Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Review of Daniel Kitson Analog.ue. And Emoji.

On Friday, December 13 at 8pm, Tom and I saw Daniel Kitson's new one-man show Analog.ue at St Anne's Warehouse in Brooklyn. On Jay Street. Analog.ue is rapid-fire monolog that glorifies moments in time. Kitson cherishes moments in time. He nabs them with tweezers and jams them in preservative jelly. Then he studies them, up close. You can see his breath condensing on the specimen jars and you know he's so into it he doesn't notice. He also doesn't see his fingerprints on the glass.

Daniel Kitson.  Very interesting guy.
Kitson ruminates fiercely over the idea that no one's life is remembered in a comprehensive YouTube video. You can't buy your own Truman Show. Like mine, all your moments in time are scattered across the memories of everyone you know. 

On Saturday, December 14 at 3pm, Nina and I attended the Emoji Art & Design Show at Eyebeam Studios on West 21st Street. Before emoji, emails and texts and Facebook statuses were all rat-tat-tat words. Writing has been picture-free since the invention of the printing press destroyed the feasibility of little sketches in margins and between words. 
Emoji Illuminated Text.

Unfortunately, sometimes it's not data and facts that are important, but emotions. The problem with emotions is that they take sentences and often introspection to communicate. Conversely, if I send you a smiley face, one character tells you I'm perfectly fine with whatever is going on. Imagine if I wrote out, "I'm cool with you being late." I seriously doubt you would take my words at face value. You would find undertones, you would engineer sarcasm,  you would be left wondering. Somehow you'd be mad at me by the time you arrived.

It was at the emoji event that I started to understand the Kitson show; how I admire the man at the same time I want to give him a hug.  Kitson thinks with a lab coat and bulldozer. He quantifies and analyzes. He strips away inflection. In Analog.ue, he removes the humanity further by recording his voice, cleaning and processing it.

I feel like Kitson's reverence for memorized factoids haunts and mesmerizes, but might miss a larger truth. Just like science can explain life but not the meaning of life, memories are not a pile of dates and street names. Memories are simply a sum. A sum of how all these things that added up to our lives changed the people around us. As Maya Angelou said so beautifully, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." 

In the end, the only thing left of us will be the impact we had on others. Our photo albums and playbills and menus from fancy restaurants are hauled out to the trash the moment we kick off. Kitson gets to this inevitability and it depresses him. By siphoning off emotion, our only chance to exist after death slips through his fingers.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Pop, Little Stevie Wonder and JFK



Last weekend, right after Karen told a story about a lost fig, I told Anna that Stevie Wonder had been burning up my headphones for two entire weeks. Stevie has an extremely large catalog. I also mentioned that my friend Michael Goodson inspired this motown marathon. To which Anna replied, "Of course he did." Apparently Michael Goodson has been behind a lot of noteworthy pursuits.

At grandma's house, I slouch over my computer at the dining room table getting bitch-slapped by the Google Play registration application. I turn on some music. My tinny little computer speakers kick out the middle of a Stevie song. Instantly, my pop, who perches on a chair in the livingroom, says, "Little Stevie Wonder, Fingertips Part 2, 1963, 3 minutes and 13 seconds in length."

Pop's well known to rattle off long lists of random facts, but seriously what the fuck? This is the question I pose.

Pop says that when he was in college, living in a house he called the Sugar Shack, he would go up in this little room and shine a UV lamp on his face. Every day for three minutes, doctor's orders. He had oily skin, you see. Instead of bothering with a watch to time the exposure, he plopped down the needle on the Fingertips vinyl 45. This is why he is so intimate with the song and its duration.

But one day, right after he turned off Stevie and his lamp and turned on the radio, the news reported JFK had been shot. That's how he knows the year.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stranded on the Sidewalk on Veterans Day

At Swedish Club on Saturday, I mistakenly ordered a shot of whiskey in a pint of Guinness. Obviously, I don't speak Irish Pub. Nonetheless, I felt like Alexander Skarsgård's grandmother. Every day, that feisty bitch rolls her wheelchair to the farmers market and puts down a couple shots of Fernet-Branca with a beer chaser. Not mixed together though, so I'm clearly rougher.

I got into a conversation about charts and graphs. No Saturday night is complete without a little chat chat about curves. I wanted to say something about outliers. I do not know how to say outliers in Swedish. I resorted to my old trick, make up a word and hope for the best. I went with "ute" (out) + "liggare" (someone lying). Unfortunately, uteliggare means "homeless person" in Swedish. Everyone became sensationally confused and that was the end of that. I went back to figuring out how to get whisky with nothing else in the glass.

Little did I know at the time, but the whole uteliggare incident was foreshadowing. For Monday. When I had the misfortune to discover that my Midtown Office was unexpectedly closed: The New York Public Library, it turns out, shuts down on Veterans Day. I was left out on the street with 5 hours of work to do before a customer meeting and no where to go. Luckily, I've spent half my career wandering around on Midtown sidewalks, so I snapped into immediate action.

I practically sprinted up to that new public space in Lincoln Center. It's a death fight for juice out there on the streets. Only the speediest vagabonds get electrical outlets. I'm snappy when it counts, so I enjoyed a full power situation, until I had to go to the bathroom. The tinier the tank, the faster you lose your squat. People with PCs ask nearby tables to watch their shit while they tinkle. People with Macs do not. Que sera sera.
Midtown. Few Electrical Outlets per Capita.
After that, I was on the move. My discarded options included:

  • The atrium in the Millennium Hotel (Haven't gone there since someone told me they have an on-call Suicide Squad to clean up jumper body parts)

  • The Birch Coffee in the Ace Hotel (wifi and outlets in that little upstairs library, but it's all the way down on 29th, and I'm too lazy to go all the way there. Plus the outlet is kind of in a closet so your cord dangles like a clothesline over moppy hipster heads. Stressful.)

