Does Brangelina Matter?

It's an interesting topic, and Brangelina is a good example of how celebrities do matter, but not in the way you think. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are just actors and celebrities; they only matter to film fans and whoever buys In Touch magazine. But, Brangelina, the phenomenon, does matter.

Perusing the blogs for an article I'm writing for a friend's magazine, it's amazing how violently Jen and Angelina fans clash. There are derogatory nicknames--Whorelina, Maniston, Jennifug--but very little about Brad. Indeed, who cares about Brad? He's just the prize. There are Team Aniston and Team Jolie shirts, polls of who looked prettier as a teenager, and some unbelievably catty and cruel remarks directed at Jennifer for being high-maintenance, attention-seeking and bitchy and Angelina for being dark, a man-stealer, a fake-U.N. worker.

Other celebrity gossip--Tom-and-Katie, Jude and Sienna, who's the next Bond girl--pales in comparison to Brangelina. Why? Because celebrity gossip has replaced our civilizations age-old storytelling tradition. Not novels or books, but the popular folk tales and stories we tell each other. I don't know any of these people, and I'm not sure I care too--actors are a little too self-involved for my taste. And experience has taught me that even close friends often have no clues as to what breaks a couple up or keeps them together. So how on earth can US Weekly, The Superficial Blog or assorted posters have a clue? We don't, and frankly, we don't care about the truth of Hollywood. We use these characters in the Brangelina triangle to work out our own feelings about women, and which we prefer--good girls who make poor wives, or bad girls who take whatever they want.

In the early 1990's, Camille Paglia wrote an essay that had a huge influence on me. She wrote about being a high schooler and avidly following the Elizabeth Taylor-Eddie Fisher-Debbie Reynolds break up. For those of you not schooled in Hollywood lore, it went something like this: Widowed Liz Taylor was being taken care of by her good friend Debbie, who had just given birth and was featured in magazines as the good little wife and mother. Unfortunately, her husband, crooner Eddie, fell for Liz, and they ran off together to get married. Liz was villified as a whore and even condemned by the Pope for her poor morals. Eventually, Liz and the rest of civilization dumped Eddie into the sidelines when Richard Burton came along. Decades later, Liz and Debbie starred in a TV movie that made fun of the whole incident. Even Eddie's daughter, Carrie Fisher, doesn't speak to him.

Paglia writes about her obsession with Liz Taylor in typical grandiose terms, but essentially, her fascination with Liz is the fascination with uncontrolled sexuality, a woman of unbelievable exotic beauty and grand liquid passions who could not play by anyone else's rules. For Paglia, she was an unrestrained force, and an antidote to the cotton-candy heroines of the 1950's--not just Debbie Reynolds, but Shirley Maclaine and Doris Days, the manufactured domesticated blond actresses of the late 50's and early 60's. To root for Liz was to root for a force of pure beauty.

Paglia briefly noted how she roots for Angelina in the same way, but she hasn't really grasped the importance of Brangelina. While Eddie Fisher was just some teen idol, Brad Pitt is Mr. Hollywood. You don't have to have the hots for him to know that. He is a well-respected actor who has been the top of his game for a long time, and generally considered the Apollo of the movie industry. If he never works again, or keeps dying his hair black, he will still be Hollywood's Golden Boy. In short, he is the Grand Prize for any woman, and while good girl Aniston had him for years, bad girl Jolie took him away. And for anyone who has felt outside the norm, the mainstream, ignored by normal folks, classified as bad or unruly, generally considered a troublemaker--this is good news. Thank God for Jolie.


Do I care about the details? No. I only know the stories spun for me by the tabloids and entertainment media. Brangelina's story is becoming universal--you can go to any country and it still matters, because as much as I have nothing against Jennifer Aniston (how can I? I don't even know her), I like seeing good girls thrown for a loop--especially if they are the products of sitcom, massive public relations machinations, and overwhelming overexposure. In the spirit of folk tales and storytelling, Brangelina does matter. We, as a society, can no longer gather around the campfire and talk about the gods in the constellations, but we can talk about celebrities on the screen, and that instinct is as old as time.

Or, in fact, do celebrities matter?

Do I have a favorite? Of course. I have been as passionate about Angelina Jolie--or what I see of her--as Paglia was about Liz Taylor. Did Paglia ever meet Liz, or want to? I don't know, but I doubt it. Similarly, the real Angelina is probably far different than I imagine. But she has made female sexuality matter to the public--she does not pretend to be celibate or virginal until the public approves of her mate. She can talk about having lovers and cutting and being insane, and while this may make her a handful in a relationship, she has opened up whole avenues of dialogue that were previously closed to women in the spotlight. Plus, I'm sorry Jen, but Angelina is simply smoldering hot. She has an occult beauty and too much sexual heat to be classified normally. I don't think Brad matches her entirely, but if she wanted the king of Hollywood for herself, I doubt anything could stand in her way. As an ordinary woman, I respect that willpower, even if I would have qualms myself about acting the same way. (Or would I? I have no idea what happened). I would have felt worse for Jen if it wasn't for her blitzkrieg of interviews where she emphatically stated, many, many, many times that she is tired, oh so tired, of discussing it. Nicole Kidman, a woman with many secrets in her marriage to Tom Cruise, took the high road of silence and grace; Jennifer looks for populist pity. It's easy to feel manipulated by that.

Does Brangelina matter? To those interested in our common stories about mythical figures, yes. Does it make us shallow to care about people who will never impact us, or our families? I don't know. But I know that the instinct to dissect the stories of the famous is not an instinct new to the 21st century. We are still gathered around the campfire, trading rumors and opinions and theories about relationships that say something about ourselves. It seems foolish to get worked up about who's wrong or right, but it is fascinating to see how strongly we feel about the Brad-Jen-Angelina triangle. For those seriously obsessed with who did what to whom and why, the question is simply why is it so important to you? And the answer will vary from person to person.

One thing is clear--Angelina and Brad and Jen spend far less time thinking about us. Who do they discuss when they are gathered around a collective campfire? What constellations catch their eye? One day we will find out. Until then, I hope that the story of Brangelina continues and continues to surprise. It keeps my mind off of TomKat, anyway....

Southern Gothic

The lawyerwriter's trials and tribulations with wicked, wicked women are not yet over. More editing needs to be done on the book. Unfortunately, the whole experience has left me completely drained and broke. I am starting to emerge into the normal world again, and looking for work--copywriting, corporate communications, you name it. Going back to the book is not something I'm looking forward to. Even lawyerwriters need a break.

To distract myself, I went to see C.Gibbs play at the Galleria in the Gershwin Hotel--the only hotel in New York with stained-glass horns growing from the front of the building. The galleria is bright, then dark, and C.Gibbs played in a gothic little room in the back. Whatever wasn't covered in dark mahagony paneling was covered in red velvet, and though there were a few gold chandeliers, the light was all red. C.Gibbs is hard to describe--he's honky-tonk, bluegrass, with piano and steel guitars, all played fast and loose . When I last saw C.Gibbs, his music was lost and Faulknerian--lots of songs about haunted highways and loneliness at the bottom of a glass. His latest CD Parade of Horses, though, has a lot more fire in it. He's a journeyman musician who spins both heartbreak and admiration into spooky, Southern Gothic lyrics and hell-raising tunes. I don't like country and I don't like sensitive guitar balladeers, but C.Gibbs plays like a man who's lost a bet with the devil, who drives to Vegas in a Chevy convertible with a bottle of bourbon in his lap, who's contemplated russian roulette on dark Saturday nights. Live, C.Gibbs rocks with good old-boy rowdiness. When he sang of never holding a woman sacred again, the dark room pulsed with the beats, like a red velvet heart. He reminded me that even the worst of troubles can make the best of stories.


having finished with wicked women, the lawyer writer has many obsessions...

Talk Soup Host Joel McHale (he loves animals, sigh)...the Villain's Guide to Better Living (bedtime reading)...My Madame Talbot Fortune Teller parties despite my abject poverty...the Sarah Bernhardt exhibit at the Jewish Museum...Ryan Reynolds (he can SO act!)...Shadow in the Wind (also bedtime reading)...bubble baths with sandalwood bath oil...loving Angelina...hating Jennifer...watching too much Golden Girls...Camille Paglia (again)...the seven deadly sins...British rappers Ddubble Impact (you've heard them on the Verizon commercial when everyone is a the rap concert)...hunting down my favorite, no-longer made honey bronze powder...The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and The Chappelle Show (my only sources for current affairs--I can't stand the mainstream news)...thinking up cool story ideas...detoxing (within reason)...the War of Art by Steven Pressfield...thinking about cleaning my apartment...wanting more Kate Moss, more more...gothic fashion....

Devil Inside Her--Finished!

Well, it's finally done--the Devil Inside Her has been delivered. And so have I.

It was grueling. The publishers reclassified it as a pop culture book, which was fine, except they had something very specific in mind. The book is now called The Devil Inside Her: The Fascinating World of History's Wicked Women. It's about how ten infamous women of history are portrayed in our pop culture, and why we still talk about them. I wanted it to be more, but there wasn't any time. But I'm really excited about this new direction--as much as I like reading history, writing it wasn't my favorite part. But contemplating wicked women like Mata Hari, Bloody Mary, and Bonnie Parker was fun. Why are we still fascinated with them? I have no idea. But I think it's directly linked to my fascination with Angelina Jolie.

