Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Going, Going, Gone

Last Sunday's Times had an article about this blogger (VanishingNewYork.Blogspot.com--see link under Peeps) who tracks the continued redevelopment of New York and particularly lower Manhattan as new and hideous condos destroy whatever character is left in this fading metropolis.

Clearly a man after my own heart. However, we do differ on some things. I long for New York of the 1970s, the city I remember as a kid who lived in Jersey and used to come into the city a lot to see my Dad or sneak in with friends when I was in eighth grade. It had that feel of a place where anything could happen. Of course, it's easy now to look at that and forget being that little kid and walking through Times Square terrified. I love romanticizing the past, but sometimes it can go a little overboard. Case in point. I get pissed off when I go for my run in Riverside Park and see new graffiti. How would I have dealt with that in 1975 when the whole park was a mess and if you ran in the park, it's a good bet someone was chasing you? It's beautiful now and I love that.

Jeremiah the blogger wants the 90s. He writes: "The city was edgy but not terrifying. There was a more diverse economic mix among its people and its businesses. The super-wealthy stayed above 14th Street, for the most part, where you could go admire their unusual sartorial choices and tight-jawed facial expressions, like looking at animals in a zoo, then leave them again for your downtown home. Tourists stayed up there, too. No one pushed, blocked, or ignored you because they were busy screaming into a cell phone or thumb-typing a text message. You could smoke in bars and Times Square was Times Square."

I agree with some of this although there was still some bad crime then (anyone remember Brian Watkins?). Like me, some of his concerns sound like the familiar rant of someone who moves into an edgy neighborhood then gets pissed when others follow in his footsteps. It's kind of like bitching that the new Starbucks is destroying your hardscrabble neighborhood. Guess what, Starbucks opened there because you are there.

As for the super-wealthy staying above 14th Street, I would merely point out that the neighborhoods up there (and I live in one and am not super wealthy) are being stripped of their character just as fast, this is not a problem limited to lower Manhattan. In fact, it is because they were stripped down (Hells Kitchen, the Upper West Side, yeah that's right, the Upper West Side and Lincoln Center used to be pretty tough areas)and cleaned up that led to the migration downtown and now it all repeats itself. I live on 100th Street, home to two of the most hideous new condos to ever hit this Island.

Some of his more recent posts really hit home with me about what is happening to the area of 25th through 31st street between Fifth and Seventh Avenue. It's still a funky area with lots of weird wholesale shops and flower marts and even still the occassional flea market but it is going fast.

I used to track gentrification through my friend Keith. Wherever he moved was going to be the "next" neighborhood. It started with Delancy Street in 1990. Then he headed out to Williamsburg, a few years ahead of the slackers and finally he beat the crowds to BedStuy. He's now gentrifying Germany.

Cities are supposed to improve and are supposed to want to draw new residents and new investments but that doesn't mean we have to like it all the time. Yeah, I like that I can ride the subway at all hours and be relatively safe and that the parks and streets are cleaner, but with that comes a loss of character, of edge, of grit, of the very things that make New York...well...New York.

After I left the East Village in 1988, I kind of made it a point to only live in neighborhoods that were not in transition. Yeah, I might be able to afford a great place on 120th and Lenox and yeah, that's a spot to buy right now but I don't want to be the driving force in changing a neighborhood and its demographics. I wrestle with this a lot. I could get more space and save money by moving just 20 blocks North and a few blocks East of where I am but I am very conflicted about it.

Not sure where all this is going. I really just wanted to give a shout out to this guy and while I don't look forward to reading his blog documenting the depressing redevelopment and condoization of New York, I will be reading it while searching for a rerun of Taxi Driver or The Warriors or heck even After Hours.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Serenity Now!!!

I've come to the conclusion that in order to maintain some sense of inner peace I need to avoid certain websites. No, not the adult ones although that wouldn't be a bad idea either. I mean the ones that traffic in bitterness and cynicism disguised as witty observations. I notice that every time I read them I'm not amused, I'm angry. Maybe it's an age thing but a bunch of snarky snots who sit around all day mocking others for usually no good reason no longer entertains me. Visiting those sites is validating what they do and inspiring them to go further down in the gutter in their never ending push to be the most jaded people on the planet.

Being bitter and jaded is easy, anyone can do it and I don't want to do what anyone can do anymore.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Fool And Her Money Are Lucky Enough To Get Together In The First Place

Popped into a Dunkin Donuts on Broadway and 97th (one of two within a block, when did Dunkin become upscale?) and this woman is yapping on her cellphone in there and actually giving out her credit card number on the phone and then for an encore gave out her cellphone number!

As we increasingly become a cash-free society, the danger of identity theft (which to me is just theft, but anyway that is for another post) will only grow. I got ripped off earlier this year (pretty sure it was my pet store) when my debit card number was stolen. But do we need to make theft even easier by blurting out our card numbers in Dunkin fucking Donuts?

To paraphrase from "Mean Streets," if you're dumb enough to give me money, you deserve to get ripped off."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nobody Goes There Anymore, It's Too Crowded

I'm starting to go a little stir crazy here in the big city. There's too many people! I know, it's New York, there's always been too many people. But it really is getting out of control. I've spent the better part of the past 34 years living in or around the city and while it's never been an oasis of tranquility, I feel we've passed maximum density.

