The Things I’ve Learned..

If I have learned nothing else from the countless numbers of auditions that I have attended, it is what NOT to do.  A little harsh, right?  Not really.  I like to think of my failed attempts at auditions as a learning experience.  A way to correct myself and to ensure that I will never make the, what would be an appropriate word be, STUPID mistake of bringing an actual weapon to an audition. (Deep Sigh)  I’m sure you’re dying to hear that one.  No fear, unfortunately, the only way to explain my “Dont’s,” my Holy Grail, of auditions is to use my embarrassments as examples.  Hopefully, in this way, you will be so mortified by my failures that you will never desire to make the same mistakes as I have.  I plan to scare these “Dont’s” into you.  So, without further ado, here are some helpful tips that I have gained over the years, in no particular order, that I pray will help you at your next hopefully successful audition:

1) NEVER upset the Monitor. You don’t know who she/he is.  For all you know the person who is the monitor could be the best friend of the Director, an Intern, or perhaps even the Assistant Director.  It happens.  And as most of us have experienced, these Monitors, or at least the ones that I have encountered, are never in a particularly good mood, especially at Musical Theatre auditions.  So, the last thing that you want to do is make a bad impression on this person.  They WILL remember your face and they WILL tell the director or the casting panel not to cast you because you rubbed them the wrong way.  True story:  A girl I graduated college with went with me to an audition at The Looking Glass Theatre, a company in NY.  Now, this audition was actually a call back and we had to re-audition with material that the director gave us.  Basically, to me, and to my friend, this was a shoe in.   That was until she decided to bad mouth the audition within earshot of the monitor.  She had gone outside on the steps and was chatting on her phone telling the person on the other end that she thought that the audition had went fine and that if she wasn’t hired that the director didn’t know what real talent was.  Needless to say, the monitor informed the whole room that my friend, no matter how talented, was definately not going to be getting a part now or never in the future with their theatre company.  In essence, keep whatever you want to say until you get safely home and have locked yourself in your bathroom.

2) NEVER stop if you mess up. This is the oldest rule in the book.  If you fuddle a line, crack on a note, or just completely blank during your monologue, KEEP GOING!  For god sakes, do not stop, do not apologize, and DO NOT

ask to start over!  You have 30 seconds, if that, to impress and amaze your “judges” and the last thing you want to do is leave them with the impression that if you got in a bind on stage, you wouldn’t know how to recover.  Not to also mention, that they have 50 people after you that they need to see and that you are basically wasting their time by asking to start over and apologizing about your pitch.  Time is money and as far as they are concerned you are costing them and are causing them to stay later than they have to.  Instead, if you mess up, smile and make sure those last four bars you sing are the most fabulous and awe-inspiring bars that you have ever sang.  And if you blank, make something up until you can find your footing again.  Actually, you should think of this as an advantage.  You can say whatever you want and have it be truthful just because of the fact that you are actually having to find what it is that you need to say.  Unfortunately for me, I forgot these basic principles at an audition that I recently attended.  The monologue, I thought, I did great.  The song, not so much.  Not only did I crack, which took me by surprise, but I stopped, apologized and began to talk about the horrible weather.  What did I get, a blank stare and a “Thank you, have a nice day.”  Which brings me to my next point:

3) NEVER come unprepared to an audition. Know what musical the song you are singing came from.  Do know who composed and wrote the lyrics to the song.  And please, please, know who the author and the name of the play that you are doing a monologue from is.  Why am I mentioning these basic points that every actor is told if they go to acting school?  Because, they are the easiest points to forget.  As I experienced at the for-mentioned audition, not only did I break one cardinal rule, I broke two.  Since I decided to prepare the night before, I had forgotten to take note of not only the composer/lyricist/name of musical, but also the author/name of the play I had chosen my monologue from.  Big mistake.  Because, what is the first question that your auditioner usually asks you?  What song/monologue are you doing and where are they from.  Panic.  Unbelievable, heart stopping Panic.  And what’s worse, I had to apologize, again, for not remembering what my material was from.  A good way to avoid this whole prepare at the last moment syndrome? Keep a book of monologues that you know work best for you and review them weekly.  That way, when you find out about an audition you are not scrambling at the last minute and are perfectly relaxed, confident, and calm.  Don’t be like me. 🙂

