Lena Dunham: “Something I feel about being in your twenties, which is different than Sex & the City…about women in their thirties, who had successful careers, pre-recession, the best most supportive friends. The characters on our show are tortured. If you ask a girl in her twenties ‘Are you a happy person?’, I think she can say ‘I have happy moments…’ Maybe people will radically disagree with me, but I don’t really think it’s possible to be an at peace human when you’re between 22 and 30.”
A few favorite lines:
"[The Beat Generation] was basically a religious generation on a [spiritual] quest. Though they rushed back and forth across the country on the slightest pretext, gathering kicks along the way, their real journey was inward; and if they seemed to trespass most boundaries, legal and moral, it was only in the hope of finding a belief on the other side."
"But then they danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…"
"This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do."
"…the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York with its millions and millions hustling forever for a buck…the mad dream—grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities…"
"I want to marry a girl so I can rest my soul with her till we both get old. This can’t go on all the time—all this franticness and jumping around. We’ve got to go someplace, find something."
"Lucille would never understand me because I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop."
"…feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night…I wished I were a Denver Mexican…but what I was so drearily, a "white man" disillusioned."
"Dean was directly in front of [the tenorman] with his face lowered to the bell of the horn, clapping his hands, pouring sweat on the man’s keys…[he] was in a trance. The tenorman’s eyes were fixed straight on him; he had a madman who not only understood but cared and wanted to understand more and much more than there was…"
"…[the tenorman] began singing ‘Close Yours Eyes’…he looked at us, Dean and me, with an expression that seemed to say, Hey now, what’s this thing we’re all doing in this sad brown world?…here we were dealing with the pit and prunejuice of poor beat life itself in the god-awful streets of man, so he said it and sang it, ‘Close—-your—-’ and blew it up way up to the ceiling and through the stars and on out—-‘Ey-y-y-y-y-y-es’"
"Ah hell, you never cry."
“You say that? Why do you think I don’t cry?”
“You don’t die enough to cry.”
"I realized these were all snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered, stabilized-within-the-photo lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, or actual night, the hell of it, the senseless nightmare road."
My hometown made a sad but hilarious appearance near the end: “[Laredo] was the bottom and dregs of America…contraband brooded in the heavy syrup air…cops were red-faced and sullen and sweaty, no swagger…we felt awful…”
Reminded me of my Dad: “…and the old men, the old men are so cool and grand and not bothered by anything.”
On Mexipeople: “There’s no suspicion here, nothing like that. Everybody’s cool, everbody looks at you with such straight brown eyes…and in that look all of the human qualities are soft and subdued and still there. Dig all the foolish stories you read about Mexico and the sleeping gringo and all that crap and all it is, people here are straight and kind and don’t put down any bull.”
"In my madness I was actually in love with her for the few hours it all lasted; it was the same unmistakable ache and stab across the mind, the same sighs, the same pain, and above all the same reluctance and fear to approach."
Trailer for the film:
Out of disbelief, had to read this multiple times and make sure I wasn’t hallucinating:
Two weeks before the show, we learned that May 19th was the season finale and I got the best call at work when Amanda let me know that “MICK-FUCKING-JAGGER” was hosting. Luck at it’s finest.
DAY 1 - 5/16
Neighborhood kitty making me feel guilty about leaving.
JFK. New York greeting me for 9th time.
We met a bulldog at a liquor store who gave us a cold & appropriate ‘fuck you’ welcome to NYC.
The Occupy movement still repping in Union Square.
Trivia night + free pizza at Crocodile Lounge.
Show time. Devendra Banhart & John Norris were amongst the attendees. Laughed at $15 drinks and even more at a $9 “special.”
What I anticipated would be a ‘too cool for school’ type of crowd turned out to be screaming/sweating passionate crazies. My favorite was a man getting pushed in all directions, holding up his drink, yelling “My beer!” with an expression on his face that would make you believe he was trying to save a drowning child.;
Danced, got shoved around a lot, had beer spilled on me and enjoyed every second.
Don’t worry. Leon’s shoe was safely recovered.
DAY 2 - 5/17
Amanda sheltered us in her Midtown abode. I walked to Rockefeller Center from her place for Christ’s sake. She rocks.
