Saturday, October 29, 2005

doesn't take much to make me happy...

...but satisfaction is something else entirely.

i can't believe the stuff in my world that's making me so happy and giving me such a great quality of life right now. can you?
  1. my Casio Exilim 5.0 digital camera
  2. Emer-gen-C
  3. my weekly sunday knitting circle at rodeo bar
  4. custom blended Prescriptives concealer
  5. my high-powered shredder (and believe me, i'm wearing it out)
  6. Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series, Volumes 1 - 3
  7. St. Ides Swiss Formula Apricot Scrub
  8. daydreaming
  9. my iBook (i am in love with it)
  10. origami
  11. learning new chords
  12. the sculpture garden at MoMA
  13. manly vintage western wear that's especially for girls
  14. eating stupid cold cereals, like corn pops
  15. norma desmond
  16. getting lost in chinatown and then having afternoon dim sum
  17. Drawn Together (if you don't like this show, there's definitely something fundamentally wrong with you)
  18. picture frames for albums
  19. "I Saw The Light" by Todd Rundgren
  20. "I Saw The Light" by Hank Williams
  21. Kindereggs (thanks, joe!)
  22. Netflix
  23. mac intosh apples
  24. the brand spankin' new 24 hr. gym that's only a few blocks away from my place (yippee!)
  25. supercool hardback oversized out of print art books

Friday, October 28, 2005

the day before yesterday's audition

i had an audition for an industrial called NY's NY, to be directed by mike figgis. i ran into liz lewis casting like my butt was on fire. i was on time but i got caught in the picture-taking undertow at the front desk. evidently, the director requested everyone's picture and phone number on the form aside from the one they usually hand out. so once i bobbed and weaved my way through that bottleneck, i had to wait for the traffic jam to clear at the entry/door. this woman asked if she could go ahead of me. she was well-dressed and she had long dark curly hair and she had on too much make-up and she was kind of not all that attractive. it was 2:40pm and she had to be at work anyway. i'm thinking, you're not going to make it whether you take my slot or not, but i let her slide on ahead of me. heck. i know how it is. i had another audition afterwards but i had an hour to kill before it happened. the black woman i was all chatty cathy with by then let her slide, too. she had on cool boots from payless -- this season, even. and then we were off to the races about shoes, with little miss lateness pacing and mumbling in front of us. wow, i thought. she's probably waiting tables.

as it turns out, they're seeing us in clumps. all we're doing is slating, for pete's sake. i almost said it out loud: all this running around for a slate? no. not for a slate. to be seen by mike figgis.

oh and you're never going to believe who's standing next to me in the line up.

of course the one i warmed up to stays in the hall to continue warming up the bench until the next round. nice lady. married with a two year old. gets lots of commercial work. having a happy life. tall. wears a size 12 shoe. very laid back about it all. why shouldn't she be? she's got a husband with a great job. the bills are going to get paid whether she gets the gig or not.

so everyone wanders into the room. i'm in there first, for some reason. next comes the black girl that didn't speak to me. not that there's anything wrong with not speaking, but when it happens in a white situation wherein the two of you seem to be the only ones in the room, it's a bad sign. she was alternative in a very conventional way, if you know what i mean. it seemed authentic unless you were paying attention and then it seemed contrived. short girl. shorter than me, anyway. androgynous. pants, punk rock t-shirt, punk rock accessories. short hair, a real t.w.a. no make-up. she had these shades that turned her into a diva with attitude when she put them on. when she took them off, all i could see was her bad skin, which made me flinch involuntarily when i got a good look at her. she wasn't exactly a heela-monster but i mean, really. what are you doing in a commercial audition looking like that. what are you doing.

i spoke first. i'm such a nice girl that way. everyone else filed in, in short order. how little miss lateness ended up to me, i'll never know but there she was, turning on the charm. all we had to do was slate. that means smile and say your name. that's it. everyone took a turn. i was to be last. everything was fine until they got to the girl next to me. she says her name and then she pitches in that she's a new york native, born and bred -- and then she throws in a a couple of heh-heh-heh's for good measure. yeah, they're looking for new york types so i guess that means you'll be getting the part now that they know you're from new york city.

have i ever been that desperate?

i am so take it or leave it when i'm auditioning for anything. to my way of thinking, desperation is creepy. with commercials especially, what you look like is just about everything. sometimes they look at you and that's pretty much it.

when auditioning is your job -- and that's exactly what it is until you get one -- moments like that are all in a day's work.