The tell-tale signs for me are jammed pack subways on a Saturday morning. I shouldn't have to stand at 9:30 in the morning on a fucking Saturday on my way to the gym. I know that the never-ending construction on the 1-2-3 is screwing everything up a little but still where the fuck did all these people come from?

The subway stations themselves need to be gutted. Stairs are too narrow, platforms too small, the forefathers of mass transit were not anticipating this level of population.

Furthermore, no one knows how to ride the subway anymore. I hate these fuckers who stand by the door instead of moving into the train. I hate the fuckers who stand rather than sit when there are empty seats. Guess what, if you sit the car will be less crowded and if you don't sit then don't block me from getting to the seat.

I guess I'm going to rant a little here but what the hell. I also hate when I'm running to get into a train and the guy running in front of me thinks he is the last person getting on so he immediately goes from fifth gear to first as he steps into the car, forcing me to have to get by him without shoving him into the opposite side of the car, which is what I really want to do and will one of these days.

I'm getting annoyed by the endless stream of mariachi bands, gospel acts and Motown wannabees and I fear the only thing worse will be when the cellphones start working in the stations. There are more screamers and nutjobs on the trains. Last night, some guy was babbling about Saudi Arabia and then said if he was annoying people they could shoot him. If it were 25 years ago, he'd be dead by the next station.

Above ground, the streets are filled with people who don't know how to walk on sidewalks. Whether it's because they have ipods on or are babbling on their phones oblivious to the rest of us or they're just annoying out-of-towners without a clue doesn't matter to me. What matters is that between the sidewalks that are torn up by construction (building more condos to jam more people into our already crowded infrastructure) and the people on those sidewalks who are driving out the last bit of culture and color it's become impossible to get anywhere without becoming extremely annoyed.

New York City Serenade indeed!

Pump Up The Volume

Rainy and cold Saturdays mean a long wait for greasy breakfasts. Americana Deli not answering the phones! Broadway not answering the phones! Means I had to order from Metro, which is the highest quality of the three but also the most expensive. Going to be one of those damp days where everyone and everything is a little slow.

That includes me. Got home late last night, went to bed even later and got up late today--if 9:15 Saturday morning counts as late. All part of the lazy Saturday plan. Too wet to run in Riverside, going to head to gym later but need fuel first.

Was at a party in Tribecca last night. If two nights ago showed my heart could still beat, last night showed that a some other crucial body parts were still active. I haven't seen so many hot girls in once place since my last visit to Scores ten years ago. Don't worry loyal reader(s), the only part of me that got any workout were my eyes. Still, I went even though I didn't know a lot of people and it was worthwhile thing to do. I'm under strict orders to get out and get active and have been told that if given the choice between being out in social situations and staying in my apartment, I am to go out.

Only problem with this party was that the guy who was the DJ (yes, there was a DJ and lights and everything, it was like having all the awkwardness of going to a club in an apartment) had no sense of pace or timing. When there were ten people there, he played songs more appropriate for a room with 100 people in it at a volume that would've been better if a 1000 people were there. You know what I mean, loud, throbbing dance music for four hours. Nothing against dancing, but when there is ten people, start with some mellow music and build it up for crying out loud. This guy started everything at level 10. I can only imagine what he was like in a different life.

Still minor complaints. Important thing was that I got out, drooled, didn't do anything stupid and got home intact.

On a weirder note, I dreamt I was at a party that Xmastime kept streaking through. May have to up the therapy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lester Burnham Moments

Been told by a first time reader that I really need to do this at least once a day. I agree and think I've been doing a pretty good job of it, but sometimes it is hard to just generate copy. I always wait for something to happen for me to write never realizing that my strength may actually be writing about the mundane.

So here's a quick week in review (and I'm sure said reader didn't mean for me to do this during work, but as you keep reading you'll see why I'd rather be doing this than my job). I have an event that is falling apart and I don't know what to do. Actually, I do know what to do, I just don't want to do it. We sold this law firm one kind of event and now that it has become clear to me that we are not going to pull it off, I need to go to back to them and say just that and find some way to develop something that works for them and us. Maybe just writing it here will help inspire me to take that action.

Part of the problem is I'm middle management. The folks who should be helping me on this, my bosses, are not really all that helpful. If it works, they'll take credit for it, but if it doesn't, they don't want to be anywhere near the stench. It's a survival technique and I can't blame them although it is certainly not how I would operate the business if I were in their shoes.

My boss left today at 1:45. I guess someone forgot to tell her that the summer Friday thing ended in August. Actually, we don't even have a summer Friday thing period but she seems to think we do. It's hard to get motivated in a job when your boss's only motivation is finding her next job. I know, compare to despair.

I have another event that I need to finish planning. He wants a particular person to interview him and I'm trying to get through to this person to make this happen. My job is leaving messages and calling people and begging people and trying to be polite the whole time. I lost it a little this week with one particular person I'm trying to get to participate in another event we are holding. I've mailed him an invite and left messages. You'd think that having a bunch big shots already on board would merit at least a return call, but apparently not for this guy who I guess just can't pardon the interruption.

So the other day I slipped back into journalist jerk mode when I got his voice mail and said after again identifying myself, the organization I'm calling from, etc. that "I can leave messages every day." Sometimes the shame/obnoxious approach works, but I don't think it will this time. It was a rare slip, but shit this stuff is frustrating sometimes and I guess I had a Lester Burnham moment.

Actually, I've been having a lot of those lately, so don't be surprised if one of these days I'm the face you see when you pull up to the register at Happy Burger.

