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30.4.04

Are Iraqi's a race of little people, or did we purposefully distribute over-sized uniforms to the Iraqi army so that they would look and feel silly and small?

XXVII. 

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee and for myself no quiet find.

spring fever 

Effervescent crowds spilled out of the bars last night. Everyone seemed eager to shake their cabin fever after a month of rain and a long winter. You could feel the weird energy in the street.

Thursday is always the big night out. Friday nights are popular, but people prefer to get home or skip town on Fridays. Saturday nights are usually quite dead, because people are already out of town and those who remain are broke and hung over.

29.4.04

20/20 hindsight 

Super tells me that the detritus rudely deposited by Girl Interrupted (nee Crazy Trust Fund Neighbor Chick) in our lobby/hallway over the weekend was the result of a fight with long lost boyfriend.

Apparently, it was all his shit. This puts a whole new light on his request for a "bag to hold stuff" and explains why their was a woman with an uncomfortable look in her eye waiting outside the front door with the trunk of her car open. She was either boyfriend's mom, elder sis, or the proverbial "other woman." Juicy.


too much together twins 

Last night I encountered three sets of too much together twins.

People resemble each other when they spend too much time together. They use the same physical gestures and speech patterns. They share a taste for the same clothes and personal grooming. They become each other.

Pair 1- Two short slender lawyer/accountant types sported identical conservative but youthfully tossed short hair, dark-rimmed glasses, and black fleece jackets. They had synchronized reactions to events on the field and in the upper deck of the Stadium where they sat.

Pair 2 - Two dirty blonde dandies in similar dark coffee-colored three-quarter length barn jackets (one cordouroy, one suede), tailored but untucked diagonally striped button down shirts and distressed dark-wash jeans projected the same disaffected air from beneath their carefully dishevelled hair. They sat forward playing with identical cell phones for five of the six innings they attended.

Pair 3 - Two rolypoly transit workers (one white, one black) with identically shaved heads, goatee beards, reflective orange vests, and blue MTA uniforms spoke of work schedules while fans spilled onto the subway platform. Instead of making identical arm gestures to herd people away from the platform edge and to the rear, they stood still, hands in pockets, and wondered aloud, "When are they gonna send the first train?"

28.4.04

fallujah yule log 

I'm tuned in to the green glow night scope view of smoke rising over Fallujah. It's almost like watching the Yule Log on TV. Instead of playing Christmas Carols they play the monotone drone of an anyonymous Brit pool reporter.

We could get more visual detail on events there by tuning into the an ATM security camera in Passaic, New Jersey.

Somebody in the "pool" should check the camera for a zoom button. Is that thing nailed to the ground?

keep feeding the endowment... 

Forget the suicides and the self-created homeless kid extorting free housing (By the way, he probably got a room vacated by a kid who could not pay for it).

Now there's a real life Meadow Soprano selling blow out of her dorm room. I wonder what her admissions file says about extracurricular activities in high school.

nightmare scenario 

If Iraq really does turn out to be another Vietnam...

We can look forward to a whole lot of decadent eurotrash hippie-types backpacking around the Middle East and staying in hostels in a few short decades.

more thoughts on Muammar 

He's not just another '80's icon making a comeback. He did it by sucking up to W, not VH1.

He dresses like the Israelites in Times Square (you know, the intense humorless "so-called" black guys who stand around shouting hatred at passing tourists who can't understand their unintelligible screams), but is perhaps not as flashy. [For those who don't know, the Israelite wardrobe is an amalgam of costumes worn in Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and "Remember the Time" with a smattering of cheap felt and polyester outfits from small community theater production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat and sprinkling of spiked leather gauntlets a la Rob Halford.]

I want to see him do a week as Jimmy Kimmel's guest host.

If all goes well, I foresee a Don King promoted boxing extravaganza in Tripoli.

I hope Ali G tracks him down for an interview sometime soon.

27.4.04

dictator's new clothes 

I haven't read it, but I don't think the Green Book is a fashion manifesto. Who dresses this guy?

I can hear the terrified sycophants, "Yes your omnipotent imperial intergalactic supreme highness, the blue kufi and matching robes brings out the color of your eyes and nicely accentuates your strong profile."

Muammar Qaddafi or Miss Cleo?

I repeat, Muammar or Miss Cleo?

Further Muammar or Jim Brown?

up in smoke 

I quit smoking two months ago and haven't looked back.

