Friday, October 31st - And happy Halloween. I went on a very desperate, but possibly succesful search for a costume late last nite after work. Stay tuned for more on this.
For now, i'd like to illustrate what working in a VH1 office is like, what sort of organization comes up with the sorts of programming that inhabits their cable waves, the people that surround me each day. I arrived yesterday morning around 10:30 to hear Let It Be being played *very* loudly from across the hall, inside a semi-swank executive office. Those of you who know how much i enjoy the work of the Beatles may be amused by this already. But, when it persisted at least 2/3rds of the way through the record, showing no signs of abating, distracting virtually everyone, i finally had to see what was up and i sauntered innocently by the office to investigate. And that's where i saw about 6 or 7 people, each approximately 5 years older than me, New York media types of course, sitting semi-circle in every available spot around the computer, silently passionately listening and nodding their heads, just like they were stoned back in college and had never heard such a record before. At 10:30 in the morning. And now i know just what i'm up against here at The One. It makes me want to start listening to The Happy Flowers again.
Tuesday, October 28th - A few random thoughts, as i think of them:
* A workmate nearby is listening to the new Strokes record, and i have to admit, i'm digging it. Huh.
* I had lunch with Alan Cross yesterday, at a place on 46th St. nominated for the cities best Cuban sandwich. I don't know if i'd go that far, but it was pretty tasty i guess. And i enjoyed the company. Alan is working for the Carson Daly radio show, on the same floor as Rush Limbaugh when he's not in rehab. As you can imagine, he has some funny stories. Apparently, Limbaugh's regular breakfast consists of a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, two (2) toasted buttered cornmuffins and six (6!) side orders of bacon. Also, he has a security camera in his private bathroom. Alan's dream is to get fired for "taking a dump in Rush's private bathroom." You gotta dream, man.
* I already had my first show idea while working here at VH1. I thought of it while we were coming up with visuals for the pilot we're working on. It's gonna be called "Farting Monkeys with Big Dicks." Methinks the Media Industry has a very stultifying effect on the human brain.
* I miss Penn Station. I miss commuting through Penn Station with all the Long Islanders, i miss buying gigantic iced coffees from the Dunkin Donuts for $1.50, i miss occasionally getting a meatball sandwich at Don Pepi's, or getting pretzel dogs at Nedick's, or going to Tracks for a late lunch and a beer, or how i never ever saw anyone else i ever knew there. I mean, it's cool to walk outside and you're in the midst of Times Square. I like looking out the 31st Floor window down to the well-lit bustle below, even if i have to walk across the office to do it. But still ...
* Now a co-worker is listening to a live Led Zeppelin CD, complete protracted blues jams, and it's making me loco.
* There's an article in the Daily News today with a hilarious/strange picture. It's about a family who came out from Kansas to protest at a high school in Long Island. About what exactly, i don't know, but the photo features three seemingly normal children, the furthest on the right being a cheery looking girl holding a sign reading "God Hates Fag Enablers." Incidentally, God also hates America, and He/She/It blew up the shuttle. Can you believe things like this happen? I mean, really happen? What a strange country we live in. As for the boy, if you can see his face, has future-axe-murderer written all over him, too. If i ever have kids, i sure hope they turn out that impressionable/dogmatic/smiley. As for me, i'm dying to hang a copy of the photo here at my desk, but this being a big TV corporation and such, that would probably send the wrong message. Pop-Up would've understood. Fuck it, i'm doing it anyway. Strike a blow for freedom, for Kansas, for God, for "fags", for the Space Shuttle, for little axe-murderers-to-be. For you.
* Alright, gotta work sometime ...
Monday, October 27th - More fun at work. It's now 11:15. I got here at 10, and i have no idea what i'm supposed to be doing right now, today, anything. Not that i can complain that much. I'm wearing a new maroon sweater i bought yesterday, on an otherwise unsuccessful shopping excursion in the city. The weather is humid and gloomy, and my unfettered view of the cream-colored wall to my left is making me miss the majesty of the 11th floor window at Pop-Up. I was actually good and went to the Y this morning, and i've almost completely weened myself off coffee again, so i feel pretty good. Now i just need to figure out what exactly i'm doing here. Or, maybe i don't. I'm also in the process of lining up my Halloween costume (i just thought of it a few days ago). And so, i write to occupy myself. What better reason? This was a funny weekend. I *did* end up going to that Rangers game with Aaron's girlfriend's mom, and that was fun. I kept trying to buy her a beer, and she kept spurning my offers. Also, even though we were in the 2nd to last row in the whole arena, the seats were actually pretty cool, like we were right on top of the goalie. Afterward, i ended up at an Irish pub i sometimes frequented back in the Pop-Up days, simultaneously watching the end of the World Series and explaining the sport of baseball to a Brit who happened to wander in. I also rented Moby Dick over the weekend, and predictably, it was pretty bad. "Call me Ishmael" followed by swelling, overwrought 50s movie orchestration, cheery drinking and dancing, a ridiculously miscast Queequeg, a crummy ending, even Orsen Welles (in an insignificant cameo) couldn't save it. Maybe this will finally end my Moby Dick obsession, but probably not.
