July 22, 2011

A day off and I wake up late having not set the alarm clock, surprised it didn’t go off by force of habit. The kids are outside in the fire hydrant stream, sandblasting their chests. No surprise, this is Brooklyn. Someone’s bound to know a fireman with a key.

I don’t bother showering, just drink the o.j from the carton, lace up my sneakers, wait for green and cross-over while crossing Fifth Avenue. Aside from the children, there’s no one out. Women without air conditioners hang out on fire escapes like faded flags. Pet owners hover in thresholds letting their animals venture out like canaries. Either the ground is steaming or the sky is melting.

I’ve already broken a sweat when I get to the court. Save two brave souls shooting around under the oak tree, and the guy who’s dunking on the eight foot rim who doesn’t count- he never does- there’s no one to be found. It only takes a few moments  for me to realize the cotton t shirt will soon be a sponge, soaking up my sweat and throwing off my form. Today’s not a day for smothering defense.

I pace to the elbow, in-and-out, and around the back and shoot a few turnarounds, jab stepping , maybe mumbling after missed shots about my form; Sometimes I get away from myself and this is why I keep coming back. I make sure to elevate and follow through. I keep myself square. I keep my eyes up.  I feel it as the court shrink to a small cone that emanates from behind me and casts its focus on the square above the peach basket. I throw self-passes off the backboard. I dribble, shoot a few leaners and left handed hooks, then look over my shoulder, see the water fountain. I see the water fountain. I think about the water fountain. And before I know it I’m face in the water fountain, slurping, counting- why counting?- with my eyes closes, the seconds worth of water I drink. When I come up for air, they’re there.

“There there buddy, save the whales.”

Awesome. I recognize him. Some awe becomes some more when over his shoulder I spot his pals draining buckets, massaging the net like fastidious fisherman. Jerry Stackhouse, Allen Iverson and Mo Cheeks, looking to run some two’s.

“You down?”

I hesitate, letting out a long “ugh,” biding my time. But there’s no, “no.”

“You and my boy Mo,” says Iverson.

I acquiesce to what seems like unfair sides, and check it up then dump it into the post, and come off Mo’s  flank. I drop my shoulder and try to swoop but there’s no point. Well, point of contact, Iverson’s razor hip. Step backs and squirly passes, that’s my M.O. from here on out and I manage a few buckets to boot. Iverson powers through my hard hacks, finishing with flourish and insisting on free throws to follow. He makes his case in silence, solely through body language, and no one seems to mind. Mo in his old age is a trooper, hands still like a vice, heckling Iverson as he goes. “Turkey and cheese,” he says.  Jerry Stackhouse, well he spends most of his time in Iverson’s shadow.

We manage to make it a game of it, mostly on Mo’s account and I take the ball in at the point, yelling “point” and swinging it to Moe on the wing. Twice with the head fake then a back down dribble. A.I.’s  in the post and Jerry’s eye’s grow wide. Frantic, he slides across the lane, his hands raises. Arms fail like a windmill but somehow Mo manages to throw a ball that, even from the low block, has enough english to bounce at the shoulder and still hit me for a straight-away three. I pause, seeing Pistol Pete in my mind, set my feet and bend my knees. I watch the rotation, spinning back but moving forward. My middle finger is just about touching my wrist when the ball goes through. The net slows it just a bit and then the ball bounds off the asphalt again and again. I just stand there in my pose dripping, listening to the lessening interval of rebounds, slick and feeling some connection, as if the ball had found its way back home to the point at which it slapped; as if although it may settle at the end of its long arc, I could call it up if I wished- like a satellite.

“Play some two’s?”

I turn and see the three of them, fourteen years old at best, shooting at my basket. May well have been for the past fifteen minutes for all I know.

“Nah man, I retired. Bum ankle. Can’t run.”

“Aight,” they say staring at their shoes as if apologizing for them for not finding some action.

I slink into the corner of the chain link cage, lie back, breathe and wait to dry under the oak tree watching them kids so happy to be out of school. The birds are out. The other day I saw a blue jay and yesterday I saw a cardinal. As I stretch, I see one straddling the edge of the shade, pecking at the warm asphalt for anything edible.  Shirt on, I’m off, headed to the deli for a sandwich, turkey and cheese.

