SPRINGFIELD, Illinois. Music industry professionals agree that Alyssa James is a singer who will make it big someday. “She’s almost got the whole package together,” says rock critic Larry Leung of the San Francisco Chronicle. “The looks, the pipes, the songwriting ability.” The one thing she lacks? “She hasn’t found the right cause yet.”
“You can sign electronically in every state, except for three.”
Alyssa was bumped from the Live Earth standby list, hustled off the stage at an anti-war rally when a bigger name showed up, and asked to shorten her set at a benefit concert for homelessness. “It’s hard,” she says as she opens her guitar case on the steps of the Illinois State Capitol building. “All the really good causes–like female circumcision–are taken.”
So Alyssa has picked an obscure law–the Uniform Electronic Signatures Act–and vowed to carry the fight into the three states that have so far not adopted it, one of which is Illinois.
“I want to thank both of you for coming!”
“How many times must I take my pen and sign,” she croons as she strums a minor chord on her six-string acoustic. “All over this land you can spare your tired hand, just point and click your mouse, and you refinance your house.”
The earth’s dwindling supply of charitable causes is affecting young performers beyond the music industry, says Rodney Young, a rising comedian in New York. “If you want to hit it big as a comedian, you’ve got to have a disease you promote,” he notes, before quickly adding “I mean you gotta promote a cure for it.” Young tried out a number of ailments, including psoriasis and synophrys–the phenomenon popularly known as “unibrow”–before settling on ingrown toenails as his signature cause.
“Mommy–I can’t go any farther!”
“You see these little kids who don’t have the resources to take proper care of their toenails, it breaks your heart,” he says, recalling his own childhood in which he had to share a toenail clipper with an extended family of forty-four brothers, sisters and cousins. “By the time your turn came around,” he recalls painfully, “it was usually too late.”
As a moderately-successful B-movie actress, Toni Prager can afford regular pedicures and so doesn’t have to worry about poor podiatrical care, but her weekly session in the Chez Who Nail Salon in West Hollywood gives her time to reflect on just how lucky she is. “I spend a lot of time with illegal immigrants, trying to help them adjust to this country,” she says with a serious tone that belies her frosted blonde hair and hot-pink outfit.
“If you come to America, you have to understand that there’s no tipping on sales tax, and customers should be able to use credit cards for charges under $10.”
Available on amazon.com as part of the collection “The Spirit of Giving.”