Neighborhood Casinos?

Walking around my neighborhood late at night, I keep seeing weird little casinos here and there. I am not sure if they are legal or not, but I see the door open and people playing cards and what have you. I want to stick my head in and ask if I can throw down a $20 but I’m afraid I’ll get yelled at in Mandarin.

Plus, I think that there’s a dress code to these places. I noticed that in Atlantic City, it seems to range from sun visors, pleated pants, fanny packs and nurse sneakers to straight up Armani suits. But in my hood, they are dressed up in that model-esque look of indie tee shirts cool hats.

Besides my neighborhood and Atlantic City, where else does one gamble? I remember seeing slightly covert yet quite visible casinos in Ireland, we all know that cruise ships are essentially floating casinos, and who of us hasn’t heard of Mohegan Sun? Yet you apparently can also gamble online if you don’t want to have to look at people’s horrible faces. I can totally relate. One place my friend loves to online gamble at is www.gamingclub.com/au. I’ve really only ever gambled with my dad and other drunk dudes in the form of basement cards at family gatherings. I remember playing a card game with my dad where he was dealing. I’ll never be able to wash the sound out of my ears of him exclaiming, “In this round, Soul Sistas are wild, talkin’ bout black queens!”

I was thinking of having a birthday party at one of the local casinos in my neighborhood if I can make it work. If not, maybe I’ll just have a casino themed birthday party. That’d be fun. I could make one of those spinny wheels (is that Craps?) and have a pro dealer. I could insist on 70s polyester wardrobe only and play the movie Casino on a big screen. I actually met a pro casino card dealer once at one of my shows. She made serious bank and said she dealt at private parties, too. I like the idea of calling my birthday party, “Oh, Craps: A Whole Nother Year, GONE!”

Some back up options are,

“It’s Jessica Delfino’s Birthday Party, DEAL WITH IT!”

“She’s Quite A Card: Jessica Delfino’s Birthday Party!”

“Her Slot Is Still Magic: Delfino’s Turning 30 something!”

I think the first one (Oh, Craps) is my favorite.

What would you call my Casino themed birthday party? Answer in the comments below. C’mon, you know your idea is the best one of them all.

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South By South WOWZERS

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The NY Funny Songs Fest hit the road last week to rock out at SXSW and to sum it up in 4 words, I’ll just say 1. It 2. Was 3. A 4. Blast.

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A few New Yorkers even joined me in my adventures. Kelly Dwyer, Ross Plotkin and Camille Harris toted instruments, glittered outfits and themselves down to Austin and together, we promoted the mission of the Funny Songs Fest: to find funny musicians and to share funny songs. You can see our names below on Post-Its. Here’s a video that Post-It made for the NY Funny Songs Fest.

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We performed at a bunch of venues, including The New Movement Theater, DailyMotion’s event at The Hideout, Austin Pride’s RAWK show, Buzz Kill at the Buzz Mill (a great comedy show) and other stages, living rooms, nooks and crannies. My dear artist pal (and our festival logo designer) Polina Vo and Camille’s mom and husband also came down to party with us.

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Here is a photo of the cute fortune cookies Polina made to hand out to new friends.

Some of the highlights for the festival for me personally were hanging out with old and new friends at Esther’s Follies, hanging out at The New Movement Theater and seeing and meeting all the comedians there, Chris Gethard’s show where the audience turned him into a human sundae (and then got to take a bite), all the free yummy food everywhere (Late Night with Seth Myers gave out Shake Shack burgers and fries!).

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Paul Provenza’s Setlist show was awesome and featured TJ Miller and others who were really great, the #KegsNEggs Comedy Central party rocked, free cab rides home by Uber after partying late into the night were much appreciated, seeing the last half of Hannibal Burress’s new movie “Live from Chicago” was awesome, hanging out with friends and seeing Chromeo at the Fader Tent, who I really  liked, attending the brunch music event at Four Seasons and seeing rapper Schoolboy Q at the Soundcloud tent. I also loved the trade show. The festival was just so much fun from top to bottom. So much good stuff happened, I can’t even really remember it all. But that could also be the booze. Though I didn’t drink a ton. Or maybe I did, who knows? Maybe all the alcohol I drank is just clouding my memory. If you’ve never been to SXSW, you must go next year. Just buy your plane tickets now.

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Here I am having breakfast at the Four Seasons. No, I am NOT hung over at all. That band played at the music brunch. They were great. I forget their name.

Here are the donuts my friends and I ate at 3 am at Gordo’s evil donut truck.

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Here is a very handsome man who gave the festival attendees free sausages.

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Here are two of the breakfasts my Austin host made for me. Gotta love that Southern hospitality, RIGHT!?!

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Here is the super awesome gentleman who gave me free rides all over Austin. Just because.

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Here’s a little SXSW coverage video I had a cameo in.

Here is some local Austin art.

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Here I am in a money booth, grabbing all the free money I could grab. Yes. That was a thing at SXSW. I snagged $25.

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Here is my new Austin friend Chloe who I adore. We didn’t get to see 2Chainz but we will. Oh, we will.

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This is a picture of a little guy who didn’t make it through the festival. :( RIP little lizard.

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If you want to learn more about the NY Funny Songs Fest, you can visit our websites. We’ll be in Philly at the end of March, in LA at the end of April, in NYC at the end of May and Montreal at the end of July. Submissions are now open, by the way.

All festival long, people were making up SXSW words. Some worked, some didn’t. The free sausage truck I liked a lot did #SXSWurst. A comedian called the fest the #SXSworst. I overheard a passerby call it #SXSBreast. I titled this piece, #SXSWowzers.

