Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Let Me Tell You About the Shoes on the Line

One block south of the laundromat, on the corner of Jackson Street and Kingsland Avenue, are two bodegas (aka convenience stores, delis, Quik-E Marts, etc.), both of which are kind of bad and scary, and which I usually don't patronize if I can help it. But between and above the two delis is a power or telephone line that runs between two telephone poles, and over which (at least until very recently) hung many—I'm talking like 40, minimum—pairs of sneakers and shoes. The line was heavy with them, and it was kind of a sight to see, especially in the right light. I kept meaning to take a picture of all the shoes for my friend Paulo, who's a fan of shoes-over-power-or-telephone-lines, but I kept putting it off and now they're gone—but coming back: today there were two pair.

But what do shoes-over-power-or-telephone-lines mean? There are many schools of thought. Here are a few. If these offend anyone, I apologize; but I didn't write it—I only link to it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Let Me Tell You About What's Disheartening

Waking up and checking the temperature and finding that someone's misplaced the other digit.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let Me Tell You About My Laundromat

Continuing south along Kingsland Avenue from George's Deli, passing the 102/104/106 block of houses, you'll soon pass, a few blocks away and on the west side of the street, a supermarket. Just south of here is my laundromat.

The laundromat, which has large banks of shiny silver washers and dryers, is also a drycleaning and wash 'n' fold place -- which latter service I most often use. The couple that runs (and, I assume, owns) the laundromat are Korean, and are obviously first-generation, as they speak very little English. They are a grey-haired, spectacles-wearing man and a delicate, fine-boned woman, both of whom always seem to have the hint or beginnings of a smile on their faces, even though they work what appears to be 12+ hours a day, seven days a week. They have begun teaching me, intermittently, how to say a few things in Korean, including hello and goodbye. Apparently to say hello and goodbye in Korean you start by saying the same word, "Annyong" (this may be familiar to some TV viewers out there) and then pairing that with another word, which in the case of hello is "Gah-say-oh" (I think) and in the case of goodbye is "Kah-say-oh." I could, however, be entirely off on this latter word of the construction, and I think I am, as, like I said, their English isn't so great and my Korean's worse.

But their son's English is fine. I don't quite know how he came from these two small people, as he's a Yao Ming-looking fellow, tall and solid, but he did. He helps out in the laundromat from time to time, though obviously he has school to attend. He's confident and clearly smart, always very approachable in the laundromat. Or, rather, he approaches you.

And the thing is, is that in this laundromat is the American dream in microcosm: two Korean immigrants, relatively fresh off the boat, running a laundromat with little English and their son going to school. He will go to college and get a degree, perhaps somewhere in the city, and his children will not work in a laundromat, and will all go to college. They will probably talk like Americans, and will sound strange to their mannered, immigrant grandparents -- but their grandparents will be proud nevertheless, if a bit mystified by these children, so close yet so far away from them.

Wash 'n' fold service (same day) is 80 cents a pound; there is a $5 extra charge for large comforters and blankets. Open 7 days/week, 6am to 8pm, closed Sundays at 6pm.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This Is George's Deli

On the corner of Kingsland Avenue and Division Place, one block south of the Lettuce Factory, is George’s Deli—or, as the sign above the shop would have it, Geo g ’s D li. George’s is run by a guy called Carmine, and is of the oldest school, an Italian joint that sells the staples: Entenmann’s pastries, the New York Post, Manhattan Special espresso soda, Perrier, and sandwiches—breakfast in the morning and Italian until the place closes, at the throwback hour of 6pm.

The best breakfast sandwich would have to be the bacon, egg and cheese, with extra hot sauce (that last part’s me)—though the potato, egg and peppers hero also sounds tasty. As for lunch and later, the Godfather is the way to go: for just five dollars, you get a sub built for two, piled with all manner of salami, prosciutto, and other Italian meats I can’t name, along with marinated hot peppers, mozzarella, oil, vinegar, lettuce, and tomato.

Beyond being a deli, George’s is also a butcher, and many’s been the summer day when my friends and I of the Kingsland Territories have purchased hot dogs and hamburgers for grilling (not barbecuing, as many Northerners would incorrectly have it) on the grill in the backyard of 104 Kingsland Ave, which was the first state admitted into the union. The burgers are good, but they are of the pre-made variety, and therefore cannot beat the ground beef, fresh and perfect for burger-making, of Graham Ave’s Model T Butcher.

