Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
The night the lights went out at Cake Shop
I'm still trying to absorb what in tarnation happened last night in the small basement rock club at Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. My insane pals Drunky Brewster, who must be seen to be believed, played an historic show collaborating with their pals Mixel Pixel and I got to catch up with some of my friends from BUST.
The show began and the next thing I knew the place was a sweaty, singing, gyrating sex cauldron ("The Sex Cauldron? I thought they closed that place down"), and at least two fireworks were sent off, the second one was a sparking missile shooting right into the crowd. This was an act so stupid that it didn't sink in for a minute that we all could have eaten it, Great White-style. And after the intial scream and realization that somehow, no one had shot their eye out, what can you do then but WOO?
The club got as stern as they could about the incident, which was, "Come on guys, no more fireworks, seriously!" And then the place was filled with smoke, and the fire alarm went off, with a strobe light and a whistle, which everyone assumed was just part of the show. The fire department arrived in full regalia and the band was shut off. The club asked that whomever had shot the fireworks off leave so we could continue with the show, and no one owned up to it (though I believe I know who it was!) but one Brewster Booster took a liking to one of the firemen, jumped him and they started dancing together. Some of the firemen stuck around to watch the spectacle when the show resumed--and no one was kicked out for the fireworks. Drunky Brewster has nine lives, I think.
Also they ended with a new song with my name, "CoKane," as part of the refrain. Um...beyond awesome?
I'm sorry if this description makes no sense; I'm still trying to make sense of what happened. You just have to go see the Brewster if you enjoy watching insane shows with very silly songs, numerous costume changes, props, wigs, hats, glass dildos used as instruments, and possible fiery death.
The aging face of indie rock, part two: Sonic Old People
Saturday was Sonic Youth’s much-anticipated performance of the Daydream Nation album at McCarren Pool. There was supposedly a 50% chance of thunderstorms, but because SY is magical, the weather was beautiful and clear all day, and the rain didn’t come until Sunday. We missed the whole opening set by the Slits, which I am quite bummed about because they’re cool and I’m dismayed to hear that the crowd wasn’t into them. Why wouldn’t a Sonic Youth crowd be interested in a classic punk band from the original late-’70s era? Just from what I heard some dudes saying, I suspect it’s because they’re considered a girl band and therefore, for girls, or sub-par to the Sex Pistols and the Clash, who were peers the Slits hung out with and played with at the time. WTF? Is anyone going to make the argument that other punk bands they revere from that era were more talented musicians or had better songs? I think not.
Then came the headliners, one of my all-time favorite bands looking and sounding as cool as ever, playing probably my favorite album of theirs in its entirety. Naturally the best part of SY’s set was the first song, “Teenage Riot.” I haven’t had such a goofy grin at a rock show in years! It was so exciting. As for the rest, from what I recall, the show was great, but there were two major distractions: this mosh pit of dancing goofballs:
Oh wait, that last one is my friend Leah joining in.
Also two of my friends were tripping on mushrooms, one of them for the first time ever, and the first-timer was having a very bad time of it from the get-go, so I was getting updates and cries for help from the other friend, who was on babysitting duty.
Funny, because in one way this was an older crowd, but in another way, well, there’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college. The lesson my pals learned that day, which is one most people know by this age, is don’t trip in a crowd of a zillion people, especially not if it’s the first time you’re tripping. And that’s: one to grow on.
Friday, July 27, 2007
I wanna be domestic
Now I'm about to rent a whole house with yard and washer and dryer for the first time ever at the ripe old age of 33, and I can't stop fantasizing about the gourmet meals I will rock in the real kitchen, with counter space to spare! Instead of cramming my entire meal prep onto a one-foot wide molded plastic "countertop," I will use one whole new white ceramic-tiled counter just for one bowl! I will put a pie on the window sill to cool and it won't get instantly coated in city grit, like it would here! I'll twirl about in a dress, heels, and lipstick while waiting for the water to boil! Ding! [sparkle sound]
When I was a kid, one of my elder lady family members once made a dish for a family function called "Broccoli Surprise" that involved eggs, apparently was not very good, and would live in infamy in my immediate family's culinary discussions as an example of bad food. Well I recently made what I hope to be one of my last city- scrounge meals, which are bouts of cooking creativity that occur after I haven't grocery-shopped in a long time and it's unthinkable to go down four flights and several blocks to the store. The other night, while making an impromptu casserole to use up various food items including frozen veggies, veggie burgers, and couscous under the broiler with shredded parm on top, I think I accidentally made a surprise (and there was brocco involved). But no more! I will have so much food-storage space in Little Pink down South that I can fully stock up whenever I go grocery shopping.
Down South, I shall shop in a serene, non-chaotic Whole Foods. I can buy as many weighty juices and boxes of soy milk as I want and not have to carry my heavy groceries home on foot in canvas totes! I will drive there, and I will linger as long as I want in one spot reading a label in the luxuriously wide isle, and no one will need me to get out of the way because there is plenty of room! I can lie down in the aisle sipping a julep if I want! Take that, stupid jerk New York!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Goodbye, naked mens
So, a few things: check out me & my pal Therese on WFMU tomorrow afternoon, on Scott Williams' show, around 2:40. We'll be talking about a few fancy beers and tasting them on the air. You can listen online if your computer lets you do that.
