Saturday, March 31, 2007

And by "drugs" I mean extra-strength Gravol

Went out tonight with some friends, Lower East Side, drunk drunk drunk, etc. Friend with the drugs tells us about the trouble he almost got into in getting them. He's from out of town - living in L.A. - and so had to call an unfamiliar pager number, and knew he wasn't going to recognize the deliverer. Apparently it's not a good idea, even in broad daylight, to stand on a streetcorner in the Bronx and say "You looking for me? You looking for me?"

Friday, March 30, 2007


Three weeks of chain smoking and chain coffee drinking and shitty sleep and foregone trips and now, the tide has turned, friends. Yesterday was presentation day, and I really rocked it. Compliments left and right. Then I got a latté and wandered around Central Park in the late afternoon sun. I could never get tired of the perspective offered by the high-rise art deco buildings backdropping the green landscape. Plus, it smells good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On wingless pigeons

Before I moved to New York, I asked anyone I ran into who had lived here - because this was my main concern about housing - whether they thought I would have to deal with rats where I lived. Rats or cockroaches. I figured there weren't any in those pre-war apartments on the Upper East Side, but in a student dorm downtown, you know, I thought it might be an issue. So I would ask this, and they would always laugh and condescend and say, "You're so cute." And I would say, "No really, I'm honestly asking, because I don't know." And they would laugh again and smile and pat me on the head. And I would say "So will I?" And they would say "I dunno."

Well, the other day I watched a gaggle of my male neighbours in the dorm try to catch a rat (probably just a mouse, actually), with, let's see, there was a broom, a tupperware container, some books, a bottle of whiskey... They eventually got a sheet of that mousetrap sticky paper, and the next morning found the ratmouse on it. The sticky paper doesn't kill it, of course, just traps it. None of them wanted to kill it, so eventually one of them just threw it out the window.

Monday, March 26, 2007

There's no pitch-and-putt in Central Park

I remember working this hard. Well, not so much that, but working this hard and feeling shitty about it. That was last summer, when I was teaching formal logic every morning at 9 am. I hated waking up to the alarm, I hated finding new things to wear, I hated that I never had the discipline to leave the house early enough to walk, I hated the fact that the hour and ten minute lecture on a subject I felt insecure about at the time was only the very beginning of a long work day devoted to it - grading and website maintenance and constructing assignments and responding to emails and most of all, writing more lectures. Also kind of a shitty, stressful time in my life anyway.

And what made it bearable was a geniune partner in crime - one who worked even harder than I did at a much more stressful job. Almost every day at 4:30 we'd meet in the river valley, drink a few beers, smoke a joint, and take our hacks on the par 3.


P.S. I hope I don't get you fired.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Tonight I gave a hobo in the ATM vestibule some change and he threw it back at me, yelling "What will this get me? Fucking candy?" So I picked it up again and went and bought myself a latté and some tomato bocconcini salad.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Now starring Scarlett Johansson

Friend nannies for some screwy rich people in the West Village. Both parents are home all day, mind you, but they'd rather pay someone else $15 an hour to raise their kids.

Last week the mom's parents were coming over to see their grandkids, so the mom preemptively cleared out of the house. Yup. While the grandparents were visiting, they chatted my friend up, like you do, about where she's from and such, as the kids played happily in the back yard and the house gleamed from my friend having cleaned it top to bottom earlier that day, until the dad pulled my friend aside and told her she was not paid to socialize. And then, because he can't stand the grandparents anymore than his wife can, he sent my friend out to have dinner with them and the kids.

When the grandparents left, they cordially shook their son-in-law's hand and gave my friend a big hug goodbye. Aw.

New trashiest Jubilee run ever

1 6-pack of Molson Canadian
1 roll of toilet paper

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Breakistan

Today was a day of two Mexican restaurants. Dos Caminos is on Park Avenue, semi-upscale - this is the place with the guacamole truck - packed for lunch at 2, with mood lighting and $12 margaritas and "plantain empanadas with chipotle aioli" and well-dressed business people sitting on parsons chairs pulled up to marble tables.

Other place (I'm not sure the name, if it has one, neither is Google) plays Mexican soap operas on the lofted tv - until the guy with a dozen heavy gold chains throws a dollar in the all-Spanish jukebox - sells $3 beer, serves the local Central American immigrant population $4.50 burritos and tostadas at formica tables.

