Tuesday, August 31, 2010

details, details


They had to go there, didn't they.

Monday, August 30, 2010

curve-breakin'


A lot of people ask for money on the subway. All of those people should be pissed at this guy's group of curve-busting panhandlers, who bust out full-on breakdancing routines on moving trains.

I'm not talking about some half-assed robot either. I'm talking backspins, handstands, backflips.

Yes, backflips.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

bedbuggin' out


Crissy’s been trying to get me to freak out about bedbugs for about a year now. I wasn’t having it.

I thought bedbugs were the stuff of nursery rhymes until I Googled them. Not a good plan in the middle of August. Suddenly this scuzzy-ass city seems mighty bedbug-friendly.

And it is. They’re everywhere.

First they shut down the Hollister store on Broadway. Then they popped up in Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch. They shut down a couple advertising agencies for a few days, including Euro RSCG Worldwide.

They’ve popped up in the New York Public library, the Empire State Building, and the Time Warner Center. Most recently, they’ve begun shutting down movie theaters.

But you know how they really know it’s an epidemic? Because rich people get them too. Which is the only good thing about bedbugs. Everything else sucks.

I guess you have to pay NASA eight billion dollars to burn your house down and shave your head if you have them. They’re like cockroaches. Except they live in your bed. And drink your blood.

So now we’re all freaked out, because we’re planning on moving to Brooklyn in October, and our new apartment is obviously going to have them. And even if it doesn’t, I can’t stop shopping at Victoria’s Secret.

P.S. This is a picture of my wife and dog, surrounded by bedbugs.

Monday, August 23, 2010

hey, that's great


There’s been a lot of controversy over this proposed Ground Zero Mosque lately. Except, of course, it’s not exactly at Ground Zero. It’s a couple blocks north, at 51 Park Place.

Our address? 53 Park Place.

Having a national debate as a next-door neighbor has been very interesting. And by interesting, I mean supremely annoying.

Of course, nobody seemed to care about the community center/mosque/ex-Burlington coat factory back in December. But now that elections are coming up? It’s been a steady stream of news vans, overly-coiffed newscasters, and weirdo protesters with very little drawing/spelling ability.

The newscasters are usually there until roughly midnight, which means, at the very least, our late night walks with Franny are blindingly well lit. It also serves to remind us that, according to Fox news, Franny’s apparently been peeing on hallowed ground for the last year and a half.

But none of that was any match for the powerful annoyingness that was the anti mosque demonstration yesterday. Luckily, we were properly forewarned and left town, heading up to my friend Kurt’s house in Newburgh for the day.

It was, by all accounts, exactly as advertised: loud, dumb, and ugly.

And at the risk of getting all political here, I’ll just say this: the towers were not attacked by a religion. They were attacked by a small group of psychos who are slavish to fanatical dogma.

But, of course, that’s Micky Mouse stuff compared to our own corporate sociopaths; the people who are actively poisoning our food and water, f*cking our financial system, taking out life insurance policies on ailing employees, and spraying cancer all over the Gulf of Mexico, all in the name of Corporate America’s one true religion…

The Bottom Line.

Sorry to get all preachy. It’s just that, when it’s so in your face, it’s hard to forget that this is exactly the kind of bullshit controversy drummed up to distract people from actual problems just before elections. The bad guy needs a face, and it really helps if that face looks different than ours.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

July 4th, a retrospective


While we’re on the subject of missing our favorite people from Chicago, my sister Heather and brother-in-law Tom came to visit us on the 4th of July (god we haven’t posted in a long time)

If you don’t know my sister, she writes an infinitely braver and more inspiring (not to mention 10 times more prolific) blog here. She and Tom were in desperate need of a little impromptu vacationing. We were thrilled they picked NYC as one of their destinations.

Friday night was pizza at a new Mario Batali joint, where the waiter incorrectly corrected my pronunciation of the wine. Then, off to drinks at my current favorite 19th century Victorian bar Lillie’s in Union Square, where Heather noted how much more pleasant it is to be waited on by attractive people. We all agreed.

Saturday morning was a hike through Central Park, where we drank vodka lemonades at the boathouse to fuel our rowboat rental adventure. It turns out rowing a boat is hard work. And, according to the number of times we rammed other boats, sort of confusing.

After Central Park, we took a cab to Num Pang, a stupidly delicious Vietnamese sandwich joint near my office, where we crushed our sandwiches, discussed the porn movie theater across the street, and discovered I’d left my phone in the cab. Most. Rookie. Move. Ever.

When I called my phone, the cab driver answered. “I left my phone in your cab,” I enlightened him. “You left your phone in my cab,” he replied.

Apparently god wanted to prove to Heather and Tom that New Yorkers weren’t all dicks, because the next thing the cab driver said to me was, “I’ll drive it back to you.”

Huh?

10 minutes later, the cab driver pulled up and handed me my phone. A drunken homeless guy passed by right at that moment to remind me, in case I hadn’t fully grasped the enormity of the event, “You a lucky motherf*cker.” I couldn’t agree more.

That night, we were hoping to catch a show at the Comedy Cellar, but it was sold out…yet again. So we improvised by going to an excellent Cuban restaurant in the East Village with crazy awesome weirdo mixed drinks, and freakishly good food. We ended the night at a new bar called 9th Ward, where Tom and I took turns scoffing at a sleeveless bartender.

Sunday was the 4th, so we took it easy, and did a little sneaker shopping for Tom. Heather picked out two pairs of super-Euro Puma slippers, before we decided men’s sneaker shopping was not her strong suit. We found Tom two pairs of sweet kicks and hit the road.

