We're hanging at a karaoke bar, in the open Miami night air. This could get crazy.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Oops. In all the hustle and bustle of the show, I forgot to write an entry right before the show. But I will make it up to you, as I took copious amounts of pics and video during the show.
It was an energetic, exciting show. I tried my best to forget about my achy, tired body.
And there were pranks. They DID put up our picture on the screen, during the end of Nobody's Perfect and Miley cracked up. They also handed out Steve Martin heads on sticks and the first three rows put them over their faces.
And now we're all exhausted, sweaty and happy. Everybody's hugging everybody else and saying goodbyes. It's pretty depressing, but a lot of us are hoping to get together in LA.
For now though, we party.
We're soundchecking right this minute. I'm typing as I play.
Everybody's got their camera's out. It's like the last day of school. Except most of us are sad.
Miley wants to do some different songs tonight, so we just played through Clear and Bigger Than Us. Only problem is we have all the video and stuff locked in.
So, no changes here.
I like Florida. It's warm here. And I'll overlook the fact that it's full of airborne flu germs (this is not a scientific assessment).
I went out to the bus and rooted through my bunk, the closets and the bays, and realized that I've accumulated a lot of stuff over the course of this tour. And I think I've accumulated less than everybody else. The question though, "how do I cram all this stuff in my suitcase?" remains unanswered. I had everything planned out, stuffwise. I left plenty of room for the jackets, hoodies and things that I bought. But I was thrown off by the giant plaque. Plus, yesterday Vashon gave me a bunch of DKNY clothes that didn't fit him. I was grateful, but now it's a little tricky.
I finally got everything up to my hotel room. Here's where it gets interesting.
Also, we all know how I don't like to splurge on room service, but today I'm going for it.
Waking up. I couldn't sleep again, partially cause I was thinking about all the stuff on the bus I have to pack, and partially because I couldn't breathe. I took a decongestant and some Melatonin (medicate!) and eventually fell into sleep some time after 7am.
Now I'm just barely awake, and somehow my muscle aches are even worse.
Oh well. Lots going on today. The world won't stop for my flu! Now I just have to convince my body to roll out of bed.
Tonight's show in Jacksonville was a hard one. We were all very tired and I was having trouble just standing up. I've gotten extremely sick (but of course!) and I'm currently in the throes of King Fluvius!
Many of you have been asking if I'll continue blogging after the tour ends. Most definitely! I'll still be here, doing my thing. I hope you'll stay with me.
It's 4:30AM, and we've just arrived in Miami. The sun is rising, so that means it's time to get some shut eye.
But first, here's a quick pic of that sweet plaque (click on pic to enlarge):
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tomorrow, I'm going to attempt to do something I have no time to do, because I love you, dear readers, and because you love this tour.
Tomorrow is our very last day on tour, and I'm going to LiveBlog. This means I'll be writing blog entries from my cellphone as the day goes on, reporting the events as they happen.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, I happily invite you to come hear me play a solo set at Genghis Cohen next Friday, February 8th at 8pm. I'll be trading songs with the lovely Andrea Stolpe. We've got the stage for a full hour and a half.
So grab some grub (yummy Chinese goodies), hear some new tunes and say hello.
I just received a great New York Times article on the Hannah Montana concert, as seen through the eyes of an economist. Read it here.
Thanks to Paul Schreiber for the heads up.
If you'll note the time of this post, you'll see that I can't sleep. There's a train blaring past my window and I've been up for hours.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I feel like I'm gonna throw up.
Tonight was the wrap party at Disney Quest on the lot in Downtown Disney. It's basically five floors of video games, none of which could be called state-of-the-art, but most of which could be called fun.
After a few speeches, we were given gift bags, which included a Hannah Montana sweatshirt and a beautiful plaque, plus a little spending money. Very cool. Then I hung out with Josh Plotnick (The Great Tour Elf). We played a bunch of old school games like DigDug and Frogger. Eventually I was yanked away to check out some rides with Iggy.
So far so good.
The trouble came when we decided to design our own rollercoaster on the virtual Space Mountain ride. We designed one with tons of loops, barrel rolls, jumps and speed boosts. Somehow it still only got a 3 out of 5 Thrill Rating. Then we got to actually ride what we designed in a car that rotated, flipped upside down and jolted side to side. This made me feel a little queasy.
Honestly, I can't quite explain why we did what we did next.
We decided that we wanted to make a ride with a Thrill Rating of 5. So we threw in some nasty loops, a waterfall jump and even made the car break through a wall at one point. Somehow this still only garnered a Thrill Rating of 4. Whatever. Good enough. Iggy and I jumped into the car.
