We Are The People (Jimmy2sox Remix) – Empire Of The Sun
Two years ago I went to my first fair in LA. As a Shamwow salesman. Obviously.
Sold my first Shamwow to a Neo-Nazi. Mighty.
Also did a bit of moonlighting as a carny. We all have a dark past.
Exactly two years later, I went to my second fair. As an author. Peddling my book.
All aboot the baby steps! LA Book Festival all the way! On over the weekend in USC. Huge affair. Thousands of people at it. Time to shine! Spread the good word of Randumb! Time to sell some books to… Convicts? What? OK… Continue Reading »
I will not lie, it is ridiculously hot in L.A at the moment. Record temperatures I do believe, so finding the energy to stand, never mind write, is tough enough. I will plough on though, can’t let down my two fans! (Wrong fans I know but its too hot to think straight. You might say I’m thinking gay. Oh Jesus.)
The other day I was watching part of Sister Act 2. Whoopi was telling Lauren Hill something like… “If you wake up thinking about singing, then you are a singer”. This led me to ponder what I think about when I wake up. Lately, it has been writing and DJ’ing. Plus, as most guys do I would presume, women. Well most guys outside of West Hollywood at least. So, using this logic, I must want to be a writer and a D.J. And a woman. Logically. One thing, however, that I have yet to wake up thinking about, are Shamwows. We have not gotten off on the best terms as of yet.
Sunday I was meant to be working all day, from 10 in the morning until 11 that night. Seeing as it was the worst carnival ever though, this was cut down to starting at 5 until whenever the last person left. Sunday afternoon I went to the gym, met my two fans, and headed home. On the way home, while waiting to cross the street near my house, this homeless guy asked me for a dollar. He entertained me with a few horrific jokes but as he made the f so I forked over a dollar. Still no sign of the green man, so I asked him how much he had made today, seeing as his bucket was fairly full when he stuffed in my dollar bill… $35 in about 3 hours he told me! What the funk?!!! The previous 2 days I had made $15 in 12 hours! A homeless bum was doing better than me, it was soul crushing to say the least.
Apparently, the bums do really well here, its unreal. They are all connected, on the phone to each other, where’s good today, where’s slow, rotate spots etc. They have an organizational structure it seems, ha, weird enough. I gave the bum my C.V in case any positions became available, fingers crossed!
With that in mind, I went off to resume life as a carnie and a Shammy salesman, with the intent of at least making $35, I could not be beaten by a homeless dude! And, surprise surprise, I made $150 in 3 hours!!! I was delighted… spoooooof. I was well and truly beaten by the bum. In about 4 hours I made a grand total of… 2 sales, let me add that up quickly, I made $12. $3 an hour. The bum made 35 in 3, he’s on almost $12 an hour, ha, what am I doing with my life?!
One sale was to a couple, after we had packed up everything and were almost gone. The other sale was to a very pleasant chap. Seemed like a nice guy. If you ignored the Nazi aspect. And he hadn’t shown me the tattoo of Hitler on his back. But he did, so he ruined the first impression I got of him. After I made the sale to him, he came back for some small talk, the carnival was horrendous as I said. He asked where the Shammys were made… In Germany, and you know the Germans make the best stuff right?! (I had the spiel learnt off to a tee). “They definitely do, are you from Germany yourself?” No, I lived there for a year though, I go back as often as I can (I did live there, but I don’t go back as often as I can, most depressing year of my life). “So you like the Germans? You like their style and beliefs?” Ah, yeah? I suppose, what? The Germans make the best stuff right?!
I get the feeling he must like Germany, or German women or German products, perhaps I could get him to buy another set of Shamwows. So I praise Germany and all its products to the max – great cars, great women, great rap, ha, and great Shamwows, you might as well buy another set buddy! I see that he is warming to me liking all things German. He wants to know if I can speak German, I sure can Junge, wie gehts?!
