I emerge from my blogging silence in a hotel room in Tulsa, OK where the short version of the story is I had a helluva week. The long version of this week is reserved for a shrink’s couch or tell-all autobiography. But in short, I’m no longer the nauseous home-buying mess that I was in LA. I’m feeling much better. I’m ready to face the world again when I close escrow in mid-March and enter life as a mortgage paying slave.
That is, if I can ever get home. I’m on the road for another week so I can pay for said new home. I head to New York tomorrow where my friend Ann, who was a recently eliminated contestant on a VH1 dating show is having me out to her school to do a lecture and performance! I know people in high places!
Contrary to popular belief, I did not “get killed” here in the Bible Belt. It is my first time in Oklahoma and I was so happy to be welcomed with these big banners downtown where my receding gums were on the display for the whole city to see!
Oklahoma is not a bunch of people in overalls and no shoes standing in fields with guns! They are people who love theater!
I did a public egomaniac dance in the street.
I took this picture of me on the festival posters on “Cherry Street” and a woman inside this studio ran out into the street after me screaming, “Are you the girl on the poster?”
The shows went so well. Some people asked me before I left, “Are there enough Asian women in Tulsa to come to your show?” And my response was, “I don’t need an audience of only Asian women! White people love me!”
Kristina Wong is the new black! And Tulsa came out to my show! Only one older Asian woman came to my show. She was very sweet. An older Asian woman who put $5 in a Chinese New Year envelope and during the pre-show walked onto the stage and whispered, “Miss Wong? Happy New Year” and put it in my lap.
I never got to thank her. So I just wanted to let that lady know THANK YOU. It was very touching. THANK YOU!
Before Saturday’s show we went to Pawhuska, an hour from Tulsa to check out the Bison.
It was like a road safari. We were able to see the Bison from the car. Many of them were just 20 feet from the road. Bison eat and shit in the same place– what many would liken to a “workplace romance.”
I avoided stepping on Bison pie! I have the rest of my life to step in shit.
The trails of Space Shuttle Endeavor as seen from New Smyrna Beach.
It’s my last full day at this three-week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and it’s been a full and idea-filled three weeks but I must say, I am ready to go home.
I’m bug eaten, 10 pounds heavier, attempted to watch the shuttle launch twice before a real lift-off, and I’ve not gotten much of my own creative work done. I’ve seen so much craziness that if I don’t get a grip on reality soon, I may start smoking crack. I also randomly started work on a screenplay… which is kind of in a swirl now but if I get the time to keep working on it, it should look pretty good.
Everyone here is running around with cameras, projectors, or big messy props… and I found myself focused inward and just focusing on getting writing done. This particular residency is very active and distracting because we’re made up of solo performers and performance artists (very needy and need attention), video artists (very nerdy and need space), and experimental composers (very noisy and need noise).
I think I said the best line this week is when I asked the master artist-in-residence, experimental composer Mark Applebaum: “So when reviewing work samples, how do you distinguish bad experimental composition from VERY bad experimental compostion?”
(Relax folks, he laughed.)
It’s a group that knows no conventions or rules. And there’s trash everywhere that people are using for their projects. I have just relinquished my hoarding ways in this move to Silverlake, so it’s hard to watch so many of these artists accumulate so much crap for use in their work. A few artists drove from across the country so they could have their cars handy to drive to stores to buy things for projects and drag the stuff they make back home. The thrift stores here are insane (imagine how many retirees are dropping dead every second in Florida and the stuff they leave behind). I don’t want to become a walking Sanford and Son again, so now when I travel, I purposely pack small carry-on sized bags to prevent accumulation.
One of the locals agrees to be a kitschy prop for my photo.
Tonight, we’re putting on a showing of our works-in-progress for what will probably be about 30 residents in the local community and it’s turning into a full on carnival of video projections and walk through performances. Chaos everywhere and I’m not sure how many of the artists (including myself) will get to see each others’ work. I’ve opted to do something I never do in performance situations– scale the f*ck down. I’m doing a five minute character based scene that I’ll perform alone. With no props, no projections, no audience interaction, and no signature overhead projector. For the first time in my entire life, I feel like the most simple and conventional artist of the entire lot. Next thing you know I’ll be doing hokey one person multi-character shows where I educate people about diversity and how we’re all the same inside. (“There’s only one race folks. Human.”)
