Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Thief in the (Oscar) Night

We decided to have an Oscar party at the bar that I have my Band practice (Guitar Hero) every Monday night. It was a good time in spite of the fact the the Oscar show itself was just awful. Who directed that show?! It was a mediocre student production at best. It was all played to the studio audience, but what about the other 700 million of us? I hated watching the clips through a camera looking at a monitor. If I wanted picture-in-a-picture I could do that myself on my own tv. Do you think all those fans around the world watching 13inch tv's (think Slumdog in the ghetto of Mumbai) could read even ONE name in the Memorium section? Please.

The only innovative thing was 
the 5 past Best Acting winners 
each intro-ing one of the 5 nominees. Sophia Loren is still breath-taking! Other than that, fire the director and get a new producer. I'm sure Bob Hope is spinning in his grave--
he IS dead isn't he?

We ordered food: Chinese, Thai, Pizza etc. Drank Oscar inpired named drinks and bet on the results (as we always do). What fun is watching if you don't have a stake in it? Re-claiming her throne as Oscar winning ballot-teer was JAMIE CEASER! Drats, I just missed. I thought I'd have a chance since Raymond was absent and partying in New orleans. It's hard to win if one of the 3 of us are playing. We actually go to SEE the movies!

After the Oscars were over some of us went to the back room to try out a new band--with SINGERS. I decide to take pictures of us playing. I put my camera on the table while I'm playing lead guitar (what else;). When we finish and decide to go to the Wild Hare to hear Gregory Issacs, my camera is gone! I'm told 'there was nobody here but your friends'. Hmm.

Let's back up. Earlier a shady character, aka an attention needy actor, shows up. He walked in totally sober and after 1, count them, 1, drink he was soooo wasted that he couldn't control himself.... See what I mean 'attention needy actor'. And suddenly someone at the bar's iPhone is missing. Maybe he left it over... no he had it at the bar...his buddies search and search as we play Guitar Hero in back, along with drunken actor, who kept f%@king with me while I tried to play. Yes folks I take my games very seriously so don't stand in front of me so I cant see what notes to play when I'm in the middle of a song. Geez. And I don't do needy--EVER

Meanwhile the guys that are searching, call the iPhone and can hear it somewhere muffled in the backroom where we are. They continue to search as we play on. Because I want to play the game and not play with him, the drunk actor tells someone that he doesn't think 'I like him' and leaves for the front room of the bar. Miraculously the iPhone rings louder and suddenly it is sitting between the two rooms on a ledge leading to the front. (Yes, they checked there earlier.) Hmm. 
Okay so my camera is missing with my pictures of me and Melvin Van Peebles from the night before:( We look everywhere, even in the trash and once again I'm told 'only your friends were here.' I'm beginning to hope one of 'my friends' accidently picked it up, but a woman who had been in the backroom (no, not one of my friends) and mentioned that she thought the drunk actor had it. Why? Then it all comes out about the phone and that he had berated the bartender, telling her she was not going to amount to shit because she was a bartender. Then, get this, he took a picture of them and left! 

But even with all this evidence NO one wanted to believe he took it. 

I think the owner of the bar believed it.  He was really angry and  he kept saying that the guy was a scumbag but he never thought...  He also promised to get my camera back or buy me a new one.  A new one won't have my personal pictures on it, it was afterall an 8G card in the camera--that's a lot of pics and info.

Too make a long story short....the next afternoon I received a call asking if any of my friends had returned the camera. Of course not. I was then promised to have my camera returned by the end of the night.  By 10pm my camera was back at the bar.  Seems Mr Needy Actor had indeed taken it.  After someone went to his house, because he wasn't answering the phone, he claims he thought it was his camera (yeah with the girlie strap & case attached to it) and he realized someone else was in the pictures so it must not be his. (He realized this when he got a visit about the camera!)

Why do I tell you this? Because this guy RUNS THE MIDWEST FILM FESTIVAL!!!!  He is a nut and he is dangerous, so watch out. BTW If you find yourself at the Midwest FF keep an eye on all your valuables and hands in pockets.  

Oh yeah, he deleted the pictures he took of the bartenders etc. but he DIDN'T go far enough back and delete the picture I took of him earlier.  So here he is (in the cap, also NOT his) with Michael. If you see him--grab your stuff and RUN.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Day 6 - January 21, 2009

Everyone’s packing, so of course we (me, Deb, & Lovette) go to the maul, er mall. There’s fresh coffee and last minute bargains to be had. When we get back we say our good-byes to the Crables and hit the road.

Still amazed at what we saw and experienced, the ride back was different than the ride there. No games, no satellite radio. Adrienne is driving. and as it turns out she knows the route well and had worked as a school bus driver, so she is handling it!

We make it back to Chicago 2 hours faster than we had going. (Thanx A) Along the way we drop everybody off with their bag of dreams.

Its Obamaworld now. I’m glad we went & we were lucky to get as close as we did without tickets—we were actually closer than many people with tickets.

