Freaking Out Squares

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

BK in tha Hizzouse, Fool

Later for Coney Island, suckas! Hang with me, and you too can spend your Labor Day hauling a bunch of crap that you didn’t pack in time for the moving van from your old apartment in Astoria to your new place in Flatbush, spending two and a half hours in a car driven by an ill-tempered asshat who doesn’t know his dick from his armpit and ten blames you for giving him “bad directions” (BQE to Atlantic to Flatbush to Ocean--pretty straightforward) because you end up all the way across Brooklyn in fucking Brownsville, and all the southbound streets are blocked off because of the West Indian Day Parade, and then starts in with the “bad directions” bullshit again and claims that if you just followed HIS directions (which were what, again? I didn’t hear you mention those until we were about halfway to JFK, dick splint), we wouldn’t have had this trouble until your large, mean-looking friend tells him to let up. That’s a FINE bookend to the lazy, crazy days of summer in the city, and even though he does not read personal blogs, I must again extend my thanks and appreciation to the Pirate for helping me lug my remaining possessions and keeping his cool throughout. After all, he has a real job, and there are plenty of things he could have done with his day off, like clean his ears or de-flea his cat, assuming the little hellion is thus infested, which I don’t believe she is. (Just for the record, for those of you who have never met the Pirate or seen a picture of him, he’s not “mean-looking”, so to speak—just tall, barrel-chested, and hairy. I mean, I don’t call him the Pirate ‘cause he looks like Woody Allen, you know?)

Sorry. I suppose I should have proceeded as though all five or so of you readers had absolutely no idea that my cheap cunt ex-landlady finally made good on her ill-veiled threat to sell the Astoria homestead, but I’ve been awake for only two hours and am still not equipped to milk conceits that have no business being milked in the first place, because it takes me until about 6 pm or so to get to that level of wordsmithery. Anyway, long story short, five days before I left for my trip to Flagstaff to visit DJP, a messenger acting on behalf of the new owners (who are about as decent, honest, and principled as you’d expect and still manage to look like Cardinal Cooke next to Cheap Cunt) showed up at 8 pm with eviction notices. This was not a complete surprise to any of us, as my now-former neighbor Feline Bill discovered that the folks CC had told him were there to appraise the house for a new mortgage were, in fact, realtors and potential tenants when they asked him where the property line was and, when he asked them what bank they were from, froze up, turned tail, ran a couple hundred feet down the block, and started screaming at each other in Greek. But denial is a powerful river in Egypt, and FB’s wife Mrs. Rosewater and I managed to convince ourselves that there was no way in hell CC was going to be able to get anyone to buy a rickety old frame house with roach nests and holes in the wall except to tear it down, and what the hell could they possibly put there, given that the property is not that big and the house leans up against the one next door? Add to that the fact that CC was “supposed to” give us some kind of official notice (although, since none of us had leases, she was not legally required to do so) that she was selling the house, and…well, assuming there is such a thing as a benevolent cosmic force field (there isn’t), the frantic confabulations of two overeducated, underemployed slacker artist types with no place else to go ain’t gonna shake it into action on your behalf. Moral: If your Cheap Cunt landlord/lady starts making noise about refinancing the house for a mortgage, log onto Craig’s List without a moment’s thought and look for a new place tout de suite. Simply asking if the bastard/bitch is fixing to sell the house is naught but a quaint idea, as Feline Bill discovered when, about two weeks before we got notice, he did just that and CC looked him straight in the eye and lied her sleazy ass off. Bitch. It’s too bad none of us will be there to see the look on her face when the IRS shows up at her door and discovers we’ve turned her in for tax fraud. Va funcullo, stronta! *

Another word of advice: If you’re fixing to get a place in Astoria and have no roommate, money, or steady employment, nab one of the three posthaste. I started pounding the pavement about twelve hours after the news came down and quickly discovered that the chances of my finding a one-bedroom with more than just, say, a holding cell-sized living room/dining/kitchen area for under $1200 were about as good as the possibility that there is, in fact, a benevolent cosmic force field. There were a good many three-bedrooms for only $2100, which would work out splendidly if the two other entities sharing your apartment were not of the species Felis cattus, or if said beings were able to keep you solvent by starring in Fancy Feast ads. My beasts are gorgeous little critters, to be sure, but I consider myself lucky when they ootch out from under the futon and butt me with their pretty little heads. (Actually, that’s somewhat of an exaggeration. They’re totally cool with me these days and Fitz has even progressed to the point that she’ll let my dad touch her nose, but they’re still way too schizy to go into show business. Pity, that.)

