Sunday, July 31, 2005

I'm an ideer man

Now, I'm no impresario, despite my prodigious organizational skills and deep love of the theater. That said, I have a couple of ideas that are close to being greenlighted. The latter comes from a Thanksgiving dinner with friends a few years back, but I'll be generous with the royalties.

  1. Imagine Broadway darlings Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in a steel cage match. I'm telling you-- boffo box office. New Yorkers' love of cage fighting, exhibiting a spooky periodicity, has waxed again following the NYT's latest foray into midwestern anthropology. And then you've got Broderick and Lane. Two men enter-- and let's be frank here-- two men leave, in all likelihood. Still.
  2. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan: all still alive, apparently. Imagine them united on the off-Broadway stage as a small, plucky theater company. The James Bond Players. Their choices would be eclectic and unpretentious. A fresh take on Neil LaBute, with Lazenby in drag playing the victimized women. Ibsen-- Roger Moore would make a formidable Hedda Gabler. Staged versions of banal American sitcoms of the 1980s, with certain angles played up for contemporary, post-9/11 resonance (The Facts Of Life, say, set in Guantanamo. I'm not wed to casting specifics here, but Connery was born to play Jo). In the summertime, outdoor Shakespeare performances in Tompkins Square Park. All's Well That Ends Well, with Lazenby again rushing around the stage in drag, doing double duty as Helena and the Countess. Gold.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Viva MTA

Surely one of the worst subway stations in Manhattan is the 168th St. 1/9 (now merely 1) stop. There is no stairway or ramp; one must descend into the sewer via stifling, claustrophobia-inducing elevator. Now sweating from every pore, the hapless straphanger is confronted by a hot blast of stench when the elevator doors open. It's essentially an open sewer, somehow populated by your usual mix of rats & mice & pigeons. You've seen worse, you say? I dunno, maybe. This is fairly bad, especially in summer, when it's 160 degrees down there. Why "viva MTA"? They finally turned on some fans on the platform.

I'm pretty new here; I don't know. But I've been told that since the homeless shelter (once the largest in New York) in the nearby Armory closed (to become the New Balance Track & Field Hall Of Fame), many of its previous clients relocated to the subway tunnel on a casual basis, particularly in winter. It may have seemed to be something of an improvement; the Armory was a breeding ground for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. There are "public service" ads on the subways here reminding us that we are not to offer assistance to homeless people; instead, friendly & well-trained MTA employees will do the job. I'm sure they exist; I'm sure they are probably capable & committed; I'm also sure that there can't be enough of them. Never seen one at 168th St., where people in need of assistance lie insensate in various corners of the platform.

The gum patterns are interesting, though. Impressionistic splotches of black hugging the walls, clustering around the bases of benches and maps, corresponding to human traffic patterns. Hundreds, thousands of black splotches, dating back who knows how long.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nuggets with creme fraiche

  • Jumpin' Jesus; lotta traffic from Fitted Sweats. Hope I can somehow capitalize... lure 'em in before they lose interest & disappear entirely. Gotta target the appropriate demographic. Give 'em what they want. Lessee.... can't mock Coldplay any better.... don't know any Silver Jews personally.... ok. An NFL pick.
  • Ricky Williams (+3) over Social Anxiety Disorder. This is a tough call, but I'll go with Ricky in a grind 'em out, low-scoring snoozer. Dolphins fans may disagree, but how can you not have sympathy for the man? He endured hippies studying Ayurvedic medicine for weeks. And he seems like a good, if emotionally fragile, guy. Moreover, he adds much-needed intrigue to the football season. The season has 16 games, 16 overstuffed Sundays followed by 16 empty weeks of desperate groping for a narrative of some kind. Will Mike Nolan wear an authentic 18th century Prussian nobleman's outfit during Niner games, or will Reebok force him to place a logo over his codpiece?
  • I had brunch the other morning in a place that couldn't serve the Bloody Mary I ordered because they were "out of beef jerky." Yes. That kind of place.
  • My friend living in El Salvador has heroically managed to avoid the trap common to many white gals spending time in Central America: becoming suddenly, annoyingly obsessed with salsa dancing. Being a city girl, she offered this observation in a recent email: "It turns out horses really are hung like horses."