Also, we're having two going-away parties. The first will be after the Sonic Youth show at McCarren pool this Saturday [hyperventilating] in which [puff puff] they will perform the entire Daydream Nation album. OMG
Also, if anyone out there has freelance-writing leads for me (the kind that pays decently), send me an email and I will love you long time.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Turn on your white stripes
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains
It showed last night at McCarren pool, and I believe the members of the Sex Pistols & the Clash who were in the film might say it was fucking brillo, or use some other such Brit slang. (Did I make up "brillo" just now? Maybe.) This 1981 movie follows the rise of girl punk band the Stains, with a barely legal (actually not legal at all, she was 14 playing 15) Diane Lane as the badass singer who doesn't wear pants, and a darling baby Laura Dern as the bassist. I saw a direct line from this movie to the Riot Grrrl movement, and word has it Courtney Love was first inspired to be a rock star when she saw it. (I know, everyone wants to insert rude Courtney comment here, but shut up jerks, because she made one of the best rock records of the '90s.)
In the movie the Stains become an instant phenomenon, and the fans copy the white stripes the grrrls have bleached into their hair with contrasting black hair, and they wear sheer red blouses w/no bras like Diane Lane's character does. Coincidentally, the band and fans look like a possible inspriation for the look of the White Stripes the band, who played MSG last night. My bf did his trick of buying someone's extra ticket as the show is beginning, from people desperate to unload their extras, and so paid $10 for a $50+ ticket.
McCarren pool events and the ability to see an arena band for a ten-spot are two things I'm going to miss when we move. Something I'm not going to miss? I found a flyer at Enid's after the movie for some event called BBQ Chicken, featuring the following acts: Schoolly D (OK, that's totally reasonable); Bad Wizard, Panthers, Cheeseburger, The Jewish, Dragons of Zynth, and Puddin' Tang. Oh yeah, and 300 lbs of FREE BBQ CHICKEN!!! Is anyone else enraged by the rampant douchebaggery evidenced by these band names? Come on: Cheeseburger? I'm picturing short guys in tight pants with ironic moustaches as all the band members of all these irono-named bands.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Turn and face the strange
Not long after I moved to New York, almost seven years ago, someone passed along this wisdom: "You don't decide when you're done with New York; New York decides when it's done with you."
At the time this seemed awfully grim, although little did innocent young me know how much New York City was about to kick my ass. But it was the kind of ass-kicking that makes you stronger, like when Mr. Miyagi is being such a hardass to Daniel-san. And as much as that saying above sounds like it's describing an abusive relationship, I think I'm OK with it.
All my significant dating happened here. My most traumatic experiences happened while I've lived here. I've been surrounded by some of the funniest friends ever. My career started to happen here. And I must have been born a writer, but I think I really came into it here.
But now, all around I see signs that if New York is not done with me for good, then at least it's saying I'm ready to see other places. The special Cheap Issue of Time Out New York just seemed like it was announcing, "look at what your pathetic existence will be if you keep living here." More scrimping, more dollar stores, and for what? I'm tired of having mostly secondhand clothes supplemented by the occasional H&M and hobag-store flimsy pieces. All thrift-store fashion, all the time is not as cute at age 33 as it was at 23. I recently stumbled on the new location of my favorite East Village morbid curiosity shoppe, Obscura--and somehow, the new version of the shop was too bright, too open, not as darkly creaky-floored attic-like and fascinating as it used to be. I ate so many times at the Burritoville near my work, which was once a favorite, that now I'm sickened by almost everything there. And looky here, it's another non-memorable edition of the Onion. Eh!
And then there's Kate's...And then there's Kate's. Kate's Joint, the famous vegetarian comfort-food greasy spoon in the East Village, has dominated my palate's desires since about 1999. Once I ate there three times in one day, and then was so disgusted with myself that I had to swear off their famous deep-fried tofu buffalo wings for a month. That is, Kate's ruled my world until last year, when it began fading, taking a sharp dive by the final quarter of 2006. It's just...not that good anymore. It's gross, in fact. I could only eat two of the buff wings the last time I reluctantly got them. I don't know if Kate's changed their cook or my tastes changed, or both. But those buff wings were the one thing I thought I'd have to import if I ever didn't live in NYC. Not so!
When I first moved to New York, I was dismayed to discover what a loser I was. I didn't have cool clothes or a cool haircut, as became painfully apparent the first big hipstery
Now I have a more confident sense of self, I know tons of people, know where all the restauraunts/venues/bars etc that I care about are. And it's time to go.
