It’s been a whole year but it’s finally happened. I have a cold.
Last year, if you recall, I was laid up for a whole three days while battling my first run-in with the flu. That’s right, I’d never had the flu until I moved to New York City. I credit my mother’s breast milk for this accomplishment (Thanks, Mom!)
Honestly, my first year in the City was by far the roughest. I puked, I coughed, I flued, I sprained, and swelled but you know what? I am now the pinnacle of super immunity. Well, almost.
Thankfully, I’m not bed-ridden but I probably shouldn’t be roaming these city streets like a bobble headed pilgrim in search of Christmas presents (and my way back home). At any rate, I’m on the up and up – though utterly humbled by this scratchy feeling in the back of my throat.
Damn those subway hands!
Maybe it was an act of drunken idiocy or perhaps even some attempt at comedy – any way you look at it, drawing swastikas on public property is not only wrong but also anti-Semitic.
Brooklyn has been hit with a string of public anti-Semitic crimes lately, from horrifying graffiti in Sheepshead Bay to the more recent vandalism inside a Williamsburg settlement. I found the swastikas below at the Lorimer stop on my way to work this morning.
Either this girl is off to her choreography class or she’s en route to 1992.
A light bulb? Milk glass? Crack cocaine?
What ever it is, it’s kind of beautiful.
I’ve recently and quite suddenly become really bored with my morning commute. To me, it’s slowly transformed into a lot of the same : same rotating cast of figures – the Ecuadorian crooner singing “Stand By Me” in broken English, the over-styled young professional carrying a man-purse, that one guy on the lap steel - same packed subway car, same cattle call at Union Square, same AM New York guy, same same same.
In an evolved contemporary society in which the rights of men and woman continue to equalize; in a world where powerful women are increasingly visible, it is really quite astonishing to see advertisements that so openly and playfully demonize the female sex.
This observation began as so many others: on the subway. I spotted an ad for Zip Car in which a woman had apparently kicked her boyfriend out of their apartment and destroyed most of his material possessions. The copy read: “Sometimes you just need a car,” scrolled atop the mess of this man’s life. A mess, might I add, that his girlfriend created.
What did he ever do?
If you look at him (and his broken things) it appears that he enjoys music, watching TV and playing golf. Judging by the garment bag splayed over the stoop, he probably works a job that necessitates a suit. He likes vinyl records and douchey clothing. He seems like an okay guy.
What do we know about her?
She is pissed, just look at her. He must have done something really bad, that guy. Maybe he cheated on her? Maybe he said she looked fat in that new dress? I bet she’s on her period. What ever the case, he’s perplexed, desperate and pleading with her not to destroy his things. C’mon, baby! She’s irrational and won’t stand to hear any of it. Look at her face, she’s sadistic. She’s enjoying every second of this temper tantrum. It appears as if she’s even deriving some pleasure out of completely destroying and humiliating him. “Him” or should I say “that poor guy.”
In all seriousness though, hasn’t the female image suffered enough in popular culture? Not only are women consistently portrayed as objects of desire but our sexuality is often trivialized (lesbians are frequently depicted as criminals or predators), along with shows of confidence or power.
The woman below is not portrayed in a positive light. She looks like a kook; a crazy, psycho girlfriend in a story that only tells one side. A story that I happen to find really annoying and even a bit offensive.
“WHO EVER KEEP FARTIN’ NEEDTA QUIT.”
The sound of her thick Brooklyn accent cracked through my brain. I looked around the train to spot her. Who was that? Where is she? It was her: the fat one in the tight “This Bitch Bites Back” shirt. She looked like a sausage un-linked, bursting from the casing of her clothing, and expanding at every seam. Don’t make eye contact. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and clicked her tongue .
She was talking to everyone and no one; the air; the smell. The train was silent before she shouted, save the sound of one woman’s faint gagging. Someone very obviously farted - or should I say kept farting - repeatedly so. The smell surpassed a simple doo-doo fart (the kind that yields real results), it was rancid and pointed to something rotten on the inside. Surely if I could have gotten past the stench of pure death, I would have had genuine concern for the health of the mysterious farter. It was really that bad.
When the young woman smashed the silence and placed the smell on a scaffold for all of the train to see, she was clearly reacting to what the rest of us too often ignore: relationships.
The trillions of day-to-day interactions that take place on our sidewalks, in our offices, and subways are what make this megalopolis tick. The way we respond; the way we remove; how we choose to treat one another. New York is all about relationships – intimately so; existentially, even. What we do or choose not to do affects others.
Sadly, this morning’s subway fart was just a very stinky example of such.
On my morning commute I got stuck underground for 30 minutes.
As any New Yorker knows, these things happen. The older guy across from me, however, was not so understanding. He didn’t have an iPod or a Kindle or even one of those real books. All he had was naked time and time alone, so he shook his head and jiggled his leg and clicked his tongue a few hundred times.
There’s nothing more annoying than being trapped on a train with someone who is agitated. Just deal with it, dude. But in New York City, in the morning, during a delayed rush hour commute, there is no such thing as “just dealing with it.”
