Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Don't Wanna B Dick

Carson Daly's said over and over again that he's not trying to be the next Dick Clark. I think he means he doesn't want to turn into a zombified wraith, doomed to wander this world and the next as an ageless, timeless spectre.

He's off to a bad start. CD looks like a wax museum rendering of Stephen Colbert without glasses, or perhaps a wax museum rendering of himself without a soul.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Strip House

A few people have asked me lately, "Lee, why don't you ever write restaurant reviews?"

I don't really eat out much any more, but when I do... I guess it's kind of an event. So here goes:

Mz. and I got a sitter and strode our asses down to Strip House on E 12th Street. The theme is red (as in rare) and sleazy (as in strippers - get it?). And I thought Portland was the only place I'd get a steak and a naked chick at the same time!

We were literally starving when we sat down to eat. I immediately thought I saw a celebrity sitting two tables down from us, in the form of the guy on E.R. who hits on Lucy (the blond girl) just as Carter decides he wants to jump her bones (he stares at her butt in at least one scene).

It wasn't him, but we ended up sitting right next to a celebrity after all. We forgot that steak houses rank extremely high on the "chances of sitting next to complete assholes" scale (just below flights to Dallas and just above Philllies games). Our delicious bread basket and most of the rest of the meal were tainted by an obnoxious loudmouth about 18 inches away. He wouldn't stop talking about his hot model (ex-)wife in Chicago and his amazing (former) apartment in Chicago and this and that and blah blah blah. I guess he (Mario?) was one of the house-husbands from the show Real Housewives of New York, or so the Mz. tells me. The only thing more pathetic than this chump was the ass-kisser he showed up with, who yessed and wowed him right under the table. I've never heard someone so impressed by a guy that got dumped.

Anyway, the food was mahvelous. After the delicious bread basket, we were treated to two shot glass-sized butternut squash soups. From what I understand, this is quite common at fancy restaurants. I was just coming back from the rest room when I caught the Mz. slurping down half of hers before I even sat down. I immediately accused her of drinking without toasting, and then realized that you don't really toast with soup.

Oh yeah, the rest rooms (at least the mens') are decorated with old-style burlesque-type photos. You know, black and white pictures of naked ladies. Each urinal had one planted front and center, which I found a bit odd. I tried to take a picture of one with my phone, and got busted by some guy with my pants down and Razr in hand. Very embarassing.

After our proper toasting (beer and wine), we enjoyed appetizers of beets & asparagus (hers) and tomato & red onion salad (his). I found hers too creamy for my speed, while she found mine a tad high on the vinegarometer. This is not the first time this has happened.

Enough of my yakkin'-- bring on the steaks!!! We both had the good sense to order filets, and I had the good cents to order the big one. Men are usually emboldened upon entering a steak house-- anything goes. I almost jumped out of my seat and yelled, "MARK TEI-XEIRA!!! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)...)" upon the mere mention of the steaks. I recklessly ordered my filet medium.

The filet was damn perfect. It required no explanation; rather, it explained itself. It was what Wittgenstein would have called an atomic fact.

My moment of truth was derailed by a giant dish of steak sauce sloshing onto the table. We almost mistook it for gravy (I ordered potatoes), but we cleared that up pretty quickly. It almost seemed obscene, to spoil the pristine beauty of this 14 oz wonder with... steak sauce. I blurted out something to the effect of "... like putting a silk hat on a pig" before I realized my backasswardsness. Maybe putting a pig logo on a silk shirt? I'll get back to you on that one.

Anyway, I found that 3 or 4 crystals (molecules?) of salt were all each savory bite of steak needed. If I were skilled enough to actually sprinkle 3 or 4 crystals of salt at a time, I would have delivered said seasoning. Being a hamhanded klutz, I chose to eat my filet plain as Jane.

Overall, a fantastic experience. One of those meals that inspires you to actually reply truthfully to the waitress when she asks, "How was everything?"

"How was it? Fucking great!!!"

"Well, if you come back and I'm passed out on the floor with drool seeping out of my gaping idiot-mouth, it's because I ate so damn much of your delicious food!"

