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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Upstate NY escape....

I'm only now getting a chance to write a blog since I got back from Coxsackie, NY. I first had to edit the 130 pictures that I took since I can no longer see my LCD screen and have no idea what the composition of any of my pictures looks like until I get them home. It's almost like shooting film again.

Anyway, so, Sunday morning, I rode the subway in to Bryant Park and took a leisurely walk over to Grand Central, opting not to take the 7 train crosstown to Madison Avenue. I wanted to enter the train station from the street level anyway for my first time taking a train out of the busiest train station in the world. There's something neat about walking through this area here:

I know. Old pic (from 2008 in the spring actually). I didn't want to stop in there and take a photo even though I had time when I arrived. It was busy even on a Sunday morning.

The train ride itself was worth a story. I'd heard it was a beautiful ride, right along the riverside the whole time once you're past Harlem and the Bronx for the most part. And since I was the last stop on the line, I could relax without having to worry about missing my station. At times I read but often I was watching out the window at the cliffs and the action on the river. Lots of peaceful scenery, much different than the city. For once, more trees and grass than buildings and concrete. The river was so close to the train sometimes, if you leaned back from the window, it looked as if the train glided over the water.

Arriving in Poughkeepsie, my aunt was there almost immediately so I jumped in and we headed out for the hour or so car ride for Coxsackie, stopping once for burgers and ice cream at a roadside grill and once to pick up farm fresh produce from a farm stand that was self serve. When we got to Gary and Sue's house, a 200 year old historic house which they are renting half of currently, we immediately hatched a plan to go down to the lake where they keep their boat so they could show me around. That was pretty awesome and the following pictures are mainly of the houses and the lake (with a few shots from 42nd Street in Manhattan, the train ride and at the station in Poughkeepsie...oh and one pic from Celebrate Brooklyn Saturday night).

Leaving NYC, Train ride and Coxsackie, NY


The following day we intended to drive to Bethel, NY to catch the Woodstock museum and the performing arts center there. However, it was a little farther than we had bargained for and we had to be back at 430. So we opted to turn the car 90 degrees back to the north and head past Lake Minnewaska for a nice scenic drive and a walk through beautiful, yet fly-infested Lake Minnewaska state park.

Long Drive, Lake Minnewaska, Overlooks


The overlooks were the best here. The countryside up there is amazing. I haven't been up to this part of NY in a few years. I guess I had forgotten all of this was just a short ride away on the train. Anyway, that night we went to a nice dockside restaurant sitting on the edge of the Hudson river where we ordered steamed clams and just watched the boats go by. No pictures from here.

Tuesday was a little more planned and we wound up going first to Catskill, NY to take a look at the cats they have on display. There's a contest every year between local artists to decorate these fiberglass cats as creatively as possible.

Catskill, Rip Van Winkle Bridge


They are placed around the downtown area and people can vote on several different categories. So we did a quick tour and had lunch and then headed up to Olana, Frederic Church's mansion overlooking the Hudson river. We had just enough time to walk around the grounds, tour the mansion and then head to Poughkeepsie so I could catch the train back.

Olana and Rip Van Winkle Bridge


Captions for the pictures are coming soon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blurb #10

A quick blurb before I head upstate to visit my aunt and uncle. Last night, instead of listening to the asshole with the Cadillac Escalade blasting his music directly outside of my apartment like he owns the block or something, I opted to meet Karishma and her friends in Prospect Park for the Celebrate Brooklyn Concert. The headliner: Kailash Kher. Great, great show. I haven't danced that much since, well Monica knows. Afterward, we walked up fifth avenue to Calexico to get some late night Mexican food and hands down the cheapest beer in Brooklyn (all beers = $3), only to be hassled by a poor 23 year old junkie who insisted on coming and sitting with us and making the whole scene a bright red shade of awkward. It's a story for another, longer blog entry. For now, I must go and make sure the cat has food and water for two days. Bye for now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Downtown, The Village, Midtown...

I spent most of my morning cleaning the apartment and a little bit of it looking at the film that I'm to be scoring next. Thinking I'd get out of the house despite the weather, I planned a little outing. I'm getting better at doing this these days, especially planning cheap to no cost outings. Now that I know what a hassle it is to go into Manhattan without certain things if I'm to be there most of my day, I plan for just about everything. I load lots of reading material, I bring snacks and water, my umbrella if the weather threatens, hand sanitizer, tissues, heartburn medicine (these last three are always in my bag anyway), and of course, my camera and tunes. The camera, though on its last legs, I can still take some photos with it. The screen got a little angrier at me for getting it wet today and now I can't see at all to frame any shots, so I imagine that, while editing the shots from today, I'll have to do some straightening and cropping to make them worth looking at...that's if any of them are in focus.

