New York

Why you should get bedbugs

What the heck is this new musical, Bedbugs!!!, everyone is talking about? I got to see it a few nights ago and I was blown away.

After losing her mother in a tragic bedbug accident, Carly becomes an exterminator determined to rid the world of bedbugs and avenge her mother’s death. Despite warnings from her lab assistant, Burt, she creates a deadly concoction to kill the bugs, but it winds up mutating them instead. Meanwhile, Canadian pop-singer, Dionne Salon, tries to resuscitate her career, but these  mutated, hyper-sexualized bedbugs threaten to kill off all of her fans. At Dionne’s concert, Carly must decide between the bedbugs who have embraced her as their creator, and mankind who blames her for the apocalypse. In the end, it is the power of love that saves them all.

The show was hilarious, but even more fun was watching the audience crack up. I’ve never seen people laughing and enjoying themselves so much. Fred Sauter has written an amazing and unique show. Paul Leschen wrote music that is so catchy and fun you’ll beg to buy a cd.

Everyone on the team (on stage and off) is so talented, but the three leads will blow you away:

Grace McLean’s sultry voice adds depth to her rock ballads. The last notes of Silent Spring will send shivers down your spine. Her transformation on stage will make your jaw drop. There are few actresses that can play nerdy, sexy, angry, rocker babe, but Grace plays it all to the extreme.

If you haven’t heard of Brian Charles Rooney yet, you’ll never forget him after this performance as Dionne Salon. His comedic timing is only matched by his incredible vocal range. He owns the stage.

Chris Hall’s performance as Cimex, king of the bedbugs, belongs in the leagues of Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show and Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig. His voice doesn’t even seem possible. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of him. I don’t know what’s cuter, his over the top facial expressions, or his latex-clad tush. His performance is made even better by the incredible custom designs of Philip Heckman.

I know this show wouldn’t be where it is today without the enthusiasm and perseverance of my mom, Dale Joan Young, as the lead producer. Three years ago she saw a production of Bedbugs!!! at a bar and even though all of us loved it we didn’t see the potential she saw. She has lost her voice, broke her leg, and invested her savings all in the journey of bringing this show to you.

I hope you run out and see Bedbugs!!! You can buy tickets here and use the code HesoBitten for a huge discount. It’s playing at the Arclight Theater in NYC until October 26.

Writing the Subway

nyc_subway_map

The New York City Subway System can be a hotbed for the worst of humanity. Here are two stories that always come to mind:

I was making my way down a crowded stairway to get to the subway. Foot traffic was excruciatingly slow because a woman was struggling to carry her bulky stroller down the stairs. A man pushed past me, and I figured he was rushing to help the woman with her stroller, but instead he ran past her and yelled, “if you make me miss this subway, I’ll kill you and your f***ing baby.” To this day I wonder where he was going to warrant such hostility.

Another time,  a homeless man asked a guy for spare change. The guy didn’t have any cash so he kindly offered up his Chinese takeout. The homeless man took the food and threw it against the subway wall. Greasy, stir-fried rice flew everywhere. Then he pinned the man up against the wall and yelled in his face, “Do I look desperate to you?” I was picking rice out of my purse for weeks afterward.

Oh the stories I could tell.

I love NYC but I oftentimes consider moving far far away after every sweaty, dehumanizing, sardine can-like commute. But, as a writer, I cannot deny the invaluable observational opportunities it provides (wow say that 10 times fast).

nyc_subway_13_2006_07_23

A few days ago I did a fun little writing exercise. I had a 90 minute commute ahead of me so I  took my journal and pen instead of a book. I picked a random stranger at each subway stop and wrote down as much about them as possible.  With over 25 stops I really got to hone my observational skills.  The subway ride flew by, and I was a better writer for it.

Here was my favorite observation:

A man sits across from me.  Slumped in his seat, his legs spread wide and his knees pointing toward the ceiling. He wears light jeans, ragged at the hem, a black knitted hat and a zipped up, navy blue parka. Three black plastic bags rest on the floor between his feet.

With sausage-like fingers he wrestles with a small, colorful, plastic wrapped object. He furrows his brow and sighs, bringing the wrapper to his mouth. He bites the corner off and spits it on the floor. His face glows and he smiles wide when he looks inside the newly opened package.