Oh yeah, that’s the other thing—TICKETS….

After we got back I checked my work email and on the day we left I got a notification from Rahm Emmanuels office:
Thank you for contacting the Office of the Fifth Congressional District of Illinois regarding tickets to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. We are pleased to be able to provide tickets for you and one guest (2 tickets total).
He had 2 tickets to the Inauguration for me:-O Pretty funny, but oh well…
But let me say once again for the record:
I LOVE RAHM EMMANUEL! If he were a hat, I’d wear him;)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 5 - INAUGURATION DAY- January 20, 2009

We get back to Sonja's around 4:30 am. Everybody (else) needed a nap. Sonja is up and ready to take the first ticketed group to the inauguration--they need to be there early. Sonja tells us to sleep for a minute and she'll wake us up when she comes back, then she'll drive us as close as she possible can. So I end up sharing a bed with a stranger (not the first time you say;) who came in from California.

7am-it's finally time time to go. Jack is so excited he's up and jumping around like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. He's walking around with his camera taping everyone sleeping and preparing. (see video below)My poor sis Sonja hasn't slept at all, but sleep deprived she drives us as close as she can.

Deborah, Jack Shirley and I start making our way through the LARGE but managable crowd. I spot a familiar face in the line and ask him a few questions about lines and tickets. We have a laugh and I walk away. Jack looks at me in amazement and ask if I knew that was the actor Ed Harris. Duh, yeah and he's married to Amy Madigan. Hey it's that kind of day.

We walk and walk and WOW-look at all those people. But hey we're from Chicago we know crowds. Uhh we do, but the DC cops don't. The traffic people and cops DON"T HAVE A CLUE!! At this moment I miss Chicago. My hats off to Chicago police and the CTA and almost even Daley (that's going too far) for having a plan and executing it. A mere 1.5 million people, we handle that in my neighborhood after a Cubs game...

The DC cops are sending people in the wrong direction and a massive crowd is headed into an already packed tunnel and everyone is stuck. We look in horror at the crowd and when we turn around Deborah is gone! I tell Shirley & Jack that we've lost Deborah and Jack says sadly, "Oh she was such a nice lady."

We follow another cops suggestion to go down the street, turn the corner and we'll get there. At this point you say why are we listening to a DC cop? Yeah, yeah we end up on that street with 100K people for almost 2 hours before a couple of guys climb poles and directs traffic on 3 streets as the cops look on amazed.

Finally free from that nightmare, we get to a gate. After 45 minutes of opening the gate, no closing the gate, uh wait let's open the gate, no only ticket holders, ok the gate is open...we finally get in. Bag check, body check, throw your water away--oh I get it airport security is here. AT LAST (Etta don't kick my ass) we are in!!!! It's only been 3 hours and 23 degrees but we are here.

There's excitement in the air, a group happiness--in spite of all the hassles.

Soon as we get in the motorcade passes right by us. the OBAMAMOBILE!

We are very close but on the side. We didn't realize how close we were until we saw a picture of the entire crowd and we were closer than most people there.

What an AMAZING moment in history! No, not the inauguration--I mean ARETHA'S HAT.

After I finally catch my breath (and clutch my pearls) I thought I'd hallucinated a glittering sparkling ballot box shining above Aretha--representing how far we'd come and how bright our future. Who was I kidding its RE-RE and her hat maker feeling like a natural woman...

It was hard to hear the speakers (but RE-RE didnt need no speakers, that

hat is angled to naturally amplify the sound) so people had radios, tv's, phones. The echo was fun.

This was one of the proudest moments in our country's history. It is hard to believe that a brilliant Black man with a brilliant Black wife and wonderful children, is the leader of the free world. Everyone is trying to hold back tears--cause it's cold and tears stick.

After the Hat and the Inauguration, Rev Lowry was a cherry on top. Opening his speech with the words of the Negro National Anthem--those lyrics also make me cry.

The 18 (or was it 21?)gun salute was pretty funny cause the first couple of shots (we couldnt see where they came from, we couldnt see the monitors) people had a look of panic in their eyes. By the 3rd or 4th shot none of the cops had moved or seemed concerned so it must be okay. Oh yeah, now we hear the cheers. All's safe (this still IS DC). But the best moment of the day came when Bush left in the helicopter and everybody cheered.

2:30pm and emotionally spent, people are leaving.

We're being directed to Union Station, which is great, it's right up the street and has plenty of shops and restaurants. Most people have been standing ouside with no food for at least 6 hours and we are happy but famished.Walking thru a happy crowdwe see hordes of people standing outside and all around Union Station. THEY"VE CLOSED ALL THE SHOPS & RESTAURANTS AT 2PM. Are you frigging kidding me?We are a capitalistic society and ther's capital to be made. $1 from everyone is 1.5 Million dollars. What--CLOSED! (I hate to keep bring up Chicago) But, in Chicago they'd be out IN Front of the restaurants with to-go carts.

