Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring's tipping point

Every year spring comes and I feel like I’m winning a prize for a contest I didn’t enter.

That’s a gift, man; April’s not the cruelest month—or at least it all depends on one’s perspective. At any rate, I’m psyched for the upcoming seasons. My analysts are predicting good things.

But so: anybody in NYC looking for stuff to do this summer? We get older and busier and scheduling becomes necessity. Here are some ideas:

Catch a game on Coney Island, with the amusement park as whimsical backdrop

See Shakespeare performed in the park, with blinking planes flying over

See a show in one of New York's great pools, built by the WPA in the '30s

More TK.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Burn the Arcade

This post is about the Arcade Fire. Did anyone catch them on Saturday Night Live? They (along with The Office's Rainn Wilson, who is maybe the weirdest-looking guy ever), were amazing. The band played two songs, "Intervention" and "Keep the Car Running," and after the show apparently played three more songs for cast and crew.

Here are some links if anyone is interested. I highly recommend their first album, Funeral; their new album, called Neon Bible, is out March 6th ... I'm really excited for it.

The Arcade Fire in Concert (courtesy of NPR).

MP3s of the two songs broadcast on SNL; "Intervention" is particularly breathtaking (courtesy of the blog Six Eyes).

In other news, last night on PBS I caught the documentary about the Brooklyn Bridge ... I'd seen it before, but last night watching it was just as good. The documentary documents the building of the bridge, which was completed, if you can believe it, in 1883; and then has commentary from a number of historians and critics and what-not. One guy, David McCullough, who is the author of many books, most notably and recently 1776 and John Adams, had this to say:
"The Brooklyn Bridge makes one feel better about being alive."
I wholeheartedly agree.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meet the Gyroball

In today's NY Times, there's an entertaining article about a new type of (baseball) pitch being thrown (mostly) by Japanese pitchers, including two that have signed to the Red Sox and the Yankees: the gyroball. Apparently, though, the Japanese have another name for it:
Tezuka sought out a Japanese computer scientist, Ryutaro Himeno, to test his theory. They published a book in 2001 called “Makyuu no Shoutai.” Translated, the title of the book means, “Secrets of the Demon Miracle Pitch.”
That reminds me of the time on NewsRadio (the TV show) when the boss wrote a "How I Succeeded in Business and How You Can, Too" sort of book and had it translated into Japanese. Translated, the title became Feel My Skills Donkey Donkey Donkey Donkey Donkey.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I am beginning to feel like this:
"I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
That's from this, one of the best ever.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

There Are Two Types & A Tip

There are two types of men in this world: those who will, every once in awhile, buy a comic book -- just to see what Superman or the X-Men are up to these days -- and those who not only would never think to do such a thing, but would probably disdain the practice to boot.

Suffice it to say, you'd do well to keep a healthy distance from the latter.

Also, a tip: don't ever get the fucking flu. I swear, if a killer flu ever develops, we're all screwed. I've been at death's door since Thursday night.

That said, if you do get the flu, get Tamiflu (prescription only), an antiviral drug. That shit works wonders. Or it seems to. Maybe it did nothing. But if felt like it did something, like smoothed my getting-better, kept it trending upward.

Oh, and I think I accidentally quit smoking. We'll see. As Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy ... I've done it hundreds of times."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Risky Kiss with Money Honey

That subject line's cribbed from The New York Post, which today has a story about Maria Bartiromo, a hottie financial anchor for CNBC who has lately been embroiled in a sort of pay-for-play thing with Citigroup RE: free jet travel, and her teenage years in Brooklyn. It sounds like it's made-up, but I guess it isn't. I kept waiting for the Van Buren Boys to make an appearance.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Run, Franken, Run!

Good news today from Minnesota: Al Franken is running for the Senate.

Run, Franken, Run!

Yacht Rock

  1. Open iTunes. Go to the Music Store.
  2. Search for "Yacht Rock."
  3. When the search screen comes up, scroll down and find "Yacht Rock" under iTunes Essentials, on the left side of the screen. Click on it.
  4. When Yacht Rock opens up, first thrill to the mocking sensuality of the paragraph under "The Basics" -- "time to open a bottle of rose and prepare for the smooth" -- and then click on the "Complete Set" tab.
  5. When the Complete Set opens, scroll down and play track 24, "Breezin'," by George Benson.
  6. I swear to god this is what they play on the Weather Channel when they're showing the forecast for multiple cities at once.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bad News

Bad news today from Utah -- a "lone gunman," as The New York Times had it, killed five in a shooting spree at an historic mall in Salt Lake City.

The scenes, story, and phrases are all the same -- lone gunman, shooting spree, hail of gunfire, no expression; the typical banality of a mall in the evening transformed into something hyper-real by one (obviously) disturbed person. But certain details sometimes get one: like the photo on the front page of this morning of a face-up dead girl (it'll probably be gone by the time you read this), or the detail reported in The Times, in which a man who was visiting his wife at the children's clothing store she managed heard the shots, barricaded themselves in the store, and then heard a single police officer shout, "Police! Drop your weapon!" before a volley of gunfire rang out, killing the attacker.

My condolences to all of the victims and their families.

As Adam Zagajewski wrote, in a poem published in The New Yorker the week after 9/11, "Try to praise the mutilated world."

That poem comforted me then; I'll post it here now.

