Stirrings of Joni…

A quote of the week… in spite of her poetic musings, I’m stuck on two songs from the Miles of Aisles album. Those 70’s bass lines and electric piano/guitar infusions into her acoustic originals is the equivalent of endorphin shots straight into my blood stream.  On my first (and only) trip to the Louvre, I walked the historic halls by myself and listened to this cd on repeat. The moment was dated before the Ipod craze, and I could only fit a few cds in my purse. It was all Joni, all day.

“Jericho” is one of those words I look up on a monthly basis. I can never remember where or what the hell it is. The meaning fails to lock it’s claws into my long-term memory every time. For the umpteenth time… jericho~ a place of fragrance, a fenced city in the midst of a vast grove of palm trees, in the plain of Jordan, over against the place where that river was crossed by the Israelites. Sounds vastly different from the Jericho drive-in that used to entertain my weekend summer nights in upstate NY as a kid.

Moving on, “Love or Money.” It haunts me… “vaguely she floats and lacelike, blown in like a curtain on a nightwind. She’s nebulous and naked…” and the true quote of the week “her evasiveness stings… and his legs, long lonely legs are bruised from banging into thing.” Maybe I’m flipping the narrative in my mind. Feeling nebulous, but simultaneously stung by evasiveness. Perpetually stung by evasiveness.  There’s been an exodus of fleeting long, lonely legs from my life over the past few years. Joni’s voice, smooth and lacelike, wafts through the melodic bass line and sting of the keys, carries me away from evasion and into the world of coping.

My Updated Myspace Blogs

Cancer Sucks.

Life’s been known to throw it’s curve balls, but Scott and I have worked diligently the past year in spite of the ups and downs, the creative changes and my neurosis, and our mutual quest for perfection to get this album completed. We were supposed to be done in May, and I got sick. Well, then a flurry of other delays pushed the date further. But two weeks ago, fate threw another boulder in the midst of our yellow brick road and Scott was told he might have cancer. Today was the surgery, and it was confirmed… Scott and Lance Armstrong have more than courage and charisma in common these days. It was cancer. What follows, will be determined. However, the album will be done very soon. Why? Because instead of packing and getting ready for surgery, he spent last night laying down the final guitar track to be recorded for this album. And in spite of the pain and lethargy during his recovery, he’s mixing the final two songs this week (hey, painkillers/drugs never hurt the music… I suppose it’ll just help make the 70’s sound I’m going for all the more achievable).


So send your positive energy, white and purple light, burn some nag champra, or have a passing healing thought for my dear friend, Scott Slater. Oh, and a pledge to purchase a stack full of “Chained by Dreams” cds would be equally appreciated (whenever we finish this bad boy!).


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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunset on Broadway

Global warming at its finest, I refused to be a recluse in air conditioning this evening and found myself wandering Broadway in search of dinner. The heat was so unbearable, I settled on a pomegranate soda and a bag of Lay’s and headed towards a park bench on the divider at Broadway and 88th St. Too often my digital vices ( ipod and cell phone) have barricaded me from the world of that surrounds me. Perhaps, I’m armed with digital guards so often because they are my only defense against the public. Without their aid, and by myself, I am a magnet to all kinds of people and I have the most difficult time disengaging with them (especially the crazies).Tonight I left the gadgets at home, intent on observing the world around me.

The traffic up and down Broadway brought a steady breeze and I was barely two chips into the bag before a middle-aged Argentinian woman introduced herself.  I was drawn to this woman, adorned with paper roses in her hair and in her shoes. She claimed to be a New Yorker all her life, since 1970, but her accent suggested otherwise. A no-nonsense, practical woman who believed in family values and truth, she kept referring to us both as being so young; in her mind I was her peer. She had a well-developed habit of complimenting others, or myself, but always added, “you’re just like me” after her flattery. She warned me about the deadly heat of the week and the concerns of terrorism that flash across the news stations everyday. Maybe she is paranoid, or maybe I’m naively optimistic.

