August 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
Day Three Hundred Thirty-Four arrived on Superbowl Sunday. Patrick and I planned to head over to Marc Crifasi’s house to watch the game with a bunch of others. I was mostly excited to see a commercial I had worked on air right before kickoff. But really, that isn’t nearly exciting enough so I also tasted a Marc Crifasi specialty: Fried Oreos.
Fried foods are tasty enough in moderation, but I usually try to stick to meat or potatoes. I’ve eaten a fried green bean or two, but not too many other greens. And definitely no sweets. The Scottish rave about fried Mars Bars, but I never gathered the courage to sample the wares. I mean, that was the country who eats haggis, right?
Marc wandered the room, a plated of powdered sugar sprinkled fried rounds perched in his hand. Patrick grabbed one for each of us and we gently blew on the dessert until it had cooled a little. And then we ate.
Fried never tasted so good. The white filling in the middle melted in the heat of the frier, while the chocolate wafer softened somewhat as well. It literally melted in my mouth. I only wished I had a glass of milk to wash it down with instead of a beer. I quickly ate another one before the flavor of the first was gone forever.
While I will not go out and immediately buy a deep fryer to create my own magical crispy sweets, I will certainly not hesitate to sample other chocolatey morsels cooked in this manor.
That’s not a dare.
August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
Big Freedia played at the EARL on Day Three Hundred Thirty-Three. Unfortunately, I was in a highly responsible mood and decided that having to work at 7AM the next morning constituted staying in that night. However, the New Orleans native announced that one of her dancers would be giving a “Sissy Bounce” dance lesson. This was so outside my realm of normal that I couldn’t not do it.
I brought along my friend Aimee for the adventure, a New Orleans native and sister to Andre. Plus she laughs a lot, so I knew no matter what happened, it would be fun. I asked both her and Patrick what one wears to a dance class in the backroom of the EARL and both shrugged and figured wearing something you would be seen in at the show later seemed appropriate. Jeans and sneakers.
Aimee and I met up at the bar a little early to imbibe and dull our nerves before the class. We mocked a girls sitting in the corner, yoga mat in one hand, giant bottle of water in the other, workout gear from neck to toe. “Ha,” we chortled, “Check out the NERD.” And since Aimee, as a New Orleans aficionado and therefore expert on all things Bounce laughed with me, I knew we had made the right decision with our clothing.
The doors to the back opened over forty-five minutes after the designated start time. My friend Damon was promoting the show that night and working the door for the afternoon class. Aimee and I picked up our half-drank ciders and paid him the $10 fee. The girl who came to Bounce in workout gear thought the cover was five bucks (it was until they raised it that afternoon), and didn’t go in. We found out later that our instructor neglected to inform Damon at the door that there was a “pay what you can” siding scale.
Alas, after waiting a few minutes, it became very clear that Aimee and I were the only attendees of this booty-shakin class. The instructor introduced herself as Altercation. She looked like a younger Faye Dunaway who had been homeless for awhile. Altercation readily admitted that she had no home. She had been living at Occupy New Orleans until the police closed it down while she was on tour with Freedia. So now she’s living in her doctor’s house. I didn’t ask what kind of doctor.
She spent the first half hour talking about the history of Bounce music, and its deep ties with New Orleans culture. Altercation is a feminist who dances like a stripper. She spouted odes to the female form and told us how empowering the dancing is. She quickly became enthralled with Aimee when she realized not only was Aimee from New Orleans but is also a human rights activist. During all this discussion we sat on the sticky floor of the EARL’s back room venue with the soles of our feet together in front of us. I think we called it a butterfly stretch in elementary school.
Eventually, after Altercation and Aimee were attached for life through their roots in the Big Easy, our lady led us over to the couches on a low stage in the corner. The students took another sip of cider while the teacher encouraged us to undo the buttons on our jeans and get comfortable. I’m pretty sure the suggestion had an adverse effect.
Once we were “comfortably” kneeling on the grubby sofa with our pelvis facing the back of the couch, Altercation told us to move just our “delicious booties.” She had us imagine keeping everything still but the butt cheeks as we bounced up and down. I failed in between gales of nervous laughter. It didn’t help that the EARL’s employees were casually walking back and forth across the room, getting ready for the evening’s rush.
As we struggled to isolate the muscles and fat on our butts, another lady entered the room for the class. I was envious of her missing the lecture and coming right for the exercise. She, like the girl from the bar in the beginning, was dressed more for a stylish yoga class than a bounce show. Maybe Patrick and Aimee were wrong about the attire. I mean, if we’d dressed in stretchy stuff we wouldn’t be trying to hump a couch with our flies undone.
This girl knew how to wiggle her butt. We had moved to standing on the floor, with our hands on the ground. As Altercation told us we could stretch on the nasty floor of the EARL, I could see the value of a yoga mat. Apparently, the attendee who didn’t come in was a lot smarter than me. We followed instructions as Altercation uttered lines of encouragement, calling us goddesses and sexy. She told me I kept moving my legs too. My future as a bounce dancer was waning by the second.
Eventually the class ended (after nearly two hours). Aimee and I stayed talking to Altercation for a few minutes and she showed us the “stripper thigh shake” move. We followed along, locking our knees, feet firmly plated shoulder-width apart. And then we relaxed and sort of twisted our ankles back and forth. The momentum rides up your leg and makes your thighs wiggle. Well, it could. If you knew how. We didn’t.
