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27.2.04

Wednesday I bought a pack of cigarettes, smoked one and left the rest of the pack on a payphone on 8th Street. Last night I bought a pack of cigarettes, opened them, and then handed the full pack to a bum on 6th Avenue. Progress.

26.2.04

I threw away the plastic skeleton I had in my closet. Parts of it got all sticky from a glue trap, so I just tossed it. Im gonna hold onto the skull part.

25.2.04

Last night I went to order some Turk takeout. The place is tiny and the couple in front of me were not ordering. Rather, they discussed each item on the menu and asked for a dine-in menu and then discussed the items listed on the dine-in menu and the various differences in listings and price. They were browsing in the two feet of space I needed to place my order.

Turk eateries always seem to be overstafffed. Are they all family?

My friend married a Turk for immigration purposes and before he knew it seven Turk relatives and a goat were living with him. There was no goat, but there were - no joke - seven relatives living in his 2BR for about a year and a half before he fled the state to escape them.

Anyway, after contorting to make way for the back and forth of waiters for several minutes, one asked for my order and the oblivious browsers turned and looked at me disapprovingly. They were spellbound by the complex menu of grilled meat and yogurt sauce and I boldly pulled the trigger on an order.

Then I was off to the liquor store for some wine. Here a couple seemed determined to block my purchase. They spoke an unintelligible language, but I gathered they were European by their compulsory need to follow me around the wine shop (where I was the only other customer) and position themselves between me and the wine I was looking at. This actually happened three times. Each time I walked away to a different part of the store, they approached and bumped in between me and the wine rack. They made their move to the register and spent twelve minutes haggling and fumbling for money as if they were alone in the shop and noone (like me) was waiting.

Upon my return to the Turks, I was pleased to see the couple that taunted me there was gone. But I faced a new challenge outside. A ghouly white-trash looking bum was standing outside as I came up the block and he watched me like the two cartoon characters guys with scruffy beards stranded on a desert island watched Bugs Bunny. I ducked behind a bus to avoid ghouly's impending plea for change and made it home unscathed food and wine in hand.

24.2.04

Strange Dream

Last night I dreamt that I had infiltrated a terror group as a mole.

The head terrorist congratulated me by saying, "Anelka, welcome to HBO!"

Meaningless? I hope so.

23.2.04

Mr. Friendly Does Laundry

The other day I fled the laundromat without folding my clothes.

I escaped the pony-tailed mid-fortyish fellow who rocks colored wife beater tanktops and faded black jeans from 1986. He sings friendly happy obscure show tunes and whistles while doing his laundry. The singing seems like a good thing at first, because it tends to quiet the screaming Spanish ladies (who are louder than elderly Chinese women on the N train to Brooklyn).

However, the songs continue and only pause from time to time so that friendly folksy chatter and small talk can be forced upon all who make eye contact. Once he gets your eye, you have to speak or he mutters something self righteous about being friendly. He's a hippy-looking show tune singing Ned Flanders.

I got tired of folding with my eyes to the ground and seething with hope that the next bum who came in to get warm would swing an ax into Mr. Friendly. So I carried my wrinkled and slightly damp clothes home.

19.2.04

An empty Lucozade bottle perfoms well as an ashtray.

18.2.04

Radar O'Riley Stylee

The knit peak hat worn by Radar O'Riley has become quite the street wear rage. However, it must be worn in the disheveled ear-exposing manner of the Smurfs.

Last week encountered a a Santeria brujo type, you know the type. He was clad head to toe in white, with the exception of a tiny red feather (a rooster's) in the side of his white Radar hat.

Style.


Conversate as a Hyooman Idivijaahl

I realize Marty Markowitz over in Brooklyn appears clownish at times, but C. Virginia Fields sounds just plain dumb when she pronounces "similar" as "simyoolar" (from the word simulate?).

She also shares Joe Morgan's fondness for omitting the consonant "s" from plural and possessive nouns.



"Sey Sup Baht!"

I used to work in a store on Canal Street. As a store employee, I made friends with the neighborhood people. This included the Israelis in the sneaker store, the Cantonese speaking Vietnamese counterfeit retailers (watches, bags, perfumes), the seasonal fireworks sellers and the thugs from the hardware store who mercilessly punished junkie shop lifters.