I'm excited for Josh, as he has an interview today with a company that installs sound for parties and new stores. I'm also excited for Karen, who finally put in notice at her hated ASCAP job, and quit her band in a last on-stage burst of imploding band glory at a CMJ show last week. It's a bit of dramatic embellishment to say the night ended up with her singer going to the hospital, even though that's what happened. But, there was a fight on stage, a drumset knocked over, and a much happier girlfriend for yours truly. I just wish i was there to see it.
And so, i promise to start going into more detail here about my new job. But for now, enough.
Thursday, October 23rd, 4:55pm - I'm at my desk now. It's numbered 226a, and i'm on the 31st Floor. It's less colorful and energetic than the 6th Floor, but maybe it's just because i haven't decorated my cubicle, or figured out how to use my phone, or gotten my work e-mail yet. I still feel like quite an interloper. But, i can't complain. Yet. Just gimme a week. In fact, i'm only doing this because i'm not sure what else i'm supposed to be doing right now. I sat in on a couple of "celebrity" interviews, and by celebrity, i of course mean editors of magazines. But still. And, now, nothing. Stay tuned.
10:37am, and i'm still at home, awaiting orders from "The One." It seems as they are still trying to arrange a desk for me on the 31st floor. Thems a lot of floors! The only bad news is that the Altman brothers (Greg, you know, and his brother Adam) both work on the 6th floor, and both said, "that would suck if you ended up on the 31st floor." Well, i guess we'll see about that. Oh, and here's another interesting twist. That article in that link refers to the show i've been hired to work on. It would seem as if my Cal Ripken-like streak of Daytime Emmy Nominations is in severe jeopardy.
12:46am - Before i go to bed, i wanted to post some pictures from Kickball Night. They are pictures for our Topps cards; i took them after the 2nd game, where we lost 10-3 to a group of local kids. We lost the first game 14-3. We are some shoddy fielders, and may need to work on our running on the basepaths as well. Or maybe we should just divvie up the teams like last time, so there's an equal amount of atheltic local kids and ossified old men like me and Kev. The highlights were a-plenty as you can imagine, such as the following:
* The kids taking the field in the first game all carrying hot dogs fresh off Kevin's grill.
* Jesse repeatedly trying to catch balls with his face.
* The kids' (who had just gotten done with a football practice in the outfield) coach standing off the 1st base side, openly rooting for them to lose in the 2nd game.
* The chubby kid with the Jackie Gleason voice making fun of his own girth.
* Aaron offering me a ticket to go see the Rangers-Red Wings game on Saturday night ... with his girlfriend's mom! Needless to say, i took it.
* Josh (Johnson) pegging me in the face with a kickball as i slid into 3rd during practice.
* An opposing kid named "Peanut" who caught every ball hit within 20 feet of him, including one while he was holding a half-eaten hot dog.
* Josh (Taggart) asking Sasha, who teaches AP Chemistry at one of NYC's most prestigeous high schools, "So do you ever walk into class and just think to yourself .... Nerrrrrds! ..."
* Aaron making 7 errors on one play.
* Aaron, during a break, informing us that fellow Giraffe Damien has a huge rectum. "Gopherhole" was the word he used, but you get the idea.
* One kid near me saying "Yo, i hope this shit is done soon. I gotta meet with my P.O."
Fun, fun, fun. And now to the pictures ...
Josh Johnson, 2B
Aaron Lazar, OF
Sasha Alcott, P
Josh Taggart, 1B
Jens Carstensen, OF
Jesse Fuchs, SS
Not pictured: the Commish, someone else
(Maybe next week ...)