I figured Astoria was done when I called yet another realtor the day I left for Arizona and he rudely informed me that I must be dreaming if I thought I could get a one-bedroom that would take cats for under $1200 in Little Athens, and why didn’t I just get a roommate, for chrissakes? (Fuckhead. Oh, and by the way, I do realize that Queens is a large place, and I need not have limited my search there to Astoria/Long Island City. It’s just…well, it’s Queens. I hate to be an obnoxious git, but I’m not much of a fan. Too suburban for me, ultimately.) DJP seemed keen on my getting a pad in Sunset Park, which is a still-reasonably affordable, if somewhat hip enclave in southwest Brooklyn that did present a few worthwhile opportunities, including a couple for under $1000, but those were, predictably, snatched up by the time I got back to the city. I did look at a place on Third Avenue, but it was the size of a walk-in closet and the building was right under the BQE, and it was $1250 a month. The dude who showed it to me tried the “Well, I see tons of apartments, and let me tell you, you’re not going to get much better than this” line that almost got me when I was an idiot grad student looking for my first real place, and I was thrilled to be able to inform him that I had just visited a huge railroad flat in Bushwick that was going for $150 less than that shoebox, and nearly catatonic with glee when he didn’t know what the fuck to say to that. (Man! That Bushwick apartment was the shit. HUGE eat-in kitchen, two big bedrooms, and a good-sized living room with a fucking fireplace at the front. If only my credit weren’t so diseased and/or the landlord didn’t put so much stock in a person’s credit rating. I realize they need some sort of yardstick to weed out potential deadbeats, but I do think that credit rating is fundamentally inaccurate, because if an indigent person has to choose which bills to pay, she’s going to let the credit card and doctor bills go before the rent and utilities. You know, because you need a place to live, and it needs to be inhabitable. Comprende? That’s the way I do it, anyway, but I do have quite the track record of doing things exactly opposite of Everyone Else, so why should bill paying be any different?)

So I wasn’t too hopeful when, almost as an afterthought, I stumbled on this $1050 a month place on Ocean Avenue in what the immensely kind realtor told me was Flatbush, but appears on most maps as a no-man’s-land between Lefferts Gardens, South Park Slope, and the aforementioned. (Park Slope Southeast? South Lefferts Gardens? Northwest Flatbush? It’s all a bunch of bullshit, really, when all is said and done.) I was even less optimistic when he showed me the place, which was gawjiss, with a renovated kitchen and bathroom and a big long hallway and a living room the size of my first apartment on East 62nd Street, which was renting for $1425 by the time I moved out in 2001, and I had to fill out yet another credit check form. Figuring I was pretty well fucked, I priced out a couple more places in Bushwick, but I kept putting off actually viewing them because it’s kind of a right pain in the ass to get to Bushwick from Astoria, and besides, I didn’t get the best vibes when I went to check out that lost, lamented railroad flat. It’s not that the neighborhood seemed dangerous—there were tons of people hanging out on the street, listening to salsa music and running in and out of spraying fire hydrants—it just seemed…I guess “desolate” is the word for it, as though here was this safe, if slightly seedy neighborhood with tons of people hanging out, but it was, literally, on the moon, or the apocalypse had come and gone and yet people were still there. (Maybe there’s some truth to the latter, given the place basically went up in flames during the ’77 blackout. Those were the days…)

Anyway. Long story short, the new landlords decided my credit rating wasn’t too much of a liability, and they let me have the place, which they would not have done if my dad weren’t my guarantor, but whatever, who cares. And so, here we are. I’ve been here exactly one month now, and it was just yesterday that I got the last remaining crap out of old place to dump it unceremoniously in that big bowling alley of a hallway. Mind you, there’s still a lot of crap remaining at the old place, most of it belonging to Cheap Cunt, who figured that anyone paying $950 a month including utilities for a two-bedroom in Astoria hadn’t the right to complain about sharing her living space with volumes of ancient Greek tomes and computer equipment from 1985, but since that place has a date with the wrecking ball sometime in the not too distant future, I figure the new owners can just suck it up and deal. No point in making it easy for them—it’s not like they’re a bunch of stand-up guys trying to make an honest living. Hey, Eichmann was just doing his job, too, motherfuckers.

I actually have to run up to Astoria today and give the new owners my keys so I don’t have to show up in court tomorrow and do it there, so I’m going to have to wrap this up shortly. Today was the first time I actually took a look at the summons, which I found slipped under my door at the old place about a week ago, and in particular its component known as the Affirmation of Service, which is basically just a page stating that at such-and-such a time on such-and-such a date, the attorney or a representative served papers kicking me to the curb. What shocked me was the physical description—first of all, that they require one (I suppose so they can hunt me down if I fail to appear in court), and that this ass monkey who served me listed my weight as two hundred and eighty pounds. I’m sorry, but…who in the what now? I realize I’m the size of a truck these days, relatively speaking, but ain’t no way, no HOW I weigh TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FUCKING POUNDS, YOU MENTAL MIDGET! Hell, my DAD doesn’t even weigh 280, and I think if you saw the two of us standing next to each other you could pretty safely say that, even figuring in height, the padre is packing significantly more tonnage than his deadbeat daughter. Unless this is some idea of a joke, or perhaps an attempt to goad me into calling them up and returning my keys (as if the prospect of appearing in court in Jamaica weren’t incentive enough), there are no words.

Signing off for now, but tune in tomorrow or Friday (I swear!) for part two of What I Did On My Summer Vacation: The Interdimensional Fourth of July Adventures of DJP and the Alexandrian K-Whales. It will make a lot more nonsensical sense when you read about it, I promise.

PS. Just to make sure I was right and that livery driver was, indeed, an utter asshat who was lucky if he could even figure out how to get to Brooklyn, period, I checked my map and lo and behold, Atlantic Avenue runs smack into Flatbush Avenue at the Atlantic Center Mall (there’s a Target!). Took a cab home last night and Atlantic was still running smack into Flatbush. Bad directions, my ass. All you gotta do is turn right, fucker. Yeah, you’re welcome.

*Cheap Cunt is actually Greek, but I don't know how to say "go fuck yourself, whore" in her native tongue.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Was Kidnapped By A Band of Brigands and Held As the Love Slave to the Sultan of Adair!

