On Breeding

27 June, 2011

I used to be a fan of requiring an IQ test before allowing people to  have children. True, it will cut the amount of reality programming on television by at least half, but I think that the world will be a more drama-free place for it. It’s the greater good.

But then this afternoon, walking up 7th Avenue, I saw a couple pushing a stroller and I decided to revise my Breeding Prerequisites. I devised this simple questionnaire to determine how fit people are for parenthood.


FearOfSyndication Presents The Greater Good Parental Screening Test

For Mothers-Who-Want-To-Be

1.     Do you currently own a pair of shorts whose pockets extend below the “hem” of the shorts?

a.      If yes, did you make them yourself or buy them that way?

b.     If no, do you wish you did?

2.     How long is your belly-button-bling?

a.      .5″ – 1″

b.     1″ – 3″

c.      3″ +

3.     Do you plan on wearing tube tops after your baby is born?

a.      If yes, do you plan on wearing them before you’ve lost the baby weight?

b.     If yes, do you acknowledge that you know how gross that looks?

4.     For the health of the baby, are you willing to use less than 3 oz. of hair gel each day?

5.     Will you continue to wear those enormous earrings, even though they’re so big that they could physically harm your baby?

6.     Do you currently buy your clothes in the kid’s department because

a.      they fit better?

b.     they’re cuter?

c.      they’re skankier?

d.      you yourself are a child?

7.     Do you plan on continuing to wear the top strap of your thong above the waist of your shorts, a la “the whale tail”?

For the Baby-Daddys

1.    Do you wear more chains around your neck than the number of your age?

a.     Do any of them have sports teams pendants on them?

2.     For the health of the baby, are you willing to use less than 3 oz. of hair gel each day?

3.     Where do you currently wear the waist of your jeans?

a.     Around my waist

b.     Around my butt

c.     Around my thighs

d.     Around my knees.

4.      FOLLOW-UP: Do you realize that “busting a sag” went out in 1997?

5.     Will you try to discourage your child from getting the same hideous tattoos that you have?

6.     Have you completed puberty yet?

The responses to each questionnaire will be evaluated by a jury of me. Note that this questionnaire applies to hetero and homosexual couples, as bad taste, apparently, is universal.

x

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On to Brooklyn

21 January, 2011

After a fund-raising party on the Lower East Side, I tromped down the stairs of the Delancy St subway station just as an F train was pulling out of the station. That’s been my luck these days.

A group of girls – most of them a little heavy but wearing skin tight jeans regardless, all wearing too much make-up – approached me. The seeming leader of the pack called to me from down the platform. “Excuse me,” she said. “How can we get to Brooklyn, Bay Ridge?” She named it as though it was roll-call, or she was reading an entry in the phonebook.

“I’m not sure which train goes there, actually,” I replied, as there’s a good-sized blindspot in my mental map of Brooklyn between Kensington and Coney Island.

“But could you tell us,” another girl insisted, “like, how to just get to Brooklyn?”

I began to tell them that they were on a Brooklyn-bound platform, and that they had just gotten off a Brooklyn-bound train, when the first girl interrupted, addressing her mate. “No, there’s, like, two different Brooklyns.”

“Actually,” I said, unable to hide a smirk. “There are a lot of different Brooklyns.”

Blank stares from the Lost Girls.

Silence.

“I think there’s a map over there,” I offered. They were walking away, issuing half-assed “Thanks” over their shoulders before my sentence had even left my lips.

Three minutes later, they joined me again on the platform, en route, hopefully, to Brooklyn-comma-Bay Ridge.

God-speed, girls. Good luck.

x

For a few years now, when romance manages to find its way to me through the muck and mire of my maligned stars, it always seems to happen in the late fall (with very few exceptions). Romance, of course, is a pretty broad term, and could be further expanded to denote “any happening which results in me having a story about a guy.” But we’ll go with it, and perhaps consider revising the use of the word “guy” there…

November 2010 has fallen right in line with the past few years, bringing with it something that could turn out to be a relationfling and/or relationthing and is certainly a much-needed distraction. But the planets must be aligning in amorous trajectories; take a look at the romantic opportunities that have come my way!

Exhibit #1:  “A Very Nice Man Of Love”

Yesterday, I received this email in my junk mail folder. How dare you, Spam Filter, censor this message and endeavor to deprive me of “true love Matter’s A Lot.”??

