3.31.2007

20 STORIES IN 20 WEEKS

If you count the three different publications that ran my Scott Thompson interview (which you should), then today I had my 20th article published. It's a review of Comic Book Club at the Peoples Improv Theater for Chelsea Now.

You can read it by clicking here.

3.30.2007

MY INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE GOLDSTEIN FROM FILM FORUM

Twenty years ago, when I was a film student at NYU, I started going to a movie theater called Film Forum.

In addition to having the best popcorn of any movie house in New York City, Film Forum also had -- and still has -- a unique commitment to classic films.

One of Film Forum's three screens is a repertory screen, programmed entirely with old movies. Over the last two decades, I have spent many nights at Film Forum, enjoying the innovative festivals of classic comedy, horror movies, sci-fi and everything in between. All of those festivals have been programmed by one man, a true New York character named Bruce Goldstein.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to talk with Bruce recently, on the occasion of his new 49-film festival of "B Musicals," which begins today at Film Forum on Houston Street.

As you might guess, I'll be spending a lot of time at the movies over the next three weeks.

You can read my interview my clicking here.

3.29.2007

YOU TAKE THE GOOD, YOU TAKE THE BAD

Last night I went to see a show called The Facts of Life - The Lost Episode at the Kraine Theater in the East Village.

In this live-on-stage installment of the classic 1980's sitcom, the Eastland school has fallen on hard financial times so Mrs. Garrett and the girls come up with a plan. They transform the cafe called Edna'a Edibles into a brothel called Edna's Edible Panties. Then Blair, Natalie, Tootie and Jo change out of their schoolgirl uniforms and into ho clothes and compete to see who can turn the most tricks. And Jo performs cunnilingus on Blair. And Mrs. Garret gets plowed on stage. And all of "the girls" are all played by guys in drag.

A very special episode, indeed.

Last night was opening night, with tickets available by invitation only. I was on the list because I am writing about the show for next week's issue of "The Villager." The publicist had offered me a "plus one," meaning that, in addition to a free ticket for me, I could also bring along a friend.

I invited Maggie, because she was a big fan of the TV version of Facts growing up. The last time Maggie was supposed to attend a show with me she ended up collapsing on the subway, being carted off to the hospital and never making it to the show. Last night she didn't collapse. But someone else did and her train was stuck in the station.

She sent me a text message warning me that she would be late, so I decided to go in. The publicist was at the door with a clipboard so I introduced myself.

"My guest is going to be late," I said.

"No problem," said the publicist. "Do you want to give me his name so I can hold a ticket for him."

Note the publicist said "he" and "him," assuming that I had invited a gay man. I'm also sure that he assumed that I was gay. After all, this is the second drag show that he is promoting that I am writing about. And I had a story in last week's edition of "The Gay City News."

The fact is, it would be better for my career if I were gay. Particularly when it comes to stand-up. I'm approaching my sixth anniversary as a comedian and, although I can't claim to really be trying anymore, in six years I have essentially gotten nowhere. But if I had decided early on to market myself as a gay comic, who knows how things would have been different.

In stand-up you need a hook, something that makes you stand out from the hundreds of thousands of other comedians. Being gay is a hook, and many comics use it jump start carers. I know of one girl in particular who I saw in open mics for months and thought that she was terrible. Then I saw her again recently, performing as an "out" lesbian and the (primarily gay) crowd loved her. Is she actually a lesbian, or is this just a career move? I have no idea. But whatever it is, it's working.

There are gay comedy shows, cable TV networks, satellite radio channels, newspapers, magazines, you name it. If I were gay I would have a great career. As a straight man, I'm a dime a dozen.

For so many years Hollywood stars have lived a double life - straight in public, but gay behind the scenes. Maybe I should try the opposite approach.

Now that's an idea for a sitcom.

3.27.2007

WORKIN' THE D*O*C*S

After the prodding of many (actually four) readers and my girlfriend Maggie, I finally went to the doctor today to have my injured right foot checked out.

I couldn't get an appointment at my primary care doctor's office so I went to this place called D*O*C*S, which is a walk-in clinic on 7th Avenue and 23rd Street. I'm not sure what DOCS stands for - maybe, Doctor's Office for people who Couldn't get appointmentS.

All I know is that the name includes asterisks, like M*A*S*H, so it must be for real.

So I walk in (actually I limped in, so maybe we should call it a "limp-in clinic") and go to the front desk.

"Hi. I need to see a doctor," I say to the clerk.

"What's wrong with you?" she replies.

"Well, my foot hurts," say I.

"My foot hurts too," says she.

"No, it really hurts," I reply. "I'm not saying your feet don't really hurt. I mean you probably have a long walk home from the Express Bus. Not that I'm assuming that you live somewhere in the outer boroughs. I mean, you may have a nice place right here in the city. Maybe you just work as a clerk at a walk-in clinic because you're altruistic. By the way, that is a lovely smock you're wearing! I love Garfield. I mean the cat - the president I could really live without, you know? He was assassinated, just like William McKinley. I'm named after him, but you probably don't know that because I haven't given you my insurance card yet..."

"Fill out these papers and have a seat," she said with disinterest.

"Can I have a seat first, and then fill them out?" I asked. "As I said, my foot..."

"Have a seat and fill out the papers," the clerk said, with a wave of her hand.

