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      Happy Fucking Holidays

      December 11, 2012
      From the column 'Tour Stories'

      I have been very fortunate to not have to deal with many holiday parties throughout my tenure in the music industry. When I worked in corporate America, it was that night the whores in the office got to escape their husbands and give the guys in the Payroll Department “ironic” lap dances, only to show up the next day and complain about how “drunk” they were last night. Working primarily in hip-hop though, the few holiday parties I’ve attended were total shit shows. Some attempted to recreate rap videos (why?) while the others were so bare bones that we were all better off sitting under some fat guy’s table at Philippe Chow with our mouths open to catch whatever fell out of his. One year, I had the unusual honor of attending three holiday parties in a row. It was the best worst feeling that year, and I can safely say that was the last year I opted to attend any holiday parties. So don’t invite me to yours.

      The first party was so fucking stupid. A promotional company threw a holiday party for another promotional company at a club that stopped being cool three years prior. Actually, it was the annex to the club – you know, that “other” club that some clubs have which is the equivalent to the weird part of YouTube (the part you only frequent on occasion)? Well this club was the size of the kitchen in my college dorm and had one cage that held one woman in a unitard, dancing with her arms, but not moving her feet. I remember this because she looked as if she was jumping rope but her legs were glued to the floor. The open bar only served Malibu (I am deathly allergic to coconut), and there were plates of chicken wings being passed around. I bit into one, and it was raw. There were “special invited guests” on the flyer, but no one showed up except for the cousin of a rapper. I brought a friend outside of the music industry with me, and she immediately thought I did nothing with my life judging by the quality of this party. We left after 15 minutes.

      The next day was the party for an outlet I worked for. We were told to “come hungry” and the dress code was “classy.” Anytime someone other than Ron Burgundy uses the word “classy,” I automatically feel like it’s low class. I was right in this instance. So this party was supposed to be in a club with two levels. The lower level was VIP, but we learned soon enough that the lower level was actually the lounge area to the restrooms (thanks, guys). When my colleagues and I walked into the venue, this giant Samoan-looking man with one giant braid stopped us. He said everyone had to check their coats. The club was like, ice cold. I told him I had to keep mine on because I was cold. “Are you saying you’re carrying a gun?” he asked. What the fuck? “Uh, no. I’m cold,” I replied. “You could have a gun in your coat, so you need to check your coat. Now.” When the hell did I become public enemy #1? So I take off my coat, because I don’t want him to shoot me with the gun I’m apparently concealing and we all walk inside. We’re immediately stopped by another guy in a white suit with a black bowtie, and he goes, “Are y’all famous?” Since I’m the girl with the gun, I say, “Well if you need to ask then the answer is probably no.” He then points to a corner of the room where we’re told to stand as we stare at couches where three D-list video vixens are sitting. You know, the “famous” people. We’re all huddled in a little corner – one guy starts buying everyone drinks because we also weren’t allowed to partake in the open bar. The man with the white suit returns and asks where we’re from. When we tell him, he says we have to go to V.I.P. Ah, finally! Respect! So he sends us downstairs where the faint smell of piss and liquid soap hits us as we walk into the room. There is one long booth where everyone is told to sit. Against the wall is a table with an older woman standing in front of two aluminum pans with sternos with a young man standing next to her holding a baseball bat. She unwraps the pans to reveal a plate divided with chicken and pork and another divided with sweet potatoes and collard greens. She has a breadbasket with about ten rolls and a six-pack of orange soda. There are cake plates and plastic forks. This must be our holiday party.