1 WTC coming along nicely. Will eventually become the tallest building in the US at 1,776 feet.
Fanelli’s Cafe, nourishing since 1847, including as a speakeasy during the prohibition era. Having read this only weeks before, we totally eyed Bob Bozic while we were there.
'Rolling Stones 50 Years in Photography' exhibit at Morrison Hotel Gallery.
Ryan McGinley’s ‘Grids’ exhibit…
…and ‘Animals’ exhibit.
Came across a cycling class. “Cardio is your life! Cardio IS your life!” As a huge fan of Vice, spotting Hamilton Morris on the subway immediately after this is noteworthy.
Found an art gallery on our way to Highline Park.
Late night drinks at Session House.
DAY 3 - 5/18
Cafe Lalo, of ‘You’ve Got Mail’ fame, but was more intrigued by it’s Parisian influence.
Walked over to the Museum of Natural History & watched ‘Journey to the Stars’ at the planetarium with 100s of rowdy school kids. Whoopi Goldberg, as narrator, covered stars, the sun, time, and we wondered if we should’ve been under the influence.
'Squid & The Whale' anyone? Reminded of Jesse Eisenberg & the time my girl Belinda proposed to him at Home Slice Pizza.
We were able to get a private tour of the NBC studios & offices thanks to Amanda’s friend Stacey who works for NBC.
Elevator floor. “I’m standing where Tina Fey has stood.”
Jimmy Fallon & Dr. Oz were filming while we were there. Stacey had warned us to keep cool in case we ran into any actors & I didn’t think we’d come across any until whaddya know, Andy Samberg walks right by and smiles at us. After taking a peek at the muppet pipes, walking through the hallways of SNL, Jimmy Fallon, etc. the tour was over and as we waited for an elevator, Fred Armisen walked up and proceeded to wait with us, not looking at anything but his phone. Although unfiltered me would’ve yelled “I love you!” and given him a bear hug, we all pretended we had no idea who he was and somehow it was still awesome.
After 37 years, the walls at SNL are lined with tons of photos from past shows, guests, cast members, etc. However there is one that is singled out, deservedly has it’s own wall & apparently will never be taken down. Even though photos are not allowed, absolutely had to sneak one of it. Original cast:
Headed over to Astoria to check out Museum of the Moving Image and met up with the wondrous May Syeda.
Annie Hall ♥
Trippy spinning sculpture that would become an animation under strobe lighting.
Magic Wands @ Webster Hall ♥
A few years ago, Amanda and I stepped onto William Beckett’s tour bus to deliver a bucket of ice so it was a fun coincidence to cross paths with him again.
Stopped by Artichoke Pizza where we wolfed down pizzas alongside Zoe Kravitz. She reminded me of a pic I had taken a few days earlier. Oui ♥
Then Amanda had an amazing exchange with the manager that landed her a new job. “Are you guys hiring?” Manager hands Amanda a menu and tells her to “get a table.” After Amanda got a group to sit at a table in a matter of seconds: “Be here at 5 o’clock tomorrow.” You go girl.
Hit the dance floor at Piano’s and was reminded of how unaccustomed I am with NY straight shooters: “HEY YOU’RE CUTE!”
Get on your dancing shoes.
DAY 4 - 5/19
Adoptapalooza @ Washington Square Park. Cute puppies and kittens galore.
'Of An Instance' exhibit comparatively featured work by Jeremy Kost and Andy Warhol.
Never seen the show or the movie but still:
Strangely, I had an overwhelming amount of anxiety as I walked up to 30 Rock. A place I’d been to before and even indifferently walked past suddenly felt like the center of the universe, waiting to swallow me whole.
This subsided when I walked in (an hour and a half before the arrival time of 10:15pm) and saw there was about 10 people already in line, ready to go.
Later, when Amanda arrived fresh off her first Artichoke Pizza shift, we wondered what Stacey’s “I requested VIP treatment for you guys” meant until a girl named Jen who was coordinating everyone cheerfully greeted us and pulled us out of the line which had grown to about 100 people.