This pleases him immensely, I think I can seal the deal on another sale, and jokingly give him a “Ja, voll!!!” About this time, he nods me a knowing nod, as if we’re both in on a secret, tells me that he certainly does know the Germans are the best, and lifts up his top. He is covered in tattoos, but the one he wants to show me, is the Hitler one covering his back. Oh sweet Jesus. He is a Nazi, or neo-Nazi, whatever it is, I didn’t stop to ask which he was. This is no longer banter and small talk. This is now me making sure I don’t get curbed by him. I quickly realize that we are actually close to where the movie American History X is set, no lies, it is nuts! He pulls his t-shirt back down, and turns back around, waiting for me to say something. Eh, cool, that was a nice tattoo you had of an angel on your shoulder, oh you weren’t showing me that one. Did I mention the Shammy holds 21 times its own weight in water, ja? Oh mein Gott in Himmel!
Thankfully his girlfriend had seen enough of the carnival and came back to drag him off. He gives me the rock fist to say goodbye, I accidently give him the Hail Hitler salute in anticipation. No curbing for me. I should really have taken the Shammys back off him and given him a refund when he revealed his true nature. I took the money over the moral stance though. You would too if you knew a homeless bum was making more than you!
Here’s another tremendous mix I located recently… In The Air Ce Soir by Phil Collins vs Yelle
After being delighted with myself and pumped after job number one (rocking out my gym as the new, unpaid DJ), it was time to rush home and get ready to start my second new job of the day, I was putting in the double shift already! Job number two involved me being a Shamwow salesman, although the version I am selling is the Super Shammy if I am to be technical (same product, different name). For those you don’t know what the Shammy is, watch this video again to refresh the cockles.
On the way to the fair, where we would be selling the Shammys (although I was told I would need to do very little, they will sell themselves!) I was given my sales spiel to learn off and filled in on what the job would involve. Basically, there are festivals, fairs, carnivals every week where people set up stalls and stands selling different products. There are usually fun fair rides there as well. Wear what I want, outdoors, get a bit of a tan, free ride on the big wheel, it was sounding like the greatest job ever already! All I would have to do is stand there, let the Shammys sell themselves by giving people a demo run through and the commission would be filling my pockets to the brim. I was pumped.
However, and there is always a however it seems, once we got to the festival, I saw it was not as glamourous as I had imagined. For anyone in Cork, I would describe it as being a hybrid of Funderland (but smaller) and the Coal Quay (but worse, if possible). For everyone else not familiar with either, it was like a really crap carnival. And it was then when I remembered who worked at carnivals… carnies! Wuu huu, my dream of becoming a carny had finally come through! (Although technically I was one before when I made wax hands for people in an amusement park in Ocean City but thats another story).
Coincidentally enough, I have recently (well, recently-ish, I wasted 2 hours over Christmas and I would not recommend you do the same) watched a documentary on carnies and their daily lives. Highlights include incest, lack of teeth, and a version of English even more hubbula hubbula than mine.
These people were not to disappoint. Characters like those above were floating about in the shadows, more behind the scenes folks. A few dodgy stares, and hubbulas were given until they realized you were one of their own for the next few days and they welcomed you into the family. The other sellers were a bit more upscale. As we set up our stall, I noticed the people to our right were selling shoes. Shoes that looked like they were all well worn in, but not in a vintage way, they looked dirty and second hand, but still expensive somehow. When have you ever gone to a fun fair with the intention of buying shoes, that are more expensive than ones in regular shops, and look like the seller just walked through a field in them, took them off and put them in front of you?!! The stall behind us were selling water bottles that sprayed you in the face as you took a drink, which was not a joke bottle but meant for practical use. The competition did not look great. Super Shammys were kings of the carnival it seemed. I could see the envy and respect in the eyes of the other carnies.
At least the banter was good with the other carnies. One older lady, who liked to rub my stomach as she spoke to me, freaked me out that she wouldn’t stop, asked me “Where did you get that accent from?” Eh, my Mum. This confused her no end, so she decided to pinpoint different countries, spot the odd one out… “Are you from Australia?” No. “England?” Nope. “Liverpool?” Ha, how did you guess that was the country I am from?!!!
Another carnie folk gave me an authentic Irish ornament she had made and was selling for an extremely high price, it is too weird to describe. Well, it is literally two small hazelnuts on top of each other with a leprechaun hat on top. Not too weird to describe actually at all, just plain weird and I had no idea how it was remotely “authentic Irish”. I’m sure she made a fortune from them.