And that, folks, is why I’ve been mostly incommunicado for the past two months. Except, of course, it isn’t.

There are a whole bunch of reasons I haven’t posted, most of them stupid or insane. I certainly haven’t been busy—god forbid my temp agency actually finds me work or something equally radical. Per usual, I thought it was my fault; after all, I let my first boss convince me that the reason one of our clients didn’t receive a UPS we sent him was because I failed to notify him that we’d sent the UPS, as if that immense blizzard in the Chicagoland area had nothing to do with it and she couldn’t have notified the guy herself, the fucking bitch. (Nota bene: I am NOT stupid, except when it comes to my involvement, however superficial, in things gone awry.) Anyway, unless my old belief that I emit evil cosmic vibes/have a scarlet letter “A” on my forehead/secrete noxious poisons is true, it’s not my fault that I can’t get work; it’s the economy, stupid. I went to two other temp agencies, one of which actually did manage to get me four days’ work at an exceptionally high pay rate, I think, for doing nothing except playing on the Internet and answering the phone. Since then, though, nada. Feh.

On the sort-of bright side, I found out that I am eligible for unemployment any week I work three days or fewer and gross less than $405.00. That’s kind of awesome, but dammit, I feel like such a slug. I don’t care if I am allegedly entitled to government handouts, er, public assistance; I still can’t get over my childhood conditioning that “bleeding” the “government” “dry” is sinful and selfish. As a pragmatic socialist (tm The Pirate), I am 100% in favor of the “government” (why the finger quotes? Watch the news, and I don’t mean Fox) establishing social programs to help those in need. That is its responsibility, particularly since it is also responsible, in no small part, for creating the conditions leading to the necessity of so many US citizens relying on public assistance just to be able to afford a box of Tuna Helper (and murdering Ethel Rosenberg in cold blood, the fuckers! Tell everybody!). As an overeducated, underemployed, over-privileged white chick, however, I just don’t think I have the same moral entitlement to public fundage—unless, of course, I get an NEA grant, which, come fucking on. But hoes got to eat too, so I’m taking it. And frankly, I think I’m a better cause to support than the Iraq war, ‘cause I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna learn how to fly. So fuck you, RNC, Bible thumpers, and other assorted demons in and out of my head.

By the way, MS Word is telling me that “fundage” is not really a word. Maybe it isn’t. If one of you three readers would please let me know either way, I’d greatly appreciate it. I was distraught to learn from The Pirate that “healthful” is not a real word, and he’s…well, I was going to say he’s never wrong, but this one time we were talking about Auschwitz and he claimed it was liberated in April 1945 because that’s when most of the camps were liberated. That’s true, except the Auschwitz inmates were, um, lucky enough to have been liberated by the Russians on January 27, 1945. Where do I pick this stuff up?

Anyway. If my White Liberal Guilt failed to impress you, maybe this will: I was recently accepted into a troupe called The Actor’s Project, which is a sort of workshop/performance-oriented operation that culminates in a showcase at the end of the “semester” (since this is not technically an acting school, I don’t suppose that’s the proper term, but I don’t really know what else to call it). Ostensibly, casting agents and other Persons of Note show up at these things and baby, put your name in lights if they like you enough. Listen to your mother—those stage and movie people got there because they’re special. And whorish! Don’t forget whorish! Seriously, though, growing up in an epicenter of Rush Limbaugh fans and religious zealot guns nuts will fuck with your idealistic, artsy-fartsy head to the extent of convincing you 1) you have no chance of scoring any work, no matter how minute, as an actress, so why don’t you just get an accounting degree from Penn State Harrisburg and work for the PA State Legislature until you find a nice husband, which you won’t because 2) you’re a complete whore for wanting to break into acting in the first place! Don’t you know that life upon the wicked stage is not only never what a girl supposes, it’s roughly akin to Mary Magdalene’s original profession? Repent, sinner! Blow, Gabriel, blow! Sit down, you’re rockin’ the boat! (Oops, there I go with musical theatre references. That must mean I’m gay! Hee.)

I’ve also started writing for a film website called The Aspect Ratio, which affords me no guilt at all, because it’s writing, which requires brains, unlike prancing around on a stage with my tits a-bouncing like some WHORE! Also, it prevents me from taking up too much space in the physical world, which is a good thing for a woman (although, if you check out this article in the current issue of Bitch, female bloggers hardly dwell in some kind of latter-day feminist Eden). Actually, it’s been a lot of fun, not least because our “Best Films of the 1970s” list made IMDB and we received a lot of angry feedback for failing to post Chinatown and The Exorcist (we did), not to mention Rocky and Saturday Night Fever (hey, life’s a bitch, folks!). One fellow (how sexist—as if a woman couldn’t be equally idiotic!) claimed that Ingmar Bergman died in the 1960s, even though he was still making films in the 1970s. My, that’s a neat trick, along the lines of “I was walking down the street and I turned into a coffee shop”! And by the way, Bergman is alive and semi-well in Sweden; as of January 2007, he was recovering from hip surgery. How did I find this out? It’s the damnedest thing, but I looked his ass up on IMDB—the same place, presumably, that this Mensa member found our list. Oh, my brain, how she doth bleed.

