Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Mitzvah: Joy Behar and Susie Essman at the 92nd street Y

In 1990, Susie Essman played the role of a Hasidic woman named Malka in the Hallmark TV movie "Loving Leah." Barbra Walters interviewed Essman on the View about her research of the role earlier this year, asking what the actress learned about the ultra- orthodox community. She answered, "That they're not very good dressers." Of course, this flippant and hilarious comment attracted ire from many. In order to rectify the situation, Essman suggested that the View host a Hasidic fashion show. Joy Behar said that in the lull of summer programming, the producers seriously considered it.

How did I learn such juicy showbiz gossipy bits? BECAUSE I was seated last row (literally dead last, vertigo- inducing last) at an Evening with Susie Essman and Joy Behar at the 92nd Street Y last night! I just adore these two brassy broads and purchased tickets ages ago and told my so- called "friends" to do the same. Of course, none of them did, they are all very preoccupied crafting their slutty Halloween costumes (Chris has been working on his "Downward Dog" creation all week and Brooke D's "Nancy Kerrigan Nasty" is just skating along) and experimenting with new jello shot flavors (Anna is perfecting "malt liquor and sriracha " and Brooke G will soon patent "college dorm room"). I was the sole Gentile in the audience and companionless. Needless to say, I felt like a curious aberration in a sea of peri- geriatrics and Larry David doppelgangers. Brooke D, Brooke G, Anna, and Chris: If you are reading, I hate you.

But no matter, just more Behar and Essman for me! Joy "So what, who cares?!" Behar instigated a lively conversation with Essman, so much so that you really felt like you were just having cawefee tawk with a couple of yentas. They reflected at length about hustling as female stand- up comics in the '80s, which sounded like a cross between Punchline starring the cast of Beaches taking place along the Trail of Tears. Susie Essman had so many pearls of wisdom to share, for example:

On rambling stories:
" I hate detail- laden stories. Give me 'salient point, salient point, punchline.'"

On Curb Your Enthusiasm character, Susie Green:
"She suffers from high self- esteem."

On how to know if your husband is gay:
"If you catch him blowing the neighbor or reading my book."

On aging:
"I don't give a shit what anyone thinks of me anymore."

Totally! I give, like, 15% less of a shit in my 26th year than in my 25th... by the time I hit thirty I'll be clogging traffic on the sidewalks of Park Slope with my Rascal, wearing a nightshirt emblazoned with a kitten face and emerald rhinestones as its eyes, having ballooned up to 300+ pounds, wearing my hair in two long braids. Age shmage, some of us do not have that far to fall.

You can readily define any individual who deigns to ask a question in the Q and A period of a lecture, can't you? First off, you know they are bold and brazen, I (contrary to popular belief) am debilitatingly shy when it comes to public address, way too shy to pose any questions in front of an AUDIENCE, even if they can be written on note cards and handed in anonymously. I can barely make eye contact with the bodega guy. Here are some stock personalities and their corresponding questions:

1. The Pundit:
"Joy, why didn't you really give it to Ann Coulter when she was on your show?" [Ed. note- That person is an asshole. How dare you criticize your host, about something so trite anyway? Ill- mannered cretin, have you ever turned off Air America and left your apartment prior to that moment?.]

2. The Benevolent Sycophant:
"What can we do as a community to promote women and women comics?"

3. The Rabbi:
"Susie, you say that the acting on Curb is spontaneous, but that you often will shoot up to 25 takes for a single scene. How can one act with spontaneity after 25 takes?"

4. The Comedian:
"Tell me a joke"
Essman's response: "I don't tell jokes. Go fuck yourself."

It was a wondrous night, a star- studded Spectacular of ball- busting, Judaica- referencing (mentions of brisket: 3, shout- outs to the JCC in Boca Raton: 1, discussion of various medical ailments: too many to keep track) Did I mention that I walked directly into the impressively sturdy frame of Dan Aykroyd in the bathroom? I felt so shy! He is Elwood! Also because I was in the men's bathroom... See what you missed, friends?! When the next uplifting cultural event comes around I'm sure they'll be huddled in line at the blood bank trying to sell their platelets.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To The Lighthouse!

In Virginia Woolf's day, when ladies got the post- partum or wanted to do something crazy like work outside the home, they were sent to the nervous hospital. Or they went to the lighthouse, or to the waves as a final act of defiance: "Against you I will fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!" Today, when ladies are teetering upon the edge of losing their shit, they take a long weekend to Block Island, Rhode Island. Not that I would know, I just wanted a holiday in the country... Here's what I did:

I spied behind rocks.

I served as a mercenary against the white man for the Pequots. Oh right.... sad.
... the elusive Riis Beach monster of summer 2008 surfaced on the sands of New Shoreham, RI.
... as did the oft- mythologized Block Island boulder humper.
I destroyed.
The town historian gave a provocative lecture at the Indian Cemetery, entited "Totem or Totemic?: King Philip's War and the Southern New England Tourism Industry."
I found boyfriends.
I stumbled upon this perverse mascot of small town inter- species breeding: the Rhode Island cow horse.