  • The Amtrak Lounge at Penn Station (wifi and 4 outlets if you know where to find them, but you have to march in there like a mofo ticket holder).

In the end, I went over to the Helmsley and hung out in a burgundy striped wing chair on the second floor. There are really fancy cloth handtowels in the ladies lounge, FYI. That's how I like to roll.

At the appointed hour, I headed to my first meeting. Lisa takes me into her office, closes her door and tells me she would rather not talk about business today. She would rather eat chocolate and talk about her husband and how she hid the remote inside the couch cushion and every time he sits down, the TV changes channels or switches to blu-ray and he can't figure out why.

I said, sure. You're the customer. Just sign my purchase order and we can talk about whatever you want, and we can eat as much chocolate as you have smashed in that desk drawer. Also can I charge up my computer while I'm in here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What I want to be when I grow up


When I grow up, I would like to be a geriatric scarlet. Iris Apfel will act as my godhead in this pursuit. I waffled briefly—one time I drifted off for a second, dreamt I was Helen Mirren and felt incredibly calm and collected. But as Iris Apfel says, "More is more, calm and collected is a bore." Actually she doesn't say that.

As a geriatric scarlet, I intend to pursue the following activities with great vigor:

1) When I arise in the morning, I will part heavy midnight blue velvet draperies. The tassels will be brocade. Obviously.

2) All meals will be eaten on china. I'd like to dine on a pattern featuring small fluffy foxes with keen eyes. Foxes are overlooked when it comes to decorative dishware. I saw a taxidermy raven encased in a thousand sparkling crystal marbles at the Met. There will be one of these about.

3) My friend Stuart told me the other day, "When you're retired, somehow you can spend the whole day going to the post office." Perhaps. But just in case, I will hold memberships to museums that offer free movies. Like MoMA. I will put on a seasonal hat and head out to watch foreign language films. If anywhere there is a WunderKammer on display, I will methodically handle every single curiosity.

4) I will find a manservant to bank a fire. There will be furs strewn about. Some of them will be real, because my great-grandfather was a furrier. Geriatric Scarlets notice the fingerprints of our ancestors. 

5) I will take high tea with some regularity. The parlors I will frequent shall be walkups with rickety stairs and leaded glass. I will enjoy petit fours and small chocolate truffles from Kees or Vosges. I will be fastidious about my truffles. It will be annoying. 

When the tea waitress comes by, I will politely remove my Klipsch sound isolating earbuds because I will be listening to "Circles Super Bon Bon" by Mike Doughty at top volume. Klipsch Earbuds are sonically superior.

Danger! A geriatric scarlet must vigilantly avoid falling into a Miss Havisham imbroglio. My cat, Alexander, has sadly succumbed. 



Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Grammy and the Harry Potter Erotica

Imagine a few mildly porny terms. A word or two you'd find on packaging at the Ben-Wah Balls Sex Emporium. Back in the spicy section.

Now picture your grandma.


Now picture looking over your grandma's shoulder and seeing these words printed on cards she is holding in her hand. 


So that happened.


It was all my fault but I'm going to blame it on Tom anyway. I had separated out all the more depraved squealing hog kinds of "Cards Against Humanity" playing cards. Except Tom saw them lying on the table and put them back, all tidy in the front of the box. And then I dealt Grammy those first cards with no visual inspection. 

She laughed so hard she choked on a piece of potato knish. Stay street, Grammy.

Meanwhile my mother, on the other side of game table, somehow managed to get dealt 20 cards and refused to give any of them up. She hoarded "Helplessly giggling at the mention of the Hutus and Tutsis," "Authentic Mexican Cuisine," "A sad handjob," "A tiny horse" and "Rush Limbaugh's soft shitty body." 

I hate it when your mother cheats and then wins and still won't admit she was cheating, even though everybody saw her over there with half the deck.






Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Review of A Review of Sleep No More | The Honey Badger Chronicles

Let us begin with the review in question.  It is a one-star review of Sleep No More by Amaria M:








"I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet."
- Def Leppard


A few weeks ago, Tom and I slipped onto a 1 train uptown. Tom sat down next to a saucy minx with an enormous quilted tote bag nestled in her lap. She twisted like a corkscrew in her plastic orange subway seat, squeezed some savage duck lips, lined up her Android and snapped a selfie. With the flash.

Her hair swished left, her ample flesh went right, a re-duckeling of the lips. Another selfie. With the flash. Sexy squirming. Repeat. 17 glamour selfies in the time it took to get to West 72nd.

Most of the humans in the subway car who were not blinded by the strobing flash were extremely busy taking Vine videos. Mostly, I was just confused. This could simply not be happening without "Pour a Little Sugar on Me" blaring like the voice of god.

I think we must have met Amaria M, yelp reviewer, on that 1 train. Amaria M is like the honey badger. She don't give a shit. She just does whatever the fuck she wants on the subway. She writes whatever the fuck she wants in a review. Here is a short interpretive rendering of her yelp submission, in my own words:

I'm Amaria M and I'm excessively concerned about my handbag.  You might think I have a handbag like this to be so scrunchface worried that the Sleep No More coat check girl would make off with it:

But my handbag looks like this:




Make no mistake, I don't get out much. And when I do, I'm one of those fatheads who hauls my gigantic beach bag purse into a crowded venue and wields it to squash innocent bystanders' kidneys into nutty little samosas.