The sun set over the Hudson, and the sky turned a deep navy blue, and together we sat and watched the traffic lights pass flicker by. I looked into her eyes and saw a touch of loneliness, and felt such compassion for her. Maybe she felt the same for me. When we had covered our life stories, our favourite things in life, and our dreams and ambitions, it was time to part ways and I returned to the air conditioning and my digital gadgets. It’s nice to know, in this bustling city, that connections with people can be made at any point, at any time of day… if you’re willing to let down your guard for a minute.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Bridges and Fountains (I Love New York)

I love New York this time of year. In fact, I always love New York, but there’s that nothing beats the balmy air of May and a summer spent in Manhattan. Last summer my goal was to dance in every fountain in the city and I have carried this goal over to this summer as well. However, I’ve also added a goal that is easier to achieve- to walk every bridge crossing from the outerworld into Manhattan.

Today, with my partner-in-crime, Dan, we attempted the Williamsburg Bridge; a bridge that appropriately links hipsterville Williamsburg with trendy up-and-comer the Lower East Side. Before leaving, we ritualistically checked NY1 for the weather forecast, which called for 30MPH winds, dangerous thunderstorms, and flash flooding. Dan turned off the tv and said, “Okay. Let’s go.” Luckily, the weather wasn’t so severe as predicted.

After celebrating with fudge brownie sundaes, we sauntered from the East Village to the Upper West Side (9 miles of hitting the concrete slabs with my often-teased blue sneaks).

I walked the Brooklyn Bridge in January, but was holding out for great weather to walk the remaining bridges. The George Washington will be the last, saving the best for last. In the meantime, the Manhattan, Triboro, and 59th St. Bridge are waiting. If anyone wants to tag along, be it for fountain hopping or bridge crossings, let me know! Why? Because life is too full (at least for me) of the big goals… you know, opening for Stevie, selling millions of records, and making David Letterman fall in love with yours truly. In the meantime, the little goals make the journey all the more enjoyable.

 
(The Grand Prize)

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Night of a Thousand Stevies

A night with one Stevie Nicks is enough to hypersaturate my bloodstream with endorphins. But a thousand? Levels like that are enough to last a lifetime. I had heard about the event for years (this year was the 16th run) and for whatever reason had been unavailable to attend. From the moment I left my apartment, traipsing through the Banana Republic-inspired, conservative Upper West Side, I knew it would be fun. With my leather boots and corseted dress, I could hardly get a few steps down a block without someone whistling, commenting, or following me.

I met my friend, Chelsea, adorned in her “mermaid tunic” and we headed downtown. The evening began at 9, with a sparse crowd of various eras of Stevies and the neutral attire of the more conservative Stevie fans. However, once we entered the floral threshold of the main room, it was like entering a high school prom thrown on Halloween. A few Stevie remixes played, as we twirled and danced until the performances began. The room crowded with an eclectic group- from the flamers, to conservative lawyer-types, to the mad hatters, and the occasional straight dude with his girl. Charlene, one of my personal favourite got up to sing “The Chain” and like many of the attendees, had traveled across the country for the event. The highlight for me was a comic piece, with a monologue devoted to his journeys as a groupie, once again losing his house and job to see the show from the nosebleeds in every city and going into how Stevie came before all creation. Flashing back to the “Bette or Bust” days, it was absolutely divine. I haven’t laughed so hard in years. Really.

New York offered the perfect setting for this gathering if misfits and gypsy-worshippers; the atmosphere of  a burlesque show set to Stevie’s sounds. The chiffon twirls, the corseted domination divas, the burning nag champra, and the ceaseless creativity from the Stevie muse caused the greatest overstimulation to the senses I may have ever experienced. Rock on, gold dust woman…

Currently listening :
The Other Side of the Mirror
By Stevie Nicks
Release date: By 18 May, 1989

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Looking Glass

For years I was nomad, from NY to CA to Hawaii and back. I rarely made a home in my temporary habitation and had an utmost goal of keeping a life easily confined within the tapestry of my suitcase. When I moved into my current apartment, I remained minimalistic and was blessed to have the bare essentials left behind from the former tenant. At the time I was dating a chap of extravagence, who was accustomed to stability and a leader in consumerism. When we toasted my move into the apartment, he teased me incessantly for my lack of wine glasses and my reliance on large mugs (but hey, they’re so versatile, from cereal bowl to tea cup). I insisted that wine glasses were too much of a committment at the time and I feared the new place would only be a temporary arrangement. He insisted I could throw them out if I moved but it was a necessity to have, and I argued that when the time was right, I’d have my wine glasses.

Six months later, with my extravagant chap gone and finally taking ownership of my home, I worked at a high-end wine tasting event. At the end of the evening, I received two bordeaux (ie tall, deep, and expensive) glasses and took the glasses as an omen of permanence.

