Sunday, October 29, 2006

Here, on the frontier of consumerism, you can...

1. Pay the list price for a book, and not the jacked-up local currency price which they print on a really gummy sticker and mask over the list price hmm I wonder why that is...

2. Order your groceries and have them delivered, and I don't mean using Fresh Direct or some other specialty service - you can literally call your own corner grocery store and tell them to bring you a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce what you forgot not 5 minutes ago when you were down there damnit.

3. For that matter, you can have a coffee delivered. I said "a".


5. Buy a $20 cell phone and fill it with minutes from a different cell phone company every month.

6. Get your dog a membership at the dog gym.

7. Go to a quaint little arthouse cinema on a Tuesday afternoon and watch a truly terrible little arthouse film.

8. Go to a club that only sells "bottles" and drop a minimum of $1000.

9. Go to a restaurant that serves nothing but PB&J sandwiches ("Peanut Butter & Co.", 240 Sullivan St). Or rice pudding ("Rice to Riches", 37 Spring St). Or macaroni and cheese ("S'MAC", 345 E 12th).

10. Leave your wallet at home and just soak up the sights, smells, and sounds of this fabulous city.

That last one is bullshit. You can't move in this city without spending money.


I have to tell you something. It's a great feeling when the clouds start to break and a section of philosophy starts becoming clear. Not least because academia is a constant vacillation between feeling grossly, grossly inadequate and discouraged ("I have read nothing/Everyone has read more than me"; "I understand nothing/Everyone understands more than me"; "I am a terrrible instructor/Everyone is a better instructor than me"; "I will never publish"; "I have no work ethic"; "I should just quit") - between that and a beaming sense of pride and accomplishment. It's probably 70/30, but the 30 is pretty damn good. And nothing else would be a challenge.

Went to see Babel this weekend, which was gratifying not only because it's an engrossing flick, but because it was a limited release (major US cities only, I guess) and afterwards I got to fill out a form about what characters I liked and what scenes I didn't and how I heard about the movie. Apparently sometimes they use that information to actually recut the film and sometimes (more likely in this case) they just take it as advice on how to market it better.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


The blog site has been stultifyingly slow lately, and I just don't have the patience to try to post.

Also, the keys in the upper-right corner of my keyboard are sticky from when I spilled pink lemonade on my computer. The delete key, which I am rather reliant upon, kind of sits there for a second, deciding how much it's actually going to delete, before making this sucky noise and popping back up again.

I went and studied at the New York Public Library the other day - the one with the lions, the one in the movies - and it is as grandiose as they all make it out to be. Those *classic* long wooden tables, green reading lamps, ornate gilded ceiling. Not as quiet as I would have thought, but perfectly good for reading through a few dozen pages of Freud. The books are non-circulating (you can't even wander among the stacks), which means they're always there, only you have to wait for the gopher to find them and bring them to you.

The other night, 2-ish, I was in a bar with some friends when about 20 cops came in, and started inspecting the place. The music went off, the cops started shining their flashlights around and eyeing all the patrons. Nobody who went out for a smoke was allowed back while this was taking place. It all went on for a good while (maybe half an hour), and then they left as unannounced as they came. Apparently - and this has since been confirmed for me - while bars are allowed to serve booze until around four, the "Cabaret laws" dictate that they aren't allowed to host dancing after 2:00. And what that comes down to is that the cops can shut a place down if they see - get this - more than two people dancing at a time. It's like a bad John Hughes movie. Or as Eddie Izzard says, "No smoking in the bars now, and pretty soon, no drinking and no talking."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Almost famous

Good god. I've been out of commission for a few days, since my very bad influence of a friend took me all over the East side and Brooklyn, in a drunken haze of meeting up and parting with various people, from bar to rooftop to bar, getting home finally at 4:30 am courtesy a cab driver who inexplicably turned off the meter and only charged me $10 for what should have been a $20 cab ride. Yesterday was spent in pennance, curled up in the 18 square feet of personal space that is my twin bed, watching true crime all day (I love you Court TV), and wishing that the roommates didn't have to file past my wretched self every time they needed the kitchen or bathroom.

Today I'm all business. Okay, so I took myself out for breakfast at this little diner around the corner - called "Andrews" [sic] - and had a remote date with my own Andrew, which involves doing the same thing simultaneously in our respective cities, and conversing about it via cell phone text messages. He had sausage and eggs; I had the ham and cheese omelette.

But since then I've been reading and cleaning the house, all the while squealing with excitement because I just received word that my first publication - a book review - is officially slated for next month's issue of the journal in question.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Soaking and crusty

Mmmmm... a glass of pinot and some leftover KD (okay, so I threw in some vine tomatoes and cheese and oregano and fresh ground pepper and a touch of cream). This is all very cosy after having been caught in the rain - of all the days I had to experiment with getting off at Wall Street, only to come out the west exit and get stuck on the wrong side of Broadway. I passed a schnauzer in a yellow raincoat, but myself had only a t-shirt on and no umbrella. I arrived with sopping tendrils and saturated cuffs; now I am warm and dry.

It's Wednesday, which means it's almost my weekend - no classes on Fridays - and I could pretty well imagine myself staying in for four days, preparing for my presentation on the Schematism, reading the Repetition, and getting ready for the Kristeva class, which starts in a few weeks. Not only because it would be good to get caught up, but because I've become sort of disenamoured with the social scene here. There are a few interesting people, but there is a whole lot of drinking and BRAGGING about how much Tillich or Buber you've read (who, for you non-philosophers, are fine authors but the corpus's equivalent of last year's American Idol winner). It makes me laugh and think of my friend Wesley's one-word summation of philosophy students: poncy. Brings out the crustiness in me.