Wednesday, October 22nd - And so, i have at last found another job. It's funny how one spends time worrying about finding work, wondering where it's going to come from, how to go about finding it, what desperate tactics you may have to resort to; then how quickly it all dissipates when someone just happens to call and give you a job, and then all the worrying seemed quite unnecessary. Or, maybe this only happens to me? But, it's like falling in love, really, you hope it happens and that's all you can really do until it does. Actually, it's nothing like falling in love, is it? other than i seem to put the same amount of effort into both. I'm much better at keeping things i like than finding them in the first place.
And so, on this gray fall day, i enjoy one last day of freedom before shipping off tomorrow morning. I won't go into much detail about my job, mainly because i don't know much yet. "Staff writer" is the vague answer i've been providing thusfar. I'm going to be working on a pilot or two for VH1, and see how it goes from there. I can't recall who once said "we are who we pretend to be," but if 4 years of working for Pop-Up hasn't honed my skills at tricking people into thinking i'm some sort of great writer, well, best not think about that. Ah, what am i so worried about? Not money, that's for sure. I think i'm going to celebrate and finally buy a new new camera, and an electric piano. Watch me lose my job in a month.
I don't know why i've been so celebratory about my new job - maybe it's because it's in a spiffy tall building with colorful walls and i know people there - but i have been. Anyway, the best response to my newly employed status has been from Robin, who said simply "congratu-fucking-lations." Ah, RV.
I was actually supposed to start today, but they are even having trouble finding me a desk, so i thankfully have one more day to devote to my plebian activities, such as going to the coffeeshop and doing 3 crossword puzzles, paying last minute bills, writing this, etc. I'm not so bored of these activities now that i know i'm not really going to get to do them anymore. Funny that. Tonight is kickball, and presumably pizza and beers and the thrill of Marlins baseball this evening, then it's back on the old 7 train and back to work. Sweet.
Monday, October 20th - Quickly, here's one for your "why didn't anyone think of this before" file:
I have an interview at VH1 tomorrow, for a pilot. Wish me luck. As for the other job i recently obtained, i took it (which necessitated watching Everybody Loves Raymond tonite), but i warned them that i might not be able to take it. I then told them that James (who i ran into earlier in the day) was an ideal replacement candidate - not only is he relatively eloquent, but he watches vast amounts of tv - and they said "well, were looking for published writers." Which strikes me as being akin to having to submit your culinary school certificate to work at Taco Bell. Oh well, i tried.
Thursday, October 16th - Acting on a hot tip from Sue of Skinny, Blonde and Good-looking, i just registered for this bike tour. I'm very excited, as i haven't been on a good bike tour in a while. Plus i just got my bike fixed, just in time to put it away for 6 months, but this may be a fun last hurrah. It just occured to me, i should tell Kevin about it. Then he could rock his ipod equipped bike, and be the hit of the whole tour. Especially when he starts cranking Michael McDonald songs.
I have an interview today, but it's for the ol' $10/hr. trivia question writing job (the same one Heather Sparks recommended, for those of you keeping score at home). I've been telling people about this amazing opportunity, and the uniform response has been "so, why are you even going?" - to which my response is "i don't really know" - except Karen of course, who, when i mentioned i was considering bailing on it, asked "why wouldn't you take that job?" - to which my response was "i don't really know." So, i've had a night to think about it, and maybe it's because i like meeting new people. Or, maybe more accurately, i like being interviewed. I think i *will* shave. I mean, no sense in being a complete slob. But, still $10/hr, that's kinda tough. I made more than that doing nothing at the Princeton Review, back in 1998. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Wednesday, October 15th - I recently scanned a few more photos from the ol' trip to the UK, so soon (but not today), i will expand and finalize my page about that trip. And, i will also include a few random ones here, such as this one ...
Yesterday was the biggest flurry of resume sending yet. I'm finally starting to hear back from people, and have scheduled one interview on Thursday. Unfortunately, it's an interview for a $10/hr. trivia question writing job. I guess i won't bother shaving for that one. In fact, why am i bothering going? other than maybe they'll take one look at me and my studly qualifications and decide to make me some sort of vice president. It could happen. And, it's not like i'm doing anything else on Thursday. I went in to the old Pop-Up office yesterday, to try and unearth some sample scripts. It is now filled with strange faces, new configurations of television sets and marker boards. Someone is sitting at my old desk. Aw. And, all of the old Pop-Up paraphernailia and archivia (i made up a word!) is now in boxes, old scripts purged from computers. I was sitting next to one of my few co-workers still there, and he was sweet enought to make me a *huge* list of job search sites he frequented on his 8-month (gulp!) stint on the dole. So, i guess i know what i'll be doing today. First, i think i'm gonna need some coffee.