I want to re-stress that I have the flu and shouldn't have even left my hotel room.
Well. There was a discernible difference between a 3 and a 4. This time around was a relentless, stomach-churning nausea-thon.
We disembarked, and I nearly disembarfed. I held it together, but felt totally "off" for the rest of the night.
The whole bus ride home was like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride through Seafood Queaseville.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Last night was the "little party at Candice's." Or at least that's how she presented it. We were picked up at the hotel by a big stretch Hummer limo, complete with an indoor laser show. When we arrived at the gorgeous Accola compound, we enjoyed an elaborate spread of quail, conch fritters, fondue and fried turky, which is super delicious. I made a playlist (for this very occasion) and tried to include something for everyone, which meant some Posies and Nirvana for the band, some Amy Winehouse for the dancers, and a little Neil Finn for myself.
It was quite the happening event. Lots of toasted marshmallows and toasted crew members.
Thank you, dear readers, for inquiring about our health.
Miley definitely had a rough time last night. She was feeling very sick and actually left the stage at one point. We weren't sure what to do, cause this show runs like clockwork, but that's why we have a Musical Director. Stacy was on the ball and told us to go into "Right Here," so we vamped and goofed around for about three minutes till Miley came back. Candice busted out some genius phrases along the lines of "let's make some noise for Miley to come back out!" A stagehand pulled out a bench for Miley and she performed "Right Here" sitting down. It ended up being quite poignant, and we all had fun being spontaneous for a change.
I hear Miley's doing quite a bit better today. She went with a bunch of the dancers to Disney World and had a little adventure. Sounded cool. They got to go in the back entrances of the rides, and were allowed to ride them twice in a row if they wanted. And they had a van drive them to each ride. That is the way to do Disney World.
Kay is much improved today. She looks like herself again. Stacy seems fully recovered. Me, not so much. I feel like I got hit by a truck with spikes on its wheels. But I still had a great time at Candice's barbecue. I'll tell you more about that later.
But for now, I must sleep.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
My shiny new flu has kicked it into high gear. And why not, cause we've just arrived in Florida. As you may remember, I was very sick last time we were in Florida, and this feels like the exact same flu. Muscle aches, terrible sore throat, etc. Not a good time. But Candice's barbecue for cast and crew is tonight, so I've gotta pull it together in a few hours.
You guys asked for more video, and how could I deny you?
Occasionally during soundcheck, we like to change it up. Stacy pulls an American Hi Fi and becomes lead-singer guy, Jamie puts down his guitar and plays drums and we all join in playing some random tune.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Last night, at the Cajundome, we dressed inside a basketball.
This is also the dressing room for the Ragin' Cajuns, who are on a winning streak, I'm told. I like the little orange outlets in the bottom left corner.
Yesterday, we were working Everlife into the show, so we had a long soundcheck/rehearsal, in which there was much waiting. So we threw a Mini Cuddle Party.
Also laying on the stage, this note:
And after a long day of rehearsal and playing and driving, this was waiting for me on the windowsill in my room at the Ritz Carlton.
Friday, January 25, 2008
So that was that. Aly and AJ are gone. Everlife has joined us. We were definitely saddened to say goodbye to A&A's band. They were very nice guys and we were just getting to know them. Notice I only mention the band. It's not that A&A were mean, they just barely said one word to any of us. Whatever.
Everlife all seem to be genuine, sweet and kind people. We're looking forward to our tiny sliver of time with them.
We played Austin last night and Lafayette tonight. Now we're in New Orleans. And it's Mardi Gras! But we've all gotten sick again, so we won't be going out.
Yes, it's true. Stacy is still getting better, but Kay came down with a nasty flu within the last day or so, and now Jaco and I are feeling extremely blecchy.
But it's actually kind of great. Poetic. We were sick at the beginning, we're sick at the end. Oh, how I DO like symmetry.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Samantha interviewed Jonathan Coulton for our TV show. I'm a huge fan, so of course I was completely flipping out. During the interview, she had him call me to ask which song he should play on the show. I missed the call (I was in Georgetown, trying to get some sleep), but Jonathan left a message. I'm still bummed about missing it.
Anyway, when I got to LA, she gave me the Best Gift Ever:
Here's a sign from a Wendy's bathroom near Cal Poly. The very definition of irony.
