Thursday, December 30, 2010

Excerpt from 'This Rock in my heart' by Tommie Vaughn

While Frankie unpacked her life into the tiny studio apartment in the middle of Hollywood, her mind was lost in thought as to how she got there...

“Oh! Uh yeah… This is Cherokee Studios.”
“Hi I was just calling to see…”
“You calling about the job?”
“Hold on.”

Frankie sucked in her breath and looked down at the Music Connection Magazine in her hands. Sprawled across the top it read ‘ Top Recording Studios Issue #310 for May 2002- From A-Z’. And her third phone call into the C’s came to Cherokee Recording Studios. It read like a dream. Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Motley Crue- to name one tenth of the talent that had passed through the doors and onto the page shaking in her hand, while the other held the phone pressed against her ear...

Frankie sighed. “Shit”
“What?” A voice at the other end had finally picked up.
“Huh?” She stammered
“Are you calling about the job?”
“Yeah, I was just wondering if you were hiring?”
“ I like your voice”
“So I’ve been told” she smiled into the phone.
“Uhh, Yeah… well I guess it might work for you.”
“Who is this? Are you fucking with me?”
“Nope. I am looking for a job.”
“We are hiring.”
“I was hoping…”
“Ok well can you come in?”
“No, but when? Tomorrow?
“Sure…what time?”
“Do you play? I mean. Do you have any experience in Receptionism?”
“Well, I made it this far.”
“Ok so yeah make it one o-clock tomorrow.”
“Great. I’ll be there.”
“No. My name is Frankie, Frankie Spencer.”
“I… great, really? Great… No, I mean, Adrian. I’m Adrian.”
The line went dead in her ear.

Box after box she unloaded from the car and truck to the little studio apartment. All the while the young man whistled and watched her move. Her strides were long and confident and her blue jeans were so tight he could swear she lived in them because they fit her every lanky curve. She would smile at him every once in awhile, or brush his arm with hers as she passed by. His heart would race at the thoughts running through his mind as he watched her long chocolate brown hair swing from side to side as she walked in front of him down the long hall. He held the box he was carrying low to cover the front of his jeans.

The drive alone was surreal. Just knowing where I was going. Holy Shit. Don’t panic- you can do this. Come on! If you can get up on stage you can get a job as a receptionist. Just think of it as your stage. Yeah… my daily stage.

Fairfax was backed up and she could smell the roast beef as she passed Canters Deli on the left. She looked up and smiled at the bright neon sign. Just past Melrose she pulled into the pot-holed filled lot. There were two young boys painting over some vandalism tags on the side of the building. They looked over at her with open interest. She waved a half salute as she closed her car door and walked to the wooden security door at the front of the sign less building. There was a tiny button that she lightly pressed and a buzzer rang from somewhere inside. The door cracked open and she caught it quick and opened it enough for her to step inside. It was so dark compared to the bright outside it took her eyes a moment to adjust.

“Frankie?” his voice called
“Yeah? Oh I’m sorry Pauley I didn’t hear you.” She shook her head to bring her back to the present moment. She was standing in the small kitchen looking out into the courtyard of El Cerrito. There in the middle of the courtyard, a fountain had been bubbling over into her memories.
Pauley looked deep into her eyes and took a step forward. “Do you want me to stay?” His eyes burned into hers and he tried to steady himself on the archway with his shoulder. Casual, but earnest he thought to himself.
“No Pauley. Thank You. You are so very sweet. I need to do this alone, and while I appreciate your help today- I have no intention in beginning anything with anyone but myself.”
Her frankness almost seemed expected to him, even if his fantasy was slightly crushed, he smiled and opened his arms. She gave him a brief hug then began pushing him out of the kitchen and walked him to the front door.
“Enough Mush! I have a lot of work to do!” She was laughing to make any tension that may have entered the studio slip out the door along with Pauley.
He laughed easily at her. “Are you sure you don’t want to go out? Go celebrate or something?”
“Go do something and enjoy it for me! All I wanna do is be right here alone in this little apartment.” She gave him the thumbs up sign as she began to close #4’s door.
“Oh Wait… FRANKIE!” He pushed on the door. “I forgot to say Happy Birthday!”

He was Asian and he was pretty. Like a china doll with charms he sat smirking behind the vast front desk of Cherokee Studios.
“You nervous?” He asked.
“No. Are you?” she smiled right back at him.

“Are you Adrian?”
His eyes danced with laughter and he kicked his feet down from the desk to pick up the phone that had begun to ring in front of him.
“Cherokee front desk?” Adrian paused to listen. A slow smile sprang to his lips. “No. No. Shhhhhh listen, I can get him.” Pause... “Ok. Ok. Let me make the call” and he hung up the phone. His eyes sprang to meet hers.
“Are you cool?”
“Uhhh. Last time I checked.”
“Great hang on.”

