Radio daze

Recently, I’ve been asked to co-host The Matthew Aaron Show with a sort-of former student of mine from DePaul University in Chicago. Actually, he was introduced to me via some friends who had him in their classes. Sure, I could go back and edit the first statement, but I’m too damn lazy and I don’t feel like it.

Tomorrow’s my birthday so I’m getting my birthday bitch on a few hours early.

Matt was kind enough to ask me to fill in as an occasional co-host a few weeks ago. The show is good and lots of fun, so I jumped at the chance. So far, it’s been a blast. I’ve met some great people and, most important, I’m keeping my skills current for ye olde job (pronounced ‘yob’) search. Now, I have zip radio experience, but I’m a true Chatty McTalksAlot, and I think I’ve intelligent things to say, some sort of wisdom to impart and a saucy wit that most folks seem to enjoy.

Who knows where this wild ride will take me–probably nowhere, but at least I’ll have fun gettin’ there.

Here’s a link to the shows. You can hear my sweet, dulcet tones in Episodes 1, 2, 4 and 9. Hopefully, I’ll be on again in the future. We’ll see what the Fates have to say about it.

Until then, enjoy!

 

The agony of defeat

I can’t believe what a fuck-up I am.

It’s astounding. I’ve been spent the past few days going over and over in my head, racking my brain, searching my memory banks, peering into the deep, dark, disgusting depths of my soul to figure why I am such a colossal fuck-up. Who in one of my past lives did I piss off? Was I a Nazi guard at a deathcamp and now karma is kicking me in the ass? Did I abuse orphans in Calcutta back in the day? Did I kick puppies or something? Who did I pick on when I was a child that caused the universe to sit up, take notice, and make a point of making sure I don’t succeed in anything at any cost? Was someone recently a recipient of a dirty look that wasn’t a dirty look, but a witness to my face when I’m deep in thought? Who the hell knows.

Or am I a complete moron who happens to be a wonderful actress and has oh so many people fooled?

Somewhere in between lies the truth.

I’ve been in LA for a little over a month and it’s been a huge struggle, not a challenge, a struggle. I’ve had a few painful-as-hell job rejections and sent out tons of resumes for jobs that actually fit my skills set — more so than when I was in Chicago — but so far, nothing. There’s more opportunity out here for someone like me — this town seems to ‘get’ me. I’m more comfortable here, and can’t see myself living anywhere else. (well, maybe San Fran or NYC)

But, who the hell was I to think I could get a job out here? How delusional am I? Quite, obviously.

On the plus-side, I’ve met some great people who are fun, inspiring and NICE. That’s huge with me — NICE.

I’ve also “met” a lot of folks via email who don’t like to return emails. Or phone calls. Lordy, I hope they’re never out of work and in need of contacts because, well, we all know how karma works.

I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that I do everything wrong. EVERYTHING. When I try to make things better for me, I get slapped down in the most obscene manner. It’s astonishing to me. My friends and family who are experiencing huge successes, I curse them under my breath. “Die in a fire,” is what I hear the evil Julia saying more and more. Some folks I know aren’t any smarter than I am. The bad part is, the decent and kind Julia is taking her own sweet time at punishing the Evil One. It ain’t pretty, but it’s the truth.

So, what do I do about this? No clue. My psyche is spent. Worn out. Frayed. Beat. Fucked. I’m down to eating one meal a day because I don’t want to spend the money. I don’t answer phone calls anymore. Thank dog for voicemail.

I might as well take up running — maybe I’ll be as successful as Jim Fixx was.

Body shots

It’s been a while since I’ve done a ‘musings on random shit’ post. It’s not due to a lack of material because I’ve had some choice stories fly through my RSS feed. Sadly, I’ve been neglecting my writing since arriving in LA because of more pressing issues — both good and bad, of course. Today I decided it was time to dial up the snark and loosen up the reins. So, while I was browsing the news items earlier, I came across pieces that caused various reactions.

Have fun!

First, I love fashion. It may not look like it by the way I dress, but I admire those who design odd frocks that people want to wear. Wait … wait .. design EXPENSIVE, odd frocks that people want to wear. I understand that most haute couture pieces are works of art. I get it. I don’t admire those who wear these pieces — please. You’re not all that special. Those who deserve props are the designers. After all, they’re the delicate geniuses who came up with the designs in the first place. That, my friends, takes huge cajones.

