Monthly Archives: December 2008

Holiday Swag and Re-Gifting

I’m not usually all about the holiday prezzies. I love giving them, but since I’m not a big fan of surprises, I don’t really like receiving them. Every year I get this and this from my crazy Jesus-loving relatives. And, while I can work the glitter crayons into one project or another, I still can’t seem to re-purpose the other gift.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is not my tree.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is not my tree.

This year, however, I got some very fun and shiny toys, including a gift certificate to take a class here and tickets to see Jane Fonda in this exciting play. My fancy Broadway friend gifted me one of her house seats to see her in this. Which, did you know Noel Coward wrote in FIVE DAYS? And, before its West End run, only ONE SENTENCE had to be changed? That’s my goal, write something in its entirety where an editor only needs to change one sentence (ed. note: I edited this post at least twice. Make that three times, once to add in this note).

Speaking of editors, my publishing friend gave me a beautiful hardbound copy of this book as well as Jane Eyre and Sense & Sensibility. I also got some of this, half of which I donated to here and here. And, I received one of these and as a result, donated the books I won’t be reading again to this lovely place.

I gifted myself this class, which a friend/class alumnae told me will result in: “Your brain is going to gently open up like a flower. And your pen is going to flow with milk and honey.” Hopefully, I’ll leave with enough skills to impart some wisdom to the young minds over here, where I’m super excited about volunteering, if I can sneak out of work in time for the training session.

So, while the gifts were fun, and perhaps gave me a new appreciation for surprises, it was the re-gifts that truly made me the happiest.

Here’s to a great New Year filled with LOTS of re-gifting, beyond the holiday season.
–Downtown

A Carousel of Time

Yesterday a child came out to wander …

By the start of 2006, I had officially shed my past. Well, at least my career past. I no longer “worked in film,” or “used to work in film.” I was a book publicist and freelance carousel-1researcher. I had never know any other life besides film and, after a particularly insane Devil Wears Prada moment with my boss, I knew I had to give myself a chance to see what else was out there. So, I joined a the publishing arm of a semi-corporate, family-friendly company.

The people I worked with had vague ideas of what I had done before. When they complained about not being able to place a book review in O Magazine, I silently smiled and remembered when I had that secret assistant power to get Oprah on the phone. It took two little words, (my boss’s name) and magically, a short time later, a very familiar would come through the other end of the line.

While my co-workers talked of cold walks to the subway, my mind went back to the hours I spent in New Jersey sandpits in negative-degree temperatures trying to recreate the Gulf War — complete with high-speed camels, military cars and tanks and famous actors freezing their asses off in army fatigues, while making it all look very real.

I went from approving double-truck ads in Variety for Oscar season to listening to sales teams talk about the best day to place an ad for a book in the NY Times. From multi-million dollar budgets and hundred-million dollar grosses to selling a hundred thousand copies of a book. It was odd territory. Something — I was determined to believe — I could get use to. But everyday my cubicle became more and more claustrophobic, the corporate environment more stifling. At first I rebelled, trying hard to connect both of my worlds, but then I gave up and began hiding pieces of myself, censoring my thoughts, my actions, my passion, and my past. I started losing who I was and that scared me.

So I took the leap.carousel

I quit.

Then, the child moved ten times ’round the seasons …

I spent time as a research assistant for a writer. A little more creative and interesting, and it gave me time to lick some wounds and figure out what to do next.

I moved briefly into copy writing for a daytime talk show, where I learned my limit of suffering, restraint and how much I valued myself as a person. Though the ending was awful, it was possibly the best test of self-worth I’ve had thus far.

More time, more freelance writing, websites, developing and networking. But even that wasn’t enough. I was still drawn back to my past, my passion. It’s odd to know exactly what you want to do with your life when you’re 14 years old. Especially when you don’t really know quite what the industry is about to begin with. There’s a vague notion and a dream. I’m convinced for people like me, it’s pre-programmed in our DNA. It’s like air, water and love all mixed together — we cannot live without it.