I went to see Sasha last night, and while there i ran into Mark McAdam who you may not remember from a one-off Liz Phair cover band i almost found myself in (long, uninteresting story). I told him about kickball, which made him very excited until he learned it conflicted with his street hockey nite. Then i asked him flat out if he needed a bass player. He said he might. He warned me he wasn't exactly doing full-on rock music (and i should say, his stuff is eerily close to what Josh and i have in mind during our many "bring back the adult rock" conversations), and i warned him i didn't exactly care about that. So, we'll see. I do like his disc, and i do like playing bass.
Yesterday, i did the Times crossword and the Daily News's "Crossword II" (the more difficult one), and they both had the word "oculi." So, now i know what that is, i guess.
12:23 pm - Phew, that's better. I had some breakfast, and some coffee, and managed to muck my way through about 90% of the Times crossword, punnier than usual. I perhaps shouldn't write before i've had some coffee and a delicious egg sandwich from Onel's. You can be honest with me: this website has been a touch on the depressing side, hasn't it? And not in some sort of melancholic, autumn-of-my-youth way either, which would of course be preferable. But, rather, like staring at some defeated animal in the Bronx zoo, waiting for his exciting new cage to finally get done, as he has been since his arrival. I don't always know what exactly i'm talking about, do i? The point being, i haven't really had much to offer humanity lately. I see people i haven't seen in a while (like the aforementioned Mark McAdam) and they ask, "what are you up to lately?"
And i say: "oh, nothing."
Then follow it up with: "no, really. Nothing."
It gets depressing, and quickly repetative. And, so, any minor highlight in my day (would you like to hear about the codfish stew i had yesterday at the nearby Puerto Rican restaurant?) gets quickly inflated to desperate conversation starter. Unlike the old days, when i could revel in the minutae of my daily life with a lot more glee and a lot less pressure. I hope this makes sense. I know this is just a slump, and i may have even predicted it coming, and now that i'm sending out resumes, and finally hearing back from people, things don't seem quite so dire. Hang in there, everybody.
And so, some highlights less dire than what i had for lunch yesterday: whilst lolligagging in the city on Tuesday, i ran into that ol' Bostonian Jim Zavadoski on Broadway. I didn't recognize him at first, as he's put on some weight, or more accurately, he no longer looks like a skeleton, but rather a normal person. I asked first about his old band the Damn Personals, and he quit/was forced out a few months ago. Fans may recall the Damn Personals from the early Girl Harbor days (then known as Come On), when we played a few shows together, got drunk together, had plenty of mutual acquaintences, etc. Jim was actually *in* Come On for a few days, and contributed significantly to a song that was on the playlist, and - much like any Come On/Girl Harbor song - never really left the playlist. But enough about that. Jim is doing fine, and he's dating a lovely girl Rebecca, and i quickly invited them out for beers at the Grassroots, where at 5 in the afternoon, we were the only people there; an ideal setting. Jim told me with indignant glee about the final fleeting days of his involvement with the Damn Personals, not exactly the critics darlings were they. Their almost-universally reviled singer Ken decided they weren't commercial enough, and kept the band careening toward Goo Goo Dolls-style material, according to Jim. One such song, apparently rather pretty musically, was about a girl in her first year of college, and Jim sang a line, very overwrought, "And then she had an ABORTION ..." I laughed hysterically, and told him to rejoin the band immediately. Anyway, we also had a few more pitchers than expected, thereby causing them to miss their $10 Chinatown bus back to Boston, so, after dragging them to Manitobas to see Skinny, Blonde and Good-Looking, they crashed at my place, waking up in time to catch the 7 am bus, so Jim could go to work. Phew. So, now Josh and i have an open invitation to visit Boston, as well as a hot tip on a $10 bus.
For you fans of the Cash Registers days (Martin, Robin), i ran into John Pardo yesterday, en route to his practice with the Demands, who have just gotten signed and are playing at Warsaw. I was just about to mention how Pardo looks more cheerful everytime i see him, and then i realized i just stated part of why that may be. Note that Pardo is now in his 40s, playing in a rock band, and they just got back from playing a big festival in Las Vegas, they're playing at Warsaw, and they're going to make a record that someone else is going to release. It's never too late, is it? I've been wavering about continuing to play music - a lot - and then i run into Pardo, smiling, laughing, carrying a guitar. Huh. Then naturally, i run into Mark, who is my age and already has a record under his belt, and it's like the cosmos, if you believe in the cosmos, which i do at least a little, telling me to not stop playing. Of course, why stop anyway? Answer me that.
