6-25-04, 4:02 PM -
Late lunch. Mickey D's. It's an American thing.
It's funny how constantly people project their images, even when they're eating at a friggin' McDonald's:
The Most Perfect Afro In Christendom insists on wearing his cellphone earpiece, even though he's not talking to anyone because we're EATING IN THE BASEMENT SEATING AREA.
Girlfriend picks daintily at her Big Mac. Likely she's here because she spent her month's salary on that outfit.
Professor Elbow Patch eyes his Village Voice, chewing thoughtfully on an unlit pipe, which I can nonetheless smell two tables over.
Shag Cut wears a look that makes it clear he doesn't belong here, and is only working on Madison Avenue to pay the $2,000 rent on his East Village box without a bathroom above the world's most expensive falafel stand, where he can't afford to eat anyway.
Chiquitita's ass is determined to come leaping out of those pants and onto poor Thug Baby's head, making him spill his honey mustard all over his Sean Johns.
Dr. Cornell West sits down to my left. Black men are the only ones who can wear sleeveless sweater vests with ties and not look like complete idiots. I'm sorry, but it's true.
Who's that honky in the wall mirror? Oh, it's me.
Summer is upon us. Rat bastard. Already the sweaty film has covered my body, and it won't completely leave again until late September. It's okay, though, I managed to get most of June to cooperate and stay in the 70s.
The problem with Summer is that it's the time when the Stupid Shoes come out. Flip-flops, weird sandals, backless pumps, anything to make you take half an hour to descend the subway stairs, getting in my way and making me late.
I have so far managed to get behind the same 300-pound, sandal-wearing mamasita for an entire week when I make my morning transfer from the 1 train to the 7 train. It doesn't help that the stairway is narrow, but it helps even less that she walks as if she'd bought her sandals from Ming's Footbinding Emporium & Water-Boarding Shoppe.
Starting to get that B.O. funk in the trains, too. None of the trains on my commute are the new ones, so the air conditioners just spit half-hearted wisps of lukewarm oxygen into the fetid armpits of the squished-together masses. Thank Pete I only have to ride for two stops.
The guy at my work stop who shoves free copies of A.M. New York into your face has finally figured out that I'm never going to take one, largely due to a gradual increase in the force of my deflecting swat. If it'd been the Post, I'd have shot him. The Post has the great distinction of being the only paper in New York worse than the Daily News. Which is to say that it is not a paper at all, but rather a large collection of flattened shit.
Some poor woman fainted this week and fell into the path of an oncoming subway train. That scares the hell out of me. Ever since a guy got pushed in front of a train by some unknown assailant last year, I've been standing well back from the tracks whenever trains pull in. That'd be a hell of a way to go. Honestly, I'd rather someone just shot me. If I had to choose.
If you haven't been watching the matthew show Forum lately, you've been missing one hell of a philosophical firefight, brains flapping in the wind and all. Probably means jack shit now that Uncle Dick's packed the Constitution away in a lockbox, but it's fun while it lasts. Dang, how's that for a non-sequitur?
My mood must have changed somewhat in the last few weeks, because random strangers are starting to talk to me again. There's been a big crew of workmen re-doing the lobby at my job, and they've been content to nod politely when I walk by, to which I give a reciprocal nod. But when we were both in the men's restroom peeing the other day, the beefiest of the group decided he wanted to make friends.
"So, you work with those models?"
I'm peeing here. "Uh...yeah. Kinda. I shuffle their paperwork."
A few times a month, our office is invaded by 6-foot amazonian beauty queens for photo shoots of our new bra designs.
"Man, those are some real beauties, huh?"
"Yeah, they're something." I'm still peeing here.
"'Course, the boss tells us not to stare at 'em. You know...makes 'em uncomfortable."
"Yeah, right. How'm I supposed to keep from staring at 'em? They got their stuff all pushed up for everybody to see."
"I mean, I'm not gonna touch anything. You know, that's too far. I'm not an animal here."
"You don't get phone numbers that way, either, know what I mean?"
"Yeah." Buddy, you ain't gettin' phone numbers no matter what, but if it keeps your hands in place...
"You ever get to...you know?"
"What? With the models?"
"Yeah, you know...phone numbers and stuff?"
"Uhh, no. Like I said, I just shuffle their paperwork."
"Ever get to see 'em changing?"
"See 'em in those bras, maybe?"
"Damn, you oughta sneak in there or something."
"Well, you don't get phone numbers that way."
And I'm out.
