Cheap pick

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As a teenager, I didn’t have that many people threaten to kick my ass.  Mainly, I just got shit-talked in the bathroom and cried after.  No real harm done?  Anyways, there was this one girl who lived in my apartments who transferred into my middle school and her name was let’s just say Vivian West just in case.  She lived with her dad, and their apartment was always messy, and that’s saying something coming from me since my mother was a you-know-what, rhymes with “disorder.”  Also, I remember him being a drinker, which is saying something, because my mother always had a jug of Reunite in the fridge and she knew exactly how much she had in there, which I learned the hard way once when this guy I liked who I wasn’t supposed to let in the apartment took a swig of it and she noticed and called his parents and that was maybe the worst thing that has happened to me ever.

Well, Vivian had a year or so moved away when I ran into her at the Hasting’s Records at the Ridgmar Mall.  I was flipping through rows and rows of records, looking for the cut-outs because those were cheaper, hence my Goanna and Fastway albums.  She marched right up to me and said “Christy Stratton, I’m going to kick your ass!”  I think I was alone, because I remember not having any backup, although wouldn’t it have been great if I had a boyfriend who stepped up and said “Excuse me?”  Ha ha boyfriend, right, teen me?

I then inquired as to why Vivian was so inclined to do this.  She said it was because she heard I was talking about her.  Now, listen, I wouldn’t have put it past me back then to speak ill of someone — it was dog-eat-dog, and I used whatever tools I had available to me to survive.  In some cases, that meant sharing my negative opinions about people.  But I assure you all, I did not know what she was talking about.

Weeks passed.  I eventually got up the nerve to go back into the Ridgmar Mall.  I had no choice — it was the only game in town mall-wise.  Things went back to normal, and what I mean by that was no one was threatening to kick my ass — such a funny term, come to think of it, because it doesn’t sound like it would hurt very much at all.  Summer came, and friends and I had taken to seeing concerts at Six Flags over Texas.  Adam Ant, Huey Lewis and the News… those were just two of the three acts I saw there in the mid-80’s. The other one was Cheap Trick.

What you’d have to do before these shows — since it was festival seating — was to line up in a designated roped-off area near-ish the venue during the day.  But it wasn’t a line, really, it was more like a mass of humanity you’d stand in the hot sun very near for hours on end.  Sweating, stinking, accidentally touching.  Also I wasn’t into hats back then.

My tiny, nimble friend Wendy took it upon herself to crawl between people’s legs and work her way to the front of the throng — so we had a fighting chance of getting good seats if she wasn’t trampled to death.  This was maybe the only time in my life I was glad to not be tiny and nimble.

I was separated from all my friends and about to pass out from heat stroke when the crowd was set loose and we all took off, although I knew I was the slowest runner, so I decided to stop and watch where everyone scattered to so I could assemble us all.  Plus, running.

Once we had our seats, I got up to get water because I was super weak from the waiting ordeal.  Ha ha water, right teen me?  It was for sure a Coke.  On my way back, strolling down the aisle with my bud Wendy, without a care in the world, la la la — who did I see coming up the way?  Not Robin Zander.  Not even Bun E. Carlos.

VIVIAN.  WEST!

She didn’t see me, thank almighty Isis.  I then did that thing where you avoid someone by getting super into whatever the person you’re talking to is saying.  Poor Wendy didn’t know why I was white hot focusing on whatever — I didn’t share the Vivian-threatening-to-kick-my-ass story with anyone, since me talking about her was what got me into troubs in the first place.

Vivian saw me, though, and called me out!  Was she going to kick my ass right here in front of all these stinky people?  I had seen fights erupt at concert venues before — in fact, concert venues were the only place I had ever seen a fistfight up close.

But the weirdest thing happened — she smiled and greeted me all friendly-like.  It was all ‘Hey! Oh my gosh!  So good to see you!  How’s your mom?’ — that sort of thing.  In retrospect, I believe she may have been on drugs.  That was the last I saw of that gal and I am grateful for it.

The show was great, and we were close enough to be near where Rick Nielsen threw out like a thousand of these.

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I also had an earplug I bought from a Security guy for $5 who claimed it had been wedged in the ear of one of the members of the band.  I got rid of that years ago when I realized that people can lie to you sometimes.


I learned the truth from Seventeen, part 2

IMG_4197Clearly I didn’t listen to you last year, dear readers, when you voted for me to coldly send my collection of 80’s-era Seventeen magazines to the garbage dump, like so many vegetables after weeks in my crisper.  Well, I’m going to review an additional issue (December 1985) and give you another chance to do the right thing.  Follow your heart, wink wink.

We begin our journey with an ad for FDS: Feminine Deodorant Spray.