So...I retraced my goth roots and have gotten a lot more into the culture, thanks to my discovery of artist Madame Talbot ( Her posters are gorgeous; you'll see me linking them often. I still want to work on a project with her...I discovered voodoo in New Orleans, a proud, sexy, matriarchal culture that is celebrated with a good party and a stiff drink...I researched the Dragon Lady in 19th century China and the Tudor dynasty in 16th century England, and learned WAY too much about both...I reread Camille Paglia, whose energy I love even when I'm rolling my eyes at her...I found connections betweenLizzie Borden and both Marilyn Monroe and Sex and the City...I watched way too much Jon Stewart and VH1...I got a great cover, but I won't be on any bookstore tables...I researched courtesans and bohemians in Belle Epoque europe, and gangsters during the Depression...I need a haircut, a facial, a stiff drink and a break.

And I have an idea for another book.

Where Have I Been?

Writing. The Devil Inside Her is due in...well, I won't say how many days, but rest assured that while you are carving Thanksgiving turkey I will be finishing up the last copy of this really interesting book which I am now sick to death of. I will try to get back in the habit of blogging (thanks to those who have reminded me), but bear with me as I type like a crazy person to get this thing DONE.

Pop Culture Might Pay My Bills

So today I auditioned for a role on a new Bravo series called Dishing. David, my boss at my essay job called me and told me he'd recommended me for the part. The casting director is a good friend of his, and he recommended Ted Allen, who is on Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. So she took him pretty seriously and voila! I am auditioning to be a talk show host. I don't know anything about the show, other than it's a multi-host, gay-friendly show about entertainment, pop culture, media, etc, described as The View meets Real Time With Bill Maher meets Talk Soup. I like the last two shows, so I guess that's something.

The audition went thusly. I chatted with a very nice man about Tom and Katie ( called it the Manchurian Pregnancy, which they liked, but fumbled a joke about the fetus getting a two-picture movie deal), Daniel Craig becoming Bond (Yes! Quoted earlier post on Steve McQueen reference), chatted about the evil that is Star Jones, my embarassing addiction to my DVR, etc. Most importantly, I talked about my embarassing reality television addiction (The Surreal Life, Filthy Rich Cattle Drive, any monstrosity that cable will throw my way)...All that background noise while I'm typing might actually get me a job and pay my bills!

The audition seemed to go very quickly. Perhaps I shouldn't have worn the fishnets. Or perhaps it went quickly because time flies when I yak my head off about this stuff. But callbacks are next week.

Interestingly, this also coincides with the pop culture themes in Wicked Women. My editor and I both agree that it should be both contemporary and very pop culture-y, which is really exciting, because I was afraid she wouldn't like the pop culture part. So if I do this show and then the book comes out....(I am rubbing my hands with glee. I so rarely feel glee.) Of course, this is problematic because callbacks are next week and I'm supposed to go to California then, but we'll see....

As I've always said, television can be good for you...

Television Says My Cabdriver Can't Get Laid

A word to the entertainment community: Enough already, with cowardly, dorky, sex-starved Indian men. Seriously.

I grew up with some pretty cool Indian guys--investment bankers who could discuss Moby Dick and play guitar, doctors who worked with AIDS patients, artists, musicians and dj's. I do not see these men on television. I do see cabdrivers and doctors and newstand owners and computer programmers and convenience store managers. Unlike many Indians, I do not find this inherently insulting. A lot of us ARE doctors and cabdrivers, etc. etc., and after having grown up with no Indian role models in the media (even my beloved Apu, alas, cannot be seen as a role model), I am just happy to see us represented. That's the first step in assimilating into a culture, after all. The media, always with an eye on the trend, is always the first to acknowledge and legitimize the existence of a minority; political systems are much farther behind.

Invariably, early portrayals are negative, or, at least limiting. Hence the fact that almost all Indians portrayed in the media are Indians Fresh off the Boat. This, too, is fine with me, although, thank God for that the Bend-It-Like-Beckham chick on ER. They all have accents, and most often the accent gets the laughs. Okay. I can be big about this and overlook that too.

But do they always have to be horny, frustrated, chickenshit dorks? Ajay Nadu in Office Space--funny as hell, couldn't get laid. I endured the dorky Indian sidekick in the otherwise excellent Van Wilder because I was sure he had real talent. He did. Kal Penn later played Kumar in Harold and Kumar White Castle, a brilliant stoner with enough passion to imagine making out with a giant bag of weed, and enough game to get himself laid. With Kumar, I thought we were done with the Indian nerd stereotype.

And now this new guy on my beloved show Weeds, Maulik Pancholy, playing Sanjay a....dorky science major who's goofily in love with Mary Louise Parker but runs away, yelling "Forgive me" every time she's in trouble. Weeds is such a good show because in its skewed universe, nobody--not cancer patients, ten-year olds, deaf girls, drug dealers, stoners--is predictable; nobody acts the way you'd expect them to act. Except the sexless Indian guy.

Once upon a time the drunk Mexican in the poncho was de rigueur if you were talking about Latinos. Once upon a time all laundrymen were Chinese and wore pointy hats, or talked like Charlie Chan. Once upon a time, black matrons were supposed to be plump and wear kerchiefs and raised their employer's white kids. All that is Not Acceptable in the mainstream media of today. Let's send the impotent, skinny, FOB-y Indian-American sidekick there as well.

As for the real life impotent, skinny FOB-y Indian-American sidekicks...they need some decent role models in the media so they can class up their act. More Kumars, less dorks. Then we can start give the Indian-American women some representation....

But one step at a time.

Consider This

The following are well-known facts.

When considering applicants, law schools look at precisely two things: your undergraduate grades and your LSAT score. That is it. Don't fool yourself about recommendations or the essay. They just don't care. They also don't care that, oh, you did a thousand times better in your graduate school than your undergraduate college because they simply don't care that you have a graduate degree. Your LSAT score, on the other hand, better be well about 99.9% to get into a top law school.

However, when considering applicants, business schools really don't care much about your GMAT scores or undergraduate grades. The thresholds are pretty low and many, many qualified applicants pass easily. However, Harvard has a total of seven 400 word essays about your goals, leadership skills, personal life, extracurricular activities, work experience and accomplishments. No listing. You'd better tell some interesting stories. In other words, it is extremely hard to get into a top business school straight out of undergrad. They want people with work, extracurricular, and charity organization experience.

Now, what does this mean?

Clearly, the students going to business school are more adult, simply because they're older, have more work and life experience, and need to be able to prove their managerial and leadership abilities outside a school setting. In fact, they must all have some business experience as well as specific goals for their future. These people have the ability to think in complex situations, deal with people, be adults, live in the real world.

The law students, however, are uniformly unformed. Most come straight out of college. They have varied undergraduate experience which may encompass no business, government or law experience--despite the fact that the majority will work in the private sector or the government. They are required to be good at taking tests, specifically the SAT, which the LSAT strongly resembles. They are also required to have been organized and focused enough to have done academically well from the age of 18, even if that means skipping interesting courses or jobs during a time traditionally held for self-exploration. Think--tunnel vision, good at interpreting data, able to take orders and respect larger systems, no experience dealing with people. Surprisingly, however, despite the law schools' emphasis on analysis, (or, because law school does not require business, government or pre-law courses) many of these students are creative or artistic as well. This is what is known as a weakness.

Why is it this way? MBA is for leaders and entrepreneurs. Law is for traditionalists and analysts. An MBA is expansive, ambitious, big picture. Law is restrictive and drowns in minutiae. An MBA seeks to connect with others. The legal profession is essentially isolationist.

And why is this bad? Because law firms are still companies, and lawyers are managing other lawyers. Very, very badly. The ridiculous morale and dissension in law firms is because a) some creative types have been sold a book of goods on a profession that doesn't exist and find their creativity is suddenly a handicap b) lawyers have no training and no required experience managing people in a non-adversarial way, so they end up hazing, manipulating and cannibalizing each other c) the absurd amount of money thrown at 25 year "lawyers" doing intern work is to essentially buy labor rather than create cohesive community d) the lack of business and government requirements to get into law school, and the lack of law school offerings in these courses, means that a lot of untrained associates end up staring blankly at your financial documents.

Just think about it.


I raised my rates a few months ago, which was an interesting choice because I actually had no work. But it was an important step in my career.

It seems counterintuitive that raising my rates would result in an overload of work, but that's exactly what happened. I'm not sure why, but deciding that my time and my work was worth more than the X dollars I had been getting for a year or so has made my writing better, and attracted better clients. Science resists this logic; it makes no sense that people would be attracted to the concept of spending more money for writing, but I think the reality is that people always get what they pay for. Now, roughly making 3x as much money as I had in the spring, I allow myself to spend more time on writing, get more creative, take more risks, deliver a better product. I feel appreciated, and therefore am a better employee.

What's funny is that none of this happened until I said "I deserve more." Oh, how Hallmark, I know, but there you have it. I come from a family of scientists; I hesitate to belief in auras or energy or luck, but something has changed in my life. I know the work I'm doing is far more interesting and intellectual, and helping people with their graduate school essays seems, well, important. To them and to me.

In the end, I think it really matters who you work for. My current employers have a high regard for my opinion, and don't constrain me. That is nice. I had figured since I was making zero dollars at X dollars an hour, nothing would change if I suddenly started charging X+Y dollars an hour. But things did change. I think people are willing to pay your rate if you really believe in what you're charging--that your time is worth X+Y dollars even if you do all your writing in a blue kimino with a cat on your lap and the E! True Hollywood Story in the background.

Ask for what you deserve, but first, find out if what you deserve is the going rate. My rates were well under what other writers charged, because I still felt guilty about getting up at 10:30 and having a glass of wine while I edited. In the end, those things don't matter; the work product did.

I can't escape the feeling that it was my attitude, rather than external factors, that kept me broke all this time. It goes against what I know about the world, but hell, I learn new things every day.