"You can't blame gravity when you trip over your gigantic handbag and fall on your face."
 - Albert Einstein, except most of the words have been changed.

Wah, I'm Amaria M and I don't read my email but I'm still going to get my ass all ragged over a $5 coat check girl. I've never seen a mandatory coat check girl in New York City in my whole life. And OMG, I had TO PAY. That's outrageous. Everything in Manhattan is usually free.

I'll grant you, it's probably a huge security risk to let lots of people run around in the dark toting huge lumpy personal baggage. Except I'm not talking about "lots of people" here, I'm talking about MEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Let me just throw in a short afterthought about the "actual show." It's literally a mystery to me why I decided to go to an arthouse performance with "creepy anxious orchestral music." I hate the bleeding-edge. I hate weird macabre shit. I'd rather be relaxing at the Olive Garden where there is lots of seating. I knew what to expect because of the Sleep No More NY Times review, 400 blogs, and the website where I bought my tickets, but I thought to myself ... I'm still gonna do this thing. I'm an intrepid masochist with a whole lot of one-star reviews jammed in my honeybadger-skin (faux, but I wish it was real) handbag.

Right now, I'm headed out to buy pants that are 4 sizes too small and give Banana Republic a one-star review for shitty clothing that doesn't fit.

Oh, also, I don't have any friends on yelp. I have no idea why. I'd hoped the creepy doll with no eyeballs would attract lots of other people like me who enjoy watching reruns of Dawson's Creek and eating powdered mini-donuts you can buy at CVS when they go on sale at 9 pm.

#Sleep No More Review #SleepNoMore #McKittrickHotel #McKittrick Hotel #yelp

Monday, September 30, 2013

Is Cher an Indian? The Controversy of Cher's Heritage

Rumors persist that Cher has Indian heritage. Are they true? If you watch this video, the whole half breed thing strikes you as a little dubious:




Cher rocks the outfit, but she's precariously perched on what appears to be a horse that is almost dead. It makes you wonder what kind of Indian would run down to a ponyride, toss aside some ten year old birthday girl and commandeer her mount. Cher's riding style is also suspicious. It is excessively upright. But let's look at the alleged facts:

If you reference Wikipedia, you will find that "Cher's father, John Sarkisian, was an Armenian truck driver with drug and gambling problems, and her mother, Jackie Jean Crouch was an occasional model and bit-part actress with Irish, English, German, and Cherokee ancestry."

Yahoo Answers reports: "Her mother is of French and Cherokee descent. Her father is of Armenian descent. Cher was born in California and her father left her and her mother soon after her birth. She was raised by her mother with American traditions and standards." 


It seems everyone agrees that Pop was a deadbeat Armenian. And Mom's fambo clearly got around. Most sites claim Cher's maternal ancestors undertook sexual relations with the Irish, English, German, Dutch and/or French. 

Not to mix it up, but here's a wrinkle: 



Was Cher born on a wagon of a traveling show? Is Cher a gypsy, tramp and/or thief like she claims in this number? The internet says no. Cher has no troubadour roots. This whole song is one big lie. Moving on.




Mental Floss seems pretty authoritative on the matter: "Prior to 1973, Cher's biography always listed her father (John Sarkisian) as being of Armenian heritage, while her mother was of Irish and German extraction. But when Cher's single "Half Breed" started climbing the Billboard charts (it would eventually hit number one), suddenly she remembered that she was 1/16th Cherokee on her mother's side."  This makes some sense to me, as I relate to publicity whores. 

Here's another reference saying ixnay on the eeCherokay, "Cher's father was born to Armenian parents. Her mother was of English and German, with more distant Irish, Dutch, and French, descent. Cher is also stated to have Cherokee ancestry on her mother’s side, but no Cherokee ancestors are documented on any publicly available genealogies of Cher."

And Cher's IMBd profile says, Cher is  "of Armenian heritage on their father's side, and of English and German, with more distant Irish, Dutch, and French heritage from their mother's side." No Cherokee mention, you will note.

So I think this mystery is solved, subject to the flexible accuracy standards of the internet and my waning interest in further pursuit of this topic. But here's a few extremely important books and videos every Cher fan should really have in their collection. If you don't I'm pretty sure you cannot call yourself a true fan:


Monday, September 16, 2013

Goooaaaal!

Pre-Foosball. Mark on Pier 57
We were on our way back from Pier 57, a pock-marked slab of ancient asphalt and the perfect place for Mark to learn how to ride his spiderman bike. There had been a lot of motivational shrieking. The kid almost pulled off a Triple Donut Dare, but then his chain snapped and that was the end of that.

Wheeling Mark's freshly dead bicycle across a park by the west side highway, we spied a lopsided foosball table tucked amidst the shrubs. Of course we stopped for a game. It was me vs. Tom and Mark. I won, final score 5-3. I scored 7 of the goals. I'm a wild kicker and Tom and Mark were missing half their little guys.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keynote 5 Review, As uploaded to Apple's Feedback Link

Dear Apple,

Maybe you think you are making my life easier with these automatic backups and lack of a "Save As" option, but in actuality, you are causing me to go insane.

Every presentation I give is a variation of an earlier one. So my workflow is this: open up the deck I presented last week to a prospect with the filename "Deck for Mary Smith," begin to edit it for Sam Jones, save-as the new deck "Deck for Sam Jones."

Except with the new Keynote, this workflow is impossible.

