Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away!

It is very rainy and cold today in New York. Gray and chilly, it's the sort when you definitely don't want to go traipsing around Manhattan with your yoga matt and suitcase full of audition materials, maps, etc. Yet, somehow that's what I did today. I forced myself to actually get up early today (well, early for me) and embark on my audition schedule du jour. I left the house planning to audition for Carnival Cruise Lines and the national tour of Shrek. Upon signing up, I settled into my chair to read my free copy of AmNewYork and James Baldwin's Go Tell It On the Mountain (I tell ya, this auditioning circuit is going to leave me very well read if nothing else). Once the audition was primed to begin promptly at 10 am, the monitor and producer came out to speak with us for a few moments about what they wanted, which ended up being solo singers for their 23 ships (think American Idol contestant-types). Seeing as I had no music prepared for this genre (I doubt he wanted to hear "The Ladies Who Lunch" or that Cole Porter classic "Friendship."), and am not really the type they were looking for, more of a Nathan Lane than an Adam Lambert, I decided to mozy over to the Shrek room to try my luck there. The contrast between the two rooms was quite telling: Shrek, being an Equity audition for only a few principal roles, was fairly sparsely populated with lots of seats availability, everyone looking calm and collected, real pros all around. At the table, there were nice, neat sign-up lists and casting info, even some donut holes. Across the hall at carnival, it was quite a different story. With scant chair available, the room was crowded with anyone and everyone who might want to attend the "singer's call:" lots of bleachy blonde, soul sistas, people warming up in the hallways and subsequently being reprimanded, and of the audition regulars, whose faces I have grown to know and love. Of particular note, there was a tiny Filipino man near the doorway, maybe all of 3 1/2 feet tall who looked as if he could have been the next Youtube sensation, a large Black woman with a silver sequin laden top, and my favorite, a "middle-aged"African-American woman with a red-orange perm, very low cut (at least a D cup - at least), tight pants, glittering silver jacket, and Duane Reed headshot. She looked as if she probably knew James Brown at some point and did a really flawless Tina Turner. Thinking back to the Miracle on 34th Street audition, I decided cruise ship was not for me, and after singing for Shrek, perhaps an equally pointless go-around, I cut my losses and journeyed farther down the island to catch the noon Yoga to the People class. This was my third day there in a row, and I was hurting. I am really enjoying yoga, visiting the East Village, and exploring my "practice," as they say. Yoga to the People is a donation based yoga studio, with drop-in classes throughout the day, open to any and everyone. It makes my body feel good, it centers my mind, and reminds me a lot of prayer+sweat. And looking around the room, maybe I too will be a really hot yoga one day, maybe by the next time I return to the Hoosier state. Yesterday, I went to an evening class and beforehand stopped in at a little café for some reading and writing. I am quite enjoying this artist's life and assuming I can pay my bills and don't develop an opium addiction or the like, could see myself make a life of this here in New York - even if I'm not booking it every time I am in the audition room. In fact, the more I audition, the more I feel I should be creating my own work and opportunities, as well as needing to improve my material so that it is really right for me, even really skimming the audition notices for what I am right for. Oh, the joys of being a "non-traditional" performer. Sometimes, I entertain the thought, what if I had been born a 6' 2" tan Abercrombie type with a good pop belt and double pirouette. Some days it seems things would be much easier. I suppose if I wanted easy, I should have wanted to be born with a yearning to work with computers, in medicine, or be a CPA like the rest of my mother's side of the family. But then, where's the fun in that?
Yesterday, besides yoga and reading, I visited with a friend in the city to watch the original film of Clare Luce Boothe's The Women with Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell. From the costumes to the acting, it certainly was epic and puts the recent remake with Meg Ryan and Annette Bening to shame. We ate at a very New York diner after and enjoyed the kind of weekdays nurses and waiters enjoy as recompense for their lack of a weekend. Following yoga, I met up with my good old pal Quinto for drinks in midtown. We began our night at the 9th Ave Saloon for $3 ciders and the company of older men (unplanned). It was definitely, well a daddy/bear bar, with bartender clad in leather pants, wife beater, cop-esque hat and chain accessories. Unfortunately, we left before karaoke had started. We then went down the block to The Ritz for $4 Sex on the Beaches (made much stronger by the Asian bartender) and retro music videos (Pat Benatar, Rick James, Madonna, Donna Summer, etc). After spending our cash, we tottered off of our bar stools and went our separate ways home. Needless to say, I needed a nap after returning from the city this afternoon. The rest of the evening contains more reading and writing, cleaning my messy messy room, and possibly karaoke night here in Astoria with my roommates (we have been planning a brunch and our Halloween costumes). I am doing well, enjoying my NYC life, but missing a few things from the Midwest, like cheaper drinks, drive-throughs, the Piccadilly (ok that is in Louisiana, but I want fried chicken and stewed cabbage!), college parties, and carpeted floors. Oh, and here is the black bean soup recipe I promised days ago . . . I quite enjoyed some leftovers with a cup of hot tea upon escaping the rain. Cheers!

Black Bean Soup
This is how I made it on Friday, though it changes every time.

1 onion (or whatever you have)
3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño
1 green bell pepper
Olive Oil
Cajun Seasoning
Hot Sauce
Three Cans Black Beans
One cup Brown Rice
One can Corn
One can chicken, beef, or veggie broth
1/2 can of red wine (Rioja, Shiraz, Cabernet, Malbec)
One small can tomato sauce
3/4 cup salsa (eyeball it)
One healthy squirt of honey
One package Lean smoked sausage
Chili Powder
Ground Cloves

In a large pot, saute onions, peppers, and garlic until vegetables begin to soften and onions become translucent. Add smoked sausage and continue to saute. Season with S&P and cajun seasoning. Once ingredients are incorporated and fragrant, add beans (lightly drained), corn, wine, broth, hot sauce (spicy as you like it), and salsa. Bring to a boil. Add more S&P as well as one tablespoon chili powder (to taste), 1/2 tsp cloves, and 2 tsp cumin. Once boiling, add rice and reduce to medium. Stirring occasionally, simmer until red is tender and liquid reduces. If needed, add more liquid (broth, wine, water) as rice expands. Once reduced, add cinnamon and adjust seasonings if necessary. Makes great leftovers and is easy on the pocketbook - though maybe not on the bowels. Bon Appetit!

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