Monday, May 30, 2011


the saints can't help me now
the ropes have been unbound
i hunt for you with bloodied feet
across the hallowed ground

It's been an interesting day. This is when I need to wail my power ballads, but my voice just stays curled up in my heart, trying to keep it warm.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Transposing Graph

New link in the Starry Eyed Idiot box to Shane McDonald's Transposition Graph. I've been on the hunt for some music for Michael's summer homework, and I'm going to need to transpose, most likely. This will make the initial process slightly easier, but a whole song? Maybe I'll just call up J and plead for assistance.

Also, Roger Daltrey is playing at the Hartford XL Center in September. Not only is he performing, he is performing THE ENTIRETY OF TOMMY.

It would be the coolest thing ever. Basically.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


(A gift from Ken Schatz at my request - a letter from Ani DiFranco to Ms. Magazine. Part of my pure joy this morning.)

From the Ron E., the Righteous Babe Records Minister of Communications:

The li'l folksinger has asked me to distribute the text of this open letter to the editor of MS, in response to a short paragraph in their Sept./Oct. 97 issue. It's a tad long for email, but Ani wanted folks to be able to read the entirety of her message instead of an edited version. We would really like to see this posted on websites wherever possible. **You may distribute or forward the following as long as you do not alter or edit it.**


November 5, 1997

Marcia Ann Gillespie

Editor in Chief

Ms. Magazine

135 W. 50th Street

16th Floor

New York, NY 10020

So I'm poring through the 25th anniversary issue of Ms. (on some airplane going somewhere in the amorphous blur that amounts to my life) and I'm finding it endlessly enlightening and stimulating as always, when, whaddaya know, I come across a little picture of little me. I was flattered to be included in that issue's "21 Feminists for the 21st Century" thingybob. I think ya'll are runnin the most bold and babe-olishious magazine around, after all.

Problem is, I couldn't help but be a little weirded out by the paragraph next to my head that summed up her me-ness and my relationship to the feminist continuum. What got me was that it largely detailed my financial successes and sales statistics. My achievements were represented by the fact that I "make more money per album sold than Hootie and the Blowfish," and that my catalogue sales exceed 3/4 of a million. It was specified that I don't just have my own record company but my own "profitable" record company. Still, the ironic conclusion of the aforementioned blurb is a quote from me insisting "it's not about the money." Why then, I ask myself, must "the money" be the focus of so much of the media that surrounds me? Why can't I escape it, even in the hallowed pages of Ms.?

Firstly, this "Hootie and the Blowfish" business was not my doing. The LA Times financial section wrote an article about my record label, Righteous Babe Records, in which they raved about the business savvy of a singer (me) who thwarted the corporate overhead by choosing to remain independent, thereby pocketing $4.25 per unit, as opposed to the $1.25 made by Hootie or the $2.00 made by Michael Jackson. This story was then picked up and reprinted by The New York Times, Forbes magazine, the Financial News Network, and (lo and behold) Ms.

So here I am, publicly morphing into some kinda Fortune 500-young-entrepreneur-from-hell, and all along I thought I was just a folksinger !

Ok, it's true. I do make a much larger profit (percentage-wise) than the Hootster. What's even more astounding is that there are thousands of musicians out there who make an even higher profit percentage than me! How many local, musicians are there in your community who play gigs in bars and coffee shops about town? I bet lots of them have made cassettes or CDS which they'll happily sell to you with a personal smile from the edge of the stage or back at the bar after their set. Would you believe these shrewd, profit-minded wheeler-dealers are pocketing a whopping _100%_ of the profits on the sales of those puppies?! Wait till the Financial News Network gets a whiff of _them_!

I sell approximately 2.5% of the albums that a Joan Jewelanis Morrisette sells and get about .05% of the airplay royalties, so obviously if it all comes down to dollars and cents, I've led a wholly unremarkable life. Yet I choose relative statistical mediocrity over fame and fortune because I have a bigger purpose in mind. Imagine how strange it must be for a girl who has spent 10 years fighting as hard as she could against the lure of the corporate carrot and the almighty forces of capital, only to be eventually recognized by the power structure as a business pioneer.