Monday, October 24, 2005

it was "run into queen esther" night!

stew and the negro problem
Originally uploaded by queenesther.
i got an email from stew inviting me and a guest to see his show at joe's pub last monday. he had a residency there every monday for the month of october with his band "the negro problem" while he was working out the kinks in his "travelogue" show at the public theater. wonderful stuff. i did the workshop for the show at the public last december. that's my thing with everything i do creatively, folks, but especially with theater -- i originate, i don't replicate. preferrably off-broadway, where the action is. that's why i do theater in nyc. when they get stew's show off the ground, it's going to have a successful off-broadway run. i hope to be a part of it. and of course, it came in under george's regime, so there you have it.

so gina b. and i get there in time to rendevous with some of his friends and bogart the big booth in the back that's velvet roped off and always says "reserved" but somehow never really is. there were five of us -- jaime, his cool girlfriend and someone else whose name escapes me, gina and myself. before i settled in, i walked across the room to say congrats to bill b. on his recent nupitals and i ran smack dab into brian tate, greg's brother. how annoying that they don't resemble each other. i hadn't seen him since i did the brooklyn new music festival at frank's lounge in ft. greene. he said the photos and video look great. i'm like, great. can't wait to get my hands on it, hand it over. but it's got to be edited and what not. always, with the editing. then he introduces me to his friend maureen visiting from california who turns out to be the one who wrote "Right to Rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race" -- yowza. i'm in that book! she describes with startling accuracy a gig i did years ago with the brc at wetlands where everything onstage fell apart and i improvised something that brought the house down while jack sprat changed his guitar string. i had to do something. i'm the kind of performer that doesn't believe in a dead mic. ever. when i read it, i thought, this is too accurate. how did she know? was she there? did someone make a tape that i didn't know about? the scenario was that accurate and that on point.

we exchanged information. how nice to have met her, finally. i've got to get her up to speed. and then darrell mcneill appeared from the end of the bar. i've been emailing him for years and had no idea what he looked like. really big and intimidating to some, i suppose. but then again he wore glasses and as he spoke to me, he wouldn't stop touching them and it made him look so vulnerable and sweet, i thought, oh, he's just a big geek.

somewhere in the dark, a dark-haired pixie faced woman sat next to me with her boyfriend. at first glance i thought it was ellie covan of dixon place. i made a mental note to say hello to her when the lights came up.

great set. stew did a lot of songs from his show, which i'd never heard from a band set-up. afterwards, i jummped up to speak to bill about a gig at joe's for me sometime this year, maybe -- and when i came back to our magic "reserved" booth, i stumbled and almost fell on the pixie-faced lady's gentleman friend.

"i did that very same thing when i walked over here, too," she said in an unmistakable southern accent. i guessed texas, probably the panhandle.

"what's your name?" i blurted.

"michelle," she smiled.

"you're michelle shocked!" i declared. "i met you at village underground a few years ago. you were living in new orleans then and you gave me some purple mardi-gras beads that you'd caught yourself. we talked for awhile. it was right around soundcheck time. do you remember me?"

and she said a slow "yeeeaaah, i think i do." and then we were off to the races. her "sweetheart" (what a nice way to say it) was a visual artist with a gallery in soho that lives in el-lay, where she is now. funny. she was there to see stew's set because of the show she's developing with the public -- about memphis minnie, the country blues singer/guitarist. hearing her say that took the top of my head clean off. that's me, i thought. that's totally me! later that night when i mention this to bill b. he said that when the idea came up, i was the first person he thought of.

