Grumpy Bird

I spent countless hours drawing owls. Happy owls, grumpy owls, eccentric owls on Xanax, they lived harmoniously in a modest sketchpad. With a soundtrack consisting of cheesy show tunes and angry 90’s alternative rock, I turned anxiety into art.

The owls were a perfect distraction from the madness in my head. With every stroke of the pencil, I became increasingly passionate about my art. With my owl family tree hooting their lives away, I grew surprisingly tired of drawing owls.

I took a giant leap for (would be artists) everywhere. Inspired by cartoons of my youth, I began drawing Beavis & Butthead. The sketching proved a challenge for a new artist. “Oy, I just can’t draw, I just can’t draw, I need to go back to writing,” I would say to myself. The obvious negative thoughts attacked my peaceful bohemian existence.

My first sketches were disastrous. I doubted my sketching abilities. While the negative thoughts persisted, I took a coffee break. While fueling the latte economy with my caffeine dependency, I was determined to re-draw Beavis & Butthead.

Cranking up the best in Broadway musicals, I put specialized pencil to a blank page. Carefully following the contour of each character, I drew a carbon copy of Beavis & Butthead.

The fear of fucking up quickly died. Rather than fearing failure, I made the drawing experience, enchanting. Daria, Doug, Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear & even Charlie Brown, I drew them all. Upon opening my sketchpad, the characters made me smile.

Quickly, the art bug bit me, again. I had great aspirations for a pop up/3d art project, utilizing cartoon characters and a shoebox. I designed the characters and daydreamed of a land within a shoebox’s confines. The madness, which ravaged my brain, was (in turn) producing interesting art.

Though, the shoebox, pop up/3d art project continues to develop, I revel in every moment. Rather than hurrying along, I spend many hours, daydreaming. I found a new calling through visual arts. It was unexpected and scary. With great bravery, I continue to lovingly sketch my life away.

The Very Merry Otter

On a sweltering June afternoon, a teenage otter wandered around Times Square. He hailed from California’s sprawling suburbs. Armed with a Kodak disposable camera, he endured the extreme humidity and excitedly anticipated a life altering experience.

At the Palace theatre, he saw a vision. It was a Broadway show. “Aida” was the show, which popped his musical theatre cherry. Although, not the most amazing show; it was a trailblazing experience. Blossoming into a Broadway aficionado, he saved his pennies for the thrills of lavish musical numbers.

Eventually, our perky otter traded the Inland Empire’s sprawling mountain ranges for New York’s islands. After years in Queens & Manhattan, our heroic otter was a bit jaded.

He vividly daydreamed of a beautiful log cabin, surrounded by pine trees with a flowing stream of water. Alongside natural beauty, the cabin’s interior had a wood-burning fireplace, extensive book library & shabby furniture with scotch tape, masking it’s deteriorating beauty.

Even in the midst of wanderlust, our otter had graduated to the “hey, I am a New Yorker (from California). I can fucking complain, if I want to” phase of life. Rather than buying a one-way ticket to Oregon, he braved the chaotic plateau.

He was diagnosed with extreme jadedness. Nothing could stimulate his sense of wonder, anymore. Unexpectedly, he grew weary. On an unseasonably cold, April day, he received a text from (his friend, almost a sister), Natalia. “I want to make you smile, let’s go to the theatre.”

Merrily our otter was all dolled up. Coincidentally, the Broadway show brought him back to the theatre, where his love of musical theatre was born, the Palace.

Jadedness departed his soul, upon arrival. He enjoyed watching the parade of old people, all dolled up and excited about Broadway. The smell and old world appearance were as thrilling as his fist visit to the theatre.

As the curtain rose, he finally cracked a smile. There were lavish dance numbers, campy songs and impressive sets. Once again, our otter found his happy place in life.

Eventually, he returned to his jaded self. However, he was reminded that musical theatre saves souls. It lifts one from depression, even for a brief exhilarating moment.

He came to appreciate his New York surroundings, again. The forest and log cabin were more ideal. However, where would he find musical theatre in the woods? Otter thanked the Broadway gods for his smorgasbord of theatrical options.

The Broadway Itch

Musical theatre makes every campy bone in my body, sing and dance. It soothes my soul and stimulates my creative nerves.

