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.
Last day to donate September 30th.
See this monologue come to life later this week!
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.
Steven just didn’t get people and it was painful for me to watch. He was raised by and still lived with his Christian grandparents. There is something about the ultra-religious that just doesn’t get how people relate. It didn’t help that his weight gave him a double chin and belly that draped over his belt.
I tried to be respectful and mature when he came talking to me about the latest movie trailers. But his inability to recognize my lack of interest forced me to often cut him off mid-sentence. The only thing worse than his movie rants were his awkward situational jokes. Jokes so cliché and predictable I felt like I was in a Garfield comic strip. Something akin to “Monday’s are just the worst” or “I’m dead without my coffee.” Feeble attempts to start conversation, that instead left you wanting to run away.
So despite my best efforts, I ended up bullying him from time to time. Nothing too terrible. Just a slight relapse into the middle school persona I was less than proud of. Sometimes I would send him on a coffee run to the far away Coffee Bean for the office (opposed to the across the street Starbucks) or pretend I was on a conference call, mouthing conversations into my speaker phone when I’d see him approaching (one of the advantages of a clear sliding glass door of my office.)
Today Kelly and I were getting drinks after work. Kelly was the production coordinator for Monster Car Concoctions. I had had my eye on her since she was hired two months ago. Some girls are beautiful and some girls are cute. Kelly was the perfect mix, desirable yet sweet and approachable. The way Belle from Beauty and the Beast was quirky, but sensitive and down-to-earth. Slowly, we had started to build a rapport.
But I hadn’t had the directness to officially call our drinks a “date”, so before I knew it, half the office was joining us. I tried to make the best of my dashed expectations. What would Mack do? As Happy Hour turned to regular bar hours, I had managed to enjoy myself with other coworkers while at the same time joking and comfortably engaging with Kelly. But every time I started to achieve that level of undivided attention from her, Steven would pop in, “Hey guys, they serve California rolls, but it’s not real crab. Why are they charging 9 bucks for them?”
“I don’t know…I think it’s something you’ll have to ask them.” Kelly responded, more sincerely then I would have expected. To which Steven then proceeded to actually do. “Sometimes that guy just makes my spine crawl.” I finally came out with it.
“Steven? I think he’s cute and endearing.”
“Really? You want me to set you up with him? I bet he’s free this Saturday.”
“Stop it. He means well. And nicer than most of the people we work with. ”
“There’s just something that really puts me off about him.”
“Well you know what they say? When ever something annoys you in someone else, it’s usually because it reflects something in yourself that you don’t like.”
“Is that so? You get that from a cookie at Pei Wei?”
“I’m serious, we see what we don’t like in ourselves in others.”
Just as I was about to reply, Steven cut in with “They claim that even though their crab is made from white fish, they can ‘attest that their sushi chef’s expert craftsmanship’ is not only worthy of the price but ‘is actually priced at a discount.’ Coooome on!”
“That’s a tough one Steven, but it’s too rich for my blood. I had better settle up.” At that Kelly took her coat draped on her chair, sliding her slim and tender forearm into the first sleeve.
“Where are you going? The night’s still young.” I pleaded (trying to sound relaxed.)
“I’ve got that conference call at 6 am. Why does the network have to be on the east coast? But give me a call sometime, maybe we can finish that conversation.” She winked then went up to the bar to pay and left. I sunk into my chair and took a defeated gulp of my pilsner.
“Hey, hey, hey! I can see what’s happening there, you like Kelly!” Steven chimed in like he had finally seen the 3D image in one of those Magic Eye pictures. I rolled my eyes. I was starting to be too drunk to censor myself. “But Jack. You’re going about it all wrong.”
“And what should I be doing to go about it all right?” This should be good.
“You should treat her with respect…”
“…listen, make sure she knows you care for her…”
“My God, you’re sooo right Steven!”
“…and do you want to know the most important thing?”
“Please…hold on. Can I record this? I may need to review the more complicated points.” I pulled out my phone, it may be a good thing to send out in a mass email.
“By all means! You should subscribe to my Youtube page.”
I started laughing so hard it was hard for me to keep my phone steady. Steven felt like my monkey. Running to do anything I wanted. I couldn’t help but indulge in the power from time to time. I took a deep breath to record the upcoming monologue.
“I’ve been watching you for a while Jack. I see how you talk to Kelly. Trying to be her friend but at the same time trying to get close so you can make your move. And I have got to say that is wrong.”
“Yes. Wrong. She is a sweet girl, Jack. She deserves better than you. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re after.”
I put down my phone.
“Look, Steven. I know your grandparents have given you some crazy values–”
“Jack, I see what you do–”
“Seriously Steven, that Christian stuff can rub people the wrong way–”
“I see everything, Jack.”
“You see, that’s what I’m talking about. It kinda comes of as creepy.”
“I see the filth you look at online.”
“The pornography and the fornication. You view some unholy material, Jack.”
“Woah. What are you talking about?”
“I check up on you. It’s important. Micah 7:5, ‘Trust you not in a friend, put you not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of your mouth from–”
“What do you mean, you check up on me, Steven? What are you talking about specifically?”
“I am aware of your internet browsing history. And I have to say I was mortified–”
“How? Did you go on to my computer? It’s password protected.”
“Jack. Your name spelled backwards with your birthday isn’t a very original password.”
Suddenly everything went fast and slow at the same time. I struggled to fully acknowledge that this…buffoon…had had access to everything in my digital life.
“And Jack, you should also probably have different passwords for all your other websites and email…and banking.”
“Oh yeah. And you should be much more diligent about filling out the security questions, otherwise someone else might do it for you. You’ll never guess what Chase thinks your mother’s maiden name is now.”