Go on, add your own in the comments. You know you want to.

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Boogie With Flu

This year’s flu has a real attitude problem. If it’s a “she”, she’s suffering from severe PMS. If it’s a “he”, he hasn’t gotten laid in awhile. Whatever the deal is, this invisible little creep is a killer. It found it’s way into my body unfortunately and I’ve been struggling with it for a week now. But I’ve found some tricks and I’d like to share them with you so that if you get this terrible house guest, you and your immune system will be better poised to deal with it. I am not a doctor, I’m just a big sister and an experienced flu victim. If you are in need of serious medical attention, don’t be a boner, as my dad used to love to say. Just go to the Emergency room, and toot sweet. But if you think you just need a little TLC and some good flu tips, read on.

1. Don’t even try to do anything. Just cancel your plans for a week. But Jessica, how am I supposed to pay my bills? Figure it out later. Chances are, the monster will leave you immobile as it did me, so that even if you did want to go to work, you’ll be incapable of doing anything other than whimpering “mommy” while your nose drips like a literal faucet. Plus, sharing is caring except when the flu is concerned.

2. Splurge, go on and get the Puffs Plus. As aforementioned, your nose will run like someone left the water on. You will blow and wipe it so raw that it will resemble roast beef by the time you’re done with it. So might I suggest a very soft and delicate tissue?
Between blowings, use some lotion or Vaseline on your poor schnoz.

3. If you can, go to a doctor or a family doc pal, get a prescription bottle of promethazine with codeine. It is the only thing that will allow you to sleep besides straight up sleeping pills. It also keeps you from coughing. Promethazine is an anti-histamine, which is listed as one of the few drugs that will help you to find relief from the flu.

4. Zinc and C it up, sure, why not, but what will really help is rest. Just sleep. Sleep in the morning, sleep in the afternoon. If you start feeling ok and think about doing some laundry or going to meet a friend for lunch, don’t. Just. sleep. Sleep all day. Sleep as much as you can while you can because when you want to sleep on purpose, you will be coughing too much to be able to sleep.

5. Next year, get the flu shot. No, it won’t give you the flu and it probably won’t give you any other creepy size affects. Just take it. Especially if you’re pregnant.

6. If you have anyone who can help you, mom, dad, friend, child, husband, implore them to do so. You can’t handle this beast on your own.

7. Stay hydrated. I recommend Gatorade, diet Ginger Ale and seltzer water. Orange Juice is also soothing on the throat and water yourself like you’re a plant. Constantly be sipping something. If you are sleeping and you wake up, drink something. No booze. Not even hot toddy’s. Plan to pretty much just eat liquid and soups for the next week. Perk: You will lose about 3-5 pounds.

8. Ibuprofen every 6 hours. If you get a fever, and you probably will (I had one of 103 for several days), take Ibuprofen every 6 hours until it breaks. Also, if you don’t already have one, buy a thermometer.

9. While you’re at the store getting Puffs Plus, just splurge and get the following items: cough drops, liquid beverages and soups, your favorite decongestants and any comfort items like a magazine though you won’t really be well enough to read it for days. Spoil yourself a little because you may be facing armageddon with this one.

10. Hang in there and don’t lose hope. When your face is throbbing with the pain of a small truck being parked on it, and you’re coughing up blood and stuff that will scare and sicken you to know it came from your body, just remember that you are healthy and this is the natural course of the flu. Stay positive and take this time to treat yourself well.

11. Meditate. If you’re about to lose your mind because you haven’t slept right for a week and your body aches and you can’t take it any more, try closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and just trying to meditate–that is, relax, breathe in and out, focus on the sounds of your breath and nothing more. If thoughts come to you, let them come and go. I meditated to try to sleep one night and met a spirit guide for the first time. His name was Val and he was from New Jersey. It was probably flu induced mania and hallucinations from not sleeping properly for days, but it was a fun experience. Maybe you too, will find your spirit guide during the flu.

12. Don’t spread the flu. Stay home. Try to limit your interactions with innocent bystanders. Wash your hands a lot. Don’t touch your eyes and stuff and then touch the refrigerator. If you cough, cover your mouth with the inside of your armpit. The flu virus can live for 2-8 hours on a surface. Spray things with Lysol and laugh with glee as you devastate a whole colony of tiny would be assassins. If your kids have the flu, don’t take them to music lessons.

They say that this year’s flu was especially hard on “young people” for some reason, so if you got the flu and it’s really hard on you, hey, at least you’re (probably) still young. Don’t forget to rest, stay hydrated and stay positive and you’ll kick this bug’s butt and fast.

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The No Pants Subway Ride Naples, Italy Makes National News

JDNaplesSubwayNoPantsGuitarphotos by Alex M. Smith

I don’t know how it happened, because it almost ended in complete disaster. I showed up at Piazza Dante at 3 PM like I said I would, wearing pink so I could be identified. I set up my guitar and started playing some songs, thinking that would also help people be able to find me. No one approached except a few passers by who wanted to hear me play guitar. Then, a man came over and identified himself as a journalist. He said that he had come from Yahoo.it to make a video about the event, which he’d seen an invite to on Facebook.

Four people had confirmed to join me and one even emailed me saying he’d definitely be there. But no one showed. So I waited for awhile, hemming and hawing. Should I do this alone? I thought to myself. What if I get arrested? What if people get mad and start throwing bibles at me? Eh, fuck it, I decided, and headed into the subway to depant. The journalist decided he’d join me which made me excited and also nervous. What if this became an international disaster? I pushed my fears down and looked at the bright side: at least I’d have someone present to translate for me in case I got arrested.

