Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Nation’s Flaccid Penis

AKA: Florida

I have long thought that Florida resembles nothing so much as a floppy, dangling wiener. Which, I guess, makes Louisiana the nation’s scrotal sac, but I digress. Having returned from visiting my mom in good ol’ FL, I’ve reconfirmed my vague enmity towards our country’s wang.

It’s such a weird place. Half of it is retired liberal Jews from the Northeast driving 50 foot long towncars, and the other half is gator-wrasslin’ rednecks driving pickups with gun racks. They live uneasily side by side, but they really don’t mix that much.

It’s a state of odd contrasts. My mom lives in West Palm Beach (elderly Jew central) which is not to be confused with Palm Beach, where the rich WASPs live. On Christmas Eve, we went to a fancy-schmancy restaurant to dine amongst the WASPs, and on Christmas day we went to my mom’s weird neighbors’ house to eat ham and yell at the TV during football. Christmas Eve - $90 bottle of wine. Christmas Day – Wine in a Box With Spigot. Eve – wore my silk Pucci shoes. Rest of the week – green rubber flip flops.

Getting off the plane, you know you’re in Florida. It’s nothing but families with little kids flying down to see Num Num and Poppy or whomever, dragging massive suitcases and strollers and car seats and all the other crap families with little kids have to carry. One of the little kids is inevitably in little kid melt down mode, which starts with some whimpering and whining and swiftly crescendos to “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!!!” The harassed-looking parents can barely keep themselves and their massive brood of spawn together, so they do nothing to stem the kid’s freak out, and either he has fortitude and can keep it up for the duration of the flight, or he’s a pussy and peters out only after irritating everyone in earshot.

The families are met by hoards of the wrinkled, shuffling grandparents who think it is their God-given right to operate motor vehicles to the day they die, crap reaction time and vision be damned. They’ve been driving since 1924, dammit, and nothing’s gonna stop them now!

Near to the grandparents are the slutty redneck girls picking up their scary redneck boyfriends; girls who feel a handkerchief provides adequate chest coverage and that a skirt needn’t do much more than cover the top portion of the buttocks. The boyfriends are heavily tattooed, surly, and missing teeth. Cliché, really, but there it is.

Brochures of Florida make it look like a sunny, warm paradise. It is in fact, a humid, fetid, purgatory. I always go down to see my mom with a swimsuit and the determination to get a tan, and time after time I come back with the swimsuit still folded in my suitcase and my skin as pale as a three-days-dead fish. It always rains, sometimes a little, this time a lot. My mom helpfully added, “Before you got here, it hadn’t rained it three weeks.” Thanks, mom. No tennis, no lounging on the beach or by the pool, barely any leaving the house, and a general longing for a clear sky above.

All of which, despite the craziness of it, makes me appreciate my surly, dirty, and beautiful paradise of New York.

Now scroll up and take another look at the map. It really does look like a penis, doesn't it? You're welcome.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Subway Sentiments

I know I’ve been harping on my subway experiences a lot lately. Perhaps overmuch. I don’t know if it’s the season, the tourists, my general bad attitude, or the fact that Sartre was right, but I have very much wanted to kill my commuting companions of late.

There are tacit rules of etiquette that one must subscribe to in order to make the subway experience a bit more tolerable for everyone involved. When these rules are ignored, I feel justified in my desire to make you not live.

  1. The pole is for holding, not leaning on. New York subway cars have poles every 10 feet or so, around which passengers should arrange themselves like spokes on a wheel, or petals on a big stinking flower of humanity. Your hand is your point of contact with this pole, and that should be it. If you’re leaning your entire body against the pole like Rick against the bar at the Café American, and I accidentally-on-purpose grab your hair or shove you while trying to gain a handhold, too friggin’ bad for you.