I have indeed sold enough records to open a small office on the half-abandoned main street in the dilapidated urban center of my hometown, Buffalo, N.Y. I am able to hire 15 or so folks to run and constantly reinvent the place while I drive around and play music for people. I am able to give stimulating business to local printers and manufacturers and to employ the services of independent distributors, promoters, booking agents and publicists. I was able to quit my day job and devote myself to what I love.

And yes, we are enjoying modest profits these days, affording us the opportunity to reinvest in innumerable political and artistic endeavors. RBR is no Warner Bros. But it is a going concern, and for me, it is a vehicle for redefining the relationship between art and commerce in my own life. It is a record company which is the product not just of my own imagination, but that of my friend and manager Scot Fisher and of all the people who work there. People who incorporate and coordinate politics, art and media every day into a people-friendly, sub-corporate, woman-informed, queer-happy small business that puts music before rock stardom and ideology before profit.

And me. I'm just a folksinger, not an entrepreneur. My hope is that my music and poetry will be enjoyable and/or meaningful to someone, somewhere, not that I maximize my profit margins. It was 15 years and 11 albums getting to this place of notoriety and, if anything, I think I was happier way back when. Not that I regret any of my decisions, mind you. I'm glad I didn't sign on to the corporate army. I mourn the commodification and homogenization of music by the music industry, and I fear the manufacture of consent by the corporately-controlled media. Last thing I want to do is feed the machine.

I was recently mortified while waiting in the dressing room before one of my own shows. Some putz suddenly takes the stage to announce me and exclaim excitedly that this was my "largest sold-out crowd to date!" "Oh, really?," I'm thinking to myself, "that's interesting...too bad it's not the point." All of my achievements are artistic, as are all of my failures.

That's just the way I see it. Statistical plateau or no. I'll bust ass for 60 people, or 6,000, watch me.

I have so much respect for Ms. magazine. If I couldn't pick it up at newsstands my brain probably would've atrophied by now on some trans-Atlantic flight and I would be lying limp and twitchy in a bed of constant travel, staring blankly into the abyss of the gossip magazines. Ms. is a structure of media wherein women are able to define themselves, and articulate for themselves those definitions. We wouldn't point to 21 of the feminists moving into the 21st century and define them in terms of "Here's Becky Ballbuster from Iowa City, she's got a great ass and a cute little button nose..." No ma'am. We've gone beyond the limited perceptions of sexism and so we should move beyond the language and perspective of the corporate patriarchy. The Financial News Network may be ultimately impressed with me now that I've proven to them that there's a life beyond the auspices of papa Sony, but do I really have to prove this to _you_?

We have the ability and the opportunity to recognize women not just for the financial successes of their work but for the work itself. We have the facility to judge each other by entirely different criteria than those is imposed upon us by the superstructure of society. We have a view which reaches beyond profit margins into poetry, and a vocabulary to articulate the difference.

Thanks for including me, Ms., really. But just promise me one thing; if I drop dead tomorrow, tell me my grave stone won't read:

ani d.


Please let it read:





- Ani DiFranco

It is, in fact, a Good Morning

Had my first full day of interning yesterday - box office duty in the morning (which, on a Wednesday, was fairly quiet, so I got through a huge chunk of Elegance of the Hedgehog) and rehearsal for the children's show yesterday night. I'm playing a pig celebrating her 4th birthday, and also playing a fox who has a penchant for stealing birthday cakes. It should be cute. There is a play festival later in the summer and I'm looking forward to possibly getting my hands on meatier roles (the Hijabi Monologues, possibly). But who doesn't love a cake stealing fox?

Had an odd encounter yesterday, and I won't go into detail, but as a result, I got some phenomenal advice and support from my teachers and friends. I woke up this morning to an amazing message from Ken Schatz, and it made me smile so much I didn't know what to do. So I got up, popped in my iPod and did some yoga/dance. Dance comes so much easier to me when I find my inner joy. I'll keep that in mind for class next year. :)

Part of my joy today came from the weirdness yesterday, and being confronted with something that made me really examine myself and my art and why I'm doing this. I did most of the soul searching afterwards, because I had a reflexive reaction that was so definitive and powerful that I almost didn't recognize it at first. My art is mine, and my own. I will never take money over art. I would be miserable being anything than what I am.