Those bordeax glasses, wrapped tightly in their tissue paper and cylinder containers sat on my shelf for quite sometime before being put into use, as I weaned myself off the coffee mugs. A new chap entered my scarve-laden abode and provided the perfect opportunity to use my crystal glasses on the last night of his stay. The next day, after he left, I sat at the keyboard and wrote the song, “Looking Glass.” The used wine glasses remained on the floor around me, as I tried to preserve the freshness of the memory. When I finished composing the song, I took the glasses into the sink and wouldn’t you know, I barely tapped the rim of the glass into the faucet and it cracked and shattered down the side. Although I was unwilling to admit it at the time, my set of two glasses down to one became another metaphor for my impending singlehood. I would dream about shattering the remaining glass for a month, but eventually settled on returning it to the cylinder case.

Months later, I went on a first date with a classy chap who took me to the top of the Empire State building for the first time. The view was breathtaking and reminded me that perhaps the greatest love I may ever know is the love I have for New York City, my home. We went to the gift shop and he was insistent on buying something to remember my experience and he picked up two martini glasses, etched with the city skyline. The glasses remain untouched, still wrapped in their tissue paper but the meaning of them outshines their utility. It wasn’t simply a gift to commemorate the evening for me, but a gift for the future. A gift of optimism.

Unfortunately, “Looking Glass” is not going to be included on the first album, but I definitely hope to get into the studio and record it soon. In the meantime, it’s a personal favourite, written for one moment in time yet applicable to so many it seems in a world of not knowing…

“Looking Glass”

She took a look in her half-full glass, 

and hoped this one wouldn’t repeat the past.

And she held her breath and let out a sigh~ 

Fought him away, couldn’t look him in the eye.

The risk was flocking closer. Did she like him? She said, “No sir.”

The path to her smile was so hard to find.

But he took down the walls by just bein’ kind.

A challenge woke love and put her at ease.

A master of trust, a keeper of peace.

The risk was flocking closer. Did she like him, she says, “I don’t know sir.”

She was trying, just a little too hard to keep her fortress high.

With the timing, still a little bit scarred, he wouldn’t let her walk on by.

 She had to face herself, through another looking glass.

Reflections of her were in traces of him.

Miles between them, still a closeness within.

Until he packed his bags, the move for eternity.

Her crystal glass no longer half-empty.

The risk was flocking closer. Did she like him? She says, “I believe so, sir.”

No longer trying, a little too hard to keep her fortress high.

With the timing, still a little bit scarred, she wouldn’t let him walk on by.

She had to face herself. In another, looking… glass.

 

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Maybe She’s Born With It…
Current mood: refreshed

Maybe, it’s Maybelline. Yes. Six years ago you could find me throughout the month of February, shivering outside of the Today Show with my partner in crime and a sea of tourists, holding a sign to promote the career of Bette Midler. Back in the day, guerilla marketing had not taken over the morning circuit. Now, teams of publicists collect six-figures to “book” talent on the morning shows. They may have the connections, but their “visual aids” majorly lacked the glitter and sequins. However, we did get a 4AM call for hair and makeup to celebrate 35 years of Great Lash. That David Price is a hottie.

Currently watching :
Serendipity
Release date: By 09 April, 2002

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pink, Oprah, and the Objectification of Women

Recently, I followed a series of advertisements and links that led me to Pink’s music video “Stupid Girls.” I loved it, thrilled that at last someone has addressed the backwards run from feminism to the seemingly welcomed land of objectification of women. I remember reading a quote from Madonna a few years ago that said something to the effect of “Men were the ones who sexualized and objectified women. I wanted to say it’s okay for women to objectify themselves.” So the Britneys and Jessica Simpons followed Madonna’s lead and were more than satisified to milk it as the young, whispering, “stupid girls.”

I’d been awaiting Pink’s arrival on Oprah all weekend and of course when Monday came, I completely forgot. So missing the 4PM and 7PM viewings, I remembered at 10 that I forgot to tune in and pried my eyes open until 1:30 in the morning to catch the episode. It was honestly everything I expected (sadly) to hear. I never fell into the trap of “stupid girl” because my gawkiness as a kid was too much of a hindrance for me to ever be in the running of a popularity contest or be considered attractive by any of my peers. It was only when I was 19 and found myself in Hollywood, did I ever become exposed to the fact that 1. the world as a whole saw me as a pretty girl, and 2. everyone would be a lot more comfortable if I dumbed myself down. I refused. I fought long and hard against using my appearance to open any doors, forcing my education and intelligence and drive and ambition down the throats of every interviewer. And you know what? I was not hired for a single profession out there at the studios and film companies and public relations firms because the people who did the hiring, time and again would say to my face, “You’re too ambitious to be here.” Where was I supposed to go? Running a company at 19 instead of interviewing to learn the ropes?

