Sunday, December 23, 2007

The First Danny Ross Christmas (Day One)

Picture it now. A Jewish boy from the Jewishest part of Long Island meets a girl from the middlest part of Middle America. There, in the snow-covered plains of Madison, South Dakota, he celebrates his first Christmas in December 2007. Singing hymns, eating glazed ham, crashing weddings and sitting on Santa's lap are only the beginning of this one-week adventure in social experimentation we like to call...

12/23/07 (Day One)
The First Danny Ross Christmas

I sit now listening to "Classic Sinatra" within the confines of my warm blanket in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This is considered the big city here in SD, but as far as I'm concerned, if you've got a Panera Bread, Best Buy and California Pizza Kitchen sitting next to an interstate, I would pretty much call it the suburbs.

Outside the moon's glow overlooks a frozen landscape, and I'm about to doze off to sleep in this dark, tired basement. But it wasn't such a cozy day. In fact, you could say it was a stressful day. And yet another way of saying it, is that Northwest cancelled my god-damn flight to South Dakota, leaving me stranded at the Minneapolis Airport in a snowstorm. And that wasn't even a Larry Craig joke. (But now it is. Zing!)

I put my name on standby for the next flight, but was told that my chances were pretty slim. Arguing with the NWA attendant, I felt like I was living that scene in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. "You don't understand, tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I have to get on that plane! Kevin!!!" I guess she could be excused for leaving her 8 year old son on the other side of the country. But you'd think they'd notice at security or something. I mean there are 2 hours of waiting at the gate for Christ sake.

And I did a lot of that today. While I managed to get on standby, I was a mere 20th on the list. That means an entire basketball team would have to miss this flight. Thankfully, I could count on the Knicks to miss just about anything. (Zing!) Pacing like an anxious New Yorker in front of the "Departure" monitor...and then in front of the storm-filled windows... and then in front of the $14 dollar tuna fish sandwiches, I thought of calling Al Gore, hoping that he could make a phone call and miraculously bring the sun back up 12 hours early like in The Truman Show. He can do that, right?

Preparing myself for an overnight stay in the city of Prince and Kirby Puckett (R.I.P.), I was stunned to hear my name announced on the next flight to Sioux Falls. Paraded with yelps and applause, it was truly like moving onto the next round of American Idol. Only my prize wasn't fortune and fame, but boarding a tiny commuter plane in the middle of nowhere through a deadly snowstorm. Suddenly I knew how the Big Bopper felt.

Landing in the Sioux Falls Airport I kissed the ground, and probably a couple of old ladies too. I was drunk at the time. But I wasn't out of the clear just yet. Pacing in front of the luggage terminalɧ and then in front of the luggage claim desk... and then in front of the NWA Check-in, I learned that my bag would not be coming in that night. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe St Patrick's Day. It looked like I might be wearing this green and pink Reebok sweat suit for a long time to come.

But I quickly turned my frown upside down. After all, it was the South Dakota way. I would be heading to Dani's house. (That's right. My girlfriend's name is Dani. We have the same name, get over it.)(Okay fine, I'm a narcissist. I know.) I was greeted with a big hug and kiss by Dani's mom and we proceeded to Culver's Restaurant, described to me as a notch above McDonald's while slightly below Applebee's. Fine dining in the Midwest ladies and gentlemen.

Heading home I was greeted by a cacophony of sound. First, there were the kitties, Roni and Bear. Then there was puppy dog Dezi. And finally there was Dani, her brother Ross (Yes my girlfriend's name is Dani, and her brother is Ross. I'm not kidding) (Okay fine, yes, seriously, I have daddy issues), and of course there was mom and Grandma.

To equate them with celebrities, Dani would be a combination of a younger Meg Ryan mixed with, say, Ron Burgandy. Ross is maybe Topher Grace in That 70's Show with a badass streak. Dani's mom let's say is Goldie Hawn mixed with Cheri Oteri. And Grandma was like, well, any other Grandma, except that she'd swear at the least expected moment.