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The FDS Woman.  Always nice to be near.  Because she doesn’t smell like ass.  And look at how unflattering the hot pink balloon pants are on that gal in the front — no wonder people think she might stink, she could fit a colostomy bag in there!

Perhaps most offensive to me about this picture is that some rando in the crowd is holding pom poms.  Um, I don’t think so Biff: only the cheerleaders on the field would have them, because, hello, pom poms were officially issued to us.  Maintained by us, fluffed painstakingly by us.  They weren’t just handed out willy-nilly to any el stinko in the bleachers.

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Whoa whoa whoa… this spray is made specifically for odor of the vag variety you say?  So… um… are we supposed to spray these deodorant chemicals directly on it?  That doesn’t make sense because stinging.

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I’m sorry… which look is supposed to be sexy?

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Here’s one of the things I love about the 80’s looking back — we wanted to be women. Sophisitcated women who may or may not be wearing wigs and who have confidence enough to cover every inch of skin with fabric.

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Ah, yes, finally, the reason why we all read Seventeen: for it’s scientific factoids and info about international customs.

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DIY baby bob bangs, okay Seventeen, there you are.

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Okay, firstly, I’m sorry, but this isn’t real estate agent Bea Montague — it’s totally Kim Dickens. And secondly — again with the clean thing!  “I feel like I’ve just showered every time I tape in a Lightdays.  It’s a good thing, too, because for people to love us, we teenage girls need to maintain a near antiseptic-level of cleanliness, like we’re in a hospital prepping for surgery.”

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Just, yes.

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Everything.

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It’s okay that this is basically the haircut I have now, right?

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I got my flats, I got my sparkly purse, I got my old lady comb… GLITZ, a-you been a-PUT ON!

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This is a New Year’s Eve dry dip of parsley, egg whites, red peppers, egg yolks and olives.  I’m guessing you’re supposed to make this if you hate all of your friends.

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“Soft” tampons?  Was that a thing?  I only use ones made out of steel wool.  And just look at that girl’s smug face, like she thinks she’s THE BEST at wearing soft tampons and only pretends to be humble when asked about it.

Ack!!!  But look at this in the fine print:

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“I felt cleaner, cleaner than with a pad.”  Not just “cleaner,” no, “cleaner, cleaner” as if she’s pausing, really giving it some thought as to the level of clean she feels wearing these tampons.  Like, okay, there exists a passable level of clean, which is disgusting, but then there’s this level of clean above that, which is extreme and acceptable.

Is it me, or were advertisers trying to scare us into thinking we were filthy?  It so worked, I pretty much thought I was gross most of the time.  But I can laugh about it now ha ha?

Well, what do y’all think?  Have I made my argument for keeping these, or should I coldly throw these in recycling, like so many empty cartons of milk I barely rinse out beforehand?


The Comic Book Gal

simpsons

This is a Simpsons comic #2.  Despite my excitement about owning a piece of history, I was too lazy to go down my street the week the first one came out (that street would be Melrose Ave — where everyone who was anyone was living in the post-earthquake 90’s; and when I say living I mean barely subsisting on instant pancakes prepared on a hot plate in the closet).  By the time I ambled by, #2 had already been released.

I am not a collector of comics per se.  But I.  Loved.  The Simpsons.

If anyone were to ever interview me, which, I mean, why would anyone do that, but a girl can imagine herself sitting across from the likes of Andy Cohen, right?  In fact, she can make her own interview in the form of a blog that 100 people read!  Now, what was I going on about before I bragged about my blog numbers?  Oh, yeah, if I were ever asked what show most inspired me to get into TV writing, The Simpsons would most definitively (definitely?) be that show.

When I was in college at the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1990, we had heard of this super funny bunch of shows on this network called Fox that we didn’t have.  But this deli that was frequented by the student body called Joe’s Deli had a satellite, and every Sunday night it was SRO to watch The Simpsons, followed by In Living Color, followed by Married With Children.  My cousin/sorority sister Stephanie and I would go early to grab a table, and I would quietly and without judgment eat an entire 9-inch-long turkey sub all by myself, plus a beer I somehow managed to order despite the fact that I was only 20, because those servers at Joe’s were the fucking shit.

Week after week we did this, and our minds were blown.  This was a show for us.  And it made me laugh, sure, but also cry — like the one where they were at the beach and Lisa was feeling like she didn’t have any friends and then in the end her cool beach friends spelled out “Lisa Rules” in seashells on the car.  Just… come on.

So imagine my fear and delight but mostly fear when in 2002 I tricked Greg Daniels into hiring me on King Of The Hill, where I got to write with him and other former Simpsons writers Dan McGrath, Jon Collier and Brent Forrester.  They had gone to Harvard where they wrote for the Lampoon; I had gone to Florida where I vomited grain alcohol all over myself on a bus on the way to a sorority party.