Miley's teacher, Linda, has accidentally become my movie buddy. I went to see "Charlie Wilson's War" in Cleveland, and she was there for the same movie at the same time. So we watched it together. Fun! Then again in Georgetown, when I went to see "There Will Be Blood," we ended up at the same showing. I look forward to accidentally seeing something with her again soon. Here she is with my Mom at the Vegas show:
Billy Ray played with us at Vegas show #1. We love working with him. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Previously, my parents and all of my Mom's sisters joined the tour in Vegas. My Aunt Nancy actually lives in Phoenix. So the sisters all flew back with Nancy, and now that the tour has come here to Arizona, they decided to take me out to dinner.
My parents took me over to Nancy's penthouse, which happens to be in the same building as Senator John McCain. He lives a floor below her.
When we got there, the plans had changed. They prepared a lovely spread of healthy yummies.
I was then told that this was all for me! For my birthday. Belated. They had been planning it all along. They brought out all my favorite foods, concluding with boston cream cake that said "Happy Birthday Mike!"
They gave me the best birthday gifts EVER:
You really can't go wrong with that! They knew I wanted the Rock Band bundle, but of course the box is humongous and impossible to get back to LA, so this is much better.
I was really quite surprised and delighted and many many thanks to my family for the clandestine plotting and devious scheming. I loved it.
Okay, the clip below requires a tiny bit of setup.
Jaco likes to look at himself. He loves to have his picture taken. He also loves to then make that picture his desktop wallpaper, his phone background, and probably he would tape some photos of himself to the walls in his bunk if he could. During the show, he spends quite a bit of time checking himself out on the JumboTron.
Also, he loves to hear himself. I think his guitar has been creeping up in volume throughout the months.
The other day at soundcheck, Jaco was given a present, which also included some helpful instructions...
Sunday, January 20, 2008
We just finished a wonderful three-day run in Vegas. The longest run we've had on the tour. It was nice to stay in one place for awhile.
So what happened while we were in Vegas:
- Stacy got a bronchial infection. Currently coughing up neon green.
- Kay passed out and hit her head really hard on the floor. Freaked us all out.
- Almost all my aunts were in town, as were my sweet parents. Family reunion!
- All the Hollywood Records and Disney execs came to show #1. Scary. We were told to bring our "A" game. So we did.
- John Mayer came to show #2. Cool.
- Johnny Depp came to show #3. Very cool.
- We spent a night clubhopping, as Cowboy the rigger got us an amazing VIP booth at Moon and VIP treatment at some other clubs as well, and Jamie complained (in an entertaining way) the entire night.
- We had a big jam session in the desert, at drum tech Benoit's house, funking out with Aly and AJ's band. Dancers on drums, guitarists on bongos. A very fun mess.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The band and the dancers flew back to LA for the premiere of our 3D tour film. I took my parents. The three of us walked down the red carpet, and paparazzi were snapping pics of everyone but us. Which was, honestly, a relief. Everybody was out, from crazy screaming fans to big Disney stars (that I've never heard of).
When we arrived inside the El Capitan, we picked up our chunky 3D glasses and popcorn, in a big plastic Hannah Montana sand pail, with a handle.
I did think it strange that we all got super dressed up and spiffy, then proceeded to ruin the look with our big popcorn pails and glasses.
The movie itself was absolutely phenomenal. We were all very impressed. It was hilarious and fun and eye-popping, and really reflected Miley's personality perfectly. The filmmakers were very generous and gave copious and equal screen time to all the band members. I highly recommend everyone see it 18 times. Of course, I feel like I look like a total spaz in it, but I always hate to see myself in pictures and movies. Hopefully, you'll feel differently.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The new Chocolate Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper has officially too many flavors in one place.
Next week, Strawberry Licorice Castor Oil Pepsi!
Name your favorite new awful made-up flavor.
Monday, January 14, 2008
You can see me and the entire Hannah Montana cast in the upcoming "Best of Both Worlds" tour movie, coming February 1st to Digital 3D and IMAX theaters across the country! With additional behind the scenes footage, and closeups of all your favorite band members, in 3D!
This movie is the first to use brand new state of the art digital 3D technology. I saw a tech demo of it, and let me tell you, it's gonna blow some minds and melt some faces. This is 3D that won't give you a cross-eyed headache. The colors, the definition, EVERYTHING about it knocked me senseless. You are gonna love it.