That evening was the big event-the fireworks. We bought tickets for a water taxi that takes you right out onto the Hudson, a couple hundred yards from the barge where they launch the fireworks. The show was incredible, I’m pretty sure. Anyway, we drank a ton of canned beer.

After a sloppy meal of Halal street meat right outside Heather and Tom’s hotel, Crissy and Heather decided the night should be over. And they were right. But just to be sure, Tom and I went to a local dive to play some pool. When we almost got our asses handed to us by obvious high school kids, we realized it was time to go home.

When they took off the following morning, Crissy and I were both sorry to see them go. But despite our sadness, their visit reminded me of the sage words a man once said to me:

“You a lucky motherf*cker.”

Brighton Beach



We met up with Alex’s parents’ friends back in Brighton Beach around 5ish. Vitaly and Alla were an older couple in their 70s. She spoke English, he didn’t. Alex spoke to them in Russian, and translated for us. It was fascinating watching him switch back and forth from English to Russian. I asked them if Alex spoke Russian with an American accent. They said no, he speaks like a 20 year old. I decided that must mean he tells a lot of inappropriate dick jokes.



We sat down for a meal at Tatiana’s, an outdoor restaurant on the Boardwalk. Our large, shave-headed waiter Sasha wore knockoff Carrera sunglasses, only spoke in Russian, and obviously broke people’s kneecaps as a side gig. It was all very exciting.

Vitaly snapped his fingers a few times, and people started bringing things to our table. The first thing they brought was a chilled liter of vodka on ice, which Sasha began pouring into small, shot sized glasses to the right of everyone’s plate. Vitaly and Alla held up their glasses. Nazdaróvye! To your health! Nothing healthy followed.



The food came in mountains. Piles of pickled items- pickled tomatoes, pickled beets, pickled pickles. Wagonfuls of lamb, chicken, cured meats, cow’s tongue, yes cow’s tongue, breads, sauces, potatoes…

And vodka. So much vodka.

Every 10 minutes, we toasted. Can you believe what a gorgeous day it is? Nazdaróvye! This lamb is incredible. Nazdaróvye! Does anyone want any more sauce? Nazdaróvye! I have to go to the bathroom. Nazdaróvye!

The weird thing is, when you stuff that much food into your face, the vodka doesn’t crush you like you think it’s going to. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we were hammered. But nobody was taking pictures with lamps yet. So we ordered more vodka.



After two more half-size bottles, we decided to call a van to take us back to Manhattan. The mountains of food and presence of elders had kept our drunkenness pretty much in check until that point. But as soon as they put us in that van and sent us on our way, things got ugly.



The first thing we needed, obviously, was more vodka. You know, for the ride. The next thing we needed, were Russian ice cream cones. I don’t remember what they’re called, but god damn it they were good. The Russian driver drove us safely back to our apartment, talking Alex’s ear off in Russian about his kids.

What followed in our apartment was such an embarrassing display of sloppy idiocy that nobody should have to re-experience it, even in blog form. Suffice it to say there was a lot of bad dancing, loud singing, fighting over what song should be played next, and high decibel, low IQ conversations. Alex rode a bike through our apartment wearing a helmet. Christine’s brother Don drunk texted a girl he wanted to ask out. We all weighed in on what it should say.

Somewhere, videos of this liver-aching nightmare exist. The world would be a smarter, happier place if they un-existed.

We miss you already guys. Come back soon.

Coney Island


I know...we suck.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to avoid it, homesickness sneaks up on us. It crawls out of the most unlikely of places to remind us how much we miss our favorite people back in Chicago.

Its latest insidious tactic is to slither out of the toilet bowl and crawl out from behind the couch cushions to remind us that we pay 3k a month for a 600 square foot apartment. Yeah, you read that right.

Which is why Alex and Christine coming to visit us a couple weeks back couldn’t have come at a better time.



I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the best things about friends and family coming to visit us in New York is that we get to try out all the New Yorky stuff we wouldn’t normally do by ourselves. This time, we got to check two of them off our list: Coney Island, and Brighton Beach.

Let’s start with Coney Island.



You know how sometimes aggressively unattractive people wear skin-tight crop-tops that read In Your Dreams? That’s Coney Island. It’s also crazy and weird and awesome, but it’s tons of In Your Dreams.

The first thing we noticed was a small, semi-pornographic dance party in broad daylight, with a healthy mix of three year old children dancing alongside shirtless gentlemen simulating slow, passionate lovemaking with the boardwalk. We shuffled along.



Next we checked out an attraction called “Shoot the Freak,” which was a paint ball shooting range advertising “live human targets.” We watched a man pay his money and step up to the gun, as a shirtless Mexican dude donned a helmet, picked up a garbage lid shield, and sadly shuffled from side to side. The shooter bided his time for the kill shot. We moved along.



Next was Luna Park. That’s the part with all the actual rides. I’m riding the Cyclone! I’m riding that spinny pukey thing! I…eh… you have to buy tickets. Let’s just drink beer.



So we drank beers in the blazing sun, thought about standing in line for a Nathan’s dog, sauntered out on the pier, watched people fish with chicken wings for bait, and watched a family enjoy a pork chop picnic on the beach. It was pretty awesome.

Then suddenly, without warning, Alex stopped drinking beer.

It was a very curious thing. But we pretended we didn’t notice. Besides, we were heading back to Brighton Beach soon for an early dinner, so he had plenty of time to catch up.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hi Tom

Kevin's dad is threatening to never read the blog again if we don't update soon. This is my lame attempt to tide him over until Kevin writes about our trip to Brighton Beach, NY this past weekend...