Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ah, the Q train

It's like the racial harmony train. It's fifty percent hispanic, fifty percent Chinese, fifty percent black, fifty percent Russian - you get the idea. My prof, who rides it home, told me one night he saw two little old Chinese ladies (or yodas, as Lainey calls them), a hasidic man, and a black man all slumped against each other, sleeping on their way home. If someone told you about this taking place anywhere but the Q train, you would be justified in skeptically ridiculing such a false and tokenish tableau, but on the Q train it actually happens.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New York math

Now, I figured out, shortly after moving here (I was sixteen - I got drunk lots), that any place in New York was safe, insofar as any place at all, you could hail a cab, twenty-four hours a day, which would take you to your doorstep, where your doorman would see you in. I stopped taking cabs after a while when I realized that I had no money, no money at all, and inasmuch as I couldn't afford my rent, my tuition, or a $1.50 cup of coffee, I couldn't afford a seven dollar cab ride. Speaking of coffee, I have gone through flush phases of buying my coffee at Starbucks or at Joe, and buying it from carts, where it costs precisely seventy-five cents. At this point, the MTA only runs one train per track per twenty-four hour period, so taking cabs has become de rigeur, especially since at my neighbourhood pubs (I have six or seven), I only pay about two dollars a drink, which leaves me drunk and still flush.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Like a lot of graduate students, I participate in a lot of research studies. In Edmonton I used to get paid to eat stuff, and sometimes to watch commercials. Here I am part of a control group for research on schizophrenics. It pays really well ($100 to $150 a day) and the friend who does it is a total sweetheart. It's painfully boring, though. Click every time you hear a sound in your right ear. Etc.

Trouble: brewing

When I moved to the United States, I made a tactical decision to lay off the political stuff for a while, to "bend with the breeze" as my most trusted anarchist friend put it, and that meshed well with losing my mind for a bit, what with all the fabulous cocaine parties, trying to adjust and readjust and figure out who I was and whom I wanted to hang out with and what I wanted to do. But recently that same anarchist friend was in town, and we ended up in proximity to the very political things that I had been avoiding, and I got sucked right back in. So that now, while I haven't forgotten how not to get arrested and deported, I certainly remember that I can galvanize a room full of people, and shut down senior faculty's suggestion that we all sit tight for a while and wait for these things to resolve themselves, and get everyone riled up and ready to don a ski mask (jk, fuck violence and situationism).

And - let's speak even more narcissistically for a moment - it's made me realize how important that all of is to me, how repressive it was for me to be neglecting it for three years, and the toll that was taking psychologically. I always know well what I do not stand for - status-grubbing academics, assholes, fashion, name-dropping, politically demotivated "critique", scene-ism - but I had forgotten the importance of participating in the things that are important.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It always ends like this, vol. 2

Went to the Verso party again. I like the cocktail party conversation at these things, but I could not be prouder that the people I came with take it upon themselves to go into the bathroom for twenty minutes to entertain themselves with this kind of fuckery:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


So I did my fucking taxes. It took hours, every software service came up with a different assessment, until finally I just did it myself with a pen and paper and the goddam instructions. As a full-time student and someone who lives well below the poverty line, I naturally owed several hundred dollars on top of the thousands I had paid already. I guess that pays for not the not voting, the not having health care, and the not being eligible for social security. This was funny, though: one of the questions on the state income tax form included this line:

It sounds like some kind of affirmation. "Any part of a day spent in New York is a day spent sucking the marrow out of life."

"Any part of a day spent in New York is a day spent trying oneself against the open field of New York possibility."

"Any part of a day spent in New York is a day spent is a day spent making it anywhere."

Sunday, April 12, 2009


New York has three religions: Judaism, Episcopa- lalalianism (hats and bunch? I don't know) and Catholicism. Catholics in New York are really Catholic. Tons of dirty foreheads on Ash Wednesday, and stories about the new archbishop have been on the 6 o'clock news for weeks. It's kind of a big deal. So having never done the Catholic thing in New York, I decided to go to mass on Easter Sunday (or as the priest called it, "Eastah"). I dragged my Catholic friend along ("Okay but I'm not saying the Nicene Creed or taking communion. But I will sing."), we went to a church on the Upper West Side, and went early to get a pew, which meant seeing the last half of the Spanish mass before ours, which was a whole 'nother mass - a band with guitars and drums, the Hail Mary at the end, tons of singing, holding hands. Ours, however, was straight up Mozart on the organ and strings, stiff mumbling along with the prayers, homily naps. Yup, that's my religion.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Best march ever

Seriously, you guys. So good. There was a rally in Union Square in support of students arrested earlier in the day - students who had been occupying one of the campus buildings, in a protest relating to this and this and this. The rally turned into an impromptu march, during which people used the barricades that the police had conveniently left behind earlier in the day, to block off 14th street. And then 6th avenue, 11th street, 6th avenue again, 12th street, 5th avenue, etc. The thing is, marches are usually permit-sanctioned, slow-moving, low-energy, daytime events of flag-waving and chanting in unison, which is why last night was so comical - a hundred irritated, able-bodied 20-somethings speed-walking around the Village, up one street and down another, yelling outside of Bob Kerry's house for a while, covering a tremendous amount of ground, and then, having made their point, dispersing again, at which point the police were only finally scrambling their squad cars and blocking off the area. "It's okay, guys, we're done. Going for a glass of wine and some fries."

Video from the arrests earlier in the day:

Video of the rally and march:

Monday, April 06, 2009

535,600 minutes for the price of 443,783

Rent update. Remember how I filed that rent complaint? Well six weeks later I called the city to ask them what was happening with that, and they told me that it hadn't even been assigned to a case worker yet, and that the process takes six months to a year. Oof. So I wrote my landlord an email about how hey, I could get a cheaper apartment than this these days, and then you will have to find a new tenant, and you'll only be able to get $1450 for the place (which is what the new tenant downstairs moved in at, after the place sat empty for six months), and wouldn't you rather just sign a new lease with me for that amount, so that at least the place doesn't sit empty for a month, and he said yes, young lady, he said "what a beautifully written email" (no really), he said "I will talk to a broker and we will work out what is best" and the next day he offered me $1450 rent. That's THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS less, a month. I win.