Only one more poem in lieu of a real entry, I promise.
We've all had brief ill-informed flirtations with non-prose.
This is mine.
I only do my laundry
marked "Out Of Order"
hoping that when I pull my clothes out
besides being clean
they'll also be
all one ridiculous color
from a different era
like I put in tight jeans
and thrift store t-shirts
and pull out
a three-piece suit with tails
and a bowler hat
I might wear
on a bicycle with one big wheel
but it never works.
Usually I put in my clothes
slam the door
press the "whites" button
or "colors," depending
the machine eats my money
makes a bone-on-bone sound
and throws off steam.
Lint screen clean?
I go upstairs
We knew it had to happen sometime
so on the night when everyone in every bar in New York City
stepped out to have a smoke
or make a phone call
all at once
we were ready.
We dressed up
for no one but each other
though you forwent high heels for hi-tops
at my suggestion
so we could bolt from nightspot
to vacant nightspot
before the city collectively stubbed out its cigarette in a planter
said “Goodbye” to whoever was on the other end
and stepped back inside
as we sprinted through the crowd we saw
bartenders sitting on stoops, resting their feet
and bouncers occupied by flirting
so we settled on a place
where on any given night we couldn’t afford to stay long
I poured us drinks
using only top shelf ingredients
shook down the tipjar for jukebox change
You put on something obscure and soulful
I helped you up
and we slow-danced on the bar
The concentric circles of our swaying feet dodging half empty beers
without us having to tell them to
The song ended,
we slipped out the back way
and mounted the fire escape:
Five flights in twenty minutes
(we kept stopping to look in people’s windows
and, on the roof, as we surveyed the forest of chimneys and water towers
we simultaneously wished aloud
that we were able to leap from rooftop to rooftop
until you proved
in a moonlit arc that shamed gravity
that we could.
Sorry we haven’t spoken recently.
It seems my phone has forgotten how to ring
which leaves me picking up the receiver
at times I think you might be calling
The dial tone says “guess again.”
My e-mail inbox has been empty
and that leads me to one inevitable conclusion:
The sheer weight of correspondence drew the attention
of some compassionate programmer
who has been changing the names within
and redirecting all my mail to someone lonelier than I.
The buzzer in my apartment doesn’t really buzz
It must have shorted out
The building is old and the wiring, bad
You know that big storm that rolled in
on the night you called me “clingy?”
I think that did it.
My door is made of a strange wood
that eats sounds
or the impassioned shouting of my name
so if they’ve happened
I haven’t heard.
Oh, and any handwritten looseleaf apology and reconciliation notes
you may have slipped under said door while I was at work
were probably picked up by Samir, the super
who threw them away
mistaking them for Chinese takeout menus.
agentcrusher: BLOG DAMMIT BLOG
Auto response from Aperockets: The world must be peopled!
agentcrusher: you're one of my favorites. Blog for godsake. I check your site three times a day.
Let it never be said that if a pretty girl asks me to do something I won't do it.
Aperockets: but I just got up and it's 60 degrees so I have to go outside first
And so I did.
Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion - er, no, make that: he - he romanticized it all out of proportion. - Yes.
I don't think I write half as many New-York-centric entries as I realistically could, or have in me. I don't write half as much of anything as I could, which is another story entirely. But if every time I had a cliched moment of transplant's affection for this most miraculous of cities I wrote about it, you would hate me. And with good reason. Perhaps you already do. And fair play to you, sir. But today, Constant Reader of my Inconstant Tripe, you're just going to have to indulge me.
So, nobody's here.
Well, not "nobody," I exaggerate for effect, but very very few people are here. It's spring break, and there are five people still on my floor. Not that many more in the building altogether. NYU purposely schedules Spring Break over St. Patrick's Day to try to get students off the island and outside the perimeter of their legal responsibility for this drinkin'est of holidays. To that end, all the dining halls are closed. This is a lot more catastrophic than it sounds.
I don't keep food in my house, usually, as a rule. I have a bunch of meals on my plan and I fill in the gaps with pizza, falafel, Wendy's, and Drake's Fruit Pie from the vending machine downstairs. One time, when we were both drunk as lords, a girl down the hall bestowed upon me a whole roll of Oreo's, which I promptly put in one of my desk drawers and forgot about. A week later, looking for a pen or something, I opened said drawer and happened upon the lost cookies. Food. In my room. In large quantities. It was the happiest I have ever been about anything.
