the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Hurt Me, Baby

I did wake up with the now-ubitquitous Saturday Stoly Headache (never drink on an empty stomach), but the standard hangover cure of pizza & pedialyte & advil (before going to sleep) and coffee & cheerios (the morning of) seems to have significantly taken taken the edge off of what could have been a much worse day. I'm at my cousin Siva's dogsitting his very cute mutt Ellie and raiding his library. Siva is one of the few people I could actually use the word "library" with. He and his wife Melissa have no less than nine bookshelves in his living room. That, plus a huge comfortable bed, perfect internet connection, friendly dog and great location (downtown, in Greenwich Village) make his apartment like my own little getaway. It's as close as I get to a vacation these days. People can't find me and I feel very professorial. Instead of roaming around town I'm sunk in this armchair getting drunk and reading Introduction to Chaos Theory.

Last night was uber-New York, in that huge pretentious performance art/drunken pizza scarfing kind of way. We started the night at Temple Bar, which I dug because it had this cool, red-velvet speakeasy vibe, complete with icy bottles of champagne in buckets by the door. I could have hung at there a lot longer, but J.Buffalo had a friend who was in the show at Fez. It turns out that Fez was actually cooler than it even looked, because what I thought was just a Moroccan bar at the back of a cafe actually had a whole club thing happening downstairs. So it's Fez the club, rather than Fez the bar, that's closing, which is okay because I never knew about it anyway.

Well, Jonathan Ames and Co. have been hanging around doing shows at Fez for ages, but tonight was the last night. The show had its moments, but the whole thiing had this masochistic beat me-degrade me theme to it. I know, I know, writing can be cathartic, but so many writers just plain get off on confessing their most ridiculously embarassing moments. And only some really pull it of--make it something entertaining as well as cathartic. Anyway, that seemed to be the theme of the night. And to be frank--and as a feminist I hate saying crap like this--the men were a lot better at it than the women. The men were non-linear and kooky, while the women just did comedy routines of increasingly humiliating revelations.

The evening started with Jonathan Ames in boxer shorts, dancing and gyrating wildly and doing a reverse striptease that got ended up with him fully clothed in a suit. That, I could dig. I've always liked Jonathan Ames--I used to read his articles in the New York Press--and he kind of gets away with that confessional thing by really being rather odd. The next two acts were Alien Comic, rambling about New Age theory and using ridiculous props he kept on an apron, and Zero Boy, who didn't even speak. He just made sounds that somehow merged into a coherent critique of the Bush administration. Those acts, I dug too. But then the chicks arrived. There was one girl in some shiny Sex-and-the-City outfit who went on forever about having her 29th (shocker!) birthday on an airplane and about her difficulties buying buying condoms, and another who played the accordian in big "I'm so nerdy I'm cool" glasses. There was even a girl who looked like that Liv Tyler elf in Lord of the Rings, complete with ears and bizzare pink gown. She spoke in a faux-squeak and kept referring to the chihuahua in the bag as "the Reverend." I didn't know how much more faux-freakishness I could take, and everybody just looked bemused when I argued that it was probably way past that chihuahua's bedtime. J. Buffalo even tried to convince me it was having fun, but I know I saw it yawn at least twice. But just when I thought the masochism couldn't get any worse. it was time for Amy Sohn.

Look, I know she takes a lot of grief, and that's hard for any writer, but she's really asking for it sometimes. Yesterday's spiel--and I admit I was drunk, but I couldn't make this up--involved her plan to chide her boyfriend's self-involvement by cutting out pictures of his head from a magazine and pasting them to her nipples, and then going on a date with this guy. This--and I may get the exact phrasing wrong--was somehow "gently poke fun at his increasing obsession with himself" that was making her feel inadequate. Sadly, the situation deteriorated even more because he talked about himself the whole time and didn't even notice her heaving bosom. I wasn't sure how this all ended--the nachos arrived at this point--but I really don't think I can take any more knowledge of Amy Sohn's sex life. I don't ask for it, and I don't deserve to be accosted with it at every available opportunity. If she's so into self-flagellation, that's fine by me, but I really wish people would stop paying her for it.

