Water You Talking About?!

A notice was taped to the front door of my building yesterday, alerting us to a slight issue regarding our water supply, so I thought I’d pass this information along in the event that you have not been similarly briefed. Having deciphered the pidgin-legalese to the best of my ability, here is what I learned: it seems that when Hurricane Sandy came last fall (and was no longer a hurricane by then [no, it WASN'T] so watch out next time), there was some wind involved. Some of this wind moved the water around in the reservoir upstate, stirring up/awakening the filth on the bottom, so the water was treated with some extra chlorine – just like Mom used to process! – and a shot of ultra-violet light to kill the unwanted creepy-crawlies that live in it, but some of the filth got out anyway despite what they’re calling a treatment violation but you don’t have to do anything because it’s really no big deal either way.

There was one slight caveat, and in the interest of timeliness I will paraphrase it here. If you happen to be:

1.) pregnant;

2.) an infant or toddler (and miraculously reading the bulletin posted three feet above your head);

3.) ancient;

4.) immunity-compromised in any way

…and are thinking about drinking some yummy tap water LAST OCTOBER… then don’t. You’re welcome.

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Song of the Week: “How Are The Eggs”

Performed by Lindsay Mendez and Michael Holland
From the forthcoming show/album/cooking show “You’re Gonna Hate This”

Presenting the second installment in the You’re Gonna Hate This Demo series! Next week we start releasing the ones playbill.com hasn’t already shared with the world (many thanks to Michael Gioia for the incredible support!!), but here’s this one again in case you missed it. Photograph (“Ova U”) by Lindsay Mendez, even though I just named it. Cooked by her, too.

Vocals: Lindsay Mendez & Michael Holland
Instruments: Not Her
Music & lyrics by Michael Holland
©2013 Holland Highwater Music, ASCAP

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Song of the Week: “Hector And The European”

Performed by Lindsay Mendez and Michael Holland
From the forthcoming show/album/Tshirt/total immersion experience “You’re Gonna Hate This”

Got some reports that the amazing feature that playbill.com did about us only plays audio on big boy computers and not mobile-type toys, so maybe this will work for you. It’s from the new show we’re working on in between everything else (a theatre in Toronto actually tweeted that we wrote Godspell, for cryin’ out loud [we've been busier than we thought]).

Vocals: Lindsay Mendez & Michael Holland
Instruments: take a wild guess
Music & lyrics by Michael Holland
©2013 Holland Highwater Music, ASCAP

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19 degrees is too cold to think of clever titles

“Hey!! What happened to Song of the Week?!!” goes the public outcry that I’m still waiting to hear. Either my legions of readers (hundreds, anyway) are a particularly patient lot, or…well, let’s just leave it at that.

Last week, I did manage to finish mixing a half-dozen new demos for “You’re Gonna Hate This,” the show I’m writing for myself and Lindsay Mendez, and I’ll be posting those soon. But playbill.com requested an exclusive, so I said I’d wait till their piece comes out this week. (And if it doesn’t, I’ll post ‘em anyway! Don’t toy with my emotions, playbill.com.)

In the meantime, I still have a handful of songs to finish, so I’m headed back to the lab. More news from the NYC tundra coming soon. The End, by Michael.

PS Hope everybody had a nice Inauguration Day, though for me it just wasn’t the same without Aretha singing about her c-word on national television. YouTube it.

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Foster Pussycat: Yep, I’m Boring

Bless her heart, she tried to be funny. But when you bite off your consonants the way Jodie Foster has for a half-century, here are the two things you cannot be:

1.) funny

2.) in the closet.

I’m just wondering what all the flap was about. (Oh, yes, I went there.)

Listen, I like and admire her as an actress, a writer, and director. As a spokesperson for the LGBTQIA!5-underscore-lightningbolt community, not so much. Guess what: not her job. Public speaking is hard – and I know because I do it all the time. Sometimes without even realizing it, as I wear headphones on the subway and forget that I’m not just thinking.

