Dearest TNB Readers,
I’d like to take this opportunity to express my delight in personally welcoming you to the brand-spanking new Arts & Culture section of The Nervous Breakdown.
My own relationship with TNB started as a reader of the original version 1.0. I would stop by a few times a week and get lost in the marvel of those first group of writers’ creations. Enamored by what Brad Listi and his posse were doing, I submitted a piece in the hopes of being a contributor myself.
I was refused.
The email from Brad said that the website was undergoing a major overhaul and that they couldn’t possibly accept any new writers at the time. I was heartbroken. At least The New Yorker had the decency to lie to me with their boilerplate, “Despite its evident literary merit, we regret to inform you…”
But despite the rejection, I didn’t quit reading.
The writers at TNB were the standard to which I held myself against, and lo and behold, one day, version 2.0 was about to launch and I got an email from none other than Brad Listi himself:
“You interested? Please let us know. Grazie, TNB”
‘Interested’ didn’t even come close to my level of enthusiasm. I jumped in with both feet and within one year as a contributor, leaning heavily on my own theatrical background, I helped found our live reading series: The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience! A variety show of sorts, TNBLE features the writers of The Nervous Breakdown, complete with readings, music, games, films and audience participation galore! These events are held quarterly in New York at The Happy Ending Lounge, in Los Angeles at The Hotel Café and in Chicago at The Whistler, and hopefully soon, we’ll be coming to a venue near you!
But for the moment, we are here.
Three. Point. Oh.
We, the unstoppable Arts & Culture team; Associate Editors Kimberlee Auerbach, Rob Bloom, Megan DiLullo, and I, as Editor, aspire to bring you that same level of devotion, enthusiasm and entertainment as we introduce you, our dear readers, to some of the most provoking, challenging, emerging and established artists our community, nay the world, has to offer: composers, actors, painters, filmmakers, graphic novelists, comedians, opera singers and many, many more! (Side note: We’re still looking for mimes…)
Each week, we’ll ask the TNB Featured Artist a few questions. 21 to be exact. We’ll dig deep and analyze those ‘missing’ tidbits Bernard Pivot or Marcel Proust wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole (or a twenty-foot Czechoslovakian) as we learn more about what makes each of these artists tick.
We wouldn’t dare ask anyone to answer these questions without putting ourselves out there on the ‘chopping block’ first, so in the words of our illustrious and fearless leader:
Here goes nothing.
~ Kimberly, Kimberlee, Rob & Megan
* * * * *
TNB A&C: 1. Please explain what just happened.
Kimberlee Auerbach (KA): I just had a conversation with a friend about sexual impulses. Can we become attracted to someone we didn’t think we were attracted to? I had an experience recently where I felt physically turned on by someone I had thought I wasn’t attracted to, and when I thought more about it, it was because I felt so emotionally safe with him. I’m beginning to think if you’re getting your emotional needs met, then the physical will follow. But I’m not sure.
Rob Bloom (RB): I was going to ask you the same question.
Megan DiLullo (MDL): Well, it was kind of a blur. But I will apologize profusely to the trick or treaters and hopefully they’ll understand that all that candy would have been bad for them and that I was just trying to save them from diabetes.
2. What is your earliest memory?
KA: I did one of those Brian Weiss seminars, where he takes you through a past life regression. As part of the meditation, he asks you to go back to your earliest memory. I was following his prompts, doubtful I’d be able to remember anything, but all of a sudden, I felt myself in my mother’s arms as a baby, feeling her smiling down at me. She felt like the sun. So warm.
RB: My parents taking me to Circus World, a two-bit amusement park in Orlando, and being scared out of my mind by a very unfunny (and unrelenting) clown.
MDL: I was almost three years old, I know this because my grandfather died when I was three. I was at my grandparent’s house in Philly. My Grandfather was sitting in his plastic covered rocking chair, as Italian immigrants are prone to do. My father was sitting on the sofa making bubbles with that super elastic bubble plastic stuff. He would then hand then to me and I would walk very shakily over to my grandfather and hand them to him. It was all very exciting, and that is the only memory I have of my grandfather.
KMW: Face glued to the television; singing “C is for Cookie” at the top of my lungs. There was also a dance which involved one part tummy-rubbin’, two parts bootie-wigglin’.
