Monday, December 25, 2006


Christmas reminds me of a story...

I was interviewing at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. This was years ago--I was still in school, and they were hiring breakfast waitstaff. I thought it would be good to get a few hours of work in before class.

Once, when I was fourteen, I swallowed a dime. This is the kind of person who thinks that waking up at 4:30 in the morning to serve breakfast to tourists before graduate school sounds like a fine time.

I was also inexperienced in the ways of job interviewers and the kind of bullshit that nourishes them. And the interviewer of a prospective waitperson? This is an individual who seeks an A-class bullshitter, the kind of bullshitter who can stare an overstuffed, spinach-toothed tourist in the face, crack a joke, refill his coffee cup, and brag about the créme caramel.

I was no such bullshitter. Not that day.

Upon my arrival at the as-yet-unopened hotel, I was escorted to a little room with a coat rack. I sat for a minute, waiting. People kept ducking in and out of the room, excusing themselves, harried. It was like a Jane Austen novel the morning of an important ball. Finally, the interviewer arrived, apologizing. She was dressed in black. We made small talk for awhile, then she got down to it.


Now, a real bullshitter would know that the interviewer is not really interested in the FIRST thing that I might think of when I think of hospitality. Not the very first thing. This isn't a Rorschach test, after all. She is not going to use the answer to my question to assess whether or not I am disturbed or autistic or some kind of mathematically inclined psychopath. No, anyone with even the most menial bullshitting skills would immediately realize that the woman wanted to know, not the first thing I thought of, but the best thing. What is the best thing I think of when I think of hospitality? That was the question.

I answered the question as asked.

"I think of Mary, pregnant with Jesus. She's wandering around from inn to inn. Everything's closed, of course, because it's Christmas. She's getting desperate. It's so cold. Finally, a manger. Warm. Glowing. Brimming with hay and other comforts, the perfect place to give birth. That manger, to me, is hospitality, defined."

(That was pretty much what I said, verbatim, except for the Christmas line which I added just now for comedic value.)

I did what I was told. I said the first thing that came to my mind. I was surprised to find out that not very deep into my subconscious lurks some kind of jolly Jesus nut.

The interviewer paused. I twitched. I began to realize that I might have improved my chances of getting the job if I'd said something like, "I think of the wrapped little soaps in the guest bathroom at Granny Lynn's house". But, at least I was being honest, right? I was answering questions as they were asked! The interview continued.


"I have a problem with authority."

I did not get the job.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


To walk in New York City is to be practiced in the art of singular vision.

Because who knows what you’ll see? You might see two men yelling at each other out the windows of their matching white vans, fist shaking, threatening (Garment District). You may see a man, covered in blood, run around a corner at full speed before getting tackled by a couple of burly cops (Penn Station). Transvestites (Chelsea). Celebrities (Tribeca). You might even see a woman in a pair of overalls with nothing on underneath, exposing her mahogany nipples for mass consumption (Nolita).

If you want to get anywhere, you have to stay focused. And everyone in New York is trying to get somewhere.

The other day I was scheduled to meet someone I’d already met in a space I’d never been. I was a little early, and I stood outside the building, searching my electronic doohickey for the suite number. Suddenly, a man’s voice:

“You looking for something?”

“No!” I replied. And without looking back I dove, head first, into a neighboring coffee shop.

The man who had approached me, it came to be known, was the very same man I was scheduled to meet. Singular vision, that’s what I’m saying. But then, yesterday, I saw something.

It is rather strange that I would see it at all. Walking, as I was, on a quieter street in Soho—not quiet, mind you, quieter. This was no country road. There were no sheep or crossing guards or horse trailers. This was still New York City, Monday, midday. This was still Soho, a neighborhood teaming with tourists and models and indie film production crews. I was walking, as is my want, staring ahead, thinking about lunch. I came upon a parked taxi cab, and, despite my years of training in the art of singular vision, I let my eyes wander along the yellow body of the cab, and into the driver’s side window. That’s when I saw it.

The it to which I refer has any number of nicknames. It has been likened to a mushroom, a reptile, a rooster. There is also an assortment of Yiddish terminology from which to choose when naming it. Some people sling it. Disagreeable people may be asked to suck upon it. It is very often referred to in Greenwich Village comedy clubs. And there it was, like a good soldier standing at attention, saluting me from inside this taxi cab on Mercer Street.

I gave a little shriek when I realized what it was and increased my pace. What a way to start the week.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


We don’t have a royal family. We didn’t breed Shakespeare or Dickens or Monty Python. We are fat, many of us, we have unsubtle senses of humor. We consume growth hormones and bad television and political falsehoods with nary a care. We often destroy what is beautiful about a thing in order to make it more convenient.

But still, there is something about America.