I know a lot of funny lesbians, and I know a lot more who aren’t. I mean, they might be funny in a Dance of the Vampires way, but comediennes (bet they hate that!) they are not. I was trapped once in an elevator with kd lang — I mean, it was working, but, well, you know. She was surrounded by gasping sycophants who doubled over hysterically at her every utterance. Fact: not one thing she said was remotely funny. I am guessing this is why she is not a comic, or a speechwriter. But listen to Ingenue or Shadowland – not a laugh on ‘em, but man, do those records hold up, twenty-plus years later. When you look at her actual work, you can forgive her not being a Judy Gold, or Jessica Kirson, or even Lennie Watts (ask him about Korea).

If you want to hate on Jodie Foster, check out Sommersby. But if you’re looking for something to admire about her, don’t look to her incoherent comedy stylings, or how she handles her celebrity, or whether she’s a role model for your brother’s kids who probably already know which way is up anyway. What she will eventually leave behind for our (using the term loosely) culture to pick over will be an astonishingly large body of solid, good work. Y’know, her job. See The Accused, or Little Man Tate, or that Afterschool Special where all she wanted was to play baseball (dingdingdingding!!!!). Hell, she even did a good job on that recording in the planetarium where she walked us through the Big Bang.

Now that was funny.

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Hate Days a Week

Dry those tears; I’m back. Let’s start this new year off right with some announcements!

ANNOUNCEMENT #1: Kevin decided to foster a dog awaiting adoption through the Bully Project, which rescues pit bulls. It took a whole two days to find a permanent home for her. Say hello to our new baby, Pearl.

She needs to quit buggin' me.

She needs to quit buggin’ me.

ANNOUNCEMENT #2: Among the many things I’ve been working on/obsessing over, I’m frantically writing a new show for my friend Lindsay Mendez (check out this outdated home page) and myself to do in the spring. It’s a revue (of sorts [we think]). We hit on the idea of doing a kind of song cycle – without being caught dead referring to it as a song cycle, of course – but when it came to choosing a theme, we found ourselves stumped at first. Love songs? – No, we hate those. Songs about living in New York? – No, we hate doing that. In fact, turns out that pretty much the only thing we actually like is hating things. So the working title of our show is “You’re Gonna Hate This,” and it examines various aspects of our favorite pastime! We just recorded a bunch of demos last Wednesday, so watch the Song of the Week page over the coming weeks (or Weeks, I suppose), as I’ll be posting some of ‘em after they’re mixed – oops, except we promised playbill.com an exclusive, so I guess one will be appearing there first, if I can get my act together. Rest assured I will make more ANNOUNCEMENTS as the need arises.

Lindsay vowed to document the historic event with photography, then promptly forgot. Then made me stand in front of the mic and pretend at the end of the day.

Lindsay vowed to document the historic event photographically, then promptly forgot. Then made me stand in front of the mic and pretend at the end of the day.

And then made me take this.

And then made me take this.

Oh, and one more thing: I decided that all the song titles need to spell out the word “hate” for some reason – so expect the likes of “How Are The Eggs,” “He’s Angry This Evening,” “Haight Ashbury Trip Extension,” and many more!!!

ANNOUNCEMENT #3: This is the first spring robin of 2013, which I photographed this morning in Inwood Hill Park. I saw the last summer robin of 2012 two weeks ago, but who’s counting.

It needs to quit buggin' me.

It needs to quit buggin’ me.

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Rain, Dear

It’s another drizzly, early spring morning in NYC – in December. This is the second consecutive year where we appear to be gearing up for a relatively mild winter, and cries of global warming fill the holiday air. Next year when we’re under 13 feet of snow we’ll see just how committed people really are to this notion (which is real nonetheless), but for now, this winter-hater is living it up. Me and the robins. The formerly migratory, not-going-anywhere-this-year-thank-you robins.