One of my favorite characters was a short fat watch/bag dealer known as Say Sup Baht. Whenever I saw him I would scream "Say Sup Baht!" and motion to my waist like a boxer indicating he holds the championship belt. He would laugh and yell whatever he used to yell. We enjoyed this.

We also called Say Sup Baat by his nom de anglais "48." Nope, he did not drive a livery cab. The 48 and the Say Sup Baat refer to his purported waistline measurement.

17.2.04

The Maginot Line

The barricade of glue traps stretched across the tiny hallway bore furry fruit.

Unfortunately, I discovered that only after waking to the frantic scrapes of another sector's glue trap being dragged across the floor, flipped over, and left behind.

I really hope it ain't a jumbo. May be time for illegal poisons or a cat.


16.2.04

New Neighbors

The strange, affable, and ethnically/racially vague older fellow in the next apartment is in the process of moving out. His beard is the same texture as the close-cropped hair visible beneath his outdoorsy suede-peaked baseball cap above the frames of his Eddie Layton-sized glasses. He is apparently moving out one box at a time. So far a few dozen trips have been made in and out throughout the night.

His four-legged roomates have decided to seek refuge with me for a while. A trap snapped last night. Nothing, but peanut butter. Scratchy clattering across the wooden floor woke me this morning.

13.2.04

Of Mices and Mens

I'm at war with the mice. They scare me a little bit. I caught two today.

Years ago, I did not fear mice. I fed my brother's boa constrictor dozens of critters had no problem picking them up by the tails and tossing them into the cage. When the pet store kids were lazy or too grossed out I would pick them out of the cage myself and sometimes sneak a few extra into the bag to save money.

That reminds me of another tale...

Duhn wahhrry bowddid!

My brother was living away for a few years and I was named custodian of the 6 foot boa that lived in a homemade cage constructed of a public school kindergarten bookshelf (peg-holes in back) and some sheets of public school window glass (we was janitors). Sometimes we could convince a sister to go buy the rodents, but it was a long walk to the nearest pet store on Utica Avenue. If you rode a bike, you were always scared you'd drop the paper bag of moving mice. Boy, can they scratch at a bag.

Much to my mom's chagrin, the snake's large bookshelf cage was located in the only room in the apartment with extra room, the dining room. The cage was located right next to the china closet that contained various and sundry lenox and waterford crystal and the pilgrim man and pilgrim lady candles and, the most prized possession of all, the JFK and Jackie (not yet "O") salt and pepper shakers.

Eventualy the snake grew large enough to partake in a meal of rat. I was the first to introduce rat into the snake's diet. Coming from the Bronx, my brother was always scared that a rat could take his snake. He insisted that I kill the rat before I feed it to the snake. Once, I had the guy at the pet store do it (imagine asking the pet store to sell you a pre-killed dog?). But when the rat was cold and dead, the snake was not interested. $2.99 down the toilet, or more exactly in the garbage can.

I learned how too smack the paper bag on the stairs a few times to "stun" the rats so they couldn't bite and hurt our fragile six foot boa while he was eating them. I had fed the snake many small rats and a few medium without incident. Brother visited one day just before a feeding. This was the day only jumbo rats were available at the store.

When I returned home with the jumbo, brother took the scratching paper bag from me and said, "It's a jumbo. You gotta stun it first."

My mom freaked out.

"Jesus! Take that thing out of the dining room! Do it on the back steps, now, please!"

"Duhnwuuhhrybowdid. I'm just gonna stun it."

Brother smacked bag against wall real hard. Bag broke. Rat flew across the wall. Blood covered the recently painted wall and ceiling. Rat fell on the floor clawing in a spasmodic death break dance. Mom screamed.

And brother laughed, "Don't worry about it. It's nothing."


Smoke Bum

A few weeks ago, as I left a newstand at 28th & Lex and opened a pack of cigarettes, a bum made eye contact with me from across the street and gestured his request for a cigarette. He was on top of me before I knew he was there. It is hard to say no when you have a full pack in your hand.

Yesterday that very same bum caught me again on 34th and Third. He just finished his broad daylight pissing against the tinted glass lobby of a doorman building and immediately turned to me gesturing, lighter in hand for a smoke. The steaming liquid dribbled out between his legs and down the sloping sidewalk toward the street and towards my feet. Again, caught off guard, I aquiesced and danced a bit to avoid the pee flow.