Ours is a big country, an ununited country, despite its name. We have no ethnicity that binds us. We are the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren, the great-great-grandchildren of immigrants. We who call ourselves American are not American by blood, but by the accident of our births.

Ours is a new country, and a successful one. Anyone can succeed here, that’s what we are told. Come. Come succeed. Only you can be blamed for your failure. Strive. Strive and you could affect the world.

Maybe it is our boorishness in the eyes of the world; our glad-handed, grinning, new-moneyed style. But there is something, I must admit, about America—something that makes me feel lucky to be born here, and to be home.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I was back in Brooklyn for three days when I found myself sitting on another plane, dressed for a funeral.

Children should be sedated before they are allowed to travel by air, don’t you think? Because anything could happen…The plane could be minutes away from descending into Chicago when the airport closes due to snow. The plane could, possibly, circle around the airport in hopes that it might open up, until threats of the untold harm that running out of gas would cause the passengers forces the pilot to divert to, say, Indianapolis. The plane could sit there, getting more gas, maybe, de-icing, just sort of hanging out, in a remote corner of the tarmac in the Indianapolis airport for another hour or so. All of this is possible. Do you hear me out there parents? Because the unsedated child may have trouble with this. Jimmy or Julie or Jasper or Jamal may have a bit of difficulty dealing with a two-hour flight morphing into a six-hour adventure without a little pharmaceutical help. He may start compulsively kicking the back of the seat in front of him. She may begin to scream—not cry, just scream, as she might if a giant lizard were chasing her. There might be accidents. You don’t want your child making such putrid smells as to cause the stewardi to run around, covering their noses, dousing the place with air freshener. Do you? DO YOU, PARENTS? BECAUSE I HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN AND IT IS NOT PRETTY!!! BE A RESPONSIBLE PASSENGER, SEDATE YOUR CHILDREN!!!

Now I’m here in the North Chicago suburb of my youth. I rode out on the same highway I’ve ridden on a million times. Every exit has a story: here’s where I dropped off those drunk twins who had thrown up on each other; here’s where I went ice skating; here’s where that girl who went crazy and drove to Kentucky lived.

Snow sticks to the trees. People I’ve known all my life stop by to say hello. How could I have gotten this old?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


A person on a plane could get confused. Because he is sitting, because people are bringing him things, food and the like, he may think that he is in a restaurant. In fact, the plane itself, the crew on the plane, may want him to think that he is in a restaurant.

He is not.

In a restaurant, for example, there is no possibility that oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. There is no moment, in a restaurant, when you wonder whether to meal you’re eating is your last. In a restaurant, you do not very often consider which of the other patrons you would eat if it came down to it. A date at a restaurant is never going to end in the side of a mountain, that’s what I’m saying here.

I have been a waitress. I have been on the waitstaff at eleven eating establishments, and never once did I approach a table with a drink, only to find that the customer was sleeping or watching a movie or dreaming of the seventy-two virgins who will be waiting for him at that big arrival gate in the sky once he finishes up with his day’s work.

And they’re stealthy, those flight attendants, with their little outfits and chunky-heeled shoes. They sneak up, out of nowhere, popping their heads into view to ask you to buckle your seatbelt, or stow your tray table, or if you want peanuts.

I have never been asked at a restaurant to stow my table. It wouldn’t make sense! You understand.

And when I am on a plane, I grow to six times my size. I am no longer a middle-sized woman, but a giant, talking bison. I hit the tray with my knee and knock over my drink. I elbow my neighbor in the face. I am some kind of ailing spastic. I cannot do anything for myself—I can’t get anything for myself. I can only bang around clumsily, wait for time to pass and avoid thoughts of gravity.

Ahh…transcontinental flight is so very charming.

I almost did not make my flight. In a series of events that illustrates, in no uncertain terms, why I am shit at my job, I left my passport-baring handbag at the hotel. With forty-five minutes to go before the check-in cutoff, the concierge at the hotel threw the bag in a taxi barreling towards Heathrow with a command to hurry. My boss checked in. He lazed about in the upper class lounge while I awaited the arrival of the taxi outside the gate. Despairing and hopeful, I waited. Pacing, panicky, trying to remain calm, I waited. I was wearing my 20’s hat and my coat with the fur color. I watched the numbers on my phone’s digital clock go up.

If the passport had been Hugh Grant, this would have been a scene from a Romantic Comedy.

With a minute to spare the taxi rolled in. I threw him my remaining pounds, grabbed my bag and ran my huge cart of luggage back to the check-in desk. At this point I started shedding layers. Off went my coat, my scarf. The guy behind the desk took his time. Click. Click. Type. Type. Hat off. Sweatshirt off. The sweat pooled on my face. My face was a Brooklyn street after a rainstorm. Click. Type. Type. Finally the guy handed me my ticket and I huffed toward security, brandishing my ticket and passport triumphantly, with my scarf trailing like a wooly tail behind me.