Despite my love/hate relationship with NYC, I've long felt that it has ruined me for living in other cities, at least ones that might be trying to compete. Baton Rouge seems like it's not even trying to be a city, more like condensed suburbs clustered around a University. So we'll go there, get done what needs to be done, and return to New York (probably, or somewhere desirable) better prepared to live the kind of fancier lifestyle to which we will grow accustomed. That's the plan.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Melting brain cells at the Jersey Shore
Quoth my home state troubadors Bon Jovi in a tourism commercial for New Jersey, "Who says you can't go home?" The boyfriend and I stayed with my parents this weekend down the shore. On Friday night we went to Atlantic City to see Interpol at the Borgata, a shiny purple new casino. The best part was the crowd's enthusiasm (unlike typical NYC crowds: dont' you know, that's so uncool) and the worst part was the drunks' enthusiasm. There's this New Year's Eve-ish aspect that some guys adopt for gambling scenarios, like you have to get the drunkest ever and smoke cigars and eat steaks and totally VEGAS BABY!!! WOO!!! Only like, they're not Frank Sinatra or even Vince Vaughn, they're whitecaps, and also it's not Vegas.
The new Harry Potter book went on sale at midnight, so my bf was chomping at the bit to get it. But when we asked the Borgata bellboy if there was a bookstore around, he could not have been more apalled: "A BOOKSTORE?! No!!!!" We slunk away, ashamed that we had not been asking him where we could pick up a few high-class hookers or some quality blow, like normal casino-goers.
Then on Saturday, I introduced the bf to the big dumb spectacle of bad taste that is the Seaside Heights boardwalk. The prizes are themed around whatever kids' movies are big; this year it's cockeyed-looking Shreks. As for the "hott bitch gear," i.e., tank tops and short-shorts, and dude shirts, there was all the usual propaganda about Italian girls doing it better, or the wearer having the biggest Johnson or what have you, but the mandate of this summer in every beachwear store on the boardwalk is "PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR."
The hoi polloi walking the boards at Seaside Heights were interpreting this command thusly: by being very flabby, lacking the shame to cover up said flab (seriously: everywhere you turned there were shirtless or bikini-clad muffin-tops), and decorating their jiggling exposed flesh with very bad tattoos. Not always real tattoos, either: one muscleman walked around oblivious that his tribal neck tattoo was rubbing off black char onto his white tank top. Speaking as someone who grew up coming here every summer and hadn't been back in a few years, Seaside Heights is one place where the American obesity epidemic that's always making the news has become a noticeable reality.
We hit up Flashbacks, an arcade of all classic '80s video games, but after making it into the top 3 in every game I played, I poured the rest of my quarters into the more challenging and infinitely more satisfying House of the Dead 2, aka the best video game ever, where you get to shoot zombies.
We had some disgusting onion rings and a fruity drink overlooking the beach while privately heckling the bejeweled navel piercings (seven in close proximity--who knew they were more popular now than in the '90s?) and the young fellow with man-boobs and six inches of boxer- brief visible above his sagging bathing-trunks waistline. After topping that off with a double-size slice of grody pizza, I wanted to never eat again.
The quest for literary wizardry finally ended at a Wal-Mart located half an hour of strip malls away from the boardwalk. So yeah, people of the Jersey shore: not big readers. Also, the boardwalk doesn't do it for me as much as it used to. I don't necessarily think everyone should go to a museum on a beautiful summer day, but this wasn't as much fun anymore, other than for heckle value.
We settled at the quiet little beach near my folks' place: instant relaxation. The boardwalk yokels had given me a dose of the fear, but lying on the sand in the sun is one mindless activity that could actually benefit society.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Baton Rouge Fun Factz™®©
The French name "Baton Rouge" means "Red Stick" in English. In 1699, French explorer Sieur d'Iberville led an exploration party of about 200 up the Mississippi River. On March 17, on a bluff on the east bank of the river (on what is now the campus of Southern University), they saw a cypress pole festooned with bloody animal and fish heads, which they learned was a boundary marker between the hunting territories of the Bayogoula and the Houma tribes (the Bayogoula village was situated near the present-day town of Bayou Goula, LA; the Houma village was believed to be situated near the site of what is now Angola, LA).
Great. The tourist board has their work cut out for them.
"Baton Rouge: Where the 'Rouge' stands for 'Blood'!"
Speaking of slain animals, the largest private employer in town is Exxon. That's two BR Fun Factz™®©®™ for the price of zero!
But on the positive side, dig this:
[In regards to the castle-like state Capitol building:] Mark Twain, however, as a steamboat pilot in the 1850s, loathed the sight of it, "It is pathetic ... that a whitewashed castle, with turrets and things ... should ever have been built in this otherwise honorable place." (Life on the Mississippi, Chapter 40)
Despite his view of the Capitol, Twain was fond of Baton Rouge, "Baton Rouge was clothed in flowers, like a bride — no, much more so; like a greenhouse. For we were in the absolute South now — no modifications, no compromises, no half-way measures. The magnolia trees in the Capitol grounds were lovely and fragrant, with their dense rich foliage and huge snowball blossoms....We were certainly in the South at last; for here the sugar region begins, and the plantations — vast green levels, with sugar-mill and negro quarters clustered together in the middle distance — were in view." (Life on the Mississippi, Chapter 40)
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Panic on the streets of Manhattan
I left work a bit late and was heading west on 44th street, less than a block from Grand Central, where I was going to rejoin my boyfriend, who'd been in my office for a few minutes. I noticed a rumbling sound that didn't stop, then came lots of sirens heading downtown, which put me on terror alert. What clinched the terror alert was when people came running towards me from Lexington Avenue, away from Grand Central, saying, "Go uptown! Go!"
