Friday, January 29, 2010

...busy signal...

working on clearing out my junk room and decluttering the apartment, organizing my things, editing my closets and having my piano tuned before the end of january. that means i've got until sunday to get it together. unbelievable - i tossed out four bags of shredded paperwork yesterday. trust me, i'm making progress but it feels like i just threw a handful of sand into the mojavi desert.

the biggest snag so far today is that the shredder is totally clogged, and since i'm not willing to toss out any of my personal information without turning into confetti, i've reached an impasse until my better half gets home.

i think what really motivated me to do this is watching an episode of that tv show hoarders. riveting. here's a preview:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

...okay, here goes...

this goal is a little nutty for me, in part because i am an artist and i live in new york city and i’m genuinely afraid of becoming one of those new york people that falls into a rut and never leaves the five block radius around their apartment. probably because when i’m working on stuff, i become that new york person for as long as it takes me to finish whatever’s bothering me creatively. so a part of me is always looking for something new and fulfilling to do, if only to snap me out of it.

the month is hardly halfway done and as ever, i’m up to my usual hijinks.

i was hanging out with a friend the other day when all of a sudden out of nowhere we bobbed into a shop that i’d been looking at from afar for years, but for some reason never explored – apt 48 in the flatiron district. i’d read about this place and i knew all kinds of things about it. like the fact that a black man owns it. but i digress.

we wandered around amongst the beautiful items for what felt like an eternity, then i spied a beautiful girly-sized leatherbound flask. on sheer impulse, i bought it.

the truth is, i had to buy it because it was the last one that they had and i knew that i would think about it for a long time afterward, if i didn’t. it would haunt me in the strangest ways. it was like that for lots of things i found and didn’t get. i have all too fresh memories from a jillion years ago of a beautiful pencil skirt i left on a rack because i couldn’t afford it. i was being sensible. i was thinking about my budget. i was being good. what i should have thought was oh, bother – buy it already. i can’t afford anything anyway, ever. i can barely afford groceries. i should have gotten that fracking skirt.

i’ve tried on many a pencil skirt since that one. i know that something in me is still looking for the one that got away and i know i won’t find it. but seeing a pencil skirt in a window or on another woman or even on myself makes me sigh. (deeply.) at this point, the fantasy that’s locked inside my memory is much more alluring than the thing itself, probably. so i let it go. and yeah, you can apply that to just about anything else. including men. especially men. something to think about, the next time you see me in a pencil skirt.

so yeah, i was thinking about that skirt when i held that flask. it didn’t help matters that it was on sale, either. (30% off!)

this purchase, from me – The Girl That Doesn’t Drink. or at least, didn’t touch the stuff (except for that rare celebratory shot of mescal) until last summer. that’s when i lost my daddy – four days before my birthday. that’s also when i started singing in speakeasies, and drinking cocktails in them. (i never have more than two, by the way. has something to do with only having two breasts and yeah, an embarassingly low tolerance for alcohol. but that quip is associated with martinis. and i hate martinis. so there you have it.) those cocktails didn’t turn me into a raging alcoholic but they did get me out of my five block radius once a week. (thank Jesus.)

wow. what a dark strange summer that was.

it looks like my minature thermos and will fit perfectly into just about all my vintage purses. too bad i can’t show it to you. hm. tell you what. if you run into me at a gig or something, i’ll whip that bad boy out. it will be filled with – what else? – mescal. and fortunately, i will not.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to join AFTRA

"They strong armed me - so I HAD to join!"

How I did it: When I came to New York City, I was basically a theater performer, so AFTRA was kind of low on the totem pole for me. I was obsessed with getting my Equity card. Obsessed, I tell you! I didn't want to be on television. I wanted to be on Broadway. I really didn't understand why every actor wouldn't want that, too - but that's another conversation.

I was told that I was a "must join" because of an under five that I got on the soap opera As The World Turns last fall. I thought I could get around it because I was in SAG, but no such luck. The rep actually told me that they could keep me from doing the part and make things very difficult for the soap if I didn't join, which was perfectly true. What's good is that they gave me a pass. But I can't say my arm wasn't sore from the sudden strong arming he gave me, even if it was over the phone.

Hm. Now that I think about it, SAG happened because I did B-roll on a musical (RENT), so that was a must join situation, too. I wasn't thinking about movies then, either. And whaddya know - film and tv and commercials are most of what I'm auditioning for these days. I love theater, but it doesn't pay enough to live on. Not in this city. Not anymore.

After I did the soap, I remember thinking, wow - I'm a working professional in every genre. I'm an active member in all three unions. For a moment, I felt like I accomplished something wonderful - but really, all I did was work.

Lessons & tips:

  1. learn how to act and know what you're doing before you start working on camera or you'll never stop figure it out - mainly because there's an avalanche of money in film/tv.

  2. don't join AFTRA until you have to, so you can build a solid reel.

  3. keep your goals and priorities before you at all times and don't lose focus, and it will only be a matter of time until you're in all 3 unions - if that's what you want.