Q: Do we like Dignan from Bottle Rocket?
A: Yes. So very much.

As Wes Anderson gets more precious, his movies decline in quality. But they're all good, each & every one of them. I enjoyed The Life Aquatic despite its many shortcomings, including Owen Wilson's Kentucky "accent."

On the Wilson/Anderson partnership, check out this article found on Slack LaLane.

Washington Heights

I live in Washington Heights, in the northwest of Manhattan, where the street numbers approach the Mendoza Line. It's a good neighborhood, all things considered. During the summer, it almost appears to be a parody of the multiethnic urban paradise showcased by Sesame Street-- which, incidentally, was the primary window through which a suburban kid from the Bay Area could view New York in the late '70s/early '80s.

Fire hydrants with FDNY-approved spray caps shower cavorting kids. People actually play stickball in the streets, though they don't wear newsboy caps or baggy suspendered trousers. Dozens of children chase each other around a playground while teenagers practice breakdancing moves on a nearby mat. Old men stand lookout for one another's incredibly scarce parking spots. Malcolm X was killed here, and Clinton drops by once in a while to clean the fat out of his chest, but otherwise, life rolls on without fanfare. Lest I be accused of spearheading some sort of gentrification, I should point out that (a) I'm flat broke, (b) I'm a grad student at Columbia, which has maintained a stable student presence here for decades, and (c) no hipsters would follow me, even if I were to don a lifelike Chuck Klosterman bodysuit. They can smell me.

It's primarily a Dominican neighborhood, though there's an Orthodox Jewish area just north of me. Rotisserie chicken, mofongo, merengue, and Red Sox hats. There's an interesting bar nearby called Coogan's. At first glance, it's just another awful Irish pub. But then you notice all the photos of dignitaries shaking hands with the owner. Gerry Adams was apparently here on St. Patrick's Day a few years back. Manny Ramirez grew up here, so his autographed jersey hangs on the wall (Indians, so as not to offend some locals) alongside a signed copy of West Nile Story by the noted (and sort of crazy, in a good way) parasitologist Dr. Dickson Despommier. And the burgers are pretty good.

I wouldn't be surprised

Check out Huffington on Judith Miller/Plame. Hmm. I guess this, too, is inside baseball of a sort. Or at least the inner part of the casually interested outer circle. So far it's all Ron Kittle, no Fancy Salads.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lil' Robby Cano

Did someone in the Yankees organization tell John Sterling and Susan Waldman to drive Robinson Cano's price up? Do they actually do things like that? Every goddamn time I tune in, they're overpraising the guy. Today, during the Twins game, I heard Sterling intone that Cano had the most supple young thighs of any second baseman he's seen since Davey Lopes. Then Susan chimed in with an anecdote highlighting Cano's prowess with bandsaws. Sterling, not to be outdone, claimed that Cano played a crucial background role in brokering the US-China-India-Australia climate accord. 3,000 miles away, Billy Beane reached for the red phone.

Amuse bouche

Today, assorted nuggets.

  • Chicken: as I find my stride with this here blog, I must strenuously endeavor to avoid gettin' all Wes Anderson & fetishizing the curios, obsessions, and wall-hangings of my youth. Hence no Crazy George post here, despite the strong pull.
  • Beef: is there anyone more worthy of a punch in the throat than Ari Fleischer? Sure, sure, there are more culpable foax. But come on. Look at the guy.
  • Pork: a friend was kind enough to send me some free crap from a conference he was attending. Unlike most conference crap, however, this is pretty good: it's the Genographic Project kit, allowing me to swab some cells from my cheek & thus determine, through genetic markers, where on the giant family tree I hang & where some of my ancestors wandered. I cannot wait to confirm my long-held suspicion that I am the Sun God.
  • Parrot & Perch: Let's all listen to Pavement's "Harness Your Hopes" today.
  • Stoat: Hot enough for ya?
  • Limpet (late update): Hats off to Mr. Johnson (of the spicy & dangerous Fitted Sweats) for the first-- and doubtless last-- namecheck of this blog's short life. This may be the outside world's only route in. Scritchy scratchy.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Free as a Beard

I've never read any Bellow before. I know that he has something of an unassailable reputation, and that he was given to cranky criticism of his contemporaries, which also helps. I'm about a hundred pages into Herzog, which-- needless to say-- is real good-like.