Lest you think God’s in his heaven and all’s right with me (and we can’t have that—I HATE those fucking people, don’t you?), I spent about two weeks mired in a deep, paranoid depression engendered by shabby treatment at a couple of extras’ agencies I went to, which just plunged me right back into the early 1990s and my sixteen-year-old self, stuck playing Jan in Grease! because I was “too fat” to play Rizzo (side rant: Our director, who alternated between Coolest Teacher in School and Total Fucking Sexist Prick, was adamant that whomsoever he cast fit the character descriptions. It was my fucking luck that Rizzo was described as “thin, Italian-looking.” The part eventually went to a girl who fit both those criteria, but not before said director originally cast a blond soprano with baby fat. The FUCK? The only thing I can surmise is he thought our idiot townspeople would rip up the auditorium if this girl were not cast in a lead role. Thankfully, my friend MarkRickSteve, the student director, talked him out of it. I still got stuck playing Jan, alas) and the devastating realization that most of the public regarded me as some kind of tap-dancing fat minstrel instead of a Great Talent. Oh, yes, and that vomitrocious Blues Traveler song throbbing through my soul--does it matter which one? It got so bad, I refused to even post my picture on Friendster, choosing a shot of a proboscis monkey in its stead. Therapy helped; I am now defiantly proud to announce that my mug adorns both Friendster AND MySpace, although I still can’t get it to load here. So, if you want to see what I look like, click here. If you’re one of the date rapists with whom I attended middle school, high school, or college, and your sole interest in viewing my picture is so you can post some kind of ass-fuck comment about how I’m still an “ugly fat fucking bitch,” well, in the words of John Turturro in The Big Lebowski, don’t. Fuck. With Jesus! (Thanks to the guys and dolls—twitch!—who said nice things about my picture. You all were more instrumental in bringing me out of my black hole than you might think.)

I’ll be heading out of town on the evening of July 3 to visit my dear friend DJP in Flagstaff, whose thank-you gift for complimenting my headshot will be a private screening of The Star Wars Holiday Special and a bottle of medium-expensive whiskey. But I’m sure I’ll find something about which to foam at the mouth and fall over backward before then. Lucky us.

Monday, June 18, 2007

It's Been Almost Two Months...

...and this isn't even a "real" post, although I'm sure it's much more worthwhile and substantive than anything I have to say. Read it and weep--I'll pick up later this week. Oh, and thanks to the Pirate for sending me this.

June 18, 2007
White House can’t ‘cherry pick the laws it likes and the laws it doesn’t’
Posted 2:05 pm | Printer Friendly | Spotlight

Digg this • Add to • Email this

We’ve known for a while that the president has a nasty habit of issuing “signing
statements,” through which Bush tells Congress which parts of certain laws he’s
decided to ignore. Senate Pro Tem Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and House Judiciary
Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) recently asked the non-partisan General
Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, to look into how these
signing statements affect administration policy.

The GAO issued its report today.

Today, the nonpartisan General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report
which found that in a limited number of Presidential signing statements
examined, the Bush Administration failed to execute the law as instructed in
over 30 percent of the cases.

GAO researchers found signing statements in 11 of 12 appropriations acts in
fiscal year
2006 and examined a sample of 19 provisions with which the President
expressed concern in his signing statements. The President objected to, and
federal agencies failed to execute, public law in six of those cases - 30
percent of the total sample.

“The Administration is thumbing its nose at the law,” Conyers said. “This
study calls for an extensive review of these practices, something the
Administration has so far refused to do.”

Added Byrd, “The White House cannot pick and choose which laws it follows and
which it ignores. When a president signs a bill into law, the president signs
the entire bill. The Administration cannot be in the business of cherry picking
the laws it likes and the laws it doesn’t.”

It’s worth noting, as Paul Kiel emphasizes, that the GAO’s report said,
“Although we found the agencies did not execute the provisions as enacted, we
cannot conclude that agency noncompliance was the result of the President’s
signing statements.”

On this, the GAO is agnostic. In other words, we don’t know that the executive
branch failed to follow the law because of the signing statements; we only know
that the president issued a signing statement questioning certain provisions of
the law and then, lo and behold, the administration ignored those provisions.

And what kind of measures are we talking about?

Some of the most troubling instances that the GAO examined include:

- The Defense Department did not include separate budget justification
documents explaining how Iraq war funding was to be spent in its 2007 budget
request, as required by public law;

- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not submit a proposal
and expenditure plan for housing, as directed by Congress;

- Customs and Border patrol did not relocate its checkpoints in the Tucson
area every seven days, as directed by Congress.

The full report is online (.pdf).

Byrd concluded, “This GAO opinion underscores the fact that the Bush White House
is constantly grabbing for more power, seeking to drive the people’s branch of
government to the sidelines. Too often, the Bush Administration does what it
wants, no matter the law. It says what it wants, no matter the facts. We must
continue to demand accountability and openness from this White House to counter
this power grab.”