It Still Beats

Was out with a group of people last night and found myself sitting next to a cute, curly haired brunette with bright eyes and a great smile. She recognized me from softball as she has sometimes played for one of the teams.

I think she did that thing all girls do of casually dropping the word boyfriend into a conversation, but the fact that a cute girl was paying attention to me overrode that little red light.

This post is not one of those "ooh, I met someone" posts. I have no idea if, when, or where I will see this person again. But the point is that I conversed, flirted and had that jumpy heart feeling that I hadn't felt in awhile. It was nice. Means it's not impossible.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Where Do We Go Now

So I'm walking out my door and heading up 100th Street this morning on my way to work. I hear behind me this little girl singing. Now I'm not Mr. Morning. Hell, I'm not Mr. Mid-Day or Mr. Night either. Any noise that gets me out of my head and my world pisses me off. Hey, I'm a work in progress, what do you want?

So I'm trying not to listen to this little girl but the words coming out of her mouth seem very familiar. "She's got eyes of the bluest skies as if they thought of rain..." and it hits me this little kid is singing Sweet Child O' Mine. I turn around and ask if she isn't a little young to be singing that one. I don't mean because of the content, I mean because that song's TWENTY YEARS OLD!!! Heck, I felt old for liking it when it first came out and I was 21.

She explained that her friend is obsessed with 80s music and has been playing it and she likes it. It was cute. As long as she doesn' start slithering like a snake during Slash's solo I guess I'm ok with this.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Words To Live By

I'm on the F train tonight and there is a tough looking Latino with a tattoo on his neck playing one of those video games and he calmly says to a preppy, not-so-tough looking black guy, "look, I'm really trying not to get into trouble today, so please don't say anything." The black guy started to say something and the Latino guy repeated himself.

I don't know about the black guy, but when a dude with a tattoo on his neck who looks like he came out of a casting call for a killer tells me not to talk to him or get into anything, I listen.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Five To Watch

Since others are posting lists of movies they like/don't like I'll do my quick five under appreciated movies.

1.Kingpin--Favorite Farrelly brothers movie, probably because they didn't write it! Bill Murray awesome as is Woody.

2.Repo Man--Does this really need explaining?

3. Grosse Pointe Blank--hitmen, lost love and high school reunion in one!

4. Swimming with Sharks--Shut up, listen, learn!

5. Metropolitan--yes, it's about snooty upper east side kids, but it delivered this gem which still rings true today: "Rick Von Slonecker is tall, rich, good looking, stupid, dishonest, conceited, a bully, liar, drunk and thief, an egomaniac, and probably psychotic. In short, highly attractive to women."

Vaseline On The Lens

Yeah, it's Saturday night and I'm sitting here listening to some Dylan. Got in the mood after catching up on the finale of "Mad Men," which played "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" over the end credits.

I think back to being a freshman in college when I play old Dylan. I was at NYU. I was a loner and he got me through a lot of that year. NYU is not really a social school and when I went there it wasn't the behemoth it is now. It had three big dorms and a couple of tiny ones. It hadn't annexed the East Village yet and really was still something of a commuter school.

I was in a triple in my freshman year. My roommates were Pete, a film major from New City, New York who wore flannel every day. He was pre-grunge. I'm serious. He had a closet of six flannel shirts and that's what he wore rain, snow, hot, cold, it didn't matter.

The other roommate was Sung. He was from Taiwan or Hong Kong (sorry, I don't remember). When me and my brother moved me into the dorm Sung was already there with his mother. He spoke little english. I looked at my brother with a "you've got to be fucking kidding me" look and he sighed and said "don't worry, he'll be studying all the time." He pretty much was doing that. What he wasn't doing was bathing. It was at least two months until he finally took one. Me and Pete confronted him and asked if he ever planned on taking a shower (NYU had one thing going for it and that was that each room had its own bathroom). Sung just looked at us blankly and said "shower?" We then motioned to the bathroom and that faucet sticking out of the wall. He then explained in his broken english way that he was using the shower at his mother's hotel (she stayed in the country for the first few months of his freshman year).

Pete and I just sort of nodded and walked out into the hall, went into the stairwell and looked at each other and in unison said "bullshit."

Other highlights of freshman year. Me and Pete on our first night going to a drug store and me picking up a box Trojans and saying in my devilish voice, "maybe we need a few boxes of these!!!" Pete chuckled and said we could probably wait. Unfortunately he turned out to be right. A flannel wearing Queen nut and a loner from D.C. rooming with an exchange student were not exactly hot stuff. It was a dry year.

Someone had carved "when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose" into our bathroom wall (I guess everyone at NYU then listened to Dylan to avoid jumping out the window). I remember lots of lonely walks down to the East Village to buy albums at Sounds. I remember cold days sitting in Washington Square Park. I used to wear a beat up leather jacket in those days and usually had torn jeans on. I guess I thought I was looking tough, turned out I just looked like a white version of Bubbles. One day I was hanging in the park by myself on a real cold day having a smoke and a cop car pulled up and asked if I wanted to go to a shelter. I had to show them my college ID because they didn't believe when I pointed to Weinstein Dorm and said, "I live there."

Once me and Pete got really wasted and I puked out the window and managed to get it into the room below us. A few minutes later there was pounding on our door and Pete opened up and these meat heads came charging in ready to kill. Pete should've been a theatre major instead of film because he started spinning this bull about how our room too had been hit with barf and it was probably some kids on the roof. Meanwhile, I'm passed out at my desk, right next to the window.