Our stand was set-up, my sales pitch was down, the sun was shining, the carnival had just opened, 30, 000 people were expected over 4 days, if I sold 20 a day I would be making over 100 bones and at times you might sell 20-30 in an hour, I was pumped. Next step was just to wait for the people. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. And no-one showed up. I did two demos for people, who turned out to be carnies from other stalls, and at the end of each pitch they asked if they could have them for free, in return for a slice of pizza and my palm being read. No thanks, and bob hope!
Apparently, now and again, between the really good shows, there are these off kilter, bad ones where not many people show up. But you still might sell 20 in a few hours at least. And at other times, there are really slow shows where you might only sell 20 in a day. And then there was this time, described as “The worst and biggest joke of a show I have ever done or seen”. Which was great seeing as it was my first day, but at least not really too unsurprising for how my luck has been. I made no sales in 5 hours, it was horrendous. The season pro in charge, that I was working for, also made no sales in 5 hours, so at least it wasn’t just me. Still though, this did not console me in the slightest. It was a great feeling going home that night, knowing that after working a total of 7 hours that day, I had made no money, whatsoever. In fact, I had a net deficit of money for that, after splurging out on lunch, ha.
The next day, the outlook was that at least it could not get any worse. How could you do worse than no sales. I actually thought of plenty of ways of doing this, ha, but thankfully none of them happened (e.g, while giving my demo, I would spill coke all over someone watching it, and have to give them free shammys to make up for it). About an hour in to the shift, I made my first sale. Strangely enough, to two guys about 15, God only knows why they bought them but I didn’t care. In the next 4 hours, I sold one and a half more (buy one, get one free, would you take half the price for just one, sold). The place was still like a ghost town, so nobody was around, it was horrific!
Seeing as 30, 000 had been promised, I had been upgraded to using a microphone headset as well to broadcast my booming sales pitch. This back fired slightly, when after one guy walked away, who had presumed and insisted that Scotland and Ireland were the same difference, I forgot about the microphone being on and called him an ape. Luckily he was all talk and I had the carnies to back me up, ha. We stick together.
At the end of the two days, I had to count my money and tot up my total. It took me all of 5 seconds… 2 and a half sales, I made a grand total of $15 for a total of 12 hours work, including both jobs. Actually, now that I think of it, seeing as I spent $15 each day on lunch, I came away with a net total of -$15. I wonder how much I will have to pay out when we get our bonuses.
Here’s a cool remix for the gym which I stumbled across while getting ready for my DJ set. Black Hole Sun (Chew Fu Remix) by Soundgarden
Finally, a day to write home about. Today has been a turn-up for the books – productive, full to the brim, and almost nothing weird or stupid happened. Almost.
In L.A, it is all about the meetings. Meetings and projects. Everyone is having meetings, working on projects, or having meetings about projects. I too have meetings and projects everyday, but my projects seem to involve meetings that do not benefit me in the slightest. Not today though, the tables were turned.
I was up at the crack of dawn, about half 9, for a meeting I had this morning. Jumped out of bed, forgetting about my leg, and thought it was about to snap like a twig when I put weight on it. Down like a sack of potatoes I go, wasting valuable time. Not wanting to be late (again), I started to multi task to try and make up on lost time. This went well. While brushing my teeth, and listening to some spam voicemail on my phone, I decided to go to the bathroom at the same time, how hard could it be. Hard enough standing up with a brittle leg and dodgy knee. Phone on my shoulder and pressing my ear down on it to hold it safe, toothbrush in my mouth , and hips maneuvering around, things started off well.
Lasted about half a minute. My bathroom window is located across and a bit below somebody’s sitting room in the building next door. When I looked out the window casually, I saw a girl on the phone looking out her window. Our eyes met, I got a bit of a shock, the sudden movement sent a shudder through my knee, which caused me to buckle a bit, phone falls off my shoulder, I reach out to grab it, at the same time the toothbrush drops out of my mouth, I forget to reach for this, catch the phone, my toilet catches my toothbrush. The girl can see all this, I have no curtain in my bathroom, good work out of me. Flush the toilet, fish the toothbrush out, will I rinse it, ha, no, better dump it. Actually, on my budget a toothbrush is a luxury item, will I rinse it… no, I think she’s still looking, better dump it to keep up with the Joneses and all!