I went down into the subway and followed directions like they’d been outlined on Improv Everywhere. They said to enter the car and just take off your pants like nothing was wrong. So that’s what I did. I decided I’d take off my pants and play some songs. The people were so fun! They were clapping and laughing and some cute kids even came over and gave me change. But at the end of it all, I walked up the subway stairs to get confronted by two uniformed men. They started yelling at me at very close range in Italian. From their hand motions, I could tell they were asking me what the hell I thought I was doing.

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Luckily, my journalist friend helped me translate. He would bicker with them for ten minutes at a time, and then turn to me and clue me in, with tidbits like, “They want to know if you take off your clothes for money”, or “They ask what your husband thinks about this”. The biggest, scariest looking one kept staring at me with giant DeNiro-y eyes and making a joined wrists motion at me, the international symbol for “You are going to jail”. I tried to stay calm and eventually, my journalist friend told me that we’d have to delete the footage. He went into the booth with them and it appeared he was deleting his footage. I was totally bummed about the experience. It left me feeling sad.

Once outside, the journalist made us promise that we wouldn’t share our version of the video, which Alex had on his camera, which was hidden, so the men never bothered him about it. He said that if we shared it he’d get in trouble and maybe we’d get arrested at the airport when we tried to leave. We promised we wouldn’t share any videos or photos.

Monday came and went, and the news was ablaze about No Pants Subway Ride. There were photos of all these people all over the news and internet, pantsless, having fun, and I was like, “Damn, I wish I had been in NYC, this would have been such a better scene.”

Then this morning, an Italian friend sent me a link. He said, “Looks like your hijinks made the news after all!” I clicked and was delighted to see the video made not just one site but so many, and the largest Italian papers.

Happy ending. I think. But now there’s the dilemma. How the hell did this footage get out? We kept our promise. Did the guy have a back up copy? Did he pretend it was erased so that Alex wouldn’t share his? Did the subway people leak it to the media. WHAT HAPPENED?

I also heard that yesterday it was in every newspaper. I looked around today for a copy but they had all been thrown away.

If any Italians happen to be reading this and have a copy of the paper with me in it, please let me know!

This ordeal was so much fun, I’m thinking when I get home of playing guitar with no pants on in Times Square, like the Naked Cowboy. I heard there’s a girl doing it though, is that true? Naked Cowgirl? Maybe I’ll do it in Tompkins Square Park or Astor Place instead…

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Below, enjoy some of the videos and links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvwxlNOfAOU

http://video.repubblica.it/edizione/napoli/jessica-in-mutande-nella-metro/152547/151054

http://www.napolitoday.it/cronaca/jessica-nuda-metro-napoli.html

http://www.giomagazine.it/in-mutande-in-metro-jessica-delfino-quasi-arrestata-per-il-suo-no-pants-a-napoli/

http://www.bobobo.it/napoli/eventi/the-no-pants-subway-ride-napoli–naples–italia-2014-e194589#.UtUsdXkt31o

http://inagist.com/all/422302500457578496/

http://it.notizie.yahoo.com/video/jessica-un-39-americana-nuda-123022645.html

http://youmedia.fanpage.it/video/aa/UtQz8-Swi8MabLsq

http://vitv.it/jessica-un-americana-nuda-per-napoli__3047833513001.html

http://maxsomagazine.blogspot.it/2014/01/napoli-unamericana-nuda-in-metropolitana.html

http://www.campaniasuweb.it/video/23949-ragazza-si-toglie-pantaloni-metro-napoli

http://www.blitzquotidiano.it/video/jessica-delfino-spoglia-napoli-no-pants-subway-ride-video-1765853/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blitzquotidiano+%28Blitzquotidiano%29

http://ilterremoto.com/news/jessica-delfino-si-spoglia-a-napoli-per-il-no-pants-subway-ride-video

http://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/napoli/notizie/cronaca/2014/13-gennaio-2014/no-pants-day-evento-che-mondo-non-ha-alcun-problema-ma-napoli-si–2223912756760.shtml

http://www.intopic.it/notizia/5923249/

http://videopazzeschi.blogosfere.it/post/456115/napoli-giovane-americana-entra-in-metro-si-sfila-i-pantaloni-e-rimane-in-mutande-video

http://247.libero.it/dsearch/jessica+delfino/

http://www.scoopsquare.com/post/it/2014/01/13/17/1565246-laquono-pants-dayraquo-lorganizzatrice-fermata-e-identificata-in-metro-laquoquasi-un-arrestoraquo.html

http://www.citynews.it/notizie/24ore/

http://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/napoli/notizie/cronaca/2014/13-gennaio-2014/no-pants-day-evento-che-mondo-non-ha-alcun-problema-ma-napoli-si–2223912756760.shtml

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The Global No Pants Subway Ride – Featuring Napoli (Naples) Italy 2014

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If you happen to be in Naples (or Milan, or anywhere) this Sunday, check out the global No Pants Subway Ride. Basically, people ride the subway in their underwear. There’s no message. It’s just for fun. You can participate or just watch and enjoy the silliness of it all.

If you’d like to participate, click here to find a city that is having an event (many cities are participating).

The ride takes place THIS SUNDAY, JAN 12th! In Naples, we’ll be meeting at Piazza Dante at 3 PM sharp.

