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31.5.04


 Posted by Hello

30.5.04


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napthalene?  Posted by Hello

29.5.04


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28.5.04


rainmen of Shea Posted by Hello


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not long for this earth Posted by Hello


wait til you see what his outfit for the Puerto Rican Day parade Posted by Hello


One of us! One of us! One of us! Posted by Hello


Don't know what he did, but Lucky (center) was wearing some plastic NYPD bracelets. Posted by Hello

Review of Spidey cereal 

Taste: Quisp meets bland Crunchberries.

Shape: Like thin HoneyCombs (circular spiderwebs).

Crunch/Sog consistency: Eat quickly if you like crunchy, take your time if you like peanutbutterty slime.

"WELL, WHEN ARE YOU GONNA GET IT IN?"

"I'm not sure, ma'am."

"WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU'LL GET IT IN?"

"I don't know ma'am. I'll have to ask the dairy manager."

"WHE--"

"He's off today ma'am."

"WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU'LL GET IT IN?"

"I'll have to ask the dairy manager when he comes back."

"WELL, WHEN DO YOU THINK?"

"I'm not sure, ma'am. You wanted the Edy's Grand Light, right?"

"YES, WHEN---"

"What flavor did you want?"

"Uhm... well... COFFEE or... whatever. I DON'T WANT VANILLA!"

She wasn't making any move to leave, so I grabbed my milk and limited edition Spiderman cereal and squeezed past her and out into the drizzling rain.

phone texting 

I enjoy phone texting. I especially like to test a random friend I haven't spoke to for a while with some random information about my activities.

"Just passed bum in lipstick warpaint. Looked mean."

"U pitching for Orioles now? Check YES now."

"Just dodged eye contact with The Giraffe in Grand Central. Slick! Did she dodge me?"

Unfortunately, my sister doesn't understand that the proper response to a text is usually not an immediate audio return call.

[By way of background, she's a bit hard to get off the phone sometimes and always takes call waiting calls but always makes you stay on the line while she does.]

The sister will immediately place a return call upon receiving a text that reads something like, "Can't talk right now. Just wanted to say hello. Don't bother calling back. In fact, my phone has been stolen by terrorists and is now rigged to a nuclear warhead and set up so that one ring will ignite the warhead and destroy the earth."

The phone will start ringing before I put it back in my pocket, sometimes before I have had a chance to close it.

I often wish I could text messages into this thing.

cd pile 

Merle Haggard - Same Train, A Different TIme
Burning Spear - 100th Anniversary
Billie Holliday - Commodore Master takes
Art Pepper - Eleven Modern Jazz Classics
Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque
Coldplay - Rush of Blood to the Head
Marvin Gaye - greatest hits volume 2
Tosh/Marley - Wisdom
Al Green - The Absolute Best, cd2
Teenage Fanclub - Songs From Northenr Britain
Enya - Shepard Moons (not mine)
Joe Turner, Milt Jackson, Roy Eldridge - Nobody In Mind
Art Pepper - Surf Ride
Brand Nubian - In God We Trust
Story of Jamaican Music - Natty Sing Hit Songs 1975-1981
Charlie Parker with Strings - Master Takes
Merle Haggard & George Jones - Yesterday's Wine
John Lee Hooker - Best Chess Sides
Skp james - Blues from the Delta
Planxty - The Planxty Collection
Flava Mix Vol. IV - mixed by DJ C-Lo
Joe Strummer - Streetcore
Beatles - Rubbersoul
Main Source - Breaking Atoms

For a time there, I would forget about the last shitty album and pick up every new release from KRS One. I was loyal to BDP. I eventually gave up somewhere after Return of the Boom Bap or Sex and Violence, but not before I supported KRS in his efforts to disappoint me.

Maybe you just grow out of certain music.

For some reason, perhaps because the songs are embarrassingly terrible, I am embarrassed of my past enjoyment of bands like Dokken, Asia and the Alarm. I blushed when I saw the Alarm on that VH1 reunion show and I was alone in the apartment.

Unfortunately, I doubt these bands will ever achieve kitschy cool status. Maybe some new hip-hop punk hybrid band can cover an Asia song like Don't Cry, or at least sample those airy synthesizers.

Sometimes you stop listening to some music, not because you don't like it, but because you no longer have the proper social context to hear it in. The classic example of this is the Clash. The Clash has always struck me as a band for solitary listening by young males. I don't feel confortable playing the Clash for guests. As a result, even though I love Lost In the Supermarket, I haven't heard it for years.

Same goes for Bounty Killer. I was all about the loud beats until I moved away from NYC for a while. I tried to sneak some Bounty Killer on for the primarily Casper Milktoast guests at a party we hosted and it was immediately replaced with the big 80's hits collection some preppy chick had in her car. If you can't play Bounty Killer at a big party with a lot of drunks, maybe you need fi give up a Bounty.

Then there is the music you buy even though you know down inside it is not for you and will never see the inside of the disc player. Like Charlie Brown running to Lucy and the football, I bought several new Tricky releases following the one I liked and each time realized he was just an aptly named rip off artist.

The Chieftains did this to me for a time too. I don't even think I skipped through the entire album they recorded with women singers from around the world. I bought it for Sake In the Jar and that was terrible. At least with the Chieftains, you can dump the CD on some older Irish relatives who will like the idea of having an Irish CD even though they don't know how the make it play on their hifi.

27.5.04

NYC restaurant inspection results. Very interesting.

lazy or just a mess? 

I could never understand why stay at home moms need to employ full-time West Indian childcare professionals.

Today, as I tried to step around the complete mess of a dolled-up stay at home mom who parked her nanny and child out front while she struggled mightily with the difficult challenges of entering an ATM and withdrawing cash, I began to understand.