My project tonight is modest. I am having folks audition to be “the pick up artist” and I’ll possibly use the footage to be part of my development for CAT LADY. I have scripts from pick-up artist instruction manuals that people will read on-camera like audition sides. Just borrowing a camera, tripod, etc is becoming a ridiculous ordeal. There are some people here who know how to sodder machines together to make movement sensitive lights. I can’t even find a freaking tripod for my fake audition.
Last night Brian Feldman (Think of him as Orlando, FL’s balder, broker, and more brilliant version of David Blaine, if David Blaine didn’t actually have magic powers but just an intense need to put himself in strange situations for long stretches of time) started yet another project here. He decided to jump for 24 straight hours in the amphitheater. Mind you, it’s Florida in the Summer so the amphitheater is full of bugs, very humid, and lonely.
Why would someone do something so seemingly organ-failure inducing?
Well, duh, because he was trying to enact the situation from an obscure film created by an Italian filmmaker who was in residence here 10 years ago. In that obscure film, the artist describes jumping up and down for 24 hours straight. He didn’t actually do this in real life, but for the plot of the film, he does. So Brian thought he’d reference it using the same area of the compound as the Italian artist.
It seemed very amusing and like it might be fun to watch Brian hopping up and down at 4am. But I guess we (well, mostly he he) did not factor in that staying up 24 hours straight causes delirium and for even the most motivated of artists, is a task that is not actually physically possible. Even with breaks (especially if you have not slept the night before), it’s completely and totally physically dangerous and could cause death.
At lunch before Brian started, I became concerned. Brian was carbing up with wet noodles and bread. Add to all of this… Brian is a vegan too– yes, that’s right, a vegan jumping non-stop for 24 hrs (Eat your heart out drunk guy who lost his arm when he went swimming in a swamp of alligators) ! Brian was eating with his bare hands. He was shaking and his eyes were flittering back and forth– he hadn’t slept the night before because he was working so hard on preparing for this piece.
I normally am so embroiled in my nutsy productions that I can’t help do production for other people, but I found myself saying to him, “Ok, please dude, let me help you. ” I bought him VHS tapes at Walmart so he could document the jumping on this old camcorder for two hours at a time. Mind you, I just shed dozens of new VHS tapes at last month’s yard sale, so having to buy more was heartbreaking. Brian had no money, so I just bought them for him, and now he says I have full rights to the work. (Yay, I’m rich?)
PTA Mom of performance art, I also helped Dawn Weleski sew her costume. She’s another one of the artists who is doing 6 million things while she is here. Her project is her going around dressed as Dr. Andrew Turnbull, the founder of New Smyrna Beach, FL and doing historical re-enactments of his journey in public areas around the city. She got kicked out of the Publix but for some reason, the people at the local pub took to her quite well.
Here’s Dawn as Dr. Turnbull at a bar telling the locals about her contributions to New Smyrna Beach.
When we returned to the compound at 1am, I became very concerned about Brian who had been jumping for over five hours. He was clutching his stomach saying that he was cramping, and a few times would kneel in ways that looked like he was collapsing. I’d scream, “Brian! Brian!” And he’d get up and say, “Don’t take a picture of this!” And give his minimum jump per minute.
The fans were blowing on either side of him, it was hard for him to hear, plus he was delirious, and he was wearing sunglasses (as the actor does in the film being referenced in the piece). I’d scream, “Brian, you don’t have to do this all night.” And he’d mutter, “No, I can keep doing this” and punctuate it with a very sickly jump.
I imagined us at 4am, someone coming to check on Brian, him collapsed on a pedastal. And us having to explain to the paramedic:
“Ok, so what happened here? He looks exhausted, malnourished and he’s balding.”
“Listen, he wanted to jump up and down for 24 hours straight. I guess he had already been doing it for 7 hours before he collapsed.”
“Why was he jumping up and down so long? Is he mentally ill?”
“No mentally ill people aren’t as theatrically lit and thoroughly self-documented as Brian is. This was art.”
“It was art?”
“You see, he was trying to re-enact this fake performance in the video.”