To be involved or attend or watch the Naples event, just show up at Piazza Dante normally dressed except in underwear instead of pants on Sunday, January 12th at 3 PM. You can also RSVP here at the Facebook event. There will be an after party and live musical performance afterwards. Check the Facebook event for location and details. This event is free of charge. If you have any questions, you can email jessdelfino @ gmail dot com. Thanks and see you there!

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Hot Times In Europe! Adventure Rundown

Buonjourno! I am currently writing to you from aboard del treno Frecciargento. It’s a high speed train that zips across the Italian countryside. It wasn’t cheap either. We’re headed from Rome to Venice, another city I’ve never been to. I’m way behind on updating because I’ve been having too much fun (and too little internet access).

When I last left off, my man and I had left Reykjavik and driven through a harrowing storm to a rented a cabin in Akureyri.

dogpooI’m not quite sure what this sign is trying to say, but that dog is beautiful.

Once in Akureyri, we immediately got snowed way the hell in. Now, when people talk about getting “snowed in”, they mean a quaint spritzing of a few inches, or maybe a big old storm dropping half a foot! But we’re talking about a real live blizzard of the likes that OL’ ICELAND hadn’t even seen in a century.

IMG_0754Somewhere under all that snow is beautiful downtown Akureyri

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Look. Snow.

X100S_VACATION_131222_356A panoramic view of Akureyri. Before the snow.

alexnjessntrollAlex and I with one of the 13 Yule Lads, the Sausage Stealer troll Bjugnakraekir in the background.

IMG_0669IMG_0698Above, Alex is driving really well through a blizzard. Here’s a sign en route to Myvatn.

When it wasn’t blizzarding, it was actually pretty beautiful.
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Back to our story! We’d managed to get our poor rented Subaru stuck up to its’ wheel tops in the densest snow I’ve ever seen and on a sloping hill. We tried to dig it out for hours and finally gave up. There was nowhere to go, as everything was closed for the holidays, and really nothing to do but bang, for days on end. Tragic. Eventually, we went for a walk just for a change of scenery. While we were out, we happened upon a man driving his jeep. I stopped him to ask if he knew anyone on the mountain with a plow who could come by. “I’ll be right back,” he responded coldly. Moments later, he arrived in the giantest green snow monster machine I’d ever seen a person casually own, and cleared the driveway like a beast.

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Finally we were free! But since the town was shut down and the snowball sized snowflakes kept falling and falling, with no plan to stop, we decided it was best to just stay put.

Luckily, we’d bought lots of wine, beer, food and whiskey because we knew we might be snowed in for awhile. We cooked glorious meals and watched Christmas themed movies we’d pre-downloaded such as Scrooged, Home Alone and more. We also watched Gravity which was so dumb. I just didn’t get the appeal. “Oooh, look at the fake effects!” America is so simple. 97% on Rotten Tomatoes? WTF. Only me and the NY Times film editor disliked it. Guess we’re the dummies. However, I must admit, I love that George Clooney, what a charmer. Every day I turn more and more into an Aunt.

We also watched an old classic favorite, Catch Me If You Can, which I forgot is kind of a Christmas movie. It’s pretty much the only Leonardo DiCaprio movie I can stand, although once upon a time I enjoyed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. There’s just something about the guy’s face that irks me. Maybe it’s that every time I look at him, I’m reminded that I’m not his girlfriend. Whatever! I’m married to a pretty great dude. I mean, we took a trip to Europe together for Christmas. And he’s skinny and hot. So looks like I win after all, DiCaprio. In your face!

Next door to us on Christmas Eve, some guests arrived. We became friendly and hung out with them on Christmas night, drinking until the guys decided to take their pants off and straddle a giant snow man that had been built on the back porch. It was a beautiful moment. I have a photo but Alex won’t let me share it because he’s a big party pooper. He said maybe later.

The next morning, early, we woke up and dug the car out again. The snowball sized snowflakes had not stopped falling, but we had to return to Reykjavik because we had a plane to catch to Copenhagen.

We drove the horrifying road back through the mountains, which was covered in snow as fist sized snowflakes continued to hammer us. I have pretty much never been more petrified in my life as we skidded and slid along the icy road with steep mountainous slopes on either side of us, AND THEN THE WINDSHIELD WIPERS STOPPED WORKING. I made a video of it, just in case we were found in a ravine. I will share it soon.

Slowly, we made our way back to civilization. Eventually, we out drove the storm and the rest of the drive was quite nice, with picturesque Icelandic sunsets and clear, starry skies.

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That evening, we had dinner at a local restaurant and stayed in a charming hotel with a hot rock bath in the back yard. We lied in steaming water while looking up at the sky, praying Aurora would give us a wink, but she just had no interest in showing off that night. So we cuddled up into what might have been the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in and fell into a deep sleep that only lasted a few hours, because we had to get up at 5 am to get our plane.

We arrived in Copenhagen to the place we’d stay, an AirBnB apartment rented by a Danish woman. We were informed upon arriving via email that she had to leave in a rush so the apartment and bed sheets would be dirty, so we were prepared for the mess that we encountered, but we weren’t prepared for the other annoyances that came along with the place, like loud trashy music being blasted by neighbors, and gross monkey sex sounds coming from below pretty much every night. Luckily, we weren’t around much to have to endure the short comings of the rental, and it wasn’t completely without its charms. It was located in a very cute neighborhood called Fredericksburg or something like that. We spent our few days there roaming through Christiania, the hash / DIY hippie area of town, looking at the beautiful architecture, drinking with the locals at the various bars (we even did our laundry like real live locals at their weird Laundromat, I hope I didn’t pick up some kind of creepy flesh disease!).