After an exhausting day, I needed some of that Christmas warmth I heard so much about. And sure enough, there was that glowing tree, presents underneath, and three stockings above the fireplace. Mom boiled up a pot of the famous family cider, which consisted of apple juice, orange juice and a barrel of melted Red Hot candies. I hung up the "Care Bears" and "My Little Pony" ornaments that Mom so sweetly got for me (Thanks again for that by the way), and I was feeling a whole lot better about the world.

Then it was off to the kitchen table to play a Midwest card game sensation known as Skipbo. Now I'm familiar with Uno (and a state champion 2002), but this I had never heard of. In either case, Grandma was known to be a shark and my competitive juices were flowing. Miraculously, after 40 grueling minutes of painstaking strategy and maneuvering, I won Skipbo, and with it, the respect of an elderly Iowan woman, who just might love me back someday.

With a busy day like today, tomorrow's schedule is even fuller. Let's just pray my luggage comes in. Fortunately there's church in the morning. Speak to you then!

- Danny

PS - Mom if you're reading this ... none of this actually happened. Your good Jewish son would never go to church or hang up ornaments on a Christmas tree in South Dakota. Back to sleep for you. It was all just a terrible, terrible nightmare.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Perfect Roommate

I’ve spent the last month or so showing my apartment to potential new roommates, as my roomy Matt is moving to LA to have his dreams crushed. (I give it a year before he quits PAing for "Prison Break") In the process, I’ve met over 20 people and developed a routine I’m fairly proud of.

"This here is the dishwasher, which, of course, is a lifesaver! Hahaha!"
"I’m a pianist yes, but I mainly play AC/DC covers. Hahaha!"
"I’m Jewish... Don't go"

I wish you could see me now showing that laundry room with my high waving hand gestures, talking up the heat ventilation with unbridled enthusiasm, justifying the vitality of the neighborhood in my "high-pitched-I-want-to-be-your-friend" voice.

But alas, it was not to be. Alone, curled up in my bed, and weeping, I looked out the window in despair at a world that didn't want Danny Ross as a roommate. Was it the tomato sauce stains on the kitchen counter? The roll of toilet paper strung out across the living room floor? The hollowed-out cat carcass on the windowsill? Hard to say.

But it was at that point, 20 visitors, 3 committed signers (who ultimately pulled out) and 45 tubs of Raspberry Ciao Bella Gelato later, that I made the brave decision to leave Manhattan. Where one could purchase hot cinnamon cashews on the street corner. Indeed, it would be a loss. But the decision was final. I would in fact be moving to Brooklyn.

I told myself, "Now all you Brooklyn lovers, just relax. I'm not sold yet. BK will have to prove itself to me over time, much like the McRib Sandwich or Pete Rose. And for all you Brooklyn haters, just relax. I’m not moving to Williamsburg."

And of course 20 minutes after I made this life-changing, world-altering decision, I received an email from a nice guy named Rob who decided to take the apartment and move in with me. I said "Jesus, Rob, we just met. You have to romance me a little. Buy me wine, take me dancing." To avoid the hell that is moving in NYC, I immediately accepted his offer and said goodbye to Brooklyn forever. Well it was a good thought I suppose.

This week's music picks: Elvis Costello's Get Happy!!, Sam Cooke's Live from The Harlem Square Club

This week's shows: Elizabeth and The Catapult (Wed at Rockwood); Andrew Bird (Fri at The Beacon)

Probably your best friend,
Danny Ross

Monday, July 16, 2007

Baked Brie, Harry Potter, Fights with Shirtless Bicyclists…

I’ve been sort of taking it easy the last two weeks. You know, eating lots of white chocolate, watching Scrubs, listening to Monster Ballads, playing Uno. The usual. In reflection, there’s lots to look back on. For one, I finally bought the That Thing You Do! DVD Deluxe Edition. But also since June 30th I’ve had my record release show (our band’s first show), my 23rd birthday, July 4th and the midnight showing of Harry Potter. You can imagine how stressful this all is for me.