"I haven't felt this good for $200 since the Canada side of Niagara Falls in 1978! And she didn't give me pralines when I finished!!!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry TeX-Ma$

My nightmares of girls with ponytails wearing "TEIXEIRA" Red Sox jerseys can finally end. Now I can think about Boston fans having nightmares about drunk guys drinking $12 beers in their "TEIXEIRA" Yankee jerseys. And their "SABATHIA" jerseys. I doubt they care much about the "BURNETT" jerseys, but...

This will be short, 'cause I'm waaaaay behind on holiday shit today. I'll just throw this one out there for all the complaining whiners out there. Would you feel better if we underpaid for all the guys we got? Like, if we acquired CC, A.J. and Mark (?) in complete steals, would we be more honorable?

Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Twin Behemoths

Subway trips were status quo most of the week, aside from my A Train pizza disaster part two (tomato sauce squirted all over my khakis). Friday afternoon was a slushy nightmare, but no fault of the subways.

Friday morning did feature one notable subway scene: a true double seat-hog scenario. I'm a poor photographer with inadequate equipment, so my pictures totally suck. Here's the twin behemoths taking up four seats on a crowded AM rush 1 train with lots of people carrying bags or just plain tired like me.

Not only does my picture not do their heinous hiney-act justice, it barely even represents it. Better to go with what I imagined when I saw what I saw...

Remember these guys from the old Guinness Books? Then you got the really tall guy, the dude with the really long fingernails, and the woman with the smallest waist in the world. I used to love those books.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Luck of the Irish

Today was a marathon bonding session between father and son (i.e., Mz. went out all day).

We started our day by going out to "run errands". Number one was getting the boy some proper shoes to wear. We have a nifty little kids' place nearby, so LJ and I paid a visit. The sales clerk was a bit weird (some shoes fell off the rack and he shouted, "It's a shoe-i-cide!"), but extremely helpful. He seemed about as relieved to end the sale as I was. The owner (also super nice) creeped over and tried to sell us a $30 pair of socks, but I was already gone. Jr's new kicks on the right:

Lunch was the first of several blunderous moves by yours truly. I got the sliced bananas together no problem, but the frozen chicken 'n squash cubes were more like solving cubics using Cardano's method. Actually, I totally know how to do that, so the chicken cubes were a lot harder than finding the roots of a cubic function.

Anyway, all you have to do is put the damn frozen cubes in the microwave for the right amount of time and let 'em cool off. Of course, I got distracted and burned the shit out of the damn things. Not exactly burned, but really really hot.

I kept LJ at bay with the bananas, and thereby broke a cardinal rule of feeding (anyone!)-- save the dessert for last. He gobbled up the banana chunks like a chimp, but just couldn't get into the chicken. BTW, my wife's chicken and squash is absolutely delicious, so don't even go there. I promptly ate LJ's entire little bowl of it as soon as he foolishly rejected it, in fact. I tossed the kid a couple of cookies and called lunch quits.

We went back to playing in the living room, which I'm quite good at. I managed to finish up the Saturday crossword (OCEANIC!!!) while keeping LJ from ripping our entire internet hookup from the wall. We even caught a bit of the Jets game along the way.

Diaper duty was difficult today. He hadn't crapped in a day, so I faced the big payback. Let's just say Favre's total INT's were nowhere near LJ's total SHT's in that 150-minute span. WOOOOOOOO!!!! I WOULDN'T GO IN THERE IF I WERE YOU!!!!!!

Dinner was a lot worse than lunch. The kid was light in the nap department (real light!) today, so he started winding down a bit earlier than usual. He bitched his way through whatever the hell I was feeding him, and then nodded off a la Scarface at the dinner table. This could get ugly.

I pulled an old trick out of my bag, and brought him in to watch TV for some "cool down time". Thank the good lord, Celtic Woman was on channel 21.

I watched my wee lad slowly fall asleep as he let the gentle tones of Chloe, Alex and Lisa take him to the end of the rainbow. Luckily he passed out before the terrifying violinist Mairead Nesbitt hopped out onto the stage like an extra from Lord of the Rings.