Here's a preview:
Thanks to my readers for the heads-up on this.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
After being spoiled rotten by our day off at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, Michigan, yesterday's day off at the Hilton in Milwaukee left much to be desired. I opened the door to my room and my jaw dropped. Not much to the room. But I continued to discover brand new disappointments throughout the day. Here are the bullet points:
- The bathroom smelled like death
- The toilet was not a toilet, it was a commode (let your mind wander)
- The TV had only a couple channels - no Comedy Central, Bravo, VH1, MTV, etc
- I couldn't plug in my PlayStation, cause they bolted off the connections
- The internet was $10
- The lights were all fluorescent and made a loud hum when turned on
- The walls were paper thin and I could hear my neighbors on both sides
- In addition, I was serenaded by Jaco, in the room below me, all day and all night, bellowing at the top of his lungs
This however, turned out to be false, as I had a housekeeping woman knock on my door. Twice. Oh Hilton. Try harder.
So I thought, "well if the room is so terrible, I should probably go out." Yeah. Milwaukee's not so well known for their amazing shopping and culture. It was like a wasteland out there. And cold. So I asked about a theater. The concierge said, "we don't really have any around here." Isn't this supposed to be a city?
But now we're headed to Chicago to make up for it.
It was a year of greatness. It was also a year of surprisingly mainstream nihilism. While I liked some of it ("No Country for Old Men" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" were both very well-crafted) and I hated some of it (PT Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" was a bleak disappointment), the films that ended up on this list seem to live at the other end of the spectrum. The happy end. These are the movies I enjoyed the most this year.
A sweet, funny movie full of warmth, with characters of increasing depth. Featuring sharp writing and winning performances by Ellen Page and the entire ensemble cast, Juno is life-affirming without being cloying. One of the best movies of this, or any other year.
2. Paris Je T'aime
A collection of 18 short films by some of the best directors in the world, including The Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Gus Van Sant and Tom Tykwer, and featuring an amazing cast, including Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Gena Rowlands, Elijah Wood and Emily Mortimer. Sure, some of the shorts are better than others (several are brilliant and one is a complete disaster), but they only last six minutes each, and they add up to something magical. One of my favorite theatrical experiences in years. Just watching the trailer makes me cry now.
3. Knocked Up
Hilarious from start to finish, but with far more heart then these kind of movies usually have. Sharply says lots of uncomfortably true things about marriage and relationships. Judd Apatow has proven to be Hollywood's King Midas, and this year was particularly good to him. This movie works equally well as entertainment and character study, and holds up well to repeat viewing. Go Judd!
Two great films from two of our greatest directors. Tarantino and Rodriguez put together an amazing theatrical experience. A joyous, blood-soaked excursion through 70's-era splatter films. I'm so upset to hear that they're only releasing the two films separately on DVD, and that the incredible experience I had in the theater will not be duplicated at home. Boo.
Judd strikes again! Somehow, even funnier than Knocked Up, with hysterical performances from Jonah Hill and the dependable Michael Cera. And in true Judd fashion, there's a lot of heart underneath the constant barrage of jokes, making this teenage gross-out film fun for everyone.
A reinvention of the movie musical. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova star as singer/songwriters and in reality, they wrote and performed all the songs for the film. Sure, some people may find it a bit slow, but for those with patience, this is a rewarding and emotional film with an unforgettable soundtrack.
7. The Host
South Korea's biggest hit of all time, The Host is a quirky little monster movie with something to say. Truly different than anything we could/would ever make in the US. Scary, funny, sad and clever, and filled with great special effects. Seek this one out.
8. Michael Clayton
A challenging, mature thriller featuring a riveting lead performance by George Clooney. Eschewing shots of adrenaline, the movie is fueled by tension and layered characters. Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson are both heartbreaking in juicy roles. I was sad when this one ended.
9. Hairspray/Enchanted/Sweeney Todd - tie
2007 was a good year for the movie musical, and these three films were all great examples of why I love this genre. "Hairspray" cast its optimistic glow on the 50's and was a sugary sweet re-imagining of John Waters' classic. "Enchanted" was far more fun than it ever should have been, due in great part to Amy Adams charismatic performance in the lead role. And "Sweeney Todd" proved that musicals can be dark, gory thrill rides, too.
Let's get this straight: I'm not a fan of Keri Russell. In fact, I usually can't stand her. But she was lovely in this sweet little slice of arthouse film. It was written by Adrienne Shelly, who was actually murdered in her apartment in NY only six months before the film's release. It's a shame she isn't around to enjoy the acclaim she's deservedly receiving. Waitress is beautifully photographed, fun and a gentle romantic-comedy for these hard times we're living in. And it will make you hungry for pie.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Today feels weird. The Jonas Brothers played their last show with us two days ago in Albany. They're just about to embark on their own giant tour. We said our sad goodbyes and Ashlee cried and hugs were given and received. And now they're gone. And now there are a bunch of people we don't know (Aly and AJ + band), sharing the stage with us. They all seem really nice, but it just feels weird and different. I've always been averse to change, and terrible at goodbyes.