As the lesser of evils, I selected the workflow option to make an automatic backup of the deck I open up. So as a first step in the new workflow you've forced on me, I have two files: one named "Deck for Mary Smith"  and the other named "Deck for Mary Smith-backup." Except the "Deck for Mary Smith-backup" is actually the deck I presented to Mary Smith, and the "Deck for Mary Smith" is actually the deck I want to present to Sam Jones.

I can't "save as" to rename a file in Keynote. So I have to remember to close Keynote and go into the finder to rename the "Deck for Mary Smith" as "Deck for Sam Jones." If I forget, I wind up with a complete cluster on multiple levels.

Besides the mis-named file problem, here's another problem. Say I'm still working on the deck for Mary Smith, but I have to take a break. I leave and open up the file again. Now there's a "Deck for Mary Smith" and a "Deck for Mary Smith backup." I'm doing a lot of things at once. How am I supposed to remember if the "Deck for Mary Smith backup" is actually the final deck I presented to Mary Smith (see above example) and the "Deck for Mary Smith" is actually the deck I edited for someone else, or whether, in this case, the backup is actually a genuine backup?

HELP ME!

Before you say, "oh just remember to duplicate a deck in the finder before you begin to edit it?" please reconsider. Why should I hang post it notes all over my office to remind  myself to take an unnecessary step because this new workflow you are forcing on me does not work for me, at all?

And do not suggest to turn off the automatic backup option. I lost about 5 decks by inadvertently editing them before realizing I just overwrote a final file and lost it.

I am so disgruntled about this and it is wreaking such havoc that even though I very much like the functionality of keynote, I'm realizing this might just be a deal breaker.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Labor Day Weekend Schadenfreude

American Rust
 This book I just read, "American Rust," takes place in a small Pennsylvania town named Buell. It's a fictional place where the steel mills shut down and everyone is a meth addict. In other words, it's a postcard from my youth. What I like about this book is that every character gets shafted. Shafted figuratively and even literally, as one character was in prison.

I reek with schadenfreude, you see. I rub it all over my head like glitter and boil it in my tea. It's very decadent, untoward and unsatisfactorily fleeting.

Almost immediately after indulging in any amount of black-hearted gloating, I feel the beady stare of the Evil Eye. If you are an old Jewish woman on the Upper East side, recognizing good fortune is a sure-fire way to attract demons who will take it away. I frantically ward off them off by pretending to spit three times: ptiu ptiu ptiu. There is magic power in showering spittle upon bystanders. You should know this, Bubbellah. 

But I have never been an old Jewish woman from the Upper East Side so I am unclear why my brain has so pertinaciously clenched onto this superstition. But then again, glitter is a morning-after menace anyway so it's probably just as well.

This is a long introduction to my main point: I had a really great weekend.
  1. Tom and I went to see the Book of Mormon. It was a hoot.
  2. I like to go to the beach and not encounter sand, sun, or terry cloth of any stripe.
  3. S'mores. And fire.
  4. I appreciate any conversation in which someone manages to ask, in context, "Who here hasn't looked at ornamental chickens online?" Even better when this is followed by a breezy comment about ornamental roosters, which are of course illegal in most towns. And an ingenious workaround-- fluff up their head feathers so they look like an owl.
  5. Paella, grilled tuna nicoise salad, panna cotta, Kraken rum... Friends who are foodies add a layer of joy to the already high stack of joy I take in their friendship. 
  6. (And now would also be a good time for a shout out to the finest chicken ever smoked, the best cole ever slawed, much thanks Tracie and Andrew.)
  7. I played a card that read, "Rush Limbaugh's soft shitty body" and won a round of Cards Against Humanity. It was as glorious as being a motherfucking sorcerer, catastrophic urethral trauma and opposable thumbs.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Ass Beneath my Favorite Pull-Up Bar

I hover around the pull-up bar. It's the best pull-up bar in the weightroom for people under 6' tall without solid leaping skills. I fit in that demographic and so do many other shorter, less springy folk. We all keep glancing over our shoulder waiting for our chance to move in on the equipment.

A guy wearing blue seventies-style nylon shorts rushes in for a turn before I can cut him off. He does a couple of pull ups and then squats down right below the bar, placing his hands underneath his feet. He straightens his legs, hoisting his ass skyward in some sort of advanced leg stretch maneuver.

After a few minutes, he performs a hop and more pull-ups. Followed by another round of leg stretching. And some pull-ups. I monitor his activity wondering what the fuck limber hamstrings have to do with pull-ups.

I realize that I will need to ask to work in with this guy because this could go on for hours. I also realize that if I do ask to work in with him, I will have no choice but to basically march up and address his ass.

His ass agrees to my inquiry.



#GymEtiquette

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

PersonalCapital has bunched up my Lady Skirt

Lots of manly men at a meeting at Personal Capital.
Photo credit: www.personalcapital.com
I signed up for an account with Personal Capital (https://www.personalcapital.com). It's a half cool financial app similar to Mint.com, but with more investment tracking. Basically, Personal Capital offers many chart and graph opportunities, which I enjoy.

Here's the timeline of this endeavor. Please note how many sentences start with "I." They start with "I" because I perpetrated the action, all by myself, like the Lone Ranger.

  1. I sign up for Personal Capital using my name, my home phone number (which coincidentally happens to be Tom's home phone number) and my email address
  2. I enter our investment accounts into the Personal Capital app. Most of the accounts I enter are the ones in my name, because they are the ones I know the passwords for. I also enter some joint accounts that are in both my name and Tom's name. I can't remember Tom's passwords, so three days go by.
  3. I get one of Tom's passwords and enter a money market account he has.
  4. I tinker around with the available selection of charts and graphs.
Tom was vaguely aware this Personal Capital operation had been set in motion. He was deeply engrossed in a full scale investigation of the question, "Is a Waterbug really an American Cockroach?" Meanwhile, I got back to my usual life-- pouring over Ladies Home Journal, dusting, and harvesting sacks of clover from the front yard. 