Anyway, on the itinerary was, first a romp through the Financial District, some place I've been meaning to explore for quite a while. Then, I planned to try and meet an old high school friend who was visiting with his wife and kids as soon as they were done at Top of the Rock. If I hadn't connected with them, I had a list of addresses and directions to thrift shops in Brooklyn as a back up plan.

After getting the D to Atlantic/Pacific, I took the 2 train to the Wall St. Stop and headed east on Wall St. then a right onto Broad St., up a few blocks then a left on Maiden Ln. which took me to the World Trade Center site. After sitting on a bench for a bit there, south on Trinity Pl. until I reached Morris St., took a left and hit Broadway where I turned South again towards Bowling Green where I sat in a park there for a bit, then down Whitehall to Water St. then back up Coenties Slip to Stone St. to William St. to Beaver St., back on Wall St. to Front St. where I eventually wandered to and through the South Street Sea Port and Pier 17.


View Larger Map

Snapping photos the whole time I eventually headed back to the Fulton Street stop and rode up to the West Village on the A to grab a snack and coffee and get out of the rain.

Financial District and others


Instead of going to Starbuck's, I opted to hit Amy's Bread on Bleeker and Leroy. Amy's Bread has two other locations, one which I frequent as it's in the Chelsea market and their bread is excellent and cheap if I want to add something to my lunch while on break from work. While I sat and read my Time Out NY, Brendan called me and we discussed getting pizza in Midtown. I told him I'd think over a place for us to meet and immediately thought of John's Pizzeria on 44th between 7th and 8th. I had been here once before when I visited the city before my Paris trip in '07 with my cousin and a friend and my parents. Good sit down place for pizza where all the servers wear shirts that say "No Slices," because they only sell whole pies, obviously. We met and ate there, catching up on everything and chatting. It was good times and the pizza was excellent. His kids are hilarious, too. Age 7 and 10.

So, after we left I trudged in the rain, dodging umbrellas, back to Bryant Park to catch the D back home and here I sit, typing this blog. Impressions? An interesting day all around, hopping from one bustling neighborhood to the next. Downtown is very business like and there don't seem to be very many tourists, though I did see a few groups lined up behind guides, all of them wearing ponchos. There are a lot of banking types obviously, it being a huge banking center of the world, hosting the American Stock Exchange, The New York Stock Exchange and several huge banks. There are some nice park areas but everything seems so crammed together down there. In some parts the streets are extremely narrow and lined alternately with monstrous high rises and then tiny older buildings that look strange juxtaposed as such. Part of an older New York that has survived just barely. Stone street was the first paved street in New York city and it is still paved with cobblestones and is mainly for pedestrian traffic.

The West Village, you've heard me talk about before. There is such a diversity of old buildings that I make it a point to take a different route every day from work in Chelsea down to the West 4th Street subway stop, hoping I'll see something new and different. Cute little neighborhood streets cut by raucous avenues. Then there's Bleeker Street lined with boutiques and restaurants, record stores, coffee shops. And every once in a while, a park or a neighborhood garden pops up out of nowhere. The most recent find was on the corner of Bleeker and 6th Avenue on the opposite side of the street from Father Demo Square. Tucked away in the back, behind shrubs and trees, is a tree with a circular bench surrounding it and someone has left an Adirondack chair nestled right next to it. No one seems to go back here and it's shut at night. Wish I could remember the name of this park.

And Midtown is totally different. I spoke of umbrella dodging earlier. Every sidewalk packed with people, neon signs, flashing video billboards, the Theater District. Throngs of tourists aiming cameras in Times Square, the center of the universe. Slow down or block the sidewalk and you'll be run over.

Seeing all three of these in the same day really shows how diverse this city is, not just its population but the kinds of places you'll see. There's excitement mingled with history, mingled with parks, mingled with stores, mingled with the old mingled with the new. I am quite sure that I will never get bored here.