4) Avoid at ALL COST “Pause Syndrome.” (I know, this looks weird because I didn’t start with NEVER!) “Pause Syndrome.”  A horrible disease that will eat away at a brilliant monologue.  No matter how great the actor, this will inevitably never make, but always break.  If you remember NOTHING from this blabber of writing, please, please, remember this.  Just because you pause, does not make a monologue more dramatic.  In fact, it makes it awkward and very hard to watch.  It is almost like watching a fish try and breathe out of water.  Slow, painful, and ending in disappointment.  If you think about it, how many times have you paused when you reflected?  Took a beat, yes, thought something through, but never paused and searched with concern for your next moment.  Remember, in an audition time is not on your side.  If you pause every other sentence in a one minute monologue, you will drag it on to almost two minutes and would have lost any impact that would have been essential for the success of your monologue.  You don’t want to make someone fall asleep in your monologue to do you?

5) NEVER make your “moment before” obvious. The casting director, or whomever, does NOT want to witness your “moment before.”  No matter what any acting teacher tells you, do not drop your head, find your moment, and then begin your monologue when you are ready.  You should be ready before you even step into that room and you should know your monologue so well that at the drop of a hat you can recite it with conviction.  They don’t have time for you to find your character and remember what is happening at that certain time in the play when your monologue comes in.  They are ready to see something that will amaze them and by you keeping them waiting, you will only bore and frustrate them.  (Also, a nice little add in too, which I’m sure no one ever does anymore, but it is worth mentioning. NEVER say “End” when you are done with a monologue.  No explanation necessary) A harsh lesson to learn, but as it happened at my first audition, I went it, presented myself, gave the music and cue to the pianist and dropped my head in preparation.  Before I could even get my head up to start singing, I heard “Sweetie, I don’t have all day.  I need you to hurry up.”  I froze.  I didn’t know what to do.  I was so embarrassed and all I wanted to do was grab my music and run!  Luckily, yes luckily, the pianist started playing before I got the chance to cry!  Unfortunately any “acting” or preparation I had done went completely out of the window seeing as I just wanted to get out of that room as fast as possible.  Amazing how 16 bars could ever feel like an eternity.

6) NEVER move the chair. Yes, I know it’s odd to think.  But, if there is a chair in the middle of the room, use it.  Believe it or not, it is there for a reason.  As I recently learned from Bobby Holder of Actor’s Project, NYC, the chair is there for the panel to see how well the actor interacts with props.  They want to see what you can do when given an object to interact with.  Removing it completely from the space would be like an insult essentially and I assume that would be the last thing that you would want to do.  Besides, it can almost be like a comfort blanket to you.  It gives you something to lean on, to sit it, to circle and contort to your needs.  The chair grounds you.  It gives your body something to do.  I don’t know about you, but I need something like that at an audition.  I’m nervous enough just being at an audition that it would be nice that when I actually did my monologue to have something to put all the nervous energy into. At least then, I would know what in the world to do with my hands!  Oh and just a little side note, NEVER take your shoes off.  I did that once and had to have a five minute discussion with the director as to why it was unwise for me to do that.  Well, actually I wouldn’t say it was a discussion, more like a lecture. Needless to say, I didn’t get that part.

7) NEVER dress casually for an audition. This may just be my thing, but I find it interesting that people dress for an audition like they are hanging out with their friends on a casual Friday night.  In my opinion, you should dress like you are going for a job interview.  You want to look your best.  And this may just be my frame of mind since my mom ALWAYS told me that you should dress up for job interviews, but I think unless the audition calls for casual dress, you should NEVER go to an audition in jeans.  I don’t care if they appeared in Fashion Week, they shouldn’t be worn to an audition.  It would just appear to send the wrong message.  You want to say, “I’m professional. I’m reliable,” not, “I want to be you Best Friend” or “You wanna go get some pizza?”  Would you cast you if you came dressed to an audition in skinny jeans and a t-shirt?

8) NEVER look directly at your auditioning panel. This is something that EVERY actor should know.  Always look right above the heads of the panel at a point that is eye level with you and that you can focus on.  Reason being that you WILL make the panel uncomfortable and they will probably look away from you and not pay attention to what you are doing.  The whole audition would be a loss just because you used an actual person to be in the scene with you.  I have been told to start over and to not look at someone when I was doing a monologue.  It’s not the best feeling in the world and it completely takes you out of the moment.

