My City : Lance Weiss
Lance is fast and focused. The day is a whirlwind. The last thing I remember is the text.
"Hey want to go to a TRAIN concert today. And meet them"
I get to Lucky Magazine (where he works), he brings me upstairs, shows me all around Lucky Magazine, introduces me to his boss, co-workers - anyone that cares or doesn't. Lance is from the South and definitely has that southern charm. He opens doors, gives you his seat, makes sure your "ok" at all times and in the past has even given me his winter hat in 12 degree NYC weather - cause I looked cold. Everyone at the office knows how pumped he is cause of the TRAIN concert, they also know tonight is GANDHI (Lance's weekly comedy show that he hosts with comedian Brendan Fitzgibbons). They wish him well. We say our goodbye's and jump on the train.
We catch up and talk about the stuff we normally talk about. I find this weird comfort with Lance, we share alot of similiarities. We have known each other over 4 years, theres a kinship. Many times though we talk at one another, give unsolicited advice or call one another out on BS - we are really talking to ourselves. We both want to be really good at what we do, but have to approach it reminding ourselves "You're here to have fun".
We talk about comedy, relationships, being overwhelmed by social media - we go through our usual 3 topics and then its all about the band TRAIN. "This is my like 10th time seeing them" he reminds me again. "I have a list of people I want to meet: Oprah, Jim Carey, Michael Jordan, Kelly Skater (he's met) , Pat from Train, Will Smith and Bill Clinton."
"I've been doing this 10 years, looks like 3"
We arrive to the concert and meetup with Lance's friend Adam. Waiting on line with other fans we mingle, meet some teenagers on the street that want a quick photos session (I'm with Lance so it's about seizing the day right?) and pet some dogs passing by.
The person to go see TRAIN with is definitely Lance Weiss. Even if you have never heard a song his enthusiasm for this band is contagious. He told me earlier in the day "Watch you know more songs of theirs than you think. You even know the words." As the show goes on he is 100% right. He yells out over one of the songs - "Doesn't the guy from TRAIN have a great voice ? He's so talented. "Music is like comedy.There might be a comic you personally don't find funny, but you cannot deny that they are gifted."
After the show we wait for the band and as promised we meet them. They pose for photos and then just as fast as we got there we are gone. Headed to Lucky Jack's to setup for GANDHI.
"This is what's great about NY. Come down here see this. Jump in a cab we are down here in 30 min in and out. You can't do this shit in Oklahoma.". The energy shifts, I know this energy, I live this energy as an artist myself and as someone married to a comedian. The "I know I have done this 1000 times before but is this the time its going to fail me?.... or be flawless? What am I forgetting? Nah I did everything...Nah this feels too right, Im forgetting something" energy. I leave Lance to his thoughts & phone. After a few minutes he looks up at me. "My life is like getting good. The energy it's getting in this place. I don't know... finally coming together. The work I've been doing for years, is feeling like it's coming together."
Gandhi is a weekly comedy show at Lucky Jacks in NYC. The room packs out to standing room only, Louie CK has dropped in previously & they give out free pizza. "I've Been doing this for 4, 5 years, every Wednesday. It's a lot. People don't see the behind the scenes that make this show. I think I've missed 2 or 3 shows over the years. I was out of town. Now I don't want to miss a Gandhi show, Id rather do this than just about anything."
"I hang out at the show until everyone leaves. As I do comedy more, I have less time to hang out with people - so this is what I do every Wednesday. People want to grab dinner, grab drinks. I don't have time for that. I will be at Gandhi though, I tell people if they want to hang, you know where to find me every wednesday at Gandhi and I'll hang as long as you want there."
"This is exciting. It's a movement. Maybe it's real boring. I don't know. I know it's not like stuff 3 years ago in my life - at a deli at 2am talking about killing yourself."
As they set up the room I sit back and watch. One: because I know Lance has OCD and there is a system to this and Im not going to mess with his energy right now. He has a quick spot to do before his show and we are on a timeline. Two - because I know if I helped I wouldnt be doing it right anyway. There's a ritualistic approach to this. It's a weekly ceremony for these two. But there is still an uneasiness - nervousness, excitement. Lance is sweating. Everyone has a job, they work as a team. Lance calls it an operation. This is an operation for sure. He snaps me out of my observational trance "We are leaving in 15 minutes." I nod. "Brendan finalizes the room. He lights the candles....later". He moves more things around. "We leave in 3 minutes. Like clockwork. No fucking around. This is Lance Weiss here. We are to the minutes." He sets the music and over it yells "The music needs to be loud. People talk loud, energy goes up."
"Anyone can run comedy, shoot photos. But I know every detail about the show- how far apart the chairs are, the walk to the bathroom. I think thats what makes this show a success. It's in the details. Best advice I ever got."