Everyone turned and ran uptown, not knowing what had happened. I've seen this in so many B-movies, but had never actually been part of a fleeing crowd. Fear struck deep in my gut, and I was trying not to cry, and trying to call my boyfriend, who had probably been in the middle of whatever had exploded or happened. The boyfriend got through to me and urged me to just go, go, go uptown, at least to 50th Street.
I can't say I recommend group flight--but if you do have to be in fleeing crowd, let it be a New York one. We're getting pretty good at it. What was everybody running from? A tidal wave flood? An explosion? Dust clouds from a collapsing building? A huge Russian seafaring ship? (I've seen The Day After Tomorrow.) Godzilla? I kid, but this was the scariest thing I've ever been through here, at least for a few moments. I kind of trust that fleeing New Yorkers are fleeing for a reason. It may have been Midtown, but these were not fannypacked rubes running scared. These were Blue Shirts. (According to my beau, multiple tourists at Grand Central had had instantaneous meltdowns. Can't say I blame them.)
By the time we got to the high 40s, we seemed to be out of imminent danger and people seemed to be accepting this was going to be one of those special New York City days where you walk home from work. Maddeningly, blogging kept flashing into my mind the whole time.
Calls weren't going through, but the bf and I reunited at 50th Street via text messages. From Lexington we had a full view of the cause of the commotion less than ten blocks downtown: a black plume stretching from street level to up past the top of the Chrysler Building. It was Dr. McSteamy down there.
I realize in this phone-camera picture, it looks like Jesus has for some reason decided to descend from heaven amidst the heathens of NYC at rush hour. But if you imagine nearly all of that white part as black smoke billowing to the sky, then I've just made you do a lot of work for something that's supposed to be a photograph.
Sometimes I like to take major events that have nothing to do with me and say, This is a message directly to me from the universe. And so I would like to think of this as New York saying to me, "You're worried that you're going to miss the hell out of New York and you're not sure if you should leave? Don't let the door hit you on your way out."
By the time we got over to Sixth Avenue, nothing unusual was apparent. Time to stop in the nearest Paddy O'McClanahan's for a Jameson's, which was gone in .60 seconds.
Good thing nothing catastrophic ever happens where I'm going, down on the Gulf Coast.
Labels: nyc tomfoolery
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Regarding my new tagline under my new blog title
ME: Hi...uh...m-my name is Colleen, and I am a hipster.
READERS: [in supportive unison] Hi, Colleen.
Not long after moving to Brooklyn almost seven years ago, I came to use "hipster" as a disparaging term. When I used that term, I was referring to the kids I percieved as being the priveliged cool, the trust-funded gentrifiers, the soulless, the easily distracted, those who only want in on the next big thing until it becomes the big thing, and then once it does it's time to roll their eyes at it. They roll their eyes a lot, the hipsters in my mind. They don't admit to having feelings, either. It's all one big last night's party that they can't remember because of all the drugs and drink they did. But they sure looked glamorous at those parties in their carefully mussed hair and their striped shirts from wherever I can't afford and their Diesel jeans and their little boots and so on. You know: williamsjerks!
When my friend Kristina Wong, who has no tact, visits from L.A., she says things like, "You guys are always dissing on hipsters, but you are hipsters." And then I make some distinction like, "Nooo, hipsters are rich kids; we're just, like...cool." Yeah. That's it. The Socs and the Greasers.
Now it is time to face the independent music and admit that I am a hipster, for lack of a better term to simply explain our fish-out-of-water situation when we move in less than a month. I'm on the older end of the demographic, and I'd say one of the main things keeping me from entering "yuppie" or some category more suited to my age and lack of party stamina is my insignificant income.
But still, the bf and I both own Diesel jeans. Sure, I got mine for $6 at the Goodwill because the original owner got tired of them after dropping one caviar egg on them or something, but you can't tell that from afar. Diesels probs aren't even cool anymore but if I don't know that, they sure as hell won't know that in Baton Rouge. Next month the bf and I will be snorting because the band that was headlining the main music venue in BaRou when we visited was freaking 311 (OK: 1. they still exist!? and 2. they can fill a presumably large room?!), and lamenting that just weeks ago back home we saw Sonic Youth and the next day TV on the Radio (for free!) at McCarren pool. And I'm going to roll in there with my vintage owl-size sunglasses and probably look like some douchebag from New York who thinks she's better than this town, and I know I'm going to be conscious of coming off that way when I meet locals.
So anyway, that's the reasoning behind using that usually pejorative term. Kind of a shorthand for, My old man and I dig indie rock and various other cultural trappings associated with hipsters, stuff that you probably don't have here or know about (and BTW, you guys call that thing a BAGEL?) But like we're not a-holes like those other hipsters from NYC. Right? Right?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The Crazy Pigeon Lady of Boerum Hill
Keeping with the pigeon theme of the last post, there's this crazy Asian lady who feeds the neighborhood pigeons every day, squatting down in loose garb with her bag o'crumbs. I always wondered what her story was; did she live around here? How did she pay rent if she's feeding the birds all the time? Was she from the neighborhood shelter?
