have always claimed that it wasn't emmett till's body they found in the mississippi in the first place. they argued that since no one could identify the body, they couldn't accuse the two men of murdering him. the boy was so badly mutilated, his own mother could only identify him by a ring that he always wore. shockingly, there was no autopsy. after the trial, the two men returned home as heroes and then had the audacity to confess to the murder to a national magazine. from the newsclips i've seen and what i remember reading, they were totally blase about it and completely unrepentant. why did they do it, you ask? one of them had a young pretty wife, and emmett said hello to her. he was only 12 years old.
if you are any kind of an american at all and if you don't know who Emmett Till is, you really should read this article.
Perhaps Mamie Till Mobley is still protecting her son.
Her decision, in 1955, to display her murdered son Emmett's body under glass might have kept his remains intact until the day federal investigators were finally ready to investigate his death.
Officials and family members stood by Till's grave at Burr Oak Cemetery Wednesday morning as Till's body was exhumed.
"It was a moment," said Simeon Wright, who, 50 years ago was awakened by the sound of angry men wresting Till, his cousin, from the bed they were sharing. "After you pass through the sadness, it was a moment of triumph today."
Minister tells story of Lazarus
In a brief service before the exhumation, the Rev. Keith Hayes told the biblical story in which Jesus commanded the stone be rolled away from Lazarus' days-old tomb and the man emerged alive, still wearing his death shroud.
After the prayer service, the cement vault holding Till's casket was lifted from the ground.
For Wright, the connection was plain. Just as Lazarus had been preserved, his young cousin's grave seemed to have been protected.
"We were afraid that the original vault would crumble after 50 years," Wright said, "but it was perfectly intact."
Shortly after 10:30 a.m., after investigators spent about two hours photographing the vault, checking its seals and draining water from inside, the vault was topped with a protective cover, wrapped in a blue tarp and then placed on the back of a white flatbed truck, which made its way from the Alsip cemetery to Stroger Hospital, where a CT scan was performed.
No autopsy at the time
The body, still beneath the clear cover under which it was displayed at Till's 1955 funeral, was described by sources as being remarkably well-preserved. The grotesque swelling that disfigured Till's head had apparently receded, sources said, leading one official to remark that Till's body looked better Wednesday than it did 50 years ago.
The body is to be transferred to the Cook County medical examiner's office, where the medical examiner, Edmund R. Donoghue, is to perform an autopsy.
An autopsy is standard procedure in any apparent homicide, but none was performed when Till's body was found 50 years ago. That lapse allowed lawyers for the two men charged in Till's death, Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam, to successfully argue that, without a formal identification of the body and cause of death, the accused could not be convicted of murder. At the time, only Till's family identified the body.
The autopsy will definitively prove Till's identity; family members have already submitted DNA samples for comparison. The examination of Till's body might provide other information to investigators.
When NAACP leader Medgar Evers was exhumed 28 years after his death, an autopsy provided evidence that convicted Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 murder. Dr. Michael Baden, the forensic pathologist who performed Evers' autopsy, said no matter the condition of Till's body, bone injuries will be apparent, as will bullet holes and evidence of drowning.
Acquitted men admitted murder
When Till's body was shipped back to Chicago, by train, in 1955, funeral director A. A. Rayner was instructed to keep it permanently sealed. Till's Mississippi relatives had been required to sign papers agreeing to this condition before officials there would release the body.
But Till's mother refused to keep the agreement, demanding that the crate be opened and the body put on public display.
Rayner said at the time that he believed the body had been packed with lime to make it deteriorate faster. He did some work to prepare the body for viewing -- removing the boy's swollen tongue, sewing closed a gaping head wound, pushing an eyeball back into its socket and injecting some patches of skin with a preservation fluid -- but did not embalm the corpse, which was displayed under an airtight case. This could be good news for investigators because embalming can make accurate lab tests impossible.
The renewed investigation into the Till case was launched in May 2004, in hopes it might lead to additional prosecutions. Though Bryant and Milam, acquitted of murder and kidnapping charges by all-white juries, are dead, recent documentaries offered evidence that others, who are still alive, were involved in the death of Till, who was said to have "sassed" storekeeper Roy Bryant's young wife in rural Money, Miss.
According to Bryant and Milam's own account, given to Look Magazine after their trials, Till's murder was neither premeditated nor a conspiracy. The two men claimed that, after taking Till from his bed, they drove him around for a while, intending to scare him. They eventually brought him to a shed beside Milam's home in Glendora, where they beat and pistol-whipped him.
To their surprise, the men said, Till was defiant.
Enraged, the two men then drove Till -- battered, according to their account, but still conscious -- to a cotton gin, where they forced him to lift a large metal fan into the back of the truck. They took him to the banks of the Tallahatchie River, told him to carry the fan to the edge of the river and then to strip naked.
Then, the two men said, Milam shot Till once in the head and the two men tied the fan around his neck to weigh down the body in the river, where it was recovered days later.