Maybe I should, because I can't seem to find all the money I was supposed to save by quitting.

Today the Pakistani purveyor of smokes, dirty mags, beer, and lotto across the street (who goes by the name "Butt" -- really) seemed concerned, "Where you been, buddy?"

the fine line between mugged and murdered: 

A brilliant sentence from today's NY Post Police Blotter:

"The death of a Rikers Island prisoner last year has been deemed a homicide after it was discovered he lost his spleen because he had been mugged in Washington Heights, police said yesterday."

Tom 1, Jerry 0 

He'd been taunting me for a week. I decided to handle the problem.

Snap traps that had been licked clean of their original peanut butter bait were quicly relocated with aromatic aged provolone instead of peanut butter. An instrumental track from the A-Team television series played in my head as I prepared doom for the interloper. Glue traps were placed around the perimeter to glob onto anything fleeing the snap traps. I got the idea from a training scene in Uncommon Valor.

Within eight minutes I heard snap, squeal, squeal, blump, followed by spasmed scratching.

He had popped up in the air and landed in a tray of glue. His tail was caught in the snap.

I didn't count coups. I ended it quick, bagged him and brought him out to drop him in the can on the corner.

Outside two drunk girls stumbled by in heels that were too high, clothes that were too summery for the brisk spring evening, and make-up that was slapped on in a dark bar bathroom after a few too many drinks. They were hurrying to make last call somewhere.

A bum was going through the can on my corner, so I crossed the street and dropped my small bag. As I headed off, I saw the bum roll his cart toward the can I just left.

I imagined him saying, "You wouldn't believe the things people throw out these days."

26.4.04

super sobriquet 

My super dubbed the vamoosed trust fund neighbor "Girl Interrupted."

A dub so apt it coulda come from Scientist.

disorderly withdrawal 

I stepped over the carpets and debris covering the narrow strip of lobby/hallway and went into the street. Someone was moving out or in and they were doing it poorly. I hoped they were on the way out when I noticed the scary stains on the carpet. I had guessed they were on the way out when I saw the friend waiting outside by an open empty car trunk.

They unnecessarily held the elevator at bay somewhere above to argue loudly. I walked up the stairs and surrendered to the petty impulse to quietly hit the elevator button on every floor on the way up.

"They" were trust fund neighbor and long lost boyfriend who dresses early '90's grunge but subscribes to an obscure British financial newspaper. When I took the stairs back down later, they were hogging the empty elevator on the first floor, pointing at their stuff and spreading it around so that it was harder to get by on my way to the door. It slowed me just enough so that she could blurt "Hello!" while constinuing to face down her beau with face facing low to avoid eye contact.

I gave one last go at a direct look in her eyes before she moved out. No dice. The boyfriend interrupted her bandy banter with the observation that "some of this stuff has value." He pointed to the bottle of champagne as an example and added in affected effete tone, "Can You PLEEEASE get me a bag?"

"Well WHAT KIND of BAG do you want?"

"A bag to hold things in."

I tip-toed past and into the street and stayed away until I knew they'd be gone for good.

Word Jam: Clydisms 

I will miss Clyde this off season. I hoped "in futility" that his debut of a red leather sportcoat might "inspire fortitude" and "grandeur" but it proved "illusive" and I was met with the "bitter folly" of "ineptitude."

A few of last night's last night Clydisms:

"And Anderson no match for the gargantuan Rogers!"

"Oh-hoh!"

"Martin always loquacious and tenacious, talking the talk and walking the walk..."

"Rocking Rodney creating alot of havoc on the defense."

"... a little jitterbug right there, and then the stutter step..."

24.4.04

Every few days while walking down the street I encounter noxious fumes, think "chemical attack," and then calm down when I realize I am simply downwind from aSubway sandwich shop and the exhaust fan blowing "bread smell" out into the street.

23.4.04

Fran Healy's voice is a perpetual yawn. He improves Mets ratings by locking in happenstantial viewers and making them too drowsy to escape by remote control.

helonnadat, now dare sun 

When dad was supposed to take me to baseball practice we went to the bar instead.

I'm not sure if this was before or after the time when we did go to practice and he caught a foul tip in his chin. He was better at soccer practices. So was I.