So I filled out the papers. Most people just check off "no" on all the medical history forms. Have you ever had major surgery? No. Any recurring health problems? No. History of psychiatric problems? No.

Not me. My medical history could fill up a binder of these sheets. I'm sitting there, writing all this down, drawing arrows with little notes that say "continued on next page..." It's a lot of work.

Finally I finish and bring my paperwork to the desk.

"Okay I'm done!" I announce. "I had to add a few pages from my notebook, but it's all there!"

"Insurance card," the clerk replies without looking up.

"Here it is," I say, as I hand it to her.

"You're HIP?" she asks.

"Well, I'd like to think so," I answer. "I mean, I try to stay current with movies and things..."

"I mean H-I-P," she says with exasperation. "Your insurance is H-I-P?"

"Oh yes," I answer. "Sorry I thought you were asking me about my various proclivities..."

"You have to change your primary care doctor," the clerk said, handing me the business card of one of the D*O*C*S physicians. "Call the number on the back of your card and change the primary to Dr. Chuey."

"Um is that 'chewy' like a caramel, I mean with a 'w' or is it..."

"It's on the card," she interrupted again. "Just please step outside and call."

This whole turn of events struck me as odd. I had no intention of changing my primary care physician to the walk-in (limp-in) clinic doctor. I was just here because I couldn't get an appointment with my REAL doctor. But in order to see the doctor today I had to commit to seeing him for the rest of my life. That's like a girl asking for a ring before the first date. That's okay for mail-order brides from Third World countries (like my ex-wife Mei-Mei), but a walk-in (limp-in) clinic in the middle of New York City? It seemed like quite a leap.

But I took it. I don't mean I literally took a leap, because that would hurt my sore foot, thus defeating the purpose of my being at the walk-in (limp-in) clinic. But I did take a figurative leap and called HIP to change my listed primary care physician.

"We'll send you a new card in two weeks, " said the phone rep.

"Oh don't bother," I replied. "I'm just changing my doctor for today, because I hurt my foot at a comedy show. It was the strangest thing, I...."

"What do you mean 'for today'?" the rep asked.

"I mean tomorrow I'm going to change it back," I answered.

"Why would you do that?" she asked.

"Because I don't know if I'm going to like this guy," I said. "He has the same name as Chewbacca.."

"What?" said the rep.

"Chewbacca? You know, the big, tall, hairy guy from the 'Star Wars' movies?" I answered.

"I know who Chewbacca is," she said. "What is the point of this conversation?

"Well I hurt my foot at a comedy show," I said. "It was Scott Thompson from 'The Kids in the Hall.' Did you ever watch that show? I interviewed him and they ran it in three different papers! Can you believe..."

"Sir, your new card will be mailed to you in two weeks," the operator said."

"Okay," I replied. "Talk to you again tomorrow."

Then I went in and saw the doctor.

Turns out I just sprained my foot, and they are not going to have to amputate. Whew, what a relief. I thought I had ganggreen (sp?)!

Dr. Chewy (bacca) put a bandage on my foot. Want to see it? Okay here it is:

It's not as cool as a cast, but you can still sign it if you like! Just don't sign the part where my skin is, because I don't want any tattoos!

He also told me that I should put my foot in a bag of peas if it swells up again. The only problem is, now I have to go out and get some butter, because I only like peas with melted butter (and a little bit of salt). I wonder why peas? Maybe they have special healing powers.

Anyway, that's the story. I'm going to live and I will not be losing any extremities. Thanks for your concern, everybody!


3.26.2007

MY RIGHT FOOT

On Friday night Maggie and I went to see Scott Thompson at Comix. It was a good show and I got a chance to meet Scott afterwards, and take a picture with him.

As Maggie and I were heading for the exit I lost my footing on a short staircase leaving the bar area. I didn't fall, but I did jam my right foot pretty hard on the step. It was one of those "I bet this is going to hurt tomorrow" moments.

And it did hurt. I could barely walk on Saturday, which was a problem. I was supposed to be hosting the "graduation" show for the kid comedians class that I teach at Gotham Comedy Club. I couldn't disappoint the children! So I hobbled into a cab and over to the club. Then something magical happened.

The minute I walked into the main showroom at Gotham, the pain went away. I was able to walk just fine. Nobody even noticed that I had hurt my foot/ankle. Even I forgot

The show went perfectly. The kids did a great job and the club was packed with family and friends. After it was over and all the pictures had been taken by the proud parents, I packed up my stuff and headed for the door.

The minute I got outside the pain came back. By the end of the night I couldn't walk. This was an even bigger problem -- considering that I was scheduled to travel to Orlando for work on Sunday.

If you've ever been there, you know that the Orlando Airport is huge. Walking that thing is like doing one of those walks for charity, just without the donations.There was no way I was going to be able to do it.


So I called the producer of the event and bailed. In 17 years this is the first time I have ever called in sick for anything. When you're freelance, you don't get paid if you don't show up. So I always show up. Or at least I used to.

Welcome, old age!

That little slip on the steps at the comedy club cost me more than $2,000 in freelance day rates.

But hey, at least I got comped for the tickets.

Does this look bad to you?