The worst part about a new book submission is the waiting. This should come as no surprise, but what is surprising is that there is no way around the anxiety and the obsessive feeling. Each time I think I can handle it better--I'll stay busy, I'll leave my agent alone, I'll plan alternative book projects. I'll expect it this time, the anxiety and the fear and the ridiculous feeling that your whole career hangs on whether this book would be accepted.

Now, I've done a bunch of book proposals, some of which (like the one sexy films, or notorious new york hangouts) haven't sold. You always try to salvage them, send them to a new agent or a new publishing house, but the truth is that the best shot of them getting published is when you become famous for something else. I'm not sure if there are any other writers who want to write about everything, from street law to wicked women to leaving the rate race to sexy films to speakeasies--and I'm not sure what the diversity of titles says about us as writers. It's sort of a weird thing to have such varied interests.

I'm not sure I'll write about law again. I liked writing about social issues, like why drugs or prostitution should be legalized, and I liked writing about pop culture and current affairs. And I really liked the idea of distilling legalease into something that made sense to non-lawyers, because the pedastal that lawyers are put on really irritates me. Lawyers provide a service, a vital service, but there's nothing class or status or intellect-wise that's superior to the profession than any other.

Okay, none of this is any distraction from the fact that I'm probably going to have to wait a couple weeks before I get a final word on my proposal. It's a good sign when it takes a week or two, because if they get back to you fast, it means it was probably rejected before it goes before an editorial meeting. Getting a book published means the whole house or at least imprint is behind it--and that includes editorial, bookstore sales, advertising and publicity, to start. Each editor only has a certain amount of money to spend each year or each season and ou've got to prove that your book proposal is worth a percentage of that budget.

That's why writing a book proposal is such hard work. Each agent I've had has helped me refine my style, and this last proposal is probably the best, because it's not too long and I did some minor graphic design to make it look pretty. These things matter. It isn't enough to have an idea, or even good writing, anymore--you have to have a vision of how you want the final book to turn out. And you have to start conveying that vision in the book proposal--marketing, publicity, graphics, cover, everything.

I'm not much of a saleswoman in most circumstances, but selling a book idea is fun, in a tough way. You really put yourself on the line for it, and the reward is, well, being published. At first. Then dollar signs grow in your eyeballs. But unlike screenwriting, the purchase of a book means the publisher is almost definitely going to publish it. Almost. Unless your publisher is a hack who advertises on craigslist. But even then, the odds are good.

Weeks. Weeks, not days left. Ugh.

An Artist For Rat Race Rebels?

This is the work of an illustrator I've always an illustrator for Rat Race Rebels? His name is Jullian Williams, and it's kind of a rebellious Wind and the Willows things...

The last one, of course, is my favorite.

Loft Party

I'm not sure when the de rigueur decoration for a loft party became Fellini's Satyricon, but last night it worked. We were at a loft party in South Williamsburg, and I'm assuming the place was live/work as I did see a kitchen (near one of the stages) and a couple bathrooms (covering in tin foil). The roof was mobbed by people watching Blaxploitation flicks on the brick wall or making out near the potted plants or getting burgers from the grill. One room had a ska band; the other had latin hip hop, and still another had a dj spinning drum and bass. Once we walked into a room only to see what appeared to be cavemen (in Flintstones' type attire) doing a Jewish polka. From getting the word out (which they clearly did successfully) to the Surrealistic Kitsch decor, the whole experience was very well organized, down to the Brownies (Yes They Are...) and Chocoloate Chip Cookies (No, They're Not...) and Absinthe (disappointingly homemade rather than Czech). In every dark corner was a cave or a tent or a papier mache staircase where people disappeared into, probably to manage their acid flashbacks or chill out before taking another hit. Those corners always looked a bit sketchy to me.

The most difficult part was climbing up and down the ladders and staircases to get to the roof, which always brought to mind Jimmy Stewart staring down into an alley in Vertigo. But other than the looming threat of my clumsiness, the moon was full, the space was gorgeous and the company was perfect. There's something to be said in this day and age for an "anything goes" kind of party; if you squint or drink enough you can pretend you see Andy Warhol and Nico sitting on the couches, doing something terribly mindless and therefore terribly important. The only time it seemed forced was when a group of folks, apparently rediscovering Urban Primitivism, tried to get a Burning Man-type howl going--with an accordian. I think it worked--or, rather, I think they think it worked. It's hard to go tribal with an accordian.

You go to Rubulad to get wasted, to dance, or to hook up. It's a capital-S Scene, and you really supposed to spend your night wandering from room to room, looking for a white rabbit, or at least a chesire cat with a hookah. It's fun that way, because it feels like a good alternative to the Dimly Lit Lounge or Mega-Disco, which seem to be our only real choices sometimes. Of course, but it helps to have good friends to walk around with, spending the night trying to figure out the performance art and exactly how many of us had dated Moby (not me) and why there are so few people in book publishing who really want or even know how to party. Or maybe it's just nightcrawlers like me who feel sense of pride waking up at noon the next day, with a blue smudge on the back of our hands to indicate that we've successfully returned from the underworld.

No question, a good night--thanks, Penn, for inviting us!


I never do any work on Saturday, even though I always plan to. It's just too lovely outside and god knows how long that will last. I've just started my new job with an educational consultant company that helps international students with their grad school applications. The guys who run it are fun and fabulous and former journalists, and all I do is try to make someone's experience as a drum majorette into an entertaining essay. Or something like that. And I really need to be cracking down on that, but instead I'm planning for this ridiculously unproductive loft party in Brooklyn that is going to lay waste to my whole weekend. Is this the behavior of a useful individual? I think not.

But I did finish my new book proposal, and have picked a title: Rat Race Rebels: Following Your Dream in a Corporate World. It's basically an excuse for me to ruminate in print about my oddball career choices while I work on my fiction. But I'm looking forward to writing it--after I finish Wicked Women, which is a whole other story.

I've always had mixed feelings about the post-Labor Day season. I love summer, the long days and hot evenings spent drinking at some sidewalk cafe, but I run out of money so quickly and end up hungover and not getting any work. And then I feel guilty all the time. It's nice to be working again on a book and feeling calm and creative....

Left Turn Titles

I've spent the last few weeks working on my new book proposal, which has a lot in common with this website. It's a book about trading in a safe, traditional job for an unconventional career. In it, I hope to answer some of the questions that people have thrown at me over the years--is it hard? how do you make money? was it scary? how do you become successful? is it worth it?

The book is tentatively called Left Turn Careers. I envisioned unconventional careers as being the "left turn" on the traditional career path, one that you were educated or trained for. But I'm not crazy about the title. It's not so much a career book as it is an insider's guide to the life and times of unconventional people--not just writers and artists, but entrepreneurs, freelancers, visionaries, you name it. The book has examples ranging from Martha Stewart (former stockbroker) to Angela Davis (professor turned activist) to Gray Davis (former governor) to Harry Houdini (magician, hoax revealer).

I think it's a particularly timely book, mostly because there don't seem to be any rules about careers anymore. I know so many law grads who can't find jobs--so much for law schoo as the "safe" alternative. Still others aren't willing to pay the price (i.e. no life) for working on Wall Street. And now, with the internet and increased specialization, you can literally carve out a brand-new career out of virtually anything. Kite-flying? Animal wrangling? Baby wrangling? You name it.

So if anyone has any ideas for titles, I'm all ears....

Vacation Over...

Even the lawyerwriter goes on vacation. But she will return.

Big Bad Bosses

This weekend, I went to a party for a book editor who had formerly been an assistant to an agent I once worked for. Let's just say that she was the Abel to my Cain. She'd been there for three years and the Agent I worked for was over the moon about her. When I wondered why she wasn't working for him presently, or was a co-agent, he shrugged and said he didn't know either. This is before Agent and I had our famous falling out, resulting in my firing and him making a spectacle of himself to New York State Unemployment officials. For more information, here's an old post.

Anyway, Abel Assistant was a mutual friend and another assistant to Agent was there as well. And overall, it was very cathartic to be there. We reminisced about under-the-radar creepiness and vague feelings of being sexually harassed, the piles of manuscripts and unending letters to be typed, the curtness and shouting and rudeness and all the other fun stuff that bonded us like boot camp. I was glad to hear that while the nominal clockout time was 5:30 (something that Agent liked to brag about), Abel Assistant had routinely stayed after midnight to get anything done. Other assistant told me that he had no idea of expanding the agency, as he told me in the interview. I even had the satisfaction of hearing that a so-called close friend calling him a dick. It is immensely gratifying to know that something as humiliating as being fired from a minimum wage job can have nothing to do with you.

But, of course, it had everything to do with me. My friend, another who had interned for him, had been questioned on "what kind of men she liked to date." He never got that far with me. I was nervous about him from the start, as was he, only for different reasons. The one really great thing about actually practicing law is that you get used to being treated with respect. It's hard to give up, even in the name of paying your dues. I like to think that he sense that I wasn't his ideal assistant, some kind of sex-kitten girl friday who worked ceaselessly behind the scenes and provided stroking of the, er, ego. The poor girls who came before me had been subjected to the same weirdness and had put up with it for a lot longer.

If I hadn't been fired, I wouldn't have started writing. If I hadn't started writing...

I don't know how to end that sentence.

Ah, Timing

sometimes timing is wonderful. just as I was pondering as to whether I had offended karma or if it was indeed sour grapes that motivated my anger against Evil CoAuthor, I get the sales figures from The Street Law Handbook. They are actually quite good, better than I thought, which is nice to hear from a first book.

perhaps it's the effect of morning yoga, but I feel all stretched out and relaxed now...maybe a break before I tell you why Bonnie Parker is a Betty.

Dog Days of Summer

August is a bad month for freelancers--or good, if you don't mind not being busy. I like being busy. I also like being paid properly. Sometimes that just doesn't happen.