All I had to do was one last diaper change, slather his skin and get him into PJ's. Of course, I picked the smallest and most challenging set of pajamas in the drawer-- the french horn of nightwear. Getting him in there was like squeezing a dog into a golf bag. As always, things worked out just fine.

I'm watching the Giants now.


My recent energy surge reminds me of those nutty college days of old. Writing late night charts, saxophone transcriptions, you name it!

I was the inventor of the "GallStones" breakfast, which was quite the fad in our little Massapequa hamlet. You fill a large plastic bowl with Jolt cola (a can, generally), and then cover the soda surface with Sugar Corn Pops. It's crucial to do the cereal last, so it actually floats for a little while. Then grab the biggest spoon you can find, and chow down! I actually knew a crazy violinist that poured his GallStones into a metal pan and ate 'em with a scoop!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ambient Lawnmower

While listening recently to my friend's spectacular new instrumental guitar record on the train, I revisited my ongoing debate about the nature of ambient music.
More specifically, how should one listen to it?

Although I enjoyed this particular listen immensely, it's pretty clear that ambient music is not meant to be enjoyed on headphones (unless it's really darn quiet!). Headphones allow (force?) you to focus in on specific elements/tones of the music, which kinda goes against the whole idea of ambience. You're lookin' at trees, not forest. And the forest ain't the point anyhow!

Now I've had a few mind-melting listens to this sort of music with cans on (OK, more than a few), but we're talking about some serious pharmaceutical assistance here. Like, when you get up off the floor and say "Jesus Christ!" as you spill a 45-minute can of beer on the carpet. Lotsa fun, but not really what the artists had in mind...

Ambient music is supposed to be heard, and not (necessarily) listened to. Eno probably said it better:

Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.

Which begs the more compelling question: how should one watch it, particularly at an indie rock club surrounded by snobs, and especially if your friend is onstage?

I've seen more than a few "ambient" shows (I'm not talking about raves), and the crowds generally have no idea what to do. As Prodigy said, "Niggaz don't know how to act." I was seen on multiple occasions in the early 90's scurrying around clubs urging people to "do whatever you want" during instrumental shows-- or "Just walk around and act like you would at any bar!" I probably cost LaBradford a few dozen fans in this manner.

But I wasn't alone in my thinking. A few partners in crime and I had a great discussion one night on cough syrup at a rock club featuring a few instrumental bands. We agreed that the audience aesthetic for a live ambient show most closely resembles that of dancing in a club (there's your rave connection). You're letting the music guide you, but you're certainly not strictly focused on the musicians or melodies. Hopefully you're trying to get laid (or maybe just trying not to fall down)!

Wait a sec, so we should be dancing at instrumental ambient shows? Well, no. But my aforementioned ambient braintrust had that figured out. We collectively coined the term mind dancing-- the aural relationship is comparable to a conventional dancer's physical relationship to the music. We also decided that Ed Harris would have to play Brian Eno when the E'G Records movie is finally made (it's been almost 20 years since we said it, and no dice yet...). I'm pretty sure we puked that night too.

I was the featured performer (or "soundscapist") in the 1996 Lollapalooza "Chill-out Tent". It was a weird gig, to say the least. By our third city, I'd put dozens to sleep and inspired at least two people to vomit (although I did get one crazy dude to dance around to a mash-up of Rush's "2112"). By the end of the cross-country tour, auxillary performers were being added to the tent during my performances, including a hiphop DJ and a live S & M sex show. I can honestly claim to have played drones on a Korg keyboard over a Faust/Isley Bros track while hot wax was drizzled on a woman's naked boobs.

For the record, I used to groove to this kind of music on headphones all the time. One of my favorite activities as an early teen was to mow the lawn while listening to Metal Machine Music or "Swastika Girls"-- it made perfect sense to my young mind (although I almost chopped right through the power cord while spacing out to "Brutal Ardour" on one lazy Sunday afternoon).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dead Door Heaven

Yesterday I snagged the most coveted spot in the entire MTA subway system. No, I'm not talking about the Railrider's Throne at 116th St., or that warm seat where the fat lady just got up from.