How Are you today? And How About your Health? I Hope you Are fine
Well, My Name Is Miss Lizy Weah, I am looking for A Very Nice Man Of Love,
Caring, Honest, Matured, Understanding, And Of Good Character, then
After Going to your Profile on google. I Pick Interest In you, So I Will Like
you to Write Me On My E-mail Address ( lizyweah@hotmail.com )
for Me to tell you More About My Self, And As Well Give you My Pictures
Because Am really Looking for A Serious Relationship With you.Remember
that Age,Distance,Color,language,or Religion Doesn’t Matter,but true
love Matter’s A Lot .My Address Is ( lizyweah@hotmail.com ).
Thanks
Yours New Friend
Lizy.

Oh, my. Where to start? The grammar alone has provided a few hours’ worth of entertainment for a geek like me, as capitalization issues haven’t seen this much action since e.e. cummings unknowingly created beat-twee (a new coinage by yours truly. I think it could have some staying power… thoughts?). Then, of course, there’s the content itself: the random and blatant plea for love. She Pick Interest In me, based on the falsity that public profiles as such even exist on Google. What strikes me is the fact that unlike so many other messages that wind up in the junk mail folder, Lizy here hasn’t bothered to ask for money (not outright, anyway), nor is she pushing illegal pharmaceutical knock-offs. She just wants A Serious Relationship With me. There’s a commercial on the air lately that says that 1 in 5 relationships these days begin online. Perhaps if Lizy is flexible enough (and it seems she just might be) to include “gender” to her list of things that Don’t Matter, she can become more than just Mines New Friend. (Internet protocol might dictate that I should have deleted her email address from my copying-and-pasting of her message, but, let’s face it, spam is spam and love is cruel that way.)

Exhibit #2: But what percentage of relationships start on the subway?

After a laaaaaaaaate night last night with some new old friends who seemingly have bionic livers, I boarded the subway this morning rather bleary-eyed for my weekly head-shrinking session. The fastest way to the Upper West Side office is to hop 3 different trains (fastest, of course, only if they come in rapid succession, which maybe happens half the time). Having begun on the F local, I took the A express and transferred again to the C local for the last 3 stops of the journey. I took an end seat on the old hard plastic gray bench of the C train, next to a portly black woman, probably around 40 years old, very neatly dressed in a black wool coat and a scarf that had something sparkly on it. Being hungover and significantly sleep-deprived, I noted this, but needed to concentrate my attention on my iPhone sudoku game, in which I was embarrassing myself by needing an extra 4 minutes from my usual time to complete the puzzle. Ubiquitous little white earbuds fed soothing indie pop into my head and also functioned as anti-social attention-blockers.

“Excuse me,” the woman with the sparkly scarf said.

I turned to look at her, and considered removing my MTA-issued scowl the way some people might remove a hat upon walking inside. (I think I decided against it.) Still, I made eye contact as a response to her request for attention.

“Would you like to exchange phone numbers?” she quietly and rather politely inquired.

Confused, I immediately gave her the benefit of the doubt that the music I was listening to had obstructed what she had really said. I tried to run through a few alternates of what she could have spoken, but all I could come up with was “Maybe she said, ‘Do  you want to exchange phones?’ because she sees mine and it clearly has a fun sudoku game on it.” But I wanted to exchange phones even less than I wanted to exchange phone numbers.

So I shook my head “no.”

She gave a slight nod, then said “OK.”

She turned her gaze to straight ahead, and I returned to the game I was losing to myself.

Was she, like Lizy, simply looking for Love wherever she might find it? Could she have had any other motivation in asking for my phone number? Is it that she simply wanted a new friend to play sudoku with? Is there a vacancy for puffy-eyed, scowl-wearing brunettes in her life that she’s trying to fill? Does my very aura seem so interesting and attractive that she simply needed to see me again? Was she conducting a social experiment, and I’m going to read about my response in “New York” Magazine next month? Did she like the way I smelled? (Thank you, cloak of body spray, for obscuring last night’s debauchery.) Should I have exchanged numbers just because that was the most random thing that might happen to me for a while? (Last time I embraced something because it was entirely random, I wound up on a nationally syndicated TV talkshow. No, irony of that happening to this blogger is not lost.) Should I have agreed to it because now I’ll never know what she really wanted with me? I hope I didn’t just throw away the winning lottery ticket.