Resources: Get a really good consiglieri - and this is a priceless thing, really - that smart industry person that knows you and cares about you, knows your work and can give you strong, insightful, pithy advice that you can actually use.

It took me 5 years.

It made me gleeful

Thursday, January 07, 2010


i wish i could write something pithy but i got derailed last night preparing for today's audition. it was for a musical that's heading to broadway this spring. the songs were familiar enough for me to not really know them at all. so i basically crammed for the exam.

when i find out how i did, i'll let you know.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

kwanzaa is STILL here!

at least, it is for me.

yeah, that's right. believe it or not, i'm still working on a few special kwanzaa presents. the truth is, i decided to get craftsy this year, instead of cooking or baking - although i did promise jane a platter of thick cut smothered pork chops. (i swear, i think she'd do just about anything for pigmeat. and that probably includes chitlins. or should i say chitterlings?) and of course, i have to make a pound cake for my girl at barrio chino.

what i'm making is kind of top secret and it has to be assembled just so, with digital photos and photoshop and rhinestones. and chemicals! seriously scary chemicals, actually. the kind you combine to make a hard plastic coating.

more later as things develop.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

the waiting is the hardest part

like the rest of the world, i'm on the verge of getting through the first week of the year and although there's a lot of flurry and activity that's just out of reach, nothing seems to be happening. maybe it's the inevitable letdown from having finally finished the jazz cd. maybe i'm not practicing the piano enough. or what i'm doing is just enough to frustrate me, because my ideas far outweigh my ability to play. maybe it's because my goals and priorities have tipped forward so drastically that everything inside me is running ahead of whatever seems to be going on. maybe i'm just bored. or impatient. yeah, i'm definitely impatient.

i feel like a lady in waiting. and in the immortal words of tom petty, the waiting is the hardest part.

so i'm occupying myself with busy work. i'm organizing my apartment. i'm gathering and itemizing receipts. i'm chipping away at fragments of songs. i'm salivating over recipes in bon apetit magazine, wondering which one i'll make next. i'm practicing the guitar - and trying to practice the piano. i'm daydreaming. i'm working out everyday like some kind of a highbrow lowgrade triathlete, because i really want to be as lean and strong as i can, with energy to spare. i'm auditioning and auditioning and auditioning. i'm oversleeping.

am i really all that productive? i can't tell. i'm probably running in place. at this point, i'm so out of it, i don't care if i'm getting anywhere or not. i'm just grateful that i'm burning a few calories.

who knows - maybe i'll snap out of this strange malaise when the cd gets here. estimated time of arrival is january 15.

boy howdy. am i going to do the buck and wing all over harlem when they get here or what.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Vocalist Monday - Florence Quivar

someone recently asked me who my favorite vocalist is. it's a surprisingly short list, filled with names that don't get bandied about very often in the media. this opera singer is one of them.

i love florence quivar for so many reasons - mostly for this: i have yet to hear another opera diva sing classical music with so much soul. listen to ride on king jesus, the album she did with the harlem boys choir, in its entirety. i dare you. clearly those songs mean a lot to her personally. she is singing with what can only be described as pure raw emotion, and with a voice that is as refined and developed and sure as any of her generation. what you are hearing within those spirituals is the sound of her very soul, the absolute essence of who she is, praising God.

and isn't that the point - to be a conduit for the divine when you open up creatively? to praise God with whatever you do, however you can, with whatever you've got? in hearing ms. quivar's voice and her performance on that album and in considering what's floating around out there in the miasma, you don't have to listen for long before you click into so much narcissistic, self-serving dreck that consistently continues to miss the fracking mark.

she's the reason why i still love opera, why i'm so glad that i studied it formally at such an early age, why i continue to take lessons privately.

why this woman isn't a household name is beyond me.

i wish i could find some selection from that album to post here. instead, here's a duet that she did with pavarotti. not the tenor that i'm in love with, by any far stretch of the imagination. but maybe i'll let you in on that one next week.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Saturday, January 02, 2010

new year, new me

heh. not really.

nothing has changed, but something has been altered. everything is illuminated. and fortified. this is where the rubber hits the road - as long as i have breath in me, i'm not ever giving up, no matter what it is. period.

i slid into the new year sideways, in slow motion - like i was stealing bases. i felt like i was running on empty when i finally got home in the wee hours of new year's day so i went to bed and stayed there until sleep left me alone. i hit the ground running late the next day but i'm still not sure i've snapped out of it.

what's more luxurious than oversleep? nothing.

of course, those black eyed peas were the first thing to hit my stomach in the new year. it's a black southern thing, evidently, because i know a whole slew of (white) yankees that didn't know anything about it. here's something hardly anyone knows: the black eyed pea originated in china and was brought to the south by africans. we've been eating them down there for well over 300 years. i can't ever remember a new year's eve without them.

i made some for my band at the salon soiree, too. i'm hardly superstitious but a bowlful of a little bit of good luck and prosperity never hurt anyone.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year, World!

this is j. walter hawkes and i performing i cover the waterfront at the player's club, new year's eve 2009.