Monday, January 29, 2007

America marches, goes home

Saturday - henceforth known as J27 - I went to Washington, D. C. and protested the war in Iraq. Four of us were supposed to go, but only two of us had the fortitude to board a Chinatown bus (only $35 return!) at 7:00 am. (As one bailer said, "I don't think the revolution is supposed to start before brunch.")

Four hours and a quick stop in Baltimore later, we were there. It was a beautiful 20 degrees, perfectly calm and sunny, wonderful compared to New York's brutalizing ice wind.

Washington truly is a city by, for, and of the bureaucrats. The subway system is so convoluted that even friend - who is from there - couldn't explain to me what ticket to buy.

We arrived at the Mall to find tens of thousands of people: union members, peaceniks, socialists, families, Dems, Jane Fonda, raging grannies, etc. The program was outrageously bad - too many Congresspeople on the campaign trail yakking about their victory back in November and claiming the moral highground and boosting proposition RH The only speech worth listening to was by an Iraqi guy who got up there and just said, unequivocally, that the US needs to get out of Iraq, that democracy will not break out until they do, that Sunnis and Shias and Kurds have been living together for thousands of years and can mind their own affairs. You could hear crickets. Because Americans - even the ones attending "End the War Now" peace rallies - think Iraqis are better off occupied.

Now, I had already decided that my job in that crowd was to raise awareness (read: heckle), so I punctuated the stilted silences with "Believe it, people!... Yeah!... Woo!... Listen to the Iraqis!" Galvanized no one.

I also got into a fight with this guy:

He made his little sign right in front of me, and I waited - I gave him the benefit of the doubt - until it was good and jiffied out before telling him I didn't think there was any place for racism at a rally like this. We went on to conversate a little, during which I informed him that yes I have been to the region, and yes I can name the two main political parties in Palestine. He explained that all he meant was that Hamas was not a reasonable negotiating partner, and that factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah would have to be resolved before the peace process could resume. Now, leaving aside the gigantic pot-calling-kettle-black-osity of that analysis, I asked him how on earth that translated to "Palestinians teach hate." In the end he admitted his sign was inappropriate, rolled it up, and promised not to display it. I'd give him a big gold star, but it was clear he was being disingenuous. Nobody changes their mind that fast; he was just shamed.

Then Jessseuuhh Jaccckk-soonnn got up to talk, and by then we were bored, so friend and I walked around to the top of the Mall, where we found the anarchists, who were just then advancing on the Capitol building. At this point, for sheer comedic value, I will defer to the AP newswire:

The rally on the National Mall unfolded peacefully, although about 300 protesters tried to rush the Capitol, running up the grassy lawn to the front of the building. Police on motorcycles tried to stop them, scuffling and wrestling with some and setting up barricades along the front steps. Protesters chanted "[Whose Congress?] Our Congress" as police faced off against them. Their ranks grew and several dozen shouting "We want a tour" broke away and tried to get into a side door.

Lol, that's pretty close to how it went down, although we didn't so much try to rush the Capitol as we did rush the Capitol. Now, every time the crowd broke through another barrier, the cops would sort of stand back after a minute as if to say "Sure, come on in" - which sometimes is the lead-up to everyone getting corralled and arrested with those little plastic ties. Luckily, that didn't happen. But we never did get our tour.

After that we went for a really nice lunch - friend had the black bean soup and tomato panini; I had the scrambled eggs on sourdough - saw the White House, and wandered around some of the trendier areas. With an hour to kill, we capped of the day by accepting a tour of a Scientology church/manse (whatever they call them). I know, right? Let's just say those people are white, middle-class, and of reeelly average intelligence.

Vanguard out.

I have a new roommate, and no table manners

So Grace moved out and a new roommate moved in. She is a young, sweet-tempered woman from India. She Skypes with the family back home from 10 pm until 2 am most nights, which makes me feel like less of a skid for keeping similar hours.

Shortly after she moved in, she saw me eating heat-and-eat Indian food from Trader Joe's, so later that week she made me a real dinner. Tandoori chicken, which involves sautéed onions and peppers which she did in the convection oven of all things, since she (like the dorm authorities) didn't know about the electric frying pan, and raita and nan. Was it good. She had set plates on the table, but no cutlery or napkins, so in an effort to be helpful, I jumped up and got us some - and she graciously accepted hers. Then she proceeded to eat with her hands, using the nan, and saving the washing up for after dinner, and I tried to conversate normally while shooting sheepish glances at the idle fork taking up room on the side of her plate.