While I was in Los Angeles, a sheer act of God brought Ms. Lisa Zure into my life, who was the first person and mentor in my life to address the issue. Upset that I wasn’t being taken seriously by ANYONE professionally, she told me, “Look you can pour acid on your face and go through life making things happen based on your smartness. Or you can use every talent and blessing you have to get yourself to where you want to be.” Her advice has been invaluable to me in the effect that I was finally able to stop resenting myself for not living up to the expectations of the world around me, or the expectations of myself.

Here I stand, almost four years later to that turning point, and cannot imagine how often I back away from the comments and thoughts that people send out to me on a weekly basis. I used to keep an ee cummings quote above my bed and look at it every night in reflection. He said, “to be nobody-but-myself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me everybody else means, to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”

Bringing it back to Pink and Oprah, I wonder what has continued this objectification to the point it’s at. I feel I’d have a better chance in the era of Katharine Hepburn to portray a strong female character in a creative setting than now. Let’s say the roles of that caliber are slim to come by, and I cannot think of an audition from the past month for some film or television show that didn’t require nudity, or some revelation of a lot of skin, or the portrayal of a shallow, insipid, 20-something shop-a-holic.

The industry is bad enough on it’s own and I understand my own gluttony for punishment by being in it. In this case, I follow my heart over my intellect in every way. I’m more upset, however, with the crossover into my personal life. When did men acquire the right to say some of the things that they try to get away with? When did it become appropriate for men to tell women what design their bikini line should be shaped and what colour matching lingerie should be worn at all times? It’s exasperating.

Here are just a few things, within the past month alone, some men have uttered to me, some of them I have even considered friends. “I”m surprised you aren’t married with a sugar daddy already. Why bother work? I bet by the time you’re 29, you’ll have one and just get married and live off his assets.” or “You should really get to the gym more and get a better ass. It’ll have more guys interested.” Or, “You should cry and open up and be emotional with a man you’re dating first, so he can then be comfortable to feel something.” Or, “You’d be hotter if you’d gain ten pounds.” Funny, seeing how a week before some random dude said I looked hefty. Or, “I bet you used a thesaurus to write in your blog. It’s pathetic because I can see you’re trying to sound more intelligent that you are… you stupid American girl.” This is all within a month’s time… and just a few  (of the many) things that people feel the right to say.

I know I’ve developed a thick skin, and manage to take things with a grain of salt because of confidence and common sense. I wonder subconsciously what the toll on me is. It seems all the common to place women up on a pedastal (or celebrities even) just to kick them off it and feel gratification in their sudden humility. A friend of mine even said it’s appropriate to point out every flaw in a beautiful woman, because she’s close to being in the top percentile of gorgeous people and if she were to make those changes, she could get a higher status.

I’ve honestly worked hard for everything I’ve achieved in this life and continue to ensue with the same hard work and dedication. Or as a friend once said, “If you’re sure you’re not working hard, better be sure you’re working smart.” And as Sally Field once told me, “If you want to be taken seriously and change how you as a woman are in the industry, then you have to create things that people want to see and hear, regardless of you being a woman.” It’s my full intention to do so… and help curtail the gender stereotypes and assaults that incur in my own life. I have great compassion for all parties involved, because with the hypersaturation in society, treating women as objects, it takes a strong will to escape the conditioning. ee cummings just might agree.

In the meantime, check out Pink- her new album rocks. “Mr. President” and “Stupid Girls” are just a few great tracks of the many to be enjoyed.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Defy…

“And you drown out childhood fantasies, memories like a cruel disease that remind you to find all your passion within… how dare you defy your dreams?”

Just a lyrical snip from the first song on “Chained by Dreams,” but a theme that I’ve entertained this year in my own conquest to abide by my dreams and passions and let fear fall by the wayside. This decision has me currently propped up with an iced-ankle, but I’m spiritually fulfilled nonetheless.