3.24.2007

SCOTT THOMPSON & ME

3.23.2007

I'M GAY

My interview with Scott Thompson was picked up by two other publications this week: The Villager and The Gay City News. Gay City gave it a different -- and not approved by me -- title, but they also used my name/initials in each of the questions, which Chelsea Now and The Villager did not do. I like that. It makes me look famous.

I also enjoy appearing on the same page as an ad for "lesbian friendly get-aways." Check it out by clicking here honey!

3.22.2007

SPECIAL DELIVERY

There are a lot of great things about living in New York City. But one of the coolest things is the diverse group of people that you encounter on a daily basis.

Last night I had a fascinating conversation with a delivery guy who came to my girlfriend Maggie’s apartment around 9 p.m.. The BBC World News was on TV (because we’re smart) and they were doing a story about Hilary Clinton.

“In my country we have a female president,” he said. “But I don’t think United States is ready.” He told us that he was from the Philippines, where Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been president since 2001.

I agreed that I didn’t think that this country would elect a female president, particularly in wartime (however fabricated, false and illegal this “war” may be). I suggested that I thought the likely nominee would be John Edwards (although the announcement today of the reoccurrence of his wife Elizabeth’s cancer may change a few things.) We agreed that Barack Obama would likely be the Democratic pick for Vice President, and that Iraq would be the primary issue.

“We had troops in Iraq, but our female president pulled them out,” the guy said, practically choking on “female.” He reminded me of the story of the Filipino contractor Angelo de la Cruz who was taken hostage by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a (successful) effort to scare off the Filipinos.

“If I had been president, I would have fought to the death,” He continued. “I never retreat. I would rather die.”

The delivery guy then regaled us with tales of his days in the Filipino military, and of the subtle differences between AK-47s and M-16s. Whenever he spoke of combat, fighting or killing his eyes gleamed as if he wished he were back there, in the rice paddies fighting the Abu Sayaf insurgents.

“Okay I gotta get to my next customer,” he said, as he headed for the door after his nearly thirty minute visit. After all, I’m pretty sure that Maggie was not the only person in New York City who ordered weed last night.

And that’s another great thing about living here. You can get just about anything delivered, often by some very interesting characters.

3.21.2007

MAGGIE BRINGS THE SUBWAY TO A SCREETCHING HALT (revised)

Last night Maggie was supposed to meet me at 9:30 at The People's Improv Theater in Chelsea, where I was reviewing a show for the newspaper. 9:30 came and went, then 10, then 10:30, then the show was over. No sign of Maggie. I tried calling her. No answer. I began to worry.

I hopped in a cab and headed over to her apartment. She wasn't there. I considered calling the police, but they would have thought I was kidding - reporting someone lost because they had missed a comedy show.

I tried her cell phone over and over. I began to imagine all manner of terrible things. I picked up the phone to call 911. Instead I dialed her cell phone one more time. This time she answered.

Maggie was at St. Vincent's Hospital, where she had been taken by ambulance after she fainted on the subway near 14th Street. Here's what happened:

She boarded the #1 train at Rector Street and sat down, listening to her iPod. Somewhere near 14th Street she began to feel faint. Then everything went dark.

When she woke up an Emergency Medical Technician was standing over her. Her head had been propped up by a fellow rider, who feared that she was dead. The train had been held in the station due to "a sick passenger." That sick passenger was Maggie.


"Your pupils are dilated," the EMT said. "You gotta tell me what drugs you did. I'm not gonna arrest you..."

"I took a Vicodin and smoked some pot," she admitted. "And I haven't eaten anything since 1 o'clock. I'm fine now." Then she attempted to get up and leave.

"Wait a minute. I have to take you to the hospital," the EMT said. "What if you get back on the train and collapse again? I gotta cover my ass."

He helped Maggie up the stair case and into the waiting ambulance, for the one-block drive to St. Vincent's. There Maggie was hooked up to EKG and blood pressure monitors, and told that she couldn't use her phone. The admissions clerk promised that she would call me, which she did not.

Maggie went through a battery of tests and was finally told that she was okayed to leave.

Here's an excerpt from her discharge papers:


The first thing Maggie did when she got home was take a gigantic bong hit. So much for "doctor's orders."

3.19.2007

TRAITOR JOE'S

I've never been much of a drinker. At least until Trader Joe came to town.

One year ago yesterday the Northern California-based boutique grocery chain opened their very first New York City location, right down the block from where I work. It was a joyful day for urban shoppers. And me.

But another store also opened at the same time, a few doors to the east on 14th Street. It's called the Trader Joe's Wine Store and, as the name suggests, they sell wine. Not just any wine, however. Trader Joe's sells cheap wine - really good, really cheap wine.

Perhaps you've heard that old cliche, "You can have cheap, fast or good. Pick two." Well shopping at the Trader Joe's Wine Store will get you all three. I walk in with a swish through the automatic front doors, grab three or four bottles of wine, pay a ridiculously small amount of money and I'm on my way home five minutes later.

And therein lies the problem for me.

I've never been much of a drinker, mostly because I never developed a taste for alcohol during my formative years. I blame this on the fact that I commuted to college at NYU. For most college kids, binge drinking is a required component of the dorm-living experience.

So, happily, I never found myself in the vice grip of the demon elixir.

But the one type of alcohol that I have always enjoyed is white wine, particularly sweet whites such as a Riesling. In the past I would enjoy a glass (or two) on the (very) rare occasions that I went to a fine restaurant, but hardly ever would I buy a bottle for home. The wines that I enjoyed were usually around $20 per bottle, and I found it hard to justify the expense.


