Christmas With The Hotalings

I had an amazing Christmas and only wish I had another day or two to spend with everyone. The food and wine kept coming, from sangria to mimosa, from ziti to ham to prime rib and cheesecake. I received the best gifts from everyone, including a pink Flip camera, from which I assembled the video below. Unfortunately, my computer can’t deal with editing at a higher quality, but nonetheless, the memories were captured. I have so much food my freezer is overflowing with leftovers, and I finally received my own purple dish set! For years, I’ve been too frugal and too concerned with moving someday, to have my own set and was relying on whatever people left to me over the years.

I also instituted a new game- “Get to Know Your Family.” Before opening a present, everyone had to answer a question on a card that would reveal something about them. My sister and a few grumpy members of the family didn’t want to oblige, but it was fun… and there were some cool revelations. No one, however, wanted to answer questions regarding strap-ons or personal fears.

I hope everyone had an awesome holiday as well~ I only wish I had the camera earlier to capture the magic of Christmas Eve. There’s always next year~ and yes, all that dancing and frolicking was mimosa-inspired.

Christmas At The Port Authority

“Christmas at the Port Authority” may sound like a holiday horror flick to some, but I once considered this locale my favourite in the Manhattan. Seedy and vile, the bus terminal reminds me of the late-night Greyhound adventures across the country to see Bette Midler in concert. The Port Authority is aiming to change it’s reputation and clean up it’s act. Part of this plan was to hire musicians to come for the holiday season and provide some live music. I’m proud to say that I manifested this opportunity, as I’ve always wanted to busk but didn’t want to go to the hassle of dealing with the NYPD and the often-issued citations for those who perform on the subway platforms.

Scott and I were scheduled for Friday night, located in the dead center of the main ticketing area. We had expected a madhouse, but it was rather slow for rush hour. Poor Scott managed to lug a hundred pounds worth of equipment, as he played through a bass amp and I sang through a guitar amp. Glamourous, it was not. Within the ninety-minute set, there were moments that were both poignant and amusing. At one point, an older homeless black woman approached us, hunching over a handful of coins. I expected her to throw pennies into our case, but she handpicked the quarters for us and kept the pennies for herself. When our eyes met, I couldn’t help but feel stinging tears. Yet the people who stood and watched, song after song, some of them in their designer clothes would tap to the beat, engage with us and not even leave a penny. It astounded me to see who the most generous were. Another family came by and dropped in money for a cd, which made me smile. Their son was especially excited to receive it.

Halfway through the set, a rather shady, middle-aged black chap approached our case and asked if he could make change for a ten. Scott and I agreed it was fine, and watched him count the dollars and make change. He claimed to leave us an extra buck and only take nine, but I was skeptical, especially when I thought a five-dollar bill appeared in his hand. Since I’m not relying on this money to survive, I can’t say it mattered as much and I really just wanted to finish our set and chock it up for experience. When we finished playing, I sorted out our earnings and realized that the ten-dollar bill was counterfeit! Port Authority had showed me humanity at its finest. And it’s worst.

We covered “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and “River” by Joni Mitchell, and
I kept joking that when Stevie and Joni wrote those songs it was the
full intent that someday a girl would sing them to the impatient masses
at the Port Authority. Ironically, that was the exact intent I had upon
penning all my songs.

I’m looking forward to a year from today, when we look back at this rather hectic month. Our “after party” was held at Port Authority’s bistro, Metro Marche, where we created our list of manifestations on napkins for next year. Everyone say a prayer, and send out some positive vibes on our mission.

My Special Tree and Holiday Anticipation

Every winter the Canadians flock to the blustery streets of Manhattan
and set up shop with their spruces and pines. I desperately wanted a Christmas tree this year so my
entire apartment would smell festive and of pine. My apartment is
small, and my budget is tight (I’d rather spend $100 on something that
lasts more than a few weeks). Those Canadians may keep themselves well
inebriated, but they have some good business acumen. With the additional branches and trunks, they recycle them into “Charlie Brown Christmas Trees.” The best thing is
about my Charlie Brown Christmas Tree is that it can easily be replaced
for a buck. To verify my apartment’s smallness, every
time I take a shower, this little tree marries the steam and the entire
apartment smells like an Adirondack forest.