11.2.04

another Marbury quote:

"We're trying to win a championship. We're not selling panties and drawers."


Herald Square Hordes

As rush hour looms over 34th Street between 5th and 7th Avenues, the crowds of urgent shoppers, confused tourists, and sprinting commuters make navigating the sidewalk a rough chore. You can sense the energy surge from mellow to tensely hurried as you walk west past the Empire State Building and enter the throng.

Done with my mission in the area, I reflected generally on the rudeness of those who give no quarter as they storm forward four abreast, expecting those in their path to hurdle them or face the herd of taxis in the street or just stop and let them pass. In particular, I pondered the Ewok woman from that shop who put her shoulder into me NHL style and how she gets a free pass and probably acts like Charles Oakley on the blocks all the time because nobody wants to get involved in a shouting match with an Ewok. Street and subway shouting matches are pretty pointless, aside from entertaining bystanders who listen while pretending not to listen and share knowing glances and rolled eyes with other bystanders who do the same.

As I worked out this Ewok on the low post theory in my head, I came across an angry do-nothing receptionist/sec'y-type woman locked in confrontation with a skinny cheap suit fellow. Also present, was a police officer from the cycle squad. Apparently, the woman with the showy purple/teal blended overcoat and burnt orange hair extensions decided to hit the skinny cheap suit fellow because he impeded her progress by being too near her on the street. I watched the cycle cop collect the details.

The skinny cheap suit shared his assessment with his assailant, "You are an evil person."

When cycle cop reached for the bracelets and asked her to turn around, things got a little messy.

Cuffed and stuffed for hitting someone in a crowd. That's like getting popped for jay-walking.

10.2.04

Park Avenue Evangelist

It was before noon as I strolled along Park Avenue. Not many people were out on the street. Just north of St. Bart's, a homeless lunatic, clutching what appeared to be a bible, was screaming to the clouds. He then held the bible aloft with both hands like Moses held the Ten Commandments and raised his voice further. Suddenly he stopped. He stooped over in fits of laughter. He became silent and started to survey his surroundings carefully. Satisfied, he resumed shouting at the heavens. Nobody else seemed to notice, so I just kept going.



One is a Wanderer

I used to go into this old Japanese restaurant that called itself a sushi pub in the middle of an Upper East Side side-street. I suspect the place was there from the '80's, but by the time I started going in there in the middle '90's it seemed like it was there for a hundred years. My friend knew the owner well. It was a nice little spot and close to home, but I always chose to go elsewhere for some reason.

Every time I went in there or walked by the large renovated window, I saw a thin older white guy slumped over the bar drinking bottles of Budweiser. He was tall, so when he perched on his bar stool, his silhouette resembled a chimpanzee standing on top of the bar. He wore a nondescript suits and struck me as somewhat professorial - G.I. Bill educated professorial. Everynight I checked for him in the window and everynight he was there. Some nights, I looked forward to going home via that street to check on him.

One night we were speaking to the sushi guy, who happened to be a big Chunichi Dragons fan. I told the sushi guy I would give him this Dragons poster that supposedly the calligraphy of the team's crusty long time manager - a real Yogi Berra type - which read "Dream." I never dropped off the poster. A few months ago, I threw it out after years of careful starage and moving from place to place. Anway, several Harushika's later, the sushi guy told me that the old white guy at the bar was a retired FBI man who lived upstairs.

I wondered why the ex-FBI man drank Budweiser alone in a quiet Japanese sushi restaurant. I wondered if it was a World War II or Korea thing or if he used to hang out there long before the Jaanese place came along when it was called Tony's or Chez Joey's or if he just liked to get a beer downstairs.

In any event, after reading Thurber's One is a Wanderer, I remembered the retired FBI man. I'd like to go uptown and check for him in the window some evening.

9.2.04

Marbury quote:

"I was in a nice rhythm," Marbury said. "My intent was to stay in that groove. Isiah has been telling me to start stepping on people's necks when you've got them down. That's what I've been concentrating on."


6.2.04

Last fall, I was waiting on somebody in a bar and got to talking to one of the regulars.

We exchanged the usual alchohol-fueled earnest bar talk of sports and the good old days that never really were. He reminded me of my dad who also spent far too much time alone in a bar thinking he was among close friends.

Over the past few months I saw the guy in the place from time to time. I maybe sent him a drink and a respectful nod once or twice but never spoke to him again. I doubt he ever knew who I was.