9) NEVER think you didn’t get a part due to lack of talent. Never assume that you bonked a job because you think that you are not talented.  A lot of times this is not the case.  There are a lot of things that go into deciding who it is that gets certain parts.  It may be that while you were great, you just didn’t physically fit the part of the character and no matter how much that seems unfair, there is nothing you can do about it. I had a gig not go to me once only because I looked younger than the character the writer had envisioned.  Also, this may sound funny, but it has happened that I have not gotten a part because the girl that I was up against for a certain gig was the director’s niece and no matter how talented I was, it would go to her.  My acting teacher also told me an interesting story that when he was sitting in on an audition with a director friend of his, he saw a girl that was amazingly talented and would of been perfect for his friends play, but he didn’t hire her because she reminded him of his ex-wife.  You just NEVER know.

10) NEVER bring a weapon to an audition. I know! This sounds absolutely ridiculous and I’m sure you’re thinking, “Who would do something this STUPID?”  Ummm…that would be me and till this day stands as the worst thing that I have ever experienced at an audition.  Not only was it embarrassing but it was completely demoralizing and I am still mentally scarred from it.  Okay, so before I even start in with this juicy gossip that I have purposely waited until the end to give you, let me just say that I was told by certain teachers in college that if you use a weapon, use a weapon (within reason), don’t substitute.  So, going in with this knowledge that was told to me by professors, I took a retractable knife to an audition.  Mind you that I wasn’t actually going to wave this thing around, but I just needed to flash it for shock.  I go in, say my name/monologue, sit down, and begin.  The first few lines went by fine.  I was in it.  I felt sure.  I was totally going to nail it.  And then it happens.  I get to the part where murderess character shows her weapon to her victim and the unspeakable happens.  The casting director lets out a horrifying scream.  A scream so profound that I drop my prop and sit back in fear in my chair.  I have never seen a person get up out of their chair and against the wall as fast as this woman did.  Apparently she had a phobia of knives.  Some of the things she said to me I cannot even repeat in this.  Let’s just say it was along the lines of, “I can’t believe you brought a weapon to an audition!  How stupid can you be?!  Don’t you know that bringing a weapon is a liability?  If anyone gets hurt it’s not only on you but our company?  What would possess you to do such a thing! How dare you!”  I’m completely speechless.  I don’t know what to say.  Never in a million years would I think that this would be someone’s reaction.  As I was taught, what I did was fine, not something that would cause a woman to say that she should call the cops on me.  Of course, I had to get the most overdramatic person that ever existed to be the casting director.  It ends with me being told to leave and to not come back until I had learned appropriate auditioning etiquette.  This still haunts me.  I don’t think I will ever live this experience down.


Apartment 6…

There’s an old man that lives in my building.  His name is Frank.  By the looks of him, you would think that he was just like any other old man that you would happen to pass on the street, or in my case, the hallway.  Old, grumpy, not particularly friendly or harboring any interest in those around them.  But, as people tend to be wrong in their first judgements of strangers, as was I in mine.  Now, I’ve passed this man many times in the last year and half since I’ve been living here and sometimes I’ve even shot him a smile and tried to give a friendly “Hello,” but the likelihood of actually getting a response from him was always slim to none.  Most of the time he would just ignore me and others he would just stare at me blankly for a second as if his mind was searching for an appropriate reaction, but in the end, it would fail him and all I would be left with would be a confused look on an old man’s weathered face.  I tended to write this off as the response of what seemed to be a bitter old man who detested the sight of young people.  And, yes, I had grounds to think this.  Do you know how many people I’ve encountered in apartment buildings, older people that is, who have reacted to me negatively every time they saw me just because of the mere fact that I was young and that they hated that young people lived in their building?  Lets just say more than once.  In fact, when I used to live on 45th st between 9th and 10th, which by the way, I would kill to go back to, there was an old woman who had probably been there since the 1940’s who lived on the first floor.  (Side note: New Yorkers, you will appreciate what I am about to say.  This old lady, Cruella, as I like to call her, was paying only $300 for a one bedroom in prime midtown realty.  That is why old people never move out of their apartments my friend.  Rent control.  And when they die the lucky bastards called “family” inherit this ridiculously amazing space for next to nothing that people would literally draw blood over. I don’t even want to mention how much I was paying in the same damn building)  Every time I would come in the building, she would poke her head out of her door and sweetly say to me, “You damn kids!  Can’t you be quiet!  Don’t you know that there are other people living in this building besides you!”  I would also occasionally get, “Stop slamming the fucking door!” Ahh..That was always my favorite.