I remember the first joke I ever pitched there: the area we were pitching on was something about crooked cops, and Hank Hill’s perspective on them.  My exact pitch was, “Those cops were framed!”  Greg said something to the effect of “first day and she’s already on the board.”  I sat there and looked back down at my script, like no big D, I crank gold like that out all the time, but inside, my soul was soaring through the heavens, gleefully pooping into the mouths of everyone who had ever underestimated me!  (PS the joke didn’t make the script.)

Still, what to do with this…


Sk8er gir11

Hey y’all look!  I gave away that one pair of roller skates that doesn’t fit!  I’m… amazing.  (Special thank you to Rachel Hastings, skater/hoard lightener.)photo


Cup side down, boy you turn me

photo-9This is an authentic Late Night with David Letterman collapsible drinking cup, just like it says on the thing.  It was given to me in college in the early 90’s by a guy named Charles “Chuck” Connors.  He had come to own it because he had done an internship there.  Which was pretty amazing for a guy from the University of Florida.

Chuck (who was much more handsome than the name might suggest, hubba hubba this guy was a cutie by all standards: black hair, baseball cap, white Izod polo, talked out of the side of his mouth) was introduced to me by a sorority sister of mine who knew he and I would hit it off because he was funny and she knew I was a fan of those types.  The funny guys I knew up to that point would exercise their comedy chops by drawing Florida to look like a penis or by being their fraternity’s mean Santa.  This guy was a cut above all that; he was clever enough to finagle an internship with the funniest man in America.  And he did it adorably in that hat and that shirt probably.

Charles Chuck was a doll and all, but what I really wanted to score was that internship.  I thought, if I could somehow manage to get it, it would launch me in a direction that I had only dreamed about. Some of my sorority sisters were getting married right out of college (in the 90’s!), and although I dreamed about that as well, I really wanted to work in comedy, which seemed more likely than getting someone to date me for a while.  I had co-written my sorority’s round 3 rush skit, a send-up of “Into The Woods” where each of the characters was considering pledging Chi O, because a dream is a wish your heart makes, and that dream is Chi O, ladies.  I also performed in the round 2 “Chi Omega Choo Choo” sketch as half of the conductor duo, the straight man, the heavier one with the short perm and the ungroomed eyebrows.

I then created a plan: I would finish all my credits but three, then do an internship in the summer and graduate right after.  Then a showbiz job would just come because that’s for sure how things worked.

I headed to the resource room in the Journalism & Communications building and quickly descovered the only “resource” available was a binder full of outdated internship applications.  There was one for Late Night, but since it was from the 80’s I picked up the phone and called the show and requested a new one, like I was the Queen of England.  They said they would send it and that I needed to send it back in January.

I created a pie chart of reasons why I should be chosen (Letterman not only had top ten lists at the time, but he also did pie charts; I thought ha, all those idiots would all do top ten lists, so I’d do a version of the other thing he did, because no one else would ever think of that).  Oh, and also, I put my resume* on dayglo pink paper.  That’s right; the kind you can’t even really read off of and was also obnoxious.  But I wanted to make a statement, and that statement was, Pick me, the one in the pink!

* my resume was basically a list of super-impressive collegiate accomplishments; you know: Order of Omega, Florida Ciccerones, Chi Omega Pledge Trainer, WRUF-AM’s “Most Improved” on-air talent, etc. etc.

So I put it all in the mail and waited for the phone to ring.  It did not.  Perhaps because I mailed the thing February 2nd, and I was supposed to send it back in January?

I called and asked if my application was received.  They told me they had already filled the slots.  I was crushed.  But I really had no one to blame but myself!  Although I really wanted that gig, I put it off until the last minute.  Not even — it was a few hours after!  Charles Chuck even called Barbara Gaines on my behalf to no avail.  Where was my life going to start then, in Orlando?

Yes, was the answer to that, I moved to Orlando and interned for Universal Studios, where I schlepped sandbags and ran errands in a golf cart.  Also, I got to have lunch with Jason Hervey and show Cathy Moriarty to the bathroom.  And I got to ride “Back to the Future” whenever I wanted, and I learned how to man a cherry picker.  So yeah, it actually it turned out to be pretty cool.

There will be no voting for this item, as I am absolutely keeping it.

Bonus: a picture of me from around that time with Billy Squier.  Because, Billy.  Because, eyebrows.

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Just the tips

Tip

This is a list? composite? of everyone who worked in my building in downtown New York City in 2004, the year I lived there.  I was given this in early-to-mid December, and I thought, yay — I no longer have to do that rude thing where you don’t use a person’s name when speaking to them.