so i hear someone behind me say hello stranger and then tap me on the shoulder and i turn around. guess who? vernon reid. introductions were made all around. interestingly enough, neither of them recognized each other right away. vernon's working on the soundtrack to some movie. we should talk, he said. yeah? i countered. i'm thinking he should take me to dinner at prune. i love their osso bucco. and now's the just right weather for eating something that hearty...

over vernon's shoulder, i saw mark russell, formerly the artistic director of PS 122. he's at the apollo now, scheduling things in their smaller room. we should talk, he said. yes, we should.

as michelle left, she turned to me and said, i know we've met for a reason.

boy howdy, did we.

as vernon's leaving, we run into ken roberson who looks fan-freakin'-tastic. he's sitting with lorna (whom i adore), getting ready to see the next show. every time i see kenny, i'm like, we have to do something, we have to. and he's saying the same thing. with every conversation, we get closer to the explosive moment that's going to make everything come together somehow, the thing that's going to get it off the ground.

i have to talk to him, too.

after the show, stew and his band comes out to say hello and somewhere in there it's decided that everyone is going to swift's to nosh and have drinks. stew is a hoot. somewhere towards the end of our rehearsal process, i told him that he was my ex-husband i'd never have, and from a past life if that kind of thing were actually true, because we are way too much alike. stew remembered that and cracked me up about it, declaring that he'd write a song about it and make it the title of his next record. that's the reason why i don't date songwriters or comedians. eventually, whatever happens between the two of you -- however sordid, intimate, morose or whatever -- will end up somewhere in their material. they'll make a point of saying it's you that they're talking about. and if it's actually good, you'll never live it down.

i wouldn't want to mess with stew. his songwriting is kind of brilliant.

i like stew. we get along like a house on fire. and both of us are always saying these bizarre things that dovetail each other. it's amusing the first time it happens but after the millionth time, it becomes very disturbing. it's like that when i'm with george wolfe. he's like a little roman candle going off in every direction. and i'm so happy to be with him, i'm actually a little spastic.

so then gina and i walked to 14th and 7th and talked about nyc and alternative culture and alternative black folk. to be percieved as an individual and not anyone's stereotype is all that anyone wants, i imagine. why is that so impossible to get when you're black?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

call him mister ross

i went to my manager's place on the upper west side to pick up the sides for a movie audition tomorrow afternoon in the wall street area and decided to run them while walking back up to west harlem. i figured, why not. the weather is changing right before my eyes. i wouldn't be able to stroll home for much longer. it was a breezy night, there was still some warmth in the air. a part of me was visualizing all the snow that would be in the street and on the sidewalk soon, and kind of looking forward to it. i hadn't been out of the house all day. i knew that if i didn't let my mind wander too far, i'd know the lines by the time i got home.

i hit my stride by the time i got to w. 86th street. as i glided past cleopatra's needle a little further up, my mind was in another world -- until someone came out and waved me down. there was an urgency to his salutation that made me think we must have known each other. and we did. but he didn't know it. yet.

he came up to me like he knew me all my life and said that he said he was "digging my vibe" and wanted to invite me to a gig that was happening there this friday: "it's rhonda ross' gig. she's a jazz singer -- she's diana ross' daughter," he said smoothly. "i produced her cd." and then as if to put a cherry on the whole thing, he said, "i'm also her husband."

in a flash, it all came rushing back. where and when i met him years ago and what all that was about. of course, he had no idea who i was. typical.

after i introduced myself, he exclaimed "wow, we were just talking about queen esther the other day." like it was someone else, not the person standing in front of him. of course this made me ask if it was really me that he was referring to.

"maybe you all were thinking of queen esther marrow, the gospel singer that lives in paris? most people do, when they hear my name. she sang with dylan, duke ellington. that was probably it."

"oh, no. it was you. you're a singer and a storyteller, right?"

"i sing, i act and i write."

then he goes, "so what have you been up to?" and i could see him trying to figure out if i was anyone, if i knew anyone, if i was doing anything. and of course, where he met me. in one long sentence, i said something like:

andnowi'mshoppingfor alicencingdeal."