Then Trader Joe came to town. Now I routinely find tasty bottles of Riesling for $4.99. And there are many other decent quality wines that sell for less than a large Snapple.

I walk into TJ's and the first thing I think is, "I can get four bottles for what I would have paid for one at my (soon to be out-of-business) neighborhood, independently owned wine shop!" So I buy four bottles, every time I go, as if there is some sort of minimum drink purchase, like at a comedy club.


But here's one thing you should know about me: I have no self control. If I open a bottle of wine I will finish it - that night. It doesn't matter if I'm the only person drinking. My parents grew up during the Great Depression and they always taught me to clean my plate. As an adult I've extended those lessons to drugs and alcohol.

So now I'm routinely knocking back full bottles of wine, alone, four nights a week. It's almost as if I'm experimenting with binge drinking twenty years too late, and without the random sex with hot coeds. Yay me.

But even when I drink an entire bottle of Trader Joe's wine (like I did before I wrote this post), I don't even really get drunk. So what's the point? I'm also not saving any money, because I never used to spend $20 a week on wine.


That's the scam of discount stores. You end up spending more money, because you're so obsessed with the idea that you're getting a good deal. You may be getting more for the money, but what if the "more" that you are getting leads you to a path with 12 steps?

I think for the near future I will be avoiding the Trader Joe's wine store. I really don't need another addiction. I can barely maintain the other ones I already have.

3.16.2007

MY INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT THOMPSON FROM "THE KIDS IN THE HALL"

I talked to him on the phone last Friday for nearly an hour. It was a great conversation, as if I was talking with an old pal. I was surprised at how open and honest he was, but it sure made for a good interview.

You can read it here. FYI, Scott will be appearing at Comix here in New York on Friday 3/23 and Saturday 3/24. And if you would like to check out the blog that he writes as his most famous character Buddy Cole, click here.

3.15.2007

DRUGS & VIOLENCE ARE NO LAUGHING MATTER

Recently I discovered something that makes those long days at work zip by. It's called Ecstasy. Have you tried it?

I'm kidding. Kids, stay in school and don't do drugs.

Now I sound like Mr. T.
"I pity the fool who gets high behind the gym between 8th and 9th periods."

Actually I don't pity him or her, at all. I
envy. I wish I had gotten high in high school. If I was baked, I would have wasted a lot less time worrying about things like math, physics and where I could find an unlicensed handgun.

Again, I kid.

I don't believe in school violence. But if there was a way that school violence could be directed just at the kids who deserve it, then I think I'd be okay with it.

Parents, please send your letters of complaint to the following address:


Will McKinley
c/o Go Fuck Yourself, Inc
1313 Shut the Fuck Up Lane
Fuckyouville, New York 10014

All I can say is, thank God I didn't discover drugs until I was 30. If I had access to drugs and guns when I was a student at Chaminade High School in Mineola, Long Island from 1982-1986, I would most likely be writing this blog from a correctional facility.

What? You say you can't imagine me in prison? Well here's an actual picture of me when I got arrested for fare evasion in the subway back in 1999.


If you would like to learn all about what happened on that fateful night, click
here to listen to a podcast of the my story She Done Him Wrong.


3.14.2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

Happy birthday to my mother, who was born on this day back in 1935. That's a long time ago!

I gave her a picture for her birthday.

I think it's a pretty good likeness, don't you?

3.13.2007

WILL RADIO

I love leaving people voicemail messages at work, because I've always secretly dreamed of being a radio DJ.

And each message I leave is like my own little radio show.


I'll be at my desk and I'll get a client's voicemail and I'll clear my throat, deepen my voice and be like, "Hey there Erica. This is Will McKinley coming at ya from extension 5922 over here at BSP Creative Services. The temperature is a balmy 62 degrees at 11:55 in the a.m. and I was just checkin' in to see if you had a chance to review those pdf docs that I sent over. Hey, I'll be here with ya right up until 6 o'clock, with the best mix of the soft rock hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s and today. So feel free to give me a call back when you get a moment. But first, here's Swedish supergroup Roxette with It Must Have Been Love, on your listen-at-work station W-I-L-L."

94.3 WILL-FM
Your Listen-at-Work Station!

3.11.2007

A MINOR INCIDENT

I've been a bit short-tempered recently.

This happens to me from time to time. I'll be feeling relatively stable, maybe even what some people might call "happy" and then, all of a sudden, I'll feel the urge to get into a fight with somebody. Anybody. I tramp around the mean streets of Manhattan like an angry Walter Mitty, fantasizing about finally getting the chance to beat the living shit out of somebody (but only with just cause, of course).

Sometimes these mood swings are caused by skipping the anti-depressant medication that I began taking -- reluctantly -- in my late 20's. Like many people who are both arrogant and emotionally unstable, I will occasionally decide that I am "all better" and don't need to take anything any more.

"Fuck you Celexa!" I will proclaim. "I want to be clean! I want to remember what it was like to be the real me!"

And then, usually about a week later, I will remember that "the real me" is actually an angry asshole with no friends. And I will send him back to the dark dungeon to which he was banished nearly a decade ago by an Upper West Side psycho-pharmacologist with a Jewish last name that I cannot recall at the moment.

