Current Occupation: Looking high and low for work
Former Occupation: Administrative Assistant and Media Production Professional
Contact Information: Greg is an artist for hire and performer in Portland, OR. A sample of his art can be found at gregbigoni.tumblr.com.
HOW I CAN AFFORD TO LIVE: DOG DAYS EDITION
It's been almost a year since I lost my job at a law firm, and scraping by has often been discouraging. But I'm not turning down any cash, whether I get it by pursuing actual creative interests, or single handedly seeking out and destroying a friend's infestation of pantry moths. In the past week I've completed two pretty detailed art commissions: the first was for one of my best friends from 7th grade who I hadn't seen in a quarter-century until I ran into him at a July 4th barbecue (where he was tickled to see I'm STILL drawing cartoons instead of paying attention in class)– he works for Nike now and wanted me to draw a swoosh-festooned Giannis Antetokounmpo. The second was for a stranger who received a Christmas card I drew for mutual friends last year, and liked it enough to keep me in mind months later, which is incredibly flattering. I've also drawn a top-secret album cover that I'm pretty excited to unveil when the time comes.
I work front desk for a local casting agency when they need me, every couple weeks or so, and by now I've figured out how to soothe the nerves of visibly jittery auditioners AND where all the Google Drive folders are. I know enough actors in town that every third person through the door wants to climb over the desk and hug me. And the other day I was on duty during the auditions for “fat bikini babes” for a pool scene in Lindy West and Aidy Bryant's upcoming Hulu series– the waiting area was a sight to behold that day.
Even better was a couple weeks earlier, when they were casting a commercial starring pet owners. That morning alone, I met two Russian tortoises, a Great Dane, a guinea pig, two chinchillas, a Weimaraner/chihuahua, a ferret, a hermit crab, a tubby Labrador, a hedgehog, a talking parrot, a family of sugar gliders, and a pot-bellied pig. It sounds like it would make for a shrieking zoo, but it was much cuter– all the animals were very sweet-mannered and curious to meet each other. The TV series was also being cast that day, so the petting zoo was competing with young actresses walking in and wondering what the hell they'd gotten themselves into. Some eventually overcame their caution, handed me their phones, and had me take pictures of them draped in someone's pet snakes.
It was almost good enough for my soul to make me forget that when I was there the week before, I dropped the goddamn coffee pot on the floor and it exploded and broken glass went flying everywhere.
I also take buses out to Milwaukie to help my friend Rob with his T-shirt printing business– inventorying, folding, and tallying shirts with a plentitude of Milwaukie, OR inside jokes on them. One of his top sellers is the “modern Oregon Trail” T-shirt– the sickly green graphic from the original video game, but with a Subaru instead of a covered wagon, and gags like “Food: mostly organic,” “Job prospects: 0,” “Next vegan strip club: 1.7 miles,” and “Privilege: unchecked.” That last joke was mine. If I have nothing else to be proud of in life, I have that.
The neighborhood 8-year-olds hang out in the same house for their summer, running around (sometimes naked) and swimming in the backyard pool, and Rob generously prepares the same lunches for all of us– corn dogs, mango LaCroix, and Go-Gurt, last time. It was my first ever Go-Gurt and I made a goddamn mess. The kids thunder around upstairs, reacting to every moment in life with heartened cries of “WHOAAAAA!” They also begged Rob to let them eat frozen burritos straight outta the freezer, film it, and put it on YouTube. “Dad, can we do a challenge?” is how his son Max phrased it. I continued folding T-shirts while their cries of “AAAAAAUGH!! GROSSSSS!” rang down the stairwell.
I arrived home from my first day in the T-shirt biz with a freshly replenished PayPal, and wasn't even in my apartment long enough to swig a benignly flavored bubble water from my fridge when I got a call from my friend Jason. He was supposed to be the screening rep at a Tualatin movie theater but was filming on set and he wasn't gonna make it in time– could I rush out there and cover for him? It would mean skipping dinner, but I needed the money…
Rush hour slowed everything to a dead standstill, plus there was an accident on I-5, but I arrived at the sprawling big-box metropolis in Tualatin and ran several blocks in the record-breaking heat to the theater, where I got a very professional-looking clipboard and stood by the theater entrance sweating my ass off while people loaded down my arms with pre-printed preview passes and asked a lot of nonsensical questions. All these regulars who you can tell attend every free movie preview they can. “Preview rats,” they are sometimes called.