I am now back in Brooklyn. I am rather unable to assess what London was like or what New York will be like now—whether or not it will be any different. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I am too old to experiment with new drugs. I am too old to drive recklessly, to blame my parents for my disappointments, to chew bubble gum. I am too old for blue eyeliner or pink hair or hostels. I am too old to be unemployed or irresponsible or thoughtless.

I believed I was too old to make a new friend—a real friend, a friend for life.

I was wrong.

Friday, November 24, 2006


It is a luxury unlike any other. Crusty-eyed you reach over to the phone next to the bed. You dial “44”, and a pleasant international voice, brimming with British politeness, greets you with a hearty “Good Morning”. The voice knows you, he calls you by some version of your name (Mrs. Manaster, for example. Mrs. Movie Actor.) You order coffee. Toast. Maybe eggs or porridge or cereal. “Would you like a bakery basket? Or some orange juice, perhaps?” Your brain, wet with sleep, reels with possibility. Sausage. Smoked salmon. Mueslix. You hang up the phone and smile.

You slink out of from under the cozy white covers onto the cozy white slippers placed next to the bed in anticipation of this very moment. You walk to the bathroom. You emerge swathed in a cozy white robe that matches your cozy white slippers. It is as if you have never emerged from your bed. Your hotel has simply made your bed portable.

You walk around, doing things. You turn on the BBC. You think about daytime.

Then a timid little knock sounds at the door. You squeal with delight and fling the door open, almost forgetting that the robe, while very staid and proper in its way, is nevertheless the only thing between your naked self and this painfully apologetic Eastern European standing in the hallway. He bears a tray covered in plates and cups and linens and glasses and jellies and butter and more forks than a person needs in a lifetime. The tray is on wheels.

“Where shall I set up breakfast, Madam?”

You are so cool. So nonchalant.

“Oh, by the window will be fine. Thank you ever so much”.

He rolls the cart through the room. You stand aside and watch him go. Look! He’s opening up the cart so it becomes a table. Look! He’s pulling plates of food out of a heated cupboard beneath the tablecloth. They’re covered in napkins and stainless steel plate covers. Look! He’s pouring coffee, he’s opening the curtains, he’s asking if there is anything else you might require.

The sun shines out from beyond the wrought metal detailing on the window ledge. You peer out, sipping on your hot coffee with steamed milk, nibbling on a pastry.

“Yes,” you think. “Another wonderful day for the empire.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Nothing much to report, friends, other than the fact that my time here is winding down. The benefit of having this blog over the last few weeks, is that it makes me feel like my life is an adventure. Would it be possible to keep up this Indiana Jones mentality when I'm back in Brooklyn? Maybe we'll give it a go. Anyway, there's still a few more days of hijinks to be had on this side of the pond, so stay tuned...

In other news, yesterday I bought two pairs of shoes on a street dedicated to large-sized shoe stores. How can I leave? They understand me here!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Last night I headed out for the theater and my shoes were in an awful state.

I am hard on shoes, but in the time I’ve been in London, the few pairs I brought with me have degraded to a desperate, third-world condition. My boots are broken, my Converse are caked in mud, it is a sad affair. Especially for the shoes.

I believe in dressing for the theater. Maybe it is a bit of a reactionary stance, since most people wear blue jeans and sneakers and spend two hours sucking on gummy worms, but when I go to the theater, I like to look nice. So last night I put on a dress, stockings, jewelry. I slipped on my winter coat with a fur collar, a felt hat and, for lack of options, a sad pair of soft, black-leather wedge heels.

Once upon a time they were nice shoes. They really were. I bought them retail, for chrissake. But they’ve stretched so much that I cannot keep the heel on my foot. Every few paces I step right out of the shoe, crushing the back to an even more unrecognizable state. Walking in these shoes is a bit of an adventure.

And the hat, felt, with a droopy brim and a tie at the side, is very gamine, very 20’s. It’s exactly the kind of hat I would wear to look longingly through the window of a dark shop at the locket I had to sell in order to buy a loaf of bread and some milk for the baby.

I went to see the Tennessee Williams play "Summer and Smoke", in the West End. How was it you ask? Imagine spending two hours listening to British people try to speak in a posh Mississippi Delta drawl. It’s like listening to myself speak French. It was a train wreck, but at least it was expensive. And long.

At last the play was over. I put on my hat, my fur-collared coat, and dove into the night to shuffle my way back to the hotel. My path from the theater to the hotel leads directly through Soho, a hip neighborhood with a seedy undercurrent. The aesthetic could be described as Boystown meets Amsterdam.