Found an article worth checking out about the life less travelled...I like to think it applies to me, but only to a certain extent. I find it funny that the author assumes that the people in cafes in midday are not working hard. I work so much harder than I did as a lawyer, because I care about being a writer much more. It just takes more forms, and I can move around, but it's really preferable to sitting in an office all day, becoming a drone. And a lot of the time I end up working late at night, when others are off carousing and gallivanting without me. So unfair.

Click here for the article.

But August is made for carousing, because everyone who can give you work is on vacation. What to do with lots of time and no money? Besides reality television, I mean. That's one dangerous hobby...

My agent represents The Washingtonienne, a sexually active, moderately amoral character whose blog (here) inspired her book. I find it fascinating that after two weeks of blogging she managed to be become infamous enough for a book and a huge advance. Then again, she was sleeping with low-level polithcos for rent money, usually on her lunch break. Another girl who likes to work hard, just in her own way...hope that's where the comparison ends between me and her...

Still, will work harder to make material more salacious.

The Street Law Ripoff

A few years ago, when I decided to write The Street Law Handbook, I thought I could use a consultant, someone who was still practicing law and could do some research for me. I put an ad in the legal job section of craigslist, got about twenty responses, weeded it down to about five. The guy I chose was a criminal defense lawyer with lots of enthusiasm for the project--someone who definitely wanted to be co-author more than consultant. Or...well, just author, actually. Unfortunately CoAuthor couldn't string words into decent sentences to save his life. And he didn't like to be edited or anyone "interfering." In fact, he didn't want me to do anything, and when I complained, he sent a long letter to our agent to take his side. That's when I blew my now trademark cool and, well, we had words. Nasty words, mostly on email, all of which I still have archived, by the way.

Once equilibrium--as I saw it, anyway--was restored, we went back to work. Then suddenly, he disappeared. The whole partnership lasted about two months. I wrote The Street Law proposal from scratch, sold it, researched it, wrote it, edited it, published it. About a year after the end of our partnership, CoAuthor turned up, friendly and complimentary, wanting to sign the Termination Agreement I had sent him--or, actually, his own version, which had no non-compete clause. You see, CoAuthor and I, both being lawyers, had signed a partnership agreement that stating that he could not publish anything to directly compete with Street Law, should he leave the project.

Ah, lawyers. Once again, we had words--mostly his this time, again, most of them nasty. I agreed to limit the non-compete clause to six months, mostly to get him and his negative energy out of my life.

Well, his competing project is out. You knew there was one, right? So did I. I wasn't surprised that it got published (dey vil publish aaaaanything, baby) but I was surprised to see how thoroughly and how unashamedly, he had ripped off my idea. It has the original title I had proposed before "The Street Law Handbook" and is a survival guide to the drug law. Like The Street Law Handbook, it has stories of celebrity busts, silly crooks, tips to the legal system and dealing with the police and going to trial. In short, it looks really, really familiar. CoAuthor will modestly note on his website how he came up with the idea on his own. I see that the phrase "answered a craigslist ad" is not in the explanation.

I will say this. His writing has gotten better. The early drafts I have of his writing were shit. (Are shit. I still have them, of course). Anyway, some editor has earned his money on this one.

Some friends have suggested legal action. I'm not sure it's worth it the aggravation, or the surge of negative energy, or the distraction from Wicked Woman and Unnamed Book Three. My agent says it happens all the time in publishing and it's really hard to prove these things. And I believe in karma, and that cream always rises to the top. I think venting here was enough.

Besides, it's all over for him anyway. Without me around, where's he going to get his second book idea?

The Critic as an Artist as a Lady

Last night I continued my quest to save money by being as still as possible. I calculated that since it cost me about $50 for the mere act of leaving the apartment, then it would cost about $20 for me to go into the living room from the bedroom and about $10 every time I got up from the computer. Note that these figures are highly suspect as I didn't pay a lot of attention in my college economics classes (which makes the fact that I minored in economics even more mystifying). At any rate, staying seated at my computer with the television on seemed to cost me the least amount of money for existing, so I threw in a cheap bottle of wine and spent a rocking evening browsing the internet. What you folks take for granted during your workday has become my most cost-effective form of entertainment.

All was not lost, however, as I quickly discovered Television Without Pity, a website devoted to, well, television, that features some of the most interesting writing I've seen in a while. These are clearly people who like to write. I've always rejected the notion that a critic is simply a useless-hanger-on of people who actually make art. The first challenge to this notion was when I read Oscar Wilde's essay The Critic as an Artist, which, rather jokingly, suggested that the critic was indeed at a higher level than the artist, or, at least as creative as the artist herself.

Nowhere is this more apparent than Television Without Pity. I, of course, went to the forum for the show Kept, which I had been quite interested in until it got really repetitive after the sixth episode. Even Madame Jerry lost her luster; her faux British-Texas twang began to grate, and it became apparent that this was simply another dating show, rather than the grand swayamvara that I had imagined.

That said, the boards are witty, alarmingly accurate and entertaining in a cynical way. A particularly fey contestant is presumed to be gay, or, at least "has some sugar in his tank." Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne "inhabit their own land of awesome." Merciless as the website promised, these are people who have no compunction about mocking the aspirations of "famewhores" even as they compulsively watch them. The writing about the show, in fact, was far superior to the show itself. If we buy into the antiquated notion that an artist is intrinsically superior to his critic, simply because he does something, then that means that the bobble-headed contestants of Kept and the manipulative, snarky producers of the show are intrinsically superior to the cultural critics who dissect them. Such is clearly not the case. What could be better reading than one poster's request that Elton John and his boyfriend do a similar search for a houseboy, and call their show "Two Queens and a Knave?" Brilliant. You can't find better writing anywhere. That these people are clear-eyed about the "Cinderella-storyline" (i.e. the scruffiest boy cleans up good to win the game) and the magic of editing to create hugely artificial story arcs makes the reading even better. They're willing to play the game, but they're not going to be fooled by it.

It was a much better evening than my sedentary self could have envisioned. What's equally fascinating is the dirt dug up on the contestants--four or five of whom rather coincidentally starting up blogs just as the show started airing. Absolutely hilarious. Reality television may be exactly what George Orwell envisioned as our entertainment in 1984 (complete with wall-high screens), but it doesn't mean that its viewers are stupid. Wit and perception can produce good writing out of virtually any subject matter.

As for me, I'm going to spend the $20 and go to my kitchen for some lunch.


I always speak pretty highly of the freelancing life--the late nights and late mornings, the independence, the avoidance of working with idiots, etc. But there is a serious downside to it, and I think I'm experiencing it now. August is a pretty slow time in New York in general--everybody goes out to the Hamptons or some similarly over-hyped beach area. What I usually plan to do is have enough money to get me through August into September, but alas, this year, that simply is not the case.

My level of poverty is so low that I've simply stopped leaving the house, except for dogwalks and general constitutionals (so I won't become one of those Addams-family type recluses). Anything else involves the spending of money, of which I have none. It's an interesting idea, to slow down and stop moving as much as possible so as to maximize resources and efficiently spend the pennies I find in my couch. But it's actually a terrible way to live. It's moments like these that I imagine people in their windowless offices, slaves to the wage clock, yet comforted by the knowledge that however bad their day is, they're going to get paid nonetheless, and the workday won't bleed into a worknight.

Hopefully things will change soon. I've got some small projects to nibble on, but the big ones that I am waiting on--the real estate blog, some PR work, a new book proposal--are not coming in yet and certainly won't be paying my bills for a couple weeks yet. It's a terrible feeling to come to a complete standstill, hoping that if you don't move, you won't be hemorraging money as usual. Yet another reason that us self-employed freelance types are in the minority--lots of wear and tear on the nerves, and we sometimes don't know why we do it either.

Birthday Bash

I actually don't like weekends very much, partly because I pretty much work every day, and it's much harder to work when everyone else is having fun. This is what made weekends at the firm particularly grueling; not only were you working, but most of the time you were doing pointless, mindless tasks like document review (where you review boring litigation documents) or due diligence (where you review boring corporate documents) At least now when I'm working, I can do it in my sunny bedroom with the Kept marathon in the background. (As predicted, my interest in this show lasted as long as my interest in any show--six episodes. I don't even know who she picked. I'm sure they're quite happy). Office politics are limited to which cat is currently thrashing the other, and whether I can take an extra dog walk in the evening.

Still, I get considerably little work done from Friday afternoon through Saturday. Sunday, being the day of repentence, is a very productive day. I pretty much wake up a bad employee on Friday--hungover, behind schedule, procrastinating here, there and everywhere. I suppose it evens out in the end because of Sunday, but still. Freelancing is feast or famine; last week it promised feast, but this weekend is famine. Which means I will worry about spending too much money, usually followed by my actually spending too much money.

However, the plans for Saturday night are particularly good--The Horse and I are throwing a joint birthday party at the Horse's apartment. He has purchased tiki torches, which I envisioned as those big Hawaiian flaming suckers, but now sound only like rather tall candle holders. My contribution will be introducing random groups of people, none of have really met each other, into a crowd of his more mellow friends. We will do some mighty fine repenting on Sunday, but hey, your 21st birthday only comes around six or seven times in your lifetime.

Thank God for the tradition of the houseparty, by the way. For the price of a medium-bodied cabernet, you can buy your way into someone's house, be supplied with a drink, lots of munchies and a comfortable place to sit down when necessary. Which makes me wonder why we even go to bars anymore. Well, other than the fact that I don't think I could get the memebers of Satanicide to do a private show in my apartment. (Or could I....? That would certainly teach Evil Cat Woman.....) Relying on being supplied with booze simply because of the charm of your company--another necessary to be a freelancer.