Hope you enjoy the pics and my rambling, over detailed account of my day. Meanwhile, I should get out from in front of this computer for a change. I've got some writing to do and a movie to watch.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another job! and the perils of finding background acting work in the city...

My, how quickly things unfold. The friend whose picture I'll be scoring referred me to a friend of his who works at CNN and told me to contact him regarding freelance work. Wouldn't you know it, half a day after I did that I got a call from this guy's manager, not asking to interview me, but asking me to come in and train as soon as I could. Awesome.

I got the call when I was waiting in line for the audition which turned out to be slightly to moderately lame, depending on what angle you view it from. Upon arriving on the second floor and finding the suite where the casting agency was located, I slid into a small room with a window and a booth, where sat a totally uninterested girl who chatted on her cell phone for a full minute before noticing I was standing there. She asked my name and slid me an application through the hole in the glass and told me to go ahead in. I opened the door into someone who was standing by the door filling his application out against the wall, and subsequently realized how full the room was and that it was not the room but a hallway turned waiting room with seats along each wall and a TV sitting on a stand playing MTV (bad pop music videos). I found a seat among the gaggle of people that mostly ignored me and finished my application, leaving blank my suit size because I didn't know it off the top of my head.

After what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, someone opened the door through which I had come and said, "Yo bounce! They gonna make you pay!" So half the room did just that. I decided I'd stay and one guy sitting across from me mumbled something about at least seeing what they were about. So four of us stayed behind after the room cleared out. Next, the guy comes out who's going to be interviewing us, a pudgy guy with slicked back black hair, simply oozing with every Hollywood cliche you've ever heard of. He's about to call three people in but he stops short when he realizes how the crowd has thinned out. "All right, I just need one person," he says. A minute or two later, he's back and asks for three of us at a time. He sits us down in three stools in front of his desk and asks us each at the same time, "You guys trying to make it in the business? Have you ever done any work like this before? Do you have head shots?" Each question in rapid-fire succession. Dumb looks from our side of the desk and he realizes he should probably ask us each individually if he wants to accurately record our answers. I tell him when he gets around to me that I don't have any experience yet and that I left my head shots home because I didn't have time to reprint any but that I'd bring them tomorrow if I needed to. Then, he starts to go through a list of the projects that they have on a crinkled and stapled together stack of papers pointing rapidly at each one, three to a page, before turning the page before any of us can actually read them. (Some of these films I'd heard of from working at Technicolor and they even had listed the movie that was being shot at NY 1 a few weeks back). After that, he asks me if I can bring in my head shots tomorrow and then, he escorts me out (a different way then I came in), as though I couldn't find the door on my own. A little put out I went on with my day and figured I'd try to get my head shots printed at a Walgreen's and get them to him later that day. I'm still debating it honestly. But I did find this after Googling, "WMT Casting," "NYC," and "scam." Seems to be an even split of disenfranchised naysayers and happy campers.

It sounded in the ad like they had a specific project they were submitting us to but in reality this is just a casting agency and I assume that what that guy meant by, "They make you pay," is that they make you pay to be listed and then maybe they'll call you if a director wants you. Bullshit. I'm already listed for free with another casting agency. If they want to charge me I'm not going to pay them.

Anyway, I left and went down to NY 1 to pick up a copy of the film I'll be scoring for my co worker and I've yet to look at that. I filled the rest of my afternoon with researching whether or not Walgreen's still had my head shots on their website from when I uploaded them a month or so ago and eating lunch in Union Square. A family of French tourists sat down next to me on the benches as they argued in French about where they were going to go next. I offered up my seat so they could all sit together and the lady said, "Merci," forgetting she was in New York, I guess and I said back, "Je vous en prie." It was a nice day in the park all around despite the bleeding heart guy who stopped me on the street in front of the old Virgin Superstore to make me feel bad about not being able to donate $20 to starving children in Nicaragua or wherever. I promptly left Union Square and walked down Broadway, intending to catch the D at Broadway Lafayette, and then I remembered that the Grace Church on Broadway has organ concerts during the week and it's usually Bach or something Baroque. Being a sucker for free live music of any kind, I stopped in to rest my feet a bit and meditate. After that I shot back to Brooklyn to write this blog and try to figure out what else to do with my day off.