Last night I found out that this fellow passed away. I will attend his memorial service next week.

5.2.04

"...stand firm or feel worm..."

My nephew's in high school in New Jersey. His mom (my sister) passed away when he was 6. I tell him he should call me more. He called yesterday. We talked.

"What's going on?"

"Nothing. Much."

"How are your brothers doing?"

"Okay."

"How are things at home?"

"Uhm. Good, I guess."

"What's up with school?"

"It's going okay."

After some time he actually spoke. We discussed many things. He told me how he really wants a bass guitar, so he can start a band with his friends. His friend knows thirty songs on guitar. The crappy guitar my sister got him that was left behind by a tenant of her friend's SRO was not getting him any closer to rockstardom. He told me it picked up radio signals.

He told me of his intricate plan to get a certain amount of money by the summer so that he can buy a bass. Unfortunately, his parents (i.e., meanie stepmom who seems to deny him anything he shows interest in and lazy pop who prefers placating meanie stepmom over standing up for his sons) won't let him get a job after school. They make noise about his grades falling with a job. Yet their complete lack of attention to his academic progress caused him to miss out on taking the PSAT. I suspect they view a part-time job as an inconvenience to them. I say give him a chance and make him quit the job if the grades fall.

I remember when I was his age, listening to NYC Hardcore and rap music and wanting to join my friends' bands and create something. I played drums but couldn't afford a kit. I hoped to get a bass because everybody played guitar and every band needs a bassist. I never did. Then I got too wrapped up in graff and silly homeboy poseur activity to care.

My nephew is a good kid. Today I mail him my Peter Tosh CD's. This weekend I will try to get him a cheap bass.

4.2.04

I went to the Knicks game late last night. My ticket was stuck with a friend who was stuck at work. I watched most of the first half with the drunken Long Island Rail Road commuters that inhabite Hickey's.

We arrived with two minutes left in the 2nd Quarter and 4 people had to move to let us in. With 6 minutes left in halftime and four beers working their way through me, I got up to hit the bathroom.

The guy at the end of the aisle - whose wife had to get up and walk five steps away when we came in and when we were going out - asked, "Are you coming back?"

By the time I was finished in the bathroom, I had thought about this question and somewhat upset. I was a little more upset with myself for not offering some witty and biting response.

Why does he need to know whether I'm coming back? Will it benefit him and his 'game plan' in any way? Is he insinuating that I snuck into his row of seats?

On the way back in, I stood still in front of him for a full two seconds to maximize his period of interruption and keep him and his wife on their feet for another few moments.

The Knicks won. I think I saw Doleac throw down a two-handed dunk.

3.2.04

Last night a loud and crass old lady sat behind me in a retaurant.

She coughed loudly and frequently and commented upon the phlegm production of her coughs.

She spoke of other people and their money and their sexual energy and their failings.

She went on for quite some time about how successful and busy she was in her real estate business.

She denounced a blind date she had because her eighty-one year old date said he looked fifty-seven over the internet, but actually looked like an old eighty-one.

She decreed that from this day forward she would only eat at this restaurant from Tuesday through Saturday, when they had music.

She repeatedly encouraged her companion, an elderly gentleman who spoke a Slavic language with the waiters, to mobilize the Albanians, because, as a people, "They all hate him."

She instructed her companion to purchase all the property currently availabe in Montenegro.

She requested more bread at least four times and followed each request with an explanation that her companion needs to eat bread when he eats meat.

When I was asked what was on my mind, I replied, "Bella Abzug over here and just who 'the Albanians' hate."

2.2.04

Just outside of Boston clouds of snowsalt dust blow with the wind and cover everything with fine white soot. At 4:30AM a state trooper stomped into an IHOP and blew a whistle. For a second there I thought there was trouble. But he was calling the crowd to attention and, specifically, calling their attention to the back of his balding head which carried an Anthony Mason style message reading, "PATS."

Following his lead, the crowd, excited but somewhat joyless, chanted "Let's Go, Pats!"

The next evening, when Carolina briefly took the lead I felt I was watching the late innings of a baseball game in the Bronx. The crowd died and seemed resigned to a loss. I paused briefly to soak in their pain and self doubt. Then I got out of town before the joyless Pats fans took apart their city in victory celebration.

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