  2. Crossing your legs is only OK sometimes. On a nice empty car, it’s fine to cross your legs; I do it all the time. But the keywords here are ‘nice’ and ‘empty.’ If it’s rush hour, and you’ve gotten lucky enough to snag a seat, bully for you. Now be grateful for your good fortune and tuck your shit in so the 51,000 people forced to stand and fight the pole-leaners for hand-space have a little room to navigate. Both Monday and Tuesday this week I had to spelunk my way past idiots whose crossed legs protruded far past where they should have, well into the realm of getting-by space. I have no regrets whatsoever about waking the sleeping leg-crossed girl up at 34th Street as I jostled her and stepped on her feet for good measure. I didn’t want to spend any time at all in her lap, but because she had arranged herself like she was sunning in Bali, I had nowhere else to fall but onto her as I tripped over her stupid feet as I tried to get out the doors.

  3. Siddown until it’s time to get up. This is mostly a complaint against tourists, but regular riders can be just as guilty. I guess people get nervous that they won’t be able to get to the doors when their stop comes, so they get up from their seats way early and try to nudge themselves nearer the exit. During rush hour, this is both pointless and outrageously irritating. There is precious little room to maneuver as it is, and when you get up from your seat around 16th Street, knowing you want to get off at Penn, you upset the delicate seated/standing balance and throw the whole train into chaos. People holding poles and bars have to let go and balance themselves unsupported as you try to squeeze by. Placid riders become voracious vultures eyeing each other for your vacated seat. Just sit down, chill out, and wait for the train to stop before you begin your desperate dash for the door; everything will be OK. I’ve been riding the train for 10 years now, and I have never, ever not been able to disembark when my stop comes up. You’ll get there, and getting there early just pisses everyone off.

  4. Your screaming children are not charming. There are two commercials running right now that make me want to tear my hair out. One, a radio spot (I think for Volvo) has two off-key kids yowling away to a massacred version of “Jingle Bells.” You’re supposed to be moved by the preciousness of their tunelessness and bungled lyrics, and then go buy a Volvo to protect your precious angels. The other, a TV ad for BMW(?) has two little kids unwrapping a Christmas package and having a nuclear melt-down of excitement. The older child, a boy, keeps screaming “Yes! Yes!!!” with such a blood-curdling shriek I turn the TV off now when the commercial comes on. It upsets my cats. You are supposed to, presumably, feel this level of excitement when you buy a BMW. I wish to god I could mute all shrieking children on the subway in the same way I turn off my TV. Growing up near San Francisco, I rode BART with my parents from a very young age, and I know for a fact ‘inside voices’ were not a suggestion, they were the law, and that once you sit down, you stay sitting down, you don’t run pell-mell up and down the length of the car or jump up and down on your seat. I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve seen letting their little demon-spawn have full fledged freak-outs on the train while they just sit and smile indulgently. You, and your children, should have the pleasure of each other’s company for all eternity. In hell.

That is all. Happy Holidays.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Field Guide to Crazy

I had lunch with a great friend from work today, and we got to talking about the different types of crazy. I have come to think there are three major species within the crazy taxonomy, with endless variation when it comes to phylum, class, order, and genus.

The first of the species is the Outright Nutbag (psycholus batshiatus.) The Outright Nutbag’s natural environment is subway cars, street corners, and public parks. They may be found addressing street signs, traffic lights, and other inanimate objects (“No, you’re the asshole!), bathing in copious amounts of baby powder for no discernable reason, and have rough, matted coats and a peculiar odor. They keep their crazy right out there in the open. It’s obvious they’re (literally) insane, and they make no effort to hide it.

The next species in the category is the Common Nutbag (psycholus obviola). The Common Nutbag is highly adaptable and adept at camouflage; sometimes one might be standing right next to you and you’d never know it. The Common Nutbag can be found in offices, homes, stores and other areas of commerce. Common Nutbags blend very well with the population; their colorful displays of plumage shedding and high-pitched shrieking are usually only motivated by high stress or distasteful stimuli. They’re right out there with their inner crazy, but are known as ‘quirky,’ or ‘creative types.’ [Full disclosure: I am a Common Nutbag.]

The most dangerous of the species is the Closet Nutbag (psycholus BretEastonEllis). The Closet Nutbag is remarkable for how normal it appears. Closet Nutbags wear bespoke garments, have really good apartments and haircuts, hold high-paying jobs, and dismember prostitutes for giggles. Closet Nutbags harbor terrible drinking habits or drug addictions, are often homosexual, and can never, ever admit these things to anyone, even when drunk, drug-addled, or engaging on homosexual acts.