I need to make a list. Half of me doesn't want to do anything else for the rest of the day but I need to be semi productive. Even though I feel like rewarding myself with a laid back evening for snagging another job, however hapless it may have been. Half of me just wants to take these days off and really enjoy them since I worked a lot earlier this month and just finished a seven day stint at NY 1. And I kind of have, Coney Island was nice and even though I had the "audition" this morning I had a laid back afternoon for the most part. I am also going upstate to visit my aunt and uncle on Sunday through Tuesday, about which I am very excited. So that'll be nice. Meanwhile, I have a movie from Netflix to watch tonight and a monstrous hunger that needs to be satiated somehow.

For now, a new idea I've had, to put up a playlist of what I've been listening to every once in a while:


End of July

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things calming down, Coney Island and my inability to take care of electronics...

Good morning. First day off in seven and I'm just finishing laundry and eating lunch. Also finally working on a piano piece that will be part of a cycle that I intend to submit to the SCI 2010 conference. August 1st is the deadline. I have the first piece in the cycle written and the second piece is in the works. Three is the magic number so I'm planning on writing a really simple ending piece in the next week while simultaneously finishing the current piece.

Distractions have subsided a little bit. The basketball goal is no longer outside so I've been sleeping a lot better lately and learning to chill the #$%&*@ out. I realize that, in the wake of my little freak out about my rent, it was too easy to find reasons to hate this place and convince myself that the only possible solution was that I needed to get out, no matter the cost. But now, I'm trying to look at things in a different light now that they've calmed down a bit. I'd be much better off sticking things out then adding more complications to my current situation. After all, I do like living alone, for now, and this neighborhood is not nearly as bad as I make it out to be. Let's face it, when you're the only one you have to bounce your own thoughts off of, there's no one to tell you that you're over reacting, over thinking, or just plain off the mark except yourself. And it's really hard to be honest with yourself at these times. The simple fact of the matter is that things could still be a lot worse. In fact, these hard times of having to scrimp by are teaching me, as they should be teaching the rest of America, how to live within your means. This is a valuable lesson and honestly, if I had a little bit more money and were a little bit more comfortable, my first thought would be that I had license to spend more and then I'd probably end up right back where I am now, through my own carelessness. If this is instilling in me a certain sense of caution then maybe this is the best place for me to be right now.

I'm not saying I wouldn't mind having a little more money to work with here. I've figured how long it would take me to pay off my debt if I were working full time hours...10 months. But it would require me to be working full time. There is good news on the job front, on all sides actually.

First, I got called for an audition for some paid extra work today and I'll be going in for that tomorrow. Second, Part time vs. freelance employment is on the horizon potentially at one of my jobs (I won't say much more because I don't know anything yet for sure). And third, a co worker recently asked me to help him finish off a score for his short film. So I'll start that soon.

Good things come to those who wait.

In the meantime, I went to Coney Island finally yesterday. I am twenty minutes away from the beach and I haven't even realized it all this time. I was certain it was at least a thirty minute train ride. Karishma and I basically walked up and down the boardwalk, purchased some disgusting cheese fries from Nathan's Hot Dogs, walked out onto one of the piers and finally dipped our feet into the ocean before heading back. Coney Island is dirty by NC standards but nowhere near as bad as some Florida beaches I've seen. I'll have to go back now and ride a few of the rides, though. Seems fun. Here are some pictures from the occasion, taken with the camera I've owned for about two years which has, regrettably just been fatally wounded while riding in my bag. Nice big crack in the middle of the LCD screen. And this is one of those cameras that has no viewfinder. I was heartbroken. As I was when I sat on my 8GB iRiver MP3 player a few weeks ago. Do I have some kind of problem with taking care of my electronics? Here are the pictures:

Coney Island best

Monday, July 13, 2009

My productive evening, a lack of postage stamps, Bastille Day and Softball (?)

Whew. I think I've done quite enough for one night. Got off work, marched straight down to the West Village to pick up my paycheck from Technicolor (it came way late, and wouldn't have come at all if I hadn't put their feet to the fire!), then I took the train back to Sunset Park and jumped right into my music. I spent the greater part of the evening putting the finishing touches on a mix of a song called Daresay, that I wrote back in 2004 and have been tweaking ever since. The main thrust of the song is the same, all the notes, etc. I've just built a whole new drumline and synced the tempo to the old synth lines. Then I remixed and remastered the whole piece.