He told me bar stools were for men so I sat in the corner and learned to wait quietly. I learned that I should never pick up anything from the floor by the bar. It was dirty down there and you don't bend over in a public bar. Even though I hated the plastic cherries, I was made to drink syrupy flat Shirley Temples. Ten cent peanuts from the machine and BonTon potato chips were an added bonus.

Dad said you didn't have to finish a drink just because somebody bought it for you. You could always leave it behind. He never seemed to follow this advice.

Bar guys were always giving me their spare change. Maybe they felt guilty that they didn't bring their kid to the bar that day. The silver dollars had Ike or Truman or somebody you wouldn't expect on one side. JFK fifty cent pieces were common place. This sounds pretty cool, but each coin that came my way was accompanied by a stern warning like I did something wrong. Red-faced Mayo-men would spray spittle in my eyes and shake my arm as they told me to hold onto the coin and never spend it.

It would be worth something someday.

I was always scared to spend the coins, and when I did I was scared the bar people would find out. No matter how drunk they were they always remembered that they gave me a lousy coin three weeks, four months, one year ago and quizzed me about it.

"Do you still have it?" "You holding on to it?" "It'll be worth something someday."

It was like they had trusted me with the care of their dog or cat or child.

Funny, they never asked the bartender about the paycheck they left on the bar the week before.

common cents 

Once, while strolling from the Claddagh Inn, my dad stopped, took hold of my elbow, and said, "A poor man leaves in the street what the rich man puts in his pocket."

He then demonstrated this truth by blowing his nose one nostril at a time onto the sidewalk.

XXIV. 

Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
And perspective it is the painter's art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies;
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art;
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

22.4.04

trust fund neighbor 

There's a quirky trust fund neighbor chick upstairs. She's either some kind of artist or writer or she's just a spoiled rich girl. I can never gather the intell I need on her. She reminds me of a punk rock grown-up unattractive Molly Ringwald. In the words of Condi Rice, "let me be clear" - I don't wish to imply that I find Molly Ringwald attractive, so I should say that she reminds me of a grown-up version Molly Ringwald who I find unattractive, except that I find my quirky neighbor even less attractive than Molly Ringwald if that is possible.

She fires out quick loud overly aggressive hellos and small talk queries that seem less friendly greetings than they are involuntary med-induced Tourettes outbursts. She fires off new questions without really waiting for the answer.

Talking to her is like playing catch with somebody who keeps throwing balls at you before you can throw one back. The words and phrases just drop all around me until I walk off the field.

Maybe she's just scared I'ill trick her into admitting she's an space alien sent here to colonize our planet. The boys back at Jupiter HQ would really get pissed if that happened.

There is no eye contact ever. Her Flock of Seagulls haircut is designed for function.

On several occasions she has briefly involved me in her domestic squabbles with her boyfriend. In the tiny elevator as I rode with them down or up she would loudly berate him or ask me what I thought about her current melodrama or make some blanket statement condemning the male of the species and thus him and me, I guess. There was an incident with police at 5AM once, but I'm not entirely sure that was her.

When she broke her leg I got her to answer my question, "What happened?"

Her answer, "I fell out of bed," raised many more questions. I did not go there.

Speculation News Channel 

The cable news hyenas are loving the mystery massive explosion in isolated North Korea.

So much fodder for urgent speculation.

21.4.04

motive? 

Do Spacey and MacGowan have something in common other than recent bad luck in London?

Upper East Sidewalk 

Foreign nannies rush tired children to the next play-date.

Dark heavy nurses roll out lonely wheelchair bound seniors for a splash of sun and air.

Mothers-daughters maintain a brisk pace between unnecessary appointments and frivolous shops and maybe reluctantly take a forty minute break at a sidewalk cafe - they are really far too busy.

You gotta come in and go out with hired help.

Good luck.


20.4.04

pantyhose jogger 

A long-haired guy jogged smack down the middle lane of First Avenue yesterday afternoon. Construction guys shook their head in disgust. An eighteen wheeler sounded his fog horn. Uniformed Catholic school girls covered their eyes and pointed and fell into each other in fits of laughter. I had stepped out into the middle of the street to avoid walking under scaffolding behind two slow old opeople and came face to face with the source of the commotion. He may have smiled at me. I'm not sure.

He was running hard and soaked in sweat. Homeless guy Jesus was coming right at me. A thick tri-coloured headband kept his frizzy wet ponytailed fro in check. He wore a tank top, sneakers, and sweated-thru/see-thru panty hose. Maybe some socks. That was it.