This latter—sawdust-scattered and ripe—will be featured shortly in these pages. For now, though, head down to George’s with a hungry friend and ask for the Godfather.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Let Me Tell You About the Weather in My Neighborhood

Special Weather Advisory for the Kingsland Territories:

Expect light snow flurries this morning, slowing but continuing into the afternoon. Purple-blue light, like a bruise, will be evident over Manhattan. Snow will likely accumulate on the tops of the trucks of the Lettuce Factory, and will seem, when seen from high windows, to form down quilts on those tops, due to the snow arranging itself in patterns according to the ridges on the trucks' crowns. Expect a wet but enjoyable walk to work, due to the unique way in which a snowfall makes one notice details of one's neighborhood one hadn't before. High temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, low of 27. Current temp 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let Me Tell You About My Neighborhood

My neighborhood, which is a part of the larger fiefdom of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is enclosed by Kingsland Avenue and Woodpoint Road, to the east; Grand Street, to the south; and the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway, or the BQE, which crosses Grand at the southwest corner and Kingsland at the northeast corner, forming a lumpy scalene triangle.

The primary thoroughfares in this neighborhood, which for the sake of argument let’s call the Kingsland Territories, are Graham and Metropolitan avenues, which form a cross that is inscribed within this triangle.

Now that you’re oriented, I’ll begin.

The Lettuce Factory

The Lettuce Factory, on the corner of Kingsland Avenue and Beadel Street, is not really a factory; however, a great quantity of lettuce and other fruits and vegetables are ferried daily into and out of it. The lettuce arrives via big trucks in the early morning, and is stored at the factory until other smaller trucks or vans take it away, which happens throughout the day, but most frenetically in, again, the early morning.

Workforce-wise, the Lettuce Factory is staffed by, according to my rough count, equal numbers of Mexicans and Asians. Each group seems to have their own boss, and neither mixes with the other. The Asians keep much more to themselves at the Factory, but I’ve become friends with a few of the Mexicans—most notably their leader, a jolly, somewhat rotund fellow with black hair and a black mustache who, every morning when I pass the Factory on my way to work, says to me, “Hello, my friend!” And I answer back similarly, usually accompanied by a salute. He’s begun to salute back. On weekends, when we both have a bit more time to kill (the Lettuce Factory is open seven days a week, and my friend, the Leader of the Mexicans, seems to be there for each one of them), I stop and we chat for awhile about this and that. I’ve told him of my love for tacos, and once he told me he wanted to take me up into Queens, where he lives, for really good tacos. This has yet to happen, but I remain optimistic that it may yet.

I said above that the Mexicans and Asians seem to not associate much, and to work more next to each other than with each other (which, I dunno, could be true; it could be two Lettuce Factories in one, for all I know). That’s true, but once it wasn’t. This summer, during the World Cup, I would walk by the Lettuce Factory in the hot afternoon, and the Mexicans and Asians would all be gathered—arms folded, gaze intent—in the dark and cool of the Factory interior, which is open to the street via a big bay door, and through which one can often see boxes of veggies and fruits stacked to the ceiling, watching soccer on a small, rabbit-eared television.

That’s the story of the Lettuce Factory. Tune in soon for my neighborhood’s next room.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Most jokes are not funny ...

... but most punch lines are.

To wit:

Recently I was referred to a website, topic irrelevant, which at the bottom of its page had a link to a "Joke of the Day." I clicked on this link and was very disappointed by the quality of these jokes, which were all collected from their "Joke of the Day" status in a big list.

Scrolling through these so-called "jokes," though, I noticed the punch lines of each, when read by themselves, were pretty funny. Herewith, I present a collection of these.
  • The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is all your fault. If it weren't for your bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!"
  • I think it must have been those bastards at the Post Office.
  • "Nothing important, sir," the airman replied, "I'm just here to hook up your telephone."
  • "I don't know why YOU do it," says the old woman, "but I never had a pan that was large enough!"
  • Probably wasn't the same elephant.
  • "Well," Boudreaux says, "neither did I, until you shined that light in her face".
  • Billy Bob says, "This year I'm taking Earlene with me."
  • "Yes, I know you did," said the blonde," but we had money left over---so now we're going to Sea World.
  • Get off the children's carousel and, next time, don't drink so much!
  • The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you to the electric chair."
  • Frustrated, the man answered, "Put that @#$ cat on the phone, I'm lost and need directions!"
And finally, and perhaps most sublimely:
  • To this day, he has no idea how she figured out he was in the furniture business.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I knew they got dolled up, but this is ridiculous