Any who, getting back to what I was originally gossiping about, I can recall one time where I was surprisingly met with what seemed like a ray of hope from my neighborhood Scrooge.  As it happened, I was leaving for work one morning in hurry, as per the usual, running, skipping over ever other stair, my BF’s voice in my head yelling to me to “Hold on to the railing!” when I was abruptly forced to stop suddenly on the second floor landing.  The old man, cane in hand, was slowly making his way up the stairs to his corner apartment, grunting deeply with exhaustion as he struggled to climb the last few steps.  I patiently waited on the side, out of his way, my internal clock tick-tocking away the minutes I would now be late to work due to this inconvenience.  He looked up at me, seeming to sense my haste, eyes tired, and apologized in a quiet voice as he lifted himself onto the landing.  Quickly, I responded with “No worries,” partly from embarrassment from my behavior and from the realization that I had pegged this old man all wrong.  He was capable of giving some sort of response and maybe it wasn’t that he was bitter or unresponsive but the shear fact that he was just old.  It never occurred to me that this man, because of his age, was perhaps just socially awkward or inhibited, finding it hard to interact with the outside world.  Maybe it’s New York that has slighted me in this way, or maybe it is just because I am young. You forget that life goes full circle, beginning and ending in the exact same place.

(To be continued…I’m tired..)

Starsearch Pup..

What’s sad is that this dog could beat me in a talent contest!  Not even for whistling, he’s just so damn cute!

It’s a Bo’s world out there…

As a New Yorker, you are privy to certain things that might not be the norm in other parts of the country (Well, minus California). For example: A Halah cart on every corner from Soho to Times Square, Fruit stands whose “Fruitiers” never seem to go home and that you inevitably see at 2 am when you stumble home drunk, and, of course, my all time ultimate favorite thing ever….wait for it….you’re gonna love it…. online ordering from at any time of night!  I know! It’s possibly the best thing ever to happen to a New Yorker! (I know you’re shaking your head “India”…I’m a fat kid, what can I say?) However, even though these thing put happiness in my heart, perhaps the one thing that New York has to offer me that I would trade for all of these scrumptious delicacies for is….the Dogpark.  I know, I know, I see you laughing and I would be too if I:

1) Didn’t live in the city

2) Didn’t have a dog

3) Didn’t have a dog that lived with me in my already cramped apartment with a Devil cat…IN THE CITY

I know, you’re wondering why any of this information really matters; why the fact that I live in the city and go to a dog park is of any consequence.  But, the truth is that the Dog Park has probably extended my life by a few years.  And if you knew my pup, a one and half old lab/pit mix, you would understand that two hours at the dog park gives me a day of no hair pulling, no yelling, and no chasing the dog down, disciplining him with “BAD BOY!” when he jumps on the cat.  Honestly if I could go one day without having to say “NO!” or “LEAVE THE CAT ALONE!” I would die happy and I’m sure that my BF’s ears would love a day off from my madness!  He ALWAYS tells me that I’m worse than the dog and that the neighbors will think i’m a crazy person! But, I can’t help it! The damn dog, no matter how cute he may be or how fast his little butt wiggles out of pure joy when he sees me, just makes me so irritated sometimes!  He is non-stop! It’s like having a kid! From the moment you wake up, or better yet, when he wakes you up, it’s go time!  You don’t have five minutes to slowly get out of bed, stretch, yawn, greet the morning sunlight.  No, your alarm has gone off and the Bo has so graciously greeted you by jumping on top to lick you to death and you only have a matter of seconds before he progresses into his “nibble on their hand stage to wake them up” stage to roll out of bed.  And, yes, as I am sure you are thinking, “why doesn’t she lock him out or something?” or “train him!” I have.  It does absolutely nothing and I have contributed this behavior to him being a pup and as such it’s no fault of my own!

