Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wheeee! Gah!

So each of the three times I've made the trip from Calgary to New York, I have had the same US border guard. In fact, today I walked past one available guy and went straight up to my regular. Why? Because he doesn't care that I am incapable of dotting my bureaucratic i's and crossing my t's. He takes one look at my photocopies-instead-of-originals, at my nearly-expired passport, and sweeps my documents back across the counter to me with "You're all set, kid."

Then, each time I have arrived in New York, I have taken a different mode of "GTR". First, a flat rate $45 cab ride, then a $19 shared van service, and today the plain old subway. I recommend the latter. I don't even have to transfer to get to Fulton. Also, as I was waiting for the train (an interminable 25 minutes - that should never happen), a heavily-accented thirty-something brown guy asked me to confirm that this line goes to the World Trade Center. Hee.

Now I am coming down with my third cold in the space of ten days. Cold number two was my favourite: my glands got so swollen they bruised the outside of my neck, and I had to go to the doctor to get antibiotics. Tomorrow I have to turn in a grant application (as yet unwritten), not to mention reckon with the monstrous pile of work that accumulated while I was drinking in Edmonton and Calgary.

But seriously, what a great freaking time. A little brawl in the Garneau Pub, a cosy apartment on the North side, icicle fights behind the Black Dog, bummed cigs, free tequila, home-cooked meals, and most of all, weepy declarations of how it just ain't the same without me and Grace around.

Oh yeah, tomorrow the forecast here says "partly cloudy and 18 C".

Friday, November 17, 2006

You heard me

So I am a very few hours away from a big trip home (10 whole days)! Literally: it is 1 am because I stayed up all night with my roommate watching S&tC (how apropos) and drinking vinho verde and talking about this city. This city. It's unreal. To quote a fragment of a conversation about me the other night between Grace and our friend:

Grace: She's not bitter!
Friend: No, I said the city bit her.

I've travelled, you know, and it's nothing like here. Roommate and I talked about the fact that when we go home and try to tell people like this, it can only come off as outstandingly pretentious. Ah, well.

Looking forward to seeing the Calgary and Edmonton humans, of course. But I am addicted to this place and it will not be hard to return.

Because, for example, a woman can walk down the street and have a 100 decibel conversation on her cell phone saying "Let's get something straight here, this conversation is between you and me. You hear me? I don't want anybody else hearin about this. No one." And there is nothing inconsistent about it.

That, and the hobos. Best hobos here in the whole wide world.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Here's one from the mouldy draft folder...

So yes, the election happened recently, and I wasn't planning on comment- ing except that it is being seen as a big deal even outside of this country, and I thought some of you people might be curious about what I have been witnessing/hearing/experiencing, living as I do in the U S and A.

People here are ecstatic, heralding this putative sea-change in the Congress (as well as Rumsfeld's ouster, etc.) with phrases such as "I can't wait for the Democrats to bring some accountability back to the House" and "About fucking time". New York is *not* the rest of the United States, and Manhattan even less so. The rest of the US (and I base this entirely on true crime documentaries) loves Jesus and goes to church on Sunday. (Lower) Manhattanites sometimes head up to the Abyssinian Baptist Church to hear good gospel singing (and to prove they're not afraid of Harlem). The rest of the US loves football and watches it on Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night, and Monday night. Manhattanites will see it playing in the background, aloft on a flat-panel tv, at a French bistro or wine bar. I could go on.

The point is that elections are a caricature of democracy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Now you have it on authority

Another Friday night and another soirée in Brooklyn. Thank God parties here don't start until 10. Gives you time to get stuff done during the day. Like go to a brutalizing pilates (pronounced "pa-LOTS") class hungover, and have the instructor chastise you for not being flexible. And have grilled cheese and a milkshake at a diner. And go see the new documentary on Kazakhstan, which has a male nudity scene in it that I am still recovering from. Wawaweewah!

Yes, I have to post about something other than drinking and philosophy, but this quote from Hume will help explain why I keep doing so:

"I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, inviron'd in the deepest darkness. Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium. I dine, I play a game of back-gammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hour's [sic] amusement, I wou'd return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain'd, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther. [And] at the time that I am tir'd with amusement and company, I feel my mind all collected within itself, and am naturally inclin'd to carry my view into all those subjects, about which I have met with so many disputes in the course of my reading and conversation."

In other words, it's literally methodologically necessary to drink with friends so as to emerge from the depths of philosophical skepticism. Just as it is impossible to stay away from philosophy once one has had one's fill of merriment.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The lowdown

Ok, so I *wish* I could punctuate this post with pictures, and I will certainly try to at a later date. I just always forget to bring the camera with me when I leave the house 'cause I live here, ya know?

Off the Wagon (McDougall and something or other): One of many lame college bars right around NYBoo, with a frat house atmosphere and fake ID crowd. But on Mondays, they have $1 drafts. And there's a foosball table. While outside smoking, I chatted with a homely blond firefighter from Fredricton whose firehall buddy had booked them all on an excursion to Jersey. He thought this place was the shit. Yeah. Don't go there.

Spain (13th btw 6th & 7th): A pitcher of sangria serves three and as soon as you sit down, they bring you plates and plates of tapas - and I mean good stuff: meatballs, fried potatoes, shrimp, chorizo... Of course, the waiters really are old, authentic, accented European guys, so sometimes they treat you like family and other times expect you to pay for your drinks, down your tapas and get the fuck out. But the best part is... last time we were there this guy walked in. Looked like the short guy from the Sopranos: mid-fifties, comb-over, expensive Italian suit jacket and tailored shirt, pot belly. Oh, and a giant spider tattoo covering the entire front of his neck. As friend said, "That man has killed more than a few people." When we left, we found a shiny, spotless black Lincoln right out front, a guy inside passing time reading a magazine. Presumably the driver. So weird that that crap actually exists.

The Library (Houston and A): A punk rock dive bar with the best jukebox in the city: Fugazi, Operation Ivy, Minor Threat, the Smiths, etc. etc. etc. Always playing B-movies on the back wall. Natty Lights are $3. That's short for some crappy, weak American canned beer but I forget what. Everywhere we go, we drink either that or PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon). That's right - the beer you thought was only for the mullet set is a fan favourite in Manhattan. Well, the parts we hang out.

There are so many others but I'll write about them when they're fresh in my mind. This has been my week so far.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Sunday, November 05, 2006

How to kill a hangover in $4 and 4 neighbourhoods

Choose: partner in crime

Find: $1.50 bottle of water in the Financial District

Find: $1 dumplings in Chinatown

Find: $1.50 Coffee in Little Italy

Watch: garbage can shinny in the West Village

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween in New York

Halloween was madness. People here love it - there's a parade through the West Village of people in costume. People show up just to show off, and others show up just to watch. Two million people, all in all. That's how much they love it.

The best part, though, was just watching pirates and hooers and vampires packing the subway. Hee!