Boy, was she a nervous wreck. I'm still a little freaked out by the encounter and myself.

"Sorry for being such a grumpy bore." 

Love Actually is shite, actually.

My friend said it was completely horrible. That emphatic thumbs down helped me avoid the film for several months. Then a certain someone's sister said it was "brilliant." When challenged, she gave an emphatic thumbs up.

I persevered through the entire film, partially because I knew full well my judgment would prevail in future movie rental choices for the foreseeable future and partially because I sneaked (snuck?) into the other room several times to check the Yankees score on the radio. A rain delay and the resumption of regular radio news programming caused me much confusion.

Mouthing snippets of the terrible dialogue before the characters spoke them was as easy as guessing that at some point in an A-Team episode Mr. T would get tricked into flying.

Frankly, having seen Darkman, I came to expect more from Liam Neeson. The part where Neeson tells his ten year old stepson he's gonna have lots and lots of sex with women in every room of the house was especially tasty. Neeson's screams of encouragement to his stepson as he breached airport security seemed a bit strange considering Hugh Grant's sappy opening reference to 9/11.

"Sorry for being such a grumpy bore."

Yesterday I ate Indian Chinese. It was tasty and spicy.

The place offered meals for about $7 and charged $2 for a can of dusty-topped can of Coke. No beer. No BYOB. Complete outrage. I stuck with tap water.

They served messy Indian Chinese food on square flat Japanese style plates that said "delicious" in Japanese. They offered no chopsticks. Much rice went over the side.

We sat in the corner by the window of the basement level Curry Hill establishment.

An older Indian fellow with cargo pants was standing by the window fastidiously adjusting his nether regions as I sat down.

Then a guy in a complete Raggedy Ann outfit walked by. He seemed dirty like he had been catching freight trains and sleeping in the rough in his Raggedy Ann costume for at least a week.

There have got to be a few skanky SRO's and methadone programs in Curry Hill someplace, because there's always a plethora of urban scavengers and outcasts out and about. Do they all wander over from Bellevue?

Next to me two smart young guys discussed how stupid everyone at their different jobs were and how they were outsmarting their bosses and how their parents just don't understand anything about modern business today.

The manager and the occupants of a table of three that was set for nine were arguing about the six people who were already an hour late as the restaurant filled up. Both sides could have said something appeasing and quieted the situation for the next few minutes. Instead, the eagerly insisted on explaining to each other how truly important they were and how "completely unreasonable" [read the quotation again with approriate accent] the other side was being.

I might have done better ignoring these conversations, had I been able to fully exend my arms without touching the tables nest to me.

Considering that the manager stood blocking the only possible route for my waiter to reach my table, I was fully invested in the table for nine dispute. I would wait until each side was fully satsfied that their spectacular grandeur had been fully recognized by the other side. Such satisfaction seemed far off on the horizon.

I toyed with the idea of jokingly calling my order in as a delivery by cellphone until a group of Bangramuffin subcontinental homies in matching brown warm-up suits and oversized flat-brimmed baseball caps slipped in and drew the manager off. When P. Dasharathi and his posse were lead into a large and empty backroom, I wondered why all the hulabaloo about the table for nine up front.

I finally ordered and I gotta say the okra was great.

26.5.04

occurs to me 

While I watched The Kids Are Alright, I wondered if Blur is to The Who what Oasis are to The Beatles.

Earth shattering? Guess not.

Maybe Damon will end up hosting a show on the History Channel one day.

M-Rod 

Somebody get this guy on as NY1's New Yorker of the Week.

dancing bear 

Straphangers rarely cease their conscious avoidance of eye contact. Few external stimuli can break down the powerful barrier of eye contact avoidance.

However, the barrier comes down when one straphanger decides to let another know that they too are aware of the absurdity of a third passenger's actions or words.

The awareness is commonly communicated by a knowing roll of the eyes and smirk. The customary response is a brief acknowledgement of the eye roll with a nod of the head or eyes. A dropping of the silence barrier requires different more powerful external stimuli.

Loud teens screaming in obscene incoherent thuggish tones merit only a furtive eye roll, if any. Nobody wants the teens to intercept a careless eye roll and thus become a target for the teen woldpack's indirect third person verbal abuse.

"Oh that fat ass lady with the hat be all like rolling her eyes..."

"What she all making faces about and what not?"

Noticeably crazy and harmless third parties are safer subjects for eye rolling. In fact, depending on their ability to keep providing stimuli through their bizzarre actions, harmeless third party nuts might even warrant a series of eye rolling exchanges that amount to an unspoken conversation.

The dancing bear who was waiting on the Manhattan Bound platform at Nevins Street was one such third party nut. He did not stop moving and he kept trying out new moves. It was like watching Ruben Stoddard play that dancing video game, except he was real and this was the subway. I imagined what TV news interviews would be like should he ever get killed or arrested in some extraordinarily newsworthy manner.

"He seemed like a nice guy. He was always dancing."

"He ain't never bothered nobody. He just kept to his self and his dancin'!"

"I always thought they was sumpin weird about him cuz he always dancing and what not. He ain't normal like."

Come to think of it, the dancing bear was less like Ruben Stoddard than he was like ReRun from What's Happening, sans beret and suspenders.

I imagined all sorts of unlikely music for his walkman. I wondered if he didn't even have a disc in the player. I was somewhat impressed with his technique until I noticed he was repeating the same four or five moves - a rather limited repertoire for someone who felt the need to dance publicly on the 4 train. At this point I moved up the platform away from him. I did not want to ride the subway in close proximity to a human dancing bear.