The Long Arm of the Law

Actually, the last post got me thinking about something rather strange. Mention that you're a lawyer, and there is roughly a 92.5% chance that the person you're talking to will mention how they seriously considered law school. Seriously, most of the population has thought about it. Is it the last refuge of all college grads when they run out of ideas? True, would-be lawyers and law school students are everywhere. For example, I just learned that Phil, the lead guitarist of Satanicide (actually, I think he goes by Alistair, or something like that) is a real estate attorney. If you're out there, Phil, are you still practicing? Just curious. And another member of the group, who shall remain nameless for his own protection, was also telling me how he thinks about going to law school. No, Baron, no!

But while it is interesting how many cool and creative people consider law school, it is even more interesting that I never met any. I mean, where were the spandex-wearing heavy-metal rockers at my law school? I don't recall any. Instead I was stuck with people who agreed with judges who made female lawyers wear skirts in court, because pantsuits were generally unfeminine. I! "Your honor, I actually have a very feminine butterfly tattoo on my left ankle and this nasty pantsuit is just covering it up...oh, wait, you don't like tattoos either? I'll just put on another layer of pantyhose then."

I will tell you what I told Nameless Member: if you are a creative person--not just creative, but if who you are is mostly driven by the creative impulse--then law school is not for you. Creativity is not a treasured asset in law school. The two do not mix in the wild, and cannot survive in the same environment.

If you are mostly creative, and still want to law school, then you must have another trait to succeed: marathons. A 10K will do, but really you must be able to run the full 26-or-whatever-K. Only those creative types who have the capability and persistence to train for a marathon should consider law school and/or a legal career. It's for the long haul.

As for me, I don't even break into a jog unless someone is chasing me. And, depending on the circumstances, sometimes not even then.

That should tell you something, though I'm not sure what.

Fame By Any Other Name

During my research for new book proposal, I stumbled across the following list. All were trained as lawyers but found fame in other fields. Some in particular give us hope...

Franz Kafka (writer)
Rene Descartes (philospher)
Francis Scott Key (composer)
Scott Turow (author)
Terry Louise Fisher (co-creator of LA Law)
Paul Robeson (actor/singer/civil rights activist)
Geraldo Rivera (broadcast journalist)
Richard Thalheimer (president/The Sharper Image)
Noah Webster (lexicographer)
John Wesley Hardin (outlaw)
Mahatma Gandhi (political/spiritual leader)
Tony LaRussa (former Oakland A’s manager)
Henry Fielding (author)
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (political leader)
Mortimer Zuckerman (owner of U.S. News & World Report)
Erle Stanley Gardner (creator of Perry Mason)
Sir Thomas More (statesman/saint)
Pat Haden (former LA Rams quarterback)
Charlie Rose (broadcast journalist)
Rossano Brazzi (actor)
Washington Irving (author)
Howard Cosell (sportscaster)
Hoagy Carmichael (songwriter)
Edgar Lee Masters (poet/novelist)
Wassily Kandinsky (painter)
Peter Tchaikovsky (composer)
Fred Graham (CBS TV reporter)
Fidel Castro (politician)
Otto Preminger (film director)
Madalyn Murray O’Hair (reformer)
Ralph Nader (consumer advocate/politician)
Jules Verne (author)
Archibald MacLeish (poet)
Studs Terkel (oral historian)

Satanicide Rules!

Having heard three out of the four bands that my friend Griff plays drums in, I think that Satanicide is my favorite. The others, made up of virtually the same people, are very, very good. This was not an easy decision. Hair Supply, as you know, is the heavy metal/Air Supply band, all spandex and, well, hair. Heather has a sound that's like hearing your boyfriend's band playing in his garage on a summer evening. But Satanicide was the whole package. A little Spinal Tap, a little glam rock, a little punk, a lot of metal, they even supplied their own scantily clad video vixens and tottering gothic pillars. Any band where the lead singer not only stage dives successfully, but gets the crowd to carry him back to the bar for a shot of Jack Daniels is alright by me.

Special kudos to Phil because I promised him, and because he made me feel like a celebrity introducing me to friends who read my blog. And for those of you who are into live music, bassist D. is playing Saturday night with Jamie Rattner. I know nothing about this, but Drew is a great bassist. Or maybe I would say that of anyone who plays Duff in a Guns and Roses tribute band.

I am one hour away from my birthday. I don't like birthdays. Actually, that's not true. I like birthdays, I just don't like the numbers that go along with it. Is there any way to get them to slow down, or even in reverse for a few years? But now that the day is almost here, it doesn't feel half bad. In New York, you always feel young. I only feel ancient out in the suburbs, where my former high school friends are wheeling their four children around in SUV's. Actually, I don't exactly feel ancient; more like...baffled. Am I the one who missed the boat, or are they?

Primary Birthday Wish: Gorgeous New Book Deal, with Matching Publicity.
Secondary Birthday Wish: Private, But Clive Owen-Related.
Tertiary Birthday Wish: Really Good Absinthe, Imported Only.

Or at least a nice massage. Shiatsu.

True Realty

During a recent dry spell--work, not love--I applied for a couple difference freelance positions on craigslist. The choicest one was writing a real estate blog for The Learning Annex. Me--blog? And get paid? Why, thank you!

Naturally, the longtime blog reader now asks the obvious question--exactly what real estate experience do I have? And of course, I have no professional experience, but I am a New Yorker, and that automatically puts me in the category of semi-obsessed hobbyist.

The two major categories of elevator conversation in Manhattan are weather and real estate. You could be trapped in the elevator with either Justin Timberlake or Justice Scalia and easily slip into the conversation about today's weather, or your apartment or neighborhood. Bear in mind that "real estate" in New York can include everything from rent-per-square-foot to the views from the fourth floor to which building Gwyneth Paltrow now lives in to what's happening with The Rent Control Board is doing. In New York, but especially Manhattan, real estate matters. It counts.

Most people from New York aren't born here (though it seems that most of those who were, never leave). So these shoebox-sized apartments aren't ridiculous to us. Sure, my entire apartment could fit into the biggest room in my parents' old house. But for nesters like me, who hates moving and feels traumatized even thinking about it, these unbelievably tiny apartments are our home. We decorate and paint and care for every teeny-weeny square foot, because this place is going to be our home.

I hadn't actually lived in an apartment before, except when I lived in London as a student. Five girls in two bedrooms at Earl's Court was horrendous, and made worse by the fact that we had no phone. My first New York apartment was a second floor studio provided by NYU Grad. This would have been fine, except I was sharing it, and I never got a night's sleep. (To those who live on the second floor, I salute you). My roommate was J. Big and blond, had the mother of all nasal New Jersey accents--despite having been raised in Weschester--which I found both grating and colorful. She was appalled that I did not know that The Notorious B.I.G and Biggie Smalls where the same person. I was appalled when, I told her my firm thesis was in was about period piece dramas, she asked me what my menstrual cycle had to do with anything.

And surprisingly, we got along, and moved into an apartment two blocks down. Here is where I learned about the mystery of key money (it's illegal) and landlords (ours was the American Legion) and earplugs on weekend nights. My new roommate was V. who was Indian but said her name in tongue-twisting way I'd never heard of. Jobless and supported by her father for over a year, she quickly had a harem of guys (all black) who kept her busy when her boyfriend wasn't around. But yet again, we all got along, and stayed in that apartment until they doubled our rent. (Unless a building is specified as rent stabilized, they can raise it however much they want. This I learned the hard way.

I've been ensconced in my current place for a while now, and over the years, I've acquired a fascination with New York real estate. Do you know I could buy an island in Italy for the price of a two-bedroom in the West Village? This is slightly appalling. But in a town where living rooms are converted into bedrooms by removable walls or curtains, where there's a difference between "light" and "view," where many bedrooms can't fit any more furniture than a queen-size bed, where tipping rates are constantly New York, you have to be addicted to real estate, just to survive.

Now, the Learning Annex blog will be a national one, and I'm sure it has a particular theme and tone that's different than this one. And while there are many New York real estate blogs, there are few national ones. And I welcome the knowledge. One day, when my books have sold a million copies or when I marry rich, I aspire to actually own property rather than temporarily squatted on it. Where, I don't know. I may not be in New York, so writing about national real estate sounds pretty helpful in the long run. And there's lots I want to learn. I hope to unravel the mystery that is a co-op board, the difference between assumed and balloon mortgages, how to deal with surveyors, where the good realtors go. I'll probably try to look everything up online, but I don't mind taking buying some books or even take a course or two. To be honest, I think I'll pick it up quickly, and have fun writing about it, getting wise about it.

The best part? Getting paid to browse listings. Before, I only did this during the Lottery Fantasy. Actually, the lottery fantasy consists almost entirely of real estate and vintage clothing. So if anyone needs a vintage clothing blog out there, just let me know).

And if the Learning Annex doesn't pick me for the gig--well, I'll still have this blog. A blog in a hand is worth two in the bush.

Hmmm...that always sounds so dirty...

Fame and Fortune

Hi, remember me? I used to blog here. lawyerwriter is the name. I have been dogsitting with a very weak internet connection, which meant the dog got a lot of attention but the blog did not. Now, like Lady Lazarus, Ophelia and Sleeping Beauty rolled into one, I have returned to let you know that I have been Discovered.

This is very exciting for me. The closest I have been to being Discovered up until now was when some Indian lady (officially known as an "Auntie") stopped me in the park while I was walking a dog to ask for my name and biodata. That is, she did not actually ask for my biodata, but she was particularly interested to know if I walked the dog at the same time every day, presumably so she could drive by with her eligible nephew to point me out to him. She was very disappointed that I gave her the generic dogwalking business card rather than my home phone number, particularly because I do not think she owns a dog.