Had another out-of-nowhere talk with one of those ancient New York men you run into at bus stations. Huge glasses, hair growing three feet out of their ears, bald head mashed into one of those messenger caps that Cosby's always wearing backwards. This conversation was precipitated by another approach by a stranger, in this case a Midwesterner confused about where he was, which was the corner of 42nd Street and 10th Avenue.
"Which way to 42nd Street?"
"You're on 42nd Street."
"Really? It's this way?" He points down 10th Avenue.
"No, that way." I point down 42nd Street.
"This way?" He again points down 10th Avenue.
"No, THAT way." I repeat my point down 42nd Street.
"Yes, THAT way."
"That's 42nd Street?"
"That's what the sign says." At which point I indicate the sign four feet from his head. He thanks me and scurries off to Pete knows where. The old man standing at the bus stop next to me sidles up conspiratorially.
"I got one word for ya: RUBE."
"Yeah, guess so."
"Jesus Christ, they shouldn't even let guys like that in here."
"You know, back when cabs weren't so expensive..." Once the conversation barrier is broken at the bus station, the coast is clear for rambling. "...I used to have a game."
"I'd get into a cab and say, 'Take me to the corner of West 4th Street and 11th Street'."
"Doesn't exist, right?" Remember, there's a grid in NYC. Streets go east-west, avenues go north-south.
"Right, doesn't exist."
"Except that it does!"
"Oh, right. The Village." Once you're in Greenwich Village, the streets start going all twisty-turny, and all bets are off, grid-wise.
"Right! Damn cabbies wouldn't know what to do half the time. Usually they'd just drive me to some spot on West 4th and say, 'Here you are!', and I'd know I stumped 'em."
"What did you get when you stumped 'em?"
"Oh, nothing. Just a laugh. I like confusing 'em, especially the Polacks."
"You ever been to West 4th and 11th?"
"Can't say I have."
"Me either!!" At this, I get a hearty laugh and a back-slap. Thankfully it was from the hand without the cane in it.
Such incidents are becoming more common, so I have to assume that my grim countenance has softened somewhat of late.
5:02 PM -
You don't often hear tuba on the radio. However, today is Spanish day on the laundromat radio. Trumpets and wailing vocals ahoy. I dig it.
I've been refamiliarizing myself with fruit lately. Haven't been a big fruit guy for the past couple of years whilst Atkinsing, and wasn't much of one prior to that, so I'm trying 'em all at least once. I dig all the fruits I've tried so far, with the exception of one.
I swear to Pete that I used to like pears. The canned kind, anyway. I bought a couple from my usual cart-vendor on Madison, who absolutely refuses to sell you just one piece of fruit. They bring a friend, or they don't go at all. So I bring these two pears up to my office--the place where I dick around for 7 hours every day--wash 'em, and prepare for the pear experience.
I'm told that pears have many valuable nutrients. I was not aware that one of them was Ass.
The two pears I had were chock full of it. It was like someone had extracted Angelina Jolie's butt fat and instead of putting it in her lips, they put it in these pears.
Fuck pears. Fuck them to hell.
6-30-04, 5:51 PM -
Only in New York could I be enjoying a Sam Adams in a breezeway park between two 12-story buildings. But there you go.
Waiting for the Wifely, actually. She's still at work a few doors down & trying to decide whether she feels like going to the free Aimee Mann show tonight in Rockefeller Park. Rockefeller Park is on the north end of Battery Park, which is not an area I visit often. It's beautiful, though, right on the Hudson so you can watch the sun go down. Good view of the Statue, too.
The weather has decided to cooperate some more, even as July looms just on the horizon. I'm told that the same can't be said for my dear old Fort Worth, which is apparently just being beat to holy hell by rain & flooding. Wish you were here, my peoples.
This cafe's kinda fun. Since it's between the two buildings, the sun doesn't get in. A bit pricey, though. Ten bucks for friggin' buffalo wings is highway robbery.
Mr. Attractive Gay Man entertains his harem over to my right. Attractive gay men gather these flocks of adoring women wherever they go. Just like gangly nerd rockers.
This is where the transition between one section and another would go if I could think of one. But I can't, so here's the next section:
Saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Saturday with Paul & Maja.
As a left-leaning moderate who nonetheless thinks John Kerry is something of a tool, I must recommend this film to everyone who's even remotely thinking about voting GWB in November. Which probably isn't anyone reading this, but what the hell.
