Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Test post on my Droid

Thursday, July 1, 2010


"Do you know what the most beautiful thing in the world is?" I mentioned, rather casually, to a coworker one night.  It was the middle of the evening, the mid-shift, right before the point when our restaurant switches from dinnertime to full-on party-mode.

She was standing at the monitor next to me, concentrating on an order as I stared dreamily off into space.  She stopped, her concentration broken.  "Huh?"

"The most beautiful thing in the world... I think so, anyway... do you know what it is?"

"What's that?"

"An avocado," I said, twirling my hair, tickled by this apparent epiphany.

I thought I heard her chuckle under her breath, just the faintest whisper of laughter; nothing malicious, of course, just the kind of laugh that is the product of being slightly interested and totally caught off-guard.  "Oh?" She said, "An avocado?"

"Oh yes," I said.  "An avocado.  You know, when you have an avocado, and it's ripe - not too ripe, but just ripe enough, just perfect... and you cut it open, and the black leathery outside gives way to the brilliant green inside, with that rich brown seed in the middle... the contrast, the color - it's life.  It's beautiful."

My coworker smiled.  Did she get it?  Maybe, maybe not; it didn't matter, I was just bored and rambling at that point.  But she agreed.  "It is pretty," she said, and the moment passed, and we both went on our merry ways, with no further mention of it for the rest of the evening.

A few hours later, we were both finished with our shift, and finally sat at the bar to complete the paperwork for the evening.  "What are you doing tonight, when you're done?" She asked.  Nothing, I said, maybe just have a drink and go home.  Was it a Friday?  Perhaps it was only Tuesday, maybe Thursday... it didn't matter, weekends didn't matter; in Los Angeles, you take life as it comes, a day at a time.  No two days are ever the same.  You're either working, or you're playing.  The two of us had been buried in work, we felt.  It was high time for a little bit of play.

We saddled up to the bar, suddenly rejuvenated by our new-found freedom, and though it was past eleven, the night to us was still young and we could let our hair down for a moment.  One Bloody Mary soon turned into three, four... and the next thing I knew, we were speeding down Hollywood Boulevard in a BMW, another friend of ours behind the wheel, headed to his place for more drinks.

Vodka is a fickle friend.  Soon, 4 a.m. was upon us.  We'd had plenty to drink that night; unless you count tomato juice, celery stalks, and green olives as any source of real sustenance, my coworker and I were in some serious need of food.  Let's take a cab, we decided, back to her place, in Los Feliz.  "You can spend the night," she said, and I was glad, because though my car was in a safe place there was no way in hell I was making it back to the Valley that night.

There are usually a few cabs parked there on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, where our friend's loft apartment is.  I had been on an emotional roller coaster that evening, laughing one minute, sobbing the next.  Maybe it was the vodka, maybe I was stressed, maybe it was just some weird hormonal shit.  I'd chalk it up to the second... hell, on top of everything we had going on in our personal lives, we had work, and trying to juggle the two of them and chase that ever-elusive, fleeting dream that we saw every day, but was always just beyond our fingertips; chasing and chasing and somehow feeling like we never got any closer... well, it gets to you after a while.  You don't mean to give in, to break down, but sometimes, you don't have a choice.

Anyway, the cabs were there, and though we were both quite toasted at that point, she was by far the more stable one.  She went from cab to cab, finally finding a driver who would give us the time of day, and I was suddenly elated in seeing the doors open, suddenly joking and laughing again while I wiped the tears from my face and climbed into the warm interior.

Our driver had a thick accent - they all did - but spoke exquisite English, and immediately jumped into the conversation.  My coworker and I had reached the point of drunkenness in which you don't know what you're saying, or why, but somehow, every word or declaration or story you have is totally relevant, and then you see something shiny or a synapse misfires in your brain and you suddenly get distracted and can't remember what that really amazing thing was you were talking about, but you don't really even care because you've found something new.  Our driver was a decent human, bless him, and though he knew he had two very drunk girls in the back of his cab, and the city streets were, for the moment, nearly empty, there was no funny business; he took us where we wanted to go, entertaining us with stories about drunk celebrities he had picked up in his cab once upon a time.  We laughed.  It felt good.

He brought us to a very quiet street in Los Feliz, halfway between my coworker's house and Fred 62, a 24-hour restaurant.  We were starving, so we dug around for cash, tipping the driver generously.  I thanked him for imparting his humor and wisdom upon us, his most most crass and drunken of customers for the evening - well, maybe not the most drunk and/or crass, but it was already almost 5 in the morning...

And then, as we prepared to depart from the taxi, the most extraordinary thing happened:

The driver reached from the front seat and, through that little window in the back, handed me an avocado.

I almost screamed.  I wanted to scream.  I can't even imagine the wide-eyed, dumbfounded look of amazement that probably graced my countenance at that moment.  My eyes darted from the driver, to the fruit, and back to the driver again before I finally took it from his hand, speechless.  My coworker, on the other hand, broke into near hysterics.  "Oh my God!" She exclaimed.  "Oh my... she was just talking about that!  Just a few hours ago, she was just talking about that!" She pointed at the avocado in my hand.

I was stricken with wonder, amazement, maybe even a little spooked.  "Thank you, sir," I said, smiling ever-so-slightly, and we got out of the cab and walked to the restaurant.


It may not seem like a big deal to you.  If that's the case, you can just stop reading now; sorry for wasting your time.  But I will tell you, that avocado became, in my eyes, a holy relic.  I carried it to the restaurant.  It sat on the table with us while we dined in the dim light, trying in vain to sober up a little.  The clock struck six; we journeyed home, and while passed out on my coworkers couch, I cradled it in my arms.  I carried it all the way back to Hollywood, and it rode with me in the front seat of my car on the way home.

The skeptic would say it means nothing.  Some will reason, "Well, maybe the driver just had them, in his cab, and gave them to people as they came."  Still, the coincidence is huge, regardless.  Even if it seemed significant, more so than it actually was... some may say it was the alcohol talking, that it was less significant than I perceived it to be.  Life, at that point, though still very unpredictable, had reached a stagnant point.  My mood that very night was proof, that feeling of hopelessness, of a longing for what had once existed in my world, what had once been my world.  I took it as a sign from God, I had no choice but to do so.

When I acquired the avocado, it was still very green, not yet to the point when it could be cut open, not yet at a point when it would be delicious.  I let it ripen, and in a week I reached for a spoon and devoured the rich, green flesh until only the seed remained.  Now, the seed sits in my windowsill (in a Crown Royal rocks glass, no less), and each day I watch and wait for it to grow.  When it finally does, I will plant it in the courtyard of my apartment complex, and in ten years, God willing, it will bear fruit to be enjoyed by whomever dwells here.

The Law of Attraction is a big, big deal out here in Los Angeles.  It's a concept that has been around forever, but has been popularized, within the last few years, by "The Secret."  That woman made a lot of damn money off something that people like Napoleon Hill knew about in the 60's, and what who knows how many other people knew about before that.  But hey, she saw a market, saw commodity, and went with it.  And Angelenos ate that crap up like it was going out of style.

And they still do, a few years later.  That's what they relate this story to, whenever I tell them about it.  I can't lie, I do kinda sorta believe in it.  And it is a very popular practice of thinking amongst the acting community.  I suppose it's just a new way of keeping faith, of having the hope that, if you dream it, then one day you'll have all those things you wanted, all the money and the fame and the fancy car and the huge house and giant obnoxious television set, and you won't have to worry about where your next meal is coming from ever again.

Yeah, sure, okay.  It might be that simple.  It could be that simple.  But here are some things I don't really get... if it was that simple, that easy to have the world in the palm of your hand, to have the kind of life most people simply dream of having, then why are we still struggling with getting there?  Why aren't all of us filthy-freakin' rich?

I read that often times, when we tell ourselves we want something, a little switch in our subconscious clicks on and tells us not to really and truly want something because it's selfish and inwardly-focused and how dare you have aspirations and wants and dreams, you should be happy with what you have because there are people starving in third-world countries, by God!  And you want a Mercedes?  Pish-posh!

But this is America!  This is the land of opportunity!  Long ago, Emma Lazarus gave this country some words of wisdom that would soon be emulated by our Lady Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."  And somewhere along the line we looked back at all the places we came from, and saw how crappy they stayed through generations, and how much better we had it here compared to there.  So we guilt-tripped ourselves, and with this proverbial slap in the face we began to raise generations of mediocrity.  We are now the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. We are the poor, the tired, the overworked and underpaid.  We are working jobs we hate, paying our dues, because someone somewhere is sitting poolside in their posh mansion telling us this is the real world and this is the way it works.  Don't bother having dreams, don't bother reaching for the stars.  You must lose your aspirations when you become an adult and have to get your own health insurance (yeah, right).  Your dreams die along with your childhood.

