Sunday, March 30, 2008

Just so we're clear, I'm (still) not hot shit

The schizophrenic temper of customer service in New York is such that sometimes you are treated like the abusive husband in that Julia Roberts movie who insisted that all the labels on the food cans face forward and the towels be hung just so. So for example if you buy a can of pop (that is, "soda") in a deli, they fastidiously put it in a custom-sized paper bag with a wrapped straw and a napkin and hand you your change as fast as is humanly possible.

On the other hand, sometimes you are treated like a loitering criminal scumbag, as with the rule that you cannot be seated at a restaurant until all of your party is there, even if you have a reservation for 8 people and 7 are waiting in the vestibule.

Also, this, which happened to me twice this week, for I think the first two times in my life: after an hour or two eating or drinking at some place, I was asked to leave. Time number one was at some East Village coffee shop where I was meeting with an acquaintance, who was highly unimpressed when we were shooed out. Time number two was at "26 seats" (inexplicably cheap but ultimately Michelin-unworthy French cuisine in a tiny, brick-walled corridor), also in the East Village. The waitress literally pointed to the people waiting and politely asked us to hurry up before the third course hit the table. In that case, friend and I were in too good of a mood to care, and happily scarfed our crème brûlée and left.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Here for the taking, and giving

Sometimes I come across some really random obscure thing that I just have to have, like a present for friend's birthday that they probably only made a few hundred copies of (dirty phonograph recordings from the 1890s for his research on humour and transgression), and I wonder how the hell I am going to get my hands on it, especially now that it is Friday afternoon and his birthday is tomorrow. And then I have the thought, "Wait a minute, this is the big fat apple. If I was elsewhere, I would come here to find this thing, because how could New York not have a copy?" And after an hour of googling and phone calling and waiting on hold, I track it down and hop on the train and pick it up.

This via this via this

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Real estate is scarce, so the rooftop becomes another plot of personal space - the backyard, the private property outside in the fresh air. It's understood as an entitlement or necessity (the only residential building I can think of whose rooftop was not accessible was the dorm). The roof is for leaving the party, without having to be buzzed back in, for some fresh air or smooching. It's also for decorating with old furniture and projecting a movie onto the neighbouring building's wall. Also for phone conversations that cannot be had privately in the confines of your miniature shared apartment. Also for having a cig and listening to Cat Power's "The Greatest" and worrying.

This is a friend's rooftop:

This is mine:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Knowledge is power gross

Since New York is old, highly-populated, narcissistic, it is well-catalogued.

According to a certificate of occupancy issued on this building in the 1930s, there used to be two stores in the basement.

There are six construction violations on my building, all overdue and "no compliance."

I live in the first precinct. Last week there were three robberies, one felony assault, and 22 grand larcenies.

Registered sex offender workplaces outnumber registered sex offender residences in my neighbourhood by about six to one.

My bodega was cited for six violations (totaling 26 violation points) when it was inspected in December.

Your house
Your bodega
This should not exist

Sunday, March 23, 2008

SMS highlight reel, vol. 12: MMS

this week im going to get laid damn it!

Have they begun the running of the colonial jew?

You are hotlarious

Degrading the object it order not to love it'... So that one can desire without guilt.

Holy shit!!! The chick at the bar wearing blue is totally Teresa or Tracy or Stacy, [friend]'s neighbor who threw the coke party at Hotel Rivington.

Depends. i have to find a sugar daddy... i got robbed last week and im waiting for my check to come... aye the drama!

I will begin fantasizing now.

Good question: what is going on, darling? Many options for tonight - too many to list here. Choose desired borough, time, excitement level, and let me know.

Hate myself too. Alot. Distrust her cause she loves me and i dont. The drinking keeps me in flux...and provides the ill times high &lows.

Glad you survived the mauling.

Saturday for sure. I don't know where just yet. I'm on the news for being rad... or for being a doggy pimp. For being a rad doggy pimp.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And you can add "while drunk" to the end of each sentence.

So we fired off that cannon. It was so loud I saw the shock wave travel through us (and our eardrums and brains), like that old footage of nuclear testing in Nevada. In the mornings we recovered and did the crossword. In the afternoons we sightsaw and took walks. When the sun would start to set we would slowly congregate in the living room (and noticed that these people are so rich that they have made the sun set over the water, which should not be possible on this coast). In the evenings friend and I took turns cooking for everyone (scallops ceviche, chili verde, clam linguine), and then we played games and the guitar.