May I also add that my cat is entirely awesome and patient, as I forced
her to lay next to my tree for ten minutes as I tried battery after
battery to get my camera to work. I snapped the perfect shot but the
batteries died just before the image saved! I might get a new tree
tomorrow, but thought I’d share my holiday cheer tonight. The
additional shot is of my favourite child in the world, who I will get
to see on Christmas. He’d actually be the perfect gift, and as you can
see… it wouldn’t be hard to fit him in a box.

 

Scarbucks and Our Tree


My Favourite Six Year Old

I Survived The Bitter End

There are three or four venues that I have dreamed of performing at: The Bitter End, Radio City Music Hall, Jones Beach and the Garden. When I booked the Bitter End a few months ago, I was excited and equally terrified. Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and Bob Dylan have all played there. In spite of the bad acts I may have caught over the years, the intimidation of being a childhood dream still affected me greatly. I intended to bring the entire band and a background singer, so I could hide behind them a bit. As the date approached, people backed out one by one. With a week’s notice, it was down to just Scott and me. With an acoustic guitar and just my voice, there would be no hiding.

Luckily, we had played an entire week of acoustic sets in Bryant Park, but I was still a nervous wreck before the show. I dragged my feet and stalled to get to the show. As I was coming up the stairs of the subway, my phone rang and it was my best friend from middle school and beyond. I thought she was simply returning my call from an earlier venting-attack that day, but when I answered I heard background music. “Guess where I am?” she exclaimed. I couldn’t believe it. These are the kinds of things I fantasize about- being surprised by the appearance of someone at a show who claims they won’t be there. It never pans out, but here she had confronted her fears about driving in the city and surprised me. She teased me about not being at the venue when I was to go on in fifteen minutes.

The glories of musician standard time.

When I entered the club, the nerves returned as I noted the performer before me. Imagine a young version of Tina Turner, with a ‘fro, a sassy red dress, and a full band with a brass section. Bette Midler toured thirty years before she got her own brass section and here I was at the Bitter End, following that? I was just waiting for everyone to boo and walk out, and if it weren’t for Scott I might have bolted. Then again, too many folks showed up to support me for me to leave.

The moment I took the stage, I was sure to joke about the intimidation equivalent to “Joni Mitchell having to follow Tina Turner.” A friend of the prior act screamed, “I love Joni!” I felt the audience warm to me and thought, I can only be myself.


Taken by Andy (thanks!)

I was particularly chatty during the set, with my self-proclaimed “valium and gin” version of my manic-song, “Defy” and a few other rants that may surface on YouTube in the future. Thanks to everyone who came out. My friend, Dave, who brought me flowers and a smiley cookie! My best friend for surprising me. And everyone who came to listen and support me, and the new fans I made that night. Ten months ago, Scott and I performed acoustically for the first time and I vowed to never ever do that again. The “after-show pains,” as I like to call them, were too much (imagine having stabbing knives and balls of fire attacking your diaphraphm and rib cage). But he’s been there on this awesome journey and I’m so blessed and grateful. I have nothing stressful or anxiety-inducing for the rest of the year.

 

Thanks again to everyone who made it, and those who didn’t and wanted my setlist- here you go. Happy Holidays!

The Bitter End- December, 12th, 2007

No Great Pretender
Chained by Dreams
Sexy Mama (Laura Nyro/ Smokey Robinson)
Defy
Crystal Clear
One Stoplight Town
Porcelain Doll
River (Joni Mitchell)
The Vineyard

   

Bette or Bust

First of all, happy holidays. Second of all, I’m bothering you all with
a favour. Don’t worry, it takes nothing more than a few minutes. Oprah
is looking for Bette Midler’s biggest fans for a show segment. Now, I
don’t think there are too many people out there who can pledge to
following Bette’s tour around the country at the age of 17 and writing
a book about it. It would be some awesome exposure for the book and our
other projects (ie my cd!) to be included on the show (in spite of
having to come public with our stalker days, ha!) Stephanie and I were
just wondering if you have a moment, please check out the link below
and send an email recommending us in the “tell us your story” box.