I remember the joy of blasting The Jam's "Going Underground" or S&G's "I am a Rock" on my stereo. I was quite the rebel in those days.

My nickname in college was Hater because, well actually that one's pretty self-explanatory. At the time it seemed like one of the worst years in my life but now I realize it was one of the best. Still, it would've been nice to have had to use at least one Trojan!

Ouch!

As any reader of this site knows, I'm on the hunt for a new job. I spent 20 years in media and now plan media-related events for an institution.

But my job, while not exactly hard, is frustrating. It's a drag constantly asking people to participate in panels, conferences, speaker series, etc. especially when I don't have the answer to that question they always ask--what's in it for me? We don't have a super high-powered audience of investors. We have some. It's not like they're speaking before a bunch of yahoos, but we are not some big investment bank holding a conference.

So I'm looking. I knew when I took this job that it was short-term. It does pay well and I'm a little worried about the velvet handcuff syndrome. I know my next job, especially if it is a return to the reporting world, could mean a pay cut. That's why I haven't joined a nice new gym or gotten a better apartment even with my larger salary. I knew it might not be forever. (Nor do I think my institution will be around forever, but that's another story.)

A former colleague passed on a tip that a major business publication might be looking for a writer with familiarity with the areas that I focused on through my career. While I'm not sure about whether a return to this profession is what I really want, I called. I want to be on the radar and meet more people so what would it hurt. Plus, a relative toiled at this place for years and still does freelance work for them. In fact, the person I was told to contact happens to be my relative's editor so I knew my call would be taken.

I called the guy. We had a nice chat. He's not sure if there is an opening or not but he said something that was distressing although not distressing to me simply because of where my head is at these days. He said he couldn't remember the last time his publication hired a "mid-career" reporter. He didn't say it glibly or with a mean streak. If anything, he seemed slightly embarrassed by this. I chuckled and said his publication was probably not alone in that regard. Never mind that said relative was definitely a mid-career hire. Heck, he was older than me when they tapped him to be D.C. Bureau Chief.

His statement reflects the approach of much of the media now for myriad of reasons. For starters, youth works cheaper. Secondly, there was a time when it was the reporter who was expected to know his beat and inform his editors and subsequently the readers. These days, newspapers and magazines are much more editor driven. The reporter does grunt work and the editors shape the story and determine what matters. That is something of an overstatement, but not that far off the mark. One of my issues in my last job was that I had covered my beat a long time and hence would often debate my editors about the premise of a story. Editors don't like debate. Now I didn't handle myself well in those days and I can look back and say I would have done things differently, but that doesn't change my core point, editors prefer younger reporters who are less likely to debate. I know this from talking not only to my friends but just what I see on the pages of our newspapers.

This is not bitterness on my part. Hell, if I were an editor I wouldn't want to deal with me either. Well, I wouldn't have wanted to deal with the old me, I'm not that guy anymore.

Despite basically being told that I'm middle-aged and not an ideal hire (yes, 20 years of experience does get you something--insulted), I'm not upset by it. That has more to do with the fact that I'm not even sure I want to return to my profession and that I'm now a lot more comfortable with myself and know that no matter what happens, as long as I keep on my path, I'll be taken care of in some form. I am going to try to meet with the guy and we'll see what happens.

Having said all that (and I am pretty sure I'm not the first to make this observation), it is depressing to think that what I view as my positives--almost 20 years experience at some of the best known publications out there--are actually my negatives.

As a reporter, I realize I've just written a "dog bites man" post. It reminds me of the old saying "when your neighbor loses his job, it's a recession. When you lose yours, it's a depression." I haven't lost anything though and that's what matters. And remember, there are no new stories, only new reporters.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Brian's Song (not the movie)

New link in the peeps section for my good friend Brian who is a bigger music geek than me (so check him out Ope, Xmas, Bayonne, Will and the rest). Of course, for everything new, something old must go. Unfortunately my pal V is no longer updating "Pan Three Years Later." I'll miss her acid wit and sharp tongue but hopefully she'll get something new going.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Walk Tall, Just Watch What You Say

I'm in a Duane Reed picking up some cold medicine when "Walk Tall" by Mellencamp comes on. I like the song, I start to sing along and then I realize I'm singing the words but he isn't. Turns out the third and fourth verse "be careful of those who kill in Jesus's name, he don't believe in killing at all" was edited out.

There were some other lyrics in its place and I couldn't make them out which leaves me wondering did Mellencamp change his own lyrics to get it on the air or did the company that contracts out to provide music to stores do it. It's disturbing either way, but I'll be more disturbed if it turns out he did it vs. it being done to him. I mean, it's bad either way but I hope he didn't play ball on this. That's not how one walks tall.

Good to Know

So I was logging in to fix one of my typos that I only notice after I've posted an item and I'm watching that little thing that flashes up blogs that recently updated. So the usual names of blogs is going by with the time they've been updated when up pops Anal Cum! I didn't get a chance to see what the update was since I figured it might not be something to look at while I'm at work.

I am glad to know that the Anal Cum blog is being updated though. Sometimes I get down on myself for not posting enough and if Anal can do it, so can I!

Rachel's Song

Because I'm one of those people who pretty much stopped investigating new music or even new old music, it is rare that I find something I like. Big surprise. I stopped looking so what do I expect?