"oh, you've worked with james "blood" ulmer," he goes.

"do you know blood?" i asked.

"of course i know blood," he blurted, almost indignant.

"that's not a given," i said.

"it is with me," he countered defensively.

i had to hold my breath to keep from letting a laugh out in the form of a snort. the next time i'm having a bowl of rice at blood's house, i'm going to ask him if he knew "mr. ross" and i have no doubt that he will have a colorful and interesting little story to tell me. he's always good for cutting to the chase and telling me the straight dope on anything i ask. and i love him for it. "mr. ross" will not be spared.

and yes. if he's going to name drop his wife's momma's name everytime he makes an introduction as casual as ours was, he should just cut to the chase and have everyone call him "mr. ross" from jump.

he congratulated me a little too heartily. it sounded like such a condescending little pat on the head -- "aw, it's so nice that you're out here doing your thing" -- that i almost cringed. people like that don't recognize anything that you do unless you sell 10 million copies or you're rich and famous, or you know somebody, or something along those lines. such sophistry. it just didn't smell right. i looked at him sideways with a straight face. it was like a little piece of el-lay crash landed onto my evening.

the truth is that i met him at his apartment, years ago. helga davis and i went there to meet him about some project or something. i distinctly recall him putting his feet up in a large wooden chair with extended arms and slowly swinging his legs back and forth in front of us, for emphasis. the effect was not unlike a gynocologist's examination chair, stirrups and all. i remember being relieved that there was someone else sitting next to me to see that unbelievable spectacle. who would believe such a thing? i never heard from him again. and then lo and behold, he pops up in front of me on the sidewalk out of nowhere.

jack is right. you really do see them all again. eventually.

i couldn't make it to his gig. i'm planning on going to atlanta to my brother's wedding. even if i weren't, i'd be watching movies via netflix or shredding more stuff and running more lines. i'm down-nesting. i'm spring cleaning. i'm bobbing and weaving through a maze of callbacks. i'm practicing my piano. i'm throwing things away. the more i toss out, the more i find. at last, i'm emotionally ready to cut it away...

needless to say, i gave him my business card. hey, maybe he can get me some studio work. i'm willing to work with anyone, if that's what it takes to get paid. i could care less who they are. or who they're married to.

and guess what, y'all? i've got my lines down cold.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

you can't see me (and you can't hear me, either)

had an audition for a k-mart commercial on tuesday, got a callback today and now i'm trying to forget about it -- even though every so often, i can see a big sack of money hanging over my head because i know how much money i'd make if i actually got it. but i don't think i'm going to, because i didn't make very strong funny choices when i was on-camera. then again, when i'm pretty sure i didn't get something, i usually land the gig. so what do i know?

they called me around noon and told me that i had a callback at 4:30pm so there was no time to get wound up about it. actually, there's never a windup with commercials because so much is decided by what you look like. they take a look at you and it's all over.

i'm always surprised when i get a callback on a commercial audition.

for black women in this industry, it's all about whatever your hair is doing. some blacktress i know told me in passing recently that they cast natural hair for commercials and straightened permed hair for movies. according to her, television can go either way. no matter what you're auditioning for, it's important to have hair that white people recognize or feel that they're familiar with, at least.

no one that's famous has a hairstyle like mine. every hairstyle i had before now had a celebrity/famous person attached to it and so inevitably, i ended up getting told that i resembled that person. when i had extentions, it was whoopi goldberg. when i had a perm, it was whitney houston. when i cut it all off "comme de garcon" it was josephine baker. when i wore a headwrap, it was erykah badu. after awhile, i was like, wow -- no one is looking at me. if i put on a wig, i'd be invisible.