I remember a similar stretch of mild weather from some years ago: the winters of 1990-91 and ’91-92, if I’m not mistaken. We enjoyed thunderstorms, occasional 60-degree days, and scant snowfall. And when you’re schlepping through the city to ship crap nobody wants across the country or trying to get to various and sundry appearances, it’s a lot easier when you’re not scrambling over crusty mounds of blackened ice, or leaping over foot-deep brackish puddles (and almost making it).

Granted, this global warming trend will have serious repercussions for many, many creatures (not just humans), although there will be benefits for others, to be sure. In the spirit of evolution, my prediction is that folks/critters who stay put and defiantly cross their arms/paws will fare less well than those who adapt to opportunities elsewhere. (I did not invent this.) And let’s not forget that this pattern is not unprecedented, and was bound to recur whether people ever showed up on earth or not – though perhaps not as quickly. But our efforts to understand and improve our surroundings, and the resulting, resounding screw-ups – they’re all part of nature, too. (I have this idea that in a thousand years somebody’s gonna dig us up and go, “Math! How adorable was that?“)

Big-picture thinking doesn’t make the occasional disaster or societal horror any less devastating, but our pattern-seeking brains need to be reminded that there’s a lot that’s beyond our control. Which may be why we find ourselves talking about the weather so much. Especially now.

Merry Myth-mas. It’s not about you.

PS – There’s more info on the Performance page, but come check out The Rehearsal Room this Wednesday (12.19) to hear songs from the new project I’ve been working on with The Lindsay Mendez! And this Saturday (12.22), I’m up in Hudson NY for Mistletoe Martinis with Musty at Club Helsinki! And happy holidays, for real.

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Fagen Till Ya Make It: Steely Don

I’m heading downtown on That Parade Float People Call the A Train, listening to the new Donald Fagen album. (And yes, that’s still the right word, so don’t even start with me.) I accidentally discovered it yesterday while browsing at Barnes & Noble and said “already?!” right out loud, his last solo CD having appeared about 6 years ago. Needless to say, Mr. Fagen is not known for cranking ‘em out – though admittedly I said the same thing when I found out they were doing a remake of Arthur, 30-some-odd years later. I guess it’s all relative.

So far, it sounds great – crisp and smart, lush in the right spots, delightfully cranky, reassuringly familiar without being an outright career retread. Perhaps less vitriolic than in the old days, but maybe once you’ve gotten what you want in life, that’s what happens. (I’ll let you know.) There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and that’s just fine: nobody can do what he does. A (perhaps unintentional) side effect of his kind of genius (like that of Joni Mitchell or Stephen Sondheim) is that artistically, he is something of a dead end. That looks a bit insulting as I type it, but in fact, I mean it as the highest compliment. There is no improving on what he has invented (unless you’re him), and if you emulate him, you end up producing a pale, inferior imitation. Hello, young writers, whatever you’re doing: study this stuff hard, but please God make up your own.

I saw Donald Fagen on the street once, about ten years ago. I was stepping outside after a soul-sucking rehearsal on 8th Avenue when he hustled past – a bit hunched, but at full speed ahead. Our eyes happened to meet and my jaw dropped in recognition before I had a chance to stop it; he gave a quick nod of acknowledgment as if to say, “Yeah, it’s me. Can we just be cool about this?” and kept on moving. I immediately called a friend to report my sighting.

“You’ll never guess who I just saw on the street,” I gushed.

“Woody Allen.”

“No, but close,” I said.

“Donald Fagen?”

That’s what I mean.

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Give It Up for Rent!

My latest lease renewal has arrived. For the privilege of dwelling in this humble roach trap, my rent is due to increase $24 or $47 dollars per month, dependent upon a one- or two-year term – not unreasonable or undoable, right? But this year, my package came with a bonus document bearing the warm and fuzzy title of “Tenant Information Sheet.” It seems that there’s a “legal rent,” an amount landlords are entitled to demand, and a “preferential rent,” which is what I have been paying lo these seven years, and which amounts to about $1500 less per month. According to my handy Sheet, the good folks at Pinnacle Management (you can Google their various lawsuits) wish to Inform me that at my next renewal – in one or two years – the rent will revert to the legal ransom, thus precluding my occupation of this hellhole (though I call it home). And so I made a decision.