After I was finally satisfied with that, I uploaded it to my myspace page (from which it had been missing while I worked on the remix), a new site called Indaba that I'm trying out (basically a place where musician's can collaborate and work in online recording sessions), and finally on my newly unveiled Facebook fan page, about which I'm very excited. Mainly because of the huge exposure it could garner me. Plus it'll be nice to let everyone know what I'm up to more easily.

I'm about to dive into sketching out a little bit of a piano piece that will be part of a cycle that I will hopefully finish in time to submit to the SCI conference for next year (deadline is August 1st).

Slightly put off by the fact that I just tried to go and buy postage stamps to mail this paycheck of mine but the post office is completely closed. I can't even go in the front of the place to buy stamps at the machines. The grocery store closest to me doesn't sell them, and by the time I get back to 5th Avenue from the post office, the Key Foods is closed. So, I don't know when I'm going to get this check in the mail. I would have preferred it if they retained my direct deposit info and done it that way, instead of cutting me a check. Such an antiquated thing, mailing a deposit to your bank, it seems.

Blah, enough about my current frustration though. How about an explanation of why my arms are so sore? I asked myself that question yesterday out loud while hanging out with Karishma the other night and seriously could not remember that after the Bastille Day celebration on Smith Street, Mike, his girlfriend, her friend and I went to Prospect Park for Mike's softball practice. A bunch of people he knows from work play together on a team so he invited us to practice instead of ditching us at the festival. The festival was good and all that but there was only so much to see. It stretched three blocks from Bergen Street to Atlantic Avenue and two of those blocks were covered in sand and set up in a series of courts for the Petanque tournament. Apparently this festival is still known as the biggest Bastille Day celebration in the U.S. Read more about it here (select Special Events and scroll down). Here are my own pictures from the event sprinkled with a few pics of our softball antics in Prospect Park.

Bastille Day and other stuff


Anyway, it's been years since I've even attempted to hit a ball with a stick, so the one shot I got at hitting about twenty softballs is the reason my arms are so sore. Who'd've thunk?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blurb #9

Just a short blog to post something about my doings in the past few days. Been waiting for some response to my subletting ad and I've gotten two people so far, both moving in from out of town. So I'm keeping my guard up. Meanwhile, Karish and I have met in Grand Army Plaza a few nights in a row to walk around. The first night we got turned around and walk clear over to the wrong side of Prospect Park and took an extra two hours to get back to her place to watch Harry Potter 4. We're trying to catch up on all of them before the 6th movie comes out. Here's a few pics of Grand Army Plaza with some riverside pics from the Hudson River Park on my break from work.

Grand Army Plaza at night best

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why I moved to New York and some info on how to...

As I walked from my work place in Chelsea to the West 4th Street stop, something I've been doing lately with the weather being nice again, I realized that I'm never going to get bored in this city. When my depression was at its worst in Raleigh, years back, one of the things that made my life feel so monotonous was having the same commute home from work every day. I would make ridiculous detours, anything to not have to drive the exact same way home every day. I'd even make excuses to leave early and then go and buy coffee before work, just to change up the routine. When I left work today, I thought, "I'll just walk to West 4th Street instead of having to take two trains." I even walked a different way then I have in the past, all the way to 6th Avenue along 15th Street and then south to the station. Other days I've walked down 9th to Hudson to Bleeker and then hung out in Father Demo Square (which is actually the shape of a triangle) just to get a change of scenery and not have to dive right into the muggy subway platform and stand sweating for ten minutes waiting for the train. If I'm going to sweat I might as well take in the city.

I love exploring this place. My present problems and discontent aside, it never disappoints, this city. There will always be something to see, whether it be some old building, apartments I'll never live in, a park I would have never normally found, or just the people of this city going about their business half of them oblivious to it all. Or just life going by in a big city. I can't explain why this is so different from Raleigh. I admit there are things I came to love about Raleigh but perhaps a sheer lack of creativity brought on by my near paralyzing anxiety and depression when I first graduated college kept me from really discovering Raleigh. But either way, I needed a change of scenery, though I'm not naive enough anymore to think that the scenery is all that has healed my anxiety and depression.

Anyway, if there's one bit of insight that I've gleaned from the last 6 months it's this: That the best way to come to NYC is to forget all your belongings except the bare minimum and live in slight to moderate to terrible discomfort (depending on how you look at it) in someone else's apartment, month to month if you can swing it, until you are stable with your job and know what you can afford to live in. Of course, this is obvious and would apply to any city but I didn't think it applied to me. I thought I could go on living by myself, enjoying my solitude with all the random shit I'd accumulated comfortably arranged around me and simultaneously afford it all without having first established myself here. I was wrong. I jumped the gun. Now it's a question of whether or not it makes sense to do anything risky to fix it.