So, yea, I'm not used to concepts like "going to the store," nor was I, as of Friday when the dining halls closed, financially equipped to become super-familiar with it, either. So I did what any broke college student who's just had the rug of subsidized eating temporarily pulled out from under him would do: I bought peanut butter and bread (So it turns out white bread is the cheapest. But what it lacks in flavor it makes up for in...uhm. White.) and copped plastic knives from the store's deli section, and I went home with wholeheartedly intending to eat that and only that for the next couple days.
Well, okay, it wasn't entirely unrealistic, just extravagantly unrealistic. My grandma is coming out tommorrow, along with one of my little brother. So, on Saturday I'm figuring all I have to do is feel very bohemian, watch a lot of TV, learn to enjoy hunger-induced hallucination and bide my time until Tuesday and kingly spreads at breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Granny. On Sunday morning, I awoke feeling practically two-dimensional. I was able to babysit that afternoon, which I didn't think was going to happen, so I've been able to supplement my diet with a few things that are distincly un-peanut-butter-and-bread.
I have lost interest in whatever I was saying and I'm too tired to segue out of it. Today was gorgeous. A couple weeks ago we had a string of days in the fifties and sixties and I think all the bastards that said spring was here jinxed it (Thanks, assholes) and it proceeded to rain and snow and be generally winter-y, but today was the bright spot in a forecast that continues to be dreary on into next week. I went outside.
So did everyone else.
I'm writing a bullshit essay for a bullshit class, and one of my theses was that human contact does not really occur in Union Square park but in the subway station below. Clearly, I am wrong, and an asshole. People were selling artwork.
People were skateboarding.
People were selling fruits and vegetables.
Between the red brick building and the McDonald's, on the bottom floor of that ugly silver monstrosity, is a great Japanese restaurant, Republic, which Emilie recommended to me and I later took a girl from my floor to on a date. Emilie got mad. Later on that date, when we were having coffee, there was that telling conversational lull and I leaned in to kiss her, and a few seconds later realized that the slow part of Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" had just started playing, as if on cue. Ranks up there as far as New York moments go. She later told me she just wanted to be friends. I was disappointed, not because I didn't want the same thing, but because you always want to be the one to say it, not hear it.
It's important to have a personal geography.
So that was the park. Glorious. I headed west, through Chelsea, for the water.
Somebody was filming something.
Back in the day (y'know, two months ago. Think hard.) if you saw camera equipment and catering trucks in the Village, you could safely assume it was "Sex And The City." But that show is over. Which, by process of elimination, leads me to believe that this was "Law And Order."
The facade of a hotel in Chelsea.
More personal geography: When Chelsea was in town, (to those of you easily excited by similarities between the names of people and place: you're welcome) we walked by this place. We remarked upon its coolness. Chelsea said she'd like to stay there. Good luck. I'm pretty sure that, to gain admittance, you have to be a 60's super-spy, or, failing that, a sexy robot.
I learned from a helpful placard about riverfront renewal that these jagged ghost-pier remains are called "piles." Piles is also a term for hemmorhoids.
School's not in session, but the learning continues. The learning continues.
A park on a pier.
This is where I wrote this back in the fall. Today I had every intention of sitting down here and reading, but it was hell of windy. I moved on.
I think you're supposed to like the East Village more, since it's hipper and edgier and what-have-you. Unless charming brownstones and cozy three-tabled restaurants are edgy, the West Village can't compete. But I think I like it more. At least in daylight.
Things are old here.
Nothing in Arizona dates back to 1868. I'm pretty sure much of the West was still in the prototype stages back then. But history's everywhere here. Judging by the abundance of plaques, a famous poet or essayist was born, lived, or died in every room below 14th street. Buildings that look like they once sold anchors or contained scriveners hunched over at rows of crude ink-stained desks now house novelty condom stores. I love that.
The lecture part of the afformentioned bullshit class is taught by a guy who used to be the photo editor at the New York Times and can't get over Photoshop. Class consists of watching him have a series of anuyersms about magazines not disclosing when they've digitally altered pictures. So, if only for Fred the lecturer's sake, I feel it's necessary to tell you I fucked with the contrast on this picture of a birdhouse and a tree and a building and a sign. And some other pictures, too. It makes 'em look deep.
Speaking of deep: Fire escapes. Flowers. Good CHRIST am I sensitive or WHAT?
I have a photographic preoccupation with bikes chained to poles (see also).
I rule at writing.
The roof of my building, from a block away.