I'm sure we'll all become tight buds in the next two weeks that they're here. Right now though, I feel like an old man who's been living in the same house for decades, and somebody moved the salt.
On the final day of the DC/Baltimore odyssey, my friends Sarah and Joe Camp stole me away from the bus, and I rode with them to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, where we walked around and wasted time, in the fun way.
We found the coolest Barnes and Noble on the planet, which looked like something out of Bioshock:
And the contender for Worst-Titled Book goes to:
The show that night was crazy because our venue in Baltimore was not very accommodating. They gave us a tiny dressing room, which we could all barely fit into, so we thought we would just do what we always do with a crappy dressing room: spend our before-the-show time on the bus.
But not in Baltimore! They didn't want our buses on, for some strange reason, so they made us cut the power to all the buses. No TV, no lights, we even had to shut off our refrigerator, which made us concerned that our food would go bad. Not cool, Baltimore. And not pro.
Sarah and Joe and I just hung out on the bus anyway. In the dark. And talked. That was nice, for a change, anyway.
Because this show was so close to home, a lot of my friends and fans showed up. They were screaming, "Mike! Miiiiike!" And at first, I didn't notice because I'm so used to hearing, "Miley! Miiiiiley!"
It's weird to have fans. And honestly, it's even weirder that I have friends.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
The day of our DC show, I met up with my cousin Mark Henneberger, and his daughter, Danielle, at a local tavern.
Much catching up and much tour chat. While in this Georgetown tavern, Jamie and Stacy came in for lunch, and a few minutes later, tour manager Charlie and dancer Christina showed up. Within a certain radius of our hotels, we're pretty much guaranteed to see other show folks when we go out for meals.
But I digress. Mark is ridiculously smart, and designs submarines for a living. He employs about 1000 people. And Danielle works at a splendid towering Cathedral, of which she was happy to give us a tour.
Absolutely gorgeous. They held a contest to Design A Gargoyle, so we saw some really strange ones, like the Darth Vader gargoyle, and the gas mask gargoyle.
She walked us through the grand and overwhelming main hall, and then took us to the contrasingly dumpy basement area.
Dani works in the Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation. They're currently working on eradicating Malaria, which seems like a pretty good idea.
Also, we saw the very spot in the cathedral where Hellen Keller and her companion are buried.
The stainglass windows were some of the most beautiful I've seen:
Strangely enough, in this traditional old-world cathedral, there were brand new flatscreen TVs on every column.
Dani and Mark were joined by their family at the show later that evening, and afterwards we stopped at the Tombs for the juiciest burgers in existence. I still dream about them.
Okay, I just have to chime in about this body double scandal. For those of you who haven't heard, OK Magazine has published this story:
According to several fans who dished out hundreds of dollars to catch the young singer perform live on her current sold-out national tour, it appears Miley may be using a not-very-convincing "Hannah" double to cover for her during a mysterious mid-song disappearance from the stage.
"When it got the to bridge of the song "We Got the Party," her dancers began to crowd around her," one ticked-off Miley fan tells OK!. "Then they covered her with a black sheet and she went through a secret door. Within a second, a new 'Hannah' came out of a different door wearing oversized white glasses. The whole time this was happening Miley's vocals were still playing. The new imposter had her back turned while she danced, trying to hide that fact that she was not Miley Cyrus. At this instant I became very suspicious."
"Needless to say I was furious!" says the irate fan. "I paid good money to see the concert. I was disappointed and I felt like I was played for a fool."
This story has become sort of a big deal, and people are accusing Miley of being a fake. Let me state for the record that Miley is the real deal. She sings her heart out every night.
Let me also explain how entertainment works. Entertainment is not reality. We're putting on a show here. Doubles are used frequently in big shows like this to speed transitions. This does not mean that Miley is lipsynching. Miley sings the entire song but the last chorus, which is strictly a logistical solution. Think about it from the perspective of executing the show yourself. If Hannah has to come back out as Miley in ten minutes, and in that ten minutes, has to remove the wig, change clothes, and do her Miley hairstyle, an extra two minutes becomes very important. So she needs to get off stage early, but there's no way she can be singing while she's changing her clothes, so it must be pre-recorded. There's no way around it. These things happen all the time. People are comparing this to Ashlee Simpson, which is wrong. This is how these big shows are put together. But the difference is, most artists don't have exclusively teenage fans who don't understand how shows are assembled.