Exhibit #3: A low-key 1st-and-a-half date in which, thankfully, no declarations of love were made.

I wonder if I should tell this new-guy-of-note that he is facing major competition for my affection, but the fact that he at least belongs to the gender that I am attracted to is situating as the forerunner of this race. Last night, we sat through a ridiculously bad-but-free movie that was filled with unnecessary nudity and sex scenes – plenty awkward for a 1st-and-a-half date, as you can’t help but wonder if you’ll ever know that kind of intimacy with the fellow sitting next to you, and what it might be like. Still, it was nice that we thought the same snarky and cynical thoughts about the action on screen, freely commenting on them to each other, and whispering “Me too!” throughout the film. Sarcasm is often the best riposte to sexiness.

To protect against second-rate piracy of the second-rate film, the people who organized the screening held everyone’s cell phone for the movie, which was rather totalitarian and useless, seeing as how lame the movie was (there’s nothing one could get from the two-hour movie that they couldn’t have gotten from watching the two-minute trailer). But the cell phone requisition made meeting up with my date in the crowded theater a bit of a to-do, as I sent no less than four text messages instructing him on how to find me, then revising that plan, then revising the revision, then changing the plan altogether. That was before I realized I could hand over my cell phone, get seats and then just wait for him in the lobby – we ultimately met up without a hitch.

The highlight of the movie-going experience was when someone in the audience shouted “Get her a doctor!” We thought that she had somehow managed to get really into the movie, and was shouting to the apathetic characters on screen – but it quickly became apparent that there was someone in the audience who required urgent medical attention. A theater full of would-be do-gooder New Yorkers, myself and my date included, jumped to their feet and reached into their purses and pockets… but since everyone’s cell phone had been confiscated, no one was able to call for help.

Cell phones: They’re not just for sub-par film piracy anymore.

They’re for receiving email love propositions, exchanging phone numbers with random women on the subway, and, yes, legitimate and necessary communication – such as making calls to 911.  Cell phones now seem as integral to my love life as the falling leaves and imminent winter.

x

On: Target

29 June, 2010

My office is on a prime block in Chelsea, just around the corner from the City’s first – and now positively humbled – Whole Foods. As such, the sidewalks below are often dotted with eager young folks, each sporting a colorful t-shirt bearing the name of some universally sympathetic charity (saving animals, feeding children, restoring the planet, and the like), preying on those city dwellers who clearly embrace some notion of Bleeding-Heart-ism, as evident by their willingness to pay for overpriced organic groceries. Thus, my daily jaunts in and out of the office – on my way in, lunch break, Diet Coke break, on my way home – are marked by a game of Sidewalk Chicken, where not only must I avoid the chatty, smiling good-doers-for-an-hourly-wage-+commission, but I also must dodge my fellow pedestrians, engaged in the same game.

Last week, I noticed that among the young men and women making a difference with their name-tags and clipboards, there stood a positively adorable gentleman, with longish, wavy brown hair, a chiclet white smile, something of an Abercrombie-model physique, and – well – he was simply very attractive.

Must deny impulse to take a second glance, or – horrors! – to smile, lest I be sucked in to his charitable scheme.

As I rode the elevator up to my office a few minutes later, I contemplated the blog I would write about my clear conflict: how to resist this most wonderful specimen for the sake and preservation of my practically non-existant wallet? (I should clarify that my policies on charity are:  a) I will give to the charities I choose to, on my own time, and b) I will give to those charities once I no longer have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet.)  As I became wrapped up in the variety of work-related and non-work related tasks on my plate, the would-be blog entry fell to the wayside.

Over the next few days, however, in my comings and goings, I kept an eye out not just for any colorful t-shirt and clipboard, but for the one attached to the hottie volunteer.  Of course, I had every intention on ignoring him the way I ignore all of them, but just seeing him, I thought, might make my day a little brighter.