Look at these little towns. They're like scale replicas of themselves.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Beach house in Connecticut

You guys know that the "secret" of my "success" is finding people who are better than me and drinking wine at them. That is why I am in a beach house in Connecticut - how should I explain this... I've been here for two days and I still haven't seen half of the house. Someone's grandmother (a woman who never worked a day in her life I am sure) bricolaged a serving tray out of a piece of wood and some lacquer and some postcards - all of which were old enough to have been posted with one cent stamps.

Wait, here it is:

They have - just for fun, just for when you're drinking blue label on the porch in your collared shirt and sweater, gazing past your sailboat at the waves on the Atlantic and you want something to do with your hands - they have their own, personal, working CANNON.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Christers in line behind me at my coffee cart say what?

"Check it out. Ask and you shall receive."
"Look - they even have non-dairy creamer!"
"J-C led us right here."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

On it

My landlord hasn't turned the boiler off and the knobs that control my radiators have long since broken off, so my apartment is sweltering. On account of which last night I slept with the windows open, which is distracting because there are always drunk sluts from New Jersey hanging around on the street, shouting and fist-fighting while waiting for their lap dance, except that last night it was tinkering, not yelling, and finally I had to get up to see what was going on. Four guys were surrounding this car. I couldn't figure out that the hell - they weren't stealing it because they weren't in enough of a hurry, and they weren't fixing a flat because they didn't have any tires. Turns out they were from ConEd, moving the car three feet to the right, so that they could access the manhole it was covering.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Haha, that was fun

The exclusively hanging out with lawyers thing has for some reason shifted into exclusively hanging out with publishing types. Last night was the Verso party, exciting lefty publisher that a couple of friends work at, at their offices in DUMBO (the neighbourhood Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, in Brooklyn), a big loft space in a converted warehouse - look at the view these bitches have. There was an open bar, including a deliciously green sauvignon, and we got d.e.runk. I chatted anarchie with Richard Porton. A drink was thrown in someone's face (not a propos of that). Verso-working friend helped me cull the shelves of books to steal, and I forgot them all behind when we left to crash the n+1 party next door. They refused to let us in. Fuck, it was probably 4 am.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Repetition Compulsion: Soho again

This is the right place to work out what you're going to say in the paper you owe Kristeva on negation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Zizek and a salmon steak

Went to see somewhat annoyingly rockstarish philosophotainer Slavoj Zizek up at CUNY in Midtown. He won me over. I am also Slavic, and crusty about politics. The show was sold out, but I managed to sneak a ticketless friend in. There is nowhere to eat in Midtown, so afterwards we zen-navigated our way to Soho, which I never go to but have ended up in twice in the past week, and ate at Fanelli's, which has been there since 1847 but is spectacularly mediocre.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Surrogate posting

Kate has posted about her trip here. Here are the Magnolia cupcakes she ate in the dark at the improv comedy:

Saturday, March 08, 2008

SMS highlight reel, vol. 11

Scale of 1 to 28... how are you?


Yeah, so two rats are having sexy time on the tracks in front of me. Assholes.

Where you at woman? I'm in Lower Manhattan and so drunk I can't see.

What was the official Canadian junk food you and Grace got close to my hood? Something like gravy fries? Anyhow where'd you get it?

Frank sinatra is playing

Its hard lady, but its just love- you can do it!

I will, as soon as i finish stuffing my face.

Fuck I Miss You Tonight. Im So Sick Of This Sausage Party!

Glad you survived the mauling.

If you're trying to have a full-on conversation dear, you have my address. I'm feeling like white wine, and... dress sexy. Bisous!

Friday, March 07, 2008

They shoot people, don't they?

This is my mother's friend Dorothy (centre). She dresses hair. The three of us went for a carriage ride through Central Park. At one point Dorothy said, "Ohhhh, look. It's so beautiful! I just can't understand why anyone would murder someone here."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Writing the last chapter of the mouse saga

Yesterday I'd had an hour's sleep, and my students were unenthused by the material so we played categorical syllogism mad libs and then I told them about my mouse problem and one of my veteran lawyer students said, "If you have a lease, on paper, and there are more than three units in your dwelling, then there should be a clause in your lease stating that the landlord has to take care of vermin on the premises. If they refuse, call the department of sanitation."

