And here’s this one live.
And here’s this one live.
Let me tell you the last time someone conned me. I was 19 years old and I was a stupid 19. Somehow I ended up in London, wandering around the back streets of Piccadilly Circus. I see this gorgeous girl standing outside some strip club next to a sign that says “beer and a show £5.” Now this girl has got the thinnest smoothest legs I’ve ever seen. She could have been selling cancer in a pop can and I would have gone over to listen to the pitch.
“£5 pound for a beer and a show. That’s it?”, “That’s it,” she says. I give her a 5. She puts it in her purse and hands me a laminated white card and we go downstairs. She leads through a dimly lit lounge with a couch (occupied by some black guy with a girl on each arm) and old woman behind a coat check, and into the next room. Then she asks me if I’m ready for the show.
In the next room there are dozens of couches and a stage with a single pole. An even more beautiful woman comes up to me with my beer. This girl has straight blonde hair, gorgeous smile, and is only wearing black lingerie. She sits down next to me and starts asking me questions. Where I’m from, where I grew up, and she’s talking to me like I’m the most interesting person in the world. These days anytime anyone is that interested in me, I get suspicious, but 19 me kept yakking away.
After a couple of minutes, she stops me and says, the show will start as soon as I pay the bill. I hand her the white laminated card the other girl gave me, and blondie says, “No that’s for the show, I mean the bill.” I have no idea what she’s talking about but then she hands me the menu. She points to the bottom which says in fine print, Services of the companion £277. Everything comes to a screeching halt and I demand to talk to the manager (as if this were a respectable establishment).
I find myself back in the lounge arguing with the old lady behind the coat check. Blocking the stairs is the black guy from the couch, but now his arms are crossed, ready for any shit I’m going to pull. Coat check lady is telling me the menu is clearly marked and that I have to pay for services. Normally I wouldn’t care, I’d just say “fuck you I don’t have any money.” But I had £500 on me for an… errand. That 500 needed to go where it was going. “If you don’t have any money, just open your wallet and show it to the camera.” I turn around and face the brother blocking my path. “You going to stop me if I leave?” and he comes back with “You wanna try me?”
So that’s when I pull out my cell phone. “Put that away. You can make calls down here.” the old lady commands. And I know something’s up. “If you’re so sure the £277 charge is legit, why don’t I call the cops, they come down here, and if they say I owe you, I’ll pay.” Now I’m bluffing. Because that errand I was doing… well I still had some of the product on me. And believe me if the cops came down here, I’d be in a ton more trouble than she’d be.
She’s staring me right in the face and I’m staring right back. “We had a party of rich Arabs in here last night, they were more than happy to pay.” I spout back “I’m dialing 999. ” “I said put that away.” I can see the old lady making nods at the black guy, probably to grab the phone out of my hand. “I’m pressing send.” Then curtly and with an air of superiority I hear “Get the fuck out!” And for some reason I reply with “Thank you.” And I bolt.
Now I’m outside making sure the black guy isn’t following me, heart racing, and I’m so fucking pissed at myself. All the little clues I should have seen are now painfully obvious. The cheap show, the black dude on the couch, the empty room. And that’s when I decide right there, I’m not going to be a sucker for anyone ever again. That I would always been on the other end of it. Couple of years later I see that old lady come into Vinney’s in New Jersey. Same woman, I swear to God. Right there right in front of me. So I… well that’s a story for another time.
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Can you ever know where you’re supposed to be in life? Some people will tell you, “you just know. “
Six years ago, the Viper Room. We may not have been the headliner, but still. People come to the Viper Room, not just your fans, and not just the bar regulars. People that can make things happen.
We get there for warm up and the place is heaven. But I got this nagging feeling. The crowd. No matter how nice the venue, a bad crowd can mean the difference between getting signed with a label or never playing there again. That’s when Sticks can’t keep his shit together. His girlfriend dumped him Friday or some shit and he’s had a few fifths between last night and now.
15 minutes before the show Mike is trying to cheer him up and get him in the game and I’m calling every drummer I’ve ever met, I mean I’m literally on the phone with a guy from my high school marching band. But then Sticks jumps up like he just had a Five Hour Enema and says “Fuck that bitch, she ain’t going to bring me down.”