When I changed for the 6 train, dancing bear appeared next to me in the doorway. The moves continued. I doubt they had stopped for a moment. His forehead was beaded with sweat.

Dancing bear showed off his pirrouette and stared at the window of the subway door as he danced. He wasn't looking out into the darkness of the subway tunnel, he was looking in at his reflection as it bounced off the subway door window. Maybe he didn't have a fll length mirror at home.

That's when it happened. The eye contact avoidance barrier fell all around me. I returned the requisite acknowledgments and broke a barrier of my own by announcing that ReRun had been moving non-stop since Nevins Street. Rerun couldn't hear me with his walkman and was to focused in his dance moves in the window to see everybody laughing at him or to care if he did.

Two women were friendly enough to shake their heads in feigned disbelief of the dancing bear.

25.5.04

I am petty and small 

A squat round man with more hair on his neck than his head squeezed into the inadequate space next to me on the subway's bench. He shimmied into the spot with raised shoulders and stiffened arms at his side and exerted a constant pressure on my right arm in order to gain more space for himself.

This (and those people who stand directly over the seated jabbing them in the head with bags, unbrellas, and open overcoats) is why I prefer to stand on the subway.

I tried to read my book, but as my eyes ran across the words on the page my mind ran through violent scenarios involving Hairneck's head and the subway's pole and walls. I try to adhere to a policy of avoiding verbal contact with crazy subway rudies, because it does nothing but make me appear to be a crazy subway rudy. Hairneck's isometric pressure on my right arm, which was flat against my right side remained constant for two more stops.

Then, just when I thought I had all that I could stand in the way of constant pushhing against my right side, but still felt the need to stand up... err, remain seated?... for justice, a hippo-rumped woman waddled in and stood before me. Here, with arms as wide as thighs, was a proud specimen that would not yield to Hairneck.

I politely offered her my seat and, consequently, Hairneck's entire left side.

W's gaping pie hole 

W looked like a frowning muppet during last night's big speech.

Did he lose his top teeth in the bike accident?


served up on plastic platter 

Another spasmodic mouse twitching on a glue tray this morning.

At least now I know I'm not just hearing things when I hear things.

24.5.04

marching season 

I stumbled upon the Israeli Day parade yesterday.

There's always some kind of ethnic parade going up Fifth Avenue during the summer Sundays. Ethnic groups with less clout are relegated to march downtown on lower Fifth or Madison Avenues. The Irish seem to be the only ones who shy away from floats and eschew loud sound systems playing recorded music.

There was much security overkill at the Israel Day parade. They dusted off the Sanitation trucks filled with sand that were parked all over the city after 9/11 and parked them all over the parade route. My guess is that any terrorist clever enough to avoid the snarling traffic and make it to the parade route could have found a way past the garbage trucks. There were a whole lot of cops and from my estimate even more yellow school buses.

I noticed just a few more Hatzollah ambulances and just a few less dress-uniformed firemen than I did at the St. Paddy's Day parade for some reason.

I saw a cop from a Bronx precinct with dreadlocks tucked up into his hat. I made some clever comment about always hearing this style of music blairing from suped up Nissan Maxima's in the Bronx. His reaction was lukewarm. At least he didn't club me. I decided to forego my watergun & Carnival material.

A fellow with "olive skin" (decidedly less olive in tone than that of the Hulk or Leader) and classic "middle eastern" features trudged aggressively through the crowd with a red sleeved white baseball jersey with what, at first glance, appeared to be an Israeli flag. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a swastika in the middle of the star and the phrase "Fascist State" above and belowe the flag.

He strolled right by four yapping cops (one in white shirt) who did not notice him. I tried to follow him to photograph the inevitable fist fight that would come when someone in the crowd saw what I saw. He was moving too fast for me to follow and for anyone to read his shirt. He would probably tell all his buddies how ballsy he was walking through the parade with his shirt. We know he's really a fast walking softee poseur.


Last night the sweat dripped from my sunburnt forehead as I frantically untangled the chaos braid of electrical wires under my desk and behind heavy furniture and unfurled a nine foot knot of orange electrical cord across the middle of my apartment so I could use AC. A socket had blown and for the time being, this was necessary.

Then the new neighbor buzzed my apartment. The new neighbor does not sleep in his apartment. Instead, he stops off every night between 10:30pm and 1am for an hour or two of what sounds like pre-move-in bowling. The last neighbor was also a strange nightcrawler of some kind.

I made him and his pal wait in the hall as I climbed into his window from the fire escape and let him in. I did this because I was a bit embarassed that my apartment was somewhat messy and had was wired more primitively than a bedouin tent in the desert. I guess I'm house proud. Truth is, I really did not want to leave my new neighbor and his 'pink boonie hat wearing Nobita-kun boyfriend' or 'pink boonie hat wearing Nobita-kun friend who was a boy' unsupervised in my apartment.

The hat was not exactly pink. It was to pink what a dark teal is to blue. Magenta?

Surprisingly, I discovered that no bowling lanes had been installed in the new neighbor's crib.

We all smiled and I may have laughed before wishing them a good night.

When I got inside I made sure the window was locked.

21.5.04

bottle bums got no bottle 

The bottle bums gather Friday afternoon by the nearby grocery store.

One of them, made feisty by the prospect of converting his bottle deposit cash into powder or liquid form, got a bit lippy with me as I passed. I lost it for a second.

I stepped to him abruptly (loud foot slap on the pavement) and offered him a puffed up tough guy "What?!?"

He flinched - at least, he mumbled and looked away.

What was I thinking?

Best case scenario: I beat up a bottle bum.

Worst case scenario: I
(1) get lose fight,
(2) get arrested,
(3) get scary slow painful terminal disease from bottle bum bite,
(4) get sued and ordered to pay all future earnings to bottle bums.