Last night, I left my office in the usual rush in order to make it to class at 6:00pm (hooray for a cross-town bus!  boo for it’s reliability!)  As I walked, I kept my sunglasses (otherwise known as Invisibility Specs) firmly planted on my face, looked burdened by my many heavy bags (not really an act), and ramped up my general hustle to prove that I was short on time.  The sidewalk along Seventh Avenue was surprisingly scarce for an early evening, and so I saw him from down the block – this time, wearing a navy blue t-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, I’m sure a leather and/or hemp bracelet and/or necklace, with a leucite clipboard wedged into his left fist.  A broad smile spread across his face; he crouched down a bit and began a funny little dance (which would have looked plumb ridiculous had anyone else done it; but when he did, it seemed charming and cute).  Surely, there was someone walking behind me who had engaged him.  I kept my abstractly-bemused-decidedly-non-curmudgeon smile in place and waited for him to address Phantom Pedestrian Behind Me.

But he didn’t.  His smile – an orthodontist’s wet dream – was for me.

I think I blushed.

He turned to follow my path and jovially asked “Hey, do you have a minute for …?”

I had to cut him off. “I’m sorry, I’m running late for class.”  I smiled widely, but kept walking, to prove my point.

He reached his arm out, towards my shoulder, then pulled me closer to him…

…to keep me from walking into the woman in a motorized wheelchair who was exiting Whole Foods.

Whoops.

“What class?” he asked, as he lifted his hand, going in for a low-five.

I smiled to overcome being so flustered at the near-wheelchair-toppling and held out my palm.  “Typography,” I replied.

He brought his hand down.  Low-five, indeed.

“A graphic designer!” he exclaimed, as he squeezed my hand.

“Trying to be.”  Another attempt to widen my smile.

My turn to squeeze his hand.  “Next time,” I said.

“Next time,” he repeated, as we let go.  “You promise?”

“I promise.”

I glanced over my shoulder; saw my path was free from motorized wheelchairs and the like, and threw one more smile over my shoulder towards him as I skipped down the block.  I held the smile, in case he could somehow see, in case he called me back, as I breezed down to 23rd Street.  My cheeks felt hot, but I blamed the summer sun.

…   …   …   …   …   …

Now, of course, I am still faced with a dilemma:  I have promised to engage, rather than politely (or impolitely) ignore him the next time I pass.   But I still have no interest in donating money to whatever cause he may be hawking that day. What to do?  What if one of his Volunteer Colleagues approaches me before he has a chance?  Can I still wear my No-Charity-On-The-Street scowl for his peers?

I won’t avoid him, won’t blow him off next time.   I feel, if nothing else, I owe him for helping me avoid tripping over the old and infirm woman in the wheelchair.  I’ll give him a minute of my time, but not a dime of my money.   Which is more valuable to him in the end?, I pose to you.  Even if I just get a few minutes alone with that smile, I’d consider it charity for me.

Besides, I could get a hell of a movie deal out of it if he asks for a date.

*

On:: my ass

20 June, 2010

Who: Me, all by my lonesome, walking to the G train
What: A most heinous and immature violation
Where: Williamsburg, Brooklyn; center of the overly-ironic-but-oh-wait,-do-you-know-what-ironic-even-means-? universe.
When: 12:00am midnight; an early summer night.
Why:.. …?

Having spent the afternoon with my friends wasting our livers away at the Brooklyn Brewery; and my evening/night at a nearby Williamsburg bar chatting with some shy, but lovely (and decidedly not gay) guys, I headed home, in pursuit of the G train that would eventually provide an uninterrupted voyage back to the safety of my comfortable and colorful neighborhood of Carroll Gardens.

I find Williamsburg’s streets to be unnecessarily complicated; I made a minor wrong turn and needed to retrace my steps. The night was bright and filled with hipsters; I concentrated on my destination and the map on my iphone.  I could still taste the last beer I had strained to finish – a smoked ale that left my mouth feeling like a barbecue, and could feel it’s effects coursing through my head.  I had arrived at the Brewery – feeling fresh and charming in new haircut and new t-shirt top that I had made – at 3pm, which meant the last 8 hours were filled with malt and hops and general insanity.   My freshness had faded long ago, overcome by beer, the heat and an overwhelming hunger (did I really choose to forgo eating pizza because of it’s caloric value?) and I was eager to get home, fill my belly, and drift off to sleep.

Metropolitan Avenue, relatively empty, was finally bringing me towards the subway, and I was finishing up a text to my friend in LA that my day in Williamsburg had been long but not unenjoyable, when all of a sudden I heard a whoop! coming up from behind me, then the pounding of sneakers on pavement, and before I could figure out that meant I should get out of the way —

WHAM!