So how did I choose to spend my morning stay on the prison train? Well, aside from observing the suit across from me incessantly jiggle his leg, I listened to John Maus‘ “Hey, Moon,” on repeat. That album is really good at helping one achieve a zen-like state in less than ideal circumstances.
Have a listen:
As temperatures in New York City soar to an unbelievable 103 degrees Farenheit (112 with the heat index), I am reminded of Porter Wagoner.
Specifically, the cover of his 1968 album “The Carroll County Accident,” on which the country music legend is drips with sweat. Wagoner is so sweaty, in fact, that my friend mistook his perspiration for tears. Maybe his pompadour is crying.
Today, in this heat, my pompadour is definitely crying.
It was a scorcher – even by my jaded Southern perceptions of heat – and, by the end of the day, I was totally baked. Yes Mom, I slathered myself in SPF 30 but even still my back was fried. I’m sure it didn’t help that Valerie, despite my objections, insisted on squirting me with her banana boat bacon grease oil. So my poor back baked like a giant sheet cake. I was so well done by the end of the day that when I got home, I completely passed out. It was as though the sun had totally siezed my powers; wheezed my juice, if you will.
Sara’s flowery arm.
…And they called themselves “drowned rats.”Long journey home.
Yesterday marked my first Mets game ever and, true to form, those underdogs were defeated not only by the rain but also by the pesky Oakland A’s.
Of course, I adore baseball – what am I a Communist? However, no patriotic love is great enough to weather the conditions of a 45-minute subway commute to Queens alongside tens of stinky, cranky New Yorkers. That was basically the closest thing I’ve come to experiencing hell on Earth. The Mets game? Much better.
Even though it was pouring for the first hour we were at Citi Field, the rain let up just in time for Adam, Sara, Dre, and myself to eat some junk food, yell at the megatron (Steve Guttenberg was present!), and for me to photo-bomb some poor couple’s pic.
Good, old-fashioned American FUN.
Hell on Earth.
Messy, messy, Metsy.
Sara waited in the rain for a Shake Shack burger and fries.
When the rain let up, it wasn’t so bad.
This is after we saw Steve Guttenberg.
Dre and Adam pigging out.PHOTO-BOMB!
When I boarded the Uptown 6 train to Grand Central this afternoon, I found myself checking out the kid across from me.
Little did I realize that “kid” was none other that the “(New) Kid” himself, Joey McIntyre. The ten-year-old me almost crapped my pants! I mean, I had New Kids on the Block pillow cases, posters, fanny packs, t-shirts, and dolls. Have you ever sat across from someone of whom you have a doll in their likeness? It was a first for me.
Some guy even asked him for directions and, when I took my headphones out of my ears to hear his response, he had the thickest Boston accent. It was totally him! AND it makes sense because New Kids are currently on tour and just played East Rutherford, New Jersey, last Sunday.
Joey on the train.Joey celebrity.
After work yesterday I visited McCarren Park to take in what was left of a beautiful spring day.
Amid watching teens practice their swing, Polish mothers yell to their children, and the far-off cheers of a hipster softball game, I noticed that my favorite subway performer was practicing just down the path from me.
I’ve blogged about this guy several times before and even ran into him a couple times outside of the Lorimer L stop. The first time, I stood next to him on the train at Union Square. It was 6:30pm and I remember him smelling like whiskey. The second time, he sat next to me at Daddy’s at which time I finally broke the ice. Our conversation was brief and awkward but I told him that he’s a star on my blog – and I don’t think that I was lying. He’s totally up there with “the one-legged Prince,” in terms of my favorite neighborhood people.
At any rate, it was a pleasant surprise to catch him at the park. We were even joined by a schizophrenic old-timer who kept shouting out requests for songs I’ve never heard of: “Do you know ‘Turkey on Straw Mountain?’”
I’m talking about a legit trip where the spire of the Empire State Building is nowhere to be seen; where the stench of human excrement and week-old garbage is replaced with lapping waves and budding flowers; where the sounds of screeching train brakes and honking horns are silenced – A magical place with trees and nature and more sky than skyscrapers.
It all begins this weekend with a short trip to Connecticut to visit Alissa and, in a month, a real vacation to visit my dad in Florida. That is, if Judgment Day doesn’t foil my plans. These people are nuts but I’m even crazier for not getting out of the City more often.
These are just a few of the questions I ask myself after examining the lyrics to “Dancing On the Ceiling” while on my morning commute. Things to think about…
As the panflutist on the Union Square platform reminded me this morning, through an inspired rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want, ” you can’t always get what you want.
I didn’t recognize the song at first, though it seemed familiar. The soft hollow sounds were a distant dispatch over the white noise of rush hour; against the squealing of the trains and grinding metal, it was difficult to make out. I hummed it to myself as I shuffled along with the human cattle and soon the lyrics trickled in. First a drip: “…I saw her there in the reception…cherry red…” And then a stream: “but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”
I never knew the Stones were so popular in Peru.