Grotesque cantaloupe-size balls stretched the hose crotch capacity between his thighs. I did a momentary double-take and looked away after I visually recognized that the melon-sized protrusions were indeed giant swollen balls and that the thing pointing at me above them was indeed what I thought it was.

theft of negligent service 

On two separate occasions, I have faxed documents from a Kinko's self-service fax machine and left Kinko's without paying. The first time I waited at the service counter for about three minutes before realizing that I was actively being ignored by a Kinko's employee who had made eye contact with me but decided rearranging paper clips was more important than helping me. The second time, a week or two later, I left after waiting about twenty seconds or so to be acknowledged. The second time around, I counted off the seconds faster than a kid counting to seven mississippi in two-hand touch.

I walked away from a counter at Yankee Stadium's food court without paying for two mini pizza pies after waiting too long to pay the woman who was discussing breaktime with her friend (a long baseball game is 4 hours - do they really need to spend the entire first inning discussing breaks). I was not eager to pay $14 for two cardboard mini poies that were the same size as two slices down the block from the Stadium. I felt like a sucker for waiting so long. So I took a silent stand and absconded with the pizza. I was having pizza because I didn't want to eat a hot dog on Good Friday.

Grubby sneak thief? Nope.

Welcome to Sherwood. I am a defiant modern day Robin Hood challenging the corporate Prince Johns (Princes John?) who shove a middle finger against my face - thumb in the eye style - every time I enter chain shops and find myself grappling with the low cost, lazy, loud, self-concerned, rude, bored, and sometimes downright mean-spirited staff. Soon this Solitary Merry Man may take the fight to a chain store near you.

19.4.04

oven-baked 

The weather report says it will reach 85 degrees today, but somewhere in the bowels of my tenement a Hairy Ape puts forth the hiss of unstoppable thick steam that wakes me in my sweatbox hovel.

16.4.04

specifically vague details 

This is a historic opportunity and we're looking forward to it and we're looking foward to making further progress. You'll see.

15.4.04

random quote 

"Maybe I needed to get away and make my decisions with a free head."

- Pick up the nearest book.
- Open it to page 23.
- Find the fifth sentence.
- Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

The instructions say nothing about listing the name or author of the book, so I did not.

I got this from here, and followed links to here, and here.

wrong bar right bar 

It was raining. I was waiting.

I stepped up and in to the wrong bar.

This was clear as soon as I noticed the male Tracey Chapman playing guitar in the corner. I decided to dry off for one before going elsewhere. Male Tracey played the Beatles Blackbird very well and some Traffic song that was nice and a Marvin Gaye song with a bad drum machine that was not so good. A guy in an All Blacks jersey and his 70's rocker clothing clad pal with the greasy Gregory-from-'Gregory's Girl' hair shouted sarcastic applause during and after each song.

An Irish guy in a Burberry plaid button down told his buddy that Citibank was overextended and due for a hard fall. He paused to ask the bartender if he had any "really good bourbon" because he wanted "the very best." He ordered two bourbon on the rocks in a know-it-all guy ordering his date's meal in a restaurant manner without asking his buddy. Buddy asked to have his straight.

A stretched version of Carla from Cheers was in there. She was an uncanny taller and longer-faced version of Carla, right down to the dead frizzy clown-fro-wig black curls. I tried not to stare. She was so ugly, it was easy to look away. Male Tracey took a short break and a muzak version of a Paula Cole song ("I don't wanna wait... Sooorrry!") drove me back into the rain.

I walked down the steps into the right bar.

I strolled down the length of the bar and sat near the end by the tv and a young Middle Easterny-looking kid who was listening to his walkman or Ipod. Reading a book in a bar is somewhat anti-social, but listening to a the walkman takes it up a few notches. After I got a bottle of beer, Imad Ipod got up and walked back and forth between the door and his seat in hurried starts and stops a few times before deciding he was not going to need his jacket to go outside and have a smoke. He came back one more time, realizing he was going to need a smoke from his jacket before going outside to have a smoke.

A loud effeminate bitchy guy a few stools down told his friends they would not bekieve how many times he has threatened to clear everybody off the set. He put himself forth as a sort of big time director for a while, but when he started yelling about how he and his roomates were going to handle the details of his impending eviction proceedings he didn't seem so big time.