Two hands slapped me, my poor little tush, and the two men (boys? teens?) they belonged to ran off in front of me, into the night with another whoop.

“HEY!” was all I could think of to yell at the moment.   The guys had disappeared down the nearest sidestreet.  There had been no one else around to witness it.  My ass stung, and I felt the phantom hands still there.  After a moment’s freeze, I quickened my pace, but couldn’t find the perps down the street.  My phone was shaking in my hand.   And I kept asking myself, over and over, What the hell just happened?

What does one do in a situation like that?   I am, I suppose, lucky enough that this was the first time I’ve been physically harassed, but I can now start to understand how it feels to be a victim, to have wrong done unto you for no other reason other than you’re there.  It hurts.

My derriere smarted the entire way home, a tender and unpleasant reminder of the heinous assault.  I was angry, cranky, no longer drunk in the least but lightheaded with confusion and hunger, despite my loss of appetite.  I was reminded why I’ve often felt like I dislike people as a general rule.  Part of me wanted to engage the people on the subway and shout Do you know what just happened to me?  Why didn’t you stop it?! while another part of me wanted to simply turn invisible.

A week and a half has gone by, and I don’t think that the incident has really left any huge scars, emotionally-speaking.  But neither have I recovered fully, and I wonder if we, as women, ever can.  Or if we ever should.

Another reason to stay away from Williamsburg.

*

It’s no secret that a large part of my delight with my neighborhood is the dominance of locally owned shops and stores.  The nearest Starbucks is a lengthy 1/2 mile away, which, in this urban landscape, is unheard of.  There isn’t even a chain supermarket within a 10 block radius, and there only chain restaurant in the ‘hood – the abominable Pita Grill – thankfully shut its doors last year, and a charming new bar and restaurant (which are in no short supply in fair Carroll Gardens) arose in its place.

There are a few shops and boutiques that line the main avenues of my beloved neighborhood and surrounding territories, all of which carry the most amazingly cute/sophisticated/beautiful/well-made/trendy/stylish clothing/shoes/housewares/stationery/accessories – and all of which I cannot afford.  It’s the tragedy that afflicts folks like me who are struggling to pay our rent, because living in the place we love is of utmost importance to our precious happiness (having lived in places that I did not love, this imperative cannot be underestimated).  So I traipse around (and impress my neighbors) in my Daffys/Loehmanns/TJ Maxx attire and try to fool everyone, while drooling over the overpriced goods for sale in the ‘hood.

Yet, I would be the first to bemoan, like most who have chosen to live in this idyllic corner of Brooklyn, the closing of any such shop, as the character of our piece of the world would be significantly diminished.

One of the industries hit hard by the Big Box Store and Online Takeover is that of the small, independent bookstore.  Between Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, there are at least four such stores, each serving a slightly different part of the population with what and how they stock their shelves.  I linger in these bookshops, building lists in my head of the volumes that I want to devour, and taking in the smell of paper – sometimes fresh and clean, sometimes distinct with well-worn histories.  I find titles I never knew existed, and am reminded of all of the tomes I’d meant to read at one point or another.  I smile when I see a copy of a book I liked, glad that someone else has the chance to enjoy the experience.

Last night, I began another new class at the School of Visual Arts, not an inexpensive endeavor, but one that I consider entirely worthwhile.  Just like in my college days, the first class brought a thick syllabus and a list of required reading.  And, as in college, I’ve embarked on the quest to find the best deal available to buy these books that will guide me on my potential new career path.

But now, I am torn–do I concede to Amazon.com’s low prices (as the magical $25 minimum for free shipping has blissfully been reached), or do I shell out more money from my eternally tight checkbook in order to buy the books from one of my local bookstores?  The savings seem minimal:  I devised an approach that by purchasing two out of the three books from the local store, I spend only $10 more than if I bought them all online.  Surely, supporting neighborhood stores is $10 well-spent.  But I was raised in discount stores and membership clubs, where “retail” was a four-letter word and “clearance” was a religious experience.

How, then, to reconcile this dissonance that is making my head hurt?!  I know what I want to do; I know what I think I will do–but the sting of paying full-price (curse the very concept!) is still acutely felt.  I wonder if I’m a bad person because it seems I’m willing to pay an extra $10 to buy 2 out of 3 books locally, but the “additional” $18.31 of buying all 3 books locally seems somewhat outrageous.