Except I'm not a subjugated housewife from 1950, so I didn't really do any of those things; I was just being sarcastic. Mostly I filled my days kicking spreadsheet ass and having fights with commercial realtors who sneak around in the middle of the night changing the suite number on our office. 

But I did manage to check our home answering machine. A dude from Personal Capital had left a message. Here is the message:

"Hi Tom, this is Scott from Personal Capital. I just wanted to follow up because I see you recently registered for Personal Capital. I want to offer you a complimentary financial consultation and analysis that you are entitled to as a new user. Call me to put some time on the calendar."

Tom recounted these goings on to some guys at work standing around the coffee machine. After he got to the part about the culmination telephone message, his business partner paused and then carefully replied: "That was a very bad move." 




#personalcapital

(Something I just noticed which is at least true at a glance: Unless you count a half visible head of long hair in a photo carousel, there's not one woman pictured or listed in a leadership role on the Personal Capital web site. Perhaps all the girl fridays were freshening up their lipstick in the ladies lounge while the company was being formed.)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

11 Things You Must Know before Traveling to Sweden

summer in stockholm
Stockholm in Summer
  1. Summer "is the most beautiful week of the year." It is 75° and blue as Odin's eyeballs. The Swedes celebrate good weather. There is frolicking and mushroom picking. There are weekends in small cabins in the forest with no plumbing because as Camilla has been saying for twenty years "it is a very Swedish thing to pee in nature."
  2. Be prepared for a swim at any time. While at a wedding, it is usually good form to wait until after the service and to put back a few toasts before dashing across the lawn for a quick dip in a lake. If you are civilized, bring along someone who is willing to stand ashore and hold your jewelry while you are in the water.
  3. If you clink on your wineglass during the wedding reception, the bride and groom are supposed to kiss, just like in the US. But if the bride or the groom has left the room and someone clinks on a wine glass, then everybody can kiss the remaining party until the absent party returns.

    Nothing is more heartwarming then watching the groom sprint to the bathroom casting wary backward glances at the distance between his libertine wedding guests and his new wife.

  4. Unless you are a heathen, do not order coffee until after dessert. At that time, you will drink your coffee and eat 7 cookies. If you cannot eat all 7 cookies, the proper thing to do is wrap the leftovers in a napkin and stuff them in your handbag.
  5. If you do not return to the car with a suitably large bag of candy after stopping at a gas station with an attached convenience store, any Swede traveling with you will ooze with disappointment. It is important to fill the bag at least half full, and only with the good kinds of candy. Nobody gets the green gummy frogs. They are the worst.
  6. If there is a sign out front of a gatukök roadside kitchen that reads: 


  7. Lunch special 
    Sausage 
    Legume Salad
    Meatballs 
    - 65kr-

    it does not mean that there are three lunch specials to choose from. It means that there is one lunch special consisting of Sausage, Legume Salad and Meatballs. If you say that you want the "Legume Salad Lunch Special," the lady behind the counter will become deeply annoyed with you.
    She will declare that if you want legume salad you have to get it with sausage and meatballs. At that point, if you ask her if you can instead get the chicken platter but swap out the french fries for the legume salad, she will look at you like you just told her Google has been collecting unencrypted personal data from open wifi networks since 2006. It is a look that will crush you.
  8. Do not use an American creditcard at the gatukök. In Sweden, all credit cards have a PIN. There is no old school printing-and-signing-of-receipts. You hand over your credit card, type in your PIN and it is done. Exit scene left.
    If you give the lady behind the gatukök counter a US credit card and your receipt starts popping out of her credit card machine, she will appear ready to call in an exorcist. If your Swedish friend Henrik tells her at this point that no one has hacked her credit card machine, it is just an international credit card, she will not look entirely convinced.
  9. The Kiss Army is alive and well in Sweden.
  10. The midnight sun means you can hike through the forest to take a dip in a fjord at 11 pm.
  11. Your husband will mention the amazing Swedish ice cream to everyone he meets for a week and counting.
  12. If you are in the village of Åmål and Claes tells you that "the old church burned down" but "the new church was built over there," and you take a look at the "new church" but it looks pretty old, it might have been built in 1710.






Saturday, July 06, 2013

The 3 Nights of Tom

I marched up Church Street in TriBeCa bearing a flag. The flag had previously marked the epicenter of our Midsummer land grab in Battery Park. Which we take very seriously.

SSCNY Flag at Swedish Midsummer
Midsummer in Battery Park, NYC. View from the SSCNY Land Grab

My marching endeavor was cut short by Karen, who absconded with the flag. She could no longer take my so-called "willy nilly" approach to flag bearing. She was in the army, where nothing is especially willy nilly. Karen braced the flag in a grip that clearly took some practice.  I tried to copy her example, but hopping around a maypole like a small alcoholic frog for five hours had really taken a toll on my ability to concentrate.

Our procession of Tom Revelers arrived at the birthday celebration restaurant. Luckily the maitre d' was willing to check the flag in the coatroom because some people not including me felt it might be awkward to gad about a dining room hoisting a flag. Thus began the First Night of Tom.

