October 24, 2010

good work if you can take it

I had almost forgotten what it was like to be with people who knew me for what I did before who I was. At least not outide of an academic environment. I may never have known. And I may never get use to an introduction that quickly spurs an interest in my profession, or at least my trade. But that's what happens at the sort of gatherings of  contemporary taste-makers. If I was one myself, I didn't have much to show for it. Not even a pocket full of business cards.

Following our two CMJ performances (in which I once again threw out my back in probably a thrashing frenzy), the boys and I embarked on a plan to roll with the momentum we were given and, you know, network the crap out of anyone in an enviable position. The idea made me rather uneasy but at the same time, who doesn't like a party?

The studio where they both work was hosting a fall office party. To call their studio an office is almost completely incorrect, as the converted penthouse apartment in Grammercy looked nothing like an office, but maybe a freshly painted residence sparsely decorated by West Elm with extra thick walls. A patio overlooked a sprawling rooftop deck with a view of every familiar skyline as well as a peek into several NYU dorm buildings. You can always tell those by the xmas lights strung on the walls.
I arrived early, and my bandmates were already pretty far gone. I found them in one of the studio rooms, music blasting in its soundproof glory.
"We started drinking at 4," H admitted when I pointed out his glassy eyes.
A man with permanent frown lines and a sweater wrapped around his shoulders was poking at a macbook, switching from one techno hip hop beat to another, each one more gleefully than the last.
"Have you heard this shit!" He asked no one in particular. "This is some serious good shit!" He said commending his own selection. But not good enough to listen to the whole track through and he quickly played another. "Yeah, this is what I'm talking about! This is that chick from The Knife's solo stuff."

I feigned interest to be polite and glanced at Henry, wide eyed. He texted me from his seat: [I forgot his name].
Sweater Vest proceeded to pull up Youtube ads of Adidas and Nike commercials. "Yo, this Saul Williams track is bomb! I swear, Nike had the lock down on performance, but Adidas NAILS it with lifestyle ads. I always keep a pair of all white Adidas shell-toes on hand-- the mids! They're just always fresh!"

At this point I turned to our guitarist, "You wanna get a drink?"
"Yeah. Yes," He agreed.
We stepped outside the patio to the bar. A throng of equal parts suits and sneakerheads milled about, smoking cigarettes huddled under heat lamps. A skinny guy dressed in black gave me a double-take and mouthed something I couldn't discern. I smiled I think, and continued after Kevin.

"What was that dude's deal?" I asked once we were out of earshot.
"I don't know... I think he's in advertising."
"Chyeah, or something."
"We've been working this circuit hard, throwing out business cards like ninja stars."
"Well thank God for that."

If it was chilly tonight, being 10 floors up did not help so we retreated back inside where I was introduced to more people as "the singer of our band." I learned quickly that no one seems to take people who are introduced as singers very seriously. Or maybe I just looked very bored. Every handshake and smile suggested it was to be followed with a pat on the head. Hovering by the snack tabled seemed a more comfortable position.
These kinds of parties never seem like the ideal networking opportunity because everyone seems to know each other already and everyone already knows what you're after. Every bluff has been called the minute I stepped inside. Not to mention, this industry is a total boys club. Get any of them talking shop with one another and it's like you may as well be as on the same anatomical level of a Barbie doll. Thank God I didn't wear heels to this.

I left H and K chatting up an LA transplant to hunt for some sorry excuse for dinner on a toothpick. The guy from the patio swirled around apologetically.
"I'm sorry if I was weird before. I thought you were someone I knew-- this girl I met the other day, Seiko."
"Oh, it's fine," I replied. "Not her, nope."
"What's your name? Your real name, I mean," he asked. As if he assumed I would give an alias. He had fine brown hair cut short and oddly feminine features, almost elfin. When he leaned in closer to hear me over the music, I decided that he resembled Hilary Swank a bit in Boys Don't Cry.
"Yeah. Sable."
"Oh, that's cool. Well that's kinda similar-- Seiko, Sable, right?" he chuckled, nervously.
"Makes sense, since we all look alike, don't we?" I said dryly. I could see him wither a little.
"No no, I didn't mean it like that!" He back-peddled. "I'm not offending you, am I?"
"Not really. I am a little embarrassed for you, though." He couldn't have been older than me at all. And if he was, I would've felt sorry for him.
"Yikes. I'm not even drunk," he sheepishly said, with his arms up in a so-sue-me kinda way.
"That's unfortunate," I said, staring at his rosy cheeks. I couldn't tell if he was blushing or they were just always like that.
"Nothing." I looked past him at the table with my dinner across the room. I quickly tossed him to my bandmates nearby in an attempt to network by proxy. They were the ones with business cards anyway, not me. Turned out he and his friend work for a major advertising client the studio does commercial music for. My contribution for the evening.

One 90's hip-hop playlist later and several more watered-down cocktails in Henry and Kevin and we made for the exits. Hilary Swank pulled me aside with a "can I borrow you for a moment?" I had a boss who would always say that. He was also a bit of a creep.
"So I have to go and I wanted to say good bye to you."
"Okay. Bye. Nice meeting you I guess."
"And I may never see you again... unless you want to see me again."
"Um how does that work? You can give me your card I guess. I don't have one though."
"Do you have a phone number you can give me..."

H, K and I stumbled onto 23rd street, the both of them walking in figure 8's at this point.
"This is good, I think we did some damage," H exclaimed. "Talked to some good people. I got rid of all my cards." As if this was a game. Which is probably a better way to view it.
"Yeah, I got hella cards," K piped up in victory.
"I think I gave my number to Hilary Swank," I said.

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