The Cheapskate Urbanite’s Dilemma.  Recall my delight at discovering a 20 oz. Diet Coke for $1.25 – in Chelsea, no less!  If I get so worked up over saving 50¢, which decision will let me sleep better at night:  saving the neighborhood, or saving $18.31?

*

Summer Reading

8 June, 2010

What literary trends are filling the minds of young women in New York?   As recently seen clutched in the hands of City denizens, there’s more to the library than “Twilight” and Dragon Tattoos…

  • On the subway this past weekend, a woman walked on reading a paperback of “Homo Thugs.”  At last!  I’ve finally found someone who’s just starting the series… I’ve seen two people reading “Homo Thugs II” in the past few months, and was disappointed that I had never seen the original.  My fellow subway rider was seemingly engrossed in the rather thick book, so I could only sneak surreptitious glances at the awkward cover image.
    • As I wrote the above bit, I decided to Google “Homo Thugs II” to see if there was a subtitle that I was missing, something along the lines of “Homo Thugs II: Thugz in Tha Citay” or, of course, “Homo Thugs II: Electric Boogaloo.”  While I found no such subtitle, I did come across a mind-bending definition of the phrase, courtesy of UrbanDictionary:  “Homo Thug:  someone who is both gay and a thug.”  Wonderful.  Just in case you didn’t know what “homo” meant.  This is why the masses should not be responsible for research material.
      • In performing my Google search, a gotta-love-’em Google “smart” banner ad popped up along side my search results:

        My prayers have been answered.

        My prayers have been answered.

      • I’m forced to wonder if stipulating “Gay Homo” implies something of a double-negative, and thus would those just be straight thugs (although I know they’re not)… or is it more of an exponential concept, wherein a Gay Homo is doubly Gay, as compared to either just “gay” or just “homo.”  Perhaps this ad is for people who have not read the Urban Dictionary definition, and do not know that homo (in this context, of course) actually ‘means’ gay.
        • Sorry to disappoint, but no, I did not click on the link, for fear of what would come up while I’m at work.  But please… feel free.  Godspeed, Gay Homo Thugs.
  • While walking back to my office today after my customary Diet Coke Break (found a crappy bodega selling it at $1.25 for a 20 oz. bottle in Chelsea!  Hallelujah!), I passed a woman clutching a book, and tried to glimpse the title.  I saw the first part of the title “Why Men Love…” but couldn’t make out the rest.  I quickened my pace to try to figure out what pearls of wisdom this woman was learning about the gender from Mars.  While the first three words of the title were written in a black serif font (very Times New Roman), the following word was obscured by her hand, but I could see was done in what looked like a fairly standard (read = ugly) handwriting font, in bright red.  I made out a “t” in the center of the word, and what looked like an “h.”  The word ended in an “s.”  Yes!  I had figured it out.  Of course.

    They have mommy-issues?

    What I really wanted to know was:  was this avid reader trying to figure out why men didn’t love her (assuming she is not a bitch), or learning how to be a bitch, so that she can find a man to love her?   Was she a Doormat or a Dreamgirl?

    • Needless to remind you, dear readers, that I have a whole host of issues with this book, based on, for starters, the ridiculous cover design and subtitle.  And that’s before I get started on the content.  (… of which I do not know, but I don’t have to stretch my imagination too far to figure out.)  Seems to me like this should just be combined into one Mega-Volume of Bullshit and Idiocy entitled: “He’s Just Not That Into You, You Crazy Bitch.”  Or perhaps it’d be more accurate as “He’s Just Not That Into You Because You’re Not A Bitch.”
    • I wonder if there’s an equivalent volume out there for men, called “Why Some Crazy Ladies Love Jackasses… and why that still doesn’t make it OK for you to act like one.”
    • I think the same advice goes for either gender and any number of orientations and preferences:  You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.  And while we can argue about the desirability of attracting flies, at least you’ve attracted something.  Yes, I know that Nice Guys (and Gals) tend to Finish Last.  But that, to me, seems hardly like an excuse to act like a Jerk in hopes of Finishing First.
      • Revision:  I take that back.  Yes, go act like a Jerk.  The Jerks and “Bitches” can partner up right away, thus making it infinitely easier for us Nice Gals and Guys to find one another, resting in the safety that the Vinegar-types are off the market.
    • Back to the book:  I do hope the young woman who was reading it finds what she’s looking for.  I just highly doubt that she’ll find it in such a tome.  And if that doesn’t work out…

I suppose it just makes a stronger case for becoming a Homo Thug.