So, is that it?  Is it really just all in our minds?  Are we our own worst enemies?  Or has society, unbeknown to us, been telling us these things and feeding us these lies in order to keep us in check?  Not that each and every one of us having everything we ever wanted would cause any chaos... actually, it might cause quite a bit.   Work hard, sacrifice everything, and then maybe one day you'll rule the world.  But is risking your happiness worth it in the end?

My coworker and I reflect on the avocado incident every now and then, when we're feeling goofy or down about things.  It helps keep our chins up, to look on the sunnier side of things.  We were both laughing so hard, having such fun in the cab.  Maybe it's less about the law of attraction than we really think.  Avocados are, by definition, symbols of fertility and abundance.  Curiously enough, they also have a link to representations of jealousy.  But to us, at that moment, perhaps it was symbolic of everything; of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It was about the roller coaster, the ups and downs and loop-de-loops, and enjoying the ride.  After all, everyone only gets one ticket, one shot.  That's really what it's about, isn't it?  The wonder and the splendor and the adventure that is life; feeling joy and pain and sadness and ecstasy and adrenaline and the blood rushing through your veins as your heart beats a million times a second; about loving and losing and the bittersweet memory of it all.  It's life.  It's delicious.

(* a very, very special thank you to T. G. E., because you get it.)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I'm not a cop, but I play one on TV...

For those of you who follow me on Facebook (which could be all of you, as I don't think my audience has expanded quite that much yet), you may know that I will be making my official theatrical debut here in Los Angeles (insert applause here). Finally, after a year and a half of goofing off and trying to survive, really doing only the bare minimum of getting paid extra gigs on TV shows (which is kind of a joke, I'm just saying...) I'll finally be getting some actual exposure and getting out of my daily grind. It feels good. Great, actually.

This show is an all-female stage adaptation of Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut, "Reservoir Dogs," which starred Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel, and a few other bad-boys of the silver screen. If you're not familiar with the film, you can check it out on IMDb here.

If you have seen the movie, you will easily recall it is one of the most offensive and bloody films many people have ever seen, infamously known for - and this is a total spoiler - a scene (click here) in which Michael Madsen (a.k.a., "Mr. Blonde") cuts off a hostage police officer's ear with a straight-edge razor while singing and dancing to "Stuck In The Middle With You" by Steeler's Wheel. I think that scene matches in poetic nature only to the instance in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" when Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is kicking the crap out of that old guy while singing "Singin' in the Rain". Disturbing? You betcha.

Anyway... So yeah. "Reservoir Dogs" done live with an all-female cast. I have to admit, I have a thing for Tarantino's work. I don't know what it is, but when "Pulp Fiction" came out in '94, I was hooked. The dialogue, the grit, the idea that characters like these actually exist - it blew my mind, and was a prominent influence in my desire and dream to go to Hollywood and make stuff like that. It's really no surprise to me, then, that I auditioned for this show.

Truthfully, I wanted to be the villain. Don't ask me why. I guess it's just the idea of the sheer illegality of dressing up in a cheap suit and packing a 9mm to go hold up a jewelry store... well, pretending to do so, anyway.

But when I received the phone call that I had been cast, I heard the exact opposite - I would be playing the victim. That's the funny thing about QT's movies: there really are no heroes. No one is truly a "good" and "just" person. They're either really, really bad, or just human. Or they get their ear sliced off by Michael Madsen. Which is exactly what I'll be doing tonight, and every Saturday night, for a month. Needless to say, I am STOKED! Seriously! Fake blood = Awesome!

Going into the rehearsal, the first thing we did was a table read - we sat around and read through the entire script, from start to finish, just to get an idea of where we were with one another and, more importantly, where everyone was with their character.

I went home, and began a character analysis. Who was I? I was a cop, obviously. And I was captured and mercilessly tortured by a psychotic trigger-happy madwoman. Sweet. But that was so shallow, so vague. Who was the cop, really? What was her life like before she got totally screwed by fate?

Even in the movie, there wasn't any character development beyond a few lines of dialogue that maybe eluded to something about this poor sap. Maybe character development wasn't really necessary though, considering the things that we, the audience, witness at that point in time. Pretty sure the question, "I wonder what he had for breakfast this morning?" was the furthest question from our minds.

But the more I thought about it, the more I felt a little cheated. I mean, in the movie, Officer Marvin Nash (Played by Kirk Baltz) briefly eludes to a few things - "I've only been on the force eight months, nobody tells me anything" and "Please, no, I've got a little kid at home," which is probably only used to evoke even more sympathy for his character. It is said that Baltz, in preparation for the role, had Madsen drive him around in the trunk of his car, just to get an idea of what it would really be like.

No, I said. Not good enough. Put yourself in the character's shoes - literally. It's one thing that you were captured. But you sure as hell must not have expected that when you woke up that morning and went to work. Who does? This character needs a story, she needs quirks and likes and dislikes and a birthday and a favorite color, and a personality. She needs life.

So I started writing this stuff down, creating a character. It would be interesting enough doing this show, which is largely chauvinistic, with an all-female cast...but a cop? A woman cop? Wow. Tough job. I wouldn't even want to do that; I don't think I have it in me. I'd join the Army before I became a cop. But that's just me. So, what kind of woman would I have to be in order to do that? I kept writing, building and building, first just writing as though I were crafting a biography. "Marva Nash was born in blah blah blah," etc. But the more I wrote, the further into the mind of the character I got, and before long I found myself telling the story through her eyes, using words and expressions and turns of phrase that perhaps, were she sitting here next to me, I would hear uttered from her lips.

And so I bring you, dear readers, the latest post - a glimpse into the mind of Officer Marva Nash. And me. Actually, it's one in the same. I'm Marva Nash. I am an actress.

Enjoy ;-)

...oh, and for ticket and showtime info, scroll all the way down to the end...

(Disclaimer: All characters, settings, and dialogue are taken from the motion picture "Reservoir Dogs" and are property of Quentin Tarantino.  I DO NOT own any of this stuff.  Thank you.)

* * * * *

I can’t tell you exactly when I decided I wanted to be an officer of the peace. Truthfully, I guess I always did, my whole life. It was the uniform, the glittering badge, the camaraderie, the heroism, the glory… anything and everything. It was my Daddy, sure, he was a big part of it. My hero since day one. A legend. He was one of the most highly respected police officers in the whole city, well-loved by all, except for maybe Ma. But if you saw him like I did, through my eyes, and held him with the same regard and admiration, then maybe you’d understand a little more. That was the reason. That’s why I was going to be a cop.

And maybe it was those damn television shows my brothers and I always caught hell from Ma for watching that had a little bit to do with it too. Lord knows they glorified the hell outta life in the force.

It’s a tough process; going through training, finally getting your badge, all the while being told you’ll never be big enough, or strong enough, or fast enough, or good enough, just because you don’t have a dick. And it’s really not even all that exciting like they say in the movies; you think you’re gonna be a cop, and then it’ll be bustin’ bank robberies and chasin’ bad guys and feelin’ that adrenaline rush, shootin’ your gun left and right. Actually, for the first eight months, you just get stuck behind a desk doin’ a shitload of paperwork. ‘Course, it was probably like that for my Daddy too, but he never let me catch wise. The way I saw it, he was a genuine bona-fide hero, I thought for sure he was out there every day, makin the world a better place for me, catchin’ all the bad guys and puttin’ em behind bars. But when he was shot by that drunk… it felt like the whole world came crashing down. I remember going to the funeral, Ma crying – she wasn’t hysterical, or anything, she was just crying, like she knew it was coming all along. I always thought Daddy was the Cat’s Meow, and Ma was afraid I’d wanna follow in his footsteps. I was the baby, the youngest of four kids and the only girl, and I knew Ma didn’t want to see anything happen to me, so she tried to make me act as perfect and ladylike as possible.

I never was into the tea parties or dolls or anything like that when I was little. I was much more at home and in my element with my brothers and the neighbor boys, climbing trees, catching frogs and bugs, playing cowboys and Indians. They let me play with them, willingly at first, then more reluctantly as time wore on and we all got older. Ma never let me have any toy guns or swords or anything like that, maybe she was afraid I’d want to be more like Daddy. After Daddy died, Ma kinda lost her grip, and we moved around the city a lot, Ma and my brothers working odd hours in crappy jobs. I tried to do the best I could in school so I could have a good job and support my family. I met my husband, Joe, when I was in High School. We were sweethearts, he was sort of a tough guy, one of the bad boys, but never let anything or anyone hurt me. We were so in love, I never thought Ma was too crazy about us, but she just stood to the side, as usual, and let things go at their pace. We got married after we graduated, but Joe just couldn’t hold a job. Things changed, he started drinking, and our happy little nest soon fell apart. We had a baby, a little boy, my little Jack, after my Daddy. That little boy was my world. I knew things between me and Joe were coming to a bitter end, and in an effort to give my son the world and to escape from the one I shared with Joe, I set off to finally pursue my dream.