XXXVII. 

As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So I, made lame by fortune's dearest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth.
For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Entitled in thy parts do crowned sit,
I make my love engrafted to this store:
So then I am not lame, poor, nor despised,
Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
That I in thy abundance am sufficed
And by a part of all thy glory live.
Look, what is best, that best I wish in thee:
This wish I have; then ten times happy me!

grad & graf 

On the way home from my high school graduation I got off the train with my mom and sister and immediately heard my nom de graf screamed from the newstand next to the subway entrance.

I had been fingered by two girls who are best described as Brooklyn teenage thug groupies. They were into every youth subculture that offered the promise of drugs and sex, but they were really into the attention they got while they stirred up trouble between the rival teen males. They were an excellent source of gossip and intelligence and actually quite fun to hang out with. I had met them while hanging with hardcore punk types and while hanging with guido-homeboy types whose focus was mainly drugs and graf.

The girls had just unwittingly(?) identified me to members of a rival collective that had been threatening my life all over the walls of South Brooklyn. The girls were very high and dressed in physically dirty dirty little punk outfits. They looked like Huntspoint crack hoes.

I don't know what was worse, being id'd to the enemy or having to talk to these skanky hoes in front of my mom.

They approached. We spoke. Although the mopes the girls were drinking with were actually three of the more brutal thugs from the rival collective, they were much older, unconcerned with graf nonsense, and thus unaware of the opportunity to pummel me to advance their group's honor and prestige. Plus, I was wearing a tux.

I was somewhat disappointed that my 'fame' was less than I thought.

Then I was approached by a pudgy shell-suited kid who asked me if I was who they said I was.

I asked who he was.

He told me. I knew who he was.

My friend often demonstrated the utility of his phone's three way calling feature by prank calling this kid to threaten his life and tell him he had stolen his deceased father's voice box.

However wrong it is to do something like that, I still laugh out loud when I think of my friend putting on his "voice box" voice and continuing his taunts. Luckily, I was laughing uncontrollably during most of those calls and unable to make any empty threats of my own that he might remember.

We had a nice conversation about the junction and some other acquaintances we had in common. It was enough to distract him from the fact that my name was always written next to the name of someone who had stolen 100 cans of paint from him and repeatedly called his house to threaten him and mock his dead father. He confirmed the identity of the mopes hanging with the girls and made some disparaging remark bout them. In his largesse, he even told me I could put up his crew.

I don't remember what I told my mom about who these lowies were. Maybe I just didn't.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

During the entrance procession to my college graduation my dad made fun of me by repeatedly screaming my grafitti tag and the words, "Yo!" and "McGee!"

He was real loud and the scene was real quiet.

Other guests seemed aghast. Dad really enjoyed that.

I still don't know why he called me "McGee" all the time, but he like to call people McGee and Jim and Jimbo.

Dad could carry on a completely comprehensible conversation by varying the intonations of the phrases, "Yo, Jim!" and "Jimbo!" and "Yo, Mcgee!" and injecting the occasional, "Lock and load!"

I guess it was like his version of "niggah" or "kiddo."

new school graduation 

The gentle mob was outfitted in a series of eclectic Halloween costumes, from the Sheryl Crow cowgirl ensemble to the elderly Eldridge Cleaver type who sported matching light blue kufi, shirt, and afro-themed turquoise chest-plate jewelry. The mob milled about with no visible direction or guidance, and eventually ambled in the same general direction in packs of three to six.

The narrow 13th Street construction walkway south of Lil Caesar's Pizza was impassable because the mob stopped to cross mid-block into a New School auditorium. Apparently the guides of these packs of three to six people were used to traveling the route alone. They had not anticipated the delay caused by bringing parents, grandparents, and younger siblings along with them in their jaywalking scramble through the construction site and traffic.

I slipped past like they were standing still. They were.

As I moved beyond the auditorium I heard an exasperated father ask his face-pierced daughter, "Where are we going NOW?"

"Sullivan Street."

Pops was going to walk at least ten more blocks before he got something to eat.

NJ Nots 

Steph'll get a ring before Kidd.

20.5.04

back sweat?  

For some reason, it bothers me a little when my waiter keeps the guest check portfolio (the padded book the check is presented in) tucked into his pants by the small of his back while serving me.

the ad read: "New York's Toughest Personal Trainer" 

I immediately thought of flabby office workers bragging, "My trainer can beat up your trainer."

keep it in perspective 

Years ago, my onetime roomate was giving out about a parade that was passing by our window on a Saturday afternoon.

Aparently the colonial fifes had gently roused him from his slumber at 1:40pm.

It was a beautiful day.

He cursed and made some overly strong statement about banning parades and killing the half-witted trog parade freaks that were outside.

All he had planned for the day was to "wake and bake." In fact, I think he was rolling his wake and bake joint as he issued his universal condemnation of parades, marchers, and spectators.

I said that people have been parading in some form or other since they started forming simple social groups. I pointed out that he was an anti-social pothead who was at odds, not only with the hundreds of onlookers and fife band members and marchers below our window, but with humanity itself.

He got stoned and laughed about it for the rest of the day.

teachers: Father T1 

Father T was a pudgy effeminate priest. He was American but spoke with the affected foppish allocution of a middle-aged Little Lord Fauntleroy. The unnatural color of his hair and the strange way it sat on his head indicated that dying one's hair and wearing a toupee were luxuries not outlawed by his order's vow of poverty.

Ian McNeice's toga togging Caligula extra character in the 1994 cinematic classic No Escape reminded me of Father T, except Father T did not seem lewd.

Father T taught Latin, of course.