 

For what it’s worth

(five dollars per foot, length, not girth)

the Subway sandwich reigns supreme

Selling more than Ronald and The Colonel combined

And there’s good reason why:

They advertise!

 

Pesto, Pimentos, Pickles, Peppers

Sandwich artists slatherin’

Do dispense more pamphlets

Than Cotton Mather and Common Sense.

 

The wind up

Pitchmen

Ryan Howard powered

By low-caloric towers.

And how many has he devoured?

 

I do define the end of time :

Where sundial o’er laps

Where waves of shadows lie in wake

and eddies meet the caps.

 

The countdown goes from

Five

To five

To five

Dollar

Foot longggg

 

and echo answered fraud;

Oh, somewhere on these savored sands

which are shining bright;

Jared hides the madness with

Lettuce and  large Sprites

Although he Miracle Whips up allegories,

Still the children shout;

There is no joy in Subway–Ryan Howard has struck out.

The thing about trying to write weird blog posts or the Great American Novel on the subway is that you mainly just write about the subway itself, all of the time, and then people who don’t ride the train are confused and hate it. This is an issue since those people tend to be the ones who would be flush enough to give Scroogian Bankloads of money to a sporadically updated blog whose creators don’t understand what an RSS feed is and mainly think about reification and mid-90s wrestling (Except Bloomberg. Bloomberg rides the subway. Help us Bloomberg.) Without this much needed financial bolstering, Carrinario and I have little hope of ever becoming lit-famous, leaving our jobs, and fulfilling our shared lifelong dream of writing a sequel to Escape from New York called Escape to the Moon while Kurt Russell still deigns to tread on our mortal plane instead of ascending to his rightful spot at the head of Valhalla.  Therefore, hoping to exorcize some small fraction of my extreme reservoirs of pent up MTA analysis and free up the remainder of my creative imaginings for hypotheticalizing my post-Pullitzer interviews on late-night-talk shows, I plan to supplement our already prolific output with a once-weekly review of subway advertisement.

“Why?” the imaginary literary construct who stuck around through graph one asks. Well mixture of hiding-in-meteor-monster Princess Leia, Cat Power, and Emily Bronte, let me tell you. There are many aspects of the subway that I capital-L Love to complain about: the rats who have learned how to ride in the cars to get to the more culinarily lucrative express stops, the strange man who covered his eyes when he coughed, the girl who I thought was hitting on me but turned out to be a proselytizing Mormon (Mitt Romney style, not Big Love), the delays, the uncanny ability of unlimited cards to expire as a local train pulls into the station with a perfectly aligned express transfer trundling along merrily next to it as if they were having a Thomas the Tank Engine style conversation, that jerk with the lobster guitar at Union Square who attracts hundreds of stairway-blocking rubes, the train conductor with a Scottish accent on the R Train who I’m pretty sure is putting it on as some sort of elaborate improv show, the 3:00-4:00 P.M. zone when kids get out of school and destroy any faint hope of a cordon sanitaire, the always harrowing question of why a whole bench is empty when the rest of the train car is packed (Urine? Dead guy just removed? Saran gas umbrella?), the conductors who refuse to gossip about what happened to the sick passenger on the next train, needing to dress up to get on the L, the candy-sellers who say “I am not doing this for a basketball team, I’m doing this for me” in a way that is so pre-scripted that I invariably get visions of the Artful Dodger, the way the buskers get mashed up with the hired music at Penn Station to form an ungodly combination of Bon Jovi covers and vibrating saw, all of that horrific mélange seems like an almost obligatory part of the process, as inevitable as death, taxes, and Ron Paul (who defies death and taxes (I stole that joke from myself. SUCH GOLD DOES NOT COME ALONG EVERY DAY)).

But oh the ads, those horrible ads. People are literally paid more money to design those posters than a snail researcher can make in a lifetime of mucus examination and yet they’re ghastlier than the Akroydian proposition of a Ghostbusters remake. Intense research (ok, a 30 second googling) suggests that these atrocities have been largely ignored by the too-cowed-into-submission-to- speak populace, but their time in the shadows has ended. That’s right, I plan to thoroughly fisk the advertisements that displease me, to go out in the morning and come home at night with digital camera in hand, to brazenly carry out what I hazard to say will be the seminal reading experience of your 2011, to procrastinate applying to graduate school by working on a blog whose majority of hits last year stemmed from Carrinario’s misspelling of P.T. Barnum.  The subway poster review series is coming, and it won’t stop until the ads do (or until someone steals my camera.) I’d write more now but I have to get from Brooklyn to the Upper West side and have to spent 30 minutes planning out the best subway route. See you next week!