I asked the bartender to switch the tv over to the meaningless final regular season Knicks game and imagined that if the sound was on I would hear Marv call the entire game "garbahhge time" and Clyde follow him with a bizarre non-sequitur. An ad for wrestling at the Garden made me wonder if Elvis Presley was a wrestling fan. The ad followed a Garden promo that showed an Elvis silhouette. I briefly monitored events with Imad Ipod who was pretty drunk and seemed ready to fall off his stool and then I remembered that there was once a pro wrestler who dressed up like Elvis. I tried, but could not come up with the name "Honky Tonk Man" until the next day.

As I watched a roach trail Marbury across the screen and toward the basket, I was glad that I followed my instincts to drink from a bottle and leave the bowl of popcorn alone. I sat back comfortably with my beer and waited for the rain to stop.

14.4.04

"I'm sure something will pop into my head here..." 

Political bloggage is tiresome, but...

Is Bush really as dumb and arrogant as he seemed last night?

He ignored questions and issue pre-memorized statements like he was the former Iraqi Information Minister.

Toward the end, as he fumbled over a question on intelligence reform he seemed to suddenly remember a tasty pre-fabbed soundbite about "spreading freedom," so he just jammed it in there awkwardly, "One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we're asking questions..."

As he muddled through his soundbite incantations, he came across like a thoughtless spoiled child smugly expecting to get out of trouble by pretending to be earnest.

13.4.04

chick with the heels 

As the 9/11 commission grills witness Ashcroft, I find myself asking three crucial questions over and over:

1 - Who is the woman in the olive slacks and the naughty 5" inch heeled tan or yellow backless pumps?

2 - What does her face look like?

3 - Why can't she keep them feet still?

plasticination 

Art? Science? Circus sideshow.

leaping goldfish 

I like the goldfish. I don't like media schmooze.

film review 

Intermission was a bit too long and somewhat tedious.

Chef's in Barry's is like bad herbal tea, neither gorgeous, nor delish.

12.4.04

tv holidays 

When I was a kid, everybody watched the same TV. There was a certain kind of shared cultural consciousness that may not exist these days.

Today little kids can spend any August afternoon watching and replaying a DVD copy of the fleeting TV Christmas specials I looked forward to all year long as a must see big time event that would be there and gone for another twelve months if I did not pay attention. Post VCR Tivo age kids will never know the sense of urgency I felt when Rudolph was on TV.

Thanksgiving meant watching WOR's Godzilla marathon, which was always capped off by Mighty Joe Young and the first Child World commercials of the Christmas season on WOR while waiting to go play football or watch football or eat. I could never get enough egg nog.

Christmas began with the excitement of Rudolph and Frosty on CBS on Christmas Eve and ended the next day in disappointed boredom as we watched whatever holiday special was on TV. Having woken up alone at six o'clock to open my Santa gifts, I was already bored with them by the time everyone else woke up and started to open their presents.

Easter meant too much candy, shredded green cellophane strings everywhere, long crowded mass, leg of lamb, opened but untouched mint jelly, and being forced to watch Bell's of St, Mary while feeling bloated and bored.

10.4.04

"Carbs here! Ice cold liquid carbs here!"

Contreras was getting shelled like the exiles who landed at the Bay of Pigs.

My section was subjected to an abusive beer guy who looked like "Iz the Wiz" and exercised the people skills of "Cap." He announced last call early in the fifth inning - a commonly used pressure sales tactic. When asked about the early cut off warning, he replied in a threatening tone that made the word "pal" sound distinctly unfriendly.

A wise guy in the crowd piped in, "The beer guys on TV are so much nicer." Grouchy beer guy made his way out of the section, but not before the following exchange:

"Last Call for alchohol!"

"Excuse me. Is it last call?"

"Yeah."

"How many beers can I buy at one time?"

"How many you want?"

"None. I just wanted to know how many beers I could buy at one time."

"Hey, why you busting my balls for!?!"

"Ain't nobody axd you to put the beer down, fool. I just axd you a simple question and you getting all mad and shit."

9.4.04

I saw a rap sheet listing the Maryland charge of "rogue and vagabond".