What's so amazing about it is its ability to make you break down and cry right before it makes you laugh like a maniac. I haven't had such an emotional reaction to a film in quite a while, but then that's because it's real.
As Moore has said in interviews, it's not balanced. But it doesn't have to be. We've been hearing the Administration's side of the story for nearly 4 years now, so 2 hours worth of the other side is a good idea.
And Moore himself really doesn't say as much as he has in past docs like Bowling for Columbine. He lets the footage of George do most of the talking, and there can be no better indictment of this walking affront to anyone who ever gave a damn about this country.
The parts of the film that deal with Lila Lipscomb, an extremely patriotic mother whose son was killed in Karbala, are enough to make even the most hardened Nader voter reconsider the risk of another 4 years of Bush/Cheney.
This thing is broke, and I hope Moore's film has at least some opportunity to fix it.
Go see it.
In fact, I liked it well enough that I signed up for a function. Don't you love when people go to "functions"? It's not a party, nor is it a show. It's a "function". Only important people go to "functions", that's why people use that word.
"Were you at the function?"
"Oh, darling, you missed a stellar mixer."
Important people go to "mixers", too. I've been to a couple, on the rare occasions when I get mistaken for an important person. They're kind of like "meet-and-greets", but not as informal as "get-togethers". On the whole, I prefer "piss-ups".
But Monday was a "function". With a buncha lefty MoveOn.org people. I normally don't do well at political events, mostly because there's always some guy with an anarchist headband who just needs to be smacked like John Stossel and I have to either keep my mouth shut or leave.
This function was a house party celebrating the release of the movie. Did I say "house party"? I meant "gala event". Not buying it? Well, I tried.
The whole thing sounded interesting to me, since I'd only really ever been to public pinko-commie activities, not private ones. So I signed up online, got the directions, and set sail for the Upper West Side--Home Of The Vast Liberal Conspiracies--around 7:30 Monday night.
The joint was on Central Park West, just at the top northwestern edge of the park, which is kinda the crappy part, but is still miles more swanky than my neighborhood. Particularly the building I found myself walking into like I belonged there or something. I checked in with the doorman, the kindly old coat-tailed gent you see in so many movies, and made my way up to the 11th floor in a dark, wood-paneled elevator that had probably been there since Prohibition, but which nonetheless had an air of old refinement to it.
Stepping out of the elevator at the behest of the worn brass bell, I followed the audible murmur of malcontent to an open oak door, whereupon I stepped into...Bizarro World.
Everything looked familiar. A gaggle of old ladies, teacups raised, encircling a large coffee table. They might have been discussing anything: Doilies, casserole recipes, Maude's no-show at church last Sunday...but no. These old ladies were planning the downfall of the Bush Administration.
By the time I walked in, they were already circulating a signup sheet for anyone who wanted to take a road trip to Pennsylvania, going door-to-door to sign up voters. The youngest of them--who, judging by the cut of her skirt, seemed to have a rather misplaced belief that her wizened thighs were still sexy--was setting up a speaker-phone in the center of the room for the impending conference call with MoveOn.org headquarters and their special guest Michael Moore.
I must admit that, as I stepped into that parlor, I very briefly considered saying, "Oh, sorry...wrong apartment!" But this had the potential to be too damned fascinating to miss.
I was welcomed in, given a tall glass of expensive-tasting white wine, and directed to the buffet. I had brought some organic potato chips for the occasion, which were promptly emptied into the bigass potluck chip bowl with all manner of other crispables. Next to the chip bowl were artfully stacked piles of celery, carrots, and miscellaneous healthy dipping items. Being the sole under-60 attendee, I was encouraged to eat up, lest it go to waste. And I'm never one to waste.
With my wine in one hand and heaping plateful of hors d'ouevres in the other, I picked a comfortable corner to stand in. The seats were full, and taking a seat from an old lady--even a feisty one--isn't in my raising. The conference call was hooked up, and we were about ready to start.
At this point I must admit that I was a bit relieved to see a delegation of thirtysomething men enter bearing beer. These were still Bizarro World people, though. Built like Ken dolls with toothy smiles to match, I had the momentary fear that one of the old coots had ordered strippers. But as minutes passed without the brandishing of banana hammocks, my suspicions abated.
Once the conference call kicked in, the room fell silent. I must say that the feeling in the room as the organizers and Michael Moore gave what amounted to one hell of a revival sermon was quite exhilarating, much like the feeling I got in the theater watching Fahrenheit 9/11. There was really a sense of shared purpose, of standing up to say, "No, dammit, I'm an American, and I'm taking my country back." Me and the old ladies did have something in common, after all. In fact, they were even more angry than me. And you don't want to cross a group of angry old rich ladies.