He dips his finger inside the package and pulls out a candy ring with a shiny red sucker. He places the ring on the very tip of his index finger, as far down as it will go. Licking his lips, he opens his mouth to reveal a glistening pink tongue. He takes the candy jewel in his mouth and closes his eyes for a long time.

I probably wouldn’t have noticed that bizarre little moment if I had my head buried in a book as I usually do. The next time you’re stuck doing something you really don’t like, see if there’s a way of turning it into a constructive exercise.

A Second First Impression

2012-11-07 22.09.12

Day 2 on the High Line

Since I got such a great reaction to my crazy idea, I decided to go out this past Saturday and try it again . My friend and I visited the High Line, which is one of my favorite spots in Manhattan. This historic, elevated railway line was converted into a public park in 2009. With help from a long list of high-profile investors (such as David Bowie), the High Line has become a great place to stroll along the West Side, 30 feet above ground, and soak up the indigenous flora of New York along side the glass and steel high-rises. They have great food vendors too!

2012-11-07 22.32.02

At the center of a crowd.

I was a little hesitant about taking this project to the High Line because they’re strict about street performers, but two separate guards came by to tell me that technically I wasn’t allowed to be there, but that it was so funny they would look the other way. The crowds started instantly.

Again, people could not fathom how I came up with this idea. Coming up with the idea was easy – actually going outside and trying it out, subjecting myself to potential ridicule and public shamming, was the hard part. I feel like I’ve invented the adult version of the lemonade stand; something that gets people to stop and say, “oh that’s too cute, honey, give her a dollar.”

2012-11-07 23.18.36

Giving advice on a handshake.

So far three different people in television have expressed interest in this idea. I’m not holding my breath, and I certainly didn’t do this to get a pilot, but I do love the idea that as soon as I got out of my comfort zone, opportunities just started presenting themselves.

2012-11-07 22.58.43

People tell me the funniest stories when I’m doing this.

At the end of the day, this is a lot of fun. Yes, I’m wracked with anxiety before I go out, but it’s easy to feed off of everyone else’s enthusiasm. There’s a lot of laughter and appreciation. Yes, appreciation.

I can’t believe how much people love to hear criticism. While I don’t critique things that people can’t change, I’ll tell someone they should try a different lipstick color, or  that their pants don’t fit them right. When they listen to this they look relieved. Perhaps they’ve wondered about the lipstick before, and now they finally have a stranger’s confirmation. Or maybe they just appreciate having someone’s undivided attention for a few minutes. I don’t know what it is exactly, but people are really enjoying it.

2012-11-07 22.37.13

At times I feel like a therapist. People really like to explain themselves during the process.

2012-11-07 23.21.16

I felt like such a mom telling this girl to keep her hair off of her face.

Where there is smoke there are bees? Part 1

I wasn’t able to write my mini memoir yesterday, but if you read the next two posts, you’ll understand why:

The weekend started off great. I had invited my writers group to my parent’s house for a mini writers retreat for the long 4th of July weekend. We met early so we could all sit together on the MetroNorth train. About ten minutes into the ride, the train lurched to a halt. This is quite common on the MetroNorth, so I thought nothing of it.

After about five minutes, people started opening the door between the cars and walking from the south end of the train to the north end. Still we thought nothing of this, because there were no announcements. Then we all smelled it. A burning acrid smell. Something was wrong. Just as quickly as we realized this, the crowd of people walking through the aisle doubled in size and urgency. A baby was crying, someone’s dog was barking, and everyone was shouting, ” run.”

We looked out the window and saw that the entire back of the train was covered in a gray haze. People were walking on the tracks, looking disoriented. Someone yelled at me to open the emergency window. Panicking, I fumbled with the emergency lock, but my husband, the ever-lasting boy scout, said that we should keep calm and wait for the announcement. After all, it didn’t make sense to open the window, and jump down ten feet onto the electrified third rail. Christina, who’s a trained yoga instructor, was telling everyone to breath. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget such a simple task when you’re panicking.

2013-07-04 12.16.04

I love that people are still taking pictures when they’re standing on active train tracks. Not a moment shall go untweeted!