Miley is not on stage lipsynching. And as OK Magazine said, the double is not that convincing, and the dancers are obviously covering Hannah in a black sheet. Not really scandal material so much as a tiny show detail to notice. No one is trying to cover this up.
Long story short - hey kids: you enjoyed the show, right? Miley entertained you. Right? Leave it at that and stop accusing the most genuine, talented, sweet girl in the business of being a fake. Don't you have homework to do?
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Wow. I'm exhausted. It's been a wonderful whirlwind weekend of friends and family. We've been in DC and Baltimore - both right near my old neighborhood, so I tried to see as many people as I could.
We'll do these one entry at a time.
The first day in DC, I met up with my old high school buddy, Kevin Gift and his wife Laura. They have two sweet little babies now. Hallie, the smartest three-year-old I've ever met. She loves to chat. The second their car pulled up, she looked at me and said, "Hi Michael! Sit with me, Michael!" And then she wanted to hold my hand all night.
We went to an awesome restaurant where they brewed their own delicious root beer.
Little one-year-old brother Xander wasn't having the best of times, but then it's pretty hard to be a one-year-old. Takes a lot of work to do anything. Such a nice guy though. Here he is with his Daddy.
We all tried to catch up in a very short period of time (about two hours), as there's not a very large window when you have two younguns.
Then we went out and bought me toothpaste.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
The previous evening, I had given my hotel room key to my good friend, Ben Pedersen, so he could meet me to celebrate my birthday. After the performance with Miley, I left the ABC building and booked it back to the hotel room to find Ben watching the Jonas Brothers Rockin' Eve performance. It was pretty strange to see, on national TV, the place where I was only moments earlier.
We contemplated leaving the hotel and heading back to Times Square for the big ball drop ceremony, but it sounded like so much trouble, considering the massive crowds, the cold weather and the fact that we had a nice warm room with the very same thing on TV. Yes, we felt a little bit lame watching a broadcast from only a block away, but we were okay with lame.
Around 11pm I noticed that I was completely famished. And I had quite a hankering for some birthday cake. But we couldn't leave before the ball drop! So we waited.
Big countdown. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-Happy New Year!!!! Now let's get something to eat.
We thought maybe the bar downstairs would be open. Nope. Closed at twelve. So we ventured outside and down the street. It looked like a confetti factory exploded out there.
Times Square was total anarchy. There were policeman everywhere, "trying to keep order." Really though, they were doing the opposite. We saw an open-looking Planet Hollywood a block away, and headed that direction, following the rest of the crowd down the sidewalk, when we were stopped by a cop who said we couldn't go that way. I replied, "The people in front of us just did." To which he cryptically replied, "Exit only." How that applied to this, I have no idea. He said we had to go the other direction. So we did.
Only to be stopped by another cop saying, "You can't go this direction." And he pointed to where we just came from. I told him, "That guy just told us we had to go this way." To which he replied, "Exit only."
Okay whatever. So Times Square was out. Those people are crazy, and clearly have a strong desire to assert random unhelpful power.
So we started walking a different direction and noticed that almost every restaurant was closed. At this point, it was past 1am -- but STILL -- this is New York City! It never sleeps! Right? Apparently not true for New Year's Eve, which is the one night of the year they definitely should be open late. There were a couple places that were open, but only for private parties.
We found one cafe that was open and decided to try our luck. Our luck was not good. All the food looked really old and crusty. This was the place where all mediocre food goes to die. The Cafe of Broken Dreams. Oh, and there was no cake to be found.
After barely eating all day, playing an intense gig, and then walking for a couple hours, I was getting lightheaded. So I grabbed some yogurt. I was just reading about the health benefits of yogurt. And they said that plain is better for you. So I opted for plain yogurt.
I know I was hungry, but it tasted like paste from the dumpster. I ate a little, almost gagged, made myself eat some more, almost really gagged, and tossed it into an overflowing garbage can on the street.
We were feeling ragged and frustrated that we couldn't find one place in all of NYC that was open (other than the Cafe of Broken Dreams).
And then we saw it in the distance. Two blocks away. Golden arches.