[insert witty observation here]

And then I was reminded of how fulllll I would get when the family and I would eat like this three times a day last summer in the 110 degree heat in Mexico. Except there was more alcohol involved.

The family that is now eating and drinking their way across the south of France in an Alfa Romeo without me.

Holy shit, I can hardly hit "post", that picture is so funny...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spring Breakingpoint

Wednesday lunch: penne with vodka sauce
Wednesday snack: penne with vodka sauce
Wednesday dinner: chicken
Thursday lunch: penne with vodka sauce
Thursday snack: penne with vodka sauce
Thursday dinner: penne with vodka sauce

(Not in the Hamptons.)

The good news is, I figured out how to program the vcr to tape Y&R.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring break your will

The only way I can tell it is Spring Break is the fact that I haven't been on a subway in two days. I've just been doing errands in my own neighbourhood and sticking close to my laptop. I have to recover from the abject humiliation I suffered last week when I wasn't able to do my scheduled presentation in a seminar. That's right, I dropped the ball.

My friends are trying to convince me to go to Long Island tomorrow, though. The Hamptons, in fact. Hmm... Hmm... Either that, or my one remaining roommate and I can continue to duke it out in this passive aggressive rhubarb, pleased as we are that the other is still here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

OMG, did I make this when I was high and then forget?

It's stock photos of NY set to Rush!

Trashiest Jubilee run ever

12:30 AM:
1 box of frozen chicken nuggets
1 package of Ichiban
1 pack of cigs

Monday, March 19, 2007

Your thoughts, too, can be an open book

"How many guys with peckers and egos have died like that?"



Saturday night I had some party to go to, blah blah, just a casual get-together with friends. When I was a bit late, I got this text message:


So I race over, inasmuch as one can race on the subway, to find four very enthusiastically inebriated friends. They were drinking Irish car bombs in honour of St. Patrick's Day, which involve Guiness, transmission fluid, and Irish cream. I had one. Half of one, actually, and I spent all of Sunday with heartburn like a fist in my chest.

So I lay low with my friend from YYC, of all places, and we made tacos and watched movies in the apartment she was housesitting. It's on the 29th floor, and has windows from floor to ceiling, so you can walk towards the city like you're going to levitate over it. In fact, it overlooks my building from a block away. Surreal.

By the way, I reeeeeeeely need my own apartment.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Century 21

Friday the city was innundated with 6 to 8 inches of snow cone material, which cancelled all flights and made the streets a mess. I hung out with my neighbours whose spring break plans were rapidly falling apart. The next day, I went with one of them to Century 21, which is a big department store down the street that sells discount designer stuff, and as we were standing outside finishing our lattés (cuz the security guards wouldn't let us into the store with them), a giant chunk of hardened snow cone material fell off a high ledge and smashed to the ground inches from my friend's head.

The store calls itself New York's best kept secret, but the bargain hunting hordes reminded us why, as residents, not to mention as students with copious free time, we should NEVER GO SHOPPING ON A SATURDAY. Among the horde though was Patricia Field, the clothing designer behind Sex & the City. Very skinny, fire engine red hair, very wrinkly, dressed 20 years too young. My friend recognized her and told her she was a big fan. Patricia Field told her to fuck off. Well, not in so many words.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Magnolia Bakery

I've finally been to Magnolia Bakery. It's in an obscenely cute corner of the West Village, about a 15 minute walk from school. You fold yourself a box, fill it with cupcakes and pay. Conveniently, there's a park across the street for opening the box and taking the cupcakes back out again.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Participatory academics

Michael Albert spoke at the New School today. Finally, a lecture worth listening to. I mean, he came in, he told a bunch of funny stories about his life and about organizing, he dropped a few f-bombs, and he dispensed crusty truisms like "The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is an argument between the haves as to how to deal with the have-nots." We all sat around and listened and gabbed until the facilities guy came by at 10:30p and told us the building was closed. Proles.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Tasti D-Lite

The other night roommate and I went to the gym, so to compensate I had some chocolate ice cream. But this was actually at Tasty D-Lite, so it turns out that it wasn't bad for me at all, because it is made of water or air or something and only has "14 to 19 calories per fluid ounce based on a 75% overrun." Uhh, I had some again the other day when I was hung over. Strawberry, this time. Apparently it was at the very location that was used for the filming of an episode of Sex & the City. There was a framed "Thank you" on the wall from the production crew. Whaddya know.

