Saturday, September 26, 2009


This is a rock opera ode to homesickness written in two hours shortly after my arrival in France. It took a year for my friends to convince me to post it.
In the spirit of spreading the good word that everyone can, in fact, have magic giant balls of glory, I present to you Magical Unicorn Ninjas At Night, a rock opera in 6:36.

Text written in 14 minutes of inspired greatness by Corey Tatarczuk, my partner in comic crime.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I am playing a real concert here in Paris at La Maroquinerie on October 14th. By "real", I mean a place where the sound system includes more than one crappy PA system, some broken amps and a bored dick for brains sound guy, holds more than four people comfortably, has an actual stage and most importantly, PAYS you. In cash money. Not warm beer. Yes, it's all the rage here to pay you with two small half glasses of warm beer. You brought forty people to our club who drank all night and made us a lot of money? Here's a nice warm shot glass of piss beer, thanks for letting us rip you off, now get out. It's like if I had my old desk job and my boss suddenly came in and told me I would now be paid with two small glasses of toilet water straight out of the bathroom, hope that's ok, now go jump off a cliff.
Not anymore....because this morning I was asked by the booker for the real club to provide my hospitality rider (my list of demands for the concert). My first thought is "2 lbs. of cheddar cheese and a can of Beefaroni. Hot. Out of the can."

I flash back to my days as a P.A. (Production Assistant) in live television concerts. I once was sent to Bed, Bath and Beyond on a frantic fetch for white candles for Jennifer Lopez's trailer because apparently everything in the trailer had to be white and the green candles in there would just not do. Jenny From The Block. Keeping it real. How, exactly, do people end up in that special crazytimes place where reality takes a nosedive? I also watched one of the tour managers for Def Leppard light into a woman in the talent department (who was 8 months pregnant at the time) over the cheese plate on their provided private jet. Standing there watching a grown man yell his head off at a tiny, 5 foot tall pregnant woman over a cheese plate made me think that yes, in fact, the human race will eventually be wiped off the planet.

But right now I am thinking what I WOULD actually like in my rider.
Dana From The Block.

2 pounds YELLOW farm fresh English cheddar cheese
1 can Beefaroni, hot, out the can
1 fork, shiny and silver, NO plastic
1 box Premium brand saltines
2 bags sour cola bottles candy
1 EXTRA large bag sour skittles (1 lb. or higher)
1 lb. ground chuck roast shaped into the letter D
1 D shaped bun (NO SEEDS)
1 plate of fixins (NO MAYONAISE)
1 Weber Smoker Mountain Cooker grill
1 can Crazy Uncle Jester's Brush Fire BBQ sauce
4 cans COLD Cel-Ray soda
4 packs Dentyne Ice Vanilla Chill gum
3 bags CRUNCHY cheetos (NO PUFFS)
1/2 lb. Dean's French Onion Dip
9 bags Lay's Potato chips

And on and on and on and on......I think everyone should write up their own rider. If you need inspiration, click HERE.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I witnessed something yesterday that I never in a million BILLION years thought I would ever see in Paris, ESPECIALLY in the very serene, very upscale and very calm Jardin du Luxembourg.
There was a good old-fashioned catfight between two middle-aged women.

I was quietly sitting in a chair meditating on how to be more successful by one of the many circular patches of grass that you can look at but never ever dream of actually walking on (this outdated concept of garden eludes me...what's the point of grass if you can't roll in it?). A group of 10 year old boys were running around the circular path with fake guns, shooting at each other, playing a game. Four mothers stood by watching them and directing the game. A woman of about 50 sat in a chair near me, reading the paper. The game went on for about ten minutes or so and I was enjoying watching the freedom of kids just playing. The reading woman near me was clearly not as the boys kept ducking behind her chair and shooting their guns from behind it which made a CLACK CLACK CLACK sound. Suddenly, without any warning, the woman reaches behind her chair, stands up, grabs the boy's gun out of his hand, screams at him and throws the gun into the trees. The boys all stopped in front of her and yelled back.
That's when she did the unthinkable.
She raised her hand and slapped the boy across the face.

Oh yes, she DID.
She slapped another woman's kid. I sat up in my chair with a start and before I could even process what just happened, the Four Mamas Gang was already on the move and halfway across the forbidden grass. Like tigresses protecting their young, I have never EVER seen French women move so fast and with such intent. In a khaki pants pack, they moved as one and were up in Slappy's face before I could even blink an eye. In mere seconds, one of the mothers already had all the boys herded back over the grass and the other three Mothers had Slappy encircled. Animals are animals. You mess with the kids, you're gonna feel Mama's TEETH.
For REALS, yo.

Then the screaming began. Back and forth, back and forth. I thought for sure it would end at that and dissolve into the usual French argument for an hour, so I settled back into my chair.....but then Slappy kicked it up ANOTHER notch.
She raised her hand AGAIN and slapped the MOM.
Even harder.

