Remembering New York

REMEMBERING NEW YORK
or, If All Else Fails- Error on the Side of Adventure

I moved to New York with a fiancé, a very specific plan of action for my life, and a full head of hair…

[I’ve seriously tried 5 different punchlines to that joke, but none really work. You get the idea though]

I’ve been in Los Angeles for exactly one week now, and I’m just now realizing how profound of a move this was. As someone who moves often (this marks the 7th city/state I’ve lived in since college) I’ve become very comfortable with just packing up and moving. That also means I usually don’t make deep, lasting friendships. I mostly just focus on the work that brought me to wherever I landed, and then expect to move on within a couple years.

I was in NYC for seven. That’s the longest I’ve been in any one city since graduating high school. (Even in college I spent two years at one college and two and a half at another).

All that to say I was never expecting to be impacted so much by a single city, to meet such incredible people, and despite my best effort make so many memories.

[It’s been a week and people are still texting me regularly to check up on me. I seriously had 3 people text me today, just while writing this post. I mean who does that?] 

Things I will always remember about New York:

My first NYC apartment- a tiny off the books basement studio in Astoria that I literally paid my landlord with an envelope of cash every month.

That first Christmas where I was walking around Times Sq by myself. Aimless, because the woman I had moved here with and I- we had just broken up that morning… And then that night wandering into Colin Quinn’s one-man Broadway show, Long Story Short, and after seeing it realizing that’s what I want to do with my life.

Moving to Brooklyn because Astoria had too many difficult memories.

That first Brooklyn apartment where the room was so tiny it didn’t have a closet, so I used the living room closet. Which meant every time I wanted to change I had to walk out into the living room, get my clothes, and then walk back into my room to change.

Slowly pulling myself out of depression.

Slowly building a new friend group.

That one summer where all we did was drink (I mean that’s what you do in summer anyway, but you know who you are and you know which summer in particular.)

My first tattoo.

My third tattoo.

The hurricane.

The blizzard.

The hurricane that wasn’t

The blizzard that wasn’t.

The time I didn’t go to Madrid.

The camping trips.

The apple picking trips.

The time had sex with a mime right after her America’s Got Talent audition.

The time I dated someone who lived on the upper west side and it made me feel important.

The woman I should never have dated.

The other woman I should never have dated.

The one who was no good for me.

The one who was too young for me.

The other one who was too young for me.

The other other one who was too young for me.

The one who I actually should have dated.

The one who was too good for me.

The one who was right in front of me the whole time.

Laughing.

Lots of laughing.

The backyard at House 180.

The backyard at Backyard.

Smoking.

Quitting smoking.

Picking up smoking again.

Quitting smoking again.

My sixth tattoo.

Prospect Park.

Last minute hang outs.

The strange series of last minute failures that got me into grad school- and the fact that the program I’m attending was itself a last minute find and application decision.

The first play I was cast in that I quit because I thought I was too good for it. (I wasn’t)

The podcast that failed.

The other podcast that failed.

The one-man show that never opened. (because of the hurricane)

The improv team that dissolved into nothing.

The monthly show that didn’t last.

The other monthly show that lasted even less.

The web series I never finished.

The tour that barely happened.

The web series that never happened- that turned into a live radio play that never got a run- that turned into yet another podcast that never got recorded- that turned into a pilot that was never finished.

3 boxes full of hats.

Working in 9 different restaurants.

Encouragement. From more people than I deserve.

Friends who hold each other.

And the many people who cried that I’m leaving but cheered me to go.

I am so grateful. A piece of me will always call New York home.

And I encourage each and every one of you to never settle. Always keep fighting for more.

Embrace your failures- laugh at them with an almost endearing parental pride, for they may very well be what forge the path for your greatest success.

Do what scares you.

Remember that every moment can be a story if it’s genuine.

And if all else fails error on the side of adventure.

The Begging Theatre and The Prisoner Audience

THE BEGGING THEATRE AND THE PRISONER AUDIENCE
or, Why I Don’t Give Money to Artists on the Subway

We’ve all been there.  Sitting on the subway, exhausted, book in hand, earbuds in, and then you see them enter. 3 teenagers each with various styles of firm-brimmed hats and freakishly double jointed shoulders. A middle aged Caribbean gentleman with 3 large drums and stool.  A full on 5piece mariachi band. That one crazy lady with the melodica.  You spot them before they even open their mouths to “pardon the interruption.” You spot them because it’s obvious. No one is thinking “Oh, I bet those 5 guys with mariachi instruments are just carrying them around because it matches their outfits.” Nope. You’re about to become the prisoner audience.

I find something inherently offensive about the idea of boarding a crowded subway, waiting for the doors to close, and then once the unsuspecting audience has no chance to escape, aggressively forcing your art into their lives for upwards of a minute and a half and then spending the rest of the 3min stint between stops, pacing the subway hat in hand, demanding to be payed for the unsolicited performance, and guilting people into “supporting live art”

Yes that was all once sentence.

It’s offensive to me both as an audience member and as a maker of art.

And yes I know how that sentence sounds too.

To an unsuspecting audience member it’s frustrating and honestly rude to force your art onto someone in a situation where they are in effect a prisoner with no escape.  Now, I’m not at all opposed to public art, out door performances, street art, street fairs, or even musicians and dancers and etc. on the subway platform.  But in those situation the audience member at least has the option to leave.  I actually love the idea of stumbling into an unsuspected artistic experience. Being accidentally profoundly moved. (There was this young poet/rapper, I came across and he was so captivating I stopped and just listened, and and by the end of his 2min piece I was feeling all the feels).

Art should captivate not capture.

Then there’s always the conclusion of the subway performance which always ends in some version of asking for a “donation” to “show your love” or to “support live art.” Which is inherently offensive because now you’re asking me to pay you for your art without asking if I wanted to even experience your art in the first place.

Now I know I have an issue with the greater idea of Begging Theatre.  The idea that art is not self sustainable and must be supported by donations, or by passing the hat at the end of a performance. It inherently devalues the art/artist to have beg for money.  Now please understand, that’s not a comment on artists individually or the act of asking for donations (I am one myself and regularly ask for donations to various kickstarter/fundraising campaigns). But there is something about the art not being strong enough to be able to speak for itself.  I don’t know.  It has something to do with the distinction between art as a hobby, art as a career, and art as a calling. Is it other people’s responsibility to fund my hobby?  To fund my calling?  If it’s actually my career then shouldn’t it be self-sustaining? I don’t know. That’s something I’m currently working through for myself.  More on that HERE when I eventually get around to it.

The thing that frustrates me about the Prisoner Audience model is that by waiting until there is no escape for your audience, is by its very act an admission that you don’t think you can get an audience any other way. That you can’t get paid for your work any other way. But despite that, (or maybe because of it) you force you art onto an audience, and then demand compensation, all the while citing “support live art.” As though it is the audience’s responsibility to pay you for this thing it didn’t even ask for, and that by the very method you’re using to force it on the audience means it’s probably not good enough to gain an audience any other way.  It’s as though I made a pair of sub-par socks.  Walked up to someone. Shoved them in her purse. Stapled the purse shut so she could get the socks out. And then said, support independent clothing makers, and asked her to pay me for the socks she bought.

There is a place for public art.

There is a place for discovery.

There is a place for patronage and asking for donations (though I’m currently working on that)

There is no place for waiting til someone has no escape, forcing your art down their throat, calling them an audience, and then demanding they pay an admission for the show they just saw.