Perhaps "knave and rake" is a criminal offense somewhere.

the Maryland statute:
§ 6-206. Breaking and entering motor vehicle - Rogue and vagabond.
(a) Prohibited - Possession of burglar's tool.- A person may not possess a burglar's tool with the intent to use or allow the use of the burglar's tool in the commission of a crime involving the breaking and entering of a motor vehicle.
(b) Same - Presence in another's vehicle.- A person may not be in or on the motor vehicle of another with the intent to commit theft of the motor vehicle or property that is in the motor vehicle.
(c) Penalty.- A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, shall be considered a rogue and vagabond, and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years.
[An. Code 1957, art. 27, § 35; 2002, ch. 26, § 2.]

from an on-line encyclopedia:

ROGUE, a word which came into use about the middle of the 16th century as a slang or " cant " term for a vagrant vagabond, answering to the modern "tramp," and was adopted into English legal phraseology together with " vagabond " in the Statute of Elizabeth 1572, " rogue and vagabond " and " incorrigible rogue " remaining as legal terms for certain classes of persons amenable to the law under the Vagrancy Acts (see VAGRANCY). The act of Elizabeth defined " rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars " as including " idle persons going about and using subtle craft and unlawful games and all persons whole and mighty in body, but having neither land nor master, nor able to give an account how they get their living and all common laborers using loitering and refusing to work for the wages commonly given " (Sir G. Nicholls' History of the English Poor Law, ed. 1898 by H. G. Willink, vol, i. 159). The word has now the general meaning of a knave or rascal, though also used (by meiosis) as a term of playful or tender banter and in various special applications (e.g. a " rogue " elephant, one who has been driven out by the herd and lives a solitary life, becoming very savage and destructive. Gardeners also apply the word to a plant which does not come true from seed, showing some variation from the type).

The derivation of the word has been much disputed. It has usually been referred to Fr. rogue, meaning proud, arrogant, which is variously derived from the Icelandic broke, rook, long-winded talker, or Breton rok, proud, haughty; cf. Irish and Gaelic rucas, pride. The New English Dictionary, however, rejects this derivation, and considers possible a connection with another early " cant " word " roger," a begging vagabond pretending to be a poor university scholar.

8.4.04

Condi Rice stuttered through her opening statement like a terrified nervous ninny. Her voice was quivering more than Snagga's or his feline cartoon predecessor.

There's something racist/sexist in the fact that all the talking heads start off with a critique on how she comported herself. They seem to be saying, "She's very articulate for, you know, a black chick."

Of course nothing is said about the substance or lack of any to her testimony.

I'm surprised they haven't commented on her choice of a neutral toned jacket or the way her hair covers the top of her left eye the way Martha's does.

AP Catholics 

I was once told that Ash Wednesday's ashes came from burning the leftover palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday. Today, I'm not so sure about this palm-ashes connection. I can't imagine there was enough palm left over.

People grabbed palm like Staten Island Yankee fans grab at promo Jeter bobbleheads. When I came home from mass and said I couldn't get any palm in the back of the church frenzy, my sister told me that guineas had no shame when it came to getting something free. However, we did okay with the palm, because my sisters made alot of crosses from the palm they got and palm stuck out from behind every picture frame, mirror, and St. Brigid's cross in the house.

My mom said that Palm Sunday attracted all the AP Catholics. They only came to church when the Church was giving out something. "A" stood for Ash Wednesday. "P" stood for Palm Sunday. The AP Catholics made sure to get to the church the two days a year they could collect outward signs that they were good Catholics all year round. My mom should have called them APC catholics, because they turned up looking for calendars on New Year's Day like a horde of Iraqi's at the back of a foreign aid truck.

sacred ritual 

I went around the back of the church to meet my friend. He just finished serving as an altar boy at a wedding or baptism. My friend came out the side door with the priest in charge of altar boys. The priest said it was the very last day of the church calendar year or whatever date it was and that he was going to dispose of holy oils used in baptism, last rites, and possibly ordination by burning them. I was interested in secret holy ritual stuff like this and stuck around. What fifth grader doesn't want to set a fire?

The weather was warm. For some reason, maybe rain, there were big earth worms all over the concrete paths between the side of the church and the rectory.

The priest gave us a box of kitchen matches and an empty rusty Maxwell House tin and left us to the task. We burnt the oil in the can and threw a few earthworms in the mix for good measure. My friend lit a cigarette from the oil and ashed in the can like it was no big deal. It was not the secret holy ritual I expected.

7.4.04

fuzzy math 

My brother called to tell me he scored four tickets to the Yankee game on Good Friday.

He invited me to join him and his three sons at the game (1+3+1=4?).

