Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We Love the City

Here are things I've seen recently that should be noted for posterity.

(Also please note for posterity: Many of these photos were taken with my camera phone. I do not have one of those newfangled, high-tech "phones that have good cameras on them where you can actually tell what is in the picture." I basically have the Commodore 64 of phones. I've decided that the photo quality is not crappy; it is edgy and avant garde. Let's just go with that.)



1. This douchebag.

For those of us who were unclear on his identity as a hipster boner, he drove it home with his 1980s Casio calculator wristwatch. He could have gotten away with the wristwatch if he weren't otherwise outfitted as the Lone Ranger en route to picking up his cape from the dry cleaner. You have to hand it to him, though: If you get on the train already wearing a blindfold, nobody has to protect your identity when they post your photo on their blog.

2. In certain subway stations, a special someone draws curly moustaches on movie posters. The moustaches actually say moustache, and then they have curly ends, which give them a quality of both nefarious intent and whimsy. The artist wanted it to be known that this was not his work:

Because my camera is awesome, I'll help: It says "not moustache man". Moustache Man would never want the city to think he's an anti-Semitic fascist, which I think is a crucial quality in a graffiti artist. Wouldn't want all those curly, literal moustaches to be propaganda geared toward shutting down the masses.

3. One morning, a train pulled into my station (dirty!) completely empty except for about six firefighters gathered in the front of the first car. When things like this happen, it's confusing: You feel both safe to board the train and also crazy-stupid for boarding the train. We all boarded. I sat next to a man who reeked of scotch and cologne. I was then relieved the NYFD was on this train, for I was perched next to the most flammable human being in New York City.

4. Similarly, and sadly, I rode to work one morning with an old homeless woman who, for a good half hour, furiously scrubbed herself — her clothes, her skin, her hair — and her luggage with rubbing alcohol. The smell was stifling, but you could imagine that if you became homeless, especially if you were homeless for the length of time that this woman appeared to have been, and had been affected over that time, you would become a germophobe. It was heartbreaking.

5. You figure there are people on the planet who think they should look like Ke$ha. So there was a woman on the train with the appropriate ratty weave and patterned leggings. But what I really wondered about was the line of evenly spaced rhinestones adhered individually to her wrist. Does she have to do that every morning? Or once you glue them on, do they stick for a few days? She must have gotten up at 4 a.m. to get ready for her commute to her job at Whatever Company That Doesn't Have a Dress Code, but really, if my choice was to sleep in until sunup or glue rhinestones to my wrist, well, those better be some dazzling rhinestones. Those rhinestones better clean my house and make my kid his lunch, is all I'm saying.


6. This, tied high in a tree.

7. This, sitting underneath a tree.

8. While waiting in line at the pharmacy one night, I stood behind a Guy. He reached the front of the line, and:

GUY: Nathaniel Archibald.
ME: No way!

[awkward pause]

ME: I'm sorry. You must get that a lot.
GUY: Um. Yeah.

9. One of my very favorite restaurants in the city is called Zen Palate. It's a lovely Asian vegetarian restaurant with tasty dishes named things like Wheel of Dharma and Mushroom Forest. Until about three years ago, their Union Square location was one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city. It was three levels with interesting stairs, gorgeous wood beams, rich metallics, it was just an excellent place to eat. And in the grand tradition of capitalism, their landlord tripled their rent or something horrible like that and they closed. They just relocated a few blocks away. Here's what moved into the gorgeous space Zen Palate was forced to vacate:

Have you ever found yourself standing in the middle of a crowd and taking in your surroundings and just wanting to scream at the top of your lungs? I did not do that when I saw this. But my innards did.

10. On the corner of my street:

a) Four people, not together, all walking tiny lap dogs on leashes.
b) The four people and their lap dogs stood around an abandoned grocery cart, lying on its side under a tree.
c) Inside the shopping cart was a vacuum cleaner.
d) Nobody moved. They all stood there with their dogs, considering the vacuum cleaner, for at least five minutes.

It was like domestic performance art.

11. It was not a grocery store–themed restaurant so this seemed kind of random and kitschy for the sake of kitschiness (and the restaurant was not kitschy either), but even so, kinda cute:

12. Ugh. I have rage. ZPELLING, PLEEZE.

Note: The best Ben & Jerry's flavor is S'mores. Just fyi.

13. You may have heard that last week, New York City experienced some storm activity. Or, like, armageddon, which is really what it was. I missed the End of Days because I was at work, and in the cave of the Us Weekly offices, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man could explode in front of our building and we would know nothing other than the fact that it may have gotten darker outside. So by the time I left the office, the tornadoes had come and gone and I went on my way to the subway. When I got off the train in my neighborhood, though, I walked into ... nature. Branches everywhere. Leaves on the ground like November. That smell. But it was dark outside, so I walked home knowing there had been some damage but not really understanding how much. I didn't know how bad it was until I watched the news and heard a torndado had touched down in my neighborhood. When I left the apartment the next morning, it was The Day After.