Yesterday morning I read this article on CNN.com: Nipple covers, hair and other red carpet secrets. I really had no idea. I mean, I knew that many went to great lengths to get dressed up for the Oscars and other such awards shows -- but I had no idea at all that it was like this: a "body-enhancing airbrush tan," which adds muscle definition (as well as, of course, tan-ness) where there is none; botox, "which paralyzes overactive glands to temporaily stop sweating"; and hairnet-enclosed piles of hair clippings, which are stuffed into chignons and other updos, in order to give the illusion of extra volume.

Are these not the most insane activities you've ever heard of? Makes me feel not so bad for trying on, oh, I dunno, three jackets before I go out. At any rate: anyone who has ever felt inferior compared to the beauty of those who walk the red carpet should read the linked article above -- it really puts the lie to how physically perfect so many of these celebrities seem.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bouncing color balls

Here's a link to an ad for the Sony BRAVIA, which I think is some sort of new LCD TV ... I actually don't really care what it's for, but it's a really cool ad, of thousands of bouncy color balls being bounced down a San Francisco street. Well worth a watch.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

For Pete's sake, let the Rabbit eat some goddamn cereal already

Don't ask me how I navigated to this:

From Wikipedia, typo sic:
During the U.S. presidential election of 1976, General Mills launched a campaign to find out if the Rabbit should finally get some Trix. Children wrote letters to General Mills and voted 99% in favor of allowing the Rabbit to eat a bowl of ceral. In an advertisment released after the voting had ended, the Rabbit was awarded an entire bowl of Trix. However, when he asked for more, the children told him to "wait till the next election."
The bolded part is just sublime.

Minimum wage

Yesterday the newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would, in three increments over the next 26 months, raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. Cheers to the Dems; it's been far too long (10 years, in fact—and can you guess who was president when the last increase was put into effect?) since the minimum wage was raised.

Did you know ...
  • ... That the first country to enact a minimum wage law was New Zealand, in 1896?
  • ... That the U.S. federal minimum wage was established in 1938, at $0.25 an hour?
  • ... That the "highest" the U.S. min wage has ever been was in 1968, at $1.60 an hour (= $9.12 an hour in 2005 dollars)?
The people at McDonald's, the people at Dunkin' Donuts, the people who serve you lunch, pump your gas, and so on deserve better. They work just as hard, if not harder, than the people on yearly salary, and with worse (or no) benefits, to boot. Congrats to the 110th Congress for getting started off on the right foot; now let's hope the Senate—and of course the president—will see this much-deserved and overdue increase through.


The Onion had a good little "local news" thing today:
BROOKLYN, NY—In day 126 of an ongoing situation, the market on the corner of Dekalb and St. Felix continues not to carry soy milk.
Really a horrible situation for all concerned. My heart goes out to the hipster families affected.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Here is a link to my Flickr page, which has a few pictures from my time on the Ice and a number of pictures of people from my office, my friends, and also my family when we were in Tahoe. Also there are rainbows, which we saw in a valley outside of Tahoe one morning.

I bought some magnets

That's right, magnets. And, as is kind of typical for me, I totally went overboard and bought these magnets, which I received in the mail yesterday and are so strong they're a little scary.

But they sure do hold pictures on the fridge. Maybe even, I dunno, small animals on the fridge. Scrap metal, that sort of thing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back (again) from hiatus

I was again on hiatus, in Tahoe, skiing (5%) and gambling (95%). Now I'm not any more.

Check out this crazy story (from various sources, though this version comes from Gothamist) about a guy who yesterday in Manhattan jumped onto the subway tracks to save another guy from getting run over by the train. He held him down in the well between the rails as the train roared over them—can you believe that? Neither suffered serious injuries. Incredible.

Also, in unrelated inappropriate trivia, which part of a cell (y'know, the biology kind) sounds like a Russian sex toy?

That's right: the Golgi apparatus.