So, imagine my surprise while I’m listening to the Dead and combing through fashion week photos on the Internets when I spied this lovely humdinger of a dress or … I … don’t … know …

Will someone please remind me to get my high beams checked? Thanks. Come to think of it, it IS a bit nippy outside today. BOO YAH! Does this dress make me look fat? Hey now! Time to pack my hips in ice. Whoa now!  I don’t know what else to say except that boobs are lost on some people.

And this photo reminds me too much of this shot. And no, I’m not cooking meth in my kitchen. Or snorting blow fish, I just have one of those types of imaginations.

Onward.

There are all sorts of fitness crazes out here. So far, I’ve run across the basics like yoga and boot camps, but I’m thrilled to see more and more MMA places joining the fray. Same with Pilates — not the fake, mat Pilates but the reformer, hardcore kind. However, during my travels, I’ve had fliers stuck on my windshield for different pole dancing schools in the LA area. Yep. My car. Not kidding. If the poor sap who’s being paid 8 cents an hour to litter cars with these brightly colored sheets of paper actually saw me, he’d probably run screaming from the parking lot and douse his eyes with bleach the first moment he had… just to get my visage out of his mental Rolodex. Can you blame him?

But I digress. I gotta give these ladies credit. It takes a lot of strength, flexibility and guts to do these moves. Couple that with being all nekkid and greased up, being pawed at by fat, married dudes from Rancho Cucamonga and you’ve got the recipe for major emotional fuckwittery. I’m sure what keeps these lasses going are the bills that get stuffed into their delicates, and the fact they get to wear some choice footwear. However, this little idea some uptight scaredy-twat is pushing inside the Beltway has bummed some of the ladies out big time.

Why didn’t I think of this?  Sometimes I don’t know where my head is at. Most electronic tablets only need one hand to use … yeah, you know where I’m going with this.

Next time I go to Florence, I’ll be sure to hit this museum because sometimes I’m not grossed out enough in my everyday life. Wonder which exhibit I’m speaking of? Here you go. Feel free to read more about it here.

 

 

I spy

I’ve been in LA for about three weeks and much has caught my eye. While most of what I’ve witnessed/experienced constitutes normal differences that are expected between two major metropolitan areas of the US, the stuff that stands out appears to be unique to LA and California.

Food stuff.

Food prices are cheaper out here. While LA is near the top with its astronomically high rents — about twice the national average — food is cheaper than in Chicago. At least the food I buy — mostly fruits and veg, chocolate and panther piss-esque booze. Perhaps that’s because most fruits and vegetables are grown in this state, so the price of transportation, storage, etc. isn’t tacked onto the product. However, residents are zapped for other expenses like transportation (you need a decent car out here) clothing and entertainment. Gas isn’t too bad either, but I’m sure it’ll get more expensive as the warmer months approach and Angelenos emerge from their well-appointed, cozy lairs, don their full-length mink coats (hey, it gets cold here at night! Around 50 degrees!) and get moving. So far, the city doesn’t appear to have its hand out for every little thing, every little service. Of course, I could be wrong. I just haven’t witnessed it yet. In Chicago, it’s a different story.

As for restaurants, there are shitloads of vegan/vegetarian eateries out here. I’ll write more about this at a later time.

In-Your-Face-Nature. A few days ago, mockingbirds woke me up around 3 am with their yap-yapping, trying to be all clever with their mocking ways. This little pest was in the citrus tree right outside my bedroom window and he just … wouldn’t … shuttie. I finally had to open the crypt door and tell Mr. Mockingbird and his cadre to sit down. Did they? Oh for about 10 minutes, yes. But soon they were taking requests and recruiting members of the audience to join them on the branch. I finally gave up and retreated to the living room to read. Seriously though, I don’t mind mockingbirds because they like to mix it up AND they’re sassy as hell. Total brats.

The mockingbird is somewhat of a milquetoast of the fauna I’ve encountered since landing at LAX. The weirdest was the brightly colored snake I startled while leaving my apartment. It was chilling out on my porch, and was gone before I could snap a photo of it. So now I traipse around the outside of my apartment with care these days because who knows if the snake is considering a comeback and moving into my mailbox. Or recycling bins.

The brat of the bird world.

Let’s chat about hummingbirds. A tree in front of my place is festooned with them. They’re everywhere — yesterday I spied a wee nest, not much bigger than my thumb, tucked in the crook of a tree branch. I follow the “No Moleste” mantra of my wildlife loving friends and family, so I don’t gawk and try to become one with the tree to get a better look. Plus, hummingbirds will pull out the big guns to defend their territory and I’m not into getting pelted by tiny beaks. Maybe 20 years ago, sure! But now? Nah. Not so much. I find their frenetic, squeaky speech hypnotic — except when they’re coming after me as I’m leaving my apartment.