I sat on these stairs for about an hour last night. No, those are not my Cobras.
When MTA shuts down one side of the L, find an “emon” and make some lemonade.
Runaway Dorothy — a band name that unfortunately does not match their sound — did just that on a subway platform in Union Square.
I was waiting for the train back to Brooklyn when I heard the plucking of a banjo. Then I saw some young girls dancing off-beat. Then I got drawn into the music.
According to the Runaway Dorothy website, Adam Duritz is also a fan. Does that mean that I’m in good company??
Tonight I may be working late but today, as in this morning and early afternoon, I had the pleasure of being home to enjoy the first 60+ degree weather that New York City has seen since last Fall.
I even got to take my “gimpy” roommate Leah out for a wee stroll, as she’s been stuck inside the apartment for the last week due to foot surgery. She was so cute when she breached the threshold of our front door onto the street and found that all the snow had melted. It was funny to think that she had been trapped inside a sort of time capsule over the past few days. I had a similar experience on the subway the other day.
I was taking the M train into Manhattan when I overheard a man mention that he had recently completed a 23-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter. Aside from the obvious points that may picque one’s interest, I was especially struck by his apparent enthusiasm about everything. Even in recollecting the time he spent locked up; the monotanous work in the prison laundry mat; how to budget in the prison commissary; how to cook rice just like his mom, he jumped around spitting half-chewed pieces of the churro he’d just bought. What was most interesting to me, however, were his observations about the changes in the outside world. Most of these notes were a bit exaggerated. For example, he insisted that artificial intelligence runs most of the City nowadays and that even the train we were riding on was completely operated by computers. “What about the conductor?” his travelmate asked. “Naw, dude, he’s juss fer show.”
Wow, 23 years behind bars. I can barely even imagine one week. Poor Leah!
Leah on the street after her “prison-break.”
This is me popping the lid on our apartment for the first time this year. It feels good to be a gangsta.
Photo courtesy of Miss Leah.
This morning, on my daily commute to midtown, I stood next to a woman in labor.
When I relayed this story to my co-worker, his first question was how I could be certain that she was in labor. Well, for starters, she was pregnant. Secondly, she and her male companion (Probably her baby-daddy, although possibly her Rupert Everett) got off at the First Avenue stop which is where Beth Israel Hospital is located. Oh, and she was huffing and wincing in pain. Child birth supposedly hurts, right?
Funny, I never gave much thought to what going into labor would actually entail in New York City. At 9AM, the last place you want to be is stuck in traffic so a crowded subway car is actually the best option. Then you wind up having contractions next to commuters having their coffee and people like myself who stare on peripherally, utterly fascinated.
Madonna and Rupert Everett in The Next Best Thing
The last day of November was definitely a strange one. It started with a dumpster dive at the Lorimer L stop and ended with a call to the police.
When I got to the subway that morning, I accidentally threw away my unlimited-ride MetroCard. That sucks, right? What’s worse is that I just bought it the day before. Those things are dear – $89 – and I wasn’t hip to the Balance Protection Program yet. So I went for a swim in the garbage at 9AM. Sure, I was a little self-conscious about the whole trash-digging thing but what really added insult to injury was the looks people flashed me. No, not those of disgust but rather discomfort and fear. They gave the same kind of squirrelly side-looks that I give hobo trash-diggers. The look that says “You are probably unpredictable and I might be afraid of you.”
Fast forward to 9PM. After I’d finished helping Sara move into her new apartment, I was waiting with the U-Haul van outside. Just up the block, I saw this low-life totally beating on his girlfriend. Not just roughing her up, either – I’m talking legit beating. To make matters worse, there were three other men watching within the vicinity and doing nothing. No one even wanted to call the cops – so I did. Cowards like the man who was hitting his girlfriend need to be punished in the worse way. I won’t mention the types of medieval torture I would like to inflict on people like that. I know it’s not right but it’s honest.
Funny, I went from digging through the trash and eventually reaching some resolution (MTA is refunding my lost card) to witnessing real-life, walking trash and reaching no resolution (I’m pretty sure that his girlfriend chose to not press charges).
What a day.
Across from Sara’s new apartment.
…was awfully crazy. On second thought, it was just awful. In the best, most awesome sense of the word.
Let’s start with the facts: A party promoter paid the tenants of Sara’s Bushwick building to throw a two-day Halloween party and over 1,500 people showed up. To be honest, it was less of a party and more of a rave. A freaking rave in 2010!! There were half-naked people dry-humping, fist-pumping and glow-sticking, a French guy rolled up in an Oriental carpet on the floor, lewd acts on the sofa, vomit in the hallway, dogs and cats living together — mass hysteria!
And I was the MetroCard “swiping” in and out of these crazy situations. It was definitely a once every five years type of thing. Maybe even once a decade or once in a lifetime, depending on who you ask. Regardless, I’m not doing any of the awesome and terrible like for a very long time to come.