IMG_0899Fallen signage in Christiana, my new favorite place in the world

I performed one night at a cool space about a mile away from us. It was a small crowd but very awesome. The other performers and audience members were from all over the world and I made new friends, sold several CDs and really enjoyed the vibe of the room.

While in the city, I discovered a delicious baked treat that looked and tasted kind of like a pop tart. I never learned its actual name, but I heard it said once, and it was something I couldn’t pronounce properly if I tried.

IMG_0871  IMG_0911Polar bear in the Copenhagen zoo and their terrific Ooops! brand toilet paper.

IMG_0917A delicious bread, olive, fish and cheese meal we had one night in Copenhagen.

 

This is what I took from visiting Copenhagen:

-       Everything there is super expensive, even more expensive than New York City. Sushi rolls are $30 each.

-       Scandinavia doesn’t really do decaf.

-       Tomatoes and all vegetables taste really fresh and delicious.

-       They don’t have as many choices of things as we have in America.

-       The city is very bike friendly. Most people have kid carts on their bikes and roll around with a baby on board. The bike lanes are alongside the sidewalk and everyone is very award of the bicyclists.

-       It takes about 5.5 Danish krones to make 1 American dollar. So everything has crazy numbers on it. For example, you see a pair of boots for sale and they are 1000. So you have to divide in your head by about 5 or 6 to figure out how much it is.

-       The Danes keep really weird store hours. I visited one shoe store 3 or 4 times over the course of 4 days and never found it open. Gates were over many of the stores for days on end. Maybe it was because it was around Christmas, but still. Unacceptable. I guess it’s better that way, though, because I couldn’t really figure out how to convert dollars to krones very well, anyway. I should have paid more attention in skool.

-       I didn’t find the Scandinavian people in general to be very nice. They weren’t mean, but they weren’t warm or chatty. The few times I had to ask a question or something, they were kind enough and responsive, but short and busy. We didn’t really make any friends while we were there.

-       There was lots of graffiti.

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Cool Copenhagen graffiti.

-       The Danes are a very stylish lot, though they’re wearing those baggy pants that American women thought were cool like a year ago. Everyone dresses like an adult, no ripped jeans or dyed hair, really.

After our time in Copenhagen, we had a relatively painless flight to Italy. I hate flying, so I on board, I like to do things like try to sleep and fail, watch movies and get torn out of them with just about any little bump of turbulence, and make deals with God. Flying with me is a lot of fun. Luckily for me, it was a short flight and the skies were nice and blue. We landed in Rome on New Year’s Eve and got set up in our hotel, which was one block away from the coliseum. We could see it from the front door of our hotel. We dropped our crap off and hauled ass over to the ancient ruins to walk around the thing 5 or 6 times and stare in awe and wonder. That evening, we’d be returning to watch the fireworks display over the giant relic, so we ducked into a local wine bar, where we drank delicious red wine and discovered scrumptious  “salty rings”, basically pretzels that look like calamari. Yum! Get on board, America.

We chatted with the local behind the bar and he told us about a fun party we should check out later. We made a note and bid him bonjourno. My husband thought it’d be a great idea to pick up a bottle of whiskey at the airport, so he had that in his pocket. We settled into a nice ridge of rocks and waited for the fireworks. As we waited, we noticed everyone was wearing flashing bunny ears and drinking openly, which is fine to do in most places except America, apparently. Some people waved laser pointers, some posed for photos in front of the Coliseum and drank beers. A couple who sat next to us started chatting with us in broken English and we quickly became friends. We shared drinks and potato chips and watched the beautiful fireworks display together. I’ve never been so close to such lovely explosions. They went off seemingly just feet above my face, trails of colored fire falling from the sky as if it might hit me in the eyeball, but I couldn’t move. I was enraptured.

After, our new friends turned to us and we think they asked if we’d like to go drink together. We were probably right, because that’s what we ended up doing. We all got very drunk, and slowly, our walking posse grew. We met another couple from Amsterdam and they joined our drunken gang. Six of us roamed the streets, looking for fun.

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Here we try to haggle cheaper beer prices at an Italian gruppo.

Along the way, we met up with two local girls who mentioned they were headed to the party that the wine bar guy told us about. I squealed when I heard the name, saying I heard of the party. They looked very cool and insisted we tag along, so I knew it was going to be fun.

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Here is half of our posse, enjoying ourselves at the really cool party.

 

 

 

 

In short, by the time we got there, many of us were pretty much trashed. Now I understand why it’s not legal to walk and drink in the USA. I somehow can sneak into any party, ever, it’s one of my gifts, and somehow, I was also able to sneak all 8 of us into this wild party in another country, even with it’s line down the road and around the block. It was a terrifically fun dance party, and now I am convinced I should probably be a spy or something.

There’s so much more but I have to go now. We have arrived in Venice. More pics and tales to come!

IMG_1061Alex and I enjoying fireworks in front of the Coliseum, Rome, Italy.
Blurry faced and drunk-ish.