Oh yes, she DID.
All hell broke loose as the Mom completely lost it and grabbed Slappy's hair with a vengeance. Slappy grabbed back and for a moment, they were locked in a battle of the hair grip. In a matter of seconds, these two women had gone from calm Parisians to two shrieking, clawing, punching banshees at each others' throats. The two other members of the Four Mamas wrenched the now flailing Mom out of Slappy's grip and the three of them shot back across the grass, again, moving as one giant khaki pant. And then Slappy did the MOST surprising thing to me. She sat back down calmly, opened her paper back up and simply continued reading. I sat in shock, staring at her and wondering how she could have raised such hell and then just calmly sit back down as though she hadn't just bitchslapped a kid and tried to rip the Mom's face off.
Cultural difference or just a case of the crazies?
I'm not really sure.....

Five minutes later, the Four Mamas returned with about 15 guards from the garden who honestly looked a little bewildered by the whole situation. Then things took their expected and natural French course with a lengthy discussion between all parties that lasted at least the 32 more minutes I stayed and probably long after I left.

But for one moment there, I saw a little bit of New York....more walk and less talk.
Nice job, France.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Yesterday I went on a hunt for a cheap blanket. I know there is a store somewhere near Opera that I have been to with my mother-in-law when I first arrived. I thought it started with a C or something. After fruitlessly searching the internets for things like "sheets and cheap blankets Paris" "sheeterie Paris not Hilton but France and starts with C and sells cheap blankets" and finding nothing, I decided to just go to Opera and hunt for the store. I figured I could just find it if I wandered enough. It was a beautiful sunny day so at noon I set off to wander across the river, past Le Louvre and into the 1st arrondissement. I never really wandered through there but one thing I noticed right off the bat is that people in the 1st seem to have jobs.


Jobs, like, where you go to a sleek office somewhere and meet with people and make calls and do stuff. I catch a glimpse of myself in a window......purple pants, crappy oversized t-shirt, sweaty face and eyeliner running down/raccoon eyes. "I used to have a job." I proudly say out loud to no one in particular. A group of suits and click clacky heels with tailored jackets push past me. "I used to have a job!" I say louder, this time to their backs as they continue walking briskly down the busy street, the smoke from their cigarettes trailing behind.

I suddenly think back to exactly two years ago when I had my corporate job working for Viacom in a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. I used to wear click clacky heels when I wanted to feel like an important, intelligent and sophisticated hot chick executive (who might actually be a spy) on the corporate ladder rise in New York City...THE city. I had an office with a view of Central Park. I enjoyed ending calls with phrases like "Going forward, I think we should....blah blabbity blah blah blah" or my particular favorite "The deadline? How about YESTERDAY?" Click. I used to have my own phone extension with real numbers. And my "I'm REALLY busy" voice. When I was promoted to manager status, I spent a week passing out my very first ever official business cards to all my friends and family.
"Here, take one."
"Um, I actually already know your name and number and where you work..."
"Yeah but this has my job title on it too. Seriously, just take one, you never know."
"You never know what exactly? I HAVE your number AND your cell phone. Remember? We've been friends for 8 years."
"Sigh. Look, just TAKE ONE OK? You NEVER KNOW. Jesus CHRIST!"
"OK, OK, I'll take one!"

I used to shuffle papers and stamp stuff. I used to sit in bi-coastal video conferences and give status reports and updates while checking the video screen to make sure I looked hot and adjust my hair accordingly.

How life changes. Now I work freelance from home, my list of TO DOs includes "TAKE SHOWER" and on my off time I go look for cheap blankets in unknown stores in a fancy part of a fancy town with a fancy language I don't really understand.

An hour later and still no blanket store. I pass the fancy Au Printemps department store and stare at the model on the sign who seems to me to say "Youuuuuuu. Oui, yoooooooooou. You veel never ever haves eenough moooneeey for thees store. Ever. Oh, andz also, vee haaaate youuuuuu." (Apparently she is of both German and French descent)

I turn around and see the magic sign.....C & A.

C&A is one of my preferred stores in Paris. I don't know what the letters actually stand for but I call it Cashstrapped & Asstastic because it is Walmart level cheap and the only people I ever see in it are the big girls.
My peoples.
I reluctantly pull myself away from the $7.99 sweater rack that I am furiously leafing through like a crack addict gone wild, wipe off the drool and make myself walk out the door. I am on a MISSION to find the cheap blanket store which still eludes me, like a ghost......a cheap blanketed ghost.

I walk back down the street and pass the fancy Galeries Lafayette pausing for a moment to stop and look at the 9 million dollar tranny shoe display I could have made myself with some Payless heels, a bedazzler and some glue. NOTE TO SELF: Halloween costume idea: Tranny Dorothy.