The Second Night of Tom transpired over sushi. Upon reviewing the menu, Guy noted that the roll formerly known as "Fat Boy" had been hand-corrected to read "Fab Boy." The waiter told us apparently some chunky monkey in suburban New Jersey had gotten their panties in a bunch over the "Fat" reference.

Nonetheless, I was confused. We had just spent the weekend salmoning betwixt a mob of very Fab Boys in high heels and occasionally bare chested beneath rainbow Pride-themed lederhosen. I could see why a lumpy sushi roll with a gloppy shmear of mayo might be a Fat Boy, but a Fab Boy? Oh, please.


Aska in Brooklyn
A delicious Aska trifle depicted on a photo I did not take.
On the Third Night of Tom, we went to Aska and had 17 courses of lovely things meticulously arranged on pottery. The Fab Boy met the Fat Boy right there in the middle and life was really fucking good.



Chef Fredrik Berselius and Mixologist Eamon Rockey of Aska – Brooklyn, NY
The Silly Rabbit. It's a lot of bourbon
if you must know. And I also did not take
this photo. I'm feaster not a flasher.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Uncle Tom and Aunt Stacey: Best Babysitters Ever

Today we babysat Jack and Ella and may I say we are the best babysitters ever. We only lost the children for a very short period of time.

On the way home from lunch at the Ramen joint, the two of them took off across a field and vanished. Not only that, but Jack had Tom's iphone clutched in his sweaty little palms. What a fly in the ointment to lose not only two kids but a phone besides. Of course it didn't take us long to put the pieces together and mastermind an ingenious plan because we are, as aforementioned, the best babysitters ever. I called Jack on the phone. The crumbsnatcher let me go to voicemail.

Eventually, I went with the "find my phone" GPS feature and Jack and Ella were located in their livingroom curled up before the dim light of an iPad playing Angry Birds in Space. Jack had not wanted to answer the phone while he was running. We rewarded his safety-first attitude by letting them watch Tracie's rendition of the Aerosmith/RunDMC Walk This Way video a dozen times. Consensus accords the best part to be when "Stephen Tyler" CRASHES RIGHT THROUGH THE WALL! BOOM-CHACKALACKA!

We discussed how funny it would be if a baby's first word was BOOM-CHACKALACKA. My brother is not pleased that we have taught his children to shriek BOOM-CHACKALACKA as often as possible. Serves him right for stealing five silver dollars out of my piggy bank in second grade.

After that, we rehearsed a theatrical one-act in preparation for Dad's return from the office. The production value remained low, but everyone did remember to bellow their lines at the right time. It went like this:

Aunt Stacey: "I like your nurse's uniform, guy."
Uncle Tom: "These are O.R. scrubs!"
Jack and Ella: "O.R. they?
Full Company: snort snort snort.


Jack by the garbage truck 130624
We spent the morning waiting for the garbage truck.
The kid is obsessed with waste management.

Jack by the garbage truck2 130624
Following around the truck helping out Pete and Ricky

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Incident on the subway in 1939 in which Grampy beat up an Irishman. As told by Grammy.

Bubby and Zayde
In 1939, your Grampy worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He got on the BMT with his gang after work and they were tired. Already on the train was this Irishman who worked at another shipyard. He was sprawled out over three seats, this Irishman, and the train was full.

Grampy approached the Irishman and asked him to sit up. The Irishman said, "Why do I have to listen to you, you little Jew." And before the Irishman had even gotten the words out, Grampy lifted his fist and beat the shit out of him, left him unconscious in a pool of blood.

We grew up in a tough neighborhood, you know this Bubbala. You can't be weak in such a neighborhood. I told you about my first date with your grandfathah, when we were sitting on the trolly in the Bronx and a boy ran past. He was Grampy's good friend this boy. He called out to Grampy, "Hey Roite! I'd stay and talk to your girl but the cops are chasing me."

Anyway, when Grampy got home that evening he had blood all over his jacket and I became petrified, naturally. I thought the blood was his, but it wasn't. After that, Grampy was always afraid to ride the subway. He thought he might have killed the Irishman and they'd come for him, the Irish.

Your Grampy knew how to use his fists. He was a tough guy, you know.

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Hometown Memorial Day Parade

The Annville Memorial Day parade featured a horse-drawn carriage hauling a coffin. My hometown can always be counted on to muster up some morbid exuberance in the name of America.


Little Dutchmen Annville Memorial Day Parade
The Little Dutchmen Rock Memorial Day Parade
The day kicked off in true Pennsylvania style. A flock of leathered up vetrans straddling spit-shined Harleys thundered down Main Street. Then came about a dozen floats bedecked with plastic garden of eden interpretations. Intrepid children perched on folding chairs while the wind smacked them in the face with artificial palm fronds. They held signs selling competing Summer Bible Camps. One of the more promotionally minded outfits had a rear guard handing out lollipops wrapped up in new testament advertisements. If child molesters are good for nothing else, obviously their victim recruitment strategies are worthy of emulation.

We got to see cocker spaniels up for adoption in a pick up truck, followed by a raucous mob of 4Hers whooping it up with a tractor sporting a "Born2Farm" license plate. Seventeen firetrucks, ambulances, the mayor in a corvette, the high school valedictorian and a brass band on a flatbed steel truck rolled past. Then came Fezz'ed out Shiners wedged into miniature cars honking their tiny bleating horns. Goddamn those Shiners are annoying.



Shriners Annville Memorial Day parade
Shriners honking at the Annville Memorial Day Parade.


My childhood friend's highly strung ex-husband marched past toting a banner advocating healthy living. He's now a highly strung medical professional. Back when he used to come around our neighborhood, my family started calling him "The Oven." 