“You mean like kids who jump out of windows so they can fly like TV superheroes?”
“Yes, but in a post post meta way, yes.”
It was turning very quickly into a bad sitcom. He was smelling of sweat from 25 feet away. He was clutching his stomach in pain. He was wobbling. It was at first amusing to watch, then exhausting, then worrisome.
I pulled Heather aside and said, “We can’t let this continue. This is seriously a lawsuit waiting to happen. I was shaking watching him. He’s going to die. If I have to throw him over my shoulder and tie him into a bed I will.”
And then I thought, hmmm… maybe this is what Brian wanted. It wasn’t art. It was getting women to fetch him fans and water to cool him down, to update his twitter for him, and insist with sweet coddling voices, “Please Brian Feldman, go to bed. Please we need you to go to bed.”
The women gathered round him. And after what was apparently, quite an intervention, and a lot of reasoning that “Yes Brian, it’s still art, even if it wasn’t for 24 full hours,” he was coaxed to bed.
After speculation at lunch that he might be dead, I am happy to report that Brian Feldman is alive and scheming. And he’s planning to resume jumping as people arrive for tonight’s festivities. And next week that crazy SOB plans to stay inside a Vegan restaurant in Orlando (what may be up to five days) until he’s eaten every item off the menu. This means he will be sleeping and passing waste in the same space 600 square feet until he’s eaten every dish they offer.
This can only illuminate the Vegan lifestyle.
Tonight, we are singing a duet of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” as part of his redux of “Under the Covers”… the site-specific cabaret in his room where all the singing is done under the sheets.
This update is dedicated to all the great findings here in the last days of my residency.
My new fishing buddy Aaron is perhaps the youngest living male in the City of Englewood at the ripe age of 27. Too bad I’m married huh? This is the snook he caught this morning. Because they are protected (spawning season), he threw it back.
Here’s a snapper we caught! A bit small but still good to eat! It was the first fish that I have eaten straight from the water. I don’t know why Aaron’s shorts look like they are falling down like that in this picture. I don’t remember them doing that in real life. (Oh the mockery of this cat lady. Oh the mockery.)
But boy, do I love having all these adventures with my wife! She’s so much fun!
But it was no easy task to clean a fish! Yuck! Check out this video of him cleaning the fish…. That thing wouldn’t die!
After! The snapper was actually very small and very bony. So we got all of two bites of fish in each filet.
I’m still kinda crap as a fisherwoman. My new show, CAT LADY that premieres next week uses a lot of fishing (a great way to excuse all this leisure time as “research”). Here is some once live bait I used that got a huge bite on it’s side. I’m all bait and no bite I tell you.
We also got a great full moon sunset out here where the tide was so low that sand dunes appeared. Places where the water normally goes to your waist or higher, you could walk right through.
Watch as I narrate the sunset. On full moon nights there is a rare burst of green light that appears when the sun goes down. You can’t see it in the video but it’s still gorgeous to take in everything else you can get from the video.
See how low the water gets?
I thought this was a good picture of Sonja doing what she does best. Photography!
Later that full moon night we went looking for sea turtles laying eggs. We thought it best to split up and each patrol in a different direction. I saw two fresh sea turtle nests and Sonja saw one. But we didn’t see the turtles. It’s nuts because they lay eggs in holes that they make at least 18 inches deep and then they cover them before going back to the water. So they must have worked fast because we totally missed them. I think I saw a turtle as she was leaving the nest she made. I think I saw her back as she disappeared in the tide.
This is what a fresh sea turtle nest looks like! You can see two sets of tracks (one going from the water, and one going back to the water). The little mound is where the turtle dug, laid, and buried her eggs.
In the morning, Sonja and I woke up super early to watch the sea turtle patrol dig up nests that were past gestation. The patrol is made up of cool volunteers who dig up nests, then count the numbers of non-viable eggs and hatched eggs. They also keep track and protect the area around new eggs. Sometimes they find live or dead baby turtles in the nests they dig up.
Here are the eggs they dug up. A lot were not good, but the ones that still might hatch are reburied closer to the surface where they will get more heat and the babies will have an easier time digging their way out.