You
can write whatever you want (well so long as it portrays me as a
fabulous person). I’ve included links so that they know everyone is
talking about the same girls. Also, feel free to forward this email to
anyone you know that’s read the book and would help us out.


Email Oprah:

 https://www.oprah.com/plugger/templates/BeOnTheShow.jhtml?action=respond&plugId=300900001

Bette or Bust by Michelle Hotaling and Stephanie Webster

http://www.amazon.com/Bette-Bust-Michelle-Hotaling/dp/073884473X

My webpages-
http://www.michellehotaling.com
http://www.chainedbydreams.com
missdiatribe@aol.com

AND if you want to read the book for free, it’s available to download below:

BETTE OR BUST FREE DOWNLOAD!

Conversations at the Y

Every day I hop on the crosstown bus and ride through Central Park to the Y on the Upper East Side.My latest release has been found pounding away the hours on an elliptical and stairmaster to keep away the circling thoughts in my overactive mind. I received the free membership by volunteering to be a poster child for their new brochures- a WASP representing a Jewish institution has been found offensive to some, but I’m quite amused.  Earlier this week, I was racing up the gym’s stairwell and slowed behind an older Jewish man with a rather sly smile on his face. He allowed me to pass and I thanked him. Ten minutes later, in the midst of my workout, I noticed the same 70-something man circling the nearly vacant gym with his eyes frozen on me. Three times around the gym before he leaned against the unattended elliptical to my right.

“Are you the pretty young lady that passed me in the stairs?” he asked. Headphones in my ears, I looked at him and nodded. I was out of breath, at the highest level of the machine and not in the mood to chat. “You’re a pretty girl and I bet all these creepy guys try to talk to ya ‘ but I bet a lot of guys are too scared to chat. Well I’m not scared.”

My face broke into a smile, and I couldn’t help but laugh. “See! I made a pretty girl laugh today. Not every man can do that. You look like you’re tired. Why are you on this machine? Is it good?” he asked. I removed my headphones in defeat and smiled at him. Our dialogue followed:

Me: It exhausts me.
Him: Isn’t there something in between?
Me: I want to be exhausted. It releases my stress.
Him: Okay. Mind if I try? It looks easy to me.

So the older man, who I soon learned was named Lou, got on the elliptical and took to it quickly. We moved at the same pace, but I was breaking a sweat and panting.

Lou: You’re a faker. This is easy. I don’t know why you’re so tired.
Me: It’s because I’m on level 55 and you’re on level 15.
Lou: Is that so? I’ll show you!

He stepped it up to 35 and within the first few seconds, I truly thought poor Lou was going to pass out or have a heart attack. Gasping for his breath, he continued his interview session with me.

Lou: When did you first notice that men were staring at you? You had to notice when.
Me: I have no idea.
Lou: Why do you think men like to look at you? I guess it’s nice to look at something pleasant.
Me: I guess. You have some interesting questions, Lou.
Lou: You got a boyfriend?
Me: No.
Lou: You got a lot of boyfriends don’t you?
Me: No. Men like to chase after me and when they finally get what they want, well, they move on or sabotage things.

Lou was silent for a moment and my mind began reeling. This is the reason I was pushing myself so hard. I didn’t want to think about the circuitous dating in my life as follows: Guy meets Girl. Guy obsesses over Girl and calls her. A lot. Guy does anything for a chance to spend time with Girl. Guy makes promises that this is real. Girl takes things slowly. Guy fantasizes about Girl. Guy gets the real Girl and freaks out.

Lou: I’d imagine a lot of guys are jerks and a lot of the nice guys are scared.
Me: Well, the last one would rather have a blow-up doll of me than to be with me.
Lou: A what?! That’s just silly. But these fellows are young, they’ll learn. How old are they?
Me: In their thirties.
Lou: They should know better. What guy wouldn’t want to be with you?
Me: It gives me more material for songs.
Lou: Oh yeah? What’s the name of one of your records?
Me: I wrote a song last night called “Revolving Door.”
Lou: Ha ha ha! (he was half-laughing, half-puffing) That’s a good one. You wanna sing it?
Me: Not under these conditions.