Frankie surveyed the room and sat down on the over sized beige couch that he had pointed to as his other hand flew to the Rolodex on the desk. Flip Flip Flip the pages flew as her eyes flickered to the gold and platinum records lining the walls. Steely Dan, Journey, Rod Stewart, The Cars.

“Hey Chris. Yeah it’s Adrian at Cherokee. Yeah…” he paused and she could hear another voice low through the receiver. “Yep just the same for George. Cool. Yeah. When you can get here is cool… Yeah. Ok see you soon.” He hung up the phone with his eyes on Frankie.
“Weed?” Frankie asked trying to sound nonchalant.
“Coke” Adrian said and stood up.
“Cool” She looked at her boots then back at his face.
“Come on.” He smiled like the Cheshire cat as he picked up the phone and pressed some buttons.
“Frankie’s here for her interview.”

Thank God she thought to herself as she locked #4’s front door at 1800 N. El Cerrito. I saved my life that day.
All the years growing up with such big dreams- and then when I turned twenty-three, I finally did it. I answered an Advertisement in the San Diego paper for a lead singer and met the guys… and we started writing songs together. I was so happy back then, with those long hot days in that stinky hole of a rehearsal spot in our little beach town of Leucadia. With Scott, the guitarist, looking off into the distance out the window… smiling at his reflection every once in awhile, picturing some unseen audience in his daydreams. The rest of us would all try not to watch him so we wouldn’t pee our pants laughing and forget what verse we were playing. I knew then the feeling- of being truly alive- of being truly myself.

It wasn’t until I walked into Cherokee Recording Studios in Hollywood California that I knew I had found my place. Somewhere that I could call home, or my school, the school I always wished I could have attended. My Dad had wanted me to study business. BUSINESS? What the hell? Didn’t he know me? Couldn’t he see? Yeah I guess he could. He knew better than most… that I was a dreamer. He said I needed a little reality, reality in the form of a business degree. Thanks Dad. All that time and all that money just landed me a job at one of the greatest and infamous recording studios in all of Los Angeles.
I swear I could have gotten the job on sheer personality and bullshit. But that business degree got me a whole $2.50 more on my hourly wage- rounding up my pay to $9 bucks an hour, so I could finally get myself out of a bad marriage and into a new life. My life. Hello Hollywood- My name is Frankie Spencer.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A New Year, A New List

The dust has finally settled on the whirlwind that was Christmas, and as the petals begin to fall from the poinsettias that litter my home, I begin to look for sunflowers once again and to the future year ahead. My eyes travel to the kitchen counters that have a few leftover cookies and I shake my head to scowl at the crumbs... frowning, I look down at the extra pounds that now plump my hips and ass- I do this every year to myself. Why do I feel the need to make so many cookies and pies? Who the fuck am I- Betty Crocker? Note to self- resolution #1 Back to my workouts and fast.

Ahhh here comes the New Years Resolutions. We all do them. Well not everyone, but mostly everyone. How many of us follow them? Not as many as those that make them but I actually do. It is weird, I do so well with lists. I think I need focus. I am sure I have A.D.D. and if I have a list, I don't get so scattered.

Of course as you travel into a New Year you tend to look ahead- but I always like to look back too. Make a list of all the things I actually did accomplish in the past year, it's a good way of patting yourself on the back for the past work before kicking your ass in the future.

So today as Los Angeles once again gets pelted with another rain storm, I will sit on my soft butt and ponder the past year, and then I will envision the future one... and finally- I will throw all the leftover cookies away.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Give the inner bitch a break

I am realizing that I am finally growing up. My family has been here for over six days and I have yet to throw a tantrum, fight with my older Sister, or my Mother for that matter. We used to not be able to make it over 3 days. Mind you it still may happen, and I cannot guarantee it since my family is filled to the rim with drama queens but as of this day- day 6, I am totally happy and thrilled to have all this love around me. I think it is the baby. He has changed me. Things that used to bother me just roll off my back with a shrug of my shoulders. I have bigger fish to fry- or maybe I am just so damn full of this Mommy thing that I really don't care about anything else anymore. Is that possible?

I always thought my husband had a calming effect on me. Before any show, when I was all a flutter of nerves- as soon as Tony came to pick me up and I would see his smile, I would calm down instantly. He was, and still is my musical rock. It doesn't matter how many shows I have played, I still get a bit jittery and one of the greatest things about playing music is getting to play it with the one you love, especially when we have such a great musical chemistry.