I'm talking about the "dead door" spot. We all love standing in the doors, even when we're not getting off for another ten stops. It pisses people off to no end, but it's a comfy spot nonetheless. I frequently perform the "gentleman's exit" or "okey-doke", where you step off and step back on again just before the doors close, thus reclaiming your door spot.

Anyway, the "dead door" occurs on the rare train with one malfunctioning door in a pair (usually F or A trains, it seems). One door never opens at all, squeezing exiting fares out like toothpaste. That stuck door, my friends, is the best spot on the train.

You get to stand in front of it and soak in all the nasty glares from other riders ("what makes you so special that you can just block the door like that?"), only to gloat in their faces when the door never moves. It's your own private nook, a little slice of heaven. I was standing next to some schmuck who was blocking the "live door" while I stood fast on his left. He was swept out of the car at 66th St. like a newbie on an Alaskan crab boat. He never knew what hit him.

I wondered yesterday if anyone had ever fallen out of a train where the dead door suddenly came to life... a zombie door! Doubt it-- broken shit on subways tends to stay broken.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Train that Time Forgot

Nothing special or unspecial about the start to my morning commute. LJ started waaing at around 5:45, I had him playing in his crib by 6:00, he got bored of that by 6:05, and I was out the door at 6:25.

I knew something was amiss when the conductor called every stop from 110th to 79th on the 1 train incorrectly. I mean, he wasn't that far off (like when the automated announcement ones go totally haywire and start spewing names of upper Bronx stops while you're between Union Square and 23rd St, sending most of the riders into a fear-induced panic...)-- he was merely listing stops in the wrong direction. Every time!!!
"Next stop 116th... I mean, 103rd!"
"Next stop 110th... I mean, 96th!"

It was clear (to me, anyway!) that the underground ozone had a few tricks up its sleeve this morning. I chose to ignore the harbinger and soldier on.

I snagged a B train at 59th, while the other suckers crammed into an A. Downtown B is always a winner-- ain't no stepchild to the D, like y'heard. Stepped off at W 4th for the last leg and my known nemesis, the F.

W 4th platform was somewhat jammed up, but not much vim or vigor. It's just too early for people to really bitch. That said, I watched three motherf#$king V Trains drag by over a 15 minute period with no F trains at all.

If the F is becoming my nemesis, the V is the F's putrid manservant-- utterly powerless but ultimately demoralizing. The V is the appendix of the great NYC Transit System, or possibly its left male nipple.

Anyway, I must have waited 20 or so minutes for a damn train that actually goes somewhere! The F finally shows up, pretty packed and pretty late. No fanfare, no explanations, and no matter... we were just going to be late today.

This boring little travelogue is trying to capture the mysterious transit phenomenon where no single moment defines your extended trip, but your lateness is undeniable. No one or thing to blame, but you just lost almost a half hour of your time when you could've been watching Seinfeld, or playing Scramble, or even screwing. We lose enough of our lives on these god-forsaken tunnelboxes-- do we have to lose even more in ways we can't even explain? Where was I exactly, and what was I doing? What should I do next time I fear something like this might happen again?

Take the 2 or 3 train, like I did this afternoon. Nice & smooth, except for the guy built like Albert Pujols that crammed into half a seat, splitting a pair of quiet tourists apart for the time being.

Departing time: 6:25 am
Arriving time: 7:45 am
Route: 1 to B to F
TOTAL TRIP: 1 hour 20 minutes

Monday, December 8, 2008


Had a nice morning commute (trans-splendent sleep on C train), but met my maker on the flip-side.

Decided to take the F-route home instead of bus-to-Bergen (which has been very kind of late). I was starving, so I picked up a slice at Smiling Pizza.

Went down to the F and was met by utter chaos herself. Totally packed platform, which is ultra-rare for 5 pm (I'm going for an all-time hyphens & parentheses record, by the way). I was just about to gobble down my slice, when a train thundered down the express track-- no beeps and it actually stopped! It was actually taking passengers!