When a new nest is discovered by the patrol, the nest is marked by a stake that records the nest number, date of laying, and the initials of the people patrolling. This is the nest Sonja found the night before. The “KW” is yours truly!
Here are two geckos, mocking me with their lovemaking.
Here is a video I made of them. It’s not very clever. And moves as much as the above photo. Gecko penises are red btw.
Sonja knows how to handle my camera better than me. Here I am in the gulf with the Hermitage House behind me. Today the water was so clear we could see our feet at the bottom.
I also have made a lot of crafts while here. The local wildlife has inspired a lot of new animal shapes.
If my fishing skills suck, at least I can improvise!
Here is a dead mouse I’m using in Cat Lady.
And of course! Sea turtles! If I can’t spot them live, I can at least make them. This is for the woman who nominated me to come here.
Come on, you know you want to see another sunset photo! It feels like every sunset is so different here.
Oh, that was a bad idea to drink all that wine by myself. I am here with crackers (the kind you eat, not the kind that live in Florida) trying to make this headache go away.
On an up note, being totally inebriated last night allowed me to call and text half the names in my address book and tell people how much I love them. I actually almost drunk dialed my folks. That would have been interesting.
Yesterday I was thinking how it’s so odd that I’m not even friends with my friends anymore on Facebook or Myspace, but with their wedding photos, their babies and TODDLERS. It’s like when they say that people’s identities change when they become parents… their lives literally become the lives of their kids.
And my identity, is a this nutso artist who is listed as “Married” on her profile… but my photo albums reveal that I am married to myself and that my babies are my shows and my art. And while my friends are doing grown up stuff like checking out daycare programs and getting baby seats, I’m teaching myself how to fish, eating cheese and crackers with the iguanas, and toasting my wine glass to the Gulf of Mexico.
There is this funny episode of Sex in the City where the four of them are at a wedding, all wearing black, smoking cigs and being fabulous and single and Carrie says, “And then there’s us… we’re like the Witches of Eastwick.” That’s how I kinda felt yesterday, wandering to my beach cottage with a wine glass and the wine bottle tucked under my arm. Stumbling a bit in the dark, the geckos jumping around me, the crickets chirping, I could scream and nobody would hear me.
I’m like this lone crazy witch. On a beach. Brewing up trouble.
The exterminator came today but still these roaches roam the bathroom here. So today I decided, if I can’t beat them, cast them. I tell you, it isn’t easy to shoot, star, and kill in your own short film. These are both pretty good. The second one is more dramatic. Bug killing makes for the perfect subject for a short film. Characters, conflict, rising action, climax, and resolution.
Today I went to the local playhouse to watch how they do community theater out here. The local playhouse is all volunteer run and their theater building (which used to be a funeral home) is getting too small for just 99 seat audiences so they are moving to a 300 seater. It’s amazing to see how many people come out for theater on a weekday because they want to and what else is there to do really? I definitely began to see how I am pretty much staying in a retirement community. I think the median age there was 106. Everyone was so sweet. The actors were pretty good, and some of them sell real estate on the side! They even let me draw the raffle ticket winner before the show.
The craziest thing happened. There was a big thunderstorm during the show and this lightning struck and the lights went out in the theater. At first it seemed like an amazing cue. We think the lighting hit the transformer by the theater. They kept the show going by having their tech people shine flashlights on the actors. It was pretty incredible how pro they were about it.
Equal opportunity commode!!
One of the members of the Board of Directors was like, “You should do your show at our playhouse.” He obviously has not seen my work. I can imagine doing a show there. Doing a fake orgasm on the stage for the seniors? My crazy ass at a playhouse that does strictly Neil Simonesque plays? Oh boy.
No need to rush the inevitable, really.
I am so into these collage posters for their plays. When is the photo collage coming back?!!? Screw Adobe Illustrator!
I also saw Asian people for the first time today at a restaurant. I wanted to talk to them and ask them about their lives and ask them if they ever miss home or want to get pregnant and smoke and drink six months in.
I told the Board members today about the smoking bartender and the shoddy selection of men out here. They were really funny about it. One volunteered that the locals were “neanderthals.” They told me that local Floridians are called “Crackers.” Like the title of this painting below that was for sale at the theater.