But sometimes "the real me" makes unannounced return visits for no particular reason, and there's nothing I can do about it. It's sort of like when your annoying cousin Carl shows up at your doorstep without warning and invites himself to crash on your couch for a while, because he and his live-in girlfriend "need some time."

The thing about cousin Carl is, I can throw him out when he over-stays his welcome (which would be about two hours if he actually existed, which he does not). But I can't throw myself out. I mean I could, but then I'd just be an angry asshole who's out in the cold, which would only make me angrier and more asshol-ish, thus defeating the purpose.

So when these imbalances in the emotional Force occur, I just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope that Mr. Hyde doesn't leave Dr. Jekyll with too much of a mess to clean up.

The first sign that things are bio-chemically off-kilter is, I will start smoking cigarettes during the day. I've been smoking on and off (mostly on) for nearly two decades and yes, I know it's bad for me. But it gives me something to do with my hands, other than punch someone.

For the last year or so, I have abandoned my consistently unsuccessful efforts to quit smoking, reducing my intake of carcinogens to a few Camel Ultra Lights at the end of the day. My girlfriend, who effortlessly quit on her 30th birthday, refers to this as my "night smoking" habit. Some people relax at the end of a day with a cocktail. I have a cigarette (or two, or three). Please save your pity and/or contempt. At last count nearly a quarter of the people in this country still smoke, and we're not all dead. Yet.

When the imbalance comes on, I slowly transform back into a "day smoker." This is, of course, met with active disapproval from my nicotine-free girlfriend, who has apparently decided that lung cancer only results from cigarettes smoked during daylight hours.

My smoking gives her something to nag me about, which only worsens my mood, and results in witty retorts like, "how about you get off my fucking back?" Then I remind her that, while she may have quit smoking cigarettes, she's been sucking down bong hits every night since her freshman year of college. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.


That's another thing that happens during these visits to the Dark Side. I lose my ability to self-edit, like a drunken co-worker at the office Christmas party. I find myself being generally more blunt with people. I say "more blunt" because even at my most pharmacologically stable I tend to be the kind of person who speaks his mind freely. Some might say "too freely," but those people can kiss my politically incorrect ass.

My Truman-esque plain speaking often gets me involved in what I like to call "minor incidents" with other people. A minor incident is a troublesome interaction that has the potential to devolve into something physical, violent or illegal but -- thankfully -- does not. Thus the "minor."

Over the years there have been many minor incidents, too many to count. Luckily for me, none of these have turned into a "major incident," with the possible exception of the time I got busted in the subway for fare evasion. But that was really my pothead girlfriend's fault. As we ex-cons like to say, the bitch set me up.

In the last week or so I have had "minor incidents" with a rude doorman, a deli cashier who did not say "thank you" and the editor of the newspaper for which I write. The first two were in-person altercations; the third was via email. In-writing seemed a more appropriate venue for a disagreement between a writer and his editor. Who knows, maybe some day our witty email volley will make it into a non-fiction anthology called "Does 'Passive Aggressive' Have a Hyphen? Will McKinley's Two Decades of Pissing Off Authority Figures via Email."

Which brings us back to today. Last night, we "sprung ahead" a few weeks early. This annoyed me for many reasons. First, I'm docked one of my priceless 48 hours of freedom before having to return to my hated day-job. Second, I now have one less hour per day for girlfriend-approved cigarette smoking.

Seemingly on-cue, as the clocks sprang forward the weather transformed from blustery cold to sunny and Spring-like. Smiling people were out and about, sporting shirtsleeves, shorts and bright, cheery smiles. I, however, was clad in my traditional dour poker face, with my weathered New York Mets baseball cap pulled down tightly on to my Taxi Driver-like shaved head. I'm never fully dressed without some bile.

This morning I left my girlfriend's apartment and walked to the subway station entrance at Rector Street. There I patiently waited for at least ten endless seconds while an overweight tourist couple debated -- in the middle of the stairway -- the relative merits of the R train vs. the 6 train.

"Thank you!" I exclaimed, with mock politeness, as they finally provided a pathway for me between their ample, Doritos-induced girth. Then I stood for what seemed like an eternity on a platform filled with chatty foreigners who had ventured downtown to see what they still insist on referring to as "Ground Zero."

I exited the subway at Union Square, lit a cigarette and headed toward my favorite deli on 5th Avenue. En route I dodged baby carriages, handholding couples and the other annoying accoutrements of spring in the City. Some people may have nothing better to do than "groovin' on a Sunday afternoon" but I am a busy man. I have angry screeds to write. I bet the Unabomber never interrupted the writing of his beloved Manifesto so he could endure an over-priced brunch at the Coffee Shop.

I arrived at the deli, flicked my cigarette into a puddle, chased it with a piece of Dentyne Ice gum and went inside. I headed over to the deli counter and noticed a young couple standing there, staring blankly at the posted menu, as if the concept of choosing a sandwich was more than their dim wits could handle.

The deli attendant, a young man of indeterminate (and most-likely undocumented) ethnicity looked at the couple for a moment, then nodded at me as if to say, "What would you like?"

"I'll have an onion bagel, toasted dark, with butter please," I said. Note I said "please" because I am a polite New Yorker.