"I sit in every chair to see what the experience is like. I know how many inches each chair needs to be apart to sit comfortably"
We leave in 3 minutes and have an 11 minute walk - at Weiss pace. He looks at his GPS while we are walking, sure enough he has that down too. "11 minutes and we will be there." He tells me the best advice he ever got was from his comedy mentor. "It's all in the details. The guy would say it's in the details. Everyday. It hammered into my brain, that's what makes the difference."
We get to Sidewalk Cafe just in time for his spot. Lance orders a beer cause he gets a drink ticket. And the beer sits. He's not a drinker, or into drugs. He gets high on life and comedy. Today is proof of that. He loves comedy. Comedians. The comedy life. "It's crazy cause I will be with my girlfriend's friends at a doggie birthday party and then you're with comedians who are just animals and talking about how they ended up in a ditch in Ohio. And you're like comedians are great. Cause otherwise people are talking about the two ripe kiwis they got from Fairway and how they made a great salad. That's cool too, but I'm just fascinated by the comedian and their drug habit or how they were homeless for 2 years. "
He is so amped about meeting TRAIN that he talks about it on stage. He uses half of his time at Sidewalk to ask the crowd to name train songs. "Get To Me. That's my fav train song. I would listen to it alone in my bed at 2am when I was single" he tells the crowd. As he gets off stage the DJ plays "Get To Me. "Was that set a good set? I felt like it was ok....."
We need to get to Gandhi and fast. The show is going to start in less than 10 minutes. We dodge cabs, people on dates, bicycles... "Once you live here. Everywhere else is not as cool. We (Him & Danny Palmer : a comedian) went to Austin and heard how great Austin was. We get there, the cabbie is telling us how great it's gonna be. Very proud of Austin; as he should be. He's like you're in town for a great weekend...we got a football game this weekend. It's like .... One football game is gonna dictate the energy of your city this weekend? That's the difference in NYC. Jay-Z is playing, Madonna is in town, the Yankees are playing , there's concerts going on, there's so much going on at once. There's like one street in Austin that's great - 6th street and it's great, it's amazing, but you see it and thats it. I grew up in Georgia, 5 hours outside of Atlanta and I always thought it was this huge place. And even now it's considered the biggest city in the South East. And now I go back and I'm like... this is what I thought was so big! What is this a village ?"
We stop in front of Lucky Jacks, mentally he's already downstairs on stage. "We didn't grab dinner..Can I give you money to grab dinner?" I barely get the "No' out....He gives me a hug, thanks me and makes his way through the room.
For the rest of the images from my day with Lance, make sure to check out his gallery.
Lance's City : NYC
The now. Living in the now. Being present
Green symphony : organic, raw, healthiest food in Times Square. Their slogan is a safe have for vegans. I get a green juice everyday, today I got steel cut oatmeal
Gandhi: it's the best. Best vibe. Good people.
American institute for Cognitive Therapy : best OCD therapy in the world. There are arguably bette,r but they are in the top.
Midtown in the middle of night like 3am. It's like your own world.
All of the Healthy food places all over this city.
Creative People: All the creative people. You want a project you can get people together. Get actors, cameras, equipment. Look at today. We are filming, boom out doing a comedy show. It can be thrown together quick. I can name 8 amazing video people, editors, off the top of my head. Thats nuts.
Coney Island. It stinks. But it's a good place to lose yourself. God I fuckin hate Coney Island. But you can take the train there ride one ride walk the boardwalk. Lose yourself and there's water there. And you can get a break and find it. You forget a lot we are surrounded by water. You're here and get so lost in NYC you forget it, you forget that I can take you a few blocks right now and theres water.
New York : because it really makes you appreciate all kinds of people. Every kind of person in the world is here and we all have to live and work together and it really helps you see past all the dumb things we sometimes get caught up in. I think I'm actually paraphrasing here from someone, but I can't remember who. I feel bad I can't credit them but his/her words make sense to me. You end up seeing people as humans because you just can see that everyone is the same, just working and trying to do his/her best and there is something very cool about that. It's like a mutual human respect for other mankind.
The Seasons: I've actually come to like the seasons here too. Right now it's January which I usually despise because of the cold, but I'm really enjoying the bare trees and the snow on the ground and the gray skies at the moment. It really makes you think about how time moves and how everything is connected in the world, etc. Growing up in South Georgia, the seasons weren't as pronounced as they are here, and I'm just now really starting to appreciate them.
Skateboarding: Did I talk about skateboarding yet? I love skateboarding and NYC is an awesome place to skate. I bought a mini-longboard last summer and I've been cruising all over the place with it. The summer before that, I bought a short board and went to skateparks which was super fun too. It's pretty awesome to get on a longboard and just cruise around NYC, it's an awesome way to see the city.