A quick digression about London’s Soho:

Once I was in Soho in the afternoon, running some errand for my boss. It is rather quiet during the day, devoid of people. The red lights of the porn shops seem somewhat less menacing, the bars and restaurants less snobby and hip. I walked by an open door with a beaded curtain and a barely dressed lady. She was standing with her eyes wide, leaning against the doorframe with her hip jutted out. She was, however, rather portly, with a mess of frizzy black hair and a sneery mouth. I was unimpressed with her, honestly. I figured the establishment that employed her must be rather down-market, even for a whorehouse.

Later that night I found myself back in Soho, walking down the same street. Now the neighborhood had come alive. Every street was crawling with people looking for a good time, and merchants hoping to provide it for them. I happened to walk by the very same open door, with the very same beaded curtain, only now with a different lady. And she was quite lovely, actually—thin, with gorgeous Mediterranean curls and big brown eyes and a sweet mouth. I realized that the woman I had seen earlier must have been the day whore. The day whore! Get your minds around that, fair readers.

But anyway, back to the story.

So, it was in Soho that I found myself last night after the play, shuffling along, alone in my bad shoes, trying not to convert the amount I spent on the ticket into dollars, trying not to hear, “But now I can feel the Gulf Wind a-blowin’ in from the south” buzzing in my ear like a trapped fly. I was walking rather absent-mindedly, when I looked around and realized that I turned on an empty street. There was no one to be seen, anywhere. I could hear the merry-making swelling out from the bars and restaurants, but it seemed far away. I drew in a breath. The muscles in my back tightened. That’s when a man in a grey track suit and a shock of black hair approached me, hissing:

“Hey lady, want some crack?”

I shook my head without making eye contact. I drove my hands into my pockets. I turned the corner, retreating. I walked a few steps with my head down. I listened for his footsteps behind me—I heard nothing. I turned my head to see if he was there, and I saw him turn in the other direction. I exhaled. I relaxed. I watched his black hair disappear from view.

I exited Soho and continued my journey back to the hotel under the Christmas lights of Regent Street. Commerce shined out proudly from behind plate glass. I felt safe, and angry. Crack? Crack? Do I look like I want Crack?!! I’m wearing a dress for crying out loud!! I’m wearing stockings!! People who smoke crack don’t wear stockings!!

But then, the camera of my mind’s eye zoomed out and I saw myself, in my 1920’s hat, my fur-collared coat, hobbling at a snail’s pace through the windy streets of Soho, stopping every two paces to mutter a curse and pull at the back of my left shoe. I realized—I looked exactly like a crazy person. I looked like an eccentric alcoholic. I look like the kind of person who may be looking for crack.

Mother, aren’t you proud?

Monday, November 20, 2006


Here’s a funny story:

It was a morning like any other. I had woken up in my posh hotel room, breakfasted with the boss-man in his Titanic-like suite, and been driven to location. It was a particularly early day, I remember, a Monday, and perhaps I was still a bit bleary eyed, holding two coffees and the day’s script pages, as I headed into the makeup trailer to run lines. I opened the door, probably spilled some coffee, probably apologized to someone, cracked a joke of some kind, maybe didn’t notice anything strange at first. But then, there it was, without any question:

A real, live Spanish man was standing in the corner of the makeup trailer, getting his ass airbrushed.

He was my boss’s ass-double. There was to be a brief tushie-shot in one of the day’s scenes, and my boss had requested a double. He did not want to use his own ass, you see. So they found this man, a cyclist, a Spaniard, as I said, and he just stood there, trousers at his ankles, leaning against the trailer wall. They needed to get the ass-color right--for continuity purposes.

The head makeup artist is Scottish. She screamed from across the trailer:

“He’s gone too orange, Jan. You got his bum done up like a basketball.”

The poor guy. This was his big break.

And the saddest part is, they didn’t even end up using him or his ass in the shot. When push came to shove, my boss decided to use his own ass after all. I caught up with the Ass Double at lunch. He was looking kind of dejected. I tried to reassure him that there was nothing wrong with his ass, but he seemed unconvinced.

“Oh well,” he sighed. “Maybe next time.”

Yes. I assured him that the next time my boss is in London in need of an ass-double, he will be the first person I call. I took his info and patted him on the shoulder. He walked away with his jacket potato and his broken spirit.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Cool and crisp and bright. It is the kind of day that tastes like apples and smells like leaves and sounds like football and friendship.

What a day.

Weather is one thing that binds city dwellers. Weather and streets and government. But on a day like today, one can walk in a beautiful city park, one can feel the sun on one's face, the leaves underfoot. One can stroll along, passing others who do the same. Weather makes us neither older nor younger, richer nor poorer, blacker nor whiter than anyone else. Weather like today's makes us all one thing: lucky to be alive and breathing and sentient enough to experience a day like today.

I sit, sipping tea at Harrods. It's a bit overrated, if I may say so. It has nothing on the park.