He would raise and shake his heavily annotated bilingual text of the Aenead and proclaim in his most Ciceronian tone, "This is reality!" Maybe he provided the Latin for beforehand for emphasis. I don't remember.

He often exhorted us to cease "striving for mediocrity!"

I made fun of him and from time to time I disrupted his class with stupid jokes I thought were funny at the time. You know you're a true punk rock rebel when you're disrupting your elective Latin class. Actually, I guess, a high school Latin class is the perfect forum for a true punk rock rebel.

I felt bad when I heard Father T died, but I did not bother to pay my respects.

I often wonder if the written word is reality.

More often, I wonder what's wrong with striving for mediocrity.

19.5.04

teachers: Brother F 

Brother F liked to wrap his pear-shaped frame in pastel gray, blue, and tan colored polyester leisure suits that, although they might have arguably been considered cutting edge fashion a decade before in some central African nation, seemed quite out of place in my fifth grade religion class. The suits, two of which had short sleeved jackets, appeared to be made from the same material used to manufacture nun robes.

When he wasn't wearing the leisure suits, Brother F sported baggy guayaberas, short-sleeved dress shirts that would have shamed Detective Sipowicz, and once or twice a dashiki. His two pair of non-leisure suit slacks - the gray ones that looked like stolen security guard pants with the stripes torn off and the chocolate brown ones with the weird raised 3D textured pattern were highwaters that exposed his striped tube socks. His pants were highwaters. In addition the gray pair looked like security guard pants with the stripes pulled off. Wide-toed well-worn black dress shoes covered his feet. Brother F had Homer Simpson hair, Popeye forearms and wide open crazy person light-blue eyes that were shared by no cartoon character peer I know.

His clothes and goofy appearance matched his third world dictator/homeless lunatic persona - when you first saw him your instinct was to laugh, but you were somehow afraid of his potential for brutality.

He was a born again Jesus freak who wasn't born again enough to hesitate before shoving a fifth grader's head into a desk or chalk board. Class behavior precisely followed Brother F's oscillations between the deafening euphoria of a gospel choir or faith healing revival and the ominous silence of an execution chamber. He allowed us to interrupt class by standing up and shouting at any point so long as we were "bearing witness," but always refused permission to use the bathroom with a polite, "No, but thank you for asking."

He liked reading us heavily edited selections from Nicky Cruz's Run Baby Run, a true story about a gang leader who was born again. Occasionally, one of the perennial left backs who owned their own dog-eared copy would "bear witness" to the fact that Brother left out the word "f*ck" at one point and "motherf*cker" at another.

At such times Brother F would with swift apologies and violence pounce upon the transgressor to mete out justice. He was brutally efficient at removing such malcontents from the classroom and rendering them into the hallway where audible dull thuds terrified those left in the classroom more than any actual beating we could have witnessed. This 'fear of the unknown' theory was proven true when on one or two occasions the class laughingly errupted into Roman Colisseum applause as Brother F was forced to duke it out with a rebellious gladiator who prefered a public fight.

One time a kid came back into the class room after being removed and beaten, to proclaim "F*ck you, Brother F!" He managed to connect to Brother F's head twice before the Brother could remove him to the narrow hallway wear youth and speed were less of an advantage.

Brother F had a patented technique for immediately neutralizing miscreants. He named it after the Italian kid who suffered it the most before he disappeared from our school. For illustration's sake, we can call the technique a "Spaghetti." The technique involved simultaneously grabbing an ear and a shock of hair with the other hand free to issue a corrective blow, pry hands from a desk (hands usually were helplessly trying to free the hair and ear area), or open the hallway door. Brother F implied that Spaghetti had been expelled and immediately began using the threat of a Spaghetti as a weapon of deterrence in the classrom.

"Brother F doesn't want to give you a Spaghetti!"

"Brother F is getting ready for a Spaghetti!"

"Brother F doesn't like giving Spaghetti's..."

Brother F liked to speak of himself in the third person to prevent any casual observers from failing to pick up on his complete insanity.

Brother F was loose with the truth. Despite what he said about Spaghetti, I think we later learned that Spaghetti's parents pulled him out of our school to rescue him from torture.

Brother F would even change the words of the text when he was reading aloud from our groovy new age "The Way" bible and new testament. [I remember the seventies cover of The Way had big bubble-font hippy lettering with photos montages of hairy multicutltural Godspell type people withing each bubble letter. I covered mine with clear Contact paper which was the custom then.]

In addition to heavily censoring passages from Nicky Cruz's book for obscenities, Brother F often lied to make the book more immediate to us as students.

"And that nght Nicky slept on the street right there by the [St. Vincent DePaul] poor box."

"And this all took place right here in the corner of our school yard."

Brother F told us Dino DeLaurentis often called him to say just how unhappy his fame and financial success had left him before he found Jesus. I couldn't figure out why a famous film guy was calling Brother F who was clearly too nuts to be a priest or to teach a real class other than religion, were you could ace all tests without any preparation by simply choosing the most feel good answer in the multiple choice section. Supposedly, there were plenty of other famous celebrities who were begging to hang out and talk about Jesus with Brother F, but aside from Dino and maybe Francis Ford Coppola, I don't remember who they were.

As a means of crowd control, Brother F also used the promise of a movie called Gospel Road as a carrot counterpart to his Spaghetti stick. He built up the movie everyday so that by the time we were watching the movie, a minmalist Passion of Christ meets experimental Doors video meets Spaghetti western, we would have watched anything and loved it. He would pause the movie every few moments to indoctrinate us and edit parts he didn;t want us to see. I have since found out that Gospel Road was a Johnny Cash/Kris Kristofferson project that had to be very different from the heavily-edited film Brother F showed us. It was scary how brainwashed we were. Because of Brother F, I have an idea how Jim Jones convinced people to drink the Kool Aid.