It turns out you can get up there if you're industrious enough. A dean or a vice-president or something lives in a townhouse on the roof, so when Patrick and his two friends from Texas and I went up there last night to take in the view, we were quiet. Except when discussing Spiderman and contemplating alternate universes. I called Trevor to tell him jokes I'd heard (What has nine arms and sucks? Def Leppard.) and he told me Mike The Coolest Person In The World stories. Christine, Patrick's friend, gasped when the lights on the Empire State Building went off, like they do every night at midnight, a procedure I disagree with on general principal.
I watched streetball while eating a Frostee from Wendy's.
One of my Life's Goals is to live in a building whose name begins with "The," like The Alabama, which is up the block, or The Dakota, without all the unpleasantness of getting shot by a crazed Salinger-obsessed fan out front. This is a corollary to my ceaseless desire to live at an estate with a one-word name, like Tara or Monticello. I am thinking mine will be named Mesopotamia, or, failing that, HammerTime.
It's supposed to snow tommorrow. Spring coming on the installment plan is annoying, but it's better than it not coming at all.
I used the phrase "failing that" twice in this entry. I must think I'm such hot shit.
Got to talk about lotsa things. Lotsa things to talk about.
One thing I shouldn't talk about is how me and my friends here got all into doing Chris Rock imitations, 'cause it's one of those you-had-to-be-there things. I think college kids are big into things you had to be there for. In-jokes. That's how come all the white boards on peoples' doors with quotes from drunken evenings. Having been to at least three other colleges now in the course of the school, I am ready and willing to declare the obnoxious cute-quote board to be a national phenomenon, because as we know, there are only four colleges in the United States, and apparently people think the things they say there when they're drunk are fuckin' HI-larious.
But yea, Chris Rock. It started when we were up at Skidmore, a tale I never finished, and in all honesty, probably won't. It's all about the hard consonants and repetition. Nice to listen to, fun to do. Start everything "Got to talk about (subject), got to talk about the (adjective) (adjective) (synonym for subject)" or "Lotta _____ in the crowd tonight, lotta _____ in the crowd." Pace back and forth like a caged tiger. Drop the mic.
This weekend we went to the Dirty South Improv Festival, and perhaps apropros of our setting the impression du jour was Dr. Phil. The key phrases at work are "You are so stupid," followed by a description of why someone's stupid, and "You need to talk to your family about..." followed by what the stupid fucking person needs to talk to their family about. Bombastic. Southern. Homespun metaphors. Absolute inability to even begin to grasp how stupid you are.
At one point we had six Dr. Phils going, in different languages, as twelve of us in a foggy-windowed van drove back from a sub-par party. Definitely the highlight of the evening, but again, you had to be there. There's something about an impression of a country-fried showbiz shrink done in Hebrew that can't be captured, on, say, a white-board on somebody's door.
The thing I like about us is, we're not that group on stage. The pop-culture group. The spoof group. The funny-voice group. Definitely not the "You've been Punk'd!" group! And this gives us license to both look down our snooty metropolitan noses at anyone so much as one iota less devestatingly urbane, and act like total fuckin' retards offstage.
Hence, ten-decibel Dr. Philling across parking lots that blows my voice out.
Hence, a note slipped under the door of our two-bed hotel room, where ten of us were sleeping, by the neighbor two doors down, which said, among other things, "you need to learn to respect your fellow man as old-timmers (sic) do."
Hence, a twenty-two ounce Corona bottle full of urine. Thanks, Lou.
A good time, all told, although we're not sure going back next year is necessarily worth the ass-numbing drive.
(Note to the East Coast: why not a few more states? If I'm not passing through at least six states an hour, I feel like I might as well be in the Midwest.)
(Note to the South: You sure are fuckin' creepy to drive through at night! A streetlight or two might be in order, but, uh, I don't want to tell you how to do your business, you seem to have this deserted-rural-highway thing down to a T. To your credit, you kept your bigoted mirror-sunglassed sheriffs from peering in our driver's side windows, and at no point in our trip did any one of your residents utter the words, "You boys ain't from around here, are ya?" which I had, at the outset of the weekend, declared was the We-Are-Going-To-Get-Brutalized-And-Left-For-Dead-In-The-Woods-Now Phrase That Pays. Chapel Hill's campus is suspiciously idyllic, and the weather was fall-down gorgeous, so well done on both those counts.)