Sounds right to me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Boerum Hill, Bayside, Red Hook, And Points South

I’ve never been one of those people who make the most of long stretches of unemployment, using them as an opportunity to brush up on my now-almost nonexistent Russian, read The Grapes of Wrath, or hell, even clean the house. (Especially cleaning the house! My god, who do you think I am? I guess those kibitzers back home were right when they told me no man would ever want to marry me!) No, I typically use my weeks off to listlessly search for employment, rack my brain for something that can remotely pass as interesting to post on here, and flog myself for being a spoiled white brat who can afford to piss around “finding herself,” supported by regular cash infusions from the Bank of Dad. I can’t even make an effort to rehab myself into respectability anymore, like I could when I was in my mid-twenties and thought there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t fulfilled by marketing skate shoes or entering invoices into a computer for eight hours a day. (Actually, I probably could have stomached the entering invoices, had I been in the employ of, say, a hole-in-the-wall theatre company run by a bitchy flamer with a heart of gold instead of a pharmaceutical PR firm where my boss was a bitchy, frumpy Lawn Guylander who pulled shit with me like claiming she’d given me the rent bill when she hadn’t and ordering me to pick up the oatmeal wrapper she left on the kitchen counter while making all sweetie-sweet with everyone else. Anyway, my celeb BFF has written a whole book about this, and she did a far better job capturing the ritual degradation of peon desk work than I certainly can at this hot, sleepy point in time, so do us all a favor and buy it.)

I have actually committed to registering with Central Casting, but as I believe I’ve already mentioned in these pages, you need a Social Security card to sign up with them, and I don’t have one at the moment thanks to that fucking bitch who stole my wallet and my own stupidity for keeping my Social Security card in my wallet in the first place—precisely what the Social Security office itself tell you NOT to do. So now I have to go through the process of replenishing my identification documents, a task which, in my book, rivals logging invoices and watching paint dry for a good time. I hate standing; I hate lines; I hate standing in lines, and I’m not looking forward to hauling my ass into Manhattan to do exactly that. But I suppose this is as good a week as any (hey! That just made me think of Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! and that whole “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking/drinking/amphetamines/sniffing glue” schtick), so reckon I’ll be taking the big trip to the island of Manahassa sometime in the next couple of days so I can sign up for the ritual degradation of peon acting! Movin’ on up to the East Side…

Hauling ass into Manhattan to shift back and forth on the balls of my feet in a government office may be (and is!) about as easy and fun as pulling an infected molar out of my cervix, but doing same to Brooklyn to write fiction at a café is rather like flossing, I have to say—so eminently satisfying that I wonder why in the Good Gourd I don’t do it, like, every day. (Well, for one thing, it can get expensive, and flossing is mostly free, but…) My already precarious mental health necessitated that I break with my unemployment tradition and flee this cave I call home for the wilds of
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
and the shelter of the legendary (to me, at least) Boerum Hill Food Company, an unassuming little boho/slightly-hipster-but-not-so’s-it-makes-me-wanna-take-strychnine java joint right off the F/G at Bergen Street. Not coincidentally, the Boerum Hill Food Company is also where Ayun Halliday wrote her first book, The Big Rumpus, and since I’m a crazy stalker and she plugged the joint in the thank-you notes in said tome, I figured what the hell. (And I’m not a crazy stalker—AH and family are in the Balkans until Friday, and as soon as they return, I’ll be confining my writerly activities to the cafes of Park Slope or the far more down-to-earth Greenpoint because I am respectful. So there.)

Alas, I digress. So, yeah, the Boerum Hill Food Company was worth the trip—it’s food, after all, and hot coffee, and it’s not part of my usual stomping grounds, which are limited to good old SoAs/LIC, Gramercy, and the West Village, for the most part. The young lady working the counter was the sweetest person in the world, and I don’t know her name but she has a dark blond ponytail and groovy black-framed glasses, and I think she works on Tuesdays, so if you happen to pop in, tell her the girl from Astoria says hi, and profuse thanks for her gracious hospitality. Added enhancement came in the form of a precocious but not bratty second-grade girl with whom I had a sweet conversation about how to make a lowercase “k” in cursive, a two-hundred-pound prima ballerina named Alexandra something-or-other, and the contents of my notebook, which would be the fiction project I’m attempting to craft. Odd, isn’t it, that I’ve lived in this great city for eight years and change and I’m still writing about good old all-American fascist high schools. In fact, the working title is “Claudia Schatz and the All-American Fascist High School.” Rather cuts to the chase, don’t you think? Don’t worry, I didn’t tell the little girl that—she didn’t ask, number 1, and number 2, I don’t tend to blow the minds of other people’s kids, baby, unless specifically invited to do so.

While we’re on the subject of der Kinder, you know that story about how when a couple is trying to have a baby, and the second they decide to quit trying and adopt, the woman gets pregnant? Well, lemme just say that the second I trounced out of this house to go writing in Brooklyn, my temp agency FINALLY called me with some work after six weeks. Answering the phone at a doctor’s office, nine to five, no problem, except the clinic is in Bayside, which is way the hell out in Queens—so way the hell out, in fact, that no subways reach it. Eep. As a tenderfoot who never takes buses and likes to sleep real late, I almost balked at the idea, but after six weeks, I really was in absolutely no position to turn down anything that came my way save, perhaps, a day’s work in an abattoir in Bayonne. There’s NO good way to get THERE from Queens.