We stood aside with a group of 7 and I stared at my ticket with amazement. Aside from learning that Jeff Beck, one of my favorite guitarists, would be on the show, we also discovered we had been hooked up with floor seats.
About an hour before show time, we were lead up to the main floor which was surprisingly calm. Next to props and various show pieces, we stood in the main hallway that leads to the studio with about 10 others. The NBC pages telling us no photos were allowed & to turn off our phones ended my personal visual documentation. So sadly, I have no proof of the moment Bill Hader slowly walked past all of us, smiling & smugly saying “Ahh important people…congratulations… congratulations…” Even funnier, he came by and did the exact same thing about 15 minutes later. Questlove, my sentiments exactly:
Incidentally, we were standing right across from Arcade Fire’s dressing room. Win Butler walked out at one point and as he came back, holding a red solo cup, he quickly glanced over everyone in line and what I’m assuming was my huge dorky smile lead him to smile back & wave at me, which I reciprocated. He then stepped into his room and before shutting the door, quickly peeked his head out and shot me another smile. Win Butler, you’re craycray.
About 30 minutes before the show is when things started to get busier. More production people walked up and down the hallway and we started to hear the house band play. Moments later, a man came out to lead us into the studio and suddenly it. got. real. We proceeded in single file and the closer we got to Studio 8H, the louder the band got. As we walked into a dark pathway and into the studio, the main stage was already entirely lit up and the band was blastng a jazz number (what I imagine entering a new dimension is like). I’ll always remember Amanda’s reaction: “OH MY GOD THIS IS HEAVEN. WE ARE IN HEAVEN.”
This initiated my non-stop smile for the next three hours. Trying to speak above the band, an NBC page practically yelled “How many?” at me, took my ticket and pointed at a woman on the floor who was seating people. She too asked “How many?” and we were sat in the center of the third row which was only a few feet away from the stage. The second level bleachers were already filled with attendees and the first thing I noticed was how small the studio was. The floor alone only sat about 30 people and the second level only had about 5 rows of seating. I believe Stacey had said capacity is less than 200.
Jason Sudeikis came out and gave us a spiel about what was about to happen, which was so funny it seemed more like a stand-up bit. It was interesting to learn that the stage left corner seats of the second level can not see the main stage at all. Afterwards, a producer warned our section: “At the end of the show we’re going to use these seats and I’m going to ask you guys to stand up. Not now, not until the end of the show, I’ll let you guys know but just be aware of that”, which seemed exciting and in a way, felt like we were part of the show.
My phone off, I wasn’t sure what time it was but as a dozen crew men began setting up for the opening skit I figured it was close to 11:30. It was amazing to see them in action throughout the show, setting up and tearing down entire sets in a matter of minutes. Same thing for the camera crew, all of them running back & forth and adjusting as needed. The show ran like clockwork but with an underlying sense of urgency. Despite everyone’s quick pace, Lorne Michaels, resembling a kind of God in a light tan suit, walked around the set slowly. When he received a few cheers from the crowd, he responded with a quick wave and smile.
Show time. Everything got still and quiet. All the lights went off except for a set to our right where Fred Armisen was smiling, waiting for his cue, and looking extremely casual for someone who was about to be on live TV. A camera man gave a countdown. “10, 5” *point* and we all cheered like maniacs.
The opening credits and any other pre-recorded snippets were shown on screens around the studio. Here’s Amanda and I’s heads as Mick Jagger stepped out for his monologue.
The second it was over, a woman forcefully pulled Mick off stage and they ran off together while dozens of crew men flooded the floor for the next skit. This would repeat for the rest of the show. Seeing Mick running around, you’d never guess he’s almost 70.
"Lazy Sunday" being one of my favorite digital shorts, I thoroughly enjoyed their revisit with "Lazy Sunday Part 2". "How you wanna pay Chris? Go dutch motherfucker!"