Ben felt really bad about me eating McDonald's for my birthday dinner, but we really were out of options. I said, "At this point, I don't care. I'm just starving and feel like I'm gonna fall over." So we followed that golden beacon. When we arrived we saw that the entire restaurant was packed...but like, packed in a sardine kind of way that I've never seen in a McDonald's before. While I was okay with eating there for my birthday, I was not okay with waiting in line a half-hour for a stomach ache on my birthday.
So we thought, the only other option is to head back to the hotel and get room service, even though we knew the Mansfield was going to charge an arm, a leg, and two eyeballs for a piece of cheese. But at this point, a few body parts swapped for an hors d'oeuvre sounded like a logical choice.
I hated the idea that we left the cozy hotel room at midnight, wandered around for nearly two hours, withered, died, and returned to the room with nothing. But that's what we did.
When we got back, I was just about to pick up the phone for room service, when it occurred to Ben. "This is New York City! DELIVERY!" So we spent about fifteen minutes looking at places online, found a bunch of tasty restaurants and called them. Every single one was closed for New Year's Eve.
So, around 3am, I ordered room service. I'll miss my arm, my leg and my eyes, but we got some extremely delicious sandwiches, and the one thing I really wanted: Cinnabon Cheesecake.
Maybe this night sounds a little like a drag, but trust me, when you do this with Ben Pedersen, it adds up to one of the best birthdays ever.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Apparently my song "Forget You" was the most downloaded song of 2007 on Broadjam. This is pretty amazing and strange to me for a few reasons:
1.) Broadjam is a gigantic site with tens of thousands of musicians featured.
2.) There was a lot of good music in 2007.
3.) The song "Forget You" was just a demo that I never intended to release, recorded only as a tool for another recording artist (my sister) to learn the song. But my demo was featured on "The Black Donnellys" on NBC, and all of a sudden people just started downloading it and never stopped. I have recorded a brand new version of it with a string quartet for my upcoming album.
As Chuck Lee Bramlet said about songwriting, "You never know which one of your bastard children is going to wander out into the world and make something of itself."
Friday, January 4, 2008
Good ol' Iggy from the crew mentioned a few weeks back that I was sick frequently. His sweet readers became concerned about my diet. So Iggy has posted a poll, asking what you think I should eat. So, go vote. Only 22 hours left till the polls close.
In other news, this is all moot cause I've been healthy since before Christmas. I think I finally shook the unshakable cold.
New Years Eve was certainly the most bizarre birthday I've ever had. I woke up around noon (this part was pretty normal, unfortunately) and did the daily food scavenge. Didn't find much in the minibar. So I went back to Cafe Europa, where I had breakfast with Jae and Robin the previous day. "Stick with the safe choice!" That's what I always say. Who cares if you're in a city filled with a multitude of delicious options?
Then I celebrated my birthday by going to the Sprint store and activating my brand new (to me) Treo. Very exciting. While I was in a celebratory mood, I decided to swing by Best Buy on the way back to the hotel to pick up a Spoon record I really wanted. As a present to myself. I went in and found the CD immediately. And then I looked up and realized that Best Buy + NYC + New Year's Eve = NO. The line stretched all the way through the store and out the front door. So I put it down and left.
Later, we all hopped in the van (minus Candice and Kay who unfortunately were replaced by dancers for the day, as there wasn't going to be much room on our tiny rooftop stage). Luckily, Times Square was only three blocks from our hotel, so even with traffic we anticipated a short ride. Unluckily, the police re-routed us at every intersection in some cruel display of misplaced power. It took us almost 45 minutes to get there. Stacy and I thought we should just get out and walk, but for some reason, nobody seemed to want to. This was absurd.
We showed our top-secret Dick Clark passes and were ushered into the ABC building into a tiny room that (strangely enough) had a washer and dryer in it. This was our dressing room.
They brought in some Virgil's Barbecue, but I didn't really like it. Despite everyone saying it was some world-class restaurant, nobody really enjoyed the food in front of us.
Around 5pm, they escorted us all up to the roof for a sound check. It was freezing up there.
The dancers quickly cobbled together a routine, adapted for the tiny stage. We were all very impressed with them.
To our right, we could see that a massive crowd had already gathered in Times Square. However, we weren't performing to them. Though it looks, on TV, like we're facing the crowd, this is what was directly in front of us:
A lot of people, equipment, and (oddly enough) a UFC billboard owned by CBS. (Why was this on top of the ABC building?)
Stacy began arranging his kit, Jaco was playing with his amp, and I was setting up my keyboard, when BAM, they just started the ProTools tracks and we had to go go go. Nobody even told us we were playing yet and off we went.