Now this inner calm has reached into my whole life- not just my music. People say to me- 'Wow, you are so different now.'... Really? Was I a total bitch and a half before? No, but maybe sometimes. But what I think of being a bitch is actually just a powerful woman who knows what she wants and just goes after it. I love being called a bitch- it's a high compliment to me. So maybe people who didn't really know me were just intimidated by the bitch in me, but now? Now I am just a big softie who cries at everything and worries about my family and friends safety constantly. Oh Lord I am missing the bitch. But the absence of the bitch this Christmas has made life so much easier and if I have to thank my sweet little boy for this wonderful change so be it.

So why the blog? I don't know I have nothing else going on at the moment but just a big pile of mush... mush, mush, mush. Merry Christmas everyone- give your inner bitch the week off and enjoy your family with all the drama, name calling, and drunken slurs. Ain't family great?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meet the Griswalds

The lights are up
But they don't work
My husband landed in the dirt
Oh the cursing, all the swearing
Made all the neighbors turn-a staring
Yes the holidays are here...

The tree is found and set upright
balls and ribbons hug it tight
and underneath you fill it's bowl
But don't forget, it takes its toll
Yes, the holidays are here...

A second tree we had to get
The first tree dried out before the 25th.
And on the return they had to ask-
"Why so soon? They usually last."

"Was it by a window?"
Yes of course.
"Did you have your heat on real high?"
It was cold
"Did you water it as soon as you got home?"
Why no Sir, I let it sit dry for the night.
Yes, the holidays are here...

Just only ten more days this must last
With a household of 10 and 1/2 coming to stay
I gotta go now, I have a present to wrap
A baby to change, a house to clean
And pick up a gift that's been on hold.
We have turned into the Griswalds
and this is holiday life- in our new home.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Yogi's rant

Is that an oxymoron? Yes of course it is. Yogi's are peaceful and lovely people, and I really do consider myself a yogi. I try to find my center and be kind to all, even though people do drive me crazy and yes I would love to pop them in the noggin but I always try to breath through who or what is bothering me. It doesn't always work but I sure as hell try. My practice always works better when I am actually doing yoga because when I do yoga I am so damn wiped out that I don't have the energy to get angry.

I am a huge supporter of Runyon Canyon yoga and have been going to the bottom of the Hollywood Hills to practice yoga on and off for over 8 years now. I think the teachers are amazing and they have saved my life over and over with their wonderful teaching. Just the fact that we get to do yoga outside in a beautiful park smack dab in the middle of this huge city is a gift in itself. Doing yoga outside, you get used to distractions- there are dogs barking as they walk by, (For those of you who don't know about Runyon Canyon it is big beautiful park where you can walk the mountain and let your dogs be leash free, the area that we do yoga is fenced off to the dogs but the trail goes around it on both sides) there are people walking by on their cell phones talking to their agents loudly, there are gaggles of girls walking in pairs talking about sex, I mean you name it- we hear it in the park while we are doing yoga. But within those fenced in walls we are peaceful and quiet in our practice, sure the teacher is instructing, but the students are focused on their breath and well... just trying to hold a pose without screaming. It is all about finding your center and tuning out the distractions of the world and going inside yourself in some form of meditation. It is wonderful and difficult and hilarious at times but just as in life, the ground is un-even so it takes even more practice to find peace and balance.

Ok, so I have a confession to make- I have been cheating. I moved to Burbank and trying to get to the hill in Hollywood has been a bit tougher for me since yes- the baby. But when I do not do yoga I become unhappy and squishy so my sweet husband said- 'just find a yoga studio near us'. Well I did, and it feels really good to get back into the whole habit of yoga, although I do miss the Hill and my regular teachers- I know I will go back, it is just a temporary cheat.

So what is my rant? Talking. Talking is my rant. Who the hell talks the entire yoga class? Movies, Holiday stuff, kids, you name it- they talked about it. During class. I almost shushed them but most of it came from the teacher so I shut my mouth and breathed deep and smiled. I imagined a dog barking. I imagined raucous laughter. I imagined QUIET. Mind you, the class still kicked my ass and tomorrow I will be sore for sure, but the peaceful and fuzzy feeling that I always get from doing a yoga class did not come home with me today. Hence the rant, and I do feel better. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, oh and by the way- the movie 'The Black Swan' isn't that good... I did not see it, so this is not my opinion, I am just passing along what I learned in class today- that and I have Mommy wrists, but I will save that one for another day. ;)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Babies and Rock n Roll don't mix