It was such a solid thought that it didn't even register as a thought, but as a feeling in my gut and heart. And it may be the harder road to take, but it's the road I want.

I have the day off, so I'll probably spend it learning lines and packing my things. I move into my new dorm on Sunday. SO EXCITED to get out of Chinatown.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So, all the advice I read about working out prior to bed indicated it was a 50/50 shot at being totally fine to sleep or being totally screwed and wide awake.

Guess which percentile I fall under?

An adjustment in the routine will be in order...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rag Doll

So, in order to keep my gloriously toned figure in photoshoot condition,* I have decided to try and make a routine for myself for this summer, since I will not have the luxury of three dance classes a week while school is out of session.

I'm not comfortable enough with my skills (or budget) to go pick up an outside class yet, so for now it will be working on the technical things I'm not so good at with the hopes of being able to pick up where we left off and continue improving.

I began tonight, and discovered something that works super well; AEROSMITH. Nothing like doing the plie footwork, flex/point work, some stretching, and then Byron's super crazy ab workout with Steven Tyler wailing in the background, pushing me to be as BADASS as he is. Try doing a plank series by alternating between normal plank for a verse, then side plank with leg balance for a verse, for the entirety of Jaded. Hurt like a bitch (since I've been resting for a week) but was totally awesome. I finished my 40 minute session with some cool down yoga after working on my split stretch, and then danced around my room like a maniac singing into my brush/microphone to Dude Looks Like A Lady. Cliche? Maybe. Awesome? You freaking bet.

I think tomorrow I'll do some ballet barre work to Rag Doll (that video is worth watching just for "my pants are so tight, I'll hit all the high notes tonight!").

Start 13th Street tomorrow - I'm excited but nervous. I have no idea what I'm walking into, but I hope it's good, since I'm there all summer. I want it to be great, I'd love to do something amazing this summer.

* "gloriously toned" may be an exaggeration, as may be "photoshoot condition." A more accurate phrasing to consider is "mostly fit" and "not repulsive to look at," but you, the reader, may decide which to read.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spotlight: Postsecret

Postsecret. Updated every Sunday. I want to know who sent this one because I realized something the other day, and I'm glad I finally realized it.

I realized that I wouldn't be half the artist I am without my diagnosed clinical depression. And there is nothing wrong with admitting it. Because crazy is perfect, and fucked up is perfect. And I want to tell this person that. I know how they feel. When I was diagnosed, my deepest fear of being put on medication came from the not knowing if these chemicals were going to change me, make me feel less. Because without my art (and without everything that comes with art), I would have nothing left inside of me. And I was so afraid of that, because, above all, I knew I wouldn't survive without being able to spew art out of myself in some capacity.

But here I am. Alive, well, on my way to living my dreams and happy. Sometimes it gets rough, but I am still here and I might be fucked up, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

And I wish I could share that with this person.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Lucky 13

That is my best attempt at portraying my absurd happiness and relief at this moment in time. My hair is a mess and it looks like I have no bottom teeth. HAH.

In light of recent events, including the Barbara McNamara internship falling through, I have spent the past two days alternately scrambling wildly, freaking out, or sitting blankly with my computer, waiting for communications from people in positions of authority.

As of half an hour ago, I secured an internship with 13th STREET REPERTORY COMPANY (Click it, fools!) for the summer, as an acting intern and a literary manager's assistant. This means I will be performing in children's theatre, critiquing and writing for the playwrights festival, and performing in a fundraiser cabaret.

Um, cool. Time to celebrate.

Cuz I'm the coolest cat I know. Aside from Kitty here, of course. Viva la Theatre!

How Things Change

I feel like my life is some Felicity-style college sitcom, or dramedy would probably be more accurate.