As they were setting up for the first musical performance, I was surprised by all the celebrities that came out of the woodwork & appeared in the back of the room, including Jon Hamm (now in his regular clothes), John McEnroe, the lovely couple Emma Stone & Andrew Garfield, the main cast of Parks & Rec, former SNL cast members Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Chris Kattan, Will Forte and of course the significant others of current cast members Olivia Wilde, Joanna Newsom, and my favorite Fabrizio of The Strokes. They crowded all around the floor area behind us and I felt a bit weird that we had a better view than they did…although from where I was sitting I couldn’t see ‘Yo Nikolai!’ on bass. Win Butler before the cameras started rolling: “LET’S GET CRAZY” They performed ‘The Last Time’, I danced along and noticed all the a-listers behind us do the same.
Seth Myers, seconds before he went live: “I need a 7, a 3, and a 2” and all he was hilariously given was “5” *point* Stefan is one of my favorite characters and although I didn’t think his lines were that funny this show, it was still a treat.
My 15 minutes y’all. That’s my smiling mug during commercial break as well as Lorne Michaels on the far left.
Being a music festival aficionado, ‘So You Think You Can Dance At An Outdoor Music Festival’ was perhaps my favorite skit of the night.
The A-listers all stepped out again for Mick’s second performance. I wasn’t overly excited about Foo Fighters but the second they kicked off ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’, I lost it. They transitioned into ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)’ and I couldn’t help but notice Amy Poehler rocking out next to us, jumping, dancing and singing along like no one was watching.
'The Californians' skit was on the far left side of the studio and behind cameras and crew, we couldn't see very well but I still freaked out over Steve Martin. For a second, I thought the cheering would never end when he stepped out.
And then there he was, the same man I had gushed over just a few years ago at Bonnaroo was suddenly only feet away, backed by the SNL house band, his daughter on bass and with one of rock music’s greatest on vocals. Surreal.
In a frenzy, the crew began prepping for the last set of the night and in the midst of all the hurrying, the producer who had warned us before the show didn’t immediately remember to remove us from our seats. As soon as he did, he nervously exclaimed, “Oh yes everybody up everybody up!” and we all got up & moved to the back of the studio. I wonder if that contributed later to a small camera slip up. On the left:
Now in the back of the room, I suddenly found myself standing beside all the celebrity attendees and coolly acting like I had no idea who they were. I thought “Jon Hamm is standing right next to me and I’m ignoring him. What is going on?” What’s strange is that no one particularly stood out, except Olivia Wilde. I recognized her from Tron and what catches you off guard are her eyes…so piercing I had to do a double take; it also didn’t help that her hair was now blonde. But other than that, everyone’s enormous success didn’t quite seem to match up with their subtle presence.
Kristen Wigg’s farewell was moving, with Win & Regine singing ‘She’s A Rainbow’ & ‘Ruby Tuesday’ along with the cast & guests. Had I lost my senses, I would’ve ran up and joined them.
We stayed after the cameras stopped rolling and everyone continued to emotionally hug & chat. It wasn’t until a man made an announcement, that we all began to exit. Passed Fabrizio in the hallway and noticed Win Butler walk out of his dressing room and say to himself “And it was a very small room.” Took as a souvenir:Photo by Amanda Gordon
It was about 1:30am now and we numbly walked out of the building unsure of what to do next. We stood outside with dozens of people who were waiting to meet God knows who. There was a commotion when these kids came out so I snapped a photo. Apparently they’re the cast of iCarly.
…next to Rockefeller Center and the Prometheus fountain. The entire cast was there, with family and friends. We noticed Questlove in a corner, Aziz Ansari, Gabourey Sidibe, and dozens upon dozens of prominent-looking guests. I had a recurring “I don’t belong here” qualm that made me want to hide in a corner but I liked how Amanda didn’t even hesitate to serve herself a plate of food. And with an open bar, I didn’t complain. Here’s Dave Grohl all up in our faces:
And the one and only, Mick Jagger:
He’s still got it!
Photo by Amanda Gordon
I couldn’t get ‘Miss You’ out of my head for days after he performed it. I recounted this night to one of my co-workers who now refers to me as “Mrs. Jagger”
Photo & video by Amanda Gordon
For the rest of their set, Foo Fighters played cover songs. Will Forte came up on stage and sang ‘Fairies Wear Boots' by Black Sabbath.