But I’ve heard nice things about Bayside—according to Kevin Walsh, author of Forgotten New York: The Ultimate Urban Explorer’s Guide to All Five Boroughs, “the neighborhood has always retained a small-town atmosphere,” and while small towns in America make me scratch frenziedly at imaginary fleas, small towns within the five boroughs are nothing if not kind of awesome. And as it turned out, I didn’t have to take the bus after all! At the end of the 7 line, Flushing-Main Street, all you have to do is walk two blocks south to get the Long Island Railroad, which will drop you in Bayside in eight minutes. If you catch the 8:40 and walk fast, you’ll get to work only two minutes after nine, which is an improvement over your usual twenty after, which you always blame on train trouble. (Jeez, all of a sudden I’m Jay McInerney.) I’ve ranted about Upper East Side doctor’s offices on these pages, so let me just pause and say the folks at Premier Healthcare are a much-needed break with uppity tradition, treating the temp like a human being and offering her free coffee like everyone else and chatting with her in the lunchroom. The one rude doctor I encountered was on the phone, barking at me to find someone’s bloodwork NOW, as if that information were just shimmering readily at my temp’s fingertips. Prick. Probably on the Upper East Side himself. Only other slight bummer was discovering that whomsoever is in charge of these things blocked AOL and MySpace—for security reasons, I suspect, since no one seemed to mind terribly that I spent my time between phone calls assembling a cheap restaurant list with the assistance of the Village Voice and New York Magazine. To cap off the day, I found a little Japanese cheap goods shop on the way back to the LIRR and bought myself some pretty l’il 99-cent earrings. Yay yay.

The next day, Friday, found me haulin’ it to
Red Hook
, a neighborhood I’ve always wanted to visit but balked at because to get there, you have to take THE BUS. (I’ve also always balked at seeing On the Waterfront, which was filmed in Red Hook, because Elia Kazan wrote it as justification for turning in his friends to HUAC, although I suppose I’m not doing Kazan any harm by watching it now, so I reckon I can stop being such a silly ass and stick it in my Netflix queue.) But my friends Brook and Mr. Shangles have been keeping house there for quite some time, and I had to give Brook some opera tickets, so no time like the present. And I reckon I can consign my bus aversion to the same bin as the On the Waterfront one, because not only was catching the bus easy, it was also totally fucking cool! At the risk of sounding like a complete stoner rube, MTA buses are rad because you can actually see the neighborhoods through which you’re passing, and unlike those ripoff double-decker jobs in Manhattan, you don’t have to contend with a passel of tourists and an annoying loudspeaker! (I should get over myself—while I never, in all my years as a tourist in NYC, did something as obviously touristy as that, my dad and I did succumb in London, which is kind of silly in retrospect because London is not all that difficult to navigate, and everyone speaks English.) And I must thank the stars that the MTA has a trip finder on its website, because the directions I’d thought Mr. Shangles had emailed to me amounted to “take the G train and then the bus.” In case you’re looking to get from Astoria to Red Hook, take the G train to Hoyt-Schermerhorn (downtown Brooklyn, FYI) and grab the B61 bus, which will drop you off at various points along Van Brunt Street. You can also take the G to Smith/9th and get the B77, which will let you off two whole blocks closer to the Brook/Shangles residence.

After a wacky adventure involving Brook’s doorbell not working and my frenzied quest for a pay phone (which will not happen again, I assure you—I finally replaced my old cell phone yesterday! And it’s a cool cell phone, to boot—it’s silver and flips up and has a camera and everything), I caught up with her in the park at the end of Coffey Street, which is not, as I thought at first, the Red Hook Recreational area but a smaller grassy knoll at the foot of a pier, with a great view of the Statue of Liberty. Per usual, Brook was painting, and she had attracted a little knot of neighborhood kids who wanted to make their own art, which Brook in all her hippie earth mother loveliness handled far, far better than the author of this piece would have, I assure you. We ended up hitting the Pioneer Bar-B-Q on Van Brunt and Pioneer Street for brisket and pulled pork and a pint of the local microbrew, Sixpoint Craft Ale. The bartender was a gruff but friendly old gent who’d grown up in Red Hook, so naturally he was pissed off that “they” were driving up rents a thousand percent and forcing all the old-timers out, but as he also pointed out, there had once been gunfights in the streets every night, so “they” had to do something. I seriously hope “they,” whoever they are, don’t crud up Red Hook too much more with panini bars and hip, fun, and trendy restaurants (please note I fervently believe that “fun” does not belong in the same sentence as “hip” and “trendy” unless used to produce contrast). Compared to Williamsburg and, to a lesser extent, Boerum Hill, Red Hook can still kick it old school—Brook and I were hot to visit the VFW on Van Brunt, but someone has to invite you and, well, no one did—but man, it just brings me down to see those telltale orange signs with the Bloomingdale’s font hawking a restaurant called Bistro 718 or some such tripe. All’s I can say is, those yuppies better not touch Greenpoint if I’m ever going to realize my dream of living in Brooklyn. Seriously, why the hell does “gentrification” have to mean buying up old warehouses and converting them into hip nightclubs where normal people can’t even get a job, much less afford to patronize? If I had the drive and the business sense, I would start a community organization that buys up old warehouses and converts them into affordable housing. I’d make sure to slap some 99-cent stores in the neighborhood, too. Oh, yeah, and some cheap, hole-in-the-wall ethnic places too.

On the way back, I discovered that I needn’t have taken the G train in the first place, because the B61 bus goes straight from Red Hook to Long Island City! Punk rawk! It was dark by the time I caught it, but it was still fun to ride through Carroll Gardens, Downtown, et. al. and see what I’ve been missing. My radio’s batteries had died, though.

