Sunday, September 25, 2005

A proud moment.

Wednesday night, I went to set to meet with one of the executive producers. To clear up what the set is, it is when we are filming on location. The location is called "the set," and when the show is filming on a soundstage, it is of course called "the stage." I had a hard time finding "the set" since it was located in a bad neighborhood that I'd never frequented. To people who have never been to Baltimore, I am putting it lightly when I say bad neighborhood. Until you've driven the streets of the decayed parts of the city, you cannot know what I speak of. It has to be experienced through your own eyes to believe. However, I had an interesting experience there that I will mention some other time. A pleasant surprise, of sorts.

I arrived on set, just about having given up and calling it a night. It was nearing 9pm, and I hadn't eaten dinner yet. It was an informal meeting, so that would have been okay. On a hunch, I decided to take one more street that led into a dead end. Sure enough, I looked to the left, and the cross street was blocked off by an officer in a police car. Behind him were lights, camera, action, and lots of curious onlookers. I didn't know it, but my proud moment was about to begin.

I walked up and stood with a group of neighborhood kids, including a cherub-faced toddler in diapers with her hair pulled up in two big puffs on her head, and waited for the scene to finish. I heard "Cut!" then made my way over cables, past grips and gaffers, around trucks and lights, through make-up people, actors, P.A.s and extras to find the person that I was meeting with. I kept out of the way of the hustle and bustle, maneuvering expertly when the director spotted me. I know the director from the office when he isn't on set. However, I'm very careful not to abuse that when people are in the middle of production and working. They are under a tight schedule and serious pressure to get the shots done. It's not a time for chit chat.

He greeted me excitedly and told me that it was great to see me on set. By that point I was standing behind the director's chairs and monitors, trying to stay out of the way between shots. The director asked me what I thought of everything and I said it looked great, and we chatted a bit. At that point, another executive producer came up to me who is also an executive producer on a seriously longtime running New York City based detective show with several spin offs. You can figure that one out for yourself. He also told me it was good to see me here and offered me his headphones so that I could listen to the scene as it was filmed and watch it on the monitor. On set, one can listen to the sound on a pair of headphones that work on a remote. It's like a walkman, but you are hearing the actors loud and clear as the microphone does. I put them on and it was really fun. When Cathy took me on set for The West Wing, I'd do it there as well. However, this was being offered to me not as a guest, but because I was part of the show.

And that's when it happened. After the scene finished, I gave the headphones back and watched everyone at work. It was there that realized I was a part of it. And not only part of, but welcomed with open arms by talented, accomplished people who were genuinely glad to have me there. I watched the hair and make-up people pat powder and apply hair product on several of the actors, two cameras being rigged onto a car for a moving shot, the enormous amount of equipment and people at work, and the massive amount of coordination that it took to make it all happen. As I stood there, the proud moment hit me like a mild current going through my body. I was part of this. Not a guest there, but a part of it and appreciated. I watched it all in front of me and was almost moved to tears. I'd found this and pursued it, and had not only gotten there but was valued for my contributions to literally, the Big Picture. Many of my efforts will be seen on screen as they were last season, and earlier in day we had an emergency and I'd risen to the occasion and handled it with a cool head.

After I had my meeting with the other executive producer, who had treated me with kindness, respect, and sincerity, the creator of the show (COS) approached me and we all joked around a bit. By then, the cop car had gone to another part of the street, and the COS asked me where I was parked. I pointed, and he walked me the one block to my car rather than have me do it alone. He didn't call a P.A. to do it, he did it. What a sweet and protective gesture.

I wish I could discuss what everything was about, but I can’t. I can just say that it just underscored what I think about the people on this show. That they are not only extremely talented, but are good and decent people.

Recognizing that I was a part of that made me proud.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Once again, I haven't posted for almost a week. Not because of lack of things to say, but almost because of too many things. The thoughts rush to the forefront of my mind and my fingers can only type so much or be asked to operate so far above a human level. Then, there is the time it takes, and the other projects that I have going that have not even been so much as a pixel on this blog. Yes, they are, believe it or not, some personal projects.