Upon returning home to New York from my California holiday, I caught a dreadful cold. I opted to stay in my apartment and feast on Wonton soup. While noshing the night away on the Chinese comfort staple, I kept sneezing and coughing. “Oy, this cold has me all sorts of light headed. Something has to revitalize my aching self,” said I.

“Consider yourself at home. Consider yourself part of the family,” sang the familiar voice. “Oh it’s Oliver, I love that musical, declared I. Rather than dwelling on my cooties, I reveled in evening full of famous Tony awards performances and Broadway musical soundtracks. Book of Mormon, Cabaret, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Shop of Horrors and Kinky Boots, I heard at least one number from all those delightful musicals, while sick in bed.

The next day, I developed a serious condition. I was able to make it into the office, but I had an itch. As I listened to even more show tunes, I realized, “oy, I know what I have. It’s the Broadway Itch. The itch derives from a severe craving to watch a wonderful Broadway show.

That day, the craving intensified, as my cold subsided. I eventually finished the day, listening to the Hedwig & The Angry Inch soundtrack. “Oy, this music is just wonderful. Maybe, I should just go to the box office and pray they have a cheap ticket for Hedwig. That’s it, I’ll just live on the edge for once,” said I.

I dashed crosstown to the Belasco theatre. “Hi, what’s the cheapest ticket for Hedwig tonight? I asked the gentleman at the box office. “Our cheapest ticket is rear balcony at $50 dollars, he replied. “I’ll take it, declared I with great excitement.

While sitting in the zoo, which is Times Square (waiting for the show), I stared at my ticket. “Gee, I really do love spontaneity,” said I. Excitedly, I walked back to the theatre. Audiences lined outside the theatre with great anticipation. I stared at a sea of fancy dresses and ties. “Opps, I am wearing a polo, sneakers and black jeans. I feel awkward,” said I.

With a touch of cheekiness, I shrugged off my casual outfit. “I am here. I am queer and ready to see a wonderful show. Besides, I am wearing all black; nobody will notice, said I. Journeying to the top balcony, my eyes twinkled in the ornate old world theatre. Thanks to my show-tunes loving condition, I am about to have a memorable life experience.

Our main actor arrived with great grandeur on stage, as the band played. “Oh this show is so much better than I expected, said I with the music intensifying. Suddenly, I felt an itch. This wasn’t the campy kind of itch. “Oy, my throat, I want to cough,” said I.

The stage went silent. “Oy, don’t cough. It’s one of those interactive shows. This actor will probably call me out for coughing in the midst of a monologue, ” said I internally. I became fixated as the itch in the back of my throat became increasingly unbearable. “Happy thoughts Annie, Oliver, the Phantom of the Opera, don’t cough, warned I.

On stage, the loud music returned after a touching monologue. I let out a small cough then cleared my throat. The itch slowly subsided. After clearing my throat one more time, I survived a possible coughing spree. The show ended.

While the actors took a bow, everyone stood up to give them a proper standing ovation. “I survived a night at the theatre without coughing up a lung. Go me,” I declared.

I power walked toward Times Square. My heart went piter patter as Broadway Marquis blinded the pupil. “This is why I love living in New York. I could have spontaneous evening at the theatre,” said. Not even the overcrowded subway could diminish my Broadway high.

Even after curing my Broadway itch, a craving to see more shows was cemented. Naturally my campy spirit yearns for more show tunes to sooth the creative soul.

Pocketful of Show Tunes

Trekking through the snow-covered peaks wasn’t quite climbing Mount Everest, but remained an expedition, nonetheless. Was this a trip to Tibet? Or even Switzerland, you ask? No, this was schlepping it from my apartment to the subway in New York City.

It was truly an adventure, as the sidewalks drowned in a sea of ice and snow. The city had the feel of an Antarctica-like wonderland. Though, the snow was a challenge, it also beautified neighborhoods.

Trees, which lost their leaves in the dead of winter, were re-born. Snow magically painted the deadness with charm. However, the snow would soon play a significant role in my next New York adventure. Like any good New Yorker, I headed to work regardless of weather. I barely made into my train and miraculously found a seat.

My dilemma of the morning was quite intense. “Do I want to listen to Rent?” or should I go with ” Chicago?” Rent it is, I said myself. The 3 train went express, somewhere between from “Out Tonight” and “Today 4 U” (from Rent, naturally), The train stopped. “Oh well, I thought, I have a seat and shit happens. There’s probably train traffic. “Moving on,” I said to myself.