He did this all the time last year, when his tall five year-old was one year smaller.


6.4.04

twelve is too old

Artsy suburban adult transplants to NYC can mime retro street styles from two decades ago and splash perfect pretty colors on walls of secret back alleys and roof tops in their industro residential loft 'hoods, but they will never really get it.

Graffiti is the rush of stoned kids racking paint and testing their mettle in the streets, highways, and yards against rivals, workbums, cops, and property owners - collecting adventure stories to share the next day over a forty and a joint.

I remember this when I forget my age and dime-scratch a tag on the a bar bathroom wall.

5.4.04

like school on Saturday night...

"Hey, ya wanna get wine tuh drink?"

"Sure."

"Is dere a pahtikyoolah barayeddy ahw type ya prafuh?"

"Not really. We're in Olive Garden. Just get the magnum of house wine."

"Wha? What's magnum mean?"

"Are you for real? Like Dirty Harry's gun... Big. Like you... cheap."

"Uhh. Lemme see da list. Ahll choose sumfin."

"Sir, would you like a drink?"

"He's choosing a bottle of wine."

"Okay. Sir?"

"Hey buddy, maybe yuh kooh help me out... I was jus wuhndahrin... dis one here is a magnum what exackly is a magnum puh se?"

"Magnum refers to the size, sir..."

"Awwright good. Okay. Y'know I think maybe I wuhd like tah try a taste o' duh magnum tuh see if I should maybe awduh a bottle tah drink."

"Excuse me. I'm thirsty. Just bring us a bottle. He can taste away at that."

After a lengthy period, the waiter returned with a magnum of house white, opened it, and poured a small amount for tasting. He palms the glass like a baseball pitcher palms a baseball before delivering a changeup. Except, he does not deliver. He balks several times.

I notice he is taking a long time to go through the formaility of tasting the cheap magnum of house wine and decide to start counting slowly in order to collect some objective evidence of just how crazy and disconnected from the reality around him he is. The waiter just stands and holds the bottle. My count reaches fourteen. He swirls. He tastes. He apes the face of some TV food guy tasting a fancy bottle of wine and then he apes the face of one of the Little Rascals being administered a dose of cod liver oil. It is all very affected. He does not approve.

"Yuh know, pal. I'm tastin' this, bud, I was wonderin if maybe yuh koo ged uhs a boddle dat wuh be mawh coolah, y'know, chilled a bit mawh prahpuhlee."

I thought, "It was 'propuhlee chilled' before you heated it in your hand for three minutes like a kid grabbing a mug of hot cocoa after playing in the snow. There's a bucket of ice right here. Tell you what, you agree to keep this bottle and I will massage your needy ego and tell you at least six times during your meal that you are an important big player and VIP here at Olive Garden."

I said nothing.

4.4.04

officialese

Some prefer lofty words and terms when simpler ones would convey the same idea more precisely (e.g., vehicle, not car.).

Yesterday, the subway conductor sould have said the train was making local stops after 42nd Street. Instead, she puffed up and announced that we would "resume local status following the scheduled station stop at 42nd Street."

3.4.04

Requiem for the Croppies - Seamus Heaney

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley . . .
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp . . .
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching . . . on the hike . . .
We found new tactics happening each day:
We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until . . . on Vinegar Hill . . . the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August . . . the barley grew up out of our grave.


2.4.04

Glasgow Kiss

I ain't buying this new "April is Jock month" that is being sold here in NYC by the parcel of rogues behind Scotch whiskey, tartan fabrics, and package tours to Moffat. Sell your schlock on Robbie Burns day (January, not April, right?).

Scotty, beam these goofy wannabe Braveheart kilt-clad non-Scot pipers back to the lowlands of Jersey or wherever they were bussed in from.


How do you identify a true Scotsman?

Dandruff on his shoes.




From Melville's Confidence Man for no particular reason:

"What is your name, old boy?" said a purple-faced drover, putting his large purple hand on the cripple's bushy wool, as if it were the curled forehead of a black steer.

"Der Black Guinea dey calls me, sar."

"And who is your master, Guinea?"

"Oh sar, I am der dog widout massa." "A free dog, eh? Well, on your account, I'm sorry for that, Guinea. Dogs without masters fare hard."

"So day do, sar; so dey do. But you see, sar, dese here legs? What ge'mman want to own dese here legs?"

"But where do you live ?"