My lasting image of Brother F is him holding a kid with his hairy lobsterclaw forearms and earnestly apologizing with zeal while he involuntarily shook his head and some poor kids a few good slaps.

I am convinced that were he not a member of a religious order entrusted with the daily care of dozens of young boys, Brother F would have been banging his head against a rubber wall in an upstate institution.

I sometimes use his 'no, but thank you for asking' quip.

18.5.04

lemon wedges 

The 9th Avenue Food Festival does not really serve as much a variety of food as one might expect. Most of the stands offered the same old stuff all the other street fairs offer along with snarled Manhattan traffic. African woodcarving kitsch, socks, bootleg Polo polo shirts, humor tee shirts, early 90's reggae mix tapes, As Seen On TV miracle products, free chiropractor screenings, and South American sweaters with big sunflowers or dandelions designs were all on offer.

The obligatory corn on the cob, mozzarepas, crepes, zeppoles, sausage and two day old Thai food was there for the taking. However, there were also smoked Columbian meats, Father Pete's meatballs and a variety of other delicacies that seemed to unique to this particular street fair. Another unique offering was the seafood stand on the corner of 40 (39th?) and 9th, right outside the seafood store that seems like it has been there forever. The stand offered deep-fried and raw seafood that had been baking in the sun and absorbing exhaust from the elevated bus roadways leading out to Jersey from the Port Authority.

I considered ordering some Irish viagra when a woman knocked over a large plastic container of lemon wedges. The melted ice and gunk from the shucked shells had mixed to create a battleship gray liquid on the ashphalt. I watched her scoop them up with her bare hands. Actually, one hand was covered by a torn rubber glove. Apparently the three minute-nobody seems to notice rule was in full effect.

She scooped the lemons, now dappled with 9th Avenue grime and dipped in the mystery gray sauce, with two hands and tossed them back in the container. When the first scoop of dirty lemons was tossed in with clean ones, I knew she planned to reuse them. I thought it was pretty bad and then I thought that the shells were dirty anyway and then I thought disturbing thoughts about the frightening bodily secretions that might make their way onto the asphalt of Ninth Avenue on any particular evening. As if on cue, the skeletal remains of two androgynous crackheads stumbled passed.

Oh well, can't be as bad as what the two very likely stoned guys who were told to cut lemons all Friday night until Saturday morning had been up to all night.

customer hubris 

Some people are strangely proprietary over things they like that actually have nothing to do with them.

I know a grown woman with three children who bought twelve pairs of Pumas just six months ago and now roundly condemns everyone she notices wearing "HER shoes" and jealously inquires where you got the one color she doesn't have.

Some teenagers gauge their identity by every music group they discovers and then feel somehow less cool when other people jump on the bandwagon for a particular group.

I wonder if it bothers cowboy type PBR fans that hipsters are sporting big belt buckles these days.

Possessions or objects of desire are held up as mirror gauges of achievement or coolitude. People like to think that they are in someway superior and hold exclusive license to the things they like. They get all puffed up and they are riding for a fall.

They get mad when they notice other people liking what they like. Maybe it brings them to the realization that they are really just a customer in the EPMD song sense.

Customer hubris extends to knowledge of restaurants and bars. Because someone has entered a place and spent money there, it is somehow magically transformed into their exclusive domain and those that might discover the place later undoubtedly have ruined the place.

"Yeah, I used to go there years ago. The food used to be good there."

I am often guilty of this form customer hubris.

I really hate it when NY transplants act all insidery about a particular bar or restaurant that's been doing fine without them for centuries.

It bothers me that bars where I spent many an afternoon hiding years ago - dives where the other stools were occupied by old drunks living out there last days in Section 8 housing - are now populated by trendy scenester types that greet each other with dramatically fabulous kisses on the cheek.

It bothers me too that I can't tolerate a visit to the once secret Japanese eateries I discovered over a decade ago because they're overrun with loud wannabe Japanese Armani-Exchange clad Korean college kids who scream "Shut Up!" and toss around artificial sounding homeboy terminology in their strange hybrid Flushing/Fort Lee accents.

I guess I'm just a customer too. All the strange places and local characters I have discovered and enjoyed over the years are not really mine and I have to learn to share without bitterness.

Customer Hubris extends to fast food restaurants too, specifically, Roll N Roaster, which for years was known to me as "rolling roaster."

Roll N Roaster is a fast food joint with locations and very loyal clientele in Sheepshead Bay and maybe someplace in Staten Island, if it hasn't closed. In the hierarchy of fast food places, it is a few rungs above Wendy's, which I place a few rungs over Mickey D's and the rest. At RNR you order your food, get a number, and wait until it is prepared. If you're in a hurry get Roast Beef, because the Burger takes longer to cook. The cheese is velveeta cheese sauce which reminds me of Bun N Burger, which is maybe where the RNR founders got their idea.

RNR gave out dated pens each year and you could exchange them in 5 years and 10 years for a free meal. My friend stole a big vat of pens as a teenager and we ate free for weeks a few years later.

At some point I met somebody who supposedly who robbed their safe twice in two weeks by cutting through the roof.

My friend once drove six hours to visit me upstate and he brought along 6 RNR cheeseburgers. "No more than 28 seconds in the microwave," he advised.

When I worked nearby as a janitor I made my friend drive down there for lunch every payday. In the heat of the hottest Brooklyn summer on record I sat in his no a/c van by the open sliding door, holding a nundred RNR takeout bags and imagining that I was a Huey gunner and screaming "You gotta give 'em a little less lead!" as we rode back to work.

