Monday, November 26, 2012

NEW MUSIC MONDAY: Shoshana Bean!

As a performer who sings, I always love to hear excellent singers. But it goes farther than that, I took piano lessons and played viola before I ever sang in a chorus. My mom, crazy person that she is, taught me to read music starting when I was five. Hell, the only thing that would calm me down when she was pregnant with me was music. Specifically, Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life." Specifically "Sir Duke."

Music is in my soul, yo.

I first heard about Shoshana Bean when she was the Elphaba standby for Broadway's "Wicked." Everyone was saying how great she was, everyone. As a standby! She came and did the show in LA, and I somehow missed it, even though it lived here for over a year. And the theater is down the street from my house. I know!

So my first real intro to her singing was in a Seth Rudetsky deconstruction of her in an Actor's Fund charity concert of the musical "Hair." [skip to the 3:50 to hear her go OFF] She's got this incredible belt voice AND a beautiful soprano voice. That's what we call an anomaly.

And then she released a solo album. Superwoman. And on this album, there is a cover of Aretha's "Ain't No Way." And she kills it.

What da fuck....? So her album is aptly titled. Okayyy!

Then I get to see her live. Blues music. While I had the blues. She was so amazing, that at one point in the concert I kinda blissed out listening to her sing. I was dumbfounded, staring off into space. And then the most amazing thing happened. Shoshana Bean recognized this, leaned down - while she was singing - and waved hello to me to snap me out of my trance... And it worked! When She leaned into my field of vision, I could see that she saw that I was enjoying her. And she brought me back to the present.

You know, where she was still singing.

Now, Ms. Bean has an album coming out soon. An Indie record that raised money on Kickstarter. Indie for real. And the first single has been released, "Runnin' Out of Days." It's that bluesy soul sound we all know from the 1960's, yet it also carries a strong modern feel and relevance. This girl is sangin my music, yo.

Those horns are tellin’ a story. You know she’s serious before she even starts singing. And she’s got a happy story to sing about - which is a great feel, especially for this time of year. Check it out below, the single is available on iTunes now!

OH, and Ms. Shoshana just happens to playing Friday nights at Rockwell Table and Stage. And she takes it to CHURCH. Check it:

[MMXII MD TOTAL all rights reserved.]

Sunday, November 25, 2012

N E W _ M U S I C !

So we're starting a new section of Soccerboy in LA today, and it's all about new music! Mostly it'll be some stuff I've found from new and/or indie artists [of all genres], plus new music from established artists, plus some random old stuff we've either forgotten or deserves a fresh listen. This is all about FUN.

But I won't be reviewing music; I'm an artist, not a critic. I'm just celebrating others in their artistic endeavors because I want to live in a world where artists support each other. So if you see it posted here, you know that I'm already digging it.

If you'd like your music to be considered to be featured, email me some links. My email isn't difficult to find.

I'll leave you with a quote by Martha Graham:

"Let's dispel with this idea that the theatre, that dance, that the arts, that humanity, the American people, all things are in desperate shape, sad mendicants of the evening. I reject this entirely, as should you. Those who should survive, will survive. We help those we can. We support those we can, at all times, but we do not wrap ourselves in hair shirts and strap cans in our hands and beg for our survival and seek sympathy for our puny rewards. Art--like life--is a majestic calling, a great adventure, a remarkable opportunity and gift. I resent very much these people who create for themselves artistic sinecures by advocating on behalf of the arts. They have no place in the arts. Create your art; support the art of others. Create a life; support the lives of others. Be a great artist; be a great human. The rewards arrive daily. Do not join clubs to support life and art. Simply live and be an artist."

- Martha Graham [1990]

I'll leave you with a fun little gym banger from Kylie back in 2004. Sweet. Music.

[MMXII MD TOTAL all rights reserved.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Settle Down [part trois] : TRANSCENDENCE

This is the third part of a story that started just over three weeks ago, when I had a revelation while waiting in line to check out at the grocery store. Then I had wonderful surprise while working last week. It’s actually important to read that first two parts to understand the full scope of this story. G’head – it’ll only take a couple of minutes at most. You’ll enjoy it.

In which things get Bat Shit Crazy.

“See you later…”

That’s what Gwen Fucking Stefani said to me as she left the studio.

It had been a difficult day, and there would be more difficulty to come, but I was on a high. I was managing my energy. I didn’t eat enough lunch and instead drank copious amounts of water, Powerade and snacked on peanuts. And every once in a while, a cookie. I know, I know – refined sugar! Sue me. But it’s the only way to have enough fuel to keep your adrenal glands happy and also not be weighed down by a food coma. I also focused on how I was there to help. When I focus on helping, I tend to have more energy and deliver a better performance.