The young man turned and looked at me. He was athletic and jock-ish, and was wearing mesh, basketball shorts and some sort of a collegiate type baseball cap. I have no idea what the name of the school was. Those names are meaningless to me, anyway. Whenever I encounter a Frat guy in college apparel I always see "University of Date Rape" regardless of what the name of the actual (purportedly) academic institution may be.

Am I saying that this fellow was an actual date rapist? Of course not. Of that I have no proof. He just struck me as the kind of guy who considered a blowjob to be his birth right, just because he was on the lacrosse team. And his standard-issue, blond arm-candy seemed like the kind of bland, post-post-feminist, Paris Hilton-wannabe who would happily oblige.

"Excuse me," he sniffed provocatively in my general direction. "My girlfriend and I were just about to order."

"You snooze you lose, pal," I shot back, between open-mouthed chomps of gum. Yes, I'm a writer. And no, this was not the most original response I could have come up with. But still, I was kind of impressed with myself. I waited to see what brilliance my little Date Rape U grad would hit me back with.

"Yeah?" he grunted, as neither a question nor an answer. Then he fell silent.

"That's it?" I thought to myself. "That is the best that this little bitch can come up with? You pussy. I could destroy you." I opened my mouth to reply with a level of brilliance that would have made Oscar Wilde weep from beyond the grave. And then I looked down.

In his beefy right hand the young man was tightly gripping an aluminum bat. Clearly he had just come from a softball game, where his vanilla-flavored girlfriend had sat lovingly in the stands, cheering him on, like all good sorority girls should. Now I had a decision to make: Mr. Hyde vs. Dr. Jekyll.

Dr. Jekyll won. Even angry assholes know better than to pick a fight with a guy holding an aluminum baseball bat. I may talk a (relatively) good game, but deep down I've always been more Falstaff than Henry V.

So I bit my sharp tongue, and said nothing in response to his open-ended "yeah." And nor did he. The three of us just stood there, in deliciously awkward silence, as the man behind the counter prepared our food. I had my wit and he had his bat, and never the twain did meet.

I will live to fight another day and he, my young arch enemy, will fixate on the unanswered verbal bitch slap that I gave to him in the presence of his adoring girlfriend.

Sometimes justice and peace really do operate hand in hand.

NOTES FROM THE DRAMA DESK

The good news is my fifteenth story was published this week, a review of a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater for Chelsea Now.

The bad news is, the story resulted in some drama between my editor and me. It all started with my byline getting fucked up in two of my stories a few weeks back. I would have ignored that, but it was just one of a number of indignities that I have had to deal with recently.

I'm not going to laundry list them for you. Let's just say that I was feeling a bit dissed. And I communicated that to my editor, albeit in a somewhat passive aggressive style. I hoped that she would reach out, ask what was bothering me and endeavor to fix the problem. I assumed that she would do everything in her power to keep me happy, and feeling appreciated, because I'm such a good writer and she feels so lucky to have me as a regular contributor to her papers.

Instead she basically told me that I was writing for under-staffed community newspapers and I should get over it, or start looking elsewhere.


One thing you should know about me is, I'm not real good at getting over things. But I am good at looking elsewhere.

So enjoy number 15, because who knows how many more of these there will be.

3.09.2007

CRYSTAL METHODIST

My girlfriend gave me a cold, which sucks. But I guess it's better than syphilis. I can deal with getting a cold from her, but if she gave me a venereal disease I would be pissed.

People at work would be like, "Dude, you sound bad. Do you have syphilis?"

And I'd be like, "Yeah. My fucking girlfriend gave it to me. I'll tell you what, that's the last time I share a pussy with someone who's got syphilis. Next time it's off limits!"

The great thing about having a cold is that you get to do Nyquil. Nyquil is the best drug that you can buy without a prescription, with the possible exception of Pringles. Those things are addictive. Can you go to rehab for Pringles?

I started to feel like shit last night so I called the deli and asked them to deliver some Nyquil. And the guy was like, "What kind?"

And I was like, "What do you mean what kind?

And he was like, "There's regular or cherry."

And I was like, "I don't care what kind. It all tastes like shit. And cherry flavored shit doesn't taste any better than shit flavored shit. I just want the 'sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine.' That's the kind of Nyquil I want."

And he was like, "We don't have that kind. We have the 'sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, sleep better to feel better medicine.' That's what it says on the box."

When did they change the Nyquil slogan? What happened to stuffy head? Who decided that treating a stuffy head was no longer part of Nyquil's core mission?

So the guy delivered it and I took it and my head is still stuffy. And you know who I blame this on? Those people who make crystal meth. They fucked it up for all of us. The drug companies had to go and change all the cold medicines to take the good stuff out, because a bunch of toothless morons in trailer parks have to get themselves fucked up.

I don't know why people bother with meth anyway. All you have to do is chug some Nyquil and you're as fucked up as you will ever need to be.

Nyquil will solve all your problems. Except syphilis.

3.08.2007

COOKIE MONSTER AND THE MEXICAN PIZZA BOY

On Tuesday night I went to my writing class and ended up having a shouting match with an employee of my instructor's apartment building.

My teacher lives in a residential high rise on the West side, and holds our workshops in her apartment. Each week I go, tell the doorman who I am there to see and go in. The doorman knows that she has classes at her place, and doesn't even bother to call up to check with her.