As teens we visited RNR almost everynight. The RNR scene on weekend evenings was like a cross between the Arnold's Drive-in in Happy Days and the Gang Council with Cyrus in The Warriors. Every teenage group of troublemakers was represented and there to see and be seen. There were the mostly nameless Russians, Chinese (who were probably Vietnamese) and Blacks and then there were the track-suited two-toned jeans goombahs that named themselves by acronym in accordance with their local street, KHB, TBR, et al. There were only the occasional punk rock types.

The other day we walked into the new Manhattan RNR and were treated to the customer hubrus of a tiny pony-tailed woman with shiny white reeboks and a gigantic purse she could have used as a sleeping bag. She was not alone. Two other people jumped in talking over each other about how the Brooklyn RNR and how this one was different and blah blah blah.

My friend and I rolled our eyes knowingly to each other. We clearly knew more about the Brooklyn RNR than they did. How dare they presume.

17.5.04

Backne is awful.

A big white head on the tip of your honker is God Awful.

laundry 

Aggressively friendly singing guy was in the laundromat again this weekend.

He sang his obscure could-be-country-could-be-show-tunes tunes to himself and spoke loudly to all who would listen in his annoying seen it all and laughed through it type manner. He told the Italian tourist newlyweds that he had an Italian mastiff, "you know, Woof! Woof! Ha ha ha." He told the ewok Spanish ladies that they looked great today as if they had looked poorly the ast time he saw them. He spoke in saccharine tones to every laundry-doer who made the mistake of falling into eye contact with him. He lectured a pudgy gay guy with dyed blonde hair about the merits of being nice to people and told him where he could go to inquire about a job because it was all about making connections and finding out about opportunities.

I heard him coming (he was singing) before I saw him emerge from behind the multicultural Mod Squad trio of junkie zombies as they patrolled past the laundromat for the third time in 10 minutes. This time they were carrying some stuff they must have stolen from somewhere.

When he came in, I carefully shielded myself with a small paperback novel taking care not to expose any of the title to his view and thus inadvertently provide him a topic with which to engage me in conversation. I immediately left and spent as much time as I could outside reading and pacing up and down the block. This seemed to upset the junkies who were huddled conspiratorily and they broke apart and wandered away confused and chaotically. They bent their frames forward and limped away like skinny club-footed Peter Lorry-style Igors looking back twice for every step they took.

Annoying friendly sining guy complimented my folding technique and I swore he was imitating Bill Murray Lounge Singer. Maybe you've seen him with is pony-tail and too tight colored wife beater tank and Bugle Boy pocket pants and Cat Diesel boots on a hot summer day.

For the rest of the summer, I will be dropping the laundry off. In-house laundry will be a pre-requisite for the new apartment.

a difference between Manhattan & Brooklyn residents 

Some Brooklyn residents hang deposit worthy soft drink bottles and cans from fences so bums don't pick through all their trash.

Manhattan residents just throw the bottles out.

prison oval rock 

I used to listen to this guy alot.

I don't listen to him that much anymore because, aside from the Shyne sample, I haven't upgraded his vinyl and cassette releases to CD.

How soon before Shyne's back on the street?

14.5.04

I wrote a long post and blogger ate it. I wasted much time.

annoying angels 

I find two players from the California Angels to be very annoying to watch on tv. One day I hope to hit them with D batteries thrown from upper deck.

First, Ben Webber gets on my nerves with his herky jerky start-stop-start pitching motion. I want to reach through the tv screen and slap him.

Second, David Eckstein really bothers me when he gets up to the plate and starts excessiviely kicking his feet and spitting and shaking his bat around like a somebody who is performing a Saturday Night Live skit about an annoying baseball player coming up to bat. The constant motion does not stop until the pitch is thrown.

When brought to his attention, my friend, who does not follow baseball, agreed that both should be forced to pose for snapshots with Lynndie England or this happy, well-adjusted and even better fed couple.

someday I'll have a kid and name him "Labar" 

From the NY Post police blotter:

An apparently drunken man beat his girlfriend and menaced her with a meat cleaver in Brownsville, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.

Labar Hunter, 31, was intoxicated and holding an open beer bottle as he screamed at Tonia Worrell, 37, in her Sutter Avenue apartment at around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, the sources said.

He then allegedly brandished the cleaver, threatened to cut Worrell's throat and punched her in the face. During the ensuing struggle, Worrell pushed Hunter out of the apartment and locked the front door.

Hunter then tried to set the door on fire, the sources said.

Worrell called 911, and police placed Hunter under arrest. He was charged with menacing, criminal mischief and criminal possession of a weapon.

The victim suffered scratches to her chest, but did not need medical attention.


11.5.04

stupid kid 

I once matter of factly told my first grade teacher that "f*ck" was not a curse.

I did this on behalf of a corpulent classmate who prone to red-faced bubbling and losing control. On this particular occasion his bubbling followed reprimand by the teacher for his use of the term in reference to a classmate who called him fat.

I felt bad for him and quickly took up his case by explaining to the teacher, in front of the class, that while such terms as "*ss," "b*tch," and "sh*t" were curse words, the term "f*ck" was simply not a curse.

I demonstrated this argument by means of demonstration. I simply proclaimed, "Look! F*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck! See? F*ck" is not a curse."

Heck, when I was a kid I was convinced the putty-nosed guy in the Lee Myles Transmissions commercial and the Centurian in the Roman Meal bread commercial were one in the same.

hit and missile 

I loved this game.

After twenty years, the tired churning grind of the motor popped into my head today. As the red missile moved from bottom to top, you could just make out the gray plastic filmstrip under the screen that carried the planes from left to right and right to left. For about a week, I never put it down. I remember trying to play it in the strong sun of Manhattan Beach.