No time to waste mourning the loss of a dear friend, I scuttle off to my meeting. The meeting is with a writer/mentor guy I have met before who gave me great advice. Which I did not heed as much as I should have. I am given one last chance, make the meeting on the button for 11, good sign. I have my assignments ready, some are okay, I get grilled on other sections, it is brilliant though, exactly what I need to hear. I am then given an outline and map of what I need to do. I now have a list of 19 bullet points of things I need to do to get where I want to be. Some are big, others are small, but if I cover all bases, do what is required and what I know now is exactly needed to do, I think I can get to where I want to be. Which is a savage thing to have laid out in front of you. These bullets points range from stop being a procrastinating ape, to neutralizing my accent at times to make sure my point is not lost in translation. Every aspect was covered in the two hours. It was savage to hear it all. After the meeting I was funking pumped.
When I get back to my house, things got even better. I am offered a job from Thursday until Sunday. This day is going superbly well and its not even 2 o’clock. The job actually pays money too, depending on how many items I sell. And what is it that I shall be selling…? Shamwows! For anyone who doesn’t know what they are, enjoy this video.
Should be funny enough, I must study the guy’s facial expression and enthusiasm to make sure I sell enough of them to make some bobs. Shamwow on!!!
I was on a roll, surely I should just cut my losses and go to bed at 4 in the afternoon to make sure I didn’t ruin the day. However, about an hour later I find out that one of the acting classes I went to audit before I was in Mexico, are offering me to audit a few more classes if I like. Once again, for free, so I surely will (the classes cost almost $100 per class if you break it down so getting them for free is highly recommended). It is in the Lee Strasberg acting school, the scene of all the crying and nutters that actually turned out to be good in the end (if you don’t remember, read the madness here).
The class I am auditing is for TV and Film Acting. Sounds perfect. Except for the fact that, once again, the acting studio has no air conditioning, it is like a sauna. However, besides that, it is far and away the best class I have been to, it is brilliant! The teacher is young compared to all the other teachers so far (late 20’s), and he is definitely the best. No crap or bulls**t like all the others, his advice is spot on, and the direction he gives after seeing a scene once is savage, improves all the actors who are involved. Plus he gave interesting side stories, not boasting like some of others (for example, Heath Ledger used Clockwork Orange as his inspiration for the Joker, used to be playing all the time in his trailer during filming).
A downside was sitting next to a gimp, who kept eating popcorn and slurping a drink, claiming to not understand me when I asked him to stop, I am still working on the neutralizing part of my accent. And he kept, kept, kept panting and saying “Hmmmm” for no apparent reason, to himself. He was the spitting image of this dude from the Big Lebowski.
A German guy livened things up a good bit too. He had a scene prepared, which he actually did well, bar the fact he couldn’t make himself cry for the big finale. After the final effort he had at doing it – Cuuuut, next week maybe Jurgen – he freaked at himself that he couldn’t cry, and ended up freaking so much that his eyes watered up and he left the room whimpering, two minutes too late though. It was nuts but a good laugh to watch. Especially when he got some criticism and advice mixed up, lost in translation. The teacher told him… “You should treat your acting like the act of foreplay, don’t rush the key part and get it over with too quickly, build up to the crying part”. To which he got very offended by, and shouted out that he loves to eat the…, just ask his wife. Ha. The awkward silence that followed was worth going to the class alone, although myself and Jesus next to me couldn’t stop laughing. I have a bucket load of savage notes as well from the rest of the class, 4 hours long and only the last guy wasn’t the May West and a bit boring.
While reading over the notes I had taken on the hobble home, I missed a dip in the path, put all my weight on the bad knee, and faltered like James Brown. It was at this time, while kind of holding my knee and trying to recuperate, on the side of the street in the gay neighborhood that I live in, that two gay dudes in an Escalade pull up next to me, surely to see if I was alright. Window rolls down, a fat gay dude pops his fat gay head out “Hey baby, are you working?” Huh, yeah, how did you know? I got a job selling Shamwows toda… hang on a minute, what the funk do you mean?!!! “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, we thought you were, drive…” and the two apes drive off in a hurry. It’s only when they have taken off in a hurry that it dawns on me what had happened, the dopes. Although, although, it was haunted that I got the good news of the Shamwows job earlier that day, things were looking bleak! Ha. Hang on buddy, I never gave you the price list!!!