Men on a Mission Statement

November 12, 2010

“It is clear that such an account of commodification has immediate relevance to aesthetics, if only because it implies that everything in consumer society has taken on an aesthetic dimension. The force of the Adoro-Horkheimer analysis of the culture industry, however, lies in its demonstration of the unexpected and imperceptible introduction of commodity structure into the very form and content of the work of art itself. Yet this is something like the ultimate squaring of the circle, the triumph of instrumentalization over that “finality without an end” which is art itself, the steady conquest and colonization of the ultimate realm of non-practicality, of sheer play and anti-use, by the logic of the world of means and ends. But how can the sheer materiality of a poetic sentence be “used” in that sense? And while it is clear how we can buy the idea of an automobile or smoke for the sheer libidinal image of actors, writers, and models with cigarettes in their hands, it is much less clear how a narrative could be “consumed” for the benefit of its own idea.”

-Frederic Jameson “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture”

 

The Highest Society

June 30, 2010

Man on street Cartoon. Chocolate ice cream. Table of contents. Contributors. Mail. Going Ons. Private Bank superiority. Theater. Tiffany’s. Night Life. IBM. Airfare to Asia. Uptown. Downtown. Music. Movies. Movies. Orthopedics. Movies. Visit Nova Scotia. Movies. Above and Beyond. A Chic Little Biscuit. Human Energy. Comment. Legacies. Dept. of Hoopla. Huddled Masses. Financial Page. Tea Party. Sarah Palin. Melancholy Cartoon. Drawing of Waiter. Tea Party.  Dog Cartoon. Tea Party. Shouts and Murmurs. Iphigenia. Photo of Iphigenia. Iphigenia. Pigeon Cartoon. Street Cartoon. Money Cartoon. Iphigenia. Cocktail Party Cartoon. Goat Poem. Iphigenia. Iphigenia.  Census Cartoon. Banjo Torture Cartoon. Drawing of Waiter. Iphigenia. Bank Cartoon. Global Warming Cartoon.  Parody of Matthew Arnold Poem. Iphigenia. Psychiatry Cartoon. Desert Island Cartoon. Drawing of Waiter. Business Cartoon. Horse Cartoon. Iphigenia. School Cartoon. Movie Cartoon. Drawing of Waiter. Iphigenia. Restaurant Cartoon.  Photo of shirtless boy. Story about Amanda. Buy the New Yorker. Become a Writer. Moses Cartoon. Attend Columbia University.  Visit New Brunswick. Buy the New Yorker. Photo of Neil Simon. Neil Simon. Robert Redford. Neil Simon. Neil Simon. The Lightkeeper. Neil Simon. Briefly Noted. The Theater. Kelsey Grammar in drag. Musical Events. Free Bow Ties. Current Cinema. Masthead. Cartoon Caption Contest. Visit Egyptian desert. Ipad.

Most Parties

June 13, 2010

Blue Moon…”

Corner seat under the windowsill. Bookcase too. Yes, Allergic to the Peonies, but foolhardy to move.

-Isn’t Arachnophobia the fear of being outside?

-Well kind of actually yeah.

“You saw me standing alone”

Presley Version, 56, bodes decent. Perhaps can discuss the making of a good playlist with host.

-What do you wanna be when you grow up?

-Oh you know, an actuary I guess

“Without A”

-Holy Shit I’m so sorry I don’t know who changed this.

Suspicious glares.

-Not guilty, y’all gotta feel me

Synthesized backbeats replace muted anachronisms

-I know I’m glad you like it.

-I’m more of a Soon-Yi

-Why does this whiskey taste like tropical fruit?

-I just have to be conscious of the collective unconscious and I think people will get it.

“Ra Ra Oh LA”

– Oh my god I just heard someone say the funniest thing about Soon-Yi

-Which bag is mine? Does it even matter?

-Is he reading?

-Bros, Hipsters, Hipsters, Bros, where it stops god only knows.