A hypothesis may now be made: The more polished, together, and collected a specimen appears, the more likely they’re a Closet Nutbag. You may safely trust the Outright Nutbag and the Common Nutbag to be weird to varying degrees, but these Nutbags know they’re Nutbags; it’s all out there. The one you have to watch out for is the Closet Nutbag, especially in regions where nail guns and plastic sheeting are readily available.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Monday, December 11, 2006

Traffic Jam

This morning was one of the distressingly frequent mornings where I want to kill everyone on the train.

That means you, chattering Hispanic lady yip-yapping about “I wanna see my abs again, yo. I quit smoking, yo, and now I can’t see my abs no more, you know. You can be like 140 pounds, yo, and not look overweight, yo, but for me, yo, I wanna see my abs. Yo.”

Yes. I feel you. I smell what you’re cooking. I’m picking up what you’re putting down. I am aware of your desire to see your abs again, as are the rest of the people in the car. Maybe, though, if smoking keeps you quieter, you might consider readopting the habit as a public service.

I also want to kill you, shockingly foul-mouthed day laborer type. I am by no means a profanity-free woman, but after a few minutes, your determination to say ‘fuck’ no less than three times a sentence in a gravelly, high volume whine began to stick even in my filthy ears.

You swore so much, Mr. Day Laborer, I turned it into a magical thinking game: ‘if he gets in 11 ‘fucks’ and 7 ‘motherfuckers’ before West 4th, I’ll have a date for New Year’s Eve.’

Or, ‘If he responds to his mumbly, mostly inaudible companion with six or more ‘fucks’ in one sentence, I’ll have pretty hair at the Christmas party tomorrow.’


And you over there, Thug Life. Sure, you look hard with your bling and cornrows and scowl, but I can hear Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” loud and clear through your iPod’s headphones, so you might need to reconsider your morning commuting music if intimidation is your intended effect.

In New York, the thronging masses are pretty much unavoidable. People are just everywhere, and some days it just sucks to have to deal with complete strangers wedged into your personal space in order to get to work.

It makes me think, more and more lately, about getting the hell out of Dodge for a while (was California only two weeks ago?), just to decompress and be in a healthier head-space.

The stress of day-to-day city life gets me in hermit mode sometimes, where I go home, pull on my pajamas, and flop in front of the TV.

Lately, one of my televised pleasures has been Everest: Beyond the Limit, on the Discovery Channel. This is, hands down, some of the most compelling TV I’ve ever seen. It chronicles two teams of climbers whose goal is to summit on Everest. The footage of these guys is heart-stopping, terrifying, and sometimes triumphant, shot by intrepid climbing camera men and with Sherpa-cams.

Last week, only one of the climbers on the first team made the summit, but it took him a hell of a lot longer than it should have.


There was a traffic jam. On the summit. Of Mount Everest. No shit.

Apparently, a group of amateur climbers, oddly without Sherpas or any support staff, were dawdling their way towards the summit, and the climbers on the documentary team got stuck behind them for several hours in ‘the Death Zone,’ where the air is so thin your body can only survive for so long before you get altitude sickness and your body starts to consume itself for energy.

The lesson here is: Even on the peak of the highest point on earth, you’ll find no shortage of slow moving, incompetent people, there just to poop all over your day.

Maybe New York’s not so bad after all . . .
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Filial Responsibility

My mom visited over the weekend, ostensibly to see the condo I ended up not buying, but also to sprinkle a little pre-holiday mom-guilt in my direction.

When it comes to visits with my mom, there are two types: the ‘very good’ and the ‘damn, that was painful.’

‘Very good’ visits include our trips to Key West for scuba diving and Costa Rica for cycling, hiking, and rafting.

‘Damn, that was painful’ visits include last weekend. Granted, it was cold (40’s), but my mom seemed to resist leaving the house. This is the woman who pops out of bed at 4 AM to drive a bus, then plays tennis during her afternoon hours 4 times a week.

