Friday, August 25, 2006

Another Overheard


Yep, still here.

I was walking back from the L train yesterday, up Bedford Avenue towards Greenpoint, and I passed a couple people talking about some album. The jewel that pattered my eardrums went something like this:
"I mean, it was so bad, you couldn't even listen to it ironically. Not even one song!"
Oh, to have a transcript of the entire conversation. Or at least the title of the album.

That's the 'burg. What a pity that something as beautiful, powerful, and human as irony has been co-opted by Billyburgers as a style of the times, the trucker hat of literary devices.

And the notion of "ironic listening" is simply nauseating:
"Oh my god, I can't believe how BAD this is!"

"Yeah, no kidding. I LOVE it."

"Turn it up!"

"Ok, can you get me a PBR?"
Not so far away from:
"Oh my god, I can't believe I'm actually cutting off my own finger!"

"No kidding. It's so AWESOME!"

"Yeah, like, it really hurts. But it's just so IRONIC! You know, me being a hand model and all."

"Dude, yeah, deep. Want a PBR?"
Please, everyone, do your part to save irony before it ends up in a ditch, beaten and bloody, along with the rest of last year's fashions. That, along with using long-life light bulbs and driving hybrid cars, will go quite a way towards making the world a better place for us and our children and our children's children, but not their children, 'cause by then, they gotta learn how to take matters into their own hands.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Stuff It

Spotted Sunday on Bedford Avenue and North 8th:

Trashy Legs

Happy Monday.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Almost Follow-Up

For those of you who pine for a TGIF posting on the uplifting subject of dead bodies and their disposal in New York City, sit tight! Almost there. Unfortunately, my insistence on learning new bits of HTML has turned a 15 minute project into a two hour project, and now I gotta bolt.

Would I rather stay here and sit at the compy, or go play music in the park?


Let me think about that one on the train.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Low Points

The following video has circulated before, but I feel it is worth posting in this forum as both a catalyst for laughter (or befuddlement, your pick) and a reminder that we all have periods of our lives that we'd like to forget or be done with. For those of you who haven't yet become familiar with "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" sang by none other than Leonard Nimoy, knock yourself out:

Saturday In The Park

It wasn't the fourth of July, but the fifth of August. And then it was that the most blog-worthy event of the weekend transpired.

My upstairs neighbor Michelle and I were strolling through McCarren Park on Saturday around quarter after four, when we encountered a couple parks trucks and an unmarked cop car parked along the eastern path. Curious enough. Then I noticed a human-sized object covered with a white sheet
in the sunny strip of grass between the path and Bedford Ave. No one was sitting within 50 feet of it in any direction. All things considered, it was reasonably safe to assume that the human-sized object was, in fact, an expired human. Seeing as I'd never seen how the city reacts to a dead body in a public park, we decided to stick around for a while and see for ourselves (all in the name of journalism, naturally). How long would it take for them to send an ambulance, or a hearse, or whatever? The timeline proceeds as such:

4:25pm - A Mr. Softee ice cream truck passes nearby, then parks, providing a creepy soundtrack for a dead-body-finding. I find it strange that the city wouldn't be in a rush to remove a dead body from such a public place, and speculate that the parks people might put it in the back of the Mr. Softee truck to keep cool instead of letting it bake in 90°, direct sunlight while waiting for a more appropriately-suited vehicle. They don't.

4:30pm - One of the policemen gets in the car and drives away, leaving the other to stand there and tell people not to walk by the body with their dogs. It's amazing the number people he has to deflect, those who seem to be completely oblivious to the scene. No one appears to be acting with any sense of urgency, which, I suppose, is understandable, considering that he's already dead.

4:55pm - A marked police car shows up, the first official vehicle to enter the scene since our arrival. Clearly, their job is to confirm that the first four parks people and two policemen could correctly identify a dead body. This they do by lifting a corner of the sheet and looking at it. Then they leave.

5:15pm - Still nothing, and we're quickly tiring of this waiting game. A dump truck passes through the park, collecting garbage bags, which results in a flutter of tasteless jokes and suppositions. Then we leave and go to the Read.

6:15pm - Michelle relays to me via SMS that the body has disappeared. How and when exactly is still a mystery.

7:15pm - I pass by on my way home, and see a young couple sitting on the exact spot where the body used to be. I think about telling them, but what's the use?