And this is where the Dog Park comes in.  A thing that I never really knew about until, well, I had Bodie.  On the days I have off, this is the number one priority.  Get the dog to the park for two hours and pray that there is a dog there or at least an uneaten tennis ball that I can throw.  And if it’s raining, oh well, I’m going out and I’m dragging the pup with me, I don’t care how much he fusses.  And no, I do not have a rain coat for my dog.  I don’t even have one for myself!  He has seven layers of fur, I think he’ll be ok!  This is my sole salvation for the day, the time when I can let the dog off the leash and he can run around like a rabid dog without me having to yell at him about it.  He can play, jump, act like an asshole for all I care and it’s all fine and dandy b/c by the time I get home a couple hours a later, the pup is so tired that the only thing he wants to do until the next morning is get some serious shut eye!  And you bet your ass that I’ll get up early to be home by lunch to know that I can peacefully do whatever the hell I want without having to worry about Bo getting into something he’s not supposed to.  And just a side note, at least with my pup, walking doesn’t do shit.  It doesn’t matter if you walk to Africa and back, the Bo will still be raring to go.  There is no measure for the amount of steam he burns by playing with his fellow pups.  And I honestly don’t know how in the hell I would get by if the Dog Park wasn’t around.  In NC it didn’t matter b/c you have backyards and fenced in areas where you and your best pal could play and really, not that I can remember, your dogs didn’t interact with other dogs unless you happen to have two.  So, in retrospect, it was actually easier to have a dog in a rural area than it is here.  Sure, we can take them shopping with us and shit, but we don’t have big houses or yards they can run around in. And if you have a big dog in the city, omg, you better make sure that guy gets exercise b/c you will not be able to get a moment’s rest if you don’t.  At least with a smaller dog you can pack into your bag and carry it with you.  But, in my opinion, that just doesn’t seem right.  Your furry friend should never be beside your hairbrush and lip gloss.

So, the dog park and I have a fairly long history with each other.   And at one point in time, we were very close and I visited it every day for three months when I was unemployed.  And it is at this point, when you have established yourself among the “Kings” and “Queens” of the Dog Park, a.k.a the regulars, that the Dog Park not only serves for the amusement of your pup, but for the amusement of yourself.  You would think that if there would be any place that would be “drama free,” it would be a park, especially a dog park, where the only thing that speak are the owners.  But, no, it never fails, where there are people, there will inevitably be drama.  Now, usually I would take you back a bit and share information about these lovely characters that I have unfortunately had the chance of meeting, and don’t worry, you WILL hear about them, but let me just skip to the reason why I actually started this whole entry.  Now, to give you a bit of a visual, there are a few types of people that you will encounter at the Dog Park:

1) The “Richies” : Rich folk who have nothing else better to do with their day  than to hang out at the dog park for the better part of the morning

2) The dogwalker: People who are employed by the Richies who are to filthy rich and lazy to walk their damn dogs themselves

3) The unemployed: People who LITERALLY have nothing else to do with their day

4) The Others:  People like me who work, but go when they can

So, scene set, Bo-Bo and I happen to be at the Doggy Park the other day, the usual on my day off, when in comes this very fluffy, very friendly pup that Bodie happens to play very well with.  Lets face it, Bodie would play well with a dan fly if that were his only option.  And that, I can say, is something I can be truly happy about.  Bo-Bo loves everything/everybody.  So, this pup wiggles in towards Bodie, who we’ll call her Daisy for now, and begins to play with him and the owner, an older gal, a.k.a a Richie, comes and sits beside me and an Unemployed girl who owns a cute black puggle, who actually, I don’t mind.  The person, not the dog. Now, this Richie, who by the way must be pushing 60 and still thinks that she can get away with shorty-mc-shorty Nike running shorts, starts off by not saying “Hi” or  “Good Morning,” but by telling us that her poor little Daisy was attacked by a vicious pitbull.  I know, before she even says the breed, that this was the dog to be blamed.  My blood is already boiling. (By the way, it’s amazing how fast you learn about breeds and dog behavior just by sitting at a dog park! Give it a try)  Everybody always blames the pitbull!  It’s always his fault! Everybody thinks that they are scary and that they attack everything in its path.  When, in reality, they are one of the most love able and sweetest dogs I have ever met!

What about this pup says "vicious?"

What about this pup says "vicious?"

Sure, they might be a little more prone to behavioral problems, but what dog isn’t? I mean through training, knowing your pups body language and it’s ticks, you can practically avoid any and all confrontation and really erase all possibility.  Yeah the dog may be apt to certain mannerisms, but who either eggs them on or trains with preventative methods? THE OWNER!!!  It’s all on us! We are the ones who have to be pro-active about our pups and make sure they understand what is right and wrong! Once again, it is like having a kid! Oh! And did you know that DALMATIONS, not PITS are considered more apt to behavior problems?? Well, now you know!