Recently while approaching up the block from behind her, I spied a man in a suit who seemed to be trying to talk to the crouching woman. But her hand was up to her head; was she on a cell phone? After passing, I had to look back. There was no phone, she was plugging her ears up like a kid refusing to listen.
She has always been an odd one, though she seemed stable for all the years I've noticed her, but lately she's taken a turn for the worse. Lately, she'll switch from placidly squatting, to furiously yelling in a croaky witch voice in some other language at, well, nobody in particular who can be seen, and pointing accusations in all directions. She's down on the sidewalk, but it can be clearly heard four flights above in my apartment. Creep-yyyy...
The other night when I brought Coop for a walk at 11:30 pm, she was out in her usual squat, but there were no pigeons anywhere. And in addition to her typical breadcrumb fare, she had added french fries to the menu. Now, I've seen pigeons dig on almost their own kind (discarded chicken bones from the gutter), but I have never known them to be potato-eaters. No matter anyway, because none were about.
On the swing back, I noticed she was smoking a cigarette. A new factoid about the mysterious Pigeon Lady of Boerum Hill! She looked over and I smiled, and a ghost of a smile appeared on her mouth for an instant. Slight progress! She had never acknowledged me before. Then again, she'd never been trying to feed nonexistant pigeons french fries at nearly midnight before, that I'd seen. (Boyfriend has spotted her at all hours, 3 am, whenever.)
Oh New York, with your casual, non-threatening exhibits of insanity. I shall miss you.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The truth about cats and birds: they are friggin' weirdos
First thing in the morning, boyfriend called me into the office, which was formerly the bedroom of numerous roommates over my nearly seven years here. It has a loft bed that my cat Gypsy has been living on in fear, when she's not living in fear behind the futon. (As previously described in hilarious detail with illustration, Gypsy wants no part of her new-ish canine apartment-mate Cooper and has been in self-imposed exile for months.) The loft is now mattress-free since Gyp destroyed the mattress, presumably because she was afraid to leave it to use her litter box, so the loft is now used for box and cat storage.
The bf is a lifelong dog guy, and had to consult with lifelong cat lady me about the peculiar cat behavior he'd discovered in the office. "Uh, honey...? Can you explain this to me?"
What you are looking at is a substantial cat dump on the loft that she tried to cover up with the only nearby small items, which were leftover condoms and lube from a previous tenant. I explained that cats like to cover up their business when finished, while it sunk in that this was probably the funniest thing she'd ever done.
So we had our stoop sale (sans stoop) and it was really pleasant talking to everyone who stopped by, and spending the gorgeous day outside while earning a good chunk of cash for the move. It looks like a sausage-fest in the photo, but as we were between the projects and the gentrified shopping/dining zone, we got quite a cross-section of patrons. Near the end of the day I noticed that a nearby splatter of vomit (pink, so the unfortunate vommer had been drinking red wine or cocktails) had attracted quite a bit of attention from the local pigeon community.
Yep, they were in full chow-down mode. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: Pigeons are such dirtbags. I will not miss them at all down South.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Holy Shit, We Are Moving to the Deep South
I guess when you meet your boyfriend with this gun-toting pose as your main MySpace photo, and you had been hoping to meet a guy who's big, drives a pickup, wears pearly-snap Western shirts, and has a full-size (aka real) dog, it's only a matter of time before you and that guy move to the South.
Last week after much tortuous suspense, we finally got word that my bf was accepted to LSU's landscape architecture grad progam. And now we have a month to prepare to move to a city I had never been to and had never cared to go to: Baton Rouge. So on last Thursday evening, we set out in Wolfgang my VW camper for JFK airport, to fly to Austin for the bf's cousin's wedding, and traffic was so hopeless that we missed our flight. We were near Coney Island and Brighton Beach when we accepted that we weren't going to make it, so decided to have a cultural experience in the very Russian neighborhood Brighton Beach, then just spend the night in Wolfgang in the airport's long-term parking to catch the first flight out in the morning.
I'd heard there were some freaky Russian clubs in Brighton Beach, and we got a peek into two of them. I was just starting to take in the interior decoration of the first one, which was a masterwork of gaudiness, when we were swiftly ushered out by a waiter assuring us the kitchen was closed. What seemed more likely was that the shady dudes in the far corner were total Russian mobsters and we'd intruded on their meeting. On try number two we made it in to Primorski, which also took bad taste to new levels, from the movie-theater-style light strips on the walls to the stuck-in-the-early-'90s fashions everyone sported.
"Every woman here is a drag queen," the bf observed. After tasting my food, which inexplicably was mostly cold salads and pickled veggies (isn't it like, really cold in Russia?) I was happy we at least had some live entertainment who had no idea just how entertaining they were. It was two women accompanied by prerecorded synthesized easy listening dancey tuneage who traded off singing. One was clad all in denim, which was like, thanks for dressing up, but the other... Speaking of drag queens, she/he was a tall, slender Asian woman who sounded like Tom Waits after smoking 400 cigarettes in a row. The bf named him Tom Taints. I wondered what the audition process was like for their live entertainment, and if anyone had been turned away.