The highlight of last night's masochism was David Leslie, a man who just likes to cut the crap and have people from the audience punch him in the stomach. It reminded me of the freak shows at Lollapalooza concerts in high school, when I used to work the hot dog stands (of all things) for free admission. And I have to admit, he does it with such good manners that you really felt for him when a huge guy from the audience strapped on the boxing glove and knocked him back a good two feet. Maybe it's the film noir girl in me, but I can appreciate a guy who knows how to take a solid punch to the gut.

But that was all we could take at the Fez. We headed out for the late-night slice, discussed what everyone discussing when they're wasted late at night (sex and politics) and broke a couple of Street Law Handbook rules along the way. When I left J.Buffalo and accomplice David, they were contemplating sneaking into some East Village pool/billiards place that clearly had people inside even though the doors were locked. Although I thought about it; "Street Law Handbook Author Charged with Assault and Trespass" would admittedly be great publicity for the book. But even I wasn't that drunk.

The evening does make me question my now-low performance art tolerance. It really never works for me. Neither does stand-up comedy. The risk of seeing someone who makes you cringe or groan is just way too high. But I suppose it's hardest when some of these people are your friends. (Believe me, I understand the pressure of performance--I flirted with acting in college, only to see the frozen expressions of my friends after my performance as "Goody Crazy Woman" in a full-length version of The Crucible. That's when I realized I'd better stick to writing). But you're their friend, and you're going to tell them that they were great, and you even try to find stuff that you liked about it. I've been lucky, I've tended to like most of the output from my artistic/literary/musical friends. I think if I like the person, then I tend to like them as an artist/whatever, and vice versa. Maybe it's just a question of sharing sensibilities.

All of which makes me eagerly anticipate the opening of J.Buffalo's second play Crazy Eyes here in New York. (It's already premiered in Greece; see details here.). In addition to writing screenplays and acting and god-knows-what-else, J.Buffalo is the ex-editor of High Times. After starting out as a revolutionary mag, High Times was a dumb stoner/pot supplier advertisement rag for years. The magazine flirted with substance and a return back to being a cool activist underground magazine last year, with articles from Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, and Jim Jarmusch, among others Unfortunately, the magazine had made more money from advertisers as a dumb stoner/pot supplier advertisement rag, at least initially. Accounting didn't have the patience to wait, and they wanted their magazine done the old way. And that's when everyone quit. There's a big hole in the market now, folks, because that one year of High Times had some of the sharpest writing and most interesting political commentary around. And people were really starting to get into it.

Anyway, back to Crazy Eyes. I'm excited because this really cool indie actress is thinking about it. (I don't want to jinx anything). When I asked J.Buffalo if he had to be so freakishly accomplished already, he said that some people felt that he was behind. Now I suppose knowing that your dad became a literary icon at 25 can put a lot of pressure on you, but I'm pretty damn envious of people like J.Buffalo or my friend Laren or all those other people who discover they're writers early in life. I mean, I was always writing, but I didn't know that I was going to be Just A Writer, until about two years ago, and that writing is pretty much all I'm fit for. (Which is fine by me. We--the royal we--can work in the law or television or dogwalking or hula dancing when necessary, but even with all the shit that goes with it, we couldn't ask for a better profession than just plain writing).

We are, however, tired and drunk, as seen by the usage of the "royal we." Chaos theory awaits. As for J.Buffalo, we are going to continue saying J.Buffalo, even though everyone else calls him John. If we had a name like Buffalo, that's all we would want to be called. This may also be because we envy people who have a middle name, since we do not (why, mom, why?). Maybe we shall now be known as N.Peacock....N. Kitten? Andrew, Ollie, what did we decide? Enter comments below.

"Here's to alcohol. The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems"--Homer Simpson.


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