that goes double when i sing. i've read reviews on the swing cd that said i sounded like "a young rosemary clooney" -- huh? other reviews have said i sound like everyone from nina simone to carmen mc rae and back again to the likes of betty carter -- the list goes on and on and on. i've actually had people take me aside inbetween sets with the biggish band to say that i sound like billie holiday. no one can pin me down because none of it's true. i refuse to be pigeonholed. how could i possibly sound like all those people? clearly, they have a favorite in mind and that's all they can hear when i sing. you know who i sound like? you guessed it -- my very own unique self. i mean, i thought that was the whole point.

whenever anyone tells me that i sound like someone else, i think -- you aren't listening to me.

oh, by the way -- moviewise, i watched "sunset boulevard" the other night and "the lady vanishes" tonight and then i sat up and watched "all the real girls" again. i liked "george washington" a lot, so i figured what the heck.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

the libra love boat chocolate cake party

here is me The Queen Herself inbetween jc -- who, remarkably, looks grumpier and more dadlike than usual -- and sarah, the hostess with the mostest. and me? i'm completely put of lipstick (i really hate it when that happens) and i'm completely wiped out. and i left my digital camera in the car! what was i thinking? but my glee is showing, so everything's okay...

by the way: this moment of happy is brought to you by will luong, who just might be my biggest fan, swingwise.

into the frying pan

after a recording session deep in the heart of queens, a wedding gig in the lower east side and an interview on air america radio with jc hopkins and vincent chancey and flip barnes, i ended up at michael ingbar's libra love boat party at the frying pan last night. frankly, i wouldn't have gone if jc hadn't promised that he would give me a ride home. it was cold and the rain was relentless -- sometimes a drizzle, sometimes a downpour but all day coming down all around me, like the city streets were becoming little rivers. believe it or not, i forgot my umbrella. everytime i turned around, i had someplace else to be as soon as i finished up where ever i was, so i was in constant motion until the radio interview was over and done with and everyone was leaving. i promised that we wouldn't stay that long. i just wanted to put in an appearance and make myself scarce.

i had been hearing about this party for months. the weekly emails that detailed the particulars gave the party quite a build-up. costumes were optional but highly suggested. one thing was certain: to get into the festivities, you had to bring chocolate cake. there was no way i could carry one around all day, what with everything i had to do. thankfully, shell put a small tasty one from a brooklyn bakery near their place in ft. greene in the back of jc's volvo.

what a cool place the frying pan is! i'd heard about it but i'd never been there before. it's an old boat that's docked at chelsea piers. wonderful space, historic and cool, with just the right amount of rust. it felt haunted yet welcoming, somehow. i liked it immediately. there were tiny rooms labeled with the names and duties of the shipmates who slept there once upon a time. bunkbeds here, with a sink in the corner, a small framed mirror above it. a single bed in this one, with a nightstand and a solitary round window to peek out into the world. there were more -- each room clean, each bed made. perfect to make out in, if the mood happened to strike you just so. there was a perch at the front, plenty of couches and a well-lit ladies room with more than one toilet. downstairs in the belly of the little beast, there was a performance space/dance floor, packed to the gills with couples dancing to gut-bucket blues music that a dj poured on thick. i forgot -- after midnight, it turned into a blues dance. at one point, i remember hearing blood singing "ghetto child" from his sun records session and bristling with a kind of secret glee.

in spite of the lousy weather, there were about 400 people there, easily. it would have been a lot more fun for me if i weren't so exhausted but it's hard not to have a good time anywhere when there's such a great vibe and everyone is so enthusiastic and friendly and upbeat.

my only real regret is that i didn't have any chocolate cake.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

i'm getting it together. (really!)

i can't believe it. fall is here. officially. i know because i just bought a pair of boots and i took my old ones in to be resoled. i'm looking for long woolen socks and leggings and tights. i'm trying to figure out what i want to wear when it gets cold. what my winter coat is going to be when i don't have to dress up for the swing set. stuff like that. all i know is, i can't stand looking like anyone else when i get dressed. i mean, hey. like the song sammy davis jr. made famous goes -- i gotta be me/i gotta be me/what else can i be but what i am?