All in all, a productive day I must say, I need my sleep after it. Must just brush my teeth first. As I said, I am not yet living the lap of luxury to afford such things as new toothbrushes, so looks like it will have to be the toothpaste on the finger trick for a while. Song of the day… The Plot by White Rabbits
My first few days back in L.A have been rocky to say the least. I was getting body blows from all angles. Firstly, I had to pay rent, blow to the stomach. Secondly, I now had to pay for the gym, that bastard, blow to the kidneys. All of this and still no job on the horizon. I was then told by someone in the know to check out if I could even act or audition here while not having a long term visa, cheap blow to the mid-section.
Finally, I was hit with some really hard news to take. While I was gone, I missed out on a big game of poker in Robbie Williams’ house, which was fine, until I was told Slash was playing! Slash, how many times would I get a chance to play poker with a Guns & Roses dude?! Upper cut to the chin, I was reeling and only back a day or two!!! I’ll ignore the fact that they were probably not all playing for the usual $10 a man pot I play, so not sure if my budget would’ve allowed me to take up the offer anyways. I’ll ignore that though.
I decided I would sleep the body blows off, it’ll all be rosy in the morning. However, it was then that I realized I need new sheets and pillows, the ones I had been using were no longer there. Using my great improvisation skills, I used a slightly wet hand towel as my pillow the first night, and my very damp bath towel as my sheet, almost covering me down to my waist, I was sorted! Although sheets and pillows were luxury items on my new budget, after that great sleep, I felt they would be a good investment. It was only when I got to the shop, saw the prices, and checked my budget, that the FEAR showed up and started to win the fight. I could afford one pillow, and a sheet. Maybe I’ll try to rob a homeless guy’s blanket on the way home.
Second night back in L.A, depleted of money (I bought food as well – a loaf of bread, 2 eggs, 1 can of tuna, a banana, handful of nuts, and a yoghurt, hopefully all of that will last me a week or two) and fighting the FEAR, I decided I would start being smarter with my money, start to economize, focus on what I could afford and needed. So, when my roommates asked me to join them in going to a jazz night at a club, I played my smart card, and declined. I was looking forward to trying out my new sheet and pillow anyways.
Woke up the next day, and I am informed I missed a great night, jazz was really good, place was cool, do I know Prince? Not personally, but yes, why so? Oh, he was there as well, jazzing it up. I prefer Michael Jackson anyways. For some reason, it was at this point when I decided to give up worrying. Funk the FEAR, I will beat you off (not in the West Hollywood way, but you know what I mean). I had missed out on poker with Slash, and now a night of jazz with Prince. I was resisting L.A, trying to be smart, use my head, think things through, economize, plan ahead. Thats not what L.A was about for me, I had to get back to basics, back to being dumb and going with the flow, stick to what you know!!!
Rent was paid for the month, I had bought time at least. I was in hobo heaven, a poor man’s paradise! So what if E.T was calling me to go home, I must plough on! Acting might not be the immediate route, but writing is free to do wherever. Looks like its back to getting free acting classes too, I could still do it! Who cares if the sheets I bought are actually meant for a single bed and my bed is a king size, so what if they don’t fit, it all be alright! The minute I stopped worrying about the funds, if I was goosed, how could I afford the acting classes, should I buy new sheets, etc., bits and pieces started to fall my way. Kind of.
While in the gym, after talking about music to the gay dude and how crap it is in the gym at times, there is now a chance I could get a job there as D.J during the day, ha, funking hilarious. I have to drop a demo in tomorrow. I also have a meeting with a guy about potentially running a night or DJ’ing in his bar/restaurant. I need to brush up on my mixing skills fairly lively. There is also now another possibility of selling Shamwows on the weekends, my career options are on the up!
More good news today. My roommate told me, if it ever came to it, I could act away as well without a visa, start off in non-union stuff, I should put up a resume on L.A Casting to get the ball rolling. Wuu huu, my acting career was rising up from the flames, Phoenix style! Seems I just have to remember to try not to be too smart and over-think things. I should have no problem with that so. L.A seems to have made me dumber anyways, or else I just get into more dumb scenarios when I go with the flow, or it could be a combination of all three. Wahey!
Song of this glorious, sunny day is I Feel It All by Feist, pump it up!!!