I heard today that my boss has put in a request to hire me part time. Which would mean a couple of things for me: steady hours, no limit on my hours and even some, gasp, benefits! We'll see how it goes. So, I may yet survive this, having done it the way I did, but I certainly feel like, especially after talking with a close friends who's lived here for 7 plus years, that I could have come off a lot easier if I had done the subletting thing and not worried about moving twice. Hell, here I am considering moving for the second time anyway!

I had a nice talk with this friend yesterday and, besides imploring me to get on Match.com, he gave me some really good advice about the whole thing. He's subletted for years living up here and is getting ready to give up his room in his Upper East Side apartment (1 bed in a three bedroom apartment for $975) to move into a co-op he just bought up in Bronxville. So he was showing me the room in case I was interested. At $200 cheaper then my current digs, and several square feet smaller, which might necessitate storage or getting rid of things, it might not be for me. But oh, how nice it would be to say that in my first year in the Greater New York Area I found a sublet in Manhattan. I love his neighborhood. It's around 71st and York Avenue, lots of restaurants, a really good beer bar on York Avenue that we hit up, and some really nice apartment buildings. It's actually quiet back there. But I'll probably have to turn it down.

I also don't know what's going on with subletting yet. I'm not getting very many responses and, increasingly, the prospect of having to worry about this place (the current apartment) while I'm renting in a new one irks me. Even though, I may possibly find a place I could go month to month with, if my subletter defaults on me, then I have to worry about getting them out and getting someone else in. Getting them out being the harder of the two tasks.

I may not even follow through with this at all and just stay here. The noise outside was only bad last week. Maybe I'll get used to it (As long as it's not one of the days where I have to work at 6am).

So right now, I don't know what's going to happen. My plan is to see how subletting goes and, if badly, ask the landlord about getting out of the lease if I don't manage to find a subletter. If it's too much of a fee, hell, I may stay. It's only 'til March after all. And I will have been here for 6 months already come the 7th of August.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth...

I thought I was going to have to disappoint you because we opted not to brave the crowds on the west side of Manhattan. Instead we met in Clinton Hill at a friend's apartment building and made for the roof (trying our best to ignore the alarm that we set off to get up there). This was the second time this weekend I was on a rooftop in this neighborhood. Clinton Hill is wedged between Bushwick, Williamsburg and Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. Here are the pics, as well as some from my meeting with Katrina in Madison Square Park.

Madison Square Park and 4th of July Best


May I just say that the weather here is amazing these past few days, now that it's not raining. I was chilled on the rooftop in Clinton Hill last night and found myself thinking of a sweater in the middle of July.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hipsters in Bed Stuy and Chubby Basketballers in Sunset Park...

Like a lot of people I know, I like to think things happen for a reason, even if that reason is so that another thing can happen for a reason and on and on until you've gone completely mad wondering where the hell your life is going.

It seems as though this stuff only started to get bad (sure before it was stupid but bearable) once I had already come up with the idea of getting out of here. I was inspired to get out of here for purely monetary concerns initially but now, it's making more and more sense to do it.

If they're going to be out there later and later every night playing basketball (last night it was 330 in the morning or later when I finally called 311) then I'm just going to go mad. 311 is not very effective, I can't go out there and talk to these thugs and expect results (I heard them making fun of someone else who said they had to work in the morning) and I tried cotton balls and sleeping with my hand over my ear and my other ear buried in the pillow. None of these work.

So, maybe it's just a sign that I'm on the right track thinking of getting out of here. Maybe I needed more inspiration to get out of here. Because I may not survive at this rate paying this much in rent but I was hesitant to do it before because I

I had a heck of a time last night though before coming home to those idiots. I went to a Rubalad party in Bedford Stuyvesant with my poker night friends. Basically it's a huge loft building with multiple floors, bands and DJs in different rooms on each floor, art covering every inch of the place (including things like a papier mache cave in one room and slinkys and other random things hanging from the ceiling) and sweaty hipsters. It was wholly impromptu on my part as I wasn't even invited until about 9:00 that night. The party started at 11pm or so and we arrived shortly after. Read more reviews here. I can't seem to find an official website for it and all I could find out for any reason behind the party was this blurb in the email that was forwarded to me:

"20 years ago this summer, 200 eastern European picnickers broke through the iron curtain into the West. We celebrate them, as we exercise our freedom to celebrate."