That said, I am now playing Kentucky Fried Chicken Girl in Bath Party, which is a multimedia play that is going to go on for four weeks at the Howl Festival, which is a pretty cool festival in the East Village. This is an original one-person show starring the very beautiful and talented Meital Dohan, and it covers issues about the American Dream and globalization, but in a very funny way. My blog audience (and audiences in general) will be relieved to know that I do not actually have to act on stage, but that my part will be filmed and then shown on a screen behind Meital.

One of the great disappointments of my life is my utter lack of acting ability, which I try to hide by being as dramatic and often drunken as possible. The last time I acted was as Goody Crazy Woman in my college's three-and-a-half hour production of The Crucible, where my hair was spraypainted silver (I will do hairpainting if it is integral to the part). Anyway, it was my job to rant in a Puritan kind of way until I was burnt at the stake. I thought I did a fine job, but the rest of the cast seemed a little to eager to use real fire on me.

This did not seem to dissuade Meital or her director, Karen Shefler, at all. I have less chance of screwing up on film rather than theater, so I am grateful not to appear on stage for four weeks in a row. And I hope it will not cause stampedes of people to run when I say that I have to sport an Indian accent. I accept that an Indian accent is intrinsically funny, and I also accept that I cannot do one very well (I look to Apu on The Simpsons as my muse). Again, this did not seem to dissuade Karen or Meital, who rather touchingly believe I am perfect for the part. If only everyone had such faith me!

But this is what I anticipate: a Hollywood Bigshot will be in the audience. My face appears on the screen--just for a minute--but he stands up and says "Who is that girl?" His assistant tries to argue with him: "But sir, she's a nobody." "I don't care," Hollywood Bigshot says. "Get me that girl! I want to make her a Star!" And the rest is Hollywood history.

If anyone can name the show where I ripped off that whole scenario from, I will give them a cookie. It will probably be a dog cookie, but a cookie is a cookie.


I very rarely have Friendly Professional Relations with Real Lawyers. I will explain the terms thusly: "Friendly Professional Relations" are relations that I have with people who I deal with mostly for work, rather than social, reasons. "Real Lawyers" are lawyers who are not lawyers by trade or vocation, but people who have lawyering in their blood. (Notice I did not say "law in their blood"). Allow me to illustrate with the following story, which I will call "Outlawyered!"

I recently got an offer for The Project from Company B. Wanting to make sure that I did not violate the Confidentiality Agreement I had with Company A, I contacted my supervisor at Company A and suggested a workable compromise. I was surprised to receive a warning to immediately abandon The Project and warnings that Company A would vigorously litigate any breach of the Confidentiality Agreement. I was surprised mostly because Project B was pretty innocuous and could easily be done exclusively through common and public information, and because my supervisor and I have Friendly Professional Relations (supervisor is not a lawyer). This made threats of litigation in response to a friendly email a little...well, surprising. Especially since Company A and Company B are not competitors. A call between me and supervisor quickly ironed things out, (FPR were restored) and it became clear that The Project might be more trouble than it was worth. My supervisor suggested I talk to Company A's legal Counsel for better guidelines so that I would not have to clear every project with Company A.

Now, the phone call between me and Counsel went somewhat disastrously. Bear in mind that I had already decided to give up the Project, but I decided to find out exactly what Counsel felt the Confidentiality Agreement covered, and what it didn't. I sugfested my plan of doing the Project with completely public information, and perhaps not even mentioning Company A.

Unsurprisingly, Counsel felt that the Confidentiality Agreement covered a broad range of projects, not just this project. And this is where Real Lawyering comes in. Counsel was cool, collected and calm as he completely outlawyered me. Before we could even talk about a compromise, words such as "unethical" and "misrepresentation"(not to mention phrases such as "blinded for money" and "trading on Company A's name for personal gain") were thrown at me. I, of course, began to get very angry. This is what humans do when they are accused of being sneaky when in fact they have gone out of their way to be honest. This is not, however, what lawyers are supposed to do.

Counsel and I continued on the phone for some time, one of us calm and the other one angry. Now, this is not a "take my side" story, because even I, knowing the extraneous details, would take Counsel's side. Not because he was right--far from it. It's virtually impossible, even accidentally, to disclose confidential information when all the information in your work product is already accessible to the public at large. And frankly, I'm not even sure I have the information he thinks I'm going to use.

But what's interesting is that I only realized it after I got off the phone, after I called a couple litigators I knew back from the firm days. What's interesting is that I didn't figure it out for myself. Counsel outlawyered me not because he had better facts and better logic, but because he knew how to keep me off balance and he knew how to spin as many arguments as he needed to back his version of the facts. As I got more and more aggravated, I couldn't even figure out why I was still on the phone with this guy. After all, I'd already decided to forego the project, (though not Company B altogether). And yet, there I was, arguing philosophy, ignoring my instincts that Counsel was just wrong. I think he could have gone on for hours. But I couldn't. I gave in.

The question is why? And the answer is this: for me, lawyering is a job. It's a suit I put on and take off. I generally enter relationships--professional, social, romantic--with my lawyer suit off. (You could say I enter into them in my birthday suit, actually). For others, lawyering is second nature. They will lawyer over a friend's excessive tip or how fast their taxi is going or whether their table in the restaurant should have multiple candles. It's in their blood, an instinct, and they're always ready to go. And boy, have they practiced.

As for strained relations with these types makes it clear I made the right choice in choosing not to practice. Counsel and his ilk are made for the profession; they're who you want in the courtroom, representing you in tough, hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners litigations. As for me and the other lawyer hybrids out there (lawyerwriter, lawyerbanker, lawyeractivist)--we're here for other reasons. I may not know them yet, but I suspect they're more...human.

Writing Jobs for Ex-Lawyers

Sorry about the false promise of the title--I'm looking for them myself. But I can offer some general advice if you're a lawyer, and you want to be a writer:

1. Have money saved. Period

2. Learn about the trade. Talk to a career counselor or coach and see what kind of writing you want to do. There's consumer and trade magazine journalism, copyediting, advertising and public relations copywriting, marketing, work-for-hire, ghostwriting, legal-test-related writing, career-related writing, consumer and trade book publishing, internal corporate writing, lawfirm writing...and I have done all of these. That might be the only way that you will figure out what kind of writer you will be. If you want to be all of the above, go for it. Just know what you're getting into.

3. Use the Law Degree. The newly learned lesson: do not try to run from being identified as a lawyer. It won't work. If you want to get away from your law degree, you are going to have to do it in stages. So, while you get your writing career going, stay as close to the law as you can stand. If this means practice, practice. If this means temping, fine. A year ago, I was determined to never write about law again. Now I'm almost looking forward to it. The time I spent as an agent's assistant or ghostwriter for cookbooks or doing study guides was fine, but I wasn't making as much money as my law degree could get me. And I have never gone through the phase of wanting to be starving writer living in a garret. I have cats to feed.

4. Network. This is something that you'll have to do the rest of your writing life. Allot some time and money to get to know people in the writing world, mostly for information rather than jobs. The simplest way to get started is this: make a list of everyone you know, everywhere. Go through the list and see who you can contact about your new career goal. Ask everyone if they know anyone who may work in writing/editing/publishing, and if you can use their name to make a connection to go for an informational interview. Do it in person; failing that, choose the phone, then email. You will meet some people who are not useful, but you will eventually meet people who will help you or at least remember your name when they do have work. Ask lots of questions, and at the end, ask if they can recommend more people for you to talk to.

5. Lose the Resume. Rework your resume to highlight any writing experience you have. Nonetheless, show your resume only as a last resort. Once people see the law degree, they won't see anything else. The resume actually limits you.

6. Give it time. I mean years. You will fail at least once. The important thing is to be persistent and pick yourself back up and plan for the long run.

7. Get used to explaining yourself. Everyone will want to know why you are not a lawyer. Many will be complimentary, but more will be incredulous. Don't take it personally. They just won't get it.

8. Downsize your life. You will have less money than you will budget for. People will not pay you on time. Sometimes not at all. Be prepared to go without on specific things.

9. Write and read frequently. Write about what you'd ideally like to write about. Read any publication you'd like to write for. Read books that will inspire your writing. Think about your writing ability like a muscle--it must be exercised regularly.

10. Don't burn any bridges. You may want to run from your fellow colleagues, your firm, your cases, etc. Don't. You may want to go back one day. Or, ask them for work. If you leave, leave on good terms, whenever possible.

So...this is just a preliminary list, based on my experience in the last three years. Any other lawyer-writers out there, feel free to add your thoughts...

The Lawyerwriter

This blog is called the lawyer writer. I'm not quite sure why I chose the name, because I rarely talk about law and only sometimes about being a lawyer.

I came upon the interesting realization that I've spent the last three trying to have as little to do with law as possible. If had my way, I would have left the firm, started writing novels, and never looked back. Instead, it's been a slow hard progression away from law, towards writing, but, in a Godfather-like way, law keeps pulling me back in.

Okay, so maybe the mob analogy is a little melodramatic. But I remember feeling like law was the wrong idea for me about three years before I actually left. And when I left, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. This elicits many responses from inside and outside my head:

The Mob: "You can't really leave the law, can you? After you put so much in?"

The Army: "You just couldn't hack it, could you? Weren't tough enough."

The Cult: "But everyone wants you to be a lawyer."

The Parents: "You'll go back. You will. Really."

Now, the most obvious question is--why? What exactly am I running from? I spent three years studying, two years practicing and I wrote a book about it. I did okay. I didn't hate all of it. So why am I hell-bent on carving on being writer rather than lawyerwriter?