*

On A New York Memory

2 June, 2010

Wherein I recall a vintage New York soundscape.

Growing up in Central Jersey in the 80s, we lived in the plush suburban periphery of New York City. As the product of two very New York parents (themselves the result of Brooklyn, Queens, Brooklyn and Brooklyn parentage), New York’s cultural legacy runs rich in my blood, but as a girl, my cognitive awareness of the city was fueled by what I saw on TV – the Nightly News more than Night Court.  In my mind, the Center of the Universe was a blend of the stories from the news of drugs, rape, murder, homelessness and filth and Adventures in Babysitting, which only mirrored what I believed the entire city to be.

My family maintained a fairly regular tradition of a monthly dinner in Chinatown, and these journeys were eagerly anticipated – not only for the promise of scallion pancakes and cold noodles with sesame sauce, but for the excitement of spending a few precious (and delicious) hours in the city.

I’ve always had a good memory, and have held on to so many moments from those New York Outings.  I remember the magic of the Lincoln Tunnel, anxiously awaiting the tiled indicator between “New Jersey” and “New York,” and the moment when my parents would, technically, be in New York and my sister and I in the backseat would still be in New Jersey.  I remember the looks on my parents’ faces as we circled Mott Street searching for a parking space – my father would always turn down the radio to help him concentrate.  I remember bouncing up and down on my father’s shoulders as we walked towards the restaurant where our friends would be waiting for us, downtown feeling gritty as could be but often bathed in a warm, orange sunset.  I remember shying away from the headless roasted chickens hanging in steamy windows, the intoxicating smell of a hundred restaurants drowning in brown garlic sauce, and the oil that would cling to my fingers as I greedily devoured scallion pancake after scallion pancake.  (My appetite was as healthy as my memory.)

I have two distinct sound memories from these nights; two, that is, not including the laughter of our party’s conversation and banter.  One is awfully specific – we passed an honest-to-goodness New York rocker (or so I thought), walking down the street with a boom-box balanced on his shoulder.  He wore a denim jacket that was no doubt stone and/or acid washed, and I believe he was wearing sunglasses, despite the late hour and darkness.  This moment may have been my very first validation of coolness as (present-day Me is not so proud to admit this, but I remember how excited 6-year-old Me was) his boom-box was playing the first and only cassette tape that my sister and I owned/shared: Starship’s “Knee Deep in the Hoopla” (not that we knew it was called that), and it was blasting the second ‘best’ song on the album: “Sara.”  I tripped over my words as I interrupted any and all conversations our group was having at that moment to brag that we had that song too!  And to think – we heard it in New York City.

But now – on to what inspired this blog post, on to what it’s really about.  There was one other sound that I associated with growing up and Koch’s New York City; music that was as far as you could get from Blondie or The Ramones, or, gratefully, Starship.

It was the slow, soulful wail of a saxophone, moaning long into the New York City night.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not completely sure if this memory truly mine, or if, too, belongs to the movies and television shows of my youth.  Was not every low-angle shot of a desolate and dirty midtown street accompanied by the wail of a lonesome sax?  Surely.  But somewhere in the recesses of my long and twisted recollection lies the soundtrack to those evenings in New York City as a child, and that soundtrack consists of a low cacophony of languages underscoring the whoosh of cars and far away sirens.  The prominent sound, though, was that of the saxophone, which felt to me like a cry out to the lost souls I imagined roamed the city, uniting the disparate and displaced, the wayward and the worried, those who were still awake it hear it’s howl.

All of this was easily delegated to the corners of my mind, stowed away in my memory with the smell of my grandparent’s old house and the feel of bunnysleepers against my young skin.

Until this afternoon.

This afternoon, I left my office in search of liquid salvation, that sweet ambrosia called Diet Coke.  I walked outside and squinted against the bright June sun and breathed in the warm, heavy air.  Then I heard it – as out of place as a 25 year old memory, yet just as desperate: the whine of a solo saxophone, played by a man who seemed just retro as the tune he played.  In a white tank top tucked into red shorts, a long ponytail pulled at the base of head and a pair of cheap sunglasses wrapped around his head, this man played notes from that long-ago score as few passersby dropped spare change into a neon green case propped up on the sidewalk.