As a final note, props and thanks to the always awesome Ruth for her company this past weekend, not to mention the gifts that I should have given HER, seeing as her birthday was April 4. (The gifts were a citrus/cilantro natural oil diffuser and a Sting magnet made from a bottle cap by Sante Fe artist Goldie Garcia. Who knows—maybe I’ll get around to posting pictures.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Freaky White Men

You know, I spent an hour and change yesterday writing a big old reactive post about the whole Don Imus affair, and I’m actually kind of glad the computer ate it, because this whole thing is getting way the fuck out of hand, and I’m nauseated by the way the media keeps humping this story like the proverbial dog at the fire hydrant, and if we’re going to hinge a discussion about racism on this asshole’s remarks, well, I may just have to rip my eyeballs out with a coat hanger and/or move to a bunker in Nevada and broadcast extraterrestrial conspiracy theories on AM radio a la Art Bell. So I will say this: Imus is a dick who made a stupid, crass, racially charged remark, and while I certainly think he deserves to take some well-deserved shit for it, there is a difference between a true racist and a person who makes racially charged remarks yet does not, prima facie, support the institution of racism. Imus, I suspect, is the latter. Rush Limbaugh, whom you may recall made the remark, “Who cares about black people? They’re like 12% of the population,” is the former. And while millions of dumbasses depend on Limbaugh for moral and political guidance, no one depends on Imus for anything (including, I suspect, entertainment). But no one sees fit to call Limbaugh on his OxyContin-laced shit because, as my friend the Pirate pointed out, IOKIYAR (it’s OK if you’re a Republican), and Imus is not, to the best of my knowledge, affiliated with any political stripe. Hmmm. Maybe I should change my voter registration for the sole purpose of being able to spew all sorts of racist, sexist bilge and not get called on it! [/sarcasm]

All righty (lefty?), then! Moving on to What Is Truly Important In Life, my deepest, most insincere apologies to my friend Marcia, who would have had me watch “The Bachelor” on Monday night, but whose edict I cast aside in favor of an awesome documentary about Jonestown on PBS. Ahhh, nothing like spending an hour and change sacked out in front of the tube with a pseudo-religious mass suicide cult! (For those of you who know nothing about Jonestown, the charismatic, if extremely fucked-up Reverend Jim Jones was the founder of the People’s Temple, an ostensibly Socialist organization (yay!) that relied upon good old-fashioned religious chicanery like faith healing in order to manipulate its followers (boo!). When San Franciscans got wind of Jones’s darker practices—he raped more than one of his female disciples, and may have done the same to some of the men—Jones moved his followers to the jungles of Guyana and established the communal cult known as Jonestown. On November 18, 1978, Jonestown came to an end when 909 of its residents drank Kool-Aid mixed with cyanide. I’ve heard that the Kool-Aid ingested was not, in fact, Kool-Aid proper, but a cheaper house brand. Details, details. I suppose it matters to the Kool-Aid marketing department. At any rate, hopefully I haven’t given away too much of the plot for you to lose interest. If you really want to freak yourself out, then listen to the recording of Jones’s voice on the PA system exhorting his followers to “hurry up, we’ve had a good run” as they drank themselves to death. Scary. Check your local listings and all that.)

Apparently I just can’t get enough of those 1970s-era sociopaths, because Tuesday morning found me in the company of the final pages of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, his “true-life novel” account of Gary Gilmore, who murdered a gas station attendant and a hotel manager in Provo, Utah, and was subsequently tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in October 1976. (Hey, me too! Well, I was born that month and year, but y’know, same difference.) Gilmore gained notoriety by arguing vociferously for his own death, which, when it was finally carried out on January 17, 1977, was the first execution carried out in the United States after a five-year moratorium. Now, when I say I was in the company of the final pages of this book, I have to stress the word final, because DAMN, it is one long-ass book. Nine months in 1,024 pages. Jeezus! It’s awesomely well-written, to be sure, and I have to give props to anyone who can crank a thousand-plus pages out in 15 months, especially when budgeting time for interviews, but hell’s bells, Gone with the Wind was 1,037 pages, and that spanned twelve years! What kind of speed was Mailer on that he could squeeze every last drop of minutiae out of everyone from Gilmore’s lover, Nicole Baker Barrett, down to the guy who was supposed to be running the gas station the night Gilmore shot Max Jensen? Seriously, I want some! I can’t even write a page a day without ripping it up and starting over about ten times, fer Chrissakes.

Bleaugh. Anyway, if you have the stamina to plow through a thousand-page book, go for it. It’s worth it, if only for the chapters leading up to Gilmore’s execution, in which Gilmore and his family/friends are, no lie, hanging out and boozing it up in the visitors’ lounge at Utah State Prison. I mean, dag. The Rosenbergs didn’t get a fraction of that kind of treatment, and they were innocent. Ooh, it makes me wonder…

Before I make like a seam and split, I’ve just been invited to post on another blog, Ornery Woman, which you should check out regardless of whether or not I’ve vented my womanly spleen. Hee. (I'm gonna need to after writing about all these dudes.) Oh, and if you can tell me what form of execution Utah uses, I’ll give you a prize. Or something.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, April 06, 2007

So I actually tried to write a semi-thoughtful "political" "essay" on Eric Alterman's little dig at my new beau, Keith Olbermann (yes, it's one of those ten-years-after-everyone-else things, although I feel obliged to point out that the person responsible for getting me to push through my Trazodone fog and post something on here because she's "bored" or some such tripe had not HEARD of Keith Olbermann until yours truly enlightened her, and she should know better. Hee. You know I love you, Responsible Person!), but Blogger erased both drafts of it, and I was so drained from my Herculean efforts to sound far more pundit-y than I actually am that I ended up huddling in bed for two days with occasional forays into the evil succubus known as MySpace. In case you're curious, the dig in question occurred two weeks ago in The Nation, in a column entitled "The Many Man-Crushes of Chris Matthews", and referred to Mr. Olbermann as "taken-for-a-liberal." As Keith himself would say, "How DARE you, sir?" Then again, I'm not the one with a column in the left-wing weekly of note, nor do I have a couple of New York Times best-sellers blasting the liberal media myth, so what do I know? Smoke gets in your eyes and all that.