After another ten minutes the conductor finally announced that there was a fire underneath the train, and that only one door had reached the platform so everyone had to move to the first door in the train. The fire was under control, so there was no need to panic. He told us not to use the emergency exits. I had had the brilliant idea of bringing our two cats along for the trip so they could have some fresh air for the weekend. Now I was stuck lugging them through the smokey train while they hissed and whined.

We were one of the last to get off the train. I was hoping that some sort of transportation solution would be figured out by the time we exited, but instead, there was just an angry mob of people who did not want to be stuck in the Bronx in 96 degree weather on the 4th of July. Through the grapevine, we found out that the fire was caused by someone throwing a mattress on the train tracks. The super flammable stuffing caught fire, and the coils tore up the machinery under the train. We watched as fire fighters pulled out what was left of a the mattress; a scrambled up piece of charred wire.

2013-07-04 12.41.23

This experience taught me never to bring cats, dogs, or babies on the train…and only pack what you can carry.

One emergency worker told me that the trains would not be running for at least two hours. My cats, nor us, could handle the heat for that long. I flagged down a cab, and since he had no idea where my parents’ town was he offered to do it for $70 (normally it would cost $150). As I was talking to the driver, a man next to me said that his friend was picking him up  and they could drop us off in my parent’s town. Hallelujah!  Four of my friends squeezed into the taxi with my cats and they drove of north. Mike, me and Christina waited for the guy’s friend who was apparently lost.

An older woman asked if she could join us on the ride. It would be cramped, but who were we to turn her down when we were given this unexpected gift? The friend showed up twenty minutes later, and the four of us scrunched into the back seat.

On the ride up north, we talked about our 4th of July plans. It turns out that the woman had been born in France, but lived in the states for the last 20 years. The driver and passenger were both from Pakistan but were now U.S. citizens. I couldn’t help but appreciate  that on this day of celebrating America, we were in a car filled with immigrants that represent one of the things that I love about America: diversity of cultural backgrounds.

My dad met us at the train station and whisked us off to the BBQ. I found out later that our train arrived in the station five minutes after us.

Stay tuned for part 2…it gets worse.

Potatoes, Santas, and Christmas Lights

Last Friday I wanted to surprise Mike with a walk through Dyker Heights Christmas Lights, but I got sidetracked  On the way there, Mike mentioned that Papaya Dog had the best french fries in NY. I could not let him get away with such a bold lie, so I delayed the Christmas lights extravaganza for a fry off. First we went to Papaya Dog on 14th st and 1st ave, and got his lame excuse for fries (can you tell I’m biased?):

Mike eating the Papaya Dog fries

Mike eating the Papaya Dog fries

A close up:

I must admit I've had these fries sober. They're a great late night snack after dancing

I’ve only ever had these fries after a long night of drinking.

Then we walked down to Pommes Frites and got real fries. Located on 2nd ave. between 8th and 7th st, this has long been my favorite spot for fries. Twice fried, they are crispy but they maintain the potato’s integrity. My eyes say it all:

2012-12-15 19.03.08

I was begging Mike to take the picture quickly so I could start gorging on fries.

Not only are the fries amazing, they also have over fifty delicious condiments to try. I always recommend the sweet mango chutney, but I’m also a fan of ketchup and mayo.

2012-12-15 19.00.21

So many options! They’ll let you try any condiment for free.

I was the clear victor, but Mike was stubborn and clung to his claim. Well I’m writing this post, so I won.

As we walked back to the subway, painfully stuffed with fries, we noticed a ton of Santas walking around. Apparently it was Santacon, and we did not get the invitation. It must have been very confusing for little kids to see so many Santas all at once, especially the Santa throwing up next to the dumpsters.

This was the saddest Santa I saw

This was the saddest Santa I’ve ever seen.

I guess he wasn’t invited to the party:

Who knew Santas love BBQ?

Who knew Santas love BBQ?

After another 40 minutes on the subway we got to Dyker Heights which is known for putting on quite a spectacle. I will leave you with these pictures:

2012-12-15 20.33.22

2012-12-15 20.34.25

2012-12-15 20.54.54

2012-12-15 20.46.46

My favorite one.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!