I walked Stefen to day care mostly in the middle of the street because trees had fallen all over the sidewalks. They were leaning against the fronts of houses. It was beautiful and exciting and absolutely terrifying. When I got to work, I started watching YouTube videos of the storm and heard stories of skylights flying off the roofs of houses and a crucifix being ripped off the front of a church and landing on someone's SUV not far from where I live. During the following two days, Josh was stuck in his office because of a bomb scare on his block, and half the New York City Fire Department showed up at my building to put out my upstairs neighbor's dryer fire. All of this is to say, I'm going to stop leaving the house right about now.


14. Tommy Lee came to the office. I stood back and watched him from afar, which is probably a good thing because the entire time he was there, all I could think about was his crotch. I never saw the sex tape, but the entire time that very nice man was in our office, all I could think was, There is the man with the very large penis. My friend Colleen is His Biggest Fan, and he licked her face. That may have been one of the kindest gestures I've ever seen a celebrity offer to a fan.

15. Another visitor?


The staff went berserk. Everybody had a Hello, Dolly! story and Carol Channing listened to each one as if people had not been telling her their lame Hello, Dolly! stories through half her career. (Mine: At summer camp in eighth grade, we put on a production of the musical. I could act but not sing, and my bunkmate Ruthie could sing better than anybody at camp, so when it was down to the two of us for the part of Dolly, she got it. I told Carol Channing this story, and Carol Channing said to me, "Well, how do you know you can't sing?" I said, "From all the cringing?" She said, "They don't know what they were talking about. You can sing." I don't care that she has never heard me sing; she set me free. Carol Channing lifted my drama-geek spirit. Love.) Anyway, she was so gracious. Her husband was there, this tiny, lovely man wearing a bow tie. He told us that they were sweethearts when they were 12 or 13, then went their separate ways. After each of their spouses died, a mutual friend reunited them, and they got married seven years ago. I wanted them to stay in our offices forever, though I'm not sure they would appreciate being surrounded by the photos of Sarah Jessica Parker's underpants and Lil' Kim's pasties.

16. Whenever I'm out of the office, a freelancer sits at my desk to help out my boss. When I returned to work after Rosh Hashana, there was a blue plastic water bottle on my desk, still filled about a third of the way. My friend Josh has the same bottle, so when he came in that afternoon, I brought it back to him, but alas, it wasn't his. So I sent an e-mail to the staff, you know, the whole, "If this is yours, please come and claim it." And nothing. Nobody came by, not a bite. People usually pick up their detritus; when an editor left what appeared to be a urine sample on my desk, he came to get it and explained that the Poland Spring bottle was actually his lemon Crystal Light, "but I know what you're thinking." So I put the blue bottle on our giveaway table, these long counters where everybody leaves freebies and food for anyone who wants them. This was two weeks ago. I believe it's still there. Also: A couple hours after I put the bottle there, someone had emptied the water that was left in it and then put the bottle back in the exact same spot. So weird. It's psychological-study weird.


17. My mother-in-law is always looking out for things that we might like. Whenever we see each other, she always has a bag of whozits and whatnots that she collects or sees that she wants to run past us. Sometimes they're very useful (hangers for baby clothes) and sometimes they're random (a decorative washcloth). Here's a random one:

It's a key chain. She thought that because it's a fuzzy little duck, even if it's an Aflac duck, we might want it for Stefen to play with. But here's the thing: It's an Aflac duck, which means that when you squeeze it, Gilbert Gottfried screeches and you want to remove your own head. I told my mother-in-law thank you, but I just didn't think the ideal toy for my son is one that squawks the voice of the most annoying comedian since Jackie Mason.

18. This lovely fella.

Here's the thing about that hat: I LOVE THAT HAT. I love that hat so much that I risked the lives of myself and my progeny to save it. Because it's shockingly hard to find the perfect hat for an infant. And this hat fits his head perfectly and shades his eyes perfectly and it's reversible and I bought it on sale for $2.83. So while we were walking to his six-month doctor appointment last week, it blew off his head and flew directly into traffic on Flatbush Avenue. Now, you might experience something like that and think, Wow, that sucks. I loved that hat. Too bad. I did not think that. I thought, Must run into traffic. So I did. I was actually glad I had Stefen in the front-carrier instead of in his stroller because it made it easier to dodge oncoming cars. Once someone honked, I hung back on the curb and watched the hat with an intense focus I never knew I had, shuddering as it was hit by a car. The second there was a red light, I went straight for it; it was lying on the lane-divider paint in between two cars, both drivers looking at me like I lost my fool mind. (They were correct.) I was just glad it hadn't landed underneath a vehicle, because then I'd have to figure out how to crawl under a random car with my baby strapped to my front. Let's all be grateful for small favors.

This weekend we're going to outlet shops. I'm bringing my good camera for this one.


Blogger aftann said...

Hello my name is Aftann and im from Oklahoma and ive never done this before but some how i came across ur article MY SON IS FLOPPY i have a daughter that is the same she is 15 months old but has other medical problems like central sleep apnea and she is on oxygen 24/7 i would really like to speak with you about ur son and kinda compair notes my email is it would be so helpfull and kind of comforting to hear from another mom that has gone through simillar feelings and emotions thank u for your time

8:43 AM  

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