I finished my workout and poor Lou was still trying to finish his ten minutes at a higher rate than he should’ve been. I told him I was going to the bikes now and he said he might see me over there. I went across the gym and while on the bike, I turned and watched Lou peering around a pillar. Everytime he saw me turn, he would duck behind so I didn’t notice. A few minutes later, he snuck behind me and leaned the unoccupied bike to my left.

“I hope this bike business is easier than that was,” Lou said and I jumped, unaware he was breathing over my shoulder.

I watched him struggle to lower the seat, which went crashing to the floor. Once adjusted, he got on and couldn’t move the pedals. “This is just too high a level. I need to take it easy.” Poor Lou, pushing his body to its limits just to continue our conversation.

“I think you’re a beautiful girl and you need to just be happy. Don’t worry about the revolving door stuff. The right people will stick around,” he said. It was what I know is the truth and really needed to hear. He told me of his own life and kids and friends at the gym. I listened… glad that he was so persistant. Being a determined person, I’m a strong fan of persistance with people. It was one of the reasons I found myself feeling sad on this day, with my recent “revolving door” episode. I’d like to think that Lou lived his life for its reality, and not in a fantasy bubble. I’d like to think that I’m making the choices to stay in reality… I don’t want my dreams to just be a fantasy. I want to live them. I don’t want my relationships to be virtual and based on someone’s fantasy. I don’t want to be on some pedastal, where the only place to go is down. Why is it that fear can be so deeply intertwined with dreams and fantasies? I always thought if people want something, and receive it, that they’ll be happy and celebrate it. I sure as hell am, even though I then strive for the next thing. There’s a reason so many people win the lottery and end up broke a year later. It’s such an important thing to remember on this journey…

Thanks, Lou.

Vineyard Affairs and Cake Batter Through Revolving Doors

Things are going
so well. Scott and I have four shows lined up in the next week (ah! you can see my schedule on myspace.com/michellehotaling).
I’m close to completing two new ballads… and they’re haunting. The
Vineyard, is a song written about my lesbian affair with Carly Simon on
Martha’s Vineyard. Remember how she pledged to never reveal who “You’re
So Vain” is about? That is my pledge to this song. And Carly is hot.
Still.

The past few months I’ve been so busy that I haven’t
written a new song since the Vineyard. But thank the gods for my
inability to cry in a long time because instead last night I composed a
new one. It’s called “Revolving Door.” Don’t get too excited- you
probably won’t get to hear it for another five years! It might make the
next album. If I don’t take a scalpel and remove from the part of my brain that keeps it spinning over and over.

I have two new addictions and they compliment one
another. First, I’ve been going to the gym religiously. I modeled for
the Y and got a free membership. I have to say my encounters with old
lady snatch and a lack of modesty in the ladies’ room has me a bit
traumatized. Is this even appropriate to blog about it? I will say
there’s nothing more motivating than working out on an elliptical next
to an eighty-year-old woman who can outlast me (and I was on that thing
for forty-five minutes!).

My second addiction… cake batter.
Yeah, just cake mix with water. I should stop, I know… but it’s so
good. And working out an hour and a half every day must burn it all off
anyway. Or so I tell myself.

You may remember my blog about not
moving furniture (and chopping off my hair to form bangs). I completely
rearranged my apartment. I still can’t find my red velvet hat, so
people light a candle for my hat to be found. It’d be perfect for the
Bryant Park shows. You ever have something you don’t really care about
until you can’t find it and suddenly it becomes the vein of your
existence? Same goes true for men in my life. But at least I get songs
out of them.

Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating~

I wish
I could share (and torture you with) the melody line that is stuck in
my head over and over and over again. Words and melodies that only I
have heard… “i’ve felt this way before… it’s another revolving
door…” Why can so few people handle life when they finally get what
they want? And how many more people prefer to live with the fantasy of
something that breathing in the reality of it? Beats the hell out of me. Hence, my song…

For
some reason this unveiled, brand spanking new song seems like something
James Blunt or John Lennon would sing. Everytime I practice I have an
English accent going.