I see why our economy is sooo bad and government screwed...if these are some of the same people running the government the way they run this town....

Not prepared for the crowd? This is WASHINGTON, DC for goodness sake. Large groups have been coming here ALWAYS & FOREVER. Get a clue. No wonder they can't find a state that will take them in.

We finally find Deborah again. Jack has made his way to Sonja's. Now everyone is back and exhausted (except me) soooo I go to a party with Sonja and Mom (yes, Sonja has had a little sleep by now). They sleep and watch balls. Except Adrienne who WENT to one of the balls.

We bring back lots of food and cakes. "Celebrate good times, come on. It's a celebration..."

That's it, we were witnessess to history. Nothing to do now but leave tomorrow. They make me turn down an invitation to party at the embassy because they're tired and want to rest for the road. We pick up Lovette from nearby and head back to Maryland to pack...

Day 4 - January 19, 2009

When we came in at 4:30am the thermostat read 47 degrees so naturally I turned up the heat and lay down while I waited for it to warm up. I wake up at 7am in all my clothes and I am FREEZING! The thermostat now reads 45 degrees. Something is wrong. I try everything, to no avail. I decide to go turn on the heat in the van and sleep there, but first I go across the street to the other house to see if I can wake anyone and/or maybe sleep there. Luckily Deb wakes up and goes to investigate. I head for the spare (warm) bedroom. It seems the pilot light went out. Workers had been there earlier and the dust they generated killed the pilot. Deb went into the room Shirley was sleeping in and covered her with another quilt. The next morning Shirley woke up and said she’d dreamed she was freezing to death and an angel came and covered her. Deb’s been called a lot of things but this time-- “Just call me angel of the morning…”

Tonight we tape the HBCU Ball, that’s Historic Black Colleges and Universities for all of you who Negroid impaired. It is at the Sequoia Restaurant on the waterfront. This was truly a ball! The music was great, the DJ had the place rocking. Nothing like Black folks throwing down in formal attire. Add to that Sarah Dash, of LaBelle fame, singing. And then Rahsaan Patterson took it to another level—his voice like honey butter.

But for me the best was meeting a woman I love and admire. I think she is one of the most underrated actresses of our time, Ms. Debbi Morgan. You may know her as Angie Hubbard of All My Children fame or in her brilliant performance as the psychic sister in ‘Eve’s Bayou’. So of course I did my BA thing (check the series of pictures)

1. Meet


3. New BFF! (This time I was actually telling the truth when I said I wrote this role for her) She gave me her info and told me to send her my script;)

Our next stop was the Ethiopian Embassy to hang out with the Ambassador and friends. It’s funny because the Ethiopian Ambassador and my good friend, an ex-Chicago city commissioner, both have the same exact name and are the best of friends, Sam Assefa. So we are hanging out with the 2 Sams, one Sam’s wife, Desta from NYC, the famous Ethiopian model Liya Kebede is upstairs sleep (it’s only 2am) and others are in and out.

We have so much fun—laughing and talking (& drinking). The house is amazing. We are actually in Ethiopia when we are there. The only negative about the house is that it is next door to Donald Rumsfields house (oooh we’ve been slimed). We are all excited about tomorrow morning and the inauguration. Wait, its 4am so it’s THIS morning. We need to be there in an hour. Call the driver we’ve got to go…

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 3 - January 18, 2009

My Godparents are in town (I lived with them when I was a kid (& thought I was grown), in NYC, the boogie down Bronx. So we head in to Sonja’s to see them. Evan’s glad to see his only Grandpa & other Grandma. Mom & Pops are happy to see him too.

We go down to the Capital where the inaugural concert is going on. The military is out in force with tanks, horses, combat troops—you name it, they are there. The crowd is huge but happy.

Jack left earlier to go to Arlington National Cemetery to visit his fathers’ grave actually a ‘columnbareum’.

We have a quick snack then go back to Sonja’s and get ready to go shoot the HBO Ball “Obama, That One!” at the Newseum hosted by Hill Harper. The Newseum is a new museum dedicated to the news. It’s fab.

They have elevator bars that only stop on the lower level and the 6th floor, complete with a bartender –it’s all shaken, not stirred.

We get lots of great shots and interviews with celebrities. Glenn Turman almost made us cry. Hill Harper
almost started to cry, Tim Reid and Daphne were ecstatic. Tracy Ellis Ross was bitchy (and to think Girlfriends was one of my favorite shows, I guess the apple…). But all-in-all everyone had a good time.

When we get back to Sonja’s everyone is playing games on the Wii. LaCoya’s playing Dancing with the Stars. and since we are in formal attire we decide to try it. This is not as easy as it looks—the judges are brutal. Next we bowl and play tennis and box and… what happened? Why is everybody yawning when me & Pops are up and still ready to party? Oh, it’s 4am. Wusses! OK, I’ll drive us back to Maryland.