That said, a friend of mine loaded up an iPod for me and I gradually listen to the stuff he put on it when I get bored of working out to Zevon, The Time, The Who, Everclear, Cracker, The Faces, Fountains of Wayne, Bruce, Mellencamp, etc.

One guy he put on there is James McMurtry, a country rocker I guess if I had to define him but really it is his deep voice on the ballads that gets me. He can paint a picture with words and guitar that just take you exactly where his head's at. Go listen to Rachel's Song about a man struggling to raise his son on his own, missing the woman who left him and headed down a slow road to self-destruction without the strength to stop. I'd love this song anyway, but the fact that it shares it's name with a girl who is still stuck in my head 25 years later doesn't hurt.

Yes, he's the son of Larry McMurtry who got his early stuff to Mellencamp, which certainly helped but I don't mind someone being born on second if they can hit a home run on their own.

Rules of Engagement

So a friend of mine got engaged. I'm happy for him but as usual my mind goes to "already?" They've been dating a little over a year I guess. I honestly don't know either of them all that well so this is not a critique on them but rather my own musings on how people know so fast that this is it whereas I would argue I need at least three years.

Of course, this is why I'm 42 and single. That said, I also could easily be 42 and divorced twice. I'm pretty sure I wasn't ready to get married then and I'm not so sure I'm ready now. Of course, I think you actually need to be dating someone to even consider getting married and right now the Rambler rambles alone.

I've strung girls along for years. Nothing I'm proud of, mind you. The first one was right after college and we were together for a couple of years but the idea of marriage never even entered my mind. I'm young, I don't know what I'm doing with my life, why would I get married. Rinse and repeat and you've got the rest of my relationships.

Now I'm 42 and I still say I'm young, I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I also don't know where love and marriage fits in. This is one of the problems of living alone. It becomes very tough to imagine opening yourself up to all that. There are some nights when nothing seems more depressing than me with my cheese steak in my boxers watching a ballgame. And there are other times when I wouldn't trade that for the world.

I do think eventually I'll find someone and settle down and the fact that i'm friendly with the majority of my exes means at least that my sins were not unforgivable. My problem is I need to start looking for Ms. Right and stop looking for Ms. Right Now. And if I didn't marry any of the ones that I spent years with, it is probably for the better. Just as my friend obviously feels something that told him this is it, maybe just as important is a feeling that this is not it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Remember The Titans, Forget The Uniforms!

It's another throwback Sunday and today the Jets are wearing the uniforms they wore in season one when they were the Titans. They're kind of bland. I don't want to say hideous, but they sort of look the Rams uniforms without the flair.

Some of these jerseys and helmets are pretty ugly. Last month, the Redskins wore jerseys that the team had worm for all of two years or so in the early 1970s. The uniforms look exactly like the Packer uniforms, no surprise as they were designed after Vince Lombardi joined the Skins as head coach. He died before he got to a second season, but the helmet he inspired, which looked like the Packers helmet with an "R" replacing the "P" unfortunately lived on for awhile longer.

Bottom line. I'm tired of throwback uniforms. It was fun when the league first pushed it years ago but now it is clearly a cynical ploy to sell yet another line of jerseys. I know that was always a factor, but now it just seems like the only reason. And some of these throwbacks need to be thrown away.

Friday, October 12, 2007

One More Before I Shut Out The Lights

That could mean so many things. It could mean one more visit to the bad side of the Internet. It could mean one more swig of gatorade to take care of my dehydration from the cheese steak and fries I had for dinner. It could mean one more attempt at a bowel movement.

In this case it means one more post. I was hoping to resume my attempts at fiction tonight but I couldn't seem to get a good vibe going. Instead I wrote about the folks. I don't know why, just figured I wanted to get something out there and that maybe if I got going I'd be inspired on the fiction front but it just didn't happen.

Might be the weather. While I'm glad to report that it is cold and my closet of pullovers are ready for action, I feel a chill. The first cold night always does this. I miss my smokes on a night like this. I miss a lot of things on a night like this. I miss the escape. I miss the edge. I miss going into the darkness and hiding there until the sun comes up.

But I've been there and done that. I know how that story turns out. Lots of people will tell you once they started they didn't know how it would end. I always knew how it would end. The only question was would I still be there or would I end too. I know, that sounds like some mellow dramatic shit and maybe it is, but that's how it was. There were no surprises. Love did not appear at the end of the night. That one who was going to save me was nowhere to be found no matter how much I spent or bled.

That doesn't mean that there aren't nights where the past I'm told not to regret doesn't have its appeal. The thing is I also know that there is light after the darkness fades. I know tomorrow when I'm up and running at 7:30 a.m. I will be grateful for what I didn't do, grateful that I avoided watching that rerun again. But if I can find a way to turn that rerun and all the other stuff floating around my brain into something positive than all the better. And if I can't and the best I can do is occasionally babble about all sorts of stuff here than that is OK too.

I'll get back to the noir tomorrow. Now I have tomorrows.

Sorry, Mom

My mom is on me because I'm not calling or writing enough. Of course, when I was active I never really called or wrote at all. There would be occasional perfunctory updates, but generally speaking I'd just drift from hangover to hangover without bothering with my family. She'd call me, but I couldn't get off the phone fast enough.

My brothers have a lot of issues with my mom. After all, she married my dad so how fucking smart could she be? She turned a blind eye to the abuse our father heaped on us and the fear and terror and anger that he filled our house with.