But on Tuesday there was someone different at the desk. He was dressed in a uniform, like the kind of thing a maintenance worker might wear. Oh, and he was wearing a ski cap. But not just any ski cap. This particular woolen hat said Sesame Street 2006, and had a little embroidered cookie monster on it. This struck me as odd. Perhaps he was a crew member on a live Sesame Street stage show. Or maybe he just really liked Cookie Monster. I don't know.

I arrived at the building and told him whom I was there to see, but there was a problem. I didn't remember my instructor's exact apartment number, since I never have to ask for it. I told him that I didn't know and he barked at me in an African accent.

"Den you will have to wait for da doorman to come bock," he said, practically chanting. I huffed, and a moment later a short Mexican man walked in with a pizza box.

"Pizza delivery" he said in heavily accented English to the African in the Sesame Street cap.

"What apartment?" the fill-in doorman demanded, as the Mexican delivery boy handed him a piece of paper with the apartment number written on it.

"What apartment?!" he repeated as he pushed the paper back. The delivery guy attempted to communicate, but failed.

"Speak English!" the African commanded. That was when I lost it.

"Hey Cookie Monster," I said. "Don't be so fucking rude."

"I am not being rude, "he said to me. "If he can't speak English he can not come in. I am just doing my job. "

"You're just being an asshole is what you're doing," I said to him. "Stop being such an asshole." At that moment the doorman returned.

"This guy right here," I said to him, pointing to the African. "He's an asshole. This guy is trying to deliver a fucking pizza and he's busting his balls. He's a racist."

The doorman apologized to both of us, spoke to the pizza guy en Espanol, and let us both in. We walked through the door with the African.

"Hey Cookie Monster," I said to him, as he headed through a side door. "How about you work on being less of a dick? What do you think of that?"

No response. Because not only was he was a racist, he was also a pussy. A moment later I got on the elevator with the delivery man and an older woman who kept her head down through the whole incident.

"Thank you," the pizza man said to me, all the while looking down.

"You're welcome," I replied as I got off at the second floor. "Don't put up with that shit."

Then I went to my writing class.

3.06.2007

SUBWAY BLOODY SUBWAY

On Monday night, after a not particularly long day of doing not much of anything at work, I headed for the Union Square subway station.

I swiped my Metrocard through the turnstile and got one of those "Please swipe again" messages on the little LCD screen. I love those messages. They kind of turn me on. It's like the turnstile is getting off on you sticking your Metrocard in and out, and she wants you to keep doing it.

Like, "Yeah baby. Fucking swipe it. Yes. Do it hard and fast. Oh, not too fast. Yeah. Swipe again at this turnstile. Ohhh." And then she's done and you go home. Just like above ground.

At least I hope it's a she. You could argue that turnstiles are kind of masculine, with those thick phallic poles that you grab with your hand and push on with your pelvis. Maybe that's just me.

But if I'm going to assign a sex to a subway turnstile, I'm going to make it a she. Because I am not gay, even when it comes to subway turnstiles. I'm not homophobic or anything but that's just not natural.

I heard the train pulling in so I ran down the stairs and jumped on the R train as the doors were just about to close. I love that. I love leaping through the doors at the last minute, just as they're closing up. I feel like Indiana Jones, like I should be dragging a little Asian boy behind me, in a baseball hat. But I don't have any nephews yet, so that's out of the question.

I got on the train and I sat in the corner seat.

I put my backpack on the seat beside me and sat back and prepared to relax and enjoy the quick ride to my girlfriend's place in Battery Park City. But then I felt my foot sticking to the floor. So I looked down.

I noticed a tacky, red stain on the floor. I don't men tacky, like in bad taste, like in Donald Trump or Atlantic City. I mean tacky like sticky. It felt like someone had spilled a bottle of cranberry juice on the floor. But then I looked closer, and realized what it was.

It was blood. My feet were stuck on human blood. And I'm like "Great. Now I'm a suspect."

I watch CSI New York. I know what happens. The first thing they look for is blood on the sneakers. That's why them call them sneakers. They were invented so people could sneak around and kill you.
That's how they got O.J.

I got off the train at Rector Street and raced over to my girlfriend's place. The minute I got there I took off my shoes and I scrubbed them in the bathtub with Comet. And then I scrubbed down the bathtub and my hands. And I burned the towels.

There are so many people in the world that I would like to kill. My luck, one of them gets murdered on the R train and I get blamed. That would be so ironic. To get arrested for murdering my boss, but not even have the pleasure of killing him. Slowly. That's just not fair.

So now I'm just gonna lay low for awhile. After all I don't really have an alibi for last night. I mean I do, but I don't want to announce to the whole world that I was getting a pedicure at Bobo's Nail Salon on 6th Avenue. That's private.


3.04.2007

PUBLISHED STORY #14

I have another story in the paper this week.

This one is for Downtown Express and it's a review of a piece of experimental theater. My goal with this piece, as with many of the other reviews I write, is to tell a personal story in the context of a review (or vice versa, depending on your perspective).

I have no particular interest in experimental theater, but I do enjoy the opportunity to push the boundaries of review. I did it with the review of the Star Trek improv show, as well. That piece was as much about me, and the fact that I am a Star Trek fan, as it was a review of the show.

Same with this one. I decided to write about the difficulty I was having understanding - and explaining - the show that I had been assigned to review. It's sort of like the movie Adaptation. It was supposed to be one thing, and it ended up being something different (and better).