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A Very Meowy Christmas to You and Yours

GayApparelCard

A very Meowy Christmas to you and yours! This holiday season, better be good for goodness sake, and also to assure a visit from Santa Paws.
And hey! Please enjoy this video featuring beautiful NYC Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree footage, confused tourists and a cavalcade of wonderful weirdos and the Gay Apparel choir, singing a ukulele rendition of “Meowy Wonderland”, complete with a litter box Christmas Greeting and a kitty baby Jesus.
You can also see and share the video using this link:
The 2013 Gay Apparel season featured performers include:
Lynn Bixenspan, Rachel Blithe, Jessica Delfino, Jeremy Godinger, Catherine Marcasciano, Our Lady of Perpetual PMS, Ross Plotkin, Livia Scott, Miss Stefani, Reid Singer, Emily Strange. Boston chapter: Shannon Kerner.
Please enjoy and share with the cat lovers in your life. If you love cats like we do, or don’t know what to get the crazy cat lady in your life, please consider making a donation to:
North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY 11050, United States
(516) 883-7575
The Humane Society of New York
306 E 59th St
New York, NY
(212) 752-4842
Or to your local humane society.
Thanks! And please have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, I INSIST.
xx
Jessica
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5 Days in Iceland Feels Like Forever – Days 3 + 4

I am having a great time in Iceland. It’s freezing cold and reminds me of when I lived in Maine as a kid. You can’t go outside without gloves, a coat, a hat, a scarf and two pairs of socks. Layers! Dry hair! I’m a full grown adult and I can hear my dad’s voice echoing in my head, saying “You don’t look like you’re appropriately dressed for the cold…”
It snows pretty much every five minutes and the ground is covered in snow. Next time I vacation, I think I’ll go to Bermuda.  I can’t believe we’ve only been here for 5 days. The cold must slow down the clock.

As I mentioned in my last entry, we started out our trip in Reykjavik. We stayed on a street called Falkagata which means Falcon Street. There was a bakery at the end of the street which sold giant delicious rum balls and, well, let’s just say we indulged a little too much. I talk about days 1-3 in my prior blog entry, complete with pics, check it out here… But I recap a little bit in this entry, too.
My show went really well in Reykjavik! It was packed and I sold about 20 CDs and made a nice chunk of change on the show. Some highlights of Reykjavik were seeing all the viking artifacts in the National Museum, drinking their Christmas beer, swimming in the hot baths that all the locals go to every day, hearing my show get announced on the radio several times, meeting the mayor and walking around, taking in / photographing the beautiful sights with Alex. We also visited the National Phallological aka Penis Museum which gave us a real “rise” yuk, yuk.
The locals are kind of weird, not super social, they look at you for a long time before they answer a question and they rarely smile. But for the most part, they’re friendly enough, some more than others. They have given us lots of good tips and put up with my incessant Americanisms like champs.
X100S_VACATION_131222_356Panoramic Akureyri
Photos by Alex M. Smith
DAY 4
Yesterday, Alex and I rented a car and drove north for 5 hours through breathtaking scenery to a town called Akureyri. I was scared shitless because it was blizzarding the whole time and this country appears to have little use for guard rails along slippery mountain roads. Akureyri (pronounced A-koo-deh-dee) is Iceland’s 2nd largest city and is even colder than Reykjavik. We’re staying in a beautiful house in a mountain overlooking the lovely town. We were pretty tired from the long treacherous drive yesterday, so we passed out early after checking into our house. Though I must say, it was pretty awesome to drive through the tundra of Iceland on the Winter Solstice by the light of the polar sunrise like I was in a Led Zeppelin song, like some kind of witch or something…
DAY 5
Today we went to Myvatn where Game of Thrones was filmed. We interacted with the locals and they told us about a cave where the locals go to bathe in the water, which is heated by some crazy way – a volcano below or something like that. We went searching and were able to find it, but it was dark and looked like a bear house, so we skipped out and just ended up going to the tourist version instead.
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Godafoss Waterfall
Photos by Alex M. Smith
We stopped on the way and saw the magnificent Godafoss which means something like God’s Waterfall. It was nice and all, but if it were called “Jack’s Waterfall” it might have been a little more impressive.
D800_VACATION_131222_1-40
Alex contemplates tossing me off a cliff on a daily basis, even on vacation
Photos by Alex M. Smith
We then went to a nice restaurant back in Ayureyri called RUB 23 which was a referral from a friend back in Reykjavik. I had pizza sushi which was delicioso. The food here isn’t too great (and the portions are small, yuk yuk). But seriously. America does a lot of messed up stuff, and our food is so good that our people are all morbidly obese, but we definitely kick ass in the food department. Iceland wins in the snow removal, dual linguistics, swearing in media and beautiful, slim population categories.
We’ve been told it will storm for the next few days and that we’ll be trapped in our house because they close the roads during big storms. Luckily we brought lots of good snacks, movies and I have my guitar, and a giant back stack of New Yorkers to read. When that gets boring, maybe my man and I will bone or what have you.
We’ve been trying to see the Northern lights but it’s been too cloudy. I hope we get to see it before it’s time for us to leave. One phenomenon we’ve seen a lot of is the polar sunrise, which happens here daily in the Winter. The sun barely comes above the horizon in Reykjavik, and in Akureyri, we are in the mountains so I’m not sure if it rises above the horizon at all. It “rises” around 11 am for a few hours and sets by 3. By 4ish, it’s dark again. We’re just a short distance from the Arctic Circle! In the summer, the sun rises and stays up all day and night, resulting in something called “Midnight Sun”.
Also, here around the holidays, they have the 13 Yule Lads, which is basically a series of a troll a day playing a prank for the 13 days leading up to Christmas. Today was “Meat Hook” day, the little troll bastard “steals meat that he sees hanging up in people’s houses”. It’s a wacky culture. You can read more about the Icelandic Yule Lads here: http://yulelads.com/
I’ll miss seeing my friends and family for the holidays, but they’ve had me every year for several decades, and I’m having a great time and taking a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of NYC. In a few days, we’ll pack up and drive back to Reykjavik, then hop a plane to Copenhagen. I’ll keep you posted with pics and emails as we go.
PS For some reason, my cell phone isn’t working in Iceland. I can receive texts sent from other iPhones and I can receive emails and that’s it for now. Alex’s phone is doing the same thing. But I’m on line a lot so please keep in touch. I miss you all! xxxJ
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Days 1 thru 3 in Reykjavik: Mayor, Penis Museum, Dirty Folk Rock, Iceland style