(This was written yesterday. I meant to post last night when I got back from the pub, but instead I just ordered room service and passed out watching Gladiator. Are you not amused? It struck me that being a Gladiator is not unlike being a standup comic. First you work small town clubs until you make a name for yourself. Then you bust into the big city and kill! Same thing, no?)

Friday, November 17, 2006


Imagine if you were a pilgrim, living in the UK. You have no sense of irony. You don't drink or smoke or shag. You walk around in a funny hat talking very seriously about Jesus and Asceticism.

Of course the Brits are going to make fun of you! Earnestness? How very un-English! Be banish-ed forever you bad time Charlies! You lot--to the Mayflower! We're going to the pub without you!!!

I will be spending Thanksgiving here, in London. I will be missing my 10-year high school reunion. If anyone from Highland Park High School is reading this, please impart to my classmates that I am very thin and happy and successful beyond my wildest dreams. And also that I am skinny. And rich. And slim. And content in my relationship. And that I am slender.

Please also say that I never think about high school.

And that I'm really very svelt.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I have befriended the on-set nurse. She has saved me from boredom-related head-bashing these few weeks because she is the only one on set that does less than I do. It's quite wonderful, really. We stand around playing "Would you rather" and making faces behind the back of the mean third AD, and generally have a lovely time. I told her of my blog and she was rather miffed that she had not been mentioned. I promised to write her a poem to make it up to her. Here goes:

Morag Morag is lesbian gold
So I'm told
By her

You're welcome.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Back in London and all is well.

Greg and I parted in Paris (trés melodramatic, non?), and he ran off to the former Soviet Bloc to have adventures of his own (see his blog: Now that I am comfortably re-installed at Claridge’s, I am considering two possible reactions to our separation:

1. I could go downstairs to the bar and drown my sadness in a series of cleverly named cocktails.

2. I can rejoice in the knowledge that now that I am undistracted by love and happiness and various other boring things, I can report on some of the more humorous events that occurred while he was here and I was neglectful of you, loyal readers.

I have chosen the latter because I can’t be asked to change out of my pajamas. Oh Happy Day! No need to applaud, I can’t hear you anyway.

Tonight the first of these stories: THE TALE OF THE DEFECTIVE GARTER BELT.

Greg and I had been apart for three weeks and I wanted to greet him with something special when he arrived in London. I wanted something classy with just the slightest whiff of the Dutch whore. I decided to buy a pair of thigh-highs and a garter belt.

I found the garter belt at a tiny lingerie shop on Portabello Road. It was rather edgy—the clasps attached to the belt, not with lace or elastic, but with strings of shiny blue beads. On the day of Greg’s arrival, I rolled on the nylons, attached the beaded clasps, covered up with a more or less respectable frock, and set out to pick up my boyfriend from London Heathrow, feeling very naughty.

During the one-block walk from the hotel to the tube station, the string of beads on the back of my left leg broke off the belt. There was no sound—no POP or TWING or RIP. The only reason I noticed at all is that I felt the beads bouncing off the back of my knee. The beads were still attached to the stocking, you understand, and the stocking was drooping. I kept praying that no one could see the blue beads creeping out from under my dress as I hurried towards the platform. And then, just as I arrived and equally noiselessly, the second strand of beads on my left leg popped off the belt.

Down went my stocking, slumping to just above my knee. The beads hung down to mid-calf. There was nowhere to go—the platform was crowded with people. Suddenly it seemed that every child and elderly person in England was waiting for the Piccadilly line. I surreptitiously hiked the stocking up as best I could and tried holding it up by squeezing my legs together. The effort went unrewarded. The train pulled into the station and I walked penguin-style onto the train. The beads were practically at my ankles. There was not a seat to be had. I stood there, staring straight ahead, as I felt my left stocking creeping lower and lower and lower down my leg, pulled by two strands of shiny blue beads. I pretended not to notice. I tried reciting the Greek alphabet to myself. I closed my eyes and thought of starving people.

I arrived at Heathrow an hour later with two thigh-high stockings and two strings of beads in my purse, still wearing the belt with the two strands of beads on the right swinging along with each stride.

Greg was happy to see me.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


My heart is a bit full as I prepare to bid farewell to my lover today. Paris is as beautiful as I remember it--lacy and dark and gothic and chic. It is a very serious city. Everyone in black and smoking. "I am too chic for cancer" they seem to be saying, although I don't think that cancer cares about fashion.

Better not to tell them that.

Yesterday we had one of the best meals I've ever had at a basque restaurant on the left bank. There was so much animal fat on the table, I could imagine some blonde, LA aerobics-instructing, actress wanna-be taking one look at our lunch and fainting on the spot. Mmm. That may have made the meal that much better.

Tonight I'm back in London then back on set for more movie making magic (ie: drinking tea and making fun of the extras). Le sigh....