Lost, tired, hungry and patience gone, I give up my hunt for the mystery store and walk back home. On my way, I stop in my tracks when I see a sign for Bagel's Café. In the display are a variety of "New York" themed bagel sandwiches which include "real American recipes" such as sliced chicken, pickles, tomato, cream cheese AND cheddar cheese. All on one of Bagel's bagels.
While I have never in my life seen this particular combo of ingredients except for here, at Bagel's place, I decide to go for it.
Verdict: I may not have found the cheap blanket store that I was looking for but I did find out, once again, that Cheddar cheese actually DOES in fact make EVERYTHING better.

6:28AM this morning
Eyes shoot open, I stare at the ceiling for a minute before turning and poking FB awake.
FB: What is it?
ME: I need to be more successful.
FB: Huh? What are you talking about?
ME: Me. I need to be more successful.
FB: (silence) You already are successful. What time is it?
ME: 6:28. I need to be MORE successful.
FB: more successful, sure, sounds great. Where is this coming from?
ME: (pause a moment to think) The 1st. It's coming from the 1st.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I recently traveled to Tunisia with FB and two other biologists. I like traveling with the scientists through the Sahara desert. They always know where on the GPS we are, they have maps taped to the inside of the car and they can calculate exactly how much gas will be needed and how much air conditioning we can use between any given points. They know what to do in case of a snake bite or heatstroke and they have seemingly thought out every possible scenario and have an action plan attached to each.

What they DON'T do, however, is tell you when you look like a freak religious missionary sent to recolonize North Africa.

Yes. I apparently traveled through Tunisia dressed as a pale, tightwad Quaker. Given it's a Muslim country where I hardly saw any women out on the streets, I was trying to NOT call attention to myself. Good job. Only thing missing is a giant sign around my neck that says I AM WHITE. REALLY. REALLY. WHITE.

As usual, I was nervous when I bought my ticket....hmmmm....the Sahara desert in the summer? 118 degrees in the shade? Uh.....ok. Following three hyper boys around? Uh....ok.

Hilights of the trip include almost dying twice while 4 x 4ing through the dunes of the Sahara desert. Dude, I thought the desert was flat. Yeah, well, it's not. There are these big things you see called DUNES that if I had spent more than a millisecond reading up on it or even just thinking about it, I would have KNOWN that. I also thought I could just kind of figure out how to drive a 4 x 4 with no instruction. Well, I can't. As the two guides and three scientists sped off across the dunes, I was left in the dust (literally). Here's a tip: You have to ACCELERATE up a sand dune or the 4 x 4 will stop moving and tilt back on you and you will fall off and then you will cry and then you will have a panic attack and then the guides will come back to get you and will laugh at you as you wipe sand and tears off your face while telling them what a beautiful country they have.

Just a tip.

I fared only slightly better with the camel, which I gripped with terror as though hanging from a cliff. FB rode behind me and kept calling out "um, are you sure you are on top of the camel?"
"YES!! I am FINE, OK???? My GOD!!! Just....just.....DON'T FRICKIN' TALK TO ME! I am CONCENTRATING!!!!"

Then there was the sun. The hot, burning, torturous sun. I admit, I was a fanatic with the sunscreen and went through 4 bottles of 70+. The scientists got pretty tired of my crazed Quaker mother reminders "You need more sunscreen. Here. Put this on. No...put MORE on. PUT IT ON! Seriously. I am SERIOUS. YOU COULD FUCKING DIE HERE, OK? From the sun. You could DIE."

But this is finally what did me in.....

The oasis. You magical deadly mirage of intestinal destruction. There were fig trees, palm trees, peach trees and lots and lots of waaaaaater. The scientists ate one piece of fruit from the trees. I got biblical and ate 5. Because I'm American and more is always better. I stood under the waterfalls and then gorged myself in the swimming hole. For one brief second, a distant thought passed through the back depths of my mind about maybe having heard somewhere that maybe the water or fruit might possibly have something like, organisms or like, foreign something.....or bacterias or...I don't know. Whatever. I'm thirsty and this fruit tastes AAAAAAAWESOME.

24 hours later I'm in a near coma in a bed somewhere with my guts spilling out and a 102 fever. FB asks if I want to go to a hospital.
"HERE????IN TUNISIA???? ARE YOU INSANE??!!!! I AM GETTING ON THAT FLIGHT BACK TO FRANCE TOMORROW IF IT KILLS ME." And kill me it nearly did. I had to pull out every ninja bone in my body to get back to France without losing it. For eight hours I chanted one sentence in my head over and over "You are Bruce Lee. You are ninja. You are Bruce"

One week later and 14 pounds lighter, I finally pulled myself off the bathroom floor.

Back in Paris, the French doctor I saw in the tropical disease clinic said it best when he saw me...."I thought Americans were smarter about these things than you were."

Uh....yeah. Guess not.