I’ve been having a blast in Iceland, no pun intended, as the place is covered in volcanoes. So far, I haven’t run into any lava slides or anything, but fun fact: The entire island is heated geo-thermically, and has hot public pools everywhere, which this Dolphin loves!

plane

DAY 1:

We took a night flight into Reykjavik. I’ve never been a great flyer and I didn’t love flying across the ocean in the dark, but as my husband eloquently put it, “You have to take planes to go places.” So succinct! I actually did OK on the flight. I drank some Icelandic Christmas beer and tried unsuccessfully to sleep. By the time we got to Reykjavik, around 7 am, I was zonked. We took a bus by the light of the full moon into the city from Keflavik airport. The buses here are cool, they have giant windshields and I felt weirdly safe, like I was watching the bus ride on a huge screen TV.

windshieldbusLike watching TV!

By now, it was about 9:30 am, and it felt very odd to be up in the morning  in total darkness. It was like the sun forgot to rise. I’ve heard this referred to as polar night but I think that’s more when the sun never rises at all. Alex and I crashed out hard on the bus and he left his brand new iPhone 5 s in his seat when we got to our destination.

Our host met us at the station, gave us a ride to the house and helped us report the missing phone. He said, “You’ll get it back, people here are very honest.” Within 10 minutes, the phone was back in Alex’s hand! It was a Christmas miracle!

We arrived at our rented flat, a gorgeous 1 BR on Falkagata and got settled in.

FalkagataFalkagata, 9:30 am, full moon, no sun

Just up the road from us, luckily, there is a wonderful little bakery, and we immediately ascended on the place to stuff our starved little faces with scandinavian goodies, like Kleina (Icelandic donuts in the shape of an 8, kind of like cruller but firmer) and their version of rum balls. With our bellies full of goodies, we took a nap like 2 little bears.

A couple hours later, we woke up, got ourselves together and walked to City Hall to meet Jon Gnorr, Reykjavik’s former comedian rebel mayor. I really enjoyed speaking to him, he was a lot of fun and had a great laugh. We talked about the parallels between comedy and politics and his time in NYC in the 80s when he was there with a group called Gargoyle Mechanique. He told us about how “the audience” (the other officials he was speaking to) aren’t ever paying attention, and how it’s necessary sometimes to say shocking things just like it might be on a comedy stage. He illustrated the idea by recounting a speech he gave earlier in the day that he began with, “I’m retarded.” He said, “I was born with a disability, I have the papers to prove it!”

Jon GnorrHangin with Mr. Mayor

 

He said his parents were just concerned with teaching him to dress and feed himself, and now he’s the god damn mayor of Reykjavik. That’s a success story if I’ve ever heard one. It put some wind in my sails, dammit. In addition to the mental condition the mayor was apparently in possession of, he also had a giant original Banksy hanging in the room we talked in. He said Russell Brand had been there just a day or so before and he had met with him, too. I love that he embraces comedians and sees the parallels between the worlds of comedy and politics and the importance of performance in politics and the world. It was incredibly refreshing to speak to him. Not to mention, Reykjavik’s City Hall is beautiful. It is cozy and warm, inviting and friendly with a cafe and a view of a frozen pond.

inside city hallCity Hall or Granny’s living room?

New York City and other US city hall locations should take note! I’d like to see some interior waterfalls, maybe a wishing well, chocolate fountain and would it kill City Hall to set up a karaoke room? Jeeeez. In short, it was great and inspiring to meet Jon Gnorr, as I knew it would be.

Alex and I spent the rest of the day walking around, exploring downtown Reykjavik and taking some photos of the local street art scene for a friend in NYC who is a street artist.

graffiti9 graffiti5 graffiti7 graffiti8

 

Icelandic graffiti

There is graffiti everywhere, which I found odd, as there doesn’t appear to be much in Reykjavik to rebel against. There are heated pools everywhere, the people are honest and easy going and it’s gorgeous. But rebellion is a part of youth, so I think that graffiti and other forms of rebellions are essentially rites of passage.

I’ll tell you this much, it’s cold as a republican’s heart in this country. I have been bundled up from head to toe. Next time I take a trip in the winter, it’s going to be to Bermuda.

alexnjessntroll

Alex and I, shivering our mentionables off

On our walking adventure, we met an artist man. One of his projects was a giant red box where children submitted letters to Santa. He said there were 180 santas and they sent gifts to children all over the world. It was fun to meet him and I was inspired by his art project.

artistOne of 180 santas

We grabbed a beer at a bar which ran us about 20 krona (about $15-$16 USD). I have been grappling with the money translation here. Everything has a crazy huge number next to it and it kind of freaks me out. For example, at the grocery store on our way home, a bag of coffee was 1,400 and I’m like, WTF does that mean? I finally figured out 1,400 is basically about 14.00 and then you knock off a few bucks, so 1,400 would be about $12. Things are pretty expensive here, akin to NYC prices, but I guess things are getting expensive everywhere. Paying a fortune to survive is just a thing we all have to do now.