Yeah I know, some may argue the fact... and before yesterday I would have been the president of the club. First off, I would like to say that we have raised our son with music constantly saturating his tiny sweet soul. We play guitar, piano, sing our hearts out or have Pandora streaming in the background spinning a mix of Bowie, Stones, T-Rex, Lennon, The Velvet Underground, Fleetwood Mac, Pretenders, Petty, to Mozart, Debussy... I mean we even play jazz we love music so damn much. He has taken an interest in playing the piano and loves to sit on Mommies lap and bang around on the keys and he has even begun to sing with us as we practice our songs- and it is pretty much the cutest thing you have ever heard.
Now all this aside, what happened yesterday was a not cute at all. Wall of Tom had a last minute show and since we didn't have a babysitter we thought, oh it's a day show- we can just bring him and he will love it! I had visions of him watching Mommy and Daddy on stage smiling and cooing, even the flitting thought that he could come on stage with us and fall asleep in my arms like he has so many times before as we practice at home. I am delusional. When we arrived at the venue he was asleep and so we just plopped him in his stroller and wheeled him in back stage. Easy. Set up all our gear, greeted the bookers, grabbed some water, shook a few hands. Easy. When it was time for us to start the booker of the event had sweetly said she would watch the baby while we played- being a Mommy to be she is about 5 months pregnant and said she needs the practice, we say 'Perfect'. Easy. The show begins, it is a really nice turnout for the Holiday Market and we are totally enjoying ourselves since it is our first show back on stage after having the baby.
Of course always a Mommy, my eyes are touching back to my sleeping child in the stroller being wheeled through the crowd happily by the sweet Mommy to be. So Easy. About three quarters through the set I notice that the blanket covering the stroller was now up and my heart skips a beat. Uhhh Ohh, he is awake. As I sing I watch in horror as the lovely people begin to peek into the stroller and smile at such a cute little baby... I notice my sons head moving left and right and then as my stomach falls as I belt out the next verse, the sweet Mommy to be reaches in to comfort the clearly upset child and cradle him in her arms.
I am sweating now not from the lights but from the feeling of vomit that is slowly easing up my throat as my child's face turns the color of purple and he lets out the most blood curdling scream that can be heard well above the music. Tony and I look at each other on stage and I think to myself- 'just give him to me, it will be fine- he just needs to see Mommy with all of those strange faces around him'... still delusional and in the middle of a crescendo. I motion for the sweet Mommy to be (who has got to be questioning the whole Mommy thing at about that time) to just hand me my boy. The song is almost over and as I reach down for him, he leaps to my awaiting arms and is quiet for the rest of the song sitting on my hip and staring into my face. Awwwww so sweet he is.
The song ends and the crowd begins to cheer, not just for the music but for the beautiful sight of a sweet baby on stage with his musical parents. At the sound of applause my sweet little boy turns his face to the crowd, sucks in his breath, bulges out his eyes in utter shock and opens his mouth to shriek in a key louder than I have ever experienced in any Aerosmith concert. Yep. That just happened. As I ran off stage left, Tony closed the show with two songs he could sing by himself and I was alone backstage with a inconsolable child.
So what did we learn today? Other than that I am a delusional musical Mother? I learned that babies should not go to live shows until they understand what it is, and they should not be on stage unless they want to be on stage. Also never to leave a sleeping child with a roomful of strangers, and that when you finally become a Mommy- it does not matter what you are doing, saving the world or singing on stage- you are forever changed and tuned in to one and only one radio station that is your child for the rest of your life. I just hope I have not ruined my child forever and now he wants to be a banker or something... actually, a banker would not be bad.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Minute Show

Well here you go. This is how things work out. Tony and I had just been talking about getting out there and playing some shows again. You know put on some shiny clothes, ones that don't have drool or vomit or maybe a bit of poo on them, and get our butts back up on stage in the New Year... So today isn't 2011, and yes the baby will be with us since it is a holiday affair during the day, but we will be shiny with maybe just a touch of drool. If you live in Los Angeles come on out today to the Holiday Market that is put on by Fire Groove and the Runyon Canyon Yogis. It will have lots of local vendors, music, food and fun! Wall of Tom goes on at 4:45 with Tony and I doing a fun acoustic set. It is being held at the Hollywood Woman's Center on the corner of Franklin Ave and La Brea, and it starts at 2pm! See you there!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The first Page

Well it has started. The first page is done. I was waiting to finish the edits on the first novel in the series but I just couldn't wait any longer. Let me tell you something about myself. I hate stagnation. If I stand too long in one place I will go mad for sure. I love to move forward. I love movement all together. When I am in the middle of something I am at my happiest. The end is agonizing, the beginning bliss. So there lies the conundrum- should I wait to start the next book in a series until all the T's have been crossed and all the commas are in the right place of the first book... I think No. That can be done and will be done by my sweet loving editor, and I will make the changes necessary to fix what needs to be fixed but I had to move on. There is just too much to tell and my characters need to breath again, so yes the second book is under way and now I cannot stop it. I didn't really know how I wanted it to begin but that is the most wonderful thing about telling a story that wants to be told, it just happens. Of course I have an outline, I have ideas and notes of things that have to be included, but once that blank page is in front of you, it is only then that your heart takes over your hands, that the magic of creation can truly begin. So here I am in bliss once again as the story unfolds...