As a child, my grandmother was adamant that I learned how to tap and twirl in a tutu to fulfill her own love of dance. She always wanted me to get on a stage and would force my hand into the air at any magic show or theme park entertainment that required the help of a volunteer. I’ll never forget being four years old and forced on this seemingly gigantic stage in  Lake George, NY to be a magician’s assistant. His adult-kid schtick began with, “Welcome partner. Do you have a job?” Of course, I giggled and fell into his trap. “No I don’t have a job. I’m a kid.”  I returned to the audience to find my grandmother, snapping a plethora of photos until I reached the seat and she put the camera down and shook her head at me.

“Michelle! Why didn’t you tell that man about your job?” Confused, I shrugged and told her, “I don’t have a job.”

My grandmother huffed- she always had a habit of huffing and sighing in disdain when she didn’t hear what she wanted to hear (I’ve definitely acquired a proclivity for huffing, myself). She looked at me plainly and said, “You’re a dancer. That’s your job. Don’t forget it.”

I studied dance for three years, but when she passed away, my parents didn’t have the financial resources to continue to pay for the classes. I basically gave up dance altogether. When I finally moved to Manhattan, at the age of 17, I was certain that I would study dance and bought the first pair of jazz shoes I’d ever owned. Lo and behold, my college roommate happened to be a professional dancer, who not only began dancing at the age of 3 but had continued for fifteen years. She took one look at my shoes and asked, “So you’re a dancer too?” I took one look at the video she instantly popped into the VCR of her dancing and put those shoes right back in their box. Those shoes have moved with me at least ten times since that day. And I never took a class…

Until now. For whatever reason, finally finishing the album, I decided there’s no way I’m going to put off dancing and using finances or time as a weak excuse not to do it. So last week I began my first jazz classes in an “introductory” class. But alas, this is New York. There is no such thing as “introductory” anything. You’re instantly immersed and have to keep up or shut up and step out. I’m humbled in that class at least five or six times an hour. My ankle is definitely sore and swollen, but I’m keeping quite the regimen and showing off a “step-ball-chain” to any poor fool who enters my apartment. I’m not sure how these moves will fit into my repertoire, but at the very least I’m putting my gluts to work.

Dancing was put off to fear, but my second great achievement of the month is to practice the guitar- everyday. I’ve yet to decide which is more physically painful of the two- the dancing or the calluses taking their sweet little time to develop on my fingertips. But it’s an exciting time… if only it would warm up, I’d step-ball-chain my way to Central Park!

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Chocolate Day!

Up until today I thought I had been majorly deprived of the chance to visit the great town of Hershey, PA as a child. It took twenty-four years to get there, but it was well worth the wait. I thought that upstate New York was rural until discovering that the true backwoods are not found north of Manhattan, but eastward to the land of the Amish. Families drove from as far as Florida and Indiana (really…) for the chance to partake in Hershey Park opening day. The marketing geniuses of Hershey decided to promote the health benefits of chocolate by hiring a vanload of models to make the four-hour trek and sample to them. I was one of the chosen ones to be exposed to the greed and insanity the ensues when you take a few thousand people in a room with a table full of free chocolate. Gluttony reigns in Hershey world, to an intensity that an older chap almost lost a finger under my knife (not from my vengence but his impatience in waiting for a Take Five sample that caused him to stick his hand on the cutting board). I tried my damndest to keep the pithy comments to myself, but that’s about as easy as teaching the cows of Amish land to stop mooing

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However, next time I splurge on my weekly pound of Twizzlers, I’m happy to see that the majority of the proceeds benefit children (Hershey set it up so that 70 percent of the shares are owned by the Hershey school for underprivileged kids. Pretty cool). As for buying chocolate- that shouldn’t be necessary for at least another year. Or two

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 Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bedford Diaries- This Weds, 9PM

So, if the rest of the season is like the sneak of the pilot I’ve just witnessed, I’m going to be making a lot of appearances on this show. And as if it wasn’t horrible enough to have a bad yearbook picture in high school, I can now endure my fake yearbook picture being shown on the WB.

I hope the show lasts, if only for the sake of the work it brings to Manhattan. Additionally- we need more shows that take place in New York and actually film here!

You can check me out ever-so-briefly in the pilot, as the girl having an affair with my professor. Some things never change (kidding!).

WB-9PM, Bedford Diaries.