In other failings, my friend DJP, who is doing the MFA in fiction thing himself, challenged me to write him a story, on the heels of a mini-tantrum on my part about why I don't write much anymore save for this little corner of the internet (no talent, not smart enough, not literary enough, hate it, hate it, and hate it). I accepted the challenge, but I promised I'd deliver him something in two weeks, and, well, that didn't happen. It's not entirely grad school's fault--I've always been one of those writers who scribbles three or four sentences, decides she doesn't like them, and crumples up the page, yelling "I'll never get it! Never, never, never!" a la Don Music of "Sesame Street" fame. And to quote my celebrity BFF Ayun Halliday quoting someone else, "Writing is like pulling teeth. Out of my dick." And that's for "normal" people on a good day! Long story short, pulling teeth out of my metaphoric dick, which we can also apply to exercising and eating healthfully, is not one of my favorite activities to attempt to shoehorn into my lazy, Air Sign slacker life, something about which I assure you dear DJP knows nothing. (Heh! Please, girlfriend--he's all of the above and more. DJP, you know I love you, darlin', and that I certainly don't consider these attributes character flaws on your part. On mine, now, different story, because as various teachers and other busybodies have told me throughout the decades, I want to be "better than that." The fuck?) But slow and steady and so forth.

Oh, yes, and my temp agency hasn't been able to scare up any work for me. Waah! What the freakin' fudge? Come on, it's Passover/Easter season! Go out of town, people!

However...! Thanks to a fellow improv troup-er, I found out about the actor's temp agency that is Central Casting, as in the pejorative "straight out of." If working as a TV/movie extra is YOUR dream--and why shouldn't it be, especially if you're currently working as an "events marketing planning assistant coordinator" a la those ladies who go on "The Bachelor"?--just go to the Central Casting website, click the appropriate tabs, download your I-9 and your W-4 and the registration form, fill 'em all out and show up at the Central Casting offices at 4 pm sharp on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Offer good only in NYC.) Alas, as my friend Muzetta points out, the catch-22 in all this is you really need to be a member of SAG to get good, steady work, and you have to accumulate a certain number of working hours before you can join SAG, which requires your getting work, which is much harder to get if you aren't a member of SAG. Pissbeans! I hope she's at least a wee bit wrong on this point. There've got to be some sketchy, sort-of-under-the-table student films that require non-union background talent to stand around and look pretty (or ugly, or bored, or whatever) for a few days, no?

Before I go, happy belated birthdays to Ruth and Claudia, who both claim April 4 as their points of entry, albeit two years apart. And happy early birthday to my friend Kimberly, whose domain is tomorrow, April 7.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eyeballing It

Took a trip back to Central Pee-Yay, the Place to Be, earlier this week to help out my dad, who at the ripe old age of 58 just had his first cataract surgery. I hear 58 is a little young for cataracts, but in any event, all went well, and having a cataract removed is apparently less of a bother than having a tooth extracted, especially when your doctor is at once deft and decent and doesn't load you up with antibiotics that trigger the dreaded C. Diff bacteria. The only mishap was of my dumbass making when, on the way out of the clinic, I backed up into a Jaguar (!) and cracked the turn signal light. Fortunately, the Jaguar was at least ten years old, it was "just" a turn signal light, and the guy driving it was, like, the nicest guy in the world. So hopefully not too much harm done there, unless the nicest guy in the world does a complete 180 and decides to sue me for triggering some long-buried neurosis or hairline fracture. Which I kind of doubt, but then again, I once believed that if a thief stole money from your account, the bank would give it back to you, no questions asked.

As you may recall, my train trip home necessitates a close shave past Three Mile Island, which is always a source of mirth for a black-hearted, anti-nuke wretch like me. (My friend Marcia's dad likes to tell me that "Three Mile Island is good!" in his Transylvanian accent, another source of bleak mirth, especially since the Marcia family was living in Bucharest at the time of the Chernobyl disaster. I also fondly recall the time my friend DJP called me up at work and helped me waste some time MapQuesting the ol' radioactive holiday camp, not to mention all the "Simpsons" jokes you care to eat.) This trip found me unintentionally, I swear, cueing my portable CD player to Nena's "99 Luftballons"* just as the reactors appeared on the horizon--in both directions. Freaky! I may have to get a copy of Timbuk 3's "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" and stage a mini-tableau.

Other than that, not much else to say about the 'Burg except the obvious. Hasn't changed much, will never change much, still feel a strong pull to move back there and live a socially sanctioned lifestyle instead of fucking around in NYC, especially when visiting the grandparents who genuinely mean well but get all up in arms about my fucking around in NYC, except I'm forbidden to use the word "fuck" and all its conjugations in their presence. Which is okay, really.

*As in the German version, thank you, not the English remake. The next time some teeny-bopper calls up WPLJ's "'80s at 8" and requests "Ninety-Nine Red Balloons", I am going to rip my eyeballs out and fax them to the request line, I swear.

Labels: , , ,