My mom had a big bash for her 65th birthday last Saturday, and it was great. Along with old, new friends and family, she transplanted the entire neighborhood of Bolton Hill to Prince Frederick, MD to celebrate at the house of her friends who graciously offered their abode. These same friends also have a rowhouse across from my mom and Jack, and another house somewhere else. It was about an hour and a half drive, and I had my sister and nephew in my car with me as we drove on two-lane roads through tall trees and expansive horse farms. We passed many homemade signs advertising corn, tomatoes, fruit, cheese, and several fruit stands with urban and non-urban dwellers pulled over to stock up on freshly grown produce. Horses grazed lazily on the lawn and hawks flew low overhead, their wings stretched out to the last feather. Alec slept in the car.

At the party, which was set in an expansive yard nestled in tall trees, a blue grass band played wonderful music, and an entire pig roasted on a spit over an outside grill. The grill was so large that it was hitched to the chef's truck for transport. I watched as the man, who had risen at 2:00AM to get the pig from an Amish farmer and then start cooking, finely chopped the roasted pork into tiny pieces with a small axe. He pulled some of the pork as well to give people a choice. What an art, and it was delicious beyond description. We had Kosher meats for our Jewish friends, cooked separately. Also served up was Cole slaw, deviled eggs, potato salad, and barbecue sauce. I made a mountain of delish on a hamburger bun, piling chopped pork, Cole slaw, and barbecue sauce on it. I had the potato salad and deviled eggs on the side. Oh. My. God.

A master at work, preparing the feast.

A first happened at the party, and that was that Dan, Chase, my sister Joan and I were together for the first time. Dan and Chase are Jack's children, my step siblings. We realized it when we talked that it was a first. Dan and I had both lived in NYC and Los Angeles at the same time, and even both worked for Microsoft at the same time. Dan was in Seattle before his move to LA, and I was in LA during that stint. Our gatherings had always been a combination of two or three of us, but never all four sharing the same breathing space. To put that into perspective, my mom and Jack got married 15 years ago. But they married when all of us were in college or about to go to college, and living in separate parts of the country. Dan and I have shared cities together twice, and therefore gotten close that way. It was awkward at first, having steps at such a late age, but it all came together.

I think I got to speak to just about everyone, which included throwing a football with the kids and realizing I could throw a mean spiral, even while wearing sequined sandals. It was just a good day out, reminiscent of gatherings that we used to have when we were little at friends' houses in the heat of summer, playing until the sun fell into dusk, and in many cases well into dark. The elements, smells, sounds, large unusual insects, animals, applications of mosquito repellent, voices, warm lights, benches on expansive front porches and varied ages collecting on them. Always food available and always an extra hand for yard games. Feeling like a big shot when one of the adults asked you to get them a beer from the cooler. The sounds of the celebration of life, friendship, family, and companionship. It was all there that night, and perfect. I know that my mom had a wonderful time. And, I know this will be a fond memory for Alec.

After the party and drive home to my mom's house, the four adult children who had never shared the same space had drinks together. Chase made some wonderful Cosmopolitans and we all chatted, laughed, and talked. Dan, who abstained from the chick drink and had wine, just got back from doing Hurricane coverage from the NBC branch in North Carolina. After Chase and Joan retired to bed, Dan and I, the tale of two cities, moved outside and talked about the future. Both of us are at a crossroads, and Dan particularly is finding it frustrating. He has wonderful, prestigious experience, but wants a change of direction. I want the same but have found a respite with The Wire, and with making time for my personal projects. Both have given me purpose. There are days I feel stuck, or that no one but me will ever see the results of my efforts, but it is there, regardless. And the days where I feel I have accomplished nothing, I can open them up and look at them.

So we sat, late into the night across from the dorm, a renovated brick hospital that houses MICA students. The alcohol had settled into my system, giving me a good buzz. Occasionally I would glance into the dorm windows and remember my time at art school. So much unknown and so much potential in that unknown, and my thoughts would drift to what that art student would think of me now.

