The Fame School

I auditioned for the fame school. I’ve always told people that I actually went to the fame school.  That’s because, at the time, there were two divisions of the same school, and I went to the other one, the one that wasn’t in the movie. But we had the same principal. And they used our students as extras. That was just maybe a year or two before I got there. My older brother was in the movie, and on the soundtrack, in one particular scene in the lunchroom where, like, a thousand musicians are playing at once. For awhile there he would receive royalty checks for, like,19 cents.

Used to be people knew what I was talking about when I said the fame school. But the movie may not be in the common domain of cultural literacy anymore. I’m dating myself. Young people never heard of this movie.  They made it before I was even there. That was over 35 years ago. I know there’s been a television series and a remake that was a flop and nothing like the original, which wasn’t ever my favorite movie anyway. I didn’t think it was really like that, but then again, I wasn’t really there, was I?

They both had music. But that was the only art they had in common. The one that was in the movie also had drama and dance, and ours had Art.

I went to Music and Art, for music. I also auditioned at Performing Arts for drama. It was competitive, like only 10% got in. And I got in.

I really should have gone. I’ve done well making the best of life after regrets, we all make mistakes, and I wouldn’t change anything, because I don’t want to give back what I have earned. But I loved it, acting. I didn’t choose it because I guess I didn’t fully realize how much it was the thing that engaged me. I truly believe that I would be a completely different person if I had gone there. It would have been the difference between being drawn out of my shell, or driven into it. That stark.

I didn’t trust myself. Maybe if I had a therapist then, I’d have been self aware enough to know what was good for me. I always wanted one. I still do. If I were rich, I’d go to therapy, like, a few times a week. If he/she were good, or even not. It helps just to have an excuse to say what you think out loud (that’s also what this is for). I don’t want to be sexist. In most cases, I’m not like this, but I think I’d need a he. I doubt I could  be completely honest with a stherapist.  She’d have to be particularly good. What I mean by that is non-judgmental. And I would have to be able to see it.

The audition was great. My Jr High school had a drama program, but I was in music. I acted in a community theatre outside of school.  I worked privately with one of my acting instructors to prepare for the audition. I was late, because I also had an audition for the music department, which I botched, and then I showed up, like, 4 hours late for the drama audition.

“Are you A. Lawrence?” Some girl asked.  A student volunteer. Most everyone there was a student in the acting department. They had been looking for me. I explained the other audition. She said, “yeah, I play the drums too,” and she air drummed. I didn’t believe her at the time, but it was probably true. Everyone has played the drums at some point in their lives.

They took me to a room, where I waited. They wanted me to write an essay about some shit, sounded made up.. Another student came in and did a spontaneous skit with the proctor. I was getting the feeling that this was part of the audition, so I got up and complained about my pencil.

“Huh?” the guy said. The girl helped me out.

“You heard the man,” she said.. “Get him a new pencil.”

I went back to my desk and another girl came in and asked if this was the place to audition for the drama department.

“Yes it is, surely is. You’ve come to the right place. Now we’re going to need you to do a bedroom scene with, um, that fellow over there.” he pointed at me. I smiled.

Shit like that kept happening.

I auditioned, with two solo scenes. One was an adaptation of something old into something new, and I don’t know. It was a long time ago.

Then they wanted to do something else, but it was late and they needed more students, so they asked me if I could come back the next day, Sunday. I still thought that everything they said was an act, and a test, and so I told them I had to go to Church. If you knew me and my family, you’d think that was really funny. Well, my mom actually went to this school, and this teacher knew my mom, and was like, “Church?”

“No, not really. I’m just kidding,” I said.

So I came back and they filmed us, a bunch of us, acting like animals. I wish I could see that film. I had just seen some performers on a variety show of sorts, can’t remember their names, acting like apes and I thought it was cool, so I chose an ape. I had some good play with this other kid who was a monkey. I bet he went there. We could have been friends. We could have remembered the audition together forever.

You know what else? I told them no, but they thought I said yes, somehow. I went to M&A and a friend of mine who went to PA told me they called my name in his homeroom.

I could have changed my mind, even after school started. But that would have taken guts I didn’t have.

I actually flipped a coin, I’ve always told people that’s how I decided, and it may be true. Seriously, I was leaning towards Drama, and I flipped a coin on a fluke, not expecting to take it seriously, but when it came up drums, I felt strangely compelled. I liked the drums too. And my brother was at Music and Art, and I wanted that to be the answer in some ways because of that. The coin toss allowed me to consider it, and I thought it felt like maybe I should to it. I felt a little relieved with the idea. But really, I think it was just the path of least resistance. I had my own thing.

Oh, this is such a sad story.

Colombia

DrummingI’m so spoiled.  When I was a child my family used to drag me from New York City to Old Lyme Connecticut where Lyme Disease was just emerging, though I wouldn’t contract it for another 40 years or so, to the beach where my father liked to soak up the sun every single day. I got bored with that pretty fast and had to try to find other things to do. It wasn’t very commercial at the Old Lyme town beach, but that’s another reason I don’t like beaches these days: too commercial.

I never wanted to go to Connecticut, I was a city boy and all of my friends were in the city, and there were things to do in the city when you didn’t have to go to school anymore, it’s like one big playground, and I still feel like I missed out, not being there those hot muggy summers, but I made friends in Connecticut too, and I learned how to climb trees and explore windy roads on our bikes and to swim, sort of. And it would cool off at night, sometimes.

And they had the best ice cream I ever had, Hallmark’s.  But nothing lasts forever.

Everyone wants to go to Cartegena, Colombia (not Columbia) these days now that it’s safer there than it used to be. But its a beach and its commercial, and that’s just not my thing having become “founded” on it in my youth. The beaches are not the most beautiful in the world either, but they’re certainly as nice as Connecticut beaches (even if the water is a bit too warm to actually cool you off), and the constant harassment from people trying to sell you hats or bracelets or water would detract from the experience, even if I did like beaches.

But it has a lot going for it.  Ceviche for instance.  And the cabs are not expensive. And the people are nice. And if you don’t make eye contact, if you can get right with feeling rude, the salespeople give up on you pretty quickly so you don’t have to waste your time or theirs.  I was there this past weekend with my wife. We said no to so many hat salesmen, until on our last day, at the top of the hill upon which sits La Popa – a cathedral from which you get an expansive view of the city – a sole hat salesman came over and put a hat on my wife’s head, and it looked good on her.

So, we bought two.  Just in time to leave. I also bought some Oakey sunglasses.  They look like Oakley’s  but they’re Oakeys. I needed them, after I lost my others, because it was bright outside.

I got to practice my Spanish, eat some good seafood, drink good coffee and meet a volunteer tour guide who for about $70 US ($200,000 in Peso) spent 4 or 5 hours showing us around, driving us to places, in his own beat up Mazda.  He even showed us his neighborhood and introduced us to his family.  If we wanted to he would have taken us to a cockfight, or secured us weed (he suggested it) or hookers (I’m guessing). But my wife and I didn’t want any of that, not this trip. He was a nice guy, and we trusted him. When he left us at the fort and waited for us outside, we could have ditched him, and he hadn’t collected any money yet, nor would he have known how to find us. He trusted us as we trusted him. Spending the day with our “rent-a-friend” was probably the best day of the trip.

But there was also some good African drumming.

Miles

And that mural of Miles Davis too.

But man, they are proud of their chocolate.  $10 a bar? creo que no.