I particularly like this quote: "The echo of the train came back from the straw like a voice through a beard." It's my favorite kind of simile: it conveys meaning, adds richness to the description, and makes little sense. Also: it features facial hair, which is nearly as funny as pork. Few beards of which I'm aware cover the mouth like mossy surgical masks (see; I can do it too). Or perhaps he meant a beard that covers the entrance to the listener's ear. Either way, that's a serious beard. Since I have ballplayers of the 1970s and 1980s on the brain these days, allow me to invoke the beard-memories of Enrique Romo (11 seasons in the Mexican League!) and Gorman Thomas here.


I've wondered intermittently how 46-year-old Rickey Henderson's stint with the San Diego Surf Dawgs has been going. (Incidentally, I'm also shocked that the name of the team isn't SurfDawgs. Maybe the name concatenation trend has mercifully crested.) Turns out our man Rickey has been getting regular playing time, but is hitting only .253 with 3 home runs. But look: the Dude has a .464 on-base percentage, and is 14 of 16 in stolen base attempts. I know he's playing against guys whose baseball ambitions don't extend much farther than wowing the fellas from accounting in slow-pitch softball someday, but fuck. Rickey can still play.

I'll spare you My Memories of Rickey; suffice it to say that his continuing career is disorienting. He was playing during the Carter administration. The Stones were arguably making relevant records when he stole his first base. I've gotta see Rickey again before he retires, but I figure I have a decade or so. He's still be drawing walks when his teammates Johnny Day (2B), Seth Pietsch (OF), and Adam Mandel (OF)-- all of whom were born while he was playing for the A's-- are doughy slobs spending most of their time masturbating to Jessica Simpson clips on TiVo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


All righty. Not sure exactly how this is going to work.

A journal? Not exactly. It's, uh, "public," despite the fact that I don't plan on telling anyone about the damn thing. I guess it would be nice if random members of the public accidentally find their way here and return once in a while. This is low-grade exhibitionism, I suppose; the hope is that it will fertilize my retarded creativity. Don't laugh. There are plenty of examples of activities initiated for the wrong reasons that end up serving higher purposes. Most US food aid in famine relief is surplus grain from oversubsidized sectors. And Gandhi, Solzhenitsyn, Frederick Douglass? In it for the chicks. Also: beer. Though it smelled awful and tasted worse, I first tried it because of peer pressure. Now it's a boon companion, providing sustenance, shelter, warmth, and wisdom. So I guess what I'm saying is that my blog is like some fantastic synergy resulting from the improbable confluence of famine relief, Gandhi, and beer.

I do hope that it improves my relations with the interweb. The roster of sites I visit regularly has shrunk to a handful. With hundreds of millions of options, there's an oddly immutable path dependency to my habitual clicking. Note the links: if I know any of these people at all, it's at least one degree removed. Somehow, the sites were recommended to me; I liked them; they ended up as quick links on my browser. And there they remain, permanent, canonical. Improbable as it may seem, there may be better sites out there. I won't discover them. Websurfing is the single exception to my masochistic obsession with opportunity costs.


This is only a test. If this were an actual posting, it would be filled with amusingly cruel musings about minor public figures, musings I would be afraid to indulge without the cloak of anonymity. It would contain my experimental poetry. It would contain bridge tips. It would contain unpublished irate letters to the editor of the New York Times. It would contain offhand references to badges of indie coolness. It would rock so hard.