But after our spontaneous parking lot camping that night, we made the flight to Austin. I got to see some of the cool parts of town this time, and wished we were moving there instead. All of the bf's relatives separately gravely warned us what a culture shock Baton Rouge was going to be. My bf was a groomsman in the wedding, which was held at a Victorian home on Saturday. He tried to rein in the fidgety lil' ringbearer who then unintentionally nailed him in the jimmy. I'm pretty sure that's a sign of good luck for the marriage.
As you can see, it is an interracial marriage, and the presence of the bride's four sisters of color entirely ruled out any thought of I might have entertained about dancing at the reception. At the best of my dancing attempts, I'm like, Yeah, I'm kind of rockin' it right now. There's no way to control when that will happen, but it usually happens when no one's around. I was embarassed just watching the white people attempting to dance compared to the sisters turning this mother out.
On Sunday, we departed via a borrowed Lexus SUV (!?) for Baton Rouge to find a house to rent. As we approached Louisiana, but before even leaving Texas, we saw three signs in a row: Country Boys Country Store, Turtle Bayou Turnaround, and Gator Junction BBQ. This is the first thing we saw when we crossed into Louisiana.
Round about then was one of the times we both said, "Holy shit, we are really moving here." I comforted myself with a popcorn ball the size of my head, available at the local gas station.
We stayed that night just over the river (The Big River. The Mighty Mississip. Ole Miss. The Old Man.) before crossing into Baton Rouge, at a Motel 6 adjacent to the Crazy Horse Cabaret, a casino, and a Shell Station where a flamboyant gay with highly groomed brows and fake nails was at the register. I wanted to hug him: Please let there be more of you here!
Monday morning we crossed the Ole Miss for my first view of my new (temporary!) hometown. There were a handful of tall buildings off to the left. "That's it?" I was incredulous. For a state capital, Baton Rouge has less tall buildings than pretty much anywhere that calls itself a city in the northeast. The rest was all neighborhoods, many of which we went through later that day as we checked rental homes we'd found in the paper.
First stop was campus, which has these gnarly live oaks everywhere, many of them dripping with Spanish moss. Campus was most pleasant, other than the subtropical heat/humidity double whammy making it feel like walking around in a sauna.
As I mentioned in the last post, there was one little pink house we had our eyes on that we'd seen online, and as soon as we got out of the car there, we were like, "This is the one."
[Photo redacted, because I'm creeped out that everyone local recognizes the house]
The back yard clinched it before we even went inside.
The inside is too cute. Sunny, oldey-tymey (it's from the '40s with a '60s addish), wood floors, french doors out to the deck, brand new kitchen, brand new paint jobs, 3 BR, 2 bath, spic and span (no city dirt blowing in the windows here), and that luxury I've been dreaming of in addition to a house, yard, and the ability to grow a garden: a washer & dryer. And of course the rent is cheaper than our current rent.
That chair there in the corner is my equivalent of Kris Kringle's cane in the corner of the dream house in A Miracle on 34th St. We had to have Little Pink, but two interested parties were ahead of us, so we were on hold.
After checking out our other rental options, we saw the gorgeous garden/rich people districts of big old homes and Spanish moss everywhere, and also checked out the depressing, nearly deserted downtown, which all the Baton Rouge promotional literature inisists is developing and making a comeback. Our housing choices were down to a mega-cheap '20s bungalow-type charming home, Little Pink, and a '70s ranch house. We scrammed and headed an hour south to New Orleans for the night.
In the French Quarter we went into the famous Pat O'Brien's where the bf had a hurricane and I had a super-extreeeeeeme CATEGORY 5 MARGARITA. We hadn't eaten (there's not a lot to eat in BR, far as I can tell) and got schlockered on one each. Guess what? We weren't alone. Every rube in town was wasted and Bourbon Street smelled like vomit and beer. Then we got the call: we have the house. Little Pink is ours. Time to celebrate. We got a room with a balcony overlooking Toulouse Street and this rooftop featuring a rubber chicken, in earshot of the following soundtrack trifecta from Bourbon Street: "Brick House," "Play that Funky Music," and "We Want the Funk". Bourbon Street is FUNKY! No it's not. It's full of wasted yahoos and strip bars.
Check this out: Hope Puppet team, analyzing the fine merchandise for sale at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Free material to heckle everywhere!
There weren't a whole lot of dinner options (which was a theme if you didn't want to eat deep-fried everything and meat or seafood), so we ended up at a crap restaurant with amateurish undersea-painted mural walls and privately heckled the yokels.
This gang was across from us. The highlighted guy there is our brush-moustachioed waiter, who I named Wally after our old mailman who had the same 'stache when it was more acceptable in the early '80s. The baby's mom in this gang couldn't have been more than 20, and you know when she sees Britney Spears on TV she is like, "Your struggles are my struggles." I couldn't believe my bf was making fun of her baby's goggles until I pointed out the baby was retarded, which he hadn't realized. He'd thought they just had wacky glasses on him (possibly those New Years 2007 style where the 0s go over your eyes) because they were hicks partying in New Orleans. Then we overheard the manager of the joint sitting down a new waitress and telling her he didn't want to put her out there on the floor until she was truly ready...this guy was every small-time manager who thinks he's more important than he is. So we drunkenly tried to convince our waitress she didn't have to put up with that baloney and she'd be hired in a second in NYC. She giggled off our expert advice.