I've come to realize that she did the best she could. In the perfect world, my parents would have split up ten years before they finally did. Actually, in the perfect world, they never would've married in the first place.

My mom once told me she did want to divorce my dad much earlier but he threatened to take her to court, humiliate her and take the kids. My mom had some issues that would not have painted her as a fit mother in a court so she backed down. Now I was only about five when this was going on but I wish she had talked to someone else about this at the time because no way in hell would my father have followed through on that threat. The last thing my dad wanted was to be saddled with us kids, trust me.

My brothers argue that if my parents had divorced a lot earlier than our dad would've married someone else, had more kids and we would've been forgotten about. I guess that doesn't seem so bad to me but they argue that there would be no money for us. Well, it's 35 years later and my dad is remarried and there isn't going to be much money for us. I don't really care about money and trust me, there's no fortune there. And anyway, if that had happened maybe my mom could've gotten remarried too although she has notoriously bad taste in men--didn't I mention the married Iranian cab driver? If not, that's another story for another day.

Having said all that, I don't reach out to my mother much these days. Soon after my crash, I reconnected and we talked and emailed a lot. It was great. She saw a son she hadn't seen in decades come gradually back to life. I wanted to be present and show up and share about all I was going through. I wasn't going to hide, ignore the phone or drown myself in the bottle. I was recovering.

But like the Robert DeNiro character in "Awakenings," I've started to fade away from her again. I haven't returned to my bad habits, mind you, I've just pulled back from my mother. I have to force myself to carry on a conversation with her. Once I get going and start talking and opening up a little it is fine, but it is so hard for me to do that.

I think it is partly because I feel that unless I have something to report, there is nothing to say. I can babble here about the mundane bullshit that is life and talk to my friends about the trivial things that fill my day, but for some reason I think I need something deep and profound for my mom. She doesn't want that. She just wants to hear my voice. She's getting older, the health is going. Her brother is in the mid-stages of Alzheimer's disease. I know I need to start just writing some more emails and maybe talk once a week. It won't take much on my part to make her feel good.

Perhaps I can just pick up a phone tomorrow.

The Gym Shorts

So when I was about ten or twelve or so I had to start taking gym class. I needed gym shorts. Since this was the mid-1970s a pair of gym shorts probably cost what, five dollars? That was too much for my dad.

Told I needed money for gym shorts he snorted that he didn't need to give me any because he'd make them for me and what did these schools think, that he was made out of money? Mind you, while we weren't rich, we weren't exactly poor either. He may have had a family of a wife, four kids and the Vietnamese refugee to support (yeah, I'll tell that one soon), but we didn't miss many meals.

Determined to beat the system, my dad grabbed an old pair of pants and proceeded to make cutoffs as I sat horrified at what I, already a nervous, isolated, self-concious and self-loathing kid, would have to parade around gym class in. Maybe if we still lived in Detroit I could get away with those shorts. For some reason even though I was the only white kid in school there I had won the respect of the black kids. But this was Montclair, New Jersey which in the mid-1970s was just becoming the snooty town it is today although there was also a strong contingent of angry Italians so one could either get laughed at by the rich kids or beaten by the other kids whose own world was vanishing before their eyes.

I didn't say anything while my dad, son of a laundry man as he always liked to remind us, kept cutting the pants. I kept hoping that my mother, sitting quietly in the other room sipping her wine, would come in and stop this madness or at least pull me aside, slip me a five and tell me to go by my shorts.

But no, she played dumb to this scene. My brothers knew better than hang around when the old man was like this. My dad hacked away at this old tan pair of pants of mine while I sat with the expression of a kid who was about to be handed a shit-filled ice cream cone.

He finally stopped cutting the pants and then headed to the bathroom. I was hoping he was finished and was prepared to grab the cutoffs, say thanks, and go back to my bedroom and try to disappear for the next eight years. Instead though, he came out with a razor blade in his hand. He then started to cut little triangle patterns into the shorts! He thought this would be stylish. I started to say I didn't need such fancy shorts but he wouldn't hear of it. Then he cut himself making the triangles which was great because now he got be a martyr.

When he was done, I mumbled my appreciation and vanished. The next day at gym class I put these things on and they looked even more hideous than I had anticipated. I proceed to roll them up to hide the triangles and they were practically up to my cheeks! Needless to say I was the laughingstock of gym class, which didn't exactly help my serve during volleyball!

You know, it's funny. I remember that night when he made the shorts and I remember the first day wearing them. I don't remember anything about the shorts after that. I know I must've kept wearing them because he certainly didn't buy me a pair. I'd recall if I shoplifted a pair. I do know that my parents soon split after that (for the first time) and somehow I must have gotten five dollars out of my mom to by a pair of shorts. I really don't know.

Another funny thing is that when I tell people this story and pace around and imitate my dad making the shorts and roll up my pants and go through all the other theatrics, it's the funniest shit in the world. But for some reason it doesn't translate to the page. It doesn't read as funny as it sounds. Perhaps its because I can do the voice and anger really well and that doesn't come across on the page. He was a cross between Tony Soprano, the father on Everybody Loves Raymond (Peter Boyle) and James Colburn in "Affliction." So either I'm not doing a good job writing it, or in telling it I bury the hurt and turn it into a big fucking joke. Either way, it ain't so funny after all.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Well, At Least She's Single Now

Great story in New York Times today about a woman who allegedly offed two of her husbands and tried of off her own daughter, who had apparently grown suspicious. Dick Wolf has no doubt already had the L&O writers crank out a script and Ann Rule is probably already scouting out the good hotels there and memorizing the history of Clay, New York. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if she's dating anyone.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I Asked You Not To Talk About The Heat

It's too f-ing hot out there. I know, it's my blog, I can curse if I want and yet I wuss out with the f-ing thinig.