So, anyway, this Richie continues to say that a pitbull grabbed onto her Daisy and wouldn’t let go!  And before this had occurred, according to Richie, the pit had attacked another dog.  And the Richie was so scared because she couldn’t get the pit off her pup because, as she concluded, the pit had lock jawed.  Wrong answer!!  Yes, pits have a very strong jaw, but they do not grab on and then not release.  Stupid people with bad information.  But, this was not the part that upset me about this Richie’s story.  It was what she said afterwards that really disturbed me and put a score against her.  She proposed that we start a petition, as she had heard that another park had done this, to ban all pitbulls from coming into this particular park. And not only this park, but to start a movement to ban pitts in ALL dog parks.  Richies and their fucking time.  By the way, Bodie, the PITT mix is still playing with Daisy, gently.  I can tell that the Unemployed doesn’t know how to respond, but as her good nature would overcome, she would eventually agree to avoid a scene.  Oh yeah, the Richie also added that her and the owner of the pitbull got “into such a scrabble” that the COPS were actually  called to break it up.  The COPS.  Really?  Like they don’t have more important things to do than to go to a dog park and break up a fight between a Richie and an Other? Forget the robbery downtown boys, there’s a cat fight between two rational human beings uptown! Lets go! Ridic, much?

At this point, I have to interject, b/c I am so offended on behalf of my pup that I couldn’t just sit  there and ignore the proposal:

“Well,” I say to her “I guess I’ll just have to leave then.”

“Why’s that,” Richie asks with bright eyed astonishment.

“Because according to you my dog isn’t allowed in here.”

“Your dog! Bodie! He’s a lab!”

“No, actually, he’s a lab/pit mix.”

“Oh..well…” she pauses, licks her lips in embarassement as she watches her Daisy dance in circles with Bo,”He’s good enough…”

Conversation over.  I win.  And she’s been trying to make it up to me ever since.

Bo-Bo as a Pup

Bo-Bo as a Pup

From another time..

I don’t even need to say anything with these photos….They’re amazing…

Alexandre Ubeda

Alexandre Ubeda

Alexandre Ubeda

Alexandre Ubeda

Alexandre Ubeda

Alexandre Ubeda

Photographer: Alexandre Ubeda

Changing the World…

I want to be like her when I grow up:

Not all homeless like the “Soloist”……

I recently watched a movie that put my moral compass on trial.  Well, maybe not my morality, but certainly my humanity.  Bf and I decide to watch “The Solosist,” you know, the true story about a man whose homeless, but is this amazingly gifted musician and the reporter who found him, wrote a story about him in the “L.A Times,” and is now his life long friend.  Oh, and did  I mention that this homeless man is played by non-other than:

Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx

Which, when you think about it, would follow in the dictionary as the perfect definition for an oxymoron.  I mean, how many MILLIONS do you think he made from doing this movie?  Even if completely flopped, he still would be skipping all the way to the bank.  Must be interesting to play a homeless person when you know that you are probably the farthest thing from the truth.

But, that aside, the movie and story itself is actually very touching and like I said, put me to shame.  It almost made me feel bad about all the times that I cursed the mariachi band that, by no fail, seems to be on every train that I get on.  It doesn’t matter if it is one in the morning or ten at night it never fails that at some point in time in my trip that I am forced to hear the strumming of four guitars on probably one of the most acoustic platforms possible!  It’s like the music bounces of the walls! And if there aren’t any bodies in the car when they happen to play, forget it, buckle up, because honey, you’re at the Met and you have a front row seat!  NOw, I realize that these people aren’t homeless, but nevertheless, they are still begging.  And you have to think that this would be a last resort for a person.  That this act of begging would be the last thing anyone would want to expose themselves too.  The stares, the ignorance, the inconvenient and begrudging smirks of passengers that you endlessly feel on your backside as you pass your way through one side of a car to the other; knowing all the way that you are the reason people have closed their eyes, turned up the volume of their Ipod, or shifted their bodies forcefully out of your way as to avoid you at all cost.  I’m sure from the beggars angle it would appear as if they were Moses and they had possessed the power of God to part the Red Sea.

