9-15-03, 10:01 AM -

Here I sit, the male receptionist. I'm not sure why that bedazzles so many people the way it does. What, they expect that a 29-year-old man with no degree and an aversion to ironing his clothes is gonna be in charge?

Actually, I know what it is. It's Radio Voice. I learned long ago that if you ANNOUNCE your words rather than speak them, people don't give you any guff. The problem is that they also start putting you in charge of things. I've thought about restraining Radio Voice at work so they'll just think I'm a dumbass temp, but the minute that phone rings, it's "Hello, and welcome to Moviefone!", after which all bedlam breaks loose.

Bedlam, I say.

Waitin' on word from the Wifely that the discs have arrived. There's really nowhere else to ship a UPS Ground package than Wifely's work, since we don't have a front porch or a doorman at home. Not a paid one, anyway.

So at last it happens. The moment when I can finally break my holding patterns and start working again. Hallefreakinlujah.

Bought a cheap DJ mixer for Paul to use in the live show. Gotta finish up my stage show, which doesn't lack much now. Freakin' out.

10:59 AM -

Things sure don't move very fast around here. Working for XYZ Business Credit, and I'm not sure what it is that they do. I presume they give credit to businesses, but likely there are a whole host of labyrinthine financial services that get rigged up in the process. Mebbe some Enron stuff, who knows.

Nice office, though. No gray cubicles here, just thick, dark wood paneling and frosted glass. It's on the East Side, and it squares with other offices I've worked in over here. I wish more businesses would pay attention to the office layouts in Midtown. The work world would be a much friendlier place.

I remember the worst office environment I ever laid eyes on, at Pill 'Em & Fill 'Em in Fort Worth. Basically, you take a Super Wal-Mart and fill it with row upon row of 6-foot-high gray cubicles. Not completely, of course. Leave a big empty area over on one side to put all of your busted office machinery in.

Give everyone some carpal-tunnel wristgear so that newcomers know what's expected of them. Oh, and make sure the building is in a barren field outside Alliance Airport, complete with mudholes (that's the parking lot) and unevenly mown weeds.


Anyway, this is much better. There's a big condominium high-rise under construction right outside my window, but the sound doesn't really get through the glass. Just found a thick manila folder full of menus here on my desk. Looks to be a decent Chinese place down the street, so I reckon I'm set for lunch.

Wonder what the rent on a joint like this is. They must be hauling in some biggie-sized figures. And yet their fax machine is a hundred years old. I can see that with fax machines, though. It's a technology that's bound to disappear within a decade or so, and you hate to buy new equipment for it. It's like buying a new VCR. Why bother?

Actually, this place reminds me of my last receptionist job back at Doctors, Lawyers & Such in Dallas. Now that was a hoot.

Firstly, it was in Lakewood, which is the only part of Dallas I like.

Secondly, it was run by old, curmudgeonly malpractice insurance agents who didn't give a shit and weren't there half the time.

Thirdly, there was a crazy Korean lady who ran the deli on the ground floor. She would just burst out laughing for no discernable reason.

One time she was counting out my change (don't dare give her Sacajawea dollars, she'll give you the stinkeye), & suddenly she just fell on the floor giggling like crazy. After a few seconds, she got back up and explained, "I just remember that part in Police Academy where he cut the cheese!"


1:00 PM -

Wifely got the CDs. Freakin' out.

3:34 PM -

Actually, this job is reminding me a LOT of that Lakewood gig as the day goes on. Everyone's laid back, no one yells, and the bosses ask you to do things very politely, like it's up to you.

Particularly the big bossman. He's just leisurely typing at his desk and talking with the wife on the phone. It's amazing how calm managers can chill out the whole workplace.

Consider the screeching banshee at Bigass Bank. It was like all of us had tension wires in our backs, and the minute her horrible shriek escaped from her office door, the wires tightened throughout the room and no one could work.

What a stupid bitch.

However, I've only been here for 6 hours, so the post-weekend glow may be tamping down the stress level. Though I've learned how to spot stress monkeys, even on their days off, and I haven't sighted any yet. Time will tell.

I think what happens is that whoever the boss is tends to hire closer to their personality type, at least when it comes to people who may one day hold the reins when the boss leaves. I would guess that Hagatha wouldn't trust someone who wasn't a screaming fussbudget, because that's the only way she knows how to work.

In the case of my old boss at Doctors, Lawyers, & Such, he didn't trust screaming fussbudgets, so he tended to hire people who were laid back and wouldn't get up his nose. That seems to be what's up here. But again, don't judge a week by its Monday.

4:07 PM -

Just 53 more minutes, and I get to go lay eyes on my beautiful children. This whole process has been such a baby-birthing that I'd like to see its damn face already. Hope it looks like me.

Gotta get on the 6 train to get down to Wifely, though. These East Side trains are always friggin' packed. For those outside NYC, the 4, 5, & 6 all run along the same line (6 is the local, the others are express), and that line is the only North-South line on the East Side of the island. Unlike the West Side, who has both the A, C, & E and the 1, 2, 3, & 9. (for slightly less confusing info, go here)

Some vagary of city history is likely responsible for the imbalance, and talk of a second East Side line along 2nd Avenue has circulated in city government for over 20 years. Word is that they're closer than ever to actually doing it, but it's a 10-year project at the least, so in the meantime I get to meet my neighbors up close & personal. They mostly get to meet my armpit.