Well, like I said, it was tough, real tough. And just because my Daddy was on the force didn’t mean shit. I was still not or ever gonna be good enough because I was a girl. I don’t wanna sound feminist or anything, but it gets to you after a while, especially when you have a dream to do something, and to create a life for you and the people you love, and you can’t seem to catch a break. But I got through it, and got my badge, and I thought for sure I’d be out there doing good for the world in no time. But no sooner had I gotten my badge, they stuck me behind a desk and made me do clerical shit. Yeah, I know, it’s important too, but I wanted nothing more at that point than to prove myself to the whole world.

Finally, 8 months in, I get my chance. It happened like this: we had word that Jolie Cabot, one of the L.A. Crime Syndicate’s most formidable bosses, was getting a bunch of her girls together to pull off this jewel-heist at a jewelry store downtown. We had known about this thing for months; I heard we even had one of our people on the inside, undercover, to bust these bitches once and for all. Chief got the word that this thing was finally going down, and he was all ready to go, and I had been running my mouth for months, looking to finally get the okay to prove myself. He finally gave in, I think, and just sent me along with the rest of them to finally get some action just so I would shut the hell up. “Okay, Nash” the chief said to me, a little disapprovingly, “this is your chance. Get out there and kick some ass.” And I got up, all chompin’ at the bit, and told him he wouldn’t regret it, that I’d show him what I can be, that I’m as good as every one of these guys he’s got. I had no idea that I would soon regret making my move.

So we got down there, and I’m nervous as all hell, trigger-happy and willing. Our orders were to stake out the store, across the street. We wanted to catch this Jolie Cabot red-handed on this job, and if anything got outta hand, then we could take the necessary action – open fire on these motherfuckers.

The situation seemed to be under control, everyone cooperating. I could hardly see through the windows, but it looked like it was goin’ okay. They had one of their girls guarding the door. It was quiet, real fuckin’ quiet… and then one of the employees, the clerk, tripped the alarm. I dunno if she meant to, or if it was an accident. But the damn thing went off, and shit got crazy. One of the gangsters – a real tall, mean lookin’ girl – just hauls off and shoots her. Right in the heart. But she was real calm about it, you know? Like it was nothing; she just kept talkin’ to everybody, and then she went and shot another. And another. And after five hostages takin’ one for the team, the chief signals us to go for it, and we storm that place, and all hell breaks loose. The gangsters opened fire on us, run for the door, ready to make their getaway with the stones. We got a couple of them, I saw a couple of my fellow officers get tagged, but the rest of the gang got away, shooting anything that stood between them and their freedom.

Two of them made a run for it. I followed.

Out the back door, I emerged onto the empty loading dock, looking for a sign, something, anything, that may have pointed to their presence. Nothing. Not a trace. It was as though they had vanished into thin air.

A shot rang out in the distance, amidst the storm of sirens and helicopters looming overhead. Probably not the brightest idea to go chasing after gunshots, I thought, but where there's smoke, there's fire. And anyway, I had my reputation to protect.

I ran. From the loading dock I ducked through a gate that gave way to a small residential tract. Dogs barked, echoing through the empty streets. Still, not a soul. I darted through an alleyway, gun drawn. Further ahead, I saw the aftermath of the shots - an idle car, the driver dead, shot. A slow, dripping trail of blood led away from the car, and then faded into the asphalt.

They were close. They had to be. But I was fucked. I lost them. The sirens, the helicopters, the traffic... all noise faded into oblivion, engulfed by the sickening thud of my heartbeat. I turned circles, feverishly gripping my gun, fighting to hold it in my sweating hands.

And then I felt the hand clasp over my mouth, and the cold steel of a gun on my temple, and I was dragged away into the darkness of the alley.


I don’t know where we went, where I was, or where I was being taken. I didn’t even have the pleasure of knowing my captor. All I had was a voice, and a fleeting glimpse of cold blue eyes, and a tall girl with blond hair in a cheap suit and heels. This bitch - the one who shot up the store... she just stood me up, holdin’ the gun to me, and started searching me, taking my mace, my nightstick, my radio, everything but the clothes on my back. She even went through my wallet, and found the pictures I have of little Jack, and held them up. “Aww,” she said, feigning sympathy. “Piggy’s got a little piglet of her own. How fuckin’ precious.” Then she looked at me, and I could see the danger in her eyes, and I felt fear, real fear, as she said, “you ever wanna see that little brat again, you better play real fuckin’ cool, missy. You better tell me anything and everything I wanna know – and maybe you’ll get out of this. Or maybe not.” She turned me around, and forced me down on the trunk of the car. “Now this,” she said, wrenching my arms back and tying me up with my own cuffs, “this is gonna hurt you a whole hell of a lot more than it’s gonna hurt me.” And laughing, she pistol-whipped me, on the back of the head, and even as everything went black I could still hear her laughing that sick laugh.


The first thing I remembered when I came to was the taste of blood. There was a vice grip on my head, my face was throbbing. And I was moving – my head kept hittin’ the floor of wherever the hell I was, and I’m sorta sliding around. It’s a coffin, I thought. She’s burying me alive. Jesus. I open my eyes, but I can’t see shit. It’s black. Pitch fuckin’ black. I’m blind, I thought, and I started to panic. I’m fuckin’ blind!

Then I saw the lights – red and white lights, in intermittent bursts – sometimes in short pulses, other times longer, more deliberate. I wasn’t blind, at least I had that goin’ for me. But I was still completely fucked unless I could get a grip on my bearings, and fast. I focused – Jesus, my head hurt – and slowly retraced my steps before I had taken that last blow. The car. I must be in the fuckin’ car. That psycho put me in the trunk. But how long? How much time had passed? Shit, we could be halfway to Mexico by now. I tried moving; my cuffs dug into my wrists. I had no choice. I’d be waiting this one out.

I felt us slowly roll to a stop. I heard a voice, quick and strangely muffled, almost mechanical. Then I heard Blonde: “Yeah, uh, lemme get a – gimme a double cheeseburger, a large fry, and… and a diet Coke.”

That cunt. That fucking bitch. Takin’ a detour through the drive-thru at Burger King. I guess armed robbery and the prospect of manslaughter would make any girl hungry. We pulled forward, then stopped again. “Six seventy-two,” said a voice – I guessed the cashier.

“Sorry,” said Blonde. “All I got is a fifty.” Classy, I thought.

She pays, and I can hear the crumple of the paper bag, the smell of hot, greasy fast food wafting into the car. I wanted to puke. We peeled out of the parking lot, and on our way to who-the-hell-knew where.

I think at that point, with all that driving around in the California sunshine, it started to get real fuckin’ hot in that car, and being trapped in that prison, in that God-awful polyester uniform, I would rather have been burning in the fiery depths of hell. I think I passed out again shortly after that, because the next thing I knew, I was still baking, but we had stopped, and I heard voices. Three of them. One was Blonde. “We’re gonna stick around, and we’re gonna wait.”

Then a new voice, a little louder, more authoritative. “What for, the cops?”

“No,” said Blonde. “Nice Girl Evie.”

The third spoke up, a quick, jumpy voice. “Nice Girl Evie? What makes you think she isn’t on a plane right now halfway to Costa Rica?”

“Because,” said Blonde. “I just spoke to her on the phone and she said she’s on her way down here.”

The first voice again. “You talked to Nice Girl Evie? Why the fuck didn’t you say that in the first place?”

“’Cause you never asked me,” Blonde replied.

“Hardy-fuckin’-har. What did she say?”

“She said stay put.” I heard the crunchy scraping sound of Blonde shoving the key into the lock on the trunk. My pulse quickened, I thought my heart was going to burst. “So, in the meantime,” she continued, “I wanna show you guys somethin’.”

The trunk flew open. The daylight was blinding. I couldn’t see a fuckin’ thing. Then, slowly, three silhouettes came into view, all towering over me, staring down at me into the trunk space. And then laughter, that same sick, unmerciful laughter.

“Jesus Christ!” It was the third girl, the jumpy-sounding one. She stared at me, hands on her hips, looking at me with something like disbelief and joyful surprise.

“Maybe our girl in blue here can answer some of these questions about this rat business you’ve been talking about,” Blonde said. She smiled. If it weren’t for the heat sucking the life out of me, I would’ve spit right in her face.

“You’re a piece of work, my friend. It ain’t a bad idea. Let’s get her the fuck out of here.”

The three of them reached for me, laughing.

* * * * *

It wasn’t until after they had tied me to the chair that I started to question the reality of the situation. Blonde took the honor of landing the first punch. They beat the shit outta me. After the first few decent hits, the body and mind sort of separate from one another. It’s a strange, strange feeling… shit suddenly seems real far away, and like I said, you start to question the reality of it all. Like, if it’s really happening, if you’re really there, handcuffed, getting the snot beat out of you by a bunch of two-bit thugs. If you’re actually feeling the biting sting of bone against bone, of a fist cracking upside your jaw. And you drop to the ground, because suddenly your legs don’t feel like holding you up anymore, and your head hits the cool concrete floor of the warehouse, and you double over when you have an Italian boot shoved into your gut. There we all were, me lyin’ on the floor, three against one. And you can taste the blood and sweat and even your own tears as you try to gasp for breath just so you can scream, not just because it hurts, but because you’re scared, and you’re angry. And even though I loathed them all, even though I loathed Blonde and these two bitches, and the Crown Vic, and that fucking warehouse, mostly I just loathed myself. I should’ve known. I shouldn’t have been so fucking stupid.