let's face it -- when you're an unemployed superstar on a budget like i am, having a strong sense of personal style is of the utmost importance.

i've decided that this winter, i'm going to look like a cross between a runaway slave circa 1850 and a snow bunny -- the animal, not the swinging 60's ski chick. when i get undressed, i want to look like a burlesque dancer from the 30's. hm. i'm going to need some victorian boots to pull it off. and stockings with garters. maybe a corset. actually, i'm not so sure about those.

don't worry. there'll be plenty of pictures to show the world exactly what that looks like. my digital camera is starting to like me.

we'll all be turning our clocks back by the end of the month. the weather is changing, my closet is getting revamped, thanks to space bags, the salvation army and h&m. and me, the lifelong packrat? well, i'm throwing things away like the last survivor on a leaky lifeboat. i want to get rid of all the junk, all the clutter. i want everything scrubbed down and cleaned up, from my hallway closets to the pores in my t zone. i don't know what's come over me. i really don't.

what i want to know is, where did the time go?

all of this leaves me scrambling to reassess my goals and priorities so i can shift gears and end the year on some kind of a high note. i'd love for it to be a peal of laughter and not a scream of hysteria. so here's my deal. instead of going nuts with lists and deadlines and freaking out about what i want and what i haven't done and everything inbetween, i want three things by the end of the year. just three things, three simple things to make me happy by january 1st. not much to ask, right? (riiiiiight.....)
  1. get my room organized: closet, office armoire, storage area under my bed, all of it. usually it happens in bits and pieces, in stages, here and there, or so much gets done every season. i want to wipe the whole thing out. pow, just like that.
  2. get all of my reciepts together for 2005 -- and make any donations/purchases that i can afford before the end of the year, like donating all my old books and clothes to the salvation army for a tax write off. or better yet, finally getting that printer/scanner/copier/fax machine i really need. that way, i can file in january right away and get my tax return back as soon as possible. God knows i need it.
  3. get my body back, once and for all. i've already worked off 25 lbs. since last summer -- and i've kept it off. believe it or not, i've got another 15 lbs. to go. i want to do it as a christmas present to myself. if i lost five pounds every month until the end of the year, i could pull it off.
if i can pull this off by the end of december -- and get that unbelievably smokin' chocolate suede vintage cowgirl pantsuit that i found in chelsea, of course -- i will officially be deliriously high on some kind of newfangled happiness that will keep me floating all the way through spring. and i won't pummel myself not one bit for whatever else i did or didn't pull off all year long. i won't even care. i mean it this time! (really.)

running down a dream

i had an audition today for a reading of a new musical called "barnstormer" about bessie coleman, an accomplished flying ace -- the first licensed black female to fly. it takes something like 7 to 9 years to develop a musical. i'm not sure exactly where they are in the process but it sounds like they might be showing it to investors and tweaking it regionally. i'm very interested in what happens next, whether i'm in it or not.

i didn't have to do any research on this one. i've admired bessie coleman since childhood. no one stateside would teach her how to fly planes because she was black and female so she went to germany and returned to this country triumphant, a total bad ass. (and yes, she was from the south -- a texan, to be exact.) died too soon in a horrible plane crash. and of course, when black history month comes around, no one ever mentions her. they're too busy talking about martin luther king, jr. and harriet tubman -- "safe" heroes that don't threaten the status quo. they wouldn't dare mention robert f. williams and talk about what a radical he was -- and in the middle of north carolina, no less.

don't get it twisted, people. they tell you one thing, with their racist hollywood flicks and their movie-of-the-week malarky and their jacked up advertisements. don't you dare believe the hype. if you bother to read them, history books will tell you something else. we were always inventive. we were always intelligent and gifted and heroic. we always had dignity. as slaves, we were always subversive. we always fought back.

what a kick in the head that some one is trying to tell her story. it's like the beginning of a dream come true, us telling our stories our way. telling the world what we see, the way we see it.