I don't want to write a courtroom drama or expose of law firms. I looked into true crime. They specifically asked for "stories of middle class men with double lives that explode in murder." I am not making this up. But I don't read about the law. I can't stand Grisham, and I really dislike Linda Fairstein. Intensely. Basically, television does this much better now, if you like the courtroom stuff. Most episodes of Law and Order (the original, and Criminal Intent) are much better than anything I've found in the bookstore. They have finer legal points, more newsworthy scenarios, and better courtroom surprises. There are some great legal movies, but Law and Order really broke the mold. So I could go work in television, writing Law and Order shows, which might be fun.

I could be a paralegal just to earn some cash, instead of writing full time. Or, preferably, I could set my hair on fire.

I did write The Street Law Handbook. I hadn't planned on it. I'd planned on agenting it, but I didn't know if I had enough of a background in criminal law to write it. But then I started getting so many ideas of how I wanted it to be, and what I wanted it to cover, that I starting outlining it. And, except for a very brief, extraordinarily unfortunate few months where I had a partner (a real criminal lawyer long on ego but very short on ability), I enjoyed writing it very much. I learned more about criminal law than I'd known as a lawyer.

And that, actually, was all I planned on doing in terms of legal writing. No blog, no sequel, no legal writing to pay the bills, or anything like that. I figured that once you get published, you'd sort of entered the elite club of authors, and that was that. And I would go as far as my talent would take me. And then I would quit and write my memoirs. Preferably in my eighties, in Paris with a 20-year old lover. Who cooks.

Anyway, back to the point. Why did I want to ditch the law thing entirely, without making use of it to pay the bills?

There's the faux-rebellious reason: I rejdct law and the corporate world. I want no part of office life. I hate suits, and really hate pantyhose.

There's the logical reason: I'm a writer. I was only a lawyer for five years, but I've been writing since I was ten. All I studied, besides law, was literature. But the law degree seems to what I'm defined by--branded by, in a way--because it's a profession.

There's the insecurity reason: I'm not sure exactly what having a law degree has taught me. I liked studying it, but the practice is just awful. And I don't even know if I'm any good at it.

There's the honest reason: The law degree, and everything that went along with it, isn't nearly as interesting as writing and publishing.

There's the defensive reason: I'm afraid that if I'm lawyerwriter today, that's all I'll be writing tomorrow. Courtrooms and corporate boardrooms--that's all they'll want from me.

But lately I've started to think--what if I really could find a way to use the law degree without practicing, and without having all my books be about law? Someone suggested legal marketing, or writing for public relation firms that specialize in law firms and legal entities. Of course, I haven't done much public relations writing, but it might be fun. It might even pay the bills.

So I'm doing some investigation into this. If anyone knows anything--or has any thoughts on why some ex-lawyers run screaming from their law degrees, instead of using them, I'd like to hear them.

Cats, Neighbors and Public Relations

I have a nasty neighbor. This may not be news to you, who have had many a nasty neighbor, but this is actually the first time for me. Though I live in a generic apartment building in a non-descript part of town, I am quite fanatical about my floor. A., the woman at the end of the hall, is our alpha-neighbor. You can tell immediately she's lived here the longest, knows everyone, will speak her mind and is pretty much in charge of the floor. She's a lovely person and, luckily, she likes me. Actually, she liked my cats first, because they used run down the hall to visit her. Across from her are D., who's an Italian guy who works in glassware, and I., his girlfriend, a Kazhakstani (sp?) lawyer. They throw these parties overflowing with Italians. We don't always go, but the cats go to every one. Next to them are J. and C., two rather fashionable gentlmen who also only started liking me after they met the cats. Across from them is a Brazillian couple, very friendly. Their daughter, G. likes to chase the cats down the hall. D., on the other side of me, has two tiny dogs that love my cats. (My cats stand the doggy attention with stoic disgust). There's a corporate apartment across from me that gets regular visits from a family in Westchester. Their children knock on the door to play with my cats.

Get the picture? No, this is not a "how cute are Bootsie and Footsie" email and their pictures will not be posted. I am going somewhere with this: namely, my cats are more popular than I am. But now I have a new neighbor. She has a name, but lets just call her Wicked Woman Number Twelve. (WW12 for short)(this is a joke for those who have read earlier posts). On the second day WW12 moved in, she noticed the cats sitting outside my door during a party. She told the doorman about it. I found this irritating because my door was wide open and I was in the kitchen, and she could easily just asked me in a neighborly fashion. I told the doorman that I was very sorry, and to have her come talk to me so we could work something out. Second time, she went to the doorman again. Then a series of notes were exchange. Then some nasty notes. Then she went to management.

Because WW12 is allergic, she does not want to be near the cats. Naturally, I offer to keep them inside when she is around, and to minimize the frequency and the length of their hallways visits. But no, this is insufficient. She does not want them to leave my apartment at all. Never mind that our hallway is practically the length of a football field, and she's only got one corner of it. Never mind that my cats have been doing this since they were kittens three years ago. She will actually get the porter to vacuum the area around my door, because the allergens from my cats will still be there, even when the cats are not. And these little allergens will apparently send her to the hospital.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Lawyerwriter is being insensitive. Doesn't lawyerwriter have allergies? They suck.

Lawyerwriter does have allergies. See earlier posts. But Lawyerwriter is irritated nonetheless. And this is why.

I am allergic to bees stings. I swell up. This is lamentable, and should I accidentally move next door to a beekeeper, I would be nervous and ask the beekeeper to cooperate. However, I do not--and this is key--knowingly move into a beehive. If WW12 knows she is that allergic to pets, why does she move into a 52 story building overflowing with dogs and cats? There's a girl who takes her cats on walks, for god's sake.

And I know what you're thinking now. Am I one of those crazy cat ladies? No. This is different. I have lived in this apartment for ages, carefully cultivating a really cool set of neighbors who make working from home a little more manageable. I have actually achieved a New York miracle of never, not once, having a problem with a neighbor. (That's not true. Once, J. accused me of not holding the elevator when he was running towards it. But then he met the cats).

We're talking white-picket-fence, people. Neighbors have each other's keys, take care of each other's pets, lend each other chairs for dinner parties, give both pets and babies presents on holidays. We're extremely friendly but we have our own lives and it doesn't get complicated. Although, when A2. and E. across the hall had a baby, they invited me to his bris. At 6:30 in the morning. (Yes, I went. No, I didn't look).

And now we have been invaded by WW12. Or, mostly, I have. Now management has told me that door needs to stay closed even if I am at home, and that if the cats need to leave the apartment, they need to be on leashes. And the point is, it's not a cat thing at all. I mean, I love my boys, but I'm perfectly aware that they're little animals, for god's sake, and will survive just fine without excursions down the hall, fancy toys, or fireman-and-policeman Halloween costumes.

It's a territorial thing. It's like our floor is Lumberton and she's the severed ear in the field. I'm afraid I'm afraid that I'm going to be lying awake at night, forced to listen to her vacuuming outside my door. Who is this nutjob? She's so scared of dealing face to face that she runs every time she sees me coming out of the elevator. (Once, the lock wouldn't work and she started yanking at the door like I was a mugger coming at her). Earlier today, my roommate was heading out as she was heading in. The nutjob leaned against the door, smirked and tried to stare down my roommate. Now I have to keep my door closed more, wrestle my cats inside (and you try wrestling two cats--or for that matter, putting them on leashes), see less of my neighbors and worry about running into the witch whenever I have to go out.

No. She must leave. I want my picket fence back. But how? Blog audience, I invite your thoughts.

Bandit Queens

One of my now-patented hiatuses (haitui? what exactly is the plural of hiatus? discuss). Apologies to those who have been irritated by the lack of posts (usually at lunch-time, over a sandwich, I know who you are).

Well, I am happy to say that my Lizzie writings have resulted in a somewhat decent first draft. Why, exactly, was it excruciating? Is that always how writing is going to be? I'm amazed by people who think this is an easy profession. I do anything--clean, dust, my taxes--to keep from writing sometimes.

Next on the list is Phoolan Devi, Bandit Queen of India. I will not go into the details of Phoolan Devi here. But I will say this here (and not in the actual book): I picked her because I wanted at least one of my Wicked Women to be Indian. I admit it. I wanted at least one Indian woman who was considered by many to be just plain bad. And among the queens and the martyrs and the asparas and dutiful wives, I did find one.

I first heard of Phoolan Devi through my parents--that she was a gangster who roamed the mountains of North India, and that she had once butchered two dozen innocent brahmins. This at least, was what she went to prison for. I pictured her like the goddess Kali--all fire and brimstone and skull necklaces. In my research, however, I haven't seen a goddess of destruction. I have, however, seen a woman who knew how to play up that image--especially to Brahmin caste men, who she loathed. To Brahmins like my father, she was a butcher and a bandit. To lower caste Indians and untouchables, she was a hero. Many also considered her a feminist. At any rate, she was popular enough to be elected Minister of Parliament in India, a position she held until she was killed in 2000.

That, any rate, will be how I'm spending my Sunday. Okay, maybe I'll also catch a repeat of the last episode of Kept, where Jerry finally got rid of oily, nasty pretty boy Ricardo. That was sweet.

Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll

Now, many of you have been accustomed to hearing about my many oddball obsessions--among them cheese, the Kama Sutra, Jerry Hall, purple hair (yes, yes, I know it used to be blue, but for some odd reason it's gone purple now. I bow to its whims), Henry Miller, hating Sex and the City, etc. I'd like to add another one to the list: local bands.

I think when you live in New York, you have to be crazy not to go and see the local bands. You can hear virtually any kind of music, and though you hear a lot of crap, you also hear some bands that are really amazing. I've gone three bands in three nights, and though I do feel a little wobbly, it was well worth it.