If by that time I am still at such a point in my – career isn’t exactly the word – that I

1) can’t afford this hovel, or

2) can’t find a way to trade up to a big boy apartment,

then I’m done. My plan is to alert the Universe that I have indeed gotten the message: I’m not allowed to be successful at what I do, thanks a lot, see-ya-later-bye. I know when I’m not wanted: I stick around anyway, but the time is coming to reevaluate that strategy. This isn’t some please-beg-me-to-stay cry for help; it’s a last-ditch attempt to preserve what little self-respect I have left after banging my head against countless walls for the past 30 years. In two years I’ll be 51 – and I won’t look it, but I’ll know. I’m not sure what I’ll do once I leave Trustfundtown, but as my skills are all musically oriented, look for me at WalMart. (Hey, I don’t agree with their practices either, but I’ve got cats to feed.)

And then last night happened. My friend Telly Leung had a show at 54 Below here in Manhattan, to celebrate the release of his new CD. The space is just perfect (congrats to Phil Geoffrey Bond et al.), and Telly is over-the-top talented and personable – his full-length set felt like it was over in about 25 minutes, and that never happens. I got to see some of my Godspell kids: the ubiquitous Lindsay Mendez, who is looking up the word ubiquitous as we speak; Uzo Aduba, who is filming (?) a new series coming your way this spring; Julia Mattison, whose holiday CD is almost here, and who writes songs more often than most people blink; and George Salazar, who took our order (not really). After the show, a few different people asked me if the rumors they’ve been hearing about Hurricane are true (no comment!), two other folks approached me about writing opportunities, I ran into a hardcore Gashole! fan, and caught up with a bunch of other working, showbiz types I’ve met along the way. (Lindsay, in the meanwhile, was accosted by a middle-aged superfan who not only advised her not to give up [genius], but also informed her that he was once the travel agent for Chita Rivera “and also Judy Blume and Earth, Wind & Fire.” Together at last on the concert stage.)

It was a much-needed and appreciated reminder that I am no longer the outsider-looking-in I still feel that I am sometimes. Of course, after an hour’s journey northward on the Vodka Breath Local (you may call it the A train), my Tenant Information Sheet was still waiting for me on the kitchen table, where I keep all my important documentation. So my promise (threat? snit?) to the Universe still stands.

It’s gonna be an interesting two years.

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Blog Party: All the News That’s Fit to Be Alluded To

Amid the furious activity that is my life (I’m up!!), I neglected to post a blog entry last week, and here’s what happened:


Even so, my initial intention way back in May of 2012 (it was a far more innocent time then) was to maintain a weekly presence of musings and rants, and I’ve been doing my best to honor that – universal apathy notwithstanding.

Fact is, sometimes I just don’t have that much to say; can you tell?! I am gearing up to announce several exciting new capers-in-the-works, but I can’t just yet, so do stay tuned. But beyond that, life is a bit too uneventful lately to be interesting, and not bad enough to complain about in my customary fashion. (In the interest of full disclosure, even Time/Warner returned to address that Planet-of-the-Apes wiring job they did a few weeks ago, so now I don’t even have that.)

We had a great Thanksgiving with friends; those of you who follow Gashole are aware that Karen Mack is very funny and sings all the songs, but you may not know what an artist she is in the kitchen (I was gonna add “where she belongs,” but opted to take the high road and resist. You’re welcome). Perhaps you saw her Cookie-of-the-Day posts on facebook last month; if so, you know that 1.) there’s more butter in her house than all of Wisconsin, or wherever it comes from, and 2.) she seriously should have her own Food Network show. She’s like the Paula Deen of cooking. So that was good.

Now, as Solstice Evasion Mythology Time kicks into high gear (also called The Holiday Season by retailers and other earthlings), I certainly know that it’s a good thing to not have much to crab about. And I’m thankful to Whatever Hasn’t Dropped a Piano on My Head (Yet) for that.

‘Nuff said.

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