Instantly, I was forced to reconcile present-day awareness – a bustling Chelsea block, the middle of my lackluster workday – with this sound that came straight out of the 80s, out of the place in my brain that lives next to “We Built This City,” and out of nights filled with General Tso’s chicken and Häagen-Dazs.  I circled the block, taking in the fresh if thick air, and the saxophone’s notes followed me, linking my tedious day with an ancient memory of carefree nights.  It was so  glaringly incongruous, yet no one else seemed moved by this, the sound that was as vintage as the high-waisted jeans that have unfortunately come back in fashion.

Once back in my office, through the half-assed windows that let in the winter draft, the sax wafted in, although muted, and filled my afternoon with a strange nostalgia, for a far-away part of my childhood, resurrected by the sound of a New York that I never really knew.

On formalities

15 May, 2010

Wherein politeness sinks to new depths.

The other day, riding my beloved bicycle Clark Gable home from work, I took the rather slow-moving traffic into consideration and proceeded to make a smooth, swift left turn from one one-way street onto another, always moving in the direction of traffic.  The light was about to change (admittedly, I don’t know for which street), so I caught the magic lull of 2 red lights and no cars.  As I sailed through the intersection, a nice lean into the turn, I heard a voice from a car shout out “It was a fucking red-light, Miss!”

I can only assume he was talking to me, or at least my guilty-enough conscience was aware of the red light that I had run.  But there was little time to waste thinking about the legality of my turn, as I realized that the end of the admonition was followed by an awfully formal title.

“Miss.”

These being the mean streets of New York City, there are many names that I would have expected to follow the motorist’s exclamation.  None of them are ones you’d expect to see on an envelope.  I laughed as I wondered what possessed this outraged citizen – who felt some wrong had been done to him when I sped through the light he had to wait for – to qualify his outburst with such a formal title.  Had his speech not have included the F-bomb, I could have chalked it up to his own sense of manners, politeness, and righteous approach to do-gooding.  Instead, I am left with the absurd, amusing memory of  a perfect Brooklyn – and perhaps more specifically Cobble Hill – moment of gentrified moral conflict.

I’m glad he didn’t call me “Ma’am.”  Or “Missy.”  Or any word beginning with A, B or C.

However, I wouldn’t have minded a well-executed “Lady!”

Two-week Tribeca Film Festival recap:

  • reading
  • meeting
  • design class final
    • {applause, blushing}
  • party for “the two escobars”
    • {paul sorvino, johnny walker black label, resurfacing of old flame, bad diner food}
  • party with bobby deniro
    • {mistaken as iranian, subsequently pitched screenplay (sadly, not by bobby d)}
  • ditmas park bike ride
  • game night
    • {7-layer dip, baked brie, LIFE sucks, fireworks}
  • screenings x3
    • {remember smooching with one of the stars of one of the films.  am pleased with myself.}
  • advice session @ abilene
  • argentine drama @ soho house
  • crash IFC’s party
    • {become bff with actor richard schiff, old-flame sends ambiguous text, retro-glamor-shots}
  • get hit on by local bookstore owner in his 50s
    • {he thinks it’d be nice to hold me, i wonder why i keep attracting middle-aged guys instead of anyone in my own age-range}
  • see the same movie 2x in one day
    • {develop crush… on someone within my age range}
  • breakfast shift x2
  • watch incredibly depressing turkish film as it wins TFF
    • {thank hope davis for the tip… i think}
  • more TFF partying
    • {console filmmakers, laugh at dancers, friend’s gf tries to make out with me}
  • gal’s night out
    • {promenade sunset, yummy dinner, egg creams, flirting}
  • qt-silliness with beck til 3am
  • coney island
    • {bike down, trash-can painting on boardwalk, OD on unhealthy coney island grub}
  • discover my grandmother’s childhood home is now a trendy cafe
  • “creditors” @ bam is cancelled
    • {the hunt for mint juleps}
  • nolan ross montalbano’s baptism
    • {employ too many modes of transpo to get to nj, employ catering skills, 2.5 hr commute home}
  • drinking with the ogc kids in carroll gardens
  • sleepover with marm
  • syndicated tv insanity
  • sleep.
  • start all over again.