Finnegan’s. River Run Again, right? Past Adam. A Way. A lone.

On the way home I realize that their elevator looked like Melba Toast

In preparation for what we nerdy Irish kids like to call the Holy Trinity of Holidays, that string of Edenic hours between 3.14 (Pi Day), 3.15 (The Ides) and, of course, 3.17 (Saint Paddy’s Day), I invite you to join me in reflecting on the timely subjects of infinite extension, total betrayal and serpents extermination.

* trapaniadalva

Panem et Circenses

March 4, 2009

Dig if you will the picture…

barnum

Famed entertainer P.T Barnum, a man well-versed in pushing the public’s curiosity buttons and wringing their wallets dry like waterlogged rags once hung a sign in his American Museum in New York City that read “To The Egress!” Patrons who had already paid their admission fee were met by the sign somewhere near the middle of the exhibition hall and those who followed soon found themselves in the back alleyway locked out, learning the hard way that “egress” meant “exit.” Surprisingly, many made their way back around to the front to queue up once again and pay for another ticket…

G-G-G-Geeeee-U-nis!

Don’t Call it A

March 2, 2009

J

Ok so we’re lagging but whatever life intervened extension requests were semi necessary academia frowns upon the shining lights that will guide the short-sighted ones stumblingly into the po-po-mo which only we know is the triple helix but  the time for fullon namby-pamby jammy marmalade  is practically upon us so batten down and prep for the word deluge in the upcoming segments cuz adrenaline is pumping and bonus as a tune-up  here’s a piece that I read out loud to people who I didn’t know last week much to collective horror and secret “mine is betters” be sure to focus on the heady doses of pretension and bad grammar. good appetite:

New Direction Home

You’re going to have to trust me, although of course you have no reason to, when I say that I generally try to avoid grandiloquence in my introductions, but this is a situation where truth overwhelms even literary inclination, so here goes. It has been exactly a year since I last wrote dramatic fiction. It’s probably important to know the effort I put into this research, so understand that I have to hit the crusty power button on my decrepit laptop 17 times while rubbing the base of the machine in a somewhat risqué manner to turn it on, but in this case it was worth it because I now have definitive confirmation that the story I wrote on Februrary 25th, 2008 was my last piece of creative work that was not designed with humor in mind.

It’s hard to explain why I decided not to write something funny for this event. Laughter is insulating, a necessary element to carapace, a compulsion that is difficult to shake, so there has to be some impetus behind this unadvised drive to bore you all to death. Maybe it’s this… Like a lot of us, I try to generate multiple layers that insulate my precious grey goo from the horrifying reality of the outside world, protective filters that are especially relevant on the daily subway commute. However, as I boarded my downtown train 3 days ago I was assailed by an earth-shattering sea of events that has only been matched in my lifetime by a childhood incident that somehow left me with both a hernia and a concussion. Anyway as I was trampling my way onto the relevant traincar my ipod battery crashed to a halt, silencing Axl Rose mid post-modern warble and immediately depriving me of the most crucial Adam/Life barrier. “No worries,” I thought confidently, which is rare for me, “I have a book, and not just any book, a Japanese novel with a really bomb-ass cover, the kind that will cause my future fiancé to look approvingly at me from across the aisle and conspire by glance alone to rendezvous at the final stop for key lime pie and literary discussion and the hazy potential of second base,” and so I boldly whipped out Kenzaburo Oe’s J only to immediately read the following sentence, and this is an exact quote so don’t blame me: “J had recently become obsessed with the concept of getting on a crowded subway car, pressing his shaft against a woman’s buttocks, and ejaculating.” I slammed my book shut in a nervous fervor, terrified to even look around me and meet the disapproving glances and right crosses to the eye that surely were awaiting me from my now alienated neighbors, and wished that I had just decided to reread Watchmen like everybody else in the fucking world. No Ipod, no book, I certainly couldn’t CONSIDER looking at anyone visually interesting after this frottage mishap; and even the traincar advertisements were terrible, believe me I can always lose myself staring at Dr Zizmor’s strangely perfect complexion and imagining the promise of an acne-free life, but there was nothing to distract me, and that’s when life invaded and I realized that with my barriers gone I could finally write honest dramaShit this is funny. This is funny isn’t it? This is a funny story. Ogod. Ok I’m going to have try something else, maybe it’s too soon to write about me, let’s get some 3rd person action going.