I need to get myself in touch with some anarchists...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Travel plans

Do you like it? It’s my first knock-off. Now when I am forced to travel in a business suit, I won’t have to carry along my green army surplus bag.

Speaking of which, I am coming to Calgary and Edmonton November 17 to 26. A good time will be had by all.

Also, I have posted a few more photos under “Where we live” if you want to check back (accessible through the September archives).

New York to Tarare, come in Tarare. Kate, what the hell has become of your blog?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, then. Andrew leaves early early tomorrow a.m. Today we went for Dim Sum again, then wandered deep into Chinatown, into the parts that smell like fish poo, where there are really no round-eyes, to find a candy store that sells sour cherry blasters as well as candied tilapia and preserved Thai lemons, and a grocery store under the Manhattan Bridge – literally built right into its supports so that you can hear the subway go by overhead.

Tonight we had a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner – chicken thighs and Stove Top stuffing and mashed potatoes and packaged gravy and yellow beans. You can do a lot with an electric skillet and a small convection oven. We also had great meals the rest of the weekend. I had so start cooking again after all those restaurant visits when we were camped in the hotel (including a visit to the guacamole truck). Also, it was incredibly nice to come home again. I’m glad we stayed in the hotel for that very reason – to come home again and feel so cosy in this place. My stuff, my bathroom, my kitchen.

I am totally over the fashion thing. I think New York has a way of making you become what you already are. The flipside of the fact that this city is so crowded, and that you never, ever find yourself alone and in private, is that you can do whatever the frickety-frack you want, wherever and whenever you want. It’s fantastic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fish poo, then dumplings, then fish poo

Hasn't been much to report over the past few days since Andrew and I were holed up in a hotel and a Starbucks in Grammercy and nothing was happening in my life outside of the pages of the First Critique.

But I simply must post this HI-larious story from Grace:

"Twice in two days I've been stopped on my bike while trying to get to/from school by some random looking people with no apparent authority. They are the film crew for some movie/commercial being shot at 10th and Lafayette. They step right in front of you and start saying, "ma'am, stop, ma'am, this will just take two minutes, you cannot ride through until we're finished the shot ma'am." The first time I ignored the guy, he grabbed my handle bars and insisted that I stop, and the cops came over to ask the same thing (hmm, NYPD working for Hollywood??). Okay, so I waited impatiently, cause I thought it was lame and I was late for class. So, tonight after class, I was riding home and the exact same thing happened, only this time, there were more of us being held up. More complaints, delivery guys trying to get through, women on their cell phones with important places to be; we were all being contained by these two production assistants who were literally pleading with us to stop. So we all did (about 9 of us). Then this homeless guy wanders up, wearing a dirty old "I heart NY" t-shirt and tries to walk right past the assistants, who try to stop him by explaining that it would only be a minute. The homeless guy--and this is the punch line, finally-- said, "I don't have time for this," and marched right past the two, into the street where they were filming, and all we heard was the director guy yell, "CUT!" as he threw up his hands and everyone moved into the street. It
was great. The homeless guy led us all to freedom.

Then I rode through China town which smelled like rotten fish poo and then really good steamed dumplings. And then poo again."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

New York is for lovers

Having a wonderful, wonderful time with Andrew here. He arrived after much organi- zational debacle at 2:00 am, so our first date was at a 24 hour Ukrainian diner (I know). The next day we lay low at the dorm, dying my hair and finally leaving the house at sevenish for risotto at my already favourite New York restaurant (fill up on the incredible breadsticks and pinot grigio, pack home the risotto). We followed that up with a few beers in Tribeca, then home.

Saturday we visited the farmer’s market and had brunch with another couple in Brooklyn, on a street that was very reminiscent of 4th avenue in Kitsilano. Then we subwayed back to Manhattan so that I could get my gym membership at the Y (as a student, I get to take advantage of the rock-bottom price of $50 a month) before their no-sign-up-fee promotion ended at 5:00. After that we went to the top of the Empire State Building, which is sort of the worst way of enjoying that particular site, since you are funneled through a lot of ugly, dry-walled, souvenir-laden corridors, masking the art deco sublimity that is the building itself. I know – you go for the view. I actually like the neck-craning view from the ground better. The 86th floor vantage just puts it all in perspective and proportion again, and the city loses its grandiosity.

That evening we wandered into Little Italy and found spaghetti bolognese, and today – having done the requisite East Village/Lower East Side drinking binge and noon sleep-in – we wandered into Chinatown and found dim sum. It’s great being able to do that. Of course, you can’t tell anyone about the fantastic places you find when you didn’t bother to take note of the sign on the door, or even what street you were on at the time.

We also spent a good chunk of the day in Central Park, me reading Kierkegaard, Andrew on my cell phone making hotel reservations, then the two of us wandering for hours on the picturesque walkways, under and over bridges, around ponds. We finally emerged at 78th Street (about 20 blocks north of where we started), and took Madison Avenue towards home. That is where all the obscenely rich people buy obscenely expensive clothing and jewelry and custom made fragrances. We bought two obscenely expensive cappuccinos. It feels like a different city compared to the grunge of downtown. There’s certainly nothing for me to do up there. I’m sure we saw some famous people (we saw enough body guards and limousines), but I was too busy powerwalking to my next meal to take note of who they were.