I'm really tired of this weather. I want crisp fall weather. I've got a closet full of long-sleeve Gap and Banana Republic pullovers that I bought in a fit of OCD that would have made Warren Zevon proud.

Supposed to be soggy the next few days and then maybe a little cooler. Enough already.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Missing

"How much," Jack asked.
"It's $250," Victoria said, exhaling smoke in his face.
Jack winced, more at the price than the fumes from her Marlboro light.
"The cost of pain keeps going up," he sighed, handing over 12 twenties and a ten. He jerked from the sharp jolt of her four-inch red stiletto digging into his calf. He then felt a trickle of blood as she'd nicked the scab she had created last week with her black five-inch stiletto when he made a similar crack.
"You don't like it, go somewhere else. You know the rules," she said.
"I know, I know. And if I didn't, there's that over there reminding me," he said pointing to the big mirror where a sign hung declaring `The Customer Isn't Always Right Here.' Boy some of these dommes could use a sense of humor.

Jack rubbed his calf, stuffed his wallet back in his pocket and said he'd see her next week. Heading down the stairs he pulled out a Marlboro and lit it as he hit the street. Somehow he didn't mind blowing this money when he was wasted but clean was another story.

Jack walked towards Lexington to grab the local up to 96th and then he'd either grab the bus or hoof it through the park. The sun was still out so that was a viable option. But even with a gun strapped to his ankle the prospect of the park was daunting. It shouldn't have been after all this time but there is only so much the couch can cure. He still couldn't walk in peace past that gravelly path along the Reservoir. Before his mind could take him back 10 years and that rainy night he felt his phone vibrating. He'd forgotten to turn the ringer on after leaving V's. He quickly glanced at the number, saw a 323 area code and put the phone back into his pocket. It's not that he didn't want to talk to John, he just wanted to talk to him on his own terms. Plus, it wasn't like he was his sponsor or anything. At some point he'd have to learn to reach out to people in his own backyard, he said to himself in an attempt to justify not answering the call. Anyway, he was at the subway station so how much wisdom could he have realistically passed on? He flicked his butt into the street, almost hitting an old lady who gave him a dirty look. Jack grimaced at her and headed down the stairs.

On the platform Jack spied a kid who couldn't have been more than seven. Seeing kids out when they should be in, along when they should be accompanied, hungry when they should be fed and crying when they should be smiling was nothing new to him. Still, this kid did not really look like he belonged on this platform. He stared a little while longer then breathed a slight sigh of relief as he saw the kid turn and acknowledge the guy walking towards him from the newsstand in the middle of the platform. He got so caught up watching them board the train that he forgot to board himself. He resisted the urge to tell the man that while today's New York wasn't the one that they had grown up in, it still probably wasn't such great idea to leave your kid alone on a platform even if it's just to walk to the newsstand for 30 seconds. A lot can happen in 30 seconds.

I don't know where I'm headed with this is, but I'll keep it going if there's interest...critics and critiques welcome

Your Own Worst Enemy Has Come To Town

So far, that's the fave for me off of the new Bruce CD. "I'll Work For Your Love" is a close number-two.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Michael Clayton/Bruce Springsteen

Saw Michael Clayton this morning. Only $6 before noon, now I know what I'm doing every Saturday!

Anyway, movie is very entertaining, taut thriller with good performances all around. The very end though didn't seem to fit the rest of the movie. I'm not giving it away, but if anyone else sees it and knows what I mean, let me know.

Just bought the new Bruce and gave it a listen. It doesn't suck. I need to play it again to absorb everything. "Radio Nowhere" does sound a little like Tommy Tutone's "867-5309." Bruce is not really charting new territory here. Would have liked to hear more Roy Bittan, probably the best overall musician in the band. Again though, it didn't suck and I'll give it another listen and throw it on the iPod.

Also bought the new book that goes inside the mess of the Duke rape case. Looking forward to reading it. I can tell I live in NYC when I had to hit three different Barnes & Nobles to find a copy. Not because it was sold out, because they didn't bother ordering it.

And finally, a new coffee table is on its way over. The old one, which I bought in 1995 when I lived in LA, had been falling a part for years. God knows what DNA they'll find on that thing if I sent it to the lab. Anyway, new one will take some getting used too but hey, so does a clean sink and new sheets.

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Moving On Up!

Faithful reader(s) may recall my posting about my dry cleaner woes. They continue. I still have a bunch of shirts to pick up from my cleaners that I went to get last Saturday but couldn't because, of course, they didn't live up their end of the bargain and have them ready for me.

If I ever move to the edge of Hell's Kitchen I've found my dry cleaners. On 9th Ave. around 56th is a place that actually has a TV in the window that shows nothing but episodes of "The Jeffersons." Now that's funny.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited

OK, haven't seen it and didn't really want to see it. Anderson's movies don't really do it for me. But since he is using not one, but two great Kinks songs off of "Lola" I will have cough up the ten spot. Anyone who plucks "Strangers" and "This Time Tomorrow" for a soundtrack should get my money. All I needed for the trifecta was "A Long Way From Home."