I think it took C batteries. I know that at least once I snuck some Eveready batteries out of my sister's radio to feed my habit. I remember trying to snatch batteries out of my brother's black leather bound radio, but they were dead or didn't fit. I remember this because I almost got caught while experiencing some fiasco with the ribbon that went behind the batteries so you could more easily pull them out of the radio.

This was when Duracells were somewhat new and it was maybe even before the Energizer Rabbit started his run. I remember some battery commercial with Robert Conrad saying, "Come on, I dare you!" Do they even make Eveready and Ray-O-Vac batteries anymore?

10.5.04

they hit the watering hole, not the showers 

A foul smell choked the bar.

We were close to the bathroom, but that wasn't it.

It was like death - foot odor mixed with homeless BO. Noxious and overwhelming.

I self-consciously spied my own feet. Could it be me?

Phew! I was clear. I saw the new kicks and socks that I bought a mere three hours before.

In the back of the bar sat a team of culchie scaffolders in muddy football kits. All in full uniform. Except they uniformly wore open-tongued workboots instead of cleats (football boots).

I assumed they had been drinking since the early afternoon, but it smelled like they died there last week.

couple costume 

Does anybody else see the potential for a Halloween costume here?

7.5.04

sidekick curly-locks 

When I was a kid, I thought Sonny Corleone (James Caan), Dan-O (James MacArthur) from Hawaii Five-O and Crocker (Kevin Dobson) from Kojak were the same person.

I bet there are homeboys who have absolutely no idea that they call cops "Five-O" because of the Hawaii Five-O television series.

altercation? 

FROM THE AP:

HONOLULU -- Gilbert Lani Kauhi, a member of the original cast of the "Hawaii Five-0" television series, died Monday. He was 66.

His mother, Emma Kauhi, said the actor died in Hilo Medical Center of complications from diabetes.

Kauhi, nicknamed Zulu, was a popular Waikiki beachboy when he joined the CBS police drama for its first season. He was cast as Detective Kono Kalakaua, the burly Hawaiian sidekick to the show's star, Jack Lord.

He stayed with the show for four seasons but was fired after an altercation with the show's publicist.

The show helped launch a successful entertainment career for Kauhi, who sang and joked to packed houses in and around Waikiki.

"I know those were his enjoyable days," his mother said. "He was always full of excitement and he had many friends."

Actor James MacArthur, who played Danny "Danno" Williams on the show, wept when he learned of the death.

"I have many happy memories of Zulu," he said. "On 'Five-0,' he helped us understand how to say those Hawaiian words. I'll miss him."

6.5.04

Willets Point Willowbrook 

I rode the 7 out to Shea. Now I can tell my grandkids I was there when Bonds sat out a game with a cold that was down-graded to a sinus infection. Baseball players are so soft, especially the juice monkeys.

I got off the train and surveyed the wasteland outside the stadium.

No bar to wait in. No shelter at all. I passed the time by cashing in eight expired metro cards, two of them had mystery ten-cent amounts on them. The token booth clerk wore a Yankees baseball jacket and made some unintelligible comment to me about being a Mets fan. I assume he has been wearing that jacket in that booth and making that comment for at least a dozen years. I took the new card without reply.

As I waited outside, the staccato organ version of "Ooh Wah Ooh Wah... Ooh Wah Diddy... Boys from New York City" spilled through the outer walls of Shea and I Piazza broke Carlton Fisk's meaningless record of most homer runs hit by a catcher. When I got inside, I saw the all-time catcher stud Piazza fail to block the plate and thus fail to tag out the runner who tied the game. The crowd moaned.

We climbed to shelter in the top of the upper deck behind homeplate and sat near the "rain men" who roosted at least four seats apart from each other like cuckoo brethren that had long ago driven off their foster bird parents, but never left the nest.

Like the Yankee Stadium rain men, they cheered and clapped in a strange pattern code. I thought of the B-I-N-G-O song. They took time off from rocking and ticking to yell obscure stastistical facts to no one in particular. They shared a a rain man aesthetic for high-water pants and dingy sports team jackets that were too small and not yet old enough to be considered vintage hip. One wore a 1991 Nets starter jacket that he may have thought said "Mets."

For some reason, they all sat on the left side of the upper deck seats directly behind home plate.

When the rain came down and the fans came up near us for shelter, the rain man section did not get as crowded as the one where we sat. Still, the rain men got claustrophobic and led each other in a waddled retreat down the long metal staircase like the dodo birds in the movie Ice Age.

"Where are we going?"

"Loge! C'mon!"

We might have stayed, but Mets management saw fit to close their concession stands during the rain delay.

We left.

Shea sucks.

3.5.04

Amores Perros guy 

I sat in front of a Mexican hipster at the Stadium.

He wore a camo trucker hat, a vintage tee and a big belt buckle.

He screamed "Vamos Kansas!" at least twenty times during the game. Like most of the people in the Bronx this day, he was totally unaware that Kansas City was NOT in Kansas. He clapped in a loud purposefully irritating manner to garner attention for himself.

When things went well for the Kansas City Royals, he unleashed a lenghthy laugh/shriek that was somewhere between the high-pitched tongue noise made by women attending a Hamas funeral in Ramallah and Speedy Gonzalez's "Ungareh! Ungareh!" battle cry.

He was breaking balls. He got his broken right back when he bacame the very first person I ever saw get asked for ID by a Yankee Stadium beer vendor. He made a futile protest by gesturing to his empty bottles and he got lippy in broken English, but was ultimately denied.

This made me happy and content for some reason.

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