So, as the song goes, Let it be.

Beautiful Buteos.

I haven’t spied anything shocking with four legs yet — like a cougar or a woolly mammoth — but once I do, I’ll write about it.

LA is lousy with birds of prey. They’re everywhere. Illinois is too, but it doesn’t have Harris Hawks. Apparently, there is a pair of these hawks living in the hills at the end of my street and like to cause trouble with their tag-team hunting ways. Last week, the pair snagged some sort of varmint and the cacophony of bird squeals and squawks was almost too much for me to take. One of my neighbors informed me that this pair has been here for quite some time and they’re left alone.

That’s a huge relief.

You'd better watch your ass, or we'll git ya.

Cops. Yes, cops. The po-po, fuzz, 5-0, the Men in Blue, donut patrol — or whatever monikers kids these days are giving G-men. I’ve noticed that LAPD officers are in much better shape then their brethren in Chicago. Perhaps the tough fitness requirement the department has for wannabe cops is carried over once one becomes a member of the force. Or, perhaps this is Hollywood and everyone is vying to be the next big thing.  Since it’s alllll about what you look like out here, the need to be attractive no matter what your profession is constant. Also, cops out here tend to become the news. (note: Zsa Zsa’s cop was from the BHPD). The cops trolling my neighborhood are also easy on the eyes — they’re kinda cute in that jack-boot thug kinda way. It’s tempting to get arrested. “Really, Mr. Po-leeece man, you can tighten the handcuffs more if you like … Aaaand your night stick?”

Now I’m done.

McCrabass speaks!

A friend, Matthew Aaron, from Chicago has decided to take pity on me and let me be a guest on his Internet radio show. Fortunately, my parole officer has allowed this and will be here soon to take the anklette off to make participating just that much easier.

So, if you’re around a computer at noon PT, please tune in. I have NO idea what’s going to happen. Matt said we’re gonna wing it and one of us will either end up in traction or in a Magdalene laundry. Whatever happens, it will be fun — that I can guarantee.

Here’s the page for the show — I believe you have to subscribe in order to get access to the podcast.

http://www.thematthewaaronshow.com/

Please be gentle with the criticisms — it’s my first time.

I don’t know why sometimes I get frightened ….

For those of you who are into music from the days of yore, why yes, I am quoting a Split Enz song. Can’t help it — it’s one of my fave songs from back in the day, and I’ve heard it on the radio at least 5 times since arriving in LA. However, there is a reason why I’m referencing this tune and it has to do with where my life is at this very moment. Even though the song is about obsessive love, most of the lyrics are quite pertinent to my situation.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

“I got you – that’s all I want
I won’t forget – that’s a whole lot
I don’t go out – now that you’re in
Sometimes we shout – but that’s no problem”

I shout all right, but not at anyone in particular. Well, maybe me. Whilst looking at myself in the bathroom mirror.

“I don’t know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I’m not lyin’

Look at you – you’re a pageant
You’re everything – that I’ve imagined
Something’s wrong – I feel uneasy
You show me – tell me you’re not teasin’ “

The “I don’t know why sometimes I get frightened …” That’s a no-brainer, if you ask me. Here I am, at a major crossroads in my life with a murky future ahead of me. It could go either way. What I’m doing out here could be a complete disaster of Michael Dukakis presidential campaign proportions. Or I could succeed beyond my wildest expectations. I doubt either will happen — it’ll likely be something in between.

The first two lines of the second verse are heaven. I wonder what it’s like to be told “You’re everything that I’ve imagined.” Simply put, hearing those words by someone I adore would take my breath away. Total sweetness.

Enough with the romantic crap and back to the issue at hand.

Something’s wrong — no shit — but I’ve covered this already. It’s being remedied I hope and it’s just gonna take some time. I’m tattooing that on my forehead in the morning.

Until then, enjoy the video.

*****************************

One down …

It’s been a while since I’ve woken up to 70 degree weather — in January. Am I complaining? Hell no — especially since I know what kind of atmospheric fuckery is going on back home. This morning was spent contemplating my next few moves for ye olde career and getting used to the quirks of the apartment. I do think it’s haunted — I just hope my little apparition doesn’t turn into a wraith and drink all of my wine and eat my Trader Joe’s Molasses Chews.