However, I did manage to get Altercation doing a little bounce for us on video.
All in all, it was a tremendously fun experience. Despite coming from an entirely different world from me, I genuinely liked Altercation and her crazy mindset. And she could dance. I missed out on the Big Freedia show that night, but I still learned a bit about the culture. I couldn’t wait to get home and practice my own thigh shimmy (never to be seen in public)!
August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
The final shoot day of the pilot had arrived. It was a night shoot. With Zombies. On Day Three Hundred Thirty-Two for the first time, I worked with Zombies. Or at least people dressed up like them.
We congregated in the afternoon at HomeGrown restaurant with extra space across the street at Wonderroot. For most of the evening I was holed up at the art space turned production office with a local band belting out tunes in the basement. Just your average Friday night. The view across the street towards set looked chaotic.
I meandered over a few times and it was quite surreal walking through a bunch of strangers in zombie make-up. Some were covered in green face paint, with fake bloody gashes across their face and body. Others looked more gray and , well…dead. Most were actors or extras and really got into character, grunting at me as I strolled by, eyeing me wearily. There was one person who even recognized me. He worked with my friend Erin, and it took a minute before I could place this man in gray make-up. At least with the costume I had an excuse.
I watched a few scenes being shot before I headed back to my production office hole. Part of me wanted to ask for a little zombification myself, but the more rational side thought about getting all the make-up off when it was over. Turpentine? I bet that stuff stays in your laugh lines for days. Or your frown lines if you’re sad. So I chickened out and only ended up with the grime of a long day’s work. And by 4 AM, I probably looked like a zombie anyway.
Oh, and don’t Google image search “Zombie make-up.” There are some really
gnarly realistic examples. It made my stomach churn a little.
August 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
Day Three Hundred Thirty-One was the first day of shooting on location for the TV pilot I was working on. We spent the day in Decatur, in the same area where I once had my wisdom teeth removed (totally coincidental). One of the shots required elevator doors to open and included dialogue in the scene. For the show it meant that the noisy escalators around the corner would have to be stopped. Cut off. Shut down. And I was the one to push the button. That’s right, for the first time, I pushed the emergency brake on an escalator.
The action itself was clearly not a big deal. However, there was quite a bit of anticipation leading up to the big stop. We didn’t know what would happen once the red switch was flipped. Would an alarm go off? And more importantly, once we stopped the moving staircase, we couldn’t turn back. Without the daytime security guard and his escalator keys, there was no way to turn the escalator back on.
Yeah, big decisions.
In the end I held my breath and went for it, coming in with a hard fist bump to the big red button. And the stairs stopped. No noise. They just stopped moving. And I had done something that I had always been curious about, whether in a mall, in the airport, or anywhere else where there are a lot of people and an escalator.
If only there were a bunch of unsuspecting travelers on it when it stopped…that could be funny, like dominoes.
August 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Patrick had been working on a super secret show for years. Literally…two years. If I walked into his office and he was emailing an agent about this high level secret he would cover the screen with his hands or minimize the window. Curiosity aroused, I managed to catch the initials “JM” in the subject line. I started spouting off names of any act I could think of who may have fit the JM description. And some who didn’t. Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Mungo Jerry? I didn’t even stay in the parameters of the living. At one point I suggested Jeff Mangum, but Patrick didn’t flinch. Still, I felt it was the best guess so far. And I was right. So finally on Day Three Hundred Thirty for the first time ever, I saw Jeff Mangum play live.
I arrived late to the Neutral Milk Hotel fan world. I bought In the Aeroplane Over the Sea when I was twenty-three, four years after the band had essentially stopped touring and recording, in the Newcastle HMV. However, it only took one listen for me to move the album to an imaginary top ten list. I found myself almost daily putting in headphones and jumping manically around my tiny grad school dorm room in frigid England, lip syncing to “King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3.” So while not a long-time super fan of Jeff Mangum and his music, I only had positive associations.
It was raining as I hurriedly parked my car a block away from Variety Playhouse and rushed in before the headliner began. I met Patrick in the lobby, waved hello to a few friends and acquaintances, and ordered a beer. Despite the fact that the show was sold-out and the standing areas along either wall of the theatre were beyond packed, we managed to find a couple of empty seats toward the back of the room, with a clear view of the stage. And shortly after a tall scruffy looking man called Jeff walked on stage to begin the acoustic rendition of “Two Headed Boy Part 2.”
The crowd roared into anticipatory applause. Nineties Athens indie rock was brought back to life in Little Five Points for a night. Chills ran down my arms, and stayed there throughout the show. At one point I looked up at Patrick and saw him begin to well up under memories and nostalgia. Seeing Jeff Mangum was a huge burst of youthful remembrance for him. He grew up with this music, in college for the heyday of Neutral Milk Hotel.
As the more popular songs were played with minimal instrumentation, the audience sang along. I wanted a big musical crescendo as “King of Carrot Flowers” (all parts) was played, but the additional musical support on stage was spaced out. Andrew and Laura from Elf Power, Scott Spillane from Gerbils and Neutral Milk Hotel, and another musician all took turns joining Mangum on stage.
It really was a fantastic live music experience. Even without the electric guitar and drums and even the theremin. the show rocked. And now I have another happy memory to associate with what is still an album on my imaginary “Top Ten” list.
Even as a thirty year old I will still listen to “King of Carrot Flowers” with headphones and thrash madly around the room.