After they had taken their fill of beating me like a dog, they tied me to a chair, all POW-style. I sat there, sputtering and coughing, spitting little bits of blood and pieces of my teeth. The three of them stood in a circle, laughing and joking, like some fuckin’ sewing circle. Even through my blurred vision I tried to concentrate and remember faces, details, shit that would help me out greatly if I lasted long enough to get outta this alive. We were in a warehouse – the rendezvous point. One door, no windows. Dark and cold and gray and solid as a rock. Buildings like these, they tend to be pretty sturdy, pretty soundproof. And usually they’re in deserted areas, so even if I had the energy to scream, chances are, there wouldn’t be anyone around to hear me for miles. And in this part of town, anyone who was around most likely wouldn’t want to help you out anyway, especially if you’re in uniform.

So Blonde was standing there, making cracks about cops, and the other two – “Pink” and “White” – laughed and joked along with her. I kept surveying the area, trying my best not to take my eyes off them in case they tried anything funny. That was when I saw her – one of the other goons, lyin’ there on the loading ramp, in a crumpled and bloody heap. She was alive, from what I could tell, but she wasn’t moving… I had never seen so much blood in my life. And I wouldn’t have felt sorry for her, not at all, but she looked so pathetic, so sad, lyin’ there, and the more I looked, the more familiar she seemed to me. I swear, I had to have seen her before, somewhere… or maybe I was just seein’ things, one too many blows to the head.

The back door suddenly burst open in a fury, and here comes this Guido lookin’ chick in a track jacket, struttin’ in like she fuckin’ owned the place. Or maybe she did, I dunno, and I didn’t care. But the three girls did, and we all jumped.

The Guido spoke. “What in the Sam Hill’s goin’ on here?” She was pissed.

“Hey, Nice Girl Evie, we got a cop!” White exclaimed, grinning stupidly.

Pink was less enthusiastic, almost irritated. “Where the fuck is Jolie?”

But Nice Girl… Evie, was it? I guess so. Anyway, she just keeps walking, all in a tizzy, and when she sees the dying chick on the ramp, she stops dead in her tracks. “Holy shit,” she says. “Orange is dead.”

White stepped in, the voice of reason. “No shit. She’s not dead, but she will be if we don’t get her taken care of.”

They were eerily calm about things, they stayed professional, I’ll give ‘em that. But then Pink had to go and stick her nose into it. “We were set up,” she accused. “The cops were there waiting for us.”

That was the straw that broke the fuckin’ camel’s back. Evie’s temper was hot. “What? Nobody fuckin’ set anybody up.”

“The cops were there waitin’ for us, man!”


They argue. Orange is still comatose, slowly slipping away.

“Hey, fuck you, man,” Pink yelled. This was going nowhere fast. It was a heist turned playground brawl. “You weren’t there, we were. And I’m tellin’ ya, the cops had that store staked out.”

Well, it wasn’t total bullshit. We did. But Evie wasn’t buying it. “Okay, Ms. Fuckin’ Detective, you’re so fuckin’ smart, who did it?”

“What the hell do you think we’ve been askin’ each other?”

“Yeah? And what did you fuckin’ come up with? Huh? You think I did?” Evie’s tone was growing more dangerous by the moment. “You think I fuckin’ set you up?”

Pink raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know, but somebody did.”

“Nobody did,” growled Evie, descending on the two. “You assholes turn the jewelry store into a Wild West Show and you wonder why the fuckin’ cops show up.”

From the corner of the warehouse, my captor finally spoke, quiet but firm. “Where’s Jolie?”

“I dunno,” said Evie. “I ain’t talked to her. But I talked to Dov, and he says Mama’s comin’ down here, and she’s fuckin’ pissed.”

Pink turned to White. “Told you she’s be pissed.”

“What did Jolie say?” White asked.

“I told ya, I ain’t talked to her!” Evie was somehow more annoyed. “All I know is, she’s pissed!”

“What’re you gonna do about her?” White pointed to the girl who lay bloody and motionless on the concrete.
Evie said something, still fuming. At that point, the punches to my head were taking their full effect. My face was numb, my ears were ringing… everything was starting to go black. My head nodded as I struggled to stay alert and conscious, but I kept a wary eye on my captor. Blonde sat on a crate in the corner, staring dreamily into nothing. My glare caught her attention, and she glared back at me. I looked away.

Evie threw her hands up in aggravation. "Jesus, give me a fuckin' chance to breathe! I got a few questions of my own, ya know."

"You ain't dying, she is."

"Alright, Ms. Fuckin' Compassion. I'll call somebody."

White knelt down next to the dying girl. "Who?"

Evie looked back in disbelief. "A fuckin' snake charmer, who do you think? I'll call a doctor, fix her up. Now, what happened to Brown and Blue?"

"Brown's dead,” said Pink. “We dunno what happened to Blue."

"Brown's dead? Are you sure?"

Pink nodded. "We're sure."

"I'm sure. I was there,” said White. “Took one in the head."

Evie was frustrated. "Nobody's got a clue what happened to Blue?"

From the corner, perched atop a crate, Blonde finally spoke. "Either she's alive, or she's dead, or the cops got her…” She shrugged. “Or they don't."

White snickered. Evie rolled her eyes, and at last gestured to me. "I take it this is the bitch you told me about. Why you beatin' on her?"

"Maybe she can tell us who the fuck set us up," Pink suggested.

"If you beat this chick long enough,” yelled Evie, looking around the room, “she'll tell you she started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it fuckin' so! C'mon, man, think! Alright, first things fuckin' last, who's got the stones? Please somebody tell me one little fuckin' good thing, just for my sake."

Pink spoke up to the defensive. "I got a bag, I got a bag. Okay? I stashed it to make sure this place wasn't a police station."

"Good for you. Now, let's go get it. First we gotta get rid of those cars outside. It looks like Sam's Hot Car Lot out there.” Evie turned to Blonde. “Okay Blondie, stay here and babysit them two. White and Pink, you take a car each, I'll follow ya. You ditch, we'll pick up the stones. And while I'm following ya, I'll arrange some sort of doctor for our friend here."

There was a pause. White shook her head, an odd smile slowly creeping across her face. "Yeah... no. We can't leave these girls with her."

"Why not?"

"'Cause she's a fuckin' psycho.” She stood from where she knelt by the dying girl, and advanced on Evie. “And if you think Jolie's pissed, it ain't nothin' compared to how pissed off I am at her for puttin' me in the same room as that bitch."

It was now Blonde’s turn to come to her own defense. "You see what I been puttin' up with? I fuckin' walked in here, I told these girls about stayin' put, Ms. White whips out her gun. She's stickin' it in my face, callin' me a motherfucker, sayin' she's gonna blow me away, and blah blah blah blah blah."

"She's the reason the job turned into a shooting spree!” White turned to Pink. “What're you, a fuckin' silent partner? Tell her."

Pink seemed reluctant to add any more fuel to the fire, but shrugged, and spoke anyway. "She went crazy in the store, but she seems alright now."

"This is what she was doin',” White said, taking her gun from it’s holster and pointing it around the room, miming. “Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!"

"Yeah, bam bam bam bam bam...” Blonde pushed Evie aside and strode up to White. “I told 'em not to touch the fuckin' alarm. They did. If they hadn't done what I told 'em not to do, they'd still be alive."

White applauded. "My fuckin' hero! That's your excuse for going on a kill crazy rampage?"

Blonde’s eyes grew dark. "I don't like alarms, Ms. White." A storm was on the horizon.

"What does it matter who stays with the cop?” Now Evie was trying to reason with the two, attempting to break up the imposing fight. “We ain't lettin' her go, not after she's seen everybody. You shoulda never taken her outta the trunk in the first place."

"We were trying to find out what she knew about the setup,” Pink was whining. How ludicrous. They were plummeting from hardened criminals to bitchy teenage girls at an alarming rate. I probably would have laughed to myself, had I not been in such agonizing pain and rendered nearly catatonic with fear.

In reality, all they had accomplished was igniting the incredibly short fuse on Evie’s temper. "There is no fuckin' set up! Now here's the news: Blondie, you stay here and take care of these two. White, Pink, you come with me, 'cuz if Jolie gets here and she sees all those fuckin' cars outside, I swear to you she's gonna be just as mad at me as she is at you."

The three of them walked out bickering, leaving me all alone with Ms. Blonde in the empty silence of the warehouse.