But then she hits Brooklyn, where she’s from and which she hates, and wants to sit in my tiny apartment and watch hours of TV.

Even the dreaded trip to Rockefeller Center would have been a welcome relief from gazing slack-jawed at the tube all day.

To get out of the house, I took her to see ‘Borat,’ as I thought she would maybe get a laugh out of it, but she was just in some kind of stank mood, and wasn’t amused.

That night I shelled out for fancy-pantsy dinner at applewood, which is a truly amazing restaurant in Park Slope, with seriously awesome food and wine.

And at fancy-pantsy dinner, ladies and gentlemen, I got my mom drunk.

But at least it was on really good wine.

I was berating her for being a sucker (yet again) and lending a considerable amount of money to some people whom she and I both know will never pay her back, and I figured it’d be best to cork it (literally), and give the $55 bottle the waiter was pushing a shot.

The wine was lovely and memorable, but my mom, who’s 5’1” and weighs about 100 pounds, is a true lightweight, and her second glass pushed her right over the edge from Tipsytown to Drunkville.

Why, oh why, then, as dinner ground on to dessert, did I spy Remy on the after dinner drinks menu? And then ask my mom, “Do you care for Remy?”

“Oh, I love it!” This, despite the fact I’m pretty sure she’d never had it before. I think she took it just to prove to me, well . . . something. I don’t really know what, but maybe that she was cool, and could hack it.

So I ordered it for the both of us. She took a few sips from her glass, then pushed it towards me to finish. Which I did. Gladly.

So I’m the girl who peer pressured her mom into getting trashed at dinner.

We got home, and my poor mom was plenty sick an hour into watching “Waiting for Guffman.” I only wish I could count the number of times I’ve gotten sick from drinking too much, but this was terra incognita for my mom (who I think has only been drunk maybe two or three times prior), so all I could do was give her lots of water and tell her she’d feel better soon. She woke up the next morning a little bleary, but I woke up knowing I’m the girl who peer pressured her mom into getting trashed at dinner.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Friday, December 01, 2006

'Tis the Season

To kill, kill, kill.

I originally intended to write a biting and incisive epistle about the Macy’s Christmas windows and how they piss me off in several undefinable ways, but Adam beat me to it, and his description of the windows and their requisite gawkers is way funny.

He did leave out mention of one window that is lined with suspiciously hallucinogenic-looking mushrooms. I can only hope Bob and Sue from Omaha have no problem explaining to little Janey and Timmy that the sweating and the shakes will pass, and they should hasten to drink up their orange juice.

Christmas is in full bloom in New York, despite the fact today’s high temp is a freakish 72 degrees. God knows this is not a new insight, but this season is so commercialized, especially in this Capital of Commerce, that I just can’t bring myself to give a damn.

When my landlords brought my mail to me after I got back from San Francisco, I had a stack of catalogues collectively as large as War and Peace, all exhorting me to buy useless crap for everyone I know as a mute yet lasting expression of my love. My friendship with those I hold near and dear can clearly best be encapsulated by wiener-dog shaped corn-cob holders. Now that we all know that, I feel better.

My mom, who hates both crowds and the cold, is coming up for the weekend. She has made a baffling request to go to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. Now, although it’s 70 degrees out now, the temperature is supposed to plummet tonight into the high 30s, and the weekend is looking to be ass cold. Additionally, every single tourist in New York has an atavistic desire to immediately go to Rockefeller Center and mill around like pre-leap lemmings, slack-jawed and gaping, while I try to elbow my way through their Midwestern Diabetes II goodness.

I am considering getting a mom-leash, as my mom is 5’1” on a good day, and if I lose her in that crowd, it’s all over.

Now that I work for the Man, and the Man owns 30 Rock, my mom is determined to go to the Top of the Rock just so we can use my discount card, which magically turns a $17 elevator ride to a scary high place into a $15 elevator ride to a scary high place. It’s a Christmas Miracle, Charlie Brown. Only one that activates my vertigo and makes me want a martini 78 stories up.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button