I thought this Tasti D-Lite thing was a general American thing, since what do I know I came directly here from Canadia, but apparently it's properly New York. So, tick.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


One night last week a bunch of us went to Kristeva's public lecture uptown at the Low Library at Columbia University. We pulled up in a shiny black cadillac, since we had taken the wrong train uptown, and had to use a car service to get across to the West side (it pulled over for us three white kids on Malcolm X Blvd without us even having to hail it). My friends and I were all from Kristeva's class, and when we arrived, she singled us out from the crowd of ivy league faculty and students to give us a warm, enthusiastic two-handed handshake and thank us for coming.

Afterwards, we went for dinner at a Paris-in-New York resto called Le Monde. I had the salade de crevettes, and Grace had the moules frites, and we lingered over Stellas and espresso and the best dessert menu I've seen in ages and I turned to Grace and said, "Yeah, when I decided to come to New York to do my PhD, this is pretty much what I imagined."

Now back below 14th street with you.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Stolen content: the best content

My favourite new website being

Patron: I'd like a grilled special.
Waiter: We don't grill 'em.
Patron: Yes, you do. I had one last week.
Waiter: You got lucky.
-- Katz's Deli

Middle schooler #1: Yo, is there, like, a gay country?
Middle schooler #2: Hell no, son!
Middle schooler #3: Naaah. There is. I think it's called 'The Village,' but I don't know where it is.
--Brooklyn Middle School

Conductor: This is a downtown C train making all stops. Spring Street, World Trade Center, we go there. We do all the stops. Get on this train! [Pause.] Hey, you, still on the platform -- did you not hear what I said? Why didn't you get on?
Man: I'm waiting for the A.
Conductor: I'm going wherever the A's going. Get on my train!
--C Train

Preppy guy waiting for walk signal: Hi there.
Hot girl: Um, do I know you?
Preppy guy: No, I was just being friendly...
Hot girl: Oh, yeah? Well then why don't you say hi to her, too? [Points to fat chick nearby.]
Preppy guy, to himself: God, I hate New Yorkers...
--Central Park

Mom to toddler screaming in stroller: That's it, sweetie. Let it all out. Doesn't that feel good?
--TJ Maxx, 19th & 6th

Mom to two small children struggling to get through the crowd: Just push them all as hard as you can! Use your fists and elbows, too!
--34th & 6th

Kid: Dad, what's a novel?
Dad: It's a story written down in a book.
Kid: What's a short story?
Dad, staring at kid: Are you freakin' kidding me?
--Father Demo Square

Screaming hobo: ... But you know she was artificially inseminated by aliens!
Suit: Wait... Who?

Hobo: Go shorty, it's your birthday...
Drunk black woman, joining in: Yeah! Go, go!
Hobo: Shorty, it's your shorty...
Drunk black woman: You singing it wrong. It's, 'We gonna party like it's your birthday.'
(Passerby gives hobo two dollars.)
Drunk black woman: You need to give me half of that, I helped you out with the words.
--E train

Mom to toddler: Joseph, stop walking like a tourist!
--51st & 5th

Ghetto mom to lady with cigarette: Bitch, you just ashed on my baby!
--Outside Times Square Toys 'R' Us

Hobo singing: Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten. From the Battery to the top of Manhattan. [To transit worker] 'Scuse me, sir. Where we at right now? Brooklyn? Queens? Manhattan?
Transit worker #1: We're anywhere you wanna be, brother.
Hobo: What borough is this?
Transit worker #2: This is the Bronx.
Hobo: The Bronx?
Transit worker #1: The boogie down.
Hobo: The boogie woogie? [Walks away singing] Boogie woogie oogie 'til ya just can't boogie no more...
Transit worker #2 to #1: If you just hopped into that train and drove it on time we wouldn't have to watch him wander around the platform.
--1 train platform, 242nd St

Sexually ambiguous guy: Yeah, Natasha is having a party tonight, but I didn't want to go because she has bedbugs, and I was afraid that I'd get bedbugs and bring them home. Everyone who's going has to wear plastic bags.
Female companion: Why is she having a party?
Sexually ambiguous guy: It's a bedbug party.
--St. Mark's Pl