After what seemed like an eternity, Blonde finally broke the deafening silence. “Alone at last,” she said, smiling that awful fucking little smile. She stopped suddenly, the smile wiped from her face, as though in thought. “Hey, guess what? I think I’m parked in the red zone.” And then she laughed her sick laugh at her own pathetic joke, and smiled that evil goddamn smile again. I wanted to spit in her face, splatter blood all over her little smirk. Who’d be laughing then, bitch?

She recovered a few seconds later. “Now, where were we?”

This was it. She was giving me my one shot at getting out of this, whether she knew it or not. I had to take a chance. I thought of everything I had learned in the Academy, everything I had done in the subsequent months that might give me an edge in this. The easiest by far, and the only thing that came to mind, was reverse psychology. Try and reason with her.

“I told you,” I said, nearly whispering. “I told you, I don’t know anything about any fucking setup.” This was, of course, total bullshit. I hoped I was a decent liar. “I’ve been on the force only eight months, they don’t tell me anything, nobody tells me shit!” This, on the other hand, was the truth. They didn’t tell me, the bastards. I had to find out for myself, through shameless eavesdropping. “You can torture me all you want.” The last part, I hoped, was not a total fuck-up on my part. It seemed to work for everyone else, it would have to work for me.

Blonde had slowly walked away, seemingly uninterested in anything I was telling her. But only on the word “torture” did I seem to grab her attention. She whirled around. “Torture you? That’s a good idea. I like the sound of that.”

Fuckin’ psycho. Time to backpedal. “Even your boss said there wasn’t a setup.”

She froze, staring at me in horrified disgust and disbelief. “My what?”

I couldn’t help it. I wanted this bitch to feel like the lowlife piece of shit she was. I easily outweighed her and had at least two inches in height on her; I could’ve taken her if I hadn’t been tied to that fuckin’ chair. “Your boss,” I said again. If this was how she wanted to play the game, I was ready.

But she just raised her brow, scoffing. “Excuse me, pal. There’s one thing I want to make clear to you. I don’t have a boss. Nobody tells me what to do. You understand? Did you hear what I said you bitch?” She slapped me. “I asked you a question, are you clear about that?”

Any questions I had before about the reality of the situation dissipated the moment her palm hit my cheek. It was suddenly real. Terrible, horrible, and undeniably real. “Alright, alright, you don’t have a boss, alright.”

Blonde saw the terror in my eyes. “Look kid, I’m not gonna bullshit you, okay?” I felt like a child in a schoolyard, challenged to some recess brawl. I started shaking, and couldn’t stop. “I don’t really give a good fuck what you know or don’t know,” she continued. “But I’m gonna torture you anyway, regardless. Not to get information, it’s just amusing to me to torture a cop.” She sauntered over to a long shelf cluttered with junk that ran against the wall, and grabbed a roll of duct tape, tearing off a long strip. “You can say anything you want ‘cuz I’ve heard it all before.” She swaggered back over, and straddled me, wrapping the strip of tape over my face, across my mouth. My heart beat ferociously, and I struggled for breath through my busted nose. “All you can do is pray for a quick death…” She arose, and took a few steps, her back turned to me. “Which you ain’t gonna get.” Like lightening, she whirled around, drawing her gun, pointing it right in my face.

Training doesn’t even begin to prepare you. Not for this shit. Sure, we had simulations – a bunch of dumbass meathead cops with blanks, firing them off like they were cowboys at some fuckin’ frontier saloon. But to feel a piece against your skull, to look down the barrel of a 9 millimeter with your hands tied behind you and tape over your mouth, smelling and tasting your own blood, pissing your pants and praying for some fuckin’ miracle as you anticipate takin’ one between the eyes… nothing even comes close.

She had me cornered. She had her shot, point fuckin’ blank. But she just laughed again, and put her gun down, shaking her head in amusement. “Ever listen to K-Billy’s ‘Super Sounds of the Seventies’?” There was a radio on the shelf. She walked over to turn it on. “It’s my personal favorite.”

A plodding mariachi band crackled over the airwaves. Blonde sneered, fumbling for the tuning dial. A guitar strummed lazily into the room, echoing through the warehouse. Blonde listened for a moment, and smiled as the deep baseline stumbled through, underlying the twang of the guitars.

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight… I got a feelin’ somethin’ ain’t right…”

This bitch… she starts dancing. Two-steppin’ across the concrete floor. Parading herself around the warehouse like it was the talent portion of the fuckin’ Miss America competition, making no point to hide the fact she was obviously enjoying herself. She bent down, rolled up her pant leg, and from within her boot, produced a blade, waving it so it sparkled in the dim light.

“I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair… and I’m wonderin’ how I’ll get down the stairs…”

It would all be over soon. I hoped, at least. And I hoped I could somehow, some way, get out of this yet. But my life had already begun flashing before my eyes. I saw my Daddy, reclined in his easy chair in the living room, nursing a Budweiser, tapping his foot to the radio. This song… this fuckin’ song… I had heard it before, a million times. Countless times. It was one of my Daddy’s favorites. I could see him then, in my mind’s eye, dancing around the living room in his socks, the loveable goof he truly was at heart. And I saw myself there too, in my mind’s eye, young and innocent, just a kid, full of wonder and amazement at this thing called life I had laying before me, laughing happily at my father, my hero, as he danced around our living room and sang along.

And now I heard the song again, the musical ghost from my past, and now I wasn’t laughing. I wasn’t five years old, in my living room. Now I heard the song, and I was without my innocence, wonder and amazement overcome by fear and horror. And now I was without my father. I was without everything and everyone familiar.

My daydream shifted, took a nosedive into a nightmare, and the sharp bite of reality, stinging like a slap in the face, came flooding back, and I found myself in my own personal hell, in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, with a maniac performing a striptease with a straight-edge razor.

Like a cobra, she lashed out with the blade, catching my cheek, right below my eye. I tried to scream, only to be muffled by the tape, my chest heaving with the shock and surprise and pain of it all. She lashed out again; this time I dodged her. She got angry, and decided enough was enough. She reached out with her hand this time, and grabbed a chunk of my hair. Yanking my head to the side, she straddled me again. “Hold still! Hold still, you fuckin’…”

There was searing, white-hot pain, and the icy chill of the blade as it cut through my flesh.


My screams were drowned out only by the tape over my mouth and the deafening ringing in my head as the floodgates opened, and for a moment I was lost in the raging torrent of thoughts and blood and tears.

Fuck fuck fuck oh Jesus God no why me why fuckin’ me what did I do to deserve this I’m as good as dead she’s killing me this bitch is going to kill me no no no why oh God why my Jack my little baby boy he’s all alone now he’s got no one she’s killed me I’m dead dead fuckin’ dead fuck fuck fuck…

My ear. My fuckin’ ear. She hacked it off. A hot, sticky river of blood ran from my head, soaking my shirt. Through vision blurred by tears I saw Blonde swagger into view, flipping the poor bloody remnant of my ear in her fingers, chuckling to herself. She looked at me through her wolfish eyes. “Was that as good for you as it was for me?”

All I could do was whimper sadly, heaving for breath. Blonde held my ear to her mouth, speaking into it. “Hey, what’s goin’ on? You hear that?” She asked, still cracking herself up, laughing at her own sick pathetic brand of humor. “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.” She pitched my ear into a dank corner of the warehouse, and turned away, walking lazily to the door.

A blinding flash of daylight engulfed her silhouette, and she was gone. I was alone once again in the warehouse, a whimpering bloody mess, the air thick with the scent of death, with only my father’s song to keep me company. I wanted to fade away into nothing; to melt away into the floor and leave this place. I wanted to magically wake up in my own bed, to smell coffee brewing in my kitchen, to hear the patter of Jack’s little feet in the hall as he ran to my room and jumped on the bed, ready to greet the day with his beautiful innocence and wonder as I once did.

The blinding flash of daylight brought me crashing back to reality, and I was once again alone in the warehouse, with Blonde fast approaching, dancing playfully, carrying a gasoline can.

I shook my head in desperation. No way. No fucking way. This was a dream. This had to be a nightmare. Wake up, dammit, just wake up, fucking wake up –

The gasoline hit my face, burning my eyes, seeping into my wounds. I fought for breath, fought the sour, bitter taste I had in the back of my throat as I heaved against the smothering fumes. I flailed wildly about in the chair. Laughing, my assailant ripped the tape from my face, reveling in my screams.

Stop! Stop, stop, stop it, stop stop…”

“Why? Whatsa matter, burn a little?”

“Don’t do this. Please don’t. Stop.” My voice cracked; I coughed as the searing heat of the fumes filled my lungs. “Stop. Just talk to me a minute, please don’t burn me, please I’m beggin’ you, I don’t know anything about any of you fuckin’ girls, I’m not gonna say anything… don’t, don’t, don’t, please don’t, stop!”

She poured a trail of gas away from me, and threw the empty canister against the wall. Her eyes were sharp, but calm, collected. “You all through?”