Try To Praise The Mutilated World

Adam Zagajewski

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Translated by Renata Gorczynski

Monday, February 12, 2007

Your Seinfeldian Observation for the Day

So what is the deal with all these people walking around town wearing hats that look like the dog van driven by Jeff Daniels' character in Dumb & Dumber?

***UPDATE***: I have been informed that the above observation has already appeared on sites such as and Fashionista.something-or-other (I won't link to these because they are stupid). Nevertheless, I maintain that I came up with this on my own, even if it appeared elsewhere on the Internets first.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Work has been very busy, and so not so many blogs recently.

This, though, is one of my new favorite things: clocky.

It runs away and hides when it's time for you to wake up!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Up with Hope, Down with Cars!

I just came across a fantastic op-ed from The NY Times called "The City That Never Walks," by Robert Sullivan. (Here's the link.) It concerns the car and New York City, which seem to be locked in a bitter, to-the-death embrace. Sullivan recommends dumping the car.

He writes:
For the past two decades, New York has been an inspiration to other American cities looking to revive themselves. Yes, New York had a lot of crime, but somehow it also still had neighborhoods, and a core that had never been completely abandoned to the car. Lately, though, as far as pedestrian issues go, New York is acting more like the rest of America, and the rest of America is acting more like the once-inspiring New York.
I could not agree more with the rest of his piece. Sullivan has the issue dead to rights, proposing a simple solution to the car problem in the city: closing off streets to cars. Because, as has been proven (see Jane Jacobs' Dark Age Ahead), more roads does not equal better-flowing and lighter traffic; rather, and paradoxically, it means More Cars.

Sullivan's right, too, about other cities behaving more like NYC, and vice versa: being in Denver and Austin, it was easy to see how more and more of the city was being given over to pedestrians, as the downtowns of those cities were rehabilitated and spruced up as people began to return from the suburbs to the city. I think, and Sullivan touches on this in his piece, that the reason NYC has this attitude is in fact because it was never abandoned at all; the people never went away from the city, and so neither did the cars; the cars go where the people are. And because there was never a significant reduction in the population density of Manhattan, there was never a concurrent reduction in traffic, leading to a state of affairs in which, when people began to return to the city, it was easy (or easier) to say, well, why don't we just give over the 16th Street Mall in Denver, or 6th Street in Austin, to pedestrians? There aren't any cars choking those streets anyway.

New York hasn't evolved that way. The city was never depopulated by people decamping to the suburbs, and so was never depopulated by cars, either. The number (and here I'm assuming, but I'm sure it must be true) of cars just kept growing, leading to a situation in which it is more often than not much quicker to walk along, say, 14th Street, than take the bus. The same is true for many major NY thoroughfares: 34th Street, 42nd Street, Broadway; even many smaller streets down in the Village.

What I, personally, would like to see done is this: ban all automobiles (at least from Manhattan) that aren't buses, taxis, or delivery trucks. Does this sound fascist to some of you readers? Maybe it does. But consider the fact that Mayor Bloomberg, a few years ago, banned all smoking in public places in New York. Just banned it. No vote, no nothing. Does that sound fascist to you? I wager, considering most people's current opinion of smoking, that it does not. And it doesn't me, either, because it's for the common good of the people. Banning automobiles from Manhattan would also be for the common good of the people -- it's just that so many people are addicted to automobiles that it's hard to get them to give it up. (Perhaps the tobacco analogy's more apt than I originally thought.)

But so: take a look at Sullivan's article, linked above and also again here right now, and let me know what you think. Do other readers out there in TV Land share my passionate hatred of (at least within the confines of the city) the automobiles, which, if we're not careful, will kill us all?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Let Me Tell You About the Way to Harefield

From the power or telephone line that formerly had a number of pairs of shoes slung over it, there are two easy ways to get to Harefield Road, on Metropolitan Avenue between Graham Avenue and Humboldt Street. The first is to walk east between the scary delis along Jackson, taking a left on Woodpoint and then a right on Metropolitan. Passing this way you'll pass a number of points of interest, including, on your right, a church (Catholic, I assume), at which, after the February 3rd services, there will be a blessing of the throat; a large apartment building called The Point, which is a monstrosity; a small, cave-like shrine to the Virgin Mary that is always filled with burning candles, even in the morning; and, more prosaically, a White Castle.

For those of you out there in TV Land who are unaware, the White Castle is a terrible fast-food establishment that serves delicious "sliders," or very small hamburgers, about 2 inches square. I have read them described as "wet, tasty little morsels," and that's as accurate a description as any. Forgive the vulgarity, but they wreak havoc on your insides. For those of you in the South, think Krystal, but more suspect.

Used to be, the White Castle's "dining room" was open 24 hours a day, though this changed a few months ago so that now only the drive-thru (which cannot, and I speak from personal experience, be utilized on foot) is open 24 hours a day; the interior closes at midnight I believe.

Which is probably a good thing. Once a friend and I, both overserved and, hence, desirous of White Castle, hatched a plan while wolfing down sliders, to steal one of the old-timey (from the 1950s, maybe) White Castle ads that were framed and hanging on the wall. We had the whole thing down pat: I would create a distraction while my friend lifted the poster and walked out the door toward my apartment. It was foolproof -- or so we thought.

But others, apparently, had had the same impulse -- the poster turned out to be hot-glued to the wall, and we were forced to walk away empty-handed, with a belly full of sliders and a head full of booze.

White Castle, 781 Metropolitan Avenue, open 24 hrs, dining room closes @ midnight. Avoid the Church's chicken, which is also sold there.