Okay, i feel pretty good right now. Time to look for more el jobbos.
Friday, October 10th - Today, after getting the go-ahead of my resume approval committee (Karen and Jesse presiding), i tackled the mysteries of cover letter writing. Christ, if you didn't know me and you read this, you'd probably assume i was 22. Huh. Anyway, i decided that, just as television was once thought a potential tool for education, the internet would prove to be the universal problem-solver, and i went here, because it was the first site that came up on google. I then acted in my indelibly lazy and smart-ass manner, and nicked their sample cover letter, which included things like "Your first paragraph should include a punchy quote or probing question" (which, admittedly, i didn't know), and pasted it into my document. I then interspersed the content of my cover letter between the paragraphs of theirs, including revelations such as, of course, i needed help on-line in writing a cover letter. The result, naturally, was horribly cute, either snarky or smarmy, but i least felt somewhat good about it. Until Josh read me *his* cover letter:
I've enclosed my resume. Please note that I am better than everyone else. Also note that I am on the real, and am not prone to floss on niggaz. My seamless ability to mesh a white middle-class je ne ces quos con be down wit la raza is, at the least, an advantage to my future secrateries [sic]. If you would like to arrange an interview, or if you would like to feel my abs or score some coke, please call at your earliest convenience to schedule.
Too bad he's not going to use it.
Thursday, October 9th - And so, i'm listening to Connie Francis' country record and pondering my next move. I thought i might have had some work from the Trio Network today, thanks to some deft (read: laughably obvious) "networking" with fellow kickballer/former commercial star Joe Ventura. He said he's writing for a new pop culture show they are doing, but his piece had to be done today, and he'd ask if they needed someone else. He was quite enthusiastic to help, and i thanked him. But, alas nothing yet. Maybe tomorrow. So instead, i started a few more Denver Zest songs, read some more Moby Dick, which i have decided is my Bible (for some reason), and picked up my laundry. Big excitement.
I declare the kickball league a qualfied success thusfar. The field is nice, especially after the lights came on an hour late, about 20 minutes after sunset. We wrangled up a bunch of hot-dogging neighborhood kids to play with us, and we got about three games in, all three of which i ended up on the winning side of. Maybe i'm a good manager. There were two injuries, and Mimi, who came out from the L.E.S. to sketchy Red Hook to play, made some impressively hard slides. Josh's peg-dodging abilities earned him the nickname "the Matrix" from one of the local kids. I had a cheese dog from Kev's barbecue. The weather was beautiful, and after playing for 4 hours last night, on top of 3 hours of pickup playing the day before, Josh, Kev and i are all pathetically sore and worn-out. Grown men playing kickball, what's not to love? Next week, i promise to take pictures, if you promise to come.
Afterward, we repaired to a local pizza-n-beer joint in the innavigable depths of Red Hook's one-way streets, a place whose name escapes me. Our group was pretty much the only patrons in the bar, and one by one, our numbers diminished until, as always, Josh, Kev and i were left, along with Sasha's roommate Mark, who is a very nice fellow and all-star kickball player. Yep, 4 dudes hanging out by themselves, with the dude bartender, drinkin'. This precipitated a philisophical discussion i was hoping was going to last longer, or yield some sort of resolution: why do guys get drunk when there are no women around? What's the point? As you know, i needn't worry anyway, but it makes no sense. It's a precious waste of buzz, only conducive to running around with your shirt off, or slugging newly-made rivals, or confessing your love for your buddies in the most ham-handed manner possible, or worst of all, arm wrestling. So, i asked, and tried to perpetuate the discussion, but no one seemed very eager to delve into it. Maybe it's just too depressing to think about. I betMishka has some sort of explanation. For me, it's one for the ages, right up there with "why do people feed pigeons?" Ah well, maybe you can explain it.
And speaking of depressing, i just read Connie Francis' bio on that link i included, and man did she have a fucked-up life or what? Aw, Connie ...
For more information, including rules and tips from Kevin "The Commish" Dailey, go to the league's official site at brooklynkickball.com.
For more explicit directions to Red Hook Park, go to here, then go to the park.
See you there!
Jens "E-1" Carstensen
To read pithy faux-insightful observations of my wonderful trip overseas, go here.