I was frantic. I had to find something, anything that would strike a nerve, make her reconsider. I thought of Jack, my precious little Jack. “Please, look, I got a little kid at home now, please don’t…”

“You all done?” She dug into her pocket, and produced a lighter. There was a brick in my gut, my heart sinking. She saw the fear in my eyes, and held up the lighter. “Fire scare you?”

Please don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t…

She bent to the trail of gas on the floor, and for an instant, I thought I saw fear in her eyes as the divine intervened, and a spray of bullets exploded in her chest.

She staggered back in surprise and hit the floor, leaving me in horror and odd relief as I stared in wonder at the dying girl on the loading platform as she grimaced, her smoking gun trembling in her bloody hand.


There was thundering silence once again as the blast of gunfire faded away, and Ms. Blonde fell still to the ground, and I sat in my chair, awestruck and confused as all hell, trying to will the burn of the gasoline off my skin and fighting the loss of blood.

The dying girl glowered at Blonde’s figure, almost regretfully. She dropped the empty magazine from her weapon; there was a metallic thud and a wet slap as it hit the blood-soaked concrete. At last, she gazed my direction. “Hey,” she said casually, as though we were passing on the street. “Hey… what’s your name?”

I looked at her, the dead woman, who was now speaking to me. This day was just getting better and better. I gathered everything I had to answer her. “Ah, shit… Marva.”

She blinked. “Marva what?”

There was that sour taste in my throat again. I swallowed it down. “Marva Nash.”

“Listen to me Marva Nash…” She trailed off; for a second, I thought I saw the calm in her eyes falter, replaced with surging pain. She hesitated, fighting to compose herself, then continued. “Listen to me, Marva Nash. I’m a cop.”

That was it. It all made so much sense. I knew I recognized her, from somewhere. She was a cop, that wasn’t bullshit. I nodded. “Yeah, I know.”

She looked surprised. “You do?”

I nodded again. “Yeah, your name’s… Frannie somethin’…”

“Newendyke. Frannie Newendyke.”

“Frankie Ferchetti introduced us about 5 months ago,” I explained, recalling the day I found out about this whole damn thing, about the diamonds and the gangsters and the undercover sting, and Frankie, one of the only friends I had in the whole damn outfit… I remembered Frankie being so excited, so proud that someone he knew was going up against these bastards. I remembered Frannie, the same Frannie who now lay dying before me, humble yet confident, as we shook hands briefly.

Now, Frannie shook her head. “Shit… I don’t remember that at all.”

“I do.” I recalled the sting, the burn of envy I had that she was accepted, that she could do anything, that they worshiped the ground she walked upon; I remembered the battle between this wicked jealousy and noble admiration, knowing in my heart I could never have what she had, I could never be who she was. Shit, she even outshone me in the face of imminent death. “Hey Frannie… Frannie…”

“What? What?”

“How do I look?” The second I uttered those words, I knew I would regret asking. But I had to. I had to know.

She just stared at me for a second, as though unable to comprehend what I just asked her. And she began to laugh, as she realized I was completely serious in my query, looking regretfully from the gaping wound in her belly back to me. “I don’t know what to tell you, Marva.”

She should have lied. She should have lied to me, told me it was okay. I wasn’t stupid; I knew it was bad. I could feel the blood drying on my face, matted in my hair. I felt my ribs cracking each time I had been kicked, my arms straining and nearly breaking when they tied me to the chair. I mean, Jesus… my ear. My fucking ear. It was gone, lying somewhere in the bowels of this fucking warehouse. I looked away from Frannie, trying to hide the shameful tears in my eyes. But when I looked away, and through the blur saw Blonde’s body, riddled with bullets, I lost it. I let go. “That fuck… That sick fuck! That fucking bitch!”

But Frannie was still cool, still calm. “Marva,” she said, “I need you to hold on. There’s cops waiting a block away and – ”

What the fuck are they waiting for?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After all I had been through, all that had happened today… I had been through the fucking mill, and she wanted me to hold on. I screamed, “This fuckin’ bitch slashes my face, and she cuts my fuckin’ ear off! I’m fuckin’ deformed!”

Fuck you!” Frannie screamed back at me. It caught me as a surprise. We had both reached our breaking points, to say the least, but she had been so calm about the whole thing; I guess I didn’t expect it. “Fuck you! I’m fuckin’ dyin’ here! I’m fuckin’ dying!

More silence. I was still sobbing out of rage; I tried to stifle my tears, if only for her sake. Frannie shifted her weight on the platform, collecting her thoughts, and looked back up at me. “They’re not to make a move until Jolie Cabot shows up. I was sent here undercover to get her, all right? Now you heard ‘em, they said she’s on her way.” A glimmer of fear flickered behind her eyes; we were both facing death, we knew it. “Don’t pussy out on me now, Marva. We’re just gonna sit here and bleed until Jolie Cabot sticks her fuckin’ head through that door.” Suddenly the look she gave me was more pleading, more apologetic, as she realized what was being said, and how true her own words were, secretly hoping she would be able to live up to them.

Nothing more could be said. The immense amount of blood I had lost in the ordeal had begun to take its toll. I trembled; despite the heat of the summer in the warehouse, my body was frozen, numb. I let my head roll forward, falling limp against the rope that tethered me to the chair. Frannie and I sat in our prison, and though no words were exchanged between us, none were needed; secretly, inwardly, I smiled, and thought of Jack, and knew that when I closed my eyes, and gave in to the sleep that was creeping over me, I would be home again.


And on that note... don't miss "Reservoir Bitches" opening Saturday, February 6th, at the NextStage Theater in Hollywood, California!  1523 N. La Brea Avenue, on the corner of La Brea Avenue and Sunset Boulevard!  The doors open at 8 pm!  The show will run through the month of February every Saturday - the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th.  Come see me get the snot beat out of me on stage - it's pretty awesome!  Tickets are $25 at the door, but drop my name for a $5 discount.  See you there!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

With Apologies to Bill Maher...

(I'll probably be blacklisted for writing this one, but hey, I had to... )

Hollywood, despite the common myth, really isn't all that glamorous.

Look past the opulence, the great dining, the crazy nightlife, and all the beautiful people, and you will find a treasure trove of history, people-watching opportunities galore, and an energy that is simply indescribable. Lying even further beneath this, you will also find dirt, trash, poverty, and find yourself wading knee-deep in bullshit and insecurity.

There is a reason why this is the entertainment capitol of the world, why every day 40,000 men and women flock to this movie-mecca in pursuit of fame and fortune, and why every day 40,000 more leave to go back to wherever they came from, penniless and jaded, their spirits crushed. This place is almost alive, it keeps the balance. Everyone is acting. All the time. Even the people who don't call themselves actors.

Actors are funny people. As you know, Los Angeles is, according to moi, effin' weird. And the actors can, at times, have a pretty big hand in that.

A few weeks back I was asked to host the wrap-party for The Sarah Silverman Program, and by host I of course mean stand at the door and check people off the list. I gladly accepted, of course, because I knew this would be a wonderful opportunity to see these people, these "actors" and - dare I say it? - "celebrities" in their natural habitat interacting with one another. I was told to dress nice, and arrive at 6pm.

There's a song that says, "It never rains in Southern California." And that song is wrong. It was pouring that day. Seriously, like buckets. Cats and Dogs. Rain rain rain. Walking in the rain sucks to begin with, especially for us ladies - we have hair issues, okay? So I had to show up to this party and somehow not look like a drowned rat. And if anyone has ever tried to walk down Hollywood Boulevard in the rain, on those black tiles the Walk of Fame stars are embedded in, try doing it in a pair of 5-inch heels. Yeah, that's what I thought.

Well, thankfully, it had stopped raining, and was now just a little humid and misty and gray, which I quite liked, seeing as I had spent what felt like an eternity of summertime frying in an apartment with no A/C. And as an added bonus, I didn't end up slipping and falling on my ass and made it to the party early, which looked good for the sucking-up-to-my-boss factor.

Everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and I set out to light the candles that went on the tables for the dinner and screening, all the while looking around for any other way I could make myself useful. My boss handed me the guest list, and gave me the run down on what my task would be for the evening: stand at the door, check people off the list, and look cute.

Simple enough. And I was getting paid to do it. Sweet!

I was like a kid in at Christmas, looking over the list. Andy Samberg, Missi Pyle, Maria Bamford... and, of course, the guest of honor, Sarah Silverman herself... I was giddy with anticipation.

The night began slowly. Maybe because it was cold, maybe because it was dark and rainy and crappy outside. Eventually, guests began to trickle in - all very nice people. In that aloof, cautious, L.A. kind of way, but nice all the same.

I don't get starstruck, but I have to admit I do get a little kick from seeing actors I really respect and enjoy, Missi Pyle being one of them. Actually, I see her all the time. She comes in to the restaurant quite a lot; she's very relaxed, pretty quiet, and doesn't bring any bullshit with her. That's what a celebrity is, or should be. If you have the talent and conviction to do your job and do it well, and you are secure enough in yourself, then you don't need to be an obnoxious ass to announce your presence to the world. Which is why, when she walked in, and I reflexively asked for her last name, she gave it to me, even though she knew that I knew who she was.