As we trudged home with our groceries, it started to snow for the 5th time that day, and we began to realize that it just pisses snow here constantly. We rushed home to get out of the elements, ate dinner, polished off a bottle of wine and crashed into a baby like dreamless sleep like I haven’t had in ages.

dinner

DAY 2

The next morning, I was up at 8 am for a radio interview on a station called Xid. My Iceland comedy connection, a comedian named Rökkvi picked me up and drove me to the media building like an angel. I had a nice little interview with a fellow named Frosty and a gentleman named Moonshine and then were treated to some porridge for breakfast, also known as oatmeal, but I think porridge is better because it sounds funnier.

DJ1Frosti and me

Rökkvi then took us home and we crashed out again, trying to catch up with the jet lag. We woke up in time for my next interview at 2 PM which Rökkvi again picked us up for like a champ.

DJ2

The interview was lovely and then Alex and I walked over to the national penis museum.

dong15

YES. The Icelandic Phallological Museum has the largest collection of all species of penises, including a troll penis (an empty jar of fluid).

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dong2 dong1Some specimens

It was a fucking mazing. People donated their penises to the museum.

dong9dong7

Just one of the several gentleman who donated his goods to the museum

They accepted my CD as admission to the museum because they didn’t take credit cards and we didn’t have enough krona to get in. I hope they incorporate my song “Boner for Me” as their theme song.

dong14Admission to the dong museum: 1 CD

We went home and got ready for my show which Rökkvi again picked us up for. The show was fucking fabulous. The Scandinavian people, thankfully, are laughers and came out in full force for the show. I was a little afraid that the translation might not work, but it went great, and I was so thankful to play for a full house. I am thinking of releasing it as a DVD or audio CD because it was so much fun.

kronaKrona krona bill, y’all

After the show, we grabbed a little dinner and again, crashed out like full, happy babies. I dreamed of the aurora borealis which has thus far not come out to play.

Day 3

We woke up at normal person time and walked to try to find the heated pool nearby. We asked a stranger who gave us directions, then offered us a ride. The pool was terrific–like a typical gym in Manhattan except the pools were outdoors and heated really hot so that steam was curling off the water. It was beautiful. There were also hot tubs to sit in when the heated pool wasn’t quite warm enough. For about $3, we swam for an hour with lots of pasty Icelandic locals and loved every second of it. One gentleman offered that it was a 1000 year old Icelandic tradition, and that he was on a lunch break from his job. What a life, huh?!

so relaxedAlex fresh out of the spa

Later, we picked up our rental car which we’ll be driving to the mountains tomorrow and then staying in Iceland’s 2nd largest city, Akureyri (which is pronounced a-ker-ay-le).

alexwcar

 

Our rental car

We stopped to meet a comedian friend named Ari at the coffee shop at the National Museum which is full of viking artifacts. We talked about comedy and America and Iceland and I enjoyed the first decaf coffee I’ve been able to find since arriving here. Apparently they don’t waste their time drinking decaf and I totally get it. But I can’t drink caffeine because it makes me freak out, panic and lose my shit, all at the same time.  I usually don’t have a ton of patience for artifact museums but it was pretty interesting to check it out because there were lots of swords and stuff, so that was cool.

oldasshouseThis house is old as shit

Afterwards, we got some groceries and prepared for our trip tomorrow (read: bought a bunch of booze). We had dinner and drove to the outskirts of Reykjavik, hunting for Aurora Borealis to no avail. The cloud cover was too thick and Ms. Aurora has eluded us yet again.

auroraforecast

Thanks for reading, and please send any notes or suggestions of places I gotta see before we split from Iceland! More pics here, by the way. And – I’ll leave you with this.

dogpoo

 

 

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Here today, Iceland tomorrow

aurora

I’m getting ready to head overseas to do some shows and share dirty folk rock with people who I think will really appreciate it, see some sights, spend some quality time with my man and have a well deserved break. I’ll pop into Reykjavik for a few days to meet with the seemingly amazing mayor Jon Gnorr, do a show, hang with the 13 Yule Lads, celebrate Christmas, and go check out some frozen volcanoes, troll nooks and seek out Aurora Borealis in the more desolate parts of Iceland, then swing over to Copenhagen for a minute and scope out the scene, then spend New Year’s Eve in Rome and Venice with my business teacher, visit Naples and the Almafi Coast of Italy as the New Year unfolds.

Will you or a friend be in Reykjavik on Thurs, Dec. 19? If so, come see the show:

Thursday, Dec. 19
Dirty Folk Rock @
BAR 11
Hverfisgata 18, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
with: Rökkvi Vésteinsson
Find more Details here.

To say I’m excited is an understatement; I haven’t been this excited for Christmas–or to do anything, really–in a long time. If I don’t come back, please don’t take it personally (but perhaps look into it or mention it to the American Embassy, just in case…). I heard that Iceland is a magical land where people love their sexuality and demented funny songs, where the mayor used to be a comedian, where the sky cries green and blue with psychadelic sun gamma ray rain, or something. Where there is no McDonald’s, little crime and a very awesome and weird music scene including one of the world’s best music festivals according to Rolling Stone. Where the entire country whole heartedly believes in trolls and the people are all beautiful and smart. Please let this be true. Amen.

If you’re so inclined, check back here for photos and updates on my trip, email or text me any tips or send your address if you want a post card and, hey — see you next year!

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