Now, I realize that as a New Yorker on the train you might not run away from the mariachi band, but you definitely turn a blind eye at times.  And you definitely have turned a blind eye to the homeless man sleeping on the bench in your car or the man with no legs, no wheelchair, who scoots on his ass using his hands to pull him forward, begging for money, claiming that his disfigurement is a result of being wounded in Vietnam. I know you have, because I’ve shamefully done it too.  I’ve become so hardened and dulled to the homeless that it doesn’t phase me when I pass them by.  It’s almost as if they’ve become part of the ground, the cement that they lay on, the flies on the walls. You forget that they’re human beings, you know, not just an annoyance or a drain on society or whatever opinion might be held against their favor.  I mean, I don’t even think twice when I pass the homeless man that sleeps on my block.  It think that I may have given him a second glance the other day when it was raining outside because I thought how awful it must be to have to sleep in a cardboard box with only a sheet of plastic to cover you from the rain.  But, the point is that I kept walking, kept going on with my life, kept worrying about being late to work, kept him out of my thoughts.  How is this possible, you wonder?  How is it possible to deny a human being the right of even acknowledgment?  I mean, these people had to of had lives before they became  so unfortunate.  It isn’t possible to be born into homelessness, I refuse to believe it, even though I know that this is the truth in some cases.  Some of these people, like Nathaniel Ayers, portrayed by Foxx, may have had a normal life, a steady life, and then something unforeseeable occurred and they were then so unfortunate as to end up living on the streets.

Actually, just to add a side note,  it’s interesting that I am talking about this because when I used to work in Soho, there was a woman who used to sit behind the building I worked in.  She couldn’t have been older than 25 and sure enough, when I would come up to the building,  I would see her.  I saw here everyday for about a year and never once did I say anything to her.  A couple of the girls that I worked with were so kind as to give her food every once and a while and by the time a year had passed, she looked as if she had aged thirty years.  There were days that I can remember walking by her and not even recognizing her.  She had grown dirtier, skinnier, and more disheveled as the days passed.  After about a year of seeing her everyday, she just seemed to disappeared.  I never knew what happened to her or what had even caused her to be homeless in the first place.  I imagained that there was no possible way that she had a family because if she had there wasn’t a reason that I could conceive that they wouldn’t come to her rescue.

But, back to my actual topic, I had been feeling pretty shameful after seeing the movie up until about two days ago, when in my new state of compassion, I was sitting on the F train, on my way to work when a visibly drunken man boarded the train.  Now, I don’t even look up.  I’m listening to my music, ignoring everything that is going on around me.  So, this man gets on and sits across from me.  I can already smell him.  BO, piss, with a dash of onion.  I don’t move though, I don’t want him to feel any worse than he already probably does about his situation  Why I thought this mattered is beyond me.  So I’m sitting, minding my own business, and I catch out of the corner of my eye, his body moving around rapidly like he was a pacing or something.  I mute my Ipod.  And apparently, he has been yelling at me the whole ride to the next stop!  Everyone has moved to the end of the car and now it’s just me and the drunk, smelly, old homeless guy! What in the hell am I supposed to do now?! I get off at the next stop, so there’s no reason to get up and stand by the door because that might give him the reason to actually come over and be next to me.  Atleast here a could bury my head and sink in to my seat.  The easiest thing for me to do would be to wait until the doors open and just simply slip out.  Oh and by the way, this whole time while I’m planning my escape route, he’s telling me that he’s going to kill me if I take his picture! “Don’t take my picture! I’ll f*cking kill you!” I don’t even have a camera, you idiot!  And you know, I’m not even really scared or worried about something bad happening, I’m just really pissed.  Pissed that I seem to be a magnet for homeless people (I’ve been mugged once).  Pissed at the other people on the train not acknowledging the fact that we have a crazy on board and completely ignoring my end of the train.   I don’t think he would of done anything, but still what if he had?  Ten bucks says not one person would buck up and help me out.  Luckily, the train doors open before the situation really escalates and all I hear as I leave the train is that it’s a good thing I got off because he would of hurt me if I hadn’t.  I flip him the bird as I exit the train.  Probably not the smartest thing I should have done.

As I walked away from the train I couldn’t help not have a sour taste in my mouth.  Had this one man ruined my renewed sense moral integrity?  Was I going to now unconsciously choose to go back to my previous ignorance?  I guess I’ll find out when I walk down my block.

Art by the Homeless:

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