Thankfully, I don't get freaked out on the sardine trains the way I used to. Partly it's because I don't take 'em all the way from southern Brooklyn anymore. But I think I've also acclimated to a smaller amount of personal space.

You walk down Throckmorton Street in downtown Fort Worth, you've got personal space for miles. Walk down our stretch of 10th Avenue here in the middle of the night, and there's some fucker trying to push past you and the waddler up ahead.

So I take smaller steps, just more of 'em, and I stand with my arms a bit closer to my sides, and everything's all right. It's all rather like a Roman bath, everyone's sweat, perfume, food, and assorted odors commingling in a steamy stew. Which can be good or bad, depending on who your ingredients are. 6 train tends towards the well-groomed, but hobos know no boundaries, so it's like that box of chocolates...

4:54 PM -

Gotta go. Freakin' out.

9-19-03, 1:30 PM -

Lunchtime wandering on the East Side. Hearing the Babel on the sidewalk, watching the physical representation of capitalism work itself out. My mind, I think, has trouble with the concept that this city is the capital of the world.

When you grow up in the country, you grow up with the assumption that as important and consequential as events in your town are to you, there is always somewhere where actions are more consequential to the world at large.

Then when you live and work in a mid-sized city such as Fort Worth or Dallas, you get used to the idea that however big or high-fallutin' a building, industry, or neighborhood is, there's always one somewhere else that will put it to shame.

But when I pass some of these amazing hotels, office towers, public buildings, lobbies, tailors, and restaurants, I have to remember that they may in fact be the best in the world.

The world. That's a big concept.

Even as immensely wealthy and powerful as cities like London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Washington and Los Angeles are, the true seat of the world's big decision-makers is New York. When I walk down streets, some plain, some glorious, passing people, some ordinary, some striking, it feels like just another city to me, and then it doesn't. Heading home on the tattered sidewalks of Hell's Kitchen, the Empire State Building at my back and dirty laundromats ahead, it seems even less likely that this is indeed the world's capital. But it is.

Does this title mean that it's the greatest city in the world? Not necessarily. Depends on what you're looking for. It's just that at this moment in history, it's the most important and consequential city in the world. Someday it won't be. History's like that.

Maybe that decline has already started. Maybe in 100 years, people will visit New York's ruins as they do Rome's or Cairo's today. Meaning that like those cities, New York will never die, only diminish as some greater power rises. Then the great builders, tailors and restauranteurs will flock to the new capital of the world, and New York will be just another city, though with better tourist trade than, say, Dallas.

My bets for next capital of the world?:



1. Bentonville, Arkansas. Wal-Mart will rule the world, just you wait.

2. Miami, Florida. The U.S. population will soon have a Latino majority. Guess where most of them go first?

3. San Antonio, Texas. Same reason as Miami, but add the political clout that Texas seems to generate.

4. Beijing, China. There's just so damned many of them. If they can get that Communism thing out of the way, look out.

5. Sydney, Australia. Just because Australia hasn't had a capital of the world yet. Plus, it's close to the Asian markets, and it can communicate well with Europe and the United States. What's not to like? Gotta get those armies of deadly outback critters under control, though. Death's a bitch.

9-20-03, 9:49 PM -

Whew. Okay, preorders are outta here. All who belong to that storied fraternity shall soon receive your membership rewards. And I'm sorry, but you have to wait until your 10-year anniversary to get your secret tie-tack and decoder ring. 20 years gets you a clock, by the way. Welcome aboard.

So tired. Been busy, but it's been fabulous to flex the old promo muscles. Let's see what happens.

But now that this letter's finished, I have a strange impulse to rent The Two Towers and eat low-carb ice cream. Oh yes, it's finally made its way up here. I ate my first low-carb ice cream during my trip home to Texas in November. It appears to be manufactured by a Texas-based company, and I couldn't find it up here for the longest. But just a few weeks ago, we spotted some in a local grocery store, and durned if it ain't the same brand. Props to Brook Farms for Le Carb. Y'all know the Atkins.

Yes, I shall rent my geek movie, and I shall dork out. Or maybe I'll watch Saturday Night Live. That 70% crap/30% good ratio can be a bit much sometimes, though.



But in the name of Pete and all his Petelings, will someone please assassinate Dr. Phil? I can't watch a single show without him popping up in the commercials and making me scream with rage. I can deal with a week or so of "poor dead Dr. Phil" tributes if I no longer have to look at the man after that.

You know, I could probably get arrested for that paragraph. I'll shut up now. And if one of you happens to shoot Dr. Phil in the head, I'll just quietly edit this post and go on about my Machiavellian business.

Anyway, if you've preordered, enjoy your CD, and if you haven't, go get yourself a brand spanking new copy here.

I'm off to see the wizard...



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