Strange Bedfellows

what wuz I thinkin?

Buddy, Artin, Dawn struggle to comprehend Cabaret

one meatball
Meatballs? Easier to understand and they taste better.

Due to a strong sense of self respect and the inability to kiss ass, I will not be at the Sidebar again. It isn’t that they weren’t generous for a couple of months and also quite kind — It’s just that they don’t get it.  I felt myself getting more stupid as the weeks passed.  And, vise versa, I didn’t get them. You know what I mean.  I tasted the meatballs. To me, they’re just rolled up Hamburgers.  Undigestable. It isn’t that anyone was wrong, it was just a bad match. You can go into the Sidebar on Saturday nights and see the perfect music/restaurant match. Don’t forget to snap your fingers to “Fly Me To the Moon!” ….  Meanwhile,  I am invited to New York to be interviewed for some strange Russian TV program about Jazz which is shown in 17 countries. Hopefully I will get a gig in Siberia!   Google “Oleg Frish”….!! Will visit old friends at Don’t Tell Mama – and see if any previous pianists, for example, the great Paul Trueblood, are in the city, monitor my brain and see if I have it in me to go back permanently.  Old friends in a loft on West 38th Street offered me their spare bedroom. But truthfully, I feel beaten down at the moment. Beat. Like a Beatnik.  Christmas. Its ability to remind us of a previous Christmas, when we knew we were safe and Santa was coming. Be patient, Santa will return! Meanwhile, I’m singing at Ricardo’s in Lowell, MA for New Years Eve with Odie and Todd — Spending Christmas in D.C. with daughter – back to a  couple of comedy clubs I worked last winter. Then, to New Orleans for two weeks  – Newport is on the horizon and Boston, too, due to a reconnection with Joshua Jansen, Boston’s Gay Sweetheart and friend of nightclub owners all over Bean Town.   It’s got to be around here somewhere.  p.s. Check out Le Scandal in Manhattan, google them, I’m talking to Bonnie, there, about a spring fling.

Thanks to smarter nightclubs owners, live entertainers continue to eat well during this economic downturn. It was during the Great Depression that Cabaret and Vaudeville got their start as people swarmed into the pubs to forget their troubles for a few hours. The cost/value ratio of live entertainment suits the recession pocket book and mind-set. If you stay home and wallow about your wallet, you’ll soon find yourself in the emergency room for a failed suicide attempt, chronic depression or Epstein-Barr Virus. Without health insurance, your stress-related illness will cost you upwards to $1,000 dollars. A night out in a cabaret will run you about $50 to $75.  I rest my glass of champagne.xx

The Meaning of Life

The meaning of life is that it ends. So, “Enjoy Yourself, it’s later than you think. Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink, the years go by as quickly as a wink, enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself it’s later than you think. You planned to have a drink of two, see Laurel in her show, but every week you put it off, you don’t just have the dough, your house is in foreclosure and your job is going down, but none of it will matter when you’re six feet underground.” (pic: Mark Ritz, Elaine Cooke and friends – and an unknown dead person)

Don’t Feel Too Crazy

There are women who kill animals for sport, and bring their children along with them. They run for political  appointments. They get knocked up at middle age, when there is a good chance of giving birth to a special needs child. God does not allow birth control. They are pro-life, except where animals are concerned, then they are pro-shoot, stuff and mount. No matter who wins the election, these women are still out there, thousands of them, and they take their faith and beliefs so seriously, they would kill for them. This Halloween, I wouldn’t go out dressed as The Lion King.   

The Jazz GigToilet Bowl

 Consider working in an industry where the unemployment rate is minus 3,900 percent. That’s the music business. Jazz is ten times worse, in fact I have heard that it is easier to become a Vice Presidential candidate than to get a jazz gig during a recession. I only have a gig because my dear friend, Buddy Cianci’s best friend Artin, owns a restaurant. I am honored that the perennial Mayor of All Mayors took time from his celebrity venues to help me. He has always supported artists and other non-profit organizations. He admires the Underdog. It is one of his finest qualities and in my mind reveals the true nature of the man. The sycophants who crave elbow rubbing with those who are invited to the right parties are too dense to recognize anyone or anything of quality by any other measure. We must pity them and then stay as far away from them as possible. Speaking of sycophants or should I say charletans, when the local jazz musicians got wind of my return to Providence and my gig, they went bullshit. My pianist called me yesterday to warn me that some of the creepier members of the groove community are trying to take over and “book” the restaurant I sing in. “Book” as in, get the gig, or get gigs other nights with their friends. I love this. But I was saddened that my pianist was concerned for his job. He has seen it all in Boston the last few years, and been “fucked over” time and time again by the ruthless competition for shitty low paying gigs all over New England. That what’s funny. A bunch of people fighting over a scrap of meat that is mostly gristle. Sometimes struggling to entrench themselves in a non-paying gig just so that they can get up and play. I won’t mention the horror of open-mike nights, the ultimate in exploitation, and what that does to a musicians sense of worth.