“Uh-oh, something doesn’t feel right,” I proclaimed. The train stood at a standstill. As New Yorkers stared at each other bewildered. My therapist’s voice came to visit me, “just relax and focus on things that make you happy.” I quickly changed songs.

I’ve always loved listening to Carol Channing. Like any good musical theatre aficionado, I put “Hello Dolly” on repeat. “Happy thoughts, happy thoughts,” I said to myself.

“Ladies and gentlemen this train is down due to electrical malfunction. We are trying to figure out a way to get back to 96th street, said the conductor.” There I sat bewildered. “Oh my, the only thing that could make this tolerable would be Carol Channing magically appearing to sing “Hello Dolly” in my honor. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

However, if you’re going to get stuck on the subway with very little ventilation, it’s good to have eye candy.  There they were, the archetype for attractive gay male couples. Of course, they kept they train entertained with their every witty one-liners. They were cute, until reality set in. I was stuck on the subway.

Miraculously, the train returned to 96th street and we were all evacuated. Both the Seventh Avenue lines (downtown/uptown) were down. I decided to bus it crosstown. I navigated through the Upper West Side, which was filled with Ice, snow and slush, oh my. ” Then, while waiting to cross the street. “Splash,” I was covered in ice water. Thanks to a very large SUV.

Nevertheless, I continued the great schlep to 86th street. I found solid snow to walk on, but inevitably there were nice puddle to fall into. I made it to the bus stop. ” Shit, no bus,” I couldn’t wait around, since I was headed to the office. With reluctance, I walked on 86th toward Central Park West.  I jumped on a B train to Rockefeller Center. Quickly, (or as quick as a local train moves) I arrived at (surprise) close to my destination.

I had never been so thrilled to see Midtown and bolted east. After being splashed again with icy/slushy water on Park Avenue, I made it to the office in one piece.

My Life As A Broadway Musical

My inner campy boy just wanted to revel in Broadway musicals. However, my more jaded side fell out of love with them. Mr. Campy pants persisted, tugging at my pea coat begging to play.

For years, I proudly proclaimed, ” I don’t like show tunes.” During my lunch breaks in Times Square, I would walk around unfazed by the extravagant advertisements for the hottest Broadway shows. It made me the gay Scrooge of Times Square. “Bah humbug,” I proudly proclaimed, while passing the theatre marquis. It was a far cry from my youth.

As a teenager, show tunes were a campy escape from my conservative Catholic school upbringing. I secretly daydreamed of performing lavish Broadway numbers to adoring fans. In my head, I was the master of ceremonies from Cabaret, joined the cast of Rent and even tap danced in performance of Chicago.

When I didn’t tap dance and sign autographs for brain cells posing as fans, I eagerly bought tickets to every musical imaginable. One day, I simply lost interest and didn’t appreciate the art of a good show tune.

Then, my alter ego, Mr. Campy pants spoke to my heart. “You’re feeling down and stressed, remember your youth?” he said to me. ” Oh shit, I don’t wanna go there,” I replied. “C’mon, you know you wanna be the Patti Lupone of your brain’s Broadway stage.” he said while throwing Playbills in my face. “The key to happiness is through a song note.” I rolled my eyes “fine, here we go.”

I pulled out my iPhone and listened to the Cabaret music station on Pandora. Something spectacular jammed my brain. Songs from Anything goes, A Chorus Line, Avenue Q, West Side Story and even Phantom of the Opera emerged after years of being buried in the cemetery of quirky interests.

The whimsical show tunes brought me to a land long forgotten about. Sitting in the balcony of a New York theatre, while eagerly anticipating the first musical number. Standing in line for Cats. It even brought me back to that theatre in Madrid, where I watched Cabaret performed entirely in Castilian. Therefore, the music lifted me from a state of perpetual back to a happier time in life.

After a journey into show tunes land, Mr. Campy pants and I felt satisfied. The adventure even tickled my creative senses. It made me think about my life as a musical.

The set would have the Manhattan skyline one side and rugged mountains on the other side signifying my life in New York & California. There would be dancing copy machines, flight attendants and coffee cups.” Oy, I got dumped,” ” I’m nervous, somebody get me coffee,” & ” the Catholic school waltz” would be featured on the soundtrack.

Show tunes has delighted audiences for years. Thanks to Mr. Campy pants for getting me back to a happy place. Today, I have a renewed love of all things Broadway.

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