It suddenly became hard to breath…
To be continued…
Ralph had done it. His warning had been haunting me for over a week now. When someone says something that you know or fear deep down is true, their words infect you. “He’s angry.”
I’d never seen Marty angry for a micro second. But he had this thing about him. My father was a full on Orthodox Jew when he was growing up in Brooklyn. He was so Jewish that his parents sent him to a Yeshiva in Israel when he was 18. And my dad used to tell me about these Rabbis that, within 2 minutes of talking to you would know your fears and dreams and strengths and insecurities. Their level of sensitivity and insight, only surpassed by their wisdom, allowed them to instantly see into a person’s soul.
I knew Marty had this. Night after night random strangers would sit next to him and with in minutes they’d completely open up, pouring out their deepest problems and darkest secrets. Without missing a beat, Marty would pay them a compliment would light them up like a 5 year old getting the best Christmas gift of his childhood. I loved to watch him do it. Marty, giving someone the reassurance or compassion or whatever it was that person needed…like a psychologist with a cheat sheet. But always in the back of my mind, I wondered, what if he wanted to do the opposite. How easily he could decimate someone.
Ralph didn’t mean angry like yelling at someone who cuts you off in traffic or even a bad temper.He meant the type of anger that’s vindictive and out of control. And that’s what terrified me. I had opened up to Marty so much. Where with most people, mere minutes gave Marty all he needed to bolster them, with me he had enough ammunition for an arsenal. I felt dangerously vulnerable.
Every night since then, I prayed that Marty wouldn’t come in to Wild Child Wings. And for the week I was lucky. Until Thursday night. He had such a smile on his face. I hopped he would sit down in a booth where Jess could serve him. Or maybe next to Carolyn or Eddie as they debated the Republican agenda.
But instead he walked right over to me, smacked the bar counter and asked,
“Jill, tonight I’m doing a full dozen! What’s Gus offering on the specials?”
The golf ball in my throat thwarted my efforts to play it cool. There was no way I’d was going to get out the nightly wings specials, so I coughed. Then I coughed again. Then decided to go with it.
“Are you okay?”
I squinted and smiled and let out two more suppressed coughs, then held up my finger to signal “one moment” and walked into the bathroom hallway to get a hold myself. But what then? What was I going to do? Quit? It took me 6 months to get this job. Then another 3 months to learn all the ins and outs so I wasn’t a deer in the headlights every night.
I leaned against the wall and sank down to my knees. I wanted to be so much stronger than I was. The whole reason I moved to New York was to toughen up. I left with my tail between my legs, a failure, more lost than when I got there. But here I finally felt like I had done it. Found my voice, doing something I was good at and actually enjoyed. And one man, who I can’t stand up to, takes that all away…makes me realize that everything I had built was all an illusion. And he didn’t even have to try to take it from me. But then, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder.
“Jill…I think it’s time you told me what your problem is with me.”
To be continued…
I’m sitting in my boss’s office. Charlie Mandolin doesn’t call his waiters into his office except for one reason. To fire their sorry asses. And not just a regular firing. He’d let one of the managers do that. No, he’s called me in fillet me.
I’m not sure how to describe Charlie Mandolin. If you could picture an adult sized baby with glasses, a chef’s uniform, and a South Jersey accent, you just might have an idea about his unreasonable but authoritative nature. That’s Charlie, the head chef, owner, and micro-manager of everything at The Magic Mandolin, a fine Italian restaurant in the lower east side of Manhattan. I’m alone in the office. It is very compact but perfectly organized. I can’t help but stare at the cartoon on the wall.
The comic’s prominence clearly demonstrates that Charlie and I don’t live in the same world. That getting him to understand my point of view was going to be pretty much impossible.
Charlie enters. He doesn’t say a word. Instead he swats his hand for me to get out of the chair. When I get up he plops down and folds his arms.
“Mack, Mack, Mackie-boy. You got yourself in some hot water this time.”
What he was referring to was a wine distributor that I had waited on last night. It was a 20 person banquet. And the head guy had a serious control issues. You see, most of the time, parties that size have prefixed menus and the food is prepared ahead of time. But when the food hit the table he was mad we didn’t have one thing or another. Even though the party had been paid for ahead of time, he kept ordering martini after martini and after the 6th one, I had to cut him off. Long story short, the guy screamed “Fuck you! You’re the shittiest waiter this side of Yonkers. I better not have a gratuity on that bill or Charlie’s going to hear about this,” and then he walked out on the party midway through dessert.
Normally, I’d have let it go and write it off as Manhattan Ass-hole Syndrome. But I’ve not been myself lately and between running around to get the guy more butter ever 20 seconds and trying to switch the menu around in the middle of the dinner rush (which got the cooks super pissed) I followed him out into the middle of 2nd Ave and punched him in the fucking face.
With Charlie in his swivel chair, yelling at the top of his lungs, threatening to not only fire me, but to call every restaurant manager in Manhattan to make sure they piss on me if I even look at a job application, I simply tuned him out. I couldn’t stop thinking about that cartoon on the wall. I had been doing the actor/waiter thing for 10 years now. 10 years of trying to get people to cover shifts and I race across town for an audition. 10 years of seeing my friends from high school and college get married, buy houses, and have children. 10 years of serving dip-shits like Charlie Mandolin who will never see me as anything but a monkey who wants to take his money so I can be a lazy screw up artist.
So in the middle of Charlie’s yelling, I opened the door to his cramped little office and walked out.
I’m sure he was surprised. He probably started yelling louder. But I didn’t care. My life had been going wrong for far too long. As I walked on to 2nd Ave in my waiter’s uniform, tie, vest, apron, pocket full of pens, I saw right where I had hit that bastard, and I knew it was time for something new. It’s time to leave New York.
—Mackified for your Entertainment