I told my pianist that while he was working with me, he had no worries, no competition, because nobody was as nuts as I was, at least in Rhode Island. When people want to go out and see “nuts” perform, they come and see me, and my pianist and bass player, period, unless they are going to a mud wrestling tournament. That is the joy of being completely original and take that lesson to your own heart. Never compromise yourself, never alter your work for any amount of money, any promise of fame or success. And never do an open-mike night. Eventually you will find your audience, employee, life. A life that is your very own. Let them take the gig, the job, the opportunity – offer it up to them graciously, then go get something better. There is always, ALWAYS, something better.        

Why Can’t Meat and Potatoes Restaurants Deliver?

Why do Chinese restaurants have the low-down, the low-mein, on delivery? I don’t feel well, and I want a steak, a baked potato and a salad. No one in Rhode Island will delivery this fare to my door. Are Italians averse to delivery? When and where exactly did the Chinese delivery phenomena take root, ginger root? I am sick with a cold, still, and wouldn’t mind a meatball or an Irish stew. Actually, I’d settle for a Subway sandwich, but they don’t deliver either. Would someone clue me in? Thank you. – a Truly, at the Moment, starving artist.  

Atlas Shrugged and I Sighed

Trapped in trashless Vermont with cows and trees and pastures and white people until I was twenty, it was literature that made clear to me all that I was missing – the grand greasy underbelly of commerce and humanity as described by Ayn Rand– as Dagney, is it?- looks out over her father’s rusty acreage of railways and warehouses and sees a paradise of possibilities instead of a pocketful of possies. I was sixteen when I read that book. From that time on, I knew what I was missing. After my parents took me to New York at age seventeen and I saw my first skyscraper, tasted a Coney Island hot dog and watched Carol Burnette walking across a stage in a bright pink poodle skirt, the beauty of a village green sickened me and it still does. Isn’t it funny that all I own in this world is Vermont real estate? I have come to appreciate the wide expanse of a forty acre pasture and a winding path through white birch, but when I am walking near garbage strewn railroad tracks inhaling the oily bitterness of rust and dog shit, I feel closer to home. In fact, here in Pawtucket, where abandon railroad tracks pass through a neglected ancient (in American terms) cemetary, is where I take myself for a walk, along with the dog.

Today was a particularly beautiful autumn day, crisp and clear.  I walked the curving overgrown path, past wrangling knotted trees, stunned proud by their autumn colors. A sea of broken gravestones on either side. The mother’s and father’s. Uncles and grandmothers. The Beloved. An empty pint of rum propped against the tiny stone of an early death. The weather eaten fallen flag on a young soldiers grave, name indecipherable, moss burned.

The brown grass vibrated with layers of moldering yesterday’s, the remnants of other lives just as precious as my own. These buried bones were not lonely, surrounded with rotting history, everything soaking into the ground uniformly, unseparated, un-recycled, just back into the organic soup that is us and ours and theirs.  I stood above them, feeling beneath them, honored to be near them. Close to home.

Buddy, Dawn, Howard, Me.

It’s wonderful that my friend, Buddy Cianci, comes to see me perform at The Sidebar, with his beautiful girlfriend, Dawn. I like to have my picture taken with celebrities, don’t you? It makes me feel special. And make no mistake: Buddy is a celebrity. Of course, my dog, Howard is very well known.He is welcome in every home, theater, restaurant, doctor’s office, in town, except Down City Diner. Some people have no sense of humor, worse yet, they suffer from a condition I call “over-earnestness.” Let me explain something to you. Howard is a service animal. What service does he perform? Emotional support. I have the papers to prove it. It is a federal offense to deny me entrance into any public establishment. My doctor told me to call the police if I am ever turned away from a bowling alley or YMCA, pizza joint or  tattoo parlor. Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1998, I am able to be with Howard 24 hours a day. I kid about Howard. I tell people his service vest is a joke, because it started out as a joke.  But after a year or two I began to depend on Howard in stressful situations, i.e. any situation happening outside my bedroom door. When I lost my mother, Howard was with me, in the hospice. He was with me, also, when friends, lovers, employers and family relations abandoned or betrayed me. Howard is my constant. For this middle aged, lonely woman, Howard is a comfort and a life-saver. You see the photograph. Buddy is with a blonde. I am also with a blonde. If you can’t beat em, join em…..