Little to no info was given and little to none was needed. When they let you on an "express train" at the F stop, you get the f%$k on! So I did, and put my slice back in its white paper bag.

The express was packed, and hardly express. We skipped 4th Ave (why??!!), and made the usual stops the rest of the way. I spotted a D at West 4th, and ambled across the platform to my transfer.

The inside seat of a pair of "right angle" seats (or "jutters") was open, and that was about it. I deftly stepped over three women and slid myself into the nook. I guess I slid myself a bit too quick, 'cause my pizza launched out of my paper bag and into the crevasse between the perpendicular seats. Oops.

Only a few people saw my gaffe, but the damage was done. I mourned for about twenty seconds, and then took a quick look under the seat. The slice had jackknifed back towards my leg, and was (unbelievably) tangled in my shoelace! I tried to kick it back under the seat, but only managed to spread tomato sauce all over the toe of my New Balances. An utter disaster.

Not much else to tell, except that I made up for lost time with a slick transfer at 59th St. I also rubbed my shoe off on an old lady's pant leg (just kidding!)...

Departing time: 4:55 pm
Arriving time: 6:05 pm
Route: F to D to 1
TOTAL TRIP: 1 hour 10 minutes

Friday, December 5, 2008

Trash, Grab-ass & Big Butts

Wow. After Monday's milk run, the rest of the week was smooth as Sade. Not a single trip more than a few minutes over an hour. These days, that's something.

1. Enough trash on the Tuesday morning F train that some guy boarded and sighed, "Jesus Christ..."
2. Lee Jr. grabbing some lady's ass at least five times on the uptown afternoon rush 1 train on Wednesday.
3. A cretinous wretch giving me two flat tires going up the 96th St stairs. I turned around and said, "Jesus Christ!!!" right in the guy's Coke-bottled face and watched him scurry away like the blind rat he is.
4. A trio of double-seaters on the downtown morning D train. A skinny lady finally busted up the tushie trifecta by shoving herself between fatso #2 and fatso #3. For the few of us lucky enough to witness this brave act, this woman was nothing less than Rosa Parks.

Monday, December 1, 2008

No F'ing Way

As promised, I'll be detailing my daily transit commute on a regular basis (I guess "daily" implies regularity.

Today's fiasco took place in the A.M., as opposed to the usual late afternoon nightmare. The Monday after Thanksgiving is never easy-- I was already running late before I got out the front door. After four days in a row with Lee Jr., it's just so hard to say goodbye... (sniff, sniff)

Nothing notable until I started dozing off at the 4th Avenue stop. Not sure how long I "walked the dog" for, but at some point I realized we weren't moving at all. Then the dreaded announcement pierced the elevated platform stop:

"This Coney Island-bound F Train is being taken out of service, due to a sick passenger on board. We have a sick passenger on board this F Train, and we're awaiting arrival of medical assistance. We recommend you find alternate means of travel, such as transferring to the..."

Alternate means of travel?! Helicopter? Zeppelin? Retro-booster backpack? No thanks-- I'll just sit here on the train and wait it out.

After two F's sped by on the center track, I began to consider my alternatives. I also wondered about this "sick passenger"-- it was a little early for a drunk puker. My money was on "dead passenger".

If you've seen the morning BK-bound F ridership lately, you know what I'm talking about. I've seen landfill-style garbage heaps, pools of blood (literally), mini-colonies of tubercular street urchins... and this is all between East Broadway and York St! It's really getting scary.

Either way, I bounded down the stairs to grab a bus. I caught a B75 just in the nick, and started to mentally cut my losses. Then we turned off from 9th St via detour, and there went my morning. Our busful of F transplants let out a collective groan, and some idiot squawked, "No, they really are doing street repairs. I've seen it!" Gee, thanks.

Departing time: 6:35 am
Arriving time: 7:55 am
Route: 1 to A to F to B75
TOTAL TRIP: 1 hour 20 minutes