       

      A writer friend of mine (a very bold one at that) gets up to lead this revolution and grabs a paper plate. The young man lowers the wooden bat to the plate? “Fuck you think you’re doing?” he says. “Getting some food,” my friend replies. The young man shakes his head. “Nah, nah. Mama said that we didn’t get paid yet. That means you don’t eat.” So my friend, defeated, sits back down and proceeds to text our editor. Twenty minutes later our editor comes running through the bathroom lobby like a hurricane, hands the older woman a fistful of money and he immediately leaves. Doesn’t say hi; doesn’t say bye. We’re all still sitting in the same fucking bathroom booth looking like a mock hostage situation. “K, y’all come get your food,” the older woman ordered. So we all get up. “Hold it,” she says. “There are some rules.” Rules?? RULES? What kind of rules?! By this point, I wished I really did have a gun pass through coat check. “You can have one piece of chicken or one piece of pork. You get one yam, one spoonful of greens, and one biscuit. Two of you can share a can of orange soda. Okay, come and get it.” Get what? That sounded like the appetizer before the appetizer. Her son separated the person collecting their meal from the rest of the line using that goddamn baseball bat. My friend (the same one who originally got up) is vegetarian and asked to take an extra vegetable instead. “No,” the woman replied. He asked why. Wrong question to ask. “Because your bossman only paid us half of what we quoted, so you get half of what you were supposed to eat.” Everyone took a tiny plate and sat back in the booth. I gave my vegetables to my friend, because I didn’t take any chicken (trauma from the night before) and at this point I was drowning in self-pity. We were rescued by our other editor, who walked downstairs, said “What the FUCK?” as she pulled us all from the booth (and our misery) to bring us to Haru for sushi (thanks, Dove).

      By the third day, I didn’t want to attend another holiday party for the rest of my life. This one was mandatory, though, because I was covering it. As in, I was getting paid to attend. It was promoted as a “star-studded” event, yet another phrase I never trust. So I get to the place and it’s a children’s event. Oh good. I walk in and tell the doorman I’m with the press. “Press? Nobody from press was invited.” Even better. I’m escorted to the backstage area and told to sit there until “someone famous arrives.” There’s a view of the stage, and I can see a bunch of kids piling onto it. They looked like the scariest bunch of children I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m sitting there all alone, until finally some teenage girl and her mother show up. “Now sit right there until you’re told otherwise,” the mother said. The teenage girl turns to me and says, “Who are you?” I look back over, “I’m a writer. Who are you?” She frowns. “I’m famous soon.” Soon. For the record, this young lady is famous now, but it took like ten years for her to get there. “Wanna hear something funny?” she says to me. Why the hell not. “So my grills don’t fit my mouth,” she continues, and whips out this shiny pair of diamond grills from her coat pocket and puts them in her mouth. “Sho when I tawk my teef shlip.” Her mother walks in and shouts, “Take those damn grills out of your mouth!” “Buh mama I’m jush showin her how funny I tawk wiffem in! Dash my mom by the way,” she slurred. “Sheesh my manager.” Her momager walks over and slaps her behind the head so the grills slide out onto the ground. One of the diamonds (or zirconia) falls out. The teenager has a meltdown and leaves to look for glue to fix her grills. “Go fuck yourself!” I hear coming from the stage, and I look out there to see a clown being assaulted by the kids. A famous rapper walks in, followed by the least interesting member of a female R&B group, a retired athlete, and a duo who had one song on the radio four years prior. These were the stars that studded the event. None of them wanted to go on stage because they were afraid of the children. Rappers were afraid of children. So we all sat in a crammed backstage area. Once again, I’m in a holiday hostage situation. I start interviewing them all, at this point just for fun. My little teenage friend returned and put her dirty grills back in her mouth (sans one diamond) to pose with me in a bunch of stupid pictures. [I saw her recently and we laughed about this day together.] This was the dumbest event I ever attended, but the best one out of that three-day hell week.

      So I get home by 1 PM, I forgot to mention this disaster started at 9 AM, and I call my editor (the same one from the night before who half-paid the old woman and her son) to ask how he would like this piece laid out. “Oh you went to that holiday halfway house event? Nah, you’re supposed to attend tomorrow’s event. That’s the real holiday party. Can you cover that instead?”

      I hung up on him.

      @kath3000

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