As the call wound down, I sought out the bathroom. I must say that I'm always baffled when I see these huge apartments in New York City. What the hell did they do to afford a bigass 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment across from Central Park? The woman who owned the place was an artist, judging by the heaps of sculpture and canvas laying about the place, and not likely to have any great heaping wodges of cash. Though who knows when she bought it. We could buy the place we're in now and in 40 years people would gaze in wonderment at how we could afford a one-bedroom apartment in Hell's Kitchen or Giuliani's Bunghole or whatever they'll call it in 2044.
Looking out the bathroom window onto Central Park, with the sounds of civil unrest wafting in under the door, I felt good. This is a hell of a time in history to be alive, and I'm glad I'm a part of it. I came out, put my name on their mailing list, and asked to be called whenever there were events taking place in town. Since the Republican convention is mere weeks away, I'm sure I'll hear from them soon enough. You go, old ladies.
7-5-04, 7:39 PM -
Went to the big fireworks viewin' yesterday. It took us three years, but we've finally found a good place to see them.
FDR Drive and the Macy's thing be damned. In fact, the whole East River be damned. What I'm talking about is Rockefeller Park. Yes, the selfsame Rockefeller Park where we did in fact catch the free Aimee Mann show on Wednesday. Which was a heck of a show, by the way, even though the mix was whacked. I've decided I can't see Aimee outdoors anymore, because somehow no one can get the mix right in the open air. She definitely makes indoor music.
Fireworks, however, are outdoor music, and we got an eyeful from the shores of the Hudson. They used the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop for this branch of the big fireworks show (there were three different barges at different points around Manhattan Island), and it was as big and boomy as you could ask for. It was a bit more distant from Rockefeller than from the more southern Battery Park stretches, but with the unheard of amount of--dare I say it--personal space available, the whole package was definitely a better experience.
Better at least than our 2002 diesel-inhaling Brooklyn Bridge viewing, and better than our cramped 2003 foray onto the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (which I thought I had written about, but my archives show nada). The booms were bigger on that one, being that the barge was just offshore, but the tree-obstructed view and the crowd sweat made for a less inspiring experience. Seeing the fiery blooms from a peaceful park on the river was just perfect. I heartily recommend the Rockefeller Park to all who wish to do what I say. Do it...
Anyway, I do have a bit of business to conduct before I sign off here. Firstly, I must inform you that the newest installment of the Acoustic Surprise has been uploaded for your downloading pleasure.
This month I present a rather U2-inspired cover of a great but little-known Toad the Wet Sprocket song, Throw It All Away. So you get two homages for the price of one. Which, by the way, is $0.
Judging from last month's downloads of my Zevon cover, Mohammed's Radio, the Acoustic Surprise will be around for a good while to come. However, this particular installment will only be up until August 5th, so download while ye may. Again, if you're like me and have the bandwidth of a 90-pound weakling, let me know and I'll send you a CD copy.
Another bit of news: I'm big in Japan. Last week The Loneliest Boy In Toyland was featured on the Japanese indie radio show Yellow Beat, and apparently went over well. Tune in to hear what else they're listening to in the land of green tea and Hello Kitty.
Speaking of strange places, we mustn't forget the Midwest. Tracks from texas have been making frequent appearances on Lexrock, the premier indie radio station of Lexington, Kentucky.
And for those who catch post-Floyd Roger Waters references (c'mon, I'm not the only one), I've been getting an extremely generous amount of airtime on Radio KAOS, one of the internet's most popular broadcasts. No foolin! Go sample their sublime playlists for yourself.
I'm still getting lots of spins on other indie and internet radio stations, so I reckon I'm famous now. Wee dawg.
8:55 PM -
It would appear that my time is running out. For you see, I must complete the following tasks before retiring this evening to prepare for another week of bra handling:
1. Eat half a pork roast. (don't laugh, I can do it)
2. Shower. (it's fucking hot, it is)
3. Take a sleeping pill. (it's Monday, but it might as well be a Sunday)
4. Pack up an Acoustic Surprise disc for Mom & Dad. (they live in the sticks, you know)
5. Pet the cat. (she gets really irritable on 3-day weekends...they mess up the schedule)
So off I go. Hope you enjoyed your outdoor barbecue. Our neighbor certainly did, judging by the smoke emanating from his fire-escape grilling station. Schmuck.