Thursday, November 09, 2006


It is a miracle of Hannukkah-like proportions that we made it here. We flew here last night, after racing from set to the airport train. Moments after we boarded, we spilled a full handbag-sized bag of trail mix onto the floor of the train, and no amount of foot-powered shoe sweeping on Gregory's part seemed to diminish the mess. There were cranberries and brazil nuts and raisins and pecans all the way up and down the length of the suburban rail car. When we finally arrived at the airport stop, I was so happy to escape the disapproving gaze of our fellow (British) travellers that I exited the train WITHOUT MY BAG. When I realized my blunder I screamed dramatically, "SHIT! MY BAG!!" and stuck my arm into the closing train door. And for a few beats I just stood there, waving my arm at the very same commuters who, just moments before, had happily bid adieu to what they imagined would be all of my body parts. Finally Greg pressed some kind of button, I ran in and grabbed my bag, smiled winningly at the now horrified travellers, and went on my way.

On the shuttle bus to the terminal, I said to Greg, "It's amazing we've made it this far." "Don't jinx us," he replied, then promptly banged his head on a metal pole.

After riding on every train, plane, bus and subway in Europe we finally made it to our hotel. What a dump. The place smells like strawberry cleanser and sweat. There is no bathroom on our floor, and the bed looks like a nice place wait out heroin withdrawal. But there is a small terrace and a view of Sacre Cour from our room, and I am more than happy to concede a few comforts for that.

Ah, Paris. I am so happy to see you again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


1. Sausage
2. Beat-up car
3. Slutty girl
4. Ugly girl
5. Really good song
6. Really good party
7. Loud Firework (Thanks, Vicki. Please see comment)

Any more? Seriously, England, this is the best you can do? There are other words, you know.

Sorry I've been a bit MIA. Greg is in town and we have been doing touristy things like mooning the guards at Buckingham palace. More to come...

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I am sitting in the lobby of my hotel. It is beautiful, of course, with a huge chandelier and a dramatic staircase. Wealthy people mill about, layered and posturing, wandering from the dining room to the bar to the street. There is the soft gallop of expensive men’s shoes and the anxious tick of high heels on marble. A fire is blazing and I sit underdressed in a leather chair, thinking of love.

I hear the unmistakable twang of a drunken American accent. I wonder if the English feel as crowded by their own countrymen when they visit the states as I do here, in London. I see and hear us everywhere—not embarrassingly, not unassimilated, but unambiguously American as we ask for the bill and say things like, “proper” and “quid” and “knackered”.

I had a quiet night last night: I ordered up a fancy sandwich and went for a run in the gym. Vicki (Surely my three readers are familiar, by now, with dear Vick) was in the neighborhood with her friend Paddy, and his wife. I met them for a drink in the hotel bar. I came, as I said, having just worked out, and I felt young and healthy and American. If my mood had a soundtrack it would have been a Beach Boys song about a car. Vicki and crew, conversely, were approaching the end of a long night of unbridled debauchery. Vicki was so drunk that she put her cigarette out in a bowl of nuts. Paddy decided that my being American was both sad and hilarious, and that nothing is funnier than the way I say, “Europe”. His wife was quite embarrassed. She pulled Paddy from the bar, but not before making him apologize to me for being an arse. I felt like I was Paddy’s kindergarten teacher and I had just caught him writing unpleasant things about me on the underside of the slide.

In other words, what a fun night!

That’s what I get for going sober to a drunk event. I’m old enough to know better.

I awoke this morning to utter darkness. The power had gone out in the whole hotel and I felt like I was in the Blitz. I kept listening for bomb sirens and “The Andrews Sisters”.

They’ve put more wood in the fire now. I wish I still smoked. Then I could sit here with a cigar and scandalize the other guests.

Gregory comes on Saturday night and I am sick with anticipation. Time seems to be dragging its feet like a petulant child. I do hope the huge pimple on my forehead goes away before Greg arrives.

What am I, fourteen?!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Imagine being in a place—say, a movie set—with people running around everywhere. They wear walkie-talkies. They say things like, “10-4” and “Copy that”. They stop traffic.

Imagine yourself, sitting there, amidst all this chaotic job-doing, waiting.

With a scarf wrapped around your head like a Latvian refugee, you sit. With bad catering fish fighting digestion in your stomach, you sit. Sipping on your eleventh cup of tea, you sit there, breathing, with nothing better to do than write in your notebook and age.

Welcome to my day.

I did manage to make quite an impression on one of the actors. He is six, of course, but he was the only one who seemed to respond to my eerily life-like monkey face. The lead actress just smiled weakly and looked at my shoes.

I suppose I’ll make myself another cup of tea. God, I wish there was a bathroom here.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Christian Friggin Slater is staying at my hotel. I'm really glad I brought my (original) Kuffs poster with me so he can sign it. I'm a good packer!!