(Note To Waffle House In Virginia: Thanks for shaping pure unadulterated butter into the shapes of various breakfast foods, such as hash browns, waffles, and grits! If there is any feeling I want after a mid-road-trip meal, it's that America's Dairyland has been lock-stock-and-barrel transplanted right into my aorta.
Seriously though, all sarcasm aside, move to NY, you beautiful greasy bastards. We're sorry Donald played the Dixie Chick's "Landslide" cover on the jukebox just as we left. We weren't trying to patronize you and The South. Please tell The South. I already sent it its note. It was about highways. Donald really does like that song. And that version. I know, the original is outstanding, and even the Smashing Pumpkins cover is better than--
Yea, I'd love some eggs. Over-easy, please. Liberal with the butter. I know I don't gotta tell you that.)
(Note to Girls At Future Parties On Comedy Trips We Go On: Don't make the mistake the girls in South Carolina did. Talk to us. I think you will find that we Fucking Rule.)
In other news:
I started a babysitting job on weekends. It's great. It will be greater if next time I work I don't drop forty bucks in Brooklyn while fumbling with directions to get back home.
We (Hammerkatz) performed at UCB on Monday night. I might have failed to make clear in my post on that subject, brief as it was, what a huge, huge deal this was. UCB is essentially THE SPOT for improv and sketch in the city; SNL, VH-1, and Comedy Central all draft talent from the theater. It was also made clear to us beforehand that this show was essentially an audition for a longer run, say, a month of weekly shows. This was predicated on two questions: Could we turn out an audience, and could we make them laugh?
Show went awesome. Both questions were answered strongly in the affirmative: NYU came uptown to support its hometown boys and girls. It was a modified version of the set we did at Skidmore, and we killed. Dillinger are not only badass improvisers but stand-up folks as well. Couldn't wait to go back and it's looking like we're going to get to: they invited us back for (tentatively) a weekly slot in April.
Since comedy is blowing up huge
right now I'm looking for ways to stay here most of the summer. The ideal plan is going home early May, returning in early June and working the desk at a dorm, which allows me to stay in the city for free. The positions are apparently very hard to get, so I'm not pinning all my hopes on that eventuality, other options are actually PAYING to stay in the dorm (here's the part where I quote the outlandish amount of money that costs and you recoil in horror and then I quote the makes-the-other-figure-look-tame amount of money a room in a regular, y'know, Manhattan apartment costs and you wish you hadn't recoiled the first time 'cause it takes you at least a half an hour to be able to do it again), people's couches, uber-wealthy sugar mama, or a combination of all of the above. The only thing that makes it vaguely feasible is that I'll have plenty o' time to work, what with no school and all, and that I'll WANT to work, because this dirt-poor shit is getting as ugly as it is terrible-smelling (PS-- Tony, Michael from NZ, and Trevor all hit the paypal jar with donations of more than twenty bucks. If they weren't princes among men before, they sure as hell are now. But they were before, so now they're...aww, I dunno. Kings. Hella charitable kings who rock the mad blogpatronage. Thanks for keeping dude fed.) And it's not that I don't want to work now. And I try. My schedule just doesn't permit much room for a day job, and I've been excluded from the few four or five day-a-week babysitting jobs I applied for because of my afternoons full of scheduling hurdles.
So the plan this summer is to make the paper, do UCB longform improv Level 2 (started Level 1 on Tuesday, rock), perform in whatever opportunities come along for those twin bitch-godesses of NYU comedy, Hammerkatz and Dangerbox, raise hell with Andrew when he comes in July to model his ass off, seduce Chelsea if she comes out, visit Emilie at JewCamp, go to parties Donald has in Brooklyn, and attempt to maintain that level of happiness whereby I'm certain something bad must naturally be around the corner. I've been that happy a lot lately. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's been above 50 every day since I've been back. Sweater weather is Jesus' weather.
I don't know what I mean by that.
A certain percentage of this wanting-to-stay has to do with these comedy trips. Just realizing that people not much older than me do exactly what I want to do, what I'd never dream of asking to get paid for, for a living, and they didn't have to be discovered, they just put in the hours and made names for themselves. Even more than that, though, and it happened to other people so if I'm a pretentious douchebag at least others have joined me in my pretentious douchebaggery, but it's coming back after these trips.
It's seeing the skyline, and it's still intimidatingly majestic, and it's still, to a certain extent, jaw-dropping, but it's these things in small ways. The feeling in the foreground is your shock at how much it feels, above all else, like your home.