Thus ends the saga of the McCarren body. I thought it would have been of greater concern, a matter of public health, but apparently there's no rush in removing dead bodies on a sunny Saturday afternoon. There must be more important things to do, like eat donuts, harass bikers, and oogle women. I understand.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In The Neighborhood

You have to love a 'hood in which a situation such as the following is not only possible, but relatively normal. I headed over to Cafe Grumpy this evening to get some work done and have a cappuccino. They have, hands down, the best (and best-looking) cappuccino in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg area, and would do a great service to us all by educating other neighborhood cafes on the finer distinctions between cappuccinos and lattes. Anyway, not to digress. I set out to make remarkable progress transcribing a Charles W.* interview, but was soon interrupted by an unexpected performace given by a group named Punkappella, in which a few friends of mine were actually participating. Who knew? How to describe... they're a nonsensical, sound poetry, performance art, rhythm-driven vocal group of eight. Highly entertaining, quite a worthy distraction. They executed a cover of "Born In The USA" that, if performed alongside the Amazin' Blues and Dicks and Janes and 58 Greenes and all those other University of Michigan a capella groups (it was quite a scene), would have exposed them all for the populist wussies they really are.** That would be worth seeing. Not to mislead; all other songs were originals, and consisted lyrically of one phrase, or one word. Or maybe just a mumble.

On a less-satisfying note, when did Radio Shack turn into a cell phone store? I undertook today the project of rewiring my p-bass, which required (amazingly enough) wire. Radio Shack, one would think, should have a large and diverse stock of wire on hand. Back in the day, it did. Even in the tiny Shack on Manhattan Avenue, it took me five minutes just to find stranded connector wire, tucked underneath the speaker wire in the markedly dimished DIY section. I remember, ten years ago, that one could walk into a Radio Shack and be presented with a dizzying assortment of capacitors, LEDs, wires, and other requisite supplies for the aspiring electrician/mad scientist. I'd have fun simply walking around and looking at it all. Now, none of that. I was lucky to find what wire I did. Everything is cell phones and cell phone accoutrements and portable audio and batteries. God, what do I do now if I need a bunch of blue LEDs!? Or resistors? Too much resistance involved in obtaining resistors these days.

And yes, Mother Nature's fever finally broke. I was expecting a veritable catharsis of thunder and rain, but no, it just got breezy and cooled down. No complaints, though. According to the outdoor thermo, it's only 86. Now THAT'S balmy.

* Charles is the stepson of Muddy Waters. He has no teeth, and drinks a shitload; you can imagine what that sounds like. While you imagine, I will attempt to transcribe it. He does have quite an impressive story to tell. And he's also responsible for introducing me recently to the phrase, "Quit talkin' like you got shit in your mouth."

** Ok, ok. In all fairness, some of them were comprised of excellent singers and talented arrangers, which almost made up for the travesty known as vocal drumming. I stand by the wussy comment.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

100... And Beyond!!

Album of the day:
Hotter Than July

Holy cats. The thermometer perched on my windowsill now reads 101.5°F. That is NOT balmy. It's hovering at 94 here inside. That is not balmy either, even with a fan blasting away. If I could take a picture of how hot it is, it may look something like this. And what's up with the 1-2-3-4Cast girl?? Doesn't she have something to say about this?

It is now officially too hot to blog. Hell. It's too hot to do just about anything that doesn't involve water or beer or ice cream.


You can do a lot with ice cream.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Going Out

Saturday evening. I was getting ready to head into the city, and it'd been a hot, humid summer day. I rinsed off, exchanged the sweat-soaked wifebeater for a clean, dry one, threw on a guayabera, and put on a pair of jeans.

Hold up.

It peaked at 90 that afternoon, and wasn't getting any more comfortable anytime soon. Sweating = natural consequence of sitting. Jeans?

Earlier in the day, I'd laughed at a guy strolling through sunny McCarren Park wearing black jeans and two black t-shirts. Eh? I was still manufacturing volumes of sweat wearing one tee, shorts, and sandals!

But when it comes time to go out, we all follow suit. No matter how insanely hot and humid it may be, the shorts stay at home. I feel this is a condition unique to New York; everywhere else, shorts come out when it hits 80°F (except in obvious cases like church, funerals, jobs, and Important Business Dinners). Some places have a threshold as low as 70, such as my hometown of Traverse City, MI, and other Midwest locales where people are built for cold, and don't do well with heat; maybe even Chicago.

Here, about two years go, I was chastised over the course of an evening by a cute, tipsy hipster girl for wearing walking shorts and sandals to a bar on a Saturday night much like the one described above.

"But it's summer! That's what you do!" I'd protest.

"Yeah, but not HERE! It's just, like, so... I don't know, you just don't DO it."

Gee, thanks, Rebecka, for your thoughtful elucidation.

Though now, two years later, I have conformed. We all do it. Why? Style would be the easy answer — and not without validity. But I believe the greater reason is the appeal of suffering. Masochism, simply put. The gleeful pursuit of suffering is a defining facet of the New York experience. We live in shoeboxes, endure month after month of hand-to-mouth living, pack into sweaty, cramped bars to buy $6 beers, tolerate sidewalks littered with broken glass, dog shit, and winos (a good neighborhood!), then dress for 70 when it's 90. And why else if not for pleasure?