I guess that would depend on the day. But right then, I was glad that I was sitting out on a beautiful night with Dan, enjoying good conversation and good alcohol after a day spent with family, friends, and awesome food. I wasn't confined to a dorm room with Melancholy Molly and her depressing music, worried about finishing an assignment due the next day. I have a strange feeling that if any of those art students looked out and saw us, we were the ones to be envied that night.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This photo was taken in New York shortly after the events on September 11th, 2001. It needs no caption, and I don't know who the photographer is, but if someone does, I would like to credit them here. I remembered it from the exhibit Here is New York, a collection of amateur photos taken on September 11th. I hope the photographer doesn't mind me using their image that illustrates so poignantly and personally, the tragedy of that day on its fourth year anniversary.

I've also decided to include my past posts about September 11th and its impact on me, one person in a sea of millions who cried out in unison on that terrible day.

December 12th, 2004 My Visit to Ground Zero

September 11th, 2004 America, Interrupted.

September 11th, 2002 One Year Later.

September 8th, 2002 Them.

July 4th, 2002 Independence Day.

May 1st, 2002 An Unwelcome Companion.

April 1st, 2002 A Fireman's Daughter's Tales From Ground Zero.

March 11th, 2002 From Letters to Rob. Six Months Later.

November 11th, 2001. From Letters to Rob. Refuge at The West Wing

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


It's the second worse thing to hear when you are backing out of your parking place in a crowded lot. The worst thing to hear is "My baby! My baby!" I got the second worse option, thankfully. However, it wasn't a nice consolation prize. Especially when you look back and see that the car you just hit is a pristine, or uh, formerly pristine, BMW Z4.

And it had started out such a nice day.

I'm sure the woman driving it thought the same thing. It was a mother and daughter, with the car belonging to the daughter who looked to be around 26, give or take a few years. I got out and apologized, and mom in protective mode said sharply, "Sorry isn't going to cut it."

I said, "My insurance will."

At that, things calmed down and mom told me that the daughter had just had it repaired from another incident where she was hit. As the daughter wrote down my information, I told her mom that I knew exactly how she felt. And honestly, I did. She looked doubtful until I mentioned my TT getting hit back to back. I told her when I was broadsided in Beverly Hills by a woman on her cell phone in a Lexus, and how insult was added to injury when I saw the woman being interviewed on E! in a True Hollywood Story episode. Then, had to see her on billboards in my neighborhood pushing her diet pill product. That got a laugh from mom. Thirty days later, I was clipped by a woman changing lanes who was as horrified as I was when I hit this woman. I really felt like shit about it.

There are few things that make you feel more stupid than a car accident that is your fault, especially a minor one like that. Sure, my insurance rate will go up, but really, it's that I've caused someone a major pain in the ass of having to get an estimate for damage, taking it to the shop, not having their car for a few days and then having to worry if the value on their vehicle has decreased sharply. I don't know what the laws are, but it's true that a vehicle does decrease in resale value when it has been involved in a fender bender. And that's what this was. Her rear lower quarter panel was damaged. They'll probably end up replacing it. Hopefully that will save the resale value from going down too much.

I told the two ladies not to worry, that I'd call my insurance company and let them know what happened, and that it was my fault. Because frankly, it was. The daughter shook my hand after everything was done and thanked me for being so responsible. I thanked her for not hitting me over the head with her purse.

When I got home, I had a message from my insurance company to call them about the claim. When I answered all the mandatory questions, I told them what happened and that it was clearly my fault. The insurance representative was shocked that I was being so honest and nice about it. I was shocked that anyone wouldn't be. She told she that she's had some real experiences with customers on the phone who push things to the brink on trying to avoid responsibility even when it's clearly their fault.

I do not get that.

Who the hell are they to put everyone through the stress of an investigation just because they made a mess and don't want to clean it up? When the lines of fault are blurry, fine. But when in my case, you backed into a stationary object, shut up and take the consequences, you lame dick.

Luckily, I won't have to pay a deductible since my insurance, (which is also the girl's insurance company) will go to repairing her car. My car sustained no damage.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

This man is blogging from downtown New Orleans, using power from a generator.

Thank you to Looka's site. He writes, "A guy named Michael is providing posts from his refuge in a highrise in the CBD. He has diesel-fueled generators and, amazingly enough, Internet connectivity."

Pretty harrowing.