And I did. I felt good about my work, and I was happy with the energy I was getting from the crew when I was in front of the camera. A delightful experience. We were running late [as we often do on set] and I was worried that I wouldn’t get a chance for my second meditation that day, or the meditation that I’m doing as part of Deepak Chopra’s “21 Day Meditation Challenge.” But I got home just in time to do the short challenge. As I sat down and listened to Deepak’s voice, my brain became silent surprisingly fast. And then, something happened that hasn’t happened in a while in my meditation. As I repeated my mantra, I felt the familiar buzz in the space right above and between my eyes. My third eye awakened. I broke through. Now this buzz isn’t like anything else I’ve experienced. It’s not a feeling of lightheadedness, nor is it the buzz of inebriation. It’s a shimmering feeling of excitement.

Once that shimmering buzz appears, you sort of have to move your consciousness into it to break through. For some, it may be instantaneous. For me, as I slowly plug along in my practice, it’s literally like moving into that space. Making trips back and forth, moving box by box, slowly but steadily – and always focusing on that feeling - until my consciousness is feeling everything through my third eye.

It was beautiful, and I hadn’t had it happen in a while because I think I had gotten a little bit lazy. I had come to expect it to just be there, that it would happen on its own. That is not the case. You have to show up to your meditation every time you practice. So I tripled my efforts. Instead of twenty minutes twice a day, I made a decision to meditate for an hour twice a day. I immediately saw benefits, more presence, more patience [which was given to me as the first part of this story], but I was still looking for legit transcendence.

Mannnn… Did I ever get what I looking for.

I woke up a couple of hours after going to sleep that night. I drank some water, and laid back down. I fell back asleep, or so I thought. While I was sleeping, I felt my third eye open and felt that familiar buzz. I wasn’t sleeping; I was meditating! I focused on the buzz, and went into the silence. I took that train. Just as everything became silent, Gwen Stefani materialized in front of me. Materialized! She was here. I knew I wasn’t dreaming. She didn’t feel like a character in a dream, it was her – we could feel each other’s presence. The feeling was so strong that it was as if we both immediately knew everything about each other; that we were connected.

People who practice transcendental meditation often talk about having visions that are clear as day while they’re meditating. They talk about having people’s spirits appear to them, and talking with the person, and often having the person leave them with some life-altering wisdom. It’s very common for people who have a diligent practice. And I’ve always believed it was possible, it just hadn’t ever happened to me. Yet.

As Gwen Stefani recognized me, we both looked at each other like “This shit is absolutely fucking CRAZY.” Because it was! She and I reached for each other, intertwined our arms and looked out at the Universe as we broke through together. Our touch was electric. As we clasped hands and watched the Universe unfold before us, we both said “Whoa,” at the same time. We saw EVERYTHING. The stars, nebulas, love. As I write this, my forehead is getting that buzz, and my third eye is opening. Tears are flowing down my face. We held on to each other and basked in magnificent love. Words were useless; we had the same thoughts. same-same. And we both knew that as much as we were seeing – we were only being given a miniscule amount. Like something the size of a marble in comparison to the rest of the Universe. But in that marble…

Finally, I understand exactly what Ralph Waldo Emerson was talking about! From his essay Nature [1836]: “Standing on the bare ground – my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite spaces – all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

What was so mesmerizing was not only what we were seeing, but the way it all felt. While looking out at everything, we could also feel everything. We all know that everything is just made up of molecules, so what really is the difference between things? This is existence. With this, we could feel all the molecules – all the stars, all the fabric, all the light – all the things. Everything felt like love. We were one with all that is.

And all of this while Mercury is in retrograde…?!

It was just so much. So, so much. It was a lot, what we saw…

And then we danced together to the rhythm of the Cosmos, yes we did. Really. And you know what? Gwen was right; I did “see her later.” What’s even crazier is there’s a song on NO DOUBT’S new album [Push and Shove] called Dreaming the Same Dream. Whaaaaaaaaat?! I truly believe she did this on purpose; she shared her love right back at me. But if I wasn’t open to receive it, or aware of this abundance; none of this would have happened.

If this experience makes people think I’m crazy, then call me crazy. All I know for sure is that if this was a dream, then everything is a dream.