We go out on stage and the place is PACKED. I’ve never played for an audience this size. I mean it was constant crowd between the stage and the bar. We start playing with “Trueno de Mexico” and Sticks is off. We know it, the audience knows it, it’s bad. We stumble though the song. So I go off the setlist and play “Impossible Yesterday” next. Now Impossible Yesterday is our best song, we were saving it for the finale, but if I don’t do something, we’re not going to make it to the finale.
The lucky thing about the song is that starts with an a cappella solo. No drums. It’s just me. Maybe if Sticks listens to me, maybe he can get back on beat. But here’s the other thing. I… L O V E that solo. When I sing it, the world shuts out and I just crush it.
I’m feeling it all, all at once, now today.
The fears and the problems creeping up once again.
The beds just too big, I wish you would come home.
And sooth the soul of this old tired fool.
I hear “clap, cla-cla-cla, clap”, “clap, cla-cla-cla, clap”. I open my eyes. The whole front row has become our percussion. Michael comes in on guitar, then the rest of the band. Now the audience is singing along. Sticks wakes up and back on. It’s just magic from then on out.
For years I would have said moments like that is was what it was all about for me. So when it all dried up, it was hard. Very hard. Seeing that possibility get farther and farther away. Maybe you never know where you’re supposed to be in life.
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I know I haven’t updated this thing in ages. And that’s because I’ve been super uber busy. I started this blog about 3 years ago as an exercise to write and I wrote some posts that I am very proud of. I even had a story bumping around in my head that I did as a series of Jill posts (Marty’s 1/2 Dozen) which is very dear to me and I will finish, but probably in another format. Since moving out to LA I’ve had some tremendous opportunities. I did some reality TV work, was a writer’s assistant on an AMAZING hidden camera magic show – The Carbonaro Effect (if you haven’t seen that show click right here right now!!!), got to work in the writer’s room of one of my favorite shows of all time – Robot Chicken, and I’ve gotten to write with some amazing writing partners to producer material I am incredibly proud of.
So what’s all this about then? Well, I’m taking one of my screenplay shorts and I’m filming it. Yes, this is an ask you to fund my project plea, but I gotta start somewhere. So if there is any of you out there that enjoyed MackJackandJill.com and what to see what else I can do or just want to see me grow as a writer and an artist, please click the links below and give me a couple of bucks. $5? $10? More? It’s all good. Just like the Facebook page for all I care. But please please, help support me. Just this once. And maybe once this baby is made, we’ll see some more from Mack Jack and Jill.
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The twelve-year-old’s bandana has the graphic of a skull printed on it and it’s pulled up above his nose so it looks like a skull is staring back at me. The gun looks fake. I think the tip of the barrel has been cut off because on replicas, the tip is orange. But I’m not sure enough to take a chance.
There’s been a bit of a lapse since my previous blog entries. In New York, I was an actor trying to get as many women into bed as possible. But in the last few months, I’ve moved across the country and somehow started to explore Judaism. I won’t go into that story now. But I will back track this one a little.
I had just left friend’s house after have a splendid Shabbos dinner around 9 o’clock. As I walked the usually populated neighborhood street (but on this night strangely deserted) I noticed in the distance three kids. Two on bicycles and one on foot. My instinct was to cross the street. But immediately, I wrote off that impulse as prejudice and continued forward.
As I passed through the trio, one of the ones on a bike said something to me. I don’t remember what, I just know I turned to face him. He was probably 16 years old. So was the one on the other bike. They started circling around me. Then the gun was in my face.
“Empty those pockets and throw it on the ground.”
Maybe it was the gun. Or maybe it was their age. But I didn’t actually feel in danger. It felt like some big joke. Like if anyone has made fun of you and you got in their face about it, their response might be, “Hey man, I’m just kidding. Don’t get so upset.” Sometime since I started going to Shabbos dinners, I had started leaving my wallet and my cell phone in the car. So all that hit the ground were my keys and my chap stick.
“Na man. Butterfly them pockets.” The older one on the bike commanded. To which I complied.
“Check his jacket!” I proceeded to take off my jacket and hand it to them.
