Tuesday, August 28, 2007

52nd Street Theme or Bird's Dead

I played jazz saxophone professionally for 25 years. I love jazz but at this point in our culture it's the musical equivalent of being a Blacksmith. At best, people are curious about it in the way that you're sometimes curious about things that have absolutely nothing to do with your life.

---Yeah, that's cool, after let's go check out the smoke signal exhibit.

The Golden Age of Jazz for me was between 1945 and 1965. It was an underground art form at that time. I don't know what it is now.

I still play but ONLY if it's local to LA and the gig is something I'm going to thoroughly enjoy.
Here are the details of a job I recently took from an agent in NYC:
1)Three gigs (Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights)

2)All local to LA.
3)It is some kind of Dos Equiis sponsored event.
4)I play jazz behind the Burlesque Dancer Angie Pontani of the Pontani Sisters.

Here's the living nightmare that transpired unadorned. I should add that the money was very good but this did NOT factor into my decision to take the gig.

Thursday night.
THE BOILER ROOM. It's 70 miles away. I barely know how to get to another neighborhood from mine in LA proper let alone get on three highways and head into what people are telling me is the heart of Meth country.

The parking lot is gravel and pickup trucks. I can hear very loud heavy metal music. There are tattoos everywhere...even on some of the faces. Oh...I'm wearing black dress pants, a white shirt, shark-skin jacket and a pink tie. I'm feeling like Boy George at a Klu Klux Klan rally.

It gets worse.

I meet the contact who is a marketing guy for Dos Equiis. I quickly deduce that I'm shilling beer here. I'm a Jagermeister girl. I'm Spud Mckensie the Budweiser dog. I'm the "Jazz Guy" for Dos Equiis playing in front of a big logo while they drink two dollar beers and grab hand fulls of merchandising swag.

I'm standing with my horn, waiting to go on, in a hallway between the bathrooms and storage. A huge guy comes out of the can, looks me up and down and says---Do you play saxophone?

As I'm leaving the bartender says to me---You play better than Bill Clinton. Think about this. This is the only saxophone reference he could come up with.

It gets worse.

Friday night.
ELEMENT. It's in Hollywood, five minutes from my house. My mood is shattered by the loudest most evil Hip Hop music I've ever heard. I'm frisked with a metal detector and then have to take my horn out of the case for inspection. Every girl is a Paris Hilton clone right down to the dead reptile eyes.

At 10:30, Angie and I wait for the cue to go on at around 11:00. Peeking through the curtain I see smoke machines filling the stage and a laser show. The music they're playing is unbearable and so loud I can't think. How the fuck am I going to go out there in the deafening silence of that room and play (without a mic) something kinda "jazzy"?

12:00. We still haven't gone on.

12:30 the agent from NYC steps backstage. He's wearing a porkpie hat and two toned shoes. I'm just about to grab him by the shirt collar when I see a camera crew following him around. Apparently he is being filmed for a new reality TV show about an agent and his roster of wacky entertainer people (Broadway Danny Rose meets Survivor?) I manage to separate myself and him from the film crew to renegotiate my fee for this weekend nightmare. It wasn't hard. He knew he had fucked up bad.

1:00 and we still haven't gone on. It turns out the cops or the tobacco, alcohol and firearms whatever have shown up and are busting underage drinkers. The club owner is also getting fined. Said club owner apparently doesn't want to turn off the music for our little "act" for fear that everyone will think the club is closing on account of the legal disturbance. The show must NOT go on. So, dead man walking, I get a reprieve. We're still going to get paid but I'm dead inside anyway.

Saturday night.
VEGAS. That's the club name in Costa Mesa which is about 80 miles down the coast. It's a spring break crowd. Everybody looks like they're from Jersey but with a lot of plastic surgery. Yes, we go on. I get the fuck out of there and suffer a very lonely drive home.

That's show biz.

If you have a soul DO NOT DRINK DOS EQUIIS. Thank you, you've been a lovely audience.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

More Life

Things that make me uncomfortable or a little sad inside:

1) When someone initiates one of those five move hand shakes and I never know the choreography.

2) Walking into Barns and Noble I often mistakenly take the greeter person for a regular (non-greeter) person. As I come through the doors I hear a genuine hello. I turn and stop in front of them and say----Hi (Pause. Wait for my memory to pull up a name for this unknown face). This is when it hits me. The goodbye is so awkward at this point I'm sure Security is notified.

3) Having the EXACT same small talk conversation over and over and over with the waitress at the diner I frequent because there's no motivation to take it to the next level.

4) When Christian posts in his blog that he got into nine more film festivals, followed by a photograph of a rainbow.

5) People that do not make eye contact.

6) The ten billionth time my parents on the east coast say----You're still working? What time is it there? They then tell me the eastern standard time.

7) The piano playing of Bill Evans makes me sad inside but in the best and most beautiful way.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Holy Crap?

There's an elementary school one block away from me. On Sundays I take Hoagy over there to play in this huge grassy lawn near the parking lot. There are no other dogs around so I don't have to worry about Hoagy tearing Michael Eisner's poodle in half. (I see me and Hoagy homeless after the trial, begging on the street. Hoagy saying---What the fuck happened man? Where's my bed?)

I've noticed an intriguing pattern. Between 9:00-11:00, when we finally stumble over there, cars begin to fill up the parking lot and then people file into the school. A whole lot of people. Let me add, these are very attractive people. I'm talking fucking hot women. Hundreds of hot women in summer dresses and high heels, women in baby doll dresses and sandals. Women in tight jeans, tee-shirt and sneakers.

They even wave. At me. The nice guy playing with his sweet dog. I even wave back. Sometimes Hoagy runs over and they pet him. Good boy.

So why the hell are all these people piling into the school. A used furniture auction? Casting call? Singles Bingo?

Nope, it's REALTY L.A.

What the fuck is that? It's a non denominational way of worshipping Jesus Christ.

That's church (for those in the back row).

Sure, I know Church exists. Millions of people go to church. BUT there is something really odd about seeing them going in, up close, most of them carrying Bibles of some sort. ----Well, we all sit around and our leader tells us stories about magic stuff.

These are some sexy women though. They even had a live band once that wasn't terrible.

Then one Sunday...I smelled pancakes. Fucking pancakes, no shit.

You fuckers.

Church plus hot chicks plus pancakes equals moral crisis. I didn't know what to do. It wouldn't hurt if I just took a peak, stuck my head in for a minute, would it?

To be continued.