Have you ever stopped toponder the significance of the Rhode Island state flag? I thought so! Roger Williams, upon the founding of 'Lil Rhody in 1636, quoted Hebrews 6:19- "Hope we have as an anchor of the soul." Indeed! pRIde!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ze Post- Eet ees in ze microfeelm...

... OR the Post- It Note reading series comes to KGB Bar!
While you are probably just itching to learn what exactly a "reading series" entails, great unwashed illiterates, even YOU know what Post- Its are. There you are, alone in your cubicle or home office [the floor], affixing the colorful squares to your face when you think no one is watching, creating a prismatic rainbow trout effect, as you contemplate your sorry state of existence in the reflection of your computer screen, sullied Post- It fool! Or, like Romy and Michelle, you attempt to pull a fast one on your peer cohort at a high school reunion, claiming to have invented Post- Its and you humiliate yourself in front of the same doughy French Canadian townie whores of yore, and they're all, "Shut up, idiot, that movie is on TBS, like, thrice weekly."

In The Elegance of the Hedgehog (which has apparently been a hot shit book for like six months now, and that I was enchanted to learn of just the other day, as I write this from a dungeon in Tikrit) Mauriel Bauby writes, "With the exception of love, friendship, and the beauty of Art, I don't see much else that can nurture human life [. . .] I'm not talking about great works of art by great masters. No, I'm referring to the beauty that is there in the world, things that, being part of the movement of life, elevate us." Yes! The high, the low, the joy, the sorr-ow! The Post- It Note series is another one of those slices of sweet grace in the grind of unyielding ordinariness.

So here's how it works: Illustrator/ bearded heartbreaker Arthur Jones sets readers' stories to a backdrop of silly drawings, creating delightful comedic punctuation. Last week, they brought the show to KGB Bar's Every Tuesday True Story Non- Fiction Event.

I had the DISTINCT pleasure of catching three outstanding and achingly funny readers, not a dud among them. First, downtown darling Mike Albo described a renewing vacation to Hawaii under eat- pray- love auspices, illustrations of the author frolicking with dolphins and hilarity ensued. The disembodied voice of This Americn Life contributor Starlee Kine bellowed with tales of a childhood trip to the Nixon Library and young love, and Andrew "NOONDAY DEMON" Solomon headlined the evening with a story of his participating in a traditional Senegalese depression- ridding ritual. It involves entering a marriage bed with a goat, ladies washing away the animal blood that covered Solomon's body by spitting, and being hog tied in intestines. Who says anthropology has to be paternalistic?! I was so impressed not only by Solomon's epic storytelling and the good natured benevolence he brings to the room, but also by the velvety coat he wore that looked as if it had been robbed off the back of Raffi. Solomon is truly a god of a man, the kind of guy with whom you'd just like to throw on a schmatte and watch Golden Girls. His winning the Pulitzer really hasn't garnered the author enough media accolades, so I figured I'd step in and help.

So, philistines, if baby wants to get literate, this is the place to start. It has PICTURES, for chrissakes, and they read the stories TO YOU! And it's free! That's right, more money in your tattery pockets for Yu- Gi- Oh cards and grape drink. Here's the Post- It Note series blog, although it looks as if it hasn't been updated in some time... they must not have a staff of models and interns like this publication.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Out of all the iconic figures of Americana mythology none resonate so romantic as the hobo. Did you know that hobo actually is short for "homeward bound?" I learned that in Eat, Pray, Love but so what?! Hobos are actually just homeless people with more wanderlust, gumption, and personal style. Already possessing all these virtues, and growing weary of living the life of a pauper/ reverse stripper [a getting dressed-er] while masquerading as a bonafide person, I am considering this whimsical life with more and more measured consideration. And hello we're in a recession, and that's kind of like the Depression! Now is the moment to walk away from modernity and all its unsavory elements, like credit default swaps, bottle service, and socks. But then I stop and think, "Riding the rails and eating beans and singing Woody Guthrie anthems would grow tedious, and a mere bindle can't contain all my celebrity scrapbooks and half dried Diorshow mascaras." Life as a hobo is not for the faint of heart. But what is truly truly romantic, something I've been spending much time fantasizing about lately, is the idea of packing a bag, walking out the door, and just keep on walking. Walking and walking into the great wide open! Wandering the earth as a hobo! I will pack up my knapsack, put on my Vans, and walk. Jon Krakauer will write a book about me. The line between being a hobo and a homeless person is pretty thin in New York City. The logical median lands around "St. Mark's gutter punk," which is frankly dreadful. So I concocted an experimental hobo life just the other day, when I walked to the idyllic village of Cold Spring, New York. And by walk I mean walked to the subway and got on the Metro North. But don't worry, I rode in on boxcars! boxcars! boxcars! I have come to terrorize your town.
Here I am at the filling station, after liberating a cooling pie from a window sill. My hobo name is Jelly Belly Octo Limbs.
My new house. It lends a very Dick and Perry, old world charm.

And here's my new hobo stuff. The requisite non- descript cart and vaguely menacing rusty drawer.

And here I am walking the world with my traveling companion Jimmy Nine Toes. What happened to the nubile blond in the short shorts? you ask. Why do you look like a Steinbeck made- for- TV movie salvaged from the cutting room floor? Like I said, hobo life is not for the faint of heart, you bourgeois judge. Don't judge me!