Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tierra y Libertad

So all of my anarchist friends from Edmonton are in town for a class struggle organizing conference, which sort of makes this the best end-of-May ever. One of them arranged ahead of time to stay at my place, but soon the number of crashers multiplied, until I cleared out and went to a friend's and in my absence my apartment became a revolving door of the syndicalist elite (just kidding, there is no syndicalist elite). I'm sure I'm on some government list now. When I get denied a green card in three years I am coming to live on your guyses couches.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Casting call

Friend of a friend is a casting director for some reality game show (I think if I tell you anything more specific I will never work in this town again), and he needed two "Production Assistants" for the New York casting call. I didn't have anything to blog about, so natch friend and I volunteered.

The job turned out to basically be crowd control - taking names, getting people ready for their auditions (friend was disappointed we weren't asked to fetch complicated lattes and get yelled at that they weren't right). And let me tell you, people, it takes all kinds. There is a-whole-nother world out there of humans, a whole spectrum of high-functioning psychopathy, permanently occupying the margins of fame and celebrity, even though they seem to remain hopeful that they will get a break, that they are not in fact bit characters adding colour to the scenery, but honestly talented and soon to be recognized as such. They have resumes, they have "I met so-and-so and he gave me his guitar pick" stories, they have - as far as they are concerned - careers, insofar as one can eventually end up on Letterman doing a stupid human trick, or as an extra in a Sonic Youth video, or in the promo reel for America's Got Talent.

The thing is, by day two, I had spent a lot of time with these people, knew a tremendous amount about them, where they were from, what they had done, where they performed around the city, who they wanted to be, and I had a huge swell of affection for them, even feeling fiercely protective, so that when I bid them goodbye and good luck and took their card and promised to come to their next performance, I hoped that they didn't end up on the reality show, ridiculed with editing and sound effects for the sake of the schadenfreude and irony that makes that tv worth watching.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008


We took the train over to Times Square, and from there walked a block west to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. I approached one of the ticket dispensing machines and entered the bus number and zone we were told we wanted, and it gave us change for a twenty entirely in dollar coins. Friend asked, "What am I supposed to do with this, buy a satchel?"

The bus terminal is enormous, a cavernous indoor space with the feel of an airport - tile floor, conspicuous signage, magazine shops, crappy food kiosks. It took us three right turns at the end of long corridors to get to the right gate, and we arrived just in time for the last two seats on the coach bus before it pulled away.

New Jersey is reached through the Lincoln tunnel; I had never been. Now I got to put city faces to names - Weehawken, Union City, Secaucus - and to fantasize about the other lives I could be leading. I could live in that little rowhouse with the vinyl siding; rent would probably be $750 a month; on summer evenings, my neighbours and I would sit in lawn chairs in the common front yard and drink beer and smoke; sometimes I would watch their kids, when they had to go out unexpectedly.

We went all the way to "the Esplanade in Hackensack". I had asked the bus driver to let me know when we arrived, and he went one beyond by driving down the street slowly (the bus was still full) looking for the house number I wanted. The barbecue in the backyard was still going strong, even though I was four hours late. Friend's mom pulled me aside from my hellos and insisted I make "a plate" before visiting. We had sangria and charcoal-grilled meat and played bocce and the trees smelled good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An Open Letter to Padma Lakshmi

Just because I really like your Top Chef show and follow it religiously, and for that matter like all of those Bravo reality shows, as I may be constitutionally required to do so being both a resident of New York and a New School student (Inside the Actor's Studio was filmed in the same building I teach in did you know?), does not mean that you can eye-fuck my date for the sketch comedy show while I am standing right next to him. Twice.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Day the Universe Came to a Standstill not with a Bang but a Whimper and No One Was Around to Hear It

Now that the semester is over and I don't have 5 places to be in a day, I am so bored I want to squeeze my head off. And the school is empty, and people are slowly vacating the city, and it won't stop raining, and there is no pressure, ergo I cannot function, even though I do have things to do, like write these term papers, and find a second job because I fall very short of rent when I am only working this one.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Overheard on the 4/5 train

"Hey [name]! Wow, how long has it been? How are you?"
"Fine, thank you. How are you?"
"I'm alright."
"How is your granddaughter?"
"She is beautiful, thank you for asking. How are your grandbabies?"
"They are great. Say, how is [name]? - I haven't seen her in ages!"
"She's good."
"Did you hear they killed my brother?"
"I did. I hear your sister isn't taking it so good."
"I heard it was a lovely funeral though."
"Yeah, it was over on [street]."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SMS Highlight Reel, vol. 15

I feel whiny, approaching bitchy.

pumped up and excited.
pumped up and excited.

Bay leaves? Peppercorns? Sweet Spanish paprika? Cayenne? Sea salt?

Well, last night was bunches of fun. It could have taken a turn for the worse if it weren't for the fact that you hit like a little girl. Wuss.

Def stage 3. Look at the eyes.

o darling please believe me. ill never let you down. belevie me when i tell you. oooo. ill never do you no harm. o' darling...

