I don’t mean that literally. It’s not as if I disowned myself or was somehow excommunicated. I have simply removed myself from 97% of what I know.
And it’s a little terrifying… but I also know that I was abandoned.
NYC, the town I have loved and which has fostered me since my teenage years of Continental and CBGBs - is no longer. One of us grew up and I’m unsure which one, but I have my suspicions. I’m sorry, NYC. I can no longer afford to live in you. I can no longer afford to cultivate art, food, or even love within you. You have literally shuttered everything I held dear whilst pushing everything I loved about you away. Almost all of us are leaving. I’m sure you’re aware of this, but I still feel guilty. I refuse to be “broken” by you, but one has to know when to get out of an abusive relationship; and with your high rise towers and your ridiculous rents, taxes and a MetroCard fee-hike every year, that is exactly what you have become: abusive. When I was young, I wanted it rough (and I still have it that way), but you replaced kissing with choking when we made love, NYC.
I had good work as a voiceover artist for almost a decade. It’s rare that you can make a quarter-mil per year in your late 20s just for talking into a microphone, and I was grateful. I took my friends out to dinner and I bought property because everyone told me “You’re going to have a long career, man. You’re one of the top dogs. Invest!” It wasn’t necessarily a lie, but it was a mis-truth. The whole industry went to shit and almost everyone I know who is a “top dog” is struggling to find work. My voice isn’t going anywhere, but the world needs to remember that it once loved it and should have returned the call.
For three years, I was basically unemployed. Picking up any odd job I could for cash. CASH ONLY. If I’m gonna have to work security at a drag-queen bar for $100 until 4am, I don’t see a reason to let the government know about it. Technically, I could have qualified for Section 8 and food stamps on paper - but I had that little problem of the property that everyone told me to buy. The one that cost me $5,000 a month in mortgage and common charge fees. The one that allowed me to have a gorgeous king-size bed, in which I would wake up every morning, open my eyes to the ceiling, and think, “Holy FUCK… how am I gonna afford this ceiling?!”
I felt helpless and alone. I’ve had a job nearly every day since I was 10 years old, and now I couldn’t find one. I was either over- or under-qualified for every gig I went after. Additionally, when your agent is still sending you out on auditions all day long (“Hey, man… we’ve got a 10am, a 2pm, and a 5:45pm” for you today) you can’t hold down a real job.
"Maybe you should get a night job" my agent suggested.
"Well, then, you have to stop asking me to get up at 8am to take a shit, shower, and a one-hour subway ride to an audition at 10am because I won’t get home until 5am if I’m working as a chef or bartender."
[ED NOTE: Can I tell you something about auditioning for all of you non-actors out there? It’s a JOB INTERVIEW. If you’ve ever been fired, quit, or laid-off, there’s a strong chance that you’ll be bummed out for a wee while. You’ll update your LinkedIn profile and you’ll send out two dozen resumes. Odds are you’ll get called in for an interview (which is what actors refer to as a “call-back” - which means they saw/heard your tape, brought you in to read, and then decided that you’re worthy of another round to which you’ll travel to, and still MAYBE you’ll get the job - that’s already one more step than you working stiffs). Actors will probably NOT get the job. Actors will be judged upon some unrelated bullshit - you WILL get cast because you remind the casting agent of their cousin whom they love or you DON’T get cast because you remind them of the cousin they hate or the marketing team simply decided that a 15-year-old Peruvian girl is a better fit for the role than a man in his mid-30s despite what the casting specifications said.
Now, do that every other day. Three times a day. And hope that you get at least ONE job a year. That ONE job could be a year’s salary, but the odds are against you. You’re. Not. Getting. The. Job.
But you go out there anyway and you try. And you allow your soul to be crushed.
This is why I would consider the three angriest professions (in no particular order) to be actors, chefs, and writers - all of which I can perform with aptitude and aplomb - making me an exceptionally angry man. All three careers are a cauldron of rejection and self-loathing.]
I fell into a deep, multi-year depression. The kind wherein your alarm goes off at 8am, but you lie in bed until noon because you’re unsure how to RESTART, much less START your day.
Needless to say, this made my girlfriend of six years very disappointed in me. A part of me thinks that things would have been easier if I hadn’t been so positive, driven, and successful when we first met. Another part of me thinks that she simply didn’t know how to give me the support that I needed.
Regardless, it’s probably my fault. It almost always is.
So, when we broke up, I put my condo on the market. It sold for cash within three days. I threw everything I needed into a backpack and a suitcase and everything else went into a trailer which drove off to a storage unit in destinations unknown.
For the last six weeks, I’ve been in 7 different towns within 4 different time zones. I’ve seen great people, cooked great meals, fired great guns, and made great art. I also found a bit of peace; I sleep better, I look better, and I’m relaxed.
Now, I’m finally in a new town, but I only know a dozen people. I also have no furniture, which is bad on an old man’s back. I have no job, but I have some money in the bank. I have no bed or ashtray, but a friend loaned me an air-mattress and I’m using an empty beer can.
I miss the county of Kings.
I miss seeing my family, even though it was only a few times a year.
I miss my adopted family of drunks, miscreants, blacks, queers, jews, muslims, freaks, artists, whackos, and assholes.
But I shall re-create it. And - more importantly - those I left behind will never leave me.
MOST importantly, however, it was time to boogie.
Trust me, gang - I feel better already.