Last night, as many of you know, was the Heather concert. I took Miss Julie to Arlene's Grocery to see them. Several members of Heather are in the bands Hair Supply (a hair band tribute to Air Supply) and Satanicide (a mock heavy-metal band). Specifically, my friend Griff--one half of the Mad Brits--plays drums in all three bands. (For those of you new to our little chat, the Mad Brits are Griff and Allie, the hard-partying, most crazy, married rockers who are much, much cooler than me. They consistently tell me that they lead very boring lives, but every time I go out with them, I slink woozily back in at the crack of dawn like Bertie Wooster, usually while they're deciding where to go next).

Well, Heather was just amazing. For one thing, they're all hot. Now I know that being a musician always makes a man hot, but it's particularly hot when you're a talented musician. Heather made me feel like I was sitting in someone's garage in a shredded concert T with a beer in my hand, listening to someone's band. A very 70's vibe. Miss Julie and I were just saying how we wanted to be in the back, away from the speakers, when they started. By the end, we were way up close to the stage, rocking out (which, in this case, means jumping around waving our arms in the air and shouting. It just sounds cooler if I say rocking out)

Aftewards, we partied with the band. Actually, we just hung out and had some drinks, but, again, it sounds cooler to say we partied with the band. Griff and Ali were as fun and generous as ever, and I kept promising to put them in the next blog entry. At the end of the night, Griff was saying, "We still have to do something cool for the blog entry" and all I could think was, "Are you kidding?"

Because the whole night was like some Jefferson Airplane documentary, complete with me following a snowy white rabbit into another world. We were joined by bassist Drew, singer Dale and guitarist Gerard. (Other guitarist Phil I never met, but allow me to say that I finally have proof that a guy can look cool in a porn star mustache). The rumor was that Rufus Wainright, who I saw at the show, wanted Drew to be his bassist, but he knows that if he leaves Heather I'll never forgive him. Drew, by the way, had a big cut on the side of his noise from where the mike hit him. He was actually bleeding on stage, but I think he was so busy playing that he didn't notice. Miss Julie and I liked that--it seemed very rock and roll. Gerard is a fellow dogwalker, as is Ali, and the three of us meeting made me think of a perfect article called "Sex Advice From Dogwalkers" ("Sex Advice From (Insert Profession Here)" is a regular feature) (Remind self to pitch article). Dale left first, and I think it's generally not a good idea to tell him that his hair reminds you of the mane of the lead singer of Quiet Riot--mostly because I think he's going for a more 70's look. (Sideburns, maybe?) The rest of us non-performing groupies blearily and dutifully followed the band members as they progressively partied down the Lower East Side. I managed to outlast Gerard and his-friend-whose-name-I-can't-remember, although perhaps that wasn't a good idea. Towards the end of the night, they were assuming the politely pained and vaguely amused expression that I see so often when I'm thoroughly fucked up (forgive the less than precise description, but I really can't think of a better way to describe the condition I was in).

After we were reluctantly ejected from a bar on the edge of Chinatown by an irritate bouncer who wanted to go home (it was 4:45, after all) I was started to crash in a way that can only be compared to a fiery zeppelin. But, with increasing disbelief, I found that I was still willing to follow the Mad Brit party train as we walked over to John's house. John, who was the big, shaggy, blond haired, amiable fellow I met earlier in the night, is apparently the son of one of the Mamas and the Papas, though I never figured out which one. We arrived at his apartment, past an irate doorman who clearly considered us riffraff, to find that all surfaces in John's apartment were covered with sleeping people who John apparently did not know. It appeared that we were going to be forced to party on the roof, but since it was cold, we had to go on an expedition for sweaters for everyone. Now at this point I was only drifting in and out of consciousness, but as far as I can tell, four other people showed up with lots of drugs and since the waking people outnumbered the sleeping people, the party moved inside and the sweater issue was moot.

I think Griff and Ali (and co.) were genuinely disappointed and puzzled by my decision to go home to sleep, but since the sun was rising, I decided to bow to convention and embark on the drunken sunrise journey home. Actually, the usual convention is a drunken sunrise journey to the nearest 24-hour greasy spoon, but nobody seemed hungry and I was starting to think I needed a cane or some stick to keep me propped up.

Anyway, I woke up this morning feeling only vaguely human, but the point of this sordid tale of the city is that it's fun to go see local bands. You hear great music, and later you can party like a rock star. True, I can only do this once in a while, but it's nice to know people who are completely faithful to the sex, drugs and rock n' roll lifestyle.

Luckily, if you live in New York, there are plenty of options for live music. Satanicide is playing a reunion concert at Bowery Ballroom on June 28, and there's a Hair Supply show coming up soon. Gerard, who's apparently in a half-dozen bands when not walking dogs, has a show in one of them coming up at the Knitting Factory on June 8. (Gerard, write a comment and tell me your band's name again). We still eagerly await hearing Puracane, Ali's triphop band, and Griff tells me that Heather plays with my beloved Les Sans Culottes all the time. Put that show together folks and I will do your publicity! (consisting mainly of cute rocker t-shirts and constant haranguing of my blog audience).

If you don't support your local bands, they'll be extinct. Look what they're trying to do to CBGB's here. That place should have historic landmark status.

As for me, as good as they were, I think I need a break from bands. I plan on lying here with my feet up and a bag of frozen vegetables on my head*, eating cheese and watching Golden Girls reruns. I'll leave you with that appealing image.

*I bought this bag of frozen vegetables when I first moved in, planning to make stir fry. However, it is far more handy for icing twisted ankles and cooling hungover heads, as the bag molds nicely around the offending body part.

Real Live Girl

Whether you were born in New York, or came for school, work or love, (or as my new roommate impressively decided, to just come because "you felt like it."), you start your partying in one particular Manhattan neighborhood. This may not be true if you're not a regular partier, or married with kids, but it is true if you came here single and excited about the New York experience. The neighborhood is colloquially known as "The Village" but in reality, we must be very specific. I am talking about the stretch of Houston, Bleecker, West 3rd, West 4th, between Sixth Avenue and Broadway. Mostly South of Washington Square Park. NYU Area.

This is when you were a tourist. Or when you came here as a student. Or maybe even a high school student, hitching a ride with older friends on a Friday night with fake i.d. This is before you moved here. Or before you before you stopped drinking cheap vodka, before you realized further East and the South, the culture got weirder, cooler, hipper, more punk, and so that was the neighborhood to party in. This is before you started refusing to pay cover for anything (except your friend's band), and using phrase "Bridge-and-Tunnel-Crowd" WAY too frequently. Before you became a New York snob, and now you only go there...well, because a friend's band is playing.

I think every city has this neighborhood. Like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, or Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, or Leicester Square in London. You go to this street on the weekend because you think it's hip and happening, until you go often enough and realize that it's actually cheesy and touristy and that real New Yorkers are elsewhere, laughing at your delusions of hipness.

Like everybody who used to live in the neighborhood--I lived on Sullivan and Bleecker--I swear it has gone completely downhill because I left. Or, more specifically, because of the tattoo parlours and fast food chains that have moved in. Everytime I go down there I thank God those little chess stores, used record stores and vintage clothing stores are still in operation, and that even though the four-cafe intersection of MacDougal and Bleecker isn't the same, Cafe Figaro remains. And God bless Kim's Video. The rest feels totally different though, flashy and shallow and kind of lame. I'm waiting for them to tear those nice townhouses down and put up another high rise. That I would probably move into, given half the chance (and twice the salary).

Anyway, though I'm always happy to hang out in Washington Square Park or visit my cousin Siva, I rarely go down there to party. But when my friend Arun told me that his band, Real Live Girl, was playing at Kenny's Castaways, I had round up some people for support. This is the first time that I have heard Arun play onstage--except at Tamil Mandram religious festivals, plays or recitals. Because, you see, Arun and I grew up together in San Jose, our parents getting together every weekend to get drunk and find an excuse to show off their kids' talents. He was always musical--I think he played the clarinet and trumpet--but he was definitely a rocker from the start. As I like to embarass him by telling everyone, he wrote the music column in high school "In Tune with Arun" and was the only one who experimented with his hair as much as I did. Now, of course, he's an investment banker, but he doesn't seem to have sold his entire soul to the devil, as he's plays in rock bands and quite sincerely refers to his guitar as his "axe."

So when he told me about the show, I called some friends and we all decided to go down and pretend we're still 19-year NYU rock groupies who are "with the band." This week, actually, I've been doing a lot of that, but the bands vary in quality. I know tonight's Heather show at Arlene's Grocery is going to rock, because it's my Mad Brit friends Ali and Griff from mock-metal band Satanicde, and I've already seen them play. Some other bands, alas, I can't say as much for. But Arun's band was really good--the best songs had that loud guitar-based garage sound, the sound that kind of wants to make you mosh around, if someone would just start an adult version of a mosh. I thanked God they weren't yet another pretty lead singer/acoustic guitar/sensitive soul-searching lyric band singing about mean ex-girlfriends and moments of solitude. I mean, I was hanging out in the NYU area again, I wanted to rock out a little. And the band was just perfect for that, for remembering when you used to by tickets from Ticketmaster to go see some band (Billy Idol, Lollapalooza, INXS, U2) live in a stadium of hundreds of teenagers, high as a kite, waving lighters in the air.

Now, the sad truth is that I can't be the rocker girl I once was. I can't go out every night, and even if I could, I coudn't go see bands every night. Most of the time I go out, it's just and excuse to catch up the week's events with a friend, and get a little tipsy together. For that, I need to be able to sit down, hear my friend over the music (and it should be good music, btw) and not have to deal with a 2-drink minimum or a cover charge. But you still have to go rock out with the band once in a while. It keeps you young.

And if you do it in the NYU area, it keeps you twice as young, because you remember that time when you first moved here, and were convinced that no one, ever or since, was as cool as you were, seeing a Real New York Band, at a Real New York Bar.