Monday, June 30, 2008

Hi Edmonton I miss you

Hey, easy - not everything about New York is better. For example, a big deal is being made of these waterfalls:


Which are great. And it is kind of great that people will install Big Deal art in New York which will make headlines around the world. Remember this?


I don't, they took it down before I moved here. At any rate, for as lovely as the waterfalls are (they are), they just remind me of the one built right into the Highlevel Bridge in Edmonton:




Which, I have to say, I prefer.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

UES

I have occasion to be on the Upper East Side a lot now. Lemme tell you, babies, it is a different world from where you come from. It's wealthy and genteel and neighbourly in that racist and classist way such that people all know each other by name and old family businesses run the block, as they have for decades, and old Jewish ladies hire young black women to run their errands and chauffeur them around town. I know, what? How does that Craigslist ad read? Why does it have to be a young black woman? I don't know. But I can tell you that last year there was a sensational story of how punk band manager- cum- real estate agent (it's New York, play along) Linda Stein got murdered by her young black woman personal assistant with "a yoga stick." Oh man, they played that police press conference over and over where the detective related how the accused confessed to killing her after Stein just kept yelling at her and blowing smoke in her face while she (the PA) was trying to write Stein's emails for her. Hahahahahaha!
xo, See you in hell

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ssseeeecretsss

My friend invited me to her birthday at a speakeasy on the Lower East Side. Meaning that the d├ęcor is 1920s, the booze is served in teacups, and the place is only accessible through a peep-holed door at the top of a fire escape, in the middle of a dark courtyard, behind an unmarked door onto the street. I had never been so I just straightforwardly asked the bouncer "Is this The Back Room?" what question he REFUSED to answer because it was so gauche.

I liked this place, even though you can't fit a whole lot of bathtub gin in a teacup. By the way, inside there is a bookcase behind which there is an even secreter bar, although not the best kep secret because there is a giant bouncer standing outside of it at all times.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The 5th Borough

Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx, but if you have been to a Yankees game, this does not mean you have been to the Bronx. Similarly, getting to Westchester County (the boring suburb north of NYC) requires going through the Bronx, but transferring from a bus to a subway in the Bronx, as I have done, does not mean you have been to the Bronx.

But if you go bowling on 158th Street, partaking of the $3 Bud Light and buying yourself some socks from the vending machine because you forgot you were wearing flats, competing against 11-year-olds at 10:00 pm on a Monday, then you have been to the Bronx.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Winnipeg

Ah, the Mad Hatter's Croquet Tournament. Or as the trophy we gave grandma said, "Mad Haters."


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

That's for you

Ooh! guess what happened for the first time since I moved to the big bad city? Subway perv!

Some guy insisted on showing me his "big black [net nanny]" because he was concerned whether I had ever seen one before. Aw. He was on the opposite platform. I sez, "You're fucking crazy" and then the big silver train pulled up between us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Desuetude or Gentrification. Or Bust.

I am gripped by a sordid fascination with places I cannot go. This is why I had to Mongolia and Tuktotaktuk, for examples. Are there trees? (no) If you sleep outside, will you wake up dead? (maybe) Do people buy food in the store or hunt and gather it? (both) Etc.

New York tortures me with this all the time. Derelict buildings and abandoned subway stations, old skyscrapers in the financial district with one little dormer lit well into the night. The pillars of the Brooklyn Bridge have three storeys of bricked-up windows, defunct gas or electric lights hanging over now-padlocked doorways. I need to know what is in there. I once asked a cop who mans a booth in the shadow of one of the pillars, and he answered as though he literally could not see what I was seeing ("What do you mean? Nothing.").

So I went to the Battery Maritime Building the other day, because David "This is not my beautiful wife" Byrne had installed some art in it. I will not give this short shrift: the building had been rigged to be "played" - an old organ whose keys sounded off jackhammers and pipes and rattling radiators. And it was unique and wonderful and drastically creative-- but it killed me that they had painted the walls halfway up to do it, and cut holes in the pipes for the acoustics, because it shows how irreverant the renovation plans are for the building itself - that it will be wrenched from the spot where it sits frozen in time, and turned into yet another gated bourgeois backdrop.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Two York City

Everything happens in threes elsewhere, but here it happens in twos. Two abandoned pacifiers on the streets of Tribeca, about a week apart. Two smashed pigeons on Thames street on the same day. Two times hearing Dolly Parton's Jolene, in two different bars last night. Two fatal crane accidents in the spring of 08. Two MTA workers killed on the track awhile back. And today, twice I needed things - specific things. First, I was on my way to meet a friend, Sunday Times in hand for the crossword, and realized I'd forgotten to grab a pen on my way out of the house. So I scanned the ground until I found a nice rollerball a block later, nearly unused and quite clean. Later, friend needed to mop his face after having raced to meet me in the oppressive heat, so I wandered into a corridor and found, inexplicably, a fresh stack of 2-ply cocktail napkins wedged next to a fire extinguisher.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

OTB

Stands for Off-Track Betting, little legal betting parlours in the city, setting of many a Law & Order scene, back when it was gritty and non-lame (the show, not the city). I went with some friends to watch the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, because it was too hot to take the train to actual Belmont about an hour away, and of course we all lost all of our money. The OTBs will all be shut down by June 15 because of some financial thing I was going to tell you about but totally don't understand.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Search terms that have landed people here, vol. 2

girl inseminated by aliens
hasidic women
starting conversations with strangers
three buck dogs
ill pour the wine and you can tell me what you like best about me

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Trampoline Hall

Yes, friends run this lecture series - lectures on random topics like Swimming Pools, The Soul, and Things We Should Bring to America, always by non-experts - in Toronto, but once a year New Yorkers are lucky enough to have it brought to them. And as a free gift to you, this time they had a couple of artists on hand to draw your swimming pool, or your soul.

"One soul, please."