The next day, on the way back to Baton Rouge to sign our lease, we saw what might have been coyote roadkill. I also think I'd spotted the carcass of a bobcat or some such larger cat creature, and possibly a wild pig or else one that fell off some truck, and definitely an armadillo. In other parishes around Baton Rouge there were places called Slaughter, False River, and White Castle. Baton Rouge is doubtless surrounded by many scary things.
There really wasn't much to recommend the city we're moving to, on first impression (other than KLSU, the college radio station, which I hope to get involved with). We got our house, and that was great, but the only problem was, it's in Baton Rouge.
So we signed on for a year in Little Pink, then headed out for the third city of the day, the 7-hour or so trip back to Austin to return the car and fly home. We stopped for dinner at Shoney's, where I got this all-yellow meal comprised of all the only non-meat items in the food bar (ignoring the green beans and mushrooms that were floating in a yellow liquid I interpreted as melted margarine). Note the tic-tac-toe three-in-a-row of different potato formats.
As is probably often the case at all-you-can-eat food bars in the South, there was a morbidly obese woman there the size of Gilbert Grape's mom. We didn't bat an eyelash at the acrylic-nails man at the Shell food mart, but some of the extremely oversize people that are so much more common down there did give us pause. On the way out, my bf, in heckle mode again, asked the cashier about the puzzle for kids on the nearby placemats. "We do it ever' naht when wa get bored!" she said cheerily, adding "that or tha maze in tha payper." Oh, dear.
As we crossed back into Texas and got closer to Austin, I felt a sense of relief. You know it's bad when Texas feels less scary than the state you are moving to.
What the hell are we doing? Sometimes I think it's better if people don't know what they're in for.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Secret secret, I've got a secret
And so, commenters and all the mystery folks who visit anonymously, a contest: What ridiculous place am I moving to? (No fair giving it away if you have insider knowledge.) Hint: it is someplace you've heard of, but would never have thought I'd move to. Winner gets me to write a post topic of their choice. Or alternatively, I could hook the winner up with some Naked Men Magazines or a cheap "massager" or two. (Brand new, of course.)
I have so much more to say about this as soon as I have more time. And once I move, there is going to be so much free material to goof on. This is stressful and scary, but I'm excited.
P.S. Best post-fireworks description from a little girl at the Brooklyn Heights promenade last night: "It was bigger than an elephant."
Labels: nyc tomfoolery
Monday, July 02, 2007
Honkies in the Catskills, part two: I got lucky
My pal Leah and I have spent the past five or so Independence Day weekends upstate, so although the fourth falls midweek this year, we kept the magic alive this past weekend. Some of you probably recall word for word my post on last summer's fourth of July jaunt to the Catskills where we camped on a creek in Phoenicia, a tiny touristy village near Woodstock with just the right dose of creepy undertones. Although it had proven a costly camping trip last time, we decided to return a year later.
We got off to a very late start on Saturday and hit some mean traffic on the way out to the Thruway, but once we cleared the city we got cruising. Well, as much as my 79 VW bus Wolfgang can cruise when laden with three adults and two dogs. We were to get off at exit 19, but between exits 17 and 18, I noticed that Wolfgang was weaving an awful lot, as if we were being buffeted by wind (buses are decidedly non-aerodynamic and thus sensitive to wind), except there wasn't really any wind blowing. A truck pulled up alongside of me and the driver gestured wildly pointing toward the back of Wolfgang, so I pulled over. Flat tire! (Driver from Flying Pig Farms, I salute you, even though you work for a terribly abusive industry.)
Could be worse. This was the only time I could remember that my nearly-30-year-old vehicle had encountered a problem on a trip, and as car troubs go, this one was easily fixed. The bf could have changed the tire with the spare on the front, but the road was so busy and the flat was on the traffic-facing side, aka murder zone, so I was not having any of it. People get killed like that all the time; a kid I knew in college had died that way. So it was AAA Premiere time (you know, Triple Awesome?), and it wasn't long before the tow truck came, though every time a car or truck whizzed by the whole bus shook and frayed my nerves more.
So homeboy who looked all of 16 arrived and changed the tire with zero pleasantries, had no idea where we should go to get a new tire, and when we asked how we could reach that Wal-Mart in Kingston that we'd heard from the party-voiced campground lady was the only nearby tire center, he didn't know, and he also didn't bother to replace the hubcap. (We really should've taken back his prematurely given tip.)
Now we were riding a dried-out, cracked Mickey Mouse tire to the campground and losing light and still had to get supplies and all I wanted was to get to goddamn Wally World and have some goddamn relaxing fun. By the time we reached the campground in darkness it was raining and I was about to have 19 nervous breakdowns, but fortunately the bf passed me a mother's little helper.