You guys. There is so much love out there for us. And inside of us. So. Much. Love. And it’s just waiting for us to connect to it and then ride it. I can’t make this shit up. And if I know one thing, if I can have this kind of experience, then everyone can. Believe me. We just have to be present. If we want to receive all that the Universe has to offer, then we have to be present for the gifts to be delivered. How can we receive anything, if we’re not legitimately here? Everything is possible.


Namasté Muthafuckas!

[© MMXII MD TOTAL all rights reserved.]

Shoutout to my sophomore American Studies in Literature teacher in high school, Catherine Tipton, for introducing me to Transcendentalism. New Romantics, yo.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Settle Down [part deux]

The first part of this story starts just over three weeks ago, when I had a revelation while waiting in line to check out at the grocery store. It’s actually important to read that first part to understand the full scope of this story. G’head – it’ll only take a couple of minutes at most. You’ll enjoy it.

So I’m sitting in the green room, eating lunch on break from shooting on a green screen all day. It’s already been a long day and it’s only lunch. And I woke up exhausted. There are ten of us in the green room, eating pizza and watching FLASHPOINT on TV. After I finish my slice, I get that itchy feeling that I’ve got to get out of there. For no apparent reason. I remember there being a couch down the hall and around the corner, so I grab my phone and head for it. But it’s not there. I completely remember there being a couch, where the hell am I gonna sit?! Since I’m in costume, sitting on the floor isn’t an option, but I see some equipment stacked against the wall a little further down. I worry that I’m moving a little too far away from the green room to hear when we’re called back to set. But I sit on it anyway.

I already know it was a good decision to go there. The interesting thing about shooting is that it really taxes your adrenaline. You have to be at a constant state of readiness, but then you also have to wait. Sometimes they say they’re ready for you and then you have to wait another hour. A big portion of the job is maintaining your energy and focus. I could chill out here alone and get myself back together.

After a few minutes, three men walk out of the door next to me and walk right past me. After they pass, I look up and I immediately recognize them from behind – they’re the guys from the band NO DOUBT. Holy Shit. I love NO DOUBT. Love. And not only have I loved their new song “Settle Down” since it was released, but I also just had a bit of an experience with it in the grocery store just over three weeks ago. Every day since then, I’ve heard that song differently.

I’ve interpreted the song as being about meditation, about being present and checking in with that silence throughout the day. “What’s your twenty, where’s your brain…?” I’ve been meditating every day this year, and I’ve experienced all sorts of abundance because of it. A pop song about meditation?! I mean, come ON! How can you not love that shit?

I immediately get up and run after the guys. I get their attention and they all turn around at the same time. It happened in slow motion. Very. Scorcese. And there they were, three legit rock stars looking at me, waiting for me to speak. “Your new album is dope. I love your music. I love your music,” I said. The second time I said that I love their music, I put my hand over my heart and did a little bow – and I swear on all that’s holy – I could see their spirits receive my gratefulness. And they lit up. Like a Christmas tree! I communicated to them that their work matters to me, that they are good at their jobs. To an artist, that shit is real.

And just like that, they were gone.

As I sat back down, two women came up and stood outside of the room where the guys came out of and I realized… I AM IN THE SAME ROOM WITH GWEN STEFANI. And I knew she would walk out soon. I just knew it. AND SHE DID. I stood up immediately. The two women asked for a photo. I got the camera on my phone ready. As they were thanking her for the picture, I felt the exact same as when I’m about to make an entrance onstage and I’ve just heard my cue. Go. Now. I walked right up to Gwen – who is almost as tall as me in heels – and asked her if she would take a pic with me as well. She is Gorgeous with a capital G, she has a great energy, and she has a generous spirit. You can feel it. She is everything you expect Gwen Stefani to be. She agreed to the pic. I had to ask one of the women to take the pic for me. I just asked two strangers for favors within five seconds. Gwen smiled at my moxie. “Your music has brought a lot of positivity to my life,” I told her. And I put all my love into saying it. While I said it, I crossed my heart. But not like the kids rhyme, I did it like a cross. Then I said, “I’m very grateful for your music.” And DAMN. We had serious eye contact while she listened – how have I always forgotten that she’s got brown eyes? She was listening with every cell in her body, and I saw her receive the information I was telling her like a download. We communicated. Hell, we communed.

And we took the picture. She put her hand on my shoulder! The woman who took the pic smiled really big and said “It’s great.” I thanked Gwen, and she went back into her green room.

I sat back down and just about exploded. I remembered the whole thing about how their song had been on my mind every day since the grocery store revelation, and how I had heard her song “What You Waiting For,” on radio several times since then as well. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love and abundance that all the hairs on my body stood straight up.