Inglewood. Right next to the chicken rendering plant

K. I'm getting drunk tonight. Waaaa-oooo!

Holy fuck the internet is slow today.

prrrrrrr---ooooooo. (pigeon noise). yay,

i am drinking vodka and ur ass is amazing

i found a new place called hot bagels! [friend] refers to it as the 24-hour ho-bag

That was torture. This is dignity.

I know it's short notice but there's an effing dachshund festival at Washington Square Park. Just try to imagine a billion stubbly legs. Starts at noon.

Indeed ma dear! i have a new man ive been ahem uh fucking. want to meet sometime sunday or something? let me know what works 4 u... im in the city everyday

So I'm retarded and I read The Game last night (in a sitting) and 2 things: 1) that guy [name] from Trinity was gunning for you by the numbers; and 2) be warned, you can never make eye contact with me again.

I just at cheese so spicy my face is sweating.

Put that in your yes-man pipe and smoke it.

You should be on tv.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dirty Bingo in the Meatpacking District

I had never actually been to the Meatpacking District, and it is far more charming than I would have thought: crooked cobblestone streets lined with old brick packing plants and warehouses, now inhabited by obscenely expensive restaurants (including the only place to get poutine in this city) and clubs pretentious enough to make you line up in the red ropes for Tuesday night bingo yet. Our friend was spinning, so we laid down $20 for our bingo card, complimentary champagne cocktail, and buffet of capicolla and mortadella, soft cheeses, and pulled pork on focaccia. Bingo was called by a giant drag queen with great legs, while the balls were handed to her by one of those New Jersey gym rats who only ever works out his biceps. Winning configurations like "erect penis" won prizes like dildos and romantic restraints. We figured out that if we didn't actually mark our cards, we could re-use them for the next round rather than buying a new one. Being a graduate student requires always striking that perfect balance between decadence and thrift.

photo source

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Who's more foolish? The fou, or the fou who pays $11 to see Pierrot Le Fou?

There is a lot of keeping up to do in New York. In terms of fashion and money, which we've discussed, readers, but also in terms of Kultur. I can name, like, five painters, and none from the 20th century. And that just does not cut it here. Neither does my taste in movies, which goes:

a) action
b) Dan Ackroyd comedy
c) anti-establishment documentary.

So in the interest of not being such a philistine vis-a-vis my friends (some of whom are from Arkansas, ffs), I went to a Godard film last weekend. Fuuuuck. What overworn French masculinist fantasy. What self-indulgent 1960s experimentation. Breaking all the boundaries of cinema, except the necessity of a misogynist plot line. (But that's just me, right? And has nothing to do with the fact that he married three women of the same name.)

There's a girl. A brunette! And she's kooky. And game for anything. And not your wife. And coquettish. And she embroils you in hijinx. And she's capricious, but not so much that she won't promise "ne jamais te quitter," although she will double-cross you in the end, as is your fantasy, because then you get to kill her, and have her apologize to you in her dying breath.

Spoiler alert, btw. Including for those of you who have not yet watched the most recent James Bond film.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I now get more hits from New York than from either Calgary or Edmonton. That's my narcissistic friends looking for references to themselves. Okay you guys with a New York address, here is what you need to do: go to this site and ask them to plant a tree on my street. No really, I mean it - it sucks, I have no trees. And don't tell them I sent you.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

20 months

It's happened again! Now my replacement coffee guy has been replaced. I don't know about how transient/transitive coffee cart ownership is, but just when CoffeeGuy_2 was starting to give me the occasional freebie, I now have to get to know a-whole-nother guy.

That is what I want most: to interpolate myself into this city. To have a coffee guy, shoe jew, a bodega clerk I know by name, and who know my name. Or I know them by shift and they know me by coffee preference, or cigarette brand. That is how I interpret the Frank Sinatra line about "making it here:" installing little familiarities in a city that functions on anonymity.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Who you know

I think maybe 5% of economic activity in New York is actually on the books. In reality, almost all labour is under the table, and there is, as I am discovering, a whole lot of shit that gets done through barter. Friend gets Yankees tickets in exchange for dog-sitting. Other friend teaches martial arts and has been invited out to party houses in the Hamptons. Other friend lives rent-free in return for teaching her roommate Japanese. Yes, it often has this surreal inequivalence to it. "You're going to give me this in exchange for that?" You can get a sense of this if you read Craigslist: the entire city turns on some fetish-inflected quid pro quo.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

SMS Highlight Reel, vol. 14: Karl Lagerfeld edition

"With [friend] eating bagels next to Karl Lagerfeld. My drunk ass told him he was my namesake. He didn't believe me."

I asked my friend
a) what Karl Lagerfeld said in response
b) whether he had his bitchbeating fan with him
c) whether he was actually, really eating a bagel.

a) "Scoffed dismissingly, saying (under his breath) "oh I'm sure of that."

"Really?? Is that true? I need to know, for blogging purposes."

"Of course it's true but you can't report what he said without including the fact of my name, which I fiercely prohibit. Report your own celebrity sightings."

b) (He did not.)
c) (He was eating whitefish lox, by itself.)