bizarrely enough, the audition went off without a single solitary hitch. hm. i don't know what's up with me. i've been auditioning very well lately. there was some snotty residue in there but thankfully my voice was as clear as a bell. i sang a generic broadway show tune very well, something old and classy and fun that showed off my upper range. they asked me to read something short and sweet, which i did with a real flourish. and then i skipped out to run errands and forgot all about it. gone are the days when i'd spend all week wondering how i did or if i'd get the job, thank goodness. it's all in God's hands. it's destiny. it's fate. i'm working hard on my end, believe me -- but whatever happens, happens. it's like the tom petty song says:

"there's something good waiting down this road/and i'm picking up whatever's mine"

Monday, October 03, 2005

what happened to me?

i went in for an audition today at chelsea studios for a production of "once on this island" that's going up this winter in a cool theater in baltimore, maryland. i'm thinking if i get it, that's something like 10 weeks towards the 20 weeks required for me to get health insurance through equity. twenty weeks, folks. that's five months! can you imagine? in other words, go away -- we don't want to give you any health insurance. when i joined equity in '96, it was 8 weeks. what happened?

out of the four people in the room, i already knew and worked with three of them. there was kenny roberson at one end of The Long Table, big as day. he looked wonderful, of course. the last time i saw him, i practically walked into him as i was zipping down 42nd st. to b.b. king's -- renee and i were singing back-ups for edgar winter at the moog festival. we were to rehearse with him backstage in his dressing room. of course as a child of the 70's, i already knew his music (and his brother, too) but renee had no idea who he was. all the musicians said they were him until i got there to say that no, they weren't edgar, edgar is an albino, they're all pulling your leg. it was very "i am spartacus" which was kind of hilarious after the fact. but i digress.

kenny's assistant brian was at the other end, with the director between them. and d. the longtime house pianist for the duplex in the west village also worked with us as the rehearsal pianist for harlem song (what song doesn't he know?), well, he was the accompanist. i breezed in and gagged, we laughed and chatted a bit, then i sang "on a clear day" -- it was very barbra streisand. in musical theater auditions, i like to sing with a clear tone, a strong belt and as much feeling and as little melisma as possible. melisma is a joke to me. i'm sure it meant something once upon a time, but now it's usually so over the damn top whenever anyone does it that it's become an affectation. it turns singing into vocal gymnastics. that means that when melisma is overused, singing is a sport and as a vocalist, you are an athlete -- not an artist. you are competing, for crying out loud. and that's not the point! most singers usually do this melisma thing when they want to let you know that they're emoting. that's also your cue as a listener to let you know that they can really sing. to my ear, that's usually when they're not doing anything at all. hear me, people: all that hollering and screaming is NOT singing. they're not sharing anything with you on a spiritual or an emotional level on American Idol. they just want to "outdo" each other. whoever's the most bombastic vocally, that's who wins.

good grief. i'm nothing like that.

hey. what happened to me? i certainly have the vocal muscle to sing like that if i wanted to -- but i categorically refuse to do it. where did i get this sensibility to damn the torpedoes and embrace what's really real? who taught me how to cut through the crap the way that i do, as an artist and as a person? did God put that in me or did i find it along the way? how can i be this young and this old at the same time? *sigh*

here's the kicker for the day: i transposed the song for the audition in pencil on the way to chelsea, on the subway. and it was totally correct! yippee! are my piano lessons kicking in or what??!!

my big freak-out was when i caught a cold this past weekend. i was so afraid that it would wreck my voice for the audition -- but that didn't keep me from going out to the slipper room on saturday night to see some good ol' neo-burlesque with renee and ralph. land sakes! i didn't get home until 5am...i took care of myself, though. i didn't eat anything at night, so i kept my laryngeal reflux in check. i reached into my singer's bag and took all of the medication that dr. kessler prescribed, which kept the mucus off my vocal cords and i took medication for the cold itself. i drank lots of tea, tons of water and i cranked the humidifer in my bedroom. the emergen-C helped an awful lot.

thank Jesus i don't drink or do drugs or i would have looked (and sounded) a hot mess by monday morning.