3. If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you be doing?? (**Note: this is the original incarnation of this question, amended in the future to refer to profession**)
KA: Do you mean right this very minute? Or in my career? I love my life and my career, so I wouldn’t be doing anything else right now. In terms of this very moment, I would be sleeping. I’m wicked tired, and I never use the word wicked.
RB: I’d be a Walt Disney Imagineer.
MDL: Well, as a child, I wanted to be a professional triangle player or macaroni and cheese. I also have a strong interest in industrial design and have often thought that being a dog groomer would be just plain fun. I’m still leaning towards macaroni and cheese, though.
KMW: I’d be a chef. Making people happy with food has always been an open passion of mine. There’s something terribly satisfying to know that people are eating exquisitely because of something you made for them. So maybe it’s not too far off from what I do right now. I want to feed people; whether it’s their souls or their bellies. Both work for me.
4. Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.
KA: Three apples, a gallon of orange juice, apple butter, pear butter, almond butter, Trader Joe’s Bruschetta, Silk Original soy milk, lettuce, maple syrup, hummus, mustard, pickles, honey, batteries, film, four bottles of True Blood, and some other random stuff I can’t remember without getting up to go check.
RB: Greek yogurt, a Tupperware container filled with tuna fish, another Tupperware with dog food, three bottles of ketchup (all of which are at varying degrees of fullness), and a bunch of bananas which I’d prefer not to refrigerate but have to because of the fruit flies that have invaded the kitchen.
MDL: Liquid minerals, EFA’s, organic raw dog food that’s thawing. The solid people food I can only describe as holding on for dear life. Too bad you didn’t ask about the freezer, that’s where the good stuff is.
KMW: Embarrassingly enough (considering the last answer), lots of Lean Cuisine and ready-to-go food. (I’m in production on a film right now and have no time to cook, nor money for take-out.) There’s a whole mess of bacon toffee that I *still* need to send to Zara and Lenore, as well as three different kinds of excess homemade frosting from previous baking experiments. Also some picholine olives, stilton, a ridiculous number of fancy condiment bottles, half-eaten bars of Mast Brothers chocolate, and a bottle of Veuve for when the next occasion to pop it arises.
5. What verb best describes you?
MDL: I wouldn’t even begin to know how to answer this question.
KMW: Faire. I chose the French, because it encompasses so much more than just “To Do”. Faire is to create, to make, to build, to play, to act, to have [affection], to pay [a compliment]. Faire is an extremely active verb.
6. What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?
KA: Don’t give your power away. Do what makes you happy.
RB: I promise you, it will get better.
MDL: Don’t start smoking. But I remember being thirteen and I know I wouldn’t listen to myself.
KMW: I’d reassure myself that I am prettier than I think. That I’m not fat. That I am talented. And that Janna Chase is a bitch.
7. What are the steps you take to regain your composure?
KA: I take really deep awkward breaths.
RB: Take a few deep breaths, then remind myself that it’s probably not all that important anyway.
MDL: Well, I like to start with a deep breath, usually followed by a “Can I get back to you on that one?”
KMW: You mean after I stop crying? Down a shot of bourbon (if I can). I take a deep breath. Try to walk around the block. Remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. Find something in the situation to laugh about. Refresh my lipstick. Move on.
8. Define “success”.
KA: Financial and emotional independence.
RB: Achieving a goal. Any goal.
MDL: I think that throughout your life your definition of success will change depending on where you’re at. As you change and grow so do your priorities. But the most important thing is to be happy with who you are. If you’re not that, you can’t help anyone else.
KMW: I can’t. I pretty much feel like a failure most of the time.
9. From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?
RB: Knowing that something I write can make someone laugh and, maybe just maybe, turn a crappy day into a slightly less crappy one.
MDL: I find inspiration in the odd little things that happen in everyday life. I love the idea of not knowing what’s around the next corner. Somehow I find that very reassuring and it’s a constant reminder to pay attention to what’s going on today. I’ve discovered that by not having a myopic view I get to enjoy a lot of great opportunities that pop up and learn a ton of new things in the process that take me directions I never thought of.
KMW: Watching those that I have helped in some way, succeed.