It was in that moment, with my inability to give them what they wanted, that I could see that trigger being pulled. A burst of fire would end me. All it would take is a millimeter from the finger of that twelve-year-old.
“All I’ve got is my watch. You’re more than welcome to–”
But they had already started to walk away. It was done. I picked up my key and my chap stick, put on my jacket, and walked away myself, like a business transaction had been completed. I wasn’t numb. But I wasn’t feeling it either. It wouldn’t be for another few days that I would bang my fist into my IKEA table putting a hole in it. It wouldn’t be till the following week that I would get nervous walking though the area at night. But, for the first time in my life, I would be around people as they talked about crime and misfortune and I would keep silent. Before I hungered for attention and to share and relate. But now, I just don’t want to bother.
–Mack (really Michael)
When I was 10 years old, I was on a manhunt for Gambit. Part Toy Biz’s second series of X-Men action figures (pictured below.)
You could walk into any Toys ‘R’ Us, KB Toys, or Lone Star Comics and see on the shelf any of one those beloved action figures. Except Gambit (and Iceman, but his toy was stupid.) You see, much like the De Beers diamond cartel, toy companies intentionally withhold certain figures to create a demand. So when a box of X-Men figures shipped, its contents included plenty of Banshees, Forges, Saurons, and the three different versions of Wolverine. But the a Gambit figure might be only one per box, or even none at all.
So in order to conduct my manhunt, I called previously listed toy stores everyday for about 6 months. To this day I still have the Toys ‘R’ Us number memorized. Even though it’s been closed for about 10 years. My phone call went something like this.
Toys’R’Us Automated Phone: Thank you for calling Toys R Us. We are conveniently located on 5505 Arapaho Road. Across from the Preston Wood mall. Our hours today are from 9 am to 10 pm. If you need help with–
Little Jack presses 0.
Toys’R’Us Representative: Thank you for calling Toys’R’Us how can I help you?
Little Jack: Um..I was wondering if you’ve gotten your shipment in for the day.
Toys’R’Us Representative: Is this Jack?
Little Jack: Yes.
Toys’R’Us Representative: What is it you’re looking for again? Power Rangers?
Little Jack: No, I’m looking for any shipments of the X-Men Series 2 action figures.
Toys’R’Us Representative: Hold on, let me check.
2-5 minutes later.
Toys’R’Us Representative: We did, but didn’t get any Gambits.
And that’s what I did with my childhood when I wasn’t playing video games.
So why am I telling you about this? Well I’ve been out of a job for a few months now. I’ll spare you the details of my rise and fall from the reality TV world, my adventures of the writers’ room of an unnamed but super mega awesome scripted TV show, and finally my depressing return to the restaurant frontier. I decided once and for all to do what it takes to get the office Production Assistant job that is so coveted by any and all aspiring TV writers.
Between Deadline, Below the Line, Che Equis’s Temp Diaries, and a few secret tracking boards, I’ve managed to compile a list of television pilots currently in either development or production. (See below).
This is just a sample of the document in my Google Drive. In actuality it spans over 100 pilots. And each day I update the list’s phone numbers, status, and then scan for who I have slated to contact for the day. Then I call.
Here’s how it goes down.
Production Intern/Assistant: Something Something Productions.
Adult Jack: Hi, I was calling to see if the production company of [insert show name] pilot has been set up yet.
Production Intern/Assistant: Oh I uh…I don’t think so. Try calling back in a month. (They always say a month).
Not the best answer in the world, but at least you can try them again.
Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, here’s the production office number.
This is actually bad, because most likely if the production office is set up, then it is staffed up too. But still worth a shot.
Production Intern/Assistant: No not quite yet. Probably next week though.
That’s the answer you want!
Adult Jack: Great! Has a line producer or production coordinator been hired for the project.
Production Intern/Assistant: Yeah, actually.
Adult Jack: Wonderful. Might I be able to forward my resume to them for staffing?
And it goes from there. Then you have to check back.
So as you can see, I can’t help but feel the parallel between my adulthood and childhood. It’s a slug, but you gotta do it. Sad fact: You know how I finally got the Gambit toy? My friend found one for me. Which sadly, despite my best efforts, is probably what I am going to need to actually land the job.