Last night, I dined with my dearest friend, David at Casa Bianca Pizza in lovely Eagle Rock after he dropped off a box of my supplies I sent to myself — really, it’s not as masturbatory-fabulous as it sounds — my box was filled with droopy sweaters, tampons and various other sundries. The pizza was excellent, even better was the conversation — it was almost as if I had never left California lo those many years ago. But I did leave and the friendship changed, but there are some common threads left that are still quite strong. We’re different people from when we were roommates with Kimmie Kim at the Palazzo on Beverly Glen and Olympic, which is a good thing the more I think about it. Also, I don’t think any of us could survive the Lump again.

I drove in circles today — it’s safe to say I haven’t found my bearings quite yet. York Blvd. goes in all sorts of wacky directions and I’ve yet to find a news stand. The Trader Joe’s in my old hood is still hopping — so much so that a local lesbian hit on me in the cheese section. Yeaaahhh … you’re nice — mom-nice — but there will be no tapping of that. Wait … I’m in LA …. maybe I should consider it since things are different out here, it’s the land of fruits and nuts, dykes, trannies, d-girls, clowns and the Kardashians. They’re people too! C’mon! Hmm.. hmm.. NO. I love women, but I don’t LOVE women.

And on that note, time to worship St. Mattress.

Cheesy title about taking chances goes here

On Wednesday, I’ll be winging it out to Los Angeles for about 2 months to look for journalism/media work. I’ll be subletting a place from a young actor who will be setting up shop for 6 months in NYC to star as Happy in “Death of a Salesman” opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman on Broadway. Mike Nichols will be directing. After a few starts and stops with dealing with sublets on Craigslist, I found Finn and Sarah’s place, had it checked out by one of my dearest, most trusted friends, and after getting his thumb’s up, I went for it.

To me, at this stage in my life, subletting an apartment is a big chance. Yes, it seems small to someone who’s had an easy go of it, but for me, right here-right now, it’s HUGE.

However, in the past, I have taken huge chances — and — surprise, surprise — risk taking has worked out well for me. Hard to believe, eh? Yeah, it’s hard for me to believe at this point in time too. I do this thing, see, this thing where I look back on my past experiences and remember them as being purely awful and disastrous. Funny I think that way considering they weren’t … maybe it’s the fear and gnawing anguish I felt that made them seem tantamount to drinking hemlock. The fear of miserable failure perhaps. The worst is remembered — not the joy felt by someone who eventually succeeds. And succeeds BIG.

So, here’s an edited list of the chances I took. The successful ones. Wait, all of the big chances I took were successes. Imagine that…they really were. I’m still getting used to the concept of McCrabass succeeding.

1) Sweet 16 in the land of Jerry Lewis worshippers- It was scary but oh so fun, and I learned to worship Reblechon cheese and the French language. Yep. Look it up. That summer I was introduced to Flaubert and Beckett. Need I say more? Oh, and I learned the French reallllly love Barbra Streisand. (thanks to my little sister, Catherine Shandler, for reminding me of this time — she inspired me to write this post.)

2) Westward, ho! Hey, when your parents say you MUST GO TO COLLEGE BUT WE’LL PAY FOR IT, you take advantage of it and go to the unfamiliar, the distant, the strange. Well, LA wasn’t that unfamiliar: Older sister Liza and two of my cousins, Jane and Caroline, were out at Occidental College so I had ventured out there a few times. I didn’t decide on Oxy though, I wound up at USC. Turned out to be a big mistake, which takes us to chance #3.

3) Left USC for UW/Madison — mid-year — mind you. Transferring mid-year just isn’t done, young turks.  Yeah, I was desperate to get the hell outta LA and far away from the ultra-conservative, ultra-Greek USC. Gag. So not a good fit for the tough-to-mold McCrabass. So, I took a huge leap of faith and ended up at a school I had never even visited.

Hot damn, I got lucky because I fell in love with Madison. How could one NOT get the warmies for Madtown?

Or my personal fave …

Who knew that once I set foot on campus that I would have to study? Something that wasn’t exactly encouraged at USC at the time. At Wisconsin, I studied Film, African languages and politics, and psychology. My first love was film, and what happened with that love affair is explained next.

4) Westward, ho part deux. Shit howdy — talk about wingin’ it. I had maybe one contact out there, but I worked that contact over like an old French whore. I was the networking queen and that skill kept me employed in the business for about 11 years plus another 2 or so back in Chicago. But, before we get back to Chicago (you knew it was coming), let’s chat about McCrabass in LA. I worked on movies. Lots of them. I made lots of friends — many of whom I’m still in contact with today. I had some serious relationships — one ended up in an engagement which eventually went south, one ended up with my friend Lisa dumping my recent ex’s CD player on the floor of his condo whilst helping me move out, then mimicking “Roseanne”: “I hate myself for that.”