Even Miss Silverman was gracious about it. Granted, I heard her before I even saw her - she has this laugh that carried down Hollywood Boulevard - and she came skipping in, all little and cute, and I said "Hi! I know who you are... welcome."

And she literally replied with, "Tee hee!" and scampered up the stairs.

The night was going so smooth, the cynic in me should have been at least the tiniest bit suspicious. I mean, things go well, but never that well. Never perfectly. Which is why, when he arrived with his girlfriend, Bill Maher made me feel about two inches tall, even though I tower over him.

In my defense, before I tell you exactly how it went down, let me fill you in on a few details:

1) It was really effing dark in there. So dimly lit, in fact, that some of the older guests were adorable enough to ask me "how in the world are you able to read that, young lady? You must have some great eye-sight." And I do, but still, it was really effing dark in there.

2) I had a head cold, and I was high on DayQuil.

3) Put yourself in their shoes: if you were famous, and had people trying to stick their heads up your ass all day just because you're on t.v., and you want a little normalcy in your life but you can't because some stalker keeps trying to send you chocolates and roses and pictures of his genitals and really wants a lock of your hair to complete his shrine to the almighty greatness that you are, would you want some bitch at the door of the party you're attending to gush like a maniac at the sight of you? I wouldn't. But that's just me.

4) Oh yeah, and if you're bored, you can Google "Why is Bill Maher such a dick" and see what you find.

Taking all of that into consideration, it is not surprising that I didn't recognize him, or at least pretend like I was really impressed that he was standing there before me - I mean, he's really not all that aesthetically remarkable, and I probably wouldn't recognize him if I were standing next to him in line at the supermarket because, well, I'm just that way.

But I guess it was just his reaction that threw me off when I very sweetly said "Hi! How are you!" and, receiving no response, asked "What's the last name?"

He stood there, blinking, as though dumbfounded, and scoffed. "Maher," he said, with such arrogance that, if his words had eyes, they would have rolled them. And if looks could kill... ooohh boy...

And that was when I realized it was him, and felt a sinking feeling in my gut, and the "Oh Shit" alarm in my brain went off, and without any further adieu welcomed him to the party. With that, he sauntered up the stairs, girlfriend in tow.

Like I said before, I felt reduced to about the size of an ant. I spent the rest of the evening avoiding him. But as the night went on, and everyone got more and more drunk, I made it a point not to let it get to me. The people-watching opportunity was priceless, as I had expected.

And as for Mr. Maher, I will give him this: the guy is smart. He's successful. He is loved and un-loved the world over. And hell, I really don't have a leg to stand on, because let's face it, I'm nobody. I'm a statistic, 1 in 40,000. Sure, I've made it for the past couple years, I've survived, but I have yet to make a mark (and that's okay). Anyone who can really "make it" deserves respect, so I have to give him and everyone else at that party their much-deserved kudos. They worked their asses off to get what they wanted, and that might entitle them to be arrogant dicks. Or not. Who the hell knows.

But it made me think even more about the idea of the so-called "celebrity." I mean, they're just people. Just ordinary human beings, for the most part, like you and me. Sure, they have something different or unique about them that sets them apart from the rest of us and thus enables them to have that title, but why is it that we as a society put them on pedestals and worship the ground they walk on? I don't care if you are really good looking, or funny, or brilliant. If you're going to be a dick about it, then all of that may as well not even matter.

Even more recently, I was working the late night at the job, and a very pretty, polite, and familiar-looking girl came in with a small entourage - about 5 other people. It was really late (or really early, depending on how you look at it - about 5 AM) and I seated her at one of our best tables, right by the window, in a big cushy round booth, a coveted place for anyone who's trying to be someone, so that passersby can look in at them through the big plate-glass windows and say "Wow, they're so glamorous! They must have it all!"

Anyway... so I'm lookin' at this girl, and I know who she is, but I can't quite put my finger on it. And then it hits me: she happens to be a 90's R&B singer named after a popular alcoholic beverage that is often served in a snifter (If this isn't obvious enough for you, I really don't know what to tell you).

So they sit, and eat, and laugh and talk, and about an hour later they're finished and getting ready to leave. At the same time, one of my coworkers says he's gonna drive down the street right quick and buy himself some cigs. He walks out, dressed in full uniform (and, by the way, our uniforms are quite unique and covered in the company logo) and gets in his ginormous pickup truck parked across the street. The aforementioned pop-star is walking out the door right as he's flipping a u-turn, and I watch as she runs up to the car and pokes her head inside the window. Dialogue is exchanged; co-worker drives off, and R&B Singer whirls around looking distressed. Absolutely mortified, actually.

We're all watching this from inside the building, and seeing as we couldn't hear a word that was said, we're perplexed as hell. We run outside to see what the problem is.

Us: "What's wrong? Oh my God, are you alright?!"

Her: "Oh Lord... was he paparazzi?!?"

Us: (Silence...) "Uh... no. He works here."

Her: (Throwing hands toward the heavens) "Oh thank God! For a second I was like 'oh dear Lord!' I thought he was paparazzi! I thought I was going to have all kinds of cameras in here! (looking relieved) Thank you!"

And she walked away. Down the empty - I repeat - EMPTY street. Because it was 5 AM. And no one was out. And the 90's are over. And we were left standing there, going "Really?"

Yeah, I'm mean. I know. I'm a total bitch, in fact.

But seriously... I don't get it.

Only in Los Angeles, right?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

From The Vault: "The Christmas Tree Blues"

Every once in a while, when I am daydreaming or staring off into space (which are two completely different things, by the way) something in me reaches back into the furthest recesses of my mind and grabs a distant memory, usually something or some moment that made me really proud or happy, just so I can savor it once again.

I have been an avid writer for many years now; I think I toyed with the concept of my first "novel" as an impressionable twelve-year-old, and the more I read, the more I learned about writing as a craft. I followed the advice of my college professor Dr. Blair Oliver (you can check him out here) who asked if writing was something I enjoyed doing. I of course said yes, and he replied, "Good. You need to keep doing it." Now, nearly eleven years since I penned my first tome, here I am, plugging away into the depths of cyberspace.

Seriously though, when I found out I was actually good at something - I mean really good at it - that was one of my proudest moments. I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but after several failed attempts at excellence in one field or another (particularly athletics... I was very bitter about that one for a long time), to finally find your niche and be able to stick with it and really enjoy it, to be able to live your passion... I really think there are few things in life that are that rewarding.

In short, and in honor of the fast-approaching holiday season, I thought I would share this with you. This was originally an assignment given to me when I was a senior in high school - I think the assignment was to write about a day in the life of an inanimate object - and I thought this would be appropriate. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!
"The Christmas Tree Blues"
(by Heidi Miller, circa 2004)

It's no secret that life as a tree really isn't as glamorous as it sounds. There are pros and cons to it, like there are to everything, but it really gets old after a while. I suppose if I were something interesting - a Eucalyptus, or an Aspen perhaps - my life would be better than it is now, maybe even bordering on fun.

But lo and behold, I cannot enjoy life's pleasures in the manner of my deciduous comrades; there are no sights and sounds of the great outdoors to entice me, no brilliant warmth of sunshine in which to bathe my branches. Indeed, I know nothing of this, for I am but a humble, unappreciated Christmas tree.

Now, because trees - for the most part - begin their lives outdoors, planted in the rich soil of a mountainside, one might think I am simply being facetious, and surely my life is better than I say.

Indeed, one would think... but there's a catch.

Due to the fact that I am owned by a tenacious tree-hugger and her family, it would happen that I was chosen purely for my synthetic qualities.

In other words, I am fake.

Oh, sure, it's not all that bad. I mean, I suppose I should feel somewhat lucky that I am in the care of a human who is halfway concerned about the environment, and wants to do everything she can to protect my forest-dwelling brethren. My creators were also not as sparse on the authentication process as one might think, for I was given a fabricated scent of fresh evergreen to fill my new home with the heartwarming scent of the holiday season.

There is also one more pro to my existence. As one might notice, due to the fact that I am composed entirely of synthetic materials, I need not food nor water. I am made of plastic, and thus immortal.

Which is why, year after year, as the seasons pass and holidays come and go, I remain trapped inside my solitary cardboard prison. I am thrown into the dark, dank depths of the basement with only mice and spiders to keep me company, having no clue as to when I will again be free to stretch my branches and feel the warmth of the living room.

Until one day, the door opens...

I am whisked from my desolate prison without so much as a warning; my branches are assembled and awkwardly flattened, and a brightly colored blanket is quickly thrown onto the floor around me. I then feel the weight of large glass objects being hung on my branches, and I must fight to keep them aloft. Several yards of multicolored beads are then draped across my body, and a large star is then placed atop my head. Even the family cat tries to get in on some of the action, but when he attempts to scale my branches, I can easily drop him, sending his furry body to the carpet below with a thud.