“Nothing in life had come easy to Samuel Kouzamonanoff…his mother had tirelessly worked two jobs to send the stuttering young man and his silent twin Roderick to a school whose students rewarded her efforts by giving Samuel unneeded fully clothed showers in mid day and Roderick a cocaine habit, actions that resulted in Samuel becoming silent and Roderick acquiring a stutter. 3 years in, Samuel came out of the closet despite his 60% conviction that he was attracted to women so that under New York State law he could defend himself from the soccer team furies with the promise of hate crime legislation, an action that soon resulted in his perverse, life consuming friendship with Natasha Svetonova, the Russian ingénue whose good looks and derring-do had captivated the entire eleventh grade and whose favorite secret activities that only her closet friend was privy to consisted mainly of scanty fashion shows and endless pontification on the yet unknown but assuredly desirable nuances of oral sex, and all this came to a head on March 18th when And this is funny too.”

come on come on time is at a premium, I think what it really comes down to is an idea, a sentence that has been worming its way in with some time, a sentence that I don’t think has the potential to be funny, so here it is, please don’t enjoy. “Everyday I have to walk two blocks from the 77th street subway to my office, and so everyday I walk past the hospital where I was born, and morning and night, I see a group of orderlies defeatedly chain smoking cigarettes in small circles outside the main entrance, and I’m never quite sure if its appropriate to find it ironic.” This is part of a dramatic narrative. I just can’t figure out if it should be the first sentence of my story or the last one.

color-orange1

Pectin is fecund field for fruitful grazing. And oh, the orange marmalade! Always the last on everyone’s list. Waitresses replenish strawberry jam towers at twice the pace of the marmalade. It’s sharp, it’s bitter and it looks like massaging self-tanner all over your toast. And nevertheless there is always someone out there who’ll scrape up some Marm with the edge of a knife, lick the blade clean and keep a straight face all the while insisting they meant to eat the stuff and, what’s more, they actually enjoyed it. They’ll say things like “It’s not that bad” as if “bad” is some unit of measure I want to be calculating my food choices in. Or else they’ll tell you “It’s an acquired taste.” Common translation: adjust amounts of ketchup, cheese and bacon to  taste. And still, they sit up late with their elbows on diner counters spreading thick the citric gelatin and stuffing each and every one of their empty pockets with extra pads so they can slink back home, draw a bath and swim like Scrooge McDuck in packets of the stuff.

Peculiar as it is, Orange Marmalade has rooted itself deep in the permafrost of modern social existence.  A taste which, make no mistake about it, is a divisive one is nevertheless well supported by the valuts and buttresses of manic devotees. These heart and soul fans who are very regular and have jelly grins often enough aim their open wallets at  one specific UPC code and all the sudden the ripened, emulsified, chilled, preserved and packaged manifestations of their taste bud’s day-dreaming are right there on the shelves in front of them.  The customer is always right and so the marmalade lives on in the foxholes of disparate support, of morning rituals that play out down cul-de sacs and and up in condominiums complexes and of course in the Acme Incorporated Circus, home too many Food Lions and too few Safeways.

Some mass! That congregation, a multitude of many small convoys who seek the gel spread for their daily bread, who shop after soap operas and fill their carts to the brim with jars of Tatar Sauce and Pimento Olives, who single-handedly try keep Hormel up and running buying can after can of Spam…a power which businessman can’t help but genuflect towards on weakened Shawn Brad-knees.

I sometimes wonder what kind of seizures Marco Polo would have in the aisles of any supermarket lucidly dreaming next to the carcases of a hundred hunts and kills neatly arranged around him. Would he soon find himself face down in the odds and ends of marshmallows and licorices paying homage to high fructose corn syrup? It’s hard to say. He could just as easily make a beeline for the Vegamite or become a disposal of black jelly beans. Would he set sail trying to circumnavigate some O’vn Stuffers and soon wreck, his ship settling down into the deeps of the Marianas Trench of choice and he falling victim to the Benz  and the Bugatti?  Who knows? However, I’d put my money on Mr. Polo erecting a great Marmalade fortress at the center of the store, a citadel, just so he’d have a prime position to throw soggy sauerkraut balls from if the war ever did eventually break out.