The campground owner remembered us from last year and now that I'm a Lost viewer, he reminded me of the bearded creep of The Others fame. I kept expecting to hear him say, "Ya see the thing is, we're gonna have to take the boy." But in this case "the boy"= "your cash." Surrounded by their taxidermied collection of local critters, the Campground Family who live on the premises all seemed to be having a swell time as we signed agreements that we'd pay various fines for various infractions and forked over $90 for the two nights, which, if you are not a camper, equates to highway robbery. (In my experience, a prime waterfront campsite should go for like $25, $30 tops per night total and rates should not be per head as they were here.) Then they told us toilet paper would be a dollar if we didn't bring any. "WHAT?!" I cried. Party Voice Lady claimed that's how much she paid for it in town. (Like they do all their shopping in a tourist convenience store.) It was only a dollar, but what kind of evil misers charge that much and then don't even provide T.P.? Phoenician ones. But we showed them, and did not buy that T.P. Paper towels it is!
We'd also been predicably gouged getting supplies at the camp-enhanced convenience store, the only place open at our late hour, paying $80 for snacks, beer, charcoal and the only dinner-ish supply they had, grilled-cheese fixins. But on Sunday morning after a sad rain-snack dinner our first night there, I was ready to destroy an Irish-style grilled cheese with tomato and onion.
But I must take exception to this substance Heluva Good calls "cheese."
It was delish anyway, and we commenced camping fun times, once again hanging in the rocky island in the stream in the sun, and playing fetch with the doggers and having beers chilled by nature's keg-erator, the stream.
We were just downstream from the launch point for the local recreational water-tubing business. An obese woman slowly drifted down on an inner tube and became moored on a nearby rock protruding from the water. Keep in mind she was in water several feet deep, and for anybody equipped to survive in the world, it should have been no problem to unstick herself. I called out to see if she needed help, and she said yes, but then managed to free herself. Some almost-as-obese rafting partner of undetermined gender followed.
About 10 minutes later we were hailed for help by that second tuber (who turned out to be female), off in the distance at the bend downstream, waving her arms above her head and yelling. My gang went to investigate/help while I waited where I was in case they needed me to run for assistance. Turns out the first obese woman had gotten caught up again in some deeper part downstream, and the fishermen down there wouldn't help her. My eyewitness said she was stuck in a bit deeper, faster-moving water, but it was just a matter of her needing to buck up, get out of there and move on. But for our damsel in distress, this was a catastrophe, and by the time my bf got to her they had hailed two bikers from the road and had found a nurse to talk/pull her out, and she was hollering, "Just get me out of here!" while her tube drifted away. And I imagine that will be the last time she ever attempts anything out of her comfort zone until her life is claimed by some health problem relating to a sedentary lifestyle. Those unfazed fishermen must see this type of thing all the time, because later on we saw another size-challenged American make a slow way down the stream and get snagged here and there.
And thus, the original title planned for this blog posting, It ain't over 'til the fat lady sinks. But no, readers; I shan't be so crass. I have a higher message today.
Later, in the tiny town, I didn't get to check if the creepola abandoned diner was still there, but I made a point to revisit the Pharmacy That Time Forgot, which I am more than slightly obsessed with.
In fact, I had to disguise my enthusiasm/fascination so as not to appear a total weirdo. I actually had to buy something this time although I was pretty sure all they would have along those lines would be an olde tyme belt-and napkin-contraption, if you ladies of a certain age and older husbands out there dig what I'm saying. If you've read the original, non-updated version of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (theme of that young adult book being period talk for preteens is awesome), then you know.
Good thing this package of '80s hair-curling bendable rods is still there. It didn't photograph clearly because it's a ghost.
Same thing with Epilady, the
Not shown: THE COILS! the coils! oh god the coils
It also gets this sad:
And this olde tyme!
AND my purchase was bagged up in a crisp waxed-paper bag by one kid of a staff of three including pharmacist, to the the soft sounds of Bing Crosby. And to think, my traveling companions had opted to miss out on this.
After a great marathon sesh by the fire Sunday night, we had to get a new tire Monday. We headed to historic Kingston, the first state capital of New York and now, apparently home to various wandering mentally challenged folks. We had to stop for directions twice since the first (drunk, pipe-smoking, law-enforcing) guy's directions only took us to some abandoned old warehouses where there were more disenfranchised souls roaming about on the tracks and such. At one point there was a huge guy inching down the street on either a Rascal™ or a motorized wheelchair, but his body mass overflowed too much to see what he was riding on. Finally the daytime gang in an awesome local bar were able to direct us to the Wal-Mart.
We had to camp out for two hours in the parking lot before Wolfgang was taken in for repair. A car went past with a sticker on its body saying "I got lucky" where there was damage from an accident. It occurred to me that I had gotten lucky, too, although many people would not see it that way. We'd been riding on a flat tire, and nothing happened to us. Then we rode on a barely-there spare, and again made it to our destination. Where someone else might see tragic failing independent business, I see a mysterious pharmacy that time forgot. It's all in your perspective.
This morning at 7 a.m. I was awoken not by the sound of the stream, rustling leaves, and birds chirping, but by a fight involving the construction guys next door, in which there was a pile-on in the middle of the street, a fight which by the way was attended by zero cops from the very nearby corner subway. Yep, back in Brooklyn again.