Something is happening. Now.

The thing about meditation, and all thinking really, is that whatever you spend your time thinking about is what you will bring more of into your life. Thinking about success, then more success. Thinking about hope, then more hope. Thinking about love, then more love. Thinking about doubt, then more doubt. Our thoughts are material, everything’s just made up of molecules. And there they all were, right in front of me, after I had been contemplating the hell out of their song. I could not ignore the Universe’s magnificence and perfection.

Just then, she and a colleague walked out past me and down the hall. I didn’t want to demand any more attention from her, so I didn’t want to look up. But I had to. She’s gorgeous. She’s GWEN FUCKING STEFANI! As I looked up, she smiled at me and said “See you later…” With the ellipses. She said it the way you say it to a friend you randomly run into the afternoon of a surprise party for them. You can’t give anything away, but you can’t resist saying something. It was almost a tease. Was Gwen Fucking Stefani playing with me?! SWOON. LE GASP. I DIE.

And just like that, she was gone.

Here’s the pic. I think we look like we’re having a spiritual moment. And that was when Gwen Stefani’s spirit met Malcolm Devine’s spirit. same-same.

Interesting that the show that was on the TV was FLASHPOINT. The definition of a flashpoint is “the temperature at which a particular organic compound gives off sufficient vapor to ignite in air.”

Molecules, bitch!

Ready for this story to get BAT SHIT CRAZY? Click here for Part Trois!

[© MMXII MD TOTAL all rights reserved.]

Martha Graham Keeps It Moving.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open… No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

- Martha Graham

[© MMXII MD TOTAL all rights reserved.]

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Street Art!

Here is some patriotic street art I was lucky enough to see on South La Brea. Street art is one of my favorite things about living in an urban environment. This one speaks for itself. [click to see full image]

[© MMXII MD TOTAL all rights reserved]

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Love from Louis C.K.

This is a transcript of what Louis C.K. just sent his mailing list from his dressing room at SNL, as he's about to host, in NYC, this week, of all weeks. Reprinted without permission, but shared with all the love Louis intended to spread. Please don't sue me.

Hello. Its louis here. I'm clacking this to you on my phone in my dressing room here at studio 8H, right in 30 rockefeller center, in Manhattan, new york city, new york, america, world, current snapshot of all existence everywhere.

Tonight I'm hosting Saturday Night Live, something I zero ever in my life saw happening to me. And yet here it is completely most probably happening (I mean, ANYTHING could NOT happen. So we'll see).

I've been working here all week with the cast, crew, producers and writers of SNL, and with Lorne Michaels. Such a great and talented group of people.

And here we are in the middle of New York City, which was just slammed by a hurricane, leaving behind so much trouble, so much difficulty and trauma, which everyone here is still dealing with every day.

Last night we shot some pre-tape segments in greenwich Village, which was pitch black dark for blocks and blocks, as it has been for a week now.

Its pretty impossible to describe walking through these city streets in total darkness. It can't even be called a trip through time, because as long as new york has lived, its been lit. By electricity, gas lamps, candlelight, kerosene. But this was pitch black, street after street, corner round corner. And for me, the village being the very place that made me into a comedian and a man, to walk through the heart of it and feel like, in a way, it was dead. I can't tell you how that felt. And you also had a palpable sense that inside each dark window was a family or a student or an artist or an old woman living alone, just being int he dark and waiting for the day to come back. Like we were all having one big sleep over, but not so much fun as that.

This is how a lot of the city is still. I know people in queens, brooklyn, Staten Island, new jersey, all over, are not normal yet. And not normal is hard.

And here at 30 rock, these folks are working so hard this week. There are kids in the studio every day, because members of the crew and staff had to bring them to work. Many people are sharing lodging. Everyone is tired. But there's this feeling here that we've got to put on a great show. I'm sure it feels like that here every week. But wow. I feel really lucky to be sharing this time with these particular good folks here at SNL.

In about 5 hours we'll be going on the air. I'll do a monologue. And we'll show you some sketches that we wrote and try to make you laugh. I'm gonna look really dumb in some of this stuff. But I don't care. Its awfully worth it. And I'm really excited.

Anyway. I just wanted to let you know. If you watch the show tonight, when Don Pardo says my name and you see me walking out, all the shit in this email is what ill be thinking. I'm a pretty lucky guy. I hope you enjoy the show.


Louis C.K.

Live. From new york. Its saturday night.