Friday, May 27, 2016

My niece and nephew singing Helan Går

I consider it my responsibility to teach the kids important life skills. Like Swedish drinking songs. They almost have it nailed. A couple tweaks and they'll be ready for kräftskiva season.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Garlands of Roses in ChinaTown, Flushing Queens

For several excellent reasons I won’t get into, we watched the Kentucky Derby at a dive bar in Flushing Queens-- dead center, ChinaTown. On the TV, we took in rich whitebread billionaires swanning about in silken spring-themed blazers, white pants and expensive looking hair. 

Meanwhile, my immediate vicinity smelled like day old Coors and someone smoking Newports upstairs. Patrons slumped in their barstools, maybe for weeks. 

It’s possible that the pock-faced man suffered from an overactive bladder, but curiously, every time he went to the rest room, he chose to go with a new buddy, someone who wandered in off the street. It reminded me of my childhood. There was a lot of economic activity inside the men’s room at the Washington Tavern in my hometown. The restroom in there was like a tiny farmers market. Except in the stalls there were no apples or summer squashes and small bills were preferred. 

Remaining on the topic of my hometown… I was kinda thinking things there might be riding an upswing, but last time I saw my mother she commented on the people with diabetes who walk on the trail through Rivers Park (i.e. the spiffed up, mulched up “green space”  which used to be called “The quarry behind the Handy Mart” when I was kid).

“And they litter!” my mom continued, still on the topic of the people with diabetes. “There are insulin needles all over the side of the trail.” My mom said she was talking with a few of the park volunteers. No one really anticipated so many diabetics to be such avid hikers. 

Nothing for nothing, nothing changes.

Back in the days when you could go to Rite Aid and get as much Sudafed and Robutussin D as you could afford or jam down the back of your pants, no one ever wondered why so many junior high school students suffered from year-round sinus infections. 

And I'm sure the pock-faced man in the bar in Flushing Queens was just making sure that restroom patrons with diabetes or sinus infections could find the paper towels.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Even better. Birds, the snort and Boaty. McBoatface.

Photo credit: Keith Paul Medelis
We were at the Pearl Theater watching “Stupid Fucking Bird.” One of the actors approached the front of the stage. He pulled a photo from his fake actor wallet, held it up and said that he had named his child “Malechov.” It was a dramatic moment.

Totally out of context, someone behind us giggled. And it ended in a giant snort. One of those snorts that is much louder than it actually is.

Tom, myself and everybody else in the entire audience tried not to laugh. So did the actor on stage. He had to pause and compose himself.

Suddenly my evening was better. Even better than it would have been. 

And trust me, it was a pretty good evening already despite the pissing rain. First, it was Friday, possibly the best day of the week. Second, on the way to 42nd street, someone randomly walking in front of us said something into her iPhone about sailing.

Yes! The perfect opportunity for Tom and I to simultaneously shriek “Boaty McBoatface" and totally crack ourselves up. It was damn near perfect.

Then on Saturday - same scenario. I went uptown to the Swedish Cottage for the Valborg party. I expected a massive bonfire. This is what Valborg is all about - "fire and something that has to do with witches.” I have asked approximately 40 Swedes -- they all explain Valborg this same way; and I have chosen, for many years, not pursue my inquiry further.

In hindsight, it probably was not realistic to expect a huge conflagration in the middle of central park. Nonetheless, the whole area was abuzz. There was supposed to be a “special musical guest” coming and everyone speculated it might be the one, the only, Håkan Hellström.  

I had no idea who the hell Håkan Hellström even was until two days ago when he showed up in town for a sold out show. Suddenly every post on my Facebook feed became Håkan wearing John Lennon’s black and white New York City t-shirt and/or endlessly repeating something about "getting up on stage and just having some fun." Every Swede in a 100 mile radius has been bug eyed for a week.

Meanwhile, back at the Valborg party, the Swedish Church had arranged a little outdoor choral entertainment. The ensemble huddled together on a small mound of fresh mulch. Somber colors, sensible shoes, a least one pair of pantyhose and some sort of forest flute. Clutching our beer and our hotdogs, we all crept nearer and nearer, wondering about the "special musical guest" and hoping against hope for Håkan to hop out of the shrubbery with a definite plan to accelerate the tempo. 

He never did. But it was exciting to consider. And my afternoon was even better. Even better than it would have been.