10. What change do you want to be in the world?
KA: I want people to feel safe and to be more present with one another, so I make an effort to make others feel safe and to be present with them.
RB: Be the best dad I can be. Not enough of those in the world.
MDL: Let’s start with the basics of clothes, food, shelter and healthcare for everyone, then we can work on other stuff.
KMW: $0.41. One of each [coin].
11. Are you pro- or anti-emoticon? Please explain.
KA: Pro. I’ll admit it. But I’m anti the acronym for laughing out loud.
RB: Anti. Reminds me too much of my middle school yearbook.
MDL: Anti, obviously.
KMW: Totally pro-emoticon. Emoticons are the internet’s vocal inflection.
12. How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?
KA: Not sure.
RB: Four degrees. Worked with John Lutz on my short film “Suburban Bravery.” Lutz was in “Splinterheads” with Sam Kitchin who was in “The Truman Show” with Laura Linney who was in “Mystic River” with Kevin Bacon.
MDL: Let’s see. My tattoo artist, Lance Talon, tattooed Kyra Sedgewick (I know this because he has a picture in his studio) who is married to Kevin Bacon.
KMW: Let’s just put it this way: Knowing me makes you one degree closer.
13. What makes you feel most guilty?
KA: Picking my skin.
RB: Not rubbing my dog’s belly while I’m sitting on the sofa watching TV.
MDL: Guilt is useless. I try to think far enough in advance and consider my actions to avoid guilt altogether.
KMW: Not being perfect.
14. Please list three things you never leave home without.
KA: My iPhone. My wallet, although the other day I forgot it. A metrocard.
RB: Wallet, phone, GPS.
MDL: My purse, of which the contents are vast, my skull heart necklace and a sense of adventure.
KMW: Five different shades of lipsticks/glosses (I need options). My claddagh ring. Hope.
15. What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
KA: To tone it down.
RB: My 9th grade guidance counselor told me that, because I stuttered, I should join the circus and become a clown.
MDL: You can’t get pregnant the first time. But it was my best friend in kindergarten who told me that and she had heard it from her older sister, who was in third grade. And, in reality neither of us had any idea what she referring to, or talking about, so we considered our options, decided that it would, indeed be in our best interest, and ate the whole pan of brownies.
KMW: Be patient.
16. What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?
KA: To go to therapy.
RB: Just let it go.
MDL: Nothing is permanent or get rid of that scrunchie. It’s a toss up.
KMW: Do it. Now.
17. What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?
KA: Secret affairs. Actually, secrets in general. Any kind. It sucks to be lied to.
RB: Another writer taking credit for my work.
MDL: Any type of betrayal of trust. But in the long run I believe in cause and effect, so I try to just move on and assume that I learned a valuable lesson that I will someday understand.
KMW: Being taken advantage of.
18. Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?
KA: Games freak me out. I would hate to be on any game show.
RB: Match Game. Why? C’mon, Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Brett Sommers?!? I’d love to be a fly on the wall of that green room.
MDL: The original Gong Show with Chuck Barris. When I was little I used to dance along with Gene Gene the Dancin’ Machine in front of the TV. He is the best.
KMW: Press Your Luck. “No Whammies! No Whammies! No Whammies!”
19. What do you want to know?
KA: I want to know more about neuroscience. I want to know more about history. I want to know if I will get married and have kids. I want to know God.
RB: What’s next?
MDL: Lots of things, knowledge is freedom, and life is all about learning. I would like to start by finding out what happened to Boo Berry cereal.
KMW: What it’s like to learn the easy way.
20. What would you like your Last Words to be?
KA: I love you.
RB: I’m ready.
MDL: Something great and enlightened, but they will probably end up being something like “Does it smell like cheese in here?” or “Can you please get that chicken off my bed.” Though, I would settle for “Huzzah!” or “A la peanut butter sandwiches.”
KMW: I love you too.
21. Please explain what will happen.
KA: Fuck if I know. Well, actually I do know. I am going to go to bed.
RB: What? And spoil the surprise?
MDL: I’m going to go back home to Cabot Cove. There’s just been so much excitement this week I have to go and write to it all down. Then it’s onto another mystery.
KMW: Therapy. Lots and lots more therapy.