In some unspoken familial pact, we always employed the third person while conversing with the guy: "What has The Oven been up to lately?" "Could I bring The Oven a deviled egg from the kitchen?" "I saw The Oven driving down Manheim Street in your convertible last week." I'm not going to take any credit for the eventual and contentious divorce, but no one in my family unit is anywhere near his favorite people short list.


After The Oven disappeared behind a Chevy bearing six non-winning Miss Pennsylvania contestants, my mother leaned over and informed me that Pop had lost his cell phone for a week. He was completely baffled where he had left it. Finally he found it buried beneath an economy pack of Dots in the center console of their Honda Odyssey mini-van.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Age before beauty is me on NJT


I would never pan out as Miss Subways. First, when it comes to locating MTA stations in Brooklyn, I can most often be found circling the block like a mad cow. Second, the contest ended in 1976. Third, and most gravely of all, I'm no ingenue with big dreams and coifage of any kind.

But if Miss New Jersey Transit were a contest of only strength and skill, I might have a slightly warm snowball's chance at a title. I can do a lot of pushups. I can also pull off the following:
  1. I know, and do not hesitate to take, the shortcut through the garbage tunnel in Penn Station.
  2. I can sit in exactly the right car to jump off the train 2-5 steps from the platform stairwell leading to the exact door to the street which is closest to my final destination. 
  3. I never, ever, get stuck in a seat facing backwards. Barf.
  4. I have long since overcome my curiosity about the chirping bird noises blaring from a single loudspeaker downstairs underneath the NJT departure board near the Krispy Kreme. (But seriously, WTF?)
My commuter craftsmanship stems from brutal repetition. If you do something fifty thousand times, you get good at it. I've been doing the NJT thing since 1998 when they told me I could no longer bum a ride in the Pfizer inter-office mail truck. I haven't gotten on the wrong train since... like... never. So color me shell shocked last week when I boarded the Trenton Local by mistake. 

I had leisurely ambled down the platform in Penn toting a gigantic and mediocre strawberry smoothie. The Midtown Direct to Dover was not scheduled to depart for a full 6 minutes. I stepped onto the train. And the doors closed behind me and we were off. Jesus Christ on a Bike. I was on the wrong train bound for unknown Jersey wetlands.

I flagged down the conductor and inquired how I might most promptly get myself off this train and onto the Dover line. With true good egg sincerity, he told me I could simply switch at Newark Broad Street, no worries. I settled down in a seat and observed the strange habits of commuters going somewhere different from where I wanted to go.

At last, we approached Newark Broad Street. I was not caught unawares. The conductor's voice boomed over the PA, "IF ANYONE HAS ACCIDENTALLY BOARDED THIS TRAIN AND NEEDS TO SWITCH TO THE DOVER LINE, GET OFF AT THIS STATION STOP.

I REPEAT, MISDIRECTED DOVER-LINE PASSENGERS ON THE WRONG TRAIN SHOULD EXIT NOW. AND MIND THE GAP."

Thank you, Mr. Conductor. My Miss NJT crown has now been publicly surrendered. Good luck, Miss June.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Starlight Girls EP by Starlight Girls | Very Short Music Review


Starlight Girls EP by the Starlight Girls
Reviewed after 50 plays

I imagine this band as minstrels. They appear friendly; until vaguely menacing melodies curl around a Boris and Natascha underbelly and you know it's too late. You're completely bewitched. Buy it. Now.

Buy Starlight Girls on Amazon.


Imagine Dragons : Night Vision || Very Short Music Review


Night Visions by Imagine Dragons
Reviewed after 123 Plays on Lastfm

At first I thought this album was uniformly mediocre. Upon closer analysis, I realized that mediocre is the calculated mean average rating. The album has one really good song, a few half decent ones and three candy-coated, gelatinous sugar pop blobs that are just fucking unbearable. They bring down the average something fierce.

Buy a few of the singles on Amazon: Night Visions

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Nick Waterhouse Thankfully Remembered to Bring his ID to the Mercury Lounge 4/7/2013

Nick Waterhouse at the sold out Mercury Lounge show 4/7/13.
Luckily he is over 21 with ID.

Standing outside the door at the Mercury Lounge, Tom and I waited for the bouncer to thoroughly study our IDs. Even with a margin of error spanning a couple decades, guesstimating someone's age by their appearance alone is clearly very difficult. It is completely up in the air what I was doing 21 years ago 1992. Maybe I pulled a tendon accidentally falling down the stairs while performing a drunken rendition of Whitney Houston's hit single 'I Will Always Love You,' or, it is highly likely I was born that year.

Nick Waterhouse's drummer. Luckily over 21.
A pack of guys cuts in front of us. One of them sticks his California driver's license in the bouncer's hand.

Tom is like, "WTF?"

I'm like, "Holy shit, that's Nick Waterhouse."

The bouncer is like, "The end of the line's back there, brothers."

Nick Waterhouse is like, "We're with the band."

The bouncer nods in an "okay then," gesture. He reads over
Nick Waterhouse's ID and says, "Which band you with?"

Nick Waterhouse's sax players.
Luckily over 21.
Nick Waterhouse tilts his head toward the gigantic poster that reads, "Nick Waterhouse! Tonight!" He says, "We're with Nick Waterhouse."

The bouncer grunts, hands him back his driver's license and waves him through.

Lucky for us, Nick Waterhouse kept track of his wallet, because his show was grand and it was gleeful and his band brought down the fucking house. Best show in 2013.

