July 2011 issue
Here we go again...
My monthly newsletters have not been happening for several months now... and I must appologize! Irene and I have been dealing with a lot of adjustments to living in New York.
But our lives are finally beginning to stabilize a bit. I've missed writing these as much as many of you missed getting them. So, armed with some new software I don't know how to use, and living in a new area I don't know much about, I will attempt to crank it up and get 'er going again.
For those of you who are new to my mailing list , I can only describe my "Punch-Ins" as a shameful act of self-promotion with an attempt at entertainment. Call it a "delivered blog"... You don't have to go anywhere to read it, I just send it to you once a month... give or take a half-year!
If you'd rather not get it, please send me an "opt-out" message from the email link at the bottom of this letter.
America's great lady, Betty Ford. April 8, 1918 - July 8, 2011.
Without her courage and leadership, our nation might still be speaking in whispers about addictions and alcoholism, while victims of those horrors continued to live in misery with no hope of a future. She was our First Lady in so many more ways than simply the wife of a US President. Heaven is an even better place now, with her presence.
A Cheap NY Show?!?
Well, it's not exactly on Broadway... in fact it's a couple of hours away from Times Square... but there is a great little town on the Hudson River near Woodstock called Saugerties, NY. And once or twice a month, in a modest chapel on John Street, an event called "The John St. Jam" takes place. Irene and I went to check it out a couple weekends ago.
The chapel is just a square, open space, about 40 x 40, with a lot of metal folding chairs. Four chairs are in the middle of the room, facing each other, with quaint antique floor lamps, headphone boxes, microphones, and assorted plugs and wire connections for the performers. The audience sits in folding chairs surrounding, and facing, the musicians.
Four musician-songwriters of regional repute walked to their seats and plugged their guitars in. An EmCee welcomed everyone, and introduced the players. The artists played in a round-robin sequence, one song each. This pattern continued for over an hour. They were incredible!!
One fellow sounded like a cross between James Taylor and Kenny Loggins, one woman sang a song she wrote for Tina Turner, another guy from Switzerland did guitar solos using the instrument more like a precussionist than a picker/strummer... producing sounds and rythmns that were mind-bending! All four were deserving of a concert venue with their names in lights.
$5 a head admission, $1 bottled water, 50 cent coffee. ...A second group of four new singer/songwriters came on after the first four left, and the round-robin pattern began anew. Now THAT's cheap (and great) entertainment!
...Especially when buying strawberries! What's up with the supermarket variety that appear to be on steroids, are dead white inside, and have no flavor?
The Union Label
I never thought I'd say it, but I'm now a union member; AFTRA.
For those of you who've been my clients for years, this doesn't change a thing. You will still have the same relationship, same rates, same fast service. This is thanks to the addition of a type of membership called "Financial Core", which means I can continue to work as a non-union performer.
The difference is that I have no say in union matters... no vote... and I may also not be elegible for union benefits. I'm not really sure of all the details, but I am now able to work on both union and non-union jobs. Since the highest-paying voiceover jobs in New York typically require union membership, it seemed to be a wise addition to my credits.
Getting picked up by a good NY talent agency was another major plus. I am now represented by Access Talent, one of New York's top ten agencies, located on Madison Ave... of course!
They're keeping me busy with auditions, riding the commuter rail into Grand Central Station. It's a 90 min ride and costs me just $9.25. What a deal!
Careful what you ask for!
A panel, commissioned to study the needs of the local Old Folks Home, turned in their report last week. They strongly suggested that the facility needed fencing.
Residents seem puzzled, but generally happy with the new addition.
Handy Home Feature
The Hudson Valley is famous for it's spectacular thunderstorms, and we were treated to a real "doozy" a few nights ago!
Visions from tales of Ichabod Crane, Beau Brummel, and Rip Van Winkle came to mind as the rafters rattled and the dogs whimpered. Then it happened! The entire neighborhood went dark as, somewhere, a transformer took a direct hit.
About thirty seconds later, our power came back on and everything seemed to be back to normal. Except that, when we looked out our windows, the rest of the neighborhood was still black... no lights were on anywhere, except our house!
The house we are renting in NY was once owned by an elderly couple with medical appliances that they depended upon to stay healthy, so they had installed an whole-house emergency generator!
I must confess to feeling a tiny bit guilty, sitting in air-conditioned comfort watching TV while the neighbors were breaking out the candles. But I got over it.
Hard to believe; It's all FREE!
I'm not getting kick-backs from the Hudson Valley Chambers of Commerce... honest! But I continue to be amazed at the low-cost or free entertainment and resources that are available in this area, just a few miles North of the Big Apple.
One of the real treasures here is West Point Miltary Academy, a mere 13 miles from our house. We learned that the West Point Band offers free outdoor concerts every Sunday evening at 7:30 throughout the summer months. So last weekend,Irene and I packed up a cooler full of chicken, cheese, salad, crackers, hummus, olives, and more, plus a couple of bottles of wine, and headed South for the academy.
We were nearly an hour early and yet there were already hundreds of other families there. Blankets and lawn chairs dotted a steep hill that faced a flat, open grassy space filled with folding chairs, a stunning stage and a transparent bandshell. This was all set against a background of breathtaking beauty, looking North up the Hudson River.
As you would expect, the musicianship was of the highest, professional quality. These are not academy cadets, but enlisted soldiers stationed as support personnel at the military post. I don't want to miss another one of their concerts... especially the season ender which includes "The 1812 Overture" with real cannons!