Let’s see ,what else ….Racket ball. Never played it but I hear wonderful things…I went out to the Astoria Beer Gardens on Saturday. That was awesome. I also went to a few parties. It’s always a bit strange when you only know 2 or 3 people and you have to resort to quietly making fun of others in the corner, or starting drunken political fights with complete strangers and then trying to convince them to see your band (a Ross family pastime). However at one such party, a baked brie with raspberry drizzle was presented, which always makes the 40 minute trip worthwhile.

So I was recently crossed by a shirtless bicyclist on the street. I was walking casually along the crosswalk with my lunch, humming Marvin Gaye’s “Sensual Feeling,” eager as always to scarf down my custom-made spinach salad when I saw this shirtless bicyclist approaching. And so I did the classic juke-right, ensuring that I’d walk behind him as his vehicle passed. Well he stopped dead in his tracks in front of me. “The cross walk is over there.” he uttered softly. I smiled and continued on. “RIGHT? ISN’T THAT RIGHT?” he shouted. In shock I turned around and there he was, the sweaty shirtless bicyclist giving me the look of death. And so daringly, I reciprocated. Squinting my boldest squint, my brow furrowed, I shot back my trademarked “I hate you” face. It was a moment frozen in time, like when Harry met his fate with Lord Voldemort.. From this day forward, I renounce anyone that rides a bicycle (mainly because I never finished learning. That’s right, I don’t know how to ride a bicycle-deal with it). I also continue to call for the demise of shirtless men in public. See my June ‘96 blog for the official decree.

But what a few weeks it’s been. If you were at the show on June 30th, you saw that crowd of 100+ people squeeze into The Bitter End. It was truly a special night for me and the rest of the band, so thanks again to those who came and supported us. After the show we all literally walked down in a huddled mass to my apartment for the after-party, like Moses leading the Exodus. You can imagine how it went from there (We got drunk.) Even if it took me 20 minutes to hang up the banner, it was a definite success, standing ovation and all. Now we’re getting set for our next show @ Pianos on Sat July 28th.

Since we last spoke I picked up new records by Ryan Adams, The White Stripes and The Traveling Wilburies. Hope all is well and see you on the 28th you big loveable bear!

Probably your best friend,
D Rock
(That’s a nickname I just made up for myself. It’s hip-hop lingo. You just take the first initial of your name and add Rock to the end.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

The First Post

It's 2:30 on a Sunday night and I find myself watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air on TV land. That dang Carlton. This after watching The Sopranos finale and a documentary on insomnia (Why am I fascinated with sleep?). Now I've flipped to the Ovation channel to see George Clinton and Funkadelic in concert. Overall a pretty successful night of television…

Let’s see, what else… Oh I got a bill in the mail today. Pretty standard bill. Cable. Got a cable bill… Oh yes, and Chinese food for dinner. Shrimp with mixed vegetables. I really like those baby corns. They get too much flack those baby corns. You’ve got to admit, they’re pretty adorable…. Tell me you’re not still reading this.

Writing a blog is a fine line. Do I write about every pedestrian toothbrushing and my regular laundry cycle? Do I wax philosophy and discuss the meaning behind my art? Or do I give you snotty recommendations of music and film, belittling your opinions because you live above 14th street. Well the answer is a winning combination of all those things.

But generally I'm just getting psyched for the June 30th Record Release Show in NYC. I’ve been rehearsing with the band out in Brooklyn, working the phones to generate some press {Check out the latest articles in the Press Room) and writing crappy blogs online to get people psyched. Oops. This is our first show as a band and the release of my first album, Introducing Danny Ross!, so it’s a pretty big event... I’m not nervous or anything. The show is on Saturday June 30th, 8PM at The Bitter End in Manhattan’s West Village. Anyone who’s anyone will be there. No pressure.

As far as music, I’ve been listening to the new albums by Wilco, Peter, Bjorn & John, Paul McCartney and the Elvis Costello reissued catalogue, especially Almost Blue and Trust! And of course I’ve been prepping up for the new Ryan Adams album.

Happy listening and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do (especially when it comes to Chinese food.)

Probably your best friend,
Danny Ross