I called the landlord; the exterminator came today.

Here is some other mouse advice I have received:

"Mary, you gotta put steel wool in those holes. That's what my mom used to do. Just pack it in. Mice don't like it. Cuts 'em."

"Have you set/reset the mouse traps? They work well as long as you change the bait after you catch one. So peanut butter one day, then cheese, then a chocalate chip, then jam...I don't know how many rotations you have to do before you cycle back to the first bait - maybe 4? Because after all, mice are small and how long can their collective memory be?"

"Hmm, mice. There's only a couple pieces of advice I can give about mice. 1. There's an endless supply of them, they're like a running river. It's not about killing you're share and then being rid of them, it's about how high your levee is. 2. Play to their weakness. I also found that you have to apply your peanut butter or cheese whiz sparingly on the trap. If it's bulky they will eat the excess and leave. And, although curious, they're harmless, go to sleep. They won't come and lay eggs in your ear or anything. I can imagine the feeling though and why you were awake. Did it feel like this scene from Aliens?"

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pour the wine

I decided I wanted to meet my favourite semi-famous, rather attractive NY blogger/ writer/ somebody (I can do that, I live here, it's strange), so I dragged a friend to the LES to a reading thing he was doing, downed a glass of wine, and introduced myself. Boy, that sure went well in my head beforehand!

No, he was really nice. Afterwards more wine with another friend, and on Tuesday morning, I woke up just hungover enough, thanks, and dragged my laptop onto my bed and checked my email and (already staring down the barrel of one of my typical Tuesdays) discovered that my mother would be showing up in ten hours.

And that's the kind of week it's been.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Broadway Handicap

Sunday I got up, deposited my paycheque, and friend and I hopped on the A for Aqueduct. When we got off the train, we quietly followed the skids as they climbed onto what I can only describe as a prison bus, which took us across a parking lot to the entrance of the track.

We had arrived just in time for the third, and fumbled our way into some $20 vouchers and a $2 bet on Brewtiful Girl to win. Outside, we watched from the fence with the kids and the drunks and the Russian mafia and cheered as she doubled our money. By now, we took it we had this shit figured out and put ten down on the all-around favourite in the fourth. We climbed to the second floor, walked past the stand selling goat curry and fried plantains and watched from the balcony with the old Dominican and black men in their flat-top hats as our horse failed to even show.

Before the start of the fifth, we paid the extra dollar for admission to the top floor, which turned out to be quiet and not strewn with shredded racing slips and pretty much all business. There was a white tablecloth restaurant overlooking the track, and we got a table. In the fifth I screwed around with some small bets and lost and ordered a burger. We watched the other patrons, extended Italian families enjoying their Sunday afternoon. In the sixth I hit the wrong button and picked Kobla Road to win when I meant to pick Serious Vow, FFS. Serious Vow won.

In the seventh and eighth I made some conservative bets and won a few dollars back. Friend was losing mad money on trifectas but mocked my play-it-safe strategy ("Is that even fun?"). Before the ninth, we made our way back downstairs to watch from the fences again. I picked a 2-8-7 trifecta and earned a refund when 7 scratched at the last minute.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


It's sunny, and friend suggests we go to the park, and I suggest we gild that lily with a Jamba Juice and some Kant books. An hour later we're staring into the sun on a park bench, a blanket draped across our legs and I'm reading aloud from the Groundwork and friend points out that we are a couple of Beckett characters. Hysterical.

Worst week ever moderately redeemed; partial nudity involved

Friday I was a grouchy bitch, completely willing to relegate the evening to sitting on my bed marking logic assignments and watching true crime, but friend insisted I come and watch burlesque on the Lower East Side, because she was on a bad blind date with (and trying to shake), for some reason, this guy:

So I showered and changed and went. And then the show turned out to be really effing good and I let some Chilean man at the bar buy me a shot, and for both friend and I it went from being one of those two-beer evenings to one of those hit-the-ATM-twice and close down some dive and take a cab home in the day for night.

P. S. The show was hosted by this middle-aged (duh) gay (duh) Jew (duh) from Brooklyn (duh) in a bunny suit and lucite heels (yes), who at one point turned to my friend and said "Yeah honey, look at you, sitting between a real man and a real blonde."