Anyway, I came home tonight after a long day, starving, and there was spinach and tofu, chickpea salad, and spicy chicken sitting on the table, which she insisted I partake of. Then we had chocolate cake and hazelnut tea, and talked about how people who simply eat to live have something profoundly psychologically wrong with them.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Houseparty in Fort Greene

Hah hah! Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls, nigga shit ya drawers
(Where we from?) Brooklyn goin out to all
(Bushwick...) You don't stop
(Fort Greene...) You won't stop, niggaz!

Bushwick I've mentioned, but last night I was in Fort Greene, which despite what Jay-Z says is actually very hipster and cute with tiny restaurants (all filled with 30-somethings wearing black sweaters), and well-kept brownstones. As with almost every apartment I've been to, there were no internal walls or rooms, so all the partying takes place around the bed/kitchen sink/small open floor area. There's no storage space either, so it makes me wonder where they put all their shit when people come over. There was a GIANT bass case in the front alcove - apparently it belongs to the bassist for the SNL house band; he lives upstairs. I brought a tiramisu cake that I had bought at Ferrara, which is a bakery in Little Italy that is supposedly world famous. Meh. Cake was not that good.

The night before, well... The most dangerous thing in New York is to go out with people who actually have money. In this case it was to "Beauty Bar", which is set up like a beauty salon but is actually a bar, see! Although you can get a manicure for $10. It includes a free drink. Anyway, someone was buying us drinks all night, and roommate and I can't believe how much we imbibed and lived to tell. Also, Grace left her wallet and cell phone there and got both back the next day. I myself have left my (pre-paid) phone in the back of a cab and got it back. Had to find the garage in Soho where the cabs get fixed, but there it was, as promised.

P.S. I have discovered another New York thing: "giving someone a ride home" means splitting a cab with them and not making them pay their fare. Hee!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


On Martin Luther King day, my friend and I went on a two-hour guided walking tour of Harlem, and saw Striver's Row and the Abyssinian Baptist Church and such. Actually, that doesn't have much to do with MLK at all, since he was a Southerner and Christian and non-violent and integrationist. The activism coming out of Harlem, as we learned on the tour, was way more radical. That's par for New York. This is the city whose Starbucks employees are organizing with the Wobs.

This picture shows one of the streets we walked down. All of the housing was all originally built in the late 19th and early 20th century as luxury condos or brownstones for white people. Only 15 minutes from downtown! they advertised at the time. It still takes 20.

It was freezing that day (and has been since), so before the tour started, I went into the corner bodega to get a coffee. This 70-year-old man flirted with me so I paid for his Ensure and his coffee as well. I think I got $19 in change back from a $20.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dangerous Nevermind

My job teaching has been cancelled due to lack of enrollment in the class. But the joke's on them: now I have a social security number. I can get a cellphone contract without putting down a $500 security deposit. And collect veterans' benefits.

Yesterday I went to my corner grocery store and noticed that the street was blasted with floodlights. I have learned that this generally means that a scene is being filmed. Now, I'm not one for celebrity sightings. When Sheryl Crow checked in with me at the airport, I asked for her name. Tom Selleck was pointed out to me after I bussed his table. And I only noticed Hilary Swank had been sitting in the lounge for an hour when she came up and asked me for Corn Pops. So god knows how many celebrities I elbow past on a daily basis in New York. Anyhoo, the streets were lit up when I went to the Jubilee, and I didn't bother to see who was filming. But a few hours later when I went back to the store with a friend, she suggested we take a look. Lo and behold, there was Chris Noth filming a scene for Law & Order: Lawfuller and Orderier, or whatever incarnation of that series he's on. We stood ten feet away from him, which was weird because we could see the acting but not hear it at all. He trash talked some perp, then threw him in the back of a squad car. IRL, he is not baggy-eyed or jowl-y at all.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Okay, but other than the snowmobiling and the beer and the freezing weather and the hockey game, those stereotypes are totally not accurate. Eh.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I have arrived.

I have been given commenter status on

Now, I know this means nothing to any of the readers of this blog, but that is ultimate New York. Gawker is "daily Manhattan media news and gossip" and one of the highest reputed name-dropping, celeb-spotting, slang-coining, scene-cricizing blogs on the interweb. And by their own admission, only the bestest, snarkiest qualify to even comment on the posts they write. That now includes me.

Will update shortly, when I have been banned.

P.S. How wicked awesome is it that I figured out how to embed undecorated html links?