This movie was “Dog Days,” which should have been fun because Ken Marino made it. But it was a crumby putrid picture made by goddamn phonies for Chrissake and all I can say is, don't see it if you don't want to puke all over yourself.
It really amped up the misanthropy of watching a shitty, aggressively cornball movie when you have to take notes on things the audience reacts to, which was part of my duties as a stand-in screening rep. “BIG LAUGH when unruly dog tries to eat the poopy diaper,” a purported grown man such as myself actually wrote down with a pen on a piece of paper. It was one of those pretzelled romcoms like Garry Marshall was spattering into bedpans the last few years of his life, half a dozen intertwined stories that are all sappy as hell and everything is harshly lit, sanitized, robotic and insipid. Even the character who's supposed to be an irresponsible, denim-jacketed dirtbag (as portrayed by Adam Pally) lives in a cavernous $15k/month condo.
Jason showed up halfway through and joined me. Ten seconds into it, he leaned over and profusely apologized to me. I said “This makes Garry Marshall look like Peckinpah.” It helped to have him sitting next to me to sigh and shift in our seats and hate everybody. When the “nerd” character fumbled psuedo-adorably in the presence of Vanessa Hudgens, Jason said directly into my ear “Fuck that ugly asshole” and I laughed much harder than I did at anything in the actual movie.
It also included a “sexy” cover of “Who Let the Dogs Out.”
As soon as the credits began, I said to Jason “I hate you.”
Then Jason took me to Taco Bell, which made me hate him less.
FIFTY MORE BUCKS IN THE PAYPAL BUCKET.
And then last Saturday, I hosted the “Great Outdoors” themed party bus, which mostly meant the bus was going to 6 or 7 bars with big spacious outdoor porches. My job, as always, is to give funny speeches into the PA, blast music, and wrangle the drunks. I usually do this with an accomplice, but everyone was outta town or camping or generally uninterested, so it would just be me this time. What I didn't realize until I arrived was that this particular bus would be hosting a bachelorette party, taking millions of photos of themselves poised with tequila shots.
All the groups meshed together well, splitting off into teams to play beanbag toss on Landmark's patio, the bachelorettes and their stupid sashes teaming up against the excitable but harmless bro-types and the birthday partiers.
Chameleon was a beautiful space but inexplicably pretty to be invaded by a party bus, I instantly felt like the Blues Brothers in that fancy restaurant. They'd provided a spread for us with juicy shrimp kabobs and Caesar salad, a far cry from that platter of Gummi Worms that our pickup bar had allocated. The most breathlessly excitable of the young dudes drunkenly ran fistfuls of shrimp kabobs over to the bachelorettes standing in the sprawling bathroom line– part of his nonstop campaign to make out with one of them, any of them– and somehow managed not to topple forward and stab both of his eyeballs out.
Anyway, that place was too fancy for a lot of people on the bus, so they instead went across the street to hang out at McDonald's for a while. Special bonus: there was a late-nite dispensary next door supplying edibles. That was almost as popular with our passengers as Ronald's fries.
The city just started supplying those little e-scooters for people to zip around on, and everywhere we stop, someone goes flying past on one. Sometimes in the street, sometimes on the sidewalk, sometimes with another person piggybacking on them. It's like a running gag in a Wes Anderson movie.
Everyone got TRASHED at our penultimate stop, to the dismay of the elderly regulars, and after staying pretty dry for the past four hours, I began drinking whiskey. The bus driver joined us, not drinking but playing foosball with the passengers in his reflective safety jacket while the bachelorettes pumped thousands of quarters into the jukebox, mostly playing crap like Journey, “WOOOO”-ing and toasting shot glasses and getting their sashes snagged on bar furniture.
The bachelorettes were not nearly as annoying as I feared. The bigger issue was the dudes trying to impress them in idiotic ways, like hanging the upper half of their body out the bus window while it was blazing down the street, leaving me to be the scoldy disciplinarian.
Now we're on our way to the final stop, back where we started: I have “Immigrant Song” blasting full-force over the bus speakers while bridesmaids are letting the wind rush in their faces sticking out the windows, others are climbing over seats. The bride is super tanked and splayed out in her friends' laps and one of them jostles to the front of the bumpy bus and asks if we have anything the bride can puke into. All the while, Robert Plant is shrieking.
I'm back in time to grab a Lyft and show up for the last 45 minutes of my friend Amelia's 40th b-day party at yet another bar, where I am very shell-shocked and woozy. But 40th birthdays are important.
I'm having trouble finding full-time work, but nobody gets to call me lazy.