Granny: Be careful!
Man jaywalking with several bags in hand: Ma, I know how to walk the streets in New York. [Car comes to screeching halt in front of him and honks. Man yells to driver] Fuck you! [To granny] See, I'm fine.
--Main St, Flushing

Bus driver who wouldn't let anyone pay to get on, claiming she'd won the lottery: Nice day today, huh? Y'all wanna go to the beach? Bring a blanket? Three p.m. -- meet me at a secret location. MTA going your way! They won't mind if I take it for a few hours. Madison is next.
--M79 bus, 79th & 5th

Girl: This has got to be the hottest station in New York.
Guy: It's good for you. It's like a sauna -- it will open your pores.
Girl: I don't want my pores open down here!
--5 train, Fulton St station

Janitor: I'm sorry, ma'am, you can't wear boots on the equipment.
20-something woman wearing Uggs on elliptical machine: But these are orthopedic boots!
Janitor: I'm sorry, but it's against policy to wear the boots on the machines.
20-something woman wearing Uggs: Why are you doing this to me?
--Dodge YMCA, Atlantic Ave

Hobo: Hey, you got any money?
Nice lady: I don't have any change, but I can give you some on my way out, or get you something to eat.
Hobo: I'll take the money. But don't worry, I ain't gonna use it to buy booze or drugs.
Nice lady: As far I am concerned, you can use the money for whatever you want.
Hobo: Whoa, lady! That's way too liberal for me.
--Outside health food store, Brooklyn

Hyper bus driver playing with overhead marquee while driving: I can set it to police bus, training bus... It's like a microwave -- what do you want? Corn? I like to change it to 'Harlem.' Then people get really confused. [Changes sign to 'B6 Limited' and comes up to bus stop. No one gets on bus.] What do you need, the B6? No? [Keeps driving.]
--B4 bus, Sheepshead Bay

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On pigeons

So there are lots of pigeons, even in the winter, right? ("right" = "eh") Because birds don't migrate for warmth; they migrate for food. And there is plenty of hot dog and pretzel detritus on the streets of New York 365 days a year.

The other day, friend is walking down the street, and he sees a pigeon feasting inside a discarded take-out box. When he gets closer, he looks inside and sees that it contains fried chicken.


It took me a while to get it, too.

So these piegoens waddle down the sidewalk, full of chicken and hot dogs and pretzels, and sure, they'll concede the right of way, cuz you've got boots on, but be damned if they're actually going to fly to get out of your path. I used to sort of hesitate and give them time to clear the road, because it seemed like they were moving so slowly that I might actually kick one. But then I decided that made me a big non-New York wimp, and now I force myself to keep pace. It hasn't happened yet...

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Brooklyn Bridge

Friend and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge the other day, because everyone I know in New York has caught this same PBS documentary about it at some point in the past few weeks, and all of those people have told me in turn about how it was designed by a student of Hegel's! (some philosophy guy), and he like, died and his son took over the project, but then he got the bends, and there was a car crash, and something about faulty coil, and many other interesting facts as well.

So I went with the first person to tell me. It was a phenomenally warm and sunny day [wink], and we avoided the usual brisk wind off the East River. In fact, the nice weather brought out all kinds of tourists and couples and stroller-moms, ambling slowly from one borough to the other, pausing to take snapshots of the urban skyline or to read the descriptive plaques, and interrupted only occasionally by type-A trader weekend warrior assholes riding by on their $2000 bikes with their $400 biking leotards screaming "BIKE PATH!!! CLEAR THE LANE!!! BIKE PAAAATH!!! BIKE PAAAaaath!"

Then we went and visited Grace at her Brooklyn market and ate croissants and doughnuts and I got free stromboli and cheesecake to take home (thanks, lady!).

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The subway cat call

is actually remarkably consistent.

The context: Walking towards each other, going to pass each other on our way to our respective destinations.
The set-up: Prolonged eye contact. Not lewd or leering or aggressive, more like excited about the seduction bomb he's about to drop on you.
The climax: Lean in at the moment of passing and deliver choice line. (Tonight: "Moviestar!")
The follow-through: Mercifully none.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Grace is going to hell. Or not.