**Please take special note of the tag line. If that's not the making of eternal cinema, what is?

Sunday, October 29, 2006


There is a poster that someone gave my boss. It is a black and white picture of Clark Gable on a movie set. Clark looks very dapper with his pencil mustache and his leading man smirk, and he is leaning back in a cloth-covered chair, drinking a glass of milk. My boss’s friend was attracted to the image as a gift for my boss because he liked the juxtaposition of a glamorous Hollywood golden-age actor with an ordinary American glass of milk. He said he found something of the same glittering naturalness in my boss.

I think of that image now as I sit in a movie trailer in London. The decorating theme of the trailer could be described as “Country Casual”—or “Linoleum Chic”. There is blonde fake wood cabinetry, fancy gold drawer pulls, gray, leaf-motif furniture. We sit here, my famous boss and I, basking in the light of some fluted glass light fixtures, sipping on tea because the coffee on set tastes like sewage, awaiting the second AD to call us to set. It is 10:10 on a Sunday. We’ve been here for over two hours. My boss is wearing makeup and watching some, “aliens are responsible for the Cuban Missile Crisis” DVD. (Quote from the DVD: “What about the flying saucers!? What about the UFOs?!”) I’m so glad I’m not having brunch right now, or sleeping.

Speaking of glamour, someone just popped into the trailer to ask my boss how hairy his legs are. My boss had to pull up the leg of his trouser to demonstrate. Oh how I wish I could be a movie star!!!

Last night was dinner and drinking and dancing in celebration of Dan’s 31st birthday. Who’s Dan? He’s a chap, you know? A chappie bloak. A bugger of a bloakish chappy fellow. It was a marvelous evening, replete with:

English piss-taking: “Oh Dan, is that your brother? He looks just like you, but, of course, your nose is bigger”

English bragging: “I’m glad I’ll never amount to anything, because I would hate to be too big to cue”.

And other general merrymaking: “I think that having dreams is overrated. You know what else is overrated? Passion.”

I sat next to a female, Jewish documentary filmmaker. I know, fair readers, let your minds be blown.

We ended the night drunk and dancing in a North London dive bar, empty except for a disco ball, a black light and a DJ with a taste for late 70s dance tracks.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Today I went to the breathtakingly beautiful Rodin exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art, here in London. I walked through gallery after gallery of cast human likenesses so real, I could almost see the hair on their arms, and the shake in their muscles from holding so still. The experience of viewing sculpture is an apt metaphor, I think, for traveling. In travel, though, it is not an artwork, but one’s own self that must be placed on a plinth and walked around, studied for its composition.

I apologize if I seem overly reflective tonight. Tomorrow, I promise, there will be more celebrity high jinks. Until then:

Monday, October 23, 2006


Two major events have occurred since my last update: First, I was offered the opportunity to remain in London, tasting the good life and getting into adventures, for the duration of my boss’s film shoot, and I accepted. Second, my purse was stolen.

About the purse—there was not too much in it, only my wallet, my camera, my calendar, my various notebooks, the tiny voice recorder I use to record standup sets, the novel I’d been reading, and my Blackberry, filled with the names and numbers of celebrities of varying type, quality and renown. It rather lessens the blow, honestly, to imagine Christina Applegate receiving a giggly 3AM phone call from a drunk English hood:

“Tee hee hee. Right. Is that Kelly Bundy then?”

Indeed. The thought of that phone call almost makes the whole purse-thievery seem worth it. Luckily, the one item missing from the bag was my passport, which I found securely tucked away in my hotel room’s ever-depleting mini-bar. Thank god. Imagine the headlines:

“Jewish woman is informed that her daughter must remain in the UK forever and her head explodes.”

The scene of the crime was the Big Chill Bar, a place that was, despite its name, quite a-buzz with drunken white people. I sat on a bench, purse at my feet, engrossed in an intense conversation with my friend Vicki, when some lout ran off with my bag. At least, that’s what I imagined happened when, some time later, I gallantly offered to buy the next round of cider and discovered that my bag had gone missing. It is extraordinary, considering the size and weight of the bag, that the thief was able to make off with it undetected. As soon as I noticed it was gone, I canvassed the bar and the street outside for witnesses:

“Pardon.”--They don’t understand “excuse me” here.

“Pardon. Did you see someone hobbling down the street, groaning under the weight of a 40-pound, bright orange, faux leather, ladies’ purse?”

Amazingly, nobody saw him. It wasn’t until later, back at the hotel, as I comforted myself with a Hillary Duff movie and a $16.00 Toblerone that I realized my blunder.

“Kilo! I should have said, 18.143-Kilo, bright orange, faux leather, ladies’ purse. Then they would have understood! They would have helped me! Damn you, Metric System!!!”