The universe just chucked a big ol' handful of cayenne into my life, so I'm trying to work out the kinks as I type. Internship just got all effed up, and now I'm working overtime to try and figure out what to do and fix things.

I had an audition today, for a play in Brooklyn called Turtleback High (I'm pretty sure I mentioned this yesterday, but with all the cayenne up my nose, who knows what's even going on anymore), and I wanted to just update on the audition experience.

The auditions were at some studios up on 39th street, and when I got there it was chock full of small children at dance class or something. I've never seen so many stage moms in one place before, and it was a little scary. I found the studio being used, and sat on a bench outside of it to go over my sides and get grounded. (All of my acting training was being put to good use - I did a bunch of chakra work before I left and kept all of them activated for the characters, but more on that in a minute) A girl named Lauren was sitting next to me, and we started chatting about auditions and living in the city. Long story short, it turns out she was at KCACTF at the same time I was in 2010 (see my previous post "Durham, One Week."), because she went to New Paltz, and we were reminiscing about good and bad shows. Small world, man.

Another girl who was there was talking to us, and we were sharing where we were each from. As soon as I said I went to NYU this girl put up a wall and kind of tuned out to me. The condescension was tangible. My first run in with a real NYU stereotype. I'm a rich suburban white girl from CT whose daddy was paying for her to go to a big acting school in the big city. I was surprised and kind of offended by her sudden attitude, but I ignored it and just kept talking to Lauren. Hooray stereotypes. She doesn't know me. She has no idea I'm none of those things.

The audition itself was in a teeny weeny room, in folding chairs, with name tags we propped up on the floor in front of us. There were 5 girls and 2 guys in our reading, plus the writer and director. Since there are only 3 girl roles, we all rotated between reading girl parts and guy parts. A little awkward and ungainly, but it was quite fun nonetheless. Less pressure without memorization, and swapping roles gave me a chance to stretch and show my versatility with character choices. I gave each character a chakra center, just to kind of give each one a base so they would all be different. I think I read well, and I'll hopefully hear from these guys within the next few days, so crossing my fingers on that one.

I'm playing dice with Fate right now, and I totally don't know the rules. :P

Friday, May 13, 2011


Finals are complete, out-of-towners are hopping planes back home, and my head is spinning. Lots to update on. I have so much packing to do.

As I said, I got a summer internship at Barbara McNamara Casting, so that will be starting up within a week or so. I have some paperwork to fill out in order to get summer credit for it, but I'm working on it as best I can without a working printer.

As of five seconds ago, I was just assigned summer housing over in Union Square, so I have a phone call for mum and dad, actually.

I'm waiting on a final acting evaluation from Ms. Shay, and it's making me quite anxious. My other teachers had final conferences, and all of them said basically what I assumed they would say, but since I identify as an actress who sings, my acting work is something I truly prize and I am dying to find out if all of my work this semester has paid off.

Been inspired by a friend of mine to write these past few days. I'd have preferred it if the "inspiration" hadn't happened, but hey, life is art. So far the working titles of my ideas are The Toy Box and Martyrology. If I don't get much of them done this summer, I can work on one or both of them in my Playwriting class next year. Hooray. :)

I saw Billy Elliot on Broadway the other night, which was lovely and very inspiring, since I'm still mediocre at dancing. Watching these children and adults prance around with so much love for the art of dance was just amazing, and I'm going to work hard to maintain my fitness and what dance moves and warm-ups I can do.

I have an audition for a play called Turtleback High tomorrow. Hopefully it goes well. I'd like to finally get my butt back onstage.

Looking forward to my first summer away from home - it feels weird not going home, but it's nice, having something to do here in the city. I'm going to load up on theatre, that's for sure. :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dia de las Madres

There aren't enough pictures of me and my mom. She's pretty much the greatest woman to ever walk the earth, in my opinion. She's my mom and my best friend. And also absurdly tan in this picture. The mind of a mom and the heart of a six year old - who could ask for more?

I love you , mama - I can never thank you enough for being as amazing as you are. Hopefully I'll get to say your name one day as I weep my way through some awards ceremony. <3