Their was an option to come in costume. The theme? Picnics. We opted not to try and figure out what that could mean and devise some kind of costume ourselves. Instead we just went as is and people watched all night. But what a weird scene it was. I wish I could say more. After hanging out on the roof with the friends I'd come with, I went back in with a few of the guys, into the muggy dimness of the rest of the loft, I wound up waiting in line for the only bathroom for about twenty minutes. Well, the only bathroom that had a door and was not a mere sheet labeled "pee tent" draped over a structure on a corner of the roof. It was wild.

But anyway, back on the topic of getting the heck out of here. I also have a few options for places to stay cropping up. A friend that I made at a party back in March is looking for someone to fill a spare room where he and his girlfriend live. I'm going to proceed with caution on this one because it might not be for me. It's a three bedroom for one, and I think it's in Bed Stuy, the neighborhood I was in last night (famous for being seedy...seriously there's a Billy Joel lyric about this place), and also it may be too small for me and my stuff. I've decided, though, if I end up cheap enough on rent, wherever I end up moving, I should have enough extra money to rent a storage space for the stuff I can't bring.

And so the logistical nightmare begins. But I'm okay with that. I guess I have to pick which nightmare I want to deal with right now. And I think a little bit of shuffling of my stuff around is worth potentially removing myself from a place where I have to endure a couple of tubby high school kids playing basketball shirtless outside my apartment until 4am, then I'm game. It's goes without saying, of course, that any place I do move to must be quieter in that respect, i.e. a few floors up or at least not street side.

And so and so forth. I'm going to the West Side tonight with Karishma to watch the fireworks. Hopefully, it won't be a total cluster and hopefully we'll be there soon enough to actually catch them. Wish me luck. Pictures ensuing to include my day around Madison Square Park with cousin Katrina.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Music Music Music...

More on what I've been composing. I just finished re-recording a track for the end credits that's meant to parody the scene at the end. The director wanted something upbeat to sort of give a sense of irony to the whole piece. So I listened to a lot of Beach Boys before writing this piece and churned out something that he actually really liked...though, the more I play it to myself, the sicker of it I get. I guess it's like that.

At any rate, finding a director who knows what he wants, though he may not always be able to articulate it, has made for some challenging work but in a good way (let's face it, challenges are rarely bad things). I likened it almost to a different kind of composition lesson with a teacher who is not a composer. Kind of makes me realize that the people who teach you things don't always have to be teachers themselves, nor do they need to be setting out to teach you something specific. It sort of just happens sometimes that you learn from a scenario without anyone trying to cram knowledge down your throat.

Anyway, basically, there was the one bit of underscore in this drama (that barely even exists) that was written to punctuate the one scene that needed something (not that it needed it terribly, the actor's work was fine) and then there was a piece of source music for a party and the end credits tune I was just talking about.

The underscore was the most straight forward part. It had to be subtle but was just something to help in the absence of dialogue where the two characters. I worked the least on this bit, mainly because it was the shortest. Ultimately, a light guitar strum (which we decided to fade in) and some distant organ, some guitar harmonic triggered by slapping the strings lightly, all very faint. You almost don't realize it's there.

The End credits, as I said, was inspired by some Beach Boys tune, which I will not identify and consists of an acoustic guitar strumming some upbeat and happy chord progression with a few changes for the minor key area (flat 6th and 7th chords as well) and an electric guitar with a chorus effect playing a really cheesy melody over top. Bada-bing, bada-boom.

The source music has been quite the project though. We've been through several permutations of it. This is a case where any big budget project for a Hollywood film would just buy the rights to a couple of Jay-Z songs or something but I decided I could knock out a few beats and we could switch between them. Well, we've sat here and agonized over what kind of music would actually be playing at this party and tweaked my synthesizers and my beats as much as we thought possible and still haven't quite hit the mark. So, that's the last remaining challenge. At this point, the first thing I did that was almost approved, I've gotten sick of listening to and we're starting to dismantle it even and try to get at the root of it all. But last night I punched out two more beats with basslines and just left it at that. Until the next time I get around to working on it, at which point I will try and figure out what kind of sound should go in the mid and high range frequencies of the song. The target is somewhere before my synthesizers start to make it sound techno. I wrote one song that I may post on my myspace page later today to let you hear it. I was listening to Gin and Juice by Snoop Dogg and I just dropped everything and wrote this tune. Then, when the director arrive last night I wrote two more beats with him sitting here, trying to get an idea if we were hitting the mark or not, going back and forth between listening to my stuff and then calling up mp3s on Grooveshark.com of various rap songs to get inspiration.