(Please imagine me shaking a half-eaten Toblerone at the ceiling of my coral-plaid hotel room, cheesy pop soundtrack playing in the background.)

Incidentally, the thief left Vicki’s average-sized, barely-filled, English purse untouched. Twenty-four hours later, however, someone smashed the window of her flat and stole her brand new television. Which just goes to show…something, I’m sure.

Petty crime is so 80’s, don’t you think? What’ll they get into next? Graffiti? Angel Dust? England is so cute!

And she moves onto her second pot of tea. And her pen begins to shake.

It was maybe the day after the bag got nicked that my boss offered to keep me at Claridge’s until Thanksgiving (and fly Greg over as well).

After weighing the negatives and positives…:

Negative: I’ll miss my boyfriend and my friends.
Positive: Free room service.

Negative: I’ll miss October in NYC.
Positive: I’ll arrive at my 10th high school reunion with jet lag and a vaguely British accent.

…I decided to stay. Which means many more updates to come, so stay tuned.


I had such fun writing the last update that I feel compelled to carry on today--if you would rather delete before reading, I won't be offended. The story of the wandering jew is an old one, you may feel you've heard it all before. It's like a Shalom Aleichem story, but with more movie actors.

In any case, this morning found me starved and freezing in an over-air conditioned room with terrible acoustics somewhere, I imagine, in London--though it was quite a long ride. The film is a sweet slacker-done-well comedy in which my boss plays a rich American dick head. It is, admittedly, a mostly charmless role, and he is deeply regretting ever having accepted it. No amount of reassurance from me seems to make any difference on this point. Perhaps my reassurances ring hollow, since it is nearly impossible to feel sorry for the guy.

"Boo hoo. I have to live in a posh hotel in London for six weeks and I'm not even making a million dollars."


After the read through I make a straight line for the snack table where I quickly suck down some tea in hopes that the heat of it will diminish my teeth chattering, and the whole milk in it will quiet my stomach. I make small talk with other non-actors, who wonder, as I do, what in the world I am doing there. Then off we go to Primrose Hill (a trendy neighborhood in London) for lunch and rehearsal.

"Lunch," I think. "That's something".

We share a delightful car ride with Simon Pegg, the lead actor. Some may know him from, "Shaun of the Dead". Some may think, "What the hell is 'Shaun of the Dead'?"

We wind up at an upscale Deli for lunch and I begin devouring its offerings with my eyes. Mmm. Beet Salad. What would beet salad feel like in my belly? And just then, I am released. No lunch, no beet salad, nothing. I set out in search of a tube station and end up at a lovely pub for fish stew and a glass of wine.

It's the middle of the day and everyone is's a wonder they could get the Olympics.

The stew is very tasty, but the seafood is inedible. There are two prawns in the bowl with heads and eyes and foot-long antennas. How is a person meant to suck out the flesh of an animal that still has a soul? Plus the spoon seems like the wrong instrument for such a challenge. I need a dagger, I think. Or a gun. I eat the broth and the potatoes and the bread. I am still hungry, but at least now I'm a little drunk.

Well, I suppose I should return to my search for the tube. If you are receiving this email, it means I made it back, intact. If not...

And then we descend into absurdity.


Greetings, finally, from London!

I am writing from the hotel bar--standing, alas, due to lack of seats. It is after eleven and I...

"In my hat mosquitos are small. This is the only true cheers I can offer".

"The boat of love became smithereens, falling on the rock of life".

...Pardon. I was interrupted by the musings of an intoxicated Greek art dealer with a rose in his lapel. He insisted on writing in my notebook. He left two blondes at the bar to come over and invite me to dinner.

Worry not, lover. I declined. He does not seem unhappy to be back in the embrace of his blondes.

As I was writing, I set off at 10:45 in search of an open pub and was disappointed. Undaunted, I had a happy wander through the cobblestone alleyways and over-lit thoroughfares of posh after-hours London. This city, I have discovered, is a lot like New York. It is older, of course, and bigger. It has more English people. But otherwise...

My hotel (Claridge's) is so thoroughly Deco, it could be a movie set. It is all black and white and lighting fixtures and 20's decadence. My boss's suite looks like it could have been a room in the Titanic. It is crowded in the bar, as I said, filled with people of varying wealth and beauty. I polish off my cocktail ("The Flapper"--how could I resist?) sucking down the strawberry garnish and I remember that England never had a prohibition.

Rehearsals for my boss's movie begin tomorrow. I have no idea what my day will be like. I'm sure there will be plenty of starch, and taxis, and tea. And dinner with my friend Vicki who is, for those who know her, a wonderful, attentive hostess. She may or may not be carrying a sizable candle for my movie star boss.

Ah, Vick. Never one to heed danger signs.

Someone just bought me another "Flapper". Cheers!