This account does not fully square with the damage visible on the recovered body. Till's head appeared to have been smashed with an ax and an ear had been cut off, as if extensive torture had occurred.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
i am always running into kenny out of nowhere. it's our thing.
ken had to give the door guy his driver's license to get backstage for a few minutes, but it was worth it to surprise renee, who was in edgar's dressing room, standing in third position, nibbling from a snack tray of fresh fruit and cheeses. screams all around. he could only stay for two minutes and was gone as suddenly as he had appeared but it was a lovely way to start our rock and roll evening. by this time, i was drop dead exhausted but i was too amped up to realize it -- the evening would end around midnight and i would go to work until 5am. but i couldn't think about any of that right then or i'd pass out.
renee is my ace. she'd just come off the road with the first national tour of "thoroughly modern millie" as of a few weeks ago and is just starting to get back into the swing of things. she was gone for at least a year, i think. she's a wonderful dancer and she's got a great voice but she'd never done a rock show before, so she was a little antsy. she waited for me so we could eat together. God, i love to eat. i can't eat a lot because of the acid reflux, but i must eat well. if it's something that i want -- fresh cherries, a cobb salad from a particular restaurant, just squeezed wheatgrass -- i get it. life is too short to not eat what you really want at every meal. at rehearsal, bob told me that they always serve the same thing backstage there and he was right: salmon, wild rice, sauteed sliced vegetables, buffalo chicken wings, mixed field greens with balsamic vinagrette dressing. coffee and tea. really moist terrifically yummy (unfortunately nutless) brownies that made me go "wow" when i bit into them. and mini danishes that were kind of a letdown after noshing on those brownies.
we drifted around making conversation, sipping tea and goofing off backstage until all of a sudden we were up onstage and the band cranked into "frankstein" with a monstrous intensity that frightened us both so much, we both started to dance. everyone was really impressed because it looked planned and completely choreographed but i just did whatever renee did. after going offstage and then coming back to much fanfare and applause, we did "free ride" which made me really happy. renee was fine vocally but she felt so self conscious and she couldn't hear herself and then it was all over.
the next thing i knew, i was at work, working hard until a car took me home at 5am. i was sitting in a chair in staten island at 9am, all set to get my hair done. imagine my surprise when i got back to the city, checked my messages and found out that i'd gotten a callback for that degree commercial, later that afternoon. would it matter that i looked completely different than when i went in? i had a nice soft big afro the day before and now my hair was in bantu knots. i couldn't even begin to imagine how painful it would be to take them out but who cared if the price was right?
in the meantime, the commercial agent was pleased and eagerly scheduled me for an interview for early next week. i was looking pretty good in their eyes: the first job they send me out on, and i get a callback.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
then my cellphone rang again. it was melvyn gibbs. he had something to take care of and would be an hour late for rehearsal. perfect! there was my window of opportunity! i called jack sprat to tell him about the delay but he was already on the billyburg bridge, and andy sanesi, who was always on time, had to be coming in already from God knows where upstate. bob hoffnar was always on time, too, but i knew that he wouldn't show up until 4pm. i jumped on the train and headed for the casting agency, plotting my way downtown. by the time i got there, jack had already called me to say that he and andy were standing in front of tu casa but no one was answering the door to let them in. i sent them to a bar across the street and told them the beers were on me -- how much could they drink in an hour? -- and then i went back to the task at hand: getting a national commercial. it's always worth the hassle of auditioning for one of these. if it airs, i could get as much as six figures.
so i get down there and there's a lot of hurrying up and waiting, and of course someone walks in that i know -- stacey sargeant (we did harlem song together), looking resplendent in a fetching spring frock -- and lots of beautiful black people to chat with while we sit around. everybody knows that when it comes to commercials, getting cast has everything to do with what you look like, so why be catty? if you do enough of these auditions, you see the same people over and over again, anyway. after awhile, each audition becomes a moment to catch up on what everyone has been doing. ("how long were you on the road in that show?" "i saw you in that commercial, i loved it!" "what was it like to work with that director?" "i missed that production, i wish i'd seen it...") everybody looks great, everybody smells great, the energy is very up, very positive. it feels like a happy hour cocktail party without the cocktails.
i manage to get out of there and get to the bar by 3pm. i went over to tu casa to investigate the missing engineer problem, wondering where else we could go to rehearse on such short notice. they guy answers the door promptly. all smiles, no problem. it seems that he'd had a medical emergency -- and to my way of thinking, that could mean anything. as he said this, he pointed to the crook of his arm, where there was a band aid with a lump underneath it. it looked like some hospital intern had been struggling to find a vein and didn't quite figure it out.
we got on with rehearsal but then i had to run out of there like my butt was on fire because i was running late again, for soundcheck at bb kings on 42nd st. my friend renee and i were singing backups for the legendary edgar winter at moogfest.
that's when things got a little bent...