More great photos by Tom



Nick Waterhouse's back up singers.
Luckily over 21.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Probably should get out there and clean up before the Easter Egg hunt...

The turkey vulture eyeballing me
through the bedroom window. 
 I woke up this morning feeling beady eyes gazing longingly at my forehead. I think I heard the smacking of thin yellow beak lips. A turkey vulture menaced me through the bedroom window.

He had obviously flown in for the vulture jubilee on the grass out front. A forelock here, a ribcage there. Is that floppy thing a pancreas?

Turkey Vulture Jubilee
Further investigation revealed a trail of blood dripping up the driveway and over the yard. I'm a jot leery when it comes to predators who can spread their main course over a fifty foot radius. Am crossing my fingers that our dinner guest is nocturnal or this Easter Egg Hunt could go horribly wrong.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sam Lipsyte, Mike Doughty and Myself at Le Poisson Rouge : "The Fun Parts" Book Tour

Thanks for the heads up
Michael Goodson

 I was way too drunk for only 9 pm. Nonetheless, Tom said I won the Q&A. We were front table and center at the Sam Lipsyte "The Fun Parts" book event, which also featured Mike Doughty wearing a suit. Sweet and sexy Dave Hill, moderator, completed the trio on stage. 

A lumpy woman flailing her arms around in the corner earned the first slot in the Q&A. She began, "I write for a living also…" and paused dramatically, toying with the edge of a cream-colored scarf rakishly tossed over her head. It hung like vanilla frosting dripping off a danish.

Two hundred writers within earshot synchronized an intricate eye rolling sequence. I took the lull as an opportunity to order more bourbon.

Sam bustin' a move
It is my firm belief that there is no need to suffer the absence of self-awareness when you can rejoice in it. Accordingly, Writer Woman continued, "I write non-fiction since I'm a historian. But I imagine writing fiction must be a lot easier. You see, I have to ascribe to a reference standard."

There was a moment of dead silence. Sam said, "Jesus."

Dropping my empty rocks glass, I stared at Writer Woman in mute admiration and because I'd lost track of my arms. What glorious moxie. If you are going to hold a little celebration for yourself, you might as well bitch-slap the the person of the hour while you're at it. It's hard to imagine she could be so out of shape considering the number of times townspeople must chase her around with torches.

Sam replied, "My standards are I guess pretty low. I think it is not easy to get life on the page in language. What are you talking about? It's fucking hard."

I smirked. The judges would of course disqualify Writer Woman from the Q&A competition. She didn't even manage an actual question.

From there, the caliber of the blood lust advanced. A slender gentleman who had been full on arm wrestling with his girlfriend earlier in the evening muscled into the fray: "Elaine Blair wrote that your work makes misogyny seem literary in the same way that Rush Limbaugh makes fascism seem funny. What is your response?" 

Sam won that riposte. "Fascism… I'm still thinking about where I stand... It's not garbage juice sexy."

Tom whispered that I should definitely come up with a question.  It was good timing as I had just reached my blood alcohol pinnacle. 

I raised my hand and asked, "What is the hardest lesson to teach... but the most necessary for your students to learn." 

Right in the middle of my question, there at the dot-dot-dot ellipsis, I lost my spot in the time-space continuum. I felt a thousand eyes watch me explore a crease in the universe, for about an hour, while nearby air particles throbbed and convulsed like epileptic woodpeckers.

In real life, I'm pretty sure this did not happen. Luckily I had rehearsed my question a few times, in a very quiet voice that could barely be heard above the barroom scuttling. I think my subconscious mind saved my ass because no one appeared alarmed, like I'm assuming they would appear if they had recently observed someone disintegrate into a non-corporal entity orbited by spirit woodpeckers.

In spite of the mid-sentence drunken astral sprawl, my Q&A victory was assured after someone asked a follow up question to my question. Oh yeah. That's me, sticking the landing.

Sam Lipsyte answered me with one word, "Revisions." He said no one who is really a writer doesn't revise until they're at the point of ruining it. He quoted a writer he knows: "you never finish, you just turn away in disgust."

Mike Doughty in a suit
After a lot of back and forth dedicated to giving my seminal question its rightful due, Mike Doughty mentioned that he had finally completed a life goal. He finished reading Moby Dick and the key to his success was that he was able to read it on his phone. He said it was like reading a really long text.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Music Reviews on the Short : Vinnie Carauna, Alt-J, Tame Impala, Divine Fits

This might be my new thing: reviewing albums in ≤2 sentences. My quest for brevity is no slight on the effort or artistry exerted to make the music. It is more a commentary on music reviews. I feel they could be shorter.

An Awesome Wave by Alt-J
Reviewed after 673 plays.

An eerie, juicy and awkward wildebeest straddled by a lead singer I imagine has a large adams apple. Fucking awesome.

Buy Alt-J on Amazon




City By the Sea EP by Vinnie Carauna
Reviewed after 269 Plays

Nothing is sexier than a punk-guy singing about his feelings and his fear of dying in his car. At first, his gravely voice distracted me, but then it didn't and I'm fully in love.

Buy City By The Sea



Lonerism by Tame Impala
Reviewed after 343 Plays

Wispy and watery, Lonerism is hard to grab onto. You have to wait; it seeps into your bloodstream on its own time. Prepare for a slobbery addiction.

Buy Lonerism at Amazon



A Thing Called Divine Fits by Divine Fits
Reviewed after 277 Plays

Knocks out a snappy beat, but without commanding much of the space-time continuum. Solid trio of songs, the rest I wish were longitudinally greedier.

Buy A Thing Called Divine Fits on Amazon