The next week is a blur of vibrant color, wonderful smells, and jovial tinkering of Christmas music. I am filled with wonder and delight as the sun shines through my window, causing the snow-covered ground to erupt with a dazzling spectrum of sparkling winter. Each day, I awaken to the smell of freshly-baked cookies wafting from the kitchen, the delighted shrieks of children as they celebrate the countdown to Christmas Day, the extraordinary sights of otherwise drab houses magically transformed to winter wonderlands filled with twinkling lights and animated reindeer.

But, as I soon discover, not all things last forever.

The big day passes before my eyes with the speed of light, and soon I find that things around the house are not as jovial as they once were. The smells, sounds, and sights of the holiday are but distant and joyful memories of an age past, and as I am slowly dismantled and placed into my lonely cardboard box, to wait yet another year, I have but one thing left to say:

Bah Humbug.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey: It's Not Just A Country in Europe...

Wow. It's November. And not only that, but we're approaching the end of November. It's nearly 2010. Crazy. And crazier still, it's barely Thanksgiving, and I already see the telltale signs of the December holiday season out and about in my neighborhood. The needle on the Capitol Records tower has been decked out to look like a Christmas tree. There are garlands and mistletoe hanging over the streets in downtown Burbank. And my neighbor claims he has already heard the first Christmas songs of the season being played on the radio.

But wait, time out. Like I said, it's not even Thanksgiving yet. What the hell happened to that holiday? I feel it's one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated days in the whole year, and it seems that it hardly gets the status recognition it most certainly deserves. Remember how they tried to make a big deal out of it when you were in grade school? Remember tracing your hand on that piece of construction paper with the crayon and then coloring in each of your fingers to make little turkeys? Remember those ridiculous pageants the teachers forced you to put on about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans (did we call them Indians back then?) and the very first Thanksgiving dinner?

I do. I remember that. And I also remember the mayhem of Turkey Day, when we'd all pile in the car and go to my Grandparents' house and eat the big meal at two in the afternoon, which was odd to me, because everyone still called it dinner. I remember gorging myself on turkey and potatoes and salad and bread and slipping into a carbohydrate/tryptophan-induced coma in front of the T.V.

Come to think of it, I recall, as the years have passed, the Christmas decorations emerging earlier and earlier, to the point of this year I think I actually saw some alongside the Halloween stuff when I was at Target. For real.

Anyway, all that aside... I thought that this year, seeing as I am spending the holiday here in Los Angeles and not in Colorado with my family, I would take some time to reflect on what the holiday really means, the true root of the word: Thanksgiving. Giving Thanks. Giving thanks for what we are fortunate enough to have, even though sometimes we don't really think of them as luxuries. I thought of this because I remembered the last few months of living in Colorado, and how eager and anxious I was to get out and get to California. What an idiot I was.

Don't get me wrong, I love California. It's my home, my native land, and I most certainly don't hate the fact that it's nearly December and 80 degrees. Seriously. I almost went to the beach today.

Really though, in Colorado, I had it good. I had it easy. I had a gorgeous apartment I was paying almost nothing for, a steady job, my family and friends at arm's length - everything I needed and could hope for - but not necessarily what I wanted. That was the problem. Physically, I was in Colorado. Mentally, I was miles and miles away.

So, in honor of this most understated and overlooked holiday, and also because I think about this shit almost daily, I thought I would pay homage to the little things in my life that I probably didn't appreciate enough when I had them. I am Giving Thanks. Here goes...

Things I Am Grateful For and Will Never EVER Take For Granted Again As Long As I Live:
  • My health
  • My family and friends
  • My freedom
  • My car
  • Free parking
  • The roof over my head, running water, and the standard of living that I am lucky enough to be afforded, despite how minimalistic it may be
  • My mind, wit, talent, and tenacity
  • My job, no matter how stressful, aggravating, and stupid it can be (and it is)
  • The internet
  • Literacy
  • Gas prices under $3
  • My childhood, adolescence, and being a minor
  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee
  • My youth
  • A dishwasher
  • Not having to use a coin-op laundry machine
  • Having beach weather in November
I know, I know... there are probably a million others I could list, but they're kind of a given. And the last one probably has a lot of people green with envy. I can't help it, I just live here. I don't decide what the weather's going to be like.

And with that, I'm off to go draw myself some construction-paper turkeys. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Gobble gobble.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where are the %#^$ing cameras?!?!

Okay, so this is going to be a relatively quick post. But seriously, I really wish sometimes that I had a camera that followed me around and had footage of random bits of time within my weird life.

Like today, for instance. Not a particularly special day, by any means. It does happen to be payday, but that's beside the point. Anyway, so I wake up this morning, and decided I was going to try and get back into the swing of things and start taking better care of myself. I've been in a bit of a funk for a while now, not really taking time to focus on things I enjoy doing and instead filling my idle time with much drinking and being lazy. So I thought, Hey, you've been lazy for long enough. Time to get off your ass, get outside, and go for a run.

There's a park just a few blocks away from my place in North Hollywood that is prime territory for running. It's not paved, which is great because my knees can't handle high impact stuff, and there are always people there jogging, or with their kids, or just hanging out. The rec center is there too, and the library, and it's just a nice little green patch in an otherwise bustling metropolis.

I'm not crazy about running, by any means. In fact, I hate it with a passion. But I made myself a deal - I had to go once around the track, equating one mile. Seems fair enough, I told myself. It's like having a treadmill, but much more scenic. Oh yeah, and it's free.

So I go over there, stretch, and start plugging along; running, then walking, then running the rest of the way. Now that it's cooled off a little, it doesn't feel so bad, and I can feel the endorphin rush, that fantastic runner's high. And it feels good. There, I tell myself. That wasn't so bad, was it? And it wasn't. I felt great. I was a little sweaty, and red in the face, but I didn't feel like I was going to die, and that was good enough for me.

Feeling quite proud of myself for taking the initiative, I began the walk home. About halfway there, I could here the high-pitched yapping of some little dog behind me, muffled against the music being fed into my ears from my iPod. The street I was on is lined with about a billion houses, so a dog yapping at me is a very ordinary sound to hear, and naturally I didn't think much of it.

I was walking on the sidewalk, on the right side of the street, passing an apartment complex that has a wrought-iron fence around it. From the corner of my eye, I saw a small dog - a Rat Terrier or something - run alongside the inside of the fence, barking at me. I then watched in astonishment as it casually slipped under the fence, and then, to my horror, began chasing after me, nipping at my leg.

Keep in mind, this dog was only about as big as my shoe - which is still big, when you consider my shoe size, but I was about to put my shoe up this dog's ass if it didn't stop. So I'm kinda turning in circles, kicking at this damn dog, and it's snapping and barking at me, and it can probably smell my fear.

Why would I be afraid of such a minuscule mutt, you ask? Once, I had to break up a fight between a couple dogs I had. Like an idiot, I did the thing you should never, ever do in a dog fight - I put my hand in the middle of them. And I got bitten. Not badly, but I still have a nice scar on my fingertip where the canine tooth sank into my flesh. And that wound, though small, was obnoxiously painful and bled for days. Since then, my view of the canine species has been a little shaken. And though it would have been different had this been, say, a pitbull, there is still something about a strange animal with razor sharp fangs and a hankering for human flesh coming toward me that puts my nerves a little on the edge.

I kept kicking at it, and trying to evade the impending attack, all while looking for the neglectful owner so I could punch him or her in the face for letting this vicious animal loose, but the little bugger was relentless and kept on nipping at my heels. So, I ran.

This was, I think, the stupidest possible thing I could have done at this juncture. The little bastard was fast. Really fast. And though I may not be the fastest runner I know, when the adrenaline is pumping I can still cover a considerable distance. Plus I had the added incentive of the thought of those little white razor-blade teeth sinking into my leg, and the resulting lawsuit that would surely follow, to keep me moving. But the dog was always right there, hot on my trail.

Just as I turned around to meet my fate, wincing in anticipation of the pain that was sure to be coming my way, he stopped, hearing his owner (finally) calling for him. I felt as though I was a mile away from the woman calling her precious Fifi back home for a savory meal, and grew angry not at the fact that it took her so long to get her ass out of the house to get that stupid dog, but the fact that here I was, nearly six feet tall, running and screaming like a child from a five-pound Rat Terrier.

I think I yelled something back at her, like "What the fuck lady" and "I'm gonna get some mace for that damn thing next time" but in the heat of my embarrassment I really can't remember what was said, I only remember thinking that I have never in my life been so glad I don't work for the United States Postal Service.

In closing, if you happened to be having a lousy day, or if you're feeling bad, or you just need to laugh, then close your eyes, and picture me, Heidi Charisse Miller, five feet ten inches tall, running for her life from a dog the size of her shoe. I'm laughing now.