Or maybe I'm just full of shit. Read it here and decide for yourself.

3.02.2007

MO' WRITING, MO' PROBLEMS

As those of you who read this space on a regular basis know, I've been doing a lot of writing for print recently.

I've been contributing reviews, interviews and feature stories to three weekly papers here in New York City - The Villager, Chelsea Now and Downtown Express.

Each of these stories requires a fair amount of work. When I'm writing a review, I need to contact the producer or the venue to arrange for tickets, go to see the show and then write my brilliant assessment of the performance. Straight Q&A interviews may look easier, but they often require even more time - setting up the interview, conducting it (either in person or over the phone), transcribing it, editing it and writing an intro. And features stories are the most work, because they often include both a review and an interview component.

In return for all my hard work I am paid $50 for each of these stories.

Obviously I'm not doing it for the money. I'm doing it for the experience and what we professional writers call "clips." I'm building a portfolio of work in hopes of getting higher-profile assignments.

According to my editor, these three papers have a combined circulation of 100,000. That sounds a bit ambitious to me, considering that no one I have ever met has heard of any of them. Most people are impressed to hear that I am getting published, but when I tell them where I am getting published they look at me with blank stares.

Sometimes I feel like I may as well be writing for the Clip & Save Coupon Circular in Butte, Montana. But the upside is that each week I get to see my name in print in New York City. That makes all the time and effort worthwhile.

This week was a big week in my storied writing career. I had three pieces in three different publications, which was a first for me. The first piece was my Richard Lewis interview in The Villager.

The day it came out I went to three different downtown newsstands and bought copies. Yes, I paid $1 for three copies of my own writing, and another $2 for copies to send to Richard Lewis's publicist. For those of you that are scoring at home, that reduces my take-home to $45. But it was very cool to see that story in print, considering what an influence Richard Lewis has had on me over the last quarter century.

Two days later my other two stories were scheduled to hit the street. I say "hit the street" and not "hit the stands" because Chelsea Now and Downtown Express are free weeklies, distributed in brightly colored boxes throughout the neighborhoods they serve.

Last Friday morning I woke up at Maggie's place in Battery Park City and ran down to the corner to check the Downtown Express box. I was like a kid on Christmas morning! I pulled out a copy and flipped to the Arts section and got a nice surprise.


Instead of my name at the top of my review of the Start Trekkin improv show, I saw the following: BYLINE????

That's right, my name appeared nowhere on the story. Actually that's not true, I did get credit for the picture that I took of the cast. So at least my thousands of readers will be impressed with my photojournalism.

I stared at the paper, wondering if I was somehow still asleep and just dreaming. But I wasn't. There it was, for all the world to see BYLINE????. I had to laugh at the absurdity of it. And by laugh I mean sulk like a two year-old.

I immediately wrote an email to my editor, who apologized and fixed it in the on line story. But for some reason she wasn't willing to reprint the paper. I briefly considered walking around to each of the hundred or so distribution boxes south of Canal Street and inserting a printed explanation into each copy of the paper. After all, that's what they do when in the Broadway Playbill when there is a cast change for a particular performance, and what's good enough for Cats is good enough for me!

After some consideration I decided against this plan. After all, I still had a story in Chelsea Now to look forward to.

So I hoped on the subway and headed up to 14th Street. But my excitement was tainted with trepidation. What if this one was wrong too? What would I do?

I got off the subway, raced up the stairs and spotted the bright orange Chelsea Now box. I pulled out the paper, turned to Arts section and saw the following:


My review of a comedy show called Adam Sank's Gay Bash was credited to Bill McKinley. I'd like to congratulate my Dad on his first-ever published work.

Bill is my father's name not mine. I hate it when people call me Bill. It makes my skin crawl. It reminds me of my four-year incarceration at Chaminade High School, an all-boys Catholic prep school where the fascist teachers refused to call me Billy because they thought they needed to make a man out of me. They chopped the "y" off my name without even asking me and, to this day, I refuse to allow anyone to call me Bill.

Except, of course, for Chelsea Now.

I sent my editor another email and she called me on the phone and offered a sincere mea culpa. I thought about having a diva fit, but what good would that do? This city is filled with writers looking for work, and many of them wouldn't care if you credited them as Dick Hertz just as long as the check cleared.

I wondered what could be the cause of this double mishap. My editor blamed it on the Presidents Day holiday which resulted in a short production week. But I soon realized who really was to blame.

I went back and looked at my submissions for both of the fucked up stories. I each case, I forgot to include my name on the story. Not just once, but twice. In my haste to get three stories in the paper in the same week, I somehow managed to forget the most important part - MY NAME.

I couldn't believe it. Who likes to see his name more than I do? I mean, my email address is will@willmckinley.com! I may as well just use narcissist@narcissist.net.

Sure, it's the editor's job to catch my mistakes. But it's also my job not to make mistakes - particularly when the mistake affects me. I am the idiot in this story.

So I ended up having three different stories in thre different papers under three different names: Will McKinley, Bill McKinley and BYLINE????.

For all you aspiring writers out there, here's the moral to this sad story: If you're going to bust your ass to write something for the purposes of getting your name in print, make sure you actually put your name on it.

As we used to say back in high school - No shit Sherlock.