Unsubscribe My Ass

Yes, three posts in less than four hours. I know, don't I have work to do? But I must rant. I went to a wedding in February and bought the gift online from Michael C. Fina. Now, six months later, I'm getting barraged with emails from them. I guess they figure my bank account has finally recovered from the $$ I blew on the gift and I'm ready to toss more money away for fancy crap that my fourth floor walk-up on the upper upper westside (what used to be called Morningside Heights or that place you bought weed in 1983)is crying out for.

Anyhow, I clicked on the thing that said unsubscribe (which was buried at the bottom of email in type smaller than the warning that the pills I'm taking for my sore knee might cause my dick to fall off)and sent it in. End of Story?

No. A few minutes later another email comes letting me know that I successfully unsubscribed! I don't need that email. When I hit unsubscribe, that meant I never wanted to see Michael C. Fina in an email again. I also don't want to see HOT ASIAN MODELS WAITING FOR YOU in an email ever again either but anyway (I forward those to Xmastime).

Just let me unsubscribe in peace.

Past Deadline

Legendary Forbes editor Jim Michaels died the other day at 86. Changed face of business journalism. Allowed reporters to write critical stories if they could back them up. Rambler only knew him by reputation (a relative toiled under Michaels for decades)and that reputation was of a tough guy who would shred a story and a reporter in a heartbeat. Not someone to have dinner with or even get caught next to in the men's room.

The refreshing thing about him was that he had no desire to hobnob with the people he covered. He did not seek out the limelight and fame the way so many so-called rock star editors try to do today. I certainly don't think I would've wanted to work for him, but the experience would've probably made the ulcers worth it.

What he wasn't was what much of journalism is today--predictable, self-serving, smug and full of hot air.

-30-

30 Rock???

Again critics are raving about 30 Rock. I don't get it. I watched a few episodes last season and while it wasn't the worst piece of crap I've ever seen it also wasn't all that funny. Yes, Baldwin is great and I have the hots for Jane Krakowski so that's good. But the writing is blah and Tracey Morgan destroys everything in his path. Tina Fey is funny, but she is not an actress.

Critics love this show because it is about the industry, which is exactly why it is not drawing a big audience. See, Mary Tyler Moore was a show about a single working woman who happened to work at a TV station. 30 Rock is about a TV show. The show is typically full of inside jokes that people who work between 42nd and 52nd and certain parts of Los Angeles and the Valley find hilarious. The rest of us just sit there going `huh.' Memo to writers: No one outside of your business knows who Les Moonves is or cares so while your jokes about him are cracking yourselves up, the rest of us just shake our heads.

Tonight Seinfeld is on and Al Gore is filming an episode too. That means 30 Rock has become one of those shows. It's too hip for the rest of us. If it draws the same anemic ratings it did last season, we'll start to hear how it really should be on HBO--code for "the masses are just too stupid to appreciate it."

I'll give it another shot (although I forgot to record tonight's so I guess I'll catch it down the road) and I hope it is better. I like Tina Fey, I want the show to be good. Right now though, it's too obvious, too inside, and too predictable.

Other mini-reviews. I also checked out Pushing Daisies. It was cute but I won't be watching again. Aliens in America was funny, but not as funny as it could have been. Reaper was amusing but I won't be coming back, I'm not the demo and Gossip Girls was exactly what I thought it would be. I'll wait for the Skinamax version.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Norv Turner et. al.

Some observations after four weeks of football.

Norv Turner couldn't get laid at the Playboy Mansion. If Norv owned a funeral home, nobody would die. What were the Chargers thinking? I know Marty can't win the big one but hell Norv can't even get a team in position to compete for the big one. The Chargers are screwed.

I love Chad Pennington but at some point the Jets may have to make a change. I'm sorry but spirit and determination are wonderful qualities but you need a QB who can zip it in there. I don't mean a gunslinger like Favre or Marino. Montana didn't have a cannon, but if he had to he could gun it. Chad can't.

Speaking of Favre, I'm glad he's having a good season. Happy he has broken Marino's record. He's a great competitor and has been great for the league. That said, he is also incredibly overrated. He will soon have most interceptions of all time to go with his touchdown record. His confidence leads to mistakes and he no longer can overcome himself. This year he is playing it safer and it is paying off. Don't get me wrong, he's a Hall of Famer, no doubt but he is not in the league of Montana, Unitas, Elway or Steve Young. He is on par with Bradshaw and maybe Troy Aikman.

The Lions are for real. Just a hunch. I'm very nervous about this Sunday. Hope the Redskins know they are playing a 3-1 team and not the old Detroit Lions. BTW, if Gibbs doesn't have a winning season, it's time to hang it up.

Patriots are again kicking ass. Going to bed before this is over but damn the Pats are looking strong.

Finally, good to see Gus Frerotte still in the league. Good for him for hanging tough all these years.

D.F.F.D

Talk about your weird dreams. I know, great now he's going to bore us with his dream stories.

Last night I dreamt I was hanging out in some park somewhere (I don't know where)in the middle of the night with Andy Shernoff (founder of The Dictators), who rotated between being very nice and incredibly arrogant. HDM was in the dream too, briefly. Both had me confused with some guy named Ray that I guess I resembled. No, I did not wake up in a puddle.

Anyway, I don't know what the hell any of that was about.

Oh and later on in the night Fluff threw up on my shoe. Nice!

Lets hope the rest of October picks up steam from this lame post!