It's been quite educational. If left to my own devices, I'm liable to get going with an idea and run with it in one direction, which may or may not be the right place to go. Having the director come over and listen from time to time helps out immensely when he's looking for something specific. So I don't get too far off track. Also, what I'm gleaning from working with a director is a sense of what works and what doesn't work generally, that I can more than likely apply elsewhere.

The lucky thing is that I get to do all this without a deadline. So I have time to actually try again whenever something doesn't work and maybe next time when I do have a deadline, I'll work more efficiently. So this has really been a blessing getting to do this project with a friend at a time when what I really need is experience with the whole process.

I'll keep you updated on this as it progresses and when it's finally complete. I just checked and that piece I worked on last night is up on my myspace page.

Frozen Meats and the jog through Sunset Park...

I had an epiphany the other night while shopping at the Asian grocery. Maybe epiphany is too strong a word. Mildly startling realization, curious cognizance. The chicken thighs and breasts and what-have-you, are always frozen on the shelves. Duh. I've noticed this every week I've gone in there. But this week they were well on their way to thaw-dom when I picked them up. I'm not sure why, but this led me to ask myself, "how long have they been on the shelves," which led to me asking myself, "how long have they been frozen," and then "how many times have they been thawed and re-frozen?"

It seems like the only reason one would freeze some piece of meat would be to keep it and sell it later, unless one was going to sell it frozen. None of the chicken pieces were being sold frozen, only the whole chickens. And these pieces of meat were thawing fast. (Incidentally, I hate the thought of refreezing chicken, especially when it's been fully thawed once. I will cook meat that I don't eat and save it for later in the fridge rather than refreeze a thawed piece of meat.) So, it occurred to me, that what they maybe do is, if they don't sell the whole chickens the day they're brought to the market, they freeze them as they butcher the chicken into pieces, however many days before they sell them and then on any given day they put some of the frozen chicken pieces on the shelves in the open air fridge where they thaw out until the end of the day. Which is when I came in to find a heavily sweating package of chicken thighs. God only knows what they do with the ones that don't sell. This was, in fact, my realization: that regardless of whether or not this is the first day that it was frozen and thawed, I have no way of knowing how old the chicken is unless the chicken is obviously old and freezer burned.

I guess if you want them fresh, either buy a whole chicken the day it's slaughtered (and worry about cutting the head and giblets off and out yourself) or just shop somewhere else. The eggs and produce are cheap at the Asian market but I'm a little disenchanted at the handling of meats and the like here. Sure, I can get cow stomach and duck tongue there but it's almost not worth it anymore (j/k). I remember when I could afford organic meats back in Greensboro because the chickens came from a farm in NC (which shortly after went out of business) and I long for those days.

I would also like to live near a place that sells good organic foods again, like Trader Joe's (which I still go to but it's quite the schlep). Cheap produce is nice (I paid $1.99 a pound for cherries the other day and got a pound of blackberries for $1.00 at the same place), but if it's not organic, you start to realize it may be cheap for other reasons. God only knows.

Anyway, enough of my produce and meat rant. I'm almost done with this film score. I had the producer/director over last night and we nitpicked the hell out of the last piece that isn't done yet. This morning I'm going to rerecord a part on the end credits song that is pretty much done and then I have to work at 1:30. And I'm jogging again. I find that when I have a goal in mind I focus on it when I'm jogging and therefore I go the whole mile without stopping more often. So, as long as I'm thinking of getting out of this neighborhood to greener pastures, I will take advantage of my determined mood and get that energy out jogging and exercising on the yoga mat when I get back. Exercising always kills any depressions that crops up as well.

After all these years of being diagnosed with GAD and clinical depression, I've figured out that the best and biggest kick in the ass I can give my depression is to fight it with the very discontent that started it.

So, that's that and here I go. Rent is due.