Forgetting the lyrics…
Photo by Amanda Gordon
Then Dave Grohl went nuts, pressuring cast members to come on stage and sing. Amy Poehler did an awesome rendition of ‘Bad Reputation.’ It reminded me of her “I DON’T FUCKING CARE IF YOU LIKE IT” line in Tina Fey’s Bossypants. #GirlPower
♫ A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s what I’m gonna do ♫
Fred Armisen showing off his drumming skillz.
Kristen Wigg sang ‘I Love Rock ‘N Roll’ and ‘Come Together’, along with Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis.
The rest of the night consisted of Amanda & I gracefully playing the part of invited guest, trying to conceal our excitement by not acknowledging actors, getting pulled onto the dance floor by some older men, and a run-in with Nick Thorburn who earlier this year had guestlisted me for his Austin show in a random meeting at Whole Foods. He made a remark that made sense considering it was now 5 in the morning: “Everything’s going in slow motion right now.”
As the bar gave their last call and the crowd began to thin out, we decided to call it a night, and what a night! Amanda complimented Dave Grohl as we were leaving, and he responded with a “Thank you” and a bow. Walking home, we couldn’t completely wrap our heads around what we had just experienced. The sun rising, we went up to Amanda’s rooftop, and enjoyed the skyline for a moment. We joked that life could only go downhill from then on, and decided that maybe the closest we’ll ever come to being that happy again is by getting married or having a child. MAYBE.
And here’s Amanda’s equally descriptive account of the night: http://amandafgordon.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/studio8h/
DAY 5 - 5/20
They took the words right out of my mouth:
Had brunch at a place in the West Village called ‘La Bonbonniere’ that reminded me of Nuevo Laredo.
Brooklyn time for Googa Mooga at Prospect Park. We had GA tickets but with a hustler security’s help, we got into Extra Mooga, the VIP area that allowed us all the free drinks & food we could consume + plenty of shade.
Crif Dogs living up to it’s ‘NYC’s #1 Weiner’ reputation + yummy Tia Pol pulled pork and the pink gin drink we couldn’t get enough of: EDIT: This was a cucumber-strawberry fizz concoction from Pegu Club.
Lauren double fisting as we waited for Anthony Bourdain.
The man of the hour!
Right after sharpening a fan’s brand new cooking knife:
Anthony recommending a hangover cure. “…smoke a joint.”
I’ll just pretend this was the moment Mr. Bourdain fell in love avec moi.Photo by Amanda Gordon
Spotted Topher Grace while waiting in line to try a Pat LaFrieda cheeseburger…
…and when this came out 2 weeks later, I wondered if he shot it that same day:
Insanely good. It reminded me of our visit to Minetta Tavern during CMJ a couple of years ago so I wasn’t surprised to learn that Pat LaFrieda actually provides the meat for Minetta Tavern as well as Shake Shack (the second best burger I’ve ever had) and now the 10th Best in the US according to National Geographic.
Sorry sensitive vegetarians, but I had to:
Hall & Oates + Questlove & I still ending up at the same places:
Noticed this handy cookbook.
Tried this which I’m sorry to say tasted like a roll of pure salt.
Big Gay Ice Cream dance party! Soon as I stepped in, a drag queen handed me a popsicle.
"My heels are sinking into the dirt!"
DAY 6 - 5/21
A little taste of Paris on the UES.
Flavors. They also had a Hello Kitty line.
Guggenheim for the Francesca Woodman exhibit. Reminded of this: http://vimeo.com/14194717
Favorite. Picasso’s La Moulin de la Galette “…he immersed himself in art galleries as well as bohemian cafes, night-clubs, and dance halls of Montmartre…[this painting] reflects his fascination with the lusty decadence and gaudy glamour of the famous dance hall…”
Screaming Mimi’s. Loved how all the clothes were organized by decade.
Got bloated at Vanessa’s Dumplings. It’s scary appearance isn’t representative of how good it was.
Pooneh’s playful introspection: “¿Que es mi?”
Arlene’s Grocery for ‘Live Rock & Roll Karaoke.’?
A NYer being ultra creative:
DAY 7 - 5/22
View of Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge.
This reminded me of a scene in Oliver & Company, one of the first movies that sparked my interest and love for New York.
Shake Shack, the best parting gift NYC has to offer. Thanks Manda!