Once I got to work that next morning, people told me that this was for tipping purposes. People in NYC tip usually up to $50 to their doormen for the holidays.  But most people I worked with weren’t total divas/babies like me and didn’t need a staff of tens to run their buildings, so it was no big whoop to them to shell out $50 or $100 if it was two guys.  But I HAD to pick the building with the awesome view and the parquet floors that was attached to an Equinox gym that I never went to.

As sometimes happens, no one offered me any sound advice on what I should do about this, so I ended up spending WAY to much money on these people (I actually interacted with but four of them regularly).  What you see by each person is how much I tipped them.

And yes, you’re seeing that right — I shelled out over seven hundo!   Sweet Rutger Hauer that’s a lot of damn money!

But, can you really put a price on guilt avoidance?  On not being thought of as mean?  On that not-at-all-overrated feeling of giving until it hurts?  And who knows, maybe Spesa Smajlaj was working for me behind the scenes somehow… Maybe Michael Cosgrove fixed a lamp in the lobby that ended up not falling on me or something.  That hair I’m sure I shed in the hallway didn’t sweep up itself, Walter Namecek had to do that.

I actually shelled out a little extra for some cards to put the tips in, ’cause I wanted to make it special, come on, it’s Christmas.


On the cover was the Rolling Stones

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What you are looking at is the cover of a paper I wrote in middle school.  I can’t imagine how I accessed a copy machine to provide the photo — did I get my mom to do it at work, or did I trouble the office staff to let me impose upon them to make a copy?  Whatever, I knew even then that everyone judged a book by its cover and I wanted mine to mentally prepare the reader for the kick-assedness within.

And, not to brag, but lookee:

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That’s right, y’all.  Grade A.  Whoever this teacher was, she put a lot of emphasis on form and neatness — it add up to 2/3 of this grade!  I could just have written blah blah blah a million times! With my gorgeous penmanship and peerless spacing, that is.  But I had been given an opportunity to tell the story of Mick, Keith and the boys to Mrs. Whoever, and I would never have squandered that.

Now, no paper on the Rolling Stones would be complete without this:

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A pretentious poem.  It was written by Andrew Oldham, as a brief internet search helped me to discover.  Not sure why I didn’t credit him?  Was I attempting to pass his work off as my own?  It makes one wonder.  I mean, how was a girl so confident in her abilities that she put a photocopy of a photo on her front cover be so insecure as to think crediting a poet would somehow detract from her work?

Okay, so let’s get to the meat of the thing:

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I think by far the best passage is one where I say “Myths naturally begin at the very beginning and the history of the Rolling Stones is no exception.”  The implication, I suppose, being that myths are the only things that begin at the very beginning.  Regular old stories start at the mid-beginning.

Now, that sentence definitely sounds like a young me.  But this one sounded a little too sophisticated: “Their presence has so dominated rock and roll that they virtually determined what a rock band should look like and sound like.”  And in a couple of sentences before, I use the word ‘catalyst.’  I’m not saying any of that is genius, but it sounds a little beyond my level of articulation at the time.  Good thing I have hoarded my primary source material to do some investigating:

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Wait… that’s my title!  I plagiarized the title?  Good grief.

I opened the book, hoping upon hope to find out that I wasn’t a little cheat.  Let me tell you, even though this book has a fun, colorful cover, inside it is very dense and dry.  I couldn’t find any of the hokiest of my lines within.  Whew!

Then I flipped it over:

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The blurb reads “… they created the blueprint of the rock band; they are the constant against which all others are measured.”  I have to admit that pretty much sounds like the same thing I wrote, and therefore proves that I am a fraud.

Near the end, on page five, is a passage that I would describe as “a young girl’s explanation of Altamont”

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“Many scenes occurred through the opening acts of violence and repulsiveness.”  See, the violence, I’d expect from the Hell’s Angels, but I didn’t know they’d also shit their pants and throw up all around.  I especially like the “After one death and many injuries, it was then, mercifully over.”  It’s like “After the man was nearly drowned and his limbs torn off one by one, he was happy the torture was through.”

Also in that sentence, as you can see, is perhaps the most embarrassing thing about this entire paper: that I liquid-papered a mistake and forgot to go back and fix it once it dried.

I finally got to see the Rolling Stones in concert in the 90’s.  But it was during that ridiculous “Love is strong and your so sweet” period.  We were in the back of the Rose Bowl and the screens were projecting cartoons or something, not the actual band playing, and when they did give us a flash of the band, the sound was moving too slow to sync up with the performance, which was distressing to say the least, a waste of money that I didn’t have to say the most.

You are voting on the paper only.


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