Then there’s the Lump (affectionately nicknamed by David B), and a couple of decent fellas I managed to run off or who managed to turn out to be choads. In short, the LA-based McCrabass Man Pile is quite large.

5) Sweet Home Chicago. The last few years in LA, Ursula kitteh and I were fearless but that made us weary so we packed up the Honda and headed east — to the wilds of west suburban Illinois then into Chicago — where I dove into film teaching, improv training, marriage, journalism graduate school, journalism employment, then soul-sucking unemployment and other, tawdry various forms of humiliation which I have discussed here previously. I’ve been here for about 11 years, and most of my professional tenure here has been a right pig fuck of a disaster. The upside of this chance was I got to be with my family and that has been wonderful — worth the humiliations. They’re my rock, part of my soul and I wouldn’t be splayed on the floor in the middle of the night, banging out this post if it weren’t for them and their unending love and support.

Now, these days, things are different. A new chance has to be taken because Chicago is dead to inexperienced, but older than the normal newbie journos like me. No one wants to hire the older, way smart broad with tons of life experience. They want to hire young and clueless. Fine. Go for it. I just don’t need to witness the bad crap while freezing my tits off. I’ll do that in LA, thankyouverymuch.

6) Everything old is new again. On the 11th around 2pm, I’ll be cruising down the freeway heading toward my sublet, and with each minute I’m in LA taking in my new life there, something from my past LA life will come creeping into my mental Rolodex. It’ll be up to me to decide whether or not to file it or trash it. I’ll probably end up using some of it to enhance this chance I’ve been given. I’ll treat them as blessings, a lesson but one thing I’ve already realized–I’ll never go home again.

I miss Herb Ritts. So much.

Amazing artist and humanitarian. Once upon a time, Ritts inspired me to dive head-first into black and white photography. Don’t know why I was thinking about him today, but I figured he must have popped into my mind for one reason or another.

Damn. Time to go roll around the dry lake with Djimon Hounsou.

Makes me wanna wear men’s knickers and play in the surf whilst covering my delicates.

No matter what you think about MJ and the phone-thrower-abusive-unt-cay, you have to admit, this is a beautiful video.

“Mermen” (not Ethel, but dudes who are part fish, frolicking in the surf)

He even makes Britney look not-so-white-trashy.

You can go home again

So I waddled back to Bikram today after about a month-long hiatus. In my defense though, most of the month I was causing trouble in Los Angeles, and the rest of the time I was too damn lazy to remove my carcass from the couch to get all sweaty and Namaste-y. Piss on that notion, monkehs, was my response to inquiries about my once-vibrant-now-non-existent Bikram practice.

However, I couldn’t delay the inevitable any longer — I had to get back because I really dig Bikram, and it has helped my constitution considerably. Plus, I’m still unemployed and if I sit around the house too much, I’ll end up painting every square inch of this dump none more black, and toy with the idea of becoming a mime. Then there was the incident yesterday when I got winded using my remote. Not. Good.

Yeah, that’s a sign that it’s time to do something.

After I donned my yoga pants, bullet bra, huge t-shirt, coat and Uggs, I started up the POS rice burner of an automobile, and headed to Bikram Yoga Andersonville where I was greeted warmly by both the owner Jessica Rask, and the teacher, Liz. I have never been happier to see two people in my life — it was as if someone had thrown me the coolest life preserver ever.

It was as if I had never left.

That’s the kind of feeling one should have when doing yoga, or exercise or stripping. Simply put, it’s the feeling you should experience when you’re meant to do something. See how touchy-feely, granola-y and Prius-y I just got there? Yep, that thought kinda gave me an erection too. Just go with it folks, it’s okay.

After exchanging snark-filled pleasantries with the fabulous Stephanie Sack in the locker room (no, there weren’t any towels snapped at bare, tattooed asses, pervs), it was gut-check time. The first few poses progressed well and with little pain. I’m even making huge progress on Standing Head to Knee pose.

Not McCrabass, but close.

My back strength is still intact, as is my balance. My flexibility has regressed a bit, but give me a few days — I’ll be all bendy soon. Could it be true? Could all of this mumbo-jumbo chin music about how yoga is good for you actually be true?? I’d say that’s a big, fat, farmer YES. What surprises me is the fact I trusted something I  went into blindly. Sure, I did my Bikram research, but you really don’t know how your body is going to react to something as intense as this kind of yoga. Sure, you can read all you want, listen to testimonials of your fellow students, but the only way to really be certain is to get off your keester and find out for yourself.

So glad I did just that.