Friday night Marianne and I were at a dinner party in Bushwick - a hispanic neighborhood in Brooklyn where there are a lot of barber shops, pastry shops and street racing. Yeah, there are all these souped-up civics squealing their tires all over the place, it's weird and cool and pretty bad-ass. Anyway, I wore my new shoes (bought a pair of black heels last week), but before I could wear them, I took them to the shoe repair guy to have the hard plastic end of the heel replaced with a softer, rubber end. Anyway, told the man what I wanted, and he said he'd have them done by Monday. I said that Monday was too late, that I had a party to go to tonight, and so I'd need them by five pm that day (friday). He looked at me, smiled and exclaimed, "you're jewish!" - i didn't know if it was a question or a statement, but I knew the right answer was... So I told the 50 year old Jewish man I was Jewish (understanding of course that implicit in his question/statement was the reality that if I wanted the shoes done that day, I had to be Jewish, right? right). He was all excited because there was some kind of holiday/event going on at the synagog that night, and he assumed that that's what I was going to (are you even allowed to wear black leather pumps to the synagog?!?!?!)... So, instead of this little lie clearing everything up, and getting my shoes fixed in time, it created a whole new set of problems. He wanted to know where I was from, so I said Canada, and he said, 'no, no, but where are you FROM?" I had no idea what to say, but again he prompted me, he said, 'are your parents from Israel, Russia, where?' so I said Israel, and I could feel myself getting in WAY over my head... He said something in Hebrew, and I said I don't speak hebrew, and he gave me a look that was kind of like him saying, "what kind of Jew doesn't speak hebrew" (not in an offensive way though; he was just trying to figure it all out, he was trying to convince us both that I was Jewish). Then I had to write down my name - but I was losing my ability to keep up the charade, so instead of being clever and writing Gracie Goldberg or something, I just wrote Grace Hunt - which may be one of the least jewish names out there. So now I had to account not only for the fact that I didn't speak a word of Hebrew, but also that I had a suspiciously WASPy last name, and a very VERY WASPy nose. So I told one small truth, I said my Dad was British-Canadian... Then he said, 'oh, so you're mixed?!' and I said 'yeah, mixed' (??!). He said one more thing in Hebrew, I smiled and just shook my head and asked again what time the shoes would be ready. Totally fearing he'd figured me out and would tell me to come back for my damn non-Jewish shoes on Monday, I couldn't look at him anymore. Luckily, he said come back at 5pm. Phew!! Oh man, I got outta there fast and ran down the street part screaming/laughing/crying at what I'd just done. I ran back to the coffee shop where Marianne and I were studying and I sat down and said, "i'm going to hell". I told her the story and she informed me that Jews don't believe in hell. Thank God.

Um, like, I think so. That's what my one Jewish friend in Calgary told me once.

P.S. She left out the part where we giggled about swearing on Yahweh's grave that she was Jewish. Or Jesus's.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Toasted Cocoa Madeleine Clusters

Grace and I had a beer tonight at the cutest, most elegant little candle-lit bistro bar in the West Village. And they were playing Frank. Sigh. Then we drank espresso and read.

If any of you see me slacking off in the next few weeks, kick my ass back to work, because a maelstrom of academic fury is about to rain down on my complacent self. Madame Kristeva returns next week, with a 7-book syllabus we are supposed to have read before she arrives don't waste this woman's time, I have a ten-page paper to write and present for Gadamer on March 15, the same day a ten-page paper is due in Spinoza, and any minute now I may get an email from those journal editors to whom I am overdue with a book review. Plus two reading groups, logic tutoring, bla bla bla.

What on earth have I been doing with my time, you ask? Well, I've been buying a lot of cereal lately, especially since friend reminded me, Proust-like, of the teenage indulgence that is eating a giant pastabowl of it in the evening when it's totally not even breakfast time. I've been revisiting all of my favourite kinds too, like the little wheats with cinnamon frosting on one side (that's the side you want to be face-down when you eat it. Sometimes you have to spend a long time bobbing them around in the bowl. This gets harder as you run out of milk), and Cinnamon Toast Crunch - did you know Cinnamon Toast Crunch is now whole wheat and has SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT less sugar? Jesus, that is (was) a lot of sugar. You can't even tell, though you can tell about the whole wheat. Thumbs down on that. I'm now on to Golden Grahams, which sog really effing fast. I mean, I like my cereal to be a little mollified by the milk, but these things peak after about 10 seconds.

I've also been coming up with new things to blog about every day.