Everybody felt frazzled but we got it together quickly. By the time the song ended, we weren't sure if we'd just done a rehearsal or a pre-tape. I think it was both. We did it one more time and then headed back downstairs to the warmth of the Barbecue Laundry Room.
Jack then notified us that we had five hours till the show. Great. Let's go explore! Except, ABC + NYC + New Year's Eve = NO. We weren't allowed to leave the building. The whole place was on lockdown. Nobody really brought anything to do. Except Jamie. He had a deck of cards.
So this is what the next five hours looked like:
Notice, behind Jack is Times Square. We had a great view of all the people wearing their red hats (sponsored by Pontiac!) and the acts performing. We had a TV in the room with a feed of what was going on outside. So we could watch Carrie Underwood on TV and hear the bass and the crowd screaming from outside, and poke our head out the window and looky -- there's Carrie Underwood!
Mostly though we just played cards.
At precisely 9:50pm, we were hurried back up to the roof. Tiffany gave us heating pads to stuff into our clothes. I had previously bought some cut-off gloves from H&M, and I quickly stuffed the pads into the palms. I thought I'd leave my coat behind since we were only playing two songs and I wasn't going to wear it during the broadcast (who wants to look like a puffy porpoise on national TV?).
Little did I know we'd be standing there for a full 20 minutes before we played.
As I froze my bony booty off, I enjoyed this view of the revelers:
The revelers happened to be reveling without any alcohol this year, as Times Square is dry for New Year's. They still seemed totally drunk.
We got a 10 minute warning. Then 5. Then 2 minutes. We were all waiting for the 5-4-3-2 countdown before we start playing.
It didn't come. BANG! The ProTools started again. WHAT!? We all just ran with it. Live television, ladies and germs! When you watch it, you might be able to notice that we're all a little surprised at the beginning.
Needless to say, Miley was great. She was energetic and a total pro in the arctic weather. She's a little 15-year-old powerhouse.
My fingers were frozen, and I had a painful hangnail on my thumb which I had to slam all over the keyboard. None of this felt good.
But what a thrill it was to look to the right and see us playing on all the Jumbotrons in Times Square.
And then as quickly as it began, it was over.
Here it is, as seen on TV (only grainier):
Then we all practically ran out of that building.
But the night wasn't over yet. Part Two coming soon.
Pardon the lack of posts lately. Totally not pro of me. I could make excuses, like: we had no internet at the hotel, I was tired, but excuses wouldn't...oh wait, I did just make excuses.
I'm not just behind on the blog. I'm behind on Myspace, Facebook, Pownce...and the list goes on. If you've sent me a message or comment and I haven't responded, don't worry, I will.
New Years Eve report coming later today. Now you can breathe. Don't worry. I would never abandon you.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
I've got a little catching up to do here on the blog, so I'll delve into the New Years' Eve stuff in a later entry.
Coming in to New York City, I had this great idea to try and get in touch with a bunch of friends, regardless of the fact that I had very little time to do this. After our first Newark show, I went out for a late night meal with Koo Chung, Jinny Kim (they're engaged now!) and John Bonaventura (who's also engaged now, but his girl wasn't able to join us).
They were part of last year's tour. You know, this one:
We talked about life after the explosion, relationships, work...everything. And had chocolate cake. John likes to drink his wine on the rocks. He says that every time he orders it, the waiter brings the ice in a separate glass, cause no one can believe he would want to ruin a perfectly good glass of wine like that.
I mentioned to Koo that I've been looking to get a BlackBerry, but it just kept not happening, and Koo said he'd just bought an iPhone and didn't need his Treo anymore. Bang! I've got a new phone. And I love it. I've finally joined the texting world of five years ago.
After going to bed much too late, I woke up much too early to have breakfast with Robin Lai and Jae Ko at Cafe Europa.
They were also in the band of said exploding tour. It was wonderful to see them again, and it really felt like reuniting with fellow trauma survivors. That giant Arkansas fireball bonded us in a strange and permanent way.
That same day we played our second Newark show, and it was attended by one of my very favorite people: Ben Pedersen.
Afterwards, we headed back into the city, had warm bubble tea and dumplings at Saint Alps Teahouse, walked the streets of the East Village, checked out the bookshops, and found numerous things to laugh at. Like this:
Apparently it was garbage night in NYC, according to this ubiquitous sight:
Once again I went to bed much too late, half expecting to feel sick in the morning, but I've switched to new vitamins, and I've been feeling good for a couple weeks now! Yay!