Finally, I stopped denying myself and got back onboard the carousel. dscn21421

And promises of someday make h[er] dreams …

Now I’m back to sixteen hour days, (sometimes weekends), constant craziness, complaining, laughter, and running the gamut of emotions on a daily basis. It’s exhausting, exhilarating and I love it. I’m working with people I worked with ten years ago on my first film (as a 17-year-old intern). A producer I worked with on my second feature — as a 22-year-old newly-minted college grad — whom I hadn’t seen since then, embraced me and exclaimed, “My god, you’re not a kid anymore!” She had taken me under her wing back then, my anxiety-ridden, lowly-assistant self, and always watched out for me. Now, I’m working on a different level. People are listening to me, respecting me. It’s interesting and weird and such a fulfilling experience. I guess, really, it’s just life. But sometimes it’s wonderful when it feels like so much more.
–Downtown

We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and ’round and ’round and ’round
In the circle game …

Holiday Shrubbery

That’s what we call the office Christmas tree. The rule is each department must make their own ornament to add to our shrubbery. Contributions include: a mini trash bag (from our trash-removing PAs), a check request for Santa for one million dollars from accounting, a photo collage of our actors from casting, a small map from our locations dept, origami in the shape of a gift box from our art department, a paper airplane and travel memo for Santa plus nine reindeer from the travel/housing person, a mini palm tree from our LA office, a garland of Liza Minnelli’s eyes from set dec, and a sign marked “redemption,” because we’re really going to need it after this job.
–Downtown

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The Borscht Belt

New York has always been known as a melting pot, but sometimes it feels more like a clash of cultures: China takes over Italy (only two real streets of Little Italy remain), Korea sits on the west side of town while India holds it’s own on a few blocks of the east side. And the hipsters have turned most of Greenpoint, Brooklyn into their own personal campus, leaving the Polish to venture farther down the line to parts that have yet to be gentrified and hipsterized. Think this doesn’t exist? Well, let me introduce you to Poland via the G train (Nassau Street stop, to Norman Avenue). This interesting stretch of neighborhood has become my daytime (and sometimes nighttime) home away from home due to my new office location. Coming up out of the subway you’d swear you’re in Eastern Europe. The sights, the smells, the signs. EVERYTHING is written in Polish first, English second. The letter “Y” replaces “I” in most of the words, take for instance the “SYrena Bakery.” And, the name for Laundromat? Well, I’ll just let some of my photos do the talking.

Say that five times fast.

Say that five times fast.

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It’s interesting to work in the middle of a cultural enclave that is still so untouched, but I know it won’t be for long. Each week it seems one more 20-something in skinny jeans, wearing American Apparel tee shirts and a pair of converse are added into the mix. But, by far the most ironic thing about life in “Little Polska” happened when I called to complain about my vegetarian borscht simply being beet juice with the meat physically removed from the soup, the man answering the phone said in a thick Polish accent with a biting tone, ” we’re not promising you ‘designer’ borscht, it tastes like it tastes. What do you think this is, the Upper West Side?”

Btw, gotta love a neighborhood whose restaurants list sauerkraut under vegetables on their menu. -Downtown

Dog Days of December

It’s been said that the hardest shoes to repair are the ones eaten by dogs. img_3034That is according to my local repairman, Joe, grandson of Jim of Jim’s Shoe Repair, East 59th between Madison and Park Avenues. I don’t know if he’s had to repair dog shoes but I saw a set of puppy paw coverups that take the cake. Picture this, a dog much like Maria Sharapova’s Pomeranian, Dolce, who is currently featured in television ads (actually, the tv canine may be a doggie stand in but nevermind). A diminutive soft white puff of fur, short legs, jump in her step. CUUUUTE. And on paws of the prancing pup with whom I crossed paths as she strut northward and I south on the east side of the Park yesterday morning, was a set of pink striped doggie adidas.

It was one of those moments when I wish I’d asked if I could snap a picture. I didn’t and now have regrets. I’ve searched the web for similar shoes to no avail and even attempted to find the little dog this morning to no avail. It was raining yesterday, drizzling today. However, on a park bench immediately outside the Central Park Zoo, I did stumble upon an applicable quote by Gertrude Stein (1874-1946).
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After three days, the rain is FINALLY subsiding with a promise of clearer skies for the weekend. Truly welcome this time of year as the days turn to night by 3pm. Depressing is an understatement but in the end, it’s so relative. Especially when there are dandy dogs around town to admire. Woof.

Sushi Sasabune, No Soy Sauce

Not sure why it took us two years to dine chez Sasabune on the East Coast, maybe it was because we weren’t committed to living here. images3But NYC it is and Sushi Sasabune is as good, if not better (the people are a nicer here) as in LA. The place is reminiscent of the Saltair location, intimate, comfortable sushi bar and the “Trust me” sign looms overhead. At least four iterations of tuna, one from Italy, another Albacore, warmed our insides, soothed our souls. The blue crab hand roll was icing on the palate, preceded by Washington state oysters and fluke from Long Island. The presentations were perfect, the greeting cordial and we can’t wait to return. Prices were a bit steeper than LA but it’s our new favorite restaurant, certainly best sushi we’ve had in town.  Kenji, the sushi master, was trained in LA by Nobi,moved East to open the east 73rd street (at 1st avenue) location and we are SO happy to have him.