"All 'long shore, sar; dough now I'se going to see brodder at der landing; but chiefly I libs in der city."

"St. Louis, ah ? Where do you sleep there of nights ?"

"On der floor of der good baker's oven, ser."

"In an oven ? whose, pray ? What baker, I should like to know, bakes such black bread in his oven, alongside of his nice white rolls, too. Who is that too charitable baker, pray ?"

"Dar he be," with a broad grin lifting his tambourine high over his head.

"The sun is the baker, eh ?"

"Yes sar, in der city dat good baker warms der stones for dis ole darkie when he sleeps out on der pabements o' nights."

"But that must be in the summer only, old boy. How about winter, when the cold Cossacks come clattering and jingling ? How about winter, old boy ?"

"Den dis poor old darkie shakes werry bad, I tell you, sar. Oh sar, oh! don't speak ob der winter," he added, with a reminiscent shiver, shuffling off into the thickest of the crowd, like a half-frozen black sheep nudging itself a cozy berth in the heart of the white flock.


1.4.04

COIN-OP

The woman kept looking up mid-fold to share fragmented thoughts with the kindly silver-haired Super Mario Brother old man who was minding the place. She had small mountain of freshly dried clothes in the cart and she shared an out-loud thought for each garment.

"The lady told me that they were a lot of people trying to get the job, but that I had the type of experience that might be good for it."

"It is a company where they give you training and show you how to do all the stuff, so it is a good place to work."

"My daughter wants me to buy her everything."

* * *

"Look at this! It's ruined. I told her to be careful going down the subway stairs with the wet paint but she didn't listen."

"She knows when I have money and when I do she wants me to spend, spend, spend."

"She touches everything. By the time I take her out of the subway station to go visit her father she is filthy and I have to clean her hands. Her father says why she is so dirty like I don't take care of her."

"I got my tax refund, so I can pay off some of my bills, but I really want to get a job so I can put some money away for her and maybe get her something nice sometime."

"Sometimes I bring her a change of clothes for after the subway when she goes to visit."

After each reluctantly unfurled thought, the lonely folder looked down at her hands and seemed to notice for the first time that the garment there was now unfolded and tightly wrapped between her clenched fingers. She folded, stacked, and picked up another shirt and thought out loud again. From beneath a black satin Newport baseball cap, the gently bored old Spanish man grunted polite acknowledgment to each thought foisted upon him.





The Pollo Borracho was poorly.

It was dehydrated chicken-jerky (not jerk chicken) chew that was probably sitting in a refrigerated glistening vat of orange-brown 'borracho' sauce for a month waiting to be ordered.

The drink and chips were what I was really after. The waitress was a good egg. She told us that the seltzer wasn't so bubbly, so she wouldn't charge us. I wondered to myself if she ever charged people for flat cokes.

She told us the rain brought her a slow night. We got to know her well because she engaged us in pleasant monologue for at least thirteen and at most nineteen minutes. When she winded down on one topic, I pressed the verbal button with an interogative word or phrase and got her going on a new schpiel. It was funny. I was a scientist providing a specimen with minimal verbal stimuli to yield maximum verbal reaction. Under the table, me and my friend exchanged kicks as if to say, "Get a load o' dis!"

She spoke of organic farms in Oregon, the evil global corporate oligarchy headed by Monsanto, and how we might one day convince third world nations to comply with environmentally sustainable whatever-age.

She had lived in the Pacific Northwest and she described the weather there. She had traveled to Mexico AND South America. She was currently engaged in graduate study of polysyllabic global environmental nutrition stuff. She was originally from New Jersey and had the timeless earnest zeal of the newly minted East Village resident. She liked it when I called the potato an instrument of the imperialist slave masters and she kept on yapping.

I guess she didn't get much chance to share big thoughts with the Spanish dudes from the kitchen. By now they were finished and eager to go home. The not so big louts clustered around the bar and kitchen door and shot confused and impatient 'let's go" laser beams from their eyes to the back of her chattering head.

When I brought this to her attention she told us we could come hang with her at the bar if we liked. If I could bottle that friendly zeal and energy, I'd make a fortune selling it to Monsanto. We said we had to get going.

As we walked out, two of the kitchen guys were playfully groping